Showcase projects and the PSAs

For 527 (Multimedia Writing and/or Writing Digital Media), the final project of the term asked students to revise one of their earlier projects. This is what we’re sharing here in these “showcase” projects. I’ll get to that in a second. But I also wanted to share here the results of the Public Service Announcement project. There were two groups; one made a PSA about the University Writing Center:

And the other made a PSA about the Written Communications major:

Okay, after the break, links to everyone’s showcase share:

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Alumni/Student Interview Project

I just got done reviewing/commenting on everyone’s Interview Project videos and I for one think that they turned out pretty good. In so many ways, this project is sort of a “microcosm” of the whole course for me because it required both teamwork and independent work.  It was a “writerly” experience that was similar yet obviously different from what this would have been like if you were doing a print article interview. And it was also a project where folks had to wrestle with and conquer some of the technical things to pull this off– video editing, for example– and I’m happy to report that everyone was successful!

It’s also a project that for me exemplifies some things I keep learning about how to do these kinds of projects/how to teach this class, along with some of the dilemmas that I don’t think are going to change anytime soon. For example, I wish we had spent some time up front standardizing things like video size (like saying everyone shoot for video that’s at 720p, for example) and maybe even some around sound things. And the dilemma remains around Wevideo. On the one hand, I think we can all agree it kind of sucks– I’ll be ending my subscription to it at the end of this semester. On the other hand, we need to have some kind of common platform for working with video to make this work. I can’t very well require all students to have a newish Apple laptop with iMovie installed– though that would be ideal.

Anyway, even with these limitations and shortfalls, this is great work. Check it out below:

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Our finals “showcase”

I talked with Benninghoff a bit about this, and here’s how (I think) the final experience for our class is going to work:

  • We’ll gather at the usual place (Pray-Harrold 313) at the usual time (6:30) next Wednesday (April 23). We’ll set up informally the materials we want to showcase for everyone– in our case, both your revisions of one of the first three projects– on the computers in the lab. I’ll also set up some stations with the PSAs and the Interview videos, too.
  • Benninghoff’s students will do something similar.
  • All of us– the students just in 524, the students just in 527, and the few in both– will have an opportunity to mingle, to chat, to look at each others’ projects, etc.  These aren’t going to be formal presentations but rather more of a “show and tell” and something more in the spirit of the “Celebration of Student Writing.”
  • I don’t know exactly how long this is going to take, but I’d guess we’ll be done no later than 8 pm. When we’re done, we’re officially done and we can unofficially close the semester at the ABC Microbrewery (aka “The Corner Brewery”) in Ypsilanti.  I assume that most of you have been there before, but basically, The Corner is an informal and family-friendly microbrewery tasting room.  It’s a good space for things like this because there are big tables and lots of space, they have some okay “pub food,” and a variety of soft drinks. They also of course have their beer, some ciders, and some wines (no liquor though).  As I said in class the other night, I can’t very well make people go to a bar for the final, so if we finish up our showcase and you want to go on with your life, that’s fine. But it is a nice place and a fun way to finish out what has been a fun class. (God forbid we have fun in a graduate class, heh?)

Questions? Thoughts?

Sharing video for the interviews

It sounds like everyone will be done recording interviews by the end of today, which is good– that will give us class time on Wednesday to look through what folks did, to figure out the best way to share them, etc.

It looks like the limitation with Wevideo is that you can share a project with up to 5 people for the basic accounts that we have, a number which works fine with the small groups we worked in but not so much if we want to share with a slightly larger group. So here’s what I’m suggesting:

On the class site on emuonline, I’ve sent up a unit called ‘Video Sharing Library” and under each one of those units, I’ve set up four class items for each group. Login to the site and find your names/group, and then in the discussion area called “Post it here,” upload your video as an attachment to the discussion.

My experience with emuonline is there is no limit on the size of these attachments– or maybe a better way of putting it is I haven’t run into any size limits, and the last time I taught this class a few years ago, folks were able to upload/attach files that were well over 100MB.  Anyway, give that a try, and if it doesn’t work exactly right, we’ll make it work during classtime on Wednesday. Seem like a plan?

Wrapping up Halbritter

Ugh, this is a tough week for to me to keep up with for some reason! Belatedly, this is where we’ll talk about the last chapter in Bump Halbritter’s Mics, Cameras, Symbolic Action. This is a chapter that is perhaps a little less applicable than ideal to our goals– once again, another reading really about teaching and not about what it means for “professional writers” to make multimedia!”

When Halbritter says on page 200 (and really, throughout the chapter) “As long as our learning goals are met, our assignments are working. Consequently, the products of our students’ efforts do not need to be scrutinized under the rubric of audience expectations for professional or publishable moviemaking,” I think he’s putting his finger on the difference for me between this class as a “learning experience” versus one that is “professionalizing.” It’s never one or the other, of course, especially at the advanced level: that is, while we’re trying to make projects that are as “real” and as actually useful as possible, our main goal is to learn and practice the process of making these videos. Still, it seems to me that there is some issue of “product” here too. In a more advanced class (though maybe this is true in less advanced classes as well), our “learning goals” aren’t met if we don’t make “decent” products.

Anyway, I appreciate and understand the goal of a chapter like this since we’re not really Halbritter’s ideal audience of folks looking at multimedia/new media from the point of view of teaching it. And what he’s saying here makes sense. I guess that’s been the case overall with Halbritter’s book: it doesn’t exactly fit our purposes and (for me at least) it doesn’t always “work” for a class for students focused not on teaching but on the professional practice of writing, but it’s as close of a book out there as far as I know. Personally, I’ve learned a lot about the “production issues” from what he’s discussing here, so that has definitely been a plus for me.

Any other last and overall thoughts?

Discussing DeVoss, Cushman, and Grabill, “Infrastructure and Composing”

Here’s where we’ll talk about DeVoss, Cushman, Grabill “Infrastructure and Composing: The When of New-Media Writing.”  Like the Hull and Nelson, this is one of those pieces I decided to put at the end of the class but it might have worked at the beginning as well. And also like Hull and Nelson, this is more about teaching of writing that the practice of professional writing, but I think the overlap is there.

In the nutshell, what DeVoss and Cushman and Grabill are talking about here is the story of folks in English departments working with technology, and from my own experiences, I’d describe it as a “sliding scale” based on whatever the “next” technology is. When I started teaching writing way WAY back when, in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I used to require students to use some kind of word processing software for at least one of their essays. This freaked people out. When I first had students doing web pages in the mid 1990s, getting server space to host those projects on the web was not all that easy to do. And here we are now with audio/video projects.  Who knows what will come next.

I think the description of “infrastructure” on page 20 and 21 is particularly useful– it might be useful to take this into the professional writing space to explain to employers and would-be clients what’s really involved in “throwing together a help video” or some such thing– and I also think the discussion on the bottom of page 22 about “when” something is a tool makes a lot of sense. After all, most of us are using our phones as the camera and microphone for our recordings, and that seems to shift the definition of infrastructure.

Discussing Hull and Nelson, “Locating the Semiotic Power of Multimodality.”

Here’s where we’ll talk about Hull and Nelson, “Locating the Semiotic Power of Multimodality.” Sorry I’m a little late in getting the talking going here– I’m just behind on stuff, which is pretty typical for me for this time of the year/semester. Three thoughts to get the discussion going:

  • This is another example of how it is hard to find readings appropriate for this course that don’t cross that line into pedagogy, though the basic points of how multimodality works to make meaning differently is of course relevant.
  • I think Hull and Nelson kind of “tie themselves in knots” in the middle part with their theorizing, frankly. I mean the section that begins on the bottom of page 234 and goes until the top of 238. I’ll have to reread that.
  • Speaking of rereading: you might have tried to follow the link they provide to the Oakland D.U.S.T.Y. project only to discover nothing there– or a work in progress at least. But happily through the web archive (aka “the wayback machine”), I was able to find a link to the original site here, and from there, I found the video they’re analyzing, “Life-N-Rhyme:”

I’d strongly recommend watching the video first and then finishing the conclusion of the article– it’ll probably help it make a little more sense.