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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Interview with Emily Claude, Oklahoma Arts Institute: Innovative Programs in Education Series

With new capabilities for collaboration and posting performance, it is more important than ever to develop programs that inspire learners of all ages and from all background to develop their creativity and to share that journey. One great example is the Oklahoma Arts Institute at  Quartz Mountain, which offers two innovative programs for arts. Welcome to an interview with Emily Claude, Vice President & Director of Programs, Oklahoma Arts Institute. 

1.       What is your name and your relationship to education / programs?
My name is Emily Claudé, and I am the Vice President & Director of Programs for the Oklahoma Arts Institute.  I help make many of the artistic and programmatic decisions and am responsible, along with our Director of Program Operations, for the planning, organization, execution, and evaluation of our two programs. 
Emily Claudé, Oklahoma Arts Institute Quartz Mountain
2.       What is Quartz Mountain?
Quartz Mountain Arts & Conference Center is located in southwest Oklahoma, 17 miles north of Altus.  Although our administrative office is in Oklahoma City, our programs have taken place at Quartz Mountain since 1978, so we consider it our home-away-from-home.  Quartz Mountain is a beautiful resort utilized by people all over the state for conferences, family reunions, retreats, weddings, and weekend getaways year-round.  But, given its outdoor amphitheater, state-of-the-art darkroom, studio pavilions, and 700-seat Performing Arts Center, it’s the ideal location for the Oklahoma Arts Institute.  Quartz Mountain is a state-owned facility of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education. 

3.       Please describe some of the projects / programs that occur during the summer.
We recruit nationally renowned artists to teach Oklahoma high school students during the Oklahoma Summer Arts Institute (OSAI), a two-week, intensive arts academy held in June.  Students are selected through a competitive statewide audition process.  Over 1,000 students auditioned this year for 270 spots in one of nine disciplines: acting, ballet, modern dance, choral music, orchestra, creative writing, drawing/painting, film/video, and photography.  

OSAI - Creative Writing
There are two things that set our program apart from any other program in the country.  First, we have nine disciplines all studying at the same place at the same time.  Although each student is dedicated to one specific discipline, they gain exposure to a wide variety of art forms through performances, elective classes, and interdisciplinary collaborations.  Second, we provide full scholarships worth over $2,500 to every student accepted to our program.  This ensures that we are reaching the most artistically talented students in the state, regardless of their financial situation.

OSAI - Drawing and Painting
4.       Please describe some of the fall / winter programs for adults.
Each year, educators, professional artists, and amateur artists gather for four-day weekend workshops in the arts.  The purpose of the Oklahoma Fall Arts Institute (OFAI) is to provide continuing education to adults, teachers, and community artists who seek new techniques and self-renewal.  Our program is unique in that all public school teachers attend on full scholarship.  Over 300 educators attend each year and go back to their classrooms across Oklahoma to teach over 50,000 students.

OFAI - Printmaking
5.       Are any of the performances made available via YouTube? Which ones?
Due to music copyright laws, many of our performances can’t be posted on the internet.  However, we have CDs and DVDs available of all of our performances.  If anyone is interested, they can contact me!  We do have many videos posted on YouTube, and these are a few of my favorites from last summer:

·         The OSAI 2013 “video yearbook:”
·         Faculty presentation by OSAI 2013 Chorus Conductor, André Thomas:
·         Ballroom dancing at OSAI 2013:
·         “Art is,” a film by OSAI 2013 Film & Video Students:

6.       How would you like to see the program grow?
Given the number of students applying for our program each year, I would love to have space to expand classroom and housing facilities at Quartz Mountain to be able to accommodate more students.  Also, since there are so many art forms we don’t have represented at our programs, it would be great to have more space so we can consider adding more disciplines. 

7.       Please describe a few very innovative performances and also creative products that were a result of participation in Quartz Mountain.
·         Having nine diverse artistic disciplines at OSAI at the same time is one of the features of our program of which we are most proud.  So we encourage faculty to take advantage of that fact and collaborate with other disciplines in order to give students an opportunity to learn about other art forms.  This is a video documenting the modern dance & photography collaboration from OSAI 2013:

OSAI - Ballet
·         One of my favorite workshops at OFAI 2013 was Poetry & Performance.  We typically offer a poetry workshop every fall; however, this was quite different.  Taught by Anna West and Amanda Torres from “Louder Than a Bomb,” the nationally-acclaimed Chicago teen poetry slam festival, this workshop offered participants an opportunity to not only read and write poems, but to learn how to perform them.  

OFAI - Poetry and Performance
Participants were able to explore performance poetry in a creative and safe environment.  Additionally, educators in the class learned how to adapt these processes to their own school settings.  It was inspiring not only to the participants who had a chance to learn from Anna and Amanda, but those of us who got to hear their poems were inspired as well!  

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Finalist in Next Generation Indie Book Awards - Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets

Texture Press's Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets, by Valerie Fox and Lynn Levin with illustrations by Don Riggs, is a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for 2014. The finalists will be officially announced in late May, but the editors and authors received notification in early May.

Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets
The Next Generation Indie Book Awards is the largest Not-for-Profit book awards program for indie authors and independent publishers. It's presented by the Independent Book Publishing Professionals Group in cooperation with Marilyn Allen of Allen O'Shea Literary Agency.

Poems for the Writing: Prompts for Poets offers fourteen classroom- and workshop-tested writing prompts that will appeal to both beginning and experienced poets. The book lends itself to academic courses as well as poetry workshops in less formal settings, such as adult-ed, community-based, and “coffee-shop” classes. Individuals will find the book to be a helpful companion to their independent practice of poetry. In addition to the prompts, scores of poems are included to demonstrate possible responses and interpretations of them.

The book may be purchased online, and discounts for workshops are available by contacting Texture Press.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Interview with Don Sevcik, MathCelebrity - Innovators in E-Learning Series

One of the biggest challenges in online math education is being able to show the students how to go through the process of working problems and equations. One solution has been developed by an automated math tutoring website, MathCelebrity. Welcome to an interview with Don Sevcik, president of MathCelebrity.

1.  What is your name and your relationship to elearning? 
My name is Don Sevcik and I am President of MathCelebrity.

2.   What is MathCelebrity?  How does it work?
MathCelebrity is a free automated online math tutoring website.  You enter a math problem or search term, press the button, and every single line of work appears in less than one second which shows you how to solve the problem.

Click image to enlarge.

3.  Who is the site targeted for? Age groups? Types of math?
We cover Kindergarten through College.  We have 27 subjects and over 430 calculators.  We have been around for 7 years so the website has a vast array of curriculum coverage.  We build more features each week.

Click image to enlarge. 

4.  What do you think is the best way to teach applied math that asks people to solve real-life problems?
I'm big on empirical evidence and heuristics.  Real life math problems need real life explanations as well as problems that have been solved in the past which utilize a similar solution.

Click image to enlarge. 

5.  How do you help people get over a fear of math? 
I try to lay out a detailed, easy to follow, step by step solution on the website.  With personal tutoring, I try to leverage real world examples that make sense.

Click image to enlarge. 

6.  What are your plans for the future?  How would you best take math games / tutoring into the "wild"? 
My future plans are to continue build more lessons, as well as expanding on science.  We also have a programming blog.  Many of our fans have expressed interest in programming, and I think STEM fields are a great thing to learn early.  That is what our fans respond to, so that is what I will continue to offer.

Click image to enlarge. 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Moodle Course Design Best Practices (PacktPub) Now Available

Moodle Course Design Best Practices (PacktPub, 2014) is now available! Designed to be an easy-to-follow guide to help you create or update your Moodle course, this book will help people who use Moodle for training and education in colleges and universities, schools for ages 5-18, corporations, professional associations, and other organizations.

With all content rigorously reviewed by four independent Moodle experts, and written to reflect the latest version of Moodle (Moodle 2.6), Moodle Course Design Best Practices seeks to present a high-quality way to develop exemplary courses for many different users and needs. 

You may download sample chapters in PDF format and also order the book as a printed book or ebook. Please share your thoughts and feedback. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Peer-Reviewed by MERLOT: Writing Survival Guide

I am delighted to announce that E-Learning Queen's writing resources guide, Writing Survival Guide, which consists of a large set of original worksheets, templates, and flowcharts for use in writing and composition classes has been peer-reviewed by MERLOT and received a great rating!

Here is MERLOT's portal page of the Writing Survival Guide. As you can see, the site has been in MERLOT since 2008. Since that time, I've added flowcharts and have re-arranged a bit.

Here is the MERLOT review which was published in April of this year. I was delighted that the reviewers found the worksheets engaging, useful, and easy to use. It was also great to hear that they liked the graphics, which consist of cartoons that I digitized. The guide was penalized a bit for having distracting and intrusive ads, so they have been deleted. What seemed at first to be a great way to generate cash flow to support the site turned out to be simply a time-consuming and unproductive headache.

I'm all for promoting products, but I think that they should be integral to a website, and ad links, banner ads, pop-ups are often distracting (potentially even seizure-inducing!). To be effective, it's clear that there has to be some sort of win-win and immediately perceived benefit to the reader. At the very least, the ad needs to be relevant and useful. For example, it might not be a bad idea to include a link to a writing conference or workshop, if it's relevant to the audience.

But, back to the main point of this announcement.  I'm thrilled that the MERLOT has peer-reviewed the site, and even more thrilled to know that there are professors who are using it as a resource. Very exciting! Please visit the site and share :)

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Mini-Lectures Using Learning Objects: Bosch's The Haywain (1516)

Animated learning objects that bring together images, audio, and interaction are a perfect place to engage students. Now that many translate to HTML5 and are designed to be responsive so that they play well on tablets and smartphones (and on all platforms) as well as laptops, etc., they're a great way to deliver mini-lectures. Click to see one that I created for the purposes of this blog. Hieronymus Bosch / Technologies of Perdition in The Haywain.

Bosch's Haywain Mini-Lecture via Learning Object

Hieronymus Bosch's The Haywain (1516) is a wonderful of example art and technology; specifically art illustrating technologies of perdition. It's profoundly apocalyptic as well as illustrative of the human condition. There is really nothing like Bosch when it comes to satisfying visual narratives.

So, I thought I'd put together a learning object as a "mini lecture." In this case I used Articulate Engage because it easily allows integration of images, text, and audio in a number of pre-prepared templates. This one is "guided image" and it features animated arrows along with interaction. It's a responsive object, but unfortunately, it's not responsive enough to be able to expand it on a touchscreen, which is rather unsatisfying.

I am also unsatisfied that there is not a "pause" or a "resume" control button on the audio player, and I ended up putting all the text in the scroll-down box because there is not a button for downloading the script as a single file, although the script is available if you have access to the Articulate Engage interface. There is no way to download the script from the object, though, and so I think it's necessary when using the object to include a separate link for the text of the script.

Thoughts on Learning Objects as Mini-Lectures
It is fun to think about how you can also repurpose your videos and incorporate them into learning objects that can be used as mini-lectures. What I like about learning objects is that you can use them within a learning management system, but you can also liberate them and host them on web space you might have (or simply use Google Drive with a setting to share with the world), and the can be "stand-alones."

At any rate, the possibilities are endless, and there are many different ways to use the new learning objects any time, any where, on all devices.

Here's one where I embedded videos shot in upstate New York (Yaddo Artist Retreat), on the topic of Sylvia Plath's journals.  Learning Object: Mini Lecture with Videos on Sylvia Plath .

Learning Object -- videos, text on Sylvia Plath
Learning Object with embedded videos -- perfect for mini-lecture on all devices on Sylvia Plath

Full Text of Bosch's The Haywain Lecture
Bosch's apocalyptic imagination really shines in this piece, a large painting (4-1/2 by 6-1/2 feet) which is a triptych that creates a narrative that illustrates the human condition, after first living in the Garden of Eden, and then being cast out for sin. Far from Eden, the world is populated by Eve's children who inhabit the earth in a condition of degradation and sin. The second (center) panel, which is our focus here, features a fascinating vehicle, which is at the same time, a trap to tempt people, and also the vehicle that carts them away to hell.  The third panel illustrates the hideous condition they will experience in Hell. A finely detailed digital copy is in the public domain.

The haywain offers "hay" (temptation) and it carts people to hell
The center panel illustrates fallen world with lust, greed, and gluttony. The haywain is a technological device - a vehicle that both tempts and takes away. There is certainly an echo of the Trojan horse here, as well as the ferry across the river Styx.

Haywain is a vehicle dragged by demons
The sinners who ride the haywain and try to grasp their share of the hay are being carted to the inferno by demons (note their horrific forms; part beast, part human...)

Relishing the exposure of human nature
Bosch relishes the exposure of true behaviors and relationships, and there is a true frisson in doing so in extreme detail. Bosch's essential message has to do with the battle between good and evil, and the struggle to overcome sin. Here we see humanity's essential nature (which is to be caught up in greed, lust, sin) and to be ignorant (or oblivious to) the fact one is being carted straight to the pit.

Bosch Summary
With his extreme detail, and the baroque exaggeration of the people and beasts who populate his art, Hieronymus Bosch never fails to fascinate audiences of all ages and backgrounds. The Haywain now housed in the Prado Museum in Spain is an excellent example of a theme that is repeated in his work: we live in a world inhabited by sin, temptation, and very real demons. Whether the figures are reflect a horror of the world's temptations, or a reveling in the human condition (with its extremes and ultimate perdition), has been an intriguing topic of debate. Further, Bosch's work is deeply revelatory and shows people's hidden motives and also the often unrecognized vehicles of our own perdition.

A few final thoughts
All comments and responses to Bosch and Plath by Susan Smith Nash. They are intended to encourage creativity to illustrate what can be done in online learning, and should not be construed as rigorous critical exegesis. Copy and paste into a term paper at your own peril.

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