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DWC grad students create multimedia digital projects

Some projects featured in recent exhibit

What does a Game of Thrones-themed wedding site have in common with a remixed Mel Gibson movie trailer? Both are multimedia projects created by NSU graduate students in the M.A. in Composition, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program.

“We’re trying to get students to look at how our discipline thinks about texts beyond just words, that integrate images, audio, and interactivity,” said Assistant Professor Eric Mason, Ph.D., of the Department of Writing and Communication.

Mason said many of the students in his class, WRIT 5340: Studies in Multimodality and Digital Media, grew up as digital natives and can navigate through changing technologies and the remix culture nurtured by the internet. Students put those skills to use for a project requiring that they create a parody by taking something from one medium and using it another medium.

“We’re looking at all the ways that digital technologies allow us to take something already out there and put it to some innovative or new purpose,” Mason said. “The first project is a lot of fun, usually.”

Student Nicole Chavannes took the innocuous concept of a wedding website and gave it a macabre spin by creating a wedding website for Game of Thrones characters Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr, who were brutally murdered in the show’s infamous “Red Wedding” episode. Going in a different direction, student Veronica Diaz remixed the trailer for the 2001 Mel Gibson alien invasion thriller Signs and completely changed its tone by adding uplifting music.

CRDM

Other projects included creating a manifesto, and student Kaitlin Armstrong created a BuzzFeed-style “listicle” about the video game Kingdom Hearts III. Students also edited audio and interacted with sounds, colors, and shapes in an escape room event at the NSU Write from the Start Writing and Communication Center. For the final project, Mason wanted students to create something of professional value, with some projects presented at conferences.

Some of the projects that students produced were featured over the summer in Critical Making: A CRDM Exhibit. In keeping with their digital nature, the projects are hosted online by the Production & Preservation Project.

In addition to his regular teaching work, Mason collaborated with the College of Pharmacy on a series of workshops, including one on game pedagogy and introducing games into classrooms, commonly referred to as “gamification.” Some faculty had reservations about introducing games in classes, he said.

“You already have grades, you already have points,” Mason said. “Let’s make them as good a game as possible, where the most learning occurs, and where you reward the habits you want students to repeat.”

Mason said games can help students as research tools and cites Foldit, a game created at the University of Washington that has participants fold proteins. The puzzle solving aspects are meant to increase understanding of the many ways that proteins fold and contribute to research about curing diseases.

“Games often require a deep level of understanding,” he said.

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