ANTH101 v 3.ish

“You cannot think your way into a new way of living. You have to live your way into a new way of thinking.” – Mike Wesch You can’t beat that quote as a way to frame a course and it’s nice to consider how digital content supports that kind of perspective on learning/living. It’s also a key consideration in how I think about building courses like this. You have to do it. You shouldn’t expect to be perfect the first time, or the second, or ever really but if you’re doing it right improving it should be worth the investment. You should get some joy out of the process and it should alleviate things that cause you pain. I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mike Wesch and Ryan Klataske at Kansas State over the last few years1 on the ANTH101 site. It’s been an interesting progression over time as the course has continued to evolve. We’ve gone done a variety of paths and dealt with human and technical issues. It has been interesting to participate in the ongoing co-evolution of aesthetics, mechanics, and content. It’s also a scenario where I wish I’d have done a much better job with screenshots so I could more accurately show you how the site has evolved.2 After an initial meeting at Kansas State […]

Small plastic toy shovel.

The Toy Shovel

The Eyes of A Child flickr photo by -Jeffrey- shared under a Creative Commons (BY-ND) license Once upon a time there was a young human who loved the beach. She had a toy shovel that she used at the beach all the time. She used that shovel to dig holes and make sand castles. Many fond days at the beach were spent with that shovel. This young human also had a dog. The dog did what dogs do. Her responsibility was to clean up the dog doo when the dog was done. She disliked this task intensely and would often complain about it. “Eureka!”1 exclaimed her parental unit one day. “Our daughter loves her beach shovel! Let’s have her use that shovel to clean up the dog mess instead of using the big metal shovel.” After a few sessions where she was required to use her beach shovel to clean up after the dog her parental unit asked “Isn’t cleaning up after the dog so much fun now? You get to do it with that shovel you love so much.” As you might guess, the daughter did not enjoy the shift. The beach shovel did not make cleaning up dog poo more pleasant. It actually made things worse. It was a poor fit for the unpleasant task compared to the […]


YouTube Full Screen Player Page from Playlist

The request was that we do something interesting with the random screens we have scattered around our area. It seemed like it’d be easy to make a little full-page player for a YouTube playlist with some lightweight overlays to emphasize the connection with our department. Handling the videos displayed via a playlist makes it easy to add/remove content and the making the logo overlays part of the webpage let us keep things consistent across videos we didn’t control. Since we weren’t activating sound by default turning on captions by default was also a key need. The codepen example is here. The HTML is dead simple. We’ve got a wrapper div which lets us make it full screen, an ytplayer div for the videos, and two divs to do the logos. The javascript is pretty much a cut/paste from the YouTube API docs. There are a few changes to reference the playlist instead of a single video and some stuff around closed captions and that’s noted below. The main tweak here is to get the fullscreen video to behave. I use this pattern from CSS tricks. The other stuff just staples some divs over the lower corners to show the logos.


Will Blackboard Eat It?

I have1 a number of preconceptions about ol’ Blackboard . . . I figured, like Mikey, Bb wouldn’t eat anything2 and I enviously watched Keegan and others play in the Eden that is Canvas. I decide the other day that I needed to just pry at the edges of Bb and see what I could do. It turns out, there is a whole lot of stuff you can do. I’m not saying it’s necessarily ready for basic faculty use but there are some huge doors we can open up given what’s available. All the following examples were done by going to Build Content>Blank Page then clicking the view HTML button and pasting stuff in. iFrames It seems like I can iframe in anything I want. That really surprised me so I started to see what I might embed. I tested initially on expected things like Google docs and charts — that stuff worked well. But could I do a Google Drive folder like I do in WordPress? Yes. Could I do something a bit less typical like awesome table? Yep . . . Rampages? Yes . . . So I’m pretty sure I’m close to unlimited in what I can iframe in. Jeff has already started roughing out some iframe widgets for Blackboard that meet particular faculty requests. Scripts and […]

website screenshot indicating blue div blocking access to central portion of embedded website

reveal js tweak for iframe backgrounds

*********UPDATE********* The stuff below sort of works, but since there’s only one parent element for all sections it won’t let you click on links later on. That’s no good. It’s also kind of weird to go from interacting with the iframe page to get back into the slideshow navigation (partially because I hid the navigation buttons). So . . . I went this route instead. The following code toggles the slide overlay. I set it up as a button at the top of my slides. It’s full width and black so not obtrusive. Click it lets me fully interact with the iframe page and clicking it again reactivates keyboard navigation for the slide deck. *********END UPDATE********* I’m a fan of reveal.js and have been using it to build all of my recent presentations. It feels like it fits what I do really well. The fact that it’s just a website that behaves a certain way means I can do all kinds of fun things that blend both the web-based examples and my ability to annotate and manipulate the web itself.1 There’s also quite a bit of beauty in tools that continue to offer more opportunities to grow as you learn. Anyway . . . One common action in my presentations is to embed a live website as a full size […]

Event Calendar & Participation

One pretty common need I’m starting to see around community-engaged learning is a way for students/faculty to submit events to a central calendar and then indicate their participation in various events. That comes with various program requirements. People want specific reflection patterns per event and have different ideas around what an event counts for in their program. That comes with additional metadata requirements, dashboard views etc. We did something like this with cultural events when we made the RVArts.org site.1 I’ve got at least three programs interested in this process and some are pursuing products like Give Pulse. So I took advantage of the request from the da Vinci Center to look at how quickly we could make a functional prototype that would – create a calendar of upcoming approved events for students allow students to submit reflections on those events with a particular structure allow students to submit additional events for approval generate data visualization and reporting for student reflection and for program analysis purposes I took the more difficult route and assumed we’d have no user accounts just to see what that felt like. With user accounts this become easier. Even with this restriction I was able to build out a functional custom theme in around three hours. Next time, it’d be considerably faster. We could easily bring […]

What is Rampages.us? Part One

I’m going to be attempting to explain what rampages.us is to a group on Tuesday. I’ve been struggling with a more digestible version of this for some time. While true, saying “Whatever you want it to be,” isn’t what people want to hear. Giving people something more concrete to think through what the site can do makes sense. These categories, however blurry and overlapping, provide some entries to additional thoughts and will likely help me organize my brain around this a bit better. Outside eyes are helpful so if you see stuff I’m missing or explaining poorly please throw me a comment here or on Twitter. While some of the details are specific to our version, I think the general arguments might be of use to others. If you end up doing that (or have already done it), throw me a link as I’d love to see how other people do this. Technically Speaking Rampages.us is a large WordPress multisite installation started roughly three years ago. Our community currently has over 24,000 sites and 22,000 members. WordPress is an open source platform which runs a huge portion (~30%) of today’s Internet and is the most popular CMS in the world. That matters for a variety of reasons. WordPress is free. This dramatically lowers barriers to access for our students while […]


Browse by Color in WordPress

Here’s a quick video of a browse-by-color example I made in about ten minutes this AM prior to a meeting with a faculty member in our fashion program. This one is using FacetWP1 which is acting on a custom field I creatively named ‘color.’ It seems like it’ll be useful to some disciplines and we have the option to do lots of automated patterns using Color Thief to grab pallets. The video is also one way we might start sharing examples of what we can do in various platforms. There’s significant need to show that internally and for external faculty so people get a better idea of their scope of options. 1 You could easily do this by hand now with the WP JSON data but it’d take a bit longer.


Community- Technically Speaking

Playing “Mah-Jong” at the Clubhouse of the Century Village Retirement Community. flickr photo by The U.S. National Archives shared with no copyright restriction (Flickr Commons) Marie has nice post summarizing the Georgetown Community presentation at Domains. And nowEvelyn’s post reminded me to write a post on a site instead of just in my head. The title of the presentation ‘Just a Community Organizer’ is a nod to the fact that community is hard to do. It can be hard technically but it’s often even more difficult on the human side. As Evelyn brought up . . . community is not created by the technical ability to bring content together. There are lots of ways this can succeed technically but fail socially–> The stuff is there but no one cares. At the same time, technology failures can prevent community from forming where you have all the other factors–> People want to see what’s going on but can’t find and interact with the stuff they want in reasonable ways. There’s also the idea that people might not know what they want to see (or how they want to see it) until it’s given as an option or scaffolded into as an action. Can we present content in ways that are novel and interesting that inspires curiosity and interaction? You can’t do that […]

editor screenshot


So the other day I posted about how to make silent Google Form submissions. Then this morning I was looking around at headless CMS options1 and saw this one being advertised as being driven by Google Drive/Spreadsheets. Those two things came together as I mowed my lawn and I wondered if I couldn’t make a little rich text editor to construct a one-piece content creator/displayer using Google Sheets. That led to a little research into URL parameter limits. And then this evening I made this editor. The page uses Quill to take care of the rich text editor. It turns out there’s a whole world of rich text editor options out there. I’m only scratching the surface with Quill but it works fine for now. It’s bare bones. You can associate an image via a URL, make a title, and add some text. It does show some interesting possibilities though and all with very little infrastructure or real technical know how. The image preview is built by this little bit of javascript. It’s based on having a text field with the id of ‘theImage’ and then there’s a check to make sure there’s not already an image attached and if there is it replaces it. This little bit of javascript builds the Google Forms URL from the various text fields […]