Students in the Faculty of Science at the University of Technology Sydney are using digital media platforms to enhance their comprehension of—and communication skills in—scientific foundations.
A lecturer in the Faculty of Science, Jorge Reynas saw an opportunity to improve the way his students learn and retain information through Learner-Generated Digital Media assessments (LGDM). Starting in Autumn 2015 with a course in Pharmacology, the assessment style has been successfully implemented in a number of STEM disciplines including Geological Sciences and Physiology.
A more engaging and collaborative model of group work, LGDM assignments have students develop and produce a five-minute video explaining a scientific subject to their classmates and instructors. The goal is to immerse students in the subject, having them approach it in a more reflective and creative mindset, while equipping them with digital media literacy skills.
The assignments consist of the following workflow, from introduction to evaluation:
- Students receive the assignment and are given a background on LGDM.
- An in-class lecture on digital media provides students with an overview and best practices in recording video and audio, production, and storyboarding.
- A video-hosting site is chosen for students to upload their assignments to (e.g., YouTube, Vimeo)
- Students are provided a rubric which may focus on accuracy of content, comprehension of scientific principles, creativity and use of digital media to enhance communication, and peer-reviewed resources.
- Students complete a peer-review assessment and personal reflection.
- Evaluations are returned.
Reception of LGDM assignments at UTS is positive. Students enjoy the flexibility and creativity of the assignments and report feeling more committed to producing a strong piece of work. One limitation is that students feel they need more class time to understanding the theory and best practices of digital, a resource few have access to in their programs of study.
Continuing the success and contributing to theory-building research in LGDM at UTS may lead to further adoption of the assessment style in STEM departments at institutions across the world.
About the Author: Dustin is a senior account manager with DesignedUX, providing communications and marketing strategy to organizations in education and technology. Dustin is also a part-time faculty member at Centennial College and serves on the board of the Canadian Public Relations Society.