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STELAR Events, STELAR Partnerships with Faculty, Technology Tools

Art + Technology: New Perspectives on the Humanities

What is the Digital Humanities Grant Program?   

The Digital Humanities Grant Program is a collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Sciences and STELAR (St. Thomas E-Learning and Research), which was established to increase awareness and participation in the blending of two complementary fields of study, Art and Technology. It offers grant funding for faculty and graduate students whose proposals are chosen by the selection committee. Sound interesting?  Come to the information session on how to apply for the next round of grants on Thursday, December 5th (5:00-6:00 pm) in the STELAR Smart Classroom (OSF LIB LL21 St Paul campus) to get details on the application process and see project examples. Read on for a rundown of currently funded projects that recently participated in a mid-point showcase.

In the spring of 2019, the Digital Humanities Grant Program awarded three grants to support projects that merge art and technology in the areas of Virtual Reality, Story Mapping, and Machine Learning. On 10/29/19, the grant winners participated in a showcase to display their work in progress. In addition to faculty and staff, the gathering included students from Emily James (Associate Professor of English) “Modernism and Its Afterlives” class.    

Learning together Oct 29     Eric presenting learning

The Arts provide boundless content and expertise which can be exhibited and explored in novel ways using emerging technology. The grant program is funded by generous donations from Dean Yohuru Williams and STELAR, who provided seed money and technological expertise for the initial round of grants. 

Presenting This Year’s Projects 

 The committee reviewed proposals last year and chose three excellent and diverse projects for funding. Two faculty projects and one graduate student project were funded. A recap of the projects:  

Professor Gretchen Burau submitted a project on the culture and art of the Asmat people in Indonesia that utilizes ArcGIS Story Map technology to create interactive maps that allow viewers to regional cultural differences and similarities tied to the geographic locations of this diverse tribal culture. 

Gretchen presenting learning

Professor Laura Zebuhr is exploring the nature of Eros in the writing of Thoreau. This project uses machine learning and a contextual word search algorithm developed by STELAR to explore all 10,000+ pages of Thoreau’s published works and private journals for commonalities, correlations and coded messages that would be impossible to notice through reading and study alone.  

Laura presenting learning

Graduate student Theresa Malloy’s project is an Ethnographic Virtual Reality work that highlights the activity of Appetite for Change, which works in North Minneapolis to build community through urban gardens and food markets. Theresa’s work allows the viewer to step into the garden to experience it in three dimensions while learning more about the organization and their work. 

Theresa presenting learning

 When completed in late Spring 2020, the projects, as well as the technology used to produce them, will be highlighted in the STELAR Showcase, allowing visitors to interact with the three works and to learn more about how the technology is used in order to inspire further works that blend art and technology. 

More Background on this Partnership 

How the Partnership DevelopedThe program grew out of the vision and initiative of Professor Alexis Easley (English Department) who then reached out to Brett Coup (AVP of Academic Technology) to discuss the concept of Digital Humanities and how we could promote and support them. From that conversation evolved the idea of a grant program. Alexis took the idea to Dean Yohuru Williams (College of Arts and Science) who provided funding, while STELAR agreed to provide the coordination and technical resources necessary to produce the projects.   

Leadership TeamThe DHGP committee members are representative of interested parties across the university, with Ann Zawistoski. Associate Director of Research and Instruction for Libraries and Information Services, Tommie Marrinan, Assistant Professor in Computer and Information Sciences, Salvatore Pane, Associate Professor of English, Alexis Easley, Professor of English, Brett Coup, AVP of Academic Technology, and Eric Tornoe, Associate Director of Research and High-Performance Computing. This group creates the documents, runs the application process, selects grantees from the applicant pool, and assists the grantees in the execution of their project. Heather Shirey, Associate Professor of Art History, served as Faculty Mentor to Theresa Malloy, the grad student winner.  

For questions on the grant, contact Eric Tornoe or anyone on the leadership team! And watch for a future STELAR Stream announcement on the spring 2020 in-person learning showcase.   

This post was written by Eric Tornoe, Associate Director of Research and High-Performance Computing with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks, Technology Tools

Basic Video Production Tips and Tricks, Part 2

In a previous post, we looked at five basic video production tools available to faculty and students at St. Thomas.  In this article, I offer some best-practice tips to increase the production value of your recordings. Because videos are often viewed independently online, it’s easy for the viewer to get distracted or multitask while watching. While you don’t have to be a “rock-star” to keep their attention, there are some basic things you can do to make your videos more engaging.

Video Engagement” is a way to track views and retention. The main take-away is that if you want your students to view the entire video, keep it short (5-10 min. or less). If you have more content to cover, consider splitting it into a Part 1, Part 2, etc. Keep your message moving and provide appealing visuals to help carry the content and help students nurture meaning.

Here are ten more tips and tricks for increasing the production value of your audio/video recordings.

  1. Sketch, storyboard, or script your message before recording begins! Even though it’s more work, you’ll find that all your efforts will pay off in the overall quality and impact of your video.
  2. Good video can’t make up for bad audio! Use a good microphone and minimize extraneous noises. If people can’t hear clearly, you won’t get your message across no matter how awesome the video is.
  3. Use well-lit, well-balanced room lighting to light the subject but avoid shadows!  Be careful not to shine a harsh light directly on the subject, nor record in front of windows open to the sunlight.
  4. Control your environment as much as possible! This includes distracting room noise, visual distractions, people and pets. It’s best to be in a quiet, well-lit space.
  5. Frame the shot to capture what’s most important, and then some! Balance your subject in the shot so it’s large enough to be visible, but not too close to be distracting. A little background helps provide context.
  6. Think about what you’re wearing! Avoid wearing pin-stripes or anything distractable. Select clothing that will be in high contrast to the background so you don’t blend in or get lost in the background.
  7. Make sure the text is readable on all slides! Leave plenty of white-space around the text. Choose contrasting colors for text and images. Remember, each screen displays colors differently.
  8. Use headphones and a good microphone during live web-conference situations! This minimizes audio interference and feedback.
  9. All video content need to be close-captioned! This helps all learners. Check out the Close-Caption Request form on the STELAR website.
  10. Check out St. Thomas’ LinkedIn Learning for good examples of videos and tutorials that help with video recording, editing and producing.

Following a few simple tips can make all the difference between students actually watching what you produce, or just skipping through it. After all, if “content delivery” is the primary reason for creating videos, don’t give them a reason for not wanting to watch.

If you’re interested in getting the most out of your pre-recorded videos, but could use a little more guidance, feel free to contact STELAR to request a consultation around your next audiovisual recording project.

This post was written by Michael Wilder, an Instructional Designer for the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks, Technology Tools

Utilizing Library Resources in Canvas

shelves full of books

St. Thomas has a handy tool for helping you integrate library resources into your Canvas sites. The Resource List is easy to set up, saves students money by using existing library resources, connects you with librarians who may be able to provide copyright guidance and management, and simplifies linking.

STELAR has just developed a self-paced, online Resource List training. This training will teach you how to set up your Resource List, add and link items, and identify special considerations such as accessibility and copyright.

For more information on reducing course materials costs for students, please see Greg Argo’s previous post: Reduce Course Materials Costs, We’ll Help.

This post was written by Nancy McGinley Myers, Instructional Designer with the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu. For more information on training available through STELAR, please see our Training & Events page.

Technology Tools

Basic Video Production Tips and Tricks, Part 1

In my role as an Instructional Designer, I often get asked by faculty questions like: “How do I go about recording my lectures?” or “Can I record my PowerPoint slides and put them in my hybrid or online course?”

The simple answer, I’m happy to tell them, is “Yes!” This is a great way to provide an alternative to your in-class lectures and get you one step closer to moving toward a flipped format or a blended or online course should you choose to go there. Pre-recorded video content is becoming more common-place in higher education and for good reason. First, students can watch your lectures outside of class (flipped classroom model), regaining valuable class time for group problem-solving and team-work. Students can re-watch videos, pausing and rewinding for comprehension and review. And, all learners can benefit from having course materials that support multiple means of representation.

But knowing what to do and how to do it, are two different things completely (as my father would famously remind me).  In this article and the next, I would like to offer some basic video production tips and tricks as a starting point for creating the kind of video presentations you can be proud of.

Creating video content for course instruction and assignments generally involves these four stages (in order):

  1. Recording,
  2. Editing,
  3. Hosting, and
  4. Sharing

The good news is that St. Thomas faculty and students have several tools and resources available to them for creating and sharing quality video content for academic purposes (reference the table below). Most of these are easily accessed and described in more detail, on One.StThomas. Each tool has its own methods and capabilities, although there’s a surprising amount of overlap too.

To identify which tool or method may be best for the video content you want to produce, start by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do I need to display any material visually, or will students just need to see me?
  • What format is the material in that I need to display?  PowerPoint slides? Images or  Documents? Websites? Software application?
  • Will this be a one-way communication from me to my students, or do I want students to respond as they pause and comment directly in the video? (yeah, that’s a thing)
  • Do I need a controlled environment for the best quality sound and lighting?
  • Do I need to demonstrate some action or use props?
  • How will the students access and see the final presentation?

While this article focuses on basic video production tools, it should be noted that St. Thomas has a full-service video production studio in the basement of OEC. The ITS/STELAR team can assist with any high-level production needs beyond the scope of what’s covered here. It may also help to consult with a STELAR Instructional Designer who can guide you through the process and, based on your specific instructional needs, point you to specific tools and solutions.

Here’s a break-down comparing five basic video recording tools and methods available at St. Thomas.

Video Production Tools

Video Production Tools (Chart)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With a little planning and creativity, the tools in the chart above can provide you with everything you need to successfully create, edit, host, and share videos for course content and interaction.

In the next article, I’ll offer some best practices for getting the most out of your video and audio recording, so your students get the most out of learning by watching them.

This post was written by Michael Wilder, an Instructional Designer for the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn. To learn more about this topic, please visit our website at www.stthomas.edu/stelar or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.

Best Practices, Tips, and Tricks, Technology Tools

8 Tips for Launching Your Canvas Course

Each semester, consider these 8 tips for launching your Canvas course.   

  1. Hide unused buttons.  Eliminate confusion and streamline the student experience by hiding any unused left-navigation buttons. You can also reorder the items in the left navigation to suit your needs. 
  1. Post your Syllabus in Syllabus. In the Fall 2018 semester, more than 80% of St. Thomas students clicked on Syllabus in Canvas, expecting to find their course Syllabus. Make finding your Syllabus easy for students by posting your syllabus in Syllabus (found in the left navigation). You can upload a Word document or PDF or copy/paste the text directly into the page’s rich content editor. 
  1. Organize your course chronologically in Modules. Organizing your course chronologically in Modules creates a natural progression through course materials and activities each week and eases navigation. It also helps students manage their workload because the modules can be one-stop shop for everything they need—an overview page to provide context, a list of assigned readings, videos, or links, and assignments. 
  1. Stream course videos through Panopto. Uploading or recording new videos in Panopto (St. Thomas’ video streaming and management system) gives you the ability to embed/link that video directly in Canvas, so students won’t need to download the video to view it, and you won’t need to worry about running out of space with large video files. 
  1. Send course updates via Announcements. The best way to send a message to the whole class is to post an Announcement. Doing so triggers an email, a Canvas app push notification, and a text notification (depending on how students set up their notifications) all of which tell students a new announcement exists. All announcements are also saved in the Announcements tool for future reference. 
  1. Turn files into Pages. Using Canvas Pages instead of files makes your content easily accessible on any device or operating system. Instead of presenting a series of files (handouts, documents, and PDFs) to students, you can use Canvas Pages to present the same information. The power of Pages is that you can present short instructions, long articles, hyperlink to websites, as well as link to multiple documents, all on a single page. You can also increase the visual appeal of your content with page headings, images, color, and much more. 
  1. Publish, publish, publish.  Courses, by default, are not available to students until you publish them. For students to see your course content, you must publish the course, the modules, and the items. Use Student View to make sure that the content you choose to share with students is available. (The Syllabus is automatically available as soon as the course is published.) 
  1. Check your dates. Check your start and end dates in Settings to make sure your course is scheduled to open and close when you want. Remember, students won’t have access to the course (even if it is published) until the start date occurs. Also make sure the dates in your Syllabus match the dates built into your modules, assignment descriptions, Canvas calendar, and announcements.  

This post includes contributions from Katherine M. Nelson, St. Thomas Innovation & Technology Services Communications and Training Manager, and was slightly modified from a Dec 4, 2018, blog (Point Tune-Up) first contributed by STELAR Instructional Designer Darcy Turner. To learn more about the St. Thomas E-Learning and Research (STELAR) Center at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn, visit STELAR’s website or email us at stelar@stthomas.edu.