Piktochart: A Quick Fix

I can finally say I am FINISHED with my Interface Interrogation for my Writing & Digital Media class! If you have read any of my recent posts, you are well aware of how this project has been consuming my thoughts and time. As discussed in my last post, in my early stages of drafting I was struggling with finding a clear direction for my analysis. One of the requirements of the assignment was to post our analysis on Google Sites, which forced me to address my organization issue. By putting it online, I realized that I could break down my writing into different sections to make it more readable. Now that I am finally finished, I am glad that I posted my writing online because it helped provide structure for my paper.

However, a requirement for this assignment was to not only publish the interrogation on the web, but to use Google Sites to do this. This is the first time I have ever used Google Sites, and I did not enjoy it. I found it very ironic that I published writing that analyzes the usability of an interface (Piktochart) on a website that is not user-friendly (Google Sites). Google Sites is not only difficult to use; it is also counter-intuitive and extremely frustrating to edit and manage. I am glad I am familiar with HTML because if I wasn’t I would’ve had an even more difficult time using this interface. Fortunately, I was able to use a clean, minimalist design to allow my writing to speak for itself. Click here if you want to check it out!

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Piktochart Interface

As mentioned in my previous post, I am in the process of learning how to effectively interrogate interfaces. After reading, exploring, and discussing material on interface analysis in my Writing & Digital Media class I am now required to conduct my own analysis. When I first received this assignment, I was excited to tackle the task and learn more about writing and design. However, I am in the process of writing my third analysis because I am continually and repeatedly unsatisfied with the analyses I am producing.

My first take at analysis was very rough, collecting information and screenshots to present in my writing and presentation. Although I found and wrote important information relating to the interface, my research was extremely unguided and organized. I told myself this was alright, and I would tackle the organization component in my second draft. However, I decided that my writing would be better guided and more effective if I neglected my first draft and started from scratch. Although I was starting with a clean slate in Microsoft Word, I was still incorporating a lot of the information I had gathered during my first analysis. After writing my second draft, I am yet again disappointed in the outcome.

Part of my assignment includes placing my interrogation on Google Sites. I chose a clean, professional template so that my text and images could speak for themselves. I did not want the Google Sites interface interfering with my analysis. The template I chose is organized into three separate interior pages. I decided to continue with this template by dividing my writing into three different sections, Usability, Intro, and Options. Although the page names need work, I think this is a good start. Organizing my paper into sub-problems has helped me think in a different way and will hopefully assist me in finalizing a thorough analysis.

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Interrogating Interfaces

In my Writing and Digital Media class we are discussing interfaces. We are learning how to explore different interfaces and analyze the features and usability of similar software and applications. We began by interrogating Twitter’s website, Twitter for mobile, and TweetCaster, a Twitter app. I compared and contrasted the abilities and constraints of each app, paying particular attention to usability.

I found that the Twitter website was the easiest for me to use. However, I am the most familiar with Twitter mobile and find it the most convenient because, when I want to tweet, my phone is usually more accessible than my computer. I think that TweetCaster was the most difficult for me to use because I was the least familiar with it. Also, I do not see a need for Tweetcaster because all of my “tweeting needs” are already fulfilled by Twitter.

In class, we discussed why many people do not branch off and use other Twitter apps, such as TweetCaster, and instead chose to trust Twitter to have all the features that he or she may need. One student in my class explained his theory that he trusts Twitter because the company has established credibility and earned his trust through his Twitter experience. He uses Twitter every day and rarely has problems with it, so why turn anywhere else? Also, many people begin their Twitter experience with Twitter’s website or Twitter’s mobile application and fall in love with it, and therefore do not see a need to branch out and explore other Twitter-related software.

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In my last post, Interactive Communication, I talked about the potential advantages and disadvantages that tapestry lends to an essay. I spent this past weekend drafting my tap essay and was pleasantly surprised by how my writing process altered to fit this new digital format.

I noticed that, as I was drafting, I was thinking of my writing as more conversational than most essays that I have previously written. This was unintentional, but I think it helped my writing fit into the tapestry format. I began drafting my essay in Microsoft Word. I wrote a paragraph, and then stopped. This format was not helping me communicate with my audience. I deleted my paragraph and began trying to write my essay in bullets… it worked great! The tone that I was trying to establish in my writing was captured through this bullet format.

The bullets helped me organize what text I want on each slide, where there are going to be images, and where I want there to be pauses when the user has to tap to reveal the next word, sentence or image. Another advantage this drafting method has is its hierarchy. As I was writing, I was able to see the information that would be in the previous slides. If I had continued writing in the paragraph format it would have been much more difficult to figure out what I wrote for previous slides.

Overall, I am enjoying this new format. I think that tapestry also has many disadvantages but since I am in the beginning stages of drafting I have not encountered many yet.

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Interactive Communication

This past week I finally turned in my Video Narrative for my Writing and Digital Media class. I have been working on this project for about a month so I was ready to turn it in and move on to the next assignment. Our next project is a tap essay. I have never heard of tap essays before so I had fun researching and exploring this form of communication that was new to me. After researching I found out that, not only are tap essays new to me, but the concept was actually invented recently (in 2012). I am excited to take on this new form of communication and explore the advantages and disadvantages that it lends in the writing process and how it affects readers.

I think that one of the many advantages a tap essay has over the more common form of an essay (I’ll call this the Microsoft Word essay) is its interactivity. Interactive communication is essential in captivating an audience. It gives users the opportunity to have a conversation with users instead of talking at them. I think that creating a successful tap essay is going to be more difficult than writing a Microsoft Word essay because it further emphasizes the importance of the audience. If there is not significant thought put into who is reading the tap essay and how it is going to be presented, the advantage the tap essay provides of captivating an audience is lost.

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Tea & Nailpolish

I am in the process of creating a Video Narrative for one of my classes, and just had a realization about the topic that I chose. I am creating the narrative on painting my nails. Painting my nails has always been a part of my life, but I never realized the significance until I delved into the reasons why I enjoy the process of painting them.

In my last post, Pictures and Writing, I discussed the role that tea plays in my life. It is my comfort, and reminds me of soothing words that my mom would provide me if she were sitting next to me while I am distressed. I didn’t realize this until now, but painting my nails plays a similar role. When I was younger, I would drink tea and paint my nails with my mom. Although these activities were usually separate, both were tasks that I enjoyed doing with my mom whenever I could. Drinking tea and painting nails seem like very simple, straight forward tasks, but I am beginning to realize the significance and deeper meaning they play in my life.

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Pictures of Writing

Last week, in my Writing and Digital Media class, we were asked to photograph images of anything that influenced our writing process. One thing that immediately came to my mind was tea. At first, I was thinking of tea as a source of caffeine to keep me awake at night to finesse a paper I am writing, and to wake me up in the morning so I can go turn in that paper. Or, at times, to keep me going throughout the night so I don’t fall asleep on my computer while writing. However, after thinking about the influence tea has on my writing process, I realized it has a much deeper significance.

I grew up drinking tea. As a little girl, while my mom would sit at the kitchen table drinking her morning cup of tea while doing her Daily Devotion for Bible Study, I would find a seat next to her, take my tea set and play along. As I grew up, tea continued to play a role in my life but its role was ever changing. The only consistent role tea has played throughout my life is comfort. Now, when I have to stay awake to finish any type of assignment, holding the cup of tea in my hand soothes me and gives me the confidence boost I need to continue throughout the night and into the morning. Often, it reminds me of the many words of encouragement I know my mom would give me if she were sitting next to me on my bed while I am struggling to stay awake.

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Computer Technologies

As the first few weeks of Fall semester have flown by, I am continuing to think about Shipka’s discussion on “composition” and how it relates to me as a student. In “Toward a Composition Made Whole” Shipka discusses rethinking composition and rethinking processes. I believe that the definition of composition and how compositions are created is a lot more broad than most think. Digital technologies have had a strong effect on pushing the boundaries of what defines a composition. As these technologies develop, the meaning and role of the composition expands as well.

In chapter 1 Shipka states that “Given the degree to which computer technologies have impacted and will likely continue to impact how, when, why, and with whom we communicate, it may well be the case that composing situations will continue to become ‘far more diverse than we have been led to believe by the preponderance of studies in out field’ (Syverson 1999,187).” I agree with Shipka that computer technologies play a large role in how we compose and communicate, but I also think that the role of multimodality needs to include other forms of composition other than digital. Furthermore, I think it is important to remember that multimodality is not a new way of communicating and learning, rather it has been included in education before digital technologies were as prevalent as they are today.

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English & Communication

In the first chapter of Toward a Composition Made Whole, Shipka discusses the debate on the role of the first year English class. I believe that the typical freshman English class tends to be static and does not strive to be relevant. Most of these classes tend to be linear and abandon the need for a dynamic communicative approach. Shipka continues by referring to a paper written by Harold Briggs called “College Programs in Communication as Viewed by an English Teacher.” In this paper Briggs warns readers that “the traditional mind is always a closed mind.” I disagree with this bold and generalized statement, but I do agree with Briggs that a teacher of communication needs to have an open and receptive mind. Come to think of it, I believe every teacher should have an open and receptive mind. If a teacher has a closed mind, he or she is teaching what has been previously known and are choosing to neglect the array of new information that becomes available every single day.

Another point that Shipka touches on is the need for a more broad approach to writing and communication. The major that I am studying for my undergraduate degree is called Visual Communication Design (VCD). Although it is often referred to as Graphic Design, VCD is intentional about developing every students ability to visually communicate, relate, and persuade. Communication should be viewed as a tool that has the ability to present and exchange ideas and information. I think that VCD is a great example of one of the tools that is being overlooked by the traditional first year English classes. By abandoning the use of visual, audio, and other multimodal communication tools, teachers are limiting their students education instead of broadening it.

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Bridging the Gap

After reading the first few pages of Jody Shipka’s Toward a Composition Made Whole, I already felt like there were a handful of things I wanted to write about. In the introduction Shipka discusses the role that multimodal teaching and learning plays in our everyday lives. I am taking a Writing & Digital Media class this semester and we are also discussing the potential multimodal education has. I have only been enrolled in this class for a week, and have only read the first few pages of Toward a Composition Made Whole, but I am already starting to realize just how hesitant I am to change my preconceived notions of what education is.

In the introduction Shipka also discusses efforts to bridge the gap between students’ curricular and extracurricular literacy. I believe that branching out and pushing the boundaries of education will create more effective teaching and learning. However, in my classes that are using many different forms of education, I sometimes struggle keeping track of and fully utilizing all of the tools I have been given. I have become accustomed to having no more than two or three educational “tools” (such as my professor, textbook, and other miscellaneous readings) for each of my classes, so adding more modes of education to this is going to take some adjusting to. I think that, if I am able to adjust to this type of learning that is new to me, I will be able to better incorporate and intertwine my curricular and extracurricular life.

I have noticed that, although I did not automatically accept or instantaneously feel comfortable with increasing the types and amount of learning tools, I am already starting to combine and incorporate what I am learning in each of my classes (this is a start, right?). As I am reading Shipka’s text for Writing & Digital Media, I am making notes in my sketchbook for my Graphic Design class on what defines a composition, and about the significance of the process that goes into creating a composition. As I continue reading, I am hoping that Shipka will continue to provide insight on how to incorporate all of the education I am receiving and apply it in my academic and everyday life.

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