App Review: Comics Head

I’ve been looking for some time for a Comic creator app that has enough art to be flexible enough and yet, leave enough room for me to maneuver as a writer. It’s tricky. I found this one, Comics Head, and although I paid four bucks for it (there is a free lite version), I find I really like it for its fair amount of art and templates and variations. Plus, the homepage is nicely arranged, making it easy to find things. The use of touchscreen for writing and creating can be tricky, though.

Here are a few comics that I have made in the past few weeks using the app. If you have iPads in the classroom ( I don’t), the free version of this app might worth checking out.

I played around with one of the templates in the app, which is a “recipe” comic, and was thinking a bit of CLMOOC and other spaces.
How to build a networkThis comic was for my friend — Greg — who is raising awareness for his nephew, who has been diagnosed with a rare illness I had never heard of before, and he asked fellow social media folks to create content for the #BurpeeforBobby campaign so they could raise awareness and funds. I also donated some money to the campaign.

More Burpee comics

And I made a comic for my students, as summer came to an end.
Welcome to Sixth Grade comic

I had fun with the app.

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

#CCourse Comic: Hemmed in by LMS

Hemmed in by LMS #ccourses
This comic is just an extension of thinking about how some universities require faculty to use a certain Learning Management System and how that requirement hems in both the teacher and the learners in many ways. When  we talk about open learning systems in space like Connected Courses, this may a roadblock for many faculty.

I like how Howard Rheingold responded to my post yesterday, noting that he often pushed and pushed against these institutional restraints and then did covert online learning systems outside of the university purview. Sort of a ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’ approach to open learning. I don’t know if many faculty, with lesser name recognition and clout, are willing to take those chances, particularly if they are not tenured and need to be sure to follow rules, stay in line, keep the upper folks happy (or at least, not get them angry). We need more pirate instructors. Arrr.

And that may mean using the university system (Blackboard, Moodle, whatever) but thinking through the many ways to “hack the system” to make it work for you and your learners, even as you still technically fall within the sphere of your educational institution.

Maybe change is underway, where there is more freedom for faculty to set up their own online spaces beyond the university sphere. Maybe this comic is already obsolete. I hope so. I suspect it still might be a mixed bag, depending on where you teach and the ethos of the university itself. There may be folks in the Connected Courses who follow along and think … if only. Facilitators need to be aware of them, too. (I am sure they are)

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

#CCourse Comics: Of Brudders and Domains

After listening to Jim and Howard and Alan talk about the infastructure for open learning as part of Connected Courses, I could not help putting together a few comics to poke fun.

First, the three called themselves “brudders” with the names of Embed, Click and Link (a play on Car Talk). I added a fourth brudder.

The #CCourse Brudders

Second, I support the idea of folks setting up their own domains when running a college/university course. I do wonder if universities allow that. I know, with our writing project, we’ve run into walls on this issue, of the universities requiring us to use their learning management system. Maybe that’s a question for another time (or one I might bomb into Twitter).

Anyway, I had this vision of all these URLs being created along lines of Jim’s point that our spaces are our digital identities (I agree) and how the naming of a URL and a blog space/community network is an important first step. Thus, the domain rainstorm idea.

#CCourses Domain Rainstorm

 

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

 

Peeling Back the Skin on the Infastructure

Thanks to Terry for popping the first Hangout for Connected Courses into Vialogues, so that we can contribute to discussions after the hangout (with Howard Rheingold, Alan Levine and Jim Groom) has come and gone. Here. they are talking about the concept of a Domain of One’s Own, and how someone might set up their blogging and informational systems, and more importantly: why you would do it.


(This should be embedded completely here but it doesn’t seem like it worked. Go to the Vialogue directly)
We talked about this in CLMOOC, too (inspired by these three dudes), with hopes that people will push back against established platform systems that can often hem learners in, instead of opening things up. Having your own space is a step towards defining your digital identity and presence. I know I blog with Edublogs and moving to my own domain doesn’t work for me, right now. But for folks who might be thinking about teaching an open learning system, it might make sense to host your own instead of turning to a prefab network space.

What comes to my mind is as I listened to them chat, and explain some of the technical and philosophical issues with hosting your own space(s), is the issue of agency, and whether we define our digital spaces for own our needs or adapt what we want to do to the space we are in. I find I do both, and am always toggling around in that middle space. As a teacher, though, I try to teach my young students about the nature of “workarounds” and, as Howard notes, pushing the edges of the possible to accomplish your vision. Sometimes, it fails. That’s life. You just try again and re-workaround it (yeah, not a word but it works).

The key thing here is to not let publishers and other platform creators define who we are as learners and as educators. I’m not saying I have figured it out every time (for example, I am using Edmodo right now with some teachers at an urban middle school through the Western Mass Writing Project and I am not all that happy with it. But, I am trading off “low entry” for these educators for “full functionality” for what I want to see happening. And yeah, “free” plays a role, too).

Sometimes, it takes time, and incremental footsteps, to enact change. The video here helps frame that. Come be part of the discussion.

Peace (in the system),
Kevin

 

App Review: Hyperlapse

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of Facebook and Instragram, mostly due to Zuckerberg and company’s shifting feet on privacy issues. But a new video creation app put out last week under the Instagram umbrella (but it is its own app) called Hyperlapse is pretty nifty. (and it does not seem to have any place for privacy invasions, other than what you might film as video).

The free app allows you to easily shoot a scene that then gets converted into a timelapse video. The controls are simple to use and you have a few options when you are done around speeding it up or slowing it down, and then saving it to your device or sharing it to, eh, Instragram or Facebook. Projects don’t save in the app, as far as I can tell, so when you are done, you are done. It sort of feels like a neat cousin to Vine (but don’t tell Twitter I said that).


(don’t blink … it’s over before you know it)

I’m still thinking about how to use Hyperlapse more, but here, I composed a shot of a ceiling fan, from below, and I think it looks pretty artistic. I’m wondering if I can get a shot of my son playing baseball …

Peace (in the app),
Kevin

 

Comic Review: Copper

If this collection of Copper webcomics/comics from Kazu Kibuishi had only contained comics, it would have been enough. More than enough, in fact, as these short graphic stories, told in single page comics, for the most part, of a boy (Copper) and his dog (Fred), are so well done and so entertaining, that Copper rises up to one of my favorite comics.

But Kibuishi, the writer/artist behind the incredible ongoing Amulet graphic novel series (another review of the latest in that series is coming soon), goes the extra mile, providing about 10 pages at the end of the book to discussing his process for creating graphic art, complete with looks at his studio space and a “comic in process” as he shares how an idea makes its way to the page. This kind of insight from an artist of Kibuishi’s caliber is incredible.

As for the Copper collection itself, the book is a treasure trove of imagination as Copper and Fred go off on all sorts of adventures, have deep discussions and ponder life in many ways (sometimes in the most unusual situations, such as inside a ship they build together or jumping across a valley of mushrooms or inside a cave).

Upper elementary and middle school students would eat Copper up, I think, particularly if they are hooked on the Amulet series. I see now that you can access many of the webcomics online at his site, for free. So, what are you waiting for? Get reading!

 

Peace (in the frames),
Kevin

In Support of Those Who Lurk

A Party of Lurkers
So, even though I wrote a post yesterday that said I was gonna lurk, you can see how I easily get pulled into the mix. Just writing the post itself, as Howard noted in a comment, meant that I was no longer lurking with the Connected Courses, and the whole shebang hasn’t even started yet.

One of the ideas that we really talked about and worked hard to value during the facilitation of the Making Learning Connected MOOC was how to best recognize and include those who were not ready to jump into the fray, but who either only wanted to watch or needed time to process before considering entry into the CLMOOC. As you might imagine, this stance of inclusion is made trickier by the invisible threads that connect participants to an online project. You just don’t know who is there, watching, if they never comment or participate. And if it is not a credit course where posting is required (the CLMOOC was not that), then it becomes even more of a challenge to understand the nature of participation.

But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, learning along with everyone.

We found that out in the time between our first year of CLMOOC and the second, when we heard later stories of folks who lurked, brought ideas to the classroom or professional spaces, and then came back strong in the second year as active participants, grateful for the ongoing message of valuing those who lurk to learn. Others were a bit wary of the technology hurdles and needed time to process, to tinker on their own. And others just had little bits of time, so they popped in and out to see what was going on, but never participated. Not everyone is comfortable with learning in open spaces.

This sort of goes against the grain of basic teaching philosophy, right? No child left behind? We assume everyone needs to be learning and we need to gauge that the learning is being done. In online spaces, we often do that by tracking comments and blog posts and Twitter feeds. You can’t look across the room and see that someone is not participating and tell yourself and/or them, I’m going to call on you next, kid, so be ready with some ideas.

We don’t allow lurkers in our classrooms, do we?

Yet, lurkers are the invisible army in just about every online space there is, and they are the folks we don’t often value enough. There’s no cultural cache for the quiet, is there? That doesn’t mean they aren’t important. With CLMOOC, we made sure every newsletter had references to how we valued those who were just watching and learning. Posts in our online communities were purposefully welcoming to all comers, even those who were only passing through. This message (hats off to Joe Dillon for his work on this issue) became part of the ethos of the CLMOOC, even though at times it felt as if we were writing to no one (Most lurkers don’t respond when you write to them, as is the nature of lurking.)

But they are there, and they are important to the network, and they need to be part of the conversation, even if the conversation can often feels one-sided. And sometimes, they party on. Thus, my comic.

Peace (in the outer worlds),
Kevin