CTL Guide to the Digital/Multimedia Expression Hub Area

Guidance for faculty designing or teaching a Digital/Multimedia Expression (including assignment resources and examples) in the BU Hub, the university’s general education program.

From the BU Hub Curriculum Guide

“Communication through means other than words—whether spoken or written—requires a distinct set of skills. In a world where messages are routinely conveyed through audiovisual media, BU students need to develop an understanding of the role and impact of color, composition, rhythm, and acoustics that matches their mastery of verbal syntax and rhetoric. Today, in addition to live performances and installations, BU graduates receive information and experience the world through websites, videos, podcasts, and more” (for more context around this area, see the Hub Curriculum Guide). 

Learning Outcomes for DME

Courses and cocurricular activities in this area must have all outcomes.

  1. Students will be able to craft and deliver responsible, considered, and well-structured arguments, statements, or expressions using appropriate digital media.
  2. Students will be able to reflect on the ethical use of digital media, considering relevant issues such as accessibility, intellectual property rights, citational practices, and other discipline-specific concerns.
  3. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the capabilities of one or more digital communication technologies in their assignments.
  4. Students will be able to demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of digital communication, such as principles governing design, time-based and interactive media, and the audio-visual representation of qualitative and quantitative data.


Hallmarks of a DME Course

BU’s General Education Committee suggests the following characteristics of a DME course. 

  • Students create digital media “appropriate to their discipline, subject matter, purpose, and proposed audience. As some examples, students may be learning to produce podcasts in a communication course or being taught how to visually design and produce an e-poster for an academic conference in the sciences” (GEC Interpretative Document).
  • Instructors “identify examples of programs or applications that students could use in creating their projects, and [explain] how and when the process of creating a digital project in these will be taught” (GEC Interpretative Document).

Students are taught about “form/style and the technological skills necessary to create those forms as well as introduced to models they can analyze and evaluate in preparation for creating their own projects” (GEC Interpretative Document).

Designing DME Assignments

The design of a DME assignment depends on several factors, but can start with a basic question: What do instructors want students to take away from the assignment and how can those take-aways serve both the DME learning outcomes and the course’s own learning goals? In short, how can students learn to use digital creation tools as they also develop their understanding of disciplinary knowledge or practices? 

BU’s College of General Studies has a comprehensive list of model assignments and tutorials (including video, podcasts with Adobe Audition, photo essays, a digital multimodal magazine, multimedia presentations, infographics) that can serve as examples of genres that might function in different disciplines. 

Alternatively, instructors can teach students how different media genres appeal to different audiences, either academic or mainstream. 

    • Re-mediation or Translation Assignments can help students practice the capabilities of various media. Often, this means taking a traditional academic genre, such as the research paper, and shifting the medium to address a different audience or accomplish a different purpose: a paper is re-mediated into video, podcast, or website. The purpose of the re-mediation might be to address a non-academic audience, or to address an academic audience, but in another context (e.g., a poster in an academic conference).
      • This type of assignment has been taken up by the BU Writing Program specifically in the context of DME courses. For sample student DME projects and ideas for major and minor DME assignments, see the BU Writing Program’s DME pages.
      • As part of their assignment and to address learning outcome two, students can reflect on what it means to re-design, re-create, or translate ideas to communicate in a specific new context, using a new creation tool. For ideas about how to make reflection productive, see the BU Writing Program’s Multimodal Reflection Assignment and Guidelines for Integrating Reflection into Your Course (University of Waterloo).

Using Adobe Creative Cloud

Once an instructor has chosen the digital medium their students will create, they are free to choose any tool for students to create it. However, CTL recommends using Adobe Creative Cloud, a powerful and commonly used suite of tools for creating audio, graphics, photos, video, and more. Adobe is supported by BU’s EdTech and IS&T and can meet FERPA and accessibility requirements. 

Adobe is free for BU instructors and students, and is supported by staff from the office of Educational Technology.

To access an Adobe license, start with this page from BU’s Information Services & Technology.

For pedagogical questions about how a digital genre or particular Adobe tool might fit well with the learning goals of a course, faculty can schedule a consultation with the Center for Teaching & Learning. For technical  or “how-to” support with any Adobe tool, instructors can schedule a consultation via askedtech@bu.edu

Adobe includes the following tools:  

  • Audition: “Audio recording, mixing, and restoration.”
  • Illustrator: “Create designs, Illustrations, and vector graphics on desktop and iPad.”
  • InDesign: “Page design and layout for print and digital media.”
  • Photoshop: “Create beautiful graphics, photos, and art on desktop, web, and iPad.”
  • Premiere Pro: “Professional video and film editing.”
  • Premiere Rush: “Shoot, edit, and share high-quality video from smartphones, tablets, or laptops.”

*Descriptions above quoted directly from Adobe’s website.

Videomaking with Adobe Premiere Rush

Adobe Premiere Rush is a cross-device video capture and editing app that runs on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone. Unlike the other video making products in Adobe Creative Cloud, Premiere Rush can shoot and edit video. It also automatically syncs your projects to the cloud, allowing you to work anywhere and on any device. Adobe Premiere Rush is much easier to use than Premiere Pro, which cannot be used to capture video.

Podcasting with Adobe Audition

Audition is a desktop tool for recording, editing, and mixing audio for a variety of projects. BU educators and students can use Adobe Audition to capture audio recordings of themselves, edit them, and even combine them with other sounds and tracks to use in the background of presentations, demonstrations, and more.

Attribution in Video and Podcasts

Attribution is part of DME’s focus on ethical use of sources. BU’s CGS has a useful page on Citing multimedia content. Students can learn about citation in podcasts and videos by exploring Creative Commons “Best Practices for Attribution” wiki page.