A look back at Week 1

Our professor, Alan Levine, wasn’t kidding when he warned that the GMU Digital Audio/Video Design weekly assignments needed a lot of attention throughout the week. For a low-tech, late adopter, the litany of instructions, assignments and links was overwhelming and caused a slight moment of panic. The panic has now decreased to a low humming in the back of my head – not quite pressure, not quite stress, just a presence. I’m still catching up, but as expressed in my Welcome message, after establishing my bearings and gaining some traction, I have really enjoyed the learning process through the various video clips and assignments – finding the nuggets.

As you can probably surmise, the technology has been my challenge. The first step in getting plugged into this class was to create a blog through WordPress.com. What a task for the first assignment! It was an experiment of trial and error, but this process was encouraged and I can appreciate that.

Once I had some success with designing my blog (“designing” used very loosely here), I was on rewarded by the series of online articles demonstrating the possibility and innovations of digital storytelling – just amazing – that the second assignment required. Immediately, I was intrigued and wanted to know how to do that and by “that”, I mean the creative use of navigation, photography, audio, zoom features and other engaging widgets and functionalities embedded in these articles that grabbed my attention from my first click. But first, I had fun listening to Kurt Vonnegut’s explanation of his mapping of stories. I took The Princess Bride movie and mapped it according to his graph.

I couldn’t wait to jump to the next assignment that provided two perspectives from Ira Glass from NPR’s This American Life and Andrew Stanton, Pixar filmmaker of Toy Story and Wall-E, on their experiences and construction of stories. Incredibly insightful and just fun to listen to these two expert storytellers. (Andrew Stanton’s opening story is hilarious – warning it does have an expletive in the first few minutes (1:08), so this is fair warning to watch at your own risk in public spaces.)

These led to the next question of “what is story?” When posed with this question, a flood of images and flashbacks from my childhood came to mind. All positive ones. When the word “digital” was introduced as a follow up to this question, I felt overwhelmed as described above, but also hopeful this time. I think that’s a good sign.

So, what’s next? Well, Week 1 concluded with the challenging task of identifying something to “storify” (insert jazz hands). To be continued…

One of the last things I need to do for Week 1 is to assign myself a grade for the week’s work. I would say that I would come in as a solid “8” out of 10. For the skeptics out there, let me break it down to this: I heeded the professor and tried to break out of the paradigm of working for the grade and focused more on letting myself explore, fail, try, engage and begin understanding “story”. What do you think?



One thought on “A look back at Week 1

  1. I understand how you feel, because I felt the same way midway into week 2, when I had yet to set up a blog and realized that I was already behind! It is overwhelming, but what helped ease the pressure for me while I was working to catch up was Prof. Levine’s thoughts about the grades. While I’m still taking this class seriously, I’m not as focused on the grades and that has helped fuel some creativity. I now look forward to creating posts and enjoy the feedback I receive. Hang in there!

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