Sloan-C Fish On!


Sloan-C Online Teaching Certificate

I accepted a position as an instructional designer just over a year ago and began the Sloan-C Online Teaching Certificate shortly thereafter.  The eight week online foundation course followed by three independent week long electives throughout the year has become an undercurrent to my instructional design practice.

The foundations course focuses on course planning and design with practical applications.  Assignments include writing/reworking a syllabus, creating a course schedule and developing one assignment.  I recall a bit of grumbling on my part regarding the amount of reading and writing though I also attempted to read and respond to all the discussion board post.

We also explored concepts of online communities and instructor presence.  Perhaps most valuable element of the Sloan-C program is engaging with instructors and instructional designers from other universities and colleges.

I choose the following three electives for my certificate program:

  • Digital Storytelling – Evolving and culturally relevant medium providing an opportunity to exercise creativity and practice 21st century digital skills.
  • The Quality Matters Rubric – National standard for course design providing a rubric and process to guide instructors and instructional designers.
  • Introduction to Mobile Apps and Tablets – Who doesn’t have a mobile device?  Or a better way to ask, do the majority of your students have a mobile device?

Final Presentation

To earn the Sloan-C Online Teaching Certificate there is a final presentation.  There are two main requirements of the presentation: an online course demo, and a presentation addressing the key learning points from each Sloan-C workshop with reflection.

I have worked with colleagues on professional development such as the iTeach and Tech Fellows enough to present on these online courses.  Instead I choose to present on my first instructional design consultation and course with a new to online instructor.  I had not attempted to create an online course prior to my new role and decided this would be the best measure of progress.

Why Fishing?

I enjoy my job but am also passionate about my outdoor activities.  I may have found a way to incorporate my daydreams of weekend road trips into something constructive by creating analogies in my presentations…storytelling.  At the very least I take pleasure in my work and my audience may find some amusement as well.

Fishing is a commonly shared experience among people in Alaska and there are so many different kinds of fishing experience.  There is learning curve when it comes to fishing and I learn something each time I get out on the water.

ARVE Error: id and provider shortcodes attributes are mandatory for old shortcodes. It is recommended to switch to new shortcodes that need only url


Play. Teach. Connect.

Gamification and game elements in education.

On Thursday, May 15 2014 from 1:15 to 2:15 pm I am leading a workshop, Play. Teach. Connect. for UAA Development Day .  This one hour workshop recaps our experience hosting Serious Fun: An Educational Games Gathering on Friday, April 11, 2014 and will leave participants with some great takeaways on gamification and game elements in education.

Serious Fun Recordings

Google Slides Development Day Presentation

Here are some of the creative ideas participants came up with during the Development Day Session (curated with Realtime Board

ARVE Error: id and provider shortcodes attributes are mandatory for old shortcodes. It is recommended to switch to new shortcodes that need only url

What is the role of play in the workplace and education?  How can we make learning experiences both challenging and rewarding while focusing on measurable outcomes?  Where is this being achieved within UA?  Join us for an interactive session and leave with seven strategies for incorporating games and gaming elements in your teaching and training.

On Friday, April 11 UAA hosted the first annual Serious Fun: An Educational Games Gathering.  This event is a partnership between the MAUs and brought together higher education instructors, K-12 educators, students, developers, business trainers and community members.  In this workshop we will recap the success of Serious Fun to explore gamification, storytelling, and other creative ways to engage the digital world.




Digital Storytelling in Wonderland

This blog post is the final remix/mashup project for the Spring 2014, UAF Digital Storytelling ED 677 course.

Digital Storytelling Mashup

Remix/Mashup Definition

It’s time for the remix and the mashup!  Since I am posting after having the advantage of reading my cohort peer posts I decided to remix/mashup their definitions into a rap using the AutoRap app.  I hope you enjoy!  Listen to it here!

Check out my Mashup: Digital Storytelling Wonderland

Copyright, Creative Commons, Fair Use…Oh My

UAA has a great webpage with instructor resources on copyright and Fair Use that I refer to with questions and concerns on the use of online materials.  For this project I used several images that I found in a Google image search with the Advanced search filter “free to use or share”.  Given that I am doing a mashup with Alice in Wonderland, do you think I am within the spirit of the law?

Concept the Mashup

I initially had a difficult time with this project…just getting started on an idea.  I was limiting myself based on my current technical expertise rather than looking at it as an opportunity to explore different technologies and give myself the opportunity to fail.  I want to “just be myself” as I was assigned to do, but I don’t think of myself as funny, and using humor is a common approach to make a video more entertaining.  No does my sarcasm translate well online or in presentations.

I am currently working on my presentation style and more effective presentations for both traditional and distance or online classrooms.  I thought about how I could represent what I have learned in this class and applied it to my work (this reminds me I need to work on an ePortfolio).  I love TED Talks and have a secret goal (shhh) to be both knowledgeable and engaging enough to submit a presentation idea for the Anchorage event.  More recently I was introduced to the Ignite concept where you give a five minute presentation of twenty slides with each slide auto-advancing every 15 seconds.  Okay, this concept could work for me.  I enjoy what to some may be considered restrictive guidelines as it enables me to think creatively about a challenge.

I choose to create a ten slide Ignite as I thought two and a half minutes was long enough for a recording and I was able to discuss what I thought were important takeaways from the semester.  Alice in Wonderland makes for a great parallel to my experience in the course and is a story I have referred to at numerous points in my life.  I believe my year book quote was from Alice in Wonderland.

 Process for the Mashup

This project took over 10 hours to complete including peer review, research, finding images and creating the slides.

  1. Brainstorm the story and “big idea”.
  2. Research different Ignite presentations.
  3. Draw a storyboard.
  4. Draft script by slide.
  5. Find images in Google images and
  6. Create slides in Google Presentation.
  7. Add sound.  It is not possible to embed sound in a Google Presentation so I embedded two YouTube videos with sound, a ticking pocket watch and an evil, hysterical laugh.  (Unfortunately neither one is hear in the recording).
  8. Practice presentation.
  9. Record in Screencast-O-Matic.
  10. Upload to YouTube.
  11. Embed in WordPress.

What would I do differently?

  • Connect with 1-2 other people in the cohort early in the semester to see if they want to collaborate on a group project.
  • Add music.
  • Have someone record me giving the presentation live (not just a head shot).
  • Include a photo of my three-legged cat.

Participatory Storytelling

It started with a fun idea…creating a digital children’s book.  I am not procrastinating, I am finger painting, or at least that is what I am telling myself.  I have spent more hours than I care to admit finger painting on my iPad over the past few weeks.  Have you seen what some people can do with these apps?

YouTube Video: Painted in ArtStudio on iPad Touch

photo (4)Participatory Storytelling

Earlier in the spring semester our digital storytelling class experimented with participatory storytelling in Twitter.  The rules were simple: post one tweet at a time and make sure at least one person responds to your tweet before tweeting again.  As one can imagine this story had a lot of diverging paths, loose plot and little character development.  Conversely we were all curious to know where it was going and fill in the gaps of the story.  It seemed to be developing as science fiction and yet it started in the woods with a character finding a mysterious box.  A bear and cat were introduced who also seemed curious in the same object and the bear and cat could talk.  Perhaps what I enjoyed most about this storytelling experience is how much I was able to assume, project and imagine of the story.  I was most interested in the history of the bear and cat, and found myself wanting to bring them more into the story.

Creating a Children’s Digital Storybook

Well before the first assignment due date I had my idea: to create a children’s digital storybook about Bear and Cat.  I would write a back story of bear and cat.  The initial idea is that bear and cat are lost and use the box to find their way home, or maybe the box is the reason bear and cat are lost.



Screen Shot 2014-05-08 at 2.52.33 PM

Apps for Creating Children’s Books

I found an app called bookPress for creating books on iPads.  It was everything I was looking for in an app…intuitive and free!  I also planned to draw my own illustrations and chose ArtStudio as the free version appeared to have everything I would need for some basic illustrations.  I quickly realize that whatever drawing skills I thought I had do not necessarily translate to drawing on an iPad.

Early attempts:

photo 2photo 3

Adventures of Bear and Cat

You can view the start of my story by clicking the link above.  What is really nice about the bookPress app is you do not need the app nor an iPad to view the final product.  Also it is possible to share a link to the story on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Pinterest.

photo 1 (2)

Optimized-photo 3 (1) (1)

photo (5)Anthropomorphizing Animals in Children’s Stories

I did a bit of informal research (wikipedia, etc.) on how to create a children’s story and found there is a debate as to whether or not anthropomorphizing, or ascribing human characteristics to animals is a good or a bad thing.  Anthropomorphizing is a topic for another blog but something I find interesting and admittedly do with my own dog Moki.  I thought about what kind of story I wanted to tell and which characteristics were to true the animals behavior.


I like the idea of creating interactive digital children’s books for my friends and their children.  Perhaps combining drawings and photographs as in the image of Moki above.  I would also love to experiment with participatory storytelling  by children and wish I had children help me write the story.

Gaming and Storytelling with Aurasma


Play.  “To exercise or occupy oneself, to be engaged with some activity; to act, operate, work” (OED, 2014).  I have been rolling the word around my mind this semester as I participate in a graduate digital storytelling course and prepare for Serious Fun: An Educational Games Gathering at UAA on April 11.  I could be described as a serious person.  Play sometimes takes me outside my comfort zone.  The Digital Storytelling ED 677 Unit: Unseen Stories is a a wonderful opportunity for play.

Augmented Reality “Aura”

I chose to create an “Aura” with Aurasma from our Serious Fun Poster.  Aurasma is an application for creating augmented reality instances.  In a basic way the creator is layering digital information over an image that represents something found in the physical world.  The image for our Serious Fun poster is the Trigger.  Currently my Aura is comprised of two Overlays: a video teaser for the event and a logo.  When the logo is tapped the audience should link to fun AutoRap for our event.  The video teaser becomes full screen when tapped twice.

How to view my Aura:


  1. Download Aurasma app from iTunes or Google Play.
  2. Follow my channel.  Scan QR code to the right or type (only on mobile device).
  3. Open Aurasma app.
  4. Hold phone up with view window focused on the Serious Fun poster.
  5. Enjoy!


In order to view an Aurasma you need a mobile device (iPhone or Android), Aurasma app, link to channel, and identified trigger.  You have to learn how Aurasma works before your augmented reality experience.

Aurasma Games

Games Gathering

Now that I have the basics down I am excited to come up with some other creative uses for Aurasma.  I would like to come up with a game for our Serious Fun event next month so that others can learn about the Aurasma app, engage during the event, and learn more about games in education.  Something that is in the works is a game idea where each of our organizing members is identified as a unique superhero or villain.  Event participants will be randomly assigned to a superhero or villain team and participate in challenges throughout the day.


Do you have ideas for an augmented reality game to take place during our event?  Where does the story go from here?

Serious Fun Event Update

IconsSince the early planning meetings for Serious Fun I thought about the gamification of the event and our story.  There are two main teams, the superheroes and the villains, and each of our committee members represented one of the element characters.  The thought behind this was that in addition to an event game many of the sessions would also have group activities and this would be a creative way to partner or team participants with each other.

Each participant, presenter, volunteer and staff member was given a pin as part of their event packet.  Enclosed were also instructions for participating in the Superheroes vs. Villains Challenge.  One of the challenge activities was to identify which of the superheroes and/or villains’ icons had Auras.

Since most of us were busy leading up to the event there are only Auras for three of the eight icons: Ozone Offender (air villain), Tidal Terror (water villain) and Earth Hero.

SF-Element-Villian-(Air)SF-Element-Villian-(Water)(1)SF-Element-Hero-(Earth)In the future I would like to have Auras for each of the characters that may guide participants to the next challenge.  There were technical difficulties with the SCVNGR app and perhaps I would focus on Aurasma and the use of Google+ or Twitter for tracking evidence, OR it would be more like a treasure hunt leading everyone to a surprise near the end of the day at a specific time and location.  I would also like to create a digital story of the superheroes and villains, and weave this into the event website, registration process etc.


“Augmented Reality – ePubGeneration.”ePubGeneration. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <>.

“play, v.” Home : Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <>.

Cultural Storytelling

“The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

What can we learn from digital storytelling of Yup’ik, Inupiat and Inuit People?  Do these tribes claim the Eskimo name?  Content curation in the form of  a digital story may be found in my Storify, Who Says Eskimo? including clips and trailers for several digital stories.

Inuit-Kleidung_1I previously took it for granted that the word Eskimo was politically correct in referring to northern natives of Alaska and Canada.  Yet walk into any place that sells tchotchke for tourists and something doesn’t seem quite right with how Alaska Natives are characterized in toys, books, postcards, and the wooden cutouts/standings.  In talking with both Native and non-Native Alaskans I get a mixed perspective on whether it is an offensive, acceptable or desirable term.





The Peace Party, Blue Corn Comics has an archive of ways Eskimo have been stereotyped, Eskimo: The Ultimate Aboriginis  and perhaps it is the stereotyping that is more offensive than the word Eskimo.  Of course even on this site Inuit are referred to as Eskimo which is inaccurate according to Linguists…and Inuit.

Lawrence Kaplan, Professor and Director of the UAF Alaska Native Language Center states, “Although the name ‘Eskimo’ is commonly used in Alaska to refer to all Inuit and Yup’ik people of the world, this name is considered derogatory in many other places because it was given by non-Inuit people and was said to mean ‘eater of raw meat'” (UAF, 2011).  Part of the reason for this is that Inuit translates to mean people; however, it is not a word in Yupik.  To go further down the linguistic rabbit hole “Linguists now believe that ‘Eskimo” is derived from an Ojibwa word meaning “to net snowshoes’.” (UAF, 2011)

Language specialist and write, Rachel Qitsualik provides a comprehensive history of the the word Eskimo as well in her article “Are Eskimo and Inuit the same people?” .  Qitsualik articulates that Inuit and Eskimo refer to different indigenous groups and the term is offensive to the Inuit as it is reminiscent of a time when they were labeled and abused by settlers.  Her article ends with “It all really boils down to choice, the right to accept or reject specific labels at will, the right to be known as one wishes to be. And is that not what liberty is all about?” (AAA Native Arts).



Films give us a beautiful way to explore the cultural portrayal of people such as the Inuit, Inupiat or Yup’ik. In my Storify, Who Says Eskimo? I look at films by Natives and non-natives; fictional, non-fictional and somewhere in between; stories in various multimedia formats of varying length, stories for different audiences at different times.  Examples include “Nanook of the North”, “Eskimo Hunters in Alaska – The Traditional Inuit Way of Life”, “Maina”, “On the Ice”, “Inuk” and “Qallunaat!  Why White People are Funny”.

Eskimo-FilmPosterIn earlier examples of documentaries such as “Nanook of the North” and “Eskimo Hunters in Alaska” one purpose of the films like all documentaries intends to satisfy our curiosity for different experiences.  What other agendas are expressly or ambiguously part of these films?  During this time period there is indoctrination, forced relocation and boarding schools of indigenous people.

A traditional western viewpoint of western ethnographic work is that one must be an outsider yet this seems counter-intuitive to me.  Would “Qallunaat!  Why White People are Funny” be considered autoethnographic work?  Should we be applying these labels to the way that diverse people choose to tell their own story and histories?  We do not call US History authoethnographic work…when in reality it is often ethnocentric.

Inuk_PosterOnly since moving to Alaska in 2010 have I watched films from the perspective of indigenous people.  “Inuk”, “On the Ice” and “Maina” are just a few examples of Inuit and Inupiaq stories.  Digital Storytelling is a way to expand highly oral traditions in their cultures, provide a unique perspective to the dominant western culture, and to do so in their own voice.

In the earlier films and propaganda videos indigenous people are portrayed as simple and savage with an underlying message that outsiders will help to civilize.  In contrast contemporary films explore the complexity of the human experience, juxtaposition of culture and time, and develop individual characters.

Walrus_hunting“Nanook of the North” is a silent film with music and some additional text.  There is a lot of staging in this documentary and dramatization of event such as hunting.  In “Eskimo Hunters of Alaska” there is a first-person narration though it sounds somewhat artificial and scripted by someone else.

In the short film, “Native Time” there is no dialogue either.  An indigenous man with traditional clothes and tools and comes to a modern traffic intersection.  At this intersection he encounters a fast moving world of machines and learns how to use a cross walk.  From his perspective the world is volatile and moving fast; however, from the perspective of a driver he is moving in slow motion.  Film editing is used to create these effects for the audience.


Watching “Inuk”, “Maina”, “On the Ice” and other indigenous films at the Alaska Native Heritage Center is a new and embraced experience for me.  I grew up in the Northeast and did not realize as a child the cultures of Native Americans are living cultures.  I had one friend in school who is Alaska Native.  I remember wanting to do a project on Alaska and requesting brochures in the mail.  I learned about Native Americans as people who lived in the past, mystical and otherworldly yet there are four recognized tribes in Vermont where I grew up.

Digital storytelling is a medium through which indigenous people may tell their story uninterrupted and for diverse audiences.  These films also provide an opportunity for dialogue on issues that are often difficult to discuss and ask questions.

Of course these are also examples of good storytelling and through good storytelling we connect with the characters’ story, empathize with their experiences and hope they will overcome challenges.  In this experience we dilute the stereotypes and grow to appreciate different cultures without assigning our own labels.

ARVE Error: id and provider shortcodes attributes are mandatory for old shortcodes. It is recommended to switch to new shortcodes that need only url


Kaplan, L. (2011, July 1). Alaska Native Language Center | Inuit or Eskimo?. Alaska Native Language Center | Inuit or Eskimo?. Retrieved March 4, 2014, from

Qitsualik, R. (n.d.). eskimo – inuit. Are Eskimo and Inuit the same people?. Retrieved March 4, 2014, from


  • Traditional clothing; left: seal; right: caribou –
  • Bizzaro Comic –
  • Yaari –
  • Eskimo Film Poster –
  • Inuk Poster –
  • Walrus Hunting –




Elements of Digital Storytelling

All forms of storytelling embody a voice, an essential element of who is telling a story.  Voice is not just oration but the ‘Gift of Voice’ – “a heightened sense of personal presence” as described by the Center for Digital Storytelling (Alexander, 2011, p. 24).  The voice expresses a point of view, culture and sometimes personality of the storyteller.  The storyteller will pose a challenge and/or question that is typically part of the stories arc.  This challenge and/or question is what engages us and is referred to as “mysterymaking” by Alexander and establishes a relationship with the audience (2011, p. 10).


According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), living in the story and a lesson learned are essential for good storytelling.  These are two of the six elements from the Center for Digital Storytelling and differentiate good storytelling from digital stories.  “Living the story is the oral story TELLING (not just someone talking) with authors unfolding the tale being told using their voices and word choices to create imaginable emotional connections” (ISTE, 2013, para. 3).  A lesson learned comes out of the story arc and is the “wisdom or understandings gained from the experience or knowledge which actually becomes the ‘spine’ of the story” (ISTE, 2013, para. 3).

184732397The voice, challenge/question and relationship are common elements to all forms of storytelling.

According to Jenkins, “each media platform creates its own relationship between between the storyteller and it’s listener” (2010).  How we engage with the story is unique to digital storytelling.  Digital storytelling is also unique from traditional storytelling because it has enabled storytellers manipulate and convey concepts of space in time in unique ways to their audience.  There are also proponents of collaborative storytelling that is made possible in digital mediums.

186247236It is beneficial to consider digital storytelling as a unique art form/communication medium as there is great potential to capture our individual, unique experiences and have stories told from unique cultural perspectives.


Digital storytelling requires that individuals have the ability to reflect on their experience within a broader social context combined with the technical skills required to tell their story.  On the Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling page “when digital storytelling is used by students, it provides a strong foundation in many different types of literacy” and refers to the 21st Century Skills of Digital, Global, Visual, Technology and Information Literacy (Univ. of Houston, 2014, para. 1).

EDUCUASE provides a straightforward definition of digital storytelling as “the practice of combining narrative with digital content, including images, sound, and video to create a short movie, typically with a strong emotional component” (2007, p. 1).  I would not limit the definition to a movie but rather generalize to other digital media formats.  Nile Stanley and Brett Dillingham define digital storytelling as “storytelling that contains some mixture of computer-based images, text, recorded audio narration, video clips, or music”.

Elements of Digital Storytelling Prezi

ARVE Error: id and provider shortcodes attributes are mandatory for old shortcodes. It is recommended to switch to new shortcodes that need only url


Alexander, B. (2011). The new digital storytelling creating narratives with new media. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Praeger.

digitalstorytelling – Definitions. (n.d.). digitalstorytelling – Definitions. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from

Language Magazine » Making Learners Click with Digital Storytelling. (n.d.). Language Magazine » Making Learners Click with Digital Storytelling. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from

7 things you should know about…Digital Storytelling. (2007, January 15). EDUCAUSE. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from

Take Six: Elements of a Good Digital Story. (n.d.). Digitales. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from

What is Digital Storytelling?. (n.d.). Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling. Retrieved February 10, 2014, from

 Photos in order of appearance:

The First Storyteller:

2nd Image:

3rd Image:


Alaska Tails: A Digital Journey of 21st Century Storytelling

My name is Melissa and I am still learning to tell my story.  Personally I am a daughter, sister, wife, friend and dog lover.  Professionally I am an instructional designer, project manager and lifelong student.  Passionately I explore the outdoors, cooking and experiencing different cultures.

I am once again a student and part of a the spring cohort for ED 677 Digital Storytelling through the University of Fairbanks.  My blog, The Natural Designer, category: digital storytelling is where you will find creations, reflections and digital resources.

A Revived Hobby with iPhoneography

iPhoneography, iPhone photography is the subject of an fresh and funky workshop series with iPads and iPhones through FTC.  Led by Instructional Designer, Jeanette Renaudineau with her big idea: “The best camera is the one you have with you all the time” participants learn some basic photography tips before taking a field trip to capture images from around campus.

We downloaded and worked from an app called Camera Awesome!  one of many iPhone apps for iPhoneography.  Composition, lighting and focus are just a few of the settings we manipulated with the app.  After you take a photo there are options for editing with presets, filters, textures and frames.  Below are a few examples of my photos from the workshop.

There are many educational applications for photography such as digital storytelling and scientific research and most students and instructors carry a mobile device at all times.  Why not have some fun in process?

A Story About Failing

I submitted a proposal to the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) national conference with the title “Digital Storytelling with Free Mobile Applications” and was rejected today.

To be honest I was hopeful that my proposal would be accepted but not surprised to receive an email that begins “Thank you for your proposal submission…Unfortunately, the program committee did not select your proposal for this year’s program.”  I am just beginning to explore digital storytelling, connecting with instructors and others in the community throughout Alaska who share my interest.  My proposal did not reflect a level of expertise and research that is expected for a national conference.

Still, I love reading, watching and/or listening to stories.  Stories help me navigate our confusing and complex world.  I believe digital stories are the heartbeat of our online world.  I have a personal goal to intertwine digital storytelling with my profession as an instructional designer.  A daydream (don’t laugh) is to become an excellent storyteller.

My Fail (first action in learning) was to submit a proposal to the ELI conference.  My next steps are to learn more about storytelling, discovering a path well traveled by others  and hoping to leave my mark.

I do have a few generous and inspiring friends in the English department willing to work with me on a workshop for a local conference.  I am also participating in an international MOOC, The Future of Storytelling through Iversity.

Now I just have to be brave and tell my stories.