INTE 5340: Week Five

Daily Create: Music = Life

TDC 1640: Young Me, Now Me. But really, has anything changed at all?

Flute

TDC 1643: You and Your Shadow. So today I got to dance in a massive Zumba party at Fitness on the Rocks! I’ve been doing Zumba for over two years and I’m totally going to be an instructor one day. My specialty? SHADOW ZUMBA.

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DS106 Mashup: Gears of Mario

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Welcome to my DS106 mashup assignment, Video Game Cover Mashup.

“Take two existing video game covers and mash them up so that both can be identified but in a different style. Try to be creative in the title and artistic design.”

The Process

Wouldn’t this be an awesome game to play?! I know that this week’s DS106 assignment was supposed to explore our chosen theme, and video games are hardly related to photography, but I did have to manipulate photos! So in my opinion, it counts! First, I downloaded a picture of the Gear of War cover, featuring Marcus Fenix in the foreground, with Ben Carmine and Dom Santiago in the background. Using the retouch tool in the Photos app on my Macbook, I photoshopped them out, along with the “War” in the title. Then, I looked up some pictures of the Super Mario logo, along with Mario and Bowser, and overlaid them onto the new cover using PicMonkey! It didn’t take too long at all, and I was able to accomplish it without anything too fancy.

The Story

Super Mario 64 was my favorite video game as a child, and still totally my favorite now that I bought another Nintendo 64 after my parents so graciously “donated” my old one because I’d gotten “too old” or something. Anyway, Gears of War was also my favorite video game series as I got older and into high school and college, and both my Nintendo 64 and old-school XBOX 360 are sitting in my basement, ready to be played as soon as I’m done blogging about this. I haven’t been able to touch them for almost a year because I’ve either been out of town or too busy. Or too cold. Mostly that. Basements are chilly!

Anyway, I like video games, especially the simpler ones like Super Mario and Gears of War because they keep me thinking on my feet and help me adapt to lots of situations. I’ve always found that if I play video games regularly for a while, I get a little bit more street smart. Sometimes I’m prone to overthinking because I have too much of the book smart and not enough of the street smart, and then I just shut down because I never know what to do and it’s super not cool. Video games get a lot of flak from society because they’re supposedly bad for you, but recent studies have shown that they can actually be really beneficial for your cognitive development. Basically, they can help you improve your spatial perception, visual skills, hand-eye coordination, reaction time, ability to overcome challenges, and overall brain growth. Hear that, fellow gamers? Video games are good for you! No need to tell me twice. See you all later! I’ll be busy swinging Bowser by his tail and taking out Locusts with my chainsaw bayonet.

Reading Response: The World, Participating

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This week, we took a step back and looked at the big picture in Henry Jenkins’ Afterword: Communities of Readers, Clusters of Practices. As an afterword appropriately does, this reading piece seems to bring everything together that we’ve been talking about so far. Between artifacts like DIY media, blogging, remixing, and so much more, now it’s time to incorporate new literacies into the classroom. How do we do that? By understanding that this whole digital learning thing is a team effort. Like Remi said in his screencast with Jacqui this week, “The learning is self-evident when the peer community is in sync with one another.” We need to see our students and ourselves as participants in media, not consumers of it. By working together, we can connect, learn, and grow so much more!

On the topic of team effort, check out what these Photoshop Trolls did! So there’s a team called PhotoshopRequest, which consists of a group of college students looking to hone their Photoshop skills. Send a photo with a request on what you want to do with it, and they’ll photoshop it for free! You can imagine that quite a few requests come through that make trolling impossible to resist. Basically, the members of PhotoshopRequest work together to produce hilarious artifacts for the world. I can’t imagine that one person on the team did all of that trolling alone, from coming up with the idea to the actual photoshop process. Putting heads together can produce some funny results, and while a lot of people working together can oftentimes create gridlock, it can also open new creative doors.

This has applications in the classroom too! Jenkins keeps talking about a participatory culture in his afterword, and it couldn’t be more important in the world of education. As a teacher, I’m a huge fan of group work because first off, most students like working in groups so they’re more likely to create something meaningful, and second, it’s fewer things to grade. See, everyone wins! Projects in general allow students the opportunity to create new products or remix old ones. This challenges the boundaries of traditional education, where students are expected to sit quietly by themselves and learn. It’s time to rise up and fight back against the old lectures and textbooks of the 20th century. It’s time to work as a team. Charge!

Digital Story Critique: Elemental Iceland

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Aurora Borealis or Northern lights, Iceland

While browsing Twitter today, I found an amazing video from National Geographic called Elemental Iceland. Photographer Stian Rekdal traveled all across the country, capturing thousands of photos of Iceland’s stunning beauty, and combined them into an incredible time-lapse. According to National Geographic, the video will have you booking your flight before the credits roll. I’m going to Iceland later this month, and after watching this video, I couldn’t be more stoked!

What types of author “involvement” are apparent in this story? Looking through the list of literacy involvement, I guess the closest type of remix I can find here is making a travel video. I couldn’t find this exact kind of involvement, but it’s pretty close to the making of a music video. I looked up Stian Rekdal, and he’s a time-lapse travel photographer based out of Athens, Greece. He basically travels to all different countries, capturing photos and producing time-lapse videos just like Elemental Iceland. I can only imagine how much time and effort it takes to create something like this, so it’s evident that he’s pretty passionate about spreading the beauty of countries like Iceland to the world.

How would you characterize the “literacy dimensions” present in this story? Clearly, Rekdal had to be pretty tech-savvy to pull off something of this caliber. He first had to travel around and capture the photos themselves, and then he had to actually combine them with music. I can see here that he understands how to sync video and audio, and how to fine-tune this using digital video editing software. It’s possible that he could have just done this using iMovie. I’ve done the same thing! However, he’s done it in pretty good taste. The end product looks amazing!

What are the online spaces and sites that bring this story to life? Why do these spaces and sites matter to the impact of the given story? Well, I found this digital story on Twitter, from one of National Geographic’s travel and photography pages. I could have found this story on Twitter in one of two possible scenarios. Either I stalked National Geographic on Twitter and found it that way, or the other, more likely scenario was that it showed up on my home page because I was already following National Geographic. That got me thinking about why we follow pages in the first place. Most people follow huge organizations like National Geographic on social media because they’re interested in seeing what National Geographic has to post. Essentially, National Geographic has created an “affinity space” for people who are interested in nature, travel, and photography. So Twitter and National Geographic have teamed up in an effort to promote the beauty of Iceland through this video. I’m sold. Send me over!

Based upon your assessment of involvement and literacy dimensions, what modifications might improve this digital story? I mean, I think this time-lapse video is amazing already. It’s beautiful, clean, minimalistic, and overall a good experience to watch. But now it leaves me wondering—where in Iceland ARE all these things?! Iceland may be a small country, but I only have five days to somehow track down these things and see them for myself. I would definitely appreciate captions or titles with the specific location of all these landmarks, so that I would have an idea of where to find them. Either way, I can’t wait to see Iceland for myself in two weeks!

Week Five Reflection: Our Little Digital Storytelling Family

Actually, we’re kind of a big family, but whatever! I feel a lot more close-knit with our class for a few reasons. First, because we’re past the halfway point and everyone’s in pretty much a groove. Second, because I’m seeing the blogs from my small group members all the time and I feel like I’m getting to know them through their blogs. And third, because I finally did what I should have done at the very beginning of the course, and followed everyone on the roster on Twitter. Also I started using TweetDeck. I CAN SEE EVERYTHING.

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How well do you feel you completed the requirements of the week’s assignments? Hey, I like this setup where I actually include the questions in my weekly reflection! Feels almost like an interview, much easier to write and read that way. No idea why I didn’t do it before! Anyway, I’d say I did a pretty stellar job. I felt like I had some pretty good creative juices flowing and I basically let a little bit of my identity into all of them. Perfect for my evil plan! Just kidding. But I think the assignments went pretty well!

What gave you trouble? What did you enjoy most? What did you learn? Honestly, this is gonna sound so ridiculous, but I was too lazy to set up the tripod to get pictures of myself for the Daily Creates. I found the motivation eventually, though, so it’s good character building! Also, I never thought I’d be saying this, but I genuinely enjoyed the reading. Not to say that it wasn’t challenging to read, because I have a really short attention span. But I loved the message behind it. All you really have to take away from it is participatory culture! I’m so excited to put this into practice in my classroom one day.

What would you do differently? What questions do you have? I don’t think I would really change anything about this week, but I am curious about the coming weeks, as I’ve been looking at the reading list and the syllabus and there’s a lot of stuff that’s up in the air right now. What is our final portfolio? What’s that all about? Guess I’ll find out!

What are some larger issues surrounding my work, particularly as they relate to your focal theme? You know, funny thing is that my focal theme is photography, but I’ve been talking so much about education in this section the last couple of weeks. Focus, Emily! Just kidding, education is critically important and there are a lot of issues in education as well. But this time, I will relate it to photography. So things like photography and photoshopping are starting to become a team effort lately. It got me thinking about how they do it at National Geographic. When a photo comes out of the remixing process, who gets the credit? Who gets to post it on Instagram? Who gets to represent? Or would one person represent an entire organization that’s posting the photo?

Provide a self assessment of your work quality and effort on a “exceeding expectations,” “meeting expectations,” and “below expectations” scale. So while I met all the expectations for the assignments this week, I gotta say that I think I exceeded last week’s expectations for my interactions in this course. Although I got to it a little late, using Tweetdeck and following everyone and clicking on the hashtags allowed me to connect so much more with my peers, and with Remi and Lisa, and I feel a little more connected with everyone. THIS is what it’s all about! THIS is learning through digital stories!

© Emily Joan Wu

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

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