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The Post Industrial Media Project is a collaborative teaching and learning research project undertaken by Adrian Miles, Allan Thomas, David Carlin, Glen Donnar, Paul Ritchard, Rachel Wilson and Seth Keen of the RMIT Media program.
Integrated Media 1 is the first part of two subjects (the other is rather originally entitled Integrated Media 2) that is intended to concentrate on media in networked environments. Both are compulsory subjects for all media students, and have networked media as a prerequisite. This subject concentrates on the uses of time based media (eg video and audio) in online environments, and the implications of this for media practice.
Integrated Media could also be called post industrial media, everyday media, quotidian media, dirty media. I think you get the idea. It is a subject that combines theory and practice where from my academic point of view I think of it as theory lead practice but the curriculum is aimed to be experiences as practice lead theory from the students point of view. It is explicitly about taking the students developing professional skills in video and audio/radio and thinking about this as a practice in the context of digital networks. Such a practice is to question the assumptions of traditional professional broadcasting, and to also reimagine what video and audio could become. We use everyday media devices, phones, digital still cameras, single chip video, to record and publish exploring media practices that are 'good enough' rather than perfect.
In a nutshell. Timebased media online as an off the shelf everyday network and media practice. We explore what it means for the network to be the site of practice rather than only a possibility of distribution.
The subject consists of a standard weekly lecture and a two hour computer studio. The lecture is for the usual fifty minutes. In my usual practice the lectures are informal, often consisting of little more than a series of headings that I improvise around. The specific trajectory that the subject follows generally emerges in practice, partly determined by what difficulties or interests the students experience and what particular readings or assessment tasks have been set. The lectures are dedicated to ideas and critical thinking, they are not used to show technical things (how to's for example). I also routinely invite and/or require students to frame questions in response to readings, class activities or anything else that contributes to the thinking through of specific questions or problems.
The computer classes I frame as a studio, which is perhaps a minor bit of terminological slippage but I want them thought of not as labs, but as places in which things are made, critiqued, and changed as a result of the critique. A method that emphasises reflection, iterative practice and the development of prototypes and experiments. The labs are a combination of technical instruction, covering such things as compressing and embedding video and audio into blogs, RSS, RSS with enclosures, subscribing to RSS feeds, tagging, writing in wiki's, producing a portfolio of small scale video or audio works, and the development of an interactive QuickTime project. The studio includes a lot of critical discussion which may have arisen from the weeks lecture, from particular work being undertaken, or questions that have been raised in class or via their blogs.
All of the teaching, whether in the lectures or the studio, is process orientated and reflective. This is strongly emphasised in the assessment systems adopted, but also in the conduct of all classes. For example in the studio I may describe something, let's say RSS, and then ask students to find some definitions of what it is. Once this is done and reported back to the class a next step will be to invite small groups to work out how to subscribe to RSS. This will involve a dishow you cussion about clients and what this might be, to try and find some clients, and then how you would actually subscribe. I might get this done in small groups, and then a group can demo to the rest of the class how to subscribe. From there I might ask why you would actually subscribe to RSS, and what sorts of things they would subscribe to. Then there may be a required task to subscribe to some classmate's blogs, the course blog, and to then find some blogs or RSS feeds of things they are interested in. The point here is that each step is premised with an open question that invites and requires action to answer. The students answer this themselves through doing an activity, and often I will then describe or make visible what sorts of activities or actions were done to find these solutions or answers. This reflective activity helps the subject develop a sense in which it becomes about a practice of doing things in the network, and not just finding out information.
The rationale for a subject like Integrated Media 1 is very simple. First of all it is based on the premise that media practice into this century will not be simply 'radio' or 'try' or any other media but will, for want of a better term, be a medium practice. In other words we have material that will appear or be delivered in a variety of media, and we will have media that consists of a variety of media. In the first instance a soundtrack might be used for radio, while the same sound with an image track will appear on television, be podcast, and embedded on a web page. In the second instance a web page (as a very ordinary example) will combine text, graphics and possibly video and so here media practice requires literacies that encompass a variety of skills and understandings.
The second major rationale is that all the students involved are undertaking a professional program in either TV or radio production. Integrated Media 1 concentrates on the use of QuickTime because this is the simplest and easiest container technology we can use for their sound and video practice and to move this into networked contexts. This includes the development of some basic interactive QuickTime where problems of design, interactive, multilinear narrative and porous media are explored.
I take it as a given that media is always now plural, distributed and networked. The days of only ever being broadcast, or having the slide show in your loungeroom to share your media practice are well and truly archaic. These are new literacies and raise significant questions about practice and the sorts of objects that video and audio might become. This is the role of this subject. In my own research I have characterised these as network literacies.
Integrated Media 1 has historically produced a range of objects. These have included the use of blogs, wikis, and the production of interactive QuickTime works that are distributed online. In addition we often set a series of constrained media tasks to help students develop creative and technical competencies, and a technical exam that is used to ensure that students have the required abilities.
Miles, Adrian. "Network Literacy: The New Path to Knowledge." Screen Education Autumn.45 (2007): 24-30.