Giving creative devices a try- Blog #4

 

First and foremost, I can say that I was definitely surprised while taking photos for this assignment. It was much more difficult than I had anticipated. All of us have taken pictures at one time or another, but while trying to shoot a photo with a certain theme in mind, it becomes a different story. It is not something that comes easily and it takes technique to snap a likeable photo. If I could change something, it would be to use a professional camera because they capture the moment in a more clear and advanced way. These photos were taken with iPhone 5 and 6. I found that it was hard to incorporate a creative device. I came out with better photos when I wasn’t trying so hard. It will come with time and I am glad I got some practice!

 

I think that the dominant creative device this photo in depth. Depth was created by the low angle at the bottom of the ramp. It gives the illusion that this footbridge might never end. I think it could be argued that several of the other creative devices can be included; rule of thirds, contrast (shadows) and patterns (diamond fence/railing). Each one of these devices makes the photo interesting.

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Bridge Everlasting The public footbridge in downtown Laramie during the middle of an autumn afternoon.

 

 

 

Leading lines is the dominant device in this picture.  The side of the building is covered in perfect rectangles and lines that lead your eye to the top or the sky. The second device could be pattern due to the recurring shapes  or viewpoint because of the angle which gives a unique take.

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Right Angles The side of the Physical Sciences building on UW campus shows it vast architecture and symmetry.

 

 

 

The main creative device intended in this photo is contrast. The green metal bike rack casts a detailed shadow that I could not help but notice while walking down he sidewalk. I rotated the photo because I favored the vertical view. Of course the other creative device at play here is symmetry. The shadow shows the same detail as the rack, but larger.

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Concrete Plains A themed bike rack casts its unique shadow in downtown Laramie.

The dominant creative device in this shot is cropping. I decided to get up-close and personal with the taillight on my car to see the details that are typically unnoticed. There is a pop of color in this photo as well as some texture in the reflective patterns.

 

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Illumination The tail light of a Honda Pilot glistens with reflection and pattern, offering an unusual view.

 

 

 

 

This is a photo of the roots on a small thorn bush near my house. I must admit that is was a little intimidating to get this shot because I got so close to pricking myself. It is obvious that the dominant creative device here is texture. The thorns on the branches show unbelievable texture and really give detail to the plant. I like how it almost looks like the photo is in black and white, due to some dead branches. Focus also comes into play because the background is blurry and the thorns are very sharp, from a pixel standpoint.

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Look, Don’t Touch A small, yet threatening thorn bush near Undine Park displays startling texture.

LHS-a closer look into the “new era”

Old was familiar, new is exciting

         Tall glass doors and modern architecture welcome visitors to the new and improved Laramie High School. Colorful textiles and a large staircase greet visitors upon entry. It is filled with the smell of brand new.

“The new high school is beautiful, innovative and provides a lot of opportunity,” said Nichol Bondurant, LHS English teacher of 14 years. “The space is going to grow with us.”

 

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The face of the new Laramie High School following its completion in August.   Photo courtesy of Haselden Construction.

 

As the new building can be seen overlooking the Laramie plains, the community wonders what is going on inside.

LHS has now been occupied for almost a month, giving students and teachers time to get comfortable in their new surroundings.

Freshmen were finally able to move up from the Laramie Junior High School, now joining students at LHS for the first time ever. With an entire class moving up, room to grow was certainly needed.

Aside from the ample space and impressive architecture, the school has plenty of new features and cutting edge technology to offer its growing student body.

Each wing is color-coded, corresponding with the different departments. For example, the Math department is represented by yellow [tiles] and the English department is coded with blue. Every single classroom features a Smartboard, as well as basic white boards. Large storage spaces behind the boards make it easier for teachers to provide a less cluttered workspace.

The new building is also designed to be more accommodating to students or faculty with special needs. There are several elevators throughout the school- a great improvement from the old high school building, which only had one. In addition, each classroom is equipped with devices designed to accommodate students with hearing impairments or cochlear implants.

Changes were also made to some of the high school’s classes. Student Enrichment Block used to be a weekly study period and a get-out-of-school-early ticket for seniors. At the new high school, SEB has been replaced with a new class called “Intervention and Enrichment”. This session focuses on accountability and studying. It is held twice a week and is required for all students.

Another new program in the works is called “Super Fans” and is being organized by the teachers. Super Fans aims to get faculty more involved in all school-related events, ranging from theatrical plays to football games. The teachers want to see a great turn-out in the audiences, offering extra support to students. An inclusive school calendar with upcoming events can be viewed on the school site http://www.acsd1.org/lhs/calendar/.

“The new theatre is huge, which makes it possible for all of the students and staff, along with the community, to be seated- unlike the old high school,” Bondurant said.

There is hardly any debate in the community about whether the new LHS building is an improvement of the old one. The former high school was too small for its dwellers and was beginning to deteriorate from the inside out. Asbestos was found within the ceilings and wall and at certain times, snow could be seen falling from the bathroom vents. Broken drinking fountains and unreliable air conditioning were also among complaints.

 

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The front of the former LHS on a chilly February morning in 2014. Photo courtesy of KOWB1290.com

 

Ideas for the old high school include transforming it into an elementary school and leaving the stadium for community use. You can read more about the plans concerning the old school here http://laramielive.com/old-high-school-ask-the-city/.

 

  The inevitable- setbacks

            No project, especially one of this magnitude, can be perfect. These type of developments can have setbacks. Although LHS has countless things to offer, it does face some challenges.

Local residents and occupants of LHS have cited traffic as a recurring issue. Some of this may be due to the student parking lot having only one entrance/exit.

“During the first week of school I spent about 30 minutes in traffic,” said junior student Alli Dolence.

Because of these issues, teachers have been taking turns directing traffic after school. The congestion also includes residents of houses and apartments that neighbor the school.

“The amount traffic around here has definitely increased,” said Robin Clodgu, a resident who lives nearby. “Some of it was expected, but it has been especially bad lately. I hope they can come up with a solution.”

Another common obstacle to face teachers and students has to do with the new technology. Many of the computers, Wi-Fi and other tech savvy additions have not been set up.

Since teachers have gone a few weeks without some equipment, they have had to go back to some basics and improvise when it comes to their lessons.

“It has made us look at how dependent we are on technology and has helped us compare that style to hand-written styles,” Bondurant said.

Each department will eventually house 30 shared computers. Classrooms will also have their own Wi-Fi, strong enough for both teachers and students to use with personal devices. When everything comes together, students and faculty will be able to take advantage of these resources; supporting a more advanced environment.

 

 Student perspective- the upgrade

            Students seem to enjoy the extra space and up-to-date luxuries.

“My favorite part of the new school is the cafe because I can go grab some coffee in the middle of the day if I’m tired,” said freshman Josie Elder. “There are a lot of places to just hang out and study.”

 

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Students emerge into the Math and Language Arts wing during their first day at LHS.     Photo courtesy of acsd1.org.

 

 

The excitement over the new amenities, both academic and leisure, are likely to motivate students to excel. New gymnasium and sporting equipment encourages them to want to participate in physical education. The smoothie bar allows students to have a healthy drink during the day.  Having several areas to study or meet in groups helps them to stay involved academically.

Glass is a recurring theme that has been incorporated throughout the entire building. Glass walled classrooms create a more open and lighted atmosphere.

“I love having the glass classrooms because it’s awesome to see my colleagues teach. I find myself peeking over to watch them,” Bondurant said.

Some students have a different take on the transparency the glass provides.

“The windows can be a little bit distracting. Sometimes I stare into other classes or wave at my friends,” said Elder.

The glass walls can be elevated, making it possible to combine classrooms. Teachers can collaborate and students in larger classes can learn comfortably, rather than cramped.

“I think that combining classrooms is cool… If a teacher is absent, another teacher in that subject can teach us along with their class because of the space,” Dolence said.

Looking toward the future

       As with anything new, there is much more development to come with Laramie High. Amidst the freshness of the school, it is apparent that right now it is naked of memories. Unlike the majority of differences between the old LHS and its replacement, one thing will remain the same. After time runs its course, this new high school will become rich in history and filled with school spirit… much like its old counterpart.

Exploring the Amazon through multimedia, Blog Post 2

You can find the website I performed a usability test on here (Deforestation in the Amazon).

Upon first glance, this came off as a really awesome multimedia project. The moving image, an aerial view of the Amazon, made me feel like I was about to take a personal journey into the rain forest. The visuals were very appealing. I was a little bit confused on the first slide because there is a speaker icon in the corner, which indicated there should be sound. There was no sound on the first slide. It was’t until the second slide that I heard sound effects.

The next thing I noticed was a blinking arrow, pointing down. When I clicked it with the mouse over and over, nothing happened. I decided to try the down arrow on my keyboard and ta-da! That’s when I realized I’d be using this key to get through the presentation.

There is a sidebar menu on the right side with shortcuts to main points/slides. This can be helpful, except you skip a lot of material by doing this. Viewing the menu is also when I realized the entire project had around 45 slides. Wowza! I have to admit I was intimidated by this and the fact that it would take more than ten minutes to finish.

I scrolled down until the length was interfering with my interest. At that point, I used the sidebar menu to skip to the main points listed. Even though I skipped some slides, it was still in chronological order. I would feel wrong to jump around clicking on random slides because they are meant to be viewed top to bottom. The information corresponds with scrolling… the nonlinearity needs improvement.

The text was very factual and informative. Some words or phrases were highlighted and I wasn’t sure why. On some slides with minimal text, I appreciated the background movement. Other times I felt like I was looking at my computer after spinning in a circle. There was only one slide that had distracting noises: the one with the saw. I thought the tree falling was a good representation of the text, but I could barely read with all of the saw noises playing.

For this multimedia production, I would say it followed most of the design tips from the blog. I did not have any technical difficulties which made me happy. I did try the link in different browsers and it appeared the exact same. I also tried it on my iPhone. The menu was a lot harder to navigate, considering the buttons for the slides are nearly microscopic (okay, not really. But that is how it felt). This was frustrating since I wanted to skip ahead.

When I clicked around at an attempt to find the creator of the presentation, I was struggling. You can easily find the sources used and the credits. If you click “cfr” at the top, it takes you to the Council on Foreign Relations site in that same tab. I found the project after scrolling down, only because it was featured on the site. It lists the presentation “by CFR Creative Innovation”. No contact information or place to leave comments was found.

I let my mom explore the site for ten minutes and saw right away that we shared thoughts. She too, tried to click the arrow several times before realizing you must use the keyboard. She was confused about there being no sound on the first slide.  Unlike me, she seemed uninterested. She said there was too much information to take in and some slides had too many facts.

She expressed that it was easy to navigate. She enjoyed the sound and thought it was a cool addition. She was viewing the slides in chronological order as well; the down arrow urges you to do this. The ten minutes were up before we knew it and she had only gotten about halfway through the slides. Just like me, she could not find the creator of the site or any contact information. She said it would be nice to be able to view and leave comments.

I think for the most part my mom and I had a similar usability experience. We agreed that it was fairly easy to navigate, enjoyed the effects and liked the design of the page. She disagreed with me about the length, the “interest factor” and the movement. The page reloaded randomly a couple of times. She wasn’t bothered by this as I would have been.

Three things I would change about this site: The sound needs to start on the first slide because it’s confusing. The information given and the content of the slides should be condensed/simplified (only use essentials). This would dramatically downsize the length. The creators should definitely be easy to contact, just in case a viewer has questions about the project.

Three things that should remain the same: The cool imagery that goes hand-in-hand with the facts given. The order of the navigation, left to right and top to bottom. The ability to skip through slides (nonlinearity and simplicity).

All in all, this multimedia presentation made me want to visit the Amazon before it gets destroyed! I liked doing the usability test and I was able to learn in the process.

TheAmazon

 

 

If my news diet was actual food, it’d be a grilled cheese

I know what you’re thinking… what kind of a comparison is that?! Let me explain…

A grilled cheese is good, right? It’s not the healthiest thing for you but it’s also not a Big Mac. It’s cheesy in the center but it has some solid edges.

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This is like my news diet. Like I said- it’s not the best it could be, but it’s not as if I’m oblivious to the news, either. I am interested in the news although I don’t always seek it out. It reminds me of how a grilled cheese isn’t always on our minds, but there are days we’re craving it. If I haven’t kept up with media in a while I will crave to know what’s going on around me. I say that it’s cheesy because I digest most of my news through pages on Facebook.com .

Again, I know what you’re probably thinking. That isn’t a good place to get news! Well I disagree a little bit. I know that it sounds cheesy to get your news content from Facebook.

Facebook can actually be a great platform for news because important information can circulate so fast. You just have to make sure that the content is valid, which is why you should only follow or “like” verified pages. I “like” national and local news pages such as The New York Times, The Huffington Post, National Geographic, the Laramie Boomerang, the Capser Star-Tribune and Laramie Live. I follow these sources because I believe that they are mostly unbiased, unlike CNN or FOX news. I trust these news sources because I have found that they are quick, relevant, current and informative…they pass the “CRAAP test”, if you will.

I enjoy using Facebook pages to primarily consume news because of my ability to share the post, if I please. I can write my own thoughts on a certain piece and allow others to do the same. I think that’s important because it helps us to examine and discuss current events that we might not have on our own. I like to see what other people my age have to say on current issues. It is very convenient and a quick means of communication. You can consume the news quickly, just like a grilled cheese!

As far as entertainment news goes, I really like Buzzfeed‘s Facebook network. They appeal to a large group of people because they have pages designed for specific interests/demographics. For example, I follow their pages Buzzfeed News, Buzzfeed Food, Buzzfeed Trending and Buzzfeed Animals. They have really established credibility with their readers in the past year and their content is always lighthearted yet fun.

Entertainment news can be fun because for some reason, us average Joe’s like to know what the celebrities/athletes are up to. We get some sort of pleasure out of knowing that Britney Spears shaved her head, Channing Tatum did Lip Sinc Battle or that Lady Gaga wore a dress made out of meat. Even though it’s absolutely bizarre sometimes, it’s definitely informative about what’s going on in the entertainment world. I mean come on, news cant be serious all the time and most of us could use a good laugh here and there.

Britney becomes a deviant in 2007
I usually don’t talk about the news with family because I dread the conversation going in a political direction. In recent times, if we turn on our TV or pick up a newspaper, Donald Trump is sure to be on it. This is another reason entertainment news can be important; it takes the tension off of all the hype over politics. I enjoy talking about it sometimes, but it can certainly get uncomfortable or taken out of context.

My friends and I love to discuss the less serious side of news. We talk about a rescue dog that made a dramatic recovery- thanks to local volunteers. We will also talk about local news concerning UW, since it applies to us (budget cuts, guest speakers, etc.). Sometimes we disagree or take a different stance on certain issues, which is perfectly fine.

Even though I appreciate my grilled cheese news diet, I intend to take a bit healthier route. I don’t usually pick up a hard copy of a newspaper because I honestly forget about it. I think I will try to be more conscious of where I get my news and try to add variety in there… After all, you do need something from all food groups!