Crossing the Theory-Practice Divide

Crossing the Theory-Practice Divide

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Theme 4. Working with Limitations

Audio 3. Reflection by Ned Doc Style student-author on learning from working with limitations.1

As the above audio clip from one of the student-authors illustrates, the black-box scaffolding that dictated the time limit for the project encouraged the Ned Doc Style team to come up with a project that was both informative and manageable. Thus, the team decided to limit their project to three Dutch filmmakers. They also limited the number of films from each oeuvre, asking themselves: ‘What can we achieve in this short period of time?’2 As the audio fragment illustrates, this meant sometimes ‘cutting the knot’ in order to proceed and keeping the analysis feasible, but also adapting the design according to the technology and knowledge thereof available.

Due to technical limitations, the Ned Doc Style team was forced to abandon their original platform, Word Press, and turn to Scalar. After encountering limitations there, as well, one student taught herself some coding to be able to include images the way she wanted. She concluded: ‘By learning to make the best of what you’ve got, you can still be quite pleased with the result.’3

The EDMOP team initially considered creating a virtual reality project but quickly realized this would be impossible. Thus, they ‘decided to first look at the practical possibilities and tune [their] research question, accordingly.’4 Wanting to create an interactive film, they considered providing the user/intern with four decisions: a challenging, but feasible amount, production-wise. They concluded that the process had been a ‘… search for a balance between materials, possibilities, ideas options, and the end product that we envisioned.’5

A similar efficiency also marked the work of the Nederhop team. They aligned the number of video clips to analyse with the course’s workload. Also, they chose existing technology, Word Press and Canva, to match their needs because they were free and easy to use.6 As a consequence of choosing these technologies, there were limited options with which to moderate and adapt the web pages. The team learned to work their way around this and still achieve navigation suitable to their original idea.

The above shows how black-box scaffolding encouraged continuous consideration of the limited length of the course and resources available for the project. At the same time, it illustrates how students in self-directed learning projects find their own solutions.

The Detective Brouwer team chose to ignore partly the given time restraints. From the start, they struggled to align their plans and ambitions with the resources available. A number of setbacks caused delays to an already ambitious plan.7 However, their enthusiasm made them reluctant to take short cuts to save time if they felt this would jeopardize the quality of their project. As a result, their project was finished only about a month after the original deadline.

  • 1 S4-AE
  • 2 S17-AE
  • 3 S15-A4
  • 4 T2-A4
  • 5 T2-A4
  • 6 T3-A4
  • 7 Finding a filming location proved to be very hard in Utrecht. Weighing the options (time, money, logistics), they found an alternative in Rhenen (50 km further east). Seeing the temporal limit of the project, the team decided to create the decoupage without any knowledge of this new location, causing the project to take up even more time, as it had to be corrected later on. As to not get too far behind, the decoupage was done without knowledge of this new location. The team also lacked time to meet the actors in advance, so they did not have the luxury of making sure they were adequate. Indeed, one actor ended up interfering a lot in the filming process. Some actors did not know their lines and having to prompt actors’ lines caused a challenge in the editing: ‘A lot of time is spent on efforts to string together these shots.’ (S4-A4)


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