Course Portfolio

Reflective Cover Letter

Course Competencies, from:

The NCTE Definition of 21st Century Literacies

Below, I’ve broken down each of the course competencies listed in the NCTE definitions of 21st century literacies along with what I’ve learned and the other required information from the Course Portfolio project guidelines.

  • Develop proficiency with the tools of technology
    • what you learned:  I learned video editing software (Windows Movie Maker) and image editing software (Piknik).
    • where your learning is demonstrated in the course:
      • cite at least one major project assignment (and/or the work leading up to it) per competency and goal:  Image Project and Video Project
      • cite at least one reading per competency and goal:  Nam June Paik’s Cybernated Artfrom the New Media Reader always comes to mind when I consider the video project, especially because the intent of the project was to make meaning through the video medium.  Paik’s art was based in video, and was one of the first in the field.  Paik used the newest technology available to him to create an art, and I’m using newly learned technologies for a similar purpose.
        • Citation: Paik, Nam June. “Cybernated Art.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 227-29. Print.
    • why and how you still need to grow in that area:  I still only have a basic understanding of both the video and image editing technologies, so there’s an entire world of tech knowledge out there for me to acquire.
    • how, when, where and why you might use this information or skill in the future:  Image editing software is useful for my blogging hobby, so I’m glad I got a little more familiar with that, even if Piknik is now defunct.  I think the skills will carry over.
  • Build relationships with others to pose and solve problems collaboratively and cross-culturally
    • what you learned: I took advantage of the awesome training skills of my fiance, who showed me some tricks in Windows Movie Maker and After Effects, and provided the voice for my video’s narration audio.
    • where your learning is demonstrated in the course:
      • cite at least one major project assignment (and/or the work leading up to it) per competency and goal:  Video Project
      • cite at least one reading per competency and goal:  New Media Design– I considered the sections on networking with peers and colleagues while making this project, and also our class discussions about using resources effectively.  I hate watching tutorial videos (hate. HATE.)  so it was really helpful to have an interactive educator on hand to show me some of the easier functions of the programs and let me work it out on my own.
        • Citation: Austin, Tricia, and Richard Doust. New Media Design. London: Laurence King Pub., 2007. Print.
    • why and how you still need to grow in that area:  Taking criticism isn’t one of my strong suits (especially if it’s coming from someone I didn’t ask), so I’ll still have to grow more in that aspect in order to really utilize a knowledge network to improve my products further.
    • how, when, where and why you might use this information or skill in the future:  This is an obvious one.  Knowing how to utilize your network of friends, colleagues, coworkers, and family in order to accomplish your goals is pretty easy.  In fact, my mom takes advantage of it all the time when she asks me to install printer drivers (or, “Make the printer work!”) or resize her monitor.  I’m lucky to have  lots of tech savvy friends and coworkers, so I feel pretty confident in my knowledge networking.
  • Create, critique, analyze, and evaluate multi-media texts
    • what you learned: Helpful critique skills and site creation skills.
    • where your learning is demonstrated in the course:
    • why and how you still need to grow in that area:  This is an area I feel that I have really gotten good at, but there’s always room for improvement.  For instance, I’m good with giving criticism, but I’m still not a big fan of receiving it.  I’m also good with certain aspects of tech creation, but not others.  I can troubleshoot in HTML and CSS, but I’m not great at building entire sites from the ground up.
    • how, when, where and why you might use this information or skill in the future: In my current position, I edit and test training software for the military.  I write and QA courseware that will be taught to students in military and many government positions, so my paycheck comes from my critical evaluation skills.  I have to read through the work of others, point out inconsistencies, grammatical errors, and functionality or usability problems, and then ensure that the changes I requested were implemented by a team of graphic artists, writers, and programmers.
  • Attend to the ethical responsibilities required by these complex environments
    • what you learned:  Copyright law and variations in citation style.
    • where your learning is demonstrated in the course:
      • cite at least one major project assignment (and/or the work leading up to it) per competency and goal: We analyzed the citation style of Road Trip by Lynda R. Stephenson on Kairos, and presented on the varied ways she chose to cite her sources.  We determined that the citation styles were pretty inconsistent, and couldn’t really understand the reasoning behind those differences in all cases.
      • cite at least one reading per competency and goal:  Road Trip by Lynda R. Stephenson on Kairos
    • why and how you still need to grow in that area:  I’m still no expert on copyright law, and I’m still a little inconsistent with my citation style.  I usually use MLA, but sometimes I’ll just link to the original source without all the formal citation credits if I’m doing it in an online setting.
    • how, when, where and why you might use this information or skill in the future: Copyright law is constantly in the media, so that’s something I’m sure I haven’t heard the last of.  Especially with music, movies, and other media that’s easily accessible online, it’s a topic that never seems to die out these days.  Citation skills are useful because of common courtesy, for one, and also because I don’t want to be sued by someone for accidentally stealing their content.

Final Submissions


Reading, Thinking, and Reflecting Blogs

It’s been a fun semester and I definitely expanded the boundaries of my digital knowledge scope.  I hope this class has helped everyone else as well!



Hypertext Peer Reviews

I reviewed hypertext projects by James, Crystal, and Jasmyne!

  1. James –
  2. Crystal –
  3. Jasmyne –

It looks like a lot of my classmates went the ground-up route, and that just makes me happier that I chose an existing site to bring my creative vision to life!  Ground up coding is hard to do and has limited return at this point in modernity.   There are so many free templates and pre-built sites that the skill just isn’t as useful as it was once, but I definitely agree that it’s good to know so that you can troubleshoot errors within your existing sites (like I do all the time).

I didn’t find anything to revise in my own site based on my classmates’ drafts, but I did make some revisions based on my own plans for the site that hadn’t come across in my first draft.  Amanda commented on my draft, and made a few comments about things that were already in the works, so it looks like I was on the right track mostly.  Amanda also mentioned that she would have liked navigation in the header, which I agree would be better for a professional looking site.  Because this is for a project and not something I intend to really put out there, I decided to leave it within the wedding site template that I have.  This weekend I’m going to spend some time looking into possible ways to block the header or to relocate the page code, but it looks like it might just end up staying there for convenience, since the point of the project is the linking between chapters rather than using a menu to navigate them.

Hypertext Project: Final Submission

Completed Hypertext website:


Introduction of the topic and purpose of your website:

This project is meant to derive meaning and connections between chapters of my favorite book Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, and tracks from one of my favorite bands, Radiohead.  I chose 8 chapters and 8 corresponding songs for each one, and I have mapped connections between each of them based on similarities in tone, content, and the general mood of each piece.  The purpose is to bridge the gaps between music and literature in order to provide a meaningful and ultimately entertaining ambient experience for the user.


The full bibliographic information about any outside information or texts you used and where you found it:

Calvino, Italo. Invisible Cities. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974. Print.

Radiohead. In Rainbows. Rec. 10 Oct. 2007. Nigel Godrich, 2007. MP3.

Radiohead. Kid A. Rec. Jan. 1999. Nigel Godrich, Radiohead, 2000. MP3.

Radiohead. OK Computer. Rec. 21 May 1997. Nigel Godrich and Radiohead, 1997. MP3.


How you cited it within your project:

I created a References page that is linked at the bottom of the home page.  Also, each audio player widget lists the artist, song, and album information for each track.


Detailed discussion of the design and development process:

I used an existing  template that I tweaked for my wedding site, and focused my attentions on meaning-making within this template.  If I had more time, I’d probably move the project to a different location so that the framing mechanism wouldn’t be so distracting.  I created each page within WordPress, for a total of 10 pages (Home page, 8 chapter pages, and the Reference page). I mapped out the project extensively on paper before choosing the stories and songs, because I really wanted to make sure there was an association between each of them that could be understood by the user.

I inserted an audio player widget on each page and uploaded the songs individually, and ran into some trouble when I realized that the player doesn’t accept m4a files, only mp3 files.  I ended up having to download a file converter to get those files in mp3 format, and reuploaded around half the audio files to WordPress.

After creating pages for each of the chapters and transcribing them all manually from the book (I typed up several single spaced pages of text and proofread it), I created a linking structure at the bottom of each page.  I chose which stories would link to each other, and decided on a system in which each story is linked to twice, and each is connected based on some element of the story’s content or tone.  There is also a link at the bottom of each page for the Home page, in case the user gets stuck in a loop and can’t access all of the content using the linking structure.


Discussion of what processes you took to learn the website construction application, what you learned, and what more you hope to learn in the future:

The audio widget was the thing I had to spend the most time learning, and I’m glad I know now.  I researched several audio players, and ended up downloading this one because it was the most aesthetically relevant to the look of my site, and was the simplest in terms of functionality.  All I wanted the audio player to do was play a single track and be user friendly, and this widget really served the purpose well.  I downloaded and installed it to my WordPress site, so I may be able to use it again in future wedding blogging, which is useful.

In the future, I’ll probably look more into more advanced audio widgets, so I can create playlists for my wedding guests in blog posts.


Scholarly discussion of how your process and product helped you to better understand at least three of the articles/chapters we’ve read in the class (two of which must come from NMR):

It was easier to make connections between the work I did in this project and the readings.  Much easier than the last one.  I found that I was using a similar “choose your own adventure” format to much of Part 1 of NMR, which connected nicely to “The Garden of Forking Paths” (Borges) and the Combinatory Literature chapters about the Oulipo (Berge and others).

From NMD and the CRAP method, I found myself unintentionally using those structural elements in order to make my website easier to manage.  Even though I’d never heard of CRAP until this class, I had used many of the methods in previous web design and site building efforts, so it seemed to come pretty naturally.  Uniform headers and navigation systems and good color contrast were already present in my site, and I even conducted usability testing with a few friends to make sure my project was understandable and easy to navigate.


Hypertext Project Draft

Here’s the link to the early part of my project:
I’m going to try to move it off my wedding site at some point, so don’t get to used to the framework! 🙂

Post 11: NMR Part 4

Critical Art Ensemble. “Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 783-90. Print.

Morningstar, Chip, and F. Randall Farmer. “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 664-76. Print.

Italian Sit-in Protest

Sit-in Protest - CC Flickr Rete Studenti Massa

“Nomadic Power and Cultural Resistance” reminded me of some of the recent victories the population of the internet has scored in recent months, particularly some of the battle against SOPA and PIPA in defending the freedom of the internet.  The fastest way to accomplish a goal these days is to make it viral, which effectively rallies your own personal internet army for your cause.  For instance, I worked in PETA’s online marketing and social media department when Twitter came into fame, and I helped run a Twitter campaign that rallied animal-lovers all across the internet to ask to stop selling fur.  The venture was ultimately successful, and the victory was one of the first online activism campaigns to be completely conducted via Twitter.  The sudden gathering of an internet army was what this chapter described, assembling nomadic groups and individuals from across the internet for a common goal.

Habitat was a forerunner to modern MMORPGs, which are obviously pretty popular.  World of Warcraft has over 10 million subscribers, which is roughly equal to the populations of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Tunisia, Belgium, and Belarus (separately, not total).  The article mentions some of the shock the public expressed over the violence portrayed in the game, which is pretty amusing considering today’s standards in video games.  Players were able to steal from and kill other avatars within the game, which opened up the opportunity for in-game crimes.  Though avatars were immediately regenerated (albeit penniless and carrying their heads in their hands), being murdered was a minor obstacle in daily online life.  There were some who fought on the side of allowing the crime to continue, and there were some who argued against it.  Considering the current atmosphere of gaming (see Grand Theft Auto), I’d say the advocates of keeping crime around won.


500: Technology Resource Wiki Page

I wrote a technology resource wiki on Facebook Pages, which can be found here:


Edit: I have made a few changes to the wiki, including a few screenshots from Facebook pages!



Post 10: NMR Part 3

Stallman, Richard. “The GNU Manifesto.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 543-50. Print.

Turkle, Sherry. “Video Games and Computer Holding Power.” The New Media Reader. By Nick Montfort and Noah Wardrip-Fruin. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT, 2003. 500-13. Print.

Video games

Video Games - CC Flickr IdeoNexus

My favorite part of Sherry Turkle’s “Video Games and Computer Holding Power” was her assertion that the outcry against video games didn’t only stem from the video games themselves:

“Not all of the arguments against video games can be taken at face value, for the debate is charged with feelings about a lot more than the games themselves.  Protest about video games carries a message about how people feel about computers in general” (500).

This is true for many elements of the tech-savvy world we live in.  People are afraid of what they can’t understand, so they project blame onto the technology for all the world’s problems.  People hate video games the same way they hated television and the way they hate the internet.  They’re positive that they’re corrupting America’s children and that no one will have any useful skills because they spend all their time facing a screen.

I’d argue that this is not only untrue, but irrelevant in the modern world.  As jobs shift more toward computers and away from human labor, tech-savvy people are needed to keep up the machines that do our work for us.  Being familiar with technology is a prerequisite today, and the fears are almost completely baseless.  While there are potentially dangerous elements of the internet, it’s not training children to be lazy and mindless.  It’s full of useful tools of knowledge like Wikipedia and blog tutorials, social interactivity spaces like Facebook and forums, and they’re a practice space for all sorts of real world skills like writing, programming, web design, and a billion other things.

A product of that online world are software systems like GNU, which falls into the greater category of Freeware.  Like Linux, it’s free to download and use, and can be modified by anyone as long as they don’t restrict usage of those modified versions.  Basically, it’s free to anyone as long as they can use it!  The cool thing about collective efforts like these is that the contributors are creating a product that is available to anyone who has a compatible computer, and they’re not expecting any payment for their efforts.  Programming isn’t easy, and the pro bono work that goes into a product like this is an argument for the positive side of technology.  It’s like a charitable contribution to anyone who chooses to use it, and it’s able to evolve as other users choose to modify it for other purposes, so it keeps being molded in useful ways.  This way the software doesn’t die out as soon as the next big thing comes out, and it can continue being useful.