Monday, January 18, 2016

Spring 2016: Syllabus Videos for My Courses

I'm still experimenting with different ways of constructing and editing these videos, and I know that I'm definitely not patient enough on the audio side, so I suppose hiring someone with some skills is going to definitely be a requirement.

The process is one that took longer than I anticipated (I had hoped to have quite a few more done at this time), but, at the same time, also took less time than it certainly could have. Once I get a better feel for storyboarding and for a more efficient process, developing these assets could be a whole lot of fun.

As soon as I get going on building these assets, especially for the grammar course, I want to articulate my process more explicitly and share it here in the (hopefully) not too distant future. I actually completed five videos for the two courses. For now, here are the syllabus videos:

ENG 411B: Principles of Modern Grammar

video


ENG 407C: Advanced Professional Communication


video

Both of these videos are probably too long, but they are much shorter than if I did them in the classroom, much to my students' delight, probably; and, since 407C is a hybrid section, this video saves us valuable time in the classroom to talk about our work.

Monday, January 11, 2016

ENG 411B/407C: More Practice with Video Editing

I'm still working on the videos that I want to use for my courses, but, in the meantime, I got distracted creating an intro video. My skills still leave a lot to be desired, especially my voice overs, but I'm enjoying playing with all of the pieces. I wish that I would have taken this plunge years ago, but, there you go. It sure is fun! And, since he died today, I decided to insert the opening riff from one of my favorite Bowie songs of all time (recognize it?). I'll also be interested to see how seriously students take the Mighty Mouse reference.  :)

In any case, here it is, warts and all. Enjoy?

video

Sunday, January 10, 2016

ENG 407C: Individual Projects

Along with the major project, I also want students to work on three individual projects: a podcast review, a variation on a usability cognitive walkthrough, and an infographic project. Since so many of our students are novices in so many professional writing areas, and since we only offer limited opportunities, the goal here is to give them a chance to explore a range of areas, ask questions, try out software, determine the kinds of questions that they need to ask, and what this kind of work entails. Below are the three project sheets for these projects (which probably makes this post too long):

***
Podcast Review

Description
For this project, you will perform a critical review of a specific podcast.

A successful review must do the following:
  • Show a clear understanding (or expertise) of the topic and/or podcasts in general
  • Articulate relevant criteria for evaluating the specific podcast and podcasts in general
  • Connections, including examples, between the criteria and the podcast
  • Overall assessment statement
Begin by defining the rhetorical situation, including the purpose and audience for your review. Perform background research on podcasts and the topic of a particular podcast that you wish to review. (Be sure to share any resources that you find with the rest of the class.) Develop general criteria for evaluating podcasts, as well as specific criteria for evaluating a particular podcast. Select specific examples relevant to your criteria. Draft your review. Share your review with peers. Revise your review. Share your review again. Edit your review. Submit your review for evaluation.

At this point, I am going to leave the rest of the project open for discussion and questions when we introduce the project on February 1.

Goals
Understand range of podcasts available
Create both general and specific criteria for evaluating podcasts
Develop analytical skills 
Construct effective review materials

Readings and Software
Some starting points for reading. Each student should do their own background research for this project and contribute resources to the class repository.

Understanding Podcasts and Reviews

Possible Podcasts to Review

Deliverable
Podcast Review - can be a written text (Word or Word-readable) or audio file (MP3)

Evaluation Criteria
  • Final Draft for Evaluation + Reflection = 8 Points
  • First Draft = 1 point
  • Peer Review Response = 2 points
The final deliverable will be evaluated based on criteria negotiated as a class starting with the following:
  • Shows a clear understanding of the topic
  • Articulates criteria for evaluation
  • Connects podcast to criteria clearly and effectively
  • Presents overall assessment clearly and effectively
  • Shows effective revision and editing
Reflection
Create a separate text that answers the following questions:

What was your understanding of the project?
      • An overall statement about your approach to the project
      • Assumptions you made about the background, audience, or purpose of the document
      • Problems, conflicts, or contradictions you faced with missing information
How did your understanding of podcasts improve through your work on this project?
How did your understanding of review writing improve through your work on this project?
What other considerations should be understood to accurately evaluate this project?

The Reflection must be submitted as an attachment ONLY (Word or Word-readable document). Please submit the reflection at the Assignment link at the same time that you submit the final draft for evaluation.

Project Timeline
This project will last approximately five weeks, and there are a number of deadlines that you have to keep in mind.
Feb 1: Introduce Podcast Review Project
Feb 29: Podcast Review Peer Review (in class)

Mar 11Podcast Revew and Reflection Due for Evaluation

***
Usability Cognitive Walkthrough Screencast

Description
For this project, you will create a short (3-5 minute) screencast that analyzes the usability of a specific task on a specific web site. Typically, the cognitive walkthrough is a method for evaluating the usability of a site, or a specific task within that site that asks various researchers to perform the task under observations. The goal of this method is understanding the difficulty of a task for projected users of a particular site. This project, however, is a variation on the traditional cognitive walkthrough, since you will be asked to point out difficulties for users performing a particular task as the key component of your screencast.

Ideally, you should plan your project completely, including the following:
  1. Define the typical user 
  2. Determine the task and any variants to include in the walkthrough
  3. Perform a practice walkthrough, taking notes and determining potential difficulties
  4. Create a script for the screencast that attempts to answer the following questions:
    • What, exactly, is the task?
    • Will the user notice that the correct action is available?
    • Is the outcome of the task clear?
    • Can the user see their progress toward the correct outcome?
  5. Conduct the actual walkthrough as a screencast
    • Walk through the action sequences for a particular task from the perspective of the typical user
    • Describe potential pitfalls or difficulties for the typical user
    • Offer recommendations based on your understanding of typical users and the task
While learning about usability is a key component of this project, developing your skills for creating a screencast is even more important.

At this point, I am going to leave the rest of the project open for discussion and questions when we introduce the project on March 7.

Goals
Develop specific usability criteria for a website
Find and evaluate software for creating screencasts
Develop skills using specific software for creating screencasts
Create screencast usability walkthrough of a specific website

Readings and Software
Some starting points for reading. Each student should do their own background research for this project and contribute resources to the class repository.

Cognitive Walkthrough

Screencast Tools/Software - There is plenty of free software, as well as software that you can download on a trial basis.

As a student at UNLV, you have access to Lynda.com, a software tutorial site that has a wide range of tutorials on creating effective screencasts:

Deliverable
Screencast of a Usability Walkthrough of a Specific Task for a Specific Web Site

Evaluation Criteria
  • Final Draft for Evaluation + Reflection = 8 Points
  • First Draft = 1 point
  • Peer Review Response = 2 points
The final deliverable will be evaluated based on criteria negotiated as a class starting with the following:
  • Presents information clearly and effectively
  • Limited to a specific task
  • Shows a complete understanding of the task
  • Articulates potential difficulties for users
  • Makes recommendations based on walkthrough
  • Shows effective revision and editing
Reflection
Create a separate text that answers the following questions:

What was your understanding of the project?
    • An overall statement about your approach to the project
    • Assumptions you made about the background, audience, or purpose of the document
    • Problems, conflicts, or contradictions you faced with missing information
How did your understanding of usability improve through your work on this project?
How did your understanding of screencasts improve through your work on this project?
How did your understanding of the software improve through your work on this project?
What other considerations should be understood to accurately evaluate this project?

The Reflection must be submitted as an attachment ONLY (Word or Word-readable document). Please submit the reflection at the Assignment link at the same time that you submit the final draft for evaluation.

Project Timeline
This project will last one month, and there are a number of deadlines that you have to keep in mind.
Mar 7: Introduce Usability Cognitive Walkthrough Screencast
Mar 28: Usability Cognitive Walkthrough Screencast Peer Review (in class)
Apr 8Usability Screencast and Reflection Due for Evaluation


We will be spending some time in class on this project, but it is important that you do background research and find software as soon as possible that will allow you to complete the project.

***
Infographic Project

Description
For this project, you will create a simple infographic for a particular rhetorical situation and based on a specific set of data.

Infographics are visual representations of information, data, processes, or some clearly articulated piece of knowledge. They are used to visually present complex information quickly and clearly to a particular group of readers in a particular rhetorical situation. Ideally, an infographic should focus on the following questions:
  • What is the particular message the infographic is communicating?
  • How is the data (information, process, piece of knowledge) presented so that it can be understood quickly and easily?
For this project, will begin with the three questions outlined by Anders Ross (http://www.instantshift.com/2009/06/07/infographic-designs-overview-examples-and-best-practices/):

Question 1: Why?
It’s the most important question out of three that why you want to create InfoGraphics? What is it for? What is the goal? Is it for research, for discovery, Or for monitoring the data?

If you can able of answer these queries then only you can able to collect the relevant data. This determines the type of relative data to gather and about which we have to ask what type it has to be (quantitative, sequential, categorical, analytical etc.) and more importantly: are they relevant for what we want?

Question 2: How?
If you done with “why?” part then you need to think about How you going to refine your data and in what way we will represent the data. A fundamental aspect of this section is that information graphics are interesting because they reveal differences. For this reason refining them and representing the data derived from their statistical treatment often reveals aspects that otherwise would result confusing which often leads to wrong conclusions.

Once data is refined now you have to choose the most effective visual metaphor. Mostly, for a little data, a table or even a sentence can be clearer that a chart. In certain occasions changing the color palette or the type of chart can clarify the situation enormously.

Question 3: Does it work?
Now this is a critical section where you have to identify if the outcome is fit the goal or not. if it doesn’t fit the goal that we have defined in the first step, we will have failed and again start with first step. There is no documented rule which says how to verify your results but after thoroughly answering all three questions you must able to judge if the result is favorable or not. The key resides in revising and experimenting with what we have done until we find an improvement.

At this point, I am going to leave the rest of the project open for discussion and questions when we introduce the project on April 4.

Goals
Analyze specific data for visual presentation
Present data effectively in visual format
Find and evaluate software for creating infographics
Develop skills using specific software for creating infographics
Create infographic for a specific rhetorical situation

Readings and Software
Some starting points for reading. Each student should do their own background research for this project and contribute resources to the class repository.

Getting Started

Infographic Software/Tools

Possible Data Sites

Infographic Samples (please use these as inspiration only)

As a student at UNLV, you have access to Lynda.com, a software tutorial site that has a wide range of tutorials on creating effective infographics:

Deliverable
Infographic for a particular rhetorical situation

Evaluation Criteria
  • Final Draft for Evaluation + Reflection = 8 Points
  • First Draft = 1 point
  • Peer Review Response = 2 points
The final deliverable will be evaluated based on criteria negotiated as a class starting with the following:
  • Presents information clearly and effectively
  • Visual is primary
  • Message is explicit
  • Both scannable and readable
  • Meets the needs of a particular rhetorical situation
  • Shows effective revision and editing
Reflection
Create a separate text that answers the following questions:

What was your understanding of the project?
    • An overall statement about your approach to the project
    • Assumptions you made about the background, audience, or purpose of the document
    • Problems, conflicts, or contradictions you faced with missing information
How did your understanding of data analysis improve through your work on this project?
How did your understanding of infographics improve through your work on this project?
How did your understanding of the software improve through your work on this project?
What other considerations should be understood to accurately evaluate this project?

The Reflection must be submitted as an attachment ONLY (Word or Word-readable document). Please submit the reflection at the Assignment link at the same time that you submit the final draft for evaluation.

Project Timeline
This project will last approximately five weeks, and there are a number of deadlines that you have to keep in mind.
Apr 4: Introduce Infographic Project
Apr 25: Infographic Peer Review (in class)
May 9Infographic and Reflection Due for Evaluation

We will be spending some time in class on this project, but it is important that you do background research and find software as soon as possible that will allow you to complete the project.