Monthly Archives: October 2013

Flipped Classrooms

For the TEDEd page, click here.

I was already familiar with Lars Brownworth’s podcast series, “12 Byzantine Emperors,” so this one really appealed to me. Although reading or listening to words describing is a fairly good learning method for me, the podcasts never could give me a definite idea of what the walls and strategic position of Constantinople were like. This video did that through the visuals. Although they were simple, just colors and basic shapes, the diagrams of the walls and of the defense strategy made the point very well. Their simplicity prevented the visuals from distracting from the words as well. The visuals supported the verbal very well–one of the problems I’ve always had with a podcast, even an interesting one, is concentrating on the words when there are so many other non-related visuals around to distract. Because this video engages two senses (sight and sound), I found it much easier to concentrate on the information presented.

One of the other advantages this video demonstrates that I think would apply to others as well is length. I’m not ADD, but I do have a limited attention span. Even an hour of lecture is tough, especially since I’m a “captive” audience. Shorter videos, which are more “interesting” anyway than sheer verbal, are usually over before my attention span runs out. Longer videos, since I can watch them on my own time, allow me to stop the video and come back later if I can’t concentrate. Since I’m not a “captive” audience, I’m a little more willing of an audience–I can wait to watch the video when I’m interested or wide awake, instead of being forced to attempt concentration when I’m out of it.

One problem I might encounter though–short videos can’t always convey enough information or examples to really “make the point.” Since I already had some background in medieval Constantinople (from the podcasts), I had a context in which to place this video. For something like history or literature, I’m not sure if a short audio-visual lecture can convey all the needed information effectively; but if you record a longer video, you get kind of the same problems you have with classroom lectures.

Any thoughts on how you might employ this for teaching traditionally heavy-reading material (like history or lit) without using just sound-bytes? Or resorting to a long lecture-video?

Categories: Answers to 635 Prompts | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Instruction Objectives Draft

My overall goal is to enable undergraduate student researchers to use WorldCat as a research tool.

My objectives are:

  1. Given a specific book, students can locate the subject headings and locate the nearest available copy (digital or physical).
  2. Having located a subject heading in objective 1, students can use the subject heading to locate at least 5 more resources with that subject heading with at least 1 book and at least 1 journal article.

I’m thinking this would be a tutorial video, followed by a class session working through the process, with an independent worksheet to apply. What do you think?

Categories: Answers to 635 Prompts | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Convergence & “Remix” Culture

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 10.41.05 AM

When I typed in “convergence culture,” the guy that kept coming up as the expert was Henry Jenkins, author of the “Confessions of an Aca-Fan” blog above. After reading up on what “convergence culture” is, I thought to myself, “why haven’t I encountered this term before?” I had encountered the idea of analyzing non-traditional texts (such as YouTube videos and other entertainment “texts”) before, but no one had ever named it for me. Now I know.

Jenkins description in his “About” of the “Aca-Fan” as “a hybrid creature which is part fan and part academic” struck a cord. In my senior thesis class as an English major, all four of us could have called ourselves “Aca-Fans.” I wrote on my favorite series, history-mystery “popular” fiction series Brother Cadfael Chronicles by Ellis Peters. Casey wrote on The Dark Knight and the character of the Joker. Although Liz and Hannah took slightly more traditional routes (Ron Rash’s “literary” novel Serena, and Alice in Wonderland), they still chose those works in part because they enjoyed them. Discovering a term for us is vindicating of our work.

Switching gears a bit…

The above video, although not a “remix” in and of itself, relates because of the beginning. Heather Dale, the artist, behind the song “Mordred’s Lullaby,” released an mp3 album called “Perpetual Gift” last year (2012), called so because Heather gave full permission for downloaders to give the music away freely. The mp3’s were live versions of both previously released and new songs. “Mordred’s Lullaby” receives my special attention here because in the “Perpetual Gift” recording, Heather discusses the song’s popularity as the background music for “fan videos” of all sorts, saying, “I’m really thrilled that my art is inspiring their art.” Rather than clinging to her rights to the music, Heather Dale actually encourages her fans to incorporate her work into theirs, and an album like “Perpetual Gift,” which is given freely to be used freely, is a clear manifestation of that encouragement.

The below video is actually a mashup of “Mordred’s Lullaby” with the BBC series Merlin. This combination is fairly common on YouTube, but this particular one is a little unusual. The television series does not tell the same story as the song (in the song, Morgana is Mordred’s mother; in Merlin she is not), but most mashups use the characters as themselves (Arthur as Arthur, Morgana as Morgana, etc.). This one employs other characters as older versions of the main characters (for instance, Merlin‘s “Uther” is the song’s older Arthur), prompting the video creator to explain the “casting” in the About section beneath the video. As someone familiar with both Merlin and “Mordred’s Lullaby,” I needed that explanation in order for the mashup to align well enough for me to “follow” the combined story. Viewer familiarity with the sources prior to watching the video could actually have been a hindrance to understanding the mashup, one of the potential disadvantages of mashups (at least compared to a wholly “original” work).

Personally, I enjoy mashups (as long as I “get” what’s going on), so I approve of artists “approving” the use of their work in them. Artist approval (which Creative Commons licenses facilitate) really can be very much an inspiration.

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LIS 635 & Flickr

a screenshot of my LIS 635 set on Flickr

a hyperlinked screenshot of my LIS 635 set on Flickr–click to view the set in question

I’ve been using a small digital camera for a while now. My first digital camera was a Nikon Coolpix L6, and it’s still going strong (I’ve been using it for close to seven years). I’ve also played around with friends’ digital cameras and some larger, more expensive “digitals” with such features as interchangeable lenses. Digital photography offers a lot of freedoms. I can take a lot of pictures (and delete those that I don’t like); zoom in and out; alter flash; and change various other settings. Once I’ve uploaded the pictures to my computer, iPhoto allows me to enhance color, crop, and otherwise fine-tune the picture.

Then, of course, digital cameras offer an expanded range of sharing methods. I don’t need anything but my own computer and the Internet to share when using a digital. This freedom poses a set of challenges that never really came up with the disposables. Not only can I share photos whenever I want with whomever I want, so can everybody else. My friends can post pictures of me, and if I don’t like the picture, all I can do is “untag” myself or ask them to take it down. Among friends that might not be a big deal, but when the sharer and the subject don’t know each other, the subject of the photo has very little recourse in protecting their privacy. To use myself as an example: I don’t like my photo being put online. Today, a student popped into the third floor lounge and took a photo “for a photo-scavenger hunt,” explaining only after taking the picture (and never actually asking if the subjects minded). In this particular instance, I was not in the photo, due to my location in the lounge, but if I had been, what would my options be? I could ask him to delete, but I have no way of enforcing that, nor of controlling the dissemination of the photo if he didn’t delete.

Digital photography and photo-sharing online, whether it’s through Flickr or any other social media certainly has its uses, but the freedom they offer comes with a greater possibility of “doing harm” than more restricted methods of photography and sharing. Since I dislike my photo being posted myself, I avoid taking shots in which the subjects are recognizable without asking permission, and I rarely post photos with people in them. In consequence, the above Flickr set contains only inanimates. Using digital photography to incorporate people into a blog or video can be both useful and and fun, but it comes with a responsibility to respect the rights of the people around us.

Categories: Answers to 635 Prompts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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