Play More!

Today’s Daily Create asked what I would do if I could relive my childhood. All that I could say was “PLAY MORE!” I had an incredibly imaginative childhood, running amok with my neighborhood pals. Nothing was off limits and we knew to come home when it became dark. Given my childhood of limitless play, I’m not sure I could have played more, but I would certainly give it a shot.

Week 1 Reflection: Up and Over

Exhilaration and exhaustion come to mind in describing my first week in Digital Storytelling at CU Denver. At first I wasn’t sure if I could accommodate the 15 extra hours of studies a week, but I am finding a ruthlessness in my prioritization skills. Aside from the time management piece, I absolutely love creating for DS106 and learning from my fellow students. I’m really getting the point of learning new literacies while being immersed in them. We are all feeling uncomfortable and awkward, but that creates an opportunity for the group to help each out. So far our group is great and I look forward to learning from and collaborating more and more with the group.
(Photo Credit: Susan Morris & Etienne-Jules Marey)

Blooming

This DS106 Daily Create photo is how I see my cohorts participating in CU’s Digital Storytelling course. I am drawing inspiration from each person’s beautifully unique perspective.  Thank you to everyone in our class. Viva la DS106CU!TDC Flower

“Q & A” Story Critique

For the Q & A story produced by StoryCorps, I would like to evaluate the project planning, flow, and audience traits. These aspects of the story nicely showcased a conversation between Sarah and her 12-year-old son, Joshua Littman. Joshua has Asperger’s syndrome and it is apparent that he struggles with being different. Sarah loves her son deeply and works to help him process his feelings and experiences given his syndrome.
I chose the project planning trait due to all the layers incorporated to paint Joshua’s perspective. In the beginning, I was drawn into the story by images and text that gave context. Then, the media’s transition to an interview between Joshua and Sarah kept me engaged. I feel like the creator really thought about the project and planned how to best portray Joshua.

The story’s choppy communication flow is important to demonstrate Joshua’s syndrome. The unpredictable pace of the conversation is softened by animation, but also lent to awkward conversational moments, long pauses, and quick clarification from Sarah as to not be misunderstood. You can tell she really wants Joshua to trust in who he is. Conversely, I would have liked more character development around Sarah. How did she come to be such a good mother? Did she take any trainings to help with her parenting skills?

The last trait I want to review is audience. The producers of this piece manipulated the video in such a way as to raise awareness about Asperger’s syndrome. I imagine the story’s strongest pull is for parents raising such children and have been challenged to grow to meet their child’s needs. A broader audience also gets a chance to see that Asperger’s is hard for Joshua: eluding to the fact that he still feels emotions in the absence of social graces. Perhaps this story will inspire more compassion for Asperger’s syndrome.

This story definitely got me rooting for Joshua, while informing me on the bigger picture of Asperger’s syndrome. I appreciate the planning, flow, and audience awareness used to create the Q & A story.

(Photo Credit: Tim Raunch)

“The Living Room” Story Critique

The Living Room is a powerfully crafted interview produced by Briana Breen at Radiolab. The story weaves together human nature, intrigue, layers of love, and the eminence of death through the personal story of a spying New Yorker. To focus on the quality of this piece, I will elaborate on the traits of presentation, originality, pace, and economy.
I love the presentation of this story. The format allowed Diane to be coaxed to give her tell-all experience of a movie that unfolded before her eyes through her neighbors’ curtain-free windows. Diane’s tell-all interview lets the audience indulge in her understandably human desire to monitor and invest herself in a fascinating couple that has no idea they’re being watched over the course of a year.

The third person perspective is just the beginning of this story’s originality. Diane initially hates her twenty-something neighbors who appear to have all the things she does not, but as the story progresses, she realizes the male partner is irreparably sick. The Living Room tackles the topics of a slow death, parallel lives, and a tragic love story. We get to see Diane grow to care for the couple she will never meet. Diane tells us of an incredibly tender and tragic love story that every human being can relate to.

The pace and economy of The Living Room are codependent in this story. Both traits had to be spot on in order to cover continents of information within 22 minutes of airtime. I think that with such a heavy topic, the audience needs to be led through quickly, so they can feel the emotions and cry, but not stay stuck in that tough place too long. In the sleek execution of the story, we are able to see Diane’s love story emerge as she helplessly watches her neighbors’ love story disintegrate.

I do not see a way to improve upon the story’s execution. If anything, I will try to model The Living Room’s presentation, originality, pace, and economy in my digital storytelling style. Well done!

(Photo Credit: Bernhard Suter/Flickr)

New Literacies’ Chapter 1 Review: Demands on Educators

In reading New Literacies by Lankshear and Knobel, I kept gravitating towards the concept of literacy’s evolution and how it impacts my role as an educator. The “new” literacy of today’s world allows for infinite ways to communicate a single idea. Whether I choose to teach via social media, a podcast, or a hypertext-laden Google document, each way has its own purpose and value. The internal question this poses for me is, “In today’s complicated system of communication, how do I produce relevant learning experiences, while developing the highest learning potential in students?”
Let us start with the goal in mind. According to the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), helping prepare students for a changed world means that English Language Arts teachers must increasingly focus on “problem solving, collaboration, and analysis”, as well as on skills with word processing, hypertext, LCDs, Web cams, digital streaming podcasts, smartboards, and social networking software, all of which are “central to individual and community success” (NCTE 2007:1). For me, this means, it is essential to treat “new” literacies as tools and use them wisely. I must also model community-building skills for students in order to create buy in. The University of Mary Washington’s open source for digital storytelling, known as DS106 has beautifully demonstrated how to create such rich learning experiences.

Learning is more effective when it is fun. Students also want to feel a sense of accomplishment. From the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) perspective, the ideal of literacy is a key goal, if not the key goal, of formal education: to know how to apply one’s learning effectively across the range of everyday contexts and situations, and to have the requisite qualities of “going on” as a learner throughout life (Lankshear and Knobel, 17). Giving students the opportunity to immediately use what they have learned creates a sense of skill mastery. I believe “new” literacy truly allows for the desired instant gratification and hopefully inspires continued learning.

Teaching is a delicate balance between bestowing information and drawing forth the best in students. “On one side of the line, educators must ensure that learners ‘have the opportunity to develop skills for access to new forms of work through learning the new language of work’. On the other side of the line, the fact remains that ‘as teachers, our role is not simply to be technocrats’. The role of educators is not to produce ‘docile, compliant workers’, either. Rather, students need to develop the skills ‘to speak up, to negotiate and to be able to engage critically with the conditions of their working lives’” (Kalantzis and Cope 1997: 5). As an educator, I find it difficult to design learning materials that not only teach necessary skills, but also challenge students to stretch their abilities. Often, the goal is to produce the work in order to get paid, not about creating the best possible experience.

Let me summarize my takeaway lessons from Lankshear and Knobel. To develop the highest learning potential in students, I believe I must aggressively identify and learn “new” literacies, while developing life-long learners and critical thinking individuals. The result is that it also makes me a student of my own teaching.

Death’s Loophole

CS Grave with Dickinson 10in flattened
DS106 Visual Assignment

For my focal theme in Digital Storytelling at CU Denver, I decided upon grief. It’s what I know right now.

My mother passed from cancer of an unknown source this past February, to be exact it was February 11, 2015. She was diagnosed only a couple months before on December 20, 2014. By the time we found it, the cancer had metastasized throughout her lymph nodes, pelvic floor, and up into her lungs.

I truly believe the love we have is still very present and more real than this tangible world. Although, I miss her terribly, I find hope in this love. Storytelling is another way to keep her alive. Learning through Digital Storytelling is such a fitting course for me to take at this time.

#cudenver15 #ds106 #hellogrief

Mesmer-eyes

This was my first “Daily Create” from DS106 as assigned per my Digital Storytelling class offered at CU Denver. The focus was creating an image by only using a single shape: oval being mine. I believe my image captures how I feel about embarking on the digital storytelling journey. If done right, embellishing a story with visuals, sounds, videos, and limitless other digital concoctions will enchant the audience.
#cudenver15 #ds106 #ds106dc

Hello world!

Simmons Susannah AB

Hello world! I’m Susannah and my craft is adult education.

I develop training resources and teach employees new skills on a wide variety of subject matter including improved sales, product studies, technical programs, customer-service protocol and company operations. Whether I am creating a new module, revising a presentation or creating a new job aid, I always have the end goal in mind.  Often times the bulk of my work is spent uncovering the company’s desired results for improved performance. My success with trainees is largely due to my ability to quickly assess different learner needs, set clear expectations, and create many opportunities for practice. My past 12 years of teaching in varied capacities gives me a unique and insightful perspective on developing meaningful curriculum. By combining all my skills in instructional design, teaching and presentation, I ensure knowledge retention and usage.