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tutor film 20c: skyler hanrath

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tutor film 20c: skyler hanrath

Skyler Hanrath

Learning Support Services

Film 20C Subject Tutor Advice

20C is a bit of a surprising class for both tutors and students. Introducing Digital Media, apparently, comes with an amount of difficulty. During my time tutoring for the class, I met students who had difficulty with the course's content and others who had difficulty with its very approach to said content–throughout, however, I believe I managed to be somewhat helpful, and here're a couple of the things I did.

1) Close reading: The students I met, for the most part, were basically unfamiliar with much of the work that goes into reading academic articles. Either they had glossed the assigned readings before the lectures (and the subsequent meetings they had with me) and not "gotten" much from it, they read everything and understand relatively little, or they hadn't read at all. In facing all of these problems, I spent many a session essentially reading select paragraphs aloud with them, breaking at each period, and running over just what they had understood. When they came up empty, I often asked them to go through the sentence inquisition and pull out each section of the argument they were having trouble understanding. After a few weeks of messing around with this approach to the readings (which, to be fair, can be fairly dense), I encouraged the students to employ the technique independently. Invariably, the students who were struggling with even basic understandings of the readings were starting to come to sessions with a vastly deeper understanding of the subsequent readings.

2) Being familiar with helpful supplementary material: Considering the broadness of the content of the course, it was tremendously helpful to be able to bring in instructive materials to each session that weren't necessarily covered by the lectures themselves. For instance, in considering the meaning of the depiction of gender in some video games, it was helpful to have some knowledge of Judith Butler's arguments about gender and identity in mind–and to keep the spirit of such things in mind throughout tutoring for the course. Students benefited tremendously from seeing the course material applied to popular and academic culture not explicitly outlined by the syllabus itself, as doing so engaged them in basic critical thought and brought the more wonky material into meaningful understanding.

3) Articulating the possibilities of the creative projects: While the projects themselves seem to change depending on the professor teaching the course, they do consistently aim to illustrate the potential for creativity within new media and digital art. In my experience, however, a number of the students are intimidated by the technical knowledge required to do well on each. If you as a tutor can work to mitigate that fear while also displaying just how creative the projects themselves allow them to be, the students will really open up to the assignments.

That said, each student and session will come with something of its own challenge, and you'll simply have to be as ready as possible to address them. Doing so shouldn't be terribly difficult, but it will require flexibility on your part–good luck!

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