Teaching with Short Docs

Many instructors use documentary media in their classes. Documentaries can provide additional perspectives, offer students the chance to engage with audio-visual texts, and cultivate their media literacy. However, the choice to incorporate multimedia can present both logistical and pedagogical challenges—including how to identify relevant and thought-provoking content, and how to integrate it meaningfully into the course schedule and curriculum.

In this workshop, jointly sponsored by the Graduate Center’s Interactive Technology and Pedagogy Certificate program and the Teaching and Learning Center, we will explore strategies for incorporating and scaffolding readings and assignments around short documentaries produced within the CUNY community, about communities central to CUNY’s identity and mission. In particular, we will focus on two CUNY-produced web series: Urban Education Ph.D. Student Sara Vogel’s, “Teaching Bilinguals (Even If You’re Not One!),” and CUNY TV Producer José Luis Orbegozo’s “Short Docs.” After hearing from the producers about the goals of each series and their relevance to a variety of disciplinary contexts, in the second half of the workshop, participants will explore approaches and activities they might use to amplify short documentaries’ impact in their classrooms.

This workshop was offered in Spring 2018 as an in-person workshop at the Graduate Center, CUNY. The workshop and materials were developed by Elizabeth Alsop, Sara Vogel and José Luis Orbegozo.


All materials on this page and in the linked google folder are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike (CC-BY-SA) 4.0 International Public License.

This folder contains outreach materials, workshop plans, a worksheet for instructors, and a  handhout with some resources.

Materials Folder: Teaching with Short Docs Workshop

Workshop Plan

I. Welcome and Introductions (name, department, reason for coming, previous experience with media in the classroom) (10 min)

II. Framing Questions (5 min)

    • Why use short docs/media? Opportunities/challenges?
    • What docs to use? How to find relevant/appropriate media objects?
    • How to scaffold them into courses?

III. Short Docs at CUNY: A Showcase (45 min)

IV. Short Docs in the Classroom (45 min)

Check in with room and invite participants to opt into one of following activities:

    • Discussion around making/having students make docs with Sara and José Luis
    • Individual/small-group work on implementing these or other docs in their courses—how? What types of readings/assignments/activities?
    • Other option? Broader exploration of documentary methods, how they might be integrated t/o course?

V. Report Back and Questions (15 min)