Today is what I have come to think of as ‘teacher Christmas’: it’s the day that my I310 (Media Arts & Technology) students post their final projects! (And here I should also give a shout-out to my awesome AIs—Joe Bartlow, Chris Myles, and Jennifer Terrell—who have supported the students in creating their projects throughout the semester.)
Before I taught I310 for the first time a year ago I overhauled the syllabus and instituted a semester-long individual project as a major component of the course. The only two major requirements for the project are that the students must create some sort of new media artifact, and they must learn some sort of new (for them) technical skill along the way. The rationale for this is that, given the pace of technological development, technologies can quickly become outdated and technology professionals need to be able to continually pick up new skills as needed. The main skill that students learn in this course is thus the skill of learning new skills, as well as project management, research, and production. This format means that the students have the freedom to create things they love and learn technical skills they want to learn for course credit, and they also at the end have finished projects that can become part of their professional portfolios.
So today is the day that I get to see what they’ve been working on for the last few months, and what they say about the process in their blog posts. It’s great to see when their pride in what they’ve made comes through, especially when it is clearly the result of a lot of work and a process in which they have learned not only technical skills but also time and project management skills that will continue to serve them well. It’s also rewarding when they say that they have always wanted to learn how to do such-and-so, and this course finally gave them the opportunity.
They have made kinetic typography videos, stop motion animations, games, small business websites for family and friends, issue-focused websites and videos, 3D models, music, mashups, personal portfolio websites, small applications.. Some of the projects students do are really creative and personal, and when I see the things they come up with I always think about how I could never have even thought to give them a specific assignment to create that (but I’m glad they did).
And one of the best things is when the students talk about how they will keep doing similar projects because of what they now know they can do—because that’s the whole point. =)