Monday, July 11, 2011

Workshop 4: E-Portfolios & Digital Media Projects

We've been focusing on what we as faculty can do with digital media, but what can we ask our students to do with it? Using many of the same tools we've been experimenting with, and basically the same process of planning, production, and presentation/distribution you've been engaged in for your Reboot projects, students can hone their 21st century digital media skills while learning and synthesizing the material in your courses. Your uses of digital media in and beyond the classroom become models for them to use their laptops and skills for learning, and their knowledge of facility with social media, multimedia, and user-generated content will teach you a thing or two, too.

Topics to discuss:

Writing up a good project assignment.
Grading projects (rubrics/giving feedback)

Moreover, as a college we are moving towards e-portfolios as an interwoven, essential aspect of the curriculum. Portfolios are collections of evidence that demonstrate what someone has learned over time; learning portfolios include reflection. When a student chooses and reflects upon the pieces of work in his or her portfolio, that in and of itself is a learning experience.

Electronic portfolios (or e-portfolios or digital portfolios) use a digital container instead of a big folder.


Offer students ways of showing growth, achievement, and competence in a body of work.

Promotes student responsibility for his or her own work and active learning through student ownership of the portfolio.

Foster reflection.

Facilitate assessment for faculty.

Encourage connections between college learning, projects, and experiences and the wider world.

Illuminate self-presentation as a professional and distinct individual.

Provide a bridge between college and the professional world or graduate school.


What do our students need in e-portfolios?
What might they be good for? (How can we use this digital media tool for good teaching and learning?)
How can we build them into the curriculum?
At what point does a learning portfolio become a professional portfolio/what is the distinction? Where should it be in the curriculum?
Where is the distinction between a portfolio and social networking? Is there one? Should there be one?
Does an e-portfolio become part of a "digital footprint" and it naive to see it separately?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Presenting . . . Presentations!

Donald Norman explains:

Technology is not neutral. Technology has properties--affordances--that make it easier to do some activities, harder to do others: The easier ones get done, the harder ones neglected. Each has its constraints, preconditions, and side effects that impose requirements and changes on the things with which it interacts, be they other technology, people, or human society at large. Finally, each technology poses a mind-set, a way of thinking about it and the activities to which it is relevant, a mind-set that soon pervades those touched by it, often unwittingly, often unwillingly. The more successful and widespread the technology, the greater its impact upon the thought patterns of those who use it, and consequently, the greater its impact upon all of society. Technology is not neutral, it dominates.

Donald A. Norman, Things that Make Us Smart, Perseus Books, 1993, p. 243.

One of the things we can do with learning objects, with digital media, is to use them in class. We can have individual pieces of digital media on flash drives or other removable media, or stash them on the web someplace, and click on them when we want them. Or we can bundle our learning objects in containers. PowerPoint can be such a container. So can the web. We'll explore a range of different options, and think through what they're good for. As always, we'll ask what we want to do with the digital media, and then find the right tool to do it.

Now I know we've all been in the darkened room, and felt like we were held presentation-hostage while someone read slowly and painfully from the screen what we had already read in our own heads. At best we are a passive viewer and at worst we are daydreaming or doing something else productive with our time. And we've read Edward Tufte's argument that PowerPoint's cognitive style results in a hierarchical, dumbing-down grunting that obscures nuanced and detailed information. His use of Peter Norvig's clever PowerPoint "version" of the Gettysburg address really drives the point home--what happens to rhetoric, to language, to metaphor if the bullet point is considered the mark of the "professional?"

So there are some questions to consider as we think about how to present digital media well in our teaching:

How do you want to teach?

How does teaching with presentation software change how you teach? Teaching with digital media? What does it enable? Is there anything it obfuscates or hinders?

Is there a cognitive style to PowerPoint, as Edward Tufte argues? What do bullets limit? What happens when information is organized hierarchically? What are the other options? See: Howard Rheingold's prezi for one example.

Does every software program, every interface come with a cognitive style?

What technology is good for in-class and what is good for the outside of class? If some things are available outside of class, does that change what you do in-class?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Workshop 2: Digital Video

Today's workshop focuses on digital video. We'll do a quick intro to formats and storage, and then plunge into editing, with a quick iMovie to iDVD project, and also an overview of the history and aesthetics of moving image editing.

The thing about iMovie is this: you can do a lot with it, but chances are you'll start editing, get excited and, metaphorically speaking, try to stand up and bump your head on the ceiling of the program's limitations. You can either sit back down and try to figure out how to work within the confines of the program you have on your laptop, or you can move on to an editing program like Final Cut Express, Final Cut Pro, or another program. Rumor has it the new, less expensive, rejiggered Final Cut is coming out in a couple of days . . . .

What do you do with digital video? Video can be of anything: screen captures of software demos made into tutorials, a musician playing, a talking head, a video tour-- and "filmed" with a growing range of camera devices including your laptop.

Like any digital media, you can store it locally, on a server, or both (using different formats, codecs, sizes for different purposes). You can shoot a piece of video on many smartphones, trim it, and upload it directly to youtube. You can make a DVD. If video is on youtube or vimeo, then it can embedded easily on a website or blog, by you or anyone else. A DVD or video on a flash drive means no internet connection is necessary; a DVD can play on a television with DVD player, without any computer necessary. As always, the key is to think through how and why you will use the piece of digital media for teaching, and then decide what forms you need. It's better to create multiple versions for multiple purposes as you make learning objects, so you have your digital media accessible in the form you need for whatever purpose or container you want to use at any given time. Then you can improvise around the learning objects you've created and collected.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Workshop 1: Audio Basics

Workshop project: Cutting an audio clip with Audacity, and thinking about file compression

Download the free Audacity Sound Editor (1.2.5 for Mac OSX intel machines) There is a beta version, which you can fool around with if you want, but we'll use the stable version in the workshop. You can have both iterations on your machine.

Workshop 1: Images: Graphic Design Basics

Design is how you put the basic visual elements together in a specific project, for a particular purpose. The basic elements are: line, color, shape, space, texture, form, and value.

The basic principles of design are:


Workshop: Intro to Photoshop Elements workspace: The basics of manipulating photographs

Project: Create a logo with Adobe Photoshop Elements

What do you want to express or communicate with the logo?

Image + Text: what is the relationship between them?

Which font will you use and why?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Welcome to the 2011 Reboot Institute: Teaching with Digital Media

Blogs are one of the ways we'll "think cloud"* rather than fixed media.

This video welcomes you to the Reboot Institute, and tells you a little about the summer ahead. It also is an example of how you can easily capture video with your laptop (learn from my example: angle the camera a little better!), pop it up on youtube, and embed it in your blog. It could easily be any kind of video, screen capture, or an animation. The idea is to think of the blog as a container, of the web as a platform, that holds your media and learning objects, and as long as you or your students can access the web, you have access to the material.

A blog like this one is one of the most flexible ways to gather digital media--images, audio, video, links, text--to use in teaching. You can upload images and video of up to 100 MB, or link to embed links to youtube, vimeo, or other media. You can even embed powerpoint presentations if you've uploaded them to Here is the powerpoint that I am showing this blog in at the kick-off dinner (is this the new media version of mise-en-abyme?)

A blog can be a forum for discussion and communication. You can remain the sole author of the blog, or add your students as authors. It can be public and seen by anyone on the internet, or be set up so it can only be seen by certain people. Comments can be open, or moderated, or turned off.

You can post daily announcements or notes for class quickly. I use a class blog in a variety of ways that I'll model during this Institute--in lieu of a powerpoint or keynote presentation (or in conjuction with one on slideshare) to contain visual, textual, and hyperlink learning objects to use in class. Or as a way for students to post questions and thoughts before class, to spark discussion. Or for them to share their projects with the class. An example of a blog post I used to teach from in class, and then my students had as a reference is from my Digital Narrative Theory & Practice course. Sometimes my only post is a short comment or question that could start a student thinking about what we were going to talk about in the next class, and sometimes the post is really the lecture/discussion outline. Some have powerpoint presentations embedded in them from If you look at the blog as a whole, you can see how the students shared work there as well as posting some cool things they found.
It is also a flexible form in which to work--you can post from anywhere you have access to the web.

* There is a thought-provoking article in The Atlantic, "Are Our Lives Vanishing into the Cloud?" Let's read it before next week's workshop.