Week 1

Creating a digital story is not something new to me. I have been doing this type of multimedia work for a few years so a lot of it is very second-nature to me. That being said, I can see the value in these assignments, especially for different groups of students. For example, some students have trouble with sequencing so the act of storyboarding would be helpful to them. Some students have trouble with writing, so having them talk instead and then teaching how to write a script from that could be very helpful as well. Some students are extremely creative and will relish the opportunity to combine so many different outlets into a single story. Some students will be able to express thoughts and ideas that otherwise have just been bottled up because they didn’t know the words for them, even though they could see it in their mind.
The biggest struggle I had was finding content that wasn’t copyright protected and fit the idea I had for my video. I primarily used Creative Commons to find content on Flickr, but this proved to be more difficult than you would imagine.

Week 2

This week seemed to be a “filler” week where we were learning about how to edit audio/video and creating a podcast about it. Since the podcast was limited to only 90 seconds, it was extremely difficult to really “say” anything worthwhile that would actually be helpful to someone else. I frequently use minimum times in my own classroom for creating content, but I rarely (if ever) put a cap on the amount of content my students create. This seems backwards to say I ONLY have 90 seconds to create a tutorial about editing video. Video editing is extremely complex and this inane cap on time mean this assignment is essentially useless to me or anyone else. Graduate level work should not be something done for the sake of doing it nor should it be changed mid-week, as this assignment was. Initially, the assignment was something entirely different and then seemingly on a whim, the powers that be made the decision to change the assignment. It goes without saying that this week was a waste of my time as well as the time of my classmates as it will certainly not propel us forward in learning nor will it further our understanding of audio/video editing. It should further be noted that the directions are extremely unclear since a “podcast” is audio and yet there are numerous references to YouTube and the utilization of video clips. Perhaps this is an unfortunate side effect of effectively lying to graduate students? When you distribute the syllabus, we are surely aware that plans change, but it should be unacceptable for as assignment due Sunday to be changed haphazardly on the Wednesday prior.
My “tutorial” (if you can hardly call it that) can be found here: http://garnerg.podbean.com/

Week 3

This week I am working with two other classmate (Rachel and Janette) to begin pre-production on a 60-second PSA. We decided to cover the topic of “online safety.” While we know that the topic is indeed very broad, it was mentioned by Rachel that many if not most parents were not given any sort of instruction about the online world and, as such, have not given any real instruction to their children about it. We were all told to stay away from strangers, but does that apply when the stranger says they are in another state? The ultimate purpose of our PSA will be to provide thought-provoking questions worthy of discussion and further research. Rather than go into intricate details that will only cover one individual topic that will prove to be irrelevant 6 months from now (for example, giving safety tips about the current latest, greatest social networking site), we have decided to give an overall framework for online safety, such as protecting your personal information.

The primary challenge of this PSA will be working within the constraints given us by the program. For example, we are limited to no more than 60 seconds. Please see my previous post about time constraints on creativity. Additionally, within that 60 seconds, we are required to use 4 different shots. While I don’t foresee this as an issue, it assumes we have access to quality video equipment.
I wonder if my iPhone will work for this PSA?

Week 4

No response this week. Just working on the PSA! :)

Week 5

Another class down, only a few left to go! This week was the culmination of a group project involving the creation of a public service announcement. It was quite a bit more stressful than the usual fifth week of a course, probably because doing group work remotely has a unique set of challenges, particularly in orchestrating timing, workload, and file sharing. For example, because we all have full-time jobs in addition to this coursework, so it was frustrating trying to get time to work on everything in a timely matter that wouldn't upset my partners. Then we ran into issues about the actual compilation of the project. Because we divvied out the creation of the individual pieces, when it came time to bring it all together, we quickly realized we were in dire need of videoconferencing software and definite meeting times that we could all be on at the same time. We used Google Docs to create most of the pre-production notes, in addition to email communication.
As for the project itself, it was fine. I believe I have expressed my views thoroughly regarding the limiting of creativity and placing constraints on students. However, if you're interested, the finished project can be found here.

Course Completion Reflections

1.) What outcomes had you envisioned for this course? Did you achieve those outcomes? Did the actual course outcomes align with those that you envisioned?

At the outset of the course, I envisioned a course that would be primarily a digital storytelling primer. Also, knowing the Technology Applications TEKS, I assumed there would be some discussion about general multimedia principles (lighting, rule of thirds, etc). My perceived outcomes were met in just the first week and then we went above and beyond what I anticipated from this course. We went beyond just digital storytelling and all the way into multimedia video production through a collaborative team. This course covers a lot of content and what is actually covered is a lot in just five weeks. This course would be very full if it was a full semester! In this way, I am glad for the content that was covered and believe that it is extremely useful for teachers and administrators since most are overwhelmed at the prospect of creating anything similar to what we created in just over a month's time.

2.) To the extent that you achieved the outcomes, are they still relevant to the work that you do in your school? Why or why not?

Since I am a Technology Applications teacher, these course outcomes were extremely relevant. In fact, this course gave me some ideas that I could use for my upcoming segment on video production and even a few examples for copyright (what to do and what not to do). My school in particular is a Math, Science, Technology Magnet school so I can only imagine if each of our teachers could take the content in this course and begin shaping it to fit their particular class. Further, what if administrators even took this information and began using it? There have been so many times that we (teachers) have been required to go to certain trainings or meetings and the material could have just as easily been covered using multimedia or video technologies. Further, how impressive would it be if each teacher created a video introduction for their web pages or for use at open house? I think it would reflect very positively with parents and community stakeholders, not to mention that this type of delivery/instruction would be extremely beneficial in the classroom itself. Our students are very visual learners and are more engaged by a video than they are a lecture (though this probably comes as no surprise). I am excited about the information that I am prepared to take back to my classroom and to my coworkers as well.

3.) What outcomes did you not achieve? What prevented you from achieving them?
There were not any outcomes that I didn't achieve. I find it quite interesting to require a 150-word response to a question that, in the event you don't meet the presupposition, you really don't have anything to say. If I had not met all of the outcomes, I suppose I would be able to answer this question and develop my own theories and postulations on what specifically prevented me from achieving those outcomes, but since I felt as though I did achieve them, I essentially am unable to answer such a poorly thought-out question. If the purpose was to evaluate learning, this question could have easily just been combined with the previous question since it is directly related and would (theoretically) only affect a small number of students. I can't imagine that the majority of students would have an outcome they didn't achieve, but I suppose I could be wrong.

4.) Were you successful in completing the course assignments? If not, what prevented or discouraged you?
Again, it is stupid to require a minimum response to a question that, in the event you can actually answer with more than one word (i.e.- "yes.") means your grade suffered somewhere else. I would recommend adding some sort of response to this question that asks the student to reflect on their process in completing the course assignments. By only asking if I was able to complete them, you are essentially wanting a research/field question about what specifically could be improved within the coursework to encourage more students to complete the assignments. However, as you have probably surmised by now, I was able to complete each of the assignments, including this one, even if it was only comprised of enough fluff to fulfill inane requirements (see my rants about placing a cap on the maximum amount of time you are allotted to be creative...) It would, however, be an interesting conundrum if I was able to complete every assignment except this one. Imagine if this post was less than the required 150 words because I did complete all of the others. Then, if this was less than 150 words, would that mean I didn't complete the course assignments? How meta...

5.) What did you learn from this course: about yourself, your technology and leadership skills, and your attitudes?
I learned that multimedia projects on very short timeframes are potential disasters waiting to happen, particularly when you are working in a collaborative team. Multimedia/video editing requires a lot of time and a lot of communication. Additionally, it helps if you are all utilizing the same platform(s). For example, while we all used Audacity for audio editing, we ended up with multiple audio file formats (WAV and mp3). This wasn't too bad of a problem, other than the fact that I am on a Mac and my two partners were on PC's, which caused some issues when I was using iMovie and they were using Windows Movie Maker (two different versions of WMM at that!) and we ended up with video file formats and codecs that were inaccessible by the entire group, such as when I was given WMV (which I can't use) and I gave them MOV (which they couldn't use). Eventually, we settled on MP4 for video and MP3 for audio, but it took us a while to get to that point. I also learned that it helps to get to know your team members in advance or else you differing personalities will end up causing additional stress. For example, if one person is a "planner" and likes to have everything in order and worked out in advance and another person is more of a "free spirit" and likes to wait until the last minute (that would be me, in this example...) then the free spirit is going to drive the planner absolutely up a tree. It helps to be on the same page and having an agreed upon agenda in place well in advance (and then sticking to that agenda) makes a huge difference!