Side Quest 10: Assemblies

Due: 11/29

Tag: sq10

For some unknown reason, the National Archives includes a document entitled Cocktail Construction Chart, which was created by the US Forest Service in 1974, showing recipes for a group of cocktails represented in the style of an architectural diagram.

For this week’s sketch, think about the work you’ve completed in this class and your own learning and thinking processes — then break all that down into component parts, represented in some sort of an architectural diagram like this one. I’m less interested in the quality of the drawing itself and more in your analytical ability to break down something complicated into a series of steps and to represent that as if in such a diagram. Think of it as a kind of telescoping.

Creating this diagram should be a key step towards completing your portfolio reflection letter (and I will encourage you to use the diagram as a key image in that letter). If you think about what you have learned this semester about yourself as a writer and reader, how can you represent that understanding as a single diagram, and how do the various pieces of writing you have done fit into that diagram to construct your vision? You might want to refer, once again, to the learning outcomes for this class as you you put together your assemblies.

Games Comparison Reflection Post

After you’ve published your games comparison as a page on your site, write a post that links to your essay. The reflection post should provide a very brief (one or two sentences) preview of the argument of your essay: what’s the thesis of the essay?

Then write a substantive paragraph in which you reflect on choices you made as you wrote the essay and what you learned while writing it. Some questions to consider:

  • For this assignment, I asked you to write an inductive essay — in other words, building up from specific claims to the thesis statement near the end of the essay — rather than the deductive essays you are more comfortable with. What did you notice about writing in this new structure? How did it go for you?
  • Look back over the essay you wrote and think about how it’s organized. In a few sentences describe just the broad structure of the essay — how many parts are there? what are the claims that organize the big pieces of your essay?
  • What did you learn while writing this essay? What surprised you or what was something you hadn’t understood about these games until you were writing the essay?

Side Quest 8: Visual Note Taking

Due: 10/25

Tag: sq8

Overview

For your sketch assignment this week, I want you to create a set of visual notes for one day in one class (other than this one) that you are currently enrolled in. You do not need to take your visual notes in real time; in fact, I recommend that you don’t. I recommend that you attend classes and take notes in whatever manner you normally do, then after class go through your notes and recreate them as visual notes.

Giulia Forsyth

Domain of One’s Own” by Flickr user Giulia Forsyth

Giulia Forsyth is a visual note-taker and facilitator, which means that she is sometimes employed to go to presentations and meetings and to doodle notes for the meeting. Check out the four minute video below, where Forsyth gives a quick summary of how she began to take her doodling seriously and where it has led her.

Kenneth Robinson

As another example of visual note-taking, you might check out the video below from RSA Animates illustrating a lecture by Kenneth Robinson about educational philosophy. I suspect you’ll find the video much more powerful and engaging because of the illustration that goes along with it than you would if you were simply listening to the audio. What does this mean for your own practice?

Prompt

For your sketch assignment this week, I want you to create a set of visual notes for one day in one class that you are currently enrolled in (probably not this one). You do not need to take your visual notes in real time; in fact, I recommend that you don’t. I recommend that you go to your classes and take notes in whatever manner you normally do, then after class go through your notes and recreate them as visual notes.

You do not need to draw your notes in a digital environment, either, though you are certainly free to do so. If you prefer to doodle with pen, pencil, or marker on paper then do that and once you’re done with your drawing, just take photos of the pages as JPG files so you can upload them to your site. If you have an iPad or other tablet or would like to draw on your laptop or desktop, then you might try apps like GoodNotesProcreateInkflow, or Adobe’s Sketchbook or search for other free/cheap drawing applicationsI am completely tool agnostic on this assignment, so make your drawings in whatever manner make sense to you.

Your visual notes do not need to be polished or beautiful or anywhere near as intricate as Forsyth’s. Do try to take this assignment as an opportunity to really engage differently with your material – don’t just make a series of doodles that follow the outline of the lecture or discussion in your notes but try to translate the concepts and information into a new, visual set of notes. You might think about creating flowcharts or diagrams, which are also visual devices.

Once you’ve got your notes, load them onto your course site as a sketch post. Embed the images from your notes into the post and as you do, take a few moments to reflect on the process and then write a paragraph or two about what you learned during the process of creating your visual notes. Did it help you to understand the course content any differently or better to create notes visually rather than just as text? Did you discover anything new about yourself or the way you think in the process? Did you find it enjoyable or find some aspect of it particularly interesting? Someplace in your reflective text, create a link back to this blog post assignment.

Side Quest 6: Gris Liveblog

Due: 10/4

Tag: sq6

As you play Gris, I’d like you to liveblog your experience just as you did with Gone Home: pause once you’ve gotten a little ways in and are starting to have a feel for how the game works and write a post where you describe what you’ve noticed so far. The game is organized by the Kübler-Ross model of the five stages of grief, so as you go through the different stages, keep pausing periodically to make note of new developments — especially how you see those five stages reflected in game play.

You might also think about the structure of the game. As I mentioned in class last week, Gris is a 2D side-scrolling platformer, but is it really? What rules of the genre have they broken or bent? Why do you think the game developers chose to make a platform game, or chose to make something that looks like a platformer but isn’t really one? What are they trying to persuade you of with those choices?

Podcast Reflection

Once you have each completed your podcast episode, the Producer and Assistant Producer should each write separate reflection posts, published to your own sites. Link to the podcast episode post on the course site as part of your reflection.

Your refection should be 250 – 500 words and should be in the form of an essay with complete paragraphs, not as a list of bullet point answers.

Reflection Questions

Include a brief description of your process for developing the podcast. How did you and your co-producer divide up the tasks involved and how did you structure your collaboration? In what ways does your episode respond to the other episodes in the series — in other words, compare your episode to the ones before it, explaining how you gained inspiration from, adapted, or resisted something that your peers did in their episodes.

Please describe your primary goals with the episode that you produced and explain the strategies that you used to achieve them. You’re producing these episodes under a number of time and technological constraints, so it’s likely that there will be some goals that you just cannot accomplish within those constraints — address what challenges arose for you and the choices you made to meet them and/or describe what you would have done differently had you more time/resources available for your episode (in other words, what are some aspirational goals that were perhaps unrealistic given the constraints of the assignment but that you would have liked to have tried to accomplish if circumstances were different?).

How do you see your work on the podcast episode helping you to achieve the learning outcomes for this course? Explain how you met those outcomes with your work on this assignment.

Make sure you address the sets of questions above and then also consider some of the questions below and address them in your reflection (you definitely won’t be able to answer all of these, so go through the list and pick some that seem to be most of interest for you and write about them):

  • Were the strategies, skills and procedures you used effective for this assignment?
  • Do you see any patterns in how you approached your work on this episode? How was producing a podcast similar to or different from writing more traditional essays?
  • What have you learned about your strengths and areas in need of improvement?
  • How are you progressing as a learner?
  • What suggestions do you have for your peers as they go about working on their episodes to come?
  • How can you apply the skills you used in crafting this podcast episode to future writing projects? Where can you use these skills again?
  • What are you most proud of about the episode that you created?

Games Podcast: Further Details

Overview

This post contains lots of additional information that will be useful to you as you work on your podcast episodes, mostly focused on nuts and bolts issues like equipment, editing, and so on.

Check out the assignment prompt for conceptual guidelines and roles and for information about what I am expecting from you.

Equipment

If you are on campus, there is equipment that you can use to record your podcast episodes, including Student Digital Life’s Music and Audio Recording Studio.

The Writing Program has purchased 4 Yeti microphones and placed them on reserve with the Music and Media Library. If you check out one of the Yeti mics, you might want to skim over the manual here. There are a number of other microphones available for checkout as well, so if the Yeti mics are not available check out something else.

Because so many of us are separated from campus and from each other, however, it will be fine for you to record yourselves via Zoom. Make sure that you launch the call using your Emory Zoom account and record the call to the cloud. Whoever is hosting the call will get an email once the recording has finished compiling and from there can download the files from the call — there will be a text file with the contents of your chat, an mp4 with the video from the call, and an mp3 of the audio of your call. You can just download the mp3 and then edit it in Audacity to produce your episode. A short time later, Zoom should also add an additional text file with a transcript of the call. Download that file too and edit it into a transcript of your episode.

 

Audacity

Audacity is a good, free, open-source audio editor (available for Windows, Mac, and Linux). It’s pretty standard software for mixing podcasts, so I recommend you give it a shot.

There is a very good tutorial wiki for Audacity online — this basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast. It’s not terribly difficult, but there is a learning curve to it and you should definitely make an extra copy of your raw audio files before you start mixing and editing them. Expect for it to take longer than you think it should to do the sound editing and build time for mixing into your plans. There are some students in the class who have a fair amount of experience working with Audacity — make friends with them and ask them for help (make sure to give thanks for their help in your episode credits!).

 

Other Software

If you’re already very comfortable with using GarageBand or another sound editing software, you can use that instead.

Student Digital Life also has lots of resources that should be of use to you with this project. If you want to use more advanced software, the Media Lab has the full Adobe Creative Suite, including Adobe Audition, available and student assistants who can help you in using it. The Tech Lab is also a great space for you to go to get ideas about how to approach these projects. There are also gaming consoles available in Cox Computing, so if you want to explore games as new media you might stop by SDL and see what you can do.

Recording & mixing guidelines

As I say above, Audacity has a very good tutorial wiki. There is tons of information included there, but this single basic page on mixing voice narration with music probably covers 90% of what you’ll need to do for your podcast.

Transom is “a performance space, an open editorial session, an audition stage, a library, and a hangout” that seeks to spread good ideas and practices for public media, especially focused on audio. There’s lots of good stuff there and I encourage you to check them out.

Of special note: “Using Music: Jonathan Menjivar For This American Life.” Menjivar is a producer and music supervisor at This American Life and his essay is a fantastic breakdown of different methods for incorporating music into a podcast episode.

See also, the other pieces in the Transom “Using Music” series.

Podcast hoster Buzzsprout has a pretty good “Podcasting 101 Guide” with some useful tips, including about where to position yourself with regard to the microphone.

Music

You need to be careful when using music to not violate copyright law. Here are 4 really good sites to find Creative Commons licensed music that you are allowed to use (with attribution):

  • Free Music Archive. Mostly more contemporary music types, searchable by genre or by other methods.
  • Musopen. Public domain and creative commons licensed classical music.
  • Incompetech (Film music from Kevin Macleod)
  • ccMixter

Player Narrative Reflection

Once you have published your player narrative as a page on your site, you’ll need to also publish a post about the narrative that links to the page. That post serves three fundamental functions:

  • it provides a compelling preview of your narrative that summarizes your controlling idea in a sentence or two;
  • it reflects on what you have learned in the process of writing your literacy narrative;
  • when your post syndicates to the class site, that constitutes turning in your narrative.

Some questions to consider in your reflection:

  • How did you approach this essay differently because of the work you had already done writing your literacy narrative? Even though the freewriting questions were the same, did that process change for you because you were writing about playing games instead of about reading and writing?
  • In just one or two sentences, describe the structure of your player narrative.
  • What new idea did you learn while you were writing this player narrative?

Literacy Narrative Reflection

Once you have published your literacy narrative as a page on your site, you’ll need to also publish a post about the narrative that links to the page. That post serves three fundamental functions:

  • it provides a compelling preview of your narrative that summarizes your controlling idea in a sentence or two;
  • it reflects on what you have learned in the process of writing your literacy narrative;
  • when your post syndicates to the class site, that constitutes turning in your narrative.

Some questions to consider in your reflection:

  • What was your writing process for this narrative like? Did it feel strange for you to do the freewriting exercises first? How did the freewriting influence the essay you eventually wrote?
  • What did you learn about yourself by the end of writing your narrative? Was there anything that you found surprising, or something about yourself that you came to view differently in the process of writing this essay?
  • What sentence from your essay do you think someone else reading it would identify as the most interesting sentence?