‘Virtual Learning’ Collaborative Documentary

For my ITP project, I’d like to make a collaborative documentary to explore the variety of ways in which students and teachers engage with technology in their pedagogical endeavors in 2021. My aim is to engage college students and teachers to show and tell from a first-person perspective the learning practices they have developed in the midst of the economic, environmental and social crises that intersect in the present moment.

There are different models for collaborative documentaries, depending on the level of involvement participants have in the project and who controls the story narrative. For my project, I would be in charge of the project’s conceptual framing editing the content other participants would provide me with to piece together.

One of the first steps would be to design a social media campaign to call for submissions. This campaign would primarily target NYC-based college students and educators, particularly from CUNY colleges, but would open up its scope beyond NYC, welcoming submissions from other states and even from other countries. Participants will be asked to submit videos of themselves while preparing for a class, developing class projects, attending virtual classes, and comments and interactions after the class.

The call for submissions will provide a list of questions for participants to answer while recording their videos. Some of the primary questions would be:

  • How do you get ready for virtual classes/ to go to school?
  • What are you learning today?
  • Who is your teacher? How do you interact with your teacher?

I would like to add other questions that are not strictly related to the online learning experience, but that also have an impact on the learning process. These complementary questions would serve the purpose of contextualizing the environment and the moment in which the learning is taking place and would help develop the visual narrative. Some of those questions would be:

  • What are you cooking today?
  • Where are you?
  • What’s on your desk?
  • Show me your favorite notebook and what was your last entry?
  • What is the most useful thing you learned this semester?
  • What is outside of your window?
  • What are your plans after class?

I have thought of an alternative project where I would be more of a facilitator than an “author” for the documentary. In that case, I would create a website and upload the videos submitted by the participants, allowing for users to do their own edits of the story, resembling Wikipedia’s crowdsourcing model where the outcome would be a never-ending documentary that anybody can edit.

However, I prefer the first option where I can ensure the outcome of the project will be a linear film with a guaranteed narrative coherence and a clear thesis: the idea that learning is a collaborative process that is shaped by what happens in the classroom as well the living circumstances around students’ lives.

My experience as a student-teacher would also be part of the documentary. I would extend the invitation for my own students to submit videos, and to my ITP classmates to participate as well.

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