As if by Magic! Exploring the Processes and Problems of Producing Educational Media

Workshop Session 1

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Educational media productions and innovations often suffer because participants poorly understand the goals and constraints facing others (typically faculty, media producers, and instructional designers). This workshop uses a role-playing game to interactively address this gap and provide tools and models for interaction that participant’s can return to the their institution.


Andrea Beukema is an Instructional Designer within the Educational Support Services group of the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine where she works to create engaging learning experiences that draw on current research-based teaching and learning methods. Andrea earned a M.S. from the University at Albany in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology as well as a Graduate Certificate in Online Learning and Teaching, and holds a B.A. in Theater from the University of Connecticut. Prior to joining the academic world she authored a book for young equestrians, Riding Right Young Rider’s Workbook, helped produce the award-winning DVD 40 Fundamentals of English Riding, and worked as a media producer. In her current position her goal is to help faculty design, re-design, and incorporate new technologies into their teaching. Her professional interests include instructional media production, online learning, and technology-enhanced teaching.
In her role as Medical Illustrator and Animator, Allison assists faculty in maximizing the educational potential of medical and scientific material through visual art and storytelling. Her professional interests include the educational applications of immersive technology, photogrammetry and 3D authoring, and educational game design.

Extended Abstract

Learning Outcomes

Participants will

  • Discuss the life cycle of a media production project

  • Identify constraints (including hidden and/or overlooked constraints) facing typical stakeholders in a production project

    • While role-playing as a stakeholder in a project team, develop a realistic plan for an effective media production that appropriately addresses the constraints and avoids wishful thinking (“as if by magic”).

  • Identify the positive opportunities which arise when constraints become the basis for consideration of alternative means of producing content

    • Within the role-play, create production alternatives which play to the strengths of the participants while avoiding the constraints

  • Understand how to apply role-play as a useful tool within their home-institution

Collaboration and Interactivity

This workshop is a true role-play game supplemented by mini-lessons and within-the-game coaching and commentary by the presenters. Role playing games are known to enhance creative thinking and working as a team. This game will present a scenario that asks participants to plan for a specified media project (instructional video, online module, animation, etc.).

Each player will be assigned a role from a set of typical project participants (faculty, media producer, etc.)  with real-world attributes (timeliness, academic workload, etc.) that contribute to or detract from the success of the project. Participants will work in small groups (4-6 people). Their first task will be to develop their media production plan on a series of blank grids; inventively, this grid will become the board on which the rest of the game plays out.

The process will be to move their team through the project as efficiently as possible.  Along the way, teams will draw cards and roll dice to expedite or delay their project plan. All scenarios, cards and matters of chance have been carefully written to reflect the day-to-day realities of educational media production.

At several key points, game-play will be paused in order for the facilitators to present a mini-lesson on selected aspects of media production planning and management. The mini-lessons will use a combination of slides and video to demonstrate effective (or ineffective) production processes and serve as a Just-in-Time learning that will help teams succeed in the next phase of their games (and their subsequent real-world work).

By playing, participants will gain or improve their understanding of roles and responsibilities, how to manage a project, and effective ways of giving feedback on video and other forms of media.


After the workshop, all materials will be shared with participants, along with a version of the game that has been adapted to be played by faculty as part of a faculty-development session.  This will help participants bring the lessons learned to their home institution as well as share and help faculty understand the nuances of media production from their own frame of reference.


Attendees will be required to bring nothing except themselves and an open mind. A device (cell phone, tablet, etc.) with a camera to capture the board game at different stages of play is encouraged.

This workshop will be best facilitated in a room where participants can gather around tables each seating 4-8 participants.

Presenters will provide all game materials, and presentation materials.


This workshop is geared towards individuals who are involved with the creation of educational media. Primarily instructional designers, academic support staff, media producers, and faculty with secondary audience focused on administrators who oversee educational media production. The benefits of this workshop are broad as everyone will come away with a deeper understanding of the roles and responsibilities involved with a successful educational media production project. Participants will also practice giving and requesting actionable feedback on media products, something everyone who in involved with digital learning must do.

We anticipate participants will leave with a deeper understanding of how to foster productive collaborations between faculty (or Subject Matter Experts) and media/instructional professionals by addressing the following questions: Who needs to know what and when? What’s easy and what’s not in terms of production? and What constitutes actionable feedback?


Outline of Workshop Session

  1. Welcome and Goals of Workshop (time: 5 min; format: presentation)

  2. Introductions (time: 7 min; format: paired introductions within small groups)

  3. Role Play One: Know your Role (time: 5 min; format: individual activity)

    1. Introduction to the role play game

    2. Assignment of roles

  4. Mini-Lesson: The Life Cycle of a Media Project (time: 10 min; format: presentation with slides)

    1. What works? From single person to professional media teams, what works and what elements do you need to consider early in the project?

    2. The phases of a media project: planning, design, pre-production, production, post-production, delivery, assessment

  5. Role Play Two: A Problem Emerges (time: 15-20 min; format: small group activity)

    1. Each small group is given a scenario that includes: project goal, audience, deadline, budget, preferred delivery method

    2. Groups work together to formulate a production plan

    3. Production Challenges: each group draws a “Production Challenge” card, these cards may necessitate altering the plan

  6. Mini-Lesson: Initiating the Project (time: 5 min; format: presentation with slides)

    1. How to move a project forward (in the game and the real world)

  7. Role Play Three: Production Process (time: 10 min; format: small group activity)

    1. Small groups begin to move through their timeline using the game piece provided

    2. Before each new phase of the project can be started, a “Production Process” card must be drawn by the group. These cards will ask participants to navigate a real-world issue that is likely to arise during production and may alter the outcome and timing of the production.

    3. Continue playing until first group has entered post-production phase of project

  8. Mini-Lesson: Post-Production Feedback (time: 10 min; format: presentation with slides and video demos)

    1. Getting and giving feedback, what can be changed and what cannot with the given resources, time, and budget?

    2. Compare and contrast vague versus specific feedback

    3. Tools for success:

      1. Demo of vimeo review notes

      2. Demo of time coded notes

  9. Role Play Four: That’s a Wrap (time: varies depending on progress; format: small group activity)

    1. Groups continue playing through the production timeline

    2. Successfully complete the production!

  10. Wrap Up Discussion & Q&A (time: 10 min; format: facilitated discussion)

    1. Full group facilitated discussion:

      1. What will you change in your approach to media production?

      2. What aspects are most important?

      3. How can you involve faculty early on?

      4. To what extent should projects rely on ‘magic’?

  11. Summary and Evaluation (time: 5 min; format: individual activity)