Let's Build a VCU Open Photo Collection: VCUOpenPhoto

I work in the ALT Lab at VCU as Senior Specialist for Learning Media Innovation. My work routinely involves the use of images for the creation of digital stories and increasingly, the creation of course trailers and course content in video format, which is largely for access via the internet. I have also been assisting faculty in the creation of their own digital stories for teaching and sharing course related narratives. In turn, many faculty have encouraged students to create their own projects. Working in an educational environment pretty much dictates that faculty, students and staff who engage in this practice, must have access to freely available resources. Hence, I have practiced and promoted the use of Creative Commons licensed materials, with attribution to the kind people who provide them.

We live in the 21st century and have access to networks and wonderful resources that are shared by millions through Creative Commons licensing, with the intent of fostering creativity and learning. Why then in my own institution, is it so difficult to find good images to represent campus life and learning opportunities that I or others might use to create work, without having to purchase images? In my search for VCU images, I found a collection of 52 images that I am authorized to download (http://www.identity.vcu.edu/downloads/vcu/photo.aspx). Fifty-two images to represent VCU and the rich life this institution provides our students and faculty. When I search Flickr, I find many more images related to VCU, but alas, they often link back to VCU closed repositories and use is restricted.

Recently, I edited videos to introduce students to an international program that is hosted by VCU. This project required time consuming research for CC images. I experienced enormous frustration about finding (or not finding) VCU images that we can use without paying Creative Services (CS) and without marketing control. This has led me the idea to create a #VCUOpenPhoto (#VCUOpenVideo) collection that can easily be developed through crowdsourcing images from the VCU community. Such a project could also be used as an opportunity to foster digital literacy in the VCU community (including alumni) and grow a collection that can also demonstrate the power of networks (people and digital), RSS, tagging, and other means to pull together a digital collection that is in the control of the contributors and that can be dynamically added to at any time. Will this create challenges? Yes. Will this create concerns? Yes. Will this need some form of curation? Maybe.

We need an open collection of images images. We have a community of 30,000 students, plus faculty/staff. We live in the midst of creative people. If every student faculty member provided just one image of something they feel is important, beautiful, thought provoking, representative of VCU life and or study, we could quickly build a collection that can be endlessly expand. This project should emphasize openness, Creative Commons license, as a basis for establishing standards. This project could serve to inform and educate people about digital standards, size images, that you stand, etc.

The development of such a project could interface with Tom Woodward’s (@twoodwar) photo safaris and we could use the idea of tagging images for search under different criteria.

Our culture is changing our incoming students will be expected to blog. This implies they know or will learn how to use digital resources in appropriate and creative ways. Why don’t we use this idea to develop digital literacy? We are a community of creative people, with one of the finest art schools in the world on campus. We have people who are familiar with creating good photographs for various reasons. Let's be a bit radical, let's represent the ALT Lab philosophy and the philosophy of openness.

Please add your comments and let's build this collection together.

Personal learning: Wrestling with technology and conceptual models

How I learn depends on the context of what I'm trying to learn.

Currently I'm working with Adobe Premier and learning to edit in that environment. My editing has been focused on simple editors that allow faculty and students to work freely or with little cost. Consequently the tools have been somewhat simpler. Learning to work with Premiere or other technologies often requires a vocabulary and a familiarity with procedures and ways to achieve certain goals. Without the basic knowledge of the language used, it's difficult to communicate or do research on what you're trying to achieve. Simply trying to pan and zoom or use what is now commonly called the Ken Burns effect in different editors can pose a problem if you don't know exactly how to find and present specific controls. In my case simply trying to turn on the keyframe tool to establish a starting and stopping position for scrolling to another area of an image in Pemiere presented a challenge. I was exactly in the area I needed to be in, but did not realize that I had to click a little clock like image to establish a position point or a keyframe. So for me, learning is both a joy and a painful process. The pain is experienced by all of us to some degree as we learn. This occurs when our conceptual models are challenged and we are trying to be change our current understanding of the world to a new vision and understanding of how something works.

Learning Through Focused Engagement: 3D Printing Revisited

There is nothing like a rush of creativity; when the mind is inspired by an idea and takes flight into multiple possibilities for new exploration and expression.

This morning I was engaged in a demonstration of 3-D printing and in scanning people (myself included) to be re-created in a three-dimensional plastic form. Conversation flowed from the technical to the inspirational and to discussions about potential interdisciplinary learning opportunities.

I am not new to 3-D imagery and I have been exposed to 3d printing at conferences and when my colleagues Jeff Nugent and Britt Watwood recently began to explore our new 3D printer. But today, when I actually focused on my own learning & engagement in the process, the muse began to dance. What previously seemed like insignificant creation of "toys", became a source of wonder.

This is a quick post just to share excitement about my own learning and my reflection on engagement. Right now, I'm blogging for the sake of getting myself into the practice of regularly sharing my learning. I'm quite sure much more will follow soon.

Deeper Learning

Observing student(s)
Evidence of deeper learning
Applying knowledge

Open, Vertical, Dynamic Course Design for Instructors and Students Alike

un phare en coquille / Lighthouse like a shell
un phare en coquille / Lighthouse like a shell (Photo credit: TisseurDeToile -[*])

I’ve recently been engaged with faculty in a discussion about “open” in their courses. Interest and experience vary widely and for many, the concept is foreign and frightening. “Designing” for such a course might seem an oxymoron. However designing simply means considering the overall course goals & what you want students to be able to achieve, as well as making learning relevant, so students can incorporate their knowledge into real world experiences. Designing for such a course must also consider the available resources (there are many things available via the net) and the needs for communication, interaction, building community, showcasing student work and assessing understanding. How can we make this learning experience unique, distinct, dynamic and create a course that learners want to take?

What if a course were truly dynamic? What if you the instructor and your students experience content that was dynamically updated every time you access your site? What if the instructor provided a framework and selected data feeds that could provide dynamic information related to course specific topics? It seems that this could provide faculty and students with opportunities to engage in relevant discussion and create new works to both explore and demonstrate learning? Such a learning environment might also allow faculty to demonstrate their processes of thinking, research, collaboration, communication, and personal learning.

In the digital age, information is constantly and things such as breaking news, research, interesting questions, social media, all drive our quest for understanding. Recently on NPR I heard the term Verticals: data driven ventures. As I understand it (and I certainly need to learn more), news, marketing and other digital publications are increasingly using data driven verticals: data driven ventures information. Wouldn’t it be interesting for faculty design a course with both fixed content and selective feeds of dynamically driven information to engage in open learning ask interesting questions around and help explain information?

I know this work is already underway in some respects, but I'd like to see experiments with a whole new level of "verical design". I welcome examples and/or ideas for various disciplines.
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Augmented Reality and Digital Storytelling - Walking Blog 3

Walking Blog 3:

I've been working with Aurasma augmented reality App. I'm thinking
about how this might be applied educationally and in various ways. I
I'm thinking about having different people tell their version of a story
about a particular event or issue and video record that as an overlay
for Aurasma. Then, I could take photographs of individuals (or locations) and make those
be a trigger for the person telling their story.

Let the experiments begin.

Note: I've learned that video is limited to 100 MB. If you venture in this direction, please share your learning and example projects. Learn more with the Aurasma Handbook.



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Rethinking Serendipitous Connections & The Power of Informal Networking

Walking blog 2:

Perhaps I've been too serious about my approach to social media. Sometime ago I decided that there are plenty of posts to Twitter and I don't need to add unnecessary garbage (but I still do on occasion). However this morning I learned of a fundraising goal by some VCU students and a faculty member to raise over $10,000 in the fight against childhood cancer. This was largely done through connections in Twitter. Perhaps these connections were formed by the more informal sharing of information about basketball games or other personal interests and not just through more serious posts. Maybe I have been wrong. It just maybe those trivial posts that allow one to build a significant network and through that, allow someone to see my more serious thoughts and the sharing of information that matters. 

By the way, a few shaved heads raised over $12,000. Thanks to @proffigment (Lisa Phipps), her students and the power of social media.