Joining another connectivist MOOC

Ever since having a blast with #etmooc, I’ve been looking for another MOOC experience. I did the MOOCtastic MOOCathon, the third iteration of MOOCMOOC (and hopefully not the last!) and even dabbled with an xMOOC.

The thing that stands out about connectivst MOOCs is that they are the ideal vessel for peer-guided learning, as connectivist principles seem to work best when the participants are at a (roughly) equal level.

The new MOOC – Open Online Experience, or OOE13 – is exactly that. A collection of educators from all levels of education seeking to create a connectivist MOOC for other educators. The focus will educational technology, and the scope is large – it will run the whole school year starting in September.

As with all cMOOCs, there is no set minimum of participation. One does what one can, and what one needs to. And it is open to anyone, regardless of skill level. Or geographic location.

This MOOC will be in English, but I will be attending the first Norwegian conference on MOOCS on September 10th in Oslo. I am hopeful there will be a move to establish a Norwegian connectivist MOOC after that conference.

I can’t wait!

Posted in english, ooe13, pedagogics | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

I’ve been neglecting #etmooc, but it’s not because I don’t care…

I am sitting in a hotelroom in Pittsburgh, after two days of visits to the ETC and preparing for a meeting with the film department at Point Park University today. I’ve came here with since the Norwegian Film School has been looking at starting a programme in Games and interactive stories together with the Media Technology programme at Gjøvik University College.

In fact, a lot of my time recently has been applied to developing new curricula, both within the Film School and with expternal partners. It’s interesting and creative work; all the more so since throughout it all the ideas I’ve been exposed to through my somewhat irregular participation in #etmooc have influenced my thoughts and conclusions.

I see that next week, as #etmooc winds down, I will miss a couple of the sessions (again). It appears, therefore, I should summarise some of my more immediately apparent takeaways from this experience.

  1. I have experienced connectivism in practise. I first heard and read about connectivism about 18 months ago, and have read a fair bit since. But, working as I do in a very practical art, I know that reading and experiencing can lead to very different conclusions. As it happens, this time that has not been the case. Connectivism has a lot to it that I like, and I firmly believe that at a certain level, learning happens in the connections between people.
  2. I have found a use for Google+. The #etmooc community on Google+ has been very active, and since (almost) all the twitter chats have happened in the middle of the night for me, I have found my community for chats in G+. It is less realtime than twitter, but a much easier forum for discussions than blogs. I did make a mistake early on; when I joined the community there were only about 50 other people there, and so I proceeded to add everyone to an «etmooc» circle I set up. As the community grew to hundreds of people I came to regret that descision and eventually gave it up when I realised I could not keep up with the flood of new members. Over time I will see who I continue to communicate with and will prune the size of the circle, I imagine.
  3. The live Blackboard sessions were a blast. The pace is so fast, with the session facilitator speaking, the slides moving and people writing on the whiteboard, the backchannel chat and the twitter chat…it’s a lot to keep up with and it’s easy to miss a key moment because you’re engaged in something else going on. The corollary of that is
  4. You have to live with the fact that you will miss interesting stuff. With so many people and time zones involved there is simply no way to keep up with everything. I struggled with finding a level of engagement I could live with, were I could feel like I was still participating but not neglecting my job and personal life. As my job got busier these past few weeks I felt I was missing so much #etmooc stuff that it effected my motivation to keep up at all.
  5. Some of the most interesting discussions came out of the blue. This discussion about openness and the virtual panopticon came out of the sessions on the Open movement and combined openness with thoughts triggered in me (and several others; see the articles linked in the discussion above) on the release of Google Glass. It was further emphasised for me at a lecture on Artificial Intelligence in games at the ETC the other day. At the end of the lecture the Q&A ventured into area looking at the data all our tech is gathering and storing about us and our behaviour and preferences. I am looking forward to contued discussions about this.
  6. The most dissappointing thing was that I have not found anyone else working in developing curricula for fine arts education at a post-secondary level. There are not that many of us, so it is perhaps not surprising, but I had hoped to connect with others. On the plus side, I’ve made interesting connections with people, and I hope some of the them will last.

On the whole, I am glad I did this. It’s been valuable to me as an educator and have been inspired to think thoughts I would not otherwise have thought. I will do this again, but I hope the next time I take a MOOC it will be a little less…massive.

Posted in english, etmooc, pedagogics | 1 Comment

The Connective Triangle

At the 2002 CILECT congress in Melbourne there was a panel discussion called «Triangle: Six Years Later». The preamble to the papers presented states:

In 1996, CILECT began to address the issue of communication and collaboration among the creative triangle of writers, directors, and producers. Some viewed the Triangle project as a necessary corrective to the 1960′s auteur ideology that dominated many film schools. Others saw it as diminishing the role of the individual film artist in an increasingly market-oriented system. How has Triangle affected the film and television school curriculum, and what lessons can be learned from the process as well as the outcomes?

Shortly after the original introduction of the Triangle method at CILECT (at a conference in Rome), The Norwegian Film School (NFS) was founded as a film school firmly entrenched in the triangle tradition. This entry will build on a previous article and analyse the way in which the triangle is implimented at NFS, and look at the emerging educational theory of connectivism as a tool for understanding how the learning film school students achieve happens in the connections established within the triangle structure.

The Triangle basics

As can be seen in the transcript of «Triangle: Six Years Later» from the 2002 Melbourne Congress, one of the primary goals of the introduction of the Triangle was to strengthen the role of the producer as a creative partner for the director. The collaboration between these two, in cooperation with the screenwriter, became the focus of this method.

At the Norwegian Film School (and presumeably others as well), this collaboration was taken further, to include all the different departments taught at the school. This has become formalised as the “first” triangle (screenwriter, director and producer), the “second” triangle (cinematographer, production designer, and director and producer), and the “third” triangle (editor, sound designer, and director and producer). All three triangles are used in production exercises as a method for helping the student filmmakers communicate and collaborate.

There are both formal and informal elements in the Triangle; the formal are planned meetings where the members of a given triangle meet with the teachers in the relevant disciplines and discuss their projects. These meetings begin with the students presenting the status of their work at that stage. Depending on the project, this may be very rudimentary or quite advanced. The instuctors then provide feedback and guidance.

The sophistication of the students’ collaboration also increases as they go through the course of studies. In the first semester or two they don’t quite understand how to collaborate, let alone how to maximize each others skills and talents on a common project. It is not uncommon for one or more members of a triangle to complain that they are being ignored and simply used for their labour.

The second year of their studies most often sees a marked increase in the quality of their collaboration, as the students become more confident about their own place and skills, and gain a better understanding of the roles and talents of their teammembers. By the third year the students seek out each other, and and most collaborations work quite well. An observation at the Norwegian Film School has been that at this stage the learn more from each other than from their instructors.

Learning in the the Triangle

The informal aspects of the triangles are more intangible and, in a way, more interesting from a pedagogic point of view. As mentioned above, as the students move through the three years of their programme, they start to learn more and more from each other. And what I observe is that this learning falls in the pattern of

the central claim of connectivism, that the knowledge is found in the connections between people with each other and that learning is the development and traversal of those connections (Downes, Stephen. “E-Learning Generations” in Connectivism and Connective Knowledge. self-published epub, 2012)

The students make many connections as they go through their study. Each discipline (screenwriting, directing, etc.) consists of 6 students, and these students develop close collegial relationships where they support and critique each other. In addition, the students will through the production exercises work in at least 8 different constelleations where each discipline is represented; in these constellations they learn to collaborate and utlise their differing expertises.

Eventally we see that as teams are set and given a creative task, the very act of collaboration gives them the capacity to solve the task the school has given them. They seem to quite naturally find ways of utilising each others skills and expanding their own knowledge. Where the instructors have to cajole and instruct them early on in their studies, now they find their role becomes more traditinal mentoring with an emphasis on encouragement and support where necessary.

None of this is surprising. After all, we expect the students to improve and gain confidence and become more skillful. If they did not, they should not be pursuing this course of study. But what is interesting is examining how it happens, how our pedagogical approach can help (or, in some cases, perhaps hinder?) the students develop faster and emerge from their studies as more confident and interesting artists.

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#etmooc: the search for meaning

A few weeks ago, I signed up for #etmooc, my first attempt at taking a mooc after reading and hearing about them for a couple of years. The course started last week, and I attended one of the live sessions and wrote the obligatory introductory blog post, brief as it was. I’ve also joined, and posted in, the Google+ community and tweeted with the #etmooc hashtag.

Ok. So now what?

With over 1600 partcipants in the course and over 350 blogs registered in the blog hub, I will have to take it as a given that I can’t connect with everyone. It’s just too many people to attempt to have any meaningful interaction with.

Also, the live session I attended via the Blackboard Collaborate app was fascinating and invigorating, but left me possibly more confused about the course than I was before it started. With nearly 100 people connected at once, with live audio and video as well as a backchannel chat and twitter going all that the same time the experience becomes more like stream of consciousness than a traditional learning environment. And that, I suppose, is part of the point.

What I have to do is go back to my motivation for taking a mooc, and, more specifically, this mooc, a connectivist mooc.

One motivaiton is simple curiosity. I want to see what all the fuss is about. Is this something lasting and interesting, or is it a fad that will fade away? I am inclined to believe the former, but need more information and experience to hold a qualified opinion.

The other motivation is professional. I have previously blogged about some of the challenges that I believe are particular to teaching at an artistic film school, and write, at the end of the post, that I am finding that connectivism can be a useful tool for us in understanding how the the student learn in particular situations.

This is not within the scope of «traditional» connectivism (if there is such a thing), which tends to focus on the connections technology can provide in something like #etmooc. It does fall within the core of connectivism as a learning theory, however, as it provides a framework for understanding how students learning happens in a collaborative art form like film.

This is what I am hoping to investigate over the next few weeks as I participate in #etmooc. I hope I will find there are people interested in investigating similar issues, and we can form a little sub-community within the large mass of participants. Perhaps we can host a Blackboard Collaborate session in addition to sharing thoughts and ideas on blogs and google+. It may even be interesting to some of the educators who, while they do not teach artists, are interested in developing connectivism as a learning theory further.

Time will tell.

Posted in english, etmooc, pedagogics | 2 Comments

etmooc

After reading about moocs for a long time now, I think it’s about time I tried one out. The one I’ve chosen for my personal experiment is etmooc, and I will publish all the blog entires related to the course here under the category «etmooc».

I am especially curious to see if I can find applications for moocs in a film school. The way we are stuctured, with lots of personal instruction and mentorship for the students, it’s difficult to imagine but it is worth examining!

Posted in english, etmooc, pedagogics | 1 Comment

iPad som skriveverktøy

Når iPaden først kom i 2010 var det mye sagt og skrevet om hvordan denne nye teknologien var best egnet for å konsumere innhold, ikke produsere det. Selv i dag ansees det mer som en medie- og underholdningsplatform enn et seriøst alternativ til en fullverdig bærbar datamaskin.

Selv har jeg testet dette ut de siste månedene, og på min tur til Riga nylig tok jeg for første gang ikke med min trofaste MacBook Pro, men reiste med iPad som eneste dataverktøy.

Det fungerte strålende, og som man kan se på denne bloggen skrev jeg ganske mye underveis.

Tastatur

For min del er et eksternt tastatur en absolutt nødvendighet hvis man skal skrive noe på iPaden. Det er mulig å bruke det innebyggede tastaturet, og det finnes folk som ikke føler behov for å ha noe mer men for meg engner det seg kun for korte tekster som epost, twittermeldinger, osv. Skal jeg skrive noe mer trenger jeg et ordentlig tastatur.

Hvis man gjør et kort søk ser man at det finnes et utall av tastatur til en iPad. Noen er fritstående, noen festes direkte til iPaden, og andre er integrert i mapper. Hvilket man velger er opp til den enkelte.

Jeg har forsøk to forskjellige tastatur, begge fra Logitech. Til min iPad 2 bruke jeg en fold-up keyboard . Denne var jeg meget fornøyd med, men da den iPaden hadde et ublidt møte med en bordflate og måtte erstattes kjøpte jeg en iPad 3 – og oppdaget at den nye modellen var et par millimeter tykkere, og det var nok til at keyboardet ikke passet lenger.

Etter dette endte jeg opp med et Ultrathin keyboard cover. Denne har jeg nå brukt mye, og kan si at den er robust og anvedelig nok til at jeg kan la MacBooken ligge hjemme. To viktige poeng for meg var at den er festet til iPaden slik at jeg altid har den med, og det går an å bruke den med iPaden både i liggende og stående.

Organisering

Per dags dato er Dropbox den aller beste måten å dele dokumenter mellom en iPad og en eller flere andre data-enheter, uavhengig om det er Mac, Windows-PC eller Linux – eller om det er en Android-basert enhet som en Samsung eller HTC telefon, eller et nettbrett (som GalaxyTab eller lignende). Ikke bare kan du dele mellom egne enheter, men du kan også dele med andre ved å sett opp delte mapper.

Hvis du ikke har det allerede, skaff deg Dropbox nå. Det vil gjøre din arbeidsflyt mye enklere.

Apper til skriving

Dette er selvfølgelig ikke mulig hvis man ikke har rett programvare på maskinen. iPad kommer med en innebygget «notatblokk» app, men denne er kun brukbar til de aller enkleste oppgavene. Mange blir også overrasket over at man ikke kan (per dags dato) installere Microsoft Word, noe de aller fleste er vant til å bruke.

Det finnes apper til iPad som lar deg lage og redigere Word-kompatible dokumenter, hvis det er det du har behov for. Noen av de mer populære er Quickoffice Pro HD, Documents To Go Premium og SmartOffice. På min iPad har jeg installert Documents To Go, som støtter Word, Excel og Powerpoint, og sykroniserer med Dropbox rimlig enkelt. Men – jeg bruker den nesten aldri.

Når jeg skal skape noe innhold selv en det en app jeg alltid åpner først: Drafts. Denne enkle appen lar deg fokusere på skriving først og fremst uten å gi deg tilgang til formatterings-virvarret i Word. Den er ideel når du skal begyne å skrive noe raskt, og ikke er helt sikker på om det ender opp som en artikkel, blogginnlegg, epost, eller noe annet.

Det geniale med Drafts er ikke det blanke arket den gir deg; mange apper har muligheten til å gi deg et blankt ark fritt for distraherende menyer. Det som gjør at Drafts skiller seg ut er at den enkelt og greit lar deg sende teksten du har skrevet til andre programmer, eller til lagring på Dropbox.

Drafts og lignende enkle skriveapper bruker som oftest «plain text format» – .txt – som er, akkurat som det hørest ut, text uten formattering, osv. Etter lagring på Dropbox kan disse filene enkelt åpnes i et mer avansert program som Word, Scrivener eller Apple Pages eller lignende for beabeiding og ferdigstilling.

Men en ting Drafts kan i tillegg til enkel text er Markdown. Dette er en meget enkel måte å forberede text til publisering på nett – en blog, for eksempel – uten å måtte lære seg html-koding. Jeg bruker Markdown når jeg skriver disse blogginleggene.

Det finnes en haug med andre apper som kan brukes som skriveverktøy, og alle har litt forskjellig vinkling og styrker. Jeg har to andre jeg bruker en del, dog ikke så ofte som Drafts.

Byword er enda en meget enkel app som unngår masse menyer og alternativer slik at du kan bare fokusere på skriving. En styrke med den for Mac-brukere er at den finnes i både iPad/iOS versjon og Mac-versjon, og begge integrerer sømløst med Dropbox. Det betyr jeg kan gå frem og tilbake mellom iPad og Mac og skrive på det samme dokumentent. Dette er en stor fordel når jeg jobber med lengre dokumenter som tar tid å gjøre ferdig. Byword støtter .txt, Markdown og Rich Text Format (.rtf), et format som støttes av de aller fleste word processor programmer og støtter text formattering.

En annen jeg bruker er Textilus, en mer avansert app til lengre dokumenter; den bruker .rtf format og synkroniserer med Dropbox slik at det er enkelt å ha tilgang til dokumentene på en vanlig datamaskin.

I et senere innlegg kommer jeg til å skrive om publisering; det vil si: hvordan får man innholdet ut av disse appene og til et format som kan enten legges ut på nett eller sendes til et tidsskrift eller forlag.

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Initial thoughts after Future Media 2.0

So. What impressions am I left with after 2 intense days at the Future Media 2.0 Starts Now! conference (aside from the fact that Riga – at least the old town – is a lovely city? Here are some very preliminary thoughts. I reserve the right to change my mind as things sink in and percolate a little.

Throughout the conference my mind kept going back to 2000. At that time I lived in Vancouver, worked at the Vancouver Film School, and attended a conference about something that was the buzz word du jour at the time: Convergence.

The highlight of that conference was a presentation by one of the producers of a brand-new CBC television show called «Drop the Beat». The premise was quite simple; it was a half-hour drama set at a small campus radio station that played mostly hip-hop music. At the time in Canada, there were no hip-hop radio stations at all, and the producers were quite open about the fact that their target audience were young people who listened to urban music.

What was innovative was not the show itself, but the additional content – what today would be called the transmedia content. First of all, the (fictional) radio station had a web site. Not a brand new idea in and of itself; after all blogging was already well known. No, what made this different was the fact that in addition to the site, some of the characters blogged, so the audience could follow their lives outside the framework of the TV show.

In addition, the playlist was streamed on the website so hip-hop fans could go there and listen to the music from the show. They could also make requests, and if I recall correctly, the requests would sometimes show up in the TV episodes.

Then, there was a pilot project at the time where one of the cable companies was running a test in the Toronto area of something called ITV – interactive television. Essentially an expanded tv signal where you could get a number of text elements with additional information, on your screen as you watched the show. The producers used this space to give background information on the characters and the musical artists featured. Sounds horrible in retrospect – why would you want to cover up parts of your screen with text? – but at the time there were high hopes for ITV.

Finally, there was the commercial tie-in. The producers had signed a contract with the music chain HMV, which meant you could get a promotional code sent to your cell phone (long before smart phones) and use that code to get a discount on selected artists at the stores. The selected artists were, of course, artists who had been featured on the show.

Those of us in the room listned raptly as this was being explained to us. This was the future! The convergence of music, television, internet, all into one cohesive whole! This promoted the show, promoted the musicians, made money for everybody, right?

It failed miserably.

The failure had nothing to do with the fact that hip hop music had a fairly limited audience in Canada at the time. It had nothing to do with the fact that people by and large had slow dial-up internet connections which made streaming music a rather dubious pleasure. It had nothing to do with the fact that ITV was, in the end, a horrible idea.

It failed because the show was utter crap.

In the midst of all these cool, innovative, forward-thinking ideas the producers forgot the most basic thing: if you want people to watch your show it has to be worth watching.

This is what went through my mind as I sat listening to some very creative, intelligent and innovative people speak the past two days.

I think people know better now. I heard lots of talk about story and storytellers and the importance of content. But I also know I was in a room full of geeks. Everyone there was, on some level, a geek (myself included). That’s why we were there; we love that stuff – the cutting edge, the innovation, the playing around with new possiblities and technologies. And there is always the danger of getting caught in our own little world of wouldn’t it be cool if… and loosing sight of the story. The core. The thing we are working so hard to create and get out to people.

The other thread that stuck with me is the notion of the story architect or content creator as emphasised by Gunnar Willie and several others. This role so very like a show runner in network television drama; the person responsible for ensuring all the different elements created fit into the cohesive whole.

In one sense this is a very old human skill. Look at our mythologies – Greek mythology, Judeao-Christian mythology, Norse mythology. These are stories collected from different sources over generationan, full of inconsistencies but yet recognizeably a coherent whole. We see this also in folk and fairy tales and, more recently, fan fiction. I believe there is something fundamental in us as storytellers, a desire to set our stories in familiar settings, to build and weave our own little contribution into a familiar and much-loved universe.

Naturally a media project needs a more stringent controll than the way a mythology builds up over centuries, but it this is still tapping in to something that comes naturally to us.

What the story architect needs to be then, is this kind of archetypical storyteller. One who sees the connections between all the different elements, and lives to place them all into the greater whole. And, this being the early 21st century, she also needs to understand the different media available to the storytellers today and can place different elements in their proper distribution context, and she needs to understand – not master, but understand – the production processes in these different media. No mean feat.

And two final things:

  • I want the War Horse app, and
  • «Cinema dell’Arte» is the most innovative thing I have seen for theatre in a long time.

My notes from the two days

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Future Media 2.0 final part

Notes from the final sessions, after lunch on day two. It was an intensive 2 days, and – as I wrote ealier – these are not comprehensive minutes but notes and impressions.

Future Media 2.0 Starts Now
How to tell and sell a story in a digtal world.
Conference in Riga
December 5 and 6, 2012
Day two after lunch

14:20 Interactive Storytelling: Presentation and workshop, Mike Pohjola (FIN)

  • a workshop where everyone was engaged in developing campaign ideas for UNICEF for putting focus on child labour. Each group had 15 minutes to come up with an idea.

15:30 Matching Interests: Clusters in the Game and AV-Industry

  1. Presentation Cluster Landscape by Mette Elmgaard (DK) Filmby Aarhus and Kristian Krämer (DK) Alexandra Institut
  2. Panel discussion: Jurate Bakaite (LT), Vita Brakovska (LV), Zinis, Olgierd Cygan (PL), Media Cluster Foundation. Moderation: Mette Elmgaard (DK) Filmby Aarhus

Presentation Cluaster Landscape in Central and Northern Denmark

  • on the importance of working together an collaborating between organisations.
  • example: Filmby Aarhus.
  • key learning from that experience – ask the industry what they need from a cluster, in terms of resources and infrastructure, social bonds and common interest.
  • creating a cluster from the top down will not necessarily be successful; there has to be an indetity.
  • what worked was giving people the tools for having an identity and learning about the other cluster members.
  • physical space matters: give people meeting places that are useful and pleasant to be in.
  • visible and approachable administration
  • let the companies get to work. create a playspace for young talents.
  • creating space for clusters to learn from each other.
  • Changing needs are a sign of development; this is a good thing.
  • a simple thing like breakfast meetings are a good thing – both social and a way of communicating and learning from each other.

Panel discussion

  • representatives of clusters in the Baltic states and Poland.
  • need to ensure stable funding – operating funding – for the space.
  • simply placing creative organisations together will not work consistently –> there needs to be a common vision or goal among all the members of the cluster.
  • much what they have learned is on the First Motion website. More detailed reports are available on the download section

16:30 Panel discussion: Lessons Learned – How to Fund and Finance Crossmedia Projects
Ilze Gailite Holmberg (LV), National Film Centre of Latvia, Anna Ljungmark (SE), Boost Helsingborg, Bernd-Günther Nahm (DE), Filmfund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein, Simon Staffans (FIN), MediaCity; Moderation: Charlotte Appelgren (DK) Cine-Regio

  • In Sweden: «Innovativ kultur» –> the key is to look at the separate parts of the transmedia projects and apply for funding for each part separately.
  • regional initiatives are key.
  • in Sweden (like Norway), people are used to talking about funding rather than financing – but this too is starting to change.
  • no «one-stop shopping» for co-producers.
  • In Latvia, the end of the First Media project will mean the end of the currently most stable source of funding, but the hope is the domestic ministry of economic development will see the cross media sector as one to invest in.
  • Also here there is a dichotomy between the film and cultural workers who think in terms of funding and the games and related industries who think in terms of financing.
  • In Germany it is different from state to state, but today there is no particular transmedia funding.
  • as a result the projects need to have a component that relates to traditional media so it can fall under an existing catergory.
  • business example from Finland: The Mill Sessions
  • built music show for TV and web, used music videos as «payment» for the artists. Exlusive content on the web page, and tie ins to Facebook, YouTube and the artists own web presences.

17:10 Crossmedia: Towards a Promising Future?! Conclusion and Outlook, Comments

  • development of tools are key, so one doesn’t have to program from scratch each time
  • need to train both the audiences and buyers
  • common language for developers.
Posted in english, transmedia | Kommentarer av

Notes from Future Media 2.0 day 2 part 1

Future Media 2.0 Starts Now
How to tell and sell a story in a digtal world.
Conference in Riga
December 5 and 6, 2012
Day two morning

10:00 Keynote: Gunnar Wille (DK) National Film School of Denmark
Among other things, Willie is behind EUCROMA, an international training program in development of cross / transmedia projects, which integrate digital animation and games.

  • fragmented storytelling
    • how to teach artists/storytellers to work with fragmented storytelling?
  • A key factor in interactive storytelling is that you cannot controll when the audience accessess a particular part of the story; this is the basic difference between this and a linear story like film or theatre
  • the audience for games and interactive media is changing; no longer just young males.
  • as the audience consumes more and more at home, even films are consumed in a fragmented way – people start and stop the viewing, are distracted by second screens, etc.
  • fragmented storytelling is a response to the fragmentation of the audience’s attention –> let the audience chose in which way they approach and consume the story, and put together the bigger story on their own.
    • this makes particular challenges for the storyteller; for example how do you introduce new characters if you don’t know when the audience will meet that character?

some examples from literature: Samuel Delaney, Empire Star or Milorad Pavic Dictionary of the Khazars.

  • now a content creator can work in the same story universe across different media; each work can stand on it’s own but can also lead the audience into the larger story-universe.

10:20 Crossmedia Adventure – We Made It. FM LAB-Rats Tell Their Story
Case Studies:

  1. Ghost Rockets, We Have a Plan, Kerstin Übelacker and Michael Cavanagh (SE),
  2. yourbeat.org, Beleza Film, Jessica Landt and Falk Nagel (DE),
  3. 15 young by young: Rojs Dauburs (LV)

Ghost Rockets

  • Ghost Rockets is a documentary project about a journalist and head of UFO Sweden who investigates UFO-cases. In almost all cases they find a natural explanation, but the Ghost Rockets case from 1946 is an exception.
  • both physical evidence and visual reports exist, but there is no explanation.
  • inspired by The Guardian using crowd-sourcing to investigate the MPs expenses –> got a hold of all the available Swedish documents related to Ghost Rockets and will put them all on line and use crowd sourcing to go through them.
  • the doc itself is character-driven, but using the website to put a lot of background info online

yourbeat.org

  • documentary project about breakdancers and breakdance competitions
  • tell the story of the dancers worldwide, where the dancers can tell their own stories –> building a platform for exchange and instpiration; ie. by and for dancers.
  • web platform (YouTube and Facebook), documentary film, television, offline dance events –> all built around the www.yourbeat.org website.
  • one of the main obstacles is that mobilising the ucg takes a long time; people are used to consuming. After some months, this is starting to change, however.

15 young by young

  • background was to make 15 documentaries about 15 post-soviet countries in 2008 with the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the Soviet Union
  • the directors were all born before the fall of the USSR, all spoke russian, and (coincidentally!) all used Macs.
  • use youth as the prism to tell the stories, focus on today’s situation
  • very real dangers of stirring up issues.
  • challenges:
    • financing (first sponsor – MTV Baltic – went bankrupt; finally landed Arte-France); constantly raising funds and patience and persistence landed local funds, EU Media, First Motion, etc. In two cases they turned down $ since it came with censorship
    • finding 15 directors; was easy for most of the 15 countries –> the problems was Turkmenistan, where there is a totalitarian absolute dictatorship, and no independent filmmaking is possible; found a dutch director to substitute
  • working on distribution right now; 4 languages, 15 minute films shown both traditionally and distributed on the web.

11.20 Crossmedia: Money Maker or Money Burner?
Case Study: Triona Campbell (IRL), beActive Media @triona_campbell

  • simple equation: audience = revenue
  • partnering is necessary in order to fight for an audience; if you can build a community then the revenue will follow.
  • Transmedia is nothing new; look at Disney.
  • so what is new? The quantity of content and the distribution channels giving producers direct contact with the audience.
  • What must the producer do?
    • Find a good script!
    • develop for different platforms
    • work better than Disney, Ubisoft, Mcdonalds, Apple – with 2-5 people and a shrinking budget
  • So…what is the business model? –> paid by the audience and/or paid by advertisers
  • Case study: Sofia’s Diary. Started as an online diary / blog in 2003, now worldwide on most platforms.
    • one thing they learned: avoid a single major sponsor; then one becomes too dependent. Better to have 4-5 non-competing brands.
  • often transmedia starts as a film/tv story being taken online
  • «real»transmedia starts multiplatform and is designed for it. This can lead to slightly longer development and production, but you can gain a lot by producing concurently.
  • other transmedia originates as webisodes and builds an online interactive presence.

12:10 Crossmedia Education: New Profiles Needed!
Panel discussion: Triona Campbell (IRL), beActive Media, Andres Joesaar (EE), Baltic Film and Media School, Gunnar Wille (DK), National Film School of Denmark; Moderation: Anna Ljungmark (SE) Boost Helsingborg

  • challenge of moving from traditional film education to cross media; the technology has changed, but the way of making films has been the same for 100 years. In cross media there is no tradition, and so a school has to create the methodology as they go
  • the traditions and language still have to be created in new cross media schools
  • still missing the education for the «story world designer» – the person on the creative team who is responsible for the universe and ensuring all the elements created are within the same story universe.
  • one tool being used is a «cross media bible» – a workbook of terminology to ensure everyone understands the language being used. The fact that the discipline is so new creates a problem of people not using terminlogy the same way.
  • many cross media producers are using the show runner model –> directly lifted from the US TV tradition. The Director (if not the show runner) is a collaborator, not the creator.
  • the story world designer / creator must be someone who both understands the writing and creating but also has an overview over the production and post challenges.
  • a benefit to companies at this early stage is people who not only have talent but have a passion for continuing to learn their craft.
  • at this stage, the educations that do exist are run by practitioners who are still learning as they go. There is still no theoretical work to build an education on.
  • since the industry and the educations are developing concurrently, they have a chance to influence each other and build both a methodology and a common language / terminology
  • the world is the key; the technology is changing so fast there is little point basing ones programmes on particular technologies, but rather the important thing is to teach the story world designer / creator / architect.
  • business needs interactive writers and audience engagers – the latter is a specialist who tracks the impact the stories have on an audience and can give the creators good feedback on this.
Posted in english, transmedia | Kommentarer av

Nettbrett på Filmskolen

Den siste tiden har sett en voldsom økning i antall nettbrett som brukes på Filmskolen, både blant studenter og ansatte. Det samme skjer på Høskolen i Lillehammer generelt, og IT avdelingen på HiL kom med en anbefaling tidligere i 2012.

Denne anbefalingen gjelder ikke ansatte eller studenter på Filmskolen. Selv om Android er et meget godt operativsystem finnes det per dd. ikke nok filmrelaterte apps til den platformen. De aller fleste som lager apps som kan brukes i filmindustrien lager dem kun for iOS (dvs. iPad).

En kort liste er:

  • Filmproduksjon krever avanserte og spesialiserte planleggingsverktøy, og standarden i norsk og internasjonal filmproduksjon er MovieMagic Scheduling. I dag finnes en mobilversjon til iPad men ikke Android.
  • Final Draft, manusformatteringsprogrammet som brukes i filmindustrien kom bare nylig i fullverdig mobilversjon, og de har også laget en gratis iPad app som bare kan lese .fdx filer.
  • Celtx, et populært open-source alternativ til MovieMagic og Final Draft har laget 3 iPad apper og har nylig gitt ut en Android-versjon av script editoren, men funksjonaliteten er noe mindre enn på iOS.
  • pCAM, kanskje det mest brukte mobile verktøy for filmfotografer siden det ble lansert for Palm i 1998, finnes kun til iOS
  • Keyframe cam report, en digital camera rapport til iOS.
  • Sound Report Writer, er en av de få som finnes til både Android og iOS.
  • En nykommer på listen er Shot Lister, et meget gjennomført produksjonsverktøy.

Det finnes en lang rekke andre; dette er bare et lite utvalg. Flere eksempler finnes her.

De som vil ha et nettbrett som kan brukes i filmsammenheng bør skaffe seg iPad i denne omgang, uavhengig av hva den enkelte mener om Apple kontra Google (eller Microsoft og Nokia for den saks skyld).

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Brief notes from Future Media conference, day 1

What follows are my notes from the first day of the Future Media 2.0 Starts Now! conference in Riga, Wednesday, December 5th 2012. These are not a complete transcript; just a record of the things I found I wanted to note down.

Future Media 2.0 Starts Now
How to tell and sell a story in a digital world.
Conference in Riga
December 5 and 6, 2012

13:30 Opening and introduction by Zaneta Jaunzeme-Grende, Minister of Culture (LV), Ilze Gailite Holmberg (LV), National Film Centre of Latvia, Bernd- Günther Nahm (DE), Film Fund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein

13:45 Keynote: Charlotte Appelgren (DK), Secretary-General, Cine-Regio

  • 1100 films released in Europe per year. Follow a traditional release model.

  • compete against each other and Hollywood.

  • what about tomorrow?
    • globalisation of content
    • free
    • where are the opportunities?
  • Challeges of
    1. RIGHTS
      • traditional rights model does not allow for free cross-border distriubtion
    2. consumer expectations
      • what does this mean for content?
    3. funding
      • how will private investors get a return?

14:00 Interactive Experience: Case Studies from the Game Industry: Karin Ryding (SE), Ozma, Patrick Rau (DE), kunst-stoff, Anne-Katrin Ulrich (DE), tripventure
Ozma games.

  • Variety: board games, energy game for a museum
  • “Urblove” – the love of the city: a location-based game. Both a story-based game and also a set of tools for the players to create their own version of the game. This form of game is a great workshop tool, but it’s hard to make people play.However, the game became useful for urban planners.
  • Granny’s dancing on the table. About a young girl escaping isolation and her subsequent growth. Developed together with a film director; the film is now in development. http://granniverse.com/ Challenge: strong story and game play does not always mix. Developed a game version called “below” – the player is a spirit bird that can enter peoples minds in the town the girls father had left many years before.

Kunst-stoff

  • interactive installations; game called “Pudding Panic” – based on a brand “the great jitters”: a little pudding-like character
  • success of the game led to animated tv show.
  • Silk Road – adventure-documentary game. Use a murder-mystery and time travel to explore the silk road. Could combine it with scavenger hunt and tv-documentaries, travel guide, etc.

TripVenture “every place tells a story”

  • places virtual stories in the real world – uses augmented reality
  • a different way of exploring a city, but is not necessarily aimed at tourists.

15:00 Crossing borders: Where media meets other industries. Case-Studies: Games for Jails, Jurate Bakaite (LT), Uzupis Creative Cluster, Teledialog, Anders Skotlander (DK), Oscar Film, OilSim, Rasmus Hoyer (FO), Simprentis

Uzupis simulator projects

  • a creative cluster og 18 companies, 3 univesities and 3 colleges.
  • develop simulator games;
  • Games for jails –> a simulation of the convicts life after they come out of prison. Spesifically designed for socialisation
    • imitates real life, and allows free moral choices.
    • gameplay is observed by psychologists
  • Sustainable City – 3d simulator for the classroom
    • multiplayer, bring together students with different people.
    • connected to LMS using Moodle.
    • combines virtual world with real world.

Teledi@log

  • a rehabilitation animation tool by film production company Oscarfilm
    Why? Only 30% of heart disease patients in Denmark start a rehab. programme. Only 3% actually complete it. And so Teledi@log is a project focussed at providing rehab information and tools to increase this to 50–60%
  • Decided to try gamification of the rehab programme information.

Simprentis

  • Oil Sim. Simulator for the oil industry, and the use in education. Aim is to create “engaging learning experiences”. Students learn to take it from exploration to exploitation in a fictitious simulated environment.
  • takes the students through all the steps a “real” oil exploration company would go through.
  • For me, this is a typical example of corporate education; education that is designed to satisfy the needs of a particular industry; therefore it is narrow and short-sighted. It would be interesting to see if the same engine and resources could be used for more general education.

16:20 Crossmedia Models: How new methods of storytelling can lead to new models for participation and finance: Tishna Molla (UK) Power to the Pixel @tishnamolla

  • important to remember cross media can mean as little as two different platforms. It’s not necessary to attempt to place everything on all platforms.
  • PttP started in the film industry.
  • The last couple of years the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction storytellers is seeming to blur.
  • consult with funding bodies, producers and filmmakers/storytellers. Organise Cross-media forum at London Film Festival. Also Pixel Market – finance market and Pixel Pitch
    Participation: a problem or an approach?
  • Ladder of participation: inform –> consult –> involve –> collaborate –> empower
  • not necessary to make money on all platforms; some build community
  • not necessarily a question of giving up controll; there still needs to be a guiding voice / director
  • Irreducible minimum of theatre; ref. Peter Brook The Empty Space
  • focus on keeping it simple; everything you add to the minimum needs to be there to enhance the experience –> deliberately chosen.
  • Example: Cinema Dell’Arte – combines motion capture with live action theatre with audience participation.
    Case study: War Horse.
  • First published in 1982, reprinted several times.
  • turned into a play in London in 2007; huge success
  • special edition of the book republished; huge sales increase (2000 –> 500000)
  • Spielberg filmed it in 2011
  • publisher makes an extended edition as an app (nov. 2012)
    • “the spirit of the book at the heart of the app”
    • you can just read the book, but:
    • narration / audiobook
    • documentary material – real-life historical events tied to events in the fictional story (many media)
    • specially-made videos for the book; guided tours through bits of the story
    • filmed live reading of the author with musicians in front of an audience
      Operation Ajax
  • based on the coup d’êtat in Iran in 1953
  • based on a non-fiction book, but is a fictionalised version
  • the producer of the project wants to make a feature film, and has developed this project along the way.
  • told as a thriller; interactive graphic novel, multi-layered with background from historical documents. published 2011, won a webby award.
  • also an academic edition, a high level strategy game (you can be the head of the CIA or the Prime Minister of Iran before the coup) and an animated feature film (due in 2014)
  • coproductions can start meaning across industries rather than across borders.

Announcement new book Crossmedia Innovations through University in Tallinn

17:00 Crossmedia Production: How does the future look like? Presentation / Case Study Asta Wellejus (DK), Die Asta Experience

  • Focus on Transmedia and documentary
  • Asta started in interactive theatre, roleplays – (Theatre of the Oppressed?)
  • Now helps projects go from passive to interactive audience experiences.
  • Next “big thing” in games involves data visualisations
  • interesting case: Der Polder swiss-german fiction film
    • origin with a theatre company used to interacting with the audience
    • alternate reality online game and augmented reality app part of the experience
    • can be played alone, or cna participate in theatre, etc.
    • also funded by tourism board.
  • scalability is important. Need to have plans for the ideal number of participants, but also what happens when there are very few and what happens when there are many more than expected.
  • experience > technology. Never chose a platform without knowing why you need that platform to create the best experience.
  • For example in documentary, transmedia elements can
    • create attention
    • prolong impact
    • expand the theme
    • give the audience an opportunity to engange with the material on their own terms
  • check thejohnnycashproject.com
  • Important to remember the audience –> observe and see what they like, then give them more of that; this means don’t necessarly release a completed project, but hold something back until you see what people do.
  • Case Study – Jason DaPonte Galahad
    • www.theshadowgang.com
    • press announcement
    • article in TNW
    • Creates the “lean forward” experience – ie. wants to engage the user
    • one tool to create and manage content
    • allows engaging in social networks while in the world of the story; they don’t jump out to other platforms
    • key to this sort of system is feedback, from the user to the creator
  • Galahad and many other transmedia products use badges to engage users and build loyalty. Interesting connection with online education; badges are hot in digital pedagogy.
  • documentary and animation are important elements

18:40 Baltic Universe: How to distribute/how to sell a story? Presentation and Launch of www.balticuniverse.com: Lars Brask Frederiksen (DK), Magic Hour Films, Cecilia Valsted (DK), Magic Hour Films, Vidar Mortensen, (NO) University of Agder, Kristian Mosvold (NO) University of Agder, Janic Heen (NO), Jon Doviken (NO). Moderation: Bernd-Günther Nahm, Filmfund Hamburg Schleswig-Holstein

Presentations shortened to 20+ min. due to being far behind schedule.

  • platform created especially for First Motion project to present transmedia projects
  • http://www.balticuniverse.com/en/
  • built from the perspective of the content owners.
  • 3 primary tools
    • VOD
    • project planning
    • industry listings
  • main share of the revenue go to the content creator, all the rights remain with the creator
  • easy to upload and watch films, make profiles for schools and professionals, etc.
  • interface kept as simple as possible for the viewer – they can be watching a film in two clicks.
  • all the advanced features are only visible for film professionals, and here there are a number of features.
  • easy for the creator to set rights, cost, geoblocking, etc. etc.
  • free tool for the users.
Posted in english, transmedia | 1 Comment

Inspired by connectivism

In my previous post I mentioned connectivism as a tool for understanding how film school students learn. The more I read Stephen Downes’ ebook (well, perhaps not a book, but more a collection of writings and bog posts from the past few years) Connectivism and Connective Knowledge, the more convinced I become that this is true.

Of course one must understand that Connectivism was developed to understand MOOC s and learning through distributed digital networks, and there is in fact debate about whether it is a proper learning theory at all – but the central thesis

Connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks.

is extremely relevant to any arts education where teams are created, and the students need to collaborate and lift each other through these teams. The knowledge and creativity in a film team – which, in the case of the Norwegian Film School consists of screenwriter, director, producer, cinematographer, production designer, editor, and sound – is much greater than any one of those individuals is capable of on their own. The very act of collaborating in a team will lift all of them to new levels in their own personal artistic development.

Elaborating on this, with a detailed description of the triangle method used at NFS (and many other film schools), is the subject of a future post.

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Training for film school teaching

Some initial thoughts about developing a training programme for instructors in film training at the BFA and MFA level

In Norway today all universities and høgskoler (University Colleges) provide pedagogic instruction for newly-hired teaching and research staff. Typically these courses will run part-time over the course of a year and yield 15 ECTS points. An example is the course in høgskolepedagogikk provided in collaboration between the Lillehammer, Gjøvik and Hedmark University Colleges which can be found here (Norwegian only).

These types of courses are designed to introduce the newly-hired (and anyone who wants a refreshment) staff to some of the issues and challenges facing teaching staff in modern higher education. They cover topics like «dannelse» (derived loosely from European classical education in the Humboldtian tradition), digital tools in education, ethics and so on.

Central to this type of course is a solid foundation in academia and the academic relationship to knowledge.

A question that has arisen for the Norwegian Film School recently is whether this kind of pedagogic training is appropriate for higher arts education in general – and film school education in particular. The reason the question comes up is that the kind of fine arts training offered by the Norwegian Film School does not have a relationship to knowledge in the academic sense. This form of fine arts training is wholly concerned with developing an artistic talent, and while the emerging artists need to develop certain skills within their chosen discipline, their academic knowledge about that discipline is irrelevant in the context of the training they receive.

What does this fine arts training look like?

The current programme at the Norwegian Film School is an intensive three-year training for artists within seven disciplines in filmmaking: screenwriting, directing, producing, cinematography, production design, editing, and sound. Six students are accepted into each discipline every second year, following a rigorous admissions process. the students are selected based on only two criteria:

  1. Does the applicant have talent in the chosen discipline? and
  2. Can that talent benefit from the education offered at the Norwegian Film School?

Once accepted, the students enter an intensive programme where they receive training within their chosen discipline – where there is, among other things, an emphasis on teaching them to become storytellers and artists within their discipline. They also work on production exercises with members of all the other disciplines (in teams chosen by the school), and attend classes in subjects common to all the disciplines, including dramaturgy & storytelling, artistic awareness, and visual storytelling (called «cinematurgy»). There are no elective courses; all workshops, projects, lectures, etc., are obligatory.

All of the education the students receive has one purpose and one purpose only: to guide them towards realising their talent as filmmakers. Any knowledge they might gain from, for example, film history is only interesting if it makes them more aware of the context in which their own artistic production occurs. As a result, there are no tests along the way, only evaluations, and – at the end of the third year – a final examination based on the presentation of both group and individual work.

The school is built around some basic pedagogical principles, including «the right to make mistakes» and «restrictions (or constraints) breed creativity» and filmmaking is a collaborative art. The application of these principles is most visible in the frequent production exercises.

Another tool used in these production exercises is the declaration of intent; a document each student in a film team must write before beginning their main contribution to the film. At the final screenings, the finished productions are measured, not against any subjective standard of quality, but purely as to what extent each individual member of the team was able to carry out his or her intentions.

What effect does this have on teaching?

All the teaching staff at the Norwegian Film School are filmmaking professionals, and none come from an exclusively academic background. Most have never taught before coming to teach at the Film School, but are highly regarded artists within their fields. Some have a background from academia but more do not.

Teaching staff in this form of intensive arts training must ensure that the students are closely followed up constantly; the role is much more like mentoring than traditional teaching. Often specific skills will be taught by external specialists, while the teaching staff guide the students to help them apply these skills in the production of their art.

Another challenge comes from the fact that as many of the teachers are working professionals, and continue to work while teaching, they share the responsibility for the students in their discipline with other part-time teachers. This makes it necessary for them to communicate closely with each other in order to ensure each individual student’s progress is monitored and appropriate feedback is given.

The primary duties of the Norwegian Film School teachers can then be summed up as follows:

  • Identify the emerging talents in the admissions process
  • Map out the existing skill level among the students, and use this to construct a training path appropriate for their skills and artistic development
  • Ensure the students take responsibility for their own development and challenge themselves outside their comfort zone
  • Give feedback which helps the students identify areas needing further development, and design and organise activities that will help the students develop these areas
  • Coordinate with colleagues in other disciplines both to identify and organise collaborative workshops and to ensure the common production exercises present the optimal challenge for all the students
  • Give feedback in the group evaluation sessions of the production exercises
  • Throughout all of the above, be responsible for helping the students realise their own potential as creative artists and storytellers

Things like lecturing, assigning readings, setting and marking written assignments, and the like are conspicuously and deliberately absent. However, the teachers are expected to have a solid grasp on their discipline in the Nordic film industry and be able to bring in guest lecturers and workshop instructors as needed.1

What training do these teachers need?

Teaching at an arts education is not a matter of ensuring the students achieve learning outcomes at certain levels of skills, knowledge and understanding, as outlined in the international guidelines relating to the European Qualifications Framework. The learning outcomes are much more intangible, given the primary goal is to develop each given student’s creative abilities. As a result, while there must be standards in use to measure the progress and development of each student, these standards are highly flexible as they are based on the starting point of each individual student rather than a more objective standard laid out in a permanent lesson plan.

At the same time, there must be some permanent standards by which the students are judged to have passed their studies and qualified are qualified to receive their BFA degree. This is done, not by judging the quality of the final films they make in their third year, but by measuring their own intentions for the films up against the final result and also by examine the process that led to the final film.

In order to achieve this, there are four areas in which teachers at the Norwegian Film School must be proficient.

  1. How to use their own experience
  2. Scaffolding the creative artist: theoretical frameworks
  3. The triangle method and connectivism
  4. The role of the mentor: tools, challenges and ethics

All four are naturally closely related, but could still be considered distinct topics of study for the new or potential film school teacher.

1. How to use their own experience

In all arts eduction, teachers are expected to be practitioners of the art they are training emerging talents for. They may or may not have attended some form of formal training at the start of their own careers, but the most important thing they bring with them to the institution is their own practice and experience.

In 2005, the Norwegian Film School published a series of booklets and DVDs by Professor Richard Ross called Training the Trainers (there’s a review of the booklets on p. 11 here). The main thrust of this publication is to assist members of all the key creative disciplines of filmmaking become more effective teachers and communicators of their accumulated experience and knowledge.

This publication is aimed at one of the main challenges facing instructors at film schools: how to take the knowledge and experience gained through a career in the film industry and use it to assist emerging talents start building their own experience and confidence. This is not easy, especially for those who may not have attended film school themselves. There is a world of difference between telling «war stories» and being able to use hard-won experience to guide students through their own process of making mistakes and developing their talent.

This must form the foundation of any pedagogical instruction aimed at helping film artists becoming proficient at teaching emerging talent. At this level, arts teachers must be able to know when to show something, and when to stand back and let the student try (and possibly fail) on their own. In the film world in particular there is an ethic of «getting the film made», where the temptation is to do whatever it takes to get the shots needed for the film. This ethic can lead instructors – particularly when mentoring in production situations, but also in discipline-specific workshops and instruction – to step in and assist the students. Sometimes, however, the students will learn more from not being successful, and the instructors’ challenge is to stand back, allow the mistake to be made, and help the student see what led to the mistake and how to avoid it in the future.

2. Scaffolding the creative artist

In her 2009 article Constraints in Film Making Processes Offer an Exercise to the Imagination, Danish researcher Heidi Philipsen[2] writes,

I would like filmmakers interested in thinking «outside the box» to recognize that they can benefit from being placed «inside a box.» In others words, to work with the help of the didactic tool «scaffolding,» which in short is defined as support through constraints applied at different levels (Wood, Bruner and Ross 1976). The scaffolding employed at The National Film School of Denmark helps the students to cope with the pressure of creating film, find inspiration, and attain a flow experience (Csikszentmihaly 1996).

Like many other film schools, the Norwegian Film School operates with constraints (or restrictions) as a method for promoting creativity. The students are never given an production assignment where there are no constraints, although as they progress through the course of their studies the constraints become fewer and looser. At the most basic level, the constraints are designed to remove the panic of «What shall I do?» from the students, and instead get them thinking about «How do I do this?».

Philipsen has clearly explained how the deliberate use of constraints in a film school can be understood through Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development and the further refinements of this through the discussion of scaffolding. Very simplified, the students are given a defined space in which to test their own boundaries, and the teachers act as mentors who assist the students in acquiring abilities and skills they did not have before.

Because these constraints are given to the students in their production exercises, they are tool both for developing the individual and the group; at its very core, filmmaking is a collective activity and all members of the collective must operate under the same restrictions and understanding. This places a special onus on the teaching staff, as they must be unified in their understanding of the constraints placed on any given exercises and able to apply these constraints in a consistent manner.

At the Norwegian Film School, the teaching staff discuss the parameters and constraints of each given exercise before it is given to the students. While there are pre-determined guidelines and themes that are followed from year to year, the exact assignment is determined based on the perceived need of the particular group of students at their particular level of skill. The key is to design a set of constraints and challenges that will fall within the zone of proximal development; that challenge the students to attempt things outside their own comfort zone, but are still achievable.

In order to encourage the students to focus on their own learning, and to test and expand their own boundaries, the Norwegian Film School uses «declarations of intent». For each and every production exercises, each member of the filmmaking team must write her own declaration of intent: «What do I intend to learn / improve / discover / etc. on this particular exercise?» The content of this declaration is worked out by the student in consultation with the head teacher / mentor for her discipline, and is completed and handed in before the primary creative work begins. All teammembers are expected to be familiar with the declaration of intent of all other teammembers.

At the evaluation of the final film projects, when the whole school is assembled, each individual teammember reads his declaration aloud, and feedback and questions must relate only to the declaration of intent. Judgements of taste about the quality of the film are not permitted. This truly places each student’s learning and development in focus.

This unit focussing on the theory behind scaffolding and the zone of proximal development will give the teachers the tools to be effective at this pedagogical approach, and be able to arrive at a common understanding and approach with their colleagues.

3. The triangle method, nodes and connectivism

Many film schools work according to the «Triangle method», a method of working in film that emphasises the collective nature of the filmmaking process.[3] Sometimes misunderstood as a belitteling of the importance of the director, the triangle method focusses on the filmmaking team as a team of creative artists working collaboratively to achieve the creative vision of the director.

Each student, then, is at any given time in the production process (which occupies a great deal of their time at film school), a member of (at least) three different constellations – they are a member of their own discipline along with the other students of the same discipline; they are a member of a film team along with one member of each of the other disciplines; and they are a member of a triangle focussing on one particular aspect of the film. On top of this may come any other cooperative workshops between disciplines that may place the students in other constellations.

In order to understand and guide the learning process the students are in when in these constellations, it is useful to turn to connectivism.[4] While this theory is designed to explain distributed learning through digital networks, there are some useful elements that can help understand how learning is spread among nodes in a network, where the «nodes» can replace the «constellations» referred to above.

A broader discussion of how connectivism relates to film school pedagogics is a subject for another time, but it is clear that much of the learning achieved by film school students is in the nodes and networks in which they are placed throught their time at the Film School. Not only do they learn directly from each other independent of their instructors, they also learn simply from the fact of being in their different node and networks. They are constantly having to adjust to new situations and relationships and find ways of expressing their creative talents within these situations.

The challenge for film school teachers is understanding this type of learning, and being able to identify when and how it is happening; and using the results of this learning to help the students be aware of their own progress.

4. The role of the mentor: tools, challenges and ethics

At the Norwegian Film School, an instructor works closesly with the same group of 6 students over the course of 3 years. This is a completely different scenario than at almost any other regular academic programme, where the instructors have more students and see them less frequently. Combined with the fact that filmmaking, like any creative process, can be very instensive, the personal bonds that develop between teacher and student is much stronger at film school than at most other programmes.

In addition, there are the same issues of confidentiality faced by all educators and the question how to handle critical feedback of (potentially) sensitive artistic students. Both the close relationships that develop and the fact that the work being evaluated can be of an intensly personal nature places makes a focus on professional ethics and an understanding of the role and tools available to a mentor of prime importance.

This final topic area of instruction for film school teachers must give them the tools to handle these situations, and, more importantly, the tools to handle situations for which there can be no set protocoll but that must be handled on a case-by-case basis.


  1. Launching a proposal to train film school teachers is not a new initiative from the Norwegian Film School. In the booklet «Back to the Future: Where to We Go From Here?» in the Training the Trainers package, Professor Richard Ross makes an argument for a European teachers training institute, which would be responsible for training filmmakers who are entering the teaching profession. The challenge is most acutely felt at the film schools where the teachers are recruited from active careers in the film industry, and expect to return to these careers; in other words – teaching, for them, is temporary activity and the training they receive must reflect this fact.
  2. In 2004 Philipsen published her seminal study of the Danish Film School called Dansk films nye bølge, afsæt og aftryk fra den Danske Filmskole (The New Wave of Danish Film – Influences and Imprints from The National Film School of Denmark), which examined the effect of the pedagogic philosophy of the Danish Film School on the so-called «new wave» of Danish filmmakers. She places this teaching philosophy squarely within the constructivist tradition of Vygotsky, and the definition of scaffolding that has arisen out of that tradition. This study has had great influence on film schools, among them the Norwegian Film School whose current Dean, Danish film producer Thomas Stenderup, also attended the Danish Film School concurrently with some of the leading filmmakers of the new wave.  ↩
  3. The Norwegian Film School works with three «triangles»: what is called the first, or «story» triangle, consisting of the Director, Producer and Screenwriter; the second or «visual» triangle, consisting of the Director, Cinematographer and Production Designer (and Producer); and the third, or «post» triangle, which brings together the Director, Editor and Sound Designer (and Producer). At the Norwegian Film School, each one of these disciplines is trained as a creative artist and storyteller in their own right but they are also taught to collaborate in order to achieve the director’s vision. The challenge of the director, in this situation, is to communicate her vision clearly and to lead the team in such a way that each member is able to make the best possible creative contribution to the film.  ↩
  4. Connectivism as a learning theory was launched in 2005 by Canadians George Siemens and Stephen Downes as a way of understanding how learning is distributed through digital networks. With the subsequent rise of MOOCs in recent years the theory has found increased purchase, although it is not without critics.  ↩
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iPad i Høyere Utdanning

Det er ikke lenger en nyhet at at «tablets», nettbrett, er blitt meget populære i utdanning på alle nivå. Med berøringsskjerm og et utall av applikasjoner er disse små datamaskinene utrolig mye mer fleksible enn tradisjonelle datamaskiner og det virker nesten ubegrenset hva man kan gjøre med dem.

Det er viktig å huske at som alle andre verktøy er nettbrett kun så brukbare som brukeren kan få til. Det vil si, folk som eksperimenterer og utforsker mulighetene til dem vil få utrolig mye nytte ut av å ha et nettbrett. Og det motsatte er også sant: de som er usikere og ikke makter teknologien vil raskt oppdage at selv det mest kritikerroste nettbrett er mer til hinder enn til hjelp.

Jeg fikk mitt første nettbrett – en iPad – i april, 2011 og er blandt dem som eksperiementer. Jeg tester ut ting, og leser og prøver. Jeg er ikke en såkalt «early adopter», men er helt klart en som ser muligheter i teknologi og som liker å utforske de mulighetene.

En av tingene jeg vil gjøre i denne bloggen er å dele noen av de tingene jeg lærer underveis. Det vil dele seg i tre hovedkategorier:

  1. iPad-verktøy for filmfolk. Filmbransjen var meget raske til å kaste seg over iPaden, og det finnes utrolig mange nyttige verktøy for filmskapere. En av hovedgrunnene til at jeg anskaffet meg iPad og ikke en av alternativene basert på Android er akkurat dette. Mange av appene laget til bruk i filmbransjen har jeg samlet på http://www.pearltrees.com/fgraver/tree/id4914773 og jeg kommer til å omtale noen av dem her.
  2. iPad som erstattning for papir. I filmbransjen brukes mye papir, og jeg er en av dem som hadde notater og diverse skrevet på klistrelapper, notatblokker, og løse papirbiter. iPadden har endret det for meg, og jeg skal skrive litt om det her. Under dette kommer også organisering av tid, kalender, telefonnummere, osv.
  3. Lesing. Jeg elsker papirbøker, og skulle gjerne hatt mange flere hyllemeter enn det jeg allerede har. Men det er ingen tvil om at iPad fungerer strålende til enklete former lesing, og jeg kommer til å skrive om det her.

Det blir utvilsomt mye overlapp mellom de tre kategoriene. Mitt håp er at de som vegrer seg litt for å ta i bruk disse dingsene kan finne mot til å prøve seg litt, og at de som bruker nettbrett aktivt oppdager noen ting de ikke ellers hadde oppdaget.

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Fredriks blog

Jeg startet som undervisningleder ved Den norske filmskolen i desember, 2009. Min bakgrunn i film finner man her, og basert på den erfaring ble jeg vurdert som førstelektor. I tillegg til det jeg driver med i det daglige er jeg meget politisk interessert og er  opptatt av hvordan ny teknologi påvirker samfunnet generelt, da spesielt kulturproduksjon og utdanning.

Jeg er relativt aktiv på sosiale medier. Mine profiler på Twitter og LinkedIn ser dere på forsiden, men jeg bruker også (i større og mindre grad) Google+, Zotero, Goodreads, Academia.edu, Vimeo, Skype (brukernavn er fredrik.graver) og en liten håndful andre hvor jeg har brukernavnet «fgraver».

I tillegg vedlikerholder jeg en samling på Pearltrees med det jeg vet om av film-relaterte apper for iPad.

Jeg skriver meget uregelmessig, men når jeg engang skriver her kommer det til å handle om ting relatert til filmutdanning og filmskolepedagogikk.

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