EMM: Image Making Practice

We’ve been out around campus practicing our image-making skills, and here some of the product of that work.

First, student images: originalrealkidlmcclureblog, and krayjr10 each posted some beautiful and compelling images.

Also, here’s a small set of images I did of an outlet in the hallway….


EMM: #vizlit and False Advertising

Preparing for today’s class in my Elements of Media Making summer course, I’m reminded of one very useful skill those trained in visual literacy can employ daily: spotting misleading and/or false advertising.

Here’s a nice roll-up of some hilarious and sad attempts to mislead us. I especially like Especially sad is the kiddie pool:

Screen Shot 2017-06-08 at 11.09.56 AM

Keep your eyes peeled for such chicanery.


Our Digital Networked Narratives class this semester decided to use a “mother blog” to syndicate all their DNN-related content.  That site will be here (acdnn17.acsites.org) if you’re interested in seeing what my students are up to.

Thought I’d try this thing.

OpenLearning17 is an online conversation I was just turned onto.  It runs via syndication of tagged blog posts into their hubblog here.  Hopefully I’ll find some time over the next few weeks to participate in some useful way.

Blogging and First-Person

I just responded to a question from a student about whether she is allowed to use first-person syntax (like “I appreciated Plato’s argument” as opposed to “One can appreciate Plato’s argument” or “Plato’s argument is appreciated by some”).  I’d like to share the text of my reply here in case others outside that class who read this blog are wondering the same thing. [I’ve edited it lightly.]

Short answer: yes, you may use first person in your blogging. 🙂

Longer answer: I’m not personally a proponent of a blanket rejection of first person.  I don’t find it necessary to convey a formal tone (I’ve known many people in my life who speak very formally while still using it).  Further, I find that when third person is used poorly, which I see fairly often among student work generally, it undermines the air of professionalism that was its goal in the first place.
Beyond that, though, while there are plenty of contexts where strict third-person address is appropriate, a blog is almost never one of them; it goes against the very idea of a blog to try to write only in the third person. Your blog is your home on the web, you own domain both literally and figuratively. (Yes, some of that is undermined a bit because we’re using the .com version of WordPress, which is technically “owned” by the company and not you.  But it’s more akin to renting an apartment than crashing on someone’s couch, which was a key facet of Woolf’s original argument.)
So you should feel very comfortable making it your own both in terms of how it looks and what you link to there and in terms of how you choose to address your audience there. Might there be social consequences to your perceived character if you write in an overly casual or flippant way? Perhaps, with some of your audience.  But you will learn that as you go, instead of my telling you how you must write or speak.
So use first-person as you see fit, and keep your eyes open to how shapes others’ reactions to your work and your own reactions to theirs.

What Might Digital Wisdom Be and How Could It Help Us?

I’m appreciating Adam Copeland’s piece at Hybrid Pedagogy on “digital wisdom,” which he describes as “a pedagogical approach to technology and the classroom that does not stop at whether or how students may access digital devices in my classroom, but seeks also to address why it is important that students critically engage these very questions.” He offers four “pillars” that he uses in his own considerations of how to craft assignments for his students, each an important reason why he would choose a particular tool, design an assignment in a particular way, or engage students from a particular perspective.

This advice runs parallel to the “not digital pedagogy, just pedagogy” discussion we’ve been seeing lately (e.g.: here, here), in that Copeland’s conception of digital wisdom is a call for us to “move away from easy answers” and move toward pedagogical goals that deepen and expand our students learning.  He links to a range of assignments by himself and others that address his pillars – forming collaborative relationships with peers, preparing for citizenship, encountering difference and disagreement, and welcoming complexity – in concrete but theoretically informed ways, which is a particularly helpful approach for teachers interested in getting started with digital pedagogy.

I would like to push back a little on the way he sets up this helpful discussion, though, because for me, a term like “digital wisdom” can be used even more powerfully than just “the why” of asking students to engage a particular question.  By drawing on the term wisdom, we have an opportunity to activate ancient conversation about the role of practice and the practical – the how – in serving as not only a counterpoint to the why, but also an important aspect of its foundation.  Aristotle called it phronesis, others have used metis, but when we use terms like judgment, prudence and (practical) wisdom, we refer to that process through which we learn from our practices; the how deeply informs and ultimately serves as the foundation for the why. This process, of formulating a why, crafting a concrete how that hopefully enacts that why, and then reflecting on the nature of that enactment and usually making practical changes to the how in light of that reflection, is the very practical and grounded nature of the practical wisdom that pedagogues perform on a regular basis.

Through this process, we come to see ways that the why and the how are intricately linked, and we come to understand both more deeply than dogged application of the why to the how without such process will overlook. Copeland’s argument is crucial to the direction we all must turn in the future, as it recognizes the need to look past the newness and shininess of digital tools to the ways they can help us deepen student learning.  But if we’re not also closing that experiential learning loop ourselves, we’re missing out on significant opportunities to deepen our own learning.  Digital wisdom should be more than the why – it should be the why informed by the constantly developing nature of the relationship between the why and the how.

Digital Pedagogy Metis in Online Discussion Forum Advice

I’ve experimented for years with various online fora as tools for fostering student discussion beyond the classroom walls, with mixed success.  I’ve tried both optional and required assignments (certain numbers of posts and/or replies, etc.), with quantitative (points/grade) and qualitative (comments from me) evaluation schemes.  And I have tried them in a range of different kinds of media studies course, from topical surveys to upper-level seminars to skills-based production courses.  One thing I’ve realized is that the kind of practical advice Heather Van Mouwerik offers in her Inside Higher Ed piece, “Fostering an Active Online Discussion,” might be the most useful in terms of identifying and alleviating individual and group roadblocks to implementation.

For example, as a response to the deafening “crickets chirping” scenario she describes, Mouwerik suggests five practical guidelines for helping to nurture an online discussion forum, including being “the active participant you want your students to be” and redirecting any questions from students to the forum.  These tips clearly come from practical experience working with many course-based forums with her students.

Such metis – practical wisdom or prudence – is a crucial part of digital pedagogy today, especially when the technology behind each tool becomes less and less difficult to wrestle with.  You can learn the abstract theory of how to use this or that tool as well, but it is in its practical application in actual classrooms and/or with actual students that use of a particular tool shifts from an abstract exercise to a pedagogical practice.

A New Experiment

For those who know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I’m embarking on yet another teaching experiment, though this one is far less risk-prone than many of my previous forays. Though I’ve been teaching full-time for eleven years, I have never taught a standard summer course, but I’m starting my first one this week.

I’ve been mulling over an idea in my mind for some time that there might be room for our students to have available a course that provides them with access to elements of media making theories and skill practice, but since I’ve always taught the digital video production sequence, I never found there was a good place in our little curriculum for such a course. But the summer has its own rhythms – faculty and students go off in myriad different directions – so I began to think that summer might be a perfect place to explore such an endeavor.

The course will be structured around the production of core elements of contemporary media making – text, image, sound, interactivity, and networked media – through short introductions to simple principles and theories, in-class short walk-throughs and exercises, and practice with slightly more involved assignments outside of class.  Students will maintain their own blogs and post both their reactions to the concepts to which they are being introduced through the course and links to the work they are producing as part of it. The goal is for them to both practice the basic skills of contemporary media making and to engage in a community of practice built around the development of those skills and a mindset of exploration and experimentation.

I do tend to overstuff my courses with work, at which, not surprisingly, some (many?) student balk.  So I’m trying to get into that slower, summer vibe with the structure of the course. We’ll see. Perhaps I’ll report back later.

The course trailhead will be a page on this blog, the Summer 2015 Course link above. You’re welcome to check it out and leave me/us feedback about it.

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