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From Edutopia: “Do Your Students Read Critically?”

by | Posted June 7th, 2013

Ben Johnson, a high school principal and contributor to Edutopia, asks, “How do you tell if someone is reading a book critically?” Johnson identifies marginalia as evidence of critical reading – dog-ears, written notes, tabs, post-its, etc. These are moments when students are having conversations with the text, the author, their instructor, peers, and even themselves. Johnson writes, “As educators, the best thing we can do is to help students develop the skills for critical reading and establish critical reading as a “habit of mind.”” And with critical reading comes the critical thinking we aim to encourage in our writing students.

Source: Edutopia

From Mind/Shift: “Higher Ed Trends: MOOCs, Tablets, Gamification, and Wearable Tech”

by | Posted June 6th, 2013

In this post on Mind/Shift, Katrina Schwartz highlights the findings of a report from the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. The higher ed trends identified in the report focuses on MOOCs as a significant transformation in college education. Even WRAC has been exploring MOOCs in our recent webinar series. The report also notes that students’ “digital footprint” is an important guide for the future of higher ed. Read the post over on Mind/Shift to see what the report has to say about tablets, games, 3D printing, DIY culture, and wearable tech.

Webcomics in the Writing Classroom

by | Posted June 5th, 2013

Ayun Halliday over at Open Culture recently wrote about “The Rise of Webcomics,” featuring the PBS Off Book series of the same name. While Halliday is a fierce “paper loyalist” and comic lover, she’s started to notice that some of her favorite paper-based comics actually got their start on the internet.

The PBS Off Book video is worth the watch. At just over 7 minutes it offers a short history of the webcomic genre and its place alongside Marvel/DC superhero comics, newspaper comic strips, and zines (yay!). The video interviewees note that there’s no gatekeeper in publishing webcomics – no editor, no deadline. As such, the path from creator to audience is more direct and more intimate. For example, Sam Brown, the Exploding Dog creator, uses direct audience suggestions to create his comics. They email him, he creates a comic from that idea.

Also with webcomics, there’s no limit to what a “page” can be. With comic books and graphic novels, artists are limited by the size of the typical page; and with newspaper comics, a certain number of panels. But with webcomics, pages can scroll seemingly forever or contain just a brief image or word, or even contain animations or engage the audience to click to move the story forward. Homestuck, a webcomic by Andrew Hussie, is an example of this with well over 6000 pages so far.

What I especially love about the popularity of webcomics is the potential they create for writing assignments, large and small. And not being able to draw is not a good excuse for not assigning webcomics as text and genre because as MSU DRPW alum Franny Howes* argues, “Not making comics because you think you can’t draw is like not writing because you think you can’t spell.” With this in mind the webcomic is a valid genre for our writing classrooms.

*Be sure to check out Franny’s webcomic, Oh Shit, I’m in Grad School.

From Open Culture: Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla Epic Rap Battle

by | Posted June 2nd, 2013

Who is the ultimate “Electric Genius” or science nerd? Was it Thomas Edison or his rival Nikola Tesla? Epic Rap Battles of History created a video that pitted the two inventors against each other. Previous Epic Rap Battles of History featured Ghandi vs. Martin Luther King, Jr, Mozart vs. Skrillex, and even Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates. Even if you’re impartial to either inventors, the video is worth the watch.

Source: Open Culture

From My Modern Met: 3D Book Sculptures Convey Artist’s Emotion

by | Posted June 1st, 2013

A graphic designer from the UK, Thomas Wightman, has created a series of sculptures created from pages in a book to depict the feelings of people suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, or OCD. My Modern Met wrote an article about his three pieces and why he chose to use a book as his medium and what it symbolizes in terms of relating to someone with OCD. Each sculpture shows a different emotion associated with obsessive compulsive disorder.

“Plagued by Doubt features a swarm of typography insects, eating away at the book just as OCD can eat away at a person who does not seek treatment.”

The Future of Storytelling Across Media Boundaries

by | Posted May 30th, 2013

On May 29 and 30, a variety of professionals from all around the world are meeting for the second annual StoryDrive China conference in Beijing. Hosted by the Frankfurt Academy of Arts (who host the Frankfurt International Book Fair each year), StoryDrive China “is the first all-media platform in Asia dedicated to exploring new forms of collaboration and business models across media boundaries.”

Matt Costello, a multimedia author who has worked across a variety of media fields including writing and scripting and designing best-selling video games (Doom 3, Pirates of the Caribbean, Rage), is one of this year’s speakers at StoryDrive. He recently interviewed with Publishing Perspectives where they discussed the event and the future of storytelling as a whole.

The motto of StoryDrive China is “Tell your story differently.” Costello believes a good story, at its core, “should exist on all relevant media, each bringing its own facet of the story and the characters.” How the story and characters are conveyed is how the audience or user or reader will experience it. He thinks the film and TV industry will start to embrace the second screen in years to come and many companies are incorporating different technologies to make a “storytelling” experience better for the user. Overall, the way professionals and artists from various industries tell stories are changing how we see and interact with the world and the vision they have for storytelling.