For Mobile Phone Movies – The Technology is in Your Pocket

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Helen Keegan, Senior Lecturer in Interactive Media at Salford University in England will report to OEB on how she teaches new media to her students using the mobile phones in their pockets to make short films. Accustomed to classic video-sharing web sites like YouTube, students collaborated to explore mobile film making and demonstrate their digital literacy.


Students on a Professional Sound and Video Technology degree course at Salford University created a series of short films in 2009 using mobile phones.


“We wanted to encourage students to engage critically with mobile and web-based technologies, to develop their online presence and their digital identity and to experiment with participatory media,” says Ms Keegan, Lecturer in Social and Educational Technologies at Salford.


Hugh Garry, a BBC Radio 1 Interactive producer gave the students a masterclass on his award-winning film Shoot TheSummer. This was the first BBC film entirely shot on mobile phones, produced in 2008 after bands and fans of the BBC radio audience contributed mobile phone clips of summer music events like the Cambridge Folk Festival, Proms in the Park and the Notting Hill Carnival.


Multiple Platforms


The emphasis in the project at the University of Salford was on developing a broad range of media literacies across a variety of Web 2.0 platforms, encouraging the learners to consider issues and techniques in relation to multi-channel content production.


Helen Keegan says, “The students used wikis for all aspects of project management, technical analysis and reporting. A visual diary of the making of each film was presented in Flickr, and the films were uploaded on YouTube so that external experts could comment on the production process and the results”.


The films were presented in a mini ‘film festival’ with full assignments submitted as QR [quick recognition matrix barcodes], recognised by mobile devices and linked to the work online with video, Wiki and Flickr.


“By using multiple media across a range of open platforms the students immersed themselves in the technologies as mobile and networked learners and content producers.”


Mobile Film Making in Emerging Genres


Initially, the students resisted the idea of creating mobile phone films. “They equated the ‘equipment’ with low quality and omnipresent technologies, with the frivolity you find in YouTube funnies,” Helen says.


The students then discovered innovative and imaginative techniques impossible with normal video cameras. They taped a phone to a record player to film a disc jockey from the perspective of his vinyl record as it turned on the record turntable when he ‘scratched’ the music and manipulated his crossfader.


Someone else used their telephone to make a film inside a glass plunged into a fishbowl.


Topics ranged from an exploration of addiction to technology to an arty collage of sound and music.


Someone shot a murder story from the point of view of the killers: “Mostly shot from the perspective of the ‘murderers’, it offers a look at the dark side of user-generated content. It shows how mobile phone technology can be used to capture footage of controversial acts. The authentic feel of the mobile phone film makes this piece genuinely chilling.”


A Transformation in Mindset


Helen Keegan reports that the project has raised awareness of the creative potential of consumer technologies.


“We found that student-generated content production across mobile internet devices proved technologically accessible, motivating and engaging.”


Most importantly, she adds, it challenges the learners’ assumptions about film-making, developing an openness to to new technology, “A transformation in mindset which is ideally suited to lifelong learning in an rapidly changing world.”


The focus on digital literacies and the teaching of social and mobile technologies has attracted great interest.


Helen Keegan says, “We are now transferring this approach across disciplines and faculties in a university-wide drive to establish innovative digital curricula.”


Links, References and Further Reading
The project on Helen Keegan’s blog:


Conole, G. (2008), New schemas for mapping pedagogies and technologies, Ariadne article, July 2008,


Jewitt, C. (2003) ‘Reshaping learning: new technology and multimodality’, International Journal of Learning 10: 2652-60.


Keegan, H. (2009) ‘Preparing learners for a digital world’, in Effective Practice in a Digital Age, (Ed. Smith, R.), 1st edition, JISC, UK


Kukulska-Hulme, A., & Traxler, J. (2005). Mobile Learning: A Handbook for Educators and Trainers. London: Routledge


At OEB, Helen Keegan will present Learner Innovation: Creative Collaboration On-the-Move and In-the-Cloud as part of the session on Content Creation for Mobile Learning which will take place on Friday, December 3rd, from 11:45 – 13:30.

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