INTE 5340: Week One

Daily Create: Wildlife and Whiffspigglers 

TDC 1611: The Sounds of Five Animals Who Will Never Meet. In a fun and interactive Nature Sound Map, I traveled to five different continents and came back with a grey go-away bird from Africa, a fish owl from Asia, deer from Europe, bison from North America, and guanaco from South America. Check out the mix here!

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With a mix this rough, it’s no wonder all these animals ended up on five different continents!

TDC 1614: A DS106 Slogan Using Gobblefunk. Gobblefunk is Roald Dahl’s made-up language, found all across his literature. They’ve now been compiled into their very own dictionary, and I didn’t have to search very long to find familiar words I had grown up reading. Yes, Roald Dahl was my FAVORITE, favorite author as a child, and yes, I’ve read pretty much all of his books, so it was only appropriate that I do this Daily Create to express my fanaticism and come up with this slogan to celebrate Roald Dahl’s life of limitless imagination.

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“Don’t get bopmuggered for snitching ideas. DS106 has a jumpsquiffling collection of phizz-whizzing projects!”

I guess I have DS106 to thank for providing this idea for me in the first place. See, that’s the great thing about DS106. They have such an extensive collection of brilliant projects, ideas, and inspiration to help me unleash my creativity, from Daily Creates to Visuals. With so much room for originality when it comes to producing artifacts, it’s virtually impossible to plagiarize!

DS106 Visual: Eye of the Storm

Eye of the Storm
Welcome to my DS106 Visual, Can You See What I See.

“Find or take a photo of an eye. Take another image of whatever you want, and overlay the image onto the eye. Make the image in the eye smaller so that it looks like a reflection in the person’s eye. Turning down the opacity of the image in the eye helps give a reflection sort of look. Let us see what the person in the photo is seeing through their eyes.”

The Process. The original photo is an oldie, from high school, or rather, my glory days of photo editing and makeup artistry. Speaking of photo editing, here’s a fun fact: I may be a photographer, but I’ve never used Photoshop. There are so many free tools available online that we can take advantage of to produce magnificent works of art. Why would I need to drop $300 a year on Photoshop? Technology can only take you so far when you’re trying to express a certain mood or feeling through photos. These are things that software can’t do—it needs a human touch.

I used Picnik to make the original edits more than five years ago. Picnik has since been replaced by Ribbet, but it’s still the same online photo editing website. I cropped the photo to encompass just my eye and eyebrow, added a matte border, changed it to greyscale, and colored in my naturally brown irises with shades of blue and green. Not sure if I was wearing blue mascara at the time or if I edited that in too, but my eyelashes are also blue in the photo. When everything was said and done, I posted the photo to Facebook, forever out there for the world to see, not knowing that five years later, I would need the photo again because I had lost the original file. Thank you, social media, for allowing me the opportunity to resurrect my artifacts!

After I recovered the photo of my eye, I kept going. I used PicMonkey, yet another online photo editing software, to add an overlay of a thunderstorm that I found here. Then, I shrank it down, took down the opacity, and softened the edges to make it more smoothly integrated with the eye. It’s called Eye of the Storm because it’s literally a thunderstorm inside of an eye. Sounds quite unoriginal, but wait! There’s more.

The Story. Why did I choose to create this visual? To me, it represents seeing beauty in a thunderstorm. Everyone goes through circumstances in life, but we can get through them by choosing to see positivity in the face of adversity. Because it’s not about what happens to us—it’s how we choose to handle it. Many of our problems can cease to be problems if we simply choose to look at them differently. Over the years, this attitude has helped me build resilience and overcome obstacles.

The eye of a storm refers to the calm region in the middle of a hurricane or tropical cyclone, and I use it as a reminder that not all storms are completely destructive. Your life can’t be all bad, and it can’t be all good either. We go through our lives experiencing mostly a balance of circumstances. Some events can cause damage in our lives, while others don’t. But during the course of our lives, these circumstances generally come to a balance, and at the end of it all, there is always at least something to be happy about.

This image has meaning to my professional life too. As an upcoming math teacher in urban communities, I’ll be working with diverse groups of students who come from less privileged backgrounds. Students from urban communities grow up with an unimaginable number of hardships compared to students from suburban communities, and it’s crucial for them to be able to overcome obstacles and stay resilient in the face of adversity.

Reading Response: The World, Connected

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Why do we post on social media? It seems like a simple question, but many of us have a hard time actually answering it. I suppose it would depend on what we post. Are we trying to get likes? Are we trying to join a social movement? Are we just letting our friends and family know how we’re doing? Or are we showing off? Regardless of the reasons we do it, one idea remains the same. When we post on social media, we are putting thoughts and ideas out there for the world to see. We are creating artifacts and sharing them, and in doing so, we are creating networks of knowledge.

The transition from exclusivity to inclusivity was the major theme I drew from the first week of readings. We live in the digital age, and new ideas and technology have taken shape in the form of something called new literacy. The way I see it, literacy is a process by which we represent our thoughts and ideas through certain mediums to certain audiences. Conversely, literacy can also go the other way, where certain audiences take certain mediums and interpret them to form thoughts. Basically, this is just a fancy way of saying writing and reading. But how does reading and writing manifest itself in social practice? This is what sets new literacies apart from conventional ones. New literacies require a certain component. It’s a term called new ethos, a mindset that encourages collaboration over expertise, and participation over exclusivity (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006). Oftentimes, this kind of new ethos comes to life in the form of new technology—enter social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, WordPress, and Tumblr are just a few of an almost infinite number of ways to express ideas.

The Internet was, of course, the major technological breakthrough that allowed us to do this, but social media is the vehicle that people use to put their thoughts out there. Take Instagram as an example of new ethos at work. Olivier Laurent of the British Journal of Photography notes that “Instagram, more than any other social network in past years, has allowed [photographers] to form a deeper connection with the general public” (Laurent, 2012). Instead of restricting photography to a series of specialized journals meant for professionals only, Instagram allows photographers, both novice and expert alike, to share their images with the world through a broad spectrum of moods and tones. Instagram promotes inclusivity rather than exclusivity, because anyone can use it regardless of skill level or photographic eye.

Contributing ideas to the public sphere isn’t just a social practice anymore, either. New ethos has made its way into academia. In the digital age, the growing popularity of edu-blogging has fostered both creativity and connectivity for students taking online classes (Gogia, 2016). Public annotation has revolutionized the learning environment. While old-school paper annotations or publicly highlighted passages on Kindle do well to provoke thought, public annotation tools such as Hypothesis allow us to analyze a variety of web platforms, interactively and in real time. Public annotation allows us the opportunity to engage in discussion, which helps us expand our understanding not only as individuals, but also collectively as a group (Bali, 2016).

Reading these articles has truly expanded my perspective on digital storytelling. Before, I saw digital storytelling as nothing more than creating an artifact and displaying it. Now, after reading about new literacy, as well as social media practices, both personal and professional, I realize that digital storytelling is sharing knowledge with the world. It is using technology to contribute to something far greater than one’s own thoughts and ideas, and it helps people connect and engage in ways they never imagined possible. Which leads me to wonder: what will happen to the textbooks of the world in fifty years? How will the flow of information as we ride the exponential growth of the Internet and social media, where information is inclusive, accessible, and literally everywhere? I think it’ll be interesting to see.

Digital Story Critique: My Loyal Band of Followers

I’ve decided that I’m going to try and make my digital story critiques consistent with the themes from each week. So in the spirit of this week’s course readings, I’m going to continue building on the concept of new literacy, otherwise known as the widespread distribution information into the public sphere by means of new technologies. Basically, putting your thoughts and ideas out there out there for the world to see. Sound familiar? I’m thinking of social media too. I’m also really into photography, and I’ve made it my focal theme for this course. Like many others, I’m an entry-level photographer, and since January, I’ve been nursing an Instagram page that only ever seems to lose followers. Not sure how that works, but you get the point. By the way, if you’re reading this and you’re on Instagram, follow me @nimbostratusphotography and I’ll pay you twenty bucks! Just kidding, I don’t buy followers. But just know that by following me, you will absolutely make someone’s day!

Anyway, it seems like if I don’t post all day, every day, I lose followers, and it’s this constant uphill battle. What’s the secret? What’s the magic fairy dust that will get people to see my photos? For that reason, I chose to dive into an article that talks about exactly that. This week, I’m blogging about Shutterstock’s blog (blogception! Sorry, I just had to do that) on How to Build a Loyal Following around Your Creative Work. ss-logo-color-2x_rev1

It might just sound like I’m talking about how awesome the article is, but I’m actually doing a formal critique too. I’ll be analyzing three traits about the article, listed below, and throughout my critique, I’ll bring up potential ways in which the article can go further.

Flow. The article was a literal breeze to read, taking less than five minutes start to finish. I’ve always been a fan of brevity, and while I can be quite verbose myself, I don’t think it takes an entire novel to write about a couple of tips and tricks. Myerson seems to agree, and he has the ability to be both succinct and thorough. Four sections is large enough to make a solid list, but small enough to remember everything, and having a visible heading for each section makes it easy to go back to something specific. I did notice that the article briefly mentions newsletters and then ends quite abruptly, and I think moving the newsletters to the previous section, Share Everywhere, would improve the article’s organization.

Story. What about the content of the article itself? Why is the article able to provide such useful information despite being so short? Well, the purpose of the article is simply to provide some guidelines and explain them a little bit. The rest is up to the readers to decide where they want to go from there. Myerson does a fantastic job of making the content of the article reflect its original purpose, without saying too little or too much. In fact, one of the ways he accomplishes this is by creating links to external pages throughout the article, like this video on Corgi Puppies!  This is a common blogging practice, and it’s great for if you want to provide additional information for your readers without sending your word count through the roof. Should readers want to find out more about a certain topic, they can always just click on those links. All in all, the content is exactly as it should be, given what the article is for. I did notice one thing, though. The two middle sections—Focus Your Efforts and Share Everywhere—seem to contradict each other. How do I reconcile this? I could use a little more guidance on this, such as a visual aid on different social media platforms and websites available to me, and what they have to offer. This could potentially help me pick and choose the most important places to focus my efforts.

Media Application. Speaking of visual aids, I still have to talk about media application! Myerson includes six images, including the cover picture, in his article, and I think it’s perfect for what he’s writing about. It allows for one or two pictures per section, enough to get the point across. Myerson displays work from Moose Allain and Elise Swopes, and provides examples with a variety of social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Vine. The images complement the writing well because the same artists provide the quotes for the article, and it gives readers an opportunity to preview the artists’ work while reading their inspiring words. Of course, Myerson could always include more artists and more visuals, but at the end of the day, it’s the reader’s job to find his or her own groove when it comes to promoting artwork. This article is a launch pad, and I think a number of aspiring artists will find value in it.

Week One Reflection: Getting My Groove On

One week down, seven to go! No amount of swimming, biking, or running can do justice to how drained and yet how accomplished I feel after the first week. Okay, maybe that was a bit much, because I’ve definitely never done an Iron Man, nor do I ever want to. I have a few choice words for the first day of INTE 5340, but I’ll keep it Rated G just say it was kind of a roller coaster. Between DS106, Twitter, WordPress, Canvas, and all twelve tabs I had open at any given time during the first week, I felt like I had a hard time keeping track of what seemed like fifty assignments. For half a second, I was almost tempted to drop the course.

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Basically what I felt like at the beginning of the course.

Fast forward to the end of the week, and everything has changed. Growing up in the Information Age is so exciting. In just one week, I’ve watched, read, and learned about things I never knew, participated in conversations I thought I’d never be a part of, and experienced technological flow that I never imagined could be so elegant and yet so powerful at the same time. And this is just the beginning!

Now, on to the assignments. Having completed the first round of assignments for the week, and with time to spare, it seems that I’ve figured out a groove. Honestly, reading Lisa’s blog post, Digital Storytelling Students: Start Your Engines!, was what saved me. Seeing her sample weekly calendar inspired me to make my own. I basically just did whatever assignment I felt like doing that day and logged it in my planner, and this is what came out. I think it turned out to be a success, so I’ll continue to use it!

Monday: First Daily Create, Read and annotate

Tuesday: Reading Response

Wednesday: DS106 Assignment Bank

Thursday: Digital Story Critique

Friday: Second Daily Create, respond to peers, weekly reflection

Saturday: Flex day!

Sunday: Flex day again!

I like keeping my weekends free if I can, and I’m also taking another online class, which means I have to work extra hard during the week to stay on top of things. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday were where I made my money this week. Being able to devote all my time to one major assignment each day allowed me to complete my tasks both in a timely manner and without the distractions from other assignments. As far as the quality of work in my assignments, I think I did everything I needed to do, but there’s one thing I know I could do more of. I have a tendency for one-way interaction on social media, meaning that oftentimes I’ll post something and leave, without going back to continue the conversation. This happened with Hypothesis annotations, Twitter posts, you name it, and even the digital story I did my critique on, encouraged joining the conversation. Definitely something for me to try next week!

The good, the bad, and the ugly. The first week is always rough when it comes to classes, especially ones that encourage so much creativity, like this one. I found that my biggest challenge was setting everything up and formatting my blog the way I wanted it. On top of adding new assignments every day, I must have edited and re-edited my Week One blog post about fifty times. It’s probably because I’m a perfectionist, or because I’m a grammar stickler, or maybe because I’m a little OCD. Probably a combination of all three. Setting up a good format for my blog posts, making sure all my headings were consistent, and just nursing my blog in general took up a huge chunk of time this first week. The good news? Hard part’s over! Now that I have a template that I’m happy with, I can continue using it for future blog posts, saving me a bunch of time and keeping my blog pretty!

In the meantime, I had an amazing experience with everything else. I loved the Daily Creates and the Visual Assignments, and I won’t go so far as to say I loved the reading, but I did love writing about it. I like to express myself through writing, and while I find it challenging, I find it equally rewarding, just like this class. The reflection prompt asks us to discuss what we learned, but my response is, so much. New literacy. New ethos. Social media. Networking and community. Photography. Getting involved in the public sphere and joining the conversation. What I learned is too much to type on this reflection, but those are some key phrases and I expand upon them almost everywhere on this blog post.

If I could go back and do it all over again…So far, I like what I have going and there’s nothing I would really deliberately change, except what I said before about being more present in the conversation. Here at the end of the week, I feel like we closed everything out pretty well, so I don’t have any questions related to the course itself. I did have questions earlier during the week, but I emailed Remi and he not only answered my questions, but also thanked me for reaching out. I appreciate that we have a professor who is so proactively invested in our work, and who truly wants to set us up for success!

The larger issues surrounding my work. I never touched on this at all during the week, but it’s relevant to my focal theme and something interesting to explore. In this day and age of new literacy, people are posting thoughts, ideas, and information everywhere. On social media, on websites, on public domains for the world to see. What does this mean for privacy and personal space? How much is too much when it comes to sharing information? I’ve explored this a lot in the military, where cyber security is critical, but never really on the civilian side, and I think it’s an important issue to address.

The self assessment. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that for my work quality and effort, I’m meeting the expectations. It’s hard for me to really say anything else because it’s only the first week, and besides the writing criteria posted on Canvas and DS106, I’m not sure what the expectations really are! I think this is by design, to encourage creativity and individuality, and I’m perfectly fine with that. I’m looking forward to seeing the feedback! Oh, and I promise I’ll write a shorter reflection next week. Since next week probably won’t be such a sensory overload, I won’t have as much to write. For now…time to rinse and repeat.

© Emily Joan Wu

Teacher Candidate | Math
University of Colorado Denver
INTE 5340 | Summer 2016

 

 

 

 

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