A Prezi Toolkit

a prezi infographic demonstrating how prezi works

Image via BGC DML

By Scott Garbacz

Note for Instructors and Students: This is not a lesson plan as such, but rather a non-comprehensive “tool box” of tricks and techniques you can use to make memorable, comprehensible, and above all interesting visual presentations. I am also aiming at some basic, easy-to-implement strategies aimed at academic purposes. Click here for a primer on more elements of Prezi design. On the other hand, if you’re just wanting the very basics of Prezi, their official introduction to the service may be helpful.

Political (In)action in the Meme Generation?

Dawkins playing a midi breath controller in Saatchi video. Image Credit:

This will be the first post in a three-part series in which I will explore the relationship between memes and civic discourse.

What is an internet meme? Though most young people can instantly recognize a picture of Philosoraptor, Feminist Ryan Gosling, or a Lolcat, few know the history of this ubiquitous term. Nevertheless, show a room full of undergraduates an image of Nyan Cat, and you'll immediately elicit laughter and a sense of camaraderie. In that moment of laughter, however, it seems worth asking: what exactly is bringing consumers of memes together? From UC Davis’s “Pepper Spray Cop Meme,” to China’s “Big Yellow Duck” meme, how are memes shaping their viewer’s and creator’s understanding of activism and history? Is a comical form treated with such levity an effective means of communicating about more serious matters?  

The Pedagogical and Aesthetic Possibilities of Crowdsourced Films

Image Credit: RoseVallentine

I teach a class about the new rhetoric of internet commerce. I have my students write a standard rhetorical analysis paper around the middle of the term, and for their primary texts I ask them to use the digital marketing materials of dotcoms. Of all the paper genres I assign (expository, persuasive, etc.) rhetorical analysis is generally my favorite. I prefer these papers because I'm a literary critic, and rhetorical analyses are essentially close readings that use a standard rhetorical methodology.  But there's another reason I especially enjoyed reading my students' analysis papers this semester: they introduced me to several fantastic websites that I didn't know about before. I feel compelled to share one of these sites with viz. readers because of its novel interventions in visual culture. (And I want to thank my student, who I will refrain from naming, for the great find!).  The company is called hitRECord, an open, online platform for collaborative filmmaking and other artistic expression.

Journey to the Center of a Triangle

I don't often get terribly excited about geometry. But in the case of the above video I just can't help myself. My first impulse, after viewing the entire clip was to blame my sense of wonder on the soundtrack. By layering music from Inception Robert Mikhayelyan and Alex Gill are hitching their wagon onto an incredibly carefully manicured experience. Inception was sold as, and sold itself as, this evocative, mind-blowing experience. And whether or not the film actually accomplished that for any given viewer hardly matters in the face of a sale we could so easily read. Inception, both in and out of the film, sold its sense of wonder so blatantly that it's the sales pitch that sticks--slightly Pavlovian, we hear the music we prepare for befuddled amazement. 

The Changing Face of Media Consumption

Media Consumption title graphic

(Image Credit: Ad Age, MBA Online, Magid Generational Strategies)

This cutesy inforgraphic from Ad Age and MBA Online presents the reader with a breakdown of media use by type, time and generation. The initial study was performed by Magid Generational Strategies. At first blush this seems to present a thorough overview of how different populations consume media, but on closer examination there are some signifigant issues. These issues aside, and in some cases because of these issues, this long image (I've broken it into several pieces for readability's sake. See the full image here) raises a number of questions about not which types of media we consume but how our methods of media consumption are changing to the degree that this infographic doesn't quite make sense. 

Coloring 9/11

Picture of the burning World Trade Center

(Image Credit: We Shall Never Forget 9/11)

It didn’t take long for a media storm to emerge around Really Big Coloring Books new title We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids' Book of Freedom. It was quickly and roundly criticized for its heavy-handed portrayal of Muslims. In the face of these criticisms Wayne Bell, the publisher at Really Big Coloring Books, has steadfastly argued that the book only shows the truth of what happened. It’s fairly clear though that the book slips easily into the popular narrative of freedom-hating-Muslims attacking freedom-loving-Americans because they hate our freedom. We Shall Never Forget isn’t an especially smart piece of propaganda, though. The play between the large amount of text and the inconsistent images make it hard to pin down how, exactly, its message is delivered.

The Theory and Pedagogy of viz.: Reflections on the 2010-2011 Academic Year

As the year closes, we're reflecting on the ways our posts have connected visual rhetoric, digital literacy, and pedagogy. We've presented lesson plans that use programs like Animoto, iMovie, Sound Slides Plus, Xtranormal, etc.  There are longer posts that detail how these programs were used available on the blog, but in the first part of this post, Elizabeth will focus on those that present ideas for using iMovie in the classroom. In the second part of the post, Ashley will explore one of the broad themes our posts this year have addressed and talk about the ways in which we are theorizing the connections between embodiment and pedagogy.

Assignment: The Flexible Final Project

a newspaper with "gas prices" highlighted as if on a digital reader

Screenshot from student project Evolution, Not Revolution by Lacey Teer

Last semester, I wrote my final blog post about using iMovie in the classroom. This semester, I attempted to correct some of the issues that arose when I asked all my students to use multimodal argumentation for their final papers. What follows is an outline of the final project I assigned and information about the changes I made to address various problems. This information will also appear on our "Teaching" page, along with sample student projects.

Lesson Plan - Teaching Poetry with Image Databases

Image credit: My video "reading" of Donald Revell's "Election Year"

Last semester I began to experiment with various programs, particularly iMovie, as I think about how I'd make digital technology part of a course that focuses on poetry. In a brief post, I included a model iMovie file, and speculated as to how such an exercise might be used. Today, as we wrap up National Poetry Month, I'm posting a lesson plan that articulates the possibilities for this exercise more directly.  

Blogging with Images Workshop this Afternoon

We invite faculty, instructors, and staff to a workshop addressing the advantages and challenges of blogging with images.While most blogs are text-based, the integration of images can be an enriching, even vital, part of blogging formats.Viz. bloggers will discuss their own perspectives and techniques. Ashley Squires will share her semester-long assignment, where class members are following a visual theme across historical periods and into contemporary visual culture.

Wednesday, April 20th, at 3:30 pm in FAC 10

The workshop will cover the follow topics and questions:

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