Empathy Based Learning Profile

Juanita Gonzalez: Recent UCLA graduate volunteering for one year at the Dream Children’s Home (DCH) in Cameroon

Discovery:

Juanita Gonzalez has just graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Ethnic Studies. She is a native Angelino who grew up in the economically strained Pico Union District, west of Downtown LA. She was motivated to volunteer at the Dream Children’s Home (DCH) in Bamenda, Cameroon after watching a documentary about the persecution of Christians and genital mutilation of girls in the North West region of the country.

 

Juanita is the oldest of four siblings; both her parents emigrated from Juarez, Mexico during the mid 80s fleeing the escalation of drug related violence along the Mexican border.  Her parents are illegal immigrants and have not attained permanent residence in the United States. They have worked mainly under-the-table cash jobs for the last 30 years. Her father Ernesto is a skilled carpenter and has had steady work as a subcontractor; her mother Conchita raised all four children and has worked intermittently selling fruits at a mobile fruit cart in McArthur Park.  However, all their children were born in Los Angeles and are American citizens.

 

Juanita excelled from a young age in all academic subjects, and by age 14 she was tracked into the most prestigious public school in Los Angeles Unified School District, Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES). While at LACES Juanita was a gifted student and lead the debate team to a second place finish in the regional finals. With high grades and strong SAT scores, Juanita received a full ride to UCLA.

 

While at UCLA she continued to achieve high grades and decided to pursue a degree in Political Science.  She spent one quarter of her sophomore year in Santiago Papasquiaro, Mexico teaching math to children of farmers. Her dream is to attend Harvard Law School after her year in Cameroon, and ultimately wants to become a Civil Rights Lawyer protecting the rights of illegal immigrants and undocumented workers throughout Southern California. Juanita is motivated through a strong moral conscience and believes that her calling is to protect the weak and impoverished.

Immersion:

Juanita was chosen to by the Dream Children’s Home for her solid critical thinking ability, math background, and teaching background while volunteering in Mexico. She will meet the organization’s need to educate the students in basic mathematics. She will work mainly with the English-speaking orphans from the age 7-12 and will focus on arithmetic. DCH plans on expanding her responsibilities to teaching math to older orphans depending on her performance in the first quarter of her stay in Cameroon.

 

DCH has been struggling with finding good teachers, and many of the children suffer from PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  Some orphans are showing signs of other stress related behavioral problems, including disruptive and often violent outbursts by students who have experienced extreme suffering as child soldiers. The leadership team is hoping Juanita’s compassion and patience will help these students by refocusing their attention on school, and more positive aspects of life at DCH.

Connection:

When Juanita arrived in Cameroon she was in culture shock. She not only looked different than everyone, she also felt very isolated emotionally. Having spent almost her entire life in California she began to feel nervous and scared in Cameroon. When she arrived at the orphanage she was relieved to find they had an internet connection, although it was both weak and intermittent. She made a Skype call home to her parents and began to feel a little more normal. It will take over 6 weeks for Juanita to being feeling comfortable in her new surroundings.

 

Her immediate training needs are all very basic: safe parts of the town she can visit, rules and regulations of the DCH, foods that are agreeable, and speaking basic French (the language most of the leadership team speaks). Her overall performance suffers in the beginning as the classroom space is over crowded and lacks basic supplies like pencils and paper. Although she loves the children, they often mock her appearance and her American accent. After a few weeks her performance improves, and she has engaged a number of students. Juanita presents word problems that are culturally relevant, using native fruits and locations as examples, and many of the students display tremendous growth.

There is still a basic gap in her knowledge about water hygiene and safety. Everyone at the orphanage is drinking from a quickly depleting well. Most of the staff and orphans have immunities to many of the water born bacteria. Juanita knows to filter the water, but carelessly drank an iced tea and gets a very bad stomach bug that lays her out with severe diarrhea for a week.

Detachment:

Many of the American Volunteers at DCH have been getting sick from contaminated drinking water from the well. They have been told to filter their water using a clay filter that each volunteer has in their room, but they have not been given any formal training on the subject of specifically what in the water might be making them sick. For example, the volunteers do not know that the clay filter does not filter out viruses because they are so small that they can pass through the membrane.

Juanita has taken a number of online/hybrid classes while in college, and could have benefited from a half an hour online training about water safety and water-based diseases. She is mainly an auditory and visual learner, which explains her success in the traditional educational models. I believe a downloadable or stream-able online training module that includes visual graphics, video clips and short blocks of text would meet her training needs. The training module needs to be concise since the volunteers are busy and only need to get the most important points about water safety to meet the training need, which is basically to not get sick from contaminated water.

The advantage of using video clips would be to easily illustrate the symptoms and what the phages or vectors might look like, which will help visual and auditory learners. The downside is the bandwidth issues at DCH, and some learners prefer just to read.

The water safety training will also include text and a one-page-printable-tips to keep in their room. This will be a CliffNotes version of the water training that will be a reminder to wash their hands, boil or filter their water, and to avoid certain foods and drinks that might be contaminated. The draw back of text might be that it’s boring and might be overlooked by learners who prefer video or audio formats.

I believe that by using a mix of video, audio, text and short quizzes, we can greatly improve the health and knowledge of water born illness safety for the English speaking volunteers at the Dream Children’s Home in Cameroon.

 

How to Deal with an Upset Client in the Analysis Phase

Hi Travis,

I looked at our general timeline that we discussed during our kick-off call and noticed that we're already two weeks behind schedule, but have spent over $5,000 more than we planned to by the end of the analysis phase. I'd appreciate an explanation ASAP.

-Johnny Yen


Dear Johnny,

Thanks for emailing me. I hope that little Johnny Jr. got into the scouts for this summer, I’ve always believed that boys need to spend sometime in the woods. As for me, I’ve been really busy but good, Wolf is growing up crazy fast, I can’t believe it sometimes. Are we still on for drinks this Friday? I found a great little place on 4th and Broadway, you’ll love it; red leather couches and it pretty much has every scotch ever made.

 

Let’s talk business. I will be the first to admit that we are behind schedule and we a bit over budget. I understand that you are concerned. Getting the analysis phase of the project right can save money and time in the future phases of the project. I have some good news I want to share, we originally thought that the end-users needed an hour long training to achieve the training goal of using the new ERP database. However after interviewing and analyzing your end-users we have discovered that almost all of them have a sufficient understanding of Excel, meaning that spreadsheet module can be shorted or removed completely since the functionally and equations are the same in both applications. This will bring our training down to 45 minutes and will save time and money in the design and development stages of the process.

 

Through a thorough analysis of the learning tools we may have just dodged another bullet.  I discovered that the interactive video tool you wanted to use does not support captions and is not screen reader accessible. I know you have at least two end-users in your organization who are low vision or blind and you have one hard of hearing. Under 508 and ADA we are required by law to make all of our online learning accessible to all end-users regardless of disability. I know of more than one organization that has been sued for ADA violations. It would have been more costly to backtrack on the learning tools or at worst get sued than nixing those non-accessible tools now. Good thing we tested those tools in the analysis phase for accessibility.

 

We will be on budget and on time after removing the unnecessary spreadsheet module. That will cut down the development and design time by 25% saving both time and money. This will bring our total costs back on track and our release date back to the original time frame of early August.

 

We need to set up review two times with all of the stakeholders on after the initial development is done and then a review of the revised training. It is important that we schedule this review session months in advance because we will need at least 3 hours of everyone’s time for every 45 minutes of training. Please send me the emails of all the people you would like in the review session and I will set it up.

 

So, it looks like after the analysis phase of the project we discovered some important information about your learners. The most important is that we can remove one of the modules and we also discovered that one of your learning tools cannot be used, I have another tool in mind that will meet the organizations needs. After the analysis phase I believe that we can cut time and money on the design and development phase and have enough time for revisions based on user testing and stakeholder reviews. The overall budget and timeframe for release is intact.

 

Thanks again for reaching out and being on top of the budgets. One more thing, I got four courtside tickets for the Lakers game next Thursday, let me know if you and Jane are free. Should be a good game. We can chat more about this over drinks. See you soon.

 

-Travis Lee

 

Lessons Learned:

Be nice and remind the client that you are friends and to be compassionate and sensitive that we are all people dealing with both work and life.

Explain that the client that the analysis phase of an eLearning project cannot be rushed. Understanding the learning needs of the endusers is just as important as creating an amazing learning experience.

ADA and 508 reviews save time and money in the development process. By reviewing tools for accessibly in the analysis phase of a project you will be able to determine what tools can be used for your project. The first thing that you as an ID should look for are vendor VPAT documents, after reviewing the VPAT you should also conduct an internal review of the tools. The things you should look for are, captioning support, screen reader compatibility, ensuring that all images are alt tagged and that colors of the interface have enough contrast. I would also recommend testing on a smart phone with a blind user. If you are not able to scan yourself it is recommended that you work with a local disability office that has blind users who can use screen readers.

By identifying accessibility issues in the analysis phase you can design your learning activities based on tools that can legally be used. If you ignore accessibility in the analysis phase it will be very costly to go back and make your learning modules accessible without revisiting the analysis phase which will cost you both time and money.

Graduate School Presentation January 2017

Intro

This will be about a 15-minute presentation on the three grad classes that I have taken at the university of Colorado Masters of eLearning Design and Implementation. I started work on my grad program in January of 2016. I have been taking one class per semester and will continue to do so for 3 years.

 

My main take always from the program thus far:

  • Being an online student is very difficult at times due to time constraints and general self motivation
  • I have learned that the architecture of the course is as important and the quality of the content. I have taken courses that all I have is a interactive syllabus linking to many assignments.
  • Group work is very hard online but an important aspect of learning
  • People from all industries struggle with the same things we do, getting technology to work. Feeling as if there is a lack of engagement and specifically student-to-student interactions.
  • Writing regularly has made me a better writer
  • There is a deep value in stopping the day to day work and thinking deeply about our profession has given me a new and fresh perspective about why we are here and what is possible in the future of technology enhanced education.
  • I really do love being a student again.

 

My Masters thesis is on the ways that online education can better facilitate universal design for learning and inclusive design for students with both learning and physical disabilities.

 

 Social Media and Digital Cultures (Spring 16)

Producing Media for Learning (Summer 16)

o   https://soundcloud.com/travis-lee-127395029/the-los-angeles-unified-school-district-challenges-and-solutions

o   https://soundcloud.com/travis-lee-127395029/educational-technology-in-the-uc

 

Learning with Digital Stories (Fall 16)

Week 15: Final Portfolio INTE 5340

Introduction To My Final Portfolio:

This past semester has been one of the most emotional and hectic few months of my life. When I signed up for this class I was not even sure I was going to be able to complete most of the work because in August when the class started my wife was 8 months pregnant. I was really thankful to professor Lori for allowing me flexibility on turning in assignments.  As it turned out I kept up with the reading and writing for this class and this class has been the most enjoyable course I have taken since starting my grad program a year ago.

There was a part of me that has always been a writer the last serious writing I was doing was in my 20s as a blogger writing about issues around Asian men’s sexuality and confidence but since then I have really not written in any serious way. At first I was nervous about the amount of writing required in this course but over time I realized and understood the value of writing every week. There is really something valuable in quantity over quality, just ask Costco. Writing every week made me a better writer than had I just focused on two or three major term papers this past semester. In the end I feel like I have become a much stronger writer and also have a much stronger grasp of digital storytelling and narratives.

As I mentioned earlier I became a father this semester and the focus theme of this past semester was “the journey of becoming a father”. I wrote about my son Wolf on a number of occasions in this course and also wrote him two short stories. One was about the origins of dogs and the other is about a transgender Wolf. The piece I’m most proud of I just finished today and that is a audio version of a letter I wrote to him two days before he was born. I’ve uploaded right under this intro. It’s a piece that really sums up my theme for the course. As a father I want to teach my son many things but I must also respect that he is not a mini version of myself and allow him to grow into a unique individual. The letter to him tells him only of the most important aspects of becoming a man.

After completing this course I’m excited to continue writing. I’m currently working a digital book of short stories written for my son. I hope that even when I don’t have deadlines I will continue to have some amount of time to do focused writing. It’s been a real pleasure taking this course and because of it I feel like I have become a better person even if I’m lacking sleep. I’d like to thank everyone in the class for their constructive feedback on my work and also Lori for encouraging me throughout this semester to stay focused and keep writing.

Original Digital Narratives:

WEEK 15: DIGITAL LETTER TO UNBORN SON

Dear Wolf,

After living this life as long as I have there is one thing that I know, and that is people are always changing. The person you think you are at this moment is not the person you will be nor is it the person you were. This is merely a snapshot in time in of man about to become a father to you.

This is my first letter to you by the time you read this letter I hope you are a healthy young literate boy. Right now you are still a fetus inside your mother. I think about you all the time, I even thought about you before you were conceived. You were abstraction, someone who I wanted to meet but not yet a real person. Right now in my life I’m 36, I’ve been living a pretty normal life for a while now, working, smoking weed, drinking beers, hanging out with your mom, watching baseball games, seeing friends, running and hiking.

 

This is what I want to say to you as my unborn child, first off for some reason I already love you. It’s hard to explain but do, I worry about you and think of you all the time. I think about what kind of man you will become and I think of all my mistakes and wish I could guide you through life to avoid that pain but that is not the way life is. When we bring you up in conversation I always say: we cannot make rules or even think about how we should raise you until we meet you because every person is so different and there no single right way to raise a man, that said I have a few shards of wisdom that I would like to pass on to you.

If you can only learn one thing from me it is this, I want you to be happy, and that is no small task. People talk about happiness all the time but very few people achieve it. It is a life long practice in compassion, confidence and self-understanding. This is something that no man can teach you, that no religion will give you, and that no woman will fulfill. To me if there is a single life thesis it is that happiness is not selfish, it is selfless. If you work your entire life at achieving happiness that is a life well spent. So there you go, there’s happiness and that’s something that you’ll have to find or deal with on your own. I hope that I too will be happy throughout your life so I can help show you that door. But for some stupid reason, I see so many parents and they are so uncool and miserable, I don’t know why that happens Wolf, but just know at this moment in time as I sit here at the UCLA library just days before I meet you, I was a happy and cool guy. By the time you read this I might just be another asshole Dad inflexible and angry, if I’m that, I’m sorry.

I also wanted to talk to you about confidence. You are growing up and different world than I had. When I grew up it was not easy being an Asian dude. For some reason Americans (American media) decided that we are ugly and effeminate. I have been fighting that stereotype my entire life, but I also fell into it. There were times I had no confidence, I did not believe I was worthy or cool enough to have friends, to deserve respect, to talk to girls, to have a well-paid job. Wolf, you have to listen to me when I say that what you think of yourself is 99% of the time what other people think of you. I was so happy when I found out you were going to be a boy, I always wanted to raise a boy but I was also scared for you. It’s not easy being an Asian dude if you were born an Asian girl all men would desire you, you could navigate the world as an object or desire, but instead you will as an Asian man, often the object of rejection and ridicule do not let that define you. Walk with your head high knowing that you are The Mutha F*ckin Wolf.

Another thing I want to touch on is fear. Fear is part of being human. We were designed on the plains of Africa to be a skittish upright monkey. There will always be fear, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of dark places, fear of getting lost, fear of being killed, fear of failure. Almost all of the time those fears are unfounded; the world is not a scary place. Let me get that into your head, you have nothing to be afraid of. Fear is the base mind telling the body that there is danger, when we were hunted by lions that might have made sense but now it’s petrifies the modern man from achieving his true calling and that is to overcome the base mind and reach a higher level of thinking and self awareness. I named you Wolf because you have nothing to fear, it is you that people fear when they hear a bump in the night.

Life is not an easy journey, I hope that I can be there for you through most of it but there will come a day that I will not be around. Or you’ve just moved on past me. And that it totally fine, I don’t want some clingy fearful boy in my life forever. I want to someday be with your mother again just the two of us, in love like the days before you came into being. So Wolf if you take away just a few things from this writing exercise it’s that I love you and always will, seek happiness at all costs, be confident in yourself and fear nothing for there is nothing to be afraid of.

Love Your Father,

Travis Lee

WEEK 14: THE YOUNG WOLF DIGITAL STORY

Oh, so you want one more story huh? Well I have one for you, it's called “The Young Wolf.”

Listen my boy; the world was once a very different place, a place unrecognizable by our eyes. There was a time that there were no cities, no buildings, no roads, no cars, no machines, there were just vast stretches of dark wilderness. My boy, the world was a cold place. Much of the land was covered in sheets of solid ice so tall they would stretch to the sky. Man was not king, we were nothing really nothing at all. We were just another beast in never ending dance of eating and being eaten. Now it is in this world my story takes place, a gray and wind swept world 15,000 years in the past. 

My story begins in a wolf den where three wolves snuggled together to stay warm and dry, mama wolf, daddy wolf and baby wolf. It was on this morning the wolf family was awoken with a strange sound, voices like they have never heard.

“Stay in the den.” Daddy wolf warned his family.

“Be careful” mama wolf replied.

Baby wolf just sat there trembling.

Daddy wolf had only one eye but was still a formidable wolf.  With his one eye he surveyed the woods and saw nothing for a long while, and then out of the mist emerged a lone figure like nothing daddy had ever seen. It had long gangly arms swinging from side to side, fleshy furless skin. It was the most hideous thing daddy wolf had ever witnessed. Daddy wolf crouched silently behind a gray log, as the monster approached closer and closer to the den. White mist cloaked the beast’s face with every breath. Daddy wolf could no longer control his fear and leapt from his hiding place at the colossal creature. The beast lifted his stick and thrust his spearhead with lighting speed.  Daddy wolf felt hot sting and warm blood dripping down his rear leg. In shock and fright Daddy wolf ran and ran and until clasping next to a small creek waiting for the inevitable, the water turned red. As he faded away his only thoughts were with his family still hiding in the den.

Back in the den mommy wolf and baby wolf huddled together shaking in terror. When mommy wolf heard strange yelling and clamoring and daddy wolf’s yelp she could not longer hide. She too emerged out of the den into the cool misty morning, it was not long before the beasts spotted her from a distance, she could see the monsters approaching the den, she knew she had but one chance to save baby wolf so ran through a wooded grove attempting to lure the beasts away. Two hairless beasts raised bent sticks loading with what looked like another stick and with a twang an arrow hit her right in the in flank and she too would join he mate. Her eyes closed for the last time as the beasts whooped in excitement.

Baby wolf lay in the den cool and dark when suddenly and a fleshy hand reached for him and grabbed him by his neck. He yipped in pain and clawed and bit the air ferociously. The beast had him. But to baby wolf’s surprise the beast had a gentle touch and caressed his head softly and baby wolf calmed. After an argument with the others on what should be done with the baby wolf, it was this one particular beast that took baby wolf home to nurture him.

Over the next year baby wolf and the beasts lived together in a small hut made of the bones and tusks of great animals they had hunted. They would move every few moons as the game would migrate. He would join his new master on daily hunts in the woods. Baby wolf grew to a great size and he felt safe with his new master, they would eat dried meats together and sleep in the same bed made of thick furs. Master and baby wolf quickly became best friends and they would adventure together along the mountain ridges and game trails. By the following winter baby wolf was full grown and stood half a man tall. His new pack treated him well and all members fed him.

 

The following autumn the young wolf now 2 years old joined his master on an deer hunt just adjacent to the encampment in the darkest part of the forest that trailed a small creek. They had crested a minor ridge when suddenly out of the darkness emerged a great wolf bearing its teeth. The young wolf leaped him front of his master instinctively, snarled back and bristled. The monster leaped at his master and the young wolf intercepted the creature in mid-flight knocking it to the earth with a dull thud, hissing and snarling they tangled in a storm of tooth and claw. The young wolf growled and snapped as fur and blood flew. With a decisive bite he crushed the throat of the beast as the blood ran into his mouth. The great wolf let out his gasp of life as the young wolf held his crushing bite.

The young wolf released the massive creature only when his master approached and commanded he free his quarry. The young wolf examined the lifeless beast and noticed that it was missing an eye.

“I’m sorry my son.” it groaned.

The master lifted a large rock above his head and crushed the beast to ensure it was indeed dead. The young wolf felt nothing and did not recognize this animal.

Master slumped on a stone next to the young wolf patted his head gently and wearily said,  “Good Dog.”

Now my boy, remember the young wolf every time you see a dog, every time you pet Penny and Cody for it was this young wolf who is the father to all dogs. He was the first wolf to choose man over blood and he gave to us the greatest gift a man can receive, friendship.

WEEK 7: VIDEO ASSIGNMENT BRAG VIDEO

I’ve seen a lot of youtube videos in my day and strangely a lot of content is just some one in front of there computer talking about things sometimes there are rants sometimes they are teaching you something but often time where is a sense of self obsession and importance to all their videos of a talking head.

I cannot say that I’m a totally humble guy since I find my life to be pretty damn good. But I try my best as most Asians to be humble about it and keep my mouth shut when things go well or you will get what Japanese call “Bachi Gataru” which roughly translates to divine retribution or punishment for being a fool or braggart. Pretty much what karma in the way we western people think of karma. So even making this video was hard for me and it’s very existence is asking the gods to punish me for my arrogance.

By anyways here it is. In the assignment bank I was drawn to it because it was something very different and it gets my head into a space that is uncomfortable for me. But after shooting the videos I can totally see why people talk themselves up, it felt great, I really did feel better after shoot the video. 

WEEK 5: AUDIO PODCAST ON SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

This week I created a podcast from the DS106 assignment bank. This podcast tells the story of how I fell in love with the wild spaces in Southern California. Los Angeles has been my home for over 10 years now and when I arrived I did not think it was a beautiful place, it took a long time for me to discover its austere beauty. I have since fell in love with hiking in the deserts and scrubland outside of the city.

I cannot wait till my son is old enough to join me on the trails, i just hope that he's not like me when I was a kid preferring to stay inside and play video games. I hope that you enjoy this podcast as much I did producing it.


Scholarship Reviews:

WEEK 12: THE 7 STEPS TO DIGITAL STORYTELLING

Joe Lambert one of the most influential thinkers in the digital story telling movement once again outlines clearly how to tell better digital stories. The guidance is different that traditional story telling in that the advice is more specific to a more dynamic and feedback oriented story telling format but I believe these guidelines could also make sense in any writing.

1.     Owning your insights: this is one that I completely agree with. Writing needs to be uniquely your own. When I was young I often plagiarized content to be turned in to my teachers, I would mash up other writers content with my own (very post modern) but I would come off and stifled and unauthentic, it was just bad writing. I’m sure all high school teachers can identify a plagiarized piece of writing. Good storytelling must come from true personal insight and that I why owning your insights is such a powerful lesson.

2.     Owning your emotions: This advice is so hard because oftentimes we are not self-aware enough to even know what we are feeling. On top of that our internal dialog might say things like I feel great, I’m so happy. But that comes off as terrible when put down on paper, how can I say I’m happy without say “I’m happy” that writer must dig deep within themselves to convey to the reader that happiness is being self without jus saying it like some fool.

3.     Finding the moment: A writer is always looking for find the moment in time, we do not care about all the moments the protagonist is going though, that’s why in movies we never see people sneezing and looking for tissue or using the bathroom. We know those things happen but what we are looking for is THE moment, we are looking for the moment of action, of change or realization.

4.     Seeing your Story: This is one of the most important ones for me because I’m a visual person, I can see my hero in my mind going through motions. But the truly great writers can not only see their hero but they can see their entire world they are living in and the can tell the reader what is happening in such detail that it was as if the story was unfolding right in front of them.

5.     Hearing your story: I feel very strongly about this one because I consume almost all my books in the audio format. A lot of people look down on me for not reading but to me story are an oral tradition, it’s getting closer to seed of the true story teller. How does it sound when read aloud, I feel that the true test of a good story. It must sound right rolling off the tongue.

6.     Assembling the story: This one is where the works happens the edits and endless reorganization of narrative. This is a time consuming step in the process and possibly the most important one because so many people have stories yet so few people have the patience to assemble their stories.

7.     Sharing the story: I think about this on a lot. Emily Dickenson wrote thousands of poems but in her lifetime she published less than a dozen. If her poems were never read does the mean her writing had any less meaning. She was dead when she truly became famous. The sharing of work is so important but at the same time to me the process of writing is just as important as the reading of the work. I think less than 10% of what I wrote for this class has been read but I still feel that I am getting so much out of this class.

WEEK 8: SCHOLARSHIP REVIEW “DIGITAL STORYTELLING FOR STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES”

Dr. Haddad PHD argues in this article that for some students with learning disabilities digital story telling can facilitate better learning outcomes than traditional story writing. As someone who has struggled though out my life with the learning disability dyslexia this article hit very close to home. Haddad explains that students with and reading and writing LD often struggle with traditional writing formats there for digital storytelling which can include visual, audio and interactive elements can help these students formulate better stories because they are not bogged down in the traditional model of “planning out their writing piece, revising their work, and completing the piece of writing to meet requirements.” 

Using a smart phone or computer a student with LD can just start talking and telling the story orally then way that most stories were formulated throughout most of human history. It always helped me when I was young to speak aloud my ideas before putting them down on paper. Today by using technology LD students are more engaged with the content and according to Dr. Haddad “students with LD are better able to concentrate on the delivery of content, formulate sequence, and provide other elements to storytelling without being hindered by an overemphasis on writing.”

As a person who has a learning disability and some one who promotes the rights of students with disabilities this shift to digital story telling really excites me. Far too often students with LD are left behind by faculty and other students for them think they are unmotivated on top of slow, but the reality is that we must alter our curriculum to better suite different learning styles rather than for one single model on to all students regardless of learning differences or styles.

Meeting the needs for students with different learning styles, LD and autism is going to be an important challenge for educators in this century as more youth are diagnosed with those disabilities. Our perceptions of narrative and storytelling must evolve along with the modalities that we consume the stories and the technology. This change will likely help students with learning differences and the more fluid model to story telling allows for more variety of intelligence to shine.

WEEK 7: SCHOLARSHIP REVIEW OF SOCIAL LEARNING, ‘PUSH’ AND ‘PULL’, AND BUILDING PLATFORMS FOR COLLABORATIVE LEARNING

This week’s reading, “Social Learning, ‘Push’ and ‘Pull’, and Building Platforms for Collaborative Learning” by Colin Lankshear delves into the profound changes that are happening or rather should happen in education in the 21st century. The biggest take away from this reading is that the push method of education needs to be changed to the pull method in order to meet the educational needs of students in the digital age.

The push method of education works under the 20th century assumption that educators can anticipate the needs of the students order to become productive thinkers and intellectual contributors to society. Since the advent of the internet and the ever changing landscapes of society John Seely Brown sees this ethos of education as grossly insufficient for today’s young students. Brown believes that the pull method of education where instructors equip students with the ability to think creatively and meet the immediate needs of the community and ever changing society, “[Pull models] help people to come together and innovate in response to unanticipated events, drawing upon a growing array of highly specialized and distributed resources. Rather than seeking to constrain the resources available to people, pull models strive to continually expand the choices available while at the same time helping people to find the resources that are most relevant to them.”

This “Pull” method of education will be a major shift in the way Americans are educated. I cannot speak for other countries but in America I feel that there is such a profound attachment to standardized exams and learning outcomes that we cannot see the bigger picture for our students. The bigger picture is that we cannot forsee the issues and challenges that will face us in 20, 30 or even 40 years when these young students will be running the world. In the ever changing geopolitical and technology driven world the idea that we can push information down their throats is completely misguided, we must groom them to become thinkers that are adaptable and intellectually curious. They must be the Wikipedia of thinkers, constantly improving and ever collaborating and not the static and dated encyclopedia Britannica.

Changing our education system to the pull method of education will require to retrain faculty and K-12 teachers to embrace and new model of instruction where they are not longer the sole source of information but rather they become the facilitators of creative and constructivist learning, giving the students to tools but not the information and allowing them solve the problems that we cannot even see.

My son Wolf was born last week Friday and I think about what kind of world he will grow up in and possibly raise his own family. In 30 years the ice caps will likely be melted, water shortages in California will become the norm; the politics in the Middle East are likely to become even fiercer and there are so many problems that we cannot even foresee; who will we turn to solve these deeply troubling issues? We must turn to the youth, unless they are fully equip with the ability to think in this ever changing world we are possibly screwed. The education system must be improved and we must foster the pull method of education if we are to have a future.


Digital Story Critiques:

WEEK 6: DIGITAL STORY CRITIQUE

Digital Story Critique: Story Corps "What was it like to be pregnant with me in jail?"

This week I’m critiquing the podcast Story Corps ”What was it like to be pregnant with me in jail?" about a young mother who was pregnant while in jail for taking drugs. The piece starts with Savannah Phelan, 8 asking and a sad child’s voice “Why did you go the jail?” that just pulls in the listener immediately. The voice the questions, perfect entry to the story. I will have been a fan of Story Corps for over ten years, I remember driving home on the 10 freeway crying so hard after listening to a piece on two 80 years old recounting how they met and fell in love. There is something so raw and real about the format. It’s just two people talking and there is power and beauty to that simplicity, no sound effects or fancy editing not even music just two people talking with a mic.

 

This particular story is one of tragedy and then redemption. The mother you can just tell in her gravely voice and working class accent that she did not have an easy life juxtaposed to the innocence of the her daughters voice made for such an interesting and powerful interaction. The daughter must have just found out that she was in jail while in the womb and was surprised and saddened why the revelation. The mother was honest and compassionate with her answers. And in the end said the most beautiful thing, “You are my angel you saved my life, I will forever be grateful to you. Not many people can say they saved their mothers life.”

Becoming a new father myself this story hit very close to home. It made me feel thankful that I have a normal life and can afford to house my child, and that is not the case for so many people who are struggling with drug addiction or just poverty. Life is not fair and I acknowledge that I did not earn all this in my life but it was gifted to me by the lottery of life. This story really helped me appreciate what I have right in front of me.  

WEEK 4: DIGITAL STORY CRITIQUE: THE SCHOOL OF LIFE (THE PERFECTIONIST TRAP)

This week I’m writing about a youtube channel called the School of life and in particular a 4 minute animated video entitle The Perfectionist TrapThe Scool of life is a “he School of Life is a global organization devoted to emotional education.” I have been watching their videos for about 2 years now, they have over 1.4 million subscribers and generally follow a simple format.

Their stories focus on mental health and the philosophies around the human condition. They have a wonderful artist who paints animated scenes for each of the videos. In this particular video they discuss the problems with perfectionism.

The thesis on this story is that setting an unrealistic standard of quality based on other peoples work leads to disappointment and discourages us from engaging in the process of incremental improvement. The trap is that we are inspired by the masters but we ourselves are only capable of mediocrity. This is because the media edits out the millions of versions that were just average and we only see the final version of the most accomplished masters.

This story was a reminder to me the we should focus on the process and not the outcomes of our work. Similar to this class, I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of writing that was needed for the course but over time I understood that not every piece needs to be perfect; rather I must practice my writing on a daily basis to get better. We should acknowledge the effort all people take in achieving something great the amount of time and the revisions piece of work must undergo to it to be perfect or near perfect.

The “School of Life” is and wonderful place to hear the stories of many people who have found wisdom in the everyday aspects of our lives. It’s a reminder that happiness is more important than money or accolades. The digital story telling on this YouTube channel speaks to a generation of people stuck behind desks who contemplate the meaning of life in the age of post modernism.

WEEK 11: DIGITAL STORY CRITIQUE FIRST PRIZE – MY ILIGAN

This week I viewed a digital story by Michael Lagcao who won first prize in a digital story telling contest in the Philippines open to high school and college students. Lagcao tells the story of moving from the big city of Manila to a provincial town. The story is one familiar in a way clichéd; it’s the story that so many city dwellers romanticize, the story that you will find peace and meaning in a more simple life. He does not glamorize his life in the small village but rather gives and honest and stark portrayal of life in country side, describing and filming profound poverty and drug addiction.

This piece is important to me because for some reason I have been thinking about the plight of the Philippines a lot recently. I have many Pilipino friends and they post all sorts of crazy things on Facebook that is happening right now. People being arrested protests, drug users being murdered by police, and a strange fascination and love for their new despotic leader Rodrigo Duterte. This story is a reminder that there is life and beauty in the Philippines and people just trying to live their life like any other country in the world. But it is also a reminder that we here in the United States are so blessed to live in this bubble and most of us do not experience the suffering of deep poverty and economic copse. The end of his story is the story that so many poor people tell themselves that wealth should not be measured in material possessions but rather how one lives their lives. That is a nice thought but does little to further education, health care or freedom.

I really enjoyed his Lugcao’s story but I would not say that it should have won first place. It’s a little cheesy a the video editing was a little crude. The audio levels were a little high but more important than the technical issues is his message. I agree with what he said and it was so earnest that I felt real compassion for the author.

WEEK 8: DIGITAL STORY CRITIQUE “LE GRAND CONTENT”

I first watched Le Grand Content in 2008 and it was one of my first exposures to digital story telling in the form of stream of consciousness. The video was written and created by Karo Szmit and narration is by Andre Tschinder.  It tackles major themes of life and loss in the power point format. There is a sad comedic value in the story as the narrator expounds on all the reasons why people feel unfulfilled in their life in ridiculous pie charts and graphs. The entire movie makes you feel that you are watching something that can be quantified into numbers but you realize that the author is talking about the human condition.

 Thematically Szmit makes an augment that life is full of regret and unfilled promise but at the same time he’s not making any point at all. It’s possible that the entire piece is a stream of consciousness taking place in the shower. As viewer at first you think that this is such a deep movie but over time you realize that it’s more likely a piece of comedy made to poke fun at the power point culture and the arm chair phycology that prevails in our culture.

I wanted to review this piece because it spoke to me for many years, I still think about this digital story 8 years after first watching it and thematically it still love it. I love and piece of story telling that delves into what it means to be human to be mediocre in a world so full of expectations.

Social Media and Peer Review:

Hi Class and welcome to my Gallery Walk though. I will start this presentation with a little about myself, and what I have learned in this class thus far. When I signed up for this class I was not really sure what to expect but I have always had a fascination with stories since I was a young boy. I remember I had a toy dinosaur that was mouth moved and I called him the Story Teller. My friends would sleep over and we would dim the lights and I would bring out the Story Teller and I would craft a scary story about demons and ghosts. I continued to write and tell stories though high school but somewhere along the way I lost interest in telling stories and like most people began to just consume my stories in books and audio format.

This class has taught me to love writing again. The sheer volume of writing for this class has engaged a dormant part of my brain that was dedicated to stories. I have learned that not all stories are written and that the future of story telling is different than the past. But at the same time the principals of good story telling not matter the format must be engaging and unpredictable and keep the audience guessing what is going to happen next. 

I have learned that technology and digital story telling is changing the way we both tell and consume stories. The future stories are much more participatory. Often times when I read a news story I read just a few paragraphs before I scroll down to the comments. This shows today the thoughts of the audience are often times just as important as those of the author.

I have also learned that digital story telling can working better than traditional story telling for students and children with learning disabilities. Often times students with LD have a very hard time with planning, revising and completing a traditional written story. Digital story telling including audio and video format give those student with learning differences more options that might be better suited to their learning style allowing them to excel and tell their stories. 

My goals for this class are becoming a better writer and learning to tell better digital stories. I hope to learn to create a story telling format that works in higher education. Something like an interactive or branching video. I also hope to learn more about how technology has influenced story telling formats and how we might leverage technology in order to tell better stories at the same time not over doing it like Hollywood.

Work #1

The first work I would like to discuss is Louiza KonDilis’ scholarship review of “Let’s redefine disability and difference”. Louiza bought to my attention the very immediate and important need for people with disabilities to be able to tell their stories. In the article she reviewed the author discusses a project where people with disabilities are given a platform to tell the about their experiences living with disabilities. In America roughly 1 in 6 people is living with some sort of disabilities it is a travesty that we marginalize this community both politically and culturally. In our image obsessed society people with disabilities need to be given a platform to tell their stories to inform the rest of us how they feel. They discuss bullying, depression, eating disorders and a general lack of empathy people toward other people with disabilities.

https://louizainte5340fall2016.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/week-8-redefining-disability-difference/

Work #2
The next work I will discuss is much more light hearted and was created by Ashley Padilla. She created a video of a fieldtrip she took with her students to a farm. I liked this video for it’s simplicity and general theme. Living in Los Angeles I rarely see farms and the students of LA never see them either but we all eat food. I believe that agricultural education should be mandatory for all elementary school students. My mother grew up on a bean farm and I recently inherited that farm, and I hope to pass down that farm to my son one day. The farming lifestyle and the importance of responsible growing is more important than ever as water shortages and lack of crop diversity is potentially going to cause a massive self induced disaster. I believe a video like this can be used as a possible virtual fieldtrip for students who do not have access to farms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9XeJHViutQ&feature=youtu.be

Work #3
This particular piece by Robert Piper captivated me because of the haunting sound scape he was able to produce just walking around a city in Korea. The sounds are like any other city but have a distinctly Asian-feel. I lived in Japan for 3 months and was always taken by the background chatter of the Japanese language. There is just something both mesmerizing and frustrating about living in a country that you cannot understand with people are saying. This piece by Robert Piper brought back those memories for me. There is rawness to the audio and at the same time a familiarly of city life that I have grown so accustomed to over the years. I really enjoyed just listening to the city he lives in and it made me think about his life and my own.

https://soundcloud.com/user-780088551/do-you-hear-what-i-hear-walking-in-uijongbu-korea

Work #4
This video by Haley Cristea entitled “3 Things that Made Me Happy Today” made me think about how dispersed we all are but at the same time are a all struggling with making ends meet. She opens her video with telling us about how she is working two jobs and is a full time grad student who is getting very little sleep. We are so caught up in our own lives that we often forget that we are all suffering though this thing called life. We see such a manicured facade though the lens of social media that we forget that we ourselves are not the only ones who are struggling. Her opening lines were refreshing and honest. From there he video discusses an up coming vacation to Europe, a place I’ve never been. Haley is looking forward to her vacation and seeing a Romanian Fountain, Cat café and soccer match. It was really uplifting to hear about this vacation. I really hope that she enjoyed it. Her video reminded me that we are all in the same boat and it also made me feel happy that she had such an amazing vacation planned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUACjv5fjTE

Work #5
 
Lisa Fish’s critique of the podcast “Serenity for Working Moms” reminded us that we need to slow down and prioritize. Lisa opens her blog by telling the audience that she was having a hard week and that she was feeling overwhelmed this is not uncommon for people in this program since most of us are working full time and we are students. She discussed the podcast “Serenity for Working Moms”. In the podcast she found like most working mom’s there is more activities in a day than there are hours. She discussed the need to prioritize family and at the same time having high expectations for work and career. This really hit home to me because my wife and I just had a baby two weeks ago and I know that after our paternity and maternity leave we are entering a world of pain that all working parents know. My main take away from this blog is that it’s ok to mess up and not be everywhere at once. And that it’s ok to realize the limitations of both time and money when raising a child.

http://techyfishgirl.com/2016/09/26/digital-story-critique-serenity-for-working-moms/

Work #6
  
The last piece I would like to review is one by Heather Schlet and her review of “A Portrait of Lotte”. In this piece a parent videos their daughter regularly for 16 years for show the audience vividly the experience of aging from a new born to a teenager. This really spoke to me because of my new son just born a few weeks ago. The piece tells a story a profound and human story about aging, time passes so slowly in day-to-day life we are often blind to change, but when 16 years in condensed to 4 minutes it’s a very vivid reminder of our own mortality. I have seen a lot of picture a day videos on youtube but this one was so much more real because of how quickly Lotte changed from frame to frame. It made me think about her relationship with the parent and how that must have changed over the years yet they kept it up. But to what end? Is this a video for the daughter, I’m not sure I would want this video online. It made me think about Lotte and her rights to her image and how much young people are exposed by their parents in social media, don’t they have rights to control their own image?

CONCLUSION

I’ve really been enjoying this class. It has made me a more prolific writer and I has brough be out of my comfort zone of just watching videos and stories I enjoy. The class has challenged me to rethink what stories can be. I have really enjoyed reading and looking at other people’s work in the class, I have felt a sense of community even though we have never met. I look forward to the second half of this class and learning more and seeing more of you work. Thanks for all your feedback and help this semester thus far.

Facebook Sharing of Digital Story

I've been sharing my digital stories outside of the class and have received a lot of great feedback from my friends. I don't have a lot of friend on FB so 40 "likes" is pretty significant for me.

Week 15: Digital letter to Son

Dear Wolf,

 

After living this life as long as I have there is one thing that I know, and that is people are always changing. The person you think you are at this moment is not the person you will be nor is it the person you were. This is merely a snapshot in time in of man about to become a father to you.

 

This is my first letter to you by the time you read this letter I hope you are a healthy young literate boy. Right now you are still a fetus inside your mother. I think about you all the time, I even thought about you before you were conceived. You were abstraction, someone who I wanted to meet but not yet a real person. Right now in my life I’m 36, I’ve been living a pretty normal life for a while now, working, smoking weed, drinking beers, hanging out with your mom, watching baseball games, seeing friends, running and hiking.

 

This is what I want to say to you as my unborn child, first off for some reason I already love you. It’s hard to explain but do, I worry about you and think of you all the time. I think about what kind of man you will become and I think of all my mistakes and wish I could guide you through life to avoid that pain but that is not the way life is. When we bring you up in conversation I always say: we cannot make rules or even think about how we should raise you until we meet you because every person is so different and there no single right way to raise a man, that said I have a few shards of wisdom that I would like to pass on to you.

 

If you can only learn one thing from me it is this, I want you to be happy, and that is no small task. People talk about happiness all the time but very few people achieve it. It is a life long practice in compassion, confidence and self-understanding. This is something that no man can teach you, that no religion will give you, and that no woman will fulfill. To me if there is a single life thesis it is that happiness is not selfish, it is selfless. If you work your entire life at achieving happiness that is a life well spent. So there you go, there’s happiness and that’s something that you’ll have to find or deal with on your own. I hope that I too will be happy throughout your life so I can help show you that door. But for some stupid reason, I see so many parents and they are so uncool and miserable, I don’t know why that happens Wolf, but just know at this moment in time as I sit here at the UCLA library just days before I meet you, I was a happy and cool guy. By the time you read this I might just be another asshole Dad inflexible and angry, if I’m that, I’m sorry.

 

I also wanted to talk to you about confidence. You are growing up and different world than I had. When I grew up it was not easy being an Asian dude. For some reason Americans (American media) decided that we are ugly and effeminate. I have been fighting that stereotype my entire life, but I also fell into it. There were times I had no confidence, I did not believe I was worthy or cool enough to have friends, to deserve respect, to talk to girls, to have a well-paid job. Wolf, you have to listen to me when I say that what you think of yourself is 99% of the time what other people think of you. I was so happy when I found out you were going to be a boy, I always wanted to raise a boy but I was also scared for you. It’s not easy being an Asian dude if you were born an Asian girl all men would desire you, you could navigate the world as an object or desire, but instead you will as an Asian man, often the object of rejection and ridicule do not let that define you. Walk with your head high knowing that you are The Mutha F*ckin Wolf.

 

Another thing I want to touch on is fear. Fear is part of being human. We were designed on the plains of Africa to be a skittish upright monkey. There will always be fear, fear of the unknown, fear of rejection, fear of dark places, fear of getting lost, fear of being killed, fear of failure. Almost all of the time those fears are unfounded; the world is not a scary place. Let me get that into your head, you have nothing to be afraid of. Fear is the base mind telling the body that there is danger, when we were hunted by lions that might have made sense but now it’s petrifies the modern man from achieving his true calling and that is to overcome the base mind and reach a higher level of thinking and self awareness. I named you Wolf because you have nothing to fear, it is you that people fear when they hear a bump in the night.

 

Life is not an easy journey, I hope that I can be there for you through most of it but there will come a day that I will not be around. Or you’ve just moved on past me. And that it totally fine, I don’t want some clingy fearful boy in my life forever. I want to someday be with your mother again just the two of us, in love like the days before you came into being. So Wolf if you take away just a few things from this writing exercise it’s that I love you and always will, seek happiness at all costs, be confident in yourself and fear nothing for there is nothing to be afraid of.

 

Love Your Father,

 

Travis Lee

Week 14: The Young Wolf Digital Story

Oh, so you want one more story huh? Well I have one for you, it's called “The Young Wolf.”

Listen my boy; the world was once a very different place, a place unrecognizable by our eyes. There was a time that there were no cities, no buildings, no roads, no cars, no machines, there were just vast stretches of dark wilderness. My boy, the world was a cold place. Much of the land was covered in sheets of solid ice so tall they would stretch to the sky. Man was not king, we were nothing really nothing at all. We were just another beast in never ending dance of eating and being eaten. Now it is in this world my story takes place, a gray and wind swept world 15,000 years in the past. 

My story begins in a wolf den where three wolves snuggled together to stay warm and dry, mama wolf, daddy wolf and baby wolf. It was on this morning the wolf family was awoken with a strange sound, voices like they have never heard.

“Stay in the den.” Daddy wolf warned his family.

“Be careful” mama wolf replied.

Baby wolf just sat there trembling.

Daddy wolf had only one eye but was still a formidable wolf.  With his one eye he surveyed the woods and saw nothing for a long while, and then out of the mist emerged a lone figure like nothing daddy had ever seen. It had long gangly arms swinging from side to side, fleshy furless skin. It was the most hideous thing daddy wolf had ever witnessed. Daddy wolf crouched silently behind a gray log, as the monster approached closer and closer to the den. White mist cloaked the beast’s face with every breath. Daddy wolf could no longer control his fear and leapt from his hiding place at the colossal creature. The beast lifted his stick and thrust his spearhead with lighting speed.  Daddy wolf felt hot sting and warm blood dripping down his rear leg. In shock and fright Daddy wolf ran and ran and until clasping next to a small creek waiting for the inevitable, the water turned red. As he faded away his only thoughts were with his family still hiding in the den.

Back in the den mommy wolf and baby wolf huddled together shaking in terror. When mommy wolf heard strange yelling and clamoring and daddy wolf’s yelp she could not longer hide. She too emerged out of the den into the cool misty morning, it was not long before the beasts spotted her from a distance, she could see the monsters approaching the den, she knew she had but one chance to save baby wolf so ran through a wooded grove attempting to lure the beasts away. Two hairless beasts raised bent sticks loading with what looked like another stick and with a twang an arrow hit her right in the in flank and she too would join he mate. Her eyes closed for the last time as the beasts whooped in excitement.

Baby wolf lay in the den cool and dark when suddenly and a fleshy hand reached for him and grabbed him by his neck. He yipped in pain and clawed and bit the air ferociously. The beast had him. But to baby wolf’s surprise the beast had a gentle touch and caressed his head softly and baby wolf calmed. After an argument with the others on what should be done with the baby wolf, it was this one particular beast that took baby wolf home to nurture him.

Over the next year baby wolf and the beasts lived together in a small hut made of the bones and tusks of great animals they had hunted. They would move every few moons as the game would migrate. He would join his new master on daily hunts in the woods. Baby wolf grew to a great size and he felt safe with his new master, they would eat dried meats together and sleep in the same bed made of thick furs. Master and baby wolf quickly became best friends and they would adventure together along the mountain ridges and game trails. By the following winter baby wolf was full grown and stood half a man tall. His new pack treated him well and all members fed him.

 

The following autumn the young wolf now 2 years old joined his master on an deer hunt just adjacent to the encampment in the darkest part of the forest that trailed a small creek. They had crested a minor ridge when suddenly out of the darkness emerged a great wolf bearing its teeth. The young wolf leaped him front of his master instinctively, snarled back and bristled. The monster leaped at his master and the young wolf intercepted the creature in mid-flight knocking it to the earth with a dull thud, hissing and snarling they tangled in a storm of tooth and claw. The young wolf growled and snapped as fur and blood flew. With a decisive bite he crushed the throat of the beast as the blood ran into his mouth. The great wolf let out his gasp of life as the young wolf held his crushing bite.

The young wolf released the massive creature only when his master approached and commanded he free his quarry. The young wolf examined the lifeless beast and noticed that it was missing an eye.

“I’m sorry my son.” it groaned.

The master lifted a large rock above his head and crushed the beast to ensure it was indeed dead. The young wolf felt nothing and did not recognize this animal.

Master slumped on a stone next to the young wolf patted his head gently and wearily said,  “Good Dog.”

Now my boy, remember the young wolf every time you see a dog, every time you pet Penny and Cody for it was this young wolf who is the father to all dogs. He was the first wolf to choose man over blood and he gave to us the greatest gift a man can receive, friendship.

Week 13: Daily Create Short Story "The Wolf in a Dress"

I’ve decided that I will write a book for my son of short children stories. The first story was called “The Young Wolf”. I think that I will continue that theme with a new story.

 

The Wolf in a Dress

 

Lupine never quite fit in with the other animals. He looked just like a normal wolf, he had gray fur and a long bushy tail and his main was coming very nicely for a 5th grader. One day in class Lupine’s teacher announced that they would be showing the play of “Little Red Riding Hood” for their parents in the spring. It was already the first of March and they had just 2 weeks to prepare, the class of little animals erupted with excitement, Little Red Riding Hood was their favorite story.

 

Lupine’s best friend a red fox named Whiskers leaded over and asked.

 

“What role are you going to try out for?”

“The wolf of course, silly” Lupine replied

“That would be a perfect role for you.” Whiskers said with excitement

“Yes, Indeed it would, how about you Whiskers, are you going to try out”

“Of course, I’m going to try for the role of the heroic hunter who saves little red riding hood.”

“Really, in my family the hunter is remember much differently than a hero, he was a misguided monster, but all the same, good luck.”

 

They ran off to lunch together and ate their sandwiches in silence and they imagined being on stage with their proud parents clapping.

 

They next day was auditions for the play. Lupine had stayed up all night rehearsing his lines in the bathroom mirror. “All the better to see you with my dear, har har har”. Or was it all the better to see you with my love? Whatever, he knew he had a great chance at nailing the role since he was one of three wolves in the class, and those other two wolves were no good at anything except licking their own balls, Lupine thought to himself. Lupine continued to rehearse his lines in his head as he waited for his named to be called.

 

“Next up, Lupine Wolfburger. Is there a Lupine Wolfburger here?” the Toad drama teacher croaked into the hall way.

“Here miss Toadstool, I’m over here”

“Oh there you are, so you’re going to try out for the roll of….” She flipped through her notepad, “let me guess…the role of the scary wolf?”

“Yes miss, I am trying out for the role of the Wolf.”

“Great, step inside, Lupine”

“Thank you miss Toadstool.” He squeaked as he felt his tummy coming up into his throat. Lupine never tried out for anything so he was very scared.  He shuffled behind her nervously as he followed her into the dark auditorium.

 

The room was much bigger and darker than he had remembered from school assembly days. He looked around and saw Mrs. Annie Alpine Ibex, Mr. Gorilla, and the old withered face of Mrs. Toadstool. They looked at Lupine expectantly.

 

“Well…” Mrs. Annie Alpine Ibex said after a long pause

Lupine just stood there petrified in the bright lights

“Well...” she repeated
Lupine leaned into the microphone

“Um…” he said. Which was followed by the electric crackle of feedback.

Mr. Gorilla sighed and rolled his eyes.

“Um…” Lupine repeated “Um…I’m going to read to part of the wolf.”

“Well, get on with it Lupine we haven’t got all afternoon there are at least six of your classmates waiting outside.” Ms. Toadstool interjected.

“Yes, yes sir…I mean miss.” Lupine mumbled

“I happen to change my sex ever time I meet a new mate. Lupine, get on with it. My sequential hermaphroditism is not important at this moment, but we do need a true thespian to play the roll of the big bad wolf, you got the look, but do you have the attitude?”

 

It was in the moment that Lupine knew that he would need to bring his best acting forward, he had practiced for hours in the mirror, he was ready, he was more than ready he was going to nail this role.

 

He face turned dark and the room fell silent.

“Come closer my dear.” He hissed with a toothy grin. “That’s right, a little closer.”

“I’ve brought you a cake grandma” Mrs. Toadstool said in a rather flat tone.

“Oh, my dear. Thank you. Put the cake on the counter and come into bed with me. Come keep you grandma warm” Lupine replied wolfishly

 

“Oh ok grandma.”

 

“Good good my child” Lupine mimicked open the bed covers

 

“Grandmother, what big arms you have!”

 

"All the better to hug you with, my dear."

 

"Grandmother, what big legs you have!"

 

"All the better to run with, my child."

 

"Grandmother, what big ears you have!"

 

"All the better to hear with, my child."

 

"Grandmother, what big eyes you have!"

 

"All the better to see with, my child."

 

"Grandmother, what big teeth you have got!"

 

"All the better to eat you up with."

 

“Bravo, bravo!” Mr. Gorilla Exclaimed, as he thumped his chest with excitement.

 

“Looks like we’ve found our wolf” Mrs. Toadstool said with a clap.

 

“Thank you, thank you.” Lupine was beaming

 

Lupine rushed home that day and told his parents the good news. His mom was proud of him and his dad gave him a big pat on the head and said well done.

 

The next day after school was his first day of rehearsals, Lupine showed up 5 minutes early and waited outside the door scratching on it periodically to see if Mrs. Toadstool was inside. After what felt like an eternity the doors opened the all the actors entered the dark auditorium excitedly. Whiskers did not get the roll of the hunter but instead had to settle for the roll of the guy who moves the trees and set props around during the intermission.

 

Mrs. Toadstool grabbed the microphone.

“Ok everyone gather around. First of congratulations to all of you! You have been selected from a very competitive field of students to put on our 4th annual Little Red Riding Hood play at Oakdale Elementary School for Gifted Animals.” They all clapped.

 

“Alright, so everyone, today we are just going to go though Act One, so we’ll only be needing Red Riding Hood, Father and Mother Hood and their dog. The rest of you please go to the back for your costume fitting.” Mrs. Toadstool explained.

 

Lupine shuffled off with the rest of the animals to the back stage where he found Mr. Gorilla standing next to a long rack of clothes.

 

“Lupine, come over here.”

“Yes. Mr. Gorilla.”

“Ok, so you look like…uh…about a size medium, would you say?”

“Yes sir Mr. Gorilla.”

“This one aught to fit.” He held out a red nightgown

Lupine reached for it and when his paw touched the fabric he felt a tingling sensation.

“Well…Take it. Try it on.” Mr. Gorilla said impatiently

“Um Thank you.” Lupine snapped back into the moment

 

Lupine walked to the dressing room with gown in hand and again he could feel a sensation of excitement and anticipation. He moved his paw up and down the silky gown and imagined how it would feel against his body.

 

In the dressing room he removed his school issue white dress shirt and tie. He then raised his arms and let the dress slip gently over his shoulders and down his body. He looked in the mirror for a long moment just blinking. For the first time in his life he felt beautiful, he felt that he was himself. He loved the way the silk gown moved with his body and he moved. He posed in many positioned in the mirror. And felt more beautiful than he had ever felt in his life, actually for the first time in his life he liked what he saw staring back at him. He just stood there gazing, when suddenly a thump, thump, thump came at the dressing room door. Lupine yipped.

 

“Lupine are you done in there, I need to try on my hunter outfit!” Benny Badger yelled though the door.

“Um. Yea. I’m all done in here, nothing to see, nothing to see. Just give me a sec.” Lupine stammered.

 

Lupine crumped the dress into his school bag and hurriedly got out of the dressing room bumping into Benny as he left.

 

“Geez, do you mind.” Benny said with a look of shock.

Lupine said nothing and kept walking with his head down. What happened he asked himself? What happened in there? He just kept walking, right past Mr. Gorilla who was looking for an outfit for goose playing one of the townsfolk.

 

Lupine hurried home and closed his bedroom door. He threw his school bag on the floor and peered out his widow at the street below. Lupine turned around ever so often to gaze at his bag on the floor calling his name, the dress within beckoning him.

 

“Um ok just one more time then no more until the play.” He said to himself. He slowly walked to his bag and the red dress within. His paw trembled with anticipation as he gripped the zipper. He unzipped his bag slowly as the red silk of the gown came into view. He caressed it with the back of his paw and closed his eyes and let his body drink in all the sensations. Gently he pulled the dress from the bag and held it in front of himself. He felt both excitement and fear as his breaths came in short bursts. He took a deep breath from his nose and exhaled.

 

For the second time today he lifted the dress above his head and let the fabric fall over him. And again he looked in the mirror longingly. He felt beautiful again. He began to run his fingers over the dress and posed in the mirror. Suddenly a click, and his bedroom door was open and standing there was his father, a great gray wolf nearly the height of the door frame with mouth aghast blinking with a pile of folded laundry in hand, the stack of clothing fell to the floor with soft thud. Lupine looked back at him confused and horrified.

 

“Um son…I came home early and uh, thought uh.” And then he backed out of his room closed the door. Kicking the laundry in his room as the door became stuck.

 

Lupine stood there in his red gown and put his paws over his face and began to sob. Tears streamed down his face.

“Stupid, so stupid. Why did I even do this?” He ripped at his dress, tarring it off in tatter sheets of silk.

 

On the other side of the door his father stood in the dark hallway. He could hear his son’s muffled cries. Daddy wolf walked down the hallway to his room where he began to go though his mommy wolf’s closet, he found and only dress that would fit him which was his wife’s pink muumuu she wore to a luau while on vacation in Maui last year. He slipped it on over his head and walked back to his son’s room and knocked.

 

“Knock, knock. Anyone there?” Daddy wolf asked though the door

There as no answer so daddy wolf slowly opened the door and he could see Lupine sitting in a chair head down in a tattered red dress. He entered the room, stepping over toys and laundry that covered the floor.

 

Lupine did not look up at first but as daddy wolf approached his eye lifted and what he saw his dad in the pink muumuu. Daddy wolf put his hand on Lupine’s shoulder.

 

“Hey champ, head up. Sorry about that earlier, I should have knocked.”

“What are you wearing dad, you look ridiculous.” He sniffeled.

“Son, what ever this is, it’s ok with me.” Daddy wolf patted him

“Really?” Lupine looked up

“Yea totally, there is nothing to be ashamed of. Listen if you want to wear a dress go ahead. I’m always going to be your father no matter what.”

“Thanks dad. You know you didn’t have to put on that ridiculous muumuu to tell me this.”

And they both laughed. From that day on Lupine knew that he could be himself no matter who that wolf would be.

 

The next week Mommy and Daddy wolf attended the school play of Little Red Riding Hood and Lupine was the star indeed, the entire auditorium gave him a standing ovation for his both scary and conniving portrayal of the big bad wolf. After the play they took Lupine out for pizza and ice cream to celebrate his big night.

 

The End

Week 13: Digital Story Critique LORE

This week I’m going to review a new podcast called Lore by Aaron Mahnke. This focus on is telling traditional horror stories but with a knack of making creating a sense of non fiction truth to the stories. The audio digital story “The Bloody Pit” recounts the building of a great tunnel that spanned 5 miles though a mountain and the tragedy that stuck the construction workers.

 

I feel that great story telling no matter the format will be engaging and captivating but there is something so visceral about horror. I really feel that the more basic emotion we have is fear, that is why a believe the first stories where those that scared the audience. Fear has been with us since the beginning. We were not always that top of the food chain though most of human history we have been both predator and prey. And it is the fact that we were pray is why fear is so much a part of our consciousness. It the emotions that drives us to act irrationally and makes us lock our doors at night and turn on the bathroom lights at night.

 

Scary stories will always have a place in the story telling world for those reasons. The Lore podcast brings the well researched stories to life in 15-20 minute segments. Mahnke researches the histories of all his stories thoroughly and adds audio effects and music that create an immersive digital story. I was going to just listen one or two stories for this assignment but decided to listen to 6 of his stories and spent over an hour engross in Mahnke’s stories. I highly recommend this format for story telling.

Week 13: Scholarship Response TED Joe Sabia: The technology of storytelling

Joe Sabia is an experimental musical artist and pun champion. In this TED talk Sabia discusses the technology of storytelling though the ages starting at cave painting depicting the hunt of wild beast to the emergence of digital stories on Facebook walls. He believes that good storytelling pretty much remains the same and for the most part most stories are recycled but the format in which we consume stories is every changing. He praises Lothar Meggendorfer, who created a bold technology for storytelling: the pop-up book. For 400 years stories were in book but with this next pop-up technology we began to look at new ways to tell stories. From the pop-up book, to radio theater, to film, to VHS, to DVD to streaming stories that we watch ever day on our computers the format in which we comsume stories is and always will be changing.

 

The main take way from the TED talk is that we are as humans are always looking for new and better ways to consume content and the delivery system can impact the stories themselves. Books are a slow format the stories in book unfold slowly and are rich in information. However movies last just one and a half hours the stories are fast paced and lack depth. Even his ted talk was a type of performance art story telling. This was all very meta and agree that good stories pretty much remain the same though out history.

Week 12: Self Reflection

I’m continuing to enjoy this class. However I think that the required reading should have more current theory and maybe we can all critique the same digital story.

 Overall I’m feeling a little out of it honestly. After this election my mind has been all over the place. I guess I’m still working though my grief. It’s so weird to think that this is the America we are living in. It makes me feel like a stranger in this land. Over the weekend I saw a lot of people were the victim of hate crimes. What really surprised me was how much hate was directed at Asian people.

 ASIANS we have to wake up, we are not white, we will never be white, stop pretending like we are better than other minorities. For so long we Asian people were the model minority, we did not make trouble and we kept our heads down and just worked. We need to see that although many of us married into white families (Asian women I’m looking at you) we are not considered Americans by about half of this country. This is something that we have to come to grips with. The major shift in our thinking has to be that we will support other minorities instead of putting them down. There is a lot of racism in communities of color, there will be no room for internal fighting and deciding which of us will be embraced by white people, we need to stick together and fight for our rights.

 Ok all that said. I think I know what I want to do with my story telling. Last week I decided that I want to write a digital story book for my son Wolf. He’s only 6 weeks old now but I want to write him stories. I think it will have some images and maybe audio so he can read the stories with me if I’m out of town or God forbid divorced or dead. My mom made a audio tape of her reading books when I was young because she had to go to work. This is something that I really want to do, I just need to get my head out of to fog. Thanks for listening.

Week 12: The 7 Steps to Digital Storytelling

Joe Lambert one of the most influential thinkers in the digital story telling movement once again outlines clearly how to tell better digital stories. The guidance is different that traditional story telling in that the advice is more specific to a more dynamic and feedback oriented story telling format but I believe these guidelines could also make sense in any writing.

 

1.     Owning your insights: this is one that I completely agree with. Writing needs to be uniquely your own. When I was young I often plagiarized content to be turned in to my teachers, I would mash up other writers content with my own (very post modern) but I would come off and stifled and unauthentic, it was just bad writing. I’m sure all high school teachers can identify a plagiarized piece of writing. Good storytelling must come from true personal insight and that I why owning your insights is such a powerful lesson.

2.     Owning your emotions: This advice is so hard because oftentimes we are not self-aware enough to even know what we are feeling. On top of that our internal dialog might say things like I feel great, I’m so happy. But that comes off as terrible when put down on paper, how can I say I’m happy without say “I’m happy” that writer must dig deep within themselves to convey to the reader that happiness is being self without jus saying it like some fool.

3.     Finding the moment: A writer is always looking for find the moment in time, we do not care about all the moments the protagonist is going though, that’s why in movies we never see people sneezing and looking for tissue or using the bathroom. We know those things happen but what we are looking for is THE moment, we are looking for the moment of action, of change or realization.

4.     Seeing your Story: This is one of the most important ones for me because I’m a visual person, I can see my hero in my mind going through motions. But the truly great writers can not only see their hero but they can see their entire world they are living in and the can tell the reader what is happening in such detail that it was as if the story was unfolding right in front of them.

5.     Hearing your story: I feel very strongly about this one because I consume almost all my books in the audio format. A lot of people look down on me for not reading but to me story are an oral tradition, it’s getting closer to seed of the true story teller. How does it sound when read aloud, I feel that the true test of a good story. It must sound right rolling off the tongue.

6.     Assembling the story: This one is where the works happens the edits and endless reorganization of narrative. This is a time consuming step in the process and possibly the most important one because so many people have stories yet so few people have the patience to assemble their stories.

7.     Sharing the story: I think about this on a lot. Emily Dickenson wrote thousands of poems but in her lifetime she published less than a dozen. If her poems were never read does the mean her writing had any less meaning. She was dead when she truly became famous. The sharing of work is so important but at the same time to me the process of writing is just as important as the reading of the work. I think less than 10% of what I wrote for this class has been read but I still feel that I am getting so much out of this class.

Week 12: Story Critique School of Life “Resilience In Hard Times”

This has been a really hard couple days for me and probably most minorities living in this country. The digital story telling people at the School of life always put things into perspective. In this stop motion video created with Lego the School of Life tells the story of the human condition in a fun and earnest manner.

 

The theme of this story is that we are all suffering, that we feel rejection and pain on a daily basis. That is the human condition but that does not mean that we have no reason to wake up in the morning on the contrary the author makes the case that the pain we feel is proof that we have found something worth living for.

 

I’m suffering right now, I did not think that I would feel this terrible about a stupid presidential election but I cannot stop thinking about how rejected I feel as a minority by the White American majority. But this is not reason to leave the country on the contrary this is proof that I love this country and this country is worth fighting for. This digital story is a reminder that the sun will rise and we are all on the same boat just suffering though life trying to make sense of what it all means.

Week 12: Daily Create A Defining Moment? Trump 2016

I really don’t know what more can be said about this election that has not already been said. But I wanted to have a log of this defining moment for my son and myself. I will never for get Tuesday night November 8, 2016. It was the day America elected Donald Trump to the highest office in the country.

 

As a minority I’ve never felt so rejected by America, I guess to put it better. I realized at that moment that everything we minorities suspect is actually and unfortunately true. That we black and brown people are not welcome in this country by about half of the people who live here. I was speechless and stunned as I watched more and more states drop to Trump, Julie was out to dinner with her friends and I was alone for the first time with my son Wolf. It was terrible timing, I just sat there with him and watched the TV like zombie, I disbelief and sadness. They hate us they really hate us, White people do not want us here. I have no other home.

 

My family has been here since 1850 and I’m 5th generation American but I look like any other Asian dude (that’s a problem for White people). My father fought in Vietnam for this country, my grandmother lost her fiancé in the trenches of Germany for this country. He was part of the 442 an Army regiment comprised on Japanese American young men. This is the only country I know and I have always loved this country and would die for the freedoms its represents. On this day I have never felt less American. I feel like a foreigner in my own home.

 

I had friends who were jumped by white men telling them to “Go back to China!”. Do we have a home here under this administration, we are all scared. I know this is not the most well written piece but it is coming from a man without sleep and hope in a week that we all experienced a defining moment for us all.

Week 11: Scholarship Review The power of digital storytelling Emily Bailin

In this TED talk hosted in Youtube, Emily Bailin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Education & Communication program at Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City expounds upon the value of digital storytelling. She starts her talk discussing a project called “Where Are You From?”

 

This project was given to 5th graders and graduate students. They all started will a simple answer I’m from X city or town. But that was not the answer. The answer is much more profound, Bailin was pushing her students to discuss in great detail the environments that shaped her students. The story of “where you are from” in this assignment was more about slam poetry, she had he students write a poem about where they are from. From writing they moved on to spoken word and then from there they moved on to audio and video elements. Bailin believes that the digital nature of the of the poetry encouraged outside the box thinking and better learning and creative outcomes.

 

The addition of spoken word changed the written word to a more visceral experience the poetry is meant to be experienced. Going into their neighborhood and shooting video and the addition of music and sound to their poems also added new elements of engagement. I learned that poetry can be an even more powerful learning tool and experience if technology and video elements are added. 

Week 11: Digital Story Critique First Prize – My Iligan

This week I viewed a digital story by Michael Lagcao who won first prize in a digital story telling contest in the Philippines open to high school and college students. Lagcao tells the story of moving from the big city of Manila to a provincial town. The story is one familiar in a way clichéd; it’s the story that so many city dwellers romanticize, the story that you will find peace and meaning in a more simple life. He does not glamorize his life in the small village but rather gives and honest and stark portrayal of life in country side, describing and filming profound poverty and drug addiction.

 

This piece is important to me because for some reason I have been thinking about the plight of the Philippines a lot recently. I have many Pilipino friends and they post all sorts of crazy things on Facebook that is happening right now. People being arrested protests, drug users being murdered by police, and a strange fascination and love for their new despotic leader Rodrigo Duterte. This story is a reminder that there is life and beauty in the Philippines and people just trying to live their life like any other country in the world. But it is also a reminder that we here in the United States are so blessed to live in this bubble and most of us do not experience the suffering of deep poverty and economic copse. The end of his story is the story that so many poor people tell themselves that wealth should not be measured in material possessions but rather how one lives their lives. That is a nice thought but does little to further education, health care or freedom.

 

I really enjoyed his Lugcao’s story but I would not say that it should have won first place. It’s a little cheesy a the video editing was a little crude. The audio levels were a little high but more important than the technical issues is his message. I agree with what he said and it was so earnest that I felt real compassion for the author.

Week 11: Daily Create Write a Short Story About Animals (The Young Wolf)

Once upon a time there a lived a wolf family. They snuggled together in their warm cozy wolf den, mama wolf, daddy wolf and baby wolf. One autumn morning the family was awoken with a “Bang!” then cold silence then “Bang, Bang, Bang.”

 “Stay in the den.” Daddy wolf warned his family.

“Becareful my love” mama wolf replied.

Baby wolf just lay there trembling.

 

Daddy wolf had only one eye but was still a formidable wolf.  With his one eye he surveyed the woods and saw nothing for a long while, and then out of the mist emerged a lone figure like nothing daddy wolf had ever seen. It had long gangly arms swinging from side to side, pink furless skin, it stood upright and held a long shiny stick. It was the most hideous thing daddy wolf had ever witnessed. Daddy wolf crouched silently behind a gray log, as the monster approached closer to the den. White mist cloaked the beast’s face with every breath. Daddy wolf could no longer control his fear and leaped from his hiding place at the colossal creature. The beast lifted his stick, Bang! Bang! The thunder rattled his teeth and the hot sting and warm blood dripped down his rear leg. In shock and fright Daddy wolf ran and ran and until clasped next to a small creek waiting for the inevitable.

 

Back in the den mommy wolf and baby wolf huddled together shaking with terror. When mommy wolf heard the thunder and daddy wolf’s yelp she could not longer hide. She too emerged out of the den into the cool misty morning, it was not long before the beast spotted her from a distance, she could see the monster approaching the den, she knew she had but one chance to save baby wolf and ran through to a wooded grove attempting to lure the brute away. But he lifted his stick and with a clap of thunder she too disappeared in the fog.

 

Baby wolf lay in the den cool and dark when suddenly and fleshy hand reached for him and grabbed him by his neck. He yipped in pain and clawed and bit the air ferociously. The beast had him. But to Baby’s surprise his beast had a gentle touch and caressed his head softly and baby wolf calmed.

 

Over the next year baby wolf and the beast lived together in a warm sunny cabin. He would join his new master on daily hunts in the woods. Baby wolf grew to a great size and he felt safe with his new master, they would eat dried meats together and sleep in the same bed. Master and the young wolf quickly became best friends and they would adventure together along the mountain ridges and game trails.

 

By the following winter the young wolf was full grown and stood half a man tall. He would accompany his master to town to collect goods at the market where children would stop to pet him. The young wolf enjoyed the town’s folk for they gave him many treats and scratches behind the ears.

 

The following autumn the young wolf now 2 years old joined his master on an elk hunt in the woods north of the cabin in the darkest part of the forest that trailed a small creek. They had crested a minor ridge when suddenly out of the darkness emerged a great beast bearing its teeth. The young wolf leaped him front of his master instinctively, snarled back and bristled. The monster leaped at his master and the young wolf intercepted the creature in mid-flight knocking it to the earth with a dull thud, hissing and snarling they tangled in a storm of tooth and claw. The master could not get a clear shot and feared shooting his best friend so he could only stand there watching. The young wolf growled and snapped as fur and blood flew. With a decisive bite he crushed the throat of the beast as the blood ran into his mouth. The beast let out a final gasp of life as the young wolf held his crushing bite.

 

The young wolf released the massive creature only when his master approached and commanded he free his quarry. The master cocked his rifle and shot the beast twice to ensure that the monster was indeed dead. The young wolf examined the beast and noticed that it was missing an eye.

 

Master slumped on a stone next to the young wolf patted his head gently and said wearily. “Good Dog.”

 

The End

Week 10: Self Reflection of Learning

I continue to enjoy this class and was happy that we took the time to do the midterm gallery walk though. It really gave me the opportunity to write about other students work in more depth. Like I say every time the self reflection comes up I really feel like the consistent practice of writing is making me a better writer. 

So often we lack the time or incentive to sit down and think and then put those thoughts onto paper of screen in most cases. Writing has evolved in the workplace to email writing which in the UC system doesn’t even have to address the person, the email sometimes just comes up as a bulleted list or starts mid-sentence. It’s very odd that writing has changed into such a informal practice and style has taken a serous backseat to pragmatism. I sometimes look as old civil war era letters or just letters that I got from my grandmother and they were so different. People would take hours to write a letter and think about what they were going to say and then put the pen to paper and think about their penmanship. Today I just shoot off half intelligible text messages to friends that have the poo emoji as often as I use adjectives.

So in a way this class has been therapy for me to get closer to what my writing can be and should be if I just put a little thought into it. So my big take way is that I need to slow down and write but at the same time write in high volumes to get better.

I’m heading back to work next week after a month long paternity leave. I thought this month I would fall behind in my school work but I always found a couple of days a week where I could leave home and head to the UCLA library where I feel I can focus on my writing in a very quiet and aggressively intellectual environment. I wonder how I will be able to keep up with the writing when I have to work 40 hours a week and take care of my newborn. It is a struggle that most parents feel at some point. I mean being stretched thin in time and money is one of the clichés of parenthood I just hope that I don't start resenting my wife and the people around me for circumstances that I 100% signed up for when we decided to have this baby.

 

Week 10: Visual Assignment Civil War Baby

Hi Class,

Here is my submission of a Civil War era photo. I used photoshop to make this picture aged. The photo turned out pretty good but my main issue is the patterns of the baby's bed. They are just too modern, I should have used a old towel to lay him on but he was too comfortable and i did not want to move him. This assignment made me think about all the old photos and now people seemed so much more serious back then but then I remember the exposure time was like 10 seconds so it would have been really hard to hold a smile and not move for that long. it also got me thinking about all the photos that I have of my son, they will never degrade like the civil war photos, they are made of pixels on a digital format they will never age they way civil war photos do. I wonder if that means his children will see much more modern looking photos of their parents than I have.

Week 10 Digital Story Critique: Toby Morris Comic on Privilege

I first saw Morris’ comic on privilege on Imgur.com an image sharing site. Imgur is a sub community of Reddit meaning a majority of the users are White college aged men. The community of Imgur has been changing over the years and it has helped me keep a pulse on the collective consciousness of millenials. Since turning 30 and getting married I find myself more and more distant from what young people are thinking about. It's been a very easy transition out of the young world and into a more adult or routine based existence. The highs are not as high and the lows are not as low. I can see why over time most people choose to settle down and in a way give in to their age. But I digress; the point of this story is about how these young people are thinking about their own lives. I have seen the Imgur community change from a more opened minded and progressive community to one of greater division especially with the up coming presidential election.

Like I said earlier the Imgur community is mainly young White men who are in college or recently graduated with debt. In the past year or so I’ve noticed then become more hateful and aggressive toward women and feminist rhetoric. They have stopped supporting African Americans and have begun to vilify them saying things like, “Wow, look a group of black men breaking the law.” And that comment is getting hundreds of up-votes. I still follow Imgur since I’ve been a part of the community for almost 8 years. But the culture is changing and I believe it’s not just those young angry men but also an entire swath of America who feel they are being left behind.

But Imgur still provides some deep insight into what people are thinking. The comic Privilege on a Plate by Toby Morris so succinctly sums up privilege in a clear and understandable way. It’s something all people born without of feel instinctively, they know deep inside that the game was not fair from the onset. I will admit that I was born into privilege but it was not until college that I realized how privileged I really was growing up. UC San Diego was the fist time I went to a public school and my of my friends there grew up in much harder conditions than myself. They overcame the odds and got good grades and ended up at UCSD, I on the otherhand was pretty much handed everything but I came to acknowledge that fact. The comic argues that not only is life so unfair but the most dangerous part of privilege is last frame of the comic where Richard says the key to his success is, “Less whining, more hard work I say. I’m sick of people asking for handouts. No one every handed me anything on a plate.” Richard and people like him truly believe that they did this on their own. It seems the more successful you become the more you believe that you earned it and are less likely to be generous and support policy that help the poor.

This digital story is important because if sums up so beautifully and major division in our society. As the rich become richer they are more likely to see the unfortunate as those who were not given a good opportunity but rather people who deserve to be poor for lack of effort.

Week 10 Response to Course Reading: Joe Lambert

The excerpt “A Road Traveled” follows Lambert from his youth in Texas through his live on the road as a digital storyteller and leader in the new story telling community. His story reminded me a little of Jack Kerouac’s novel “On The Road” except Lambert had much more vision. The carefree nature and opened mindedness of Lambert was so refreshing, his honest portrayal of his difficulties and successes drew me into his story.

He talks a lot about his political beliefs and he is definitely a progressive character, he does not hide that fact from his criticism of Texas Culture to his dismay of George Bush 2 being elected president in 2001. I feel like his up brining with his beatnik parents and his exposure of leftist radicals and folk singers impacted his life view of authorship and digital storytelling. The thesis of this piece is believe can be summed up by this quote in his writing:  

Digital storytelling is rooted fundamentally in the notion of the democratized culture that was the hallmark of folk music, reclaimed folk culture and cultural activist traditions of the 1960s. Women and people of color began writing with citizen-centered authorship.

Growing up in the 60s be tool that progressive attitude with him throughout his life and ended up in on of the most progressive enclaves in the country the San Francisco Bay Area and UC Berkeley. He was like the Johnny Apple Seed of digital story telling Lambert had a profound believe that permeated through all aspects of his life including job, ethos, music, politics and storytelling and all people should have a voice and often time be most worthy voices and those that are unfiltered and human based not academically based.

I loved that in the end he felt that he had exhausted his ablity to impact the medium within the academic setting and moved to more community outreach and began work with domestic violence and veteran storytelling. Lambert is a true pioneer of the digital storytelling format but the very idea digital stories and ever changing and evolving nature of the medium have overtaken his influence. I’m glad that I was given the opportunity to learn about Lambert and his influence in this field. His life story is one that I too aspire to live; he lived with a vision and brought that vision to life through much hardship and sacrifice.