Amy & Savannah’s Learni.st Board & Tutorial

Screen shot 2013-09-26 at 5.14.41 PMSavannah & I chose Learni.st as our curation tool. Although we were happy with our final product, we experienced quite a few glitches that made the process rather frustrating. Besides trouble logging in and the site going down for maintenance,  Learni.st refused to delete postson several occasions. This made editing the list a bit hit or miss. The final product does look nice. Since we wanted to create a list with a definite “beginning to end” order, we really appreciated being able to order the “Learnings” as we saw fit (as opposed to Pinterest, which leaves them in the order of pinning). Learning to use Learni.st was also easier than expected. The construction of the site makes what to click on to achieve different results fairly clear, especially since there are few “icons” to click (just “edit” and changing the list order). I’ve linked our Learni.st curation board on the right via the screenshot (since Learni.st doesn’t appear to have an embed feature, which makes sharing it on a blog more complicated).

Here’s our Learnist Tutorial, created via Jing and shared via Screencast. We’re quite proud of it. We’re also quite proud of the fact that after much trial and error we persuaded it to work as a hyperlink. Although we were hoping to embed. But that didn’t work, so we’re just going with the hyperlink for now. If anyone else has more success and manages to embed their video as a video (instead of as a link), we would love to know.

For the most part, Jing and Screencast were fairly easy to learn and use. After two attempts, we felt fairly comfortable with using Jing, and our subsequent “drafts” of the final recording focused on getting our wording and timing right. When we did have trouble (namely in sharing the tutorial), we found help easily enough on the Screencast website.

On the whole, I would use all of these tools again, especially Jing and Screencast. Learni.st needs some improvement, but the site and list is functional and offers a little more freedom than Pinterest. Jing and Screencast work well together (they should, seeing as they’re both by TechSmith and appear to be intended to work together). I look forward to learning more about using Jing and sharing the videos.

Presentation Correction (10/2/13):

I misspoke during our presentation– we used the Apple “Grab” command (command + shift +4) with a hyperlink to pseudo-embed our Learni.st curation, not our Learni.st tutorial. Our Leani.st tutorial is just hyperlinked. For an example of of the Apple “Grab” used on the Learni.st tutorial, see Gabriel’s blog (10/1/13).

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Effective Performance- Anjelah Johnson’s “Family Oriented”

Anjelah Johnson’s performance always amuses me. Her facial expressions and tone of voice are part of it. “Freeze” the video every once and a while, and you can really see just how funny her expressions are. Her facial expressions are exaggerated, but they fit the situation. In contrast, her tone is so matter-of-fact, and for some reason, straight-faced humor always seems to have its special brand of “funny.” She uses pauses and facial expressions to indicate when her audience should laugh as well. She uses her accent and tone effectively to accentuate the funny moments, as when she emphasizes her accent to emphasize the dialogue in a situation.

She also pokes fun at recognizable situations for her audience. Most Americans are probably familiar with the “broken window” scene, or have wanted to spank someone else’s misbehaving kid. Since her audience is familiar with these situations, they can identify with the humor in the situation. Despite the accents, the family interactions she portrays are relatable.

This particular segment of a performance especially relies on her ability to deal comically with cultural stereotypes. Since she’s part of the culture she’s poking fun at, she’s “allowed” to poke fun- it’s the “I can tease my brother, but you can’t” idea. By including them in her comic performance, Anjelah Johnson “permits” her audience to laugh at the stereotypes, while simultaneously breaking down the stereotypes through exaggeration and identification. She exaggerates the stereotypes, making them both amusing and a bit ridiculous (and therefore less believable as everyday ideas). Using familiar situations also identifies the culture being stereotyped with her audience’s culture. As mentioned above, her audience can relate to the family interactions. Johnson can deal comically with the stereotypes because of her personal situation- since she’s Mexican herself, she can avoid the immediate backlash reaction of “she just raised a stereotype!” by reminding her audience that she has personal experience with both the stereotyped culture and the stereotypes. She blends all of these elements- “performance” aspects, choice of topics, and personal traits- to create an amusing, but potentially thought-provoking performance.

Categories: Answers to 635 Prompts, Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Mini-Curations

Screen shot 2013-09-15 at 4.14.54 PM
My Padlet mini-curation is rather small, mainly because I chose a narrow category in which to insert the tech terms we came up with. I spent the previous two semesters on a senior thesis, so these tools are still fresh on my mind. I chose Learni.st initially because I thought I might include a variety of formats besides just screenshots. YouTube videos in particular seemed a likely possibility. I like Learni.st as a teaching tool because it has that variety. It was also fairly easy to navigate and use. One disadvantage for a larger collection might be the apparent inability to create sub-categories in a board. Of course, it’s possible that I just haven’t found that feature, but overall, the features of the board seem limited, even though I could post a variety. Learni.st’s main advantage was the ease of navigating my own board and adding to it.

Screen shot 2013-09-15 at 4.15.19 PM

I created my second mini-curation on Pinterest. This Tolkien-Inspired board had a much broader category, so I found it easier to add interesting pins. Pinterest has many of the same advantages and disadvantages as Learni.st, although I find Pinterest easier to navigate since I’ve been using it for a month longer than Learni.st. One of the main differences between the two seems to be the connotation. I think of Pinterest as a personal or social curation tool, while Learni.st strikes me as more “professional.” If I hadn’t played with the two myself trying to get similar results, I would probably take Learni.st more seriously because it looks and sounds less outright “social.” Having compared them though, I might actually be more inclined to use Pinterest as a learning tool because it’s more social. I had never heard of Learni.st before this class. Pinterest, however, is quite popular, so it might reach a broader audience, so if “professional” isn’t a primary need, Pinterest would probably be a better option.

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Infographic for the Average School Library in 2012

An original creation, based on the 2012 ALA School Libraries Count!: National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs

In the above creation, I have condensed a portion of a graph from the ALA School Libraries Count!: National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs into an infographic. I chose easel.ly as my infographic construction site primarily because easel.ly offered more options for creativity than infogr.am. I found the above current data rather interesting, particularly the average copyright date for school library collection. Consequently, I made the copyright data stand out. The original graph in the ALA report was longitudinal, covering 2008-2012. For this infographic, I was only interested in one year, which eliminated the need for a graph. However, I still wanted to emphasize the differences in number between types of material, which I could accomplish by accompanying the data with shapes.

To make the infographic more interesting, I added images of the types in question. Not wanting to deal with copyright issues, I chose to create my own (minimal) graphics using the shapes available from easel.ly. Since I prefer simple infographics anyway, the minimal approach works for me. Moreover, as my professor pointed out, if I ever need to create an infographic for my own school library, creating my own graphic (instead of using a copyrighted one) makes the process easier on me. I confess, I chose the colors primarily because I liked them, although with the textual information I did choose a darker shade on the grey-scale to add emphasis. The color in the book graphic also makes the books stand out from the overall color-scheme. Unfortunately, the periodical and audio data-shapes were too small for an accompanying graphic to do anything but overwhelm the data (or be too small to serve any purpose).

So here’s my first attempt at an infographic. Feedback would be much appreciated.

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

Infographics- Gandalf Problem Solving

from the LOTRProject blog, January 9, 2013

from the LOTRProject blog, January 9, 2013

I probably find the Gandalf Problem Solving infographic so compelling because I’m mildly obsessed with The Lord of the Rings. Since I’m highly familiar with the plots and characters of the movies and books for both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I can fill in the details of each step in the decision-making process. As an English major, I can also trace out the plots of both story arcs through this chart.  Since Gandalf is one of the driving forces of both story arcs (he is, after all, the catalyst for the involvement of the hobbits), the chart summarizes both arcs fairly accurately. If I were explaining the plot to a friend, this could actually be a useful tool.

The chart also captures Gandalf’s character. It captures both his “magical” or mythological aspects (“Does magic work?”, “Call the eagles!”, and “Resurrect”) and his more practical side (“Can someone else deal with it?” and “Are swords of use here?”). Even the syntax of the phrasings (“Proceed to find a suitable Hobbit!” or “Are swords of use here?”) recalls the epic nature of the stories themselves. “Good!” is also one of the typical Gandalf responses.

The presentation of the information is very simple, primarily black and white, with words only. The simplicity of the infographic works very well for someone highly familiar with the Gandalf character (even if only from The Lord of the Rings and not The Hobbit). A viewer who already has experience with Gandalf  “personalizes” their own journey through the decision-making by recollecting the various instances that back up the steps. Since most of the steps have multiple applications, the possible combinations of mental pictures or movie clips vary.

However, the infographic would be much less helpful for someone unfamiliar with the Gandalf character. Terms like “Middle-Earth” and “Hobbit” would lack the context necessary to understand the decision-making process. Although the viewer may still recognize that the infographic deals with fantasy, the medium (literature, film, game, etc.) and even which story the character derives from is much less obvious. Pictures from the movies or from artwork based on the books could clarify some of the potential confusion, but the infographic has none of that. In consequence, unless the viewer has the necessary background knowledge, the infographic is neither particularly informative nor particularly funny.

Categories: Answers to 635 Prompts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The AASL School Libraries Count! “National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs”

Reports like the AASL’s School Libraries Count! would be a great deal easier to understand if I reading numbers came more naturally to me. The most helpful parts were the written explanations, although I’m not entirely sure how a decrease of over $1000 in expenditures is merely “a slight down tick but not significant” (12). Statistics never were my strong suit.

I was somewhat surprised by how little downward change there was overall. Although $1000 seems like a lot of money to me, most of the categories really did seem fairly stable over the five years included. Most of the change I did notice was positive, such as an increase in being able to access the library services from non-library computers. I expected more decreases, though perhaps funding cuts were not widely applicable enough to affect the 2012 data. Of course, my expectations are based primarily on my experiences and knowledge of my home region, the South. I would be interested to see a comparison of the regions to one another, as well as a state-by-state comparison.

One of the most eye-catching sections of the report was what materials are actually in the library, the number of books and computers in particular. The average copyright on health and medical books go a flinch from me. 1996 seems rather out-of-date for such books, considering how quickly the “knowledge” in this field seems to change (8). Other areas would also be of interest. In the two public elementary schools I am familiar with, for instance, the age of the entire collection varies. One collection, while it contained some older books, was clearly undergoing constant updates. The other seemed rather aged. Both of these schools are Title I, although the non-financial demographics are very different. I would be curious to see a collection comparison­. The number of books in different areas and their copyright averages would be a place to start.

Overall, however, this report did not strike me as particularly helpful to school media specialists unless they were going to use it to back up a request for more funding (ex. if a school is far behind other schools in the region in the number of computers). Administrators and lawmakers might find it helpful in examining how their school/region compares to others (especially by comparing the individual reports to the full report). The apparent stability (or growth) in school libraries is encouraging. Otherwise, the report seems more “interesting” than “useful.”

Perhaps someone else might see more uses for this report?

American Library Association. School Libraries Count!: National Longitudinal Survey of School Library Programs. Rep. American Library Association, 2012. Web. 31 Aug. 2013.

Categories: Answers to 635 Prompts | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Transliteracy and Storytelling

Transliteracy: “the ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media…” (Thomas et al.)

The art of storytelling fascinates me. The wordcraft of the writer, the stagecraft of playwrights, the complexities of film, the deftness of a visual artist, the memory and vocal modulation of oral storytellers.

But there’s a “new” kind of storytelling occurring on the web, besides community efforts at fiction writing. There is the re-telling of old stories.

Enter The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This multimodal retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice employed YouTube, Twitter, and Tumblr, giving voice to multiple characters (including, but not excluded to, Lizzie herself, Charlotte, and Lydia). The spin-off, Sanditon went even further, encouraging viewers of the YouTube videos to role-play via Twitter and their own YouTube videos, filling out the fictional town of Sanditon with “real” citizens. As testament to its brilliance, LBD won a 2013 Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media. LBD not only translated Pride and Prejudice into the modern world, it did so through Internet-based transliteracy.

I wonder how many LBD viewers have never read P&P. There were certainly such viewers present. So what makes LBD so much more entertaining than its progenitor that even non-readers will follow it? Maybe that transliterate storytelling makes for better stories?

Or maybe “we” just expect transliterate storytelling. The Internet generation (those of us who have been raised with technology like television, computers and video games readily available) is used to transliterate entertainment. Movies give us both visual and aural stimulation. Video games give us both of those, plus interaction. LBD and similar Internet storytelling make the stories multimodal and interactive (although with potentially less effort than a video game. Since you have to “beat the game” to move to the next part of the story in video games).

So how does a school media specialist, employing transliteracy, re-interest her (or his) students in books? One final example of Internet storytelling raises a fascinating possibility.

Pottermore. The official Harry Potter website which offers interactive scenes that go along with the book chapters, as well as opportunities to be a fictional Hogwarts student. Join a house, discover your wand, brew potions, and duel. All of these, and at the same time make friends with other HP fans from around the world. In a sense, it immerses users in the world of Harry Potter. Unlike LBD, however, Rowling intends the site to function alongside the books, encouraging site users to move through the scenes as they read the novels.

Most picture books and novels don’t have such a website (they are becoming more common though­– John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice has a similar, though less complex site). But perhaps the school media specialist can guide students in interacting with their reading. When a story takes place in another country, find that country on GoogleMaps and explore it. If the author describes an unknown plant or animal, find a picture. Older students (perhaps younger students, to a lesser extent) could create playlists that go along with favorite novels. Using Internet resources to supplement hard-copy books offers a wide range of possibilities in storytelling and retelling.

Come to think of it, transliterate storytelling along these lines would actually be a “learning experience” as well as entertainment. And that relates rather well to my essential question.

Thomas, Sue, et al. “Transliteracy: Crossing Divides.” First Monday 12, no. 12 (December 3, 2007).

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

My Essential Question for 635

How can school media personnel facilitate students’ personal growth and the development of lifelong learning through the incorporation of technologies in the media center?

Classroom learning is great. No really. It has its uses in teaching students en masse various skills and information they need to function in society.  The incorporation of various technology (computers, tablets, etc.) into the traditional classroom adds yet another dimension to the learning.

However…

Traditional classrooms can only do so much. They can teach information (history, geography, science, and others) and skills (reading, writing, mathematics, scientific methodology, and study skills).  But class size, rigid standards of what must be taught, and crunched time limit even the best teachers as they encourage their students to learn. What about the student who wants to know more about X, but is too shy to ask in front of the class? Or the student whose reading level is ahead (or behind) the rest of the class, and is bored (or frustrated) with the assigned readings?

In steps the media center. The key word being media. This is where traditional classroom learning meets the world.

The most immediately distinguishable learning source in the media center is, of course, the book collection. From nonfiction to fiction, picture books to reference books, and everything else in between, books are key learning sites. The nonfiction books and reference books are obvious– to find out more about snakes, check out a snake book. Fiction and picture books are less obvious. After all, they’re just “make-believe,” right? Wrong. For this reader at least, historical fiction taught me a great deal more about European (or American, or whatever other areas historical fiction covers) than the history textbooks. And the beauty of it was that, as a child, I had no idea I was “learning” about Victorian England. I thought I was just having fun.

Learning moves (or should move) beyond “information” though, and “made up” books are sites of such learning. Fiction teaches us about ourselves and others. Telling a child to stop teasing his friend because “it hurts his feelings” lacks the power of a story telling what happened to the hurt friend because of the teasing. The idea that WWII devastated Germany “too” (and not just Britain or the surrounding countries) comes alive in The Book Thief as readers follow Liesel’s journey from a reasonably happy foster-child to utter devastation. This isn’t “fact-finding.” This is something deeper, much harder to define, and it’s a kind of learning that extends beyond standardized tests into our interaction with other people.

But I did point out the term media for a reason. Although books are (arguably) one type of technology, there are others, and the media center is a repository for those as well. Computer stations in the library can do a lot more than just look up books. They can provide learning programs like Quest Atlantis that foster critical thinking and problem-solving. Media center specialists/coordinators can also use computers to augment traditional classroom learning (for instance, if students are learning about maps in their classroom, demonstrate Google Maps and allow students to explore it on media center computers). The media center can also guide students in learning how to research topics using computers­– where to go for information, how to tell if information is legitimate, etc.

All of the above hinges on one particular point: learning should not be confined to the traditional classroom. Memorizing information or the steps to get a result are a part of learning (it’s hard to analyze why WWII happened if one does not know the events leading up to it), but memorization is not the end of learning. To really prepare students for their emergence into the “real world,” students need to be able to teach themselves, whether that involves gathering information or analyzing it. The media center, by providing resources and the time to learn to utilize them, can guide students in learning how to learn.

Finally, the media center has more freedom for student direction. Students can choose which topics to pursue, and they can pursue them at their own pace. For a student who feels left behind (or is chafing to move ahead), the media center can provide an environment where learning is less frustrating, and more “fun,” and therefore something students will want to continue outside of the school environment.

The genesis of this question actually occurred in an Educational Psychology class during my undergraduate. Although our textbook (listed below because the ideas on computer use that I discussed came largely from it) focused on “traditional” classrooms, my professor encouraged applying its principles and ideas to whatever field of study we intended to follow. Although that class and textbook suggested some “answers” for my essential question, it certainly wasn’t a “complete” answer, and I look forward to further exploring it.

Snowman, Jack, Rick McCown, and Robert Biehler. Psychology Applied to Teaching. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, 2012. Print.

Categories: Answers to 635 Prompts | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.