The beautiful game – We are all Daniel Cui


Daniel Cui was a freshman goalkeeper at a high school in Hillsborough, California.  He suffered through a very difficult season where his team lost every game.  And as the goalkeeper for the team, he was often blamed for the loses.  After the final loss of the season, someone posted a bunch of pictures of Daniel failing to make the saves, which was a crushing blow to him.  But in order to show their support for Daniel, some of his teammates posted a picture of him making a save as their profile picture on Facebook.  By the next day many more of the students at the high school were making the same picture their profile picture until there were over 100 students who had either made it their own profile picture, or were tagging it, or were liking the teammate’s page.

Daniel was feeling very depressed about the cruel postings and didn’t want to go to school to be embarrassed in front of his friends.  But when he saw what his teammates and fellow students had done, he, “came to school the next day like he was 10 feet tall.”  And the next season, still feeling the confidence from knowing what his classmates had done, he started winning games and making great saves, until he was known as, “Daniel Cui – the beast goalkeeper.”

We are all Daniel Cui is one of the Facebook Stories that, “celebrates the connections people make on Facebook.”  This story is especially relevant to me because my son Michael was a goalkeeper at his high school, and although he didn’t have the same experiences as Daniel, he did have to endure many of the same hardships that goalkeepers face on a regular basis. This story gives us a good sense of the importance of social media to today’s high schoolers and how people can come together on social media to support their friends who are dealing with personal struggles.

Assessment Traits:

  • Presentation and Performance – This video story was a very well done and it was clearly made by professionals.  It gave us a lot of information in a little over 3 minutes and it also had some excellent images of Daniel playing soccer.  The shots of Daniel playing in goal were clearly reenactments of the actual games but they gave a good sense of him struggling in the games and then eventually becoming a much better player who was making some fantastic saves.
  • Story – The story is one of the strengths of this short video.  It is designed to make us feel good about the use of social media (especially Facebook) as a tool for supporting our friends.  And the video accomplishes this very effectively.  We not only get the voice of Daniel’s teammate telling us how they started the Facebook postings, but we also hear from Daniel about how he felt once he saw all of the postings.  It is a feel good story that uses social media to create a sense of community that we can all share.
  • Sense of Audience – This story is very much targeted at the users (or potential users) of Facebook in order to give them a good idea of how social media can create a sense of community.  And the video is very effective at not only telling the story, but it also effectively uses a montage of images from Facebook to show how the student’s activity was spreading, or how this community came together to protect one of their own.


Response – Music remix and DIY Podcasting


Sound is all around us, and it may be the format that is the most accessible to us as teachers, designers, and students.  With the technologies available to us today we have opportunities to create and use sound in our lives that we could barely imagine years ago.  The two chapters that we read this week  ( Music Remix in the Classroom and DIY Podcasting in Education, Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies and Practices, Lankshear and Knobel, 2008) introdic remix can be used as an expression of creativity and inventiveness that does not require the person to be a musician.  With a basic computer and any one of a variety ouce us to two areas of sound creation that we can use in our instructional work.  Musf software packages, the imagination becomes the only limitation to creating a remix that can be shared with others. And podcasts are another medium where we can share audio with the world (although some do have video components).  Podcasts can be used for any number of purposes, from theatrical presentations, to music mixes, to informational shows, or to a variety of other collections.

The Music Remix chapter is divided into three sections.  The first section is a brief history of remixing, and in many ways gives us a view into the inspiration behind music remixes.  There are a number of examples presented in this section that give a good sample of remixes.  I encourage you to seek out and listen to some of these samples in order to get a sense of what music remix is all about.  The second section is more specific about some of the tools that are available for remixing, and how to use them.  The author walks us through a sample remix using Audacity (a free software application) with suggestions on how to create a remix.  This information is very useful to beginners who are not used to remixing.  The third and final section introduces us to the some of the benefits of remixing in the classroom.  Not only does it introduce students to modern skills that are important to those navigating their way in society, but it also gives them an outlet for creative expression that they might not have otherwise.  And it also gives them the opportunity to actually create something of their own, instead of just writing about it in a sterile environment.

The DIY Podcasting chapter is also divided into three sections, with the first section giving us insight into the author’s early use and engagement with podcasting. Like him, I am fascinated by the use of sound to create worlds that we would not normally be able to visit.  Many years ago I participated in a radio theater group, and now I find the opportunities of the new technologies available with podcasting intriguing.  It no longer requires a full fledged studio to regularly produce a podcast when tools such as audacity are available for free.  This chapter also contains a section on how to create a podcast using Audacity, but it also includes two components that are very important for podcasting.  One is the procedure for making your podcast subscribeable (which is the definition of a podcast), and the other important discussion is about copyright laws and how to avoid complications when using other people’s material.   The chapter finishes with a discussion of how to use podcasts in an education environment.  As the author states, “Podcasting offers an inexpensive way to create and share compelling media that correlates to authentic activities outside of classrooms.”

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, sound is all around us.  And these readings give us two new ways to use sound in our everyday teaching experiences.  These skills should be a part of the wider collection of skills that our students should possess in today’s world, such as blogging, image manipulation, and many more.


The beautiful game -The Truth and Myth of the Christmas Truce 1914

During the winter of 1914 British and German troops were facing each other for the first time in the trenches of Europe.  Not yet shocked by the horrors of the First World War, the men in the trenches found that they sometimes had more in common than their leaders were willing to admit.  Along stretches of the front spontaneous games of football (soccer) were breaking out between the two sides during the Christmas truce.  Sometimes they had a ball, while other times they just kicked a can.


The Truth and Myth of the Christmas Truce 1914 is an audio story produced by the BBC in 2014.  It is an intriguing look at the unofficial truce between the warring nations, and how the human condition was still present even during the most horrible conditions. There is sadness in knowing that these men were probably living in one of the last “gentlemanly” times of war where they could still put down their guns and enjoy each others company.  War was about to change into a technology driven mass killing event with the introduction of chemical weapons, flame throwers, armored vehicles, massive bombs, and more.  Not that any war is good, but as the producers of this story point out, there is no-telling what may have been if the truce between these men could have lasted.

One of the strengths of this production is the use of period songs to express the feelings of those at home and on the battlefield.  The songs are spread throughout the production, and they are sung in the voice of the people of the time.  The songs are used as a powerful emphasis to the story that is being told.  In addition, background sounds are used quite effectively to provide a better sense of being in the story, whether it’s the sounds of guns in the background, or men laughing and drinking together, it enhances the emotions of the story.  At a little over 6:30 minutes long, this is a story that, although sad, is also a testament to the spirit of the men and women of that age.

Assessment traits:

  • Originality, voice, creativity – As mentioned earlier, one of the strengths of this story is the voice that it uses.  The songs from the era are perhaps the strongest part of the story and leave a lasting impression of what many of the people probably felt.  And the story is told as that of an impartial observer which adds to the sense that it wasn’t about the Germans or the Brits.  It was about people who are very much the same no matter where they might meet.  Football is used as a device to emphasize that these people had much in common.
  • Presentation and performance-  As an audio story, the piece uses a variety of means to get our attention.  Whether it was the singing, or the sounds of war, or the men laughing together, the production provided a rich environment that was easy to follow.  Even the voice of the narrator was that of a knowledgeable person who seemed optimistic that better things could have come from the truce.  It was an evenly paced story that provided quite a bit of information in a short time-frame.
  • Media application – This story was well suited for the audio format.  The multiple components of the audio, and the production quality of the story, provided for an interesting experience.  There was one picture that accompanied the story (see above), and although it was an interesting and relevant image, I would have liked to have seen more images of the men in the trenches coming together.

Response to Digital Storytelling in the Language Arts Classroom

Although a bit dated (2004), I found that Digital Storytelling in the Language Arts Classroom (Bull and Kadjar) still had a lot of valuable information in regards to the importance of the story in digital storytelling.  As emphasized in the article, “…the story should be in the foreground and the technology in the background. The focus in the language arts classroom should be on the writing and communication process rather than technical effects.”

As the authors describe it, “A digital story consists of a series of still images combined with a narrated soundtrack to tell a story.”  The stories may also include short video clips., but the main emphasis in this article is on the seven elements of digital storytelling.


Joe Lambert and Dana Atchley at the Center for Digital Storytelling at U.C. Berkley were some of the first to identify the seven elements of digital storytelling.  The elements are:

Point of View: In contrast to the objectivity of many scholarly works, the goal of digital storytelling is to emphasize a personal point of view.  The most powerful is often the point of view of the author.

Dramatic Question: A well constructed digital story will include a dramatic question that is resolved in the end.  It is the resolution of the question that engages the viewer and keeps their interest to the end.

Emotional Content: Digital stories should make us laugh, cry, feel anger, or pleasure.  And more importantly, they should attempt, “…to pursue, discover, and communicate new understanding that is rooted in who we are as humans.”

Economy: When digital stories are limited to a few minutes, students learn the importance of deciding on what is essential, and not spending valuable story time on technical effects that don’t enhance the story.

Pacing: A monotonous voice (both in audio and storyline) can drive people away from the story.  A varied tone, inflection, and pace can add to the quality of the experience.

The Gift of Your Voice: Students who are often never heard from in the classroom are given a medium for telling their stories.  “There is no substitute for using your own voice to tell your story.”

Soundtrack: Music can add complexity and depth to the story, and it again gives the students an opportunity to express their voice through the choice of their music.

The article goes on to discuss their strategy for creating stories in the classroom.  Planning can significantly improve the classroom experience of students creating digital stories as part of their learning experience.

These seven elements can provide a framework for successfully implementing digital storytelling in our courses.  The elements that make up a good story are independent of the technology used, and it is important that we recognize these elements as instructional designers.


Digital Story Critique – Hearing the Beautiful Game: Soccer without sight

A story from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil about a man named Andre de Souza Carlos who is blind and yet still plays soccer.  The story can be found at TheScene.


Andre had impaired vision from birth, but an accident later in life caused him to be completely blind.  He describes how after his blindness, “It was a big and deep fall for me.  I hit rock bottom…and [was] thinking about giving up and taking my life.”

But after he started playing soccer he started to have hope again and felt like he wanted to be around people.  He felt like his mind was working again, with expectations, dreams, and goals.   And he was accomplishing those goals.  All because of soccer.

The soccer is played on an indoor field with a ball that rattles so that the players can locate it.  There are 4 field players per team (all blind) and one goalie.  The field players wear eye covers in order to ensure someone with partial vision doesn’t have an advantage.

Watching this story should be an inspiration to those who love soccer, and even for those who don’t.  There is speed and intensity in the game as witnessed in the video.  These players didn’t let the lack of sight keep them from doing something they obviously love.

Traits used to evaluate this story –

Media application: This video was clearly produced by a professional.  Although it’s a short story (only 2:36), it tells a lot about Andre, Rio de Janeiro, and soccer.  It starts with images of a soccer match with upbeat music in the background.  There is a real sense of being present at the match.  It then moves to the story of Andre with a number of location shots around Rio where we see Andre walking the streets.  We then get shots of Andre with his fellow players that develops a real sense of their camaraderie during their game.  Using video to present this story gave me a sense of being at the location which no other media could have done so effectively.  To be able to see how the players navigated the game left me in awe of their courage and skill.  And the music added to the interest level of the story.

Flow, organization, and pacing: This was an area of strength for this video.  The story is very short, but it gives us a lot of information because of the flow, organization, and pacing.  As viewers, we not only get an introduction to soccer without sight, but we also get introduced to street life in Rio, and most importantly, a real sense of Andre and his personality.  The one part I found a bit confusing was at the very end of the video Andre sits down with a woman and two girls.  I wasn’t sure if they were his family or not.  It would have helped to have some type of indication.

Economy: Again, I felt that the economy of the story was very good.  They gave me a lot of information in just a short amount of time.  I didn’t feel that there was any time where they got off topic.  I was actually wanting to see more of the actual soccer game because I was fascinated by how the players moved, shot, and scored.  And the music was used effectively to convey a sense of mood with the different components.

Overall, I found this to be a very human story with production values that were well done.  Brief yet succinct – it tells a story of amazing individuals using the beautiful game to become players.




Daily Create – The ocean at the end of my backyard…

Legend had it that “someone” actually challenged the bull and broke his leg in a hole as he ran away.  Surely it must have been the end of that “someone”.

But here we were, intrepid adventurers climbing through the fence to the wide open west that was our neighbor’s land.  Cast off were the warnings from our parents not to go into the so called “farmland” next to our house.  We knew better.  We knew that it was actually the dangerous badlands where men (okay, boys) would prove their merit by how close they could get to the bull that was known to inhabit these parts.

Each step seemed to take us further and further from the safety and security that was our yard.  But we moved on with stealth prodded by the constant pressure of our friends saying, “What, are you scared?”.

Suddenly, someone yelled, “There it is!”  A quick glance confirmed that there was indeed some large black shape on the horizon.

Off we bolted!  Panting as we ran, someone asked if it was closing in on us.  But not wanting to slow down to take a look, we all ran as fast as we could towards safety.  Flying through the barbed-wire fence my brother ripped his new shirt.  It was a small price to pay for my brother’s life.  And surely our mom would understand that.

Back in our safe place with a fence between us and the dreaded bull, we looked back to see where the ferocious beast could be.  We all swore that we had felt him breathing down our necks. He must have given up the chase when he saw that he had no chance of catching us.

Victory was ours!  We’d proven once again that we were the bravest of the brave. Alas the poor soul who didn’t make it out.  If only he had been as agile.

Painting by Robin Weiss



Looking back many years later I chuckle with the thought of a bored cow munching on it’s lunch warily watching 4 screaming boys running across the field.


The ocean at the end of my backyard…

Visual Networks – Learning and photosharing

flickr-icon-27Visual Networks – Learning and photosharing by Guy Merchant (DIY Media, Chap. 4, 2009) is a comprehensive  introduction to photosharing as a social network, and in particular, the photosharing service flickr.  Merchant introduces us to the idea of flickr as a “folksonomy…a body of knowledge can be built democratically through participant-users without recourse to the traditional authority of a discipline, a body of experts, or an established tradition of practice.”

Merchant also makes clear that photosharing as a social network is open to all, and that each can participate only as much as they feel comfortable sharing their images with others.  The person sharing doesn’t need to be a professional photographer, or even a serious photographer.  Many people on flickr just share photos of events and/or activities that are important to them.  But the social network aspect of flickr allows the users to see and explore other people’s photos, possibly introducing them to new ideas, innovative techniques, or interesting topics.   And another important aspect of the photosharing network is that other people can view and comment on the photos posted by participants.  This back and forth sharing helps create new friends and strengthen old bonds, or as he says in the text, “Over time you can build up quite a complex web of interactions through photosharing.”

The author also has a great deal of information about how to sign-up for flickr, how to upload photos, how to tag photos, the importance of tagging photos, and a variety of other useful information for a new user.  But perhaps most useful is his discussion about the educational and learning aspects of photosharing.  I particularly liked the perspective he shared about how research is showing that learning can some times be much more effective when there is a visual component, or as he shares, “the inter-relationship between the verbal and the visual helps to create new meanings (Duncum, 2004)”.

Merchant focuses on 5 areas of learning that are pertinent to flickr and photosharing through social networks.

  • Learning through seeing – Through the use of social tagging of photos, the person doing the tagging is participating in, “attentive noticing”.  Their understanding of the world around them is greatly enhanced by the labeling of the parts.
  • Learning through reflection – Thoughtful reflection of photos can often lead to a better understanding of topics related to the photos.  Having students spend time reflecting on the photos will increase the diversity of their thoughts and actions related to learning.
  • Learning about image – Students learn the importance of the different components of the images, including things like lighting, structure, focus, and other components.  By learning to appreciate these components, they become more educated consumers of photos.
  • Learning about multimodality – Photos rarely stand on their own in social networks.  They are often accompanied by text, or music, or video, or a variety of other modes.  The student learns to work in this multimodal environment.
  • Learning about Web 2.0 – Flickr is an excellent example of a Web 2.0 application, and by using flickr, students would learn more about Web 2.0.

As an introduction to the value of social networking, flickr’s place in this environment, and its value in education, this chapter  is a valuable resource that can be used as an introductory text or as detailed information for the experienced educator.



Digital Story Critique – Data Hacking for a Date

This week I decided to critique a story from a Moth Radio Hour segment (Episode:1618, Sept. 6, 2016, starting at 33:52) titled LA Confidential:Data Hacking for a Date which is a story by Chris McKinley. At the time of his story, Chris was a doctoral student working on a PhD in Applied Mathematics at UCLA.  While at UCLA in 2012 he had access to a super-computer known as Yellowstone, and McKinley came up with the novel idea of using the super-computer to “reverse engineer the match algorithm” of the online dating site OKCupid to see if he could come up with the perfect match for himself.

McKinely does an excellent job of building the story by relating the tale of his change from a lonely doctoral student who slept in his cubicle and spent most of his time working on programs for his thesis to a guy who managed to use the super-computer to analyze the match data from the site and determine the most popular characteristics with women on the site.  He soon became the top match for over 30,000 women and he was so popular that he actually got to a point where he was going on a new date every hour with each date lasting only around 3 minutes or so. He got to the point where he was purposely sabotaging the dates because he didn’t want to make the effort to reject the second date offers (of which there were many).  And it was when he started getting dates with women outside of his match preferences that he finally met a woman whom he was really interested in, and ended up marrying her a few years later.

McKinely does a good job of building his story with the following traits –

  • Economy: McKinely has a good flow to his story by starting with the image of his humble beginnings (alone, poor, totally engrossed in his work) and builds slowly but effectively with his narrative.  He is efficient in his explanations of a difficult topic – data mining.  He also keeps the audience interested in his travails and accomplishments by using humor at key points. Most of the asides from the main story-line are humorous points that keep the story interesting. In the end, we have an image of a nerdy guy who is now something of a dating king-pin, with more dates than he knows what to do with.
  • Sense of Audience: McKinley has a good grasp of his audience, knowing that many of the people in the audience have probably used online dating services.  And that even those who haven’t used dating sites can relate to his story of wanting to be so successful at dating that he is turning away good candidates on a regular basis.  But at the same time, he is able to relate to his audience that even though he thought it would be great to have so many dates, in the end it turned out that there was no quick or easy path to finding the person that was special to him.  Fortunately for him he had a happy ending by finding his future wife. But the moral of the story could well be that even using the latest technologies and techniques of the information age will not necessarily bring the relationships we all seek.
  • Research:  I picked this trait because in essence this story is about research.  A guy who spends his entire life working on research suddenly has the all too human desire to find more in life.  And he uses the research that he knows so well to help him find the perfect person, which initially seems to work, but in the end creates a not so ideal situation.  So although there probably wasn’t much research involved in writing this story, the theme of research is very prevalent in the story.