Ed Tech Studio tackles income inequality

The Educator’s Multimedia Studio is a capstone course that asks students to build on the skills they acquired in their prior coursework (e.g., Programming, Digital Literacies) and apply it towards a semester-long multimedia project. Each semester, the course has a unique theme that reflects a contemporary social concern. Students read a shared text based on this theme, and then develop projects that require them to do additional research. This project should contain an informational or persuasive element to it, using the research as a way of further supporting their points of view. The students voted for “Income inequality” to be this semester’s theme.

Regardless of political affiliation, most people feel that the growing income disparity is a persistent problem that threatens our sense of equity and democracy. But pundits disagree on many fronts: on the causes of income inequality, on the extent of it, and on the solutions to closing the gap. This semester, students read Jacob Hacker and Paul Pierson’s book Winner-take-all politics: How Washington made the rich richer – and turned its back on the middle class. This book engendered lively debates about the role of government and corporations in society and whether there is anything we can do to curtail this growing inequality.

The students have selected a wide range of topics and project ideas for this course. Below is a sampling:

  • Tom is working on an augmented reality experience that allows users to follow the money of the top ten richest individuals in the United States. The experience is intended to allow users to see how the money flows between corporations and governments, and how that affects economic policies and decisions.
  • Christiana and Prem’s project examines the growth of select neighborhoods in Queens through a gallery, using a combination of videos and photos. The website uses census data as well as other data collected from libraries and museums to show the changing demographics and income levels of these neighborhoods.
  • Mitch is doing a documentary on how the FEMA funds for Sandy Hook is distributed among different communities. His documentary involves interviews with people affected by the hurricane and looks at how different neighborhoods receive different funding opportunities, depending on their affluence.
  • Miheliwan’s project is an animated video which looks at income inequality in China. Her project draws on data collected by experts on Chinese economics and compares the income disparities in China with what is happening in the United States.
  • Erin is working on an e-textbook for her students, based on the topic of income inequality. As a teacher, she had found the paper textbooks to be dry and uninteresting. Using iBooks, she is designing an electronic textbook that is based on her assigned textbooks, but uses multimedia objects to enhance learning.
  • Katy is designing an interactive website to look at charter schools in different New York City neighborhoods. The website also describes the policies behind charter schools and examines how it affects different communities.
  • Stan’s project is a mobile app that teaches information literacy and will use income equality as an example. Users will answer questions and complete challenges as they learn how to do college-level research in a way that is more effective than any tutorial that the library can offer.

Students go through an initial pitch, a midterm critique and a final presentation, during which they will present their work to the larger community for further feedback. Students are encouraged to continue working on their projects beyond the duration of the course, and to get them ready for actual consumption in the classroom and/or by the public.

This article was originally published on April 14, 2014.
To learn more about the Education Technology program at Adelphi University, please visit our online M.S. in Education Technology page.

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