Denny’s Blog

I am always learning new things from my students. This week, I learned about the Denny’s Restaurant blog. It is full of wonderful, punny food GIFs like this one:

Hamboni Pun
Denny’s Hamboni

This is a great example of self-deprecating humor that shows it is ok not to take one’s self too seriously. Certainly this approach cannot work for all businesses, but it seems to be working for Denny’s.

I like the Denny’s work so much, I challenged my students to make a series of food GIFs and release them in their own social media campaign on Twitter. We’ll see what happens.

Literature and Tech in Classrooms

One of the ideas I regularly try to convey to students is that Social Media can be used for serious, professional purposes. A good example of this was an online conversation I participated in this past week about teaching literature.

waiting for something

It all started with an innocent post from my Internet friend Scott Andrews, a professor of literature in California. I’ve never met Scott in person yet, but we’ve become connected online through a mutual acquaintance.

Literature discussion on Facebook

I really appreciate these discussions, because I can see what professors from other disciplines are thinking about.

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I shared a comment about a speaker I saw earlier this year, Jean Twenge, author of Generation Me, and researcher of young adults and their culture.

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I couldn’t remember where the data on the plummeting levels of reading came from exactly, Dr. Twenge shared so much with us last spring. But I need to find out. In short, it is a real challenge getting students to read anything substantial these days.

But I seem to recall seeing a graph that showed the rise of the smart phone and the decline of substantial reading happening around the same time. Certainly Internet access has reduced the amount of novels, magazines and newspapers we read. But mobile tech has taken our reading habits to new lows.

My approach lately has been to break a text down into manageable chunks and have each student read and report back to the group. Although no one reads an entire work, we can get a summary of one with a group effort.

Anyway, this was a great discussion online, and a good example of how teachers can collaborate and learn from one another using social media, even if they’ve never met in person. Anyone can use a similar approach to learn in any field, if they desire.

 

Abstract Accepted

abstract accepted

I recently submitted an abstract to the ASEE Educational Research and Methods division for the 2017 national conference and it was accepted. When I first began work at K-State, a trusted colleague advised me to avoid this particular division because there were other divisions that would be more likely to accept my proposals. However, since I recently finished my Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction, I thought I might now be up to the challenge. It felt really great to receive the acceptance e-mail this year!

But it turns out that my colleague was correct. While the feedback I received was positive, there also were a number of concerns raised that I need to address in the full paper. I can do that. I am always trying to get my students to push themselves and take the more rigorous path from time to time. Hopefully, I demonstrate this attitude myself from time to time.

Fire Writing

Lia Fire Writing
Lia Fire Writing by naturalturn 2008 https://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalturn/
I don’t think I’ve ever heard the expression “fire writing” before, as mentioned in this Edutopia article, New Teachers: Inspire Your Students to Write, Write, Write. However, it is exactly how I got things going with my PhD dissertation. I just wrote. And I didn’t worry about how it looked or sounded. It was messy and chaotic, but I cleaned it up later. First I dumped my ideas out of my brain and onto the page as quickly as I could. Then I went back and ruthlessly edited. I cut out huge chunks that I loved and was left with the essence of what I was trying to say.
 
Another great idea from the Edutopia article is something I first read about years ago in Zinsser’s classic book, Writing To Learn. Students tend to write for an audience of one – the teacher. They need to stop it, and we as teachers should stop encouraging it. Zinsser suggested writing letters to a friend or family member about the day’s learning.  I think it is a great approach. Instead of getting hung up on perfect mechanics, get to the main ideas, reflect and write about them. Quit worrying about what you think the teacher might want, and write the important ideas in a voice that someone who loves you and cares about you would recognize as you. If it comes out wrong, you can always improve and revise.
I teach a class that includes a lab activity and requires lab reports. I wonder what those might look like if they were composed in the form of a letter? Right now, I have a prescribed format that I’ve been using since I first started teaching the course. I inherited the report structure from the person who taught the class before, and haven’t ever questioned it. Perhaps it is time for me to take a closer look at that important writing assignment.

PostSecret


Yesterday proved to be insightful when talking with my students. I am constantly stumbling over cultural references when trying to reach them. I grew up in the 70s. They grew up in the 2000s. I realized just how big of a gap this is, when I asked them if they had heard of the Internet phenomenon, PostSecret.

Not one student had heard of it. I thought that PostSecret was pretty common knowledge, especially among Internet-savvy youth. I thought wrongly. So it is apparent to me that the tide has shifted from one where my students and I explore the Internet together sharing a wonder of discovery, to one where I can serve as a knowing guide on a well-travelled path. Of course, I will always be able to learn new things from them, but even while to me it is still quite new, I really, truly know much more about the Internet and it’s short heritage than they do.

The reason I mentioned PostSecret is that I was hoping for establishing a common reference point that speaks to the vulnerability and hurts that we all have. I am trying to build empathy for others.

Every single person has at least one secret that would break your heart. If we could just remember this, I think there would be a lot more compassion and tolerance in the world. – Frank Warren

I remember hearing the PostSecret founder state this truth, and it has always stuck with me. Probably no one has heard more confessions than Frank Warren, except perhaps the Curé of Ars, so he certainly has a firm understanding of the human condition.

 

Paper Citations

I have been working at Kansas State University for a dozen years now. Before that, I taught at Cloud County Community College. The main difference between the two institutions is the scholarship expectation for faculty members. At both institutions, effective classroom instruction is expected, as is service to community and to the institution. But when I changed jobs, the scholarship expectation was something new.

I rather like the scholarship requirement. It encourages us to stay current in our field, rather than stagnate. In our department, most of us have assignments of 80% teaching, 10% scholarship, and 10% service as the percentages of how we are supposed to spend our time. We still place a high priority on instruction, but the other two are requirements as well.

My own scholarship is in scholarship of teaching. The papers I have written and presented are all related to courses I teach in computer technology.

One thing that I haven’t really experienced though, is noticing my papers being cited by other authors. That all changed recently, when I was doing a search for my American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) papers. I found three papers with my name in them that I didn’t write. In other words, I’m a cited author. I suppose that for more preeminent scholars, this is to be expected. But for me, it felt really cool to see my work cited in someone else’s reference list.

Below are the papers that cited my work:

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Expositionscreen-shot-2016-10-25-at-6-52-08-am

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Daily Create

Daily Create is a daily exercise in creativity. Each day, a new challenge is shared and we have 24 hours to respond. I usually ask my digital media students to complete at least 3 of these per week. Lately I have been making a few each week myself. Daily Create is a part of the DS106 Open Course on digital literacies, and it can be viewed at http://daily.ds106.us/.

Here are some of the recent Daily Creates I have made:

 

For this first one, I simply used a photo I had on hand from a trip to my aunt’s farm and uploaded it to the Japanese old photo generator website recommended in the assignment.

For this one, I just looked through the various safety posters the assignment mentioned and picked one out. I used Photoshop to remove the old text with the healing brush. I then picked an appropriate typeface and put in my silly admonition about how going outside can be dangerous.

 

For this one, I took a photograph I had of myself and my dog Daisy, and I removed the background from it using Photoshop. I normally use the pen tool to create a working path, then use the path to make a selection. I use the pen tool because it gives such fine control over the selection. I used to try to use the lasso tool and other methods, but for me the pen tool is best. In another layer, I added the Forbidden Planet scene and put it in the background.

 

For this one, I downloaded and printed the music staff as advised in the Daily Create assignment. I used a marker to draw dog paws on the staff. I was trying to make it look like the dog was playing Jingle Bells. I also linked to that dog barking Jingle Bells song.

What The Amish Can Teach You About DS106

amish buggies

Amish DS106

The Daily Create for today was pretty interesting. Given a prompt from an idea generator website, we were supposed to write a blog post. A couple of people shared titles that had to do with the Amish and DS106. These two things, a religious group that eschews technology and a digital storytelling course that is centered on technology, seem to be as far removed from one another as possible.

Now I am far from an expert on the Amish, but I have encountered a few from time to time here in Kansas and have read a bit about their culture. So I’d like to take a stab at this one.

First of all, as I understand it, much of the Amish resistance to the adoption of new technologies has more to do with humility than it does with hatred for the new and high-tech. A few years ago, we visited the town of Yoder, KS, where a large community of Amish people live. We noticed that there were occasional telephone booths located along the roads in the countryside. A guide explained that multiple families share the telephone, and it is placed on a property line so no one can claim ownership. According to our guide, it is the ownership of these various things that can lead to the sin of pride .

This explanation cleared up another question I had long wondered about. Why could Amish people ride in automobiles, but would not own one? Well, now it made sense. According to the explanation we received, it has to do with pride and ownership, not a hatred of technology per se.

So what can the Amish teach us about DS106? Firstly, I would suggest that they have priorities established and they keep them. Participating in DS106 is highly demanding. To be successful, you have to have priorities in order, or you will quickly be overwhelmed. And it goes without saying that the Amish do not take the easy road. They are hard-working people. DS106ers should absolutely follow the Amish ethic of hard work.

Another thing about the Amish is they are frugal and resourceful. So are those in DS106. Both groups don’t throw things away. They remix, recycle, and reuse things. They look for whatever tools are available to get the job done. The Amish and DS106ers don’t need the latest, greatest tools to get the job done. They don’t upgrade for upgrading’s sake.

Finally, the Amish help one another. If a neighbor puts up a barn, the whole community is there. This attitude is central to DS106. We comment, we compliment, we support one another in our efforts to learn. I think the Amish have a lot to teach us about DS106.

Author’s Note: After writing this, I searched the Internet for “Amish Hacker” and found this must-read piece by Kevin Kelly on Amish Hackers. Check it out, it is spot on right.

 

 

 

Why Mom Was Right About Internet Stupidity

Today, out of curiosity I searched Google for ‘Kansas State University’ and the screencap shown below are the very first results I saw:

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Unfortunately, a K-State student was recently expelled over a very distasteful post she made on Snapchat. This student had attended K-State for three years (a pre-med student), and boom, just like that she was out, three years of college and no degree. Here are some things I don’t know. I don’t know what other school will admit her and let her complete her undergrad degree. I don’t know if she has accumulated debt while in college. I don’t know what she was thinking. There are a bunch of things I don’t know about this story.

One thing I do know. I know that it is possible to earn a degree at K-State without ever taking a class in digital literacies. It is possible in the 21st century to still earn a degree without experiencing any special emphasis on the do’s and do-not’s associated with publishing digital media online. Yet every single K-State student, if they so choose, can publish something that the entire world can see in an instant, by simply pushing a button or two on a pocket-sized machine that they carry with them everywhere they go.

Yes, I will grant, that many of our courses address this topic, along with many others. Perhaps even the core courses that every undergraduate student must take such as expository writing, takes a hard look at this topic. But I find it interesting that digital literacies are not at the center of what we teach in our general education.

A class like what my second-year digital media students are doing in digital storytelling would be an ideal learning experience for all K-Staters. Not only are we looking at the how of creating media, but we also are discussing the whats and whys of digital media. I think a class like what we are doing could fit very nicely right beside the traditional writing and math classes that everyone must take to graduate.

But every curriculum is jam-packed, and many would argue there is no room for another course. But what if such a course was put in place, and we are able to reach many more students early on about the good, the bad and the ugly about online activities? Learning from a bad experience, Kansas State University could ultimately serve as an example of what can be done in the area of digital/media literacy.

Acknowlegements: The idea from this post came from today’s Daily Create activity; an assignment from our digital storytelling class using Portent’s Title Generator.

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