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Choose Your Own Adventure

In class last week as were talking about  digital storytelling, someone mentioned the “choose your own adventure” stories from childhood. I loved reading those types of books, so decided to bring that concept into the 21st century.

I actually had this idea a few years ago as a training session with Residence Life staff and created a powerpoint. I adjusted the storyline and paths for this exercise and used WordPress to create a series of pages which created the story and multiple possible choices. My point in doing this was to have students understand how one seemingly simple, innocent decision can spiral down into something very serious (or alternately, how a good decision will likely lead to more good decisions and outcomes.)

Click on the image below, which will take you to the adventure. Enjoy!

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Fair Use and Copyright

As Ms. Hobbs points out early in her presentation, a work becomes copyrighted when the author creates it. An example of the use of copyrighted materials that made me uncomfortable involved work I had created.

One of the many educational sanctions we assign to students is to attend an alcohol education program when they violate the Alcohol Policy. Part of this program includes a discussion of the various stages of physical impairment caused by consuming alcohol. While I did not create the stages, I did create physical representations of them, which students are asked to place in the correct order. Here they are, in no particular order*:

The pictures were taken from Microsoft Clip-Art, which I believe to be appropriate fair-usage of the images for educational purposes.

A few years ago, while attending the annual conference of the Association for Student Conduct Administration, I noticed a session focused on innovative approaches to alcohol education. Always looking to improve on our offerings, I attended the session. At one point, the presenter discussed an activity in which students were asked to place in the correct order the stages of physical impairment caused by consuming alcohol. Imagine my surprise (actually horror) when I saw that the stages were depicted in virtually the same manner I had created them – same pictures, same fonts, same everything. And with no reference to the University of Delaware. I was completely taken aback.

After the presentation, I went up to the presenter and commented on the stages of impairment, and asked how she came up with such creative representations. She said that she had received them from a colleague. After a bit more conversation, I came to realize that she formerly worked with a woman who had been a graduate student at Delaware a few years prior. This graduate student interned in the Office of Student Conduct and taught the alcohol education program. After getting her first job, this former grad student contacted me and asked if she could use the stages of impairment for the alcohol ed class at her institution. I gladly said “yes” and sent them to her. Her colleague, the presenter, was also at the same school, and obviously used them as well. When the presenter left that school and went to another, she took them with her.

I calmly explained to her that I was the person who originally created the graphic representation of the stages (and that another colleague at Delaware had compiled scientific information about the stages, which I had also given to my grad student colleague) and asked if she would give proper credit. She apologized profusely and said she absolutely would. I wonder if she ever did…

I’m comfortable using most copyrighted materials with students, as I am always sure to include a citation for materials I use, indicating that it’s not my own. Most of what I use is statistics (about alcohol consumption and academic honesty violations), but I do also use some video clips that show both academic honesty and dishonesty. I’m not nearly as creative as others and I also don’t want to re-invent the wheel. If someone else has done something creative and engaging and helps students to learn, I’ll gladly use it, but will be sure to give proper credit. The section of the Stanford site titled “Plagiarism, Attribution, and the Public Domain” was particularly important to me.

*PS  – If you’d like to know the correct order of the stages of impairment, let me know!

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Something New and Fun

I’ve been thinking about the tool exploration project, using Jing to create a screencast and wanting to learn how to use it. Earlier this week, I was talking to a colleague and mentioned how Microsoft Word can help with formatting citations and references. She had never realized that function existed. So, I decided to try my hand at Jing and create a screencast on using Word’s referencing and citation capabilities:

http://www.screencast.com/t/323DovQYEW

I tried to embed the video into the post, but wasn’t successful, so just click on the link.

In the video, I mentioned that you may need to tweak or adjust either the in-text citations or full references a bit.  A helpful website I’ve used for many years is from Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. It has information on citing using MLA, APA, CSE and Chicago style, with easy to access pull-down menus. Here’s a second screencast:

http://www.screencast.com/t/7joRXCqZ

Good luck with citing and referencing!

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The New Frontier of Edu-Punk

I do see value in using UD’s institutionally supported technology (Sakai) as it gives students some continuity from class to class and semester to semester. They are familiar with the layout of a Sakai page, how to read the calendar function, how to upload assignments, how to post to the Blog or Forum sections, etc. Using edu-punk style sources will potentially force students to learn multiple new technologies every semester, which can take away from their ability to learn the material of the course. If students get frustrated with learning how to create a blog using a new platform, for example, they may be less likely to learn the information associated with the blog or course. As Ebner, Holzinger, Scerbakov & Tsang (2011) found, “the success of any application depends on how fast and seamlessly these technological innovations are incorporated into a practical classroom setting.”

I also am still struggling some with the educational benefits of some Web 2.0 items. Microblogging, for example, gives you the opportunity to get someone’s short opinion and make a connection with a classmate, but really what can you learn about something in 150 characters? A list of 10 microblogging tools shows that Twitter has possibilities, but how educational is moodmill or IRateMyDay?

There are clearly some topics that are better suited to edu-punk learning than others. I can’t even begin to imagine how a course like anatomy or accounting would be handled in a DIY setting. These types of courses truly need someone who is an expert in the area to direct the learning and share the information. That, I think can’t really be done in an edu-punk setting.

One of the pitfalls of an edu-punk approach is that an instructor risks the possibility of the learning going on a tangent not initially intended, thus resulting in students not reaching the learning outcomes established at the beginning of the course. It might also make it hard to evaluate how much learning actually occurred without homework, exams, etc. associated with traditional teaching.

Another pitfall of using commercially-produced materials (a blog on WordPress, for example, rather than the Blog tool in Sakai) is even more exposure to advertising. “The overriding and inescapable reality of [services such as Google, Facebook and iTunes U] is that their business model is predicated on advertising,” according to Lamb and Groom (2010). “To use these tools is to reinforce, however indirectly, the ‘advertised life,’ the incursion of commoditization ever deeper into human thought and interaction.”

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If Time Permitted…

I have been wanting to learn how to use Microsoft Excel for some time now. I’m proficient with making and manipulating tables in Microsoft Word, which can do some of the same things as Excel, but there is definitely more functionality with Excel. Here’s my plan for learning Excel:

In 10 Minutes

  • Use the Help feature in Excel to gain understanding about the basics
  • Talk to a colleague in my office who uses Excel for some pointers
  • View some YouTube videos about Excel
  • View any number of sites available online. In keeping with my new-found knowledge of the filter bubble, I did a search of “Learn to use Microsoft Excel” in Google, Bing and Ask.com. Here are the different results:

In One Week

  • After talking to my colleague and viewing sites and videos, play around with Excel, clicking different panes, etc. to see what works (trial and error can be frustrating sometimes, though)
  • Purchase “Excel for Dummies” and use that to help me learn

In One Year

  • Take classes from Learn@IT. Here are some upcoming ones.

  • View video captures of past classes presented by Learn@IT
  • Take a full-length Excel class (Del Tech offers quite a few)

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Updating My Brand Image

Most of the changes I made this week ended up being minor. I say “ended up” because I toyed with a lot of different changes, both in content and visually, but finally kept the basics I had and just make tweaks.

WordPress

I kept the same theme I’ve had since the beginning, despite trying out quite a few. I like the layout of the current theme, with the blog on the right, links and archives on the left. I also really wanted to use a theme that allowed for a banner photo. I did change the photo, and actually included a variety that now rotate each time the page is refreshed. (The photos are one I took during a vacation last summer in Vermont.)

I worried somewhat about the readability of the page with a dark background and light text, but after getting feedback from classmates, they didn’t find it to be an issue.

I also decided to remove the widget that connected to my about.me page because as I added more information to that page, and it was included on the WordPress page, it looked much too crowded and wordy.

Finally, I reviewed each of my posts, taking into consideration what we discussed in class about a “good” post, to see how to make them more readable. I added more bolding, underlining and bulleting to help delineate the different topics and points. I hope it helps.

About.me

As for my about.me page, I adjusted it somewhat to include more work-related information (including more experience and skill-related information) and included icon links for Twitter, WordPress and Pinterest and some tags to help better identity me.  I darkened the transparency level of the box, as it was a bit hard to read the text with the photo showing through, and added some bolded text, again to help with delineating parts of the page.

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Finding, Following and Filtering

The organization I chose was ACPA – College Student Educators International for two reasons: 1) it is one of the largest student affairs professional organizations, so I suspected I’d be able to find a variety of links, followers and social media activity; and 2) one of my closest friends is the current vice president, and will be president next year. I then went to Tweetdeck (one of my new favorite tools) and searched the handle @acpa. From there, I perused a number of posts and explored the following in more detail.

@ascaprez

This is the handle of the current ACPA president, Keith Humphries. He’s tweeted on a variety of topics, about the organization generally as well as specific topics. I also looked at his blog, which I found well-organized and easy to read (something we discussed in class last week.) Being the president of a large national organization, as well as Dean of Students at a large Pac-12 school,  gives his authority and makes him (and his social media work) reputable. He doesn’t blog much (about once a month or so), so I would probably check in occasionally rather than follow or add a column to Tweetdeck.

Melissa Harris-Perry

Ms. Harris-Perry was the topic of a number of tweets, as she was recently announced as the opening speaker for the ACPA national conference in March. While she hasn’t tweeted regarding ACPA, a review of her website reveals she is well-regarded on her field (foci include African-Americans, gender and politics).  Her website has video clips from her MSNBC television show, her credentials, and links to causes she supports. Professional and trustworthy, for certain, but not really of major interest to me, so I likely won’t follow her.

@ ASCA_CJE

This is the handle for the Commission for Social Justice Educators of ACPA. (Commissions are smaller groups within the main organization centered on topical area or job focus.) There was not much for this group. Only a few tweets,  very few followers or following and their blog had only four posts. It appears that members are implementing social media to increase the commission’s visibility. I’m interested in social justice issues, there’s not much here to want me to follow. Maybe after it grows some, though.

#acpa13

This hashtag is being used to promote the upcoming national convention in Las Vegas in March. Linking to the main conference website, it’s well organized and laid out, so reputable, but since I won’t be going to the conference, I decided not to follow this one, or the very similar handle @ACPAConvention

Helix Higher Ed

A post to @ACPA from this organization caught my eye. A review of their website revealed they are an aggregator for innovations in higher and allows readers to rank the items. Some of the items they’ve recently highlighted include 1) a recycling program in the dining hall at MIT; 2) CampusPhilly, “a positive social, community, and professional experiences off-campus for college prospects and enrolled students by connecting them to regional businesses and institutions”; and  3) Trends in College Spending Online, which provides information on “spending, revenues, productivity, and enrollment in higher education institutions.” A very interesting site, but it seems fairly new (I could find posts only back to early September) and low numbers of reviewers (high of 9, low of 1) for the innovations listed. So, I don’t think it’s terribly reputable just yet…

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