MOOC on MOODLE on WizIQ. Seeking Comments.

I have signed up for a 4-week MOOC on the LMS system known as Moodle. I’ve been using Moodle (ineffectively) for a couple of years, and have been recently (just this week) appointed as an assistant LMS Manager on my campus. This MOOC is produced by WizIQ, so I would appreciate insights into that company.

If you are interested, the course starts tomorrow, Friday May 31. 1272 learners so far, probably room for a few more! I am not familiar with the course instructors, but two invited guest presenters will be Stephen Downes and Bryan Alexander, known to many in the practice. I’m looking forward to learning more.

Link for info and signing up is http://www.wiziq.com/course/20705-teaching-with-moodle.

Reading : Revolutionary

Che Guevara reads

Reading : Revolutionary

che reading bilingual

Lectura : Revolucionario

For Design Assignment 1089, we are challenged to create a poster featuring a famous person with a book. I have chosen to use Cuban revolutionary themed books (image on flickr cc by Bert van der Lingen) paired with a classic poster image of Che Guevara (image on flickr cc by Doug Wheller). I know that Che was a brutal prison administrator, overseeing the execution of political prisoners, and other mean things. But his image is iconic as a representation of Revolution. Perhaps Malcolm X would make a great image also, since he actually read and advanced his revolution while in prison.

I used Gimp to merge the two images together. For the text, I selected the Bookman Old Style font, because I like it and it is bookish.

This image is part of my personal history, also. I went to high school in a suburb of Miami, and was friends with many whose family had fled Cuba after the Revolution. The use of Che’s and Fidel’s image in the ’60s movements in the USA was somewhat of a contradiction for us.

Weekend Trip

This is a personal wrap-up of this Memorial Day weekend. I share it with ds106 since ds106 was part of the weekend, and after all #ds106 is #4life.

I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA. My wife and I have been itching for the opportunity for a short trip out of town for a while now. So, we made last minute reservations at the Charlotte Hotel in Onancock, VA on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. It’s about a 75 mile drive, including about 12 on the Cheseapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Friday was rainy and windy, which made it stressful to cross the waters. Once we made over, we did the things we often do on these trips: thrift shops, book stores, antique shops, restaurants, old homes, etc.

Hotel Charlotte

Charlotte Hotel

Saturday was a great weather day, and a great day to wander around snapping photos. Bought a nice print at a consignment shop right across from our b&b style hotel. Dinner and drinks at the Blarney Stone Pub, also across the street.

Earthscape, MBerry, 1973, proof

Earthscape, MBerry, 1973, proof

On Sunday morning, our planned return day, we were called a bit early by our daughter, in the labor room ready to have our first grandchild! We, of course, packed up and returned home. Our granddaughter was born at 3:01 pm, about 2 1/2 hours after our arrival.

Emeline Joy and Grandpa!

Emeline Joy and Grandpa!

Since I was waiting in the waiting room with other family members, I took the opportunity to complete the Warhol design assignment.

Free rubber stamp x9

Art is Free

So here’s a few pictures, both of the trip, the baby, and the work. Feel free to use them for your creative efforts, if you are so inclined.

Meth Church

Meth Church

Onancock Wharf

Onancock Wharf

Thrift Shop

Thrift Shop

A Friend for Talky Tina

A Friend for Talky Tina

A Friend for Talky Tina

A Friend for Talky Tina

Free Warhol!

Andy Warhol was an innovator in the world of Pop Art, blurring the line between commercial art and fine art, between artist-as-creator and artist-as-appropriator. Claes Oldenburg is an innovator in the world of Pop Art, blurring the line between everyday objects as objects and everyday objects as art. In both cases, the implication of artistic ownership is one of freedom: freedom to represent, freedom to appropriate, freedom to modify, freedom to mass produce.

In the spirit of artistic freedom and appropriation, and in homage to a recent image posted by cogdog on his trip through the midwest, I present an appropriation of an image by Laszlo Ilyes (laszlo-photo) (cc by 2.0 found on Flickr at http://flic.kr/p/EEbET). I choose this particular image because the letters in FREE were almost plain white, to see if that would have any particular effect with the Warholizing process. And because it was Creative Commons licensed for use and modification.

Here is Laszlo’s original photo of Oldenburg’s creation:

Laszlo Ilyes' photo of Claes Oldenburg's art

Laszlo Ilyes’ photo of Claes Oldenburg’s art

And here is my appropriation, Warholization (using the services of LunaPic http://www.lunapic.com, and alteration (flipping the center image using Gimp).

Free rubber stamp x9

Art is Free

Twilight or The Twilight Zone?

During the open online drop-in office hours that Professor Groom held on Google Hangouts, the topic of Twilight came up. Not The Twilight Zone, but Twilight the vampire and werewolf movies. This led to an interesting discussion of cultural references and generational differences. Usually, teachers are older than their students, often by decades. The cultural influences of the last decade or two may be missing from the minds of the older generation. And those of a few decades past may be missing in the younger folk. But that isn’t 100%. Virtually all older culture is still available, and some of it widely known (think of Led Zeppelin), or continue to be produced in a new context (think Star Trek and Star Wars, or Goldfinger). We see the interesting phenomenon of “rebooting” old movie series, old tv shows, old comic books, changing the origins story line, perhaps making the story more relevent to a new audience. And most older folk actually do keep up with at least a few aspects of modern culture (believe it or not!).

Anyway, back to Twilight. In the conversation, the idea of a Twilight/Twilight Zone mashup was brought up. I had a few minutes to spare later that evening, so I made a quick animated gif:

Twilight Twilight Zone

Twilight Twilight Zone

The basic process was easier than I thought it would be, but unexpected steps were certainly needed. I found a pre-existing (ie, someone else made it) gif of the hunter vampires emerging from the fog. And I had my flying saucer alien-coming-down-the-ramp gif. I imported them into Gimp using “import as layers”. This gave me all the frames available to work with. I trashed many layers from the Twilight clip since it was longer than I wanted, and the action changed past the emerging from the fog. But now the problem was that the two gifs were different sizes. I tried playing around with making the Twilight canvas size bigger, which didn’t really work. I was ultimately able to make the ramp scene smaller. (Apparently, “canvas size” refers to the entire gif, but you can also resize individual layers. That will be for future exploration…)

So, in the context of this open course, the free-form discussion and sharing of ideas and techniques helped lead me to create this mashup. Isn’t that how creativity works? New ways to mix things, new ideas emerging from the open exchange of ideas.

Here they come! My first animated GIF

Here they come!

Here they come!

Twilight Twilight Zone

Twilight Twilight Zone

This is my first and second animated GIF. It’s just a beginning…

This gif is taken from a scene in The Twilight Zone “The Invaders” where Agnes Moorehead discovers someone or something coming down the ramp from the flying saucer on her roof. I wanted to bring out the anticipation and make a hook for the viewer to want more. The final layer is actually the final frame of this scene, and we don’t actually see the occupant of the spacecraft.

After initial difficulties downloading the episode from the UMW Media Library, I worked directly from my file. I think I could have just worked from the online video. Using MPEG Streamclip Beta, as recommended by Jim Groom’s tutorial, I selected the section of the video I wanted. Then, using Gimp, I created the layers from just six of the frames. The final layer is enhanced with a color flash effect that I put in using the Filters tab, I think it was Light and Shadow and Gradient Flare. I tweaked the settings to get what looked nice. I was also playing around with a few of the other Filters selections and see that there is quite a lot that can be done, both subtle and gross effects.

Once the animation was put together, in the process of exporting it, I selected 900 milliseconds between layers. The default of 100 ms was just too fast. This slower rate was actually closer to the original video, since I had eliminated several frames between each one I used. I think it is effective in building tension, without being too slow.

Anyway, it was quite a learning experience, taking a bit of time. But now I have some concept of what to do, and I can move on from here.

A Fast Download Fix and Found Treasure

In pursuit of downloading the video of TZ “The Invaders”, I (and at least one other participant) ran into difficulties. Clicking on the download button of the player started a download, but would stop approximately half-way through. Multiple efforts resulted in varying results, but never the entire episode. What was downloaded could be viewed, and presumably used for capturing images to work with.

Jim Groom was great in communication to look into it from his end. Seems like he never sleeps! I was actually teaching a class last night, and during the students’ lab time able to work on the problem, and there was Jim on twitter still communicating…after his seemingly all day in the ds106.tv studio.

Jim Groom on ds106.tv

Jim Groom on ds106.tv

End result: I downloaded a download manager, specifically Free Download Manager (found at http://download.cnet.com/Free-Download-Manager/3000-2071_4-10301621.html ), that not only downloads the 153 MB file, but does it in about 30 seconds. I’m usually suspicious and careful with such programs, but this looks like a keeper. You can find a variety of download managers by doing an Internet search. This one is apparently only for Windows.

In the process I discovered a real treasure trove: the UMW Media Library http://media.umw.edu/media. Here you can find lots of presentations, panel discussions, etc. from previous iterations of ds106, as well as material from other courses. Personally, I am looking forward to finding out more about Rasputin and Sherlock Holmes in video lectures downloaded from here!