Digital Design Theory: Watching a video does not make you an expert

Digital Design Theory: Watching a video does not make you an expert

We were late to my daughter’s birth at St Joseph’s Hospital because we were watching This Old House on PBS. My husband and I were avid fans of the programs that recycled old houses back to their glory days. However, watching TV did not make me an expert. My roof has a hole in it and I have no experience making repairs. I have lots of knowledge but my hands have never touched a hammer.

I would make the same comparison with learning computer applications: you can’t become a skilled professional just watching the videos. At some point, your hands have to learn the steps. Expertise is knowledge in motion.

Videos in a Flipped Classroom:  The best use of videos is to demonstrate a sequence of events. Students get to see the project from start to finish and how the instructor handled the options.

I applied this concept to an Intro to Computer Productivity class at Washtenaw Community College. It is a required course that teaches beginning Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

Here’s the plan I announced: If all of the students watched the videos prior to class, then we could walk through the 100 point projects together each Friday. Everyone would pass the course with high marks.

This worked out better than I hoped. As an instructor, I was pleased to teach students who understood the material. They were ready and informed. Students who did not watch the videos quickly learned that they were at a disadvantage when we worked on the various documents, spreadsheets and presentations. They did not know where to find the options so their progress was very slow.

Win-Win-Win:  This class has 97% attendance and their productivity skills are excellent. My students are getting between 90-100% on all of the assignments, including the quizzes and homework. Everyone wins: the students, the college and the future employer who gains an asset.


Emmitt Kelly Jr., Computer Whiz, from the Precious Moments Collection of Marni Frank

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Does the picture fit or not?

Today, a news article announced that the GDI grew at a fantastic rate of 3.6%.
The article from Forbes indicates that there is a picture of the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis, Department of Commerce. The image next to the article is the iconic Hollywood sign.

So, miscue or fact checking?

Google News December 6, 2013 5:13 AM

Google News December 6, 2013 5:13 AM

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Computers and Babies

Trying to juggle a computer and a baby is an on-again, off-again affair.  Depending on the age of the kid, you may or may not be able to steal time away on the computer.

I always figured that I could get on the computer while the new baby was sleeping.  Sure, I knew that newborns only sleep for a few hours at a time, catnapping all day and night between feedings, but the average newborn still sleeps about 20 hours a day.  Average… no, my son wasn’t average.

I think I went through computer withdrawal those first months, while my son claimed every moment of my attention.  If not for escaping to work at my night job, I would have been nearly completely deprived of my computer time.

And on top of this, I didn’t even have time to install the other really neat thing I got that June: a copy of Office 2010.  Yes, I will equate new software with being as fun as a newborn baby.  Maybe more so at times, since software doesn’t cry.

Finally, my son began to grow and now I can steal some time on the computer.  My little laptop had become a very useful tool.  It’s little more than a netbook, but it’s small enough that I can balance it on my lap while racing toy cars with one free hand.  How do you think I’m writing this post, anyway?

Of course, at the toddler age, my son is very, very interested in anything that falls in either of the two categories: things that Momma is going and things that get a reaction from Momma.  My computer falls into both, since my attention is on it and, more importantly, when my son touches, pokes, or pushes it, he gets a reaction from me.

I know that my son will continue to grow.  He’ll learn more to play on his own.  Make some friends, go off to school.  My computer time will, slowly, return.  While I often miss the time I used to spend on the computer—writing, usually, or communicating with friends and other folks online—I don’t feel any desire to rush these years with my son.  My computer will always be here, in some form or another (though probably a desktop with REAL keyboard, but that’s a musing for another post), my son will only ever be this age once.

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Thank you, Steve Jobs

For 8 years I supported my family and earned a living on my Mighty Mac.
All this and the Flying Toasters Screen Saver.
It was FUN to discover something new every day.

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Thinking in Pictures

The Penny W. Stamp Distinguished Speaker program invited Temple Grandin to Ann Arbor last Thursday, September 9, 2010. Dr. Grandin has become world famous for her work with cows-cattle retaining systems. She is the first autistic woman to give a voice “from the inside.” The presentation has sponsored by the Art School, and was nominally focused on thinking in pictures. I could see the young art students looking puzzled-wondering why they had to go to a lecture and look at cows.

Temple spoke very clearly on how she, as a high functioning Asperger, or “Aspie,” perceives the world as a series of images that she stores, like icons, in categories.

I have always been fascinated by how my mind works. I see pictures in sequence, numbers in color and music in three dimensions. However, I cannot remember the names in a Periodic table or the words in a simple prayer unless I sing it. Autism is a spectrum disorder and Temple’s work lets us know more about ourselves, as well as her.

Here is a link to her website:

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When I grow up I want to be a…

When I grow up I want to be a Microsoft Presenter: I have always thought it would be cool to be the Microsoft Evangelist: the star who walks on the stage and demonstrates incredibly rich software. I got my wish!

On April 29th, I introduced Microsoft Office 2010. We partnered with Mott Community College for the official Microsoft Office 2010 Sneak Peek. We used Microsoft Office for what it does best: communicate. The merges included mail labels as well as email blasts. I did the digital wizardry. Doris Stromer, Site manager, served lunch for all of our guests.

As a Microsoft Presenter, you can access the marketing and branded materials for your event. The PowerPoint animations are quite astounding. Someone had a lot of time on their hands and they were very creative….

I showed a few steps in Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The demonstrations went well.

Microsoft Office 2010 is the one. The force is strong in this one.

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My Town Monday: Field Trip “Up North”

Recently, I took a trip “up north.” In Michigan, this usually refers to upper parts of the Lower Peninsula (the fingers) or even to the Upper Peninsula.

My trip was a little of both. Originally, the trip up north included one of the few North/ South routes– first US 127 or US 23. Today, most people take I-75– the only limited access freeway heading to points up north.

I took I-75 part of the way, but since it primarily cuts through the center of the state, it’s certainly not the scenic drive. So, I got off I-75 and stayed with US-23 which still runs it’s old route to and along the coast of Michigan, the shore of Lake Huron. (The pointer finger of the mitten. No, I never get tired of references to my state being mitten-shaped.)

This meant that along the way, starting about Tawas, I got glimpses and full views of the large expanse of blue or gray (depending on the current color of the sky) that is Lake Huron. Luckily, while the weather was overcast most of the morning, by our arrival in Tawas, the sky was clearing. The lake reflected the blue, deepening the color of blue as the sky became less cloudy.

The first stop was in Tawas.

Then we went across the bay to the East Tawas Lighthouse. Unfortunately, the end of March is kind really “off-season” for such places. It wasn’t closed, per se. It was “self-service.” Yeah. We could walk around and take some pictures of the lighthouse and the point.

I read that the point often washes away during the harsh conditions of winter, only to be rebuilt again the following months.

Later, further up the coast, we stopped at a scenic overlook.

And later still, along the shore of Grand Lake. This lake is shortly inland from Lake Huron. It creates the area known as Presque Isle– which means “Almost an Island.” As you can see from the map, the area is barely connected to the mainland. The big white area on the top and right side of the map is Lake Huron…

Grand Lake

Then, we made our way past the Mackinac Bridge (pronounced Mackinaw) and into the Upper Peninsula.

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My Town Monday: Brighton’s Four Corners, part 3

The remaining two corners of Brighton’s Main Street/ Grand River Intersection are harder to track the history of.

On the South-east corner, across Main Street from where the Eastern House Hotel stood, there is currently a two story jewelry store. (The building itself looks too expensive for someone like me…) I missed my chances to get the last shots of the former building when it was torn down a few years ago.

Before the jewelry store, for a good many years– back into the 60s or 70s if I’m not mistaken– this corner was home to Cap’n Corky’s (sp?). It was a liquor store– probably what we call a Party Store around here. The terminology matches what my students use to define a party: not a party without alcohol. Anyway, with the opening of the CVS, as well as a good many other chain stores in the vicinity, it appears that the Cap’n Corky store couldn’t really keep up. Add to that the ever-present problem in the downtown: parking.

The store closed. And– I wish I’d had time to stop and take pix– the construction crews gutted the buildings. I believe only the two walls that abut the neighboring buildings were left standing. Then they added the second story, the new front facade, and all the fanciness.

I have to wonder how long the jewelry store will last in this economy… especially since a long time local favorite is about two doors down. Or will locals go for the “brand name” over the locally owned and operated place. (Sadly, I’m voting for people to go with “brand name” over local. It’s happening in so many other places. But I wish it wasn’t so.)

Going back through history, all I can find is that this corner was home to Brighton’s Foundry for a while. Though, there’s some indication that the foundry was actually not right on the corner. Other records indicate that some part of the time, this corner was a private residence. It’s a little mind boggling for me to think of people living in houses on Grand River… in my life time, Grand River has always been the main business drag through Brighton. Only when you get out WAY past the edge of Brighton’s business stretch are there houses.

More My Town Monday!

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