Wexner Center Media Arts Seminar Blog

A Cassavetes film Green's students wrote about for their class blog.

I recently
wrote this story - my second to last for the Lantern - about Ron Green's partnership with the Wexner Center to develop a public blogging mechanism for his seminar class devoted to the Wexner's Media Arts programming. Set ups like this are sort of a no-brainer to me yet they seem to not be a widespread practice at OSU. Of course, that's OSU. So kudos to Green and the Wexner for attempting something out of the norm.

An interview with Chris Stults, the Wexner Center's assistant curator of film/video - here.
An interview with Dan Guarnieri, a student in the class - here.

The story is after "the jump." So is my interview with Green.

Student work can seem pointless. It’s hard to care about a 15-page paper when it’s just your professor’s teaching assistant looking at it - and who knows if they actually read it?

But for students in Professor Ron Green’s Wexner Center Media Arts Programming class, there was an added incentive to do well in their writing - a public audience.

Students in the history of art course were required to attend the fall’s Media Arts programming at the Wexner Center. During the first 10 minutes of each class period the students wrote responses to the film or talk they attended. The best responses were published on a public site called the “Wexner Center Media Arts Seminar Blog.”

The Wexner Center’s Director of Media Arts, Bill Horrigan, initially proposed the idea for the blog. The site was set up and promoted by the Wexner Center’s Assistant Curator of Film and Video, Chris Stults.

“It seemed like it would be valuable to bring the students’ discussion into a public forum since the screenings were originating outside the classroom,” Stults said.

Professor Green agreed, adding that it allowed students to add a publication credit to their professional resumes.

It also provided a method of community outreach - an important consideration for a land-grant university - since it connected advanced undergraduate work to the public sphere, Green said.

Though the idea of a public dialogue motivated students in the beginning of the quarter, its influence waned for some.

“For those students who did well early and got published, the incentive declined slightly, but for those who hadn't published early, the incentive to improve was very strong and very effective. The result was a good spread of publications among the seminar participants,” Green said in an email.

The public response was inconclusive.

While website hits increased over the quarter only one comment was left and it was on the first post.

It never reached the sort of dialogue between students and public that we hoped for
, Stults said, adding that it can take thousands of people to visit a blog before a substantial amount of commenting develops.

Though Stults says it might not make sense for every type of class, both Green and Stults are optimistic for the future of public writing forums for students.

Because arts coverage in print is increasingly disappearing, outlets like the seminar’s blog could help fill the role of traditional arts coverage, Stults said.

Daniel Guarnieri, a fifth-year triple majoring in film studies, philosophy and art, was published twice on the blog. His essays covered the recently released French film “35 Shots of Rum” and a talk given by Robert Beavers, an experimental filmmaker.

Guarnieri feels the blog introduced a new dynamic to class.

“It makes the class feel more relevant,” Guarnieri said. “If I write something I care about, I want more people than just the teacher to read it.”

Guarnieri hopes the practice is continued in the future.

“It’s a great thing,” Guarnieri said.

To see how the blogging experiment worked out, visit www.

Interview with Professor Ron Green:

1. What was the initial purpose or thought behind the blog? Did it
accomplish this goal?

Chris Stults, Assistant Curator of Film/Video at the Wexner, (ED: Actually Bill Horrigan) suggested the idea to me and set up the blog site (http://wexseminar09.wordpress.com). Chris and I both had multiple purposes: to increase incentive in the seminar students by publishing their best essays for each Wexner screening--those students who get published actually get a publication credit they can include on a professional resume; to increase interest among the general audience for these Wexner programs, since the non-OSU audience member can leave read the blogs and leave comments about the films and the seminar essays; to connect sophisticated OSU undergraduate coursework with the general public, which is an outreach goal.
The goal of increasing student incentive worked beautifully for most of the seminar students in the first two-thirds of the course, and for some students it was important until the end of the course. For those students who did well early and got published, the incentive declined slightly, but for those who hadn't published early, the incentive to improve was very strong and very effective. The result was a good spread of publications among the seminar participants. Readers can check this out by surveying the posts on the blog over the course of the term.
Even though our blog was linked to the general Film/Video blogs of the Wexner Center, there is little evidence that our seminar blog helped galvanize the wider Wexner audience, since only one comment was left during the course of the entire seminar, and it came with the first post. But the blog did register more hits as the term proceeded. You might check with Chris Stults about his take on the success of this goal--I'm copying him on this email.

2. Is the practice of publicly publishing student writing in a class
    blog something you see growing in the future?

Yes, definitely. I love this idea and I think it worked for the students in the class. I will need to explore structures that will work in non-seminar classes, and it may be that this sort of high-quality, incentive publishing is only practical for small classes. It also worked for me, since it was satisfying to put the best work from the class out there for the world to see, and potentially useful for any critiques those works might inspire.

3. What was the student reaction to the process?

There were some students who had no idea how to write an effective paragraph on the cutting-edge forms and eclectic topics presented by the Wexner program, but who proceeded to produce at least one publishable paper during the term. For the advanced students, the idea of doing their best work to represent the seminar for the general public, and the goal to produce ideas for the wider cultures of film criticism, was exhilarating, if sometimes nerve-racking (their essays were all produced without notes during the first ten minutes of each class).

4. Off topic: what is your reaction to the announcement that the
Wexner Center will be programming two screens at the Gateway Theater?

Sounds great to me! The more those curators do in town, the better. They travel all over the world to gather in the best stuff out there each year and bring it to us. There is so much good work being done internationally that could be shown here, and the Wexner curators at the best in the business at bringing it to us.

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