Category Archives: The Process

Looking back, looking ahead

Sometimes the lights all shinin’ on me;
other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me:
What a long, strange trip it’s been….

Okay, so Lindsey and I have not been “truckin'” exactly, and I don’t even know if Lindsey’s got a deadhead bone in her body. But I was trying to think of words to go with our video reflection, and these are the lines that came to me.

Check out our reflections:

My New Year’s resolution is all about appreciating my experiences and feelings, whether good or bad, and I’m finding that resolution helpful through our WinkyFace ups and downs. As Lindsey and I have said in past posts, learning curving produces a LOT of anxiety. It is also amazing—to grow, to learn, to stretch.

The pain and the pleasure. Both part of WinkyFace!

And there’s more fun to come. A couple official vids that parody faculty life are almost ready to publish, and we’re planning silly interviews with literary / fictional characters. Good times.

Thanks for enjoying this long, strange trip with us!

;)Laurie

Insecurities

Three things in the last few days have collided and helped me think about insecurities and how they can hold us back. Or not!

1) Faculty insecurities

I was reading about why faculty have trouble keeping up with new technologies. One of the reasons cited was that it is scary to try out new things in front of students. Teachers do not want to feel incompetent!

This perspective struck me as a) true and b) sad.

The truth is, we teachers expect students to take risks, to venture into learning with the understanding that things will go awry. We want students to feel uncomfortable at times, because that’s part of learning something new. If everything is always easy…if we’re always at the top of our game…well, that means we probably aren’t growing.

And if we expect our students to take risks and grow, we faculty ought to be leading the way.

We probably cannot avoid feeling insecure and even incompetent when trying new things. But maybe as teachers we can be explicit about those feelings and their normalcy. Maybe we can show students that insecurity is temporary, and that rewards await us as we gain competency and feel pride in what we’ve accomplished.

2) Frolleagues showed various levels of insecurity

On Friday, Lindsey and I visited the campus cafeteria and asked eight or ten faculty to pose for us with an irritated expression. (I don’t mean that Lindsey and I had an irritated expression; what I mean is that we wanted stills of faculty looking irritated. You’ll see why before too long when Five Stages of Coping with Feedback is edited for YouTube publication.)

Some faculty were more comfortable with this request than others, but almost every person we asked ended up posing for us.

Two observations from this experience: a) some people more easily feel self-conscious and insecure than others and b) most people who do feel self-conscious are usually good sports about ignoring those feelings in order to help out a friend (or a “frolleague,” as Kevin Dettmar has considered calling colleagues who are friends, though he’s worried it sounds too much like a colleague with benefits…a whole other conversation, really….).

I can’t really rate the awesomeness of everyone who posed for us, but I do want to say that I completely appreciate those who have a gift of hamming things up for the camera and those who don’t feel gifted but step up and do some hamming anyway. Both kinds of frolleagues are completely impressive!

3) I was (am?) haunted by insecurities

We’ve been filming using Lindsey’s DSLR and a similar camera from the Comm Dept, and I have very little experience with such cameras. In addition, my experience with YouTube has been completely amateurish, whereas Lindsey has a journalism background and has taken a photography course and simply has higher standards than I do about some things. AND the students we’re working with, Mackenzie and Brigid, have more experience with cameras and lighting than I do.

That combo of factors has made me feel VERY worried. I don’t want to be the one to mess everything up and disappoint everyone in the whole wide world! (Sometimes insecurities give me hyperbolic tendencies.)

I told Lindsey about my insecurities when we met to do some filming this past Friday, and she reassured me. Then, my insecurities became OBVIOUS when I was shooting Lindsey. (I wasn’t shooting Lindsey in a violent way, but more in a filming kind of way. When I think about how much worse a gun would be than a camera, my insecurities almost disappear. I am going to have to remember that.)

Anyhow, I was completely nervous that I wouldn’t focus clearly or I wouldn’t frame the shot in a way that would work. Lindsey was awesome, though. She said: “Take your time. You’re fine. It’s no rush.” (I’d show you a video of her saying that except I’m too lazy to edit it right now. If I were to show you the video, however, you would not only believe me that Lindsey is a very reassuring person but you’d also be impressed with how well-focused and well-framed that outtake is. Really. Not bad at all.)

Anyhow, I slowed down, and I made decisions, and if anything is completely sucky, we will do it over. But chances are that I did well enough. And I am bound to do better as we move on!

Conclusions?

I think it’s okay to feel insecure and incompetent at times. I think it is not okay to refuse to do something because of those feelings (unless that something might have super-bad consequences, like performing surgery or giving someone a haircut right before an important gala).

To make the insecurity less debilitating, it helps to work with supportive people. It helps to take our time and to hear reassuring things (whether from others or from our own little voices in our heads). It helps to keep our work in perspective. And it helps to use available resources to make the situation more manageable.

As teachers, we need to make these strategies explicit for our students. Instead of appearing only as experts, we should also be role modeling learning.

And that means we need to let students see our feelings of incompetence instead of pretending that learning is easy.

Last note: In case you feel like I’m preaching at you, that’s not my intention. I’m actually preaching at myself!

;)Laurie

things I’ve learned about filming

So, today was our second day of filming for WinkyFace. It was my turn in front of the camera, and yes, I was nervous. I thought I would be most nervous about the acting (and I was pretty nervous about that; I’m type-A and self-conscious to boot!).

But as the process continued, I realized that the part that freaked me out even more than being on camera was not having control over what was happening. I couldn’t see the shots through the camera view finder. I didn’t know if things were level, framed properly, conforming to “my vision.” (Yes, I know what you’re thinking. I am a control freak. Yes. Yes, I am.) It was hard to cede control of the situation to Laurie, Brig & Mac. But, I learned a couple of valuable lessons in the process.

1) I need to be learn to be more trusting of my partners. They can handle things.

2) It’s OK to be a little un-trusting, too. It means your head is in the game and that you’re thinking about all that’s happening around you in a critical way.

3) We all needed to be a little more prepared. Day 1 we were really on top of things. Day 2 got a little lax, it seemed. I didn’t have key props ready. There was a LOT happening in my small office space. And, there were too many distractions (people, phones, equipment, etc.)

I spent the last few nights looking back over the footage we’ve accumulated so far. We’ve done some really neat, creative things. But, it’s clear that we’re novices at this. That’s OK. This is a learning process, and I honestly can’t believe how much I’ve already learned in such a short time. There’s stuff we’ll need to re-do, re-think, re-imagine. But, that’s where the good #learningcurving happens. I’m excited about Day 3.

Until then, I’ll leave you with some of the outtakes of our first two days of filming. If nothing else, we had some fun.

“Peanut butter crackers!”, silliness & stress

During the very first official WinkyFace shot, I somehow made a big clunking noise when I rolled my chair and it pulled on a lav mic that was wired under my shirt.

Laurie, When we said we were “rolling,” that is not what we meant!

No one actually said that, but we did all laugh at the bumpy beginning of our film day.

(Sidenote: We’ll be using wireless on Day 2 when we’re mostly shooting Lindsey so she won’t run into such oddly funny problems, and we’re hoping to get a splitter so we can use two wireless lavs on Day 3 when Linds and I will both be on film). (Are you impressed with my technical language? I really know nothing, but I do know that you gotta learn the lingo in order to join the discourse community, a.k.a. community of practice, a.k.a. posse.)

Anyhow, I made a big clunking noise right after the camera started rolling for the first shot, and that made us all laugh, and several times over the course of the filming I would begin cracking up for less reason than that. When I needed help getting serious, Lindsey would say, “Peanut butter crackers!” She said that was supposed to do the trick.

What actually happened was that when I felt giggles coming on, I would think “Peanut butter crackers!”, and that would be the thought that would push me over the edge. Thanks, Lindsey! 😉

***

That was the silliness. Now here’s a recounting of the stress.

I was actually surprised at how much energy I used during the video shooting. If I were looking at the whole scene, it would be clear to me that Lindsey and Mackenzie and Brigid were working their patooties off. They were figuring out the light kit and the cameras and the mic, they were actually filming the shots and keeping track of the whole process, and they were moving around constantly and thinking about details so it will all work once we’re at the editing stage in a few weeks.

Mackenzie, Brigid, & Lindsey setting up.

Mackenzie, Brigid, & Lindsey setting up.

Me, I mostly just sat around and said some words or made very particular faces or did very simple actions.

But I was exhausted when we were done. Partly, it might’ve been because I was nervous beforehand, just like Lindsey. And the other part, I think, had to do with worries about how I’d look and sound on camera. Brigid and Mackenzie were in a couple shots, and I wonder if they had those worries, too. I felt very self-conscious being the one who was being looked at by the other three people in the room. The lesson? I may pretend to be an actor for these vids, but I am definitely not an actor.

Now I’m looking forward to Tuesday to see the experience from the other side of the camera. And I’m ready to shout “peanut butter crackers” whenever Lindsey needs me to!

Laurie, who is not an actor...

Laurie, who is not an actor…

…but who sometimes pretends to be one.
…but who sometimes pretends to be one.

And so … it begins!

We had our first official WinkyFace video shoot yesterday!

I’m not going to lie. I was nervous. The night beforehand, I had so much nervous energy. I didn’t know how far we’d get with filming, so I wanted to make sure I was ready just in case we got to any of my scenes. (The plan was to start with Laurie’s.) Laurie, who worked on finalizing the filming schedule, said I should plan two outfits. I packed six. I had equipment strewn all over my house, cords occupying every electrical outlet.

We met a couple of hours before our scheduled WF shoot to go over scripts and last minute stuff. We had some lunch to try to relax ourselves. Then, we met up with our new production assistants, Brigid and Mackenzie, at Laurie’s office. As soon as I saw them, I felt at ease!

We’re lucky to be working with such great students this semester. We’re lucky that, when we said, ‘Hey, do you wanna spend the semester helping with WinkyFace,” they said yes! As part of the deal, they’ll earn three credits via an independent study with me. And so, the four of us will learn together just what it takes to get a YouTube channel off the ground.

Before we wrapped today’s session, we did a quick shoot with Brig & Kenz so you could meet them! Check it out!

Novice, learner, expert—oh my!

I’ve been reading about expertise.

Let me back up a moment. Lindsey and I began brainstorming to write an article about teachers (us!) who model lifelong learning. In a shift away from the MOOC culture of putting the Sage on the (computer screen) Stage to share wisdom with the masses, we’re interested in teachers who are not sages but who instead model self-directed learning for their students.

What happens when students see teachers not as experts but as novices?

We are hoping good things happen!

And, so far, my reading about expertise has shown that we may be onto something. It turns out that experts are often so good at what they do that a lot of the process they use when applying their knowledge becomes automatic and intuitive, so the experts have difficulty explaining their process to others. Experts may even misrepresent their actual processes so that the students get all mixed-up and misled. Yikes.

Here’s an example. When I was about 19 or 20, I had never cooked chicken, and I never paid attention when anyone else was cooking it. One evening I was babysitting and was told to sauté some chicken in olive oil in a frying pan. I had no idea how to follow these simple instructions.

I ended up putting too much oil in the pan, and when I realized it was too much, I drained some into the sink. Unfortunately, the oil was piping hot at the time, and it spattered everywhere. I had burns from the spattering, and the oil sprayed onto the window screen behind the sink in a way that was unbelievably messy. (It stayed like that for several weeks, until I was babysitting again and had the presence of mind to clean up that messy screen, no matter what it took.)

images

My point? If I had seen a cook with just a bit more experience than me sauté that chicken, I would’ve been privy to all the steps as that cook applied previous experience to the task: “I’ve never cooked chicken this way, but I know that the word sauté means…” “When oil is hot, it spatters…” etc.

Instead, I received directions from a cook who was so used to sautéing chicken that explicit directions…well, they were never even considered until things went awry. Sautéing chicken was an automatic task for a 40-year old. Not so much for me. (And Google and YouTube didn’t exist back then in case  you’re wondering why I didn’t just take out my phone to look up how to sauté chicken.)

I don’t have burn scars, in case you’re feeling worried about me or about the potential negative effects experts can have on learners. So let’s not get extreme or melodramatic or anything.

Furthermore, I don’t think Lindsey and I are complete novices in any way. However, we are definitely in the process of learning, and because we are collaborating and we hail from different disciplines, we regularly make our thinking explicit. And that part of being non-expert is important and awesome. I’ve already learned a lot from Lindsey, and I know I have a long way to go.

In the upcoming weeks, we are going to be working with two students, and I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping they, like Lindsey, bring their past experiences into conversation with these new situations in ways that I can learn from. Really, I hope that all four us end up learning and growing in conversation with one another.

Then, in the future, as Lindsey and I gain more experience, we will end up teaching courses that guide students through their own projects. That’s the most typical model for classroom teaching in higher ed right now, I’d say. Or it should be. Lecture halls have their place, but I don’t think they should be the main attraction.

sage on the stage model

sage-on-the-stage model

guide on the side model

guide-on-the-side model

It’s weird to think about expertise as something that can cripple rather than enable a teacher. I don’t think that is always or is necessarily the case, actually. But, at the same time, it’s helpful to know that undergoing the process of learning with students is nothing to be afraid of. Learning may ultimately be the best thing a teacher can do.

Maybe that is cliche or overly simplistic, but there’s something to it, yes? What’s your opinion? How much expertise does a good teacher need to have? And how is that expertise translated to students?

Looking forward to thinking more about it!

–Laurie 😉

Brainstorming set design

Lindsey and I met a few days ago and figured out staging for the first 8 (eight!) videos we’ll be shooting. I’m not giving away any secrets! 

But I will share some of the inspirations we considered for four of the videos–the ones titled Between the Lines, which are interviews with literary/fictional characters.  We actually had lots of styles to choose from because celebrity interviews are a mainstay of talk shows and comedy sketches….

Style #1
The host-at-the-elevated-desk-and-guest-in-a-chair-with-coffee-mug-accent:

AND a snazzy backdrop

AND a snazzy backdrop

This one is classic late-night. Not only Dave, but also Johnny, Jay, Conan, Pat (Sajak! from Wheel of Fortune. Yes, he did have a late-nigth talk show back in the day. Crazy.), Jimmy, Jimmy (I completely get those two mixed up. Brown hair. Similar names. Completely confusing), etc.

Hmmm. Maybe it’s also classic male? classic white male? Yup. Because Chelsea and Arsenio have used the Ellen-style (see below) for their late-night talk shows, and neither one is a white man. Will Lindsey and I break the gender barrier? or will we leave the white men to their elevated desks?

Style #2
The tall-bar-chairs-and-again-with-the-coffee-mug-and-the-snazzy-backdrop style:

The mug is next to Michael in case you're having trouble spotting it.

The mug is next to Michael in case you’re having trouble spotting it.

Kelly and Michael may be unique in using this style. I love that they’ve brought bar stools into the morning talk show, though it would’ve really been something if they were drinking from beer mugs and shot glasses.

*Spoiler alert* We will not be using this set-up. It seems too dangerous. Such a long way to fall! And very difficult to reach the beverage without losing balance.

Style #3
The comfy-chairs-because-we’re-just-friends-hanging-out-and-chatting-with-nature-in-the-background style:

Isn't it weird that the hosts are on the right side in all of these styles???

Isn’t it weird that the hosts are on the right side in all of these styles???

This is the style Arsenio and Chelsea use, too, but with slightly different looks in each case. And I don’t know if Chelsea or Arsenio use mugs. I don’t actually watch TV. But I used to. Maybe you could tell that already?

Will Lindsey and I follow some contemporary look that is completely unfamiliar to me? Will I ever have abs that look like Justin Bieber’s? 

Style #4
The host-sits-on-the-left style:

Pretty risky. Looks like it's also crazy in going beyond the traditional coffee mug. And what's up with the lack of backdrop? Super-edgy. Whoa.

Pretty risky. Looks like it’s also crazy in going beyond the traditional coffee mug. And what’s up with the lack of backdrop? Super-edgy. Whoa.

This style is similar to the let’s-pretend-this-celebrity-interview-is-serious-news approach used regularly by Barbara Walters and morning talk show hosts like Matt Lauer. No flash or flare or glitter! This interview is all business! But we can still all share a warm chuckle, or we may just wipe a tear if that emotional chord is struck.

Will the interviewer (aka Lindsey) sit on the left or the right? We actually didn’t discuss this factor yet. We might just sit suddenly and end up where we end up. That seems simpler than figuring out pros and cons, though sitting suddenly could lead to us crashing into each other and getting hurt.

Style #5
And, last but not least, the inimitable Chris-Farley style:

No words.

No words.

You’ll have to wait and see what Linds and I have decided to do. In the meantime, tell us your ideas. If you were to do mock interviews to put a fun spin on book characters, how would you design the set?

Can’t wait to hear your ideas!

–Laurie 😉

Practical lessons

What I Learned when making this video.

Yes, I have posted a lot of videos to YouTube in the past. However: new camera, new computer, new film editing software. And higher standards. My How To vlog was experimentation with the sole goal of learning how to compose for the 21st-century. The current goal is tied to some measure of success so Linds and I can be better teachers and guide students through online entrepreneurship.

The result of all the “new” and the higher standards? LOTS of Learning Curving!

Lessons Learned:

  • My camera‘s software program saves files in mp4 formats
  • iMovie (the editing program WinkyFace is using) does not work with mp4 files
Aaaarghhh!

Aaaarghhh!

  • YouTube editing is not a great back-up option for a few reasons….
    • Viewers have trouble following a vid that has annotations on top of the regular film (see this draft)
    • Annotations done using YouTube editing will not show up on mobile devices, including iPads and tablets (so if you’re viewing from such a device, the previous link & bullet point will make no sense to you)
    • It’s tough to have consistency between videos without using a single editing program
  • WordPress and Facebook do not always do what you expect them to do (not worth going into details here; just think “TIMESUCK”)
  • It’s a bad idea to erase videos from your camera as soon as you’ve downloaded to your computer: Just wait, Ms. HurryPants! There will be plenty of time to erase after you’ve completed the project.

charliebrownnight

  • Google is your friend when figuring out…
    • why iMovie won’t allow your mp4 files to load
    • how to edit with YouTube
    • how to edit with iMovie
    • lots of other stuff yet to be discovered!
  • Lindsey is your friend when figuring out…
    • how to balance high standards with small amounts of time & energy
    • how to import mp4 files to iPhoto using the memory card so the files are translated into mpg files that make iMovie happy
    • lots of other stuff (too much to say in this small space, and more that is yet to be discovered!)
Charlie Brown calls Linds, too, when he feels confused.

Charlie Brown calls Linds, too, when he feels confused.

  • Many activities take more time and revision than you’d ever anticipate. (I have a feeling I’ll learn this lesson over & over!)

At the end, I was satisfied with the Margin Notes video (though I also have some critiques regarding music, lighting, etc., which I’ll keep in mind for next time), and I thought it supplemented the blog post appropriately.

So YAY for that!

Happiness is…relaxing after completing a project.

Happiness is…relaxing after completing a project.

Which of the “Lessons Learned” resonate with you? What advice do you have for coping when things go awry? Share in the comments!

–Laurie 😉

Learning curving

I think curving is a sport. Oh, wait, no. That’s curling.

Even though this looks like a candid of Linds & me, it's actually a Wikimedia image of 2010 Olympics curling.

Even though this looks like a candid of Linds & me, it’s actually a Wikimedia image of 2010 Olympics curling.

I’m so glad curving is not a sport, because for me, “learning curving” is about being in a perpetual state of not knowing exactly what I’m doing. And that’s exactly the state I’m in when it comes to WinkyFace. (Well, that state and Pennsylvania.)

Shhh. Don’t tell anyone I’m scrambling. I’m sure I’ve fooled them all into thinking I’m a pro.

I anticipate that I’ll be returning to this subject of “learning curving” on a regular basis. And by “anticipate,” I don’t mean that I’ll be looking forward to it the way I might look forward to Heinz ketchup eventually making its way out of the bottle. No.

What I mean by “anticipate” is that I “have a sneaking suspicion based on past experience and a pattern I’ve noticed of regularly not knowing what I’m doing.”

(Remind me to tell you about buying a tripod that didn’t have any directions. Maybe I’ll even reenact that state of learning curving because if I go through hell, we might as well all get some enjoyment out of it, right?)

So. Here’s what I found out—through the miraculous power of Google!—about filming computer screens to include the user (as opposed to the screen-capture style) :

The best result you can get if your camera is good enough is to film in near darkness where the only light source is the monitor and show it reflecting off your skin… looks awesome and very real. I also have found that when you cut to the over-the-shoulder or POV showing the screen, you get a better result in a no-light situation than you do in a room with light.

… it was really easy to read the text on the screen and show user activity happening on the screen in that situation. I got great contrast, really clear image, and no distortion, flicker or annoyances.

Thank you, nevart on videomaker.com! Except when I played with it, it was not so utopic after all. I might have a different kind of screen than nevart because, apparently, the type of screen matters to things like filming. But I’ll keep playing and researching ’til I find a method that is reasonably okay.

So, yes, I do a lot of experimenting. And I rely on Google and the people on the Internets generous enough to share their expertise & experience.

Tell me: How do you cope with learning curving?

Advice & expertise is much appreciated! (even if being an expert on not being an expert seems like a bit of an oxymoron…)
—Laurie 😉

Elf on the shelf? ;)

I want an elf on the shelf that is akin to the elves that help the shoemaker. I will wake up and all kinds of work will be taken care of.

Hallmark? Can you get on that, please? The elf should be cute or possibly hot, but not creepy.

elf

cute elf! and also very productive!

hot elf! also knows how to get a job done!

hot elf! also knows how to get a job done!

And, Hallmark, be sure to instruct the children that they must preserve my sense of wonder by never letting me know how the work actually gets done. Thank you.

–from Laurie, who is having fun here instead of doing her work 😉

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