Video Think-Aloud

The video think-aloud is a short video in which you or you and another student read a work of electronic literature and make sense of it aloud. The videos will be shared with the DavidsonX students as models of close-reading digital literature. A key component of this project is an analysis of your own think-aloud and an analysis of a second think-aloud as well. The entire think-aloud project is worth 20% of the final grade.

The essence of a think aloud is this: the reader articulates (“thinks aloud”) every stray, tangential, and possibly central thought that goes through their head as they encounter a new text for the first time. The idea is to capture the complicated thinking that goes on when we interpret an unfamiliar cultural artifact—to make visible (or audible) the usually invisible processes of interpretation and analysis. The ideal text to “read” is one that you are barely familiar with, if at all. The ideal length of the think-aloud is 7-10 minutes.

Once the think aloud is recorded, it can itself be analyzed, so that others can see the interpretive moves people make as they negotiate understanding (or misunderstanding). The real treasure of the think aloud is not any individual reading of a new text, but rather the recurring meaning-making strategies that become apparent across all of the think-alouds. Analyzing the think-aloud is the second part of this assignment. But for now, let’s focus on making the think-alouds themselves.

The Process

  1. Select a work of e-lit to read. There are several resources to help you find significant works: volume one and volume two of the Electronic Literature Collection; the ELMCIP Knowledge Base; or the I Love E-Poetry site. See more possibilities below, under The Works.
  2. Only browse these collections enough to find a work you want to use. Do not study the work before the think-aloud! Your goal is not to offer up a definitive, conclusive interpretation of a work. Rather, your goal is to capture the kind of thinking that goes on when one attempts to make sense of an alien work of literature for the first time.
  3. Test your audio and video with some other screencast. Make sure everything works!
  4. Capture the video and audio of your think-aloud. Be sure to identify yourself (using only a first name if you want, or even a pseudonym) and the name of the work. You (or if working in pairs, you and your partner) should strive to talk as much as possible during your encounter, articulating every thought that occurs as you read the work.
  5. You can do some minimal editing to the video, for example, adding titles or the name of the work.
  6. Upload the video to YouTube or Vimeo. Tag it with #DIG220 #ELIT #DAVIDSON and any other tags that make sense to you. Embed the video into your public sketchbook. Hint: you can easily embed videos onto your site simply by pasting the URL on a line all by itself.

The Tools

There are many options for recording screencasts. The main thing is to use software that captures both video (the screen) and audio (your voice). Some software can record webcams as well as the screen, so that your face appears as a thumbnail in the corner of the screen. That’s not necessary for this project, but feel free to be fancy if you want. Here are a few tools to consider. If you have other suggestions, please share and I’ll add them to this list.

  • Open Broadcaster Software (free and open source)
  • Apple Quicktime (Mac only, there’s a New Screen Recording option under File)
  • Adobe Captivate (in some computer labs)
  • Screencast-O-Matic (web-based and free up to 15 minutes in length)

The Works

In addition to volume one and volume two of the Electronic Literature Collection or the ELMCIP Knowledge Base, a number of digital artists and writers have online portfolios of their work. Consider the work of the following:

The Deadline

The think-aloud is due by midnight on Tuesday, October 6.

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