Monday, November 29, 2010

Video Professionals

Sure I've taken video. But, I know what my talents are and usually in the past I've given them to someone else who is more techno-savvy to save me the time and headache that are involved with such an endeavor. Do you know what I found? With the introduction of JayCut, the video process was somewhat easy. It was finding the time to record the video that was the issue, on just the right topic, on just the right day. Since the holidays are hear, the topic that I chose to do my research on were a hard-find. Museums are closed and travel to them in a couple hours away. In the end, I may not have produced a great video, but I am assured now that those I produce in the future are going to be fantastic!
The video project idea that I came up with was one focused on artists who came from Iowa, Grant Wood of Anamosa; Marvin Cone of Cedar Rapids and Rose Franzen of Maquoketa; naming the project Small Town - Big Time. However, there is so much information on each artist, that I decided to focus on just one. Rose wasn't free, since they were traveling for the holidays and Marvin Cone's exhibit of cloudscapes had already been taken down from the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, so the choice of Grant Wood was clear. And besides, his work is plastered and parodied the world round, so I took a trip to Turner Alley, a tour of his studio and then hit the museum (since videography is prohibited there), just to see his works up close and personal (Coe College's library was closed for break, otherwise there would have been opportunity there as well).
My thoughts: however, not as hard as it seemed once I got my feet wet, a video assignment takes more than a lot of effort and as a teacher it would probably take up the whole of a school year's quarter to produce a quality work that would be acceptable, within the classroom, if given as an assignment to students. The teacher, if assigned this kind of endeavor, would be forced to produce it all in his/her free time. This was something great to learn, but I still may leave it to the professionals who like to play around with this medium (at least for now). I would like to continue the thread of Small Town - Big Time, but I also think that the Power Point presentations that we did previously would be a fine outlet for those kind of topics (especially since I do not have a travel budget and proximal availability to art museums where I live).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Bridging the Visual Media Expanse

It is true that most people embrace the visual world. Heck, we're bombarded with our senses ever day and this country that we live in hits you over the head with multi-sensory images, sounds and sometimes even smells...but, I am finding that more and more, as I travel through this digital media realm that I am resistant to the use of technology...I put on the brakes, procrastinate, and even decline even exploring these areas because one, I do not enjoy them (I'm more hands-on creative and a computer screen is too flat) and two, I am not familiar with them and so care not to even indulge. How many of our students are that way? Once they have decided that they would rather not, they will not or do not want to learn. The learning wall raised and almost impenetrable. So, I ask myself, how am I going to get over this hump?
The presentational information for the video I put together seemed like a great topic, Small Town - Big Time, however daunting a task to complete the task of what I have envisioned. I have lofty dreams of what I would like the video to look like, but have not the resources near to produce such a quality video that I would be proud of. To make an interesting working discussion of Iowa artists Grant Wood and Marvin Cone would take some traveling and even to interview Rose Franzen would be too much to ask of a holiday weekend when so many businesses are closed, art galleries included, and the artist's personal schedule. These have all been factors in my neglect of the topic.
Tomorrow may be a different story. So, I will attempt to do what I can, but like any student I can only promise quantity but not quality and that's not how I like to do things...more to come.

Monday, November 15, 2010

PodCast Nation

We are a people that wants, as Andy Warhol once said, our fifteen minutes of fame. We have finally reached that pinnacle in our frame of history, where the Internet has provided so much exposure and interaction the world over, conversations between like-minded people, where any topic or question can be sought out at the flick of a keystroke and any information that you want to share, can be. Today, more than ever, each individual on the other end of the modem or broadband connection is reaching out for someone to listen to what they have learned or what they have to say, watch what they have produced, or share in their ideas as unique human beings. The World Wide Web has done that for us.
So, when I was asked to create a podcast, I thought about what topic interested me and how I could possibly use this medium in the future, for teaching Art History at the graduate level (or even advanced high school, for that matter). I had used the GarageBand program, available on Mac, before and yet, it had been like anything else that I have creatively touched in my life, a toy to play with, and once uninterested, left it to lay. It had been two years since I had thought about podcasting and so, I approached the program recommended for this class, ProfCast, with more interest, since I now own a PC.
We wrote a planning worksheet last week, which seemed like a reverse-order thinking for me: to think about and plan out the whole thing before beginning. Okay, maybe that's how lesson plans are written too, but its always hard for my brain to work backwards just the same, to visualize what the end product will look like before beginning and finding a totally different outcome...
I ran into a few hurdles while recording and realized that every window needed to be open on my desktop screen, so that I could easily push a button to cue the music, power point that went along with it, and the voice recording program. I had it all done, or so I thought, told the program to share, saved my work and then went back to listen and double check it before finalizing a post: no recording at minutes of nothing-air and back to the drawing board.
Okay, start volume was on mute! Finished the recording in record time. Here's a taste,  but I'm sure your students will do better than I.

Things to think about when using this tool with students: first, you may want to make sure students are placed into groups, so that if something is not understood they don't get frustrated and just quit, instead they will have their peers to get feedback from; second, be sure to walk them through the steps of creating the script, recording the audio and/or video, and the making of the power point, making sure all steps are taken to break down the assignment; and lastly, give them time to pace themselves, hear themselves recorded and allow them to take the necessary time to rework what is not performing correctly.
If they don't feel too much of a pressure crunch about their pace, they will have a great time producing a short lecture of sorts on a topic that they're interested in and be able to share what they've learned with the Podcast Nation that we've helped them to become a part of through this invisible thing we call the world wide web.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Redesigning Wavelengths

Whether through the airwaves or broadband cables, audio and video, the Internet has brought many people together in real-time to share their views, express their interests and collaborate in many ways never thought possible a century ago.
Podcasts, for instance, utilize audio only software, record a person's voice and can be listened to anywhere, anytime, on any topic. Just take a moment to check out these sites:,,,, only a few of the resources out there. Also, Smithsonian Education's website is very helpful as well.
Many podcasts are set up in a talk-radio fashion, with music marking the intro, change of topics and ending of the broadcast. On many levels, they are talk-radio, only in a more accessible medium that the web provides, making the topics all-inclusive for anyone who would wish to listen, rather than being able to tune the radio dial in. However, XM Radio also helps people listen to stations via satellite, by tuning in to whatever genre they are interested, but that's a topic for another discussion.
In many instances, Podcasts are used as an ongoing discussion of a certain topic, which provides educators and students alike, with avenues in which they may engage in serious content, the topics that matter most. With some pre-pod research and some technical savvy, the "meat" of that year's curriculum can be tapped, chewed and swallowed, because it has created a more interactive platform in which to learn about the subject.
Another simple variation of the Podcast, a Vidcast, or Vodcast which includes, what the root eludes, video to accompany the audio. These can be set up in many platforms. The audio can be played in sync with one or many images that are under discussion, or set up to record the actual presenter. Unlike YouTube, a video sharing site where anyone and everyone can broadcast anything under the sun, a Vodcast takes on a more formal presentation. However, I have found many YouTube "How-To" videos very helpful, so a vodcast could be uploaded there as well.
Take a look at this interview with my brother as artist The radio show has set this up in such a way as to see footage from his work, and to see all person's present in the interview process. Personally, I prefer the vodcast, because I am a visual learner than auditory and the information in the Podcast would have to be replayed many times over for me to get the information processed.
In both of these, Podcast and Vodcast, the audience has been targeted, and in my case, I would be targeting art related topics, not necessarily educators, but the purpose would be for anyone who would want to learn more about how to become and remain creative, through discussion and reflection. How ever we use these technologies, the work is in the details before it ever hits the waves. So, we have written a couple vodcast plans to implement later, so check back to see those postings.
This is what appeals to me with all of these mediums because it provides a chance to share ideas, almost as fast as telepathy, and helps the world become smaller by empowering them to come together and think bigger.