Week 7: Designing and Assessing Student Media Projects (Winter 2023 Webster)



This week introduces strategies for designing and assessing student-generated media projects. Digital literacy includes the ability to use these tools and platforms to create and share our own stories and to engage in larger communities. The ability to communicate in graphics, audio, and video, as well as being able to understand the different ways we use these media on social media like Instagram or Twitter is an important modern literacy. Student media development projects can address the skills required of all well-designed project assignments and incorporate digital and media literacy outcomes as well.

Learning Outcomes

When you have completed this week, you should be able to:

  • Design project-based learning incorporating student-produced media.
  • Design assessment of student-produced media.

Topic 1: Designing Student Media Projects

Media development calls for a set of skills and processes that are well-suited to a student project. Well-designed projects provide an opportunity for students to explore and learn content at a deeper level, and the students develop an intrinsic motivation towards learning within a subject area. Finally, media-based projects provide opportunities to develop digital literacy and media literacy skills in an authentic way. Actually creating, sharing, discussing, and reflecting on media is much more effective than learning by consuming content.

Issues Specific to Student Media Projects

Student media projects present specific challenges. Students start with a wide range of relevant competency levels, and there can be difficulty ensuring focus is on core learning outcomes. Meeting these challenges and others requires thoughtful design and a certain amount of work from the instructor, but developing each of the competencies is also a learning opportunity. These considerations may apply to other student projects, but they have distinct relevance to media projects.

  • Use a media production cycle. Similar to writing a paper, there have been several processes developed for designing and developing media. Part of designing a student media project is providing a relevant process for students to use. There are many examples of media production processes like The Student Filmmaker (2012) from the Ontario Ministry of Education.
  • Select media production tools. Your institution may provide all the hardware and software needed for your project, or it may not. Web-based tools can be used for most media projects, and free software exists for the more challenging tasks. Your job is determining which tools are reasonable for the task. A second consideration around tool selection is that students should learn how media development tools work generally; we don’t know what tools they will have access to in the future. Don’t emphasize the specific steps for accomplishing a task in a single tool, and use third-party tutorials for this. Instead, emphasize the capabilities that should be found in the best tools like layers in a graphics tool, or fading in or out in a video editing tool.
  • Provide tutorials or support for using technical tools. When possible, find the best third-party tutorials available. Ideally instructors should provide both video and image/text tutorials for each key process. If a new resource is needed, create your own tutorials and share them online. This way your tutorial may help someone else.
  • Respect copyright. Your activities and assignments should build in steps to ensure that students revise and remix materials in compliance with copyright. Be aware of Canadian copyright law and the Fair Dealing component of this law. Model this behaviour in your own use of copyrighted material when you design online learning or teach in your classroom.
  • Be aware of privacy issues for sharing media. Student media projects offer an opportunity to create media for audiences beyond the instructor. When a media piece is created for the world outside the classroom, there can be a difference in the attitude that learners bring to their creation. Sharing media publicly presents challenges at both the K–12 and post-secondary levels. Discuss sharing materials early with your students and be prepared for exceptions. You need to understand the privacy legislation that affects your jurisdiction and the specific policies that are in place at your institution. In situations where greater privacy is needed, there are ways to limit sharing to the class or institutional learning community or to anonymize the media in its shared form.

Each of these issues require some research to resolve, but they will take less work to handle as you gain experience in designing student media projects.

Activity 1: Readings

This unit features two chapters from the ebook Reinventing Project Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age by Boss and Krauss (2018). Read Chapter 6: Project Management Strategies for Teachers and Learners, (pp. 143-158) via TRU Library.

This is the 3rd edition of an influential volume on technology-integrated project-based learning by Suzie Boss and Jane Krauss. It maintains a high-level view with plenty of real-world examples. It is not specifically aimed at student media projects, but many of its examples include student-generated media. It is written for K–12 but the strategies and principles will apply to the post-secondary context as well.

Activity 2: Design a Student Media Project Outline

Consider a possible student media project for your teaching context, and start the planning process by creating an outline. This outline lays out the key elements of the student project, establishes scale, purpose, and process, and provides the initial assignment description. The outline should be written as the initial portion of your assignment description with your students as your audience. The outline should include:

  • Learning outcomes measured by the assignment
  • Short, descriptive title
  • A plain-language purpose for the assignment
  • A narrative description of the deliverable(s) that includes two or three of the criteria items (that would be used in an assessment rubric)
  • A short description of the process(es) and/or steps that students will take in producing their media
  • Team or individual responsibility for the project (or for specific steps of the project)
  • A timescale for the project

Your outline should not include:

  • A detailed set of instructions for the project, it’s steps and process(es)
  • Technical tutorials
  • A detailed schedule of deliverables.
  • A rubric or detailed assessment guide

Post your outline to your portfolio. Once you’ve done this, visit the outlines from at least two other students and offer your constructive observations.

Your Open Learning Faculty Member will provide feedback on your outline.

Topic 2: Assessing Media Created by Students

Assessing student-created media is a vital element of student media activities and assignments. Both formative and summative assessment will play a key role in whether the students will benefit from their experience with media activities and projects. The readings in Boss and Krauss emphasize authentic learning and assessment. In assessing student created media, there are two aspects that must be considered.

The first is to what degree you will evaluate process and product. This is covered in the reading, but it is important to reinforce. If you can develop a strong assessment model that evaluates student success in the media development process as well as specific qualities for the final product, a great variety of criteria can be included.

The second consideration is to what degree are you looking for technical success, communication or content effectiveness, and aesthetic appeal? These three aspects will have different levels of importance in different activities and assignments.

It is imperative that you communicate your expectations to your students effectively, which is where a good activity/assignment description and/or rubric is crucial. You likely won’t develop a rubric for every class or online activity, but you should create one for each assignment or student project. The description of the activity or assignment is an opportunity to lay out a straightforward explanation of what is important about the media to be produced and what you want them to do.

Activity 3: Readings

Read Chapter 5: Making Assessment Meaningful (pp. 111-142) in the Boss and Krauss (2018) ebook Reinventing Project Based Learning: Your Field Guide to Real-World Projects in the Digital Age. You will access the ebook via TRU Library.

Review the Assessments and Rubrics (2019) resources available on Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything site.

Activity 4: Assessment Discussion

This activity gives you the opportunity to participate in an in-depth discussion on topics related to media assessment. For each question below, make an initial response in the appropriate discussion thread. Review the responses from others, and reply to at least two other students by either building upon their response or arguing for a different view.

  1. In authentic assessment, what is the appropriate balance between process and product in assessing media? Provide an example (real or hypothetical) from your own teaching context.
  2. How might you assess for visual literacy in a media activity or assignment?
  3. What types of media and level of media production ability represent attainment of digital literacy today? Respond for your teaching level in a general education role (i.e., not for a subject that specifically requires media production skills).

Activity 5: Design a Student Media Project Rubric

Design a rubric to provide summative assessment for the student media project outline you developed for Activity 2. Create criteria that are easily observable, and address the learning outcomes from your outline. Create achievement levels as appropriate (at least two) and populate the descriptions for each for at least two criteria.

Post your rubric as an addition to your portfolio post for Activity 2.

Optional Topic 3: Using Media in Student Assessments

This Topic and activity are optional. If you find that you do (or should) use media in your assessment tools, be they quizzes or longer form texts like case studies, complete this topic or download the reading for future use.

In many cases, from multiple choice questions to case studies, media can make assessment can more effective and more authentic. You can approach this as if your assessments were just more content, but the context of an assessment piece is different, and the way media can support assessment has its own principles.

Optional Activity 7: Embed a Graphic Supporting Assessment

Read the short chapter by Marlit Lindner below. Then create or modify an existing image that can be used to support learning assessment. This could be an image that forms part of a question stem, or another type of graphic as described in the reading. Post this to your portfolio in context, and add a note about the principles in play in your example that relate to the reading.

Lindner, M.A. (2022). Principles for Educational Assessment with Multimedia. In R.E. Mayer & L. Fiorella (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (pp. 552-565). Cambridge University Press.

References and Resources

Required Readings and Resources

Boss, S., & Krauss, J. (2018). Chapters 5 and 6 In Reinventing project-based learning: Your field guide to real-world projects in the digital age (3rd ed.). International Society for Technology in Education.

Hutchison, D. (2012, March). The student filmmaker: Enhancing literacy skills through digital video production [Research monograph 39].

Lindner, M.A. (2022). Principles for Educational Assessment with Multimedia. In R.E. Mayer & L. Fiorella (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (pp. 552-565). Cambridge University Press.

Schrock, K. (2019). Assessments and rubrics. Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything.

Optional Resources

Boss, S. & Larmer, J. (2018). Project Based Teaching: How to Create Rigorous and Engaging Learning Experiences. ASCD.

Conrad, D., & Openo, J. (2018). Assessment strategies for online learning: Engagement and authenticity. AUPress.

MediaSmarts. (n.d.). Teacher resources.

MediaSmarts: Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy. (n.d.).

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