Teaching animation in the YouTube era
My semester is three weeks old, which is 1/4 of the term at Middlebury. So it’s a fair time to reflect on a few things. One of my courses, The Art of Animation, is a first-year seminar, meaning that all 15 students are new to college and the course serves the multiple purposes of covering content, teaching writing, orienting students to the logistics & expectations of college, and serving as an advising laboratory, as I’m these students’ adviser until they declare a major. In other words, I’m spinning plates, hoping to keep everything moving along enough to avoid a crash.
One element I’m including in the mix is online writing, as I feel one of the chief lessons of writing today is understanding the various modes of composition used in various media. The two main online projects are building an animation wiki, which will last beyond the course as a shared resource for animation scholars & fans – and hopefully will ramp up more in coming weeks – and a group blog here on WordPress.
What’s struck me the most about the blog is how much YouTube changes the dynamic of teaching animation. Because animation is dominated by the short form much more than major live-action modes, online video is particularly useful for animation studies. WordPress embeds YouTube or Google Video incredibly easily, so students have really taken to posting shorts that they find without any technical barrier to entry. If you scan recent entries, you’ll see a number of videos that students (and occasionally I) have posted to the blog that have led to interesting conversations, and just exposure to a wide range of artists, media, national origins, and styles.
We spend a great deal of time in class watching animation, but still I always feel like there’s more to see than time allows for – I come to every class with somewhere between 3-10 DVDs, playing DJ juggling shorts interspersed with conversations. The blog has allowed students to take some control of the screenings, highlighting their own tastes & observations, while helping to build an investment in animation as a form. Their sense of pleasure in the topic and interest in expanding the course’s horizons on their own time is one of the best by products of new media pedagogy I’ve seen – so if you’re an animatophile, stop by the blog and add your thoughts!
Filed under: Academia, Animation, Meta-blogging, Middlebury, New Media, Teaching | 2 Comments
Tags: blogging, online video, pedagogy, youtube
random thoughts from media scholar Jason Mittell
Check out my books:Complex TV: The Poetics of Contemporary Television Storytelling How To Watch Television Television & American Culture
Genre and Television: From Cop Shows to Cartoons in American Culture
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