2018 Gitner Award Winner

Charles Merzbacher, of the Department of Film & Television

Film & Television Associate Professor Charles Merzbacher (left), of the College of Communication, receives the 2018 Gitner Family Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology from University Provost Jean Morrison at the Celebration of Teaching, Research & Scholarship on April 20, 2018. (Photo by John Martins, BU Research)

Professor Merzbacher believes there is a critical distinction between being an active producer of media and a passive consumer. Accordingly, two words guide Professor Merzbacher’s students through every media production course he leads: “Show me.”

Professor Merzbacher’s lectures are genuine multi-media experiences. Audiovisual aids enhance the learning experience through imagery and sound. Traditional teaching tools such as textbooks are complemented with online audiovisual resources. Whether developing their own websites or producing innovative film projects, the resulting approach is one that focuses less on “teaching creativity” and more on providing students the modern-day tools to express their own creativity and communicate effectively in a 21st century media-rich society.

A deep believer in the value of instructor- and peer-critiques, Professor Merzbacher provides numerous opportunities for “intellectual crowdsourcing,” where students can evaluate their classmates’ work both in-person and virtually. He has pioneered a methodology he calls “the flipped critique,” where students leverage streaming media platforms to watch their classmates’ media projects on their own time, providing feedback through online surveys. This system has freed up considerable class time, enabling discussion of assignments to be more cogent and focused.

Professor Merzbacher’s application materials embody an approach focused far less on demonstrating concepts than on encouraging students to put them to use. Professor Merzbacher reminds us that over the 75-year history of motion picture scholarship, much teaching has been done through a transubstantiation of images and sounds into words. His approach is different. Professor Merzbacher teaches screen language through screen language.