Digital technology continually offers us new forms of communication. Literacy in the digital age involves both interpreting and creating texts using these new media forms (Daley, 2003; Hobbs, 2011). One of the most powerful forms of communication is the motion picture, which until recently was left to professionals using sophisticated and expensive production equipment. However, new technologies such as digital cameras and editing software have made digital video both accessible and affordable. These tools coupled with Internet-based publishing platforms such as YouTube make it possible for nearly anyone to communicate with a potential global audience.
According to Elizabeth Daley, Dean of the School of Cinema-Television at the University of Southern California, the language of the multimedia screen has become the new vernacular, noting that the screens of televisions and computers are what most people in our culture now use to obtain information and entertainment. She observes that the language of the screen is “capable of constructing complex meanings independent of text” and “enables modes of thought, ways of communicating and conducting research, and methods of publication and teaching that are essentially different from those of text” (Daley, 2003).
It is possible for educators to transfer their assessment knowledge from traditional domains, such as writing, into assessments of new media forms, such as digital video (Worsnop, 1996). Given that assessment of traditional writing assignments is transferable to the medium of digital video, during the past several semesters, we have explored the notion of video as a powerful new form of literacy through the use of “video term papers.”