The first week of my first time ever “real world” job has been intense. Apparently the few weeks before students arrive are the busiest of the year for faculty and staff. As a student, I just assumed everything on campus started when I did.
Stress aside, I have had some great conversations this week. One was with David Lawrence, Director of the Speaking Center, and Maggie Greaves, last year’s Writing Center Coordinator, about the intersections between writing, speaking, and visual communication. While it wasn’t intended that I would fill both the Writing Center Coordinator position and the Digital Design Fellowship (in a perfect world, each would be its own full-time position) there are a lot of overlaps (or should I say connections?) in philosophies. I get really excited about these connections, so I’ll probably point them out a lot.
Connection of the day: Blank slides are like blank space is like paragraph and chapter breaks.
While sitting around waiting for the new faculty to arrive for orientation, committed and passionate workers that we are, DL, Maggie, and I started chatting about work. I told DL that the idea of using blank slides in a PowerPoint blew my mind when I was a student. (The Speaking Center teaches that when you aren’t talking about what’s on your PowerPoint slide, you should have a blank one so that your audience pays attention to what you’re saying, instead of what they’re seeing.) DL explained that not a lot of people think about organizing their visuals, or their presentations for that matter. He uses an exercise comparing writing to speaking to explain how important it is to organize your presentations. He projects a run-on sentence that doesn’t have any punctuation and asks students how much sense it makes. Using this example in writing helps people understand the need for pauses and organization in speaking. This makes sense for visual communication, too. Blank space (areas with no images, text, or other activity) in a design directs the viewer’s attention to what’s important, and helps her to not feel overwhelmed. Maggie added that in writing, paragraph and chapter breaks also serve the same purpose: helping the reader pause and digest material before the writer moves on.
In another conversation with Emily Gwynn (Manager of Educational Technology and my supervisor), the idea of a class e-portfolio came up. We’ve had a tough time trying to explain an individual’s e-portfolio, so a class e-portfolio is a whole new challenge. Tina Pippin, Professor of Religious Studies, has agreed to try one out. I have a meeting scheduled with her next week to discuss.
My thoughts pre-meeting: if an individual’s e-portfolio is a student’s reflection on her unique learning process, what would the purpose of a class e-portfolio be? Maybe instead of being a resource for the student taking the class, the class e-portfolio can be a resource for professors, parents, and students who haven’t taken the class.
I’m not sure where to go from here, but I’m sure some collaborative brainstorming will help.
Besides having great conversations, I’m also getting some serious face time with my laptop as I begin making my own e-portfolio. I made one for my ART 160 class first year, but I wasn’t motivated to change it after that. (Hence the creation of my job—to be a resource for students so that doesn’t happen so often!) Marcia of Lampe-Farley Communications (where I interned last semester and this summer) gave me some helpful advice on how to get started with organizing all of my content. It seems like the following four steps will be great for students/recent grads like me with a lot of content to organize.
- Make a Word document with all of the text you want to present. One Word page should correspond with one page on your website. (If you exceed this, figure out a way to reduce your text or reorganize it so that it can flow to different pages.) Finalize your content here so that all you have to do is copy and paste it into Dreamweaver when you get to Step 4. Remember not to use fancy fonts or formats because these will not translate directly to Dreamweaver.
- Make a flow chart so you can see how all of your pages will connect (Calvin Burgamy, Instructional Technologist and pro office golfer, suggested a Mac application, MindNode, for this.)
- Design your homepage and some interior pages in Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign.
- Use the document you made in Step 3 as a guide for building up your webpage in Dreamweaver. Copy and paste your text directly from your finalized Word doc. and adjust styles as needed.
This four-step process seems pretty time intensive, but it would be impossible for me to try and write my content, design my look, and organize my links all at once. I’m going to try and be careful and clear as I follow these steps so that other students can see my documents as examples.
I’ll keep you updated on my process as I go, and I’ll certainly let everyone know when I’ve launched my new and improved e-portfolio!