Remixing: A Deeper Look at Audience and Outcomes

Traditional ideas of assessing whether a student understands what they’ve learned is a paper, a test or quiz. This doesn’t necessarily address the fact that not all students think that way or organize their thoughts in that way. It also promotes the idea that students have to do things the same as others and fit into a box. Don’t we really want students to think of things we never thought of, to go further than we did? Isn’t that how we make the world a better place?
I heard the most amazing line at a conference that really helps drive this home for me. “The smartest person in the room is the room.” Seriously, if we continue to demand that students fit into a box, are we helping to empower them, are we helping to expand their knowledge?
What if instead we focus on our intended outcomes and open up how we’ll accept demonstration of those outcomes? What could that do? What possibilities could that open up? What kind of an effect would that have on our teaching on our students’ learning?
Take, for example, understanding the importance of audience. Traditionally thinking, we may ask students to write a paper or prepare a presentation and ask them to identify their audience. What if you had them write or respond to prompts in traditional ways, such as papers or presentations, but then you have another assignment where they take the exact same subject and have to remix it?
That’s exactly what I was asked to come and talk to a class about – remixing a topic they had already written about. They could pick any one they wanted. Personalization and choice is a huge in education right now, particularly because of it’s incredible effects on engaging students. Then, they were asked to remix it. As you might imagine, students were having difficulty understanding what the instructor meant by remixing. I did too, so I did some researching and thinking.
To remix: to present a topic in a different way, perhaps in a different medium, paying particular attention audience and how the remix of the material affects the message.
Ok…sounds great. Now you know exactly what to do right? Haha…maybe not.
First, I started off with the some principles to remember in any project like this:
  1. Stick to the prompt – Tools are cool, but it’s so easy to get lost and lose the focus, and the point of what you’re trying to accomplish. This is the most important thing.
  2. Stick to what interests you – The world is full of assignments and projects where we have to stick in a neat little box and we are restrained by what we have to do. When we are given the freedom that this kind of an opportunity presents, it’s important that we pick something that we like, that interests us. Think of the difference in quality between working on a project that interests you vs. one that you have to do and are not interested in. Take advantage of an opportunity like this and pick something you can really get into.
  3. At first, stick to what you’re comfortable with and what’s in your skillset – Being interested and engaged is very awesome, but it is also important to keep a bit of a connection to reality. Do you have time to learn a whole new, complicated skill to complete a project in 2 weeks? If the answer is no, then stick to some skills that are already in your toolbox. That doesn’t mean don’t branch out of your limited comfort zone at all. It’s important to explore some ideas you might not have normally thought of.
Then, we started exploring the choices and how that could change the message. An example topic a student gave was a paper about miscommunication or bad communication.
What would happen if they turned the concept into a play, skit or monologue? What would that look like? How would that change the message? Even within that media, could they do something for preschoolers? How would that be different than if they did something in a Shakespeare-inspired style? You would really have to pay attention to your audience!
What would happen if they turned the topic into clothing – whether that’s designing it, making it, painting it, etc.? Could they still demonstrate a mastery of the outcomes? Does clothing (and different types of clothing) speak to different audiences? Who would painted shoes speak to? What about a graphic printed on a tshirt? Or an entire outfit made out of duct tape?
What would the act of changing their previous topic into a different media for a different audience? What could that do? Could that deepen an understanding of the importance of audience? Could that deepen students understanding of the topic? Could that get them excited and engaged in a whole new way?
Ok, so what else? How about a social media campaign? What if they started a Facebook page about their topic? What if they started a Twitter campaign? What about Snapchat? Or Instagram? The rules and audience for each of these tools is different. How you format the message, deliver it and the overall purpose is completely different in each of these cases and the students would have to consider their presentation and audience on a much deeper level than if they only wrote a paper or took a test.
Now, to be clear, I’m not calling for never assigning papers or tests or quizzes. But what I am saying is, what could we open up if we opened up the style of expression in demonstrating mastery? We might open up a whole world we never could have imagined. That’s kind of really exciting.
Here’s the list of ideas I came up with along with some tools that could help:
Media
Tools
Play, Skit, Monologue
celtx.com, Page 2 Stage, RawScripts, Trelby
Clothing (design, make or paint it)
cafepress.com, neighborhoodies.com, spreadshirt.com, apliiq.com, customink.com
Social Media Campaign
Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat
Quilt
Diorama
Painting, Drawing, Pop Art
paint, paint.com
Music (create or remix)
audacity, soundtrap, soundation, UJAM, incredibox
Movie
windows movie maker, imovie, movavi, magisto, animoto, moovly
Performance Art, Interpretive Dance
Infographic
piktochart, Canva, vizualize.me, Easel.ly, Infogr.am, InFoto Free, Venngage
Blog, Vlog
WordPress, Weebly, wix.com, Blogger, Tumblr
Animation
scratch, powtoons, explee.com, Biteable.com, Animaker
Comic, Graphic Novel
Gif
makeagif.com, giphy.com, imgflip.com, gifcreator.me, ezgif.com
Meme
imgflip, makeameme.org, http://www.memecreator.org, http://www.memes.com, memegenerator.net
Parody (lyrics, video, speeches, images, etc.)
Interview, Talk Show
Game/Game Show
PowerPoint, http://www.quizshow.io, equizshow.com, Jeopardy Labs
Photo Gallery
Newsletter
Publisher, Word, PowerPoint, GoogleDocs, GoogleSlides, Canva
Image
Podcast
Spreadsheet
Timeline
Excel, Venngage, Word, http://www.readwritethink.org, PowerPoint, iSpring, http://www.softschools.com, http://www.tiki-toki.com, timeglider.com
Email
Letter
Postcard
App
Finger Puppets
Virtual Storybook
storybird.com
Mindmap
mindmeister, http://www.mindmup.com, bubbl.us, mindmapfree.com, goconqr.com, creately.com, Canva, coggle.it
News Release
News Broadcast, Public Service Announcement
Illustration
YouiDraw.com, http://www.fatpaint.com, vectr.com, www.queeky.com
Vines
Vine.co
QR Code
FAQ
Commercial
Flyer
Poster
Word, Publisher, Gimp, Easy Movie Poster, Canva
Testimonials
Newspaper Ad
Radio Broadcast/Show
Sitcom
Simulator
Presentation at a Conference, A Lesson Plan
Manifesto
Word Search/Crossword Puzzle
PuzzleMaker, Word Search Maker, Word Search Puzzle Maker

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovators – Liz Frey, Sean Mayfield and Alisha Williams

lizseanalisha

(from left to right) Sean, Alisha and Liz pose next to Cold War-themed art created by students in the Art Appreciation class of Dr. Strangelove’s America. Photo by Erin Baker.

Congratulations to Liz Frey, Sean Mayfield, and Alisha Williams for being our most recent faculty innovators! They did some amazing work putting together Dr. Strangelove’s America this past fall, a course you may have heard much about already. This 3-way linked course on the Cold War pulls together US History, Art Appreciation, and English Composition into an exceptionally cohesive experience for students, with many cool, innovative elements you can read about below.

Linked Courses + Weekly Seminar = Deeper Learning

Central to the concept of having linked courses is having a common theme that unites them. In the words of Sean Mayfield, the group’s history instructor:
“By sharing a common theme we were able to develop lesson plans that leveraged the content and overlap from all three courses. I think this gave our students a much deeper perspective on the major themes and issues that impacted the history and art of the Cold War era. … In addition to meeting for each of the three classes, the students also attended a two hour, weekly seminar session that helped them synthesize the content and themes covered in all the courses.”
Liz Frey also has shared the benefits she sees in structuring courses around a unified theme:
“My portion of this linked course, Art Appreciation, is an art survey class that explores the meaning and purpose of art in our society, today and in the past. We look at how cultures develop and change over time, and the role of the visual arts in this process. I found that these course objectives dovetailed beautifully with those of American History and English 101 as we looked at the United States in the decades immediately following World War II. Each class approached the topic from a slightly different perspective, and I believe students were able to gain a richer sense of the time period we were studying because of this. They also gained a deeper understanding of the role of art in shaping culture, and how this process develops in response to social and political changes.”
A major element of the success of this integration was the weekly seminar that helped to synthesize and relate the content covered in each of the three courses over the past week, intentionally drawing the lines and helping students to draw parallels and make connections.
According to Liz Frey,
“Seminar was the key to this integration of concepts. Students read assigned texts, prepared their own notes, then participated in group discussions where we unpacked the meaning of the text, its relevance to the things we were studying in class and its bearing on our own life experiences. In seminar students learned group communication and facilitation skills while making connections between ideas. They worked out concepts together, drew parallels between the past and the present and related their own personal experiences to those of others.”

Student + Faculty Cohorts = Better Support + Outcomes

Besides the common themes of the content, another major benefit of their linked course was the supportive learning environment. Since students had to be enrolled in all three classes at the same time, this created a cohort of students who are encouraged to get to know each other, communicate outside of a single classroom, and support each other as peers. Sean Mayfield sees the benefits:
“Developing and teaching this course did create an increased workload for me, but overall, I think the impact on students was very positive. The number of students dropping the course and/or receiving sub-standard grades was lower than what I normally experience in the “normal” History 148 course that I teach. I also observed students building strong relationships with each other throughout the quarter and even during the next quarter, I still see many of these students sitting together and walking together around campus. I believe this level of engagement with peers can be very beneficial to student success and student retention efforts.”
Liz also mentioned noticing similar results in her art class, suggesting benefits that could be applied to any subject:
“This community model of students and faculty learning together had a positive impact on students’ college experiences. They made friends and worked together both in and out of the classroom. In before and after surveys students reported increased levels of participation, collaboration, confidence and peer support. Attendance levels went up in comparison with past Art Appreciation classes, and attrition levels went down.”
Alisha Williams, English instructor, thinks the benefits to having a cohort in a linked course go beyond just the students:
“Not only was there a cohort of students, but there was also a cohort of instructors. Working closely with Sean and Liz made it easier to assess and encourage students more holistically, and enabled us to coordinate support strategies. I feel this directly impacted our high student attendance and engagement levels. I’m looking forward to doing another one!”
Liz echoes these observations:
“The opportunity to work closely with other faculty on a shared goal was a gift for me. Sean, Alisha and I were able to confer about individual students and how to best help them. We gave each other feedback on our lesson plans and shared teaching strategies. Although preparing for this class did increase my work load, it also increased my enthusiasm and enjoyment of the process, and it was a net gain in the end.”

Open and Flexible Tools + Content

Last but not least, in addition to executing the elements of a successful linked course, they also innovated their tools and content. According to Sean:
“We also made great use of technologies (hybrid courses using Canvas, multimedia content, and the active learning classroom in WSC) to provide multiple pathways for students to access and make use of course content. … Open source textbooks and readings supplied by instructors minimized the expenses that students incurred.”
There’s a lot of great stuff going on here. Hybrid courses are a great way to afford flexibility to students by transitioning content online, where it is accessible any time of day and more learning and assignments can be at the student’s convenience. Multimedia content, too, can help engage students in a variety of ways, supporting different learning styles and needs and encouraging students to engage with material more actively. This is also accomplished by the active learning classroom in WSC, which is set up to allow students to connect laptops to large screens in the classroom so that the entire class can work together on projects. And, of course, open source textbooks and other open educational resources (OER) save students money, improve learning outcomes for students by ensuring everyone has equal access to the course material whenever they need it, and give the instructor more control over the content in their lessons. The college is currently pursuing a grassroots Open Education Initiative, so it’s great to see people continuing to get involved and to see open textbooks being put to use for students in classes like this. These are all great tool and content innovations to improve the in- and out-of-classroom experience for students.

Thank You!

Liz, Sean, and Alisha have done a great job planning and executing a wonderful and successful three-way linked course, and have already seen a variety of benefits. We look forward to seeing what they do in the future! Great job, guys!

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Joan Rogerson

innovator-joan-rogerson

We are excited to award the newest Faculty and Staff Innovator Award at CC to none other than Joan Rogerson. As Program Coordinator for the Student Job Center, Joan’s work supporting the center and helping place students into jobs both on and off campus has enormous impact on the success and future of the students they assist. To improve the work of the SJC and to support students even more effectively, Joan has recently made some major upgrades to their processes for student orientations and appointment scheduling.

Translating their student job orientation into an online training was innovation #1. Orientations required for students seeking employment through the SJC had previously been done in-person, where they would walk students through the process, familiarize them with forms, and walk them through what they need to know to be successful as a student worker. Joan revamped this by creating a thorough PowerPoint presentation of the orientation process that students can access online, a shift that will be efficient and convenient for staff members and students alike. In Joan’s words:

“The on-line session made it much easier for students to access this training on any day, at any time. It also freed the staff time that was originally dedicated to each orientation session and allowed the rooms that were normally reserved to be available to others.”

Joan also shifted the center’s scheduling to an online tool. While scheduling had also been done manually and in-person, Joan collaborated with Sam Small and the IT interns who built a referral tool to interface with students and facilitate the scheduling of the SJC’s appointments. Again, Joan sees the benefits this change has both for students and staff members:

“This allows the students to make appointments for job referrals during our busier employment times, which are in support of the summer and fall employment periods. The student simply enters the system using their SID number and they are given the dates and times from which to select an appointment. They can then print out their appointment day and time or cancel an appointment, if necessary. This on-line option replaces a prior scheduling system that required each student to visit the SJC to register for a job referral appointment. It now allows the student to make their appointment on any day, at any time without having to visit the SJC, and it gives the SJC the ability to access and print out a daily schedule of the appointments that have been made.”

The Student Job Center staff and the students they work with should be appreciating and reaping the benefits of using these new tools for quarters to come. Thanks so much for stepping up to the plate and making things happen, Joan! We’re happy to have the occasion to give you this award.

Written by Erin Cox

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovators – Centralia College HR Department

image of HR Department - Tammy Remund, V'Ann Kostick, Julie Ledford (Huss), and Candi Fetch

The Human Resources Department at Centralia College is another recent recipient of the Faculty/Staff Innovator Award. They are a four person team consisting of Vice President of Human Resources & Legal Affairs, Julie Ledford (Huss), Assistant to HR Director and Benefits Manager, Tammy Remund, Executive Assistant to the VP of HR, Candi Fetch, and HR Consultant, V’Ann Kostick. They are being recognized for their conversion from RainShadow to PeopleAdmin Human Resources job management software, making Skype interviewing a possibility for interviewing potential employee candidates, and starting to automate forms.

When the choice came up to make a change from the older job management software, huge sighs of relief were heard all across the web space from job applicants to search committees to the managers of the management software. The migration to PeopleAdmin software has definitely improved the overall process of posting, applying for, and reviewing of job applications. There are less phone calls from applicants and search committee participants on how to use the software or problems interacting with it. Comments received from committee members, as well as applicants include that it’s “easier to read” and “easier to use.” In addition it takes less time from HR staff for having to scan in documents, close positions and answer help calls. Taking less time and less support means it’s also saving the college money. More cheers!

It can be difficult to manage interviews when an applicant pool is vast and geographically diverse. It can be practically impossible for a screening committee to narrow a search down to only 3 to 5 applicants without having a little extra information or interaction to determine who might be a better fit. In the past, HR would set up phone teleconferences where the committee could all gather around a phone and ask questions of the applicants. This interaction has its limitations from connectivity, lack of personal connection, etc.

Centralia College’s HR department decided to expand the possibilities to connect to applicants. They created an HR Skype account, which allows for screening committees to virtually interview candidates. This service helps to narrow down an applicant pool without added expense of traveling to campus. This can be extremely helpful with candidates from all over the country and even international candidates. Using Skype has opened up options for applicants who might not have been able to travel for an interview because of money and/or time limitations. It also gives the screening committee an opportunity to see how someone interacts, their body language, eye contact, etc. that isn’t afforded over a phone. It can also speed up the process of hiring with fewer scheduling issues.

HR departments have traditionally been very paper-based. Lots of files, lots of data, lots of…paper. This is also very labor intensive, inefficient, can make it very difficult to easily retrieve data, and can be full of entry errors. To start combatting some of these issues, Centralia College’s HR department is looking to automate. They started automating with this year’s annual fall conference. Normally, a word document is sent out across campus via email for employees to fill out and email back or print out and hand in. Then, one person in the office would have to organize the data from the documents into a manual spreadsheet, then print name tags. This whole process took unbelievable amounts of person-power to complete with many opportunities for errors. This year, they made the form into an online Google form and only accepted submissions that way. These submissions were automagically populated into a spreadsheet that could then be manipulated. Countless hours were saved! In addition, a lot less copies were made, a lot less paper was used, so it was more environmentally sustainable as well. The conservation of paper was “almost more of a driver than the time savings” said one member of the department. It also made the whole process, including response time, faster!

Another efficiency the department introduced was stream-lining the process of stipends, which saves on confusion and time to pay employees.

The department would like to automate more processes and branch out into eSignatures to increase efficiency, decrease time used to process paperwork and increase effectiveness across campus. Be on the lookout for more ways you can optimize your paperwork processing.

We’re very excited to give this award to these ladies and are sure looking for even more amazingness from this extremely hardworking group!

 

 

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Alisha Williams

Image of Alisha Williams holding a folder

Alisha Williams is an awardee of the Faculty/Staff Innovator Award at Centralia College. She is in her third quarter teaching English composition as an adjunct instructor for Centralia College. For her first English 102 course, she said she “really wanted something fun that also provided a context for writing.” So, she “decided to use a Star Trek theme and show [her] students that [she’s] not afraid of looking ridiculous if it means increased student engagement.”

Here’s what she did:

My Canvas home page was designed, with the help of Erin in eLearning, to look like a Star Trek command center. “Officer’s Log” leads to announcements, and “Submit Report” leads to discussions. At the beginning of the quarter, students receive a “cadet training folder” with a form they have to sign saying they accept their mission (which includes class expectations). I also recorded lectures (on logical fallacies) as a Vulcan. We watch one a week to maintain a Trekkie flavor and to lighten up a class which can be very intimidating for students.

In order to accomplish the course design, Alisha implemented some html Canvas-hacking she learned by attending Washington Annual Canvas Conference at Tacoma Community College during her spring break. In addition, she made Star Trek-themed videos of herself using green screen technology.

Alisha not only flavored her course for engagement, she also started using an engagement technique that’s called ‘nudging.’ This is an engagement technique that can include anything that ‘nudges’ students, whether that’s reminders about assignments or a personalized note because someone hasn’t shown up to class for a few days. Here’s what Alisha did to ‘nudge’:

Another new thing I did this quarter was giving students the option of sharing their cell phone information. If someone is absent for more than two days without contacting me, I text them and encourage them to come the next day. It does create a bit more work, but attendance and grades are better than ever before.

When asked how her innovations have affected students, the campus, and her own thinking, here’s what Alisha had to say:

I was so excited when I heard that my students were sharing the lecture videos with their friends who weren’t enrolled in my class. Someone even asked to join a group discussion for a day because their friend had told them about the topic. For every topic and controversy, students are asked to come to a consensus on how they would want things in their new colony on a new planet. It’s my hope that students carry those same skills and critical thinking to real life political processes and community involvement—Vulcan ears optional!

I sure hope Alisha and her students are having a fun time nerding out while they’re doing all that learning. We’re so excited to have such an asset (and fellow nerd) as Alisha. Congratulations and, as Captain Jean Luc Picard would say, remember to “Engage.”

Gif of Captain Picard motioning "make it so"

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Alexander Solomon

Image of Alex Solomon drinking from a metal cup

Alexander Solomon is a recent awardee of the innovator award at Centralia College. He is an artist and Assistant Professor of Art and Graphics at Centralia College. He is being recognized for his innovations in teaching art, including his recent research and development of a Computer Graphics 2 course, where students make 3D and 2D models used in video games.

Alex merges traditional  with modern and, in fact, surmises the two viewpoints are not contrary to each other, but work together. In his own words, Alex states:

I’ve been encouraging a more holistic approach to art for my students. Traditional ways of making art (drawing, painting, printmaking, sculpture) and newer ways of making art(digital painting, 3D rendering, vector drawing, photo-compositing) are not opposed. They are synergistic. Being able to draw well on paper informs your ability to draw well on a computer. Drawing on a computer is a quick way to test an idea that you plan on drawing on paper later. They are all tools used to make the same thing. Art. Students should know the right tool for the right job.  Making art in a variety of mediums changes the way an artist thinks and feels about their work. They get special insight into both their own motivation for making art and how the medium informs the message. I want my students to be challenged intellectually and also technically in their craft. Well rounded.

Keeping this philosophy in mind, Alex set out to create 2 new courses that seemed to oppose each other:

With this in mind I’ve created 2 new courses that are almost diametrically opposed. Computer Graphics 2 and Printmaking. The printmaking course utilizes a traditional etching press and techniques that date back as far as the 15th century. Students will learn how to soak papers, run the press, create acid etchings, relief prints, t-shirts and screen prints. Printmaking is process-oriented and technical. When art student’s hands are busy, interesting things tend to happen with their work. The second course, Computer Graphics 2, builds on the skills developed in Computer Graphics 1 but focuses specifically on making art for kinetic, interactive art; video games.  Students will learn to make 3D models for 3D games using Maya and 2D sprites for 2D games using a variety of programs. Computer art is, by definition hands off. It’s a more intellectual approach to making art with fewer barriers to getting a finished product. Making art on computers often changes the art that students make art by hand. Sometimes the artwork that students make by hand becomes more gestural and messy; a kind of celebration of the lack of control that you have outside of a computer. Sometimes students see digital art as a challenge, an exactness that they should be able to accede or at least mimic with their hands.

When asked how these innovations have affected students, Alex had this to say:

I tend to ask my students to do the same thing in every class. I ask them to make something visually dynamic, intuitively interesting, successful and self-contained. They then proceed to use different tools to make something visually dynamic, intuitively interesting, successful and self-contained. At first, in 2D Design we try and figure out what those things mean. Students have to define those terms and many others terms on their own and test out their ideas by making simple, black and white drawings that they present to the class. As students take other courses like Photography, Computer Graphics or Drawing, the goal is the same but they have to adapt and work with the limitations of that medium. As they work through different mediums they develop preferences for specific tools, they start finding a voice and they are able to more eloquently express themselves both visually and verbally.

We’re very excited to have Alex and his innovative teaching here at Centralia College, and it is with pleasure that we bestow this award to him.

Congratulations to Faculty/Staff Innovator – Kelli Bloomstrom

Kelli Bloomstrom Image - Edited

Kelli Bloomstrom is another recently recognized innovator at Centralia College. She is the Dean of Transitional Education & Centralia College East and known for her exceptional work ethic, as well as how much she sells herself and her abilities short. Something she never lacks in is supporting her faculty, staff and the students in her programs.

Since 2009, Kelli has been Associate Dean of CC East, providing instruction in the classroom, leadership and advocacy for the campus that serves the east county. Her leadership skills and work ethic provided her the opportunity to serve as the Dean of Transitional Education on main campus, as well, starting in January of 2015.

Since that time Kelli has not only maintained her unbelievable support of faculty, staff and students of east county, but has expanded to being an integral part of the college mission by writing federal grants, establishing programs and pathways for students getting their GEDs or High School diplomas.

In her own words:

I am supporting faculty. Project I-DEA (Integrated Digital English Acceleration) is an educational project with support from the Gates Foundation that includes innovative instruction for ESL learners in the three lowest levels using best practices of I-BEST, an information literacy approach, and the “flipped classroom” model to support student learning. This project is grant funded and supports learning outside of the classroom by providing students with computers and 24-7 internet.

In Basic Skills, Kelli has written several grants that are funding  “creation of new courses that create intentional pathways from basic skills to the various certificate/degree programs offered at Centralia College.”

These innovations have greatly affected the workload of the faculty; creating new courses and curriculum is always time consuming, but well worth it especially when it positively affects learning. We look forward to continuing the work with our Workforce Education, Child and Family Studies, and Academic Transfer campus partners developing pathways that are clear, intentional and supportive to help students transition successfully to other campus programs.

We’re super excited about the work the Kelli and her team are doing and continue to cheer them on. Thanks for the awesomeness, Kelli!