Sunday, August 2, 2015

INTE 5340: Learning with Digital Stories - Final Portfolio

Why is it important to tell stories?

My final portfolio for INTE 5340 showcases a number of digital stories or critiques created throughout the term with an emphasis on Corporate eLearning. Each of my assignments was posted on this blog and shared via Twitter. Below are some links to various assignments including DS106 assignments, digital story critiques, and reading responses. Please review and feel free to provide commentary.

DS106 Assignments (Click the links to view artifacts)

Web Assignment: Way Back Time Machine
In this web assignment, I utilized the Internet Archive to view snapshots of the same website at different points in time. I chose to examine to see how this changed over time.

Design Assignment: Maze Infographic
I wanted to design an infographic and came acros this maze assignment in the design section. I combined both ideas to create an infographic demonstrating the need for eLearning, specifically within a corporate environment.

Mashup Assignment: Something doesn't belong here
Mashup is a fun concept. In this assignment I combined images from two popular kids movies. Take a look and see if you can find which picture does not belong!

Design Assignment: New Team Logo Design
The original assignment called for designing a new team logo for a fictitious team. I put my own spin on it and designed a new team logo for a new high school in my city. In addition, I discussed the importance of telling a story in logos and organizational graphics.

Digital Story Critiques (Click the links to view artifacts)

Digital Story Critique: Scrolling Mashup
An example and critique of parallax scrolling - an effect that allows the background to change at a slower pace than the scrolling to create a 3D effect. This effect enables an interesting storytelling experience using scrolling and a directional message. This digital story was critiqued using Lankshear and Knoble.

Digital Story Critique: Photoshopping at posts a number of articles from industry professionals and most are accompanied with an image to illustrate the article. I found a couple images that were photoshopped to do just that. This digital story was critiqued using Lankshear and Knoble.

Digital Story Critique: How To Develop The Best Employee Training Through E-Learning
A critique of a video commissioned by the European Commission as a way of promoting tourism. I found the video an interesting sign of the importance of eLearning within government and enterprise organizations. I critiqued the video using Jason Ohler's assessment traits.

Digital Story Critique: University of Florida eLearning Teaser Trailer
The University of Florida created a teaser trailer for their new eLearning platform. I evaluated this video using Jason Ohler's assessment traits.

Reading Responses: Lankshear and Knobel, New Literacies

Reading Response: New Literacies Chapter 8 - Social Learning in Formal Education
In chapter 8, Lankshear and Knoble tie it all together with some real to life examples of social learning among post graduate students and grammar school students.

Reading Response: Lankshear and Knoble Chapter 7 - Social Learning
Perhaps the best chapter in the book, formal education is regarded as outdated and ineffective. The authors explain the paradigm shift from push to pull and the value of social learning.

Reading Response: New Literacies Chapter 5: Blogs and Wikis
Chapter 5 explores wikis and blogs as tools for social learning.

Reading Response: Post-Modernity and a New Ethos
Another highlight chapter, new literacies does not mean a departure from the old but rather a transformation into something better. For my response I found an early 1900s newspaper that used to print social updates - perhaps a precursor to facebook and twitter?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

INTE 5340 Learning with Digital Stories: Final Reflection

 Life and Learning through Digital Stories

After seven intense weeks in an online, social media whirlwind Professor Remi Holden’s INTE 5340 Learning with Digital Stories class at the University of Colorado Denver is coming to a close. But before I can take a much needed breather, it’s time to reflect on my experiences throughout the course. To finish, I am including one last response to accompany my final portfolio. I will discuss the following topics:

·         My understanding of new literacies, social practice, and digital storytelling

·         My experience with digital storytelling and DS106

·         Applying my learning to corporate eLearning

Understanding new literacies, social practice, and digital storytelling

I started this class with a feeling of frustration. Right out of the gate, I had a week to complete half a dozen assignments and read a textbook chapter on some abstract concepts related to redefining the word literacy. I admit my initial impression was not a good one. The assignments felt like trivial busy work and the text seemed irrelevant to eLearning in general. In addition, everything we did needed to be published and shared via social media which is still a little outside of my comfort zone.  I had experience utilizing Facebook, LinkedIn, and some blogs but I’m more of the passive observer rather than active participant. Having everything accelerated into an eight week period didn’t help my attitude either, especially with the busy work and home schedules I had to manage at the same time. What I did not realize at the beginning was that the class and its underlying principles would come full circle by the end of the course.

I know now that the key to this course was changing the mindset and the way we think about learning. Redefining literacy was a big part of that and a necessary first step. It’s important to know that literacy extends beyond just the ability to read and write. It encompasses different mediums including various technologies and forms of social media, which were highlighted in this course. Once that definition is understood, we can then see how various groups or individuals exercise those literacies in everyday life. I think this is a major component of social theory. And within social theory we can examine two things: 1) how social learning takes place and 2) how social learning is put into practice.

The most interesting concept, for me though, was learning about the paradigm shift from pushing curriculum onto students to having students pull information based on their own desired learning trajectories. I believe this shift is a long time in the making but today’s new technological literacies have accelerated the shift. The web makes it possible for people to have information at their fingertips and learn what they want to learn. And now with Web 2.0 and the ability to collaborate across the internet, the student has the ability to become the teacher. Therefore, within this learning ecosystem, I can get some ideas of how to implement social learning practices into my professional learning career.

As for digital storytelling? That’s the fun byproduct of new literacies.

Digital Storytelling and DS106

In my opinion, nothing exemplifies new literacies more than DS106. I think the site and the movement altogether is incredible. I was immediately interested. I love creative projects and the fact that the site is sustained through the contributions of others. What made me uncomfortable was the social media aspect – which I mentioned earlier. Many of the assignments require sharing either on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media sites. Again, I’m more of a passive observer on social media than an active participator.

The number of assignments to complete each week was a little overwhelming. But for the DS106 assignments, I found the variety to be very intriguing. The daily creates and assignment bank projects included a vast number of different mediums illustrating the breadth of new literacies within technology. This helped me realize a number of things. First, there are quite a few online tools available and I have very little experience with any of them. It amazes me that, today, the average internet user has the ability to do web design, audio, video, and a number of other capabilities. For one assignment I needed to create my own maze but after a simple google search I quickly found a number of online tools that made the task fairly easy. Second, I found myself gravitating toward certain mediums. Audio, video, and photography are not really my thing. I would much rather do design, web, and writing assignments and generally sought those out for weekly projects. What ultimately made these assignments intriguing was the framework in which they were presented. I believe it was the text that mentioned that creativity requires restraints – you can’t just tell someone to go into a room and “be creative”. The framework starts the thought process but the ambiguity (a common attribute throughout the course) enabled the creativity.

When it came to critiquing digital stories, it was interesting to note that stories are everywhere. At first, I thought that digital storytelling would naturally come in the form of a video, such as a montage, documentary, or trailer. In reality, a story can be told in many different forms. When it came to finding digital stories to critique within our focal themes, I found myself going to quite often and found a number of great resources mixed in and around the publications. I think it was altogether a worthwhile practice. Anytime you can break something down into its smallest parts and take a critical view, a world of insight is opened up.

Apply my learning to corporate eLearning

Corporate eLearning has been a common theme for me throughout my masters studies. I considered choosing a different area of focus for digital storytelling but ultimately I wanted all of my efforts in school to contribute to my professional pursuits. So I again chose corporate eLearning. I am currently loosely affiliated with our enablement/training team at work and am looking for a full time position. I’m definitely glad I kept the theme for this course.

I’m excited to apply the learning from this class to my professional life. The biggest take-away is new perspective on eLearning. I originally though eLearning was solely comprised of self-paced learning modules and online courses. But that is just one component. Understanding the paradigm shift from push to pull has opened my eyes and given me a number of ideas of how to create an ecosystem at work where employees can pull the information needed to perform their work. It has also helped me realize that a “pull” environment is already in place but the lack of information and access has made the learning experience inefficient and cumbersome. Social learning is already taking place to some degree as employees often rely on tribal knowledge to get ramped up. And, those that work within the sales department at my company are those that benefit most from pull-based learning.

There is a major opportunity that I see and the potential to maximize learning or “enablement” as we call it is great. I believe it starts with understanding the current social learning practices and expounding upon them to make a greater learning experience.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

DS106 Assignment Bank: Way Back Time Machine

I found an interesting web assignment in the DS106 Assignment Bank for this week's assignment. There is a website called the Internet Archive Way Back Machine which keeps an archive of websites over time. It's really interesting. Go to the website and enter the url of a favorite website. You can see snapshots of the site from previous years and, therefore, see the evolution of the site over time. This DS106 assignment is exactly that.

My first thought was to look up my company's website to see the changes over time. But in keeping with my focal theme of corporate eLearning, I decided to look at a website that I've been visiting quite often since beginning my graduate education: Here are some snapshots:

June 2012

January 2013
July 2013

 December 2013
June 2014
December 2014

July 2015
The website,, started out as a blog in 2012. It's only 3 years old which is a bit of shortened timeframe. I'm sure if we were to look up some other companies that have been around a lot longer the contrast would be much more stark. However, what this does show me is how much the elearning industry (and this website being a representation of the industry) has evolved.
Content is not the only thing that changes. A website is not only a repository of information, it is also a map. Over time, the user experience will change in order to better orient the visitors to the information that is most applicable. As a blog, transformed from having a simple blog-like appearance to being more of a library of resources, of which blog posts are a major category.
One other factor that has changed over time is the inclusion of social media icons on the main page. As you can see, those did not appear until 2014. That gives us a clue of the industry is adapting to the demands of social media and creating a greater platform for collaboration. In 2012, which was only 3 years ago, I could submit a blog post.. Today, I can do that and so much more. I not only get to learn from the industry, I can also participate in it.
I now not only wonder what this website will look like 3 years from now, I wonder what the elearning industry will look like.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Reading Response: New Literacies Chapter 8 - Social Learning in Formal Education

The final chapter of New Literacies, by Lankshear and Knobel, beautifully ties together the discussions around social learning and practice with the examination of two very interesting case studies in learning – one with adult learners and the other with grade school students. As one trying to enter a brand new field (eLearning) I find these studies eye-opening and inspiring. I credit the authors for the way they organized the content of the book with principles building on each other. I admit, in the beginning chapters on “new literacies” and how they’ve become defined, I asked myself, “Who cares?” I now see how important it is to understanding literacies, especially in today’s learning culture. It’s through these literacies that the paradigm shift in formal education can take place. These empirical examples in the text illustrate this.

Within this last chapter I found a few sentences from the authors that I feel highlights the message of this book:

The ideal for all learning at every point in time - and which is especially significant when thinking about learning within formal education institutions - is that it be efficacious. For learning to be efficacious, 'what a child or adult does now [wherever they are along their trajectory] must be connected in meaningful and motivating ways with "mature" [insider] versions of related social practices'. (2011, p. 252)

The words meaningful and motivating were written throughout the description of the second learning study as attributes that aided the students throughout their experience with such a new learning platform. What’s interesting is how the platform incorporated games as part of that experience. I’m sure some old school thinkers believe games to be trivial and distraction. But games absolutely can bring meaning and motivation – so why not make it a tool for learning?

The main question that came to mind from this week’s reading was how I can establish a collaborative learning platform where I work today. I’ve mentioned this in previous posts but I work for a large technology security company - tied to the sales department. Our onboarding and training for newly hired sales reps is atrocious. Learning modules are boring and outdated, information is scattered everywhere, and there is no sign of an onboarding plan anywhere. However, because of a lack of “push”, new hires today are already relying on social collaboration and what resources they can find online. The problem they face is the immediate expectation to hit sales quotas regardless of product knowledge or other process aptitude.

This situation is a perfect example of “tribal learning” which is really a form of social learning. It makes me believe that not only is the shift to pulling a necessity, it is also a preference – especially when it comes to corporate learning. The personalities of those working within a sales organization are more adept to pulling information in order to meet their personal desires and motivations. Sitting through a day-long training or logging time in a classroom does not appeal to them (or their attention spans), in my opinion.

There is a great opportunity within workplace learning to create a platform where information can be pulled and shared through collaboration and gaming. Yet where there is pulling and trajectory, there needs to be guidance. I believe eLearning is the solution to providing that guidance and making corporate learning, as the authors put it, more efficacious.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Daily Create: Shadow Caster

Here is The Daily Create from a few days ago: casting a shadow. My brothers and I, growing up, used to try and do shadow puppets at night once the lights were turned out. This one was one of my best ones. Does it look like a dog?

DS106 Assignment Bank: Maze Infographic

For this week's interest-driven assignment bank, I wanted to find an assignment where I could create an infographic to illustrate corporate eLearning. I came across this assignment to create a maze and thought twice about it. Then I likened it to my own corporate situation and this is what I came up with:

I mentioned in previous blogs about the inadequacies surrounding my own company's training program. Essentially, newly hired sales reps are thrown in the deep a maze...are expected to find their own way, often times through trial and error. I thought a maze would be a good representation.
Allowing students to learn on their own isn't necessarily a bad thing. A lot of the personality types that become sales reps are actually kinetic learners. However, going to one extreme can be ineffective. In today's paradigm shift to "pulling" information, enabling reps with eLearning can be the necessary guidance to get them through...well... the maze.

Digital Critique: Scrolling Mashup

Throughout my degree I have spent a lot of time surfing This site, which contains a wealth of content from industry professionals, posts a number of articles relating to various topics in eLearning. I found a recent article from May 2015 titled, "The Great eLearning Design Mashup - Scrolling In eLearning" by Li Whybrow decided to do a digital critique on one of the examples in the article.

In the article, Li discusses scrolling as a mashup technique for developing eLearning web content. Scrolling is how it sounds - creating a web page where the viewer scrolls down on the page to engage content in an ordered fashion. Parallax scrolling allows the background to change at a slower pace than the scrolling to create a 3D effect. The idea is to make navigation simple while providing an engaging experience.

I'm going to borrow one of Li Whybrow's example for a digital critique: This website was created by some students at the University of South Dakota in conjunction with NASA. The mashup combined music, voiceover, and content from NASA to create a unique learning experience.

I will evaluate this website mashup based on the following literacy dimensions:

1) Reuse/repurpose existing content for specific purposes

As mentioned above, the whole idea for the website was to take content from NASA and combine it with music/audio and web applications to create a unique learning experience. Knowledge and facts were presented in a dialogue that helped engage the viewer and tell a story. The background music enhanced the experience and set a tone.

2) Be able to put together a user interface for the mashup

The scrolling feature enabled navigation through the digital story keeping the user experience simple and less technical. The added audio features were implemented so as to keep the story ongoing and not require the user to have to do anything else but scroll.

3) Facilitate an activity, interest, or pursuit

This mashup was used for a learning experience which ties directly with course curriculum and focal theme. Viewers of this website can get a fun taste of science and space in a creative yet informative presentation that hopefully spurns interest in pursuing further education.

I liked this website and thought it was a great example of mashing up web applications (the scrolling feature) with audio and visual. I wouldn't change a thing to the site and would recommend it to educators wanting to introduce their students to science, space, and NASA.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

TDC: Magical Light

Here is the Daily Create from Tuesday the 14th:

Magical Light

Reading Response: Lankshear and Knoble Chapter 7 - Social Learning

I really enjoyed reading this chapter of New Literacies this week because the authors hit on a number of themes that really hit home with me and my motivation for studying instructional technology. I will start my response by sharing a personal story.

When I started college, I attended the freshman orientation which took place the weekend prior to the first week of classes. At one point during the orientation, a student could attend a speech by of the professors of the program they wanted to major in (science majors attended a science lecture, engineer majors attended an engineering lecture, etc.). For those that did not yet know what they wanted to study (this was me), they could hear a lecture from one of the student development professors.

So I attended the lecture, and the professor speaking made sure to make the point that it often did not matter what one studied in college because one could find a job doing anything. For example, English majors have become lawyers, Humanities majors have become HR representatives, math majors have become doctors, and so on. I know the professor was trying to emphasize to his audience that they should study what they love - which I think is a justified message. The thing that has bugged me since about that speech is that no one ever said HOW the humanities major became an HR representative. Becoming an HR representative still requires learning so where did that learning take place?

Throughout this chapter, Lankshear and Knoble often referred to works published by Brown and Adler. One thing they shared from the book “Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail and learning 2.0” was that populations in the future “will increasingly depend on the availability of robust local ecosystems of resources that support innovation and productiveness “(2008: 17). I believe this is the answer to the question posed above. The paradigm shift from “pushing” education onto students to having them “pull” information based on their passions or needs is already in full swing.

Lankshear and Knoble note that societies have historically depended on formal education to support such learning but that option seems to be running out of time (2011: 215). The authors note that the type of learning needed for future sustainability and viability cannot be obtained through traditional teaching methods of pre-set courses and curriculum. In higher education, decontextualized and abstract content absorption have proven to be ineffective means of innovation and productivity (2011:215).

This appears to be a pretty hard knock on formal education. There still is value in theoretical and abstract content because it enables student to exercise their mind and develop critical and analytical thinking. However, as for innovation and productivity, such a method of learning does us no good. I go back to the example of the Humanities major turned HR representative. This example happens to be my wife’s own story. She studied something she loved which was Humanities. Upon graduation she found a job as an executive assistant for a financial planner. The position did not require any knowledge of finance just the ability to perform administrative duties. After gaining experience performing those duties for a year or so, my wife sought out another job as an executive assistant for another company. Her experience as an executive assistant qualified her for the job – not her knowledge of classical literature and art. Yet this time, she was the assistant to a vice president of human resources. Now exposed, indirectly, to a new competency which she personally found interesting, my wife began gleaning knowledge from co-workers over time. This enable her to seek out a position and obtain a position as an HR representative and begin her career in that field. Did it matter that she studied Humanities in college? No.  But it did matter that she obtain some learning which she “pulled” from her social network.

Such a practice takes place all the time. What we need to do is utilize the technological literacies which we have to magnify social learning. We can create the resources and give people access. In a way, it’s offering on-the-job training without having the job.

I personally find this subject matter exciting and relevant in my work life. Formal education can still expand our minds and teach us how to think but social learning through organized platforms can enable us to glean the knowledge that we need and/or want.


Saturday, July 11, 2015

Digital Story Critique: Photoshopping at

For this week's digital story critique I have selected two images from articles on

Beneath each picture I will list the title of the article along with the abstract:


How to Use The 5 "Moments of Need" Model In Corporate eLearning

In this article, I'll share how you can use the 5 “moments of need” to your advantage when designing eLearning courses and training events. Capitalizing on these “moments of need” when designing and developing your eLearning courses will help you to create deliverables that improve knowledge absorption and retention, which is the ultimate goal of any learning experience.


Augmented Learning 102: Voice Activated eLearning - Listen Up!

You’ve probably heard that the only silly question is the one that you didn’t ask. Well, technology has now taken that saying one step further. Voice recognition allows us to talk to, rather than through, our mobile devices. One of the best things about our mobile devices... they don’t judge. No question is too silly.

The website is an online community of eLearning professionals which includes articles, research, resources, software, collaboration, and other useful tools related to eLearning. Professionals can post articles to the website for publication. Each article comes with a visual (which follows the title and abstract) that helps portray the message of the article. I've chosen two photoshopped images that I will evaluate based on the following dimensions:

- Knowing how to import an image into an image editor 
- Understanding how perspective, shadows and shading etc. work
- Understanding how to create a recognizably meaningful juxtaposition of images

Knowing how to import an image into an image editor 

This is a fairly simple dimension but its important to point at that both images (for the purposes of this critique I will call them the stairs image and desert image) show real people. Placing real people in a photoshopped image helps the viewer create a somewhat personal connection. "If there are real people doing that then it must be possible for me to do it". I think it was important for the author or editor to specifically use live images in order to drive the reader to internalizing the message of the article. Therefore, to use real people, importing images into Photoshop or any other photo editor is a key function. In the case of these two pictures where the people are placed against a different background, it is also important to be able to crop and alter those images to make them look like they belong in the new background.

The editor here does a good job of accomplishing this. At first glance, it appears the images are part of one snapshot.

Understanding how perspective, shadows and shading etc. work
Perspective, shadows, and shading are important attributes to photoshopping in order to create a believable remix. This is actually how I know that the images were done with a photo editor. In the "stairs" image notice where the shadows are and then look at the man on the middle set of shadow. Likewise, the female in the "desert" picture is also missing a shadow where the others have them. The presence of shadowing on the correct perspective line help the image be believable. I really had to look closely at the "desert" picture to make sure it was edited. I was ultimately able to find small clues (such as the lack of a shadow and the feet of the man on the right) but at first gland it appeared to be a snapshot.

Realistic images are important because it draws the view into the picture. Upon looking at both of these images, I was immediately engaged and found my eyes wanting to explore the image further. Exploring the image further turned into telling a story in my mind.

Understanding how to create a recognizably meaningful juxtaposition of images

Yes, I did have to go to to look up the word "juxtaposition". But now that I know what it means, I can see the relevance and importance of this dimension to photoshopping. This is the component that is not immediately noticeable but is what makes the image appealing to the eye. Notice the balance of the people in each of the images. For the "stairs" image, each man is spaced apart equally creating a balance to the picture. However, the man at the top of the latter is all the way to the right. For most languages, reading takes place from left to right. This translates into visuals as well. By seeing the first two men with bigger stairs come to an obstacle, we understand more of the meaning of the third man and how he overcame the obstacle. We, as viewers, then once again tell our own story of how and why this image came to be.

The pictures are great examples of photoshopping especially within the context of digital storytelling. Picture books help children keep attention by providing some visuals to guide them during the story. These pictures follow the same principles. They are an invitation to read the article and understand the message the author is trying to convey. I feel these images appropriately represent the articles. A few photoshop touch-ups could be made to suspend disbelief completely but they certainly serve their purpose.

Reading Response: New Literacies Chapter 5: Blogs and Wikis

To begin my review of chapter 5 from Lankshear and Knobel’s New Literacies: Blogs and Wikis, I first wanted to share the answer to a question that I’ve had for a long time – where did the word blog come from?

Here is the brief history from Wikipedia (appropriate for this chapter):

Some of you may have already known that tidbit. The origin of the name isn’t as exciting as I had thought it would be. I assumed it was perhaps a made-up term but I guess having weblog as the origin makes sense.

I remember the first time hearing the term blog. It was during my undergrad in the early 2000’s when a friend of mine sent me a link to her daily blog. As an english major and with a love for writing, keeping a blog was something she enjoyed doing and looked forward to each day. I understood it to be an online journal that anyone could see. But it was more than that. In addition to keeping somewhat of a diary, my friend also provided commentary on various topics. I didn’t get it. The journal writing aspect I understood but just writing sort of a personal op-ed for the whole world to see? I thought maybe it was just a way to get attention.

Fast forward ten years and blogging is not only a common term but a social norm as well. It certainly belongs in the discussion for new literacies because it exemplifies the desire of people to express themselves, communicate, and interact. I agree with Lankshear and Knobel that blogging is both a medium and a practice much like paint. Paint is a medium used for accomplishing a number of different tasks from making art to covering a drywall. The practice of painting can also take different forms with different objectives. Therefore, blogging also acts as both a medium and a practice…a thing and an action.

One thing the authors point out, in both chapters 5 and 6, is that many people look to social networks for knowledge flows – ways to continually acquire knowledge in certain areas of interest. We know that some blogs and wikis also serve to provide knowledge flows today. The question I find curious is how and why do people trust the information provided by the masses?

I look at the case of commercial enterprise. The last few companies I have worked for have utilized blogging as part of their marketing strategy. At one company I worked for, anyone was allowed to submit a blog post for the corporate blog – which I happened to do on a couple occasions. I didn’t understand then and I’m not sure I understand now the value of such a blog to a reader. Is it to get a human component behind the flashiness of marketing?

I know in our sales organization (in the technology industry) a common strategy is to not just sell products to a customer but be a trusted advisor to the customer. I’m sure that publishing corporate blogs, with contributions from industry experts, is way to gain that trusted advisor status. Blogs provide a regular feed of industry and technological commentary but is the information presented trustworthy? Afterall, the company is trying to sell products.

I guess what I’m trying to get at is – as society shifts to blogs and even wikis for knowledge are we in danger of ingesting bad information? How do we know who to trust?

TDC: Hand and Paper Drawing

Here is the Daily Create from a few days ago:

Hand and Paper Drawing

Friday, July 10, 2015

TDC: A Poem of Death

For today's Daily Create, I give you a haiku about death:

The final whistle
A rolling ball comes to rest
Who kept score?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

DS106 Assignment Bank: This Doesn't Belong Here

Something in this picture below does not belong:

Watching toys come to life seems like every kid's fantasy. Some people might call toys inanimate objects but to the imagination, toys have characters and personalities all their own. Pixar captured this brilliantly in their Toy Story series. The image above is one of the first scenes of the first Toy Story movie. In this scene, the character that is Woody is being introduced as the leader of the group of toys in Andy's room as he runs a meeting to discuss the upcoming move. Here we get to know how each toy comes to life and what kind of personality they have. All any of the toys wants is just to be played with! What these toys don't realize is that Andy is about to receive an exciting new birthday present that will introduce both a contender for Andy's time as well as a new friend, Buzz Lightyear.

Sneaking into this image is another toy from another great story who came to life and took us on an adventure into the death-defying world of Legos. His name is Emmett and, in The Lego Movie, he realizes his destiny as a master builder and must unite with other famous superheroes to ward off the evil plot of the enemy. Emmett is another commonly played-with toy brought to life in the digital make-believe story of a young man realizing his true potential.

For this assignment I wanted to combine two similar yet different stories into one image. In thinking about famous movie scenes combined with the overarching theme of digital storytelling, I figure there couldn't be better examples of bringing the inanimate to life. Who knows? Perhaps if Emmett's and Woody's worlds would combine they could become best of friends and have their own adventures together. You've heard the phrase, "the sky is the limit." But in this case, "the imagination is the limit."

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Digital Story Critique: University of Florida e-Learning Teaser Trailer

Digital Critique:

University of Florida e-Learning Teaser Trailer

As was this week's assignment, I sought out a digital remix for my critique and came across a short video created by the University of Florida. To keep in-line with my focal theme of corporate eLearning, I did a google search for "E-Learning movie trailers" to see if something like this existed. I was happy to see that the eLearning department at the University of Florida tried their hand at a new digital format in order to tell a story - a teaser trailer of new things to come!

I will evaluate the video using the Chapter 4 appendix from New Literacies under the Movie Trailer Remix. This video isn't a traditional movie trailer in that it was created from a movie. Instead, it is a video created to look like a movie trailer. Some of the dimension I will focus on are:

1) Knowing how to access original movie footage to use in the remixed trailer
2) Paying attention to original movie storylines and leveraging them where possible in creating a new movie storyline
3) Including written text in the remix video to help convey the new storyline

Accessing Original Footage

The video is a teaser trailer for a new look eLearning technology at the university. Original footage of the old software is portrayed in an old-fashioned format conveying an out-dated message. The coloring and blinking footage make the old system look like a thing of the past, similar to an old movie before full color was available.

Paying Attention To Original Storylines

The story is simple: old platform is being updated to a new platform. The video begins with the original interface as if the viewer is the one accessing the system. The new platform is introduced in the same manner but with greater appeal and visual so the viewer can make the simple comparison.

Including Written Text

Sakai appears to be the name of the platform or software being used for eLearning at the University of Florida. The teaser is explained through text - first the old system written in an old fashioned font. The transition to the new system involves common user text, almost like a chat room. The new system is then flashier and more modern bringing a sense of newness and excitement.

Overall, the video was pretty basic but I wanted to find an example of eLearning being portrayed using a new format. I think incorporating the principle of remixing into online learning is an exciting yet challenging proposition that needs to be explored fully.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

New Literacies Reading Response: Digital Remixing

Chapter 4: Lankshear and Knobel - Digital Remixing

Anime Music Videos?!! Who are you and where are you taking me???

I had no idea, prior to now, that AMV even existed. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at all of the new vantage points that the internet is opening up to me. I did do a search for Maguma’s most notable AMV video titled, The Konoha Memory Book, and thought I would post it for those that might want to view:


The authors used Maguma’s personal story and achievements as an example of digital remixing and how it shaped that particular. I respect the example and even admire the work that Maguma did even in the video above, despite the fact that Anime is not a genre that appeals to me.  I was also unaware that fanfiction existed or even some of the other examples provided such as modding, moshing, and machinima. However, what all of these have in common is the availability of technology that allows amateurs the ability to produce and share digital content or remixes. After reading the text, I realized that I’ve seen digital remixing manifested in other forms as well. Today, one can almost find an app or a website that allows them to do homemade audio and video recordings. I even have an app on my phone where my 3 year old can record his own voice and play it back in a number of different tones or sound effects. A year ago, my work had a sales conference and invited employees or departments to create a one minute video that somehow promotes one of our products. These videos were to be shown at the annual sales conference. Our team did a “remix” by recreating Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Notes sketch but wrote the jokes to pertain to our own work environment. We were able to edit the video with a laugh track and audience sound effects to mimic the popular night host’s famous routine. We ended up winning first place!

One thing that has stood out to me from the text, however, is, as the authors state, “the general principle of remix as a necessary condition for a robust and democratic culture” (Lankshear and Knobel, p. 97). I find this principle fascinating and can now see evidences of this throughout daily life. It’s true the culture is full of remixing – from the jokes we tell, to music, to even the type of fashion we adhere to.  Today, the popular look for men is the slick hairdo with the lumberjack beard. It’s like the 1950s and 1960s decided reunite in the 2010s.

However, in pondering this principle two questions come to mind:

1)      If remix is a necessary condition for culture, would the lack of remix lead to a lack of culture?

2)      And somewhat related – to what extent can we use remix to shape or enhance culture?

I’m not really sure how to begin with my first question or if that question is even relevant. Therefore, I’m going to let it float out into the cyberverse.

I’m very intrigued by the second question though. I would like to provide some thought around it by addressing my focal theme and personal work situation. As a quick background, I work in a sales organization for a large network security company. I decided a few years ago that I wanted to pursue a different career path in instructional design / eLearning. I chose this path for a number of reasons  (all of which I won’t get into now) but mostly because I saw a need. In the fast paced technology industry, sales reps average less than 2 years at a company. Upon being hired, new reps are given a quota and a short timetable to hit that quota with product or policy training as an afterthought. The phrase “jumping in the deep end” is often used in this scenario.  As one can see, there is a major opportunity here for eLearning. Yet, there is another phrase that is also very common in my industry and that is “death by powerpoint.” The practices that we have today are ineffective or bland. I believe that remixing, in some form or another, when applied to training (with an eLearning component) can help change the culture that exists today. I’m not exactly sure how to do so but the hamster wheel in my mind is starting to turn. How can “death by powerpoint” be remixed into effective online learning?
This one has definitely got me thinking.

Happy 4th of July!

It's been fun teaching my 3 year old all about what the 4th of July Holiday is all about. So while explaining, I drew this picture on a napkin for him.

Of course, I also had to explain to him who Garfield is....

Friday, July 3, 2015

DS106 Assignment Bank: New Team Logo Design

This week's Assignment Bank called for a design focus and I was immediately drawn to the assignment of creating a sports team logo. As an avid sports fan, I've always relished the idea of creating a new sports team with colors, logo, mascot, etc. Plus, living in Utah where we only have a professional basketball team (Utah Jazz), I like to daydream of adding a pro football or pro baseball team and wonder what mascots we could incorporate that are a signature of Utah.

However, for this assignment, I decided to go a in a little different direction. In the town where I live, a new high school is currently under construction. It has already been decided that the school will be called Skyridge High School but the school colors and mascot have not yet been determined. I believe, the city will actually put those two things to a vote at some point. Therefore, as a local resident, I decided to create a design that could potentially be a candidate. Here is my design:

Logos often incorporate digital storytelling because they are designed to send a message to the viewer about the organization. It gives an impression in just few words or sometimes in just a visual. In thinking about a mascot for the new high school, I wanted to find something that represented Utah and more specifically the city I live in. At the same time, the mascot needs to be a symbol of strength and vigor and act as a rallying point for athletes, fans, and patrons. Combined with the those elements, I also wanted to incorporate a new idea and not turn back to common mascots like tigers, Spartans, or hawks. When it came to me, I knew it was the perfect fit: Wind.
The city I live in sits on hills leading up to the Wasatch Mountain Range. Here the wind blows strong, almost everyday. The city is a relatively young city without many mature trees to shelter from the wind. Basically, everyone here feels the wind and feels its strength. Because of the present wind, we also have new wind turbines to harness the power of the wind and turn it into energy. For this reason, I chose the turbine as the symbol that represents the strength of the wind. These turbines are also a new, forward thinking symbol of the future and represents an organization that is part of the future.
The text and colors are symbol and bold. The cool blue letters are laced with yellow almost as if emitting an energy. Wind is a natural phenomenon in nature and its strength is undeniable. I think any young athlete would like to be described in the same way. The wind is not just what we experience here in my city, it's who we are!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

TDC DS106: What is Silence?

The Daily Create: DS106

Silence is...

Silence is not a stranger
Or an enemy to sound
But waits for our attention
Before letting thoughts abound
For there we see without our eyes
The constitution of our soul
For there we hear without our ears
The song of our heart's goal.

DS106 Assignment Bank: Moving Object with Vine

I admit, I completely overlooked the Assignment Bank for this week so I'm just now putting something together. I selected the assignment of creating a Video using Vine

I had heard of Vine before but didn't really know what it was. I thought I would give it a try and I'm hoping to gain experience with any web tool I can - especially something that I can utilize down the road in an eLearning setting. Vine is an online and mobile tool where users can capture video and create loops. These loops can be uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, or even just on

My son has a toy Caterpillar Backhoe that he is always leaving around the house. I keep finding myself tripping over it or accidentally kicking it. When this happens I, first wait for the pain to go away or my anger to subside, then joke about kicking the cat or tripping over the cat. Get it? Trip over the CAT?! A lame joke, I know, but hey we're happy...

Here's my first Vine loop called: Runaway CAT

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Reading Response: Post-Modernity and a New Ethos

For this week’s response to Lankshear and Knoebel I would like to first contribute to the discussion on the transition from modern to post-modernity in regards to new literacies. Then I will comment on “new ethos”.

A Transition, Not A Break

Lankshear and Knoebel help set the stage for defining ‘new’ in terms of literacies by helping us understand that the transition from modernity to post-modernity is exactly that – a transition (Lankshear & Knoebel, p. 52).  They define postmodernity as “a transcendence, in which elements of an earlier state of affairs are carried over and reshaped to become parts of new configurations.” I wanted to share an experience that highlights this concept in a different way.

A couple years ago I decided to put together a family tree, realizing I couldn’t keep straight who my great-great grandparents were. So I registered with an online genealogy website and got to work. I was able to quickly find who my grandfather’s grandparents were including their birthdates, deathdates, and other relevant information. What I did not expect to find were some links to other “social” information about my ancestors. It turns out that the local newspaper for my great-great grandfather, The Mahoning Dispatch, used to print the social happenings of the residents of the various towns in the county. Luckily for me, the Library of Congress has a program for archiving local newspapers and the Mahoning Dispatch was one of them. Here is an example of one of the pages:

As you can see, the paper includes updates family ice cream socials, out-of-town guest visits, and even newborn announcements. This was like the Facebook of the 1920s - People reading about the trivial events of everyday citizens. To get that kind of information, people needed to volunteer it to the newspaper editor and then subscribe to the paper to read the results.  That newspaper clipping is almost 100 years old yet a century ago people still had interest in that kind of social information. What is different between then and now is the technology! According to Lankshear and Knoeble, “ideas and practices evolve rather than become displaced.” I think the emphasis is placed on the evolution of practice and the introduction of technology fuels that evolution.

A New Ethos

I enjoyed the reading of the text pertaining to new ethos with examples of Web 2.0. The internet has evolved from being just an information source to being a collaborative tool – a forum if you will. Today, users are a primary source of data. The example of Wikipedia is illustrates that notion completely. I remember college professors during my undergraduate degree cringing at the mere mention of Wikipedia in a classroom setting.

I believe there is an inherent danger that comes with such a high level of collaboration and that is the danger of the truth getting lost. I recall the last presidential election and the amount of rhetoric that was passed over social media. Facts, quotes, everything you can think of was thrown out into the cloud often without a tie to primary sources. When people mold their opinions based on knowledge that is unfounded the truth becomes subject to the majority or the sways of society. I think it’s important to recognize all of the factors that come with new and emerging technologies and how they contribute both positively and negatively to new literacies.

Digital Critique: How To Develop The Best Employee Training Through E-Learning

Digital Critique:
European Commission: How to develop the best employee training through E-Learning

My focal theme for this course is corporate eLearning, a theme I've maintained throughout the various courses my Master's program. In my search of digital stories I've noticed a deluge of videos promoting eLearning companies and their solutions. I find this an interesting observation and a sign of the importance of eLearning within enterprise business. Afterall, in a capitalistic economy, a presence of supply is an indication of demand.
Amidst the many promotional ad I found this short video produced by the European Commission specifically for the Tourism industry. In fact, the YouTube channel where this is found is the Tourism Business Portal with the video originating in the United Kingdom. The description of the video is as follows:
Discover the main characteristics of e-learning as well as the advantages that this training provides to workers in the sector. You will also learn how to identify a quality e-learning course.

I chose to share and evaluate this video for a few reasons. First, the European Commission, an intergovernmental organization, is telling the story to a vast audience and I wanted to examine the effectiveness of the message. And second, I want to highlight which content is present and which what is potentially missing. To do this evaluation, I draw upon Jason Ohler's "Assessment Traits" with specific attention to story, content understanding, and presentation and performance:


The title of the video is How to develop the best employee training through E-Learning but the story is not much of a how-to. Instead, the story promotes tells of the advantages for implementing eLearning curriculum and lays out some of the different pedagogical formats of eLearning. The story is told in a visual display, almost like an animated powerpoint presentation, and contains text and illustrations with music in the background.

The story being told is logical and informative but ultimately lacks an ethos that would make the story more meaningful to those watching. Because it looks like an animated powerpoint type of presentation without any narration or live images, its hard to make a personal connection to the message. Instead, it feels more like a video brochure/pamphlet of sorts.

Content Understanding

As for the content, the information presented is laid out very clearly and concisely. The graphics with text take the viewer on a logical course to understanding the importance of implementing eLearning within the company. There is also an outline of different eLearning formats that could be explored in more detail. The text was simple and did not bog down the viewer with too much reading. And the moving graphics guided the viewer to each point with good pacing so that the information came not too slowly and not too quickly.

The content was altogether easy to understand as there did not appear to be any outside distractions to take away from the message.

Presentation and Performance

Again, the video had the feel of an animated powerpoint. There's nothing wrong with that necessarily. The presentation was clean and organized with varying movements so that it wasn't always left to right. The background music added an interesting component but did not distract from the reading or graphics. The presentation was colorful and the text was large enough to read on the displace. For a short video, the message was laid out effectively and although it addressed the Tourism industry, the video could apply to any type of company contemplating an eLearning implementation. Certainly, the presentation had a professional look and feel which gave the content validity to the viewer.

What would I change?

Really, the only things I can find wrong with this digital story is the lack of potential. I pointed out earlier that it wasn't really a How-To. It was made for the Tourism industry but didn't feel like it was really tailored that area. I think a lot could have been done to make the story more compelling. It needed a human component, perhaps with video examples or testimonial. Not a lot research was done with an overall lack of statistics or empirical data. If I was a tourism executive, I would think that eLearning is a good idea from watching this video but I don't know if it would call me to action.