Week 1- Design Principles

Despite its age, Sultan Baybars’ Quran is visually stunning. It is incredibly beautiful in its design. The only real contrast (since it is mostly text on a page) comes from the color choices of darker brown on the faded, yellowed page. There are sporadically interspersed beautiful graphic designs the provide a definite contrast against the text on the other pages. These designs are repeated (with some variations) and there are also small medallions used to denote every fifth and tenth verse. Text is centered vertically and slightly off-center horizontally, cheating slightly to the interior binding of the book. It would be easy to mistake some of the pages as mirrors of one another, as they are so perfectly aligned to one another. For the periodic images, the graphics are well aligned and mirror one another across the vertical axis of the binding. The text is fairly even spaced vertically as well and the periodic medallions are proximate to the specific line of text they are denoting.
I created business cards for use a teaching tool. I chose blue text for my name to make it stand out against the white background and other black text, providing a fair amount of contrast overall. I changed the size of the text to provide further contrast and help the reader know what is emphasized. I used black text repetitively to convey a theme or link between text blocks. I chose right alignment for the text at the top and left alignment for the text at the bottom so that each block effectively points to the other block and all of my contact information is grouped together (proximity). My name and title are proximate since that is the description of me, while my contact info is proximate since that is how to get in touch with me.

Week 2- Logo Design

When do we start teaching students about self branding?I think it's never too early to start that conversation. In reality, you could even start the conversation as early as 1st or 2nd grade. I don't think I would call it "branding," but it would be easy to make a connection between character education/integrity and personal branding. If we taught students to be consistent with who they are and to begin thinking about how other people will perceive them, as they grow older the conversations about personal branding go much more smoothly.
What concepts about branding are important to teach?To me, the most important aspect of branding is consistency. You want to be perceived as being consistent. If your brand is established in a certain way on Facebook, but entirely differently on Twitter, it could send mixed messages about you and your "product."
What strategies would you use to teach students about the concept of branding?I would start with a discussion about integrity and personal character. How do you act as a person? Then, move into discussing how others perceive your actions. By looking at your actions, people begin to judge you as a person. If you act consistently and with integrity, your personal brand begins to carry quite a bit of weight. In this day and age, a brand is an identity. Whether corporate or personal, and it's important to understand the impact that identity has on the world around it.
How can branding be used in an educational environment?Students need to be branding themselves much earlier than they are now. Think about a student with a strong personal brand as they approach college applications? They will be much farther along than a student who doesn't know who they are or what they want in life. (Obviously, no freshman really knows this either, but if they at least communicate drive, determination, and direction, they stand out from the typical 'undeclared' freshman.) As they mature and grow their brand (through high school and beyond) they are setting themselves up for success in the marketplace, be it as an employee or even if they choose to start their own company. If they choose the entrepreneurial route, obviously a brand will be incredibly important and having a personal brand to start with could be an invaluable asset to them.


List of words that best describe you
Rebellious, unconventional, driven, compassionate, energetic
Meeting initial goals
What were your initial goals for the logo?
Establish a reusable visual identity for myself; build various levels of meaning; create a simple, easy-to-replicate logo
­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Does the logo you have match the initial goals? Why or why not?
I think it does. My logo has several layers of meaning built in to a fairly simple design. Further, it is personal to me so it is an appropriate visual representation of me and my personality: minimalist, thoughtful, but full of meaning.
Reflecting good design principles
What design elements and principles did you incorporate into the logo?
Contrast- I chose two starkly different colors (bright green and black) on a white background. This provides a high level of contrast and ensures that you see each piece of the logo.
Repetition- I chose to use the same font face for the green text as the black exponent. Additionally, I used the same green for the brackets as for the “g” inside them. This helps to tie it together and demonstrate the relationship between each element.
Alignment- The logo is almost center-aligned. However, I chose to use the exponent to off-set the balance of this design, putting more weight up and to the right of the overall design. This is a small break from convention, that might have kept everything “center, center.”
Proximity- The exponent has been kept close to the green text and the brackets have been kept extremely close to the letter “g.” This creates a simple, easy-to-follow design that is quickly recognizable.
You will notice three main parts to the logo. The brackets are a reference to my love of mathematics. In the order of operations, brackets are only used after you have used parentheses to denote another operation. This is significant since it represents that something else is going on inside those brackets. The second part of the logo is the single letter “g.” This is first and foremost a reference to my name(s), Greg Garner. However, it is lowercase, which represents the lack of formality that I have always felt regarding business and life in general. This is really personal to me and is quite intentional, although it might be confused with my missing the shift key. The third piece of the logo is the exponent. In mathematics, exponents are used to greatly and quickly increase the value of what is being raised to a higher power. My name, Greg Garner, has two G's and so G-squared is rather appropriate in addition to my drive and desire to always move to a higher level in terms of quality, effort, etc. I chose two striking colors that are easily visible but stand apart from each other. The two colors specifically were carefully chosen. Black represents how we must all, at times, conform to the status quo and that it also provides a great vehicle for change (thus, the exponent). However, I don't believe my identity to be tied up in this single instance. Instead, I chose a bright shade of green. This serves as both high contrast to the black (representing non-conformity) and also a slight reference to my love of pop culture as a popular movie once said “Geniuses choose green.” The character that statement was directed towards, interestingly enough, was named Greg as well. The font face that I chose is slightly messy with a few “holes” here and there, showing that I don't believe that I have all the answers and that I do have a tendency to be unorganized. However, the formation of the “g” is more traditional in its nature, another homage to my desire to leverage conformity for social/societal change.

Week 3- Create an Animation

What are the implications for using animation in the K-12 classroom? How can animation bring the “real world” to the classroom? How can you use Bloom’s Digital taxonomy with your co-workers?I tend to view things "backwards" when it comes to instruction and pedagogy. Rather than worrying about the quality of the teacher animations or how best to create an engaging lesson using some type of animation, I would rather have my students construct their own learning, one way being through their own creation of animations. For example, last year I had my students break up into teams and create an animation in Scratch that taught the functions of computing devices (input, output, processing, and storage). Animations worked great because students enjoyed creating them, they were engaged in the learning process, and it was much easier (and more entertaining) for them to present to the class. If you have ever sat through a PowerPoint presentation given by a 14 year old, you know just how awful student presentations can be if more creative options aren't given.Interestingly enough, one of the tools we've used in class is Xtranormal (http://xtranormal.com) has recently been used by Geico to create commercials with. My students get a kick out of being able to create projects that look like what they see on TV (i.e.- instant engagement).Regarding Bloom's Digital Taxonomy, I have to confess that I don't particularly see much value in understanding this chart. To me, all classrooms should be constructing their own learning, collaborating and building their understanding of the world around them (and beyond). If the classroom operates in this way, the whole class basically just operates in a perpetual state of "create" and "evaluate." The others take care of themselves. If I do my job of instructional design, everything else begins to fall into place. For my co-workers, I can see where they would need help having this communicated to them. This is where my campus leadership as a technology leader comes in (assuming I have been empowered by local administration to be said leader).

Week 4- Digital Newsletter

"There is skepticism in the educational community regarding the applicability of gaming to education. Games have been shown, in numerous studies and in homes across America, to both excite and motivate students. What impact does this have on the education community? As with any technology integration, the integration of games and simulations affects how curriculum is delivered in the classroom. How would you assist your co-workers unpack the potential of educational gaming? What questions would you ask when evaluating an educational game prior to using it in the classroom?"In the realm of education, the current emphasis is "data-driven decision making." These days, it seems like you can't do anything unless there is a mountain of data to back it up. (This, of course, proves to be a problem if you actually want to do something new.) Naturally, the reverse is true: you can justify nearly anything if you have the data to back it up. At this stage of the game, there is quite a significant amount of research and data now. I get the opportunity, almost daily, of talking with other educators about why it is that students just want to play games online. I hear all the time "all they wanna do is chat and play games." Yup. There is something inherently "sticky" about games, even in a culture that can't seem to pay attention to anything for more than 5 seconds. My question to them: What if the games they were playing were reinforcing learning? What if the game's objectives were aligned with classroom objectives? What if the game was engaging them in higher order thinking skills? Would they be valuable then? (Incidentally, the rationale I use to justify gaming to other educators would mirror my selection criteria for in-classroom games.)

Week 5- Course Reflection

Over the past month, we have worked on digital graphics, animations, and desktop publishing. The assignment that I found most challenging was the task of creating my own personal logo. Understanding the elements of design is one thing. I can very easily look at something and analyze it. However, it is something entirely different to create from scratch based on those principles. Further, it is even more difficult to create something that should be a visual representation of yourself. It was never more important to heed the advice of Socrates, “Know thyself.” The clothing company “GAP” has been blasted as of late for their newest logo redesign, being labeled as “boring” with the suggestion that GAP wasn’t being true to its roots. In looking at the designs of other classmates as well as well-known logos from major companies, it’s clear to me why graphic design can be a very well-paid career choice. Personally, while I have the ability to recognize that which is good, I struggle to create it myself. In the end, I chose a simple, text-based design that would be easy to replicate and even modify as needed.
The assignment of creating an animation was fun and the use of animation in the classroom has great potential. Despite several warnings that extra time would be needed, the process only took about an hour to create a 30-frame animation using Stykz, a free downloadable program.
In today’s classroom are students used to 30-second video clips, tabbed browsing, MMS communication, and multitasking. We cannot afford instruction that rivals their experiences in the rest of their lives. Instead, we must leverage newer technologies and teach in new ways. The content may remain the same, but we must always look at news methods of delivery. By being attentive to the aesthetics of our work as well as incorporating visually appealing animations (etc) we can engage our students and motivate them towards higher quality work, higher retention rates, and more creativity.