Episode 19 – Leading a Video Essay Assignment with Dr. Cara Tovey

Cara Tovey

Dr. Cara Tovey – Courtesy of Academic Affiars – College of Charleston


I had the recent privilege of speaking with Dr. Cara Tovey of the German and Russian Department about an interesting and more visually creative way to teach students all the bits and bobbles that go into writing evidence-based essays. She calls it a “video essay,” and our conversation highlights its purpose and process. The section on purpose allows Tovey to make the argument that a video essay provides a helpful step between the creative writing that students are often partial to and the more academic writing that we as instructors and researchers are pushing them toward. The section on process allows Tovey to emphasize a more scalable approach that includes weekly, skill-based video editing. These skills include, but are not limited to:

  • Screen shot
  • Trimming a clip
  • Adding text to an image (meme)
  • Screen capture (GIF)
  • Voice-over narration
  • Putting two images or two clips together with transition to make a short video

In the assignment guide from Dr. Tovey that I link below, you’ll find two options: create (1) a video essay or (2) a detailed outline of a video essay. The reason for the two options for the final assignment were solely to accommodate the new remote learning circumstances caused by the pandemic. Tovey taught this course during the Spring 2020 semester, during which time we shifted to online learning after spring break. While everyone was still on campus before spring break of last year, students still had access to computers with video editing software in the library. Once we moved all classes online and students moved out of the dorms, she could not assume that everyone still had access to the same resources that they had before spring break. Dr. Tovey still felt like the exercise of creating a video essay was valuable, so the option to write a detailed outline of a video essay was developed as a compromise. Everyone still went through the process of planning a video essay, and thus, got the experience and practice of working in the visual medium, but without necessarily having to do complete the project if the technology was not available to them. About half the students chose to complete the video essay as originally conceived and about half chose to create a detailed outline.

Video Essay Assignment Guide and Rubrics

How to Scaffold a Video Essay Assignment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *