What is a Multimedia Specialist?

It’s funny when I think about my job title, Multimedia Specialist, because when I look back on my career being a generalist has been my greatest strength. My job title is a sweeping generalization and the actual job description varies from job-to-job. It’s almost as if the idea of specialization carries with it an expiration date with the fast pace of technology and the expectations derived from the business economy. And I think that it’s a shame.

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Drawing and How it Relates to (My) Life

I experienced a good liberal arts education in the College of Arts and Architecture at Penn State. Up until recently my grades were good enough to be president and even though my GPA doesn’t reflect it, I did learn quite a bit. I have benefited greatly from the mixture of social and earth sciences, math…cough…math, english, art, and other courses. In my pursuit from film/graphic design to ceramics to multimedia specialist, one thing stands out as an absolute fundamental skill – drawing.

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Thoughts on Copyright and Delivering Education Online

So the issues surrounding copyright should be a no-brainer right? If something isn’t yours, a direct result of doing work and creating something, you can’t steal it and then use it like you own it. Errrr…um…sort of. We’ll skip copyright and the arts and derivatives or satire or parody. I’m after copyrighted material used in education delivered via the internet(s). More specifically copyrighted material that aids the facilitation of inquiry in an online learning environment.

So what gives? I’m not going to claim that I own it in any way and will credit the source. I’m just looking to include examples that reinforce concepts from the modules and lessons. I think that it comes down to two things:

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I Just Want to Make Sh*t.

Seriously. I just want to make sh*t. I don’t want to spend most of my time working in word documents or reading documentation for things that I may or may not use. I just want to make sh*t. Let’s jot some ideas down and say,”Go.”

Yes preparation, analysis, and discussion are important things. I am usually the one to request such things, but my experience with designing and developing things for the web has led me to wanting to develop assets in the digital flesh faster and more often than on digital paper. We could go through months of planning, wire frames, deliverables in documentation before something hits the intended user only to find out that it needs to be tweaked or reworked entirely. I just want to make sh*t; albeit useful and enjoyable sh*t.

Thanks for listening.

Children’s Internet Protection Act and Educational Use of Technology

How exactly do I incorporate the social interactivity of the latest technologies, such as blogs, video, chat, and keep young people in K-12 classrooms safe from bad people? Is it different for people 18 and over who are in some form of post-secondary education? What about confidentiality?

The Federal Communications Commission’s web site on the Children’s Internet Protection Act says:

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Assumptions about Technology in the K-12 Classroom

So I’m working on a project to develop and deliver K-12 modules and lessons about environmental toxicology that incorporates or supplements “hands-on” learning. The primary targets are students in biology classes that have sufficient access to technology both at school and at home. According to a National Center for Education Statistics survey, 97% of public schools in the United States have broadband access.

I just feel that I’m making quite a few assumptions about the type and amount of computer technology in public schools and how the multimedia pieces will be delivered in a science classroom. Is there only one computer in a classroom? Are there any computers with internet access in a science classroom? Is there a projector? Will the “hands-on” activities be demonstrated by a teacher because of limited access to computers in the classroom?

I’m trying to figure out how “facilitated assets” will be used in the science classroom, as opposed to a complete online course that is developed from start to finish. Credit for the phrase “facilitated assets” goes to my co-worker Angie Dick.

Field of Dreams Versus Your Web Site

I get the impression that when I speak to people and potential clients about developing their web site, that they feel that just by getting their web site online means that a flood of traffic and business is coming their way. In the movie Field of Dreams Kevin Costner hears a voice whisper,”If you build it, he will come” and I feel that we have the same expectations about our web sites. If we build them, we automatically think that “they will come” in droves and stay interested enough to keep coming back. It just isn’t always the case.

Your web site – and mine – is an extension of your business and needs to be cultivated in the same way that your “brick and mortar” business was developed. It’s like opening another location, only this one is digital. And in order to get the best location and traffic, we need to solidly build a good, semantic web site and make people aware of it.

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It’s Easier than What and for Whom?

One of my concerns with content management systems (CMS) and the clients that ask for one, is that sometimes they feel as though it’s going to be this magic talisman that removes the burden of learning the language of the web. Somehow, magically, by using a content management system it removes the responsibility of web standards, accessibility, and/or learning some basic HTML. It’s like using smaller plates to lose weight, yet you still pile food on it a foot high. I do this for a living and there’s still plenty for me to learn and do when working with content on the web.

The typical selling point delivered to people in an organization in regards to a content management system is that it will make the addition and updating of content on their web site easier and they won’t have to be burdened with web type things. It’s just like using a word program. My usual response is, “It’s easier than what?” and “It’s easier for whom?”

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Skateboarding is Not a Crime

It was just a matter of time before I had the campus cop/skateboard encounter and I think this encounter had a few elements that contributed to its development. First, I went to work early. Going to work early means that there are fewer people on campus and more reasons that some dude with sideburns on a 40 inch longboard will get noticed.

Secondly, it’s summer session at Penn State and this also means that there are less people out and about. We just don’t have the same level of student activity on campus during the summer sessions. We have plenty of construction, but that’s another blog post.

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