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.

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