By Dr Teresa Forde, Senior Lecturer in Media and Subject Leader for Film and Television Studies
The approach taken:
Within the Film and Television Studies programme each module has a linked list of material on BoB which students can access through Blackboard (Course Resources). This is in addition to library resources and other available online sources we use, such as BFI ScreenOnline.
BoB is useful at providing a range of material for students to delve into for their research. It is also extremely valuable in identifying a film as a shared case study which is accessible to all students in the UK, regardless of their own media access. There are also other existing recordings on the BoB system for students to access which broadens the range of material available. As well as allowing students to avoid searching for material by ‘googling’ titles online as these films can often be mis-titled, for example 1920s films such as Eiseinstein’s Battleship Potemkin which might be an entirely different Soviet film.
The use of material depends on the module. For example, within Cyberbodies there is a range of science fiction and technothriller films which range from more contemporary examples, such as Bladerunner, to influential forerunners such as Metropolis and the contemporary vision of Ex Machina and images of A.I. This range provides a context for the science fiction genre themes and approaches, introducing students to representations of androids across film history.
For our Text and Context module it includes items ranging from whole films and programmes to edited clips and documentaries, such as films of the French New Wave, from the directors Jean-luc Godard to Agnes Varda, to the documentary Hitchcock/Truffaut.
We also use an extract from Good Night, and Good Luck which is listed alongside a documentary on broadcasting censorship.
There is also a playlist for Image/Music/Sound which includes the musicals, West Side Story and Carmen Jones, as well as Saturday Night Fever and Singin’ in the Rain. BoB has also been used for a preparatory seminar pre-screening on this module of Do the Right Thing.
Equally, students can access material such as BBC4’s Sound of Cinema season and radio recordings on film soundtracks. They can also make use of the transcription, where available, to find the part of the programme they need to focus on, as well as making their own clips from the recordings.
Are there any challenges or limitations to this approach?
Due to licensing restrictions, students located outside of the UK cannot access BoB, which was a challenge last year when we were teaching online, and students were in other countries. Sometimes the recordings are not as good quality as they might be due to how they have been recorded from television. Some films are also recorded in another language without subtitles, which need to be checked before sharing with the students.
What have you learnt from undertaking this approach? Is there anything you would do differently next time?
I have learned that BoB is a useful tool for expanding research into film and television, both for the lecturer and students, but it is an additional task to identify and record upcoming programmes of interest. There are some useful documentaries and programmes which students would not necessarily be able to access elsewhere that can enhance their research. It is useful that everyone can share a recording as preparation for seminar discussion, if they are in the UK, and students can make their own playlists, clips, or programme requests. It has been a good supplementary teaching tool.
My advice for others is to check what is available beforehand and make a module or topic themed playlist. This is unlikely to be exhaustive but will be useful. You can make whole module playlists or separate playlists for different teaching weeks, and you can add to your lists or amend them at any time. It is easy for students to access the content if you use and send the links provided via BoB to access the playlists once they are signed in with their University login.