Thinking about writing about writing

So. I have halfheartedly started my eportfolio and I am very excited about the possibilities for it. However, I am equally frustrated by the constraints of a template. I do not know enough about html/css/whatever to do anything without a template, but I think that because I spent so much time just thinking about the portfolio and not making it, I was able to get these delusions of grandeur about what it could look like when realistically, it is far out of my skill set.

That being said, I was thinking about all of the technology I have been exposed to and used in this class and it is quite a fair amount. I have started blogging, begun to build a website, made a prezi, recorded a voice over with Jing, viewed my work on screencast.com, peer conferenced with voicethread, and edited photos with picnik. I’d say that’s pretty neat. I have decided for my website I am just going to use all of my own photos to avoid copyright infringement stuff. I edited the photo I took in picnik and it is currently the header picture on my website. I’m pretty proud of it. 🙂 Even though it’s only one tiny step in a very long process.

From here, I’m going to jump into the in-class writing we are doing on Tuesday. I think the biggest difference that I have found for me personally as I write, is the element of design. Aspects like font, color, layout all take precedence over content. Last week, I went to a tradeshow for a class a couple of my friends were in. The class was called Integrated Product Design and each team of students (2 business students, 2 engineers, 1 art and design student) had to create, from scratch, an entire product, including pricing, marketing, business model, advertising, everything and then present it at this trade show. A lot of work went into each product, but when it came down to it, what mattered were the aesthetics. How the product was presented, what the team members were wearing, how the product looked and felt. Things like cost, sustainability, and materials were drowned by how good, or bad, the actual product looked. I feel like the same concept applies to our website building/e-portfolios and is also for me, the biggest difference between normal writing and technology writing.

 

Politics and Pearls

E-Portfolio Proposal

Overall Goals:

  • For my E-Portfolio, I would like to present my writing within the framework of politics.
  • The title will be “Politics and Pearls,” because it reflects the political nature of my website while still insinuating that I am quite girly.

Layout:

  • I would like my layout to be very simple with very muted colors that are still feminine without being “whoa this is very pink.”
  •  I would like to have a main page with different tabs across the bottom for my biography, writing, resume, photos, and contact information.

Content:

  • My writing is very focused in an academic direction so I will keep the format most likely the same as it is already in the essay format.  I may consider changing some pieces into a more editorial format.  If I change them into an editorial form, I will allow commenting on the articles.
  • Images will be used to show the less academic side of life.
  • I don’t think that I will include a Twitter feed because I don’t  tweet frequently and my tweets are not relevant to the purpose of my more academic website.

Electronic Portfolio Proposal

I would like my portfolio to have a very clean, organized look and feel.  That does not mean that it necessarily needs to be simplistic, I just want it to be very easy to operate and look classy.  I think that I want the primary colors of my portfolio to be black, white and red (a very modern look).  I have not yet explored the templates on Weebly, where I will be posting my portfolio, but I am sure they will have something that can accommodate my needs.   I want to strive for my portfolio to look very professional, nothing that could be misconstrued as childlike.  I definitely want to include a picture of myself, though I am not sure exactly sure which picture I will put it yet.  My page will include an “About Me” section which will explore my personal life, hobbies and recreation activities.  I want to present myself as a professional writer and I think that my ideal audience would be an employer someday.  I plan on attending graduate school for psychology but I think that when I am applying for jobs, having a background in writing will be extremely beneficial.  This portfolio will be a supplement to my actual resume.  I will categorize my pieces of writing into separate groups to try to maintain the organized feel.  The groups will be: psychological writing, creative writing, and other academic writing.  This way, the reader will be able to only read the essays that they so choose.  If I am applying for a psychologist position, most likely they will not be interested in my creative writing.  However, if they want to get a feel for who I am as a person, reading this may be extremely helpful.  I am not going to merely include links; I will have the entire piece on the page for them to read.  I think this looks more professional.  I am not going to include any sort of Web 2.0 into my portfolio because I do not think that is very professional-looking.  I do not want comments on something that will be a part of my resume to a job and I surely do not want my future employers to look at my Facebook or Twitter feed.  I think it would be cool to have some light classical music playing in the background while the users are exploring the site.  I will also include images that complement my writing pieces and include them in the actual essays themselves.

The elusive “e-PoRtFoLiO”

I’m not feeling too inspired, so I’m just going to answer the prompt questions. As a slight aside, the colors on the left, all of the cool colors: greens, blues, and purples are pretty much all my favorite and I think they will be the color theme for my portfolio.

How do you want to present yourself as a writer?

So I was thinking about this in conjunction with my “Why I Write” paper. I really struggled with that paper initially and eventually, the more I kept writing, I just sort of wrote myself into an epiphany: I write to learn. That essentially is how I want to present myself as a writer; that I’m in this thing, at this moment in my life, to learn more about myself, about the world around me, about how the world works. This is my most genuine attempt at this point in my life. Maybe this will change by the time the capstone, but that’s what it is for now!

Who is your ideal audience?

I guess in a narrow sense, my ideal audience would be a grad school I apply to. I want my portfolio to reflect my own intellectual curiosity. However, I can’t help but keep thinking of this thing as open access to the public, just like a legit website is. In that sense, I would want this to be a destination for the intellectually curious. It would be a place to go if you were curious about something  and it could be a spring board for other more in-depth research.

How can your portfolio be distinctive in terms of presenting yourself as a writer and the   media choices you make?

Well, I think by the above factors I mentioned. It will be a genuine reflection of my intellectual curiosity. I want to use my pieces of writing and work not as the centerpieces, but as the springboard for more research. Maybe an argument in one of my papers will pique someone’s interest. The media of course, will be some kind of website-building platform, probably Weebly at this point. But, I was thinking of making the sides of each page like a corkboard where I could pin related articles, pictures, or links to other things to check out. Or I could make them all pictures and then the pictures would then link to external places.

What reading experience do you want your audience to have?

Inspiring. Not to put more on my plate than I can handle, but that’s what comes to mind. This I feel like is similar to all of the other questions, but I want them to above all find the interface of my portfolio to be easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing in a simple, clean way. I want them to be inspired to go on and do their own research based on the pages/work I have posted.

How interactive do you want your website to be?

Like I said, I want there to be a lot of links to other places, but presented in a tactful, meaningful way, of course.

I feel like the questions are starting to get repetitive, or at least my answers are, so I shall stop here.

Good. Night.

 

 

 

e-Portfolio

I would like my e-Portfolio to be fairly professional, but like, interesting. I was thinking of using WordPress, but I really do not want it to look like a blog, so I am exploring some options regarding what is possible with WordPress versus other sites like Weebly or something. I want to have a menu bar on top with categories like “Political Science” and “Creative Writing” so that the hypothetical portfolio peruser knows what they are getting into when reading. I have told some of you about my pathological obsession with Cracked.com and I would like to incorporate a “If you liked this, now click this link and read more!” feature because it works on me like the thing with the lab rats and the button that gave them drugs.

Aw. Can we not kill it for science? (Credit to this person's blog: http://people.tribe.net/c58df4ab-90a8-4014-823b-30a62a1043cb/blog/52dc1716-249f-417a-88cc-57563e7d003a)

I would enjoy a comments section, as you all know I love feedback as much as I like list-formatted comedy articles.

I would like to be colorful as well, professional does not have to mean gray! It may or may not end up purple.

I don’t have many ideas beyond these, any comments, questions, or concerns?

ePortfolio Proposal

I want my audience to have a fun and engaging reading experience. I plan to create my ePortfolio on WordPress because it is a user-friendly, professional looking platform. My goal is to design a purposeful layout and create different tabs in order to provide my readers with easy navigation. Although each writing piece will be different in terms of content and design, I want my portfolio to appear as a cohesive piece reflecting who I am as a writer. I want my readers to view each artifact and gain a full understanding of my purpose and tone. In order to do this, I want to display each writing example neatly and creatively by including visuals such as photos and videos. When appropriate, I will attempt to redesign my various writing examples to further emphasize the thesis of each essay and give my readers another avenue of entry into my writing.

I want my portfolio to be somewhat interactive, but I don’t want the interactivity to distract from my writing examples. I will incorporate links to the various blogs/websites I write for. I also might incorporate my own personal blog and Twitter feed. I’ve considered creating a new Twitter account specifically for this portfolio, but I think my personal account will work just fine because I usually use it to promote my articles anyways. I will probably also include a link to my LinkedIn account in order to connect the two. I haven’t decided if I want to allow comments, but I do plan to include a function that allows readers to contact me if they are seeking a freelance writer or if they want to discuss my writing experience and techniques.  I think this will help me to network with other writers in my field.

I definitely want my portfolio to be organized around a guiding theme because I like when things fit together as a whole. I want my reader to get a real sense of who I am as a writer by reading my portfolio. Every subsection should fit nicely with the overall theme and add something new to the mix. For example, my academic writing will be separated from my fashion/lifestyle writing. I want my theme to be apparent but at the same time I want my readers to make their own interpretations of my portfolio.

As I stated above, I want to include photos and possibly videos in my portfolio because I think they will enhance my original messages and compliment my writing examples. I also might want to include sound, but I’d have to try out different songs and see if they fit well with my guiding theme. I’m very excited to start working on my portfolio and can’t wait to see how the final product turns out.

Some additional thoughts on web platforms from UM ISS

I checked in with the media specialists at UM Instructional Support Services with some questions about the web software we tried out last week.  Here are some thoughts from Lauren Atkins that offer some food for thought, esp. about Wix and Circle Pad (though I want to gather some more info about the latter).  FWIW!

Hi Naomi,
These are all good questions.  It’s very important for the students to consider features, flexibility, reliability and security…and longevity, and to consider how creative they can be even within confines.

It’s not necessarily a “pro” version of WordPress that is needed to HTML so much as a feature upgrade that the student would have to pay for (there’s no “license” so to speak for it at all).  This also means that students can’t embed just anything into their posts on WordPress.com as well—they can include videos only from a handful of sites (YouTube, Vimeo) and only slideshows from Slideshare and one other service.  Wordpress does that to protect themselves from infected content from dubious sources.  Weebly does the same.

Wix, I would advise students use with caution.  While it is the “flashiest” (literally) of all the options, it’s also the most nitpicky and unstable.  There is also no way to export out and move or keep the site they create.  A lot of students like it because it’s very customizable and “looks” better but there’s a lot of sacrifice of function that may affect them later on.

Circlepad, I don’t have any experience with, though an initial look at their site didn’t make me excited about it.  If a student is familiar with it and wants to use it and feels it works well for them, I think that’s fine, so long as it satisfies a certain level of reliability and longevity.

As for Dreamweaver, that is arguably the most difficult option of all because the student is responsible for all of the creation of their site, and I generally only suggest it for students who have used it before or who have a solid grasp of basic web programming (even using the visual editor can get frustrating without some basic knowledge).  Support in using it can often be gotten from the Tech Deck in the library.  In most cases, they can easily post sites they create in Dreamweaver in the public folder of their IFS space and run it from there.

I’ve had students complain about some of the constraints of Google Sites before.  Those who have some skill at HTML can actually edit their Google Site’s code and gain more flexibility that way.  Another tactic is to sort of play around with the page structure, columns, etc, in Google to reproduce what you’re looking for.  I do suggest encouraging it for several practical reasons: 1) the upcoming switch to Google Apps for Education might make it more secure and attractive, 2) It is one of the best services for not only keeping track of site changes (thanks to the revision history) but it’s also possible to export the content out in a fairly easy manner using another of Google’s tools, 3) there is ample technical support for it on campus because of its wide use and 4)it easily integrates with all of Google’s other tools, for students who want to incorporate documents, presentations, slideshows, images, videos, maps, etc.

In fact, as far as general features + reliability and longevity, we do really recommend WordPress and Sites and working with students to find ways to enable the type of functionality they’re looking for as best as possible.

Robert has put together a brief overview of a few of these tools on our wiki <https://g333.pbworks.com/w/page/34076819/Free%20Services%20for%20Creating%20a%20Website%2C%20Blog%2C%20or%20ePortfolio> , including storage limitations and an “ease of use” rating.

I hope that helps.  If students have very specific questions on any of the platforms, just let me know.  If you’d like us to stop by for a brief in-class Q&A or workshop while they’re getting set up, we can do that as well.


Lauren Atkins
Instructional Technology Consultant
LSA Instructional Support Services
G333 Mason Hall
734-274-7348
latkins@umich.edu
Instruction Group: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/iss/consulting

Everything’s not for the audience

I have to admit that when I entered the minor and saw that we had to do an e-portfolio with online archiving, I had no real concept of what an e-portfolio was. I thought it would be something like a laundry list of our selected works in some sort of online personal data base thing that I had never seen. Obviously, I was wrong.

I think that I am excited about the idea of creating the medium in which we present our writing. The problem is I am majorly lacking in the creativity department. I always colored inside the lines, I didn’t have to be taught, I’m just that kind of person. In thinking about designing my own e-portfolio, I don’t have any ideas.

None.

Blank.

Zip.

Zilch.

Nada.

I guess I do know what I do and don’t like. I appreciate clean, organized, and a unifying theme. I dislike clutter, multiple different sized fonts, and cheap looking color schemes. In class on Thursday, we talked about making  your e-portfolio your own while still thinking about audience. I thought that pretty much everything we do is already, to some degree, for an audience. However, after more consideration, we pretty much do what we want how we want maybe within the limits, or confines, of a certain audience, but largely everything is still up to us. If I wrote a paper, composed a speech, or made an website strictly for a particular audience, the integrity and authenticity of me as the author or creator would be lost in my careful construction. No one likes a liar. I think that in every choice you make about design or font or color, you are showing a part of yourself whether you feel like you are or not. Another thing that I find overwhelming about the e-portfolio design is the sheer number of options out there. Like with the technology presentations so far, the possibilities are essentially endless and that is more terrifying than it is freeing or exciting to me.

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=shopping+aisle&num=10&um=1&hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&biw=1366&bih=622&tbm=isch&tbnid=4g2bTpW6bJ2BZM:&imgrefurl=http://dangerousintersection.org/2008/02/18/experiencing-the-paradox-of-choice-at-the-local-schnucks-grocery-store/&docid=SEjps85Vsm7cwM&w=2816&h=2112&ei=QGKTTpj7GMnw0gHqjIVY&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=270&sqi=2&page=1&tbnh=115&tbnw=153&start=0&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:19,s:0&tx=86&ty=23
It's all just mustard, right?