During the 2008-2009 academic year, Giuliana Perco, Senior Lecturing Fellow in the department of Romance Studies, participated in CIT’s Student Video Fellows Program. This Fellows program offered a group of faculty from a range of disciplines the opportunity to investigate how to effectively design student video assignments, assess video work in the courses, and provided access to technology and support options available at Duke for them and their students.
Perco integrated her fellowship into her third-semester Italian 63 course to develop a project in which groups of students were asked to plan, film and produce an original video in Italian. Videos were designed to the students’ own interpretation of one of the aspects of contemporary Italian culture studied in class, including such themes as social changes in the Italian family structure intercultural exchanges, immigration, the protection of the environment, or the impact of technology in society.
Students were allowed to choose any genre for their video work, and they made documentaries, interviews, parodies, commercials, and narratives. In all cases, they were required to follow the conventions of the genre chosen. Students were provided with Flip cameras through the Duke Digital Initiative, and both students and instructors were given training to produce their videos using Flip equipment and software.
In developing the video project, Perco hoped to have her students use language more creatively than they had done in class presentations in previous semesters. By researching an aspect of Italian culture, planning a film around it, writing and performing a script, students were able to use multiple language skills in creative and original ways. Although the students embraced and adopted the technology with very little difficulty, the emphasis of the course was focused on the pedagogical development of Italian language skills, rather than technology skills.
After implementing the project, Perco was very pleased with the students’ work and hopes to continue having students create videos as part of their language training. Compared to the research presentations that the video project is designed to replace, students used Italian more naturally and creatively. In end-of-semester surveys, the students themselves reported being very satisfied with the work they were able to do. As for the technology, students reported having very few technical problems with the Flip cameras, which allowed them to focus on the content of their work rather than any technical barriers.