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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?

Brainstorming Interview Questions

Interview Schedule Update:

I was trying to write this in an email and then stuff crashed (!), so let me try it again here…. This is what I have so far in terms of a schedule for these alumni interviews:

  • Lisa and Adam are going to interview Elaine at U of M, and hopefully some other recent EMU grads who have gone on to PhD programs and such.
  • Seth and Molly are going to interview Kim at HFCC; I think the schedule for this one is all sorted out, right?
  • I’m putting down Tracey and Danielle down for Mary and Jonathan and Jennifer down for Bryan mostly for scheduling reasons– your schedules match up in ways that will probably make this work. I just did the “email intros,” so you guys take from there to arrange the interviews themselves.
  • I have some equipment I can loan and for folks who want to take a shot at working the “fancy” camera and such, let me know. The only concern I have is with the limitations of wevideo, anything beyond using iPhones with some kind of tripod device might be “overkill.”  But like I said, get in touch with me if you need help and/or stuff.


What’s your name? When did you graduate? Undergrad or grad or both? What’s your occupation? (Establishing shot sort of interview question)

What led you to chose EMU’s program over other schools and other majors?

How did the program prepare you for your career/position/occupation?

How did the program change your perception of the kinds of career you’d want to pursue? How did it change your perception about being a writer? 

Here’s a link to the Google doc on the schedule for these interviews!

While I’m gone: PSAs and interviews

As you all know, I’ll be pretty absent the second part of the week this week because of the CCCCs in Indianapolis– we’ll all meet again face to face next week, and when we do, I’m hoping that each group has done a PSA analysis, a storyboard, and a script.  Hopefully, the collaboration process has already begun– and do let me know if you need any help in facilitating that collaboration or if you have any questions I can answer. I do have two basic (very basic!) suggestions for now though:

  • Collaborative Google Docs is clearly the way to go here. You can all be working on one Google document at the same time, which means that you don’t have to be in the same place at the same time to work on these documents– the analysis, the script, and even the storyboard– you can use the drawing option, for example. I’m going to assume that you are all aware of how to use this.
  • Google Hangouts. This is a little more tricky, but I’m guessing many of you have done this before too: basically, it allows you to do a multi-person live “video conference” with Google. I’ve use this several times for “hangouts” or chats or whatever you want to call them with three or four people with no problem and I think it supports up to eight pretty easily. So as long as you and your group members can agree on a time, you can “meet” electronically to talk out some of the details. Even better: Google Hangouts works quite well with Google Docs, so it’s a nice combination of collaboration with print tools and looking at each other tools.

Also in the back of your mind, keep thinking about alumni/recent graduate/about to graduate interviews. I think I might have a couple of potential people lined up, but if you all can get folks, that might be better. We’ll talk about the questions we need to ask and some more of the logistics of this next Wednesday, but perhaps we can start talking about/thinking about the questions we’d want to ask all the folks we interview?

Discussing Sheppard, “The Rhetorical Work of Multimedia Production Practices: It’s More Than Just Technical Skill”

This is where we’ll talk about Jennifer Sheppard’s, “The Rhetorical Work of Multimedia Production Practices: It’s More Than Just Technical Skill.” It’s another example of one of those readings where it isn’t quite on-point with what we’re doing in class this term, but it’s as close as I can come to finding readings (appropriate for a graduate level course, that is) where there is serious engagement with the ways in which working with “the tools” and the rhetorical choices we make as writers are very much connected. You’ve got to have some skills both as a rhetorician and as a technologist.

Three quick thoughts for now:

  • The tension between Sheppard and her client scientists about what to include or not include (they didn’t want her to “dumb down” things too much, etc.) happens in these kinds of projects in real settings A LOT.  Tracey posted this as a comment a while back, but this episode of The Oatmeal, “How a Web Design Goes Straight to Hell” seems relevant here.  A lot of what Sheppard is describing is sort of a less intense/softer version of this comic.
  • The example she talks about on page 126 (and maybe elsewhere) of developing a web site that is too technology intense to be viewed by the target audience of kids at a middle school rings too true for me. I’ve seen that in classes like “Writing for the World Wide Web” plenty of times in the past, and it seems to me that it is possible in your productions too: shooting video that is beyond the capabilities of wevideo, for example.
  • This reading (and some of the other things we have been talking about lately) makes me wonder if I shouldn’t include an assignment in this class the next time I teach it that is more about the “multimedia presentation” on a web site rather than just limiting it to audio and video. Don’t worry– I’m not going to change any assignments on you right now, that’s me thinking out loud and wondering about next time.