“The Class” – parody of The Office

This is from Lynn Schofield Clark’s Innovation in Mass Communications class at the University of Denver. If you are a fan of The Office, and you follow the discussions about technology use in the classroom, you will love this. They really nail the opening, and they have some great moments.

I saw the video premiere at DU last week in front of an appropriately appreciative crowd and had the opportunity to talk to the students who created it. As in so many cases, the value of the video goes far beyond the final product. The real value came in the actual production of the video. The video was produced in the first few weeks of class, and now the students have a number of characteristics that we all want for our students: They’ve bonded. They are comfortable with one another. They respect one another. They are engaged and excited. They want to learn more, and they know that they can and will be responsible for most of that learning that is to come.

For this reason, I’m a big fan of mini-projects like this to kick off a course. Sometimes my students create “trailers” for their final research projects. It helps them learn how to tell a story visually, how to edit, where to find visual material and Creative Commons or public domain music they can use, and the final product is usually something they are proud of and that they can look back on to re-energize when they get so deep into their research that they have forgotten what originally excited them about the project.

This year we are doing something extra special for our mini-projects. They launch tomorrow, so stay tuned!


Associate professor of cultural anthropology. Ed Traceur. Hacker. Car-free.

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12 Responses

  1. Stealth Blue says:

    Very nice.. Unfortunately, I know very little about “The Office” and so I didn’t get a lot of the jokes.. But I am sure others will appreciate it.

  2. laslibrary says:

    Loved it! I appreciate your comments about how the production of the video really added value to the experience.

  3. MiamiFlute says:

    You don’t need to know much about The Office to get the satire of this piece. Brilliantly relates much of what happens how too often education and educators fail using technology with their students.

  4. Librarianlulu says:

    Wow – so appropriate! How much is too much and how much is to little is a line that we navigate every day. I work with the under 10 yr old set – the “born digital”. They demand technology. It’s an exciting time, trying to work technology into lesson plans.

  5. drwetzel says:

    Great Parody – I am a former university assistant professor who dealt with this mindset from my former colleagues on a daily basis. I eventually gave up and moved off to other digital adventures.

  6. Beth Harte says:

    What a great video! I think it depends on the school and the students though. While my students had laptops, smart phones, etc. They weren’t really into the tools that often go with the technology (i.e. Twitter, Ning, blogs, forums, etc.) or using them to learn, network, find jobs.

    My hope is one day profs and students will all be on the same page.

    Beth Harte
    Adjunct Prof./Immaculata University

  7. Thanks for posting the video (and your reflections).

    Curious — and said with respect — about one thing:

    Do we (as educators/students) make progress via the creation/linking-to such teacher-as-tech-luddite videos or do we merely succumb to the easiest-of-targets in terms of reinforcing such stereotypes in the field of education?

    On a playful level, the video is ‘cute’ — and worth a few seconds of viral linking. On a deeper level, I am wrestling with what such a video allows us to do save to further emphasis on the easy-to-toss-around “digital natives” vs. “digital immigrants” bumpersticker debates that rarely echo reality.

    [Oh, and don't get me wrong. I think the 'act' of creating video trailers, exploring 'parody' (et al) as an art/media form, etc makes for great classroom process, but I'm curious about the deeper reflection opportunities once such a project is put out in public]

    Looking forward to any ideas/thoughts/reactions, regardless of what side of the fence they come down on.

    P.S. Looking forward to hearing you at TEDxNYED next month, Michael.

  8. monika hardy says:

    nice. cool jets even.

    The project idea is super. Using video is super.

    I think there is great value in this end product as well… I think our biggest challenge to student access is educating the public. I think most don’t realize the possibilities as well as the current limitations.

  9. Prof Wesch says:

    @Christian, you make several valid points and raise some good questions. Keeping in mind that this video was created by students as part of their first few weeks in class, we can’t expect it to move us beyond digital natives/digital immigrants simplifications. The real issue you raise is whether or not this type of activity creates deeper reflection opportunities. I think it does, in 2 ways.

    1. It creates the most important prerequisite for any deep reflection: highly motivated engagement. Deep thought is hard, and without engaging students in something that they see as meaningful for something beyond just getting by and getting the grade, deep thought will never happen. This is closely related to the 2nd way in which this helps with deeper reflection:

    2. The conversation has gone beyond the classroom. The blogs and comments made about the video are not just part of the conversation. More importantly, they are constant reminders to the students that this conversation really matters to people outside the classroom.

    Creating a video in itself can also facilitate deeper reflection. First off, it forces students to think in different terms than they might while writing a paper. Video is like a different language, and even works in slightly different logics. I often find myself getting insights when working with video that I did not get while writing (and vice versa). (Edmund Carpenter wrote a bit about this in “The New Languages” in 1955.)

    There are also all the unseen discussions around the design and production of this video. I would be surprised if the students did not have moments of deep reflection as part of the process – much better than a simple classroom discussion in which students engage in it for the allotted time of the class and then go back to their everyday lives. Through this process, that discussion became a part of their lives. Maybe this is why one of Lynn’s students, speaking in front of 150 faculty at DU noted that “This is the best learning experience I have ever had at DU.” (and she was only in week 2 of the class!)

  10. As a fan of both The Office and technology in education, I thought this was really well done. The video covers a lot of important ground and has the potential to be used in a lot of ways (future courses/sections, maybe even faculty development workshops?) I especially appreciated the student comments and summary at the end. A nice idea to incorporate the production of the video into the course as well. Thanks for sharing!

  11. I just used this in my Media Theory class this morning (University of Ottawa), and the students loved it. A great example of a learning project. I envy these small classes. Mine are in the 40 to 60 student range, thus hard to envision a single group project.

    Down the road it would be cool to do a project that involved two classes at two different universities, both working on one video project.

    As Oscar Glodman once said: We have the technology.

    It is a small wonder that YouTube did not mute the the sound because of the Office opening theme…

  12. kinoman says:

    For this reason, I’m a big fan of mini-projects like this to kick off a course.