Remembering, Understanding, Analyzing, Creating
Papers and tests are a couple of ways for students to demonstrate what they know, but not the only methods. Using a multimodal project as an assessment in a course is a valuable culminating assignment alternative. It can represent the accumulation, distillation and dissemination of knowledge a student has gained in the course.
For this final multimodal project, students must incorporate elements from at least 3 key topics or units of the course. Students are then given a choice of project options based on their preferences and interests:
- a multimodal presentation on a topic/unit discussed during the course;
- a multimodal narrative of your development as a learner in the course; OR
- a media artefact (video, website, podcast, video game, etc.) that teaches a complex concept in the course to a general audience
Each of the options for the final project is discussed in greater detail below:
A multimodal presentation on a topic discussed during the course
Multimodal refers to the use of two or more communication modes. In this assessment example, the modes should be digital in nature. This could involve the use of images, text, video, audio, webpages, presentation slides, animation, blogs, e-book, etc. This assessment reflects the principles of universal design for learning by giving choice and encouraging diversity around the modes of representation.
The topic students select can be taken from any of the units covered in the course, but must also incorporate or reference material from at least three units of the course in total – to represent the depth as well as the breadth of knowledge acquired. Students are expected to do additional research to build on what has been discussed in class and to make meaningful connections with the reference material from the other unit topics chosen; that is, students will present a deeper or more specific treatment of the topic.
A multimodal narrative of your development as a learner in the course
Using a mutimodal approach as outlined in the previous option, you will develop a narrative that examines the experiences in your life (and this course!) that have impacted your learning experience in the course and your understanding of the course subject. Students might want to start with a reflection on what the course topics meant to them at the start of the course (a good welcome module activity by the way), and focus on how that changed (or didn’t!) throughout the course.
A media artefact (video, website, podcast, video game, etc.) that teaches a complex concept covered in the course
Students will create a media artefact to teach someone else (making the assumption that they have not been exposed to this concept) a complex concept from the course. The ability to communicate what they know in a clear, compelling manner is a key competency of knowledge translation and students may want to retain this as a useful portfolio item, depending on their career plans.
- Final Multimodal Project Proposal
- Final Multimodal Project
Final Multimodal Project Proposal
Multimodal projects, like any scholarly endeavour, take time and careful consideration, and the proposal stage gives students and the instructor the opportunity to have a conversation about what they are planning before students get too far into making it. The project proposal should be required about ¾ of the way through the course; if, as an instructor, you are following the advice of “after week 8, consolidate,” that is an ideal time to make this proposal due.
Multimodal Final Project Proposal Metadata Document
The project metadata document helps the instructor understand the student’s thinking as they develop their final project, as well as encouraging them to reflect upon why they are making certain design decisions. It should be about 2 to 3 pages in length and should be submitted twice – several weeks prior to the final project deadline and along with the final version of the project (with the self-evaluation/reflection piece added in). The proposal metadata document should include the following:
[Choose: course topic, learner narrative or multimedia artefact]
[State the topic of your final project, or general theme if narrative]
[Describe the key idea(s) that you’d like to communicate with your project]
[Provide any background information that will help to illustrate the context you imagined for your project: what is your aim in creating it? Who is the audience you have in mind? How do you see your project being used, or where on the web might it go?]
[Expand on the course concepts/skills/activities that you plan to / integrated into your project; make specific reference to individual readings, videos or activities in at least three different units (i.e. what you write here should clearly demonstrate that you read/watched/participated in them, even if it is not as apparent from your project itself)]
[reflective question, final version only]
[Elaborate on your process as you developed your project: how did it evolve from the proposal stage? Did you discover any new information or insights that took your concept or project in a new direction? Were there any concessions you had to make because of time or available resources, and how did you resolve the problem? Were you influenced by someone else’s work as you created your project?]
Self-evaluation and reflection:
(note – to be completed when submitting project)
[Critique your own work: what elements do you think are successful about it? What would you have liked to do differently? Do you think it achieves the aims that you wanted to communicate? How have your attitudes or views or practices changed as a result of working on the project? Do you feel that creating a project was a good learning strategy for you to better understand your topic?
Feedback and Critique
Students will also see and give feedback to their classmates during a final project showcase that they can use to make some refinements to their project before submitting it for assessment.
Feedback and critique sessions with peers are incredibly helpful to identify the strengths of the project and areas for improvement. The experience of giving feedback, however, is just as invaluable, because it develops and refines analytical skills which students can then apply to their own work as they self-assess it.
Final Project Details
The final project will be presented / provided to the class (the method used for this example was the Learning Management System Discussion Forum), with students then engaging in a feedback and critique process.Students are expected to comment on three peers during this time frame.
Students will then submit the final version of their project to a final project assignment folder by the end of the class.
In the final project, students are required to integrate concepts from at least three units in the course. Otherwise, the parameters of the project are fairly flexible. Students should take advantage of the proposal stage to have a conversation with the course instructor about their project to ensure that they are on the right track.
The length requirements vary widely depending on the project concept and the media used. For example, it takes considerably longer to animate a video or create an HTML5 game than to put together a pecha kucha presentation; likewise, if they are creating all of their images as opposed to using appropriated images. A few suggested guidelines for project length are given below, but they are *approximate* – if students have any concerns about whether your project is too long or too short, check in with the course instructor. Ultimately, students should aim to spend about 15 to 20 hours over the course of the term on the development of their final project.
- A two- to five-minute animated video
- A 10 to 15 minute podcast or recorded presentation
- A multiple-page website
- A one-level game
Due dates for the showcase and the submission of the final project are to be finalized based on the schedule of the class.
One tested approach to the evaluation of the multimodal culminating project was to give it three distinct evaluation components: the final project proposal (5% of final grade), participation in the feedback & critique process (5% of final grade) and the project itself (30% of final grade). In total, the three components were worth 40% of a final mark in the course.
The proposal and participation components are effectively pass / fail, though substandard efforts may be penalized (i.e. if parts of the proposal are left incomplete or little feedback is given during the showcase).
The final project itself was evaluated based on the following criteria (items can be weighted equally or adjusted):
- project concept
- is the concept of the project well-thought out? Is it approached creatively? Does it reflect a nuanced understanding of course topics?
- how successfully is the project concept executed? Does the project reflect a clear authorial voice? Is the ‘message’ of the project focused and scholarly?
- integration of course concepts
- does the project integrate course concepts in a meaningful and logical way? Does it go beyond summary to analyze, build on or critique the concepts?
- are the aesthetics of the project consistent throughout? Do they reflect an intentional approach to designing the user experience of the project? Are they appropriate for both the concept and the medium?
- are there any technical errors in the project? Is it easy to use and functional? Is the selected tool appropriate for the project concept?
- are there any spelling or grammar errors in written text? Are references given for works cited? Are the sources of any copied media properly acknowledged?
- fulfillment of assignment requirements
- does the project incorporate concepts from at least three units of the course? Does it use multimedia to communicate a concept or narrative? Has the project metadata document been submitted?
- incorporation of feedback
- does the submitted project incorporate feedback from the proposal & showcase phases? (to be addressed in the project metadata document)
The nature of the multimodal assignment is for students to choose what technology they prefer to use. If students are unfamiliar with what to use, consider what tools are supported institutionally, or check out the list of the top tools for learning created and maintained by Jane Hart. Ensure that the platform selected meets accessibility standards (Google and Microsoft apps offer this assurance).
This assignment was created and used in the Digital Literacy for Learning undergraduate course. Effective integration tips include introducing the assignment and its expectations early on in the course and revisiting it as the class moves through content. Because the project included a self-evaluation / reflection, the assignment received pointed feedback, which was overwhelmingly positive, with many remarking that it was quite different than what they’d been exposed to previously throughout their education and their appreciation for the autonomy and choice over how the project was created. Because this course included units on multimedia for learning and exposure to various tools used to create multimedia artefacts, students were at an advantage. The course also included a learning portfolio requirement, which many used to host and feature their project. If integrating this assignment into a course, consider the ways students may need to be supported from the technical side, or make it clear that they should choose tools they are familiar with.
The Science of Aging and Immortality (by Robert Etherington)
Conversion Tips (by Sarosha Imtiaz)