Making media more accessible

Educators are already time-poor. Making multimedia content on top of preparing lectures and marking assignments can feel not only burdensome but alien (Britton, et al., 2020; Cerimagic, 2021)

Thankfully, new technologies are making the media production process more accessible, cheaper, and faster. Nowadays, almost anyone can record a video using a smartphone or create a podcast with a USB mic. Furthermore, there are numerous online tools and software that allow users to produce multimedia content.

Nevertheless, simply knowing what is available (and easily accessible) is one thing—learning how to use them well is another. While there are many how-to tutorials out there, they can be overwhelming. What staff want to know are the basic steps, tools, and best practices to quickly and reasonably produce media content.

‘D.I.Y. Do it yourself’

With the transition to remote learning, many educators have had to produce media content by themselves. For some, it was their first time. The media team at Business Co-Design (BCD) developed close to 40 how-to videos, ran several workshops, and deployed eight D.I.Y. media kits to upskill and gear up staff. In one of our earlier blogs, you can find out more about how we made media making easy.

However, simply teaching educators how to use a particular software or set up a tripod is unlikely to turn them into independent media makers. So how do we help academics put the ‘Y’ in D.I.Y. media?

The D.I.Y. media guide; helping you get the most out of your self made content with confidence and flair.

D.I.Y. media guide

Media production is a broad topic (Mayer and Moreno, 2003). To condense its entirety into a single how-to guide without becoming dense or dull is an ambitious task! Nevertheless, we took up the challenge and created a simple D.I.Y. media guide for staff at the Business School to help them with the media production process. The idea behind the project was to create something informative yet accessible. To achieve this, we knew from the start that we could not rely on text alone. Here is what we found worked:

1. Lighten the text.

Too much text can turn even the most stoic readers off. Balancing instructions with good humour and visual imagery can break up the page and make the content easier to read and digest.

2. Keep it simple.

Educators do not need to know the whizbangs of media production—just the basics. At BCD, we grouped all relevant media tips, tools, and resources under three key categories: PLAN, CREATE, EDIT. We covered only the essentials of media production, such as scripting, presenting to the camera, and streamlining production and post-production processes.

3. Less is more.

Whilst thoroughness and accuracy are important, educators should be able to glean the core information at a glance. In the D.I.Y. media guide, we included a few but trustworthy tips, presented as bullet-points. Where possible, we provided videos and external links to reduce reading time further.

4. Build from templates.

Templates make life easier. Why start from scratch when you can use something pre-made? With the right template, educators should only need to fill in the gaps. This reduces the recording and editing workload for educators and also helps to maintain a consistent look and feel across the faculty.

5. Make it interactive.

Not only should the content from the guide be straightforward but so should the user experience. Staff should be able to find the relevant information with ease. Hence, we converted the D.I.Y. media guide into an interactive Canvas LMS site. Through hyperlinks and rich media embeds, academics could conveniently download files, watch videos, and access booking systems.

6. Collaborate with others.

Whether to share knowledge or proofread work, teamwork brings many benefits. The BCD media team collaborated with the Learning Design team to mix pedagogical perspectives with practical media advice. The team’s visual designer also came on board to enliven the D.I.Y. media guide with vibrant imagery. From humble beginnings, we ended up with a product that was informative yet fun to read.

Conclusion

Making media accessible to educators is crucial. The pivot to online learning has changed how educators deliver and students consume content. Students are now expecting more digital resources, such as videos, to replace in-person lectures and tutorials. However, whilst the demand for quality multimedia content has grown, most educators are not trained media producers. Without a production team available 24/7, educators must look for a D.I.Y. solution.

To become more independent at producing content, staff need simple, clear guidance. The D.I.Y. media guide contains many helpful tips and resources specifically designed for those new to the media production process. If interested, you can explore our D.I.Y. media guide here.

USyd student media producer dabbling in multimedia storytelling

Visual Designer

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