A Piktochart on Advertising

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It seems like forever since I’ve blogged last! Anyway, as you can see, I created my visual using Piktochart, and the information I included is about advertising and how you – the consumer – are the primary target. This week I’ve spent some time simply looking up interesting facts about advertising. What I’ve discovered is incredibly interesting. I’ve tried not to limit myself, however, to simply the positive side of advertising, but to the negative side as well (this is what I’ve chosen to display on my visual). For example, in case you’re unable to read the facts under the quick facts section, they are as follows:

  1. More than $500 billion is spent on advertising worldwide,
  2. By the time a person in the US is 65, they would have seen roughly two million TV commercials,
  3. and over $15 billion per year is spent in advertisements directed towards children in the US.

So, as you can see, and like I stated earlier, you (the consumer) are the primary target in the advertising world. However, nobody is considered too young, either. Children are targeted as well. Interesting (and kind of scary) right?

On the other hand, however, in terms of actually making this visual, I would have to say that it was rather difficult for me (the technically challenged). Picking the template was easy, as was manipulating the text, but maneuvering the text boxes and attempting to change the background were both difficult tasks. Once I figured out how to do it, however, it became easier.

In terms of possibly using this particular tool in the classroom, on the other hand, it would be neat to use this to display classroom rules, formula charts and other “cheat sheets,” classroom announcements, or simply having the students utilize this tool for assignments or projects.

On a different note, however, I think there is some value in presenting information in these visual/graphic styles. I say this because it’s just like graphic design/advertising. In graphic design/advertising, the primary goal of the artist is to convey the needed information in a neat, orderly, and attractive manner, one that is aesthetically pleasing. In doing this, in my opinion, it helps information to stick in one’s mind far better than simply reading it off a plain piece of paper. Therefore, like I said earlier, if one uses these as informational pieces or cheat sheets, the given information will stay with the students longer than compared to having it displayed in a way that’s boring.

 

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The Radio Rediscovered (Among Other Things)

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Photo CC: By oroD Doro

“‘…contemporary podcasts resemble radio shows from the past.'” In this quote from the article “What Teens are Learning from ‘Serial’ and Other Podcasts,” a high school English teacher by the name of Michael Godsey describes the benefits he’s witnessed in incorporating podcasts into his classroom. For example, in listening to ‘Serial,’ his students are “learning at the highest level,” helping students develop their analytical skills, critical reading skills, and public speaking skills, the latter two concerning reading the accompanying transcripts and debating with fellow students. Concerning the digital storytelling aspect of this assignment, some educational benefits of watching and creating digital stories include, according to the “Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling,”                  “[teaching] students how to navigate the writing and creative process, including brainstorming, constructing unique voices, narrating, and… structuring arguments in a compelling and logical manner.” In looking at these educational benefits, an individual can easily attach certain standards to each, therefore meeting the state and/or national standards for learning. On the other side of the spectrum, however, some disadvantages to incorporating podcasts and digital storytelling in one’s classroom may not be, in terms of podcasts, enough to hold the students’ attention, as the younger generations (including ours) are used to intense, highly-stimulated T.V. shows or video games. In terms of digital storytelling, however, one disadvantage may include lack of money for the required equipment for students to do his/her work. In reading the “Teacher’s Guide to Digital Storytelling, technologies such as video cameras, computers, and the accompanying software are required. If none of these things are available, digital storytelling in the classroom may be virtually impossible. Moving on to the next question of possibly having my future students create in these forms, I would have to say that I definitely would (if the necessary equipment is available) have my students do so. I say this because it would serve as an excellent introduction to the educational benefits I listed before. In utilizing these things, it could possibly be easier for students to learn to create through writing. In the end, my biggest takeaway would probably be realizing that in incorporating these into one’s classroom, so many standards are hit that, at least for me, it would be a no-brainer. Also, to tell the truth, I became pretty excited about the possibility of using these things in my future classroom!

ILP: How About Those License Plates?

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Photo courtesy of the Omaha World-Herald

Okay, so if anyone has been following the whole license plate debacle, then you immediately know what I’m talking about. If not, however, then you soon will! On March 22nd, Gov. Pete Ricketts unveiled the new license plate design for Nebraska, as a new design has to be issued every six years. Unlike what we’ve had in the past, however, which have been somewhat attractive, he unveiled well . . . something else. This new design featured (I say featured because the DMV has thankfully halted production!) what was supposed to be the Nebraska Sower, which is depicted atop the state capitol. It also contained a blue stripe running the top length of the plate with Nebraska spelled out in yellow, and the years 1867-2017 on the bottom portion of the plate, a nod to the state’s 150th anniversary. This new design was met with harsh criticism and ridicule, however. First of all, it was “sexually suggestive,” to put it nicely. The way the artist portrayed the sower with his grain satchel looked like a man flaunting his well, you know! On top of that, it simply looked like he was just standing on top of a cupcake. Nice, right? Now in terms of the actual design of the plate, it’s a horrible design, in my opinion. Yes it’s simple, but it’s also boring as all get out. I appreciate the fact that the blue and yellow was a nod to the colors of the state seal, but it looked like a plate from Michigan. It was really funny, however, as members of Nebraska Through the Lens (a photography group on Facebook) starting posting their version of the new plate, spicing it up by redesigning it and adding images that reflect true Nebraskan life. It will be interesting to see what the new design will be, but I certainly hope that it will be a better design than what was originally conceived.

Just for comparative reasons (or if you are curious as to what past Nebraska plate designs were) check out this website!

Also, if you want to see what Comedy Central had to say about the new design . . .

http://www.omaha.com/go/comedy-central-show-pokes-fun-at-nebraska-s-new-license/article_e4fac69e-f2b3-11e5-9ee7-b75578345777.html

 

 

Time to Unplug

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Photo CC: by Peter Sunna

I’m sure we’ve all been there; tethered to whatever device may be at hand, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. What’s the point of this? “Well,” one might say, “to stay connected.” Connected. Connected to what? Connected to our “friends?” Connected to our own little cyber world in which we live? Or connected to our devices; those devices which we cannot live without. I don’t really watch Jimmy Fallon (I’m more of a Jay Leno kind of person. Headlines anybody?) but I know he does this bit where he writes “thank you” notes. These “thank you” notes aren’t restricted to just anyone; they’re written to anyone and anything, including smart phones and their accompanying chargers. I say smart phones and chargers because I recently saw this one in which he was writing one to the chargers of the world, thanking them for being the human equivalent to leashes in public spaces; spaces such as the airport, restaurants, hospitals, etc. While he was writing this “thank you” note, it showed a guy at an airport, sitting on the floor scrolling through his phone while it was charging. I oftentimes feel like this guy, wasting my time on my iPhone. Therefore, I can honestly say that most of the time I don’t use technology mindfully. I try, however, but there are so many things to read and catch up on and so many people to talk to. It’s often overwhelming. Just as Paul Miller described about having a number of tabs open and talking to numerous people at once. I often try, however, to disconnect in purposefully leaving my phone at home if I go anywhere, or simply leave it on the kitchen counter while I go about my day. It’s interesting, however, as I constantly have that urge to check it, just as was talked about in the TED talk. Most of the time, however, as was discussed in the article about the teens disconnecting for three days, I always feel a sense of freedom, as I don’t have to constantly be checking up on the book of faces or seeing what’s trending in the world of Twitter. It’s also important to unplug and actually physically connect and interact with individuals because in my mind, that face-to-face time is invaluable. Whenever I spend time with my Grandparents, I always make a conscious effort to stay off my phone when I’m there, because those are moments I want to keep and cherish forever.

Here are the links to the article and video I referred to:

https://online.csc.edu/portal/site/ba0a8fa0-d272-4966-bdbd-c8ada577356f/page/8fcab236-c20b-4da2-897d-698c0b7ca87d

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/03/06/turned-off-how-teens-respond-to-a-no-tech-challenge/

ILP Check-In – Macular Degeneration

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Photo CC: by the National Eye Institute

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about this (perhaps it was a few posts back?), but I talked about my Grandma and the disability she currently has – low vision. (I hate to use the word blind, as she’s not completely blind, she just has low vision). This is due, however, to macular degeneration, a degenerative disease of the retina. What essentially happens (from my understanding) is that as the retina deteriorates, cells die and cluster together in the central field of vision, thus giving the individual (in this case, my Grandma), a clouded field of vision. This doesn’t stop her, however (I greatly admire her for that), and she gets along just fine. The thing is, however, is that she can’t read. This therefore makes it difficult for her to distinguish between products when she shops, and usually requires the help of someone else in picking out products. Anyway, as I stated earlier in my previous post about this, I thought it would be interesting to research if companies take into consideration those who have low vision or are completely blind when designing their packaging. My verdict? No. I searched and searched about elements of package design, companies logos and packages, what was taken into consideration when designing said logos and packages, etc., but couldn’t find anything. According to what I learned in my design class a few years ago, good design is essentially (obviously) visual, as a company would want its product to stand out from the rest. The result is a finished product that is attractive and pleasing to the eye. According to Packmage, the composition elements essential to good package design are logo design, graphic design, color design, and character design; all visual elements. There are, however, two other elements essential to good design: shape factors and use of material. While I found nothing on catering to the visually impaired on the same Packmage site, I discovered another site in which a college student documents her final project, which subsequently is on package design for the visually impaired. This individual focuses primarily on differentiation between spices, but documents a lot of useful information that could potentially be carried into other product areas as well. For example, shape differences: “Shape and form are very important. They [the visually impaired] are very sensitive to varieties of shapes and can detect even slight differences.” The second is texture, which “is as important as shape.” The third is spacial orientation: “spice jars musn’t [sic] be limited to only one part of the area like the drawer or a shelf. It must be able to be moved or kept anywhere . . . .” (This college student’s site can be found here. This is a super cool site, and I encourage anyone to go check it out!) So in the end, while companies may not directly cater to those with low vision, individuals like my Grandma rely on certain elements of that package design to distinguish between certain products, such as medicine bottles, spice containers, containers for drinks, and so on and so forth. Package design, however, relies so heavily upon visual elements in that design, that those with low vision still require help in differentiating between the majority of products.

On a side note, (aside from looking at the picture above), if you wish to see what it’s like to have macular degeneration, put a small piece of clear tape on each lens of your glasses (if you have them), and try doing simple tasks such as running the washer and dryer or writing a thank you card. Make sure to leave enough room between the tape and perimeter of your glasses for your peripheral vision, as peripheral vision is not affected by macular degeneration.

Be Active!

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Photo CC: By Esther Vargas

Social media is such a powerful tool, whether we realize it or not. Ideas that started in college dorm rooms are now some of the most powerful communication tools we as the human race have, connecting individuals from all over the world. Individuals with similar interests and passions, whether they live in small-town Nebraska, London, England, or Tokyo, Japan, are connected and are sharing and receiving ideas; ideas that could possibly better the human race as a whole. Therefore, in quoting Teen Vogue (there’s something I don’t do often!), “We’re connected by a community of interest, not geography.” Therefore, it’s because of this that millennials are creating widespread and successful movements with literally the click of a button. Something as simple as a tweet or a Facebook post can successfully create some type of spark that creates something so much bigger, so much more widespread, than “‘a person on the street, rallying or protesting'” (Teen Vogue). There are Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts completely dedicated to whatever activist group one may be seeking, and these groups are extremely successful. These provide places in which individuals can connect, socialize, discuss, debate, and bring to light issues that may be of some concern to a shared number of people. The more people realize these groups are out there, the more momentum they gain, and the more well-known and effective they become; becoming nationally or internationally known. The teen nominee I researched was a 15 year old from here in the U.S., and the movement is God Loves You. The focus of this movement is why one should stay strong despite what may be going on in an individual’s life. This movement utilizes Twitter, and tweets words of encouragement and success stories to it’s followers, which is very cool. I’ve myself personally become connected with two movements addressing something that I think is plaguing our society: pornography. There’s this movement called “Fight The New Drug,” in which it’s goal is to enlighten individuals about the harmful affects of pornography on the brain and relationships, and provides support and resources for those who want to get out. It’s a fantastic movement, and if anyone’s into the whole Christianity thing, xxxchurch is another great resource, essentially offering the same information and resources as Fight The New Drug. As I stated above, pornography (I feel) is very destructive to our society as a whole, and some of the key issues activist groups and individuals need to focus on are those substances and materials that are harming and are hurtful to our society.

To answer the last question, however, (kudos to you if you’ve read this all the way through!) I thought this module was incredibly interesting, as it discussed new pathways for individuals to make their voice heard in a society where it’s very difficult to be heard in the first place.

Googling Myself

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Photo CC: By SEO

To start off, and in all honesty, it was a little creepy Googling myself. I say this because there’s quite a bit of information about me that’s out there . . . information that’s readily available to anyone who wants it. Aside from this, however, it was very interesting. I didn’t think I would find much, but I was surprised. The first link that popped up was my personal Twitter account, encouraging those in search of me to catch up on my latest Tweets and give me a follow. After this was my Merit page, saying I was named to the Dean’s List this past fall, and after this were various links to various articles from local newspapers – The Star-Herald and the Gering Citizen – advertising the fact I had made various honor bands throughout my high school career, including All-State, and some golf tournaments as well, including the Nebraska Amateur Championship. My Grandpa’s obituary also was in there. In terms of pictures, my Twitter profile picture popped up, along with other past profile pictures, a golf picture from my junior year of high school, my Grandpa’s picture to his obituary, and a picture I posted to Twitter not too long ago of my other grandparents. Other than that, however, that was it. I couldn’t find my Facebook profile, but that didn’t surprise me as I may have certain privacy settings in place. Among the other social media sites I have, these being Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, and Twitter, my Twitter profile was the only one that popped up, but that’s probably because I use Twitter the most. In terms of what my online identity says about me, my online identity would most likely portray the fact that I’m very dedicated, active, and passionate about what I do and what I like to do. On the other hand, however, if any potential employer would have the intentions of trying to dig up some dirt on me, I’m afraid they wouldn’t find anything (I lead a boring lifestyle in that aspect!) On a side note, articles about my three siblings came up as well.

Digital Citizenship

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Photo CC: By Thomas Galvez

In researching and thinking about digital citizenship, I started thinking about what my first exposure to this topic really was. As it turns out, it was during an American Government and Politics course I was in not too long ago. While this class met in person, it was a mixed class, as a good portion of the required work was online. I’m sure we’re all too familiar with this now, but this was all new to me at the time. In giving the instructions for posting and replying, the professor said to treat others as you yourself would expect to be treated. (Ever heard this before?) However, he continued to say that while you yourself may be looking at a computer screen, there’s an individual on the other side of that screen; an individual with dreams, aspirations, feelings, and emotions – just like ourselves. Fast forward to now, and while I was exploring some of the sites for this week, one of the short videos contained in the “5-Minute Film Festival: Teaching Digital Citizenship” discussed this concept called “netiquette.” This concept actually predates the internet, and contained a simple set of rules on how to interact with others online. While the first rule was to remember that there’s a person on the other end of a device, the other rules are as follows: “the use of ALL CAPS is shouting online, be careful what you send, and validate information,” so as to not lower your credibility. Simple, right? Another interesting point of view came from a maned named Juan Enriquez and his TED Talk: “Your Online Life, Permanent as a Tattoo.” His talk in its entirety can be summed up in a nutshell: be careful as to what one puts online, as it’s there forever. However, the most useful site I researched was one called common sense media.(I was actually excited that I found this site on my own, but it turns out it was one of the links in module 9. Sad day!) However, it’s super cool, as it covers everything from determining how appropriate movies are for children, how to talk to them about terrorism and other goings on in the world, and of course, digital citizenship. This site did an incredible job explaining how and when to expose children to media, what role media should play in their lives, and even how to act appropriately when utilizing such devices. There are also a number of other videos available as well, videos covering everything from the power of words to plagiarism to cyber bullying. (I know this last one was more of a review type description of the site itself, but I just think that it’s phenomenal). In all, practicing digital citizenship, and then passing it on to students or one’s children, is critical, especially in today’s world.

My learning thus far . . .

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Photo CC: by Martin

To start off, and to be completely honest, I didn’t know what to expect before taking this course. I’ve taken other online technology classes before, but they were never much use (in my opinion) and in all honesty, I forgot about all the information just as fast as I learned it. This course has been different, however, and so far it has exceeded my expectations. I say this because there is so much independent learning taking place. To compare it to the other technology courses I’ve taken, they were much more rigid, and there wasn’t much room for exploration. It essentially was this: you did the required assignments, participated in the required forums (if there were any), took the quizzes, and moved on to the next chapter. Whereas in this class, we’ve all been encouraged to branch out, to break out of our comfort zone, and to learn about new topics and subjects that interest us, while still learning about and learning how to utilize the plethora of different technologies available to us. For example, I’ve learned a lot about my independent learning project, which is graphic design. I’ve also discovered that while I already utilized some types of social media platforms, such as Twitter, I’ve come to like blogging as well. I would’ve never thought twice about blogging before this, but it’s actually pretty fun. In terms of taking part in the modules, on the other had, I’ve really enjoyed them. While they’re each due Sunday night, what’s appealing to me is that we can work through them at our own pace (I typically should get started on them earlier in the week, however!) The ones that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the most, when I think about it, would probably be module 3: choosing your own education and module 5: building your own PLN. These have stood out to me because in terms of module 3, I’ve rediscovered my love for TED Talks (they’re literally the best thing in the world), and in terms of module 5, I’ve discovered that in whatever interests you, that there are literally thousands of professionals out there in which you can connect with. For example, as you all know, I built my PLN around children’s literature. There were numerous authors and illustrators I’ve followed, and there have been some that have even tweeted at me and followed me back! How cool is that? It’s mind blowing how one can instantly connect with people around the world like that. In terms of what module has been the most challenging, on the other hand, it has probably been module 7: ds106. I say this because I didn’t have a clue about what ds106 was/is, and it was difficult for me to wrap my mind around it for some reason. It’ll come to me, however! And lastly, in terms of what I hope to learn in the second semester, I hope to really dig into my ILP, even more so than I already have, and also discover new and exciting ways to implement all the different types of technologies into my future classroom. I also hope to take part in all the different daily activities/daily challenges that are available out there. In all, this has probably been one of my favorite online classes so far. It’s really kind of relaxing to sit down and work through the module . . . hopefully I’m not the only one who thinks this??

ILP: Saving A Railway

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A model of the InterCity 125 high speed train

This week I came across a documentary on YouTube that sparked my interest. Since watching it, I’ve done some research on the topic and found it incredibly interesting. (This might be a dry read to some, so kudos to you if you read it all the way through!) The documentary was on a company called British Rail, no longer in business but playing a huge part in England’s railroads throughout the better half of the 20th century. The company was founded in 1948, when the British government took control of the then “Big Four” railway companies throughout England: the Great Western Railway, the London Midland and Scottish Railway, the London and North Eastern Railway, and the Southern Railway. Steam locomotion was still in full swing in England throughout the 50’s and early 60’s, but it became a goal of the company in the 60’s to modernize and streamline its system, switching from steam to electric and diesel, and also closing thousands of miles of railway lines that weren’t turning a steady profit. However, by the time the 70’s and 80’s rolled around, the railway was in a sorry state. It’s lines weren’t maintained, and its locomotives and rolling stock were dirty, slow, and practically falling apart. It was because of this that it was highly unpopular with the general public, and as most of its revenue came from commuters, the company was losing money. On top of this, the company had to compete with the airline and auto industry. So in hopes of turning the company around, a businessman by the name of Peter Parker was hired as chairman of the railway board in 1976. He wanted to change the face of British Rail, so he, along with brilliant engineers, developed the country’s first high speed train, called the Inter-City 125, capable of traveling at 125 mph. However, despite this development, the company was still a joke. This new high speed train, along with the company’s new image, which was one of revitalizing the romance and luxury of train travel, needed to be sold to the public. This is where a man by the name of Peter Marsh came in. He was head of a highly successful advertising agency in Britain at the time, and utilized celebrities to promote their products. What he did was bring in a popular celebrity at the time, a man by the name of Jimmy Savile, a popular DJ. The campaign was centered around him, and was filmed riding the company’s new trains, talking them up, telling how he would prefer traveling by rail more than any other mode of transportation. He also highlighted the improvements the company has made, and also talked about how he believed in British rail, and how they were intent on modernization and customer service. The commercials also ended with a jingle: “this is the age of the train.” The “this is the age” portion was sung in an operatic style, while the “of the train” portion was spoken in a man’s voice. This campaign was an instant success. In the end, these men, Peter Parker, Peter Marsh, and Jimmy Savile, essentially turned the dying company around and made it profitable again. They also changed the country’s perspective of the company and on rail travel in general – an almost inconceivable feat. This was due to one thing, however, commercial advertising.

If you’ve somehow enjoyed this, then check out the documentary!