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September 1999, Week 2


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Gregory Smith <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 13 Sep 1999 09:01:04 -0400
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Like many of you, I have grown increasingly dissatisfied with the print textbooks which are available for teaching an introductory media analysis course.  For me the difficulty is trying to find a balance between those books which emphasize formal strategies (genre, mise-en-scene, authors) and those which open up broader social questions (ideology, etc.).

Last year I decided to take the plunge and try to "roll my own" by creating a web-based text for my intro course.  The experiment was rocky at times as I was desperately trying to throw content up on the web, staying just a step ahead of my students' reading (surfing?).

The reaction that surprised me the most was the frustration my students expressed with being unable to "highlight" the "book."  This instinct seems to be deeply ingrained in my students.  They seem to feel that reading without highlighting just doesn't stick in their minds.  I discovered that many students were bypassing the web, that someone was printing up copies of the website and then photocopying them so that the students could then hold a copy of the "text" in their hands and underline it.  The ability to cut and paste text into their own personal electronic notebooks didn't seem to help things for them.  For study (and particularly for review) purposes, they seemed comforted to have a paper copy.

I'd be interested to hear if anyone else has had this experience.  Is this simply a transitional moment when students still are trying to treat electronic texts more like paper ones, or is there a more lasting need which is more difficult to achieve with electronic texts?

Greg Smith
Georgia State
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