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The Study Hall

TCM Presents: Mad about Musicals! ... and Arc

Last year at InstructureCon, Hilary Melander, Sr. Manager over Canvas Network, walked me over to a tent, just outside the conference center, where we sat down together to explore Arc, Instructure’s hands-on video platform. Hilary was telling me how Arc would change how a student can actively engage with and collaborate through video content. During the demo, I was immediately impressed by Arc’s ease of use, its annotation capabilities, and its video quality. The demo got me thinking about how I might be able to capitalize on participatory video assignments in a course with over 20,000+ learners and devout film fans. As Hilary and I continued to talk about the pedagogical possibilities, we realized we had to use Arc in our next edutainment course. Here we are, less than a year later, preparing to use Arc as our video platform in our fourth edutainment course created in partnership with Turner Classic Movies, TCM Presents: MAD ABOUT MUSICALS! A free online course dedicated to the history of the Hollywood Musical

Running from June 3-30, this FREE interactive experience will give you an entertaining deep dive into the Hollywood musical, from the 1930s to the 1970s, with addictive multimedia course materials, digital games, ongoing interactions with your fellow film fans on the TCM message boards, and more!

In an edutainment course focused on a major Hollywood genre, video is a critical component of the overall learning experience--perhaps the most important one. The Ball State-TCM courses are intentionally designed to bring together a nation-wide community of film fans. As such, these massive open online courses directly connect film fans of all levels--from the casual lover of classic film to the super fan who has taken multiple courses, read numerous books, or even written books on film. With Arc’s ability to allow educators and students to comment on key points inside the video itself, contextual insights are now shared and conversations are sparked. Arc transforms video content from a passive medium into one that is socially engaging--a crucial element in fostering an engaging and effective e-Learning environment. In addition, Arc’s tight integration with Canvas helps provide a seamless learner experience and allow our students to focus on engaging and enjoying the course, not trying to navigate multiple product experiences. 

Strong course design accounts for every aspect of the learning experience from learning objectives to the right content delivered through the right tool at the right time. We’ve established a tradition of using video to disseminate different types of content, including five minute microburst videos delivered through “Daily Dose of Delight” emails sent directly to the student’s inbox and interviews and discussions with film scholars. For example, we have video discussions led by Dr. Vanessa Ament (Endowed Chair of Telecommunications at Ball State, and a Foley Artist) about the Musicals genre involving Hollywood sound designer Gary Rydstrom (winner of 7 Academy Awards) and Dr. Wes Gehring (Professor of Telecommunications at Ball State). I was immediately attracted to Arc because we could use the comments tool to give our learners and fans a voice, turning one-way videos into inclusive, productive discussions at the appropriate time. Furthermore, since we value placing Hollywood musicals into their proper context, Arc will allow us to capture how students reflect on and curate our “Daily Doses of Delight,” thus bring a wide range of student voices into our video material in new ways. 

Incorporating a participatory video platform in a course with over 20,000+ learners has its challenges. It is not sustainable to expect the instructor to stay on top of the conversation and respond to every comment or post. However, we can still guide our students by establishing up front new user expectations and incorporating prompts or guides that help students consider how to get the most out of the experiences that Arc has to offer. Given the high quality of course participation we have seen in social media over the last three years (37,000 tweets during our Hitchcock course, e.g.) and the incredible participation we have seen from super fans in our fan panels and clubs built into the course (such as 60% retention rates in the last week of the course for a free MOOC), we are excited to see if Arc will further build and sustain passionate connections and persistent communities as part of this learning experiment driven by a shared love of classic Hollywood films and their cultural impact. 

Experience Arc yourself and join us in our free MOOC offered by Ball State University and Turner Classic Movies on the Canvas Network platform, TCM Presents: MAD ABOUT MUSICALS! Enroll today.

Keep learning,

Richard L. Edwards
Executive Director for Strategic Learning, Ball State University