Final Reflection

The first way one can begin assigning a grade is to examine the expectations set forth at the beginning of the year, examine what was actually accomplished, and compare the two.  As such I’ll begin by running through the syllabus requirements to see whether or not I fulfilled them.

The big project (further outlined in this post) accounts for 35% of our grade, the written components of which included the proposal, progress report 1, progress report 2, progress report 3, and my big project evaluation.  I believe this may have been the most successful part of the class for me.  I personally felt that I learned important skills that can enhance my professional development.  My video was a sort of mocumentary covering a behind-the-scenes look at the DKC.  To create this piece, I had to utilize a multitude of technologies/software.  I shot my footage with a T5i camera, and collected audio using a rode mic.  This was a great experience, as I have a lot of experience with video-editing, but generally use footage from pre-existing footage.  In this case, I got to create my own footage, getting an eye for different shots, etc.  I then edited this footage using Adobe Premiere.  This is especially relevant to me because I’ll be doing an internship in the spring that utilizes this program, and the more experience I have the better.  A mentor I talked with earlier in the year also suggested I learn more advanced pieces of video-editing software such as Adobe Premiere.  Essentially I learned a lot over the course of this project (improving my video-editing, audio-editing, and shooting skills), while also creating what I believe to be a quality product.  I therefore believe I earned an A on this component.

Teaching accounts for 40% of our overall grade.  This process helped keep us accountable with our work, while also allowing us to solidify what we’ve learned by teaching others (one of the best ways to learn).  I successfully conducted each of my teaching days, which included: Peripheral 1, Peripheral 2 and 3, Python 1, Python 2, Python 3, and Teaching My Project.  It looks like my students gave me an average of 4.5 stars out of 5.  I believe I generally rated myself as a 4 out of 5.  We discussed in class that we generally rated ourselves a bit harder than our peers, so I should probably place more weight on the word of those that underwent the learning, rather than the ideal I had in my head.  I therefore believe I earned an A- on this component.

The Programming Manifesto counts for 10% of our overall grade.  I completed both the original manifesto and the revised manifesto.  This was  a good way to guide ourselves during the programming section with clear goals while also getting us to critically reflect on what coding actually is.  I believe I earned an A by successfully completing  this component.

The Learning Journal accounts for 7.5 % of our overall grade.  I was pretty consistent with documenting the class on a nearly weekly basis.  It looks like there were a few weeks where I had not posted, but these were balanced by weeks where I published multiple posts (for example, I might write a post Sunday reflecting on the past week, but not get to the next week’s summary until Monday, and then cover the next week’s on Sunday again to get back on track).  This was a good way to get us to reflect on our learning progress and think about the class each week.  It looks like I posted approximately 25 posts as part of my learning journal (including other written assignments in addition to the class updates), which seems like a fair reflection of a 16 week semester.  I therefore believe I earned an A on this component.

Participation accounts for 7.5% of our overall grade.  I think I did a fair job assisting in class discussions, being a good listener for the student teachers, and providing feedback as we developed our projects.  I tried to fill out the various surveys and evaluations we were asked to conduct, in addition to the group exercises.  As far as I recall, I also never missed a class.  I therefore believe I earned an A on this component.

Based purely on the syllabus I therefore believe I have earned an A in the class, as I believe about 60% of my work fell within this range while 40% fell in an A- range.

I also believe an alternative evaluation of actual knowledge/learning over the course of the three class segments will result in the same assessment.  The first third of the class was devoted to the Peripheral.  In this segment we discussed the cultural aspects of digital studies and sci-fi.  We worked together to analyze the book and make connections to other pieces of media.  I was pretty involved in this segment (which is documented in my Learning Journal), and successfully finished the book.  For this section of the class I believe I earned an A.

The second third of the class was devoted to programming, specifically learning Python.  This was a challenging section that I believe was designed to give us a better appreciation for the logic and culture of code in addition to pushing us outside of our comfort zone.  I particularly enjoyed discussing public perceptions of coding through media and the potential limitations of coding.  I certainly have a much better understanding of Python syntax, and if I really had to I could probably accomplish a simple task using the logic and resources I now know.  Nevertheless I didn’t push myself quite as far as I had hoped (I only made it to text-editing and some basic image-editing teaching sessions) in this section.  I therefore believe I earned an A- for this portion of the class.

The last third of the class was devoted to our big project, much of which I discussed earlier.  I dedicated a good deal of effort to work while working on my project, while also producing a quality product during my learning process.  Therefore, for this portion of the class, I believe I earned an A.

In this manner, whether by evaluating purely by the syllabus or by examining completion and knowledge accumulated during the three class segments, I believe I earned an A.

Big Project Evaluation

Executive Summary: I believe I created a successful final project that fulfilled its purpose of providing me with more professional experience  with using more advanced video resources while also creating a fun video highlighting life at the DKC.  Over the course of this project, I ran into some technological challenges that ultimately impacted my schedule, but did not deter me from creating a video that I am proud of.

Rationale (adapted from Proposal Rationale): The purpose of this project was to elevate my video-editing skills to a more professional level.  To accomplish this, I created a video using Adobe Premiere.  The footage used was footage shot by me, as opposed to existing footage.  I have lots of experience creating fanmade and mashup movie trailers, but not much experience in shooting my own footage.  I believe this experience helped prepare for an internship I’ve secure for the spring with a short film/documentary company.  I gained some practical experience both with shooting footage and editing it.  The theme of the video was essentially a behind-the-scenes look at the DKC.

Risks, Challenges, and Opportunities:  The shooting itself went well, as I managed to secure footage of all of the tutors.  However, I also lost some footage, most likely due to a faulty codac.  This led to me having to do some extensive reshoots during the last week to ensure that I had enough footage to create a substantive video.  Initial editing also posed some challenges, as the first Adobe Premiere file I created became unreadable and I lost my initial work.  I was also limited by what equipment was available at the HCC front desk.  For example, the first time I tried to secure some equipment, all of the rode mics were already checked out.  On a smaller note, I also misspelled someone’s name in the published video.  If I could do things differently, I might have used the tripod more often to get steadier footage, and perhaps done some more research on optimizing the rode mic.  I would also have started editing sooner.

Resources: My main resources included a T5i camera, rode mic, and Adobe Premiere.  Other resources included my incredible coworkers at the DKC, who were very gracious as I filmed this project.  Potential additional resources could have included other Adobe products, such as Adobe After Effects.

Schedule:  I believe I started filming on time, but I underestimated the amount of time it would take to gather the footage I needed, and thus filming ran long.  This was compounded by the fact that I lost some footage, which required reshoots that bled into what I had set as the editing stage.  I ended up having about a week to work on editing as opposed to three weeks.

Outcome: I was very pleased with my final product.  I have some unique and interesting shots (largely static, but the angles and subjects were visually appealing).  The purpose of the video is fairly clear, with a nice intro session that sets up the tone and introduces the DKC, followed by a second, more informative section.  The transitions and flow are fairly good, especially in regards to the subtitles.  All of this demonstrates quality of work and evidence of effort.  While I could envision improvements to the video, I was very pleased by this attempt and how it turned out.

The Last Week of Class

On Monday I was taught by Grace on how to use AirTable for further analysis.  I was really only familiar with using it to fill out forms, so it was interesting to see the other applications associated with this program.  On Wednesday we had a very in-depth conversation about the philosophy of grading.  At my table we ended up discussing a range of topics surrounding grading.  I mentioned a conversation I was a part of last month where we discussed how early the pressure of grades start, and how moving away from a system of grades could be beneficial.  I also mentioned that what we’re taught is the path to success is kind of a lie.  I read an article (I believe this is the right one.  At minimum I believe it cites the same study) semi-recently that looked at valedictorians and where they end up in life.  The results indicated that those that succeed in high school are those that conform and follow the rules, but these traits don’t lend themselves to the greatest success.  However, my table pointed out that grades can be important.  You probably don’t want to have a brain surgeon that simply “tried his/her best” at neuroanatomy.  You want someone that demonstrated a certain amount of retention of knowledge, which can be measured in a test.  But for more artistic and humanistic disciplines, grades are less clear cut because there are less black and white, right and wrong answers.  In these more subjective fields, grades and pure knowledge may be less important, and personal development may be more favored.  We also discussed how one could see grades as a measure of growth, or as more of a bell curve to compare your work to a larger population.

Finally, on Friday, we discussed the class format itself.  I personally felt that a lot of my progress and growth came from the final project, where we could explore an interest of our choosing to push ourselves.  I also really appreciated our digital culture discussions throughout the semester.  These helped us to see the “big picture” with regards to what we were working on, making our work more relevant.  It also sounded like a lot of individuals struggled with the computer programming section of the class, and a lot of discussion revolved around how best to format things to encourage individual personalized progress while maintaining accountability and motivation.

A Project Week

This past week we largely focused on teaching our projects.  I believe Monday Ahad showed our table how he was focused on manipulating/distorting technology to create cool sounds.  It was a nice demonstration of how you can alter something’s intended purpose to create some interesting art.  On Wednesday I joined a group learning about creating your own adventure through basic coding, formulating different branched choices.  I really enjoyed this demonstration, as I thought it might be something neat to show my little sister.  She loves creating stories, and I bet she’d like creating a choose your own adventure.  I also think it’d be a good first exposure to some basic coding.  It was also nice to see Heather’s project.  She concluded by showing us her website, which she had earlier stopped by the DKC to get some assistance on.  It was really cool to see how she was able to successfully integrate the different plugins she had been exploring to create polished site.  Finally, on Friday I both finished and taught my own project.

Teaching My Project

On Friday I taught an aspect of my project.  Since such a large component was video-editing, I chose to show my classmates what I’ve learned in Adobe Premiere.  Unfortunately, since I don’t have the software on my laptop, this required a trip to the editing suite on the first floor, which may have deterred some prospective students.  But two people, Nicco and Ahad, did follow me down.  A smaller group also felt pretty informal, which helped relieve any nerves associated with teaching.  In showing them Adobe Premiere, I realized that I have learned quite a bit when it comes to the software, while also recognizing that I’m still familiarizing myself with it.  For example, in trying to show them the customizability of the of workplace, I accidentally made the timeline itself disappear.  Luckily Ahad showed me how to regenerate a new timeline, but it also demonstrated that the program is so customizable that it’s very easy to confuse yourself.  However, I was able to show them how to add media to the timeline, with and without sound.  I was also able to show them keyboard shortcuts, manipulating clips in the timeline, adding effects, adjusting audio through keyframes, and creating titles.  This really helped solidify that I really have learned a lot of practical skills in the process of working on this project, and while I still have much I can learn, I’ve made a very good start.  I also felt like this was similar to a DKC advanced video editing tutorial, which is always good practice.

A Light Week

This week was Thanksgiving, so we only had one day of class for project teaching.  The day was still informative, and I joined a group learning about HTML.  It was definitely a good refresher, as I haven’t worked very much with HTML since DGST 101.  Creating sites with professional embedding, and more usage of CSS is definitely something I could work on myself.  I was also able to gather more video footage for my mocumentary.  I’m looking forward to teaching myself, and continuing my work with my final project.

Progress Report 3

I’m continuing to work on a mocumentary type video for the DKC.  My project hasn’t changed much since I first proposed it, simply solidified.  I think at this point I will be able to have portions of my video with simple music and text, and other portions that contain dialogue.  As far as accomplishments go, on November 6th and 7th I was able to secure a rode mic in addition to a camera, allowing me to capture some quality audio with my footage.  It took some time to figure out how to adjust the settings, but I was eventually able to do so.  My next step is to begin the editing process (and potentially do one more day of shooting since I’m missing one DKC tutor in my footage).  I’ll probably use Adobe Premiere on the DKC editing computer, and spend some additional time using the software in the editing suite on the first floor of the HCC if need be.  I may need some help/need to do some additional research regarding working with audio in Adobe Premiere.

Revised Manifesto

I still really enjoy the language of my group’s minifesto, which stated, “Coding is a valuable skill utilizing a blank canvas, creating something tangible from the nearly intangible.”  I might add that coding is a product of humans and culture, and these aspects may need to be considered when coding.  For example, the structure of coding may unintentionally lend itself to excluding certain groups, or making limited binary categories with little room for context.

Currently, I have a pretty good understanding of the syntax of Python in addition to the logic and structure of basic coding, such as if/then statements.  My previous exposure to coding involved HTML and a little bit of Java.  My experience with java, which occurred in an intro to computer science class, had given me a lot of information that assisted with constructing things like methods, and organizing code.  However, my specific understanding of Python, and how to accomplish tasks utilizing it, has definitely improved.  I can no undertake basic computational functions, manipulate text, and perform some basic image editing.  I’m not sure if it’s enough knowledge to place on a resume, but it’s at least a good start.

The book we used to learn Python was definitely a good resource.  I will say that it was a bit frustrating to try bits of code that the author specifically designed to not work, but academically I understand that he was trying to illustrate certain points regarding how the code is structured and how it works its way through problems.  A huge resource was my classmates.  I learned a lot simply by teaching others and being taught by others.  Some basic troubleshooting could be accomplished, in addition to the practical application of creating code during class to help solidify concepts.  It was great to hear from peers, and it was great to teach.  This helped hold me accountable to staying on top of the material, while also providing an avenue by which to improve.  Often in the act of teaching we learn ourselves, and this was a great opportunity by which to do so.

I never did get to my reach goals regarding Text III or Statistics and Visualization.  Perhaps if I have spare time during winter break I could explore some of those topics on my own as a way to further my programming knowledge.

Concluding Python

This week began by discussing our final projects.  It was interesting to hear everyone’s progress and/or struggles.  It definitely sounds like the semester is ramping, and time management may be an issue for a lot of people as they juggle various end of semester assignments.  Once again I was able to talk with someone who was very much into audio work, and was very excited as I discussed my project.  I was able to bounce some ideas off of her, which was definitely of benefit.  At this point I’ve collected most of my footage, and I look forward to beginning to string it together in editing.

During the rest of the week, we concluded our Python lessons.  I had the opportunity to go over a bit more basic image-editing, and some more string work.  I think overall, I’ve definitely grasped the mechanics, basic syntax, and thought process of coding, in addition to most of the intricacies of Python 2.  Most of the practical creative potential I reached was in regards to strings.  Basic image-editing was interesting, but was similar to work I’ve done in JAVA.  Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get through more complex data processing applications, but this is something I could pursue on my own in the future.

Progress Report 2

I’m working on creating a mocumentary video centered on the DKC made shooting my own footage.  The project has not officially changed, but I’m thinking that audio recording will be at least a smaller aspect of my project (as opposed to a major component).  In the past week I was able to record a fair amount of footage on two separate days made using  an EOS rebel t5i camera from the HCC desk.  Unfortunately at that time they did not have a USB rode mic, so I was unable to collect audio on those days.  My hope is to use that footage with music and narration.  Hopefully the HCC desk will have a rode mic next week, and I can collect some video in conjunction with audio as my next step.  Then I can potentially blend the two styles (narration + proper audio/dialogue).  If I am pressed for time and unable to utilize a rode mic, I’ll utilize my narration/music strategy throughout the entire video.  In the event that I am able to collect audio, this will be the component I will need the most help with.  I haven’t worked with a rode mic before, so I may need some guidance with this, in addition to potential post-production work (manipulating audio in Adobe Premiere, etc).