Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Week Four: Lost in the Word Cloud

I love word clouds.  I used them frequently in my work.  So, when I stumbled upon this option in the DS106 Assignment Bank, I was thrilled.  Not because I already like them, but because they really are great visuals which highlight the important points of just about anything.  You'll find the Word Cloud Assignment linked here.

I chose to do a word cloud on ILT5340 because last week things were a little murky in this course for me.  I really struggled to make meaningful connections between the various assignments and the work I was reading.  It was actually the first time in the course that I struggled to create those connections and overall it meant that the week felt disjointed.  That created a cognitive dissonance for me that made me wonder if I was missing something.

I use word clouds with students as a way for them to learn to see the connections in the work they do. The essential principle is that the larger the appears in the cloud, the more important it is to the overall whole.  The smaller text are generally the links--the concepts which act as catalysts pulling things together.  I needed something visual this week to help me see those links and the bigger picture.  Word clouds really work in this way and honestly, this one has been very helpful.

I used a free word cloud generator at  I will admit, I did not want to superimpose my own thinking on the number of words or how significant or insignificant they might be.  So, I simply copied and pasted this week's Narrate/Annotate post into the text box in the word cloud generator.  That way, I did not put any artificial emphasis on one word over another.  I thought it was fascinating the words that ended up being the largest.

Hypothesis, the largest word in my cloud, is about collaboration.  It is about sharing our experience with both image and text and elaborating on our insight and questions.  Ultimately, in my summer's theme about transitions, change and risk-taking, we take individual risks in our work and we share the outcomes in our collaboration. I know I am re-thinking areas of my own research and adding to my understanding of storytelling and narrative as I view multiple digital narratives every week--and share my colleagues responses to them.

The other large word is Create.  Yes, I've spent a good amount of time creating and mucking around with various tools this summer.  However, my creation extends further than that.  I am also creating context and understanding for myself.  I am learning to take risks with some of my more clumsy attempts and I am discovering that to be uncomfortable for a while is not necessarily a negative thing. The fact that we are doing this inside a shared community makes it a little nerve-wracking but also provides a comfortable environment as my colleagues share when the going gets rough for them as well.

Remi and Lisa, your names are quite small here--and I think that is a nod to the fact that while you are here guiding and facilitating and reminding, your role is not nearly as professorial as it is collegial.  Your voices are here--in the group--but not coming as if you were oracles on the mountaintop--but rather as guideposts from the side.

The word cloud is a helpful clarifying tool for me.  It came along at the right time to propel my work in this course forward.

Week Four: TDC Carrot People

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa I adore you!  (with apologies to Nat King Cole).

This is not my official blog post for this week's daily create.  But, I had a lot of fun mucking around with this and finally settled upon this inspiration.  It made me laugh.  I needed a good laugh today.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Week Three: Reflective Summary or Difficulty Building Bridges

I always feel like I am in a confessional when I write my reflective summary.  For those of you who read these, my apologies in advance!  This week, I felt like I was traversing a huge cultural divide between what I believe about information and knowledge and the practices that occur in many school districts.  We have tremendous power as educators to change our world for the better and yet there is a parochialism that is so invasive within the system which undermines the free exchange of information and the development of collaboration which has the potential to create new channels of understanding.

I believe more than anything else, this stifles human growth and keeps information in a very few hands rather than distributed in collaborative environments where change is truly possible.  I do not believe information should be a commodity.

On a more micro level, this week, I had some difficulty building bridges between the information I am working on for ILT5340.  I do not know if it was just me or if others experienced this week the same way I did.  The daily creates felt disjointed from the readings for the first time in the course.  I spent a lot of time thinking them through and working out the technical details.  In particular the plotagon was time consuming.  I felt the outcome was worth it simply because it is something I can use with my students and which is very engaging.  The video was easier to produce--but if I had to be honest, my children probably got more out of that experience than I did as they acted as my camera operators and technical support.  In retrospect, I would have used them as actors and done more of the technical work myself.

These activities felt a bit disjointed from the required readings WHICH I LOVED!  As a former homeschooler and someone who supports alternative education, the whole notion of DIY completely resonated with me.  I have watched so much of the backlash against the DIY movement play out as the professionals clamor to hold tightly to their proprietary knowledge.  The collaborative nature of building understanding through communities of practice is something that just rings so true to me and frankly, is something we should embrace across fields.  We need to build bridges and create on ramps for participation in these communities.  On this level, I was able to create some continuity between my own belief and practice.

I spent a good time this week on an outside reading, The Story Factor by Annette Simmons.  I was struck by a particular quote:  "People don't want more information. They are up to their eyeball in information. They want faith...Faith needs a story to sustain it - a meaningful story that inspires belief in you and renews hope that your ideas indeed offer what you promise...Story is your path to creating faith. Telling a meaningful story means inspiring your reach the same conclusions you have reached and decide for themselves to believe what you say and do what you want them to do. People value their own conclusions more highly than yours. They will only have faith in a story that has become real for them personally. Once people make your story, their story, you have tapped into the powerful force of faith. Future influence will require very little follow-up energy from you and may even expand as people recall and retell your story to others."

I have been thinking about how true this is in the digital stories I have chosen to review.  Ultimately, I am drawn to those very human stories which dig into issues of empathy.  These stories are high impact and they do create faith--faith in humanity, in the ability to change, in the power that is inherent in taking risks.  The vast majority of making meaning for me grew out of this outside reading this week.

Where I think I fell short was in building cognitive bridges for myself between the activities and the information in the course this week.  I wish I could have done this better.  I don't usually struggle with this quite as much as I did this week.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Week Three: So Who Owns it?

As I went through my annotations for this week, I thought it was interesting to see my questions about copyright and ownership.  When I first was involved in online learning, these were questions that had not even been considered.  I had to go back and check my files to see when an ownership clause appeared for the first time in my employment agreements.

It was 2005.

A small rural school district here in Colorado was advised by its attorney to make a claim on any and all teacher created materials whether or not they were used directly with that school's students through any medium.

I rebelled.

This seemed like such an over-reach to me.  Over my years in teaching, I have created enough of my own materials to write several books and to suddenly have those materials belong to the school district I happened to be working for seemed like a huge over-reach.  I refused to sign the employment agreement until that section was redacted.

Then it appeared again when I was writing curriculum for a large international online curriculum provider in 2007.  This made more sense as I actually was developing curriculum for them and it only seemed fair that if that was my role, they would in fact own what I was producing.  I was not happy about it--but when you work for the borg, they will eventually take what they believe is theirs.

I did not rebel--but I did not assimilate easily either.
(My apologies to Star Trek.  Once assimilated--it's hard to break free!)

Things have changed though which leave me questioning the role of corporate big business in education.  One only needs to look to Texas to see the coercive power shared by the Texas State School Board and large textbook publishers.  There are billions of dollars at stake and additional stakeholders every year.  Corporations have shareholders and they must answer to those shareholders. Schools are more than buildings where learning takes place--they are consumers of products and producers of products all of which are measured by other corporate entities.  It is a vicious cycle driven by supply, demand, profit, loss and ownership.

My question is, "Does this make sense anymore?" followed closely by, "Did it ever make sense/"  Who owns the education process and the products and tools developed within it?  My belief is that information belongs in the hands of the many and the products thereof serve a greater good in open environments.  I no longer wonder if we should be sharing what we know with others.  It is imperative that we do and in fact doing so can change how we interact with other individuals around the globe.  To not be a part of collecting, sharing and disbursing knowledge and understanding seems parochial.

That being said, the Western World approaches information from a parochial point of view--Information is power and they who have the most of it are the most powerful.  It is this mindset that creates regulations which restrict the free-flow of information across cultures and political boundaries.  It is this mindset which continues to silo information in narrow ways which makes new creation and remixing difficult and which stifles or even snuffs out valuable connections which can provide new solutions to problem solving.

This week, it is all about ownership and creating for me.  We have to change how we think about education and the products created outside and inside the systems.  As a student, I am uncomfortable with the idea that someone else would own the work I am creating primarily because much of what I write is simply today's iteration of my own thinking.  I want to own what I create today and have the freedom to extend that thinking into a new space tomorrow without being bound at some point later in time and defined then by what I am writing today.  For my students who are actively remixing, are they co-owners in the next conceptualization of the materials they used or interacted with?  Or are they editors for the previous materials?  How does this fit into the larger picture of creativity which our students actively engage with every day?

Ownership--Information--Power--Profit.  These things fit together in strangely important ways which require re-definition and re-framing in terms of a world with fewer fixed boundaries and many more flexible learning, knowing, understanding and collaborating spaces.  These are significant questions for all of us and yet there are few answers.  It seems that even as the parameters for creative work push outward, the legalities of doing some drawn inward to limit creative expression in digital environments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Plotogon: A New Tool

This week, I found a new tool to use courtesy of ds106.  I had used other similar tools before but it seems that many of them have disappeared from the web.  So, as I was looking at Daily Creates under the video section, I happened across this one.  Plotagon seems to have any number of great educational uses and I decided to make a short video which mocks my current progress in dissertation writing.  --and my love for classic literature which is what this daily create encourages in the original assignment: tdc1225.

One of the drawbacks to plotagon is that you cannot embed the completed video in a blogpost.

Apologies Charles Dickens
So the closest I can get is to provide a link beneath the image which accompanies the video.

I chose to poke fun at the risk-taking exercise I am currently engaged in--otherwise known as writing a dissertation.  I cannot say that I am not enjoying the process.  However, the iterative process does make me crazy from time to time.  So, I decided that with this assignment I would add a little to Dicken's original opening to A Tale of Two Cities which he never could have imagined I would have chosen to lampoon here.

The process was really not difficult although the software does take some work before it becomes intuitive.  Plotagon is available as an app here

The essential first is to create a character.  As I chose to narrate my own plot or classical piece of literature for this movie, I created a character that looks much like me wearing my dissertation writing uniform of sweats and yoga pants.  There are a huge variety of ways to style and dress your own characters.

You then can proceed to write your plot.  I copied and pasted the text in the text box but I found the animated voices too robotic for my liking.  I needed a voice which was more expressive so I decided to record my own.  Again, this is a fairly intuitive process which involves a few more clicks but is easily accomplished.

The fun begins with the animation and giving your character actions to perform.  My movie is fairly simple in this regard.  I restrained my character from too much drama and instead she slapped her disinterested buddy only once.  To be fair, I don't necessarily believe that writing a literature review is cause for violence.  However, friends really ought to at least attempt to appear that they are interested in my topic!

As you add elements, you can preview them by hitting the play button.  They are easily modified or deleted and a drag and drop feature allows you to move them to different places in the narration.

This would be a wonderful tool for students in the classroom to demonstrate many different types of learning.  I can see it used as I did to inject some humor into an assignment or used to describe or explain a newly learned concept.  I found the process lengthy and definitely thought provoking.  However, the tool gave me ample flexibility to move elements and 'restage' my final production in a way that I liked.

So, in spite of the serious nature of my summer theme, I think I have successfully managed to find some humor in it.  We all take risks.  While the character in this short video laments that her risk taking represents both the best of times and the worst of times, her friend, like many of mine, is relatively unaffected and disinterested.  This is actually pretty representative of how thin this process can become for our families and friends who can only observe it from afar.

Hopefully, you too will enjoy the humor I intended!  I downloaded the plotagon app which is available here.

Week 3: Story Critique: "I took a chance"

This story caught my eye because I of my thematic approach to this summer.  I'm looking at change, transformation and risk-taking.  This is one of the first creations by a student which links up with that idea directly and which addresses fear of risk-taking in an original way and with an original voice.  It is notably short but none-the-less engaging.

Because this is a student production, it seemed useful to use a rubric created by a student to assess it. I opted to use this one described by Jason Ohler on his site:

For the first element of story flow, I would say that our student definitely did a very good job of creating a narrative about a topic which was focused, and which made sense.  While some would say that this topic was a bit juvenile, I could easily see my middle school students identifying with it. Many students at this age are working with larger ideas of identity and their place in this world.  I thought the topic was both appropriate to that as well as a great starting place for using digital storytelling without being intimidating for the student.  

The student's craftsmanship was evident.  I did like the mix of still photos and the video.  As she described what she thought children were like, the transition from still photos to video was effective and picked up the chaos of what she assumed small children were.  Additionally, the music background was effective and did not feel like it overshadowed her telling of her story.  I felt that overall it all worked together.

This is clearly an original story told in this student's voice.  She told it carefully and paid particular care to her voice tone and inflection.  You could hear the sadness as she described her feelings of being lost.  In the next moment you can hear her enthusiasm for really enjoying her time with the smaller children and her real excitement about the time she spent with them.  "They are hilarious!" I can almost here the exclamation at the end of that sentence in her own exclamation.  

This video clearly shows the student's effort and time.  It is well developed.  While it is short, the story is told with an effective economy.  It is easy to listen to primarily because she took the time to tell it effortlessly.  This works for the teller and the listener in this case.  The topic suits her and it is clear that her volunteer time has changed her and that she has enjoyed taking this risk.  

This is my first critique of a student's story and I think I need to search out more examples from younger digital story tellers to help flesh out my own thoughts regarding the use of digital story telling in the classroom.  

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Week Two: Weekly Reflection: Life Meets ILT5340

This has been a really interesting week.  I have been playing around with a lot of ideas--starting with remixing.  The Lankshear and Knobel reading really emphasized some of the technical aspects of what exactly was happening during a remix and I felt really got into the technicalities so much that they overlooked how remixing may also change how the remix is understood and perceived by individuals who were consuming the remix.  I noticed this is several of the comments by my colleagues on the piece as well.

I also really enjoyed some of the recommended articles which I found very helpful for my own practice and understanding.  I appreciate the broad differences in the approaches of the recommended readings and the contribution they are really making to my exploration of change, transitions and risk-taking.  I am also enjoying the flexibility to explore academic, peer-reviewed articles and then juxtaposing that research oriented approach with a more experiential approach which explores how individuals are constructing their own meaning within this digital space.  I was and will continue to be fascinated by the concept of a 'collapsed context' which I discovered during my own research this week and which I referred to at length in my reading critique this week.  This is a really interesting idea which was completely new to me.  It is not often that I stumble across something new since my dissertation literature review is nearly complete.  So while I now have a very valuable addition to the literature review, I also have another way of thinking about digital spaces and creation.

Since this is my focus theme for the summer, as I am reading and exploring the various readings and daily creates, it seems that this is a theme that is pervasive.  I am not particularly having difficulty finding interesting and even provocative digital stories which easily accompany this theme.  Nearly every digital story explores this theme from multiple perspectives.

This was also an incredibly personal week.  With the events in Orlando at both Pulse and Walt Disney World, I found it difficult to distance myself from my own feelings of empathy and sympathy.  I despise the 24 hour news cycle in that it smothers us with information before the information can even be verified.  At the same time, I was moved enough by my own experiences with my own children at Walt Disney World to filter my second daily create assignment through that particular lens.  Yes, I have an interest in emotional intelligence and empathy which has worked its way into my academic research--but I chose that as an area of research because I believe there is something about empathy which is worth researching and understanding.  I was very much surprised at the sheer emotional impact the Orlando tragedies had upon me.  I was equally surprised that it filtered into this class as a means of expressing empathy and my shared feelings for the families.

This was true with the audio daily create as well.  I chose a very evocative piece of music that speaks to me in many different ways.  Is it about empathy?  I do not know--but what I do know is that the experience of listening to music is qualitatively different from listening to a lecture or a TED talk.  It takes us down a different set of neural pathways and while I am not an expert and I am certain that a significant body of research exists already, my experience with music tells me that it inspires me differently than the spoken and written word.  That takes me directly back to the idea of medieval minstrals singing the stories from one age to the next.

So often in my research, life has intersected with courses--or maybe I am more attuned to listening for that intonation.  In any case, this has been an extremely interesting and valuable week.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

TDC1623: A Remix of Sorts

Daily Create 1623 is a challenge to overlay a flag across my hand.  I chose not to do that--but to extend it a little bit.  This week was a horrific week for a place that holds so many happy memories for our family.  On Thursday, I awoke to the unimaginable news of the tragedy of the young family whose child was killed by an alligator in what otherwise is known as the Happiest Place on Earth.

I thought of the many wonderful times I have had with my own children in this very same place.  The times I have held a toddler's hand as she splashed at the water's edge near the very same place young Lane was lost this week.  I thought of the preciousness of the parent-child bond and the powerlessness those parents must have felt knowing that there was nearly no chance that their young son would survive such an attack.

I cried.

So, instead of superimposing my flag over my hand, I chose something more profoundly personal.  I took a picture of my child's hand enfolded in mine---a sort of emblem of protective motherhood that parents worldwide can identify with.  Then, I superimposed the fantasy that is Cinderella's Castle.  It is just an illusion of magic, of good always prevailing over evil, of safety and security of Prince Charmings on white stallions saving the world.

We know it's an illusion.  But the alligators in DisneyWorld are real--and sometimes, they attack.

So for Lane and his family--may you remember the good hand-holding times and the magic of castles and fairy tales.

Week Two Reading Critique: Exploring Empathy

What a great week of readings.  I have to admit, I am enjoying the recommended readings almost more than I am the required ones--and perhaps I should be less apologetic about that.

"An Open Letter to My Students" was such a great piece.  I know on its face, it may seem to be of less value than some of the more academic readings we are doing.  However, at this stage in my life, I wish I could go back and re-live some of my earlier academic experiences through this lens.  I was an undergraduate in the early 1980's--and yes, a good number of you were not born yet.  In the 80's, it was all about achievement, prospering, conspicuous consumption and, as an undergraduate, we were all hyper-focused on the almighty grade point average.  When you become focused on a gpa as a measure of your success, you become dependent and reliant upon someone else's measure for your achievement and success.

I so wish that I had not been quite that intensely focused on grades--and more focused upon learning to develop my identity through my own lens instead of through someone else's perception.  This is heady stuff--which I am even now just beginning to wrap my own head around.  However, there is a wonderful freedom in exploring the boundaries of your own understanding in a way that makes sense for you.  Which is only saying that I am enjoying exploring the boundaries of my own understanding in a way that makes sense for me!

To that end, I stumbled upon a jewel of an article about digital storytelling and empathy in my reading journey this week.  "Mirror Neurons, the development of empathy, and digital story telling" proved not only to be interesting but also a purposeful look at how telling our own stories allows viewers to engage in a mirrored experience and that current research on the brain supports the idea that when we engage in the experiences of others in this way, the biological structures known as mirror neurons actually fire and we experience the experience of others in a very intimate personalized way.

The other aspect of this article is the concept of developed by Michael Wesch which is really worth digging into a lot more deeply.  Wesch has explored vlogging, or video blogging as a way of creating a mask, or identity, in both a very private space but yet one where the whole world has the potential of watching.  A vlogger is essentially alone--with a video camera--speaking often very personal and intimate thoughts directly in the camera.  Within this private space, which appears to me to be somewhat analogous to a confessional, the vlogger is solitary and simply alone with his thoughts. Yet, once the vlog is published, it is at once a most personal reflection released into a most public space.

Wesch describes this as a whole new space for creating, contextualizing and communicating and refers to it as a "context collapse."  The digitally mediated environment is in fact a different kind of space where communication takes on a different aspect that it ever has previously.  There is Wensch explains a "freedom to experience humanity without fear of anxiety."  Like the experience of empathy--this is a drawing in rather than a pushing out and away.

This is fascinating material to dig into.  I'm learning to be surprised at the serendipity that is ILT5340 and just go with it.  The readings themselves present multiple ways of understanding ourselves and the material and I'm just happy to explore where it takes me.

  • Hess, M. (2012). Mirror neurons, the development of empathy, and digital story telling. Religious Education,107(4), 401. doi:10.1080/00344087.2012.699412

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Week 2 Digital Story Critique: I Am From

My theme this summer is about Change and Transitions.  I am very interested in using a poem called, "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyon as a part of my dissertation project.  It has been widely applied in the world of digital storytelling and used as an inspiration for many others.  This is one of many examples available.  I particularly like the use of this poem as inspiration as it does address who we are in relationship to our past histories and how those fit into the larger story of our identities and purpose.  In other words, they are about the transitions we experience as a part of becoming who we are.

I used three criteria in order to critique this particular digital story.  First I looked at the media grammar.  This element includes many different elements.  I was disappointed that such a personal story did not include the voice of the author.  I believe that by simply using the poem as captions to the photographs, some of the personal voice was lost.  I would have loved to have heard the author's inflection and emotion in this piece as I believe it would have added a level of empathy on the part of the viewer.  The photographs were excellent--in particular the photograph of the hands was exceptional. That one persuaded me to want more from this.  I wanted to know more about these people, this family, their history. I did not particularly care for the music.  It did not seem to be the best fit for this story.  It's springy rhythm did not really speak to ideas like patriotism or spirituality--some of the deeper themes of the story which were undoubtedly important and even essential.  I would have chosen differently.

So, while I was not particularly impressed with the use of media grammar in this story, the story was told with great economy.  The photos were chosen carefully and were perfect illustrations to her own I am from poem.  The pacing was very good--each slide was just long enough.  The viewer had time to read just as the slide advanced.  I feel like I know this person to an extent.  I don't know how well I know her--because without a human voice, the production feels stilted and a bit distant.

My fundamental issue with the overall production is the lack of transitions.  The slides simply switch. The music starts and ends abruptly.  It is jarring--much like reading a student's writing when there are no transitions employed.  I would have loved to have seen this storyteller experiment with transitions to see if the story was enhanced through the use of them.

Overall, I would call this a great start at digital storytelling.  The foundation is solid but I'd like to see some elements enhanced and added to really create something powerful for this storyteller.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Week Two Daily Create #1: The Highest of Highs and Lowest of Lows

This week, for an audio Daily Create, I chose to create an audio which reponded to this question "What does this song mean to me?"  As I looked at several of the posted responses, it occurred to me that most respondents were choosing music with lyrics.  I am an avid classical music listener and actually, aside from the occasional choral piece, tend to listen to chamber and symphonic music rather than more contemporary music.  For this reason I chose Edward Elgar's Nimrod Variation which is one of my favorites.

Isn't it glorious? At the same time, it evokes something so deeply sorrowful. This is a unique characteristic of music. In the same piece it can bring you to tears and great joy. Sometimes I experience those emotions simultaneously in the same piece of music.

For my daily create, I used a very simple technique.  I opened the Nimrod Variation from YouTube.  I played it at a very low volume on one screen.  Then, I opened Soundcloud and simply recorded my impressions directly to Soundcloud.  This gave the whole recording the impression that I may actually have been responding to an interview question or in a spontaneous rather than rehearsed way. I think it gives the recording an impromptu and informal quality which I actually like--in spite of the fact that I tend to fill space with an 'um.'  It seems more authentic than a scripted response.

My end product sounds like this:

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Week One Reflection: The Community Converges

As I complete Week One of ILT5340, one particular theme continues to emerge through the reading and participation in the various activities embedded throughout the course.  This is the idea of community.  While I have been steeped in research about digital storytelling and my own practice in this area has intuitively led me in this direction, the idea of situating learning and understanding within a community continues to repeat itself and I continue to be fascinated by how this happens and what creates the culture in which it happens with such fluidity in cyberspace.  When I first dabbled on the internet, it was 1993 or 1994.  I had young children at home and a newly found AOL account--very expensive dial-up.  I joined AOL specifically because it had a very active homeschool forum which was connecting homeschooling mothers together.  I quickly found a group and we started sharing information and learning about each other.  Twenty years later, I still enjoy close relationships with members of that group even though most of us are well past homeschooling our children who are now grown and have children of their own.  I quickly became literate in new technology which I now cannot imagine living without.  Though most of the people in this course will never know the unique sound of a modem connecting through a phone line and the expense of paying by the minute for a dial up internet connection!  

C.S. Lewis wrote, "We read to know that we are not alone."  While reading is one piece of literacy, the key to his observation is the relational element of reading another's writing and responding to it in an interpersonal or intrapersonal way.  As the authors of Chapter 1 state, "Hence, there is no reading or writing in any meaningful sense of each term outside social practices" (p. 2).  We don't create an experience which is fundamentally social in isolation.  Instead, we create shared experience-or an experience which we hope will be shared.  While I am still attempting to understand Gee's definitions of discourses, which I am finding a little convoluted, it seems to me that the essential understanding of literacy is to be able to use multiple levels of many different types of literacy and to identify "literacies as social practices is necessarily to see them as involving socially recognized ways of doing things" (p.4).  This implies more than reading, comprehending, and writing--the traditional definitions of literacy.  It  implies an application which includes interacting and understanding relational activities. 

As a secondary piece of research this week, I explored a chapter authored by Alan Davis and Daniel Weinshenker, “Digital Storytelling and Authoring Identiy.”  One of the themes of this particular chapter, in fact the stated purpose is to explore “how the processes of authoring these stories and their distribution to audiences become a resource in the authoring of identity and changing the relationship of author and audience” (p. 1).  The interesting elements of the Davis & Weinshenker explore are specifically around memory, creating identity and understanding ourselves through our own narratives and through the understanding of others.  Essentially, we solidify our identities when we tell our stories.  In my current research this extends not only to identify formation, but identity re-formation as when we work with students to understand themselves in different ways, we may be able to help them re-frame their stories  in more positives ways.  For example a student who has created a negative identify and who believes that he is a “loser” may be able to reframe that narrative and create an identity which allows him to understand that the situation of his earlier experiences make him a ‘survivor’ or even a “thriver” with the re-telling of the story. 

The work this week has allowed me to dig a little more deeply into ideas of identity, belonging, community and how digital narratives can contribute to those far beyond more simplistic ideas of literacy.  For example, how literate are we if we can read, comprehend and express ourselves but have no ability to relate to what we read, comprehend or write to the discourse around us?  Again, I am still grappling with this idea of discourse and working my way through a better understanding of that—but it seems that this work is so highly relationship oriented and situated in a social context that literacy simply must be understood in an expanded dimension given the multiplicity of ways it is expressed across many mediums. 


Davis, A., & Weinshenker, D. (n.d.). Digital Storytelling and Authoring Identity. Constructing the Self in a Digital World, 47-74. doi:10.1017/cbo9781139027656.005
Lankshear, C. (2007). Sampling the "new" in New Literacies. In M. Knoebel (Ed.), A New Literacies Sampler (pp. 1-24). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Week One: Daily Create 1616 (Or Messing with Haiku DoubleSpeak!)

This was pretty entertaining and a lot harder than it looks at first. I liked the idea of playing with a poem form that required a certain number of syllables like haiku and then I found this particular haiku which pokes a little fun at the form itself. Finally, I recorded it using my sound recorder in Windows 8. Believe it or not, it took a few tries before I got it to where I liked it.

As far as the technical specs go, I used the haiku image and put in in a single PowerPoint slide.  Then I used a PowerPoint add-in called Office Mix which allows you to actually record and present your slides to create the audio recording I ended up using.  I also tried importing the Windows 8 sound recording as well--but this one just had a better sound quality.  Voila'  Double Speak!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Week 1 Reading Reflection: New Literacies

I read this chapter through a different lens than many of my colleagues in ILT5340 I think. For the past six months I have marinated in a stew of how digital storytelling fundamentally has changed the way we are exploring relationships one to another and how they can contribute deeply to our ability to understand and use empathy to create powerful change in human behavior.  This has tied together a number of different disciplines including psychology, sociology, education, literacy and story telling. It has been a wild and crazy ride to understand how this all fits together.

Brene Brown comes close to explaining it in this short video:

 So as I read this week's required reading, it really occurred to me that new literacy really is not so much different from old literacy in that it is about connecting. Humankind has been sharing stories since they congregated in caves and told tales of the day's hunt while illustrating these events on the walls of caves. I can only imagine the scene--but I am certain it created community and had a purpose.  It built relationships and must to some extent have established a type of pecking order among those in attendance.  The digitization of the process may not have changed much of that at all other than to allow us to create something digitally which may fill a fundamental need to situate ourselves within a larger community.

This leaves me wondering about the idea of a new literacy versus thinking about it as not so much a new literacy but a new modality for an ancient literacy.  This is yet another area for me to explore as we move forward in the coming weeks.

Week 1 Critique: I just hugged the man who murdered my son

This short narrative spoke to me in so many ways.  I am working on a dissertation topic which involves exploring emotional intelligence and how telling and sharing narratives can create empathy. As I listened to this particular dual narrative, I am struck by the degree of empathy that is shared by the story tellers.  It is a dual narrative because we hear it from the point of view of the murderer and the mother, the perpetrator and the victim, the forgiven and the forgiver.  It is powerful material.

And yet, it is so brief.  In the short couple of minutes, this story conveys so much shared history--and tells of both the worst of humanity and the best. This is where I think that digital storytelling can be so very powerful and really why I have decided to research it on a deeper level for my dissertation.

So as I look at the rubric this story is told simply.  I believe to tell it in any other way might cause it to lose some impact.  The story itself is simple--profound and powerful.

I go back to my theme for the summer.  And I consider how this story embodies the ideas of change, transitions and risk taking and I believe that this story embodies that theme for both of the tellers.  I cannot imagine losing my son to a murder.  Even as I listen to this mother, I cannot imagine forgiving his murderer much less living next door to him.  That is a risk I can only wonder at.

Equally so, how does a murderer forgive himself and cleanse himself from the shame of taking a human life?  I don't know how that happens either.  Yet, to listen to this story, I realize that the change, transition and risk-taking that I have experienced pales in the comparison of the depth of these two stories woven together into one which tells the bigger story of empathy and forgiveness in the worst of human circumstances.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Transitions, Change and Risk-Taking (aka Week One Daily Create!)

So, I start a new journey --or continue a journey that I started a few years ago.  In any case, this seems like a perfect opportunity to blog for a few weeks on the topic of Transitions, Change and Risk-Taking.  This is my theme this summer.  I am in the midst of so many of life's transitions.  I have a child who just became a parent for the first time--which means I am privileged to be a grandmother and learning how to do that. I am also transitioning from a parent to a grandparent which is a whole new journey which means not always needing to worry but also to sit back and simply take in the joy of knowing that my own son is becoming a great dad in his own right.
I have another child who will be married in September.  She and her fiance' just put an offer in on a house.  Life is strange when you watch your children grow up and it seems like yesterday when you were reminding them to hold onto your hand when you were in the parking lot. Where has life gone and when did those days turn into years?
And, in the midst of all of this, I am writing my dissertation.  So, I arrived to the whole doctoral program a little later than many.  However, I arrived with drive and curiosity and the thrill of the risk taking.  I'm excited!  I am excited about my research topic.  I am excited to explore something new for me.  I am excited to see where this will all take me.
Then there is the undeniable wonder of the stability of being married for nearly 31 years to a most amazing person. And yet, every day of that has been a transition of sorts as we move through the ambiguity of a marriage relationship together. It's great to have a place of stability in the midst of a world which shifts beneath our feet nearly every day.
Life is so good that it was not hard to find something for my daily create during week 1.

I have to figure out how to embed videos--So I will keep working on that.  This week, I decided to play with WeVideo which is a tool some of my colleagues have been using but which I never really had the time to explore.  I actually found it pretty intuitive for this Daily Create.  Basically, my daily create was to explore three things that made me happy. Finding those photographs was easy and even putting the short baby video was fairly simple.  I want to keep on exploring editing features.  While I managed to get captions included, I did not manage to get a voice over on the WeMovie track.
WeVideo really is a step by step process:
  1. Choose a topic.
  2. Upload images or video which is a drag and drop process.  It doesn't get any easier than that.
  3. Drag and drop them into the order that seems logical.
  4. Add music.  I chose from the royalty free music embedded in the WeVideo Editor
  5. Choose a theme from the options in WeVideo.  This helps create the snazzy opening and the transitions between images.
It is super simple and pretty entertaining!
Stay tuned.  This is a summer of new things, transitions, change and risk-taking and I'll be using this space to explore that.  Onward and Upward!