Multimedia for Social Change

Prototyping Digital Media and Learning Through Information Visualization by kathleencamarda
February 8, 2010, 11:01 pm
Filed under: Reflections

Is digital media a sufficient mode of application in preparing for a university-level exam? Can students learn and retain information through context? Are ‘traditional’ methods of studying of greater or lesser value than ‘new’ ones? Is this measurable? Have the implications of web 2.0 and its associative abilities made it easier for students to learn by way of new media versus ‘old’ linear techniques? As a visual anthropologist and multimedia student in the digital age, is it the constant representation of information that motivates one to desire to attempt to make the invisible ‘visible’ through visualization?

Such questions are examined through this reflexive representative prototype.  An evolutionary model that contains traditional written midterm exam guides from February 2009; a beginning student’s first gender studies test, based on course lectures and readings.  In scrolling through the timeline, one will discover another type of gender studies midterm exam preparation; one year later, March 2010, by an intermediate-level student studying ‘Men and Masculinities’.  This time, a digital render of themes discussed in the course; the notion of ‘masculinity’ in American culture, ‘masculinities’ in media and pop culture, the ‘crises’ of masculinity, hyper-masculinity, hegemony, feminization, and consumption as depicted in the controversial 2010 Olympic Winter Games Men’s Figure Skating event.  This digital ‘information visualization’ utilizes Wordle to generate and illustrate these dominant themes that called both athletes’ and the sport’s ‘masculinity’ into question, highlighted by professional and citizen journalists alike.

This representation is juxtaposed with its February 2009 ‘Childhood, Birth and Reproduction’ counterpart on a timeline with the purpose of examining the measurability of digital media and learning.  Note that the user can also view a documentary on February 15, 2010; filmmaker Byron Hurt’s Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, which provides a concrete glimpse of actual exam material for the March 2010 midterm exam.  Finally, there is a ‘participation’ link below the Wordle piece that connects the user to the author’s twitter stream, used to share the Dipity prototype with others and encourage interaction between users.