Just mulling over a few things I wanted to get to this summer with the Making Learning Connected MOOC, and never did.
Five Things I Didn’t Do In The CLMOOC – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Peace (in the leftovers),
One of the goals of the final reflective week of the Making Learning Connected MOOC is that participants might look anew at all of their projects and use the Connected Learning framework as a guide to do so. While the CLMOOC itself is designed with the Connected Learning principles in mind, we have purposely avoided being too explicit. Instead, we hopes the making and connecting would flow from a shared experience, instead of an academically-removed stance.
I suspect I am no different from others. I struggle with this part of the experience. I am good at diving in, making, sharing, collaborating, and less apt to wonder where everything connects. But I know it is important, and in the interest of helping others think about a frame, I went into Padlet and categorized some of the projects I did this summer under the Connected Learning framework.
It’s not perfect. Far from it. I see a lot of places where overlaps could be shown, and Padlet is limited for this kind of activity. In fact, I struggled mightily with the best way to present this reflection: flowchart? Prezi? Hyperlinked document? Nothing felt right, and that may be another way of understanding that the interconnected nature of how we learn is complicated and not easily put down on a single piece of paper, or represented in a single screen.
With that said, here we go — My CLMOOC:
Peace (in the connection),
Yesterday, I shared out a song that I written and recorded rather quickly on Sunday night. The song is called Your Words Still Hang Around. I like it well enough but don’t see it as something that fits well with my rock band, Duke Rushmore.
After I shared the demo of the song, I asked my friend, Terry Elliott, if he might consider using the audio file in Soundcloud to create a Zeega digital story version of the song. Zeega allows you to layer in images, animated GIF files, and text, and the viewer decides on the pace of the digital viewing. On Twitter, Scott Glass (a fellow musician and traveler in the CLMOOC) said he might give the song a try in Zeega, too.
Both did, and I nearly cried watching both of their projects that used my demo song at the center. They hit the tone of the song just right, I thought, and it brought to mind the power of juxtaposition of image with sound. I find it so powerful when done right. And it’s not the individual media. Not the song itself. Not the images. Not the words on the screen. It’s the way those various parts come together to make the whole.
If I had been the one constructing a digital story from my song, I think my role as the writer would have gotten in the way of the composition. I had the narrator (not me, by the way) in my head. I had the story I wanted tell, even as the song unfolded. I could see it as I sang it. Scott and Terry came at the song from another angle – tilted by our shared experiences in the Making Learning Connected MOOC which is now nearing its final reflective stage for the summer — and you get the sense that the song of loss and hope became more of a symbol of where we have been this summer with the CLMOOC and beyond, and the light of possibilities that still remain with all of our connections.
Or maybe I am “reading” too much into what they have done. I don’t think so, though. It brings back the idea of why “context” can matter in the partnership between reader/viewer and composer, although sometimes it is interesting to play with context. You, for example, might not have known about the CLMOOC connections here without me raising it to the surface. (Maybe I just ruined it for you. Sorry)
Anyway, I am so grateful for both of them to take on this project and get it done and shared out in a single day. I’m listening again this morning, and I’m watching, and I’m learning more about the song than when I wrote and recorded it. I’m considering this song in a new light.
Peace (in the song),
I sat around, tinkering on my guitar last night when this song emerged. It’s a rough demo and it might never go anywhere other than here. I also wanted to try out recording directly into the Garageband App, and the quality is pretty darn good, I have to say. (You can hear my boys out in the backyard playing whiffle ball if you listen closely).
This song is definitely not biographical, and I can’t quite figure out if the narrator has had his lover leave him, or if she has passed away. What’s left are memories and words, and poems, and this song that has a hint of hopefulness amidst the loss.
Peace (in the muse),
This week, at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, we explored image. If you think about it, mobile devices have changed the way we think and talk about images (which Instagram recognized and exploited early on as a business model). It’s never been easier to document our lives with our devices, and while that can be a good thing (more images to choose from and more possibilities for capturing special moments), it also leads to a glut of visual imagery in our lives.
How do we make sense of it all? This thread of conversation, sparked by Terry, stayed in my mind all week, as he first shared out this powerful piece on Tapestry. Terry wondered how to get us all to slow down and go deeper than the quick retweet or “plus one” designation, to find a way to catch our breath and understand a piece of media before complimenting it or rejecting it. Be within the world. Don’t just skim it.
This piece really brings to the surface the need to be in charge of our world, and not be led by the media-infused culture that we find ourselves in (and, to be frank, which I often enjoy being part of) drive us. We need to drive it. We have to have a handle on the media because that’s what keeps us sane and human and in charge of our own agency. Or so we hope. It’s not easy, and if it is a struggle for us, as adults with a lifetime of experience, imagine our children and our students struggling with this idea of media flow.
I thought an intriguing arc of discussion this week in the CLMOOC involved the processes that some of us use to create stories with images. Does the picture come first, evoking the story? Or does the story come first, and the image supports the idea? There’s no wrong answer here. We all approach storytelling from different angles, for sure, and the given moment can change everything. This is the beauty of being open for stories: they can come unexpectedly from any angle. We just need to be ready and alert.
That said, I struggled a bit with how to use only images to tell a story, particularly if there was no text. One other thread of discussion was “context” and how the reader/viewer must work, hard sometimes, to seek the context for five images that may or may not obviously have a narrative thread. This is not a bad thing. It harkens to the idea of going deep. But it can lead to loss of story, too, if the context is never found. This, too, is composing at its most elemental level.
As the composer of a few image stories, I found myself thinking about those threads on another level altogether from when I am a writer of words. Limited to soundless images, there’s so much inference one must consider and work into the story, so many gaps inside the story itself that can’t be too wide or too short, that we need to be careful in how we convey meaning. It is an art in and of itself.
Helping our young people make these steps towards observations, visual literacy, storytelling, deeper reading and finding balance in the flow of information has to be our own narrative thread throughout our year, even as content-area curriculum drives our instruction.
I transitioned mid-week from five image story to six image memoir, in hopes that I might find a way to make the visual storytelling more personal. I first used Adobe Voice, making a story with infographic representing personality characteristics, but found that too obvious. I then moved into PowToon to create a visual representation of a Six Word Memoir that I use often: Music is always on my mind.
Peace (in the bits and bytes),
PS — the quotes were all drawn from our Google Plus conversations this week, and I used a free site called Quotes Cover to give the words some imagery and artistic feel. Thanks to all of the writers who shared their words with me.
Even if you are just watching the Making Learning Connected MOOC from afar (and maybe scratching your head about it), the one place you really should spend some time is in the CLMOOC Make Bank. This idea, started last year with the guidance of Karen and inspired by the work by Alan over at DS106, is built on the concept of collecting shared knowledge, and creating a legacy project that extends far beyond the six-week CLMOOC experience.
The Make Bank is a place where we have been sharing our expertise around projects, giving insights into how to create and recreate projects, in hopes that people in the CLMOOC will have something to return to when they are back in their own classrooms and educational spaces, and for those outside of the CLMOOC who are looking for inspirational projects that will get their students making and learning within the framework of the Connected Learning principles that underly the CLMOOC.
As I wandered through the Make Bank this morning, this is a just a glimpse of what I discovered by using the “choose one randomly” in each of the main categories:
- Connecting Text Through Paper Circuit Symbolism
- Make a Simple Book with One Piece of Paper
- Make a Map
- Hack Your Writing
- Create an Animated Avatar
- How to Make a Web Booklet
- How to Create a Game out of Survey Software
- How to Introduce Infographics
- How to Curate and Annotate Your Learning
- How to Use Raspberry Pi for a Selfie Station
- How to Dye Your Hair with Kool-Aid
Look at that list and tell me that isn’t a wild range of projects? And really, this is just the tip of the Make Bank iceberg. I find myself cruising around, following links to projects and tutorials, and am always amazed at the wonderful sharing that happens. And you can add yours, too. You don’t need to be active in the CLMOOC to add to the Make Bank.
Share your knowledge with the world. Leave a legacy. Add an idea to the Make Bank, and we all get a bit richer with the experience.
Peace (in the sharing),
I invite you to follow me into our woods, near our bike path, where a neighbor and his grandson’s work to create natural sculptures has inspired the entire neighborhood to make art, and the results are just a stunning display of creativity. I used Storehouse App to collect and annotate the images.
I keep getting drawn in by the animal faces …
Peace (in the art),
During some discussions over at the Making Learning Connected MOOC about this week’s Make Cycle of a Five Image Story, I wondered aloud about whether another variation might be a Six Image Memoir, inspired by the Six Word Memoir idea.
I decided to give it a try, using Adobe Voice to create a digital story. I am happy enough with how it came out, but I don’t think it came out as a story — it was more of a list of personality traits and roles I have in life, so I am still wondering how this might work better to tell a narrative of a memoir. I mulled over whether I needed to have any text, and I decided, it needed it for context (another discussion point going on this week with using images to tell a story.)
You will also notice that I used info-art, not real images, and that was a purposeful choice in that I wanted consistency of tone and composition across the six images. Maybe I will do a variation where I find images to represent the six traits.
What about you? What would your six images be?
Peace (in the memoir),
I wrote about my 9 year old son being part of Apple Movie Camp last week, and here is his final short movie about fruit and a blender called Fruit Horror. I helped only with the filming (holding the video camera for him, and using the big knife). He made the soundtrack, did the editing, etc, and I had to resist the urge to do too much with him.
On the last day of the free(!) camp, we watched about three dozen short movies (true!) made during the week by kids, and most had no or little narrative structure. Some seemed to go on forever about nothing and others were just video taken of self. I am not being critical of the kids, who were making movies after all instead of watching them so that is good, nor of the Apple camp, which only ran three days for 90 minutes each day and that’s not enough time to do much (did I mention it was free?).
But the Showcase Viewing that we experienced does point to the need for us educators to still teach story and narrative and pacing, even in video production (storyboards help), and to have young people consider audience and all of the elements of storytelling that we have always taught for print media. It still have value in the digital age. It brings to mind how we can’t assume young people know what they are doing when we put them in front of a screen, or put a video camera in their hands, or a microphone, or whatever.
We still need to teach the skills that underly how they compose for the world.
Peace (in the blender),
I’ve had the Storehouse digital storytelling app on my iPad for some time now — it was touted as the next wave of digital storytelling, from a design standpoint — and I am just now getting into figuring it out, thanks to the Make Cycle for the Making Learning Connected MOOC that has us telling a story in five images. My story is about a toy truck that I picked up at a tag sale for my oldest son (now 16) when he was three years old. It had its days as the main truck for all three boys, but now sits in rusty retirement behind our fire pit.
I can’t seem to find a reason to get rid of it. The truck comes freighted with memories.
So, for my five image story, I decided to try to pan out (with a panoramic app) to capture the entire back yard (macro), and then slowly zoom in (micro) to the truck in its hiding spot. I resisted adding text to the project, although I feel as if it probably needs it for context.
But I will let it stand as it is, and say that more playing with Storehouse has yielded a very powerful story that I will share tomorrow. You’ll be pretty amazed at it, I think.
I also added the five images into flickr. I like the Storehouse version better.
Speaking of story, I missed the entire online discussion yesterday with CLMOOC folks about the nature of storytelling and the question of “what is a story?” that has framed inquiry in the community lately, but I did create this little Tapestry to make a point about collective storytelling.
Peace (in five),
The most recent Make Cycle for the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about visual storytelling, with a focus on what is known as the “five image” story – using only visuals to relay a narrative. I’m still mulling over where to turn my camera lens, but it reminded me of how much I love “silent” picture books (or wordless picture books) where the story is told entirely in illustrations and art — no words.
One of my favorite writers/illustrators of this genre (is it a genre? Subgenre?) is David Weisner, whose books are so fun to read and explore and consider, and the absence of words is a brilliant stroke of creative expression, drawing the reader into the mystery of the stories themselves.
Read his picture book, Tuesday, or maybe Flotsam, and you will be hooked. Someone even made an animated version of Tuesday that is fun to watch, although I prefer the silent, page-turning book better.
By the way, The Arrival by Shaun Tan, is another outstanding story told entirely in pictures. It’s a powerful tale worth viewing/reading. Here’s an interpretation of that book:
So, given the CLMOOC idea of telling a story in five images, how can you write one of these kinds of books?
Of course, there is the traditional ways (pull out your artbook and get drafting) and there are ways to use technology to do it, too. Storybird is one site that is worth exploring. Here, you use artwork that the site provides to create books. While most users add words to tell the story, you could just sequence a series of illustrations to do a silent picture book.
I went in this morning and created this book — Dreaming of Something Better – and I admit, it was a bit of a struggle to tell a wordless narrative in five slides, with artwork that I did not create myself (although if you ever saw my artwork, you would be thanking me for sparing you). You both lose some agency as a writer and yet, you gain something, too. Stories of all sorts take place in your head as you look at the array of artwork. Inspiration has to come from digging around the bin of art.
What stories will emerge?
In this short picture book, I was going for a girl who feels left out of her family and sits in her room, dreaming of escape. The last frame/page in the story is key, as the artwork is an entirely different texture and feel, so that the shift represents the dream not the reality. If I had one more frame, I would have tried to show her back in bed or with a book. But I think it works as it is. (Or did I ruin it by explaining it?)
Interestingly, Storybird normally allows you to embed the books in other sites, but it did not like that I didn’t use any words at all, and so it closed down the embed ability. Hacking Storybird?
What can you make?
Peace (no words needed),
The past few days, I have been using a single poem across multiple media (taking part virtually in a National Writing Project writing marathon underway in New Orleans called Finding Your Muse), trying to shape and reshape it with tools at hand to see how the poem might remain in the center of presentation. I think it worked, and I think each piece of media composition gave the poem a little twist.
I began here, on paper, with thoughts of a poem about music and New Orleans and jazz, and my own work as a college student listening to early jazz in order to understand our country’s history and its original art form. I scribble out a lot when I write. I mostly use pen and paper for poetry because I like the writing to be tangible and scratchable (is that a word?) as I write and move things around. On the computer, when I write drafts of poems, I lose my trails (I know, there are revision steps in software but I find them rather cumbersome — I need something like a shadow revision button that allows me to see shadows of what I have written, removed, shifted, etc.).
I then moved the poem into two different formats for Kinetic Typography. In one, I used Prezi and in the other, I used Keynote (exported to YouTube). I can’t say I was all that happy with either one of them, although the process of decided font size, path of the viewer, animation of words to emphasize meaning, design elements and more were intriguing to consider for a poem written outside of the kinetic typography experience, if that makes sense. In other words, I did not write the poem, thinking: I am going to animate this sucker. I reverse-engineered it, and so that made the compositional act a little tricky.
Next, I created a digital story with the Adobe Voice app. Now, I like Voice for its simplicity and user-friendly design, but I don’t like how you can’t share it beyond an embed from the Adobe site. You can’t export the digital story to YouTube, and you can’t save it as a video file on your mobile device (although I guess you could screencast it and save it that way). As a digital story, the poem did come alive, I think, as I chose specific images to create a sense of place for the poem. I did not like the limited selection of music soundtrack, and don’t feel that part of the emotional undercurrent did justice to the sentiment of the poem itself.
The next variation was visual, as I used a site called Visual Poetry to create another way of reading the poem, where the words become the paint on the canvas that becomes the new version of the poem. The site allows you to use words as lines for images, if that makes sense, and so the poem became a Shape Poem of sorts. Here, I found myself paying closer attention to phrases within lines, thinking about what words I wanted outside of the poem itself. It took more than a few tries at Visual Poetry to get what I wanted because you have to be careful and thoughtful about what words you use, and when. I broke the poem down into parts before reassembling them as a Shape Poem.
Normally, I would have created a podcast version earlier in the process of writing a poem. Here, for some reason, it took me nearly to the end. I knew I needed some jazz sounds underneath my voice, so I used FreeSound to find some street musicians, and layered that audio under my podcast of the poem, giving a sense of jazz infused atmosphere (I hope).
The final variation, as shared yesterday, shared the poem over at Poetry Genius, which allows you to annotate text (your own work or the work of others, and the Genius family has spaces for songs, essays, etc.) and open up the annotations for others. This work allowed me to layer in thoughts on top of the poem, to give some context, and I played with text, images, audio, and video annotations. It was intriguing to step back from the poem, and try to offer personal insights, sparked by phrases in the lines of the poem.
One addition thing: as I have been re-composing this poem over the past week, so has my friend, Terry, been doing work on his own poem (The World is Curving), and our sharing has mingled with each other in various social media spaces. I’ve been inspired by what Terry has done, and I began to consider connections between our two works of writing. I tried to visualize the ways our writing processes were becoming entangled in a good way, and created this:
Peace (in the poem of many colors),
As I work with various media around a single poem, I decided for the final variation to use Poetry Genius to layer in annotations and other media. This annotation site (part of a suite called Genius) brings strands together in interesting ways, adding the writer’s voice to the poem in a way that other media has not allowed me to do. Click on links within the poem and you will see what I mean. I also did a podcast so that my voice could be embedded into the Poetry Genius page.
Tomorrow, I will work to wrap up what I have learned, and share more about what Terry has been up, too.
Peace (in the layer),
I’ve been working with the idea of using a single poem across multiple media, creating variations of a poem. I have shared the basic text and then I spiced it up a bit with Notegraphy. Today, I share out the poem as rendered in a site called Visual Poetry, that allows you to “paint” the canvas with words. Nifty.
Peace (in the variation),
This “selfie” was taken using an intriguing online application out of MIT called Glow Doodle. The site tracks light in a slow motion way, giving you the sense of light moving across the image. I kept hoping it would create video — sort of a like time-lapse exposure — but all I could figure out was to screenshot it, and get an image file. (I am holding a flashlight here, if you are wondering what is generating the light). I also included a musical interpretation of Shel Silverstein’s A Light in the Attic poem.
This past week, at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, a group out of Philadelphia that works with youth — Maker Jawn — facilitated activities and discussions around the theme of “light” and how light can inform a story. It’s been intriguing, as always, to watch what people do with an idea, and how — just like light — the idea can get bent along different creative frequencies and then shown on the virtual wall for all of us to see. The result has been poems, shadow videos, paper circuitry, and more. I worked to create a collaborative constellation/star chart project, complete with origin stories of new constellations, and I think it came out pretty neat.
I also was trying to work with audio, in relation to light. I know this sounds rather contradictory, but I felt it was important for me to explore this contradiction. The question I wondered about: how can we represent light by using nothing more than audio? Two projects emerged from this inquiry stance. First, I created a soundscape story of a day from sunrise to sunset, with the light of the day being the stopwatch. Second, I converted the star chart that we created into an audio file, using a program that takes the pixels of a picture and converts those data points into sound. Listening to “light” gave me another angle on which to consider light, and it was an intriguing experience.
(I have been creating webcomics during every CLMOOC Make Cycle … just because ..)
Interestingly, some of the struggles with the theme of “light as story” has led to discussions about what our concept of “story” really is, and that discussion will feed into a Google Hangout this coming week. When I mull over some of the best elements of the CLMOOC, it is exactly those kinds of inquiry. What is “story”? I’m still thinking about what this means as a writer and as a teacher of young writers ….
— KevinHodgson (@dogtrax) July 19, 2014
And a little bonus, as I worked with my son in the Garageband App to create a CLMOOC song, of sorts.
Peace (in the light),
I’ve explored different media platforms with a single poem over the last few days, and today, I used one of my new favorite apps called Adobe Voice to create a digital story with the poem, adding my voice to the mix.
Peace (in the variation),
As we start to think about the last Make Cycle at the Making Learning Connected MOOC and begin to reflect on the past Make Cycle with its theme of “light,” I wanted to share out the final Constellation Map that was created with collaboration this week. I opened up the night sky for people to come in, draw constellations and share out origin stories. The result is pretty interesting. I decided to use our own friend, ThingLink, to share the CLMOOC Constellation Map because I could easily layer the stories on the map itself.
Here it is. Lean back on the dewy grass and gaze up at the night sky. Imagine your own stories. Create your own constellations. Play with light and dark, and the way they come together:
Thanks to everyone who participated by playing with the stars and writing a story. It was a blast.
Peace (in the sky),
Now this is cool … as part of my exploration of audio and light with the Making Learning Connected MOOC this week, I stumbled across the idea of taking an image and converting into an audio file … quite literally. I’ve been trying to find some easy software to do it for my Mac, to no avail, and instead, went to my PC netbook with some freeware called AudioPaint that only works on the PC.
This what it says about the process at the AudioPaint site:
A picture is actually processed as a big frequency / time grid. Each line of the picture is an oscillator, and the taller the picture is, the higher the frequency resolution is. While the vertical position of a pixel determines its frequency, its horizontal position corresponds to its time offset.
I took the collaborative Star Chart that we have been constructing in the CLMOOC and put it through AudioPaint and then moved my way into Audacity. Check out what the file looks like in wave form:
Now, take a “listen” to the image of the CLMOOC Star Map.
OK. I tinkered a bit with the file and added a little narration under the file. Not quite subliminal, but getting there.
Peace (in the sound of light),
I have this single poem that I wrote (Remembering Music) and I am moving it across media platforms as part of a variation of writing with media this week. I am curious about how the poem looks in different formats, and what I find as I work on it.
This second version of the poem uses some kinetic typography, but I have to admit — I never really found a way to do it that I liked. I spent a lot of time, looking for an inexpensive way and there just isn’t much out there. (We need an app for that!) Vimeo has an entire channel dedicated to kinetic typography.
I am sharing out two forms of kinetic typography with the poem.
First, I used Prezi. I really tried to play with the text, and with some small images, to make the words and visual flow work in partnership with the poem. It worked well enough but I wish the transitions were automatic, so I could control the flow of the poem for the reader. But, maybe I give that agency to you, dear reader. Click away.
I also used Keynote to create a version (exported to Youtube as video). I am not all happy with the result, which I find rather boring (despite the time I spent tinkering with animation on it). Plus, the visual quality of the converted presentation-into-video is poor. Anyway ..
Peace (in the variation),
I’m exploring the idea of playing with using a single poem, as told in different formats. I wrote this as part of a weekly writing prompt — which is connected to a National Writing Project writing marathon underway in New Orleans called Finding Your Muse — and I wondered how the poem would look/hear/read through the lens of different media.
So today, I present the poem as text only. Tomorrow, I will try something else with the poem.
Remembering melodies buried deep
notes and stories mingled together with harmonies
echoing out beneath street corner lights;
Remembering me, miles away,
with headphones slotted into spinning discs,
the map to a musical adventure moving into
the landscape of Louisiana;
Remembering New Orleans in syncopated rhythms
and rich architecture of sounds,
crafting the heartbeat ambiance of jazz,
the pulse of America becoming the soundtrack
of a nation finding itself;
Peace (in the variations on a theme),