I am not completely ignorant of the concept of “vidding,” as described by Francesca Coppa as “a form of grassroots filmmaking in which clips from television shows and movies are set to music.” In college, I had some second-hand exposure to AMVs (anime music videos), and I am aware of video-making as part of modern fandom (although my experience with it comes mostly from where it spills over into the mainstream, as when a Community fan video was parodied on the show during the episode “Paradigms of Human Memory”). But I’ve never had any direct contact with the community or practice of vidding, and didn’t realize how much I was missing out on.
My eyes were opened by the presentation of a paper titled “Women Remixing History on YouTube: Vidding Practices,” which I saw shortly after arriving in San Francisco for the first day of the Digital Media and Learning Conference. The presentation was part of a panel discussion put on by several individuals from Stanford University, under the title, “Digital Media and Gender: Women and Girls Engaging with Technology.” The presentation focused, as the title suggests, on the fact that the vidding community—which practices an enormous amount of technological instruction and training—predominantly comprises women. This active and effective community of learning can serve as a model for other programs and communities that hope to engage women and girls in technology.
The importance of finding models of STEM education that speak to women is not lost to me, but I’m a little overwhelmed by the even larger implications of this sort of community. One of the ideas that recurred throughout the conference was the seemingly-impending sea change in how education is structured, from broadcast to crowdsourced. Parallels were drawn to Web 2.0 and the changing information economy. New products and ideas were questioned, because they remain entrenched in the current ways of thinking. Some people, myself included, struggled to understand what “Learning 2.0” might look like.
Well, here’s what it looks like: it looks like vidding. It embraces maker culture. It encourages people to create things that have value within and outside the community. It celebrates quality and craftsmanship. It generates and identifies experts, and then allows them to elevate their community by providing training to other members. It is self-organizing. It understands “interaction” to mean “interaction with peers” rather than “interaction with the instructor.” It teaches technology as a tool that serves a larger, creative, cultural purpose, rather than as an end unto itself.
The other zeitgeist at the conference was the idea of gamification through badges. Much effort was dedicated to asking and answering the question of how we can introduce badges into education, and how we can use them to generate motivation. But modern education is already chock full of badges. Grades are badges. Courses are badges. The question we should be asking ourselves is, “How can we remove some of the badges from education?” “How can we inspire motivation without resorting to an external reward system?” We should be looking to the vidding community and hacker culture and learning everything we can learn about education from them.
About the author
Sean Bouchard works at the USC Game Innovation Lab as a Research Associate and game designer for the Collegeology Games project.