Friday, February 20, 2009

Week 3: Asking Questions, Listening, Finding Stories

This week we are beginning to uncover stories as we think about moving beyond simply capturing an event on audio or video.

If you missed class last week, please take some time to listen to the rough cut audio recording of our video Skype conversation with Esra'a al Shafei.

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Business & Reminders:
  • Bootcamp Level 1 Training
  • Ning! Be sure to read my blog updates; Vision images coming through
  • Next Friday, February 27, we will not be meeting. We agreed to push back our meetings for an additional week so that some of us could attend the Advising retreat.
  • Take a look at this image
  • Take 1 minute to look carefully. What might be the story here?
  • Now let's listen to this NPR piece from today to learn more
  • Pay particular attention to the questions the interviewer asks
  • What makes for memorable interviews? Bad?
Our guest: Esra'a Al Shafei
  • Take 5 minutes with a group of 3 or 4 to brainstorm questions we might ask Esra'a
  • After 5 minutes, use the Live Question Tool to post your team's questions, paying close attention to those that have already been posted, promoting excellent questions with your team's vote. I will share the link to our questions with Esra'a so that she can respond.
Bio: Esra’a Al Shafei
Esra'a Al Shafei is the founder and Executive Director of, an award-winning, independent, interfaith network whose mission is to inspire and provide young people with the freedom and opportunity of expression, and promote a fierce but respectful dialogue among the highly diverse youth of all sects, socio-economic backgrounds, and political and religious beliefs in the Middle East. They use this freedom to prove that the collaboration necessary for stability is possible. Their online advocacy bridges seemingly impenetrable barriers of faith, geography and censorship to unite young people committed to fostering constructive discourse in the Middle East. Esra’a is also the founder and project director of a series of international activist campaigns for the rights of women, religious and ethnic minorities, and for freedom of expression, including the widely acclaimed, The Muslim Network for Baha’i Rights, The Alliance for Kurdish Rights, Migrant Rights, NoHonor (in honor killings), and Sexual Terrorism (to fight human trafficking and sexual slavery in the region). She is the recipient of the 2008 Berkman Award from Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society for "outstanding contributions to the Internet’s impact on society over the past decade”. She also received the 2007 Templeton Freedom Award for Best New Intellectual Entrepreneur. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Monitor, The National, and other leading publications. Most recently, her live podcasts and blogs from Gaza during the Israeli incursions were featured on CNN International. She is 22 years old and is based in Bahrain.

“Activism 3.0”

In this presentation, Esra'a will take us on a tour of her cyber community, and discuss the challenges of activism in the closed-off countries of the Middle East, where speech and information are tightly controlled; how she and her colleagues maintain a fierce but respectful dialogue among members of diverse and often warring factions; and what the Internet can bring to the many religious and ethnic minorities in the region. She'll share how she and her team of cyber-activists are tackling the region's widespread human rights issues with Twitters and tweets, bytes, blogs and bleeps!

Contribution Options for the Ning this week (choose 1)
  • Write a reaction and engage in a Ning! forum discussion about our talk with Esra'a
  • Attend Esra'a's talk on Activism 3.0 on Tuesday evening 3/24, and write a reaction in a forum or your Ning! blog
  • Check-in to be sure you are on schedule to produce your first podcast
  • Begin getting your ideas out for your produced podcast episode for Global Voices series; use the Ning! to start organizing and forming groups

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Bootcamp Level 1 begins

Ryan Gonzalez, Digital Media Commons graduate assistant, kicked off our Digital Media for Change Bootcamp series today with a group of workshop participants.

They will be introduced to Garageband basics, and simulate the production of a podcast using raw materials from an October 2008 Hayward Family Foundation Environmental Speaker series talk given by Dr. John Isham from Middlebury College who spoke about Carbon Offsets. To listen to the actual podcast from that event, visit the Monterey Institute iTunes U site.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Week 2: Freedoms, Vision, and Purple Cowness

It's midday Sunday and there's a little time to write. The kids are playing peacefully and it's raining as a southerly storm is blowing in. We had our second dm4change session last Friday. I felt challenged to maintain or maybe sustain the level of energy I experienced from our first session. The overall goal for this session was to bring to the fore a conversation about connecting with our work with a larger vision.

The night before class I spent a couple of hours reading and listening and following hyperlinks about Esra'a Al Shafei's work with Esra'a will be coming to Monterey and speaking about "Activism 3.0" on Tuesday, February 24th at Irvine Auditorium here on campus. I've arranged to have her Skype into our third session on Friday, February 20th for a conversation with us. I haven't met Esra'a but this workshop has allowed me to look differently at what people are doing and creating with new web tools. Often despite my own trumpeting for the world of possibility afforded by these tools, I still fail to find meaning or relevance for myself. Why should I blog, make videos, or twitter? What do I have to offer? Who is listening? Is it a waste of time? Like the participants in this workshop I'm exploring these questions for myself. No doubt that this is one reason the "change" in dm4change was purposely left undefined. What change? Who's changing who? How? Where? Why? I often suggest that digital and social media offer new possibilities for people to connect, to collaborate, and to communicate outside of the otherwise ordinary limits of time and space. I've heard uplifting stories, but I still have some reservations. Are we better off with these tools or are they a distraction? Do we have a responsibility to put these tools to a better use?

Down the Rabbit Hole
Originally uploaded by alister
I'm looking forward to the questions that are generated by the group. We're experimenting with the Live Question tool to aggregate and promote excellent questions for our talk with Esra'a. I learned about the LQT at the 2009 Educause Learning Initiative conference in January during a terrific presentation by Cole Camplese, Alan Levine, and Jim Groom. I've asked our workshop participants to go down the rabbit hole to learn as much as possible about Esra'a, with a particular mind towards exploring the impact of individual voices amplified by the use of digital media. There are rewards to late night web-searching. Mine was a link to a Reuters article about a music school in Iraq; this quote by young musician, Haneen Imad,
"When I play my oud, I defy violence in society... When I hear the sound of a helicopter droning over my head, I play louder;"
and by the story of Acrassicauda, a heavy metal band from Iraq. I was reminded of a documentary I saw by one of my favorite musicians, Michael Franti, titled I Know I'm not Alone.

Tip of the hat to PenPen Blog for help with embedding a video with a timestamp start!

So, my time reading about Esra'a got me thinking about freedoms that I take for granted. I feel fortunate to have access to the Internet, to cameras, to music. I feel fortunate to have connectivity when I need it. And I asked myself how I could raise this in our Friday session. It occurred to me that I could take this away from the group. We would simulate a lack of 21st century connectivity. Maybe we would awaken ourselves to something new. I had my doubts, but decided to give it a try.

We began the session with another mini-slideshow:
After everyone was settled in, the majority with laptops plugged in and open, very much like the group seen in the first slide, I asked everyone to stand up, remove their shoes, unplug their laptops, take out their cell phones, and bring them all up to the front of the room. We were going to remove our digital tethers for a little while and see how it felt. The forty pairs of shoes, the pile of cellphones, and the stacks of laptops were a sight to see. After a brief think-pair-share, reactions varied from:
"silly and naked," to "grounded,"
"re-c0nnected," to "appreciative."
With our shoes still off we watched a video mashup from that offers an alternative vision for Iran. There's striking contrast here between the video images and the audio track. Familiar voices from the past over images from recent events.

Why is vision important? As Lynn emphasized, it's so much more about the awesomeness of your 'gut,' and so much less about the tools. If we cannot express our core selves clearly, then we need to step back and re-evaluate. If we're looking to build the frameworks of possibility for the change(s) we want to see in the world, our tools should help us to amplify what we feel and know in our gut. Benjamin and Rosamund Stone Zander offer a set of criteria for visioning in their book, The Art of Possibility. A vision:
  • articulates a possibility
  • fulfills a desire fundamental to humankind, a desire with which any human being can resonate.
  • makes no reference to morality or ethics, it is not about a right way of doing things.
  • is stated as a picture for all time, using no numbers measures, or comparatives. It contains no specific of time, place, audience, or product.
  • is free-standing... [and] gives over its bounty now.
  • is a long line of possibility radiating outward. It invites infinite expression, development, and proliferation within it's definitional framework.
  • [expressed,] transforms the speaker. For that moment the 'real world' becomes a universe of possibility and the barriers to the realization of the vision disappear. (p.169-170)
During our session, we took some time to sketch out personal visions for the class and to express ourselves. Each participant will create a visual representation of their vision by selecting a single Flickr image and adding it to our photo pool on the DM4change Ning. Use of Creative Commons licensed material will be expected, and good practice for copyright considerations. I took a stab at this the other night and came up with:
I am shaping and contributing to an elegantly connected, intelligent, and creative community of learners and agents of change.
With our shoes back on, laptops and cell phones back in our hands, we moved on to view Seth Godin's Ted Talk from 2003 titled "Sliced Bread and other Marketing Delights."

I chose this video because of his discussion of innovation. Although his content focus is in marketing, aren't there some generalizations we can make about being remark-able, about diffusing ideas? What does a purple cow have to do with the realization of our individual and collective vision(s)? Could 'being the change,' equate to seeing, creating or being the purple cow? I don't have answers to these questions, but I suspect, as Godin suggests that there is a learning process, there is trial and error, and ultimately breakthrough ideas in the pursuit of innovation. To paraphrase a line from his talk, it very well may be that it is risky to sit back and play it safe these days. We need to continue to adapt and to look to the horizons for future trends, but we also need to be sure that we always honor and respect our gut, our purpose, and our vision.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Booya! Give me 60!

As mentioned last week, we'll be using our Friday time together to inspire one another, to organize, and to plan.

Boot Camp
It will be your responsibility to know your weapons of mass communication. To earn your rank with clearance to podcast, RSVP to one of the 60 minute Podcast Bootcamp Level 1 training sessions. We recommend that you sign up with a friend from class. Ideally, the first deliverable will work best if you pair up. You can do this on your own, but if you are nervous or not feeling the confidence, by all means collaborate! We're limiting seats to 15, if you cannot make one of these times, please send a message to Jeremy Robinson. (We initially were running this in a Doodle poll, but the Ning Event manager should work better; nod to Kristen Byers.)

Preparation for Session 2
We're going to talk about the world of podcasting this Friday and start organizing ourselves. To be best prepared for this session, search and listen/watch some interesting podcasts (audio or video).

What is a podcast?

How to find podcasts?
  1. As noted in the workshop overview, you really must have iTunes on your computer. Here are some tips on finding podcasts in the iTunes Store.
  2. Browse Podcast Alley or for top podcasts.
  3. Google it. Try the search terms [insert your interest] + podcast
As you listen to your podcasts, consider how it was produced. Here are some initial criteria you might note:
  • intended audience
  • length
  • style
  • formality
  • structure (e.g. intro, body, conclusion?)
  • editing / production
  • quality of audio, video
  • content relevance
  • subscribe worthy (would you come back for another episiode? Why?)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Week 1: Intersections & Opportunity

MW 580 Digital Media for Change met for the first time on Friday, February 6 in B104 here on campus at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

We are a force to be reckoned with! We are fantastic group of students and faculty from across our academic programs. We represent the intersection of our community bringing diverse experience and backgrounds investigating: international policy studies, public administration, environmental policy, trade policy, business administration, English for academic and professional purposes, translation and interpretation, teaching English to speakers of other languages, and teaching foreign languages.

During our first session we conducted a simple ice-breaking activity. The task was to find the other half of a quote. The goal was to get everyone talking and mixing. Though the room leaves little space for real movement, everyone was up and rubbing elbows in search of their partners. After about 15 minutes, we read aloud to the rest of the group:

An invasion of armies can be resisted... but not an idea whose time has come. (Victor Hugo)

All things must change... to something new, to something strange.
(Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

One of the advantages of being disorderly... is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries. (Martin Luther King Jr.)

There were some surprises as some people inadvertently re-mixed their quotes with a different head or tail. This made for laughter and really lightened up the atmosphere. We talked about the themes that resonated from the quotes. Here's a wordle visualization of the themes that came up:
After reviewing briefly the location of the bathroom, expectations for excellence, and our workshop deliverables, we continued on to talk about the broader context and the relevance for this new Monterey Way course.

I set the stage with a walk through of the story of the Bacon Explosion. This is a tale illustrating the incredible reach and speed of new media here in the United States. After watching an amateur video of the bacon explosion gone wrong in someones backyard we moved on to the creation story for the Digital Media for Change workshop. I won't repeat that story here but the main plot points included: Innovations Incubator, the Pizza Process, the Digital Media Commons, Global Voices, and what will soon be our first Podcast Army. Here are the slides that supported this tale of organizational development:

Footnotes from the slide show: Slide 12 is a great read - Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind; Slide 13 is my amazing son, Dylan Rey exercising his right brain; Slide 15 is what came up when I entered the word 'army' into a Flickr search and it made me smile!

Finally, we spoke with our resident visionary, Maureen Daniel. Maureen has been involved with the story of the Digital Media Commons from the start. She is a dynamo and very much responsible for this workshop happening. Here's the vision she created for the Global Voices project which will be launched via DM4change this Spring:

Until next week...

"You see things, you ask, 'Why?'... I dreams things that never are and ask, 'Why not?' (George Bernard Shaw)

Friday, February 6, 2009

Workshop Overview: Bones in Search of Flesh

Welcome to MW 580 Digital Media for Change. The workshop is scheduled to meet face-to-face Fridays 2-4pm beginning Friday, Feb 6 for 6-8 weeks depending on how we use our time. We are now scheduled in a new room (B104).

If you are not yet enrolled for credit, but are seriously interested in joining the workshop as an auditor, you do not need my signature, but please note that by adding the course you fully understand the workshop expectations from Day #1:

Purchase and Dive Into Required Text*: Reynolds, Garr (2008). PresentationZen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design & Delivery. New Riders. Available online:

* I usually do not require books. This one, however, is a keeper and we will reference it a great deal during the workshop.

Additional readings, podcasts, and videos of relevance will be shared as we go.

Technical Requirements
There are no specific skill based pre-requisites for the workshop, however you should be mindful of the following:

1. You will be most well-served by bringing your laptop to the workshop sessions since we will not be in a formal lab space.

2. Join the course Ning network (our social and learning environment), create an account here: Complete your profile and tell us about yourself and your reasons for joining this workshop.

3. Install iTunes on your personal machine (downloadable here:

4. Create a Gmail / Google Apps account if you do not have one yet:

5. Know where the Digital Media Commons (DMC) is! Although you can complete most of of the workshop on your own machine, we will be working with the Macs in the DMC and consulting with staff there for assistance and project development.

Participants and non-credit Auditors will be expected to fully participate, and to complete deliverables. The workshop will require small team collaboration and active participation on many levels, as well as additional time learning and working with new tools. If you are not willing to make the commitment to the workshop, then you should re-consider auditing. There will certainly be other ways you can build your skill-set with the Digital Media Commons this semester!

I do not want to scare you away, but I do want you to know what to expect. If it helps, just imagine you are joining a really cool club called "Global Voices."

Deliverables as I am envisioning the workshop at this point will include:

A. Global Voices Podcasting Projects / Small Team-based

- 1 campus event podcast hosted on iTunes U

- 1 planned and produced podcast story hosted on iTunes U

The purpose of the Global Voices podcast projects is to allow participants to experience a complete digital media project cycle from development to pre-production, production, post-production, and distribution. In addition to working with audio capture tools (field recorders, microphones, mini soundboards) and digital editing tools (Garageband, Audacity), you will gain experience in storyboarding and conceptualizing stories through idea generation and development discussions with our in-house workshop editorial board. We will look at example podcasts to determine what makes a podcast effective, popular, and high quality. We will also market our work to build an audience. This will include some basic graphic work and new media tools. Remember: Just because you make a podcast doesn't mean it will be heard!

Watch a brief YouTube video highlighting the vision for Global Voices:

Check out the MIIS iTunes U site (you will need to install iTunes; see above for details):

- Team contributions to the MIIS "Podcast Army" Wikibook

The wikibook will be a community collaboration, building off of workshop materials, aggregating team processes, and documenting best practices for future Global Voices recruits. Team will document their podcast project developments on the wiki as a record of their work and to contribute to the community knowledge base on implementing such projects.

B. Intersection Media Project and Portfolio Published on the Web/ Individual or Small Team-based

The final deliverable will be a multimedia project of your design. This is an 'intersection' project because I want to encourage you to design a project at the intersection of new media skills and tools covered in class, personal/professional interests, and academic experience. In many ways this is the practicum project for the workshop which will demonstrate your creativity, your developing 'new mind' senses for communicating with new media, and your technical skills. Projects will likely run the gamut from digital stories, to mini documentaries, or multimedia collage presentations. There are numerous possibilities here, limited only by your creativity. Although the workshop will expose you to different means of communicating with new media, you should work with genre and tools that you feel comfortable with. We will discuss project proposals and ideas during the workshop.

The "portfolio" aspect of this project is designed to provide rationale and context to how the project was conceived, developed, and produced. Project sites will allow for sharing and contribute to our multimedia project collection in the Digital Media Commons for others to learn from. A prototype of this kind of project which we will adapt can be found here:

If you've made it this far, you're in the right place! No, really, I am really excited by the possibilities this workshop will create for us as a learning community. There is great potential here to do some engaging and interesting work, that will contribute to the broader community.

Please don't hesitate to contact me with questions or concerns you may have.


Bob Cole, Director
Teaching & Learning Collaborative (TLC)
Monterey Institute of International Studies
an affiliate of Middlebury College