Archive for the ‘Inside the Courses’ Category

EDIM Commencement Speaker

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

It is with great pleasure that I share Laura Joy Perales’ commencement speech from this spring’s graduation ceremony. As an online masters student, this was Laura Joy’s first visit to the Wilkes campus.

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Collective Brain in NYC

Friday, November 18th, 2011

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Differing Views on Multiple Intelligences

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

One of the students in the Wilkes EDIM 503: Differentiation Supported by Technology class shared an interesting article on the California Watch website questioning the effectiveness of multiple intelligence instruction. Though controversial at first, Howard Gardner’s almost 30 year old theory seems to have found fairly broad acceptance in the education community. The challenge seems to be more a matter of implementation in this era of crowded classrooms and limited funding. As the article states, “But a group of four psychologists, including professors from UC San Diego and UCLA, have reviewed historical data and say there is little scientific evidence to support the learning-styles theory.” By setting up a set of criteria and scouring the research, the study’s authors claim they have found no evidence of improved test scores when instruction was tailored to students’ learning styles. Many educators and supporters (including suppliers of material and training) of Gardner’s theory, of course, disagree.  The article concludes with a diplomatic, “Both camps agree on one thing: Using a diverse range of teaching styles is important for all students.” What do you think?

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Fall Registration

Wednesday, August 10th, 2011

Wilkes U./Discovery Education Master of Science Degree in Instructional Media online classes begin again on September 6 and, though many of the sections are already filled, there are still a number of openings for the two, seven week fall sessions (9/6-10/23 and 10/24-12/11). If you are not familiar with our online masters program designed with the help of and supported by Discovery Education, then you should give the EDIM site a look. Enjoy classes that prepare you to lead your students into their future, not our past. Put what you learn on Friday right to use on Monday. And students in the EDIM program get full access to Discovery Education’s streaming suite of online resources.

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Admin Academy for All

Monday, August 8th, 2011

Did you know that Discovery Education has an Admin Academy blog? I don’t think it’s just for administrators. Since you are already reading this blog, I have the feeling that you are a leader and the Admin Academy is a good place for you to check in on often. Does this quote from Jerry Jennings’ recent post strike a chord with you?

“Can more of our students be successful?  Can schools adapt and change to meet the learning needs and styles of many more  students.  Can technology be leveraged increase the learning of more of our students?  What is the role of school leaders to accomplish this? My reactions to these questions is: Intentionally working through change that will increase student learning is the work of educational leaders  today.  Just maintaining the status quo, given our challenges, makes no sense.  Are we ready?  Are we willing to participate and adapt?”

Then this is definitely a place you need to visit on a regular basis. You’ve heard all the quotations about preparing our students for their future. How will you help them with that?

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Talking Heads

Monday, July 18th, 2011

As our Digital Storytelling classes prepare their interview videos for this week, it seems appropriate to share a couple of tips.
Sometimes we are the victims of our own success. A few years ago, when I was still the coordinator for our high schools’ multimedia labs, two of the American history senior teachers sent their students out to record the stories of WWII vets. Since their kids had done such a great job making videos during the school year, they never thought to check in with me for my normal, pre-project tips and tricks. So, whether the person landed in the first wave on D-Day, cleaned latrines in Louisianna all war or was a Rosie the Riveter or a WAC ferrying bombers across the north Atlantic, after the first two minutes it became a very hard to watch talking head looking straight into the camera. There is so much we could have done to make these engaging learning stories!
Two simple strategies would have done it: one while taping, the other in editing. Usually the only time you see someone looking right into the camera is when it’s the nightly news or a talk show host either going to commercial or introducing the next guest. First, set your interviewee just off center, to the left or the right, and looking at someone just off screen, not right into the camera. Second, in both iMovie and Movie Maker, when the speaker mentions something that can be illustrated – show it. That is called a cut-away, though some might also call it an overlay. It’s very easy to do in iMovie. In the “older” HD6 version use the Advanced menu and Paste Over Special to copy from the clipboard right on top of the video. The man mentions getting a draft notice, show a draft notice while he’s still talking “underneath.” In the newer versions of iMovie, make sure Advanced is turned on in the preferences and simply drag and drop a picture or another video on top the base, interview video. Couldn’t be easier!
For years I thought PC users of Movie Maker were just out of luck, but thanks to two of my EDIM 504 students, I see that it can be done without too much trouble. After one student pointed out that it was just a matter of dragging a piece of a video clip (in the storyboard view) down to the soundtrack and filling the resulting gap with an image or another video, the second student made a ScreenCast for one of her classmates to show how it’s done: Thank you María and Deb!
P.S. She could have added the music by exporting the video and then importing it into a new project which gives you a fresh, blank soundtrack to fill as you wish. Do that as many times as you want to layer voice, sound effects and music.

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Learning from Students

Sunday, July 10th, 2011

One of the great benefits of teaching is learning from and being inspired by your students. I am happy to report that it is no different at the online graduate level.

Web 2.0: Impacting Learning Environments course designer/instructor Kathy Schrock recently shared some of the work her student, Cassie Burnett, just did for the class. Kathy found the information Cassie shared in her “Creative Advantage: Using Design Principles to Organize Information” SlideShare so rich that Kathy asked to include it in her own “Infographics as a Creative Assessment” session that she presented two weeks ago at the ISTE Conference in Philadelphia.

Every week I hope to feature something we instructors have learned from our Wilkes EDIM graduate students and I hope that helps and inspires you to continue learning from and celebrating what your students share.

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Story Boards and Story Maps

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

This is my third year teaching in the Wilkes/Discovery masters program and my (lucky) 13th section of Digital Storytelling. The more I read students’ discussion posts and re-read sections of the text myself, the more I appreciate the depth of  understanding and insight our textbook’s author, Jason Ohler, has for the many aspects of “new media narratives” in education. One dual aspect in particular seems to both resonate and perplex my students. I think story boarding and story mapping go hand in hand, but one is not the other. Story boards are the easiest to explain and visualize. If you haven’t ever seen one in the bonus section of a DVD or a “making of” special, you’ve still probably seen a comic strip or a graphic novel. That’s all there is to it: a shot by shot, visual representation of the story. And stick figures are more than good enough. Story maps on the other hand chart the ebb and flow of a story. For example, a simple parable is a parabola; the story leading up to the peak on the one side is like the story sliding down to a moral on the other. You can “talk” through them like I usually do with an old Irish Spring commercial:
Beginning/Call to Adventure
-Sean has worked hard all day then raced his horse through the surf and slopped the hogs.
-He meets up with his friend Patrick and tells him he is escorting Mary Kate to the dance tonight.
-He suspects maybe he should shower first and seeks Patrick’s counsel on the matter.
-Patrick offers him a bar of Irish Spring and sends Sean to the showers.
-Later Patrick sees Sean and Mary Kate at the dance and it’s obvious they will live happily ever after.

It’s not the script and it doesn’t talk about shot angles or framing, but it does lay out the arc of the story.

Ohler offers a number of visual maps (VPS – Visual Portrait of a Story) in his book Digital Storytelling in the Classroom. With his permission, I share a couple of diagrams that help visualize the line of a story below.
This one from Pg. 73 puts the spotlight on the story’s path and “helps students to focus at the outset on the power of their stories.”

And for stories that may seem to wander but still offer a resolution, there is the “Treasure Map” (Pg. 116 )

So, well written script + story map, visualized in a story board = a well organized video and a very good possibility of a great story.

Don’t forget the annual Discovery Educator Network streamathon on September 14th. See Lance’s previous post for the schedule.

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Challenge Based Videos

Sunday, June 6th, 2010

In this time of global connectedness and emphasis on not just digital citizenship, but responsible, global citizenship in general, Challenge Based Learning would seem to go hand in hand with challenge based living. And I can’t think of a better tool to express and share solutions to those challenges than digital storytelling. I believe it was David Warlick who once said that home-made videos were the letters to the editor of the future. As much as student made videos for specific topics in classes are valuable, the real payoff might be a life skill that gives each person a voice to participate and a more critical eye and ear as they weigh the voices of others. A few recent contest/festivals come to mind as good examples of how students’ voices can reach beyond the classroom.

Our own Discovery Education and 3M Young Scientist Challenge asked students in grades 5-8 to submit their applications as a video that offered scientific solutions to one of the four challenges: preventing germs/disease, food safety, sun protection, or wind resistant structures. The finalists will be announced this summer and plans are already underway for the 2011 call.

Former Wilkes University digital storytelling student Michael Gori’s own students were so moved by what they learned interviewing the staff at their school for his broadcast journalism class project “Yo Teach” they made a special 10 minute version for the American Film Institute’s ScreenNation TeenDocs documentary festival. You can see the trailer on AFI’s YouTube channel or the entire 40 minute documentary on the Liberty H.S. Broadcast Journalism page.

Last fall Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, invited students to share their thoughts on education in a video that followed the theme “I Am What I Learn.” You can view the three winning entries at the site or use the Gallery tab to look through the top ten. And if you’d like to peruse the other 600+ entries, just search “i am what i learn” on YouTube.

WGBH’s “Open Call” invites people to submit their stories on a given subject. Recent calls have ranged from your own video diary inspired by Ann Frank’s to the history connected to an antique to students’ views on life and evolution. They have a wonderful page of resources and, depending on the current subject, they occasionally  provide stills, videos clips and sounds that you can use.

We have the tools, in schools and in homes, and there seems to be plenty of places that invite solutions and encourage constructive discussion. How will we help our students’ voices be heard?

Cross-posted to my Digital Storytelling blog.

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Digital Storytelling

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

When a friend invited me out to his national digital storytelling conference at Keane University five years ago, I was little nervous about meeting Joe Lambert, the surviving co-founder of the Center for Digital Storytelling in Berkeley. I was very familiar with the CDS’ mission and “recipe” for making digital stories and very respectful of their work in communities and passion for empowering people to make their voices heard on many levels. I felt that I may have been stretching the bounds of he and the late Dana Atchley’s vision with my interpretation of digital storytelling (“Makin’ Movies”) in education. When we found ourselves on the same plane back to Chicago and Joe finagled us into our own row, I felt I had to come clean and explain how I felt his term applied to students making commercials, public service announcements, movie and book trailers, mini-documentaries, real and mock interviews, etc. He chuckled at my “confession” and responded along the lines that “digital storytelling was a big umbrella with plenty of room for interpretation and constructive implementation.” That said, we spent the rest of the flight and his layover in Chicago talking about Studs Terkel, folk music, the labor movement(s), kids, education in general, working with adults, and anything else that didn’t have to do with building a high wall around the definition of “digital storytelling.”

Some would like to differentiate between the CDS model and its focus on personal narrative by labeling the broader interpretation “digital stories.” I appreciate their respect for the CDS and their work. If I had to change, I like the thinking behind Jason Ohler’s term “new media narratives” and the fact that it openly embraces a wide range of delivery methods. But nothing seems to be as immediately recognized, understandable, and all-encompassing as the words “digital storytelling.” And indeed, Dr. Ohler even uses them in the title of his book Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity.

So two years ago, when Wilkes University and Discovery invited me to design and teach an online course on digital storytelling (EDIM 504), and though only one of the five weekly video assignments approximates the CDS personal narrative model, I didn’t consider calling it anything else but digital storytelling. By any name it is an empowering exercise in learning for students who research, write, and produce a short video in a familiar format that both engages them and instructs their peers in any subject and at any grade level.

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