Reflections on Media Kron

Since fall of 2012, I’ve been involved with a test deployment of The Media Kron Project (a media curation and classroom presentation tool) which we used in two courses over the past academic year. Having completed this pilot project I wanted to reflect on our work and post some observations about the system and the implementation experience.

For the pilot itself, I was fortunate to work closely with two members of our faculty that were very well accustomed to using media in their teaching, which made the experience easier from a support and teaching perspective.

US Broadcast Journalism - Home Page screen shotHistory of U.S. Broadcast Journalism (Fall 2012), Professor Mark Williams

Course Learning Goals

  • Research and analyze history of broadcast journalism.
  • Synthesize historical, cultural, and technological factors influential to production of broadcast news.
  • Produce an original video news project based on themes, events, and figures studied in class.

Mark’s class was a challenge to set up because of the shear amount of material that he wanted to have access to in the Media Kron environment. Over the summer, we digitized hundreds of audio and video recordings, a time-consuming process particularly for analog media such as LP album and VHS tape. Ultimately, Mark’s class focused on a handful of media artifacts and students worked primarily with other media that they found via online sources such as Youtube. While Mark enjoyed the opportunity to present media in a more intuitive way than he could in a traditional course management system (Blackboard), the scope, timing and nature of the course assignments did not readily lend themselves to using all of the features available via Media Kron. Student use of the platform to add and organize their own media finds was optional and therefore limited.

 

Intro to Hispanic Studies I - home page screenshotIntroduction to Hispanic Studies: Middle Ages – 17th Century (Spring 2013), Professor Noelia Cirnigliaro

Course Learning Goals

  • Understand and analyze the theoretical, aesthetic, and critical issues pertinent to the time period and culture.
  • Contextualize artifacts, artworks, and texts from Spain and Spanish-America.
  • Research, locate and organize additional media resources relevant to the time and cultures studied to broaden understanding.

This class had a more successful implementation of the platform. Noelia herself was involved in the selection and addition of materials to the course site, and I worked closely with her to help organize the list of Topics to mirror the natural weekly progression of the class.

Intro to Hispanic Studies I - custom historic map screenshotNoelia devised a tagging exercise to help orient the students to the tool and get them using it for a constructive purpose as soon as they had access. (She also used a list of pre-defined terms to help guide the students in the tagging process, rather than allowing them to use any words they wanted – this made for better organization of the archive.)

In addition, Noelia used all of the other features of the platform, including modern-day and custom historic maps (scanned from our Special Collections), and the timeline tool. Requiring students to use and add items to the Media Kron archive (in the form of multiple structured assignments) made this a richer experience for all.Intro to Hispanic Studies I - timeline screenshot

 

Conclusions

The Media Kron platform is a unique tool that offers features not found in any other out-of-the-box media presentation software. However, because it is not a full-featured course management system, and would have to be set up and used in addition to such, the learning and administration curve for each new course is quite steep. The tool requires a high level of faculty interest and engagement for this reason. At my institution, many instructors barely use the courseware tools already provided, and expecting them to digitize and organize additional libraries of content (in addition to their syllabi, course readings, and lecture materials) is just not realistic.

Faculty who have been frustrated by the lack of tools and features in their courseware may well enjoy the flexibility and immersive curatorial experience that Media Kron provides. In addition, those who are willing to “flip the classroom” have a very powerful tool for enabling student research and curation of items related to a specific movement, period, topic or location. Course-long projects in which students slowly build research archives related to their research are a natural fit. Another option is having students build a training site that teaches novices about a specific topic. Through carefully worded Topics and Tags, as well as construction of the maps and timeline tools, students have produced sites that explain, for example: the spread of disease, the neonatal phases of human development, and complex chemical processes. For this reason, the Media Kron platform could be a central component of courses, particularly those that are offered in an online or blended format.

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