Category

Research

Obrigado, Porto!

Having been drafted in at the 11th hour (no complaints, mind you!), I spent a week in Porto, working alongside my DkIT colleagues on an Erasmus+ initiative titled SPACE which promoted STEAM education:

STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) is all about using creativity and critical thinking in learning about our world and universe, informed by the technology developed by the European Space Agency.

The initiative brought together students and staff from Belgium, Norway, Portugal, and ourselves from the Emerald Isle. A thoroughly enjoyable week was had, from stimulating workshops to undulating hills, and from looooooooong walks to sampling the local delicacies, all under a blistering hot sky. Not bad, for March eh?

To find out more about the trip, check out my colleagues, Daithí and Adéle’s blog here: https://www.alouthlilt.com/single-post/2019/04/02/Promoting-STEAM-in-Porto-%25E2%2580%2593-Eclipsing-STEM

Canterbury Anifest: A Step Back in Time

Arriving in the quaint, olde-town of Canterbury, one can only be struck by the passage of time. The centuries-old architecture, nomenclature, layout, and general mannerisms of its towns folk stir up every historical sinew in ones self.

It’s impossible to capture the ‘wow’ of the Cathedral in a photo

From its cobbled streets to its forthtress facades, and from its obscure-angled buildings to its Cathedral gem, the town of Canterbury is the perfect getaway for those with historical inclinations.

Not sure my builder fits this door…

Indeed, I couldn’t help but let the mind wonder to a time when Sandor Clegane would have frequented the many alehouses of the hamlet.

The Hound’s local alehouse perhaps?

Buoyed by our welcome, Peter Morris and I (sticking with the olde-English vernacular), presented on our experiences, and those of our colleagues, on teaching animation through the blended learning mode at Canterbury Anifest.

Yours truly

Our research was well received and stimulated much discussion on the differences between teachers and management on the provision for blended learning. Much work remains in this area.

Peter, the storyteller

In the course of the symposium, we were treated to some animations. Marfa (2018) by the McLeod Brothers really struck a chord with me.

Canterbury Anifest Symposium

This recent CFP caught my eye, so much that we (myself and several colleagues) have put together an abstract for the symposium. Here’s hoping that we get the opportunity to speak of our experiences teaching the 3D Computing Animation programme in a blended learning mode.

https://www.canterburyanifest.com/

Keynote Speaker: Professor Aylish Wood (University of Kent)

Symposium co-organisers: Dr. Christopher Holliday (King’s College London), Joanna Samuel (Canterbury Christ Church University)

What is Anifest?

Canterbury Anifest is an award-winning animation festival and the largest annual event of this kind in the South East. It’s a great community event that invites people of all ages to come and experience the magic of animation; allowing them to get involved with something out of the ordinary. With its range of workshops, masterclasses, talks and films, it has something for everyone. Anifest also caters for specialists and those in the industry, featuring national and international awards, and guest speakers from some of the biggest names in animation.

Images Credit: https://www.canterburyanifest.com/

Animatic Animagic

As part of the Moving Image module, I am rounding up the semester with introducing the concept of animatics on the 3D Computer Animation programme – the students have recently completed tutorials on scriptwriting and storyboarding. The video below is an animatic from Toy Story and encapsulates the concept alongside the finished version of the animation:

Three Weeks Down

…and a happy new academic year to you too!

Three weeks into the new academic year and to borrow a 90s album title, So Far So Good. This semester has brought with it some of the regular modules that I have taught previously including Introduction to Web Development, and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries, while the year-long, Moving Image continues into the shorter days and longer evenings. I do have one new module, Creative Media Group Project, a final-year, shared teaching experience alongside some colleagues.

To date, the Introduction to Web Development module has brought with it the basics of HTML5 tags and CSS3 styling, while the learners have been exposed to exercises in marking up text, creating links, inserting images, developing lists and tables, and this week, integrating multimedia elements. Teaching CSS alongside HTML, as opposed to separately, brings with it its own opportunities and challenges. The complexities of integrating both formed the basis for The Muddiest Point, a Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) that I rolled out to last year’s students and which proved to be a really insightful exercise in formulating formative feedback on my teaching practices. This exercise led to some action-based teaching this semester (more on this over the coming weeks), which I ‘assume’ will lead to better learning experiences for the students.

Both the Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries and Moving Image modules are taught as part-time, Springboard, evening courses where the former introduces theoretical and practical paradigms to the students (I’m particularly interested in how the students perform with their Paperclip Challenge (detailed below)), while the latter builds on theory and practice from the previous semester with a shift in focus this time to narrative and character that ultimately leads to the development of a story, script, and animatic. Students on the Creative Media Group Project module have been assigned the task of developing a substantial, research-based project on the theme of ‘Evolution’. At present, we are introducing the students to potential technological avenues they may wish to pursue, while the focus will shift to forming and developing groups in the coming weeks.

The Muddiest Point is one of the simplest CATs to help assess where students are having difficulties. The technique consists of asking students to jot down a quick response to one question: “What was the muddiest point in [the lecture, discussion, homework assignment, film, etc.]?” The term “muddiest” means “most unclear” or “most confusing.” (Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University, 2018)

JavaScript for Kids

I’m learning JavaScript.

It’s a language I’ve never coded before although I have used/manipulated it on numerous occasions. I’m following Nick Morgan’s (skilldrick.co.uk) JavaScript for Kids as a learning guide and so far, so good.

The above (^) is my first piece of written JavaScript. Woohoo!

While I’m at it check out these impressive JavaScript creations:

http://fantasynth.com/

https://patatap.com/

https://cubeslam.com/

Check back again in a few weeks to see how me and my JS code are progressing…

 

VS Games 2018

Good news! We (Dr Bride Mallon, Dr Cornelia Connolly, and my-good-self) have had our research paper accepted for VS-GAMES 2018. Our paper focuses on the role of Assessment in Serious Alternate Reality Games.

The 10th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications takes place from September 5th-7th in Würzburg, Germany.

The community of the VS-GAMES covers a broad variety of facets of virtual worlds and games including game design, software engineering, computer graphics, human-computer interaction techniques, pedagogical and psychological models and evaluations. The common denominator of the conference is that all of these different efforts and perspectives target serous application domains – from museum exhibitions over deep sea robotics interfaces to training and rehabilitation.

VS-GAMES 2018

EdTech 2018

Alongside my colleague Shane D’Arcy, we presented at EdTech2018 in Carlow IT on our experiences of utilising Adobe Connect in separate modules for the first time.

Image result for irish learning technology association

These practical modules on programming and animation theory have been previously taught in a face-to-face context but are now included in a part-time blended programme, 80% of which is delivered online. Classes are delivered two evening per week to approximately 15 students (each session), most of whom are working full-time. Our presentation considered the benefits and the limitations of the virtual classroom from the teacher’s perspective. In particular, we outlined some simple techniques used to counter challenges in a number of aspects of the virtual classroom experience such as feedback and interaction, teaching approaches, body language and facial expressions, online activities, “wait time” and “think time”.