LIBERTY & SECURITY | 2009 | Multimedia Teaching and Training Module 


The project is an academic open source multimedia teaching and training tool on the relation between liberty and security in contemporary international relations.

Video, audio and text assets are integrated into a coherent teaching and training package by short texts and questions that guide the user. The whole package is held together by an intuitive interface that combines a linear flow with flexibility to dip into each section and asset separately.

The module teaches key research results from a major five year European Commission funded project that involved 21 institutions form across Europe. Although the focus is on the European Union, questions of borders, the changing nature of war, and practices of emergency rule connect it to global developments.

The module presents a highly innovative project, for at least two reasons. First, it represents a method of creating synergies between teaching and research. Second, it proposes an efficient format and platform to meet the broader challenge, faced by universities, of bringing culture and education to the internet. Four aspects are worth highlighting:

  • Accessible. It uses multi-media resources to make abstract ideas accessible. The use of audio-visual materials is not a gimmick aimed at making things a little more attractive or less boring in the digital age. They are necessary for enhancing accessibility and bringing to live the concrete, global dimensions of sometimes abstract discussions.
  • Self-contained and sequential. The module does the teaching by itself, not requiring a class room presentation. Contrarily to interactive projects that are usually either “fun” or “good looking” at the expense of teaching efficiency, this teaching module presents the student/visitor with a sequence of documents, texts, videos and audios to work through one after another. It is therefore not a “pick and choose” system, but rather a constructed narrative, where the overlapping of assets brings different points of views to bear on one issue at a time.
  • Modular. On the other hand, it supports class room teaching by using a modular structure. It consists of relatively short assets that lecturers can flexibly draw on in their lectures and seminars. Video, audio and images are still clumsily integrated in our usual teaching practices. Films are shown in their entirety or as excerpts (with the lecturer painstakingly browsing through a VHS tape or DVD disc).  Similarly, images are integrated in static power point presentations, requiring a lot of time and research. The type of teaching module we are presenting allows to launch a video, a map or a text asset directly from the interface, letting the teacher chose which chapter of the video to play, and in which order.
  • Multi-platform. Finally, the format facilitates innovative ways of disseminating knowledge beyond the class room. Sections can be put on various platforms like YouTube to draw attention to the module. It recruits users not via enrolment on courses but via a pro-active use of the internet. It is also a format that allows presenting research in an innovative and accessible way to other end users than students, be it practionners (e.g. NGOs, Government agencies) or funding bodies.

The project therefore stems from a reflection on innovative ways of dissemination and teaching. Although the module can be used in the class room as explained above, it should be approached in the first instance as a class room in itself. It is a contained set of assets that are being ‘taught’ via strings that link up the different parts and guide students from one section to the other. In that sense it functions as a self-contained ‘room’.

To sum, the module introduces a highly creative way of using digital formats and the internet to effectively create synergies between research and teaching in international relations and to address simultaneously academic and non-academic users. It takes the pedagogical use of visual materials and the integration of textual sources with audio-visual media into a new dimension. The digital format integrates multiple teaching materials via a teaching narrative (thus producing a ‘self-teaching’ module) while simultaneously facilitating flexible use of selected assets to support more traditional class room teaching.