Friday, February 27, 2009

silver in seattle

yesterday morning sarah took me to the airport, virgin america took me to sea-tac, and a taxi took me to seattle where i was part of an event called Join USF in the Pacific Northwest at the edgewater hotel. the event included puget sound-area USF alumni, parents of USF students, a recently graduated USF student, and two admitted-to-USF students.

i began with this photograph.

this generation is the media maker generation, i said while sharing stories about my students in eating san francisco and digital media production. this is the generation of students i've been waiting for for fifteen years - they make media, they share media, they collaborate with media. at the same time, i shared my profound nervousness about the always-logged-on-ness of this generation. they are crazy creative but they are always on and always connected and some seem to have lost the ability to simply be with themselves and their thoughts. healthy attention spans seem to be at stake.

then i shared my teaching philosophy - log off before you blog off. i explained that i require my students to have offline, physical experiences and then use digital media to create and share stories about these experiences. to explain what i meant by this, i shared two student projects - eating san francisco student ali winston's North Beach Storybook 1 and recent USF media studies graduate lulu mcallister's How to Make a Delicious Omelet Using Wild Foods.

then i excitedly described USF's organic garden.

media studies professor melinda stone, art + architecture professor seth wachtel, and two year's worth of USF's garden project living learning community students have created a food-making, sustainable, beautiful, inspiring, and totally delicious organic garden on campus. USF architecture students designed and built a tool shed for the garden and various media studies classes have blogged, reported, and documented the garden and the gardeners. USF's organic garden offers different opportunities for different students in different courses taught by different professors from different disciplines. in two short years, the garden has become a working garden, a place for contemplation, a classroom, a community garden, a green lab.

time was getting tight so i raced through a past assignment for my intro to media studies students: edit USF's wikipedia page. returning to log off before you blog off, i explained that my students were required to work in groups to find books and other bound materials in gleeson library and to find relevant online resources to back up their wikipedia edits and additions. i mentioned that this semester my digital media production students will return to this assignment.

i ended with a map of san francisco filled with pins that link to blog posts and flickr sets created by last year's digital journalism students. i explained how my students began with campus, stretched to nearby golden gate park, and eventually took on the city as their beat. i then asked what would the map look like if it were generated by multiple students in multiple classes from multiple disciplines from multiple universities?

and then i said virgin america planes look like ipods, said something about me media and we media, and thanked them for inviting me to seattle.

(sorry for photographing only one side of the room!)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

the difference between thin and thick tweets

this semester, i introduced my students to twitter and offered them my definitions for thin and thick tweets:

thin tweets are posts that convey one layer of information. thick tweets convey two or more, often with help from a hyperlink.

twitterers post thin tweets all the time. for example:

i'm grumpy today

oh snap, it's raining again

need more coffee

am about to leave for the post office

i luv cottage cheese

i encourage my students to use and experiment with twitter in any and all ways they see fit and this can of course include thin tweets. but when using twitter to fulfill one of my assignments, i require my students to post thick tweets.

thick tweets convey two or more layers of information. they often, but not always, include a hyperlink that takes readers from twitter to another source of information - a newspaper article, a blog post, a flickr set, a video. i encourage my students to use 140 characters or less to compose a thick tweet that is so compelling that no reader in his or her right mind can avoid clicking the link.

here's a few examples of thick tweets written by students in my digital media production and eating san francisco classes:

in this post, stephanienow gives a shout out to ESF, announces that her north beach project is ready for viewing, tempts us with recipes, informs us that she has a new blog, and supplies a link for us to visit. awesome: a thick tweet comprised of at least five layers of information.

here, smhz tells us about a trip to costa rica he took last month and encourages us to visit the pictures he recently posted. but i'd suggest a third layer. too often, twitterers tweet the present - sam suggests that past material (a past trip to costa rica) makes for a perfectly suitable present project (a flickr set). three layers of information.

in this thick tweet, teresacgarcia sends a shout out to ESF, tells us that she just viewed the film like water for chocolate, informs us that gleeson library has the film (borrow it for free!), and notifies us when it will be available for others. terrific: four layers of information.

in my final example, melstrikesback tells us that she'll be attending an academy awards gala, links to the event so that interested readers can learn more, and thanks the foghorn (USF's student newspaper, where melstrikesback works as scene editor) for the complimentary tix. three layers of information.

as i wrote above, i encourage my students to use twitter in any way they see fit. but my bias is evident. by requiring them to post thick tweets and by encouraging them to pack multiple layers of information within 140 characters or less, i'm trying to teach my students how to craft creative, meaty, and to-the-point messages that attract other people's attention.

plus, i'm politely suggesting that they may wish to think twice about tweeting their luv of cottage cheese.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

blog assignment

blog assignment for digital media production

1. attend at least two films at USF's 7th annual human rights film festival. while there, watch, listen, learn, grab any relevant materials, and take interesting photographs.

2. organize and edit your photos into a flickr set. title the set and the photos. add descriptions when necessary.

3. if you do not already have a blog, or if you have a blog and do not want to integrate it into DMP, create a blog. you are strongly encouraged to create a free blog with wordpress.

4. for each film you watch, write and publish a blog post.

5. each blog post must contain: a) at least two or three paragraphs about the film, the filmmakers, the audience's reaction, and your reflections about the film; b) at least one relevant photograph that you took; and c) one or two links that direct your blog readers to further information about the film, filmmaker, and/or film festival.

6. before publishing your blog post, edit it again and again and again. and then, just to be safe, edit it one more time.

7. when finished, and no later than friday at 5 pm, post two thick tweets, each including a link to your blog post.

hint: be aware that this assignment requires you to create and share content using a blog, flickr, and twitter.

reminder: there is no class on thursday.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

this replaces those - twitter in the classroom

this semester, twitter is the main mode of communication used by my students and me. twitter has replaced at least three classroom technologies, and has streamlined our outside-the-classroom conversations and collaborations.

twitter has replaced the class listserv. for years, i've used a listserv (alternatively called a mailing list or discussion list) to extend our discussions beyond the classroom. these days, when we want to continue conversations, the 12 students in DMP, the 17 students in ESF, and i use twitter.

twitter has replaced email announcements. in the past, if something's come up, or i want to add a reading, or we have a location change, i would send all the students in class an email. these days, when i have something to announce, or when my students have something to announce, we use twitter.

twitter has replaced the cardboard box i used to bring to class on due dates. in the past, my students would print out their papers and bring them to class; i'd collect them in a box and take them back to the office to grade. these days, my students write blogs, design flickr sets, upload vidoe, and post works-in-progress. when finished, they tweet about it so that i - and, more importantly, their peers - can check it out.

Friday, February 20, 2009

and just like that, our health insurance no longer provides coverage for abortion

at four pm on a friday, i received the following email.


Date: February 20, 2009
To: Faculty/Staff in Blue Cross Plan
From: Diane Sweeney, Assistant HR Director for Benefits, Compensation & Risk
Re: Notice of a Modification in USF's Blue Cross PPO Plan.

You are receiving this notice because you are currently enrolled in USF's Blue Cross PPO Medical Plan.

Effective March 1, 2009, this plan will no longer provide coverage for abortion or abortion services except when the life of the mother is endangered. There will be no coverage for RU486 under the plan.

Please review the complete Summary of Material Modification at the following link:

march 7 update!

on march 4, 2009, i received the following email:

To: Participants in the University of San Francisco Self-funded Medical Plan with Blue Cross

From: Human Resources

Recently, the Office of Human Resources notified you that effective March 1, 2009, the University of San Francisco's self-funded medical plan administered by Anthem Blue Cross would no longer provide coverage for abortion or abortion services except when the life of the mother is endangered. The notice also stated that there would be no further coverage for RU486.

Thanks to all of you who responded to express concern about, or support for, the change to the plan and for those who met with representatives from Human Resources.

We understand that this issue is both sensitive and complex, and are cancelling the March 1, 2009 effective date to allow for a more comprehensive re-examination of the situation. We will keep you updated as that evaluation progresses.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Diane Sweeney at x2440 or Martha Peugh-Wade at x2444.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

north beach project

north beach project for eating san francisco

for the last few weeks, we've been reading, watching, and discussing food and culture. we've read, among other things, anne bower's "watching food: the production of food, film, and values," margaret coyle's "il timpano - to eat good food is to be close to god: the italian-american reconciliation of stanley tucci and campbell scott's big night," and nancy peters's "the beat generation and san francisco's culture of dissent." we've watched and discussed the film big night. and last night we field tripped to north beach - for dinner at bocce cafe and then a tour of the italian french baking company. now's the time to create.

1. select a platform. your selected platform must a) support multimedia, b) be open to the public, and c) allow visitors the opportunity to comment on your work.

2. create a story about food and north beach. use evidence and artifacts you experienced and gathered from our field trip.

3. as long as your story is about food and north beach, it can take any form. your story must also include, in some way, the beats.

4. make sure your story is interesting to people other than yourself. edit your story over and over and over again so that it contains zero mistakes and typos.

5. be as creative as possible.

6. sometime before class on wednesday, post a thick tweet that includes a link to your north beach project.

Monday, February 16, 2009

flickr assignment

flickr assignment for digital media production

1. leave campus.

2. find and photograph an interesting part of the city. take smart photos. take a lot of photos so you have a large and diverse set from which to select your favorites.

3. sign-up for a free flickr account, create a profile, and make all DMP members your contacts.

4. create a flickr set of 5-10 photos to tell a story about the city. title and write a description for your flickr set.

5. tag your photos. if you do not know what tagging your photographs means, find out using twitter or google. use as many tags as you think necessary and use at least 3 for each photo. select smart and creative tags. tag strategically.

6. in this flickr set, there must be no mentions or references to yourself. do not use words like "i," "me," and "my." discuss the photographs, not yourself.

7. once finished, post a thick tweet that includes a link to your flickr set.

8. i will demo your work on thursday.

hints: find a part of the city that speaks to you. take more photographs than you use. follow directions.

rule: if you have no work to demo, do not come to class.

Friday, February 13, 2009

students sharing media

this week, all 28 students in DMP and ESF joined (or were already on) twitter, giving us an individual and collective platform for presentation, conversation, and collaboration.

i've been encouraging my students to take their already existing information (blog posts, flickr sets, foghorn articles, USFtv clips) and optimally upload it to twitter. already existing information optimally uploaded, or aeiou, in 140 characters or less.

in the last week alone, the USF twitterverse has been aflame! stephanienow shared her recipe for raviolis. melstrikesback made a mixed tape (with sound!). skblackburn shared her pics of pelosi. smhz, _Kerr_, and elisamaite shared perspectives about teaching college students. and joelAweston, teresacgarcia, and Kellimccloskey, or the north beach crΓΌe, shared their culinary recommendation for ESF's first field trip.

also through twitter, the foghornonline met jonnyhech and a video game columnist was born.

it's a promising spring semester.

Monday, February 09, 2009

twitter assignment

twitter assignment for digital media production

1. last thursday (feb 5), you received the first part of this assignment: in the next 24 hours, open a free twitter account, build a profile with your real name, and find and follow all members of digital media production class.

2. through class readings and discussion, you have learned about tweets, replies, and retweets. you have read about tinyurl, twhirl, and tweetdeck. experiment with these apps, as well as other twitter apps not discussed in class, and find a platform or platforms that suits your needs.

3. through class readings, you have learned about how frozen peas started a movement, about twitter being used in times of war, and about twittering libraries. begin thinking about how you can use twitter for an organization or movement to which you belong and/or believe in. think outside of yourself.

4. through twitter search, find people who tweet about some of the topics discussed in digital media production. follow who you want but certainly follow people who use digital media smartly and creatively. be mindful of who and how many you follow.

5. in class on tuesday we'll talk about the difference between thin and thick tweets. compose at least one thick tweet and be ready to demo it on thursday.

6. on tuesday we'll also talk about already existing information optimally uploaded, or aeiou. compose at least one aeoiu tweet and be ready to demo it on thursday.

7. demo your work (3-5 minutes) in class on thursday. your demo must include: a) addressing one element of your profile, b) the way and ways you access twitter, c) a person or persons you added via your twitter search, d) your thick tweet, and e) your aeiou tweet. wow us.

8. after thursday's demos, comment on your classmates' content.

9. continue using twitter throughout the spring semester.

hints: consider your audience. experiment heavily. follow instructions.

rule: if you have no work to demo, do not come to class.

Monday, February 02, 2009

facebook assignment

facebook assignment for digital media production

1. select two spots on campus that give you polar opposite emotions - stressed vs chill, inspired vs dismal, etc.

2. using words and photographs, document your two spots. take some time.

3. involve at least one other person - a friend, a roommate, someone you barely know.

4. using a single facebook album, tell a story about your two spots. make it interesting to other people.

5. demo your work (3-5 minutes) in class on thursday.

6. comment on your classmates' content.

hints: take more photos than you end up including. write more words than you end up using. follow instructions.

rule: if you have no work to demo, do not come to class.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

teaching with technology 2.0

the first time i taught college students was in 1995, when i was a teaching assistant for professor mary corbin sies' class material aspects of american life at the university of maryland. a year earlier, mary and professor jo paoletti received a grant from the university to add technology to their classes. so along with fellow teaching assistant pysche williams, i was tasked to brainstorm ways we could integrate this new tool called the world wide web into the course curriculum.

in place of traditional papers turned over privately to the professor, students in material aspects of american life designed "homepages," or personal web sites, and shared their research them publicly onto the internet. it was an incredibly powerful learning experience - for me, for the students, and for the professor. it was also, in retrospect, an incredibly time-consuming experience.

in addition to teaching about material culture, we had to teach the students (and often ourselves) five new things. we taught them html, which took us about an hour or so. we taught them pico text editor and basic file management, which took us about an hour or two. and we taught them ftp, which took us about an hour, plenty of headaches, and an occasional extra office hour.

in addition to, and perhaps even more than, these more technical skills, we taught them more behavioral skills. we taught them how to write for the web - to think before you publish, to consider what was appropriate within an academic setting, to understand what they were creating could and most likely would remain online beyond the duration of the class, and to take responsibility for the work you make public. and, finally, we taught them how to read for the web - to read other students' work, to take some time to think about how their peers could improve their work, and to relay those comments back to their peers.

this thursday, students in digital media production will demo their first projects. the projects are being built with and presented via facebook. this semester, all of my students are on facebook. this means that all of my students know how to design profiles, create content, upload and share photographs, comment, tag, blog, and micro-blog for a public/semi-public audience. and this means that here in 2009 i'll spend zero minutes of class time teaching students how to use the tools necessary for project one.