Grad School Blog #2 for R541 Instructional Development and Production – Imagery and Media

The blog is finally getting some much-needed attention. As an undergrad English major, I do miss the cathartic nature of writing…so now that it’s for a class as well as about Instructional Design (instead of bad college poetry). I’ll keep these associated posts focused on: self-study choice of design software, major collaborative project, individual projects, and module readings…with an eye on open, of course!

Self-Study Choice of Software

I invested a remarkable amount of time – and blogged about it – in figuring out how to download and run the open alternative software GIMP, Inkscape, and Scribus. Although I am committed to “open versus proprietary” as much as I’m tech-able, there were several moments of exasperation when I nearly paid for the non-open versions.  My all-nighter I think is to blame for allowing that dastardly flu-virus to beat my immune system this week.

In spite of the frustration and pain, the reward was the self-study in pages upon pages of Google searches, homegrown wikis, YouTube videos, and discussion boards with a huge thanks to Richard Koch’s page for the Ghostwriter download to run Scribus.  Despite knowing it would save me time just to cave and buy, having to understand elements of my iMac and MacBook (and, yes, I could have synced the two, but I wanted to be sure I was succeeding in the downloads and running the programs in a way I not only understood, but could also replicate if needed) was fun.  I gained a greater appreciation for all the programmers, users, even complainers – who share back their knowledge, experience, and passion a la Raymond’s Cathedral and Bazaar.

I already put to use GIMP (the Photoshop open alternative) with last module’s Project 1 Form and Function. I found the self-study with Meet the Gimp Collective Knowledge Wiki phenomenal, especially as knowledge transcended GIMP itself and addressed best practices and tips in the image editing.   My first self-lesson goal was “trimming” photo objects by isolating foreground and background layers with selection tools, my favorite: ‘intelligent scissors.’  My project form choice was ‘blanket’ so when I started photographing the forms, I actually nailed the first to a dark wall for contrast. When I uploaded the unadulterated version to my Flickr account (so I could attribute my work with a Creative Commons license) I hated the way the background detracted from the form.  Then I remembered I had spent all that time researching and installing GIMP, so I figured this project might as well serve as a maiden voyage of sorts.  GIMP made life much easier, not to mention saved many nail holes in my wall (I used the floor for the canvas and didn’t worry about whether it had dog hair on it or not).

Removing the background layer was one simple example I learned using the GIMP wiki as a guide:

WithChair WithouChair

I also found out the GIMP icon is a coyote.

I found the Word template was too limiting for the project and instead decided to use a plain, white background PowerPoint for the final project with an upload to Slideshare.

I’m excited to apply more self-study with GIMP to image editing, especially after looking at what GIMP was capable of doing in the wiki site. I’ve yet to dig too deeply into the other open software alternatives.

Progress on Major Project

Our team used Google Hangout this week to get acquainted, talk logistics and limitations, and think about topics for our major project. We plan to meet again this weekend to finalize our main project idea on a shared Google Doc planning sheet with ideas, timeline, and action items, then divide and conquer the proposal due in the coming week.

Work on Design Projects

My tangle with the flu this week stole precious time in perusing infographics as well as pulling research, but I do plan to spend a nice chunk of the weekend in infographic-land. I’m still excited about doing more to make OER easier to mine and want to develop an interactive infographic…which makes me wonder if the interactive piece disqualifies it from being an infographic?  I’ll flesh out these ideas more with the infographic example and topic assignments TBA in the separate blog post as directed.

Current Readings

My overall interpretation of the Boling PowerPoint made me wish I had registered for more art classes in undergrad.  I thought about how art can be taught, like English, but there is no denying the natural inclination of some individuals’ abilities to creating with value, dominance, and balance in mind.  Thankfully, analyzing visual displays, especially with instructional materials, is not reserved for those with the innate talent and, thus, can be learned.

The Morrison (1994) text harkened to the importance of debating semantics as related to the relationship between media and learning. The gist:

Clark asks “Do media influence learning?” and Kozma asks “Will media influence learning?”

Morrison suggests, “it is not the capabilities of the media that facilitated learning, but the creative development of the instructional strategy which actively engaged the learners” (1994, p. 42).

I liken Morrison’s idea to the art and science of what designers do – the ID pedagogy – for it resonates with my work in supporting faculty to adopt and perhaps even appreciate the importance of sound instructional design.

I expected Hai-Jew’s (2009) procedure in image creation to include essential ADDIE, and it did. It also gave me some ideas for approaching an upcoming project in creating a series of photos depicting economics principles for a Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative faculty collaborator, especially with respect to the early stages of scope, extant resources, and gap analysis (p. 145). The reading further extended the importance of legal permissions beyond what I already know about licensing into the ethics of imagery from permission of the people and property, to contextual representation, accessibility, and standards. I also found the back end screenshot of a module (p. 161) compelling, although I couldn’t figure out what the Lyra program was from a quick Google search. I plan to add the Alpha and Beta questions (p. 163) to my personal QC toolkit for it synthesized from a design perspective much of what I’ve learned from Quality Matters training.


Hai-Jew, S. (2009). Procedures for creating quality imagery for e-learning. In Digital imagery and informational graphics in e-learning: Maximizing visual technologies (pp. 142-168). Hershey, PA: Information Science Reference

Morrison, G. R. (1994). The media effects question: “Unresolvable” or asking the right question. Educational Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 41-44.

Image 1 Throw Blanket Function Comfort and Image 2 BlanketComfortIntelligentScissor by Ronda Dorsey Neugebauer with a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License


Project 1 Form and Function

I’m celebrating my open source downloads and GIMP success with the completion of this project!

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”R541 Project 1 Form and Function” target=”_blank”>R541 Project 1 Form and Function</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Ronda Neugebauer</a></strong> </div>

Open Source Alternatives to InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator

*This is a follow-up to Blog #1 for R541 Instructional Development and Production Process, my graduate course with Indiana University-Bloomington’s Instructional Systems Technology program. 

I just spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out how to download and run open source alternatives to Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign, but I prevailed! If you are a Mac user (and at this point I’m sure I could help my PC colleagues too) and interested in saving some money trying out new software for R541 (or any project for that matter), consider the following:

-Have you updated your OS to Mavericks? If so, Mavericks apparently wipes all X11 installation (what you need to run these programs) so be sure to download XQuartz.

-Once you download and install XQuartz, open it, close it, then restart your Mac to complete the install.  This is critical to the success of all the other programs running (and the step where I lost too many hours not doing this).  Open XQuartz again after the restart before downloading and running the other programs.

-For an open InDesign alternative, download Scribus 1.4.3.dmg drag the fountain pen icon to your app folder and launch. You’ll also need to download Ghostscript 9.10 in order to print whatever you create. Then check-out the Scribus wiki.

-For an open Photoshop alternative, download GIMP 2.8 10p2.dmg drag the canine icon to your app folder and launch. Then check-out the Meet the Gimp Collective Knowledge Wiki.  

-For an open Illustrator alternative, download Inkscape 48.2-1 Snowleopard dmg drag the ink icon to your app folder and launch. There is a lull when the program opens for the first time due to the font cache. Then check-out Inkscape wiki.

And in case you want to create some screencasts, try a free alternative to Camtasia by downloading the free version of Screencast-O-Matic.

Hope this helps! Feel free to add your new, favorite open source/free software in the comments.

Grad School Blog #1 for R541 Instructional Development and Production – Design Thinking

For the next ten weeks I’m excited to say I’ll be dusting off this WordPress site and contributing work here for my R541 Instructional Development and Production – Design Thinking graduate course with Indiana University-Bloomington’s Instructional Systems Technology.  We’ve been instructed by Dr. Myers to address in our blogs our progress in the following: self-study choice of design software, major collaborative project, individual projects, as well as module readings.  I plan to continue advocating for open throughout this semester’s course of study.


Il-Lumen-nating Kaleidoscope: Gateway to OER and Higher Ed Reformation

Improvement in post secondary education will require converting teaching from a “solo sport” to a community based research activity.

-Professor Herbert Simon, Carnegie Mellon, 1998

My professional role of the last 10 years has focused on teaching, guiding, and nurturing the institution’s most academically at-risk. At Chadron this is defined as a matriculating student with ACT scores below 19 in one or more core subject areas of reading, writing, and math. What isn’t measured is how these Millennial Masters of texting and Facebook don’t know the difference between a web browser, operating system, or file extension.  In today’s digital age, many of these students fear learning online because they have yet to mature their academic digital literacy skills.

Through a serendipitous turn of events, I joined the Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative project in May 2011. Upon reflection, the kick-off meeting in Cerritos, CA was a turning point in my career. When I entered the field of education, I aimed to change the world; but the reality of bureaucracy led to burnout, which in turn fed hopelessness.  I wanted to improve and make a difference, but I didn’t know how – and my administration had neither the answers nor the resources.  My ability to innovate and create was roasting in a budgetary pressure cooker. I felt alone and powerless.

Now, nearly two years later, I can say my former teacher-self resembles little of the teacher I am today.  Quite simply, Kaleidoscope was and continues to be the most profound and life-changing professional experience of my career.

The heart of Kaleidoscope – collaborative improvement of course design to improve student success using open educational resources – resonated from within a knowingness that the Kaleidoscope pitch wasn’t like all the others I had heard at conferences and workshops purporting change and promising retention. I finally found a community that encouraged me to reignite my passion for learning, teaching, and, more importantly, yearning to change higher education.

At the start of the project, all I could really grasp was replacing the expensive textbook I was using with high quality, peer-reviewed, free materials called OER. It seemed obvious that OER was good because it saved students money. The true gift, however, was Kaleidoscope’s model in utilizing OER. It extended beyond the freedom from the textbook: it was in the opportunities to collaborate cross-institutionally, understand the value of sound course design, and use empirical data instead of a hunch to make meaningful change.

I teach in Nebraska – a state known for corn, the birthplace of Kool-Aid, and beef cattle that outnumber people four-to-one.  At my institution, I was a lone wolf in developmental education. To be frank, before Kaleidoscope, the transitional studies program I was charged with creating and henceforth improving was only ever going to be as good as me…and I was exhausted. There just wasn’t a pool of passionate, qualified, and available people able to invest in improving. My colleagues had their own courses to tend to, and we all had countless meetings filling the holes of any extra-time that might have been used to rally together and improve the institution. Yet, the growing pressure to deliver student success was undeniable and my administration bore the same yoke we all did of proving that higher ed – especially little Chadron – was actively doing something to defend itself in both the wake of Academically Adrift and as an answer to the call in The Red Ballon Project.

What was remarkable about Kaleidoscope was that faculty developers, perhaps for the first time, shared in meaningful ways together: the load of course construction, the celebrations in successes, and the commiserations in weaknesses. We supported each other through learning from and teaching each other. It wasn’t easy, but it was fulfilling and, surprisingly, rejuvenating.

What was most fascinating about Kaleidoscope was as each semester of my participation passed, my intrinsic drive to improve grew.  I had read about instructional design and learning analytics, but I had no idea how to implement these approaches in practice with success.  My place in the project was more than a front row seat in witnessing the power and loop-closing exhibited in the model: I was a first-string player. The effect was an awareness beyond could I reform higher ed to I am reforming higher ed. I was no longer passive and alone and, like my students, became a success statistic myself: I changed how I thought about who I was.  Now, in my own meaningful way impacting the students who need it most, I am an OER advocate, instructional designer, data analyst, improver and reformer of higher education…in sum: Kaleidoscope gave me the knowledge and tools to become a better teacher.

The greatest Kaleidoscope lesson was how using OER impacted the way I taught and how my students learned.  When I utilize OER, my students have access to content on the first day of class, which means I begin teaching on the first day of class. I’m ashamed to admit how much time I wasted before my use of OER.  The first week, encouraging: “Buy the textbook!”  The second week, nagging: “Why aren’t you buying the textbook?” And by the third, berating: “If you don’t buy the textbook, how do you expect to succeed?”  When a student’s ability to buy course materials hinges on waiting for funds – possibly weeks for financial aid awards or until September to sell a steer calf – it impacts the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom.

Last week, I received a text message from Danielle, whom I hadn’t talked to since midterm of Fall 2012.  She was part of a 6-credit, 8-week “mashup” pilot I created that remixed Kaleidoscope’s developmental reading, developmental writing, and college success courses.  I framed the content with tools for “surviving” in the online learning environment and called it “COLG 176 College Literacy.” Her text to me was:

Hi, It’s Danielle from last semester. I just wanted to let you know I’m halfway through Comp II and I have gotten all As on my papers. I just wanted to say thank you for helping me become a great writer.  I hope your semester is going well.

Thirty years after A Nation At Risk, these same words and much of the original text still apply today:

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre
educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of
war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves (p. 9, par. 3).

Kaleidoscope meets the threats to education head on. Now, as a team member of Lumen Learning, I don’t fear what is to become of higher education, but instead look forward to embracing bright opportunities to improve it.