Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Student’s Suggestion for My Online Course

This semester I’m teaching online for the first time in many years, and it is a course that I’ve never taught online before, Social Media. Now if there was ever a course that makes sense to do online, I think it would be a Social Media class. (If you’re interested in seeing us in action, check the #digme406 hashtag on Twitter.)

One of the things I did was require my students to video chat with me. Some opted to use telepresence robot. Some just used Skype or Facetime.

This week, I had a video chat with a student who gave me a suggestion I hadn’t thought about. I mentioned that I noticed there is a flurry of activity on Sunday night when all of the week’s assignments are due. This student is a 100% online student, so her perspective was really helpful. She said some classes have a number of small assignments due through out the week to encourage regular participation. In other words, I’m shooting myself in the foot by making everything due once a week on Sunday night.

It was a great suggestion. I think these one on one conversations are great for improving the course. I think they are important for feeling connected to the students, and for them to feel connected as well.

One thing I did that seems to be working well is the Study Buddy assignment. I required everyone to make contact with three others in the class in the first week. These contacts seem to be sticking, as several have reported having regular contact with their study buddies. That makes me feel good, because it is not unusual to go an entire week without hearing from any student. I think the suggestion of staggering assignments is the way to go, to make sure everyone is regularly checking in.

Higher Education Podcasts

Podcasts. I love ’em. I listen to a number of podcasts on a variety of topics. I’ve listened to design podcasts, storytelling podcasts (This American Life is my favorite), podcasts about faith and spirituality, history podcasts, science podcasts and of course podcasts about education.

I recently heard about the Higher Education Podcast Project  Right now there are over 100 podcasts listed related to teaching/learning/professional development in higher education. I’ve only listened to one so far, and it is excellent. It is the The Teaching in Higher Ed podcast. You can be sure I will be looking through the list and giving some more a listen. Podcasts are a great way to turn your car into a rolling classroom of learning!



Distance Classes for K-State Students in Arts, Humanities & DigMe

I was perusing the offerings of online classes this summer, specifically looking for things that would make good electives for students in our digital media (DigMe) degree. Since we are a small campus here at K-State Polytechnic, and have limited offerings in the arts and humanities, I often look online to see what my students can take through distance learning at K-State.

Wow, what a bunch of courses I found! There have always been a few, but I’ve never seen a list as long as this one before for digital media students to consider. I have compiled a list and am sharing it here, in case some K-State students happen to see this and are thinking about a summer distance class that involves fine arts, humanities or digital media technologies.

Social Media (taught by myself)
DIGME 406 – Class Number: 12040

Digital Photography (taught by myself)
CMST 146 – Class Number: 11479

Introduction To Cultural Anthropology (taught by my friend & mentor Mike Wesch – highly recommended!)
ANTH 200 – Class Number: 11946

Art Appreciation
ART 106 – Class Number: 12078

French Revolution 1789-1815
HIST 595 – Class Number: 11740

Introduction To Theatre
THTRE 270 – Class Number: 12024

Dance As An Art Form
DANCE 205 – Class Number: 11953

Mass Communication In Society
MC 110 – Class Number: 11918

Music Fundamentals
MUSIC 100 – Class Number: 11900

Introduction to Film Music
MUSIC 340 – Class Number: 11966

Drone Photography and Video
MC 589 – Class Number: 12109

Basics Of Digital Photography
ART 300 – Class Number: 11624

Music Listening Laboratory
MUSIC 160 – Class Number: 11910

History of Rock and Roll
MUSIC 170 – Class Number: 11939

Introduction to Music of the World
MUSIC 249 – Class Number: 11911

Lorde Concert

Yesterday I took my kids to see Lorde concert. Thanks Vettix for the free tickets! The whole idea behind Vettix is to give something beck to those who have served. Event tickets provide veterans and active service members an opportunity to get out and do things with family and friends. It is a kind gesture to a population known to struggle with state of mind.

This was my third concert with Vettix, and the first with my kids. My Daughter is 16 and son is 14. Emily loves Lorde. She’s a musician, so even though she’s just a kid, I do tend to respect what she thinks is good. I have heard a few Lorde songs but wasn’t well familiar with her work. I had Em give me a crash course in Lorde discography on the way to the concert in the car – thanks Spotify!

Lorde is really interesting musically. It’s not like the bubble gum pop songs of my youth. She’s no Debbie Gibson. I could tell right away that Lorde is a true artist. And my initial response to her songs was that they were very different, in a weird, poetic way. I asked Emily if she writes her own stuff but she didn’t know. But I’m thinking this stuff is so original I highly doubt she’s performing someone else’s material. I could be mistaken, but I’m fairly certain she writes all of her stuff and you have to respect a musician who does that.

When we arrived a few minutes after 7pm, the opening act was already playing. And it was a Lorde song. We’re missing it! Emily was getting upset. I was confused. I’ve never been to a concert where the headliner started at the advertised time. But it seemed to be a Lorde song and it sounded just like her! It was Tove Styrke, I think. She was almost like a Lorde impersonator. We soon figured it out and had a giggle about it.

covering my earsIntermission. And then another act took the stage. Run The Jewels. They were very loud. And foul mouthed. And brash. Made my ears hurt.  And it was so not my thing. About the only part of their performance I enjoyed was the parts of it was the oscillating sub frequencies that turned my seat into a rather effective massage chair.  Hopefully the experience will serve as a reminder to never attend another concert without a set of ear plugs. I’m getting too old for this stuff! A day later, my ears are still ringing.

Around 9 o’clock we finally get to see Lorde. Emily is out getting some dippin dots ice cream when the lights dim. Where is she!? The music starts, still no Emily. But just as her idol starts to sing, she returns with her dots of ice cream.  There were lights. And smoke. And sonic sensations. My daughter was loving it.

It was very theatrical. We stayed for the whole thing. Even the encore songs. And we slipped out ahead of the crowd since our seats were at the rear of the stadium. And our parking was nearby. And we made it back to our hotel without fighting much heavy traffic. I’m sure a few minutes delay and it would have been gridlock. It was coming in. We stopped at one parking lot and the attendant said “there’s a concert tonight?” I laughed because we thought that was why all the traffic. There’s a car show and a basketball game too.

So it was a fun trip overall, and exactly as the Vettix goals state, we had a great family experience. My daughter’s first ever concert and she was thrilled. My son’s too, but the jury is still out on that. I think he’d like to see Ted Nugent or some other classic rock band better.

A big thank you to VetTix and AEG Presents for the gift of concert tickets to Lorde: Melodrama World Tour in Kansas City, MO. I took my kids to this concert. I probably wouldn’t have picked this one myself, but my 16 year old daughter is a huge Lorde fan. (Even bigger now that she’s seen a live performance!)

VetTix has the goal of helping veterans to be involved in the community and doing fun things with family and friends. I can’t tell you how much in means to me that someone cares enough to do this for us. For me, it is a really big deal. I even wore my USS Missouri ballcap. A USS Missouri sailor attending a Missouri concert, what do you know about that?

We are from a small town in Kansas, 3 hours drive to Kansas City, so for us this concert was a big time adventure. My daughter is 16 and my son is 14 and neither have seen a big name concert like this before. It was really fun to see their eyes light up at seeing the world class performance.

Thanks so much VetTix and AEG!





Why No One Follows You on Twitter

angry bird

Earlier this month, I gave a reading assignment in my social media class to read and reflect on an article called Why No One Follows You On Twitter. It was really interesting to read the feedback my students gave on that article. It actually has spurred a great deal of introspection on my own goals and philosophy about using social media. I thought I’d share a bit of those thoughts here.

Probably the most common student response I heard was, “Why should I care how many followers I have?” In other words, the students who expressed this idea hadn’t bought into the idea that a large Twitter following was a worthwhile goal in the first place. That’s fair enough. After all, one student shared an article about the lack of value in having a large number of fake Twitter followers. Clearly a large number of followers by itself isn’t enough. If one is trying to build a large following simply out of vanity, I wouldn’t see a lot of value in that either. Twitter is about conversations. It is about feedback. It is about learning new things. And for some, it is even about being a leader or an influencer.

I would much rather have a smaller network of authentic connections than a large network of people (and spambots) where I have little or no actual connections or influence. I think anyone interested in using social media for serious purposes such as business, marketing, or professional development would feel the same way.

A couple of students remarked that they had little to say on social media, perhaps stemming from being young and inexperienced. My response to this is that everyone has some expertise that others don’t have, and would like to have. My daughter is only 16 and didn’t view herself as an expert in anything. I pointed out that she is far more knowledgeable than I am in the area of softball, and that she has even been paid to coach and provide feedback to young girls just learning the game. So it is all a matter of perspective.

We have been reading the book Show Your Work by Austin Kleon in our class. The philosophy behind that book is to do your work, your problem solving, your struggles publicly, because chances are others have similar problems they are trying to solve, or because there is someone out there who wants to hire you to solve those kinds of problems for you. Doing your critical thinking and problem solving in public takes guts, and a little faith that it is worth it, but showing that process not only has the potential to help others, but also shows people who are interested in hiring you for your skills, either as an employee or a client, what you can do.

When you are sharing what you are learning, you are providing something of value to others. That is what will build your follower count, and your followers in turn will feed into what you are learning and your knowledge base.

Finally, there were some technical things that students new to Twitter picked up on, such as private DMs or direct messages, and deciding to set up up a public or private account. Again, the DM function is useful and I use it on occasion. However, I am fully aware of the fact that our online privacy is an illusion. Our information is only as safe as the platforms we are using. Case in point, one rogue employee could choose to spill the beans on even the President of the USA, if desired.

Regarding the public vs private accounts, or maintaining multiple accounts on Twitter, I can see the rationale behind all of these. My teenaged daughter says I am “trashing up my feed” when I tweet about a variety of things that my followers might see as “off topic” and perhaps she is right. I know that some well known internet personalities have different profiles and channels for different things they are trying to accomplish. For me, I see my online profiles as an extension of myself. In other words, my digital self is myself. I try to keep it as real as I am able, so sometimes I’m serious and businesslike, and sometimes I am playful and joking around. I’m like that at work as well. Oh, who am I trying to kid? I’m mostly just joking around! But I don’t try to deceive anyone about who and what I am.




Making Animated Gifs

I’ve been making animated gifs since the early days of the world wide web. In fact, I might even have made some before I ever accessed the web, I don’t really remember for sure. I just know this technology has been around for a long, long time and it makes me smile that people are still using them to communicate ideas.

This weekend, I’ve been making a few gifs for fun. I haven’t made any for a while, so I decided to make some just as a refresher. I have to say, it seems much easier now than it did back in the 1990s. I used Photoshop to make mine. I’m sure there are other ways as well, but Photoshop is a tool I have and like to use whenever I get a chance.

If you are just working from a video file, making an animated gif is a cinch in Photoshop. I made this gif of Jim Groom and Martha Burtis from a DS106 class video they recently made together. The video made me laugh, so I decided making a gif was in order.

I downloaded the DS106 video from YouTube using the PwnYouTube bookmarklet. Over the years, this has been the best option I’ve come across for retrieving video content from YouTube. The file saved as a MP4 video that I then opened directly in Photoshop.

photoshop screen shot

When you open a video in a recent version of Photoshop, it will display it with a timeline at the bottom. Editing was a breeze. Just move the playhead slider to the part where you want your clip to begin, then click the scissors tool on the left. Do it again at the end of your clip. Select the pieces of video before and after the clip you want to keep, and click the delete key on the keyboard. After that, you should have just the video you want to be in the gif.

Click the file menu:  File -> Export -> Save for Web (Legacy). A window opens that allows you to save the video as a GIF file. Be sure the GIF option is selected. Set Colors to 256. Set Dither to around 87%. Click Save, and give your file a name. That’s it! You made an animated Gif!

photoshop example 2

School According to Tetsuya Ishida

Last week we were listening to the audiobook The New Education by Cathy N. Davidson  in our digital media class. She was describing the surreal paintings of Tetsuy Ishida, a Japanese artist who depicted the dehumanizing aspects of being a student in Japan’s schools. In his images, people are reduced to the pieces and parts of machines that can easily be replaced, packed up, moved around or discarded as desired.

We decided to explore these images and work on a surrealism media project of our own. Here are some of the pictures we found. I will discuss our own project in another post. For now, take a look at the work of Ishida:

Ishida 1

Tetsuya 2

Tetsuya 3

Gaining New Twitter Followers

This post I recently found in my Twitter feed was helpful on the question of gaining followers on Twitter.

Some highlights include:

  • Create a list of great content producers.
  • Optimize your bio for keywords.
  • Use images in your tweets.

To it, I would also add add

  • Tweet during big events like Super Bowl. (As did Oreo cookies)
  • Tweet using a trending hashtag (My class’ Star Trek video)
  • Interact with popular and influential people (Austin Kleon)
  • Regularly share great content (Show your work)
  • Volunteer to share your expertise (Collin Mac – answers photography questions in online forums)
  • Be funny
  • Tap into memetics

Blogging Revisited

When I began blogging in 2006, I became connected with a number of other teachers who were also using blogs. We would visit each other’s website and read each other’s posts and leave comments. This was an form of social media. We were doing that well before Facebook and Twitter hit the scene.

When I started my blog, I had the mindset that I would write reflections of what I was working on in the classroom and not really worry if anyone would read it or not. I figured the chances of someone being interested in what I had to say were slim. If someone read what I wrote, that was just extra gravy. Mostly I was writing for my own benefit.

I have been re-reading a book called Writing to Learn. William Zinnser, the books author, talks about how the writing process is our ticket to learning in just about any endeavor. He holds that writing is one of the best ways to reflect on whatever the problems are that you’re trying to solve and or whatever it is you’re trying to learn.

When I was working on my doctorate, I fell away from keeping a regular blog or even participating on social media. I realize now that it was a big mistake to do that. I even realized it at the time, wanting to blog about what I was thinking and learning, but the emotions that went along with that kind of work were too raw and too strong for me to make public. That is precisely why I should have overcome my fears and done it anyway.

In the book, “Growth Hacker Marketing” by Ryan Holiday, he talks about how growth hackers are bypassing traditional marketing channels with social media. He says the traditional approach to writing is to go away in isolation (exactly what I did) and return after the work is finished hoping to promote the it to readers, and gambling that the entire endeavor will pay off.

Holiday argues that with the growth hacker approach, the author blogs about the work as it is in progress, and interacts with interested readers along the way, using their feedback to hone and tweak the work into something that has PMF or Product Market Fit. In other words, the writer gets a critique along the way and is able to hone the final product into something that will be well refined into something highly desirable by its intended audience.

I wonder how much the motion picture industry would be improved by taking this approach? Wouldn’t movie fans everywhere love to be able to view the dailies as they come in! A daring film production team should try this, and let people see behind the scenes as the film is being made, every step of the way. After all, that is exactly how Andy Weir wrote The Martian, before it became a finished blockbuster novel and movie. He let his audience follow his progress and provide crowd sourced feedback making The Martian have perfectly optimized PMF. If the original story was crafted this way, why not have the film follow a similar process?

Now that my dissertation is completed, I’ve returned to my old stomping grounds of social media and blogging only to find that things have changed. No one is really reading a lot of small name blogs anymore. Everything has shifted to social media and it’s short bursts of information and visual memes. Social media has almost completely replaced the blog as a communications media. Sure, there are still successful blogs out there, but I’m not feeling the sense of community in the blogosphere that once was there; maybe I’m missing it.

However, I’ve gotten a lot of benefit from going back and reading my old blog posts from a decade ago. I think I will continue to benefit as I return and reflect on things I write. So I think I will return to my original mindset about blogging. I will write for myself, and if someone else benefits that’s even better! Who knows? Maybe something I’m working on and writing about will resonate and people who share my interests will reconnect with me because of this effort.

How I “do” internet


Saw friend tweeting about WWII battleship Yamato
Asked about his interest in naval history.
Learned his father landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day with the “29th”
Replied that he must be proud of his father
Googled “29th”
Read some 29th history on Wikipedia.
Saw it had a unit landing with 1st infantry division on d-day
Remembered 1st is based at Fort Riley, KS
Wondered why 1st Infantry Division was not hyperlinked in Wikipedia article I was reading
Decided to create hyperlink
Clicked edit on Wikipedia page
Saw the non-HTML wiki style code.
Googled how to make links on Wikipedia
Found tutorial that showed how
Remembered that Wikipedia edits are more likely to stick if I login
Tried logging in to Wikipedia but couldn’t remember password
Requested password reset
Password didn’t arrive in regular email, so I checked special spam email account
Reset Wikipedia password
Made Wikipedia edit
Reflected on what had happened
Wrote this