Category Archives: Classroom

Random Acts of Kindness Recognition from 11 Alive News

I am so pleased to report that 11 Alive News has aired a segment about the work that I have done with my colleague and friend, Hillary Steiner, this semester in our Learning Community at Kennesaw State University. In this Learning Community students are enrolled in English Composition (my course) and Intro to Psychology (Hillary’s course). Our theme for these courses has been “The Pursuit of Happiness” and we have asked students to perform RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness) and ask the recipients to “Pay it forward.” We then asked students to write and discuss these RAKs and how being kind to others can help increase our own feelings of happiness. Students have expressed enhanced feelings of compassion and satisfaction, and we believe that many of them will continue to perform RAKs even after the semester is over.

As a result of these efforts, we were nominated by our colleagues to be recognized by Atlanta’s 11 Alive News in their Random Acts of Kindness segment. We were totally surprised when news reporter Christopher “Crash” Clark presented Hillary and I with several gift cards and acknowledged us for promoting kindness and happiness in our students. It was truly an honor to be recognized for the work we do in this way.

Our news segment can be viewed here.

Can You Teach Students to Be Happy and Kind?”

I’m happy to share this great news story about the learning community I’m teaching in this semester. Our theme is “The Pursuit of Happiness” and we have been discussing happiness and how doing random acts of kindness for others can often make our own lives better. Happiness Learning Community

“Can you teach students to be happy and kind?

Kennesaw State University students in pursuit of happiness

KENNESAW, Ga. (March 21, 2014) — When professors Hillary Steiner and Jeannie Beard combined their Psychology 1101 and English 1102 classes as part of a learning community for first-year students, they decided to integrate a “pursuit of happiness” theme with the coursework.

“Students entering college often have some apprehension about the transition,” said Steiner. “We thought teaching students about the concept of being happy might launch their college careers on a more positive note.”

A portion of the students’ assignments includes writing papers and posting content related to happiness on this learning community’s Facebook page. They must also post four brief summaries of their personal experiences performing “random acts of kindness” with the goal of increasing another person’s happiness.

Toward the end of the semester, Steiner said, students will have the opportunity to reflect upon the happiness project from start to finish and discuss how it personally impacted them. They’ll be asked to discuss whether this assignment made them uncomfortable and if it increased their own levels of happiness.

Kennesaw State University student Ryan Turnage is among the professors’ students already reflecting upon the lessons he has learned throughout this project. He said a major “aha” moment occurred for him while watching a video about happiness during class. He said that video highlighted a study that found making a lot of money does not guarantee happiness or success in life.

“That was my biggest mistake,” he said. “I’ve always felt that I wasn’t going to be happy until I made six figures, and that’s really not the case at all. A person making $50,000 or $150,000 can have the same level of happiness. What really matters is taking advantage of every situation you have and looking at the bright side of things if you can.”

Turnage has embraced the “random acts of kindness” assignment, going beyond the requirements to surprise his professors. He and classmate Avery Schueller led a class effort to raise money for the University’s food bank called “Feed the Future.” This program, managed by KSU Student Health Services at House 53, supports students struggling to pay for food. Turnage and his classmates raised about $100 and purchased items to help stock the pantry.

“We felt good donating the food and hope we helped make someone’s life a bit easier and perhaps happier,” he said.

Both professors said they have enjoyed watching how the students have integrated the “pursuit of happiness” theme into their work up to this point.

“I have noticed from their papers, random acts of kindness and conversations that they are looking at world through the lens of a happiness perspective, and that’s exactly what we hoped for,” said Beard. “I hope it serves them well during their university careers and beyond.”

Steiner said, “I think there’s a perception that college students are narcissistic and self-serving, and they will only do things that affect their grades. That’s just not the case. I’ve been really impressed with how our students have embraced this assignment and gone above and beyond in pursuit of making others happy.”

– Katherine Dorsett Bennett




Rethinking Facebook: Using Social Media for Good

This semester I am teaching Composition I in two amazing learning communities at Kennesaw State. Both learning communities are focused on women’s issues and are comprised of all female students. In one of the classes, our theme is Leading Ladies and we are focusing on the various aspects of our roles as leaders, the obstacles we face, and the ways in which can empower ourselves, our communities, and each other as women. In the other class, our theme is Global Girl Talk, and we are discussing the important issues that women are facing all over the world and relating these issues back to our own lives. I will certainly be posting more on the great things that these young women are doing in the near future, but this post is about evaluating Facebook.

For their second essay, my students are writing evaluation essays. They are invited to write an evaluation of just about anything they choose, but I am encouraging them to choose topics that address the themes of our communities. They may choose to evaluate a female artist’s work or a business that is run by women for women, or they may look at product or service that is marketed to women.The list goes on and on. There are so many things that we evaluate on a daily basis. The ability to evaluate effectively is an important critical thinking skill, and this is why I incorporate this assignment into my first-year composition courses.

Last week, I had my students do an online class using a Facebook page that I created for both learning communities. I chose to use Facebook primarily because it was easy to post links to videos and articles and I also wanted to experiment with how the students responded to the educational use of a Facebook page. I then evaluated Facebook using the three criteria set forth in their book, Good Reasons, by Lester Faigley and Jack Selzter. These criteria are: aesthetics, practicality, and ethics.

I created the following Haiku Deck presentation to demonstrate several important lessons to my students. First, I wanted to show them how to create an effective presentation using clean and simple design elements. Haiku Deck is a great presentation software for getting these zen presentation results. I also wanted to demonstrate how to give a presentation in a professional and effective way. I used my own presentation to model the presentations they would be giving on the topics of their evaluation, and I also used my own evaluation of Facebook to prompt them to think about how social media can best be used for positive rather than negative outcomes. This was a lesson plan with many layers, and it worked out really well to teach by example and also explore some more complex issues about social media and how we use it for either positive or negative purposes.

In my evaluation, I concluded that it is time to rethink how we use Facebook as a social media platform. Facebook is easy to use (practical), and the interface allows us to post articles and videos with thumbnails and summaries (aesthetics and practicality), and it can be utilized to share knowledge and support causes and companies that we want to promote (ethics). Facebook can also be used to create an online personae that reflects our positive traits, values, and qualities rather than shines a spotlight on our more negative traits. Therefore, it is crucial that we begin to rethink how we use all social media in general, but more specifically, we can start using Facebook for good, as a platform to share information, promote and engage activism, and support others and ourselves as conscious and productive members of today’s society.


My Teaching Philosophy

I have studied rhetoric and composition for ten years now, eight of which I have also been a teacher at several different colleges. Throughout this time, I have written many different teaching philosophies for different purposes, sometimes for class, sometimes for employers. Many concepts have remained the same: a love for the profession and discipline, a belief in encouraging students as scholars, the importance of technology. And some things have changed or evolved slightly to reflect my own experiences and learning both in my own classrooms and the classrooms of others.

It’s a good idea to revisit our philosophies from time to time, if not for a complete overhaul, then certainly for a freshening up, a new coat of paint that reminds us of the full potential we have to create something beautiful within our classrooms. And of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a current teaching philosophy to share with prospective employers. The following is my most recent teaching philosophy in which I explore my ideas about the profession itself and my chosen field; my approach to my students and composition pedagogy; my commitment for teaching students to thrive in our digital age, and my belief in teaching by example by being a life-long learner. I hope this philosophy will reflect who I am as a teacher and serve as a reminder to myself and inspiration to others.

“If it were possible to define generally the mission of education, one could say that its fundamental purpose is to ensure that all students benefit from learning in ways that allow them to participate fully in public, community, and economic life. Literacy pedagogy is expected to play a particularly important role in fulfilling this mission. Pedagogy is a teaching and learning relationship that creates the potential for building learning conditions leading to full and equitable social participation.”

“A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” ~The New London Group

The Teaching Profession

Most people will inevitably find themselves in a teaching role at some point in their lives, in some capacity or another, whether it be for a workshop office presentation, an impromptu cooking lesson at a friend’s house, or a backyard game of catch with a small child. But not everyone will choose education as a profession, and not everyone should.

I believe that the best teachers do so because of a calling—a deep passion for watching their students light up with a new understanding. Good teachers have a love of knowledge and learning that they are compelled to share with the world.

I believe that teachers who do not have the calling or who have lost their love for the profession should find work elsewhere. Our students need us to love our profession, if not always our jobs. They need our enthusiasm. Students need teachers who are answering their calling and who teach for the intrinsic reward that comes with seeing a student grow.

Teaching Rhetoric & Composition

In 1996, Ellen Cushman asked scholars of rhetoric and composition to think about their roles as “agents of social change.” Like Cushman, I believe in the possibility for this discipline to equip our students to not only succeed in their academic lives, but also to make sense of the world around them, their place in that world, and also consider their contributions to it.

I believe that teaching rhetoric and composition enriches people’s lives because it teaches them how to communicate in many different scenarios and for many different purposes.  Understanding rhetoric also allows students to think critically about their own opinions and ideas as well as those of others.

I always tell my students at the beginning of the semester that what I will teach them actually has the potential to improve their lives in many areas, academically, professionally, and personally. I encourage them that if they stick with me, and do what I ask them to do, that I can guarantee that each one of them will leave my classroom as a smarter person. I don’t tell them this, but I believe that what I teach has the potential to even make them better people. And in my mind, that’s a pretty good deal.

Teaching Scholars & Life-Long Learners

Kenneth Burke famously asked scholars to consider how we will enter the parlor, how we will become members of a discourse community when we “put in our oar.” Our students must also be invited to the party.

I believe that it is never too early to induct our students into the world of scholarship, and from the first day of class, I encourage all of my students to consider themselves scholars, members of academia, people with valid ideas and important contributions to the topics that they explore.

Having said this, I also believe that students should be encouraged to discover their own research interests and pursue their own scholarly passions in the writing classroom. I often explain to my students that they can write about just about anything they want, so long as they do it with the mind and efforts of a scholar and approach the topic with sincerity and genuine interest. After all, if they are choosing their own topics, there should be no excuse for failing to give their own interests serious attention.

Composition Pedagogy

In order to facilitate the engagement that comes with choosing their own courses of inquiry, I give students many opportunities to brainstorm, free write, and discuss their ideas and interests as an entire class as well as in small groups.

I also meet with every student to discuss their topics, assist with finding sources, and chart possible courses of action. These meetings are conducted in short, face-to-face in-class conferences and are also supported through feedback to assignments leading up to final products. I have also met with students in online environments such as Skype and Google chat in order to conduct these student conferences. I also send students words of encouragement or articles of interest related to their topics when I find them in my own reading.

I believe in writing in class and a lot of it. I give students plenty of opportunities to write in a “low stakes” environment so that they can build confidence and hash out their ideas without the anxiety that comes with more formal writing tasks. I tell my students that these in-class writings are not graded for grammar so much as they are for content and effort, but I do encourage them to write in complete sentences and put forth their best efforts in all of their writing, including emails to their professors!

I believe in providing rich, detailed feedback in a timely manner, in letting students know what is expected and when, and sticking to my expectations while also being flexible enough to respond to the needs of the class.

I believe in finding a balance between compassion and authority, and in telling my students what they need to know to succeed and helping them find ways to do so both as individuals and as a class.

I believe in telling students why we do things the way we do, for example the importance of following formats or organizing ideas, because these are real-world skills that will be needed in many areas of their professional and personal lives.

Teaching in the Digital Age

I use technology when I teach and I also adapt to it. Early in my teaching career, when I first began assigning documentaries in first-year composition classes, I failed miserably. I wrote about this failure, what I learned from it, and how I adapted in the Computers & Composition Online article, “Documenting Arguments, Proposing Change: Reflections on Student-Produced Proposal Documentaries.” As a teacher, I have to be willing to take risks and do things differently. I have to be willing to learn from my mistakes, learn from my students, and change my routine, and this is especially true when we are using new technologies to both teach and communicate.

I believe that, as writing teachers, it is our responsibility to teach students how to communicate in digital environments and guide them as they establish their identities as scholars and thinkers in an online environment. I believe it is important for students to start thinking about what future employers will see when they “Google” their name. Increasingly, students will need to establish and maintain their online identities because this will be their resume in the immediate future.

I believe in the use of technology and social media to allow students to become engaged citizens of the world. I also believe in distance learning and the possibilities for online learning to change the face of higher education in the world today. Our classrooms are changing and we must adapt to those changes. We need to be prepared to meet our students where they are. We are living in the digital age, and as such, we should embrace the possibilities and face the challenges that this amazing world offers us as educators and learners, consumers and producers, and national as well as global citizens.

Teaching by Example

I believe in living by example and setting standards for myself that my students can see for themselves. I show them my own writing, discuss my own challenges as a writer, and let them see the personal, human side of myself as a teacher, as a writer, and as a life-long learner.

I believe in the profession of teaching. I believe in the potential of teaching rhetoric and composition. I believe that teaching students how to both read and write digital media can have a positive effect on their lives and the world we live in.

I believe in people doing the work that they love.

This is my teaching philosophy.


Stranger at the Party: Introducing Sources in Academic Writing

Burke’s Metaphor for the “Unending Conversation”

“Imagine that you enter a parlor. You come late. When you arrive, others have long preceded you, and they are engaged in a heated discussion, a discussion too heated for them to pause and tell you exactly what it is about. In fact, the discussion had already begun long before any of them got there, so that no one present is qualified to retrace for you all the steps that had gone before. You listen for a while, until you decide that you have caught the tenor of the argument; then you put in your oar. Someone answers; you answer him; another comes to your defense; another aligns himself against you, to either the embarrassment or gratification of your opponent, depending upon the quality of your ally’s assistance. However, the discussion is interminable. The hour grows late, you must depart. And you do depart, with the discussion still vigorously in progress.”

(Kenneth Burke, The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action 3rd ed. 1941. Univ. of California Press, 1973)

Taking this analogy a step further, I suggest that we are not only entering the parlor, but we are also bringing along our friends, other researchers who we have discovered that support our own claims and ideas, or others whose ideas we respectfully dispute.

Who shows up at a party of familiar faces and drops off a new friend right in the middle of the action without an introduction?

“Who’s that guy? What is he doing here? Who brought him? Does he belong here?”

It is likely that if someone did this to us, we would not care to attend another social gathering with this person.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

Don’t leave Bob hanging at the party. Give him a proper introduction. Make sure we know who he is, what makes him special, and most importantly, what he has to contribute to the  conversation.

Further, don’t bring the wrong guy to the party. Bozo the clown is very entertaining at a children’s party, but he is probably not your best choice for a sidekick at a convention of brain surgeons. When I have a medical condition, I want the opinion of an expert, not a clown. That is why it is important, in most cases,  to avoid sources from unreliable or unknown authors. Bozo’s blog might be very interesting and enlightening, but for serious academic research, let’s stick with the experts.

The bottom line is that we want our research and our sources to pass the CRAP test. Sources need to be current, relevant and reliable, authoritative and accurate, and finally we want to be certain that the author’s purpose and intentions are in line with sound, scholarly research. A person selling a product is more likely to tell you only the good about that product when in research, we want more objective and unbiased analysis.




English 1102 at Kennesaw State University

I’m delighted to be teaching Composition II at Kennesaw State where the focus of the course is academic research. There will be four major themes within this class: Culture & Community; Technology, Business & Science; Problems-Causes & Effects, and Proposing Solutions. Students will be encouraged to explore topics related to their interests and possibly even develop essays related to a single topic throughout the course of the semester. English 1102 Syllabus

English 1101 at Kennesaw State University

I’m so happy to be teaching back at my alma mater, Kennesaw State University. This semester I’m teaching in a Learning Community focused on Social and Sustainable Entrepreneurship: “This learning community explores the foundations of social and sustainable entrepreneurship. The selection of courses focuses on educating students in these emerging fields and inspiring them towards creating innovative solutions to problems that affect society both at home and abroad.” I love this theme! English 1101 Syllabus

Zoom In, Zoom Out: A Focus on Descriptive Writing and Storytelling

Young Writers’ Workshop: 1/07/2010

In this session we will step behind the camera of our mind’s eye and focus on two of the most important aspects of writing—descriptive details and creative storytelling. We will begin by exploring some fascinating pictures from the archives of LIFE magazine where we will find the perfect inspiration for our Zoom-In, Zoom-Out writing exercise. Concentrate on writing  rich details and descriptions of your selected photo, and then create your own story behind the scene. Time permitting, we will share our work with others. Join us as we focus on descriptive storytelling and zoom in on an image that captures your imagination.


LIFE Magazine

New Year’s Around the World

Pictures of the Year 2010

At War: Photographers’ Best Shots

Wild Animal Photos of the Year

Nature’s Wrath and Its Aftermath

Tim Gunn’s Favorite Fashion Photos

Turn of the Century America 1900-1917

Life in the Fast Lane


“Student-Produced Multimedia Projects” by Jeannie Parker Beard

Student-Produced Multimedia Projects

This post will be dedicated to the work I am doing with multimedia projects in my composition classes. I have given multimedia assignments in most of my classes over the past several semesters. Even the students in my ENGL 0096 course seemed to benefit from the experience. I believe that adding a multimedia project assignment can be an exciting and engaging prospect in any course. Below you will find some theoretical support for this teaching practice as well information about the assignment and links to helpful resources. Much of what is provided here will be an excellent starting point for those who are interested in assigning multimedia projects in their own classes, regardless of the discipline.

About Me

Currently, I am working on my PhD in Rhetoric and Composition at Georgia State University. I have completed my coursework and will be taking my comprehensive exams this semester (spring 2010). The reading list for my exams is reflected in this annotated bibliography blog.

My primary focus is in digital and visual rhetoric, essentially the use of multimedia in the composition classroom. My seconary focus is in composition pedagogy, again with a concentration on technology and composition.  I will be researching student videos produced in my freshman composition courses for my dissertation. The tentative title is: Composing on the Screen: Student-Produced Multimedia Texts as an Extension of the Writing Process. I hope to demonstrate how composing multimedia texts allows students to apply and enhance the skills learned in their composition courses. I am seeking a permanent, tenure-track position that will allow me to continue my work in new media and composition studies.

Since I began teaching four years ago, I have incorporated student-produced multimedia assignments in my composition classes. In lieu of a traditional, academic paper, my students produce videos as a final project in my first-year composition courses. These videos are a culmination of the rhetorical skills they have honed throughout the course. By combining their own writing with music, images, and video, students are able to shift from being merely consumers of mass media to critical consumers AND producers of their own rhetorically driven multimedia texts.

Every semester I am surprised and impressed with their productions, and every semester we are faced with new obstacles and setbacks. Today I am going to discuss some of the theoretical foundations that support using video as academic text, outline the basics of the multimedia project that I assign (and its variations), and how I’ve attempted to address copyright issues that inevitably crop up with the use of new media in this way.


In his article, “Critical Theory and the Challenge of New Media,” Jay David Bolter outlines how the image has come into a dominant role in our culture of digital media. The Web has integrated the many media of the 20th century and is restructuring the way we read and view information. He writes, “In short, the World Wide Web and other new media challenge not only the form of the book, but also the representational power of the printed word” (21). Bolter examines some of the challenges of new media, explaining how print is still the preferred medium for critical theorists. Here Bolter challenges theorists to examine new media from a more inclusive rather than exclusive lens by using new media as the delivery method of their critical theory. He writes, “These new media forms are available to us as producers as well as consumers, and they are available as forms of production to cultural critics and academics in general” (23). Jay Bolter is validating new media as an extension of academic writing, and this is valuable in my research as I am attempting to show how student-produced new media texts are an extension of the writing process.

Gunther Kress, like Bolter, argues that we have shifted from an age of print to the age of the screen. In his book Literacy in the New Media Age, Kress begins with the statement, “It is no longer possible to think about literacy in isolation from a vast array of social, technological and economic factors” (1). He argues that there is a shift from the dominance of print-based communication, specifically in the form of print based literacy through the medium of the book, to the dominance of image in conjunction with text through the medium of the screen. Taking a sociolinguistic and semiotic approach, he theorizes how literacy is changing due to the multiple modes available in the contemporary world.

Another important text is the collection titled Multiliteracies: Literacy and the Design of Social Futures. This book is a must-have resource for educators who wish to move beyond the so-called “Three Rs” and tackle the challenges of 21st century education head on. The members of The New London contributed to this volume representing a diverse group of scholars devoted to the social, historical, economic, political, linguistic and semiotic views of how literacy is changing in the digital age.

The concept of multiliteracies takes into account the influence of mass media and electronic media on the way we produce and consume knowledge. From the introduction: “Meaning is made in ways that are increasingly multimodal—in which written-linguistic modes of meaning are part and parcel of visual, audio, and spatial patterns of meaning” (5).

In this text The New London group explains the concepts of what they call “fast capitalism” in our “post-Ford” area.  No longer will workers of the future be required to perform routine tasks in an assembly line, but rather they will be called upon to filter, assimilate and navigate through virtual worlds of information in the most effective ways possible. Essentially, we are preparing students for a much different workplace than the traditional pedagogies of the past account for. They write, “Students need also to develop the capacity to speak up, to negotiate, and to be able to engage critically with the conditions of their working lives” (13). Part of the new pedagogy of multiliteracies is the idea that we are designers, and that critical analysis and interpretation of the multiple modes of meaning can lead students to the “design of social futures” in their working lives, public lives, and personal lives. Students must know what resources are available to them, know how to use those resources in the semiotic process, and understand how resources are “produced and transformed through Designing”

In “Understanding Visual Rhetoric in Digital Writing Environments,”  Dr. Mary Hocks writes, ““. . . new technologies simply require new definitions of what we consider writing” (630).  The discussion of the hybridity of new media is relevant to my research because it is important for me to validate my students’ videos as academic work. Their multimedia projects are time consuming, and they involve as much writing, research and editing as a traditional paper. In many ways, a multimedia text is much more complex and involves much more work. In most cases, the students become more engaged with their writing and research when they see it coming together visually and audibly. Hocks writes, “We need to recognize that these new media and the literacies they require are hybrid forms. Historical studies of writing technologies have demonstrated how all writing is hybrid—it is at once verbal, spatial, and visual. Acknowledging this hybridity means that the relationships among word and image, verbal texts and visual texts, ‘visual culture’ and ‘print culture’ are all dialogic relationships rather than binary opposites” (630-631).

The Assignment

Below you will find the details of the multimedia assignment that I give to my ENGL 1101 courses. These are the exact guidelines of the project as they are given to the students. The basic guidelines remain the same for the project, regardless of the course; however, some of  the project’s topic parameters do change according to the course subject matter. For example, a literature class project may be a book or movie review, a biography of an author, a critical analysis, or an overview of a time period, genre, or ideology.

Multimedia Project Final

ENGL 1101


You will be creating a multimedia production as the final project in this course.  These projects will be due the last day of class and should be appropriate for viewing in class. You will be taking a paper written for this class and converting it into a video using Windows Moviemaker or iMovie. You may also choose to use a different software program if you prefer.

You may work alone, or you may also choose to work in groups up to 4 members. If you choose to work in groups, you must coordinate within the group and delegate responsibilities accordingly. Every group member is required to participate and contribute equally to the project. You should decide as a group whose paper to convert into a video, or perhaps you will decide to collaborate and combine your paper topics to create a cohesive topic for your video. I am available to make suggestions and help you with your topics, and I will also provide some basic instruction in class on how to use the multimedia software.

Video Requirements:

  • Videos must be 5-7 minutes in length (no more than 10 minutes)
  • Video must contain all of the following: still pictures, video clips, student-produced writing in the form of text within the video, music from the site FreePlay Music (or music that does not infringe on copyright)
  • Video must present a clear thesis statement and show the development of a rhetorical argument, just as a traditional academic essay would
  • All source material must be cited in the credits or as the information is shown or given. All pictures used must fall under creative commons license and be given appropriate attribution. Any copyrighted materials appearing in the video (including the songs) must fall under fair use guidelines.
  • Video must be uploaded to  YouTube and a link must be emailed to the instructor no later than the due date
  • A hard copy of the video on CD as backup will be turned in on the due date
  • All videos must be contain content that is appropriate for class
  • If working in a group, all group members must turn in a group evaluation form that gives the following information: 1. State what each member contributed to the group 2. State the overall effectiveness of the group 3. State your overall opinion of the final product 4. State if you feel that everyone participated equally and explain why or why not 5. State your overall experience with producing a multimedia text

The evaluation is due on the due date and will be sent by email from each individual member.

Grade: Worth 100 points (10% of total grade in the course)

Does the video meet the requirements?

Does the video show accurate writing skills?

How effective is the editing, sound quality and overall appearance of the final product?

Do the groups report equal sharing of responsibility?


YouTube has proven to be an invaluable resource for this project. Last semester I discovered how to utilize the playlist feature to organize student videos by class, and they were then able to watch their classmates’ videos and leave comments for extra credit. I instructed them to be respectful, write in complete, correct sentences (a departure from the norm when it comes to YouTube comments!) and leave constructive feedback, commenting on both the strengths and weaknesses of their peers’ work. It was also obvious that many students were sharing their videos with others because after only a view days many of the videos had close to 100 views.

There are other sites where videos can be uploaded, but I prefer YouTube because I can organize the videos all in one place on my channel, and it’s a site that my students are usually already familiar with. I also use YouTube as a springboard for copyright discussions, and YouTube’s internal site has many valuable resources and tips for following copyright guidelines as well as tutorials on video production. It’s overall a great teaching tool when used to this end.

I really like the idea that although there is plenty of mindless silliness on YouTube, there is also a forum there for learning and sharing student work.

For anyone who is interested in using multimedia projects in this way, I encourage you to check out my YouTube channel where you can see videos I have made about the project and the playlists of student videos. The YouTube channel can be a great resource and starting point for organizing your own multimedia projects.

My YouTube Channel

Creative Commons

After initially going over the project’s details, I spend one class lecturing about the principles of copyright, the fair use test, and the Creative Commons license. I have put together a PowerPoint presentation using images under the Creative Commons license, and I also show a couple of the videos from the Creative Commons site. By using Creative Commons in my own presentations, students are able to see firsthand how to negotiate copyrighted materials, conduct the fair use test, and utilize the digital media that is available under Creative Commons. Students are able to see pictures found through a Creative Commons search, and we also spend time discussing the four-point fair use test. By giving attribution to each digital image or video used, students are able to understand how citing sources for multimedia sources is just as important as citing sources for their research papers. Because I emphasize the proper attribution of sources within their academic essays early in the semester, these concepts are easily transferred to their multimedia projects.

I do explain that it is okay to use copyrighted songs, as long as they do not use the entire song in the video. I also explain that if their video is pulled for copyright infringement, that they will either have to go through the dispute process or change their video to meet requirements. It is relatively simple to dispute a video as being for commentary or educational purposes, but students are warned that videos that have been disabled will not be graded. This usually results in students using original work, or using digital media that is properly attributed under the Creative Commons license.

At first students are disappointed that they will not be able to use their favorite songs in the videos; however, I emphasize that they are allowed to use copyrighted songs as long as they use them properly under the fair use guidelines. This requires students to consider the guidelines and make their own judgments accordingly. I also point students to sites where they can obtain music tracks that are under the Creative Commons license. The site is a good source for music tracks ranging from acoustic melodies to electronic beats. I continue to add to my resource list every semester. As can be seen in the student videos produced in the fall of 2009, students had enormous success using various digital media appropriately and with proper attribution.

Copyright issues are not going away any time soon, but they should not impede us from using digital media for creative and productive ends in our classrooms.

I believe the best way to address issues of copyright is to begin by incorporating fair use guidelines in our own work and presentations.

When students see their teachers using fair use and Creative Commons in our own work, they can learn by example. As such, I have begun implementing fair use guidelines and digital media under the Creative Commons license in my own presentations. Likewise, I emphasize fair use and copyright laws as a continuation of the discussion of plagiarism and proper citing of sources that is commonplace in the production of traditional academic essays.

Creative Commons Search Engine:

“How To”  Resources

How to Make Your Video Editing Easier

How to Make a Video Clip

Video Maker Training Workshops

YouTube: Making and Optimizing Your Videos

YouTube: Copyright

How to Capture Video from the Internet

How to Convert Videos

How to Take a Screenshot

Making Movies with Google Earth

How to Record Video in Google Earth

How to Use Audacity: Free Recording Software

How to Upload Video to YouTube

Resources for Digital Media

Fair Use Test

Freeplay Music

Copyright Free Image Archive

The Best Copyright-Free Photo Libraries

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Waiver Form

I require all of my students to sign a waiver form when doing this project. I also require them to have anyone that appears in their videos to sign a form. They must also inform participants that their voice/image will be published to YouTube. Students are also given guidelines about making ethical decisions regarding these matters.

Consent and Waiver Form


I hereby grant full permission for students and instructors at Dalton State College to prepare, use, reproduce, publish, distribute and exhibit my name, picture, portrait, likeness or voice, or any or all of them in or in connection with the production of a motion picture film, television tap or film recording, sound track recording, computer or network distributed computer file, or still photography in any manner for educational, treatment, scientific, publication, informational and any other professional purpose deemed necessary.

I hereby waive all right of privacy or compensation which I may have in connection with the use of my name, picture, portrait, likeness or voice, or any or all of them, in or in connection with said motion picture film, television tape or film recording, sound track recording, computer or network distributed computer file, or still photography and any use to which the same or any material therein may be put, applied or adapted by Dalton State College, and any of its agencies, i.e. schools, departments, or divisions.

This consent and waiver will not be made the basis of a future claim of any kind against Dalton State College and any of its agencies.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have hereunto set my hand and seal this______________ day of ___________________ , 20 _____ .

NAME: ____________________________________

ADDRESS: ________________________________


SIGNATURE OF PARENT OR GUARDIAN:* _________________________
*When minor is recorded or when otherwise justifiable.