[-empyre-] Week 3 on empyre: Thinking and Tinkering

Andrew Lau andrewjlau at gmail.com
Wed Feb 18 10:58:53 AEDT 2015

For faculty members or instructors with an affiliation with a higher ed
institution, I might suggest that the learning management system also be
considered as platforms worthy of attention in the production of
instructional assets. Even if you’re not teaching fully online and are
teaching face-to-face, there are certainly possibilities for enhancing the
learning experience by looking to the learning management system, assessing
its affordances and constraints, and identifying points of intersection or
overlap between the learning management system and the various production
tools used to develop the learning objects. Disclaimer up front: I work for
UCLA Extension and the Continuing Education Division of the university,
heading up a team that includes an instructional content architect, an
intellectual property coordinator, an evaluation and educational assessment
designer, a production manager, and instructional designers. Our primary
scope is support and instructor development for teaching online in any
capacity, whether fully online or partly online. We occasionally also work
with instructors who teach primarily face-to-face but want to augment their
in-person courses with the use of a learning management system to distribute
readings, links, other documents, or multimedia assets.

One way to think of the learning management system (whether Blackboard,
Canvas, Moodle, etc.) is to think of individual class instances (or course
shells) as spaces of presentation that need to be designed to function
effectively and in light of course objectives and learning outcomes. In
providing instructional design support for many instructors, I’ve learned
(I.e., empirically seen with my own eyes) that the majority of instructors
don’t think of their course shells this way; rather, the learning management
system is often viewed as a repository of sorts, for adding PDFs and links
to articles and multimedia that the students should review. There are loads
of features in every single LMS, most of which are underutilized (for
whatever reason). For instructors and faculty teaching online in any
capacity, I would suggest that exploring all the ins and outs of the LMS is
one of the most important things they can do.

For presentation software, Prezi is indeed a very popular option. However,
it’s important to note that some viewers of Prezi presentations complain of
motion sickness due to the zooming. It looks slick, for sure, but the
aesthetics of the presentation are limited by the fact that it can cause
some people to want to vomit. (As a side note: one need not choose Prezi
over Powerpoint and vice versa….importing Powerpoint slides into a Prezi
presentation is actually quite easy, even if the results are less impressive
than if the presentation was created natively in Prezi). Also, in the past,
Prezi was built on Flash (now Javascript) and I’ve seen many Prezi
presentations go sour because of technical difficulties. I’ve used Haiku
Deck on limited occasion, usually if I have a quick presentation to give and
can deliver it from my iPad. Functionally, Powerpoint is still better, but
at least Haiku Deck takes seriously the notion that minimal is better than
ugly. I don’t hate on Powerpoint as much as many of my colleagues because I
firmly believe that it’s actually quite powerful….if you know where to find
the functions you need or want.

I’m assuming that we’re talking here largely about software with a low(ish)
barrier of entry, or doesn’t require some kind of institutional contract or
agreement for acquisition (I’m showing my deep roots in university
administration here). If that’s the case, the following are (cross-platform)
tools that I often recommend to instructors and faculty to have in their
toolkit. It may even be the case that these are useful outside the context
of teaching, too. Between these, there is a whole lot you can do to develop
multimedia presentations or other kinds of learning objects. In no
particular order:
* Camtasia <http://www.techsmith.com/camtasia.html>  and SnagIt
(proprietary): For creating videos and image screen caps with annotations.
This can be a bit on the more expensive side, but there are educational
discounts. But if you’re teaching courses where demos are important,
Camtasia can be your best friend. Even better if your institution can foot
the bill. :)
> * Free alternative (proprietary; part of Evernote): Skitch (for screen capture
> images; no video screen capture)
* Handbrake <https://handbrake.fr/>  (open source): video transcoder (for
compressing large video files, among other uses). Handbrake is particularly
useful if you’re creating videos from Powerpoint or other presentation
solutions. Powerpoint, in particular, outputs a wmv file, which is not as
portable across systems as, say, mp4. Handbrake can convert your wmv file
that Powerpoint so generously provided and convert it to the mp4 format
(saving on quite a bit of storage space, as wmvs are generally much larger
than if they were in the mp4 format).
* Audacity <http://audacity.sourceforge.net/>  (open source): audio recorder
(could be useful for recording podcasts, narrations or voiceovers, etc.).
There’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s not too steep.
* Evernote <https://evernote.com/>  (proprietary): Recently, Evernote
debuted Presentation Mode for Premium users
(https://evernote.com/contact/support/kb/#!/article/38825186). I’ve
delivered a couple of presentations using this feature, and while it isn’t
perfect, it works fine. Aside from this Premium feature, Evernote is a
fantastic tool for developing initial course designs, storing learning
objects for later retrieval, etc. For those of us who are suckers for
organizing information, Evernote is one of the most robust platforms for
note-taking, particularly for its search capabilities. (The OCR in Evernote
also allows for keyword searching of digitized handwritten notes; you can
even get specially colored post-its so that you can snap a photo with your
handwritten notes and Evernote will place the note in a notebook of your
* Zotero <https://www.zotero.org/>  (open source):  Extremely popular among
researchers, Zotero can also assist with the presentation of scholarly
materials. This would be a good way to model citation practices for
students, with the added benefit of standardizing how references appear
within the learning environment.
> * Some scholars use Mendeley, but Mendeley’s data cap (at 2 GBs) can be a
> non-starter for folks not looking to sign onto their freemium model. To mimic
> the PDF management functionality in Zotero, install this add-on:
> http://zotfile.com/
* Powerpoint (proprietary): As mentioned above, Powerpoint can be quite
powerful. It’s not perfect by any stretch (and can be downright frustrating
at times) but it’s a good back-up to have in case experiments with other
presentation platforms fail. Also, given the fact that Powerpoint is
ubiquitous as a go-to solution for creating presentation slide decks (except
for Mac users, maybe?), it’s a safe fallback in case there are issues with
> * Alternatives: Prezi, Google Slides, Haiku Deck, Keynote
Just a few of my thoughts on the subject…

Andrew J Lau

From:  Patrick Keilty <p.keilty at utoronto.ca>
Reply-To:  soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
Date:  Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 10:11 AM
To:  soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
Subject:  Re: [-empyre-] Week 3 on empyre: Thinking and Tinkering

----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
Thanks Selmin for pointing us to Scalar. Sure beats PowerPoint. I sometimes
use Google Sites (https://sites.google.com/), but otherwise, I'll admit to
relying on PowerPoint when I need to present a variety of media in a
presentation. It's not an ideal tool. Powerpoint is clunky, it's difficult
to move between text and video, and sometimes I have trouble loading videos
during the presentation. It's good to know about other tools. I've seen some
of my colleagues use Prezi (http://prezi.com/) and Ustream
(http://www.ustream.tv/). Prezi seems especially popular. It moves
seamlessly between images and texts, but it seems to share some of the video
problems people encounter with PowerPoint. Ustream basically allows you to
stream videos. I once used it for streaming a workshop last year. The video
quality was good, but we had deaf audience members watching the video from
home, and there wasn't an effective method for transcribing (closed
captioning) the video in real time. I've also heard people talk about
projeqt (http://www.projeqt.com/) and Haiku Deck
(https://www.haikudeck.com/), but I've never tried these myself. I'd love to
hear if anyone else has recommendation for multimedia presentations.

Patrick Keilty
Assistant Professor
Faculty of Information
University of Toronto

On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 11:59 AM, Selmin Kara <selminkara at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Thanks to Renate and the participants of the past two weeks' discussions.
> Several colleagues in Toronto are actively engaged in the FemTechNet network
> so this gives me another opportunity to follow their important and inspiring
> initiatives. My entry to the conversation about new tools will be from a
> teaching angle. I am a film scholar and for the last two winters, I have been
> teaching a course titled "Future Cinema," which predominantly deals with the
> technological, aesthetic, and narrative shifts in post-cinema, at OCAD
> University. My other film theory courses (in film studies or contemporary
> documentary) follow a more or less traditional approach; the class starts with
> a screening, followed by a lecture and discussion. The topic of future cinema,
> however, requires one to engage with new/networked modes of film scholarship
> as well as filmmaking itself. In the first semester that I taught the course,
> I mixed articles by key theorists with video essays, podcasts, and "making of
> style" deconstructive clips, and it came as a surprise to my students
> responded most to scholarship that were annotational. Instead of the video
> essays, which I thought would appeal to students at an art and design college
> most, they appreciated Steve Shaviro's formula of podcast + annotational
> slides in his analysis of Harmony Korine's Spring Breakers
> (http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=1178). I assigned the link to the students and
> we went over the slides (which embed excerpted videos as well) in class, which
> was a resounding success in the second semester too. When Steve was in town
> for a conference two weeks ago, we were chatting about the challenges of
> preparing an effective multimedia presentation that also cites and annotates
> excerpts properly and Nic Sammond brought up Scalar
> (http://scalar.usc.edu/learning_scalar/guided-tour/). Scalar is a platform for
> preparing webinars as many of you know I am sure but it offers a great
> template for networked film scholarship (with its affordances for making
> metadata and annotations accessible) too. Especially when one has to navigate
> diverse media like clips, images, audio, text, softwares, and websites in a
> short amount of time (I have students interested in diverse aspects of digital
> filmmaking like credit sequences, typography, graphic design, animation,
> camera mapping, etc. so I need a flexible networked structure that facilitates
> my switching between such examples without losing the annotations), the
> database structure becomes significant. Another advantage of it is that such
> presentations are easily shareable (hoping that we'll all push for open access
> publishing and give it credit, of course) and make film scholarship relevant
> for practitioners too. I am wondering what others think. It might be an old
> question but what platforms (or blends of platforms) do you feel comfortable
> with?  
> Selmin           
> On Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 7:51 AM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>
> wrote:
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> Thanks to Anne Balsamo for joining us yesterday. I think it is important
>> to recognize and support the places and spaces where feminist inspired
>> technology has converged. Just within the last two weeks Helen, Ana, Anne,
>> and Tracey have highlighted a few:  the Eclectic Tech Carnival, the Trans
>> Hack Feminist Camp, the transmediale event  "commoning the networks:
>> feminist methodology,² the FemTechNet network and the affiliated Fembot
>> Collective (that
>> I don¹t think Anne had a chance to mention yesterday).  Additionally
>> earlier Tracey Benson mentioned the ADA Camp she had attended in India and
>> the mother and daughter team from Kerala who facilitated a Wiki-thon on
>> International Women's Day to include entries on prominent women into
>> Wikipedia.
>>  Anne also mentioned the wiki-storming initiative that FemTechNet has
>> spearheaded.
>> A few years ago at Harvestwork in New York City, Stefanie Wuschitz  from
>> Vienna collaborated with Harvestwork¹s 2010 Artist In Residence Lesley
>> Flanigan to
>> host a two day workshop for  women artists on interactive tools.  I
>> attended that event and though the mission of the workshop was to
>> demystify the tools of technology, I recognized that to teach or share
>> only the technology was not addressing the complicated and embedded layers
>> of social, cultural and
>> political values that are inscribed in these tools. Many of our
>> technological innovations originated from our military industrial complex.
>> Unless critically
>> dissected and understood  these  patriarchal systems simply remain
>> unchecked.  I have been a proponent since I began working in digital
>> culture and technology to create and teach from a critical perspective,
>> one that is cross-disciplinary where tools and technology do not exist in
>> the void of the workshop or lab but where they were understood as a ways
>> and means to be thought through via other disciplines and modes of
>> communication.
>> Thanks to all of you including Anne Balsamo and others of you
>> participating in simultaneous threads this month.  We all seem to agree
>> that thinking through technology is just as important as tinkering with
>> it. Selmin Kara and Patrick Keilty are joining us for the next couple of
>> days.  Both
>> Patrick and Selmin are -empyre moderators and I have included their
>> biographies below.
>> Renate
>> Originally from Turkey, Selmin Kara is an Assistant Professor of Film and
>> New Media at OCAD University in Toronto, Canada. She has critical
>> interests in the
>> use of new technologies, tactical media, and sound in documentary, as well
>> as post-cinematic aesthetics and new materialist approaches in film. Her
>> work has
>> appeared and is forthcoming in Studies in Documentary Film, Poiesis: A
>> Journal of the Arts & Communication, Sequence, the Oxford Handbook of
>> Sound and
>> Image in Listening. Selmin is currently co-editing an anthology on
>> contemporary documentary media and working on her book project
>> Reassembling Documentary: From Actuality to Virtuality, which proposes a
>> new materialist framework for understanding the sound and image
>> relationships in documentary in the age of networks.
>> Patrick Keilty is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information at
>> the University of Toronto. His primary teaching and research fields are
>> new media studies, with a particular focus on digital theory, technology
>> studies, visual culture, gender, sexuality, and critical theory.
>> He is co-editor of Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader (2013).
>> His monograph project, provisionally titled Database Desire, engages the
>> question of how our embodied engagements with labyrinthine qualities of
>> database design mediate aesthetic objects and structure sexual desire in
>> ways that abound with expressive possibilities and new narrative and
>> temporal structures. Recently, he has published and presented his
>> SSHRC-funded research on a wide variety of topics, including embodiment
>> and technology, algorithmic display, the history of information retrieval,
>> technology and transformations
>> of gendered labor, women in computing, design and experience, compulsion
>> and control, metadata and the creation of fetishistic networks, new forms
>> of sexual nomenclature as taxonomies for navigating pornographic
>> databases, and feminist and queer new media and techno-science issues
>> generally.
>> Renate Ferro
>> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art,Cornell University
>> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office:  306
>> Ithaca, NY  14853
>> Email:   <rferro at cornell.edu <mailto:rtf9 at cornell.edu>>
>> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net <http://www.renateferro.net/>
>>       http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
>> <http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net/>
>> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net <http://www.tinkerfactory.net/>
>> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
>> On 2/17/15, 4:32 AM, "helen varley jamieson" <helen at creative-catalyst.com>
>> wrote:
>>> >----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> _______________________________________________
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
>> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu

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