Online Workshop: Outline

Transom Online Workshop (TOW)

Transom Online Workshop (TOW): Intro

By Jay Allison, Transom Executive Director

Since 2001, Transom has been a free online resource for those wanting to tell stories consistent with the mission of pubic broadcasting. In 2011, we began conducting actual, on-the-ground workshops here on Cape Cod at the Transom Story Workshop.

Now, we’re trying something new. With support from the Knight Foundation, we are experimenting with online learning paths. We’ll be taking material from Transom and from around the web and organizing it so that you can follow a path to a destination — the development of a skill. We’re calling this prototype: The Transom Online Workshop… TOW.

The basic philosophy of these courses, different from both and The Transom Story Workshop, is “learn-to-learn.” Our goal is to give out directions, you take the trip, and then, presumably, are equipped to travel, maybe get lost, but keep making more stories.

The thrust of this beta is to test different tools and see which work best — Facebook Groups, Google Docs, Learning Management Systems instructor-facilitated, but student-led. The basic philosophy of these courses, different from both and The Transom Story Workshop, is “learn-to-learn.” Our goal is to give out directions, you take the trip, and then, presumably, are equipped to travel, maybe get lost, but keep making more stories.

We completed three test instructor-led rounds for 60 selected learners. We’re now developing this instructor-less path thru the learning materials. For this pilot phase we won’t be offering certificates or badges or credits.

Transom’s Web Guy, Barrett Golding, has taken the lead on this project, with help from University instructor Josef Verbanac, both from Bozeman, Montana. This is fitting because Barrett and Josef helped develop the original Transom website in 2001.

The test workshop’s main online instructor is the legendary radio storyteller, Scott Carrier from Salt Lake City. This is also fitting because Scott was our first-ever Guest on Transom. They are eager to hear from you as we go along.

We began with limited, private tests of an workshop mentored by Scott. It ushered learners through a few exercises in very basic interviewing, resulting in work in print, photography, audio, and video, then towards producing a complete story in one of those mediums. We’re now releasing them to everyone.

To participate: Join our Transom Online Workshop Facebook Group.

You can also look and listen in on the past test TOWs:

TOW 0.3 Outline

Transom Online Workshop (TOW)

By TOW Mentor Scott Carrier, author, photographer, professor, and radio producer; among the places to hear and read his works: This American Life, Harper’s Magazine, NPR, Mother Jones, and Esquire.

This is a multimedia documentary production workshop; beginners are welcome. You’ll find several exercises you can do using only a smartphone, a computer and free software. To share and discuss work with others, join the Transom Online Workshop (a Facebook Group).

We emphasize basic story structure — beginning, middle and end. We have few rules, no lists of procedures, and there are no “right” or “correct” ways to complete the exercises. Essentially, this course forces you to pick up your recording equipment and start using it by interviewing strangers. It’s not a course for wimps. You will have to figure out how to use the equipment and software by studying the web links we provide. You can count on us to answer your questions and guide you to other sources of help, but we expect you to be hungry for knowledge and self-motivated.

We believe people learn through trial and error, that confidence is gained by making mistakes and that the best time to start is now. By the end of the course you’ll have gained the experience of composing stories in all media — text, photos, audio and video — and then posting them on the web for others to see. We hope you’ll then have the confidence and inspiration to go out and make more.

TOW 0.3 Overview

  • Introduce yourself at our Facebook Group. Tell us where you’re from and share an URL where we can hear or see your work.
  • Post a link to one of your favorite audio or video pieces at the group, and tell us why you like it (example below).
  • Expect to spend 6-12 hours per week on TOW tasks.
  • In the first half of this workshop you’ll record interviews and assemble a story all on the same subject, but in different mediums. You’ll also use this time to prepare for your second-half assignment: a story project of your own choosing on any subject in any medium. Begin thinking now about what story you’ll do. Your final story project should be no longer than six minutes.
  • This workshop intends to teach you to tell better stories.

TOW 0.3 Assignments

What are you afraid of?

Audio work by TOW learners asking strangers the question, “What are you afraid of?”:

Video work by TOW learners asking strangers the same question, “What are you afraid of?”:

I think I have watched this clip at least 20 times since first seeing it a few months back. I love the metaphors in this clip. I love Buck’s authoritative and inspiring message. I like the fact that when I watch it today, I have a better understanding of what the riders are doing on their colts, having just audited a 4 day clinic with Buck! I also like the fact that I only just realised the connection between the subject of this clip and the subject of my first assignment!!
–Emma Wynne-Jones, Transom Online Workshop