Understanding Media Users: From Theory to Practice

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Numbers represent different scenes. Team members relied on theories about filmmaking and suspense for their own project. The research question for the Ned Doc Style project was: What are the stylistic characteristics of the oeuvres of three important Dutch documentary filmmakers? Video 1. Go to the online version of this article to watch the video. The research question for the Nederhop project was: How have the visual aspects of video clips of Nederhop artists developed in the period ? Specifically, mise-en-scene amongst others, props , gender representation, and cinematography seemed relevant.

The images above reflect the most challenging scene in the Detective Brouwer project. While rehearsing their shot list, the team discovered the difficulties of translating a film script and shot list into an actual film. In the script, three characters are talking whilst seated around a table.

They would all be shown in close-up, utilizing a pan and a focus pull. In order to film this, the students had to remove the table altogether. The student-author involved voiced this as a learning experience about perspective and the way framing and editing create the illusion of space:. Reflection by the Detective Brouwer student-author on learning perspective. The inquiry-based learning approach confronted students with everyday problems that may arise during film production, for which they often found their own solutions, which supports the benefits of self-directed learning.

It also confronted them with the epistemic boundaries of media theories, as many issues were context specific. The goal of the Nederhop team was to make their project attractive to a broad audience.

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They discussed how to use a homepage most effectively to introduce the site and its navigation see Figure 4. The team sought inspiration from a web shop template because this allowed them to make the content available in a way that was easy to understand via a timeline and navigate by scrolling. In addition, they created their own visualisations of their analyses using Canva because it allowed for simplicity in the design see Figure 8. Visualisations of the analysis of two Nederhop video clips, including YouTube views and charts listing, gender representation, camera use, framing, and shot length.

This should make sure the user is not daunted and gets into the mood for a classic detective. Addressing the user directly or requesting her to respond to a question worked in terms of students becoming engaged in a project. For instance, users choose between scenes shot in long shots or close-ups see Figure 7. Home page left and still from the opening sequence right of the Detective Brouwer project. Students also related interactivity to prolonged involvement through revisiting the experience.

Through their engagement with existing interactive narratives, resulting in epistemic knowledge, students learned to consider the relationship between design, interactivity, and user involvement and used this in the development of their own projects, resulting in epistemic practice.

Sense‐making theory and practice: an overview of user interests in knowledge seeking and use

Reflection by Ned Doc Style student-author on learning from working with limitations. As the above audio clip from one of the student-authors illustrates, the black-box scaffolding that dictated the time limit for the project encouraged the Ned Doc Style team to come up with a project that was both informative and manageable.

Thus, the team decided to limit their project to three Dutch filmmakers. Due to technical limitations, the Ned Doc Style team was forced to abandon their original platform, Word Press , and turn to Scalar. After encountering limitations there, as well, one student taught herself some coding to be able to include images the way she wanted. The EDMOP team initially considered creating a virtual reality project but quickly realized this would be impossible.

A similar efficiency also marked the work of the Nederhop team.

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Also, they chose existing technology, Word Press and Canva , to match their needs because they were free and easy to use. The team learned to work their way around this and still achieve navigation suitable to their original idea. The above shows how black-box scaffolding encouraged continuous consideration of the limited length of the course and resources available for the project. At the same time, it illustrates how students in self-directed learning projects find their own solutions.

The Detective Brouwer team chose to ignore partly the given time restraints. From the start, they struggled to align their plans and ambitions with the resources available.

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A number of setbacks caused delays to an already ambitious plan. As a result, their project was finished only about a month after the original deadline. Reflection by the Ned Doc Style student-author on the importance of planning. Go to the online version of this article to listen to the audio. The audio clip above illustrates how crucial planning was for the projects. For the Detective Brouwer team, the project proved a major exercise in teamwork and collaboration.

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The collaboration, in general, was smooth and careful: for instance, the team met for pre-production on location in order to test for shooting the next week. During filming, due to the setup on location, one member more or less took over the role of another, which caused some confusion. The latter decided to not address this immediately in order to not disrupt the process.

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Members reported appreciating the possibility of communicating openly and address and discuss issues in the team. The student-author involved related this explicitly to filmmaking and life, in general:. Reflection by the Ned Doc Style student-author on the importance of open communication. As their project did not involve film production, the Nederhop team members each had different tasks, which they worked on at home.

A clear overview of what everyone was doing was needed in order to obtain a coherent end product. It consisted of students with different studies, backgrounds, knowledge, and experiences. This led to some anxiety about sharing tasks. Geographical dispersion during the holidays caused communication to go somewhat awry. As the above shows, through the collaborative production of film and research, students learned how important it is to address communication problems and be on the same page.

They practiced their organisational skills, as well, which was part of their epistemic practice.

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Reflection by the Ned Doc Style student-author on developing a research question. In the audio clip above, one of the student-authors reflected on how to deal with research questions. She and her Ned Doc Style partner focused on watching a number of documentaries and formulating a research question before starting their analysis. In their enthusiasm, the EDMOP team worked the other way around and jumped right into the making process. Peer feedback told them that they were well on their way to finding literature, but the team found they postponed studying it.

They concluded that if they had started reading literature earlier on, then they would have been able to work more accurately, and elaborate the research question and visualize the elements they chose to focus on better.

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The EDMOP team, from the outset, aimed to share knowledge with users about how film techniques work to create suspense. For the Detective Brouwer team, the goal of the project was teaching the user to consider the relationship between information received and subsequent inferences. The team was more interested in having the users re consider their choices than in finding out who the alleged murderer was. The Nederhop team argued otherwise, even though they also explicitly wanted to convey knowledge to a broader audience, including a less-educated audience.

When the lecturer suggested the option to crowd source the analysis, the team argued that they were wary of letting lay people add information because they might not take it seriously enough. One team member also related the chronological ordering to a target audience, whom he thought would appreciate the overview and feeling that an exploration was completed.

here A number of students practiced their analytical skills. Now I will be able to critically analyse visual content. Through their Practice as Research projects, students developed a number of academic skills, including developing a research question, the use of theory, and the analysis and dissemination of academic knowledge.

This makes Practice as Research useful specifically for academic students. In the practical film-making course discussed in this article, students followed a Practice-as-Research approach to investigate a media-studies-related research question and present their findings in an interactive narrative.