Friday, July 31, 2009

Week 4: Show Me What You've Learned Project...

The above video was made using a combination of the many media technologies I explored this month:

  • Keynote;

  • Illustrator;

  • Photoshop;

  • Photo Booth;

  • ScreenFlow;

  • GarageBand;

  •; and

  • Blogger!

Emily Deep in Thought
As I understood it, one of the major objectives of this month was to explore various media technologies to develop an idea/game plan for our final media project. The subject of my thesis is technology accessibility... but I bet you already knew that if you're a fan of my blog! The solution to the accessibility challenges described in my thesis lies in awareness education and technical training.

As such, my plan for my final media project is to develop a multimedia online training module, complete with audio/visual components, step-by-step demos and even games! I am notorious for biting off more than I can chew... yet I feel confident that I can develop all this over the next 3 months... maybe even more!

One of the coolest things I learned this month is that we are allowed (dare I say encouraged?!?) to collaborate with our fellow classmates on our final media projects. The music in the video was composed by Abram Siegel. The piece included is a small sampling of what he's mixing for my media project.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to say thanks to Joe Bustillos, Media Asset Creation Course Director EXTRAORDINAIRE! The independent study structure of this course, as well as the flexible assignment/project deadlines, made it possible to meet our thesis draft deadline while not losing perspective on our objectives for the month. I loved the course, especially the personal reflectional offered by the blogging format. In fact, I plan to keep up with this blog long after this course and even the EMDT program have ended!

I think it was Madonna who said," We're living in a DIGITAL world... and I am DIGITAL girl!" Maybe that was "material world" - I have never been good with song lyrics... :)

Image Credit: Graphic created by Emily Wray using Photoshop.

Week 4: Fun with Photoshop...

This is my niece Iryss. People say we look alike. I don't see it.

Image Credit: Photos taken and edited by Emily Wray in Photoshop.

Week 4: Note on Usability...

Wouldn't it be helpful if the FSO learning platform had a navigation bar located at BOTH the top and the bottom of the each page? That way, when you've finished reading an E-X-T-R-E-M-E-L-Y long discussion board, you don't have to scroll up for days to get back to the links at the top!

FSO Navigation

Image Credit: Screen shot taken from Full Sail Online.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Week 4: Note on Readability...

RE: Interactive Tech History Lesson - OLPC: Following in the Heritage of Logo & the MIT Media Lab

Since I am writing my thesis on the subject of technology accessibility, I feel obligated to point out usability issues as I come across them... The animated .GIF on the above referenced assignment description made it EXTREMELY difficult to read the posted text. I had to hold my hand up to the screen to block the image as I made my way through.

Additionally, according to the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) accessibility recommendations, web developers should take care not to include flashing images in the design of their websites as the practice has been known to trigger seizures (Guideline 2.3).

My thesis made me do it! :)

Image Credit: Screen shot taken from

Week 4: iPhoto Photo Editing Tutorial

iPhoto vs. Photoshop
This is a quick and dirty response to the iPhoto tutorials posted on FSO...

Sure, iPhoto is a great photo organization/inventory tool, but as a Photoshop enthusiast, that's where I'll continue to do any/all editing of my photos. Photoshop offers so much more in the way of controls and effects. But, knowing how user-unfriendly and counter-intuitive Photoshop can be, the simplicity of iPhoto can be refreshing.

If Photoshop is Rocky Road, then iPhoto is Vanilla... sometimes you feel like a nut...

I couldn't have made this ultra-cool graphic in iPhoto...

Image Credit: Graphic created by Emily Wray in Photoshop using screen shots from her own computer.

Week 4: Response to Paul Martin


"Well, after a lot of mulling and thinking in motion. I finally feel like I’ve got a handle on this thesis idea. It was too broad and felt like an elephant on my back. My wife asked me if I had ‘gotten started’ on the thesis rough - by which she meant writing. When I said no, she about had a cow. Knowing how I think/operate after all of these classes on multiple intelligence theory and Jenkin’s brain based stuff and just living in this skin for as long as I have, I know that I had to get to this mental point before I started writing. If I forced this part of the process it would be much more stressful than watching the deadline loom closer and closer."


Getting into in good mental space is essential for writing, otherwise you waste a lot of time stuck in the "process" - Dragging yourself to the computer, tying yourself to the chair, glueing your fingers to the keyboard and focusing your eyes on the screen... Ready? Set... Write, rewrite, delete, repeat.

One of the biggest things I have struggled with in my own writing process is hypothesizing how much the average reader already knows about my topic - Technology Accessibility. Assume too much and you lose the reader by neglecting to adequately explain complex concepts/issues. Assume too little and you run the risk of boring the reader with too much unnecessary detail.

I have massaged and reworked my draft so many times the behavior could be diagnosed as obsessive. What I really need now is constructive feedback from our trusted thesis advisor... and not just grammatical/organizational stuff... I need someone to tell me if the whole thing makes sense!

Good luck Brother!

THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2009 - 07:38 PM


BALANCE IN MOTION, Paul Martin, retrieved on July 30, 2009

Image Credit: Screen shot taken of Paul Martin's Balance in Motion Blog on July 30, 2009

Week 4: SPAMDEX Who? What? How?

Ever wonder why people leave seemingly random comments/links on one of your blog posts???

Hello Spamdexing! It’s an irritating, yet brilliant way to take advantage of the way search engines index pages to advertise or promote commercial services. By adding links to your comment fields, spammers automatically (albeit artificially) increase their sites’ search engine ranking… making their name appear higher in the list of Google search results and potentially increasing their business on the web.

This got me thinking – Is there a way to harness the “power of the comment” for good instead of evil? If I post a legitimate comment on another blog or wiki, yet link back to my site – Am I a spammer?

Image Credit: Stock photography purchased by Emily Wray from

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Week 4: Exporting a Keynote Presentation…

Keynote Exported to Flash
So one of the things I wanted to explore this month was exporting Keynote presentations into alternate formats such as HTML, Flash or even JPEGS. The sleek design of Keynote templates makes the program an attractive choice for the development of my thesis media project – an asynchronous online training on the subject of Technology Accessibility.

What I love about Keynote is the degree of control a user has over the layout and navigation of each presentation. By including hyperlinks and on-screen directional text, a Keynote can very easily function as a computer-based training module. It is a great tool for educators who want to create a training environment that mimics a website, but lack the technical development skills.

Exporting a Keynote presentation to Flash produces better results than exporting the file to HTML or JPEGs. Exporting to Flash retains most and, in some cases, all of the functionality of the original presentation. But here’s the catch (you knew there would be one… this post was sounding too good to be true!) – Exporting a Keynote to Flash severely decreases the accessibility of the information in the presentation.

And as a designer looking to create an online training about technology accessibility for her thesis media project… that’s a deal breaker!

When exporting a Keynote to Flash, the presentation is compressed into an SWF file, which is basically an image or movie. Text that was at one time “selectable” becomes a picture of words and can no longer be read by assistive devices. The accessibility of the presentation also decreases since ALT tags cannot be applied to graphical components.

And to top it all off… Flash files (SWF) are currently inaccessible to most mobile devices, which means I would not be able to access the information with my precious iPhone. While that’s not a HUGE deal right now, mobile devices are the quickly becoming the preferred method for accessing the web due to their relative low cost and high convenience. Just something to think about folks.

Check out this very complex Keynote I exported to Flash and embedded in an HTML page. If you have access to a mobile device, try pulling up the same link… you’ll see what I mean.

Image Credit: Screen shots taken of webpage created and hosted by Emily Wray

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Week 4: Thesis Questions Answered...

As the clock continues to countdown to the deadline for the submittal of our initial thesis drafts, I thought it might be helpful to post a couple of my more general question/answer sessions with Laura Monroe, thesis advisor extraordinaire. If you’re anything like me, you shoot her an email every other day, which basically adds up to about a gazillion messages piling up in her inbox. As such I have posted the following FAQs in an effort to help her help us succeed with this first draft.

My Question:

Do we have to follow the order and titling of the components in the outline exactly or are we allowed to rearrange and rename the sections to suit the flow of our individual papers?

Laura’s Answer:

Unfortunately, the outline needs to be followed explicitly. The reason for this is that our panel is used to seeing the outline in a specific way, and know where to look for specific elements. They are used to the order, and our goal is to make things easier for them as they educate themselves on your topic prior to seeing your media project.

My Question:

I know in the last Wimba session Laura stressed a lot of grammatical points for our thesis drafts, particularly the verb tense associated with the sources we cite.

It makes sense to me to use past tense for something like:

In a study of 200 learners, Bates (2005) discovered...

But that for a generally held belief by an author, the present tense seems to be more appropriate. For example:

In discussing the ACTIONS model, Bates (2005) asserts...

Am I wrong? Should I always be using the past tense?

Laura’s Answer:

Generally, if you are talking about a book or a study or a document that has been published in the past, you will put it in the past tense. If it is a theory that is still in practice, like MI, then you can also put it in the present tense. You're correct in stating that the Bates sentence below should be in the past tense as the study of the 200 learners was done in 2005. The study was concluded, and it also is not ongoing. You are also right in regard to the ACTIONS model, as it is still a model that is in use.

My Question:

When listing an electronic source on our references page, Microsoft Word automatically formats any URL into an active link. Should we remove the hyperlink so that the text isn't blue and underlined?

Laura’s Answer:

Yes - please de-link any links!

Image Credit: Stock photography purchased by Emily Wray from

Monday, July 27, 2009

Week 4: Reading... Being a Contribution

"What difference can saving a few of them possibly make?" Smiling, she bends down and once more tosses a starfish out over the water, saying serenely, "It certainly makes a difference to this one." (p. 55)

My senior year in high school I attended a leadership retreat, complete with ice breakers, a ropes course and a long line-up of motivational speakers. It was there that I first heard the inspiring anecdote that opened this chapter and first began to ponder the idea of "contribution." Participating in that leadership class was one of the first opportunities I had to collaborate with my peers, each of us offering a unique combination of ourselves to reach common goals.

In The Art of Possibility, Zander and Zander describe a "contribution" as the power to make a difference and the ability to reserve judgement on whether one's offering is good, bad, right, wrong or indifferent. It is the realization that our presence and intention is an immeasurable gift. There is no way of quantifying one's contribution as it means different things to different people at different times.

Entering the EMDT program, I again found myself pondering the idea of contribution. I was weary, being one of the few non-teachers in the bunch, that I would have little to offer my classmates and that I would drown in the wake of their varied classroom experience.

What do I bring to the table?

With each passing month, I become more aware of our unique personal journeys. Over time and through our continued interaction, I appreciate that we are all here for different reasons... relying on different strengths... building on different weaknesses... and reaching for different goals. My contribution is sincere and is reflected in the relationships I've built with each of my classmates - in counsel, in collaboration and in camaraderie.

Zander, R. & Zander, B. (2002). The art of possibility: Transforming professional and personal life. New York: Penguin Books.

Image Credit:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Week 3: Response to Nick Briscoe...

high hopes

...The questions now are how do I improve my mindset to think of myself as creating A material and how do I stop playing the game and become more of a contribution?

Easier said than done.

Zander, B. and Zander, R. (2000). The Art of Possibility. New York: New York Penguin Group.


Wonderfully reflective post Nick. There are some very raw realizations here. In the end you ask, "how do I improve my mindset to think of myself as creating A material and how do I stop playing the game and become more of a contribution?" If I knew the definitive answers to these questions, I would write a book. But all I can offer are speculations based on my own experiences and similar struggles.

I was about to write, "I've never been 100% satisfied with any of the projects I've produced in the EMDT program..." But that would not have been an accurate statement. The truth is that I realize that I can always do better or more... maybe not today and maybe not even tomorrow... but as continually evolving beings, we are constantly growing and learning, and therefore have the infinite capacity to improve. So "satisfaction" is the fleeting moment between knowing you've done your best and realizing you could have done better. It's inevitable.

SATURDAY, JULY 25, 2009 - 06:27 PM


THE ART OF POSSIBILITY CHAPTERS 3 & 4 DISCUSSION WK3 PST2, Nick Briscoe, retrieved on July 25, 2009

Image Credit: Stock photography purchased by Emily Wray from

Week 3: Media Project Collaboration...

Since one of the objectives of this month is to develop a roadmap for our media projects, I got to thinking... When it comes to creating something stellar, aren't two heads better than one? I mean, we can't all be good at everything... so why not ask an expert for help?

One of my weaknesses lies in the composition of original music for inclusion in my multimedia projects. Sure, I know HOW to do it and, if I spent enough time on it, I'm sure I could produce something that wasn't "too bad." But what if what I want is musical brilliance? I recognize the importance of music in a multimedia project to not only set the tone of the piece, but also to inspire, entertain and inform the viewer. If I can't personally produce such a musical masterpiece, can I outsource the task? Better yet, can I swap my skills as a designer for the music I need for my media project?

An open letter to Dr. Sue Bedard:

Hi Dr. Bedard,

Would I be breaking any rules if I asked a fellow classmate to compose an original piece of music to include as just a component part of my media project and, in exchange, I offered to design a graphical component for his?

Is such a thing frowned upon and celebrated as collaboration?

Her response:

As long as you are in charge of the production of the project you can ask for help and assistance on what ever you would like :)

Image Credit: Stock photography purchased by Emily Wray from

Week 3: Thesis Progress....

Documented inactivity and distraction! Thanks iPhone for making it all possible!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Week 3: Another Open Letter to Dr. Holly Ludgate

Hello Dr. Ludgate,

Random suggestion on something that would bring a little more cohesion to the EMDT program...

I think it would be so helpful to have a consistent file naming convention across all assignments and all courses. Coming into a new course each month requires quick and sometimes panic-inducing assimilation. One of the things I spend a good deal of time worrying about is whether I am submitting my assignments the "right" way each month.

Some of the course directors are meticulous about it, others don't seem to have any preference at all. Having a consistent file naming requirement throughout the program would be one less thing we all had to worry about... students and course directors alike.

Ex: LastFirst_Wk1-Assignment

I offer my 2-cents so often I'm broke,

Image Credit: Stock photography purchased by Emily Wray from

Week 3: The Value of Stickam?

Working through the Stickam tutorials prior to tonight's practice session, I was skeptical of this web-based, live video feed application. I kept thinking to myself, "Why go to so much trouble?" I mean, we all (EMDT students) have iChat and Skype, both of which have powerful video and teleconferencing capabilities... Not to mention there's Wimba, which accommodates audio, video, chat and a presentation platform...

What's so great about Stickam, especially since you have to use Skype to troubleshoot its audio deficiencies?

But... when my entire group got logged in and all our faces were visible via the feed, I couldn't help but smile. I immediately knew the value of Stickam: TOGETHERNESS!

Yes, we've all heard each other's voices via Wimba and seen each other's images through various projects, but it is quite a different experience to see everyone live, in real time. I couldn't stop smiling. My classmates are real people! Throughout the EMDT program I have battled feelings of isolation and, even though I have developed deep and meaningful relationships with many of my classmates, when the computer gets turned off at the end of the night, so do our connections. Tonight's Stickam's session, in some small way, helped bridge the gap between our worlds.

So when I turn off my computer tonight, I'll still be thinking of... Chris with his sore back, Abram tucking lil Evelyn into bed, Julia surfing the web at a bar, Libby looking very studious in her reading glasses, Nick as chill as ever and Joe packing up his boxes getting ready to move... It feels nice to get to know you all on another level.

Image Credit: Screen shot taken by Emily Wray of live Stickam session on 7/23/09