Information Frequently Asked Questions about new media and its use in science


Why bother?

How do I get started in new media?

Does new media production really help students become better scientists?

What graduate attributes are improved by using new media?

Can students work in teams?

What about inter-university collaboration? Is it possible?

What are some of the challenges of using new media in student assignments?

Is it appropriate to use social media? Isn't this just for fun?

What is RSS, an RSS feed and when do I need one?

How do I keep track of multi-media?

Is there an equity issue? Not every student can afford a video camera!

What about copyright issues?

Are there OH&S concerns?

Too hard! I just want to create a good Powerpoint presentation. How?

Our wiki tips


How do I get started in new media?

While there are varying degrees of knowledge and experience in using new media within both the teaching and student communities, most forms of digital media can be produced at a relatively simple level and with little experience (most lecturers do not grade students on the amount of frills, bells & whistles they create but on content).
Tips given in this wiki should aid in understanding the basics of new media production. The rationale behind using specific forms of media and/or technology is given in the relevant wiki pages for blogs , podcasts , videos and websites .

Does new media production really help students become better scientists?

It is hope that experience in new media may help produce a better scientist. It will almost certainly help in making scientists better communicators.
Science students may not need to be expert filmmakers or accomplished bloggers when they finish their degree but familiarity with new media will aid them in the workplace. Creating media may even be linked to more traditional forms of problem-based learning, for instance the use of new media may be good at illustrating the different roles and learning styles of students, some being better at investigation and others at explanation.

What graduate attributes are improved by using new media?

By addressing key graduate attributes such as written and oral skills, teamwork, ethics, and critical thinking and by providing practice in the design, management & critique of new media such as webs & wikis, blogs, video and podcasts, student employability will be increased. Science will also be portrayed in the media in an engaging and motivating way.

Can students work in teams?

Students can work single or on team projects. There are advantages to working in teams:
  • Large classes can produce combined projects
  • There may be less marking involved
  • Students are learning team work, an asset valued by employers.
There are many tips and guidelines for team work at the Skillcity website and on our assessment page.
Managing teamwork: if new media assignments are done in small groups, these groups need to be supported, given instruction on how to progress and guidance when issues arise.Students may be unsure how to evaluate themselves and their peers, they will need guidance and support.


What about inter-university collaboration? Is it possible?

Collaborating between universities is certainly possible, especially if the projects use the same platform to upload digital media creations. Media such as SpinXpress are created for this purpose, to share and collaborate.

What are some of the challenges in using new media in student assignments?

  • Appropriateness of content: not all aspects of a course may be suited to a new media based assignment — you would need to ensure that the content or subject matter is suited to making the type of new media you have selected.
  • Assessment: you need to ensure assessment criteria are fair and transparent — students need to know what they are being assessed on, especially if this involves an evaluation of their work in a group
  • Managing feedback and assessment: if students give and receive feedback, this needs to be in timely fashion and all students need to be involved. Students may be unsure how to evaluate themselves and their peers, they will need guidance and support.
  • Building improvement into the process: to really improve their skills, students need a chance to practise and improve, to rewrite and re-record, to act on feedback.
  • Tech support: the technical issues of making good-quality audio/video recordings may need to be addressed — do you provide equipment, or support their use of their own equipment to make quality audio/video?
  • Approval to publish: if the students’ works are going to be made public, you will need to check or moderate the material, get students to sign approval forms and ensure your institution’s web policies are followed.


Is it appropriate to use social media? Isn't this just for fun?
Social media is part of life, therefore chances are students are using it already and will be expected to know how to use it when they graduate and enter the workplace. Social media can be an effective communication tool and may be used to generate public interest in your students' projects. It may also be used to communicate amongst private groups. Instead of emails circulating around a group of students, one group on Facebook or Twitter (which can be set to private), can communicate messages quickly and efficiently.

What is RSS, an RSS feed and when do I need one?

An RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary) is a format for delivering regularly changing web content. Blogs and other online publishers syndicate their content as an RSS feed.
You will need an RSS Reader to read content and there are a variety of readers available for different platforms (eg. Google reader ; My Yahoo ). More listed here .
For a simple explanation on RSS, see RSS Explanation in Plain English.

How do I keep track of multi-media?

You can bookmark useful websites or you can subscribe to feeds and be notified when new material is uploaded to many of your favourite sites. You may also like to use Social Bookmarking , where you store, organise and share information with others. Collaborative research and learning tools such as Diigo provide group sharing facilities.

Is there an equity issue? Not every student can afford a video camera!

Producing new media need not be expensive. The tips given in this wiki have, where possible, pointed to free software and website hosts. Basic equipment may be employed in the creation of digital media and, in some cases, university libraries may loan equipment. Did you know that you can buy a small video camera on ebay for as little as $1 (plus shipping & memory card)?
Recording devices are found on many computers and mobile phones, as are cameras. If access to technology is a problem, then less expensive media may be produced, eg. blog, or students may work in groups, eg. in a group of 4 students. In a group of 4, usually at least one student will own a mobile phone with a visual/auditory recording device.

What about copyright? Are we protected and can we use other people's work?

Universities generally produce guidelines regarding copyright (eg. UNSW copyright guide ). Copyright exists even in web related work and students need to be aware that copyright information on every website needs to be checked. Likewise using music or graphics needs to be checked.
Ownership of web generated material needs to be checked in addition to the policies of the host site.
Check the Creative Commons site for licensing.
Many sites offer copyright free material fused or educational purposes but the material may still need to be credited. More information on resources on our Technology page.

Are there OH&S concerns?

All workplaces need to mindful of occupational health and safety and new media in science participants should adhere to their University's guidelines. Other considerations:
  • A risk assessment may need to be carried out prior to student work being undertaken.
  • Computer breaks may need to be taken. Anti RSI app for Mac OS X — allows you to set break times regularly through the day to help avoid RSI.

Too hard! I just want to create a good Powerpoint presentation

We have created links to other useful technologies such as Powerpoint, photo collections and music, most of which are free to use (but please check terms of use first). More information on the Social Media & other technology page.
If you are feeling daunted, think about what is coming in the future. This You Tube video shows what some progressive school teachers in the one school district in US are doing. It suggests what your future students will be capable of, and by 'future' students, we mean the ones that will enter university in the coming two or three years. This 'Digital Generation' Project supported by Edutopia has school students K-12 creating the same new media as our project.


Information WIki tips

How do I build a wiki like this one? Can you give me some tips?

Wiki tip: Creating & inserting pictures
Wiki tip: Adding subpages
Wiki tip: Using icons
Wiki tip: adding widgets

How do I build a wiki like this one? Can you give me some tips?

Best way is just to get started and play around with the design features provided by Wikispaces. Throughout the wiki we have featured some tips:

Wiki tip: Creating and inserting pictures

This design was created on MIcrosoft Powerpoint and uploaded to the Wikispaces (click on the File tab on the edit bar of your wiki. You can then adjust the size and position of your picture and rename it or add a link of another page).

Wiki tip: Adding subpages

Add your subpage by adding a 'new page' (as you would for a new main page). To view your main pages only in your menu, click on the 'edit navigation' bar and list the pages you wish to appear in your main menu.

Wiki tip: Using icons

We have used icons to categorise the types of information provided and standardise these across wikipages. Our icons were sourced from Microsoft Office clipart online.

Wiki tip: adding widgets

Wikispaces provides lots of widgets (gadgets) that can be added to your wiki. Our cloud tag below is one of these.

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