Presenting the Podacast Toolkit at the 2017 Teaching Festival


It was a privilege to present to the highly engaged faculty and staff colleagues in attendance on Friday morning for our talk on Promoting Agency and Inclusion through an International Podcast Project. We received lots of great questions and enjoyed the conversation on how this project can be adapted to many different disciplines and courses.  It was also a good opportunity to discuss how the use of short-form audio recordings can be a valuable instructional tool that has high impact with low cost to produce.  I enjoyed the opportunity to play a sample form our pilot episode of the International Podcast Project as well.

For details on the presentation and other talks featured at the 2017 Teaching Festival see the entire Teaching Festival Lineup.

Pilot Episode: International Podcast Project

Following the successful inaugural International Podcast Project, my fellow colleagues and I have compiled the top-voted student podcasts from the project into the pilot episode (ep.0) .  This pilot podcast contains the peer-voted top two podcasts for each course that participated in the project.  There were a total of six courses participating including two from the main campus in St. Louis, and one course from the Leiden campus. Geneva campus, Vienna campus, and Thailand campus. 

Project Background

I will share much more in the near future on the entire project details including an resources kit for anyone who would like to take this project and adapt it.  In short this was an international cross-campus project in which the international campuses of Webster University Media Communications departments collaborated on a student podcast project. 

  • Project Themes: Media Technology, Media Convergence, Food & Culture in the Media, Interpersonal Communication
  • Deliverable: Original audio recording containing the background, research and information on the chosen subject and theme
  • Length: 3:00 minutes

Once all podcasts were created, they were uploaded to SoundCloud accounts and shared with a paired class from a different international campus.  Students then voted and provided peer feedback on the other classes podcasts.  Once the final voted list was completed, I compiled the podcasts into a single finished podcast episode for the International Podcast Project. 


Summer Photography Workshop 2016

Travel & Street Photography

This summer I am teaching a fun and exciting photography workshop focused on the contemporary methods and techniques for shooting and post-processing travel and street photography. 

During the course students will be putting their knowledge of photography into action through a series of small photographic assignments in cityscapes and street photography to prepare them for a final production assignment to capture a "City Portrait" of a city/town of their choosing. 

Creating a City Portrait

To accomplish the goal of the final project, students will be asked to create a final image series that encompasses several aspects of the city to help create a complete "portrait" of that location.  In addition to the visual elements of this assignment, students will also write short exposes on each of the main segments of their series to provide a rich context to the images. 

The City Portrait includes:

  1. A cityscape that captures the essence of the city through its architecture, or city planning, and or the the atmosphere of the city.
  2. The people that make that city.  Who are they? What do they think of their city? Is there any interesting characteristics of the people that stand out from other cities near or far?
  3. Food and culture: Looking even closer at our city, what is behind the people, what do they do, where and what do they eat?  Where do they shop or go for entertainment? The final segment will focus on the culture of the city.  Get close, observe and capture the food, the coffee, the shopping etc. that fuels the city.  Are there specific places that "everyone" goes to enjoy a meal, what about the shopping, do people shop in large department stores or small locally owned shops.  Is there a "must eat" or "must try" local delicacy or traditional drink? Find out, and photograph it, capture the "essence" of what makes it unique.

Interactive Leiden Photohunt

Another feature of the class designed to give students a task that would get them out and about in the city, as well as give them locations to practice the photographic techniques discussed and learned in class was a city-wide photohunt.  Similar to a scavenger hunt, there are several (10) locations marked throughout the old city that students need to "capture" with their camera.

If you would like to use the Photohunt please feel free, this map was created using Google Maps custom map feature and has been made publicly available.  Whether you want to join in the fun of photographing the city of Leiden, or just want a map to share with visitors of "must see" please feel free to share the map. Alternatively you can make your own for your city, or one you will (or have) traveled and photographed.

I'll end this with a few words I often say in closing of my photo classes. Good luck on your photo walks, don't forget to look up, and if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong. 

Webster University Graduation 2016

Graduation season is my favorite time of the academic year.  It is full of the excitement of students realizing the major milestone they have just accomplished, mixed with the anticipation of the unknown next step into the "real world".  As an educator it is also a bittersweet moment to join in the celebrations of the accomplishments of your students, but also to say goodbye as they embark on their next journey.  It is a great moment to reflect on the previous year and recall the successes both in and out of the classroom.  Of course this is also a great time to identify areas of improvement for the next year, next class, or next cohort.  I truly believe that each year we build upon those before and continue to iterate ourselves as educators, and administrators of higher education.

I feel very fortunate to have had the experiences to preside over my students graduation in a special historic venue located in Leiden, the Netherlands.  The commencement ceremony is held each year in the historic Pieterskerk an early 12th Century Gothic Church dedicated to Saint Peter known informally as the "Pilgrim Fathers Church".  It is a rather special experience to address the audience of graduates, parents, families, and staff from the nearly 900 year old floor and to hear the audio echo off of the impressive chambers and pillars. 

While the students will be missed in class, and in the halls, and around campus, I am very proud of our graduates who will be continuing to work hard to make a positive impact on our global community.  Our graduates are headed in many directions, all across the world, be it through employment opportunities or the continued pursuit of knowledge in a graduate schools. 

Media Communications Graduates Class of 2016    |    Webster University, the Netherlands

Media Communications Graduates Class of 2016    |    Webster University, the Netherlands

To all of our bachelors and masters graduates from the Department of Media Communications I wish you all the best, and know that you are now part of a wonderful Webster University Global Community of Alumni. 

NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

I recently had a wonderful opportunity to participate in this years NASA SPACE APPS CHALLENGE hackathon as a jury member for the ESA SBIC location in Noordwijk, the Netherlands.  I was already familiar with the event from the previous year, but this was the first time I was able to officially participate.  I had a wonderful time meeting the fellow jury members, and most of all meeting all of the participants and getting to see all of the creative and innovative proposed solutions to this years set of NASA challenges.



To better understand how this event works, NASA releases a set of challenges that range in scope and complexity for a community of "thinkers or hackers" to work together and come up with creative solutions. 

Global Community, Out-of-this-World Innovation
For 48-72 hours across the world, problem solvers like you join us for NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge, one of the largest hackathons in the universe. Empowered by open data, you collaborate with strangers, colleagues, friends, and family to solve perplexing challenges in new and unexpected ways — from designing an interactive space glove to natural language processing to clean water mapping. Join us on our open data mission, and show us how you innovate.
— NASA Space Apps Challenge 2016

The participants gave their 4-minute presentations to the jury and peers after 48 hours of hard work, collaboration, and I'm sure many energy drinks. It was a hard group to judge since there were so many strong ideas.  In the end three groups were selected to move to the next round of the global competition. 

  • Toilettronic - a project aimed at simplifying the toilet experiences of space flight and stay at the ISS through wearable technology and gamification.  This group impressed the crowd with their "in-the-box" thinking on how to reduce the stress of toilet experiences in space.
  • Leaky Rivers - a mobile application focused on the use of public data and geographical information systems to inform the public on dangers of floods, with the aim of providing real-time warning systems for those who may be in or near areas of flood waters.
  • SenseAIR - a mobile platform using public data that helps inform individuals of their exposure to pollutants by using real-time spatial information. This group was chosen as the "People's Choice Award"

For a full look at all of the groups and their projects please visit the Noordwijk Location NASA SPACE APPS CHALLENGE 2016 page.  Currently the SenseAIR group is a semifinalist in the People's Choice Award category and is in 7th place overall.  With a little luck and some voting they have a good chance to make the finals. 

I am looking forward to next years competition and to see what the new challenges will be.  Hopefully I'll see you there.

Creating a Visual Narrative: Animal Kingdom

This multidimensional photographic project was focused around the core concept of creating a visual narrative using a set series of three images to tell a story.

PHOT 3195: Fall 2015

PHOT 3195: Fall 2015

This project was created for use in my Fall Photography 3195 Digital Imaging II course to challenge the students to first think creatively about the "story" they wanted to tell with an "animal" of their choice, and then to think critically about how they would execute their vision of this story with only three images. Below you can see the various animal "characters" chosen by some of the students. 

The Assignment

Students were given a lot of creative license to interpret the assignment in a way that was meaningful to them personally, and to tell a story they felt a connection to. The students were given a set of constraints, such as choosing from a finite set of paper low-poly animal masks, all work was to be printed in Super A3 format, and all students must create an image series of three works, no more, no less.  All of the work was to follow the distinguishing characteristics of the visual narrative:

  • contain a persuasive story with a point of view
  • high quality imagery, still or moving
  • subject matter with pressing social, environmental, or spiritual value
  • an appeal (explicit or implicit) for transformation in attitudes and behaviors

The Masks: The low-poly masks are a component that I have worked with a few times before, and it is a rewarding object to use, as students assemble and decorate the masks however they like, and the ease of which they can be put together makes them very accessible, even to students who claim not to have any skill in the "arts".  The masks come from where you can choose from a growing selection of masks.  They are relatively simple to put together, and only require cutting, gluing, and taping (and in some cases using some push pins) and can be assembled in a couple of hours. One of the reasons this element was incorporated into the project was to provide a prop element for the students to use when creating their work.  This provided an added element for their execution of the project, by working with elements that needed to be shot correctly in-camera and balancing the work load from in-camera and post production. 

Below you can see a few of the student projects (in no particular order).

Wolf Mask: Amanda Cochran
Hare Mas: Yogesh Sajnani
Bull Mask: Daniel Cuadra
Owl Mask: Kylie Luteraan
Stag Mask: Valentine Billette de Villemeur

2016 Faculty Exhibition - May Gallery

I am happy to announce that I will be showing some recent work in the annual faculty exhibition in January 2016.  The work I have selected to show was from an earlier post on Low-Poly Portraits I created.  

Gallery Dates & Times
January 22 - February 19th, 2016
May Gallery - 2nd Floor Sverdrup Building
8300 Big Bend Boulevard
Webster Groves MO 63119

Opening Reception on Friday January 22nd, 2016 from 5-7pm (CST). 
For more information on the photography exhibition, and a complete list of other artists please visit the May Gallery Website.

For more details on the creation of the portraits, please see the original Low-Poly Portraits post detailing the idea and process of how the images were created and how the masks were made.

General Relativity Explained

I recently discovered this great video from Fusion featuring biographer Walter Issacson, in which he narrates a concise explanation of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity in 3 minutes.  

One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein completed his general theory of relativity, which explains how the gravitational force works. This made Einstein an international celebrity during his time, and the theory is widely recognized as one of the greatest achievements in the history of science.
— Fusion

New Promo Video for BA in Media Comm

To help increase the exposure of the BA program in Media Communications at Webster University the Netherlands, I created a short promotional video to serve as an attention-grabber, and a visual interest tool.  This short video was developed and rendered through Adobe AfterEffects CS6 last spring.  The visual intent was to showcase the four production tracks in the program offered at our campus.  To this end the video rolls through Media Communications, Interactive Digital Media, Photography, and Video Production.

The visual assets in the video are all videos, images, and graphics that are currently in use by the department in some form.  Part of the mission of this video is to showcase not only what students can study, but to show them this by example of using images, and other assets that are actually from the department.