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AEC Impact: AEC4036/5037 Advanced Agricultural Communication Production

AEC professor Dr. Ricky Telg uses video production course to showcase university research and communicate science to the public.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Department of Agricultural Education and Communication (AEC) professor Dr. Ricky Telg’s video production course, AEC4036/5037: Advanced Agricultural Communication Production, plays a vital role in showcasing University of Florida (UF) research and communicating science to the public.

“The course became what it is now when the University of Florida’s Explore Research magazine expressed a need for a video wall showcasing university research at the Florida Museum of Natural History,” Telg said. “I had been working on a department project with my colleague (former agronomy professor) Maria Gallo, whose neighbor was the museum’s current education coordinator, Betty Dunkel. Maria put me in contact with Betty and from there, our work with the museum got its start.”

A generous portion of Telg’s video production course involves students working closely with University of Florida researchers to produce videos for the Explore Research video wall at the museum, a permanent exhibit that showcases two- to- four-minute informational videos featuring university research on topics ranging from agriculture, engineering, medicine, veterinary medicine and liberal arts and sciences.

“The students in this course not only learn advanced videography skills—they learn the complexities of communicating science to the public,” Telg said. “Many scientists do not communicate in an easy-to-understand manner. Part of the learning experience for students in this course is working with scientists and coaching them to transfer information to a broader audience beyond scientists themselves. We don’t just teach skills, we teach students to communicate science, and that is not always easy.”

AEC undergraduate student Andrew Horvath says the course has helped him to better tell scientists' stories.

"This course has enabled me to better communicate with experts in specific fields and has taught me the best methods of sharing their story," Horvath said.

The production process used to create videos for Telg’s course is a lengthy one. It involves a pre-production period of students researching the video topic, conducting a pre-interview with the researcher to coach the scientist to talk about their topic on an eighth-grade level and scouting out b-roll (or visuals) to be used in the video. Production takes place roughly a week later, with the researcher being interviewed and filmed by the student, followed by a strenuous post-production process of editing raw video footage and packaging the content into a video suitable for use on the museum video wall and public broadcasting.

As of Spring 2016, the course has produced 190 videos for the museum. The videos, in addition to being displayed at the museum’s Explore Research exhibit, are also featured on Gainesville’s WUFT television station, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Science360.gov website and Teacher Tube, with over 200,000 hits on Teacher Tube alone.

More recently, the course has also started producing videos for the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) Office of the Dean for Research.

“In addition to producing videos with the museum, we were approached last year by IFAS Dean for Research, Dr. Jackie Burns, to produce videos for IFAS Research Discoveries,” Telg said. “We produced 13 videos for them last spring and will do the same this semester as well.”

The course has gained widespread attention from the university and beyond. A new component to this year’s course involves the students re-packaging one of the IFAS Research Discoveries videos to be featured on AgDay, a nationally syndicated daily agricultural news television program presented in magazine format.

In total, each student enrolled in the course will produce three videos per semester—a video for the museum, a video for IFAS Research Discoveries and a re-packaged video in news story format for AgDay.

“The students walk away from this course with a portfolio of professional videography work to share with prospective employers,” Telg said. “Many of our students have been offered internships or full-time positions around campus and beyond after completing this course.”

Students who have completed this course are now working in videography positions with the museum, the UF Office of Research, the UF Diabetes Institute and the UF/IFAS Center for Public Issues Education. Several of these positions began as internships and quickly led to full-time jobs for the students.

“This class is what set me on a path to pursue a career in digital communications and gave me all of the necessary skills to do so,” said AEC undergraduate student and UF Diabetes Institute communications coordinator Gordon Yoder.

Horvath says the course has also helped him in his current role with the UF Office of Research.

"Through this course I have been given several opportunities for internships as well as my current role as a videographer for the UF Office of Research, where I use many of the skills and techniques that I learned through AEC4036/5037,” Horvath said.

The course is largely supported by the museum and the IFAS Office of the Dean for Research which allows Telg to provide students with the latest high-definition video cameras, production equipment and software used in the industry.

“We are extremely thankful for the partnerships we have developed with the museum and the IFAS Office of the Dean for Research,” Telg said. “This course is a result of these continued partnerships because they see our videos as first-class products.”

To learn more about AEC4036/5037, please visit the following website: http://aec.ifas.ufl.edu/undergraduate/aec40365037/

To learn more about Explore Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, please visit the following website: https://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/exhibits/always-on-display/exploring-our-world/

To watch the IFAS Research Discoveries videos, visit https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLzEF_ljQASFvNgYnzhlecJfe_a-fcKV4Z

 

Pictured above: Students enrolled in AEC4036/5037 work one-on-one with scientists at the Florida Museum of Natural History to produce a video for the Explore Research "Exploring Our World" exhibit.