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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 10:25


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),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Movies, Technology Resources"
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Date: Wednesday, 23 Jul 2014 09:39


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.

From Macro to Micro (Forgotten Truck)

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),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Making Learning Connected MOOC, Photogra..."
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 10:00

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:

Two graphic novels that my sons have loved over the years, and I do too, also tell a narrative in silence, and both are excellent stories. These two are Robot Dreams and  The Adventures of Polo.


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?)

wordless book

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),
Kevin

 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "books, Making Learning Connected MOOC, T..."
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Date: Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 09:17

RememberingMusic
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.

Draft Remembering Music

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:

Kevin and Terry Weave a Poem

Peace (in the poem of many colors),
Kevin

 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Poetry, Technology Resources"
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Date: Monday, 21 Jul 2014 09:46

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),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Poetry, Technology Resources"
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Date: Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 11:29

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.
remembering music cloud

Peace (in the variation),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Poetry, Technology Resources"
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Date: Sunday, 20 Jul 2014 09:49

glowdoodling

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.

CLMOOC StarChart Complete (1)

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.

Light Rock
(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 ….

 

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),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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Date: Saturday, 19 Jul 2014 10:36

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),
Kevin
 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Poetry, Technology Resources"
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Date: Saturday, 19 Jul 2014 09:39

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),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 16:40

CLMOOC StarChart Complete
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:

star chart audio wave

Wow, right?

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),
Kevin

 

 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Making Learning Connected MOOC, Technolo..."
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Date: Friday, 18 Jul 2014 09:27

Draft Remembering Music
(The rough draft of the poem, complete with scribbles and such)

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),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Poetry, Technology Resources"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 10:25

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 Music:

Remembering melodies buried deep

notes and stories mingled together with harmonies

echoing out beneath street corner lights;

Remembering Music:

Remembering me, miles away,

with headphones slotted into spinning discs,

the map to a musical adventure moving into

the landscape of Louisiana;

Remembering Music:

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;

Remembering Music

Peace (in the variations on a theme),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Poetry"
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Date: Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 09:46

Sunrise 2014-07-06 1
I’ve been challenging myself to do something around the theme of “light” this week at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, using only audio to tell a story. I failed at it many times. It turns out that telling a story completely with sounds is pretty difficult, even with the experience I had doing this with DS106 earlier this year. I had one story idea of someone wandering through a dark house, lighting candles. I had another one with an alien invasion. They didn’t work and those stories were abandoned.

Finally, I realized I should stay simple and soulful …. I should create a soundscape story of a day that begins with the light of sunrise and ends with fading into sunset, as told from someone reading a book. The audio becomes the story the reader is reading. I still had troubles here. I struggled with how to represent parts of the day in audio only, and then realized I could use church bells ringing out the hours as a sort of anchor point for the listener.

All the sounds come from Freesound.org, where people openly post and share out sounds they have recorded.  Just know … I didn’t record any of the sounds. I pulled them together in Audacity editing software to produce the story, so I am appreciative of the Freesound users for sharing their sounds with the world. (See list of credits at the end of this post of the audio files I used)

You will hear an odd sound near the end of the story. This was created by someone using a software program that turns a bitmap of an image into audio wave files. The image he used is of the moon. So the sound is of an audio interpretation of a picture of a moon, if that makes sense. I want to dig around for that software program, because I think it has possibilities for storytelling, right?

I can’t say I am completely happy with the results of From Sunrise to Sunset, and I am left wondering: Does the story drag on? Does it capture the splendid beauty of morning as light hits the world? The liveliness of the day as we move about under the sun? The slow settling of the night as the Earth turns away from the sun? Is light even really a theme, here? Or just an artificial storytelling construct? You know, I got questions for myself.

Sunset in Tazacorte

I am making the soundscape story downloadable for anyone to remix, as part of the ethos of the CLMOOC.

Peace (in the story of light coming and light going),
Kevin

Sound Clip Credits:

  • Pages of Book Turning 1 and 2
  • Church Bells ringing at noon and 6
  • Sound of the moon
  • Rooster in the morning
  • Dusk insect sounds
  • Daytime street sounds
Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "ds106, Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 09:24

Yesterday, I wrote about my son being in the free Apple Story Movie Camp, and how I was able to storyboard out a story, too. When we went home, we shot video footage for his movie (which came out great!) and then he agreed to be the actor in my movie, which is called Bottom of the Ninth. I wanted to do it all on the iPad only, with iMovie app.

Here’s how it came out:

But I also tried another version, using the PicPlayPost app, which is a video collage. I like the iMovie version better but it is interesting to see the story in this format.

Peace (in the vid),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Movies"
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Date: Wednesday, 16 Jul 2014 09:07

star chart
With the theme of light this week at the Making Learning Connected MOOC, I have launched an invitation to people to help me create a new set of constellations, and origin stories, in the night sky by opening up four “star charts” that I have created in Google Drawing.

Anyone can come on in and add some star clusters and then write a short origin story. I hadn’t thought about it until Amy did it, but adding the story right into the Google Drawing as a comment makes great sense. I wrote out instructions and the four star charts (north, south, east, west) are open and editable by anyone.

Check out the instructions on how to add to the star charts

Or go to the charts:

You come, too. Add some stars. Make a constellation. Write your story. Collaborate with points of light.

Here is mine:

clmoocius spelledoutius

In the north sky, in mid July of 2014, the giant Makers of the Universe gathered together and noticed that on the small planet below, the Earthians had relied so much on consuming that they had forgotten creating. The Makers of the Universe decided to send a sign to the Earthians, something to help them remember that their hands were designed to make things and their minds were designed to invent things and solve problems, and the #CLMOOC constellation was born. The Makers of the Universe moved the stars into a cluster, confident that with the light of the CLMOOC shining down on the planet, a movement would be born and inspiration would be found. And it was so.

 

Peace (in the sky),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 09:45

Storyboards
My youngest son is participating in a free “Movie Making Camp” through our local Apple Store. The cynical side of me thinks, This is such a sneaky way to get parents and kids into the Apple Store and get us hooked on Apple products. (not that we aren’t, already). But the kinder, more generous side of me — the Maker/Educator  me — thinks, This is a free and accessible way for any kid to learn how to make movies, and how can that opportunity be anything but a good thing?

Apple Camp. Creative creatures wanted.

It’s a three day camp that goes for about 90 minutes each day, run by three energetic young Apple people, and my son had a blast yesterday as they began learning about the basics of making movies on mobile devices. Now, my son has made movies before and much of what they are telling him he already knows. That didn’t matter. He is still enjoying it.

What the Maker/Educator Me liked about it?

They began with work away the iPads completely, by focusing in on the storyboarding process. It was a neat image, all of these young kids bent over their storyboard papers, mapping out a short movie project that they will be completing in just a few days. Now, parents are required to stay in the store (Keep quiet, Cynical Me!) and the program leaders offered up storyboards to all the parents, too. (See, Maker/Educator Me?)

I was on the only parent to accept a storyboard and as the kids were drawing and planning, I began working out my own movie idea, too. I guess no other adults wanted to play. But I sure as heck did.

After the storyboarding, they (we) moved into learning how to use the Garageband App to create their own original music that will become the soundtrack for the movie itself. Making original music? (Well, as original as it is when it is constructed out of loops). I’m down with that. I always have fun with the GB app.

Their homework assignment was to shoot about four minutes of video, based on their storyboard. The final version will be about 2 minutes long, or less. My son is working on this neat idea, inspired by the Fruit Ninja game, that involves fruit, a large knife, and a blender. Let’s just say, it does not end well for the fruit. We spent about 45 minutes shooting his raw video, and then I bribed him to be the star of my movie called Bottom of the Ninth, which is based on him playing whiffle ball in the backyard. We spent another 30 minutes shooting that raw video, which I shot and then edited entirely on the iPad last night. I was curious if I could do it all on the iPad. Yes, I could, and did.

Storyboards

For a free camp, the Movie Camp is pretty nifty. I’ll keep the Cynical Me at bay here so that the creative spirit can be open to possibilities, particularly when it embraces a shared ethos of allowing kids to be creators, not just consumers, of movies. On Friday, all the kids will be sharing their short movies, so that should be a hoot. I’ll share out mine here later this week.

Peace (at camp),
Kevin

 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Movies, Technology Resources"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jul 2014 09:24

nightsky
The theme for this Make Cycle at the Making Learning Connected MOOC is all about “light” or rather, storytelling with light. It will be interesting to see which direction people will take this idea. The group facilitating the Make Cycle share examples of using Makey Makey, and Squishy Circuits, to make literal lights with stories. It might be the week I finally open up my Squishy Circuit box and see what’s inside. Ditto for Makey Makey.

But I have to admit, what came to mind for me was the idea of the night sky and constellation myths. So I am on the trail to figure out some way to create a collaborative star/constellation map that others in the CLMOOC can contribute to, so that we might collectively create an entirely new night sky full of stars and stories. Admittedly, I don’t know how to do that yet, but I am going to explore some options, and share out. (If you have an idea on how I can pull this off, please leave me a comment.)

This Make Cycle is being planted by a group out of Philly called Maker Jawn.

Maker Jawn experiments with creating replicable, scalable spaces and programs that prioritize the creativity, cultural heritage, and interests of diverse communities, embedded directly within the fabric of the library. We cheer-lead latent enthusiasts by providing resources, tools, and an encouraging space. Programming is geared towards for interest driven projects that develop skills, build persistence, and open up new trajectories. We currently offer daily youth Maker programming in ten libraries across Philadelphia.

Peace (in the light),
Kevin

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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Date: Monday, 14 Jul 2014 11:08

Here is my last share of the remix comic collaboration, although I will keep the dialogue form open for anyone who still wants to to give the activity a try. Here, I put all of the remixed into a story cube. Just .. well … because. (Note: it works best if you go to full screen, I think)

Peace (in the remix),
Kevin
 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "comics, Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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Date: Sunday, 13 Jul 2014 10:12

hackcloud
(word cloud created from G+ discussion referenced below)

I suspect that if I told some of my computer programming friends about what the Making Learning Connected MOOC was up to this past Make Cycle with the “hack your writing” theme, they would get a chuckle, and tell me, “That’s not hacking.” Remixing poetry, shaping odds and ends of writing, moving words into image …. that’s just … writing, right? My computer friends would probably be more narrow in focus, with the act of hacking being working with the code of programs or the inside workings of a computer/network.

Hacking writing?

Check out this discussion that Terry started in our Google Plus community, in which many of us grappled with the terminology of “hacking” and what it is that we were doing. First of all, this kind of rich, thoughtful discussion is exactly why the CLMOOC is so important to us as teachers. Second of all, it surfaces the confusion that many of us teachers and writers and learners are feeling as the idea of composition is in the midst of a pretty sizable shift.

We don’t have the right words yet for what we are doing, and what we are doing when we compose in the digital age, so we reach out for the somewhat familiar. The idea of hacking? While it has come to have negative connotations (black hat hackers), the original concept (white hat hackers) was to tinker and play and make the system run better for everyone. The idea was that when problems arise (with computer networks), the community can solve the problem, collectively, and move the entire technology movement forward. (And of course, there are other meanings — to hack something violently is to chop it up, or the hack worker who does a crappy job at something, or the life hack to make your day run smoother, and more variations of the word than you can shake a dictionary at.)

In some ways, we are slowly returning to this idea of the positive hack (I think/I hope). Look at the Hack for Change movement. You may even have a chapter near you, where programmers, educators, social service agencies, and local government officials spend a weekend identifying problems that need addressing, and then working together as a team to solve them. We have a group in our area, and I have had members come talk to students about what they are doing — about using programming skills and computer know-how for the good of the larger world.

“Hacking” certainly has a cool cache with kids, too. When I tell my sixth graders that we are going to “hack” some websites with Mozilla Webmaker X-Ray Googles, there is a real excitement in the room. They imagine themselves going on some covert operation, dipping into the code of websites, and being a bit nefarious. Of course, I pop their bubble a bit, explaining that we will be hacking websites only through a layer of hack (X-Ray Goggles does not change the original) as a way to understanding some basic coding and to write from a different point of view (such as, revamp the front page of the New York Times and give stories a slanted view of the world – change the lens).

What concepts bubble up when you “hack writing”?

  • Agency of the writer/composer
  • Lens of the reader
  • Word choice/Image choice/Video choice
  • Ownership of content

So, this Make Cycle, I was on the look-out for collective hacks within CLMOOC — ideas that would draw the community into the shared experience, to tap into the groupthink knowledge. I even instigated a comic remix activity that was interesting to watch unfold. I wish there had been more ways to get us to write together, to remix together, to hack together … but I know, too, that being in the midst of the change (such as that which writing/composition is undergoing right now with the digital world)  is like holding on to an umbrella in the midst of the storm — sometimes, it takes all your strength to keep the umbrella from flying away … you don’t have time to offer a dry space to your neighbor.

I write all this inquiry in a positive light, and I am thankful for the facilitators (Mia and Erica) for all that they did to get this Make Cycle in motion and how they nurtured these discussions along the way, in forums and in the Make with Me hangout, Twitter chat and more. We won’t even be able to understand the change unless we get into it and play, and reflect on it. This is the heart of Connected Learning — both the act of trying something new and the connections with colleagues to understand a difficult topic, as well as following our own passions. We may not yet have the right words for what we are doing when we “hack writing” and remix our words, but it is through the “doing” that we can come to better understand the possibilities of what’s ahead of us.

The words will follow …

Sheri created this prezi exploration of “hack” that is worth ending with:

Peace (in the meander),
Kevin

 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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Date: Saturday, 12 Jul 2014 09:33

Inspired by all the remixing of Garfield comics, and the back page Caption Contest of the New Yorker magazine, I decided yesterday to remove the dialogue from one of my own webcomics for our Make Cycle around hacking writing for the Making Learning Connected MOOC, and open it up to people to add their own. Call it community hacking.

First, I used this comic, which is part of a series I am doing for the CLMOOC:
Hacking writing

Then, I edited a version in Flickr with the Aviary tool, removing all of the dialogue except for the last line, where the father thinks, “Hack writing?” It made sense to keep this as a sort of “punchline” that everyone could build the comic around.
Hacking writing remix opportunity

I then went into Google Forms (part of Google Drive) and created a very simple form that people could fill out, and added the blank comic as the image. I sent out the links to the form through our CLMOOC network, inviting people to hack my comic, and they did. As dialogue got submitted, I used Aviary again to layer in text and publish the comics, which I then shared out during the day.

Here is what I got (if text is small, you might need to click on image to get the comic larger):
Hacking writing remix 1

Hacking writing remix2

Hacking writing remix3

Hacking writing remix4

Hacking writing remix5

Hacking writing remix6

I’d be remiss not to mention that my friend, Terry, went a step further and created this very fun Dance Party remix with the comic. Love it.

How about you? You can add your own lines to my comic, and then I will publish it.

Peace (in the hack frame),
Kevin

 

Author: "dogtrax" Tags: "comics, Making Learning Connected MOOC"
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