In which I open a blog post with the worst grammatical title of the… wek?

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by stevendepolo

In the ds106 classes here at UMW, we’ve just moved past week 8, and one of the grueling stretches for students in their projects to produce 30 minutes of an audio show. This time around, we shrunk the final show from 30 minutes to 20, but asked groups to do a 10 minute documentary or sequence of out takes. Twenty is still a lot of content to produce, as I hope our students learned, plus the dynamics of group coordination, and challenges of using new tools.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by alexkerhead

On my class blog, I’ve just posted a summary of the six groups from my section and Jim has half of his student’s work collected too.

It helps to sit back and note that, at least in my class, I had only one student who had used Audacity before, so they all began from a place of having no audio editing experience. Yes, they had challenges in microphones (yes, those built in laptop mics are crap) and keeping their levels even between different recorded tracks, but conceptually they all executed concepts of original shows in interesting ways.

I’ll let the works speak for themselves. But before finishing, I also want to note the work done by Cheryl Smith at Baruch College in ENG3860: Advanced Writing: Style and Styles in Prose that was broadcast last week on ds106radio with Luke Waltzer and Mikhail Gershovich. It is worthwhile to hear Cheryl’s own words on how she was reluctant to take on such a new challenge, and her excitement at taking that step over the barrier of self talk.

It was a good way to think about what are the different ways yo can think about telling stories when you are writing for listeners as opposed to readers. How do you think about language differently? How do you think about style differently?

How often do we talk ourselves of trying something by determining ahead of time that we cannot do it? That should be the last behavior we ever model for students.

It was cary to start a project that had so many different elements that I didn’t have fluency in. Forget about mastery, I did not even have basic fluency. Ten years ago I would have never done anything like this in my teaching, five years ago probably not either… As time goes on, you being to realize, what do you have to lose? There’s only a gain. The loss would have been the assignment totally flops and for two weeks in the class we flounder around together, and it doesn’t really go anywhere… that was the biggest loss I could imagine, so I figured it was worth the risk.

Indeed it was.

Listen to these sets of stories, and they are only DRAFTs- there is very clean audio editing here, excellent use of sound effects, but mostly, gripping stories told well. I hope there is some blogging out there of Cheryl’s techniques/assignments for getting her students to this point!

And this is part of a strand I am drawing in ds106- in starting with visual and photography, we ask students to practice looking at the world differently through a camera, noticing detail, paying attention to what they may not have seen before. We then extend that to audio, and introduce them to the nuances of audio layers, background ambient sound, and foley effects. They begin to hear the world differently (I hope). And next we begin to do the same with video, asking them to look more closely at film, and notice lighting, placement, audio, effects etc.

But mostly, it is rewarding to see how far people can go with audio in creativity, with really not very much direct “how to” twiddle instructions in the tools.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.

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