Have you considered using a creative multimedia assignment but set the idea aside because it would take too much class time for students to learn to use high-quality cameras? Hesitate no more! Recent advances in camera quality and smartphone applications make it possible for students to create audio and video projects using only their phones. According to the 2018 study from EDUCAUSE about device ownership, 95% of students own a smartphone, and those phones are often very high-quality cameras and recorders in themselves.
Smartphones (and even tablets) have become highly capable recording devices, as well as pocket computers. Cameras on mobile devices have increased in quality to such a degree that they have largely replaced the amateur camcorder and camera markets. Microphones have similarly improved, such that news reporters are just as likely to use an app on their phone to record an interview as they are to use a traditional recorder. Processor and software improvements in smartphones have also led to many companies creating full-featured mobile versions of what used to be desktop-only audio-visual editing software. Given these capabilities, it is now worth considering how to leverage these technologies in the classroom, especially for multimedia projects.
In addition to high-quality capture, smartphones can be used for editing that doesn’t require reserving extra equipment or space. Both Apple’s iMovie and Adobe’s Premiere Rush have mobile video editing applications available that replicate most capabilities of their desktop versions. Students can also transfer projects and assets from those applications to their desktop equivalents using cloud storage. iMovie is free on iOS devices and Premiere Rush is available through the University’s license of Creative Cloud, available to all students, staff, and faculty.
Audio-specific recording and editing software, for creation of podcasts, is also available on mobile devices. Apple’s Garageband app is free on iOS devices, and on Android devices there are programs like WaveEditor or Parrot Voice Recorder which offer all the capabilities of desktop audio editing software like Garageband or Adobe Audition.
For projects that require still photos, there are a number of applications and native setting adjustments that can improve the automatic settings of a smartphone camera. Adobe also offers mobile versions of both Photoshop and Lightroom, powerful photo retouching and compositing tools. When it comes to the hardware available, it is hard to beat the quality of cameras on the last few generations of smartphones. While many of them have limited zoom or lens options, some of the most recent smartphones actually include multiple cameras for different kinds of shots.
Smartphone cameras and mobile applications can enable very flexible creation and editing of audiovisual projects, and can be used pedagogically to encourage good editing practices. For example, if quick edits are possible right after the recording session, students can see immediately if any re-recordings are necessary, and can record new takes while still on location. While smartphone cameras are not likely to completely replace professional use of high-end cameras in the near future, the kind of video projects typically assigned to students are very possible using only a smartphone.
If you are considering using an audiovisual project in your course, Technology Services is here to support you and your students. We have collected all of our video tutorials and documentation for Audiovisual and Design tools on one easy-to-find page. Additionally, our Learning and Teaching Consultants and Bluecorps instructional technology coaches can help with everything from the design process to providing support and training to students. Email us today at LSATechnologyServices@umich.edu to set up a consultation!