Final Project: Online Book

For the final assignment for this class I decided to make a children’s picture book. Because I do not use an Apple computer, my options for online publishing were somewhat limited. I was unable to find a free program that would allow me to incorporate video and audio with the book itself.

I chose to use the program Storybird. This program allows users to create books using artwork from a variety of artists. Users can make a chapter book, picture book, or poem. The artist whose work I chose lives in Seattle, WA, and they had over 150 pictures available for use.

Storybird is free, but gives users the opportunity to share, download, or print their books. The latter two cost money. I’m not sure how it works exactly, but I think the artists are compensated when you choose one of the paying options.

I don’t think this program would be useful to me at the college level, but it would be great for K-12 teachers.

Here is a screencast of me reading the book:

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ED 659: Screencasts

For this assignment I was asked to create three related screencasts that can be used to teach someone about a technological concept. I chose to create a series of screencasts to help familiarize my students with Google Drive.

The program I used for this assignment is Screen-cast-o-matic, and I highly recommend it. The free version allows you to record up to ten minutes at a time. You can record just the screen with audio or the screen, audio, and a video of yourself talking. I generally go for the first option since seeing myself on the screen while I am trying to talk can be very distracting. The screencasts can then be uploaded to YouTube, which makes them very easy to embed into websites or LMS.

Because the University of Alaska email is hosted with the Google system, every student has access to all of the free Google tools, including Google Drive. I tend to use Google Drive a lot for file sharing, storage, and document creation. I love the fact that Google Drive is a cloud storage system that can be accessed from anywhere I can open my email. I also love the fact that documents automatically save every few seconds, so your information is never lost.

Although I am fan of Google Drive, a lot of my students are not familiar with it. I have created these screencasts with the hope of helping my students gain more comfort with the program so that they can use it to draft and submit assignments for my class. Using Google Drive will help to eliminate issues like broken laptops and deleted files.

One of the things I also really like about Google Drive is the ease with which it can be integrated into the various LMS I use to teach. For my UAF classes I generally prefer to use Canvas, and Google Drive integrates beautifully. Once the two programs have been integrated, students can upload assignments directly from Google Drive into Canvas. Students can also use Google Docs to create collaborative documents for group work directly from Canvas.

My first screencast is designed to help students simply locate and familiarize themselves with Google Drive. It also shows them how to create a basic Google Doc.

In my second screencast I walk students through the process of formatting a Google Doc according to MLA rules. I chose to do this because the process is slightly different from what students would experience with a Microsoft Word document.

Finally, in my third screencast, I show students how to integrate Google Drive with Canvas to submit assignments.


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Screen Capture


For my screen capture assignment I created three shots to help orient new students to the LMS (learning management system) I use for online teaching. I preferred LMS is a system called Canvas. After having used it for a couple of semesters, I find it to be quite intuitive, but students sometimes struggle with it at the start of the semester.

To help address that learning curve, I have created a series of screenshots that will help students get through the first week of class. My hope is that after they successfully get through the first week they will feel more confident about moving on their own within the Canvas site.

The Shots

My first shot is designed to help students set up their Canvas accounts. This shot is important because I make note that students are required to use their UAF email addresses when setting up their Canvas accounts. Although I always include that information in my first-day-of-class email, there are inevitably a few people who ignore that rule. My hope is that by also providing a visual with directions that students will be more likely to succeed in following my instructions.

Canvas Step 1

My second screenshot is intended to help orient students with their Canvas homepage.    Canvas has a lot of nice features, but the number of menu options (see left side of screen) can be rather overwhelming to students. My intention with this shot is to highlight the most important options so that students can gain some confidence about navigating our LMS.

The options I chose to highlight are:

  1. “Assignments”- to access assignment descriptions
  2. “Calendar”- to see assignment due dates
  3. “Inbox”-to send course messages
  4. “Modules”- to access weekly lesson folders
  5. “Discussions”- to make weekly short writing posts
  6. “Grades”- to see grades
  7. “To Do”- to see upcoming assignments

I could have explained everything on the page, but I did not want to overwhelm new students. Instead I chose to highlight the options I thought they would be most likely to need in the first few weeks of class.

Canvas Homepage Orientation

The third shot I did was to help students understand how to complete their first assignment. The first assignment I always do for my online courses is a short writing in which students are asked to introduce themselves to the class. I really like the way Canvas groups all of the posts together so that they read as a continuous thread (as opposed to the way Blackboard does it). However, students are sometimes confused about how to make their initial post.

I designed this screenshot to help students understand what they are seeing when they look at an assignment page on our LMS. These are the sections I chose to highlight:

  1. Due date
  2. Assignment name
  3. Assignment point value
  4. How to post (“Reply”)
  5. How to search posts

I also highlighted one of the assignment requirements that students often overlook- the requirement that they reply to at least two of their classmates’ posts.

As you can see from this shot, all of the regular menu items are still available in this shot, but I did not feel the need to identify any of them since they were mostly already covered in the second shot.



Canvas- Short Writing post



Before this assignment I had not considered the possibility of using screenshots to help students get oriented with a new course. Now I don’t understand why I didn’t think of it before! I am definitely going to use them in the future because I like the way they are accessible and visually appealing. I also appreciate the way they show the actual page rather than my having to explain so much in a written description.

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Video Production

The Assignment

For this assignment I was asked to create three linked videos that were related and contained common elements. In the past, I have used YouTube capture, but as that app is not available for Andriod devices, I used my Samsung tablet and an app called Videoshop to complete this assignment.

Videoshop took a bit of time to learn, but once I figured it out I started to like it. With this app I was able to film and edit. I was also able to upload the files directly to YouTube. Videoshop has a lot of nice features. You can cut, trim, and split clips. You can string clips together. You can overlay sound, zoom in or out of clips, resize them, add transitions, and overlap various themes or filters.

My three videos are all focused on packing for a long-distance walking trip I will take this month with my husband. In the first video I introduce the topic and describe the backpack I am using. In the second I show and explain the things I am bringing, and in the third I show how I have used ultra light packing cubes to fit everything neatly into my bag.

For my edits I concentrated on streamlining the flow of my speech. I tried to eliminate speech fillers like, “um” or other awkwardness. I also tried to cut out jumpy clips. Because I do not have a lot of experience with video production, these are not as polished as I might like. My final product were hindered by both my lack of experience and my learning curve with the software.

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“Still Life”: a photography collection


For my ED 659 (Multimedia Tools for Educator’s) class, I have been tasked with composing 6 digital photos that share a common theme and are manipulated as necessary to create the desired effect.

The title of my collection is “Still Life.” I am using this title as a play on words because there is motion around me most of the time, from my family, pets, and even from the landscape. I tried to capture “still” moments that are also representative of the essence of the subject.

The six photos are designed for use as follows:

  1. Proper use in printing
  2. Monitor display
  3. Web publication

I took all of the photos using my cellphone, which is a Samsung j7. There is nothing exceptional about this phone or its camera. The camera is decent for basic use, but it has no frills. I chose to use only my phone because I wanted the challenge of working with a device of limited capacity.

I edited my photos using a free app called Aviary. I was very pleased with the app. There are a lot of different ways it can be used to manipulate, edit, and otherwise enhance the photos. Some of the enhancements included things like adding frames, text, or memes, but I mostly avoided these as they just seemed silly.

Instead I made use of the more directive editing tools which allowed me to adjust things such as brightness, contrast, saturation, and fade. I also played with adjusting the sharpness and focus. I wanted the photos to look polished without being too over the top.

Proper Use in Printing


This is a photo of one of my dogs, Taiga. It was shot in the morning, with the sun against his back. I like the intensity of his expression and the way the light contrasts with his fur. I consider this to be a “still life” because he is quite young and is very energetic. I’m actually very surprised I was able to capture him this still.

The most obvious edit I made was to overlay a circular frame. This is the only picture I used a frame on. I did it in part to experiment with frames, but also to crop out some of the sun. In the original the sun above his head was very visible, and as a result dominated the photo.

I was drawn to this photo also because I liked the contrast of the solid lines of porch and pole against the more fluid shape of his fur. He simultaneously stands out (with his shape contrast) and blends into the photo (with his coloration).

This is a photo of my husband, who like my dog, does not like to sit still to be photographed. It is taken in our bedroom, just before bed, with his bedside lamp in the background. After I took this photo, I was struck by the similarity of it to the one of my dog Taiga.

They both have a similar turn to their heads, and although the place and time of day were very different, the light plays a similar role in the composition. When I edited this photo, I really wanted to focus on the intensity of his gaze.

I played with the sharpness and contrast so that I could emphasize his eyes and head against the background. I also played with the use of shadow. I wanted the light to play a significant role, but I did not want it to overpower the composition.

Finally, I played with the focus. Of all the photos I experimented with, I felt that the focus on this one ended up being the most successful. When you look at the photo, you are drawn to his eyes and face, not to what is around him. I considered cropping part of the image, but I decided the background was a useful way to create contrast with face.

Monitor display

I took this photo in the morning, around 8:30 A.M.  Dawn has passed, but the light is still not fully developed. Although this landscape looks still, that is deceiving. Many animals live and move on it, such as snakes, coyotes, lizards, and jack rabbits.

The plants themselves are also deceiving. This is high desert, so much of the palate looks green, yellow, and brown. However, nearly every plant and cactus blooms at some point in the year. It will rain one day, and suddenly everywhere you look will be a riot of color.

I like the composition of this photo because of the way the lines of the road and side posts lead your eye to the mountains. I also appreciate the contrast between the relatively flat landscape at the front of the photo and the Sandia Mountains in the distance.

When I edited this photo, I did not make a lot of changes. I selected the scenery enhancement and I played some with the brightness and contrast. I liked the was the light comes from the top left, and i did not want to diminish the play of the shadows juxtaposed with the more dominant lines of the road.

I particularly appreciate the grandness of the bright blue sky and the sense of depth you get when looking at the photo.

Although I live in a desert, there are trees here, like this cottonwood which helps to support the foot bridge. We have a surprising number of natural springs in our area, which provides pockets of true greenery and attracts all types of wildlife. The stillness here make the bridge one of my favorite places on our property.

I took this photo in the early morning, around 6:30 A.M. This bridge crosses an aroyo behind my house. When I took this shot the rising sun was at my back, and so the light still feels filtered. this bridge is always a little shady, especially in the early morning.

I really like how the quality of the light makes the textures of the image pop. Looking at the photo, you can almost feel the difference between the rough bark of the tree and the smooth planks of the bridge.

I also appreciate the way the supporting tree frames the image, and how the angle creates depth with the bridge. The straight lines of the bridge itself draw a viewer’s eye up onto the hills beyond, which are starting to be touched by the morning light.

When I edited this photo, I enhanced it using the landscape setting. I also played with the shadow contrast and the sharpness. I wanted the textures to really stand out, but I did not want the picture to become muted or unnatural. I love the early morning light and wanted to stay as true to it as possible.

Web publication

This photo is taken in my yard at twilight. My girls were outside playing after dinner. Although I took many photos of them moving, this unscripted moment of calm caught my eye. I love the contrast between the greenery surrounding the center image and the bright, unnatural blue of the trampoline cover.

I appreciate the juxtaposition between the chaos of nature and the symmetry of the structures we have placed in the environment.  Because it is late evening, you can see the sun heading off in the distance. When I edited this, I played with manipulating the shadows. I wanted to use deeper shadows to emphasize the vibrancy of the environment, but I did not want to darken the image too much.

In the original, my daughters features were more easily seen, but as I edited for vibrancy and exposure, I realized that they were not the center of the image. Instead, this image was appealing to me because of the way all of the elements work together to create a narrative. You do not need to see the people in the image clearly to imagine a story about them.

This photo was taken of my cat August, who we recently adopted from the animal shelter. He has decided that I am his, and so I had to put a bed for him on my desk. I work from home, so he can often be found there, under the glow of my lamps.

In this image, he is being lighted from three directions. There are lamps to his left and right, and high above, behind where I am taking the picture, there is recessed ceiling lighting. This is a true example of still life because this is a cat who loves to be in motion. He follows me from room to room, and takes breaks from supervising to run laps around the house.

August is an orange tabby with a somewhat strange pattern. He is a mixture of stripes and spots. I wanted to emphasize the vibrancy of his coloration in this image. His being lighted from multiple angles helped to give him an almost golden appearance.

I like the composition of this image because of the fairly unconventional angles. There are straight lines from the pages in the background, and they contrast with the fluidity of his body. I also particularly like the angle of the image, as it feels surprisingly close to a viewer.

When I edited this photo, I used the portrait setting. I also played with contrast, shadows, saturation, and brightness. I wanted to place emphasis on his interesting pattern and coloration, without making the subject unrecognizable. I played with the focus as well, so that I could mute the background and draw a viewer’s eye to the way the light played against his fur.

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Not-So-Final Project: Advice for Future Students

Creativity is Your Friend

If I were to give advice to future students, I would say, “embrace your creative side.” This class asks you to “think outside of the box” in several ways.  First, the assignments are different from much of what you might otherwise encounter. Some description is given, but the format is not directly prescribed. If you are a go-with-the-flow kind of person, this is a great fit, but if you are a cross-your-Ts kind of person, this may be a little stressful at first.

So, my advice is to embrace your creativity. Allow yourself to think in ways you haven’t thought before, to approach ideas from different directions. One helpful way to achieve these goals is to see what others in the class are doing. Chances are, someone will have some new approach/idea/technology that will excite you, and may even change the way you have been thinking or the way you approach a problem.

Lastly, embracing your creativity will help you a great deal for the inevitable moment when you realize that you can’t really find a solid answer to the premise of the class. Currently, digital citizenship is far too slippery to clearly define, and if you embrace your creativity, you won’t feel so bound to pin it down. Instead, you will understand that like creativity, some definitions need to evolve and evolve until they fit, or at least start to take shape, only to change again. Embracing your creativity will keep you sane!

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Not-So-Final Project: Thinking About Your Thinking

In the beginning…

When I started this class, I was not sure what to think about the term “digital citizenship.” It seemed intangible and difficult to conceptualize. Although I’m not sure I currently have a solid grasp on it, my understanding is decidedly firmer.

What I have come to realize about digital citizenship is that it is closely tied with both my children’s generation and with globalization. I didn’t see my first computer until I was in middle school, and didn’t get a chance to actively use one until I was in high school, but they have lived with computers their entire lives. Computers and the digital world are parts of their self-narrative in a way they will probably never be with mine.

What this means is that my children can conceptualize a digital space in the same way I conceptualize a physical one. For them there is no distinction between “citizenship” and “digital citizenship”; they are one in the same.

Digital citizenship is aligned with globalization because we are increasingly becoming a global community. Sure, there are people in my generation and older who want to hold onto old ties of city, state, and country, but those who are coming after me see things in a different light. It is not amazing to them to be able to share ideas with someone 10,000 miles away, because technology makes such things possible.

This growing awareness of others will naturally lead us to a growing understanding of our inter-connectivity. My hope is that this happens sooner rather than later, but whatever comes to pass, I am starting to see global citizenship as the shape our future will take. Digital citizenship is just one aspect of that.

Going forward, this class has made me understand that digital citizenship is a responsibility we all share, whether we want it or not. I want my children to live in a fruitful and peaceful world. The chances of that happening are greatly increased if I work now to actively cultivate good digital citizenship practices in those around me.

The pressure to carry out this responsibility is tremendous, because we are on a new frontier, a shifting point in human life if you will. This is like the wild west, the depths of the ocean, or deep space, the power is in our hands to craft a new future, on a new frontier, but we have to be brave enough to do it competently.

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Not-So-Final Project: Your Learning Thing


For this assignment I have been tasked with creating something to teach a specific group about digital citizenship. Because of the nature of my work and life, it is not so easy to identify just one group. I am a mother of young children who are just beginning to learn to use digital tools, I run an aftercare program for elementary aged students, and I teach online at the college level. The people I work with at each of these levels are equally deserving of receiving some guidance. However, as the majority fall into the K-5 age range (including my own children), I have decided to create an art based lesson plan to teach about digital citizenship.

Getting Started

In public schools, kids as young as five are now learning to navigate online. This may come as a surprise, but most schools around the United States are now treating digital literacy as a top curriculum priority. In addition to learning to use and navigate the internet, students also learn to conduct research and even take their standardized tests online.

For that reason, it is of particular importance that all schools teach students about digital literacy. What follows is a general guide that principals can use to begin an educational conversation about digital literacy at their schools.

Step 1: Start a Conversation

Teachers should begin by introducing the topic of “citizenship.” This can be integrated into the curriculum, especially history and civics lessons. They can talk to students about the following:

  1. What does the word “citizen” mean? (dictionary definition)
  2. What does it imply?
  3. Who is a citizen?
  4. What are the responsibilities of a citizen?
  5. Why is good citizenship important?

Students can then help the teacher to design a bulletin board for the class that showcases what they have learned about citizenship. This lesson can be altered according to the grade level. It can even include outside research.

Step 2: Bridging Ideas

After all classes have had a conversation about “citizenship,” teachers can now have the more difficult conversation about digital citizenship. This conversation is more difficult because an online space is less definable than a country or state, for example. However, teachers might find that students, who are digital natives, have a less difficult time conceiving of the internet as a “real” space than adults do.

This conversation will be similar to the one about citizenship. The same questions can even be used, with some variation for the new terminology:

  1. What does the term “digital citizen” mean? (dictionary definition)
  2. What does it imply?
  3. Who is a digital citizen?
  4. What are the responsibilities of a digital citizen?
  5. Why is good digital citizenship important?

This time, however, instead of making one bulletin board, they will add to what was already created, making alterations as needed, to show how the ideas of “citizenship” and “digital citizenship” overlap.

Step 3: Branching Out

The principal will then hold a presentation for the entire school in which the ideas of digital citizenship are discussed. The principal can either do the presentation herself or bring in an outside company. Some options include:

Common Sense Education



During the presentation, the principal/ presenter should give a more comprehensive overview of digital citizenship, placing emphasis on why it is important and how it can help students to be safe. At the end of the presentation, the principal will then challenge students to create a poster to show what they have learned about digital citizenship.

Step 4: Poster Contest

For the next month, teachers will continue to have conversations about digital citizenship and to incorporate it into lessons and projects. They will also give students time either in class or in art class to work on their posters. Computer teachers and counselors will also make a point to add to this conversation.

When one month as elapsed, the students will submit their poster entries. The posters will be judged by the principal and others. One student from each grade or class will be chosen to receive a prize. During the next assembly, the principal will give out the awards and describe why each poster was chosen.

After the assembly, all of the posters will be hung around the school to serve as reminders of the importance of being good digital citizens.

I created three sample informational posters that could be used for educational purposes:




Additional Resources

How to Take Digital Citizenship School-wide

Digital Citizenship Activity Guide

Bringing Digital Citizenship Into the Classroom


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Collection IV Index

Exploring the ADA


Fire Away

Grok And Korg I

Grok And Korg II


Be A Rock Star Comment-A-Nector 1

Something Old, Something New

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Something Old, Something New: Share the Love (of Knowledge)

For this assignment, I was inspired by Jessica Tydwell’s post “Spice Up Your Life” in which she reviewed tools teachers can incorporate into their classes. I came up with the following activity:

Share the Love (of Knowledge)

Purpose: This activity is designed to improve technology fluency and to encourage interaction among classmates.

Activity: For this activity, students will do the following:

  1. Read through the posts made by your classmates.
  2. Identify three technology resources they have used, mentioned, or reviewed. The technology resources should be designed to be used for self or class improvement.
  3. Visit the sites of each of these resources and write a review (three total). In each review you should describe what you see as the pros and cons of that technology resource, and how you envision yourself using it or not.
  4. Then award each technology resource a score ranging from 1-5, with 1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest.

Value: 15 points (5 for each review)

Today’s Meet: The first resource I played around with is “Today’s Meet.” Although their homepage isn’t very flashy or formal, I suspect it may be a solid resource. I found an interesting article called “20 Useful Ways to Use Today’s Meet,” and after reading it, I can envision using it for class. It is evident from this article that the creators of “Today’s Meet” just assume that students will have access to technology at all times, even during class. While I can see how this program could be useful, albeit potentially distracting, in a face to face class, I can also imagine using it for an online class. For example, I like the idea of using it to hold virtual office hours. I have been thinking about doing that already with Slack, but this is another good option. I wonder if we can keep records of interactions?

Remind: This app looks especially useful for the K-12 student, although I could see it being useful in certain instances at the college level. I think I will mention it to my daughters’ teachers for this new school year. I know they have problems getting people to return papers, etc. This would be a great way to encourage that sort of thing in a fairly non-invasive sort of way. I think Remind is close enough to a text message that most users would be comfortable with it. I also really like the idea that it keeps phone numbers private. This isn’t a huge deal in elementary school, but could be a real safety concern as students get older. I’m not sure I would use this at the college level since it seems like one more tool to potentially confuse students (or for me to confuse them by mis-posting), but all the same, it might be interesting to experiment with. Again, I wonder about keeping a record of interactions.

Bitmoji: Cue eye roll, massive eye roll. Can me old school or call me a snob, but I think these things are obnoxious. I didn’t know what they were called until I clicked on Jessica’s link. I know a lot of people who use them frequently, and while I choose not to, I can see why they might be appealing. I suppose they would work especially well for k-12 students. However, I am not sure they would work well for the hardened veterans or the working moms I frequently have in my UAF classes. I somehow imagine them doing their very own massive eye rolls and then possibly hitting the computer if I asked them to spend their valuable time on something like this. Then again, maybe they would find it funny. Who really knows?


Grade: 15/15

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