About the course revision process
The MUSEUM 370 – Museum Origins and Issues course is one of three courses in the Museum Studies Online Certificate Program and the first to undergo a revision process. The revision of MUSEUM 370 included conversion of lecture content into combination of rich content pages, audio podcasts, and weekly overview videos hosted by the course instructor.
Consistent use of visual aids to add value to weekly roadmap pages
One of the goals of the improved information architecture of the course site included using consistent visual communication to provide reinforce the context of the course topics from week to week. For example, images sourced from the royalty free image service, Pixabay, were added both for aesthetic and informative purposes to the weekly roadmap pages as banner images. The content of the banner images are mirrored by the overview videos, short recordings that help students get a close approximation of the instructor’s interpersonal communication style through HD audio and video recordings as well as view a time-based display of images related to that week’s topics. In some weeks, a special interactive Google Map, populated with points of interest related to museums, is also displayed.
Sources of visual aids included
The visuals in the course primarily come from freely available materials, either royalty free images from sites like Pixabay or images that are fair use or available under creative commons terms. Some paid images were licensed from the affordable Bigstock.com, and other graphic visuals were custom created by Distance Learning staff. When necessary, screen recordings of museum website interfaces or other digital tools were made and properly attributed.
Video Production Process Summary
In order to get all of this visual content into the course, a series of production processes were needed to move from initial concept to final draft. While content pages, banner images, graphics, and interactive media mostly stemmed from a course or weekly learning objective, the overview videos began as scripts to be spoken by the instructor. The scripts were edited by the Learning Designer and instructor, segmented into storyboard documents by the Instructional Technologist to plan the recording and editing processes, proofread by the Content Specialist both for copyediting and to evaluate any planned visual aids for copyright clearance, all before recording took place. Drafts of the recorded videos were shared using the SPS DL Vimeo PRO account, which includes a Client Review tool that allows for timestamped feedback comments and annotations of specific locations in the video. Final drafts were hosted on YouTube for ease of synchronizing the written scripts to the spoken audio.
The decision to use on-campus resources or mobile recording resources depends on a number of factors. For local faculty, we encourage creating media using on-campus resources when possible due to the added benefit of having SPS Distance Learning staff physically present during recording sessions to assist with technical and content needs. There are however many mobile recording technologies and techniques, and in the fully online asynchronous format it is very important that everyone be as comfortable creating media on their own as they are with the assistance of others.
Since the instructor of the course was able to visit the studio in Abbott Hall, we recorded the weekly overview videos in a controlled environment for consistency of audio and image quality; only varying the instructor’s wardrobe to keep consistent the theme of visual variety from week to week.
Beyond seeing and hearing the course instructor in the weekly videos, students also view images that support the concepts and topics described in the video. Relevance of the images is the most important factor when deciding what to include, and the instructor provided examples to guide the development team toward resources. The Content Specialist helped identify and locate alternative visual materials when needed, mostly due to copyright restrictions. The presentation of images was mostly literal and did not use metaphor or other narrative techniques to advance the videos. In the future, more sophisticated choreography between the images and the instructor’s on camera presence can be considered to provide additional context or emphasis to specific areas of the images shown. This additional effort to plan details of the video during the pre-production phase would allow for extra time during post-production for additional drafts of edits to be reviewed.
From the instructor’s perspective, working collaboratively in drafts can elicit new ideas about how to convey information to students.
Overall, the success of this process, beyond achieving consistent quality in course materials, is measured by student ability to have additional information to associate with the sequential progression of the course each week. That, and by the instructor modeling digital presence and curation techniques, students have an access to an example of a possible delivery style they can use in their own course interactions and assignment submissions.