Tuesday, November 28, 2006

CDP Love

Just so everyone knows-- the Cortland Downtown Blog is still going strong. If anyone feels the need to show it a little love... comments are welcome.

Progress Thus Far

I’ve been thinking about the advancement that I’ve made since the beginning of the semester. To be truthful, I was not intimidated by any of the apps that were introduced to us. I’ve always fooled around on computers for fun. Plus, this isn’t the first semester that I’ve had to intermingle with Macs. I was actually debating buying one last year; however, it’s this upcoming winter that I will make that purchase (as long as Santa leaves me some money).

Honestly, though, I wasn’t initially familiar with any of the Mac applications that we have worked with. The simplicity of these apps has allowed me to feel as if I have been running them for years. I am extremely confident in using these programs nowadays. I can say that the progress that I have made with the iLife applications is tremendous without any doubt in my mind. Also my relationship with the blog(s) has blossomed into something I would have never thought I could enjoy. The wiki is fun also! My experience with all of these applications has been nothing but positive. I also realize the benefits that they could serve in a classroom. In reality, though, there is other progress that I’ve made in this class which stems away from the computers…

I’ve been victim of a stalemate for a couple of years now. The battle of what to do with my life had left me stuck in a career-purgatory. Thankfully (hopefully), this class has helped me escape this. I’ve come to the realization that I may be able to take something that I’ve always loved as a hobby and combine along with something that helps define my life (English). I’ve found a path.

I know this seems like a joyful, life-changing, faultless epiphany—but, in all honesty, I must be truthful with myself…

I can’t sit here, having no experience at the other end of the spectrum (inside a classroom), and proclaim that I’ve found my life long goal. Sure I’ve thought about being a teacher since high school, but there’s no way that I can be sure until I get some real experience (thanks Dr. Stearns!). Regardless of what happens, it is the realization that technology is changing the way we (everyone) is learning that will help me be more successful.

I am positive that if I am to become a high school teacher I will absolutely include technology in my lessons. The fact remains, though, that no matter what happens I can thank ENG 506 for clearing my ignorance when it comes to our currently “flat world”. It is here where I have made the most progress… and, of course, there’s still so much more to learn! It doesn’t hurt that I’ve become pretty darn good at the Mac apps, blogs, and wikis either. Ha!

I remain confident. Cheers.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Downtown Cortland Blog: Developing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting A Professional Weblog

I would like to believe that the majority of you are already familiar with what Katie and I are doing for our final project…

As for an abstract:

Title: The Downtown Cortland Blog: Developing, Maintaining, and Troubleshooting A Professional Weblog.

On the day in which we are specified to present our project Katie and I will be able to perform in either lab; we have no preference.

We will open up and travel through the Cortland Downtown website. We will be explaining the creation, process, and maintenance of the Cortland Downtown Blog. Most importantly we will discuss the possibilities that this blog could, and would have in a classroom.

We have now been through the entire process of setting up and maintaining a blog which allows us to better prepare for interaction with this platform in the future. This fact will serve as another discussion facilitator throughout the presentation; we will have more knowledge as to some problems (and solutions!) that one might encounter when creating a blog.

The technology we will be using basically speaks for itself. We will have to have access to a projector in order to present our blog for all to see.


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

I Love iWeb

Technically dealing with iWeb to create a professional website was extremely uncomplicated. It baffles me that (judging from my classmates’ blogs) I might be the only person using iWeb to generate my website. Not only is this application easy to use, but it’s effective as well. There are no advertisements whatsoever, it looks incredibly professional, and the creative options seem to be infinite. There’s even a blog feature built in!

The tough part for building this website, for me, arose from the content. I am not a professional yet! I don’t have a lot of experience; heck, a couple months ago I wasn’t even sure if teaching was exactly what I wanted to do. I know my situation differs from most of the other students in 506, but, regardless, I needed to make a professional website. I did my best to create a site that I would be able to show future employers. Granted I still have a ton of work to do on this site...

Here are some things that I will continue to work on…

1. I would like to take some personal pictures that I could apply onto my site; these are pictures that I would take myself. I would also like them to be more relevant.

2. Also, I plan on creating and maintaining a blog on this website. Right now, I just have a test blog for all to see what it would look like.

3. This is an active website that will be changing as my credentials do. I plan on using it for years to come. Update, update, update.

4. I published this site using .Mac. I’m on the 60 day free trial, and, if all goes well, I will probably pay for this site after it expires. The benefits seem to outweigh the cost. Check out all of the benefits of .Mac.

To be honest, my site is not at all what I want it to be as of right now; I have been incredibly busy. But, the good news is, that I am excited to continue to work on it. iWeb is awesome, and I recommend it to everyone.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

At Last!

I just want to publish a brief post to let the entire class know that our CDP blog is legitimately up and running! Finally! I have currently published a few of the posts that I have written and Katie has done the same. So, for your viewing pleasure, here is the URL. Let me know what you all think of the layout/content. Cheers!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another CDP Update

I drove to Ithaca yesterday to have a meeting with Jed (his office is really hard to find!). It was a great meeting. Some of the things we discussed:

It didn’t take long for Jed to convince me that instituting one collective blog (that Katie and I would both post to) would actually be more effective (than the two that we originally planned on doing). The blog that we are creating is being set up for the long term. If there is one blog the authors can change, then if there is one author whom doesn’t “participate” as much—it doesn’t jeopardize the integrity of the blog. Jed made it a requirement and I see why now. Katie and I will still post just as much as if we were still doing two separate blogs. But, it will be better for the future of the Cortland Downtown Partnership website.

The first phase to this blog, as we discussed, is trust. In order for us to gain the trust of the people in Cortland it would be most beneficial for Katie and I to go to the local businesses and ask them if we can blog on an upcoming event that they would like to promote. This way we would be able to allow these businesses to see the upside to our blog. Then, eventually, when it comes time to expand on the website they will be more willing to be used as a sponsor. Everything that we are doing right now is going to be to help establish trust in our project with the community. This will also help Katie and I with the content aspect of this project.

The next step is to create a Blogger account for this project. A temporary blog that will be up until next year. Jed is going to create a sexy link to this blog on the CDP website which will be our foundation for the future. It is on this blog that Katie and I will do our posting for the class project. We are trying to think of a witty headline or title for this blog… any ideas? [Side Note: we had spoken with Lloyd about the opportunities of naming our blog The Blue Frog Blog initially. After further thought, and some advice from Jed, I realize that this is not the best idea—because we don’t want to highlight any one business which would isolate others.

Jed and I also spoke about promoting this blog. In order to bring more readers to our cause we’ve decided that to do some promoting. I will be making fliers to hang up all around downtown Cortland, and on campus. Hopefully this will help us gain more readers.

After creating the blog, the next step will be to set up another meeting with Lloyd. Hopefully the blog will be up and running as of tomorrow. This is where we are at right now, as far as the Cortland Downtown Project goes. Katie and I also have another meeting with Jed—the weekend after Thanksgiving—and this time he’ll be coming to Cortland to take a walk through Main St. with us.

As you can see things are FINALLY starting to come together. I’m going to go create this Blogger account now. I’ll keep you folks updated! Cheers.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Let's Hear It For Will Coming On Tues.

I’m super excited to have Will Richardson on campus tomorrow. Dr. Stearns was right… he is a celebrity!

This morning when I woke up, I examined the survey that Will had conducted on his blog. It seems to me that the use of technology in the classroom is being hindered by one fixation (something that we have mentioned throughout the semester). I think that the principals of schools, etcetera, are more willing to block technology rather than take the time to help teachers learn how to use this knowledge. The whole idea of blocking teachers rather than letting them become ‘authorities’ of new media creates this sense of paralysis that seems to create Will’s pessimism ‘bout the future of technology and the classroom. Teachers will become less inclined to teach using different interfaces because they are intimidated—as Alex said they won’t have authority. They will then resort to “the easy way out” which, unfortunately, causes a stalemate in progress.

My brother is a sophomore at Ithaca College and he is taking a course in technology also (New Media Technology or something similar… I don’t remember the exact course name). But, while I was talking to him on the phone the other night, he was telling me how one of his teachers didn’t even know how to use PowerPoint. I don’t consider myself a digital native, but I do know how to use such a simple program. I assure that I didn’t need to take a class to learn it either. So, this got me thinking…

Maybe teachers are using this as an excuse. “Well, since Mr. Principal doesn’t want to show me how to use iMovie” said Mr. Teacher, “I’ll just pass out these copies of standardized tests and let the students mull over them for the class period.”

Now I know this is a huge exaggeration, but… it still makes me think. Anyone can do anything if they put their mind to it (yes I truly believe this). I’ve never been a teacher so I don’t know what it’s like. But, I do find it hard to believe that people in this profession can’t offer 20 minutes a day to experiment. How about 20 minutes every other day? Sure you can take the weekends off. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed as a student but I always manage to get my work done (knock on wood). Think about it… most of us taught ourselves how to use iMovie, and everyone that was working with Windows Movie Maker definitely did so.

I know life itself can be overwhelming at times; sometimes I use this fact as an excuse. Something stuck in my mind when Scott Stratton came to visit our ENG 506 class. He mentioned that he had basically taught himself how to use all of the new media that he was using in his classroom. I believe that Shade Gomez said something comparable also. I would say that they’re doing pretty OK, now. Hopefully all of the knowledge that Will, Alex, Karen, Scott, Shade, etc. are passing around will get to where it needs to and help future educators.

iMovie Madness

It’s been a week so I’ve had significant time to reflect on my iMovie experience. I would have to admit that I really enjoyed this project. The program was incredibly easy to use, but incredibly hard to save. But, when a person is working with files that large—how could it be easy to save!

Let me evaluate the process…

One factor that I didn’t fully take into consideration was the preparation and design that it takes to create a movie. Sure it was easy, and fun, for me to go out and take some footage, but putting it all together in a coherent and effective manor took me by surprise.

To be honest, I started off doing an iMovie about technology. This was a movie in which I was examining the life of my roommate and myself. In this scenario I was going to utilize all forms of technology and compare this to my roommate’s lack of tech savvy. This film was extremely interesting (and funny!), but my roommate couldn’t do any more filming, so I was unable to collect all of the necessary footage. I was disappointed because I was fond of the way that this movie was turning out. At that point, I was actually doing the work in Windows Movie Maker. But after my roommate could no longer act in this blockbuster and I realized that this may be the only time that I get to learn a program such as iMovie, I decided that I would start over and use the Apple program instead.

It was becoming very stressful (almost as stressful as this Cortland Downtown Project; yeah right) trying to think of a new storyline to film. Since it was only Lily and I, things just fell into place. My girlfriend’s brother really liked the idea that I had a hedgehog, and asked a tremendous amount of questions every time they were on the phone. At this point I realized that there would be no better way for me to teach him about hedgehogs then making a movie. Hmmm… this could be handy somewhere else.

So, after I had my idea on hand, I started filming. I shot about 30 minutes of live, un-cut, raw footage. That was the easy part…

It was after I brought all of the footage into the library that I recognized that I was not going to be able to just slop this thing together. I needed a plan. I had no plan. After futzing around with the program and footage for a while it become evident that I needed to re-strategize.

I took out a blank piece of paper (actually I forgot paper so I stole one from the printer in the library, breaking it in the process. Shh… don’t tell) and started to make a storyboard (or at least my crappy version of one). I organized my clips and ideas into a more rational timeline, and recorded my voice using a manipulator technique available in Audacity. Now I was ready to go. After about six or seven hours in the library I was complete, I just needed to export it. Little did I realize that it was going to take an additional hour, or so, for me to compress this file (cutting it a little close aren’t you, Ray).

After I took it home and viewed the final product I was very pleased.

But, after viewing it, I do have a couple of disappointments…

First off, I wish that the sound of my manipulated voice was louder. I don’t get why it was so soft. When it was in iMovie I increased the volume of the voice clips to 150%; I even decreased the rest of the audio to make sure that it was loud enough. Before I compressed the file the sound was audible; I don’t know what happened.

Secondly, I would have liked to have been able to work on this project in more than just one setting. Because the files were so large when I was working on the movie, it was next to impossible for me to save. They were so large that they wouldn’t even fit on my 4.7GB DVDRW that I had purchased. Because of this, I was forced to do it all in one go around. It would have been nice if I would have thought to borrow my friend’s portable hard drive; that would have made things a hell of a lot easier.

I think the rubric that Dr. Stearns posted was a quality general rubric. I just hope that both professors understand all of the work that goes into making one of these movies (I’m sure they do).

I must say that the other videos we watched in class were phenomenal! Cloning, horror, students and waterfalls! Congratulations to us! Those videos were extraordinary. Cheers.

CDP Update

I need to start off with an apology. It’s been a while since I’ve last published a blog post. I have been working on trying to get my final project in order; this Downtown Cortland Project is not going as I had hoped it would.

There is some news on this front, though…

I had a phone conversation with Jed Ostrom (Sarah’s husband) from Next Interactives. He owns a regional website development firm in Ithaca. I contacted him with the hopes of helping Katie and I find a way to insert our blogs on the Downtown Cortland website. The phone meeting was very successful. We spoke for a little over an hour and I found out that he is going to be able to help us and then some. Here is a copy of the proposal email that I wrote to Lloyd after the phone conversation with Jed:

Hi, Lloyd,

I just got off the phone with Jed Ostrom from
www.nextinteractives.com. He owns a regional website development firm, and I contacted him with hopes to help us with our project. The meeting/call went very well. I found that he will indeed be able to help us and more. He would really like the opportunity to be involved with the Downtown Cortland Partnership and the SUNY students. I am actually going to meet with him on Wednesday at 1:30PM at his office—to talk more about our project.

For now, Jed has volunteered to create a great solution to our problem in 2 phases

PHASE 1: Linking our new CDP blogs to the existing CDP website
The temporary solution is to put a highly visible link right on the home page of the existing CDP website that will direct the users to the new CDP blogs located on
blogger.com. This way, by the end of next week, we can start blogging about the CDP immediately!

PHASE 2: Proposal for CDP version 2.0
Spend the next month working to create a detailed proposal for a wholesale upgrade to the CDP website… essentially, a blue print for upgrading the CDP website to meet the needs and 2007 goals of the CDP.

Here are some v2 features and project requirements that Jed brainstormed over the phone today:

1. Local sponsors fund this project - Create highly effective online advertising opportunities for several Cortland and other regional businesses to market there products and services directly on the new CDP site.

2. Web Masters = Cortland Students – Create an almost entirely self-updateable website that will enable Cortland students to add/edit/delete content. Create clear documentation for all updating tasks so that these duties can be seamlessly passed down from class to class. This will effectively lower all future website maintenance costs, while keeping the connection between the CDP and Cortland students year after year.

3. Parallel Growth with the CDP – Create a site that can easily grow along side the CDP year after year. Create website features that are scalable and easily updated (unlike the current CDP site)

…To be determined after at least a few more meetings with Jed. A great model website that Jed has suggested we take time evaluating is
www.downtownithaca.com . In addition to getting the blog online next week, this will be the focus of our first meeting with Jed next week. A discussion of the pros and cons of www.downtownithaca.com , and how we can leverage what we have learned from our evaluation to help create a proposal/blue print for developing v2 of the CDP website.

It looks like this could be a very beneficial merger for both parties. One concern that some people had with this was the cost; how are we going to pay for all of this? Well, as it says in the email, this is going to be paid for by sponsors and local businesses. But, because Jed understands that we need to get this website up and running (the semester is coming close to an end!) he is going to get us up and running, and then help us try to find sponsorship. Also, if this is all OK’d by Lloyd, there will be a significant Next Interactives logo on each of the pages. This will help promote Jed’s company and considerably lower his rates; he would like the exposure. Another factor that will lower our costs is the fact that Cortland students will be the webmasters, not Jed (read more above).

The next step is a meeting that Katie and I will have with Jed on Wednesday. At this meeting we are going to get the blog up and running and critique the www.dowtownithaca.com website. I’ll let you know how it goes. This is where we are at right now, and I hope to be able to be publishing a post on this blog that has a link to the CDP blog by the end of this week!

I have a bunch of other posts to write... check back soon!