The Education of a Web Professional: Presenting our Process (Part 3)

Last week, my Web Design and Development III class culminated their 2-week long design sprint process with a presentation to several stakeholders and a few student spectators.

Each member of the team had responsibilities during the development of the presentation, and I encouraged everyone to take a speaking part. In total, the presentation was approximately 10-15 minutes long, and in my opinion, went very well. I was very impressed with the courage, confidence, and professionalism of the students. Additionally, their collaboration and teamwork was on full display as they made their way through the material.

Several representatives from our college’s marketing department were on hand to hear the presentation, and to witness one example of how the design sprint process might be used for other projects around campus. Again, we are fortunate to have some very skilled design sprint facilitators helping us with this, and we are grateful for the opportunity to be a “guinea pig” to for this process. The marketing folks seemed to appreciate the ways in which the design sprint was utilized in our class, and asked some good probing questions of the students. They also offered some tips on presenting. It was great for the students to have an opportunity to meet with real world creative professionals!

My sincerest thanks to the students who stuck around to support their colleagues! I hope that the presentation gave you a glimpse into some of the other courses in the department, and generated a bit of excitement for the work you might be undertaking soon!

Overall, I am very happy with the way our design sprint and resulting presentation came together. We have a LOT of work to do in the next 10 weeks, but I’m confident that the students will work together to tackle this technology challenge to the best of their abilities.

Next up, the “bake off“!

My next post will be about the results of the class’ research on platforms, services, tech specs, and solutions that we will recommend for the client project.

As always, thanks for reading!
-Dr. J.

The Education of a Web Professional: The Design Sprint (Part 2)

As I mentioned in this post about our hands-on semester, my Web III class is working through a large-scale application development project for a client on campus. We were very fortunate to have an experienced design sprinter (Thanks, Kris!) come to class and lead us through the process. I believe that the sprint process was very effective, and gave the students a very fim foundation on which they will be able to design and build their application.

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The Education of a Web Professional: A Hands-On Semester (Part 1)

This semester, I have the delight and privilege of working with upper-level web design and development students in our Web III course. This has historically been one of my favorite classes to teach since we are able to get out of the “muck” of HTML, CSS, and Javascript syntax, and into some really fun, practical, and portfolio-worthy work. Of course, the fundamentals are important, but this class tends to be super satisfying for students because of its scope and professional approach.

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GIFTS: Fostering Professionalism in Applied Communication Courses: Making Sense of Dollars and Cents* – Project Details

*This work was presented at the Ohio Communication Association Conference, October, 2018

Background & Rationale

In applied communication courses such as graphic design or web development, students must balance many different types of learning. In addition to technical tools, students are also challenged to develop a deep understanding of design, information architecture, communication theory, and in some cases, history of the field or notable individuals. Despite the depth and rigor of postsecondary applied communication curricula, research suggests that students entering the workforce are not entirely prepared; a PayScale (2016) survey discovered that only half of the responding managers felt that newly hired college graduates were adequately prepared for their positions. Additionally, an increasing number of communication practitioners is forsaking the “traditional” career trajectory and opting instead to work independently. Edelman Intelligence (2017) found that 36% of the US workforce maintains a freelance practice. The same study projects that freelancers will be the majority by 2027, if current growth rates persist. As communication educators, then, it is important that we help students develop not only technical mastery, but in-demand soft skills as well as habits and professional practices that will give them an advantage in a competitive industry. The ‘Making Sense of Dollars and Cents’ project goes beyond classroom learning. It gives students the opportunity to research industry best-practices; understand foundational business processes; explore technological tools/systems; and develop good habits around tracking and reporting time and money. I’ve found that this project also gives students an incredible confidence boost as it attaches a quantifiable dollar amount to the work they’re doing in class. On average, the students in a recent Web Design III class invoiced more than $5700 during the course of the semester!

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GIFTS: Creating Podcasts in the Media Classroom – Project Details

In recent years, I have grown quite fond of using podcasts as a demonstration of learning for students in my Mass Communication and Media and Society classes. It’s a great way for students to experience, first hand, sound/audio production, while at the same time, thinking about some media related topics.

I’ve gotten some requests recently to share the assignment(s) I use with my students, so here they are!

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Dissertation Published!

I am excited to announce that after more than a year of planning, research, and writing, my doctoral dissertation has been published! 

Teacher as Leader: A Gestalt Pedagogical Approach to Career and Technical Programs in Postsecondary Education

Community colleges and career and technical education programs offer incredible opportunities for a wide range of students. Faculty members in these learning communities deploy different instructional strategies in an effort to reach students of all ages most effectively, experience levels, educational backgrounds, and socioeconomic classes. The purpose of this qualitative dissertation in practice was to explore how instructors in postsecondary career and technical education programs deploy instructional strategies that align with the theoretical frameworks of Gestalt pedagogy and organizational development. The aim of this research was to develop philosophical and practical recommendations for faculty members wishing to adopt a Gestalt Pedagogical approach. Broadly, the research sought to position teachers as leaders within their classes and used leadership theory as a lens for inquiry. Through a series of semi-structured interviews with community college faculty members, the researcher found that teacher-leaders approach teaching from a position of care and service, while working to develop professionalism and soft skills in their students. Findings are presented with regard to individual behaviors, instructional strategies and tactics, and broad philosophical orientations. These findings were then analyzed for connections to the Gestalt school(s) of thought. Finally, this project provides a theoretical foundation for the development of teacher training programs, continuing education sessions, and/or course materials for aspiring teachers in college or graduate schools. Recommendations for adoption and implementation are discussed, along with recommendations for future lines of inquiry.

Keywords: higher education, teacher-leadership, Gestalt, postheroic leadership

(Click to access the document)


Well, it’s back to school time, and that means more meetings, advising sessions, and committee work!

This year, I’ve decided to give the Doodle scheduler a try.  I hope that it will provide a quick and easy way for students and colleagues to see my schedule, and request meetings.  If any readers have tips or ideas for making this tool a more effective part of the day-to-day, I’d love to hear about them in the comments.  Thanks!

If you’re looking for my doodle page, here it is.

For all those headed back to school this semester, good luck!

My entrée into the world of type design and font creation

This week, I began working through preparations for my Autumn semester classes, one of which is Typography.  I’m very excited to teach this course, as I haven’t done it in white a while… though it’s also a bit nerve wracking because I feel a bit rusty on all the technicals.

One project that I will work on this coming term is the creation of a custom font.  I’m still working through all of the details, and I welcome any suggestions you might have for implementing such a project.  I believe that this project (and several accompanying projects) will help students develop a serious, hands-on grasp of not only type as an art form, but type as a technical process as well. Continue reading

SAGE Encyclopedia of the Internet – Published This Week

I am honored to have had the opportunity to publish two entries in the recently published SAGE Encyclopedia of the Internet.  The work is a comprehensive survey of many different internet-related topics, from the highly technical, to the theoretical and social.  Editor Barney Warf has done a wonderful job soliciting entries from experts around the world.

The Encyclopedia is available in hard copy format from SAGE, and is also available online through SAGE Knowledge.

The abstracts and links for my two entries are as follows:

Internet Slang: Internet slang, like its counterparts in the spoken and written forms, is a mode of communication that typically consists of shortened words or phrases, neologisms (new words), abbreviations or initialisms, and paralinguistic or paraverbal markers. In the online space, netspeak (as Internet slang is sometimes called) allows the user to take shortcuts, save time, and communicate more efficiently. This efficiency is important for online media in which space is limited or input devices, such as mobile phones, prohibit the typing of lengthy messages. The use of Internet slang can also be considered a form of codeswitching, a sociolinguistic practice that helps users establish social groups in both inclusive and exclusive ways. This entry discusses the role that Internet slang plays in social communication.  Read more…

Net Neutrality: Net neutrality is a movement within the technology community that seeks to establish and preserve fair and open network accessibility for all end users, content providers, and technology protocols. It is the idea that the Internet—comprising many protocols such as hypertext transfer protocol, File Transfer Protocol, email (Internet Message Access Protocol, Post Office Protocol, Simple Mail Transfer Protocol), and many others—should be equally accessible for all users. Furthermore, it is the idea that all publishers (e.g., websites, bloggers, social media sites) and networked services (e.g., Netflix, Spotify, Hulu) should be equally available to all paying customers. More basically, perhaps, many see net neutrality as the fundamental principle of a networked society. It is the ability for everyone to communicate freely online with whomever, through whichever … Read more…

Media ecology education: Podcasts as multimodal demonstrations of learning

I recently had the pleasure of developing this article for Explorations in Media Ecology, a publication of the Media Ecology Association.  I have used the podcast exercise  in my courses for a few terms, but last semester was the first time that I asked students to create an entire 4-episode podcast series.  In reviewing my students’ course evaluations, there were some students that expressed frustration at the assignment, though for the most part, students seemed to enjoy the challenge.  They were a pleasure to listen to, and I really felt as if the students rose to the occasion.

Many undergraduate students tackling media ecology for the first time can often feel overwhelmed and confused. They must manage a constantly vacillating shift in focus from course content to reflective personal experience. A media ecology course can expose students to a variety of truths (and some untruths) about the ways in which media influence their world. I have found that one of the most generative – and, according to students, one of the most fun – methods for immersing students in a controlled, deliberate exploration of media is to have them create podcasts. These multimodal demonstrations of learning allow students to independently explore a topic (or topics) of their choice related to media.

Full Access: DOI: 10.1386/eme.16.2-3.239_1