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Agnes Reads Response for Fall 2012

From the desk of Susan Dougherty, Manager of Faculty Services:

[Follow this link to the website: http://www.MyJourneywithHenrietta.info 
Also, here is the Agnes Reads Blog link.]

Ashley Cloud has created a beautiful and moving tribute to the places in the book. She’s produced a photographic essay and web journal from visiting all of the places mentioned in the book. Her photographs are stunning, and her journal of the adventures on the road is well worth your time. I’ve posted it on our Agnes Reads Facebook page, but I wanted to call your attention to it! I’ve pasted below her abstract and the link to her website. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
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My name is Ashley Cloud, and my project is part photographic essay, journal entry, and website. For my project I travelled to the places with significance in Henrietta’s life including Lacks Town Cemetery, Clover, South Boston, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Sparrows Point, Turner Station, and Crownsville State Hospital for the Negro Insane.
I had no idea while reading this book that I would ever have the chance to experience the life of Henrietta Lacks in such a personal way, so I hope my story helps inspire those who did not have the same opportunity. My process for starting my project started by researching, then ideas started forming, and the next thing I knew I was climbing through the woods and walking inside the Home House! My main goal for this project was to capture in pictures significant life events and places in Henrietta’s life. At the beginning, I had no idea how much I would learn from this journey and how it would open my eyes. In the end, my experience and emotions throughout the journey will be a memory I’ll never forget! I met incredible people along the way, and learned so much about the way life was for Henrietta and her family. I am so thankful to have been able to have this experience!

The first portion of the project is in the form of a website that plays a slideshow of the pictures from my journey. The website also contains my detailed journal entries sharing my experiences and people I met along the way. To supplement my journals, I included detailed maps, an About Me section, and Behind the Scenes pictures to complete the documentation of my journey with Henrietta. A slideshow of images with captions can be found under the Places heading on the website as well.
I hope you enjoy reading through my journals and looking at my pictures! It’s felt like such a long journey since I began planning this project, and I am so glad to finally be able to share My Journey with Henrietta with anyone who is interested!

Follow this link to the website: http://www.MyJourneywithHenrietta.info 

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Event recap and audio recording …

First of all, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the Defining Our Digital Identity […] event! Seems like we all learned a lot from the discussion, and my colleagues from the Educational Technology Center were generous enough to record the event (I misspoke earlier — it was to be a voice recording, not video). It’s a pretty massive thing — just shy of 55 minutes — but hopefully all interested parties will be able to listen to it in its entirety! As things go, I’ve been experiencing some uploading snafus with the file, so it’s shared on Mediafire for your listening and downloading pleasure. The things I do for my fans …

So, vanities aside, what were some highlights from the discussion?

  • Identifying the “key players” of social media and how we use them;
  • Managing your personal brand — at this point, is there really a distinction between your personal and professional profiles?;
  • Appearing personable and professional — not necessarily mutually exclusive on social networks;
  • Should you add your boss as a Facebook friend?;
  • Googling yourself: it’s not as narcissistic as it sounds, and how much control you have over those search results;
  • Monitoring your digital content, particularly in regards to microblogging platforms (who can see your Tumblr and Twitter content, for example, and the possible implications of that);
  • The community-building (and, possibly, breaking) aspects of having an online life;
  • Location-based apps like Foursquare: yay or nay?

There’s a lot of good stuff to be mined from our talk! I encourage you to listen to at least part of our discussion, and wish there were more time in the academic year to hold another one.

(Partially unrelated, but listening to this audio recording made me realize how quickly I speak! My Southern grandmother would not be pleased.)

http://www.mediafire.com/?cwbane6l2ua87ed

Upcoming event: Designing Our Digital Identity, 4/7

Ohh, springtime. A time when a young [person]’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love, the trees are a-bloom, and there seems to be a new event every day at Agnes Scott.* This particular roundtable discussion event is one that’s been in the idea pipeline for me and my good friend and Writing Center Coordinator Neil Simpkins (’10) for some time, and we’ll be joined by the Interactive Communications Fellow, Kimberly Brewer (’10). Becoming a “responsible citizen of the Internet” is, admittedly, a broad topic to cover in an hour. So we split guiding topics of discussion amongst the three of us, in the hopes that a roundtable discussion will make for a worthwhile collaborative experience!

So, on my end: I’ll bring up a discussion topic about blogging and ePortfolios — namely, how to present yourself in the best possible light. As social networks have proven a force not only in job searches, but talent recruitment by potential employers, it’s important to put your best foot forward in terms of your online presence. Your well-designed, thoughtfully crafted ePortfolio could rise to the top of the Google search under your name, and has the ability to give you an advantage in a tough job market! On the other hand, the second search result might be that LiveJournal you forgot to delete from when you were 14 and angsty … which may not be the face you want to show off to HR for a position you’d applied for.

The underlying theme here is digital responsibility.

Key players of social media are constantly rotating (think MySpace to Facebook), and you want to make sure you’re on top of the digital dialogue you’ve produced. What is considered positive content? How can you contribute to productive discussion and content with social and digital networks? What are some “best practices” for blogging and building ePortfolios?

My fellow (heh) discussion leaders will be tackling issues of general social media Netiquette (think standbys like Facebook, Twitter, and others), building your online “brand,” and the significance of what (and how) you post. We’ll also talk about the impact and possible repercussions of certain digital content — and give some real life examples of the heavier implications of sharing.

The event is open to the community at large, and will be held in the Alston Student Center from 1-2 PM, so feel free to bring your lunch! The event will also be filmed by my lovely colleagues from the Educational Technology Center — so if you’re unable to attend, I’ll be posting that video on this site afterward.

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.

*Tennyson, Alfred Lord. “Locksley Hall.” Representative Poetry Online. University of Toronto Libraries. 6 April 2011. <http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/2161.html>.

Imagining the e-Portfolio: Institutional Differences.

As I’d mentioned before,the 30th Annual Conference on the First Year Experience was my first big-girl academic gathering, and I was a little nervous. After finally securing my registration packet (which included a fancy tote bag, which I’m sure will come in handy for … something, eventually), and attending a few presentations on Sunday and Monday, I felt a little more at ease with the idea of speaking in front of people with my group. On Tuesday morning, our “Uncommon Ideas for Common Reading Programs” presentation went really, really well. We were structured as a sort of “roundtable discussion,” in order for other FYE Conference participants to chime in with their own program ideas, successes and non-successes, and I was glad to get a few specific questions about using technology and social media as a means for students to engage with the common reading program already in place at Agnes Scott. Altogether, I feel our presentation turned out to be exactly the sort of positive, collaborative experience my group aimed for. Plus, we were able to get the word out about Agnes Scott even more, which is a topic I’m going to explore eventually in a post on my other site (i.e., why does Agnes Scott seem to carry such little name recognition for as dynamic of an institution as it is).

imagining the possibilities for my new tote bag

So, attending the conference and other presentations. I am terribly grateful to the College , and my department, for funding my conference fees — they’re certainly steep, and I learned a lot by both presenting at and attending. One of the presentations I sat in on, “e-Portfolios and the First Year Experience,” attempted to explain the process of motivating and sustaining e-Portfolio development for students just entering college. This is right up my alley, as it’s one of the main challenges I face in my job. It’s one thing to promote the marketability and intellectual growth factor of creating e-Portfolios to upperclasswomen, and an entirely different can of beans to do so to first years who are dealing with a number of college issues, to say the least declaring (and sticking with) a major. That issue (namely, and for the sake of brevity, “assessment”) seems to be a constant one for institutions, and there is no single solution. While it may not have been the presenters’ goal (in fact, I’m nearly entirely positive it wasn’t), what I got out of their presentation is that last point: e-Portfolio initiatives, on a campus-wide level, are absolutely contingent on the institution and its particular goals.

So while I sat through this presentation (and took notes, obv), and was shown several “example e-Portfolios” which were, quite frankly, indistinguishable from one another, all I could think was that this type of approach would not be successful at Agnes Scott, nor could I imagine it being as much for any liberal arts college. Which is fine, because the presenting institution is not a liberal arts college, and it was clear their e-Portfolio goals were much different than ours. Primarily, that a student would initiate his or her e-Portfolio experience by building a basic website using Google Sites, and uploading various relevant documents, such as a couple of academic papers and a résumé. This is all fine and good from a pre-professional standpoint, if that’s all you want to do with your e-Portfolio. But it doesn’t give a whole lot of insight into the person behind the website. Now, Google Sites does allow for a blog-like function, but if there is no institutional push behind dynamic personal/intellectual growth (as would be evidenced, at least in theory, through promotion of the blog component), no student is really going to care about cultivating his or her e-Portfolio.

Agnes Scott has changed the way in which it encourages students to create and maintain e-Portfolios, and in my ever-demanded opinion, that’s for the better (and I’m not just saying that because it’s my job). e-Portfolios are relatively new ground to cover in terms of higher education, and as these things go, the technology for creating them has become increasingly sophisticated and user-friendly. The point is, of course, that not only are students able to showcase their work and intellect over the course of four years, but they have externally accessible (and easy-to-use) means by which to reflect on that work. So our students are creating sites that aren’t just a headshot, CV, and random papers or projects, they are creating dynamic, virtual representations of themselves that reflect the individual behind the block of text. Which, if you’ve managed to get this far and have also read my three-part series on Why the Liberal Arts Are Important, is a great way for a student to put her liberal arts education to work.

The main idea being: not all e-Portfolios are created equal, because then, what would be the point of making one at all?

And on that note, not all institutional e-Portfolio campaigns are equal, either.

Happy Thursday!

Live, from the DDF Bat Cave …

It’s mid-January, and that means Agnes Scott is gearing up to begin the Spring semester (also, that my 23rd birthday was yesterday). Mid-January also marks the 7-month mark of my tenure as Digital Design Fellow, a date I feel merits some celebration. It’s been a wild, wacky, and most importantly, informative seven months, and I’m looking forward to making more digital media fun in the new year. I’ve got lots of plans for 2011! I’d like to share my most exciting one with you, and top off this post with what I hope you’ll find to be an inspiring challenge! Continue reading

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