New site – Community University Engagement is a new site that I have a degree of involvement in and we’ve just done a “soft launch” today.  The purpose and goal of the site is to “develop and publish a set of “practitioner profiles” of people who have been engaged in public work initiatives and projects that feature significant levels of community-university engagement… The profiles we’ll be developing and publishing on this website will be centered on practice stories of democracy in action at the local community level. In addition to publishing these profiles, we’ll also be offering opportunities for readers to participate in the process of interpreting and making sense of them.”

The site is built on WordPress and, it being a soft launch and all, is likely to evolve over the coming months.  I am hoping the structure is inviting enough to encourage story idea submissions and the development of a loosely connected community of practitioners. Time will tell.

More later…I just wanted to extend the invite to folks. Go on over, take a look and come back and tell me what you think.

Working with the Video Crew at STARR 09

I spent this past Saturday at the NY State Fairgrounds offering my sage advice and guidance to the Video Crew for STARR. STARR (State Teen Action Representative Retreat) is a 4-H event that happens round about this time every year. This was our second year working with video and digital storytelling and thanks to the supremely organized Celeste Carmichael this years activity was more focused and intentional than the previous. Celeste is a Youth Development Progam Specialist here at Cooperative Extension and she is very much more organized than I am, which seemed to make a difference. (Perhaps a lesson here I should heed?)

You can, most likely, imagine the activity. I won’t go into detail regarding technical issues, the flakiness of some operating systems and related topics. The continually memorable thing about any of these events I  participate in with kids and digital storytelling is the boundless energy and creativity they bring to the tasks. Something doesnt work as expected? Try it this way…fluid and flexible in ways we loose as adults, it is energizing to work with them.

We had 4 teams of 3 working with this challenge: You have 4 minutes to creatively get this message across to VIPS everywhere by showing the activities happening at STARR. You will be making a movie – and can do this with still shots, video, audio…etc.

Given the limited amount of time this event takes, they produced 4 videos of varying quality – but all decent. You can check them out at youtube:

I, of course, snapped a few pictures during the course of saturday:

Setup for Podcasting

Someone asked me what I use for audio – interviews and such. If I’m flying solo, doing a screencast, I use a Sennheiser USB headset but for multiple voices I dig out the mics and mixer. So, I present, for posterity and everyone’s edification, my audio setup for recording interviews:

  • MXL V63M microphones and am satisfied with the price/performance.
  • You’ll need Mic stands
  • Mic cables
  • I use a Behringer Eurorack UB802 Mixer
  • You will want a
    1/4″ Stero Adapter
  • and a speaker cable to go from the 1/4″ stereo adapter to the soundcard on the computer…can grab those at radio shack or best buy.

Audacity is good and free for recording and editing the sound.

Career Ex ‘08 – Digital Storytelling – Day 3

Things have wrapped up, kids are getting ready to travel home to the 4 corners of New York state and I’m a bit exhausted. Unlike previous years I flew solo and there were moments when another brain and set of hands would have been welcome, but we survived. 4 videos produced, some new skills learned and a long weekend coming up. My immediate, after event, thoughts/questions are:

What happened to iMovie? – It’s been a while since I used iMovie. As a matter of fact last years CE may have been the last time. In the interim it went and changed on me and all I can ask is – What was Apple thinking? The interface is gnarlier, much more confusing to work with and some effects …basic effects like slow motion …have been stripped away. I used to love iMovie for work with teens who have never done video before but now I may have to take a look again at MovieMaker, as painful as that is to contemplate.

Did we accomlish our goals? – A qualified yes, I believe. Given the groups size (20 participants), the time frame and my lonely self we covered some contextual material before unleashing the technology but I just didn’t have enough time to work with each of the three teams they divided into to reinforce some of the fundamentals about structuring stories and so on. Next year I may limit the size down even further and have been wondering whether some sort of pre-screening is possible or desireable.

Given a few days more willl filter in but for now….it’s over, we did some things, no one got hurt and I’m thinking about next years programs, so it must have been good.

Career Ex ’08 – Digital Storytelling – Day 2 A.M.

Off to the races, so to speak. Today began at 8:30 – an ungodly hour to have to be functionally interacting with others, in my opinion, but the schedule abides. After a brisk discussion, everyone was anxious to get out there, start doing things and so out into the world they headed. It always amazes me – the energy, the creativity that can happen – and I really shouldn’t be suprised. I am hopeful that this experince provides a space to encourage some exploration that is otherwise unavailable on a day to day basis. After 7 years of doing this event I like to think I’ve found a balance between providing the right amount of structure and support without narrowing the field of potential action.

Things move in parallel, that goes without saying, and so perhaps some of the increase in flow and succesful completion of projects during these sessions is the inevitable result of pre-existing exposure to technology but I would like to think that some small spark happnes here. Yes, I still want to be the cool instructor guy that kids want to hang out with and learn from – ego, as well as schedules, abides – but I hope some of it is the program, the space and freedom to express.

This year I have 5 or 6 returning participants who were in last years session and at least one who is marking the third year of participation in my/our session – something must be clicking.

Pictures from yesterday afternoon and earlier this morning are up at the digital storytelling blog.

Career Ex ’08 Digital Storytelling update 1

Startling realizations thus far:

  • I wildly overestimated any interest in things political ( ie Lincoln, Obama, narrative and counter narritve as illustrated in current political events).
  • Popular music can be quite depressing….and also quite meta/self referential in it’s thematic content
  • The more things change the more they stay the same

more to come….

Career Explorations 2008 – Digital Storytelling

This year’s Career Explorations program begins in a few short hours and I am quite hopeful that I’ll drop in at least 2 or 3 blog posts during our session, but I had the same hope last year and never quite made it, so we’ll see. We have about 12 hours total during the next 3 days to explore some existing, and create some new, digital stories. And, new this year, I’ve set out some goals and done some focused pre-planning – we’ll see how that goes, too.

Once we begin to produce new content it will be posted to the our Youtube channel and linked from the Digital Storytelling blog. By tonight I should have some images to post, but for now here is our sechedule. More to come, I hope.