Lesson Plan: Digital Reproduction

J Brentlinger

Devices, Lesson Plans, Pedagogy

In 1935 Walter Benjamin wrote, “Around 1900 technical reproduction had reached a standard that not only permitted it to reproduce all transmitted works of art and thus to cause the most profound change in their impact upon the public; it also had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes.” This assignment musses with his assertion by creating a digital, “academic,” work of art. It asks students to produce an audio recording of his article “The Work of Art in the Age of mechanical Reproduction”.

Learning Objectives

The lesson offers students an opportunity to learn how to record and edit audio while engaging in acts of remediation and archiving. Students split into groups and are responsible for recording and editing articles and academic works in creative commons. Walter Benjamin’s Article The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction is used as an example, but other works may apply.

The pedagogical intent of this lesson is to give students experience with digital publication. Students are rewarded with a digital publication. Academia receives a remediated piece of scholarship.

  • Engage in Digital Production Practices
  • Extend Traditional Scholarship
  • Engage in Reproduction and Archiving
  • Assignment Length

    Group Assignment Length

  • Required Materials

    The Libravox App, Audacity Audio Recording Software, Microphone, Benjamin Article

  • Skills Necessary

    Audio Recording and Editing Proficiency

Access and Adaptability


This assignment teaches students how to produce an audio recording of a traditional scholarly article, which is usually read. It therefore acts as a means to create greater accessibility. Unsighted students will have an audio recording of Benjamin’s article after completion. Students can translate the audio into international sign language, and then upload the video to YouTube rather than Librvox.

The deliverable is an audio (or video, if appropriate) recording of the article. Faculty can request a workshop for the Audacity recording software from the DWRL, and can check out microphones, Zoom recording equipment, etc. from the lab.

Assignment Description


Students are instructed to record an audio version of “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”. They will learn how to record audio, edit it, and splice it together into a full recording of the article. After the recording is fully produced, the class as a whole will submit the recording to Libravox to be reviewed for publication. Other publication venues include YouTube.

Students are placed into groups for the assignment. There are 15 sections of the article. 5 groups of students (the group size varies for individual classes) can each be responsible for 3 sections. Students delegate who among the group performs the speaking roll, who records, who edits, etc. The point will be to create a professional sounding recording of the sections. After each group has recorded their sections, the class can splice together the recordings into a single production. This the class can submit to Libravox for publication, or can self-publish to YouTube.

Instructor Preparation

  • Read Benjamin Article
  • Make Student Groups
  • Familiarize Self with Audacity

Student Preparation

  • Read Benjamin Article
  • Peruse YouTube Audio Recordings
  • Familiarize Self with Audacity

In-Class or Assignment Instructions

  • Define In-Group Roles
  • Record and Edit Assigned Sections
  • Publish the Recording

Skills Workshop


The DWRL on campus offers two resources useful for this assignment.

First, the DWRL has recording equipment that can be borrowed. From microphones to Zoom recording devices, students are covered with regard to technology needed for this assignment.

Second, the DWRL teaches the Audacity recording software. By scheduling a workshop with the DWRL, students will learn how to record and edit audio and deliver professional products. Below is a YouTube video by YouTuber Raghvendra that shows the sort of self-efficacy that a DWRL workshop can provide.

Assessment Suggestions



The assignment is worth 20-25% of a student’s grade. It could even be used as a final project. It’s a group assignment because of the workload and opportunity to work with others. It’s staggered so that an Instructor can monitor progress and create opportunities for student/instructor meetings. It is a major grade because it takes 2-4 weeks’ worth of work.
The assignment is worth 20-25% of a student’s grade. It can be understood as a 1) group, 2) staggered, and 3) major assignment. It could even be used as a final project. It’s a group assignment because of the workload and opportunity to work with others. It’s staggered so that an Instructor can grade appropriately. It is a major grade so as to impress upon students the importance of digital publication.

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