What Inspires?

I’m participating in GCC‘s Write 6×6 event this semester. And no weaseling out of it by being too busy. I’m actually scheduling time during the week to write, and you should expect 6 posts over the next 5 weeks (it’s supposed to be 6 weeks, but I’m already late for my first post … late but NOT given up on!).

The suggested first week’s post is to write about what inspires us to do what we do at GCC. That’s what I’m doing.

I’m the Instructional Media Developer at GCC. I work in the Center for Teaching, Learning and Engagement. Our mission is to be a professional development resource for Faculty and Staff. And my job is to help Faculty and Staff professionally develop by helping them to create instructional multimedia. That can be anything from writing, handouts, spreadsheets, audio recordings, video, pretty graphics or flyers, infographics, interactive animations of one format or another, and the list goes on!

So what inspires me to do what I do is: Faculty or Staff with a message they want to deliver to our students in an engaging way.

Elsewhere, and this is just an example of uninspiring multimedia, I’ve seen people try flipping the classroom by recording hour-long lectures from the back of the classroom and posting them into Canvas. The shot is stationary, the sound is awful because it includes all the rustling generated by the students closest to the camera, and the instructor and whiteboard look tiny and can barely be seen. That’s not the kind of thing that inspires me.

Could you watch a scene like this, with barely intelligible audio, for an hour?

Photo: Broad run algebra class by James H Dunning

But here at GCC, I work with Faculty and Staff who are very motivated to help our students succeed. When someone like that comes in with a specific goal, it’s very inspiring to me, and I’ll dig deep to provide the know-how.

Academic advisor Isaac Torres notices students don’t understand the difference between Advisement and Counseling:

Adjunct ESL Faculty member Elizabeth Macdonald realizes her students need help getting their children off to a good start in Arizona’s public schools:

Psychology faculty Dr. Patricia Lavigne wants to encourage psychology students to join Psi Beta without personally making a pitch to every class during the first week of school:

There are so many inspirational faculty and staff at GCC who go an extra mile to help students and engage them in the learning process. You motivate me to do what I do, especially when you tell me your dreams, schemes, wild ideas and if-onlys, and then let me help you make them a reality. Bring in the thing you want to improve and let’s partner up to make it better.

Posted in higher education, Write 6x6 | 1 Comment

Mobile Minions, Valentine Edition!

Heart Attack of the Canvas Mobile Minions!

If you haven’t done this already, now is a great time to experience a Canvas course through the eyes of a mobile student. Learn what works and what doesn’t by enrolling in Mobile Series: Heart Attack of the Canvas Mobile Minions! (Valentine Edition). This one-week course given by Canvas facilitators Ryan Seilhamer and Biray Seitz will engage and delight you while giving you a thorough grounding in what it’s like to access course content using a mobile device. The course began February 7, but it’s not too late to catch up. I participated in this course last October and it was incredibly fun without being overly demanding of my time. I highly recommend you enroll now!

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Brilliant Prezi on Storytellers’ Secrets

So check out what was waiting for me in my email inbox this morning – this gorgeous presentation on The Storyteller’s Secret by Carmine Gallo (or view at the source):

How could I not share this bag o’ gold with my #Western106 pardners? Next time you have 15 minutes to kick around, watch this instead of lookin’ at the tumbleweeds blowin’ around. It’s worth your time.

It speaks directly to the relevance of storytelling in this here digital age. But also in any age. We are all storytellers, every single human out there. And the more we flex our story muscles, the better we get at putting our ideas out there and contributing something unique and meaningful to our culture and the world.

Some brief, fun takeaways (in no particular order) – or teasers to get you to go watch:

  • embrace your history
  • simple, effective, irresistible
  • instill hope
  • 5 types of storyteller

Git along, little #ds106ers! Please blog your own reactions. Did you learn anything? Did the presentation help you remember something you already knew?

Posted in #ds106, blog, digital storytelling, media | Leave a comment

A study in one-eyed fat man motion

Let’s make a #western106 GIF today.


A Western that I do really like is True Grit. I like the 1969 film and the 2010 version.

There is a scene where Mattie and LeBoeuf watch from a cliff as “Rooster” Cogburn takes on Ned Pepper and gang (watch the scene dubbed “Bold talk for a one-eyed fat man” from 1969 and 2010). I wouldn’t say this is my favorite or least favorite scene. But a brief shot in the 1969 version, where Rooster rides through a wide shot, firing his rifle, that always reminds me of Eadweard Muybridge‘s often-giffed study of motion of a horse and rider.


Muybridge’s The Horse in Motion, 1878


The sequence is set to motion using these frames, originally taken from Eadweard Muybridge’s Human and Animal Locomotion series, (plate 626, thoroughbred bay mare “Annie G.” galloping) published 1887 by the University of Pennsylvania


So I decided to make an animated GIF of that scene, which doesn’t work as well as the Muybridge photographs because of all the timber. I think the horse’s motion works quite well though, and even the shooting.



The GIF was easy and quick to make using the new-to-me giphy.com. All I needed to do was paste in the URL of the movie clip on YouTube. There was a little bit of trial and error with the start and endpoint sliders. Eventually I found it easier to enter 00:38 as the start point after pausing on that spot on the YouTube video, rather than try to hit a specific point using the giphy slider. For duration, I made guesses, starting with entering .3 seconds and eventually settling on .5. I captioned the GIF using the “Subtitle” choice on the text tool. Then I used giphy’s Advanced tab to download the GIF to my computer. From there, I uploaded it to my blog post so that it’s mine-all-mine.

But I also tagged it #western106 on giphy and assume it will remain available there for at least awhile: http://giphy.com/gifs/western106-10HUe8Wvn5VuO4

Posted in #ds106, blog | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Western-Challenged: Starting from Nothin’

Because I have a need to reignite my creative self, I saddled up with the Western106 folk. Then I promptly blew off the first week because work was busy, my feline companion is having health issues, and mainly because when asked to comment on what Westerns mean to me, I came up firing nothing but blanks.

As a kid, I never really enjoyed watching an actual Western. I remember feeling bored. And I don’t have any memories of a plot I understood. I didn’t care for guns, shooting, clouds of dust or men with menace on their faces. I didn’t find a reason to stay tuned.

Probably the first piece of media of the Western genre that I connected with emotionally was the one-minute PSA “The Crying Indian,” part of the Ad Council’s Keep America Beautiful campaign.

Given that this ad came out when I was around 3 years old, it’s probably the first “Western” I remember seeing. I think it probably colored my reaction to actual westerns and their often shallow portrayals of Native Americans (and women). I remember feeling like I couldn’t be seeing the whole story. And because of that, I couldn’t lose myself and just enjoy the story. I mistrusted the Western. Even more so after learning that even the hero I had connected with, “Iron Eyes Cody,” wasn’t a Native American at all, but rather a son of Sicilian immigrants with a wig and a lapse of integrity.

Growing up in Phoenix, my childhood relationship to the Western was even more muddled because of  locally iconic The Wallace and Ladmo Show. Instead of watching real Westerns, I watched Bill Thompson’s Nasty Brothers short films, where the Western genre was parodied and mashed up with other things like comic book heroes and Marx brothers-style slapstick:

These shorts, shot before I was born and aired regularly on local TV, formed my main impression of the Western genre. And that’s totally messed up.

The first Western I really enjoyed as a kid was a Space Western/Space Opera you may have heard of:

Star Wars

Over time I’ve come to understand the whole good guys wear the white hat/bad guys wear the black hat thing is prominent in Westerns. And that many many iconic film scenes are recreated from Western forbears. But I don’t know the origins of those images – where they came from first. I know I could research and find out, and that people will probably think I’m being lazy for not already knowing such stuff. It’s just never been a priority to me to find out.

A few years back my husband orchestrated an experience for me and a few of our friends who, for one reason or another, had mostly grown up without the pervasive influence of movies and television, and especially of science fiction. He had us watch a series of classic scifi films in chronological order of when they were released. We did this over a period of weeks.

Then, at the end we watched Mars Attacks!, and we laughed and guffawed our way through probably as many movie references as you can pack into a single film without your head exploding.

And I’m guessing I’m going to have that sort of an experience delving into Western106. I’m looking forward to it.


Don’t know who made this GIF, found it here.

So yeah, this post is a week late. That’s the way it had to be. Not going to fake where I’m starting from.

Posted in #ds106, blog, media, meme | 4 Comments