Showing posts with label design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label design. Show all posts

February 25, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: My Blogging Story

This is the third post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

The challenge for this post was to share why I started blogging and tell about the moment that I decided to write.

When I first started blogging, I was in my early 20s. My very first post was summer 2008 and was entitled "A Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins With A Single Step..." I had earned a technical writing degree that gave me a little insight into writing and how to use online tools.

Life was promising but a little tough at the time: I had moved eight times in the span of just a couple years following a relationship around the country that later failed. We moved from Florida to Arizona to Pennsylvania to Maryland to Alabama and then to Texas, twice. I remember working at my computer looking out at the snow from a Texas apartment, boxes still stacked up from the last move, and trying to share with the world some of the thoughts that I have written down in my little notebook while working a part-time job as a gas station clerk.

As a creative, I needed an online platform to share my opinions and designs. I write and design a lot in my free time because that’s what I’m driven to do – it’s my gift that, like a tsunami wave, I can’t hold back and must write down the thoughts swirling into and around my head. I have notebooks saved on my bookshelves from over 20 years of writing: little scribbles, planning things out, drawing out systems or ideas. So, I take the best or most relevant ideas that I have and share them on the blog.

A blog provides me with a public platform for possible employers or other professional connections where I can create the story publicly of who I am. I want to showcase my writing and share the experiences I’ve gained with other people. I gain authority in my field by confirming my opinions and designs with others.

By maintaining a blog, it makes my own thoughts important to myself by becoming concrete and shared with the world. Sometimes thoughts come in our heads and slip away so easily. Blogging gives me a way to concretely engage with the rest of the world. It’s also not as intimidating as doing so face-to-face. I can connect with others who have similar ideas or interests through the power of the Internet.

Bloggers can add great value and richness of experience to what is presented on the web for consumption. I hope the ideas and designs I share on my blog bring you value too!

More to come about why I decided to start blogging in future posts.

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write.

#amberclee #20postchallenge

February 11, 2022

Twenty-Post Challenge: Where I Work

This is the first post in a twenty-post series blogging challenge.

Although the twenty-post challenge by Writer’s Write was created with “beginning bloggers” in mind, I realized that on my blog I’ve never really addressed any of the topics suggested for prompts and that maybe my readers would like to know some of these details about me and my work. Many of my posts are largely impersonal with what I choose to share with the world online. I’m just not that big into sharing my personal life or activities blasted online for everyone to see (and track, thanks big data).

Today's challenge is to share a photo of my workspace and to tell why I like my space and a little about what I do there. As you may know from my other posts, I currently work completing technical writing and instructional design projects for several different clients, so having a quiet space to meet, write, and design is essential to working effectively.

Below you can see my work area for writing and other projects located in the spare bedroom. I am thankful to have a dedicated space to work in. Often times, you’ll find me writing in the morning in this quiet, peaceful, and inspiring space.

This is my dedicated work space. Photo by Amber Lee.

Many times when I write, I prefer to use my smart phone. It’s mobile and I often have ideas on the go, so using my phone allows me to record notes whenever or wherever an interesting thought or topic comes to me. It’s also quicker for me to dictate my thoughts and use the voice-to-text phone feature: sometimes my thoughts come so fast that I can’t type them out fast enough, so I speak them. I can then go back and correct any mis-heard words or awkward phrasing, which I will usually complete at my computer.

My desk and chair are a set that a friend gave me many years ago. She has since passed, so it’s special to me that I can use the desk she gave to me to be creative and write at today. The clean, heavy desk has a great marble top and a retracting space underneath for my keyboard and mouse. It is a very nice set and I remember my friend as I use it, so I hope it will provide me with a working surface for years to come.

I built the big “A” letter you see setting on the desk about five years ago for a graduate school club recruitment event at the University of South Florida. The letter is made of styrofoam and foam board glue-gunned together with lots of masking tape for sides, which I then painted the entire creation in a wash-out blue pattern from reused paint. It was really fun to make and DIY'ing the project saved me a lot of money for a fun event prop.

I also have a fun Rick and Morty psychedelic wall tapestry that adds color to the background of my space. Rick and Morty is a fun adult cartoon. I really like color, especially blues and purples, which is prominent in my space.

On my desk, I have my computer, my whiteboard, my planner, and my notebook. I use these tools every day to keep organized and produce work on a consistent schedule. Many times I’ll write notes by hand if I’m having writers block.

You’ll also notice some extra equipment on the desk. We use this area for DJ’ing music, so there is a mixing board, speakers, and some fun lights that can be turned on. Writing and instructional design by day; DJ’ing by night - this space gets lots of use!

Using the DJ mixing board and fun colored lights at night. Photo by Amber Lee.

Underneath my desk, I keep a foot massager, a foot stool, and a soft rug: I like to be comfy when I work, as you can see by the pillows too. Ergonomics are important and this desk setup helps me keep from being in pain after being on a computer for several hours a day.

You might wonder why there aren't any little plants growing in this sunlit space. The answer is my cats: I have an older cat that loves to eat anything that resembles a plant, including fake silk plants. He then gets sick. So no plants in my house, unfortunately.

I hope this gives you a little peek into how I work every day. See you on the next post!

The original challenge is from Writer’s Write

#amberclee #20postchallenge

August 16, 2021

Online Learning, A Pandemic Bandaid

I was hopeful when all of America collectively implemented online learning last year - that people who had never tried it before may come to like it and find it efficient for teaching and learning - but instead the application was poor and many students did not achieve the learning gains possible. Online learning has pretty much been badmouthed in the media - but yet here we go again, rushing to remote learning due to the new rise in more dangerous Covid variants.

Online learning is not for everyone?

Now as another in-person school year is threatened by the Covid delta variant, the same students will be rushed into an online learning system that could produce less than mediocre learning results (and probably being implemented by the same staff badmouthing online learning). It’s normal to be frustrated with technology - but I encourage you to give online learning a try with a fresh perspective and utilizing the tips below.

Through modern curriculum design methods, online learning should be successful for most learners with the proper supports, like having trained teachers (teachers properly trained to support online learners, and who are not overloaded with in-person teaching duties at the same time) and reliable learning management systems. Online learners that are successful are also typically self-motivated and strong readers (usually English is necessary but ESOL programs are available too).

Supporting online learners

To support this rushed transition to online “remote” learning with these students:

Support and structure learning for self-discipline. Use regular turn-in intervals for assignments, predictable activity schedules, mandatory in-person check-ins, a clear agenda posted for each unit, predictable assignment successions, succinct rubrics that are shared in advance of the assignment, and apply metacognitive strategies to maximize your students’ learning. 

Humanize the online environment and build authentic connections. This is really the most important tip - if you don’t build instructor-to-student support, peer-to-peer community, and learner-to-content personal connection; then prepare for your learners to check out from your lesson. Learners are motivated and build connections while learning in an online environment through these elements - these authentic, humanized connections are what we all need in the online environment. 

Create clear instructions. Try to be succinct and don’t be superfluous with your word choices. Sometimes a video is needed to explain an assignment, which is also a chance to build instructor presence. State your instructions starting with a directional verb: look at what is used in this article, telling you to “support,” “humanize,” "build," “create,” and “remember.” Have someone else proofread your instructions (if appropriate, an advanced student in the class) or at least read them aloud to yourself. You could also work in community with other instructors to provide support for each other.

Recognize that every learner is different and will need varying levels of interaction and support to grasp the lesson. The learners that already lack support to be successful in a traditional in-person classroom: these students will likely need the most instructor support on a regular basis. Are you sure that your learners have reliable access to the internet and a device capable of completing the online work? Is there district or school level technical support for teachers to help ensure this access?

One last thought that’s super important about supporting students through this online transition: as we send individual students (or groups of students) home to quarantine for two weeks at a time, are we also sending meals home with them? Hunger is endemic to the children in our school systems. I don’t think this is currently being done. This program could be run similarly to the summer breakfast/lunch pickup program already run throughout the country (through Covid too). Let’s make sure these kids are being taught effectively... and being fed!

What are your thoughts about online learning? Have you had successes or failures - share a comment below. 


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