Category: Teaching Resources

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Xeroxed (A Metaphoric Looping Confrontation) The Explanation Post

digital photocopies, on loop as an animated GIF

Xeroxed, (A Metaphoric Looping Confrontation..) The Explanation Post

2020, animated GIF, blog post excerpt, full browser page GIF and video embed.

Welcome back, if you previously had an intervention with this blog post then you know that it will have rolled you to a full screen version of the animation looping in the browser window. All that the unsuspecting viewer was able to see was a “preview” of the blog post that appears in the blog roll section of the home page, or on the blog page itself. The preview of the post was hopefully engaging enough to lure you in. If you clicked on the preview it would redirect to the actual information in the post, but that never happens, you are taken directly to the looping action itself. A forever looping Xerox photo copy of a blank page…

(PS – you can revisit that simulation hereClick Here <– or Below to View the full Web Browser Page Variation of Xeroxed)

Lets talk context. A photocopy machine produces an endless series of copies.. Our brain responds to several aspects of what we see. It is enough information for us to reflect upon having the experience before… When the ink toner begins to run low it starts to produce degenerated copies. This effects the image and the ability to communicate its message(s).

This animated piece of Internet / Web Browser codependent art is digital and paperless. It is a paperless looping series of repetition to activate your self awareness…. ah the metaphors… a metaphor and an indicator of behaviors. What loops are you facing in your life that you walk right into over and over producing the same results.. the results that get a bit more degenerated each time we become aware that we are in the loop? Below is a screen shot from the previous “page” which is actually a page. I used a snippet of CSS using the page ID # to redirect the URL once the preview of the post in disguise was clicked on – the code is below.

.page-id-20721 #main-header { display:none; }
.page-id-20721 #page-container {
padding-top:0px !important}

Your Assignment: Create a visual metaphor that applies the idea of “redirection” as a concept that can function as a static or looping image to extend its meaning. The final outcome must be shared via an active URL.

 

 

Linear Expansions, A Continuum of Line & Form

“Linear Expansions, A Continuum of Line & Form”, 2021, Work in Progress, A Cut Paper Wall Relief.

Im excited to share the progress and process of this new series of paper cut-outs. The forms are arranged directly onto the brick wall in my studio and live there as the piece builds a little more each day. 

Everything starts out as a drawing in my world.. mostly. I suppose thats because its where I got started with art making. Above, we see just a series of smooth and gestural intuitive lines. Im always both surprised and excited by the infinite outcome of what the lines will do. I never draw the exact same character twice. There is always another iteration to explore and become surprised by. The paper cut out at the top of this post is in progress and has thoroughly been inspired by this series of drawings created last week. I cut them out and arranged them on my wall to create a “narrative”. This also serves as an example for my Illustration & Design students this semester. I hope they like it!

 

The drawings above are a result of this process in the video above. I finally started sharing some of these videos on social media… These kinds of drawings happen in immediacy. Fast, intuitive lines that form each character. They are all different yet unified by their stylized lines. But why stop there, I began to think about process and creating gauge and layers. What happens if I cut some of these forms out? And so it went..

It all starts out like this. Start to extract the drawing by flattening it into fragments. Im using a think bristol paper as my paper source. (Strathmore) the surface is smooth a durable. But alas, it is paper and paper is temperature sensitive, so over time it does buckle and curl. I find that this actually helps though, see the process below

(Sorry for the blurry pict above -Ill reshoot this!) I then lay out a flat variation of my cut out forms in layers, very much as one would use layers when using adobe photoshop or illustrator. This is the analog version, and it is a lot of fun to do. The application onto a flat surface is next. Im working kind of large on this piece to see how the scale holds up, I will make a few small pieces too. 

Here is the first character that was applied to the wall. The forms are adhered to the wall using several loops of thick gorilla brand duct tape. The duct tape works well because it can be “stacked” and it is strong enough to hold the weight of the paper as I layer it. Keep this in mind as the further that your pieces layer and come off of the surface of the wall, they may begin to show the effects of gravity :)) – the process continues!

Process – Here is the progress with the second character created and applied to the wall.

Here you can see the beginning of the third character as well as the reference drawings before they were moved to make room for the next characters.

I work a little bit each day. I enjoy the process so much so I tend to work slow to savor the journey. I also enjoy sitting back and looking at the piece as it grows as it gives me a lot of new ideas. Of course, the next adventure will be to make the characters free standing and able to support themselves in the round. 3D is inevitable both as a physical sculpture and a 3D model in a digital space. 

As of today, 2/17/21 this is where Im at in terms of progress. Should I add more smaller pieces and fragments as scale contrasting details? What am I missing? Lets hear some feedback!

Note – YES, I plan to work in this style with other more permanent materials. I would love to see a series of these placed into public space, would be sweet to see a series inside the nyc subway stations 🙂

Metaphoric Narratives with the Nature of Nature

Metaphoric Narratives with the Nature of Nature

2020/2021 Digital Illustration

Aaaaand we are back with another series of digital art works and a bit of a “how to” process post. Forgive me for the title of this blog post.. At first, I wasn’t sure if this was going to be an assignment tutorial of some kind, or just an over-sharing process and rambling session. It will serve as all of the above. Ok, so, lets face it, we all love photoshop. We all love the pen-tool and the ability to cut, create, apply and remix images with our graphic assets. Yes? Of course! OK OK, Ill get down to brass tacks already.. In this series I wanted to create and play with some fictional characters and also displace them into my everyday surroundings. It is in this process of being experimental that new narratives seem to poke at and guide us. Lets jump in. Of course I am sharing this process from the perspective of my own art making but also will use the steps to illustrate a class assignment for my foundation design and digital storytelling students. The ability to create well balanced and compelling compositions is skill set that is fun to cultivate and it never gets old. “Let’s always be practicing”, practicing  the ability to compose and create while mastering the dimensions of our picture plane. (that academic jargon…)

 

The gang is all here.. This example shares an integration of characters and the ability to use repetition, duplicates and scale (plus those shadows…). I love walking past the Brooklyn Museum in my neighborhood. I love the building itself and wanted to use it as one of the locations for this new “situation” to occur..

 

This image was taken outside of the Brooklyn Public Library, it shares a series of imagery and the application of a character. Our hero has found itself as a part of public advertisement. Perhaps this is fictional? OK, it is, but think about how your everyday surroundings may offer an opportunity for you to intervene, hack, displace and re-contextualize things. There is beauty in the seemingly banal or redundant, and what I mean by this is our everyday surroundings. We have the power to transform and transcend them. Visual imagery and image-making is a fun way to participate and also see the world in a new way.

 

By default, your friends are going to show up! Another example of repetition, composition and scale variation. Does this illustration tell a more compelling story than the image above it? Are the additional plants needed? What do they add to the composition and story? What is their intention here? Will they expand and take over? Well…

 

Above, is the original image that I took at Prospect Park that inspired the entirety of this series. (Im back tracking the narrative of this post a bit… just like in the Film “Pulp Fiction”… haha, not exactly but Im thinking about that..) The algae was really think and particularly a warmer value of saturated green than I recalled from most visits to this spot. It was also late July and pretty warm outside. Sometimes all it takes is one experience, story or image that causes the creativity trigger. After I took the picture I immediately reflected upon a memory of the 1980s film “Swamp Thing”.. are you old enough to remember that movie? Lol, I was just a kid when it came out but I loved it! So, I got inspired, fast! The image below was the first iteration beyond the “normal” picture that I took. But there is more to this puzzle below..

 

Sooo, you recognize the image below.. that is where the plant came from. Its one of the 5 plants (and growing) that I take care of..(its much bigger now as I write this a few months later too). Im illustrating all of this to help give you a bit of insight into the immediate and very intuitive thinking and creation process that I go through. I like the immediacy of using my own surrounds and digital image captures. This can all be so easily synced with other forms of media found in the public domain or via other creative commons resources. Plus, I experience the process as a muscle, it wants to be exercised, nurtured and practiced. It wants to grow!

 

I brought the image into photoshop and used the pen tool to cut it out. Once I had it free as an asset I started constructing my character. The figure was extracted from a painting found in the MET Museums Digital Open Access Image Archive of public domain works. There is a lot of good stuff there!

 

OK, so this fellow is NOT exactly “Swamp Thing” but it certainly expressed that energy and inspired the flow of the illustrations. I animated this guy below and also added it as a sticker on Instagram. If you use Instagram Stories, under the GIF search option you can put in my name (ryan seslow) and find this guy below… use it at will! There are some some others there too 🙂

Well, one idea leads to another and I kept going.. this is another character and asset above. The static image wanted to be added to a narrative and that narrative became a looping animated GIF. Its a short surreal story, and it was fun to make…

 

The Assignment Details:

Simply: Using this post as your inspiration, dig into your intuition and creative impulses and create a fun hybrid character that you can interject or displace into a narrative using your familiar surrounds.

Have fun and be sure to share your work here!

Portrait Riffin’ for GIF the Portrait 2020

Portrait Riffin’ for GIF the Portrait Project

A Project Prep for the Fall 2020 Edition

Its that time of the semester again. The time where I introduce how to make animated GIFS to my students and fellow humans… OK, Im lying big, I teach this all semester long, how can I not, I mean.. GIFS! There are myriads of fun projects out there for us folks to participate in GIF wise. Did you know that? Through GIFS, we can make new friends! Explore and learn about cultural and historical events, fragments, objects, fashion, foods and so much more. GIFITUP 2020 closes its submissions this coming week, and I advise that you check it out, but let me reintroduce you to another ol’ classic, the GIF the Portrait Project is BACK! The project started on a tumblr back in 1963… another LIE! Sorry, it started back in November of 2013 and was created specifically for the project. The idea is, and remains simple: “animate a portrait”.

The best place to start when viewing the current submissions is right here on the project’s archives page <– this allows for viewers to see a more expansive timeline of works as well all digest the inspiration as you begin to feel propelled into GIF making action. GIF the Portrait will be receiving submissions from students at CUNY BMCC, York College & NYIT this semester. The second part of this introduction to the project and assignment will share a series of “how-to” and step by step tutorials to get you started. In the mean time, I got started on my examples below. Thats right, I participate in every assignment that I give! Im on this team too! The image / GIF above is the final outcome from my contribution (RAD right?!!) and that outcome consists of a stacked series of the individual images that you can now scroll through below. I had a blast making these and they are all inspired by Andy Warhol! I mixed together a series of both digital and print media to create each piece. More to come!

 

(a studio installation above, you know, for context..)

GIF IT UP 2020 Edition – Open Call!

GIF IT UP is BACK! The 2020 Edition – Open Call!

Yes, this is my first iteration and submission to GIF IT UP 2020!

(Content source taken from https://gifitup.net)

 

GIF IT UP is an annual gif-making competition for the most creative reuse of digitised cultural heritage material. It is run by Europeana in close cooperation with Digital Public Library of AmericaDigital NZ and Trove. This year two new content partners are joining the fun – Japan Search, a platform giving access to digitised material from cultural institutions across Japan, and DAG Museums in Kolkata.

From 1 – 31 2020 – October, all gif-­makers, cultural heritage enthusiasts and lovers of the internet are invited to create brand new gifs by remixing copyright-free and openly licensed material.

HOW TO PARTICIPATE

1. Find an inspiring piece of copyright-free or openly licensed material from EuropeanaDPLADigital NZTroveJapan Search or chosen by DAG Museums.

2. Create an awesome GIF (Don’t know how? No worries – we have lots of resources to get you started.)

3. Submit your GIF for a chance to win great prizes

4. Share your creation on social media using the hashtag #GIFITUP2020

 

Fall 2020 NET-ART OPEN-CALL for Submissions!

Its that time Again!

The NET-ART OPEN-CALL for Submissions continues this semester!

FALL 2020 Edition

What does this mean? What is NET-ART on the Commons?

The NET-ART 2020 academic calendar is now accepting submissions on a rolling proposal basis in the following criteria:

  1. Electronic Media / Experimental Pedagogy
  2. Animated GIFS
  3. Digital Art
  4. VIDEO ART / Experimental Film
  5. NET-ART (Works created in and displayed in a web browser)
  6. Class / Course Collaboration
  7. Digital & Analog ZINEs
  8. Curatorial (A Curated Group Exhibition)
  9. Solo Exhibition
  10. Related “Otherness” pitched to us

Looking for useful tools, apps & tutorials to get your submission started? CLICK HERE!

Looking for examples of “what” has been submitted previously? Explore here!

The NET-ART Submission Guidelines:

Submissions may be generated by CUNY faculty, students of all levels, alumni & community members. CUNY classes/courses may also submit collaborative proposals as a group. CUNY faculty & students may also collaborate with others from outside of CUNY as well.

All submitted works will be featured and published as individual blog posts as well as added to existing galleries on the NET-ART website.

Depending on the submission’s proposal, relevant and in context, various submissions will be published and exhibited as an individual page created specifically for the project.

All submissions should be described in written detail with a clear vision, context and meaning. Supporting images and links should be provided as well.

Authors of the submissions and their collaborators must be willing to participate, respond to comments and expand upon their projects with incoming queries via the commons, twitter and beyond.

The purpose of exhibiting submissions in various categories displays a platform for creative and experimental methods of pedagogy. Please consider how your work will contribute to a larger whole that will be archived for teaching, learning, reference and posterity.

We anticipate your submissions!

Question, Proposals & Submissions can be sent via e-mail or via Twitter to:

rseslow@york.cuny.edu  /  @ryanseslow 

 

Happy Deaf Awareness Month!

Hello Everyone!

Here are some things that you can do to help spread Deaf Awareness at your campus, in your department, in your school, classroom, community and beyond. This post has context. Im a Deaf and Hard of Hearing college professor teaching here in CUNY. This post is about representation, advocacy and awareness.

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month

This month you can help spread awareness about Deaf culture, what it means to be Deaf & Hard of Hearing (HofH) and experiencing the various spectrums of hearing loss. You can get involved and be proactive, here are a few ways to take-action, and by all means, SHARE THIS WIDELY!

What is it like to Deaf? Check out this video!

Understanding comes through Awareness, lets dig in: even awareness takes practice!

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month - finger-spelling the word: practice

1. Learning, Sharing and Informing your Family, Friends, Colleagues and Students:

First, spread the word by sharing this post! Simply talking about Deaf Awareness Month is a great start. Let other people know by reaching out. This can easily take place in a department meeting, in the classroom, via a group e-mail or by creating an event or meet up to discuss. In your department, reach out to the Human Resources office and ask about the resources your campus offers. This may mean connecting to a specific person in charge or the office of accessibility / disabilities on or off the premises. If there aren’t any current resources, (and sadly, there may not be) then it is time to create them! Let this post be a guide and a starting point. Again, awareness is everything!

 

an ASL GIF animation for the word "Inspired"
via – https://giphy.com/signwithrobert/

Obviously, the Internet is filled with tons of resources, here are a few to help get you started and inspired!:

NAD https://www.nad.org/

American Deaf Culture

Deaf Culture – Wiki

Sign Language – Wiki

What Does it Mean to Be Deaf/ Hard of Hearing?

 

Lets learn a bit of ASL Historyhere is a great short video to help introduce you:

 

A bit more on ASL history can be found here:

https://www.lifeprint.com/asl101/pages-layout/history1.htm

https://www.handspeak.com/culture/index.php?id=86

 

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month with a NYC subway train loop

(translation – the subway cars above read: “Deaf Awareness Month Graffiti”)

 

the american sign language alphabet - fingerspelling and hand shape chart

1. Learn A Sign Language: It’s time to learn a sign language! Here in the USA we use ASL, also known as American Sign Language. ASL is beautiful! It is an official foreign language. Even learning the basics of fingerspelling and the ASL alphabet goes a very long way. I’m a big fan of smartphone applications like: The ASL App

Dr. Bill Vicars has a great website and his YouTube channel is a great place to start learning ASL! I love Handspeak.com and Giphy also has a great search archive of various ASL teachers and personalities here

Gallaudet University also has a great free online course here.

There are a lot of options! Choose one and get started!

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month -finger spelling the word- brooklyn

Above: Now you know how to finger-spell ” BROOKLYN” in the American Sign Language Alphabet 🙂

 

For those of you here in NYC (and beyond as remote classes are now fully in place) I highly recommend taking classes at the Sign Language Center – they are so wonderful! I am a student there and cant say enough about how great they are!

Several CUNY colleges (and private colleges) also offer ASL classes at the beginner level (did you know that?) Take a peek at your college’s course catalog or do a search for ASL / the name of your college, online.

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month

3. Join or Create a Sign Language Group: All colleges and university campuses have an allotted “club-hours” time each week for clubs on campus (and now remotely as many of us work, teach and attend classes from home.) Does your campus already have a Sign Language group or club? Inquire! If not, perhaps you can use the club-hours time to form an ASL club and practice learning Sign Language together. Learning with a friend or a group of people is a great way to inspire, encourage and motivate each other.

 

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month

4. Support! Reach out to your local Deaf & Hard of Hearing Communities: This means, People, Businesses, Organizations and Groups! Once again, by reaching out to your campus HR dept. and or office of disabilities / accessibility and make an inquiry about how to get involved and who the contact names are for various groups, communities, events and businesses. Reach out!

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month

5. Creativity – Go on and Create Something to Express Yourself: I made most of the animations in this post specifically for Deaf Awareness Month. You can get creative too! This can be done individually or in your classroom, it can be done with your department and fellow faculty members, administrators and staff. Collaborate! Make a sign, make a flyer, make a poster or a digital illustration. Hang them up around your department offices and in your classrooms online and offline. Get creative! Im going to be launching a multi-campus wide project soon to bring further awareness, I will be reaching out to YOU!

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month

6. Closed Captions, Accessibility & Inclusion –  (THIS MEANS YOU!) – It is time to caption your videos and video meetings, yes, all of them! Its long overdue, its time to be inclusive and to provide accessibility for all. From now on, use ONLY a video conferencing application that has live and real time captions. Record your videos with captioning and make transcriptions available.There are so many platforms available today that work really well, they all provide transcripts and or the ability to record the video with captions. Zoom & REV, Google Meet, Skype, & MS Teams are just a few to name. This is the perfect month to take action and make the necessary changes, updates and adaptations so that all communication is inclusive and accessible. As a college professor teaching all of my courses remotely this semester, I have been using Zoom with the REV add-on for live and real time captions (I am 100% dependent on captions). I find that these two tools together work best for me and my disability. The captioning is fast and consistent while Zoom gives me the ability to see all of my students and select how I want to see the speaker/speakers in a full composite meeting. Yes, I lip and speech read! When I record my classes, I automatically record the captions and also produce an audio and text transcription.

an animated GIF to promote deaf awareness month

Contact me! Want to learn more, chat, connect and create some kind of an awareness based creative project with your students, class or faculty members? I’m here to help! e-mail here – rseslow@york.cuny.edu

The Trickery of a Memories Memory

a digital image of a sculpture of a hard drive

(Read the description here first as it is the assignment’s example)

The Trickery of a Memories Memory..

“The Elusive Memory of Memories from a project about how we think we process Memory” 2020, Digital Ink Jet Print.

(adhered to a brick wall with a temporary adhesive , 1/1 edition)

Context – the digital ink jet print is a photograph of a sculpture. Sculpture origins display the human need to “attempt to make things last forever”, however, this sculpture has melted. Its a reminder. As a Deaf person, I constantly think that I remember the way that certain things used to sound. There is stored memory of those memories. Its a series of fragments and what I choose to tell myself. The image was printed – which is another metaphor of a reproduction to access the past. The past was “cut to its contour” taken from its original digital photograph of the outdated hard-drive mold that was cast in red colorize water. The color red was used to imply visual heat and the passion of emotion, but the nature of temperature applies its earthly laws.. The water was frozen and a cast positive replica was released and composed onto a table. (As I “recall” the capturing process) The cast object was photographed and taken as a metaphor to preserve the ephemerality and the array of lifetime stories that we tell ourselves.

We can always rewrite the story… right?

This is the original digital photograph of the actual cast / frozen mold of the hard drive, can you tell the difference? This cast weighs 2 pounds – the digital one above is as light as a feather..

 

Assignment:

Title: The Digital Displacement of an Object displayed as a Metaphor

In this assignment you will need:

Access to a printer and the ability to print an image. An image that you would like to work with (think a digital photo that you will take with your phone) and the ability to crop, trim and manipulate the image once it has been printed. A scissor or an        x-acto knife will help. Oh, and some form of temporary adhesive like tape will come in handy!

Concept: Connect an object with a metaphor and then place or displace the object “someplace” to display its context. Take a photo of the “piece” as a whole and create a blog post about it. (Yes, you can take take more than 1 image or work with video). Please take a photo of the object before and after / process of the final result. (see my example above).

Inspirational links for more insight: Examples –

Public Intervention

Subway Intervention

Hallway Intervention

Considerations: Connect to a object. Most objects and things that we use each and everyday have intentional and specific purposes. Think about recyclable containers. For example, a water bottle. We usually don’t think much about it, we drink the water and then dispose of the empty water bottle. We rarely think that the bootle has a specific form, it was designed on purpose to be held by our hands. What happens if we strip the empty bottle of its logos and labels and paint the object one solid color? The context changes, we “see” the objects for its shape and form. If we extend this to a metaphor, an object like an empty water bottle asserts itself as a vessel. A container that can hold volume and fluids. Those fluids can be effected by temperature.. get it? Have fun!

(yes, you can always complete this assignment purely digitally if you do not have access to a printer, but seek applied art & design alternatives first – think drawing or collage)

Publishing: After you have crafted your art work and photographed all of the elements, generate a compelling blog post about the process and the meaning of the art. Your approach may be in a narrative “how-to” format much like this assignment description (haha). Or, perhaps your approach is fictional in the form of a short story. 

 

*A gallery of completed artwork will be gathered from all students and participants and later exhibited here on this website.

 

Reach out with questions here: rseslow@york.cuny.edu

Paper, Light, Shadow & Storytelling Part 3

Welcome back! Part 3!

Lets make a “free-standing” variation of this project that works “in the round”. 

This post is part 3 of 5 parts from the Paper, Light & Storytelling Project.

*Be sure to read Part 1 first – go HERE

*and don’t miss Part 2 – go Here

*then jump to Part 5 (trust me!) – go HERE

The short video below is a series of snippets taken from various aspects of the project that will help you technically.

 

Let cut out some pieces, parts, shapes and fragments to compose with. Yes, they are “planes” again, but rather than working on the wall in a relief format, lets create a free standing composition that functions on table surface. As you can see in the video above, leave space at the base of each form so that you can bend and curl it over to create a right angle. This angle will allow for the piece(s) to free stand as you glue them down.

 

If you follow my examples above and below, notice that “spacial distance” plays a role in how the pieces create entrance ways for light and shadow to play a role. Working with forms that are cut in various heights and widths will also play a role in the overall visual aesthetic.

 

Below, you can see an example of how you can create “an environment” for your piece to exist in. Perhaps this give a bit more context to the design itself? In this case, I have simply created a gallery simulation by adhering 2 pieces of thick paper together and placing an additional piece on the table surface.

 

A thicker type of paper works best for this, Im using bristol paper above (11″ x 14″ inches) The nice part about this idea is that you can now use the viewfinder of your capturing device to “crop” the forms into the “gallery” as you take photos of the piece as a whole. See below.

 

Here is the composition of vertical forms glued down onto the surface of the table, and placed into the gallery simulation. The image directly below is a bird’s eye perspective with the natural light in the room hitting the piece. My ambition is to share the space and spaces between each free standing form.

 

In this example Im using the same light sources from the previous 3 tutorials (links above). Im a big fan of using light sources to create shadows, effects, filters and moods. These flashlight light sources can also layer over each other and create secondary colors. 

 

a series of colorful flashlights with their lights turned on

The next series of images below are a mixture of my light source set up, process and final outcomes. Please share your feedback and work via URL in the comments section below! Feel free to hack and remix this assignment and its guidelines. 

 

Rebirth of the Course Syllabus, The Visual Aesthetic – Part 1

Rebirth of the Course Syllabus – The Visual Aesthetic – Part 1

August 2020

(**YES, my intention is to make this a workshop or a course that integrates into existing courses**)

 

Let us start with this: “What are the creative potentials of a course syllabus? What role do visual aesthetics play? Why, are they important and for what purpose?” “What role do your values and beliefs play as the creator and facilitator of the process?”

I ask you to contemplate this as well: “Everything is default until we intervene, investigate, interact and define who we are in relationship to that thing.”

 

The Audit:

The “default departmental syllabus template” rears its head yet again, you know the format well, and it needs your attention! You have been selected to exercise this operation! You have also been selected to express your creativity and desire to apply it, and apply it you must into your new course syllabi! YES, ALL of them, but lets start with one.

Before we jump into the visuals and creation process, let us flex a bit of necessary awareness:

Its time to apply this mantra into the audit (of your old syllabi) and into the new creation process (if you don’t already) the following terms will now govern your new syllabus – Accessibility, Inclusion, Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Understanding, Revision & Community

A few points to also remind and inspire:

1. There is no ego in teaching. Be an example of Accessibility, Inclusion, Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Understanding, Revision & Community. Make this your mantra. Your energy and enthusiasm is contagious! Meaning, your vibration carries information to each and every person in the “classroom”. The word “classroom” has a lot of new context today, and certainly expands far beyond the face to face instruction model. The emotional state of your vibration creates rapport between people. You can set the vibration for the semester in your first-class meeting through expression. Start by expressing your gratitude, excitement, appreciation and enthusiasm for teaching and meeting your new students. Again, this is contagious energy! Invite the students to do the same. It is in the communal moments of expression that a foundation will be solidified.

2. Take acute awareness that your course(s) holds all of the potential to be an incredibly unique learning experience in and of themselves. Regardless if it is the same course, redundancy is a choice, creativity is the answer and solution. I mean this far beyond any of the specific course content that will be covered throughout the semester. Acknowledge, we are all powerful human beings coming into the course from various places and stages in our journey of constantly becoming together on this planet. There is always a part of each and every one of us within each other. Whether it is an example of who you once were, relate to now, or a reflection of the future you to come. There you are, and there we are. Include and reference the human experience into your course.

3. Think about the fact that yourself, and the group of incoming students will be having a new experience in the same physical and virtual “spaces” for the next 13-15 weeks. It does not matter if it is synchronous, asynchronous or a mixture of another hybrid form as this experience, with the exact same people, in the exact same space(s) and time frame will never happen again. Discuss and discover your similarities and collective strengths as a class and how those individual characteristics form the modular fragments that make up the whole. Every class is a community. It will function as one with great energy if it is declared collectively. You can facilitate, lead and guide by being the example.

4. Create a community! Every course holds the potential to be a powerful platform for collaboration and community building. This means, setting up a series of dialogs early on for learning about each other. What are the needs, passions, concerns and ambitions of each student? How are they taking steps to realize those things? Remind yourself before, during and after each class; what roll do you play as a leader and facilitator of inspiration for your students? Acknowledge and let your students know how they inspire you, your work, your teaching practice and life! Reflect and share what it is was like to be a student yourself. What you have taken with you and applied, what has been helpful and always stayed within your heart.

5. Realize, our students are teaching us far more than we are teaching them (read that again if you need to!) If you have a classroom of 20 students, then a minimum of 20 new potentialities, solutions, variations and iterations will be generated, worked on, crafted, discussed, written, spoken, presented uniquely and shared back to you (and the class itself) for each and every assignment, project, paper or discussion. (I know, thats a long sentence!) That is a tremendous amount of information and energy. Remember, there is no EGO in teaching, so whether these outcomes please your expectations or not, you have been exposed to a new opportunity to help, learn, grow and see things from another’s perspective. Perhaps you have been DISMISSING a lot with a focus purely on the right answers, or if a student followed “your” directions properly.. The sum total of awareness from openly experiencing things from another’s point of view is the diminishment of competition-based thinking, and the humble transition into seeing infinite creativity. There is always another way. There is always another solution.

6. Finally, do you really think that you are going to inspire your new students this semester by spending the entire first-class meeting time reading the entire default, all text version of the syllabus? If you still do this, I forgive you and love you still, but I urge you to stop and please change this! Place an emphasis on our collective human-ness first and foremost. Your class(s) are communities awaiting the declaration of its potentiality. Introductions should be the first thing that happens. Learn each other’s names, share stories, connect and learn about each other. Re-read the first part of this post again too.

 

"communication" fingerspelled in American sign language
The word “communication” finger-spelled in American Sign Language

 

Removing More of the Default:

Your syllabi can be serious deal breaker simply based on the verbiage that you use in it. Which could still be taken from the default template. I mean it, you really need to audit the entirety of it. Even if you DO all of the things that I mentioned above. Its time to ask: “Who is my syllabus written for, is it written to be accessible and inclusive for all?”

As I mentioned, it’s time for an audit. Start by removing words, terms and phrases that should have been squashed many years ago.

Here is a list of growing words, phrases and terms that need to be removed from all course syllabi:

Mandatory

Excuses

No excuses

Lateness is not acceptable

Will not be accepted

Excluded

No access

Impaired / impairment

Disabled person(s)

Suffers from

Handicapped

Physically challenged

Must / You must

Confined / confined to

Victim / victim of

Defective / Defect

Lame / Lame excuses

 

I know, you read this list above and are looking for more context as to “why”, thats good, but ask yourself again, “Who is my syllabus written for, is it written to be accessible and inclusive for all?”

The most common phrase that I continue to receive from colleagues (and many other people)when we first meet or a few weeks into a new connection: “Wow, you don’t look Deaf!”..

Of course, I die inside at first but then quickly forgive the unconscious non-malicious intent of my assassin for their pre-programmed response to never meeting a Deaf person before. Self-Awareness takes practice, resolve, forgiveness and the ability to “see the bigger picture” even while a wrong doing is happening in real time.

I am Deaf and Hard of Hearing. Being “Deaf & HofH” has an enormous range in terms of its spectrum of “how” one experiences their live as a person that is Deaf. I can only speak for myself as I best try to explain what I can and can not do. We must consider this as an example when we think of others. We do not know what another person is experiencing until it is communicated. We can not make assumptions, especially about disabilities and what we may “think” it means. Multiple forms of representation and communication have always played a huge role in how I communicate and “figure things out” as a result of not hearing. I am in a perpetual state of trying to get access to communication and also becoming a better communicator myself. I’m hyper aware of how the person(s) on the other end is receiving my communication. We are all so unique (wonderfully) I feel that it is important to make individual connections with our students (and as a whole class of course too). We need to learn how each student learns so that we can help them both individually and how they apply what they learn into the larger whole of the course. Back to the words, phrases and terms above, words are triggers to emotional blue prints and internal maps. Seeing words and terms like “Mandatory” or “No Excuses” sends a pretty sharp message. Consider HOW it is being received beyond your PERSONAL expectations. If you would like further clarity on this, and or more examples, feel free to write me.

 

an image of loose keyboard keys embedded in ice..
Thinking in metaphors, I cant help it. (an image of loose keyboard keys embedded in ice.._

 

Going Beyond the Surveillance Based CMS Systems:

I am a huge advocate for Open Education. I believe in transparency and I am here to help others. I believe that tools like BlackBoard and Canvas are useful and helpful. They help us to get started seeing the possibilities of a content management system. This is a good thing, it is the contrast that we need because we must also leave the BlackBoard and Canvas nest. I know, some of my college’s make it…. ugh, that terrible word, “Mandatory”. If they do, well,I simply place the minimum there, which is a weekly reminder to come to our class website that is located here on this URL (insert hyper-link). I have always used the web and built websites for my classes as a tool to facilitate my course content. Using platforms like WordPress as we do here on the brilliant CUNY Commons or OpenLab allows for us to easily create and publish content, share and update the content, engage with the content and also archive the content. A WordPress platform supports written text, images, image galleries, video and video walls, and so many other features to discuss and comment and participate. WordPress also supports a myriad of accessibility plug-ins and tools to help. My goal is always to provide as many forms of accessibility and inclusion for my students. I use hybrid “how-to” techniques that are both analog and digital – the written and spoken word, digital images, graphics, GIFs, drawings, Memes, videos clips and video tutorials that I create as well as draw and curate from the Internet. I also create most of my own content because it is super FUN to do. This summer, I am in the process of making more hands-on video tutorials where I can record my screen and also share more analog techniques using an overhead tripod. We all need to grow as the creators and facilitators of our course content.

 

The Visuals, A First Taste:

By now Im hoping that you are thinking of the course syllabus as an ongoing process. A creative process that metaphorically is just like us. A vessel of non-static creative electric becoming! I’m starting to create some fully animated course syllabi. Im experimenting and we all can do this. Im pushing the boundaries of what I have been exposed to, taught to do, and of course “told I had to do”.. Im making my syllabi more modern and consumable in a way that is already familiar via current technologies on the web, mobile devices and beyond. Yes, there will always be a standard text / pdf version, it is 100% necessary for accessibility and inclusion. Plus, who says that we cant have several variations for different contexts? I love this idea and it fosters the creative process.

 

"The ct101 digital storytelling logo placed inside of an old tv set"
“The ct101 digital storytelling logo placed inside of an old tv set”

 

Its now time to get busy with your syllabi’s creation process! Im going to show you how. Its a myth that you have to have professional design tools to do this. It is also a lie if you have believed that you are not creative! Stop using this false belief  to hold you back. We all have creative abilities and potentials. Im your catalyst! Of course it would help if you have had some design training but it is NOT by any means a necessity. You can learn, we can learn, and learn we shall together. The graphic above, this is a “logo / promotional graphic” that I created for my CT101 – Digital Storytelling class. (Im building out this course on the Commons week by week this semester) The logo idea for the course all started with the type-face, then adding those fun icons (that have context to the course) above the typeface and then placing it together into this old TV to extend its placement, and to be fun.. The isolated logo is below.

 

ct101 digital storytelling logo
“The ct101 digital storytelling logo”

 

I have customized my course title by creating a compelling visual graphic to accommodate it. This is simply one example of what I could have done. I think that this is a great first exercise in taking the creative reigns of breaking free of the default course title. Now imagine a world where every course had its own visual identity to express and embody the course. It can even change up every semester so that it becomes all inclusive. This can easily be a project that DO with your students over the course of the semester.

 

the ct101 digital storytelling course animation! An old tv shares clips of the course elements.
A promotional ct101 digital storytelling course GIF animation

 

Oh yes I did. I took the static logo and I animated it into this welcome message! You will find plenty of that kind of stuff here on the Net-Art course website, but the process is contagious and so much fun.

Part 2 of this syllabus re-make series will indeed go further, with video tutorials, and many how-to’s, but for now, I would like set you off down the rabbit hole of this next piece of information. In the spring of 2019 I was so kindly invited to create a presentation and a workshop for graduate students in the DHI program at the Graduate Center. The presentation itself functions as a blog post (just like this one does, wink wink), and the blog post is an example of a creative potentiality for “what” is possible for the Rebirth of your Syllabus!

Please click on the graphic below and forward we go! (PS – I created that graphic for the presentation and it was made from OER materials)

a logo for the graphic design workshop
A logo I made for the graphic design workshop at the GC in 2019

 

Did you make all the way down here? Thank You! This blog post is “an example”. It is simply an iteration of inspiration to jump start the process and get you thinking. I know, there is a lot to review and re-read and re-cap so I am going to stop here for now. Part 2 of this series will dig into the visuals, image-making, crafting and curating creativity from a myriad of tutorials and how to’s on the way.

Forgive the typos – this is a 1st draft!

 

Accessibility, Inclusion, Patience, Empathy, Compassion, Creativity, Understanding, Revision & Community

Feel free to reach out in the comments below or e-mail me here – rseslow@york.cuny.edu or rseslow@bmcc.cuny.edu

Be well!