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title subtitle chapter URL author editor publisher type
Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities
Concepts, Models, and Experiments
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Sayers & Harris
Jentery & Katherine D.
Modern Language Association


Daniel Anderson and Jason Loan

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Publication Status:
  • unreviewed draft
  • draft version undergoing editorial review
  • draft version undergoing peer-to-peer review
  • draft version undergoing MLA copyediting
  • awaiting pre-print copy
  • published

Cross-Reference Keywords: Remix, Sound, Collaboration, Storytelling, Gaming, Affect, Fieldwork, Interface, Makerspaces, Poetry, Public, Visualization, Eportfolio


It seems counter intuitive, but video provides a simple path for integrating digital composing into a class. Traditionally, video production required costly equipment and high levels of technical competency. In the last two decades, however, the barriers have decreased dramatically. Some of this shift can be traded to attempts to strip motion picture production to its essentials. The Dogme films, The Celebration (1998) and The Idiots (1998), were each shot entirely with prosumer grade digital video cameras. The broader public experienced a similar shift with the introduction of Apple’s iMovie (1999), the development of smart phones, and the creation of YouTube (2005). Today, creating and distributing digital videos presents no more (and sometimes fewer) challenges than developing websites, composing podcasts, or designing visuals with image editors.

One response to this growth of digital video has been to seek resonances between video production and writing in general. From this perspective, the process(es) of video production and writing largely remediate and support each other. Here is an embrace of the traditional documentary form and its related genres, such as the cinematic essay, as in films like Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell (2013) or Morgan Spurlock’s reality-television-esque Super Size Me (2004). This approach is the “audio-visual writing” perspective. Within this perspective, rhetoric comes to the fore as the attendant pedagogies foreground concepts like audience, purpose, genre, and medium. This perspective embodies what John Tinnell calls a “digital tools” approach through which video technologies are largely understood as something to be harnessed for the goals of rhetorical intent (123). This position, however, generally conflates analog and digital moving image-making processes. The digital simply provides a level of ease and access unavailable to the general public in the age of celluloid motion pictures.

Another response is to see digitization as creating entirely new possibities for what constitutes the moving image and its channels for communication. From this perspective, we see an embrace of alternative modes of messaging, algorithmic processes, and networks of circulation. Following Adrian Miles, this perspective can be loosely called “post-industrial.” This approach orients more toward working beyond the primarily symbolic and even beyond the capacities for human perception. Examples include the creation and distribution of moving images in social media networks, Florian Thalhofer’s Korsakow system (an algorithmically driven program for creating films), the virtual spaces of digitally rendered games, the myriad CCTV cameras and networks, even the movements on smart phone and desktop screens. A pedagogical embrace of the post-industrial is concerned not only with how new technologies expand a tool kit for composing but also with how the technologies themselves create new forms and exert agency in the composition and pedagogical scenario.

Ultimately, audio-visual writing and the post-industrial is less strict opposition and more overlapping pedagogical orientation that both yield important payoffs. While engaging with either mode, students deal directly with concerns of intellectual property. They experiment with a range of literacies and composing strategies that engage the alphabet, sound, visuals, and motion. They also consider human-technology relations. And they find high levels of engagement and motivation in activities as they rise to new intellectual challenges and work in ways that resonate with their daily lives.

Given these familiar and experimental possibilities combined with the increasing ease of creating video projects, it’s surprising that there is not more widespread adoption of video assignments as part of digital pedagogy. In some ways, this can be explained by the expectations for production values associated with digital video. If instructors conceive of digital video assignments in terms of film production, then need for cameras, microphones, lighting, editing, and a good deal of time learning these processes must be considered. Additionally, as the relatively stable ground of film production moves into the realms of smartphone cameras, screen capturing, game spaces, and algorithms, instructors may risk feeling lost in the more ephemeral, even autopoetic, qualities of a digitally networked composing. A more productive approach to video in digital pedagogy is to work somewhere between these two extremes. By lowering the entry difficulties to creating video projects but maintaining reasonable expectations for production quality (easily accomplished with prosumer technologies and basic instruction) and by embracing a willingness to experiment with video as something more than just a user-friendly means of extending traditional writing, digital pedagogy can create more opportunities for integrating digital video into the classrooms.


"Disputing YouTube Content ID Takedowns"

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This assignment from UT-Austin’s Digital Writing and Research Lab (DWRL) guides students as they explore intellectual property concerns related to digital video. The assignment provides clearly articulated pedagogical goals, technological requirements, suggestions for evaluation, and “timeline[s] for optimal use” within a curriculum. The DWRL’s Lesson Plan archive contains a wealth of additional starting point lessons related to many other themes relevant to the reception and making of video and moving images. Lessons such as these helpt to articulate the goals and technologies for video projects within the context of more recent phenomena in video-making and culture.

"Re-presentation: Kate Chopin's The Story of an Hour"

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Megan Cross’s “Re-Presentation: Kate Chopin’s The Story of an Hour” creates a video made with PowerPoint. It reminds us that when we talk about video, we are not simply talking about iMovie or cameras. Many contemporary compositional tools can be appropriated for working with the moving image. Geared toward student multimedia, The Jump is a great resource for instructors interested in helping undergraduates publish video-based research. Each project is accompanied by an author’s statement that includes reflections on the composing process. Publications also include pedagogical materials that support the student projects: assignments, information about the course, etc. And each project is accompanied by an instructor reflection, offering more details about the pedagogical dimensions of the projects. This resource might provide an authentic publishing venue for video projects. It also provides a wealth of student examples and sample instructional materials.

"Animating Imaginary Worlds: A Digital-Meets-Handmade Animation Workshop Kit"

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Assembled by Lynn Tomlinson and Diane Kuthy, “Animating Imaginary Worlds” offers students and teachers at multiple instructional levels a how-to for producing animated videos using cut-out, handmade materials. Recontextualization operates at the core of this resource. The use of readily available video making technologies via mobile devices helps recontextualize smart phones and apps as means of knowledge production rather than simply consumption. Of particular interest is the “digital-meets-handmade” nature of the project. The use of lo-fi materials like paper, scissors, and paint recontextualizes animation as a rhetorically flexible art not restricted by access to expensive software or knowing how to write code. The ability for students to work with this historically important genre of moving image is of real value here. The kit includes guides for making hand-cut animations, a tutorial for the stop motion app OSnap!, a contextualizing essay, and samples of student work.

"DV Lab: Lectures and Lab Videos"

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These lecture and lab videos provide ample introduction for the instructor to the kinds of issues that arise when having students do documentary and video work. Video lectures cover topics such as “Documentary and Ways of Seeing,” while lab videos address topics such as “Introduction to the Camera” and “Interviewing Techniques.” The videos are part of the site, “DV Lab: Documenting Science through Video and New Media,” which explores the intersections of science and technology studies and documentary film practice. The site also includes materials that deal with the ethics and legality of documentary film work, including items on “best practices in fair use” and a piece titled, “The Photographer’s Right.” The site is of particular interest to those thinking about video pedagogy in terms of interdisciplinarity.

"Ilit: Reflecting on Learning Videos"

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In these videos, students use screen capture technologies to reflect on their projects and composing processes. The resources are part of Ilit, a site that collects the projects of students in an Introduction to Literary Studies course. As a means of learning about poetry, students developed multiple versions of electronic poems in video format. The site includes readings that scaffold the work and a number of assignments. Also of interest are the many reflections on the use of readymade materials in the video poems, a strategy that greatly reduces the production challenges of video-based assignments. And key among these portfolio videos are pieces reflecting on aspects of learning, creating meta commentary on the processes and payoffs of video pedagogy. (More of these kinds of video reflections are captured in the essay, “This is What We Did in Our Class,” listed in the additional resource section below.)

"Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth Estate"

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  • Artifact Type: course sites
  • Source URL:
  • Permissions:
  • Creator: Virginia Kuhn (University of Southern California) and the International Journal of Learning and Media
  • Tags: argument; analysis

This site captures and reports on the work of a class: IML 340, "The Praxis of New Media." The focus is on the intellectual components of digital video, especially the argumentative and rhetorical affordances of video modes and their connections to digital literacy. Particularly valuable within the Digital Pedagogy thread is Kuhn’s discussion of digital argument, which she defines as argument “that is born-digital and uses the various affordances of emergent technologies intentionally.” Additionally, Kuhn challenges the notion that audio-visual media are too ephemeral for sustained analysis, arguing that digitization allows for the "patience that books possess." The site provides a valuable resource for reflecting on the intellectual benefits and challenges of doing work with video. Finally, Kuhn’s use of the Scalar platform for publication of the work invites speculation towards the role that such platforms might play in video work, in terms of both delivery and analysis.

"Loop Assignment"

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This “Loop Assignment” uses GIFs and Vines to create non-traditional forms of moving images. These kinds of assignments complicate traditional notions of videography. When students begin working with these alternative approaches, the agencies of an application like Instagram or the smartphone come as much to the fore as the rhetorical agency of the video-maker. This can help students to see video-making not only as a tool to be harnessed in the service of familiar rhetorical goals but also as an emergent mode that represents the shifting actors and agencies at work in digital composing spaces. Proctor’s “Teaching Resources” page offers a range of materials, including assignments that move from traditional audio-visual work to more contemporary genres (such as vlogs and mash-ups) to emerging web-based video applications. Proctor’s pedagogy looks ahead to web-based, networked video-making.

"Post-Industrial Video Pedagogy"

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  • Artifact Type: teaching guidelines
  • Source URL:
  • Permissions: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike CC BY-NC-SA
  • Creator: Adrian Miles (RMIT University, Melbourne)
  • Tags: getting stated, Korsakow

Adrian Miles presents here his teaching philosophy for post-industrial video. Miles seeks to create a space “where video is no longer looking backwards to its industrial restrictions of limited access and linear, single broadcast.” This approach foregrounds what it means to make video within the material constraints and affordances of digital networks. The answer to this question is, of course, complex, but the archive of student projects collected here begins to generate some paths for possible answers. The philosophy is part of a larger curriculum for “post-industrial video.” For Miles, post-industrial video designates a shift from hardcopy paradigms of media production to what he terms softcopy forms, or those enabled by the development of digital networks. The curriculum features pedagogical experiment(s) with the interactive video system, Korsakow.

"Iterative Progress"

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This course site and the pedagogy it represents fall squarely on the post-industrial side of the digital video continuum. Assignments range from glitching images to creating processing-based animations to remix video responses. The materials provide an invitation to experiment with the dynamics of signal and noise, using videos to explore the role of machinic processing and social media in composing. Of particular interest is the way Lincoln’s pedagogy enacts a video paradigm built around the shifting relationships between humans and technology. While instructors might cull assignments or examples from the Tumblr stream, the site (and Lincoln’s Notational Tumblr might best be used as illustrative examples/enactments of how video pedagogy can help students and instructors participate in ever-expanding networks of media, devices, machines, and humans.

"Introduction to Humanities Physical Computing w/Arduino and Processing"

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David Reider’s course syllabus for “Introduction to Humanities Physical Computing w/Arduino and Processing” presents an introductory curriculum for engaging with even more new processes from which conceptions of video might emerge. Reider’s course does not specifically take up video; however, it does offer a map for both a theoretical and a hands-on introduction to “the computational and physical/material bases of electronic media.” We have included it here as a provocation of sorts. For example, while most syllabi frame video projects as “Video Essays” or “Mashups” (both relatively recognizable products), the projects in Reider’s course include such things as a “Sensable Object.” “Interactive sound and light show[s] with sensors, buttons, and switches.” Why not, in an era of drones and facial recognition software, imagine the future of the moving image in the most capacious ways we can? Reider has also taught an undergraduate variation of this course.


Anderson, Daniel, et al., “Issues of New Media.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy 8.1 (2003): n. pag. Web.

Anderson, Daniel, Jackclyn Ngo, Sydney Stegall, and Kyle Stevens, “This is What We did in Our Class,” CCC Online 1.1 (2012): n. pag. Web.

Aston, Judith and Sandra Guadenzi. Digital Cultures Research Centre at University of the West of England, Bristol. n.d.

Arroyo, Sarah J. and Geoffrey V. Carter, eds. “Video and Participatory Cultures.” Enculturation: A Journal of Writing Rhetoric and Culture 8 (2010): n. pag. Web

Halbritter, Bump. “Big Questions, Small Works, Lots of Layers: Documentary Video Production and the Teaching of Academic Research and Writing.” Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy 16.1 (2011): n. pag. Web.


Anderson, Daniel and Emily Shepard. Ilit: An E-poetry, E-portfolio Exhibit. 2017. Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

Blouke, Cate et al.“Lesson Plans - Video.” The Digital Writing and Research Lab. U of Texas at Austin, 2012 - 2015, Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

Festen (The Celebration). Directed by Thomas Vintenberg. Scanbox, 1998.

Hodgson, Justin et al. The Jump: Journal of Undergraduate Media Projects. U of Texas at Austin, 2010 - 2015, Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

The Idiots. Directed by Lars von Trier. October, 1998.

Kuhn, Virginia. “Filmic Texts and the Rise of the Fifth Estate.” International Journal of Learning and Media, vol 2, issue 2-3, 2010, Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

Lincoln, Justin. Iterative Progress: Beginning New Genres. Whitman College, 2014, Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

Miles, Adrian. Post-Industrial Video 0.5. 2017,

Proctor, Jennifer. "Teaching Resources." Jennifer Proctor: Film | Video | New Media, 2006 - 2017, Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

Reider, David M. Introduction to Humanities Computing w/Arduino and Processing Syllabus. 2015. Department of English, North Carolina State U, Raleigh. PDF.

Stories We Tell. Directed by Sarah Polley. Roadside, 2013.

Super Size Me. Directed by Morgan Spurlock. Samuel Goldwyn, 2004.

Tinnell, John. "Post-Media Occupations for Writing Theory: From Augmentation to Autopoiesis." Ecology, Writing Theory, and New Media. Ed. Sidney L. Dobrin, New York: Routledge, 2012. Print.

Tomlinson, Lynn and Diane Kuthy. “Animating Imaginary Worlds: A Digital-Meets-Handmade Animation Workshop Kit.” Kits, Plans, Schematics a special issue of Hyperrhiz: New Media Cultures, vol. 13, 2015, Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

Waley, Christine and Chris Boebel. DV Lab: Documenting Science through Video and New Media. MIT, Accessed 15 Sept 2017.

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