Using video data for multimodality research

Thanks to the training bursaries granted by the ESRC National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM), I was able to attend a training provided by the Institute of Education at the University of London on using digital data (the focus was really on video data) for multimodality research on 21 August. It was a pre-conference event prior to the 6th International Conference on Multimodality (6-ICOM).

A couple of years ago, Christian Greiffenhagen and I organised a one-day session on “Video & STS: Methodologies and Methods” at the 2010 European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST) Conference (Trento, Italy, September 2010). Although video data and multimodality research is not that remote to me, this training did provide me with in-depth information and know-how.

The day was kicked off by Jeff Bezemer who provided a good overview of multimodality research by talking about how to analyse video data and key theoretical and methodological approaches. Then, Carey Jewitt talked about how to obtain and generate video data. We were asked to ponder the relationships between camera set-up (frames, angles), quality of video data and research questions, as well as ethical issues related to video data collection. The most interesting session for me was the various different kinds of transcriptions of video data Diane Mavers introduced. I didn’t know that transcribing social data can be so diverse, so fun and so creative, may it be writing-only transcriptions or drawing-only ones such as Goodwin’s Analysis of Girls Playing Hopscotch).

Two case studies were presented afterwards: one by Elisabetta Adami on analysing “video responses” on YouTube (analysis of interaction between YouTube users) and the other a workshop led by Andrew Burn on analysing the video recording about children who made a movie called “moonstone”.

The content of the training was rich. I had great conversation with other participants, and the discussion was very interesting (especially on how video data contribute to our understanding of the construction of meanings).

Everything in everyday life is multimodality, including research. The event has inspired me to integrate multimodal research into my undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. While it is common that students in media produce videos (e.g., CVG students producing game trailers, TV students producing video clips), these practices and activities are usually linked with practical skillset training rather than for pedagogical and/or research purposes. In the new academic year, the level-4 BA students in TV & Radio will be required to re-interprete academic journal papers and translate them into video or audio forms. This is part of an experimental project I’ll be undertaking with colleagues from the COST Action “Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies”.The videos produced by the students can be treated as artefacts for understanding their learning and interaction in classrooms. Of course, there will also be video recording (vedio data) about how they go about making these video artefacts.

Multimodality research will also be introduced to my MA students in Social Media. Multimodality research is important for understanding various aspects in our social life, both online and offline. Students will be encouraged to collect and analyse data that can capture and reveal various aspects of interactions and behaviours in everyday life.

I’m glad to say that this trip to London has been fruitful and useful. 5/5. 

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