REFLECTION 9b (FINAL): The big picture pt. 2

December 11, 2005

I’m not sure how many people come into the IDD program with an arts related background (actually my background is kind of all over the map, but it does contain some art studio experience) so I thought it might be interesting for me (and any others for that matter) to reflect on the studio experience in comparison with an art studio experience. I will say that there are some distinct similiarities and some differences…

  • Both are self learning experiences under the direction of an instructor. The instructor may give guidance, but a majority of the work is done independently.
  • Both have a critical review process by peers, IDD studio in written desk crits, and arts studio in critique, which is generally a verbal format. I think one of the challenges in both is that people really do not know how to critique. Doing it well is a very hard skill to learn. It’s neither about being overly cruel (ripping something to shreds without justification) or conversely, singing its praises. Also, it’s not necessarily just about pointing out small technical imperfections, but should look at the work in its entirety. I know that I struggle with critique (and desk crits, for that matter) but it is a good part of the process. One difference between desk crits and art critique is that it is usually a group (or in many cases the whole class) who look at the work. I do think there are good ideas that arise out of a group critique which would not normally come out in individual discussion.
  • At an undergraduate level, the arts studio classes are at a much more instructional and technical level: students are assigned general things to do (such as drawing from a life model) which is in some ways similiar to the exercises and proficiency check that 6190 first timers do. At a graduate level, students have much more freedom to choose their tools and medium, as well as the content of their works.
  • Both IDD studio & arts classes work toward an end goal: either submission of a portfolio, a final exhibit, or in the case of IDD, the showcase.
  • One difference between arts studio and IDD studio is
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REFLECTION 8: Meeting standards and validating

November 27, 2005


Isn’t it lovely? (ok, I was fighting with blogger over posting code, so I just did a screen capture… it’s kind of a blurry gif, sorry about that….) This screenshot shows what the meta for my site looks like.
…and I was kind of lazy with some parts of the meta… especially the LC subject headings part, I know there are better ones…)
…and there are actually 2 kinds of meta in this project: stuff input by dreamweaver (keywords) and DC. The reason I am including meta even though I am using a NO ROBOTs tag (which tells the web seach engine & other spiders to go away & not index)
is that

  • accessibility checkers need some of this meta,
  • HTML checkers need some of this meta and
  • whenever I release this for public, I will change the robot tag but not have to worry about anything else. 😉

In the process of ensuring that my project meets minimal guidelines for accessibility and that the code itself validates, I hit a roadblock with the code validation. The accessibility part is not the issue; I was able to create a text only page using UGA’s text only generator (fabulous!) and I made sure to use alt tags throughout. I do think one big advantage with CSS is that there is just not as much in the way of code on the actual html pages, which makes accessibility that much easier, I would think. (No tables and little code formatting in the actual pages…)

My CSS validated beautifully using the W3C validating tool. However, when I tried to validate the HTML, it kept failing. Why? Well, it has to do with the metadata that I have chosen to use (part of which is required for accessibility issues) I very much want to use LC’s Dublin Core (DC). DC is kind of an old friend and well, being a librarian, part of me feels that I should ALWAYS follow LC policies and practices… well, they do not have policies and practices for everything in life 😉 but at least for metadata!

If you duplicate any fields in the metadata, the HTML checkers will just toss it out. Thankfully, this was a relatively easy fix for me. I just had to delete my (title)(/title) tags and use the DC title tag. Kind of a scary thought…. (btw, I can’t seem to use brackets in blogger as it conflicts with the templates somehow….) , but it seems to work just fine and validates. I also considered throwing out the html and just going with xhtml, but thought I would just stick with what I have at the moment. 😉

I am very keen on accessibility as a practice, although in my personal projects, I am not as good a steward of good design as I should be… I sometimes forget the alt tags when I posting images in my online art journal (it does have full meta and it is framed in CSS, but I’m not sure that it would validate… I supposed I should give it a try…)

For additional reading and reference, I’ve enclosed some additional links at the bottom about CSS and accessibility. Now on to my article….

In Stephen’s article, which is in response to a discussion posted on NODE stating that ” Lines will have to be drawn and limits to accessibility will have to be defined – that’s just the nature of the medium,” he agrees that accessibility is an important issue which needs to be defined. He goes on to state that “[u]niversal access involves rather more than including image and link descriptions… In some cases, the technology does not yet exist to enable full accessibility. In other cases full accessibility will be either impractical or impossible.”

Considering this article was written in 1998, it is interesting to me that things have not changed alot. Yes, standards have become more common and people do talk about accessibility on occasion, but the simple fact that different browsers STILL render code differently is kind of amazing. It would seem like the web has been around long enough now, that standards should be the highest priority. Because without standards, there is no consistency, and without consistency, user experiences are different (sometimes bad, sometimes good), designers have to work harder to try to address browser issues, and companies who create software or hardware to interact with the Internet have to take into account how (or even IF) their product will work….

After reading this article I do feel a little better about my problem in getting my code to validate!

PROJECT PROCESS: I did add a blog where users could add their own thoughts on creativity. I also tried to add explanatory text in terms of the intent of this project. My project validates (HTML, CSS) and my project meets accessibility criteria for WAVE and Watchfire.

REFERENCE: Downes, Stephen. (1998). in Stephen’s Web, Downes, S. (2005). http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=271

CSS and accessibility
Accessibility features of CSS, http://www.w3.org/TR/CSS-access

CSS Accessibility, http://www.tsbvi.edu/technology/accessible-css.htm

Word Count: a whole bunch


REFLECTION 7: Interactivity?

November 22, 2005

I’m skipping back in my readings a little bit to the article on interactivity. I have been thinking about interactivity alot because I do not have much for users to ‘do’ at my project website.

Thankfully, I am at the point due to a variety of factors, mainly my project management and pre-existing technical skills, where I have the luxury of deciding what else/where else I want my project to go. Currently, it’s very much of the viewer/outsider/passive participant role vs. active and engaged participant. So, interactivity has been nagging at me a little. My site is very content heavy (which is good, nothing worse than a site that is all fluff unless it is REALLY REALLY cool fluff…)
I’ll discuss the project progress in more detail below.

Anyhow, I wanted to revisit (and actually write about) this article in terms of how it might help me find a way to make my site more interactive in the span of just about two weeks.

First, what is interactivity in terms of design? A rollover menu? Hot potatoes quiz? Video segments? Sims sets the parameters in the beginning of the article:

It is no longer adequate to see our field of practice (or are we bold enough to label it a profession?) being limited to products where interactivity is trivialized to simple menu selection, clickable objects, or linear sequencing. Interaction is intrinsic to successful, effective instructional practice as well as individual discovery. –Sims, 1995.

Sims discusses the qualities of interactivity through revisiting definitions and concepts relating to interactivity. Interactivity is some kind of ‘doing’ from creating to watching and a trademark of good interactivity is a response coupled with a thought process. (isn’t that learning?)

So, in the confines of those parameters, my project does have interactivity (user controlled slideshow of artwork, menus, video & audio segments) IF the user responds to it and it leads them to think more about their own creativity (or the creativity of others or even I guess, why I picked such a strange project!). However, I am considering adding a means for users to add their own thoughts on creativity and perhaps, even some sort of art related game. I’m not sure about the latter half in terms of time.

PROJECT PROCESS: I have smoothed out alot of the edges of my site; the design is solid yet funky, in my opinion. It will probably be the most ‘out there’ of all projects in studio, but well, that’s kind of my style. 😉 The next three things on my list are looking at interactivity more (what can I reasonably do in the such a short span of time…), finish up re-shooting video clips this week, hammer out the accessibility requirements, and make sure my CSS validates and is cross browser compatible)… anything else? Something is bound to come up, I know!
Reference:
Sims, R. (1995). Interactivity: A Forgotten Art? ITFORUM [electronic listserv]. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia. Available: http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper10/paper10.html

Word Count: 485


REFLECTION 6: Presenting information in multiple formats

November 21, 2005

In What is Universal Design for Learning? (Rose & Meyer, 2002), the authors discuss the principles of Universal design and how design can provide different learning opportunities based on learning styles through the use of multimedia. The authors cite Universal Design for LEarning (UDL) as being able:

  • To represent information in multiple formats and media.
  • To provide multiple pathways for students’ action and expression.
  • To provide multiple ways to engage students’ interest and motivation.
  • –(Rose & Meyer, 2002)

    In order to achieve those goals, a designer/educator must follow these three principles:

    Principle 1:
    To support recognition learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of presentation
    Principle 2:
    To support strategic learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of expression and apprenticeship.
    Principle 3:
    To support affective learning, provide multiple, flexible options for engagement.

    Although my project is not learning centered in that it tries to teach a specific lesson with an expected level of mastery (as defined by a quiz, completing a certain task, etc.) , my project does allow for exploration of creativity from artistic perspectives. The hope (goal) is that there will be intrinsic learning and awareness that occurs through reflection and interest in the material presented. This reflection and awareness will hopefully spark interest in how people view their own creativity.

    My goal is that exploration and learning will occur through multiple media materials presented. There will be no formal beginning to end structure (linear), instead users will be able to choose whichever section interests them. Furthermore, there is no requirement for the number of sections which a user must view. Instead any, all, or even some, will (hopefully) provide enough interesting content to encourage thinking. Users/learners/participants will be able to listen to artists, watch artists, look at artwork, read written thoughts on creativity, and provide their own insights into creativity.

    Although each of these components will not be duplicated identically, there should be enough crossover to provide material to appeal to users of various learning styles.

    PROJECT PROCESS: Currently, I am working to flesh out the resources, as well as doing followup video edits. Additionally, I am working on providing a means for participants to add their own contributions in terms of their thoughts on creativity (this may be a blog, messageboard, or guestbook, dependent upon the limitations of the arches server). I will also post the questions that I have presented. The response has been very interesting so far, and I hope that the project is useful and interesting.

    Reference:

    Rose, D. & Meyer, A.(2002). What is Universal Design for Learning? in Rose, D. & Meyer, A.(2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/chapter4.cfm

    Word Count: 436


    REFLECTION 5: A new idea and restructuring…

    November 18, 2005

    In Project KID DESIGNER: Constructivism at work through play, Reiber et. al, discuss a project to have schoolchildren create their own online learning environments, particularly remaining awareness to those children who are deamed underachievers, unengaged, or just poor students. Reiber et. al, state that “school ought not to be this way. Hard work and creative ideas should enhance, not threaten, one’s self-esteem and social standing.”

    In trying to find a better way to present information and engage students (and also provide a motivating tool), they ask “What tasks or situations do elementary and middle children find authentic and meaningful? ” In the case of this particular project the answer is games, therefore allowing kids to develop and organize and CONSTRUCT their own learning experience.

    In thinking about the KidDesigner program, I wondered how the question would relate to the IDD studio experience. If the question is re-framed as ‘What tasks or situations do Instructional Design & Development graduate students find authentic and meaningful?’, then one begins to see the role of the studio class in the IDD graduate learning experience. In many ways, studio class follows a similiar pattern to the KidDesigner program. Although a majority of the work is individual, there is much group work and collaboration throughout 6190, 6200, & 6210.

    One of the reasons I naturally gravitate towards the studio classes is that my own learning experiences as I child. I think a majority of my education did not follow lecture/testing teaching module; at least half if not 2/3 of my classes involved self learning, projects, creativity, or scientific/mathematical experiments. I find this structure of learning very intuitive and natural; however, my largest challenge in this kind of learning environment is understanding the framework and rules. No where has this more apparent than in my project journal. 🙂 I am still not sure I understand EXACTLY what I am supposed to be doing, but I think (hope) that I understand correctly.

    PROJECT PROCESS:
    Although this article deals with a specific project in children developing games, it does have broader themes and topics. My project is currently going along okay, and I probably should be actively seeking more desk crits. However, I have a hard time seeking desk crits when I still have a list of things to fix or complete. I did have a new idea which I have now incorporated into my project. I have emailed artist and creative people with my interview question list. This has proven very interesting and I think it will provide more content weight and depth.

    Reference:
    Rieber, L. P., Luke, N., & Smith, J. (1998). Project KID DESIGNER: Constructivism at work through play. Meridian: Middle School Computer Technology [On-line], 1(1). http://www.ncsu.edu/meridian/jan98/feat_1/kiddesigner.html

    Word Count: 450


    REFLECTION 4: technical difficulties and rescaling

    November 12, 2005

    In Motivation: A General Overview of Theories, Wang presents an overview of motivation. Beginning with goals, the chapter includes definitions and examples of goals, as well as a discussion of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Goals can be both short term and long term; and can be characterized as performance or mastery goals.

    “Self-efficacy affects some of the factors that predict motivation. According to Bandura (1982), self-efficacy is a self-judgment of one’s ability to perform a task in a specific domain” which is impacted by experiences (mastery and vicarious), feedback (verbal persuasion), and physiology (well being, mental state, etc.)

    Other elements of motivation in this article include attributions (world view, view of self & actions), self-regulation (being a “self-starter”, individual learner, etc. ), volition (reaching a goal, staying on track).

    PROJECT PROCESS:
    Although this chapter is just an overview of motivation, it is a timely topic. I am having some motivational issues, which are completely tied to self-regulation and the physiological state. My allergies have been awful and I’m overworked with alot of different things between art, school, and work. In the past, when I get overworked, I lose motivation and energy, even if it was something I really wanted or was interested in. Instead, I manage to somehow make it through and then when I finally have a moment to re-group wish that I had more time to make the thing (whatever it is) as great as I envisioned it OR just able to enjoy the moment because I feel like I did a good job.

    Nowhere is this more true than this semester. My project hit the wall: all of the first interview is almost unusable. The lighting wasn’t as good as it could have been and the audio is awful. My project was to rely heavily on video of artist interviews, but I’ve hit several technical difficulties (poor lighting, too much background noise) which means that I will need to re-shoot.

    Because of the need to re-shoot so much of my initial interview, I am going to have to think about what this means for my project. In most likelihood, I will need to resize my project: rather than interviewing 6 artists, I may have to just stick with 4 (including myself as one). Thankfully, the number of artists to interview isn’t part of the contract! 🙂

    I have also found myself dismally unmotivated when it comes to the project journal. I am not sure why. Although in the beginning I read the project journal guidelines, somewhere along the way, I forgot them and starting thinking of the project journal as well, emm… something it wasn’t meant to be (more of a project PROCESS reflection, not a reflection on the class readings and their impact (or lack of) on my project. So, because my first three entries did not include citations or quoted references nor were they quite long enough, I have added to them. I have kept the original entries (I’ve divided them as PROJECT PROCESS)… Anyhow, the thought of actually writing a paper at the end was actually beginning to sound appealing(!!).

    I think the other part of it is me: my internal motivation. I know what (un)motivates me ; but I have a harder time pinpointing what does motivate me, although I would think that feeling engaged and not overwhelmed has got to be part of it.

    The motivation that I do have right now is external: grades (obviously), peer encouragement (thanks Ericka!), but also from the artists I have talked to. The interviews are amazing. As a creative person/artist, I really needed to hear these things. I couldn’t have picked a better topic/subject.

    On another good note: I do feel like my project is starting to breathe a little on its own and it now has a new name. It is now SPARC: spark of potential: artist reflect on creativity). Nifty acronym, eh? 😉

    Reference: Wang, Shiang-Kwei, Motivation: A General Overview of Theories, http://www.coe.uga.edu/epltt/Motivation.htm in M. Orey , Emerging Perspectives on Learning, Teaching and Technology. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia, Department of Instructional Technology.

    word count: 684


    REFLECTION 3: working away…

    October 28, 2005

    In simSchool: The Game of Teaching, Melanie Zibit and David Gibson discuss a simSchool, a product to help new teachers develop the skillset they need to (hopefully) succeed in the classroom. This product is a classroom simulation and attempts to emmerse new teachers in a ‘real’ classroom, with all of its unique personalities and characteristics.

    An interesting part of this simulation is the ability to create a classroom which will have a similiar group of students to a real class in that region. This software pulls data from the National Center for Educational Statistics Common Core of Data, thus insuring that the makeup of the class accurately reflects the reality.

    Additionally, student behavior consists of three factors: (1) five “Traits and Needs”; (2) seventeen “Learning Preferences,” and (3) a variable for “Social Expectations.” Students in simSchool have an effectively infinite number—in the trillions—of nuanced combinations of these factors (23^10 = 4.14E13).’ –(Zibit & Gibson)

    simSchool attempts to strengthen new teachers in decision making and develop a core of expertise in:

    * Which kinds of tasks work and do not work in this particular setting?
    * How often does a particular student need teacher interactions to stay on task?
    * Where is the zone of proximal development for this student as defined by task content and difficulty? –(Zibit & Gibson)

    This article was interesting to me because I do not usually think of teaching as a field which can be learned via software. Yes, the technical aspects, software tools, etc. are certainly learned online, but, the art of teaching?

    PROJECT PROGRESS:
    This article was read in support of the GAMING SIG, where we discussed the roles in gaming, simulations, and the process of creating an interactive game. I found the GAMING SIG interesting in the notion of how learning could be situated in a different enviroment. I am not sure how that plays out in my project. I do hope to add some interactivity to my project, but I do not know if it will go as far as a game. I have really thought and reflected on whether (or how) I could use a game component in my project. I have also thought about whether that would be the best fit for my project. I am not sure. This SIG was definitely food for thought… the notion of storytelling and gaming seems like an easy fit for a project which is really on creativity… hmmm.

    Reference: Zibit, Melanie and Gibson, David. simSchool:The Game of Teaching. The Innovate Gateway, August/September 2005, V.1, Issue 6
    http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=issue&id=9

    word count: 432