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Instructor’s Guide to Media Activities

The purpose of this guide is to help you design effective instruction which incorporates digital media. It will help you develop activities that avoid many of the pitfalls that can make these projects frustrating for you and your students – and ensure that the digital media projects you assign are educationally sound, interesting and motivating.

To schedule a media software training workshop, fill out the Workshop Request Form.

Designing + Implementing

One: Consider Time

Consider Time

For every minute of a completed project, several minutes will be required for production. These times include all relevant tasks from planning to publishing and assume familiarity with the necessary software.

Project TypeTime Requirement
3-5 min video: interview/informal (minimal production value)60 minutes3 hours
3-5 min video: remix/mashup 60 minutes3 hours
3-5 min video: creative/high production, (special effects, field recording)4 hours20 hours
10-12 min podcast: interview/informal (minimal editing)30 minutes2 hours
10-12 min podcast: creative/high production (effects, field recording)60 minutes3 hours

Two: Stay Organized

Stay Organized

Some steps in audio and video production, such as file compression, take a certain fixed amount of time. Requiring students to produce deliverables throughout their project will mitigate situations where it is impossible to complete the necessary work by a deadline. Examples of deliverables are listed below. Consult with a Media Commons consultant to determine which apply to your assignment.

DeliverableDescriptionTime Due
Outline 1key concepts, overall vision or approach, cast and roles, 3rd party media neededearly, before any production
Script 1dialogue, listed by speaker; can be rough (talking points) or verbose (to be read directly)25% into project timeframe
Script 2sequential list of shots, sketches, direction25-50% into project timeframe
Rough Cut 1unfinished audio/video edit 75% into project timeframe
1 applies to either audio or video projects

2 applies primarily to video projects
Three: Develop a Schedule

Develop a Schedule

meet with MC consultant early in, or prior to, the semester to discuss project and to schedule in-class workshop(s)
1introduce project and rubric to students
2form student teams
3in-class workshop with MC consultant
4outline and script due
5storyboard due
6production begins
9rough cut due
13video completed and published to Kaltura, Canvas
14peer to peer critique (as discussion on Canvas) or class screening

Best Practices

There are a few basic guidelines that have a place in every project you assign and will vastly improve your chances of success.

Talk to us before the semester.

We can help you design your activity – and we’ll be better prepared to help your students if we understand their needs.

Assign group projects.

Media authoring involves multiple roles that often work simultaneously. Working in teams will improve the overall quality of outcomes. We recommend teams of 2-3 students.

Decide on publishing format(s).

Will students be posting their work to their Penn State blog, iTunes U or YouTube? Or would you prefer they put a video file on a flash drive?

Assign short projects.

A good rule-of-thumb is that final videos should be 3-5 minutes long, and podcasts should be at most 10-12 minutes.

Require mid-project deliverables.

Audio and video production is very feasible with a little upfront planning. Last-minute work is usually of very poor quality, if it’s finished on-time at all.

Provide copyright information.

Students can’t put their work online or use it in their e-Portfolio if they’re appropriating 3rd-party media illegally.

Instructional Strategies

It is important to match the design of your activity with the level of thinking you hope to achieve from your students. Assigning a project that is either too complex or too simple may not yield the learning outcomes you expect. The following chart provides some basic examples matched with a range of target thinking skills.
Skill LevelDescriptionExamples
Creatingputting together ideas or elements to develop an original idea or engage in creative thinkingShort Videos or Podcasts
choose an overarching theme and tie in several course concepts to demonstrate understanding of interrelationships between concepts and the ability to transfer knowledge to new situations
selecting, evaluating, and integrating 3rd-party media (as Fair Use) to create an original work
Evaluatingjudging the value of ideas, materials and methods by developing and applying standards and criteriaCritique via Blogs
post videos or podcasts to a blog and elicit discussion around that media as blog comments; provide a list of required elements to include in comments
Analyzingbreaking information down into its component elements Video Analysis
create a gallery of video clips illustrating a concept (ex. moments in a news broadcast which illustrate persuasive rhetoric)
Applyingusing strategies, concepts, principles and theories in new situationsPodcast Interviews
identify experts, craft questions, and conduct in-the-field interviews
role playing
produce a video presentation formally illustrating key concepts
Understandingexplaining ideas or concepts; comprehension of given informationReflection Podcast
provide verbal feedback or interpretation on a topic to demonstrate basic understanding
Video Annotating
comment on existing media using various audio/video annotating tools


You should allocate a few points in your grading for organization, production value, and communication of message. The bulk of the points should be applied to the quality of content. Although production value may not seem important, paying attention to details will keep students focused and will improve learning outcomes.
CriteriaScoring Guide
Production Value
compositing, effects, etc
5 - excellent editing, lighting, etc
3 - shows understanding of quality production
1 - poor picture quality, sloppy, etc
completion of deliverables
5 - completed documentation (outline, storyboards) establishing plan for project
3 - completed documentation (but it did not contribute significantly to project plan)
1 - did not turn in all deliverables
established purpose
vocal, written or visual expression of purpose
5 - establishes message and communicates purpose clearly
3 - message is present but confusing or disorganized
1 - unclear what this video is trying to communicate