Center for Digital Expression

Faculty/Staff Resources

Below you will find a library of information on Digital Expression.

Consultations

Overwhelmed? Not sure where to start? Or maybe you just want someone to glance over what you’ve got. Schedule with us today!

Schedule a Consultation

Resources

Useful Links and Information

Event/Consultation Registration

If you have questions about your digital project or are interested in an event we’re hosting, register to get in on the fun!

Teaching Resources

Explore the materials we have for creating, assigning, and evaluating multimodal work. 

Digital Portfolio

Learn some of the theory behind creating digital portfolios and best practices for making one that stands out. 

Digital Humanities

Discover current trends, resources at TCU, resources beyond TCU, DH projects, and valuable tools for DH work.

Resources

Teaching

Overview

Preparing to Teach New Media Assignments

Teachers who assign new media writing projects should have basic knowledge of the software products and design principles students will need to know and use. The Center for Digital Expression staff can assist teachers in learning and teaching these basics. Please complete a Project Order Form for all service requests.

  • Submit class reservation requests no less than two weeks in advance
  • Submit requests for CDEx presentations or workshops three weeks in advance
  • Submit requests for help with assignment design and software learning four to six weeks in advance

Room Reservations

Teachers who need access to a computer classroom to facilitate hands-on work with computers may reserve the Center for Digital Expression for up to four weeks of class sessions a semester, with the exception of the last two weeks of the semester when demand for open lab time is heaviest. To request a reservation, complete a Project Order Form as early as the beginning of the semester but no later than two weeks before the reservation dates. Reservations are honored on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Studio houses 12 PC and 8 Mac workstations, all equipped with Adobe CC (Creative Cloud). Final Cut Pro and Camtasia (screencast software) are available on one Mac workstation. If you have more than 20 students in your class, consider bringing them to the Studio in two groups. We also have digital video cameras, cameras, tripods, and audio recorders that may be checked out by faculty and students working on approved projects. A scanner is available for use in the Studio.

If your class reservation is during regular Studio hours, the Studio will be closed to open lab users, but Studio staff will remain on duty. If the staff is expected to provide instruction or support during a reserved class session, that request must be made at least three weeks prior to the reservation date. Studio staff will make every effort to support your class project, but not all Studio staff have equal expertise in all software.

Multimodal Pedagogy

Why Teach in Multiple Modes?

Introductory Concepts for ENGL 20803: Writing New Media (PPT)

The first day lecture for Curt Rode’s ENGL 20803, which has the theme of “Writing New Media.”  Feel free to borrow what suits your needs.

Preparing for the Adventure

Jumping in with Both Feet: Creating and Assigning Multimodal Projects (PPT)

The process of developing and designing your first new media assignment, as told by Nick Brown.

Student Examples

Cell Phone Addiction PSA by Joel Wright & Carson Ogle  (ENGL 20803: Writing New Media)

Title IX at 39″ by Shane Teveris (HIST 40863: American Sport History)

Mock Facebook Page by Megan Jones (ENGL 30363: Digital Creative Writing)
Assigning Digital and Multimodal Writing Projects

Connect all composing projects to course learning outcomes.

Students should understand why they are being asked to do something, especially if it is different from what they expect. (Why are we using Photoshop in a writing class?)

Recognize that not all students will embrace digital writing projects.

Even if they work in these media for their own purposes, doing something new for a grade can be stressful. However, most students ultimately find new media projects worthwhile. (Doing something new also requires a higher level of attention and thus increases potential for learning).

Scaffold skills when possible.

Move from including an image or two in an essay or report to analyzing a visual argument to creating a short video.

Start small.

Students learn as much from composing a 2-minute video as they do from composing a 5-minute video and with fewer problems. It is simpler to include a single sound-track on a video than to include both music and narration.

Know how to do what you are asking your students to do.

Practice. Write instruction sheets.

Keep access issues in mind.

Know what software is available to students. Consider using cloud-based software and easily available equipment whenever possible. (Ask what students have access to.) For example, most computers have Movie Maker or I-Movie, but students can also create a video by using the slideshow function of Power Point. Students can make videos using still images they download or create with still cameras, bypassing the need for access to video cameras and enough computer storage space to work with the large files video creates.

Be prepared to tell students how and where to save files.

Build in enough time and instruction for students to have problems and to solve them.

As with all writing assignments, provide opportunities for invention, drafting, feedback (from you and peers), and revision.

Work out in advance how you will address intellectual property/citation issues when working with images and other online material.

Students often assume that anything on the web is theirs for the taking. Copyrighted images should be cited. Most uses of portions of published material for educational purposes fall under the principle of “Fair Use,” but guiding principles are still evolving.

Think about your evaluation criteria when you plan your assignment, or work with students to determine the evaluation criteria.

Make clear how the technical aspects of the project will be evaluated (just as you make clear how sentence style will count in relation to the conceptual work of writing assignments). Keep your expectations for final products in line with what students are actually able to produce. At the same time, don’t ignore the non-alphabetic aspects of an assignment. Evaluate students based on what you have taught them to do.

Give students a chance to reflect on what they’ve learned and count it as part of the final grade.

Plan ahead. Consult with the CDEx staff.

Send requests to Requests / Reserve form for advice about an assignment before you give the assignment.

Reserve the CDEx for your students to work on digital projects as early as possible.

Have a back-up plan if you are not able to reserve the days you want. See our calendar available at http://www.cdex.tcu.edu/hours. Then fill out a project order form by going to Requests / Reserve  

Resources

Web-based Writing Resources

Audio

Overview

Audio refers to recorded, transmitted, or reproduced sound. Audio can be digital (speaking into your cell phone) or analog (speaking into your gramophone, if you had one). Digital is more convenient for recording and transmitting audio, but if you would like to know more about the digital vs. analog differences, check out the Comparison of analog and digital recording article on Wikipedia.

Understanding the mechanics of audio recording is extremely important for recording live music and interviews. Audio is often just as important as—if not more important than—the visual in a video. Recorded audio commentary is a great way to give voice to digital presentations. Music and/or sound effects are also great ways to liven up an animation.

Tips and Tools

Interview Tips

Before conducting your interview, take these suggestions into consideration:

Choose a quiet interview location.
Be aware of clocks, air-conditioners, traffic, wind, etc.
Always wear headphones when recording (what you hear through your headphones is what you’ll hear on your finished recording).
Test the equipment before starting interview.
Keep the mic close (about 7 inches away).
Be careful of mic noise (mic handling noise).
Avoid popping by angling mic slightly away from mouth.

Smartphone Interview Tips

Can’t conduct your interview face-to-face? No problem. You can always conduct a phone interview instead. Take these tips into consideration for a more successful phone interview:
Turn your phone to Airplane Mode so your audio won’t be interrupted by calls or texts.
Be silent when interviewee is speaking. This will seem strange to you during the interview; people tend to verbally affirm somehow that they are following what someone is saying. But your “hmm mmm”s and “yeah”s will seem out of place when you listen to the recording.

Record multiple files or add markers. Breaking up an interview when possible or appropriate may make it easier during the editing process or if you are transcribing it. Transcribing a one-hour audio clip can become burdensome.

Record one minute of ambience so you can add ambience when you want it to sound like no one is talking.

Transfer audio from phone to computer ASAP for editing.

Save! Back up in multiple sources (hard drive and online [e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive]).

For more tips on recording phone interviews, check out Neal Augenstein’s PBS article, “The Easiest Way to Record Phone Interviews? Have the Subject Use an iPhone to Record Themselves.”

Types of microphones

There are many types of microphones, so make sure you do your research before recording:

Dynamic microphone: is robust and inexpensive with low-frequency response
Ribbon microphone: has great frequency response but is fragile and expensive
Condenser microphone: has great frequency response but is fragile
Portable Recording Devices: are small and convenient but expensive

For more information on each of these types, watch the following Lynda segment: “Audio recording tutorial: The different microphone types.”

For a general introduction to and reviews of portable audio recorders, watch the B&H “Portable Audio Recorders” segment.

Types of free audio-editing software

Audacity (Mac and PC)
Kristal Audio Engine (PC only)
Wavosaur (PC only)

For a review of Audacity, Kristal, and Wavosaur, read the “Best Free Audio Editing Software” article from Gizmo’s Freeware.

Need help with Audacity? Head to our “Audacity Tutorial” page to work through a past tutorial, check out the “Category: Tips” wiki for tips, tutorials, and troubleshooting, or watch the “Audacity Tutorial” video produced by Joanna Schmidt, former Assistant Director of the Center for Digital Expression.

GarageBand Tutorial

Thanks to our Spring 2017 Intern Aubrey Fineout, we’re happy to share this video tutorial, “How to Record Audio with Garage Band.”

Resources

As you can see in Copyright & Fair Use, it’s always a good idea to try to use music free of copyright restrictions (unless you have composed the music and hold the copyright yourself). The resources listed below offer good quality music that has been made available for various use without the restrictions of copyright.

Free Resources

Archive.org – An unlimited free resource for audio and much more.

Creative Commons – Great resource. You can filter other sites using creative commons copyright standards to find images, music, video, etc.

Wikipedia Commons – An archive of media content uploaded by wikipedia users—images, sounds, and video.

Bensound.com

Resources Requiring a Free Account

CCMixter – A source for copyright free music with robust search features.

Freesound – “Freesound is a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds. Browse, download and share sounds.”

Resources Requiring a Paid Account

Jamendo

Video

Overview

These days, everyone with a smart phone carries a decent video camera in their pocket. YouTube, iMovie, and Moviemaker have made a previously expensive set of production tools affordable and therefore accessible to millions of people worldwide. Simply put, video production has gotten wonderfully user-friendly. But even though there’s no need to be intimated by the entry-level tools of video production, you’ll still need to be thoughtfulcareful, and realistic about what goes into making an effective video.

Getting Started

Choose your editing software. If you’re a PC user, Windows Movie Maker is a free option. If you’re a MAC user, iMovie is already installed. For more advanced software, Adobe’s Premier Pro is an option for both MAC and PC users (although you can no longer purchase it as a standalone program—you must buy a subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud). MAC users can use Final Cut Pro X.

In Progress

Use the following stages of production to plan your video and guide your filming process.

Pre-Production: Conceive of the movie and make logistical plans. Plan a list of the video shots you will record, consider the types and angles of shots, and develop your movie idea through storyboards or scripts.

Production: Create the content that will become your movie. Consider what’s needed for good lighting, useful audio, and clear video shots.

Post-Production: Import your video from the camera to the computer, and make decisions about memory and file storage. Then, use Mac software (iMovie) or Windows software (Movie Maker) to assemble your content, edit it into a movie, and prepare it for distribution. Learn about storyboard view, working with a timeline, and adding transitions and effects.

Finishing Up

To polish your video, read more about videography with helpful tips from these sources.

MediaCollege.com – This site provides tutorials and guides for using cameras, setting up shots, editing video, and working with different formats.

BBC Good Shooting Guide – An interactive site with plenty of details about how to work with different camera angles.

Tools

Tutorials

“Windows Live Movie Maker: Getting Started” video tutorial – Video tutorial created by Joshua Daniel-Wariya, former Assistant Director of the New Media Writing Studio.

Quick Tutorial for Grabbing YouTube VideoTutorial created by Dr. Curt Rode, Director of the New Media Writing Studio.

“Audacity Tutorial 101″
 – 
Video tutorial created by Joanna Schmidt, former Assistant Director of the New Media Writing Studio.

iMovie Tools

“A Beginner’s Guide to Getting Started in iMovie” from Storyblocks

Apple’s Tutorial Library for iMovie – The tutorial library includes a link to download the most recent version; getting started videos; and specific tutorials such as “Updating projects and events from previous versions of iMovie” and “Add audio and music.”

Microsoft Photos Tools

“Video Editing in Microsoft Photos” – This is the first video in an introductory playlist for video editing in Windows Photos.

For more practice making a movie, head to our “Making a Movie Tutorial” page to work through a past tutorial.

Resources

Dreamstime – Very large collection of photographs, illustrations, and clip art (many free). Also a place to upload and sell images.

Flickr – Free access to high quality, Creative Commons licensed photographs.

Free Digital Photos.net  – “Download free and premium stock photos and illustrations for websites, advertising materials, newspapers, magazines, ebooks, book covers and pages, music artwork, software applications and much more. All our free images are of high quality, produced by our community of professional stock photographers and digital illustrators. Our free photos and illustrations are ideal for business, personal and educational use. Every image is free, with an option to buy larger images at reasonable prices.”

Free Media Goo – A smaller collection that includes photos, textures, and backgrounds.

Google Images: Advanced Search – This takes us to the advanced search page where we can filter by usage rights.

ImageAfter – This is also all free for any use and has multiple search features.

morgueFile  – “Looking for high resolution stock photos for your illustration, comp or design needs? Search morgueFile for free reference images. Yes, they’re all completely free. Whether you’re an illustrator, art director, instructor or looking to add a defining visual to a presentation.”

morgueFile Classroom – Lesson 1 about composition and impact is helpful for students and teachers working on new media projects.

Open Photo  – A free database of images, supplied by the community of photographers. Images are organized in many categories such as Animals, Light, Recreation, and Technology.

Stock Vault /TextureVault / Shutter Stock – Includes 44,000 photos, along with textures and video clips; many are free. Stock Vault also offers tutorials in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and CSS. 

Copyright-Free Sound and Media Sites

Free Resources

Royalty Free and Attribution Video, Audio, and Images by Videvo – Free stock videos, motion graphics, music tracks, and sound effects under royalty-free, attribution, or CC 3.0 licenses.

Royalty Free Music by Bensound – Excellent source for royalty free music in a wide range of genre.

Creative Commons – Great resource. You can filter other sites using creative commons copyright standards to find images, music, video, etc.

Wikipedia Commons – An archive of media content uploaded by wikipedia users—images, sounds, and video.

Resources Requiring a Free Account

CCMixter – A source for copyright free music with robust search features.

Freesound – “Freesound is a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds. Browse, download and share sounds.”

Resources Requiring a Paid Account

Jamendo

Images

Overview

We can think of images as static information we receive through our eyes, collections of ink or pixels. This includes photographscharts and graphs, abstract shapes, and even wordsImages can communicate powerfully on their own, but as smart composers, we know that new expressive possibilities emerge when we thoughtfully combine images with written text. This page will help you develop a basic understanding of how to compose (with) images effectively.

Getting Started by Answering the Difficult Questions

Your visual composition is a rhetorical document. In other words, it’s an argument meant to shape how other people think and feel about something important. So, before you worry too much about matters of visual design, you should first spend time considering the following questions:

Purpose: What do you want your visual composition to accomplish?

Genre: What kind of document are you trying to create? An infographic, a magazine article, a brochure or poster? What are the common features or conventions of that kind of document?

Audience: To whom do you most want to speak? Who most needs the information you’re trying to share, or who will most likely want to read your document?

Topic: Narrowly defined, what is your central concern? Does it have a practical focus?

Stance: What is your relationship to the topic? What gives you authority to speak on the issue?

Exigency: Why is this issue not only important but in need of our immediate attention?

Break Out the Pencil and Paper

It’s always a good habit to sketch out your ideas before you take the time to borrow camera equipment and learn software.

Capturing New Images

The Rule of Thirds is worth thinking about when composing your shots. If you divide up your camera’s frame into horizontal and vertical thirds, you have a grid like a Tic-Tac-Toe board. Place the focal point of your content along those lines or at their intersecting points. For a more detailed explanation, read Darren Rowse’s post about the “Rule of Thirds” from Digital Photography School website.

Camera Distance

Wide shot: a shot taken from far away, used to represent a wide expanse of a location. People appear as small figures without distinct characteristics. Sometimes it’s used for an Establishing Shot because it signals place.

Long shot: closer than a wide shot, it’s used to show bodies in motion (people, head to toe). One variety is the Extra Long Shots that are taken from far enough away to indicate the surrounding location as well as the bodies in motion.

Medium shot: frames the human subject from right below the waist to just above the head.

Close-up: shows only the head and shoulders of the person being filmed.

Extreme Close-Ups: capture images as if through a magnifying glass.

Camera Angle

Angles are an important consideration when composing your shots. Most of the time, your shots will be straight-on (eye-level) shots. Here, the camera is held parallel to the ground, on the same level as the subject you’re shooting. But you might use different angles for effect.

You also have the option to position the camera from a place below the subject (low angle shot). Here, the camera is angled up, giving your viewers the experience of looking up at your subject.

You also have the option to position the camera above the subject (high angle). Here, the camera is angled down, giving your viewers the experience of looking down at your subject.

Note: Because of the different impression each camera angle creates, make sure you choose them carefully

Basic Lighting

Natural light is usually your best bet, but it is not always available. When you can work with sunlight, use it indirectly: shoot in the shade or use reflectors (direct sunlight is often too harsh and can cause deep shadows). If you have to use artificial light, your light source should be in front of your subjects, not behind them. Most cameras have different settings for different types of light, allowing you to set the camera for indoor use, nighttime shots, capturing people in motion, or a whole range of others. Use these settings whenever possible.

Make plans to take similar shots at the same time: all of your outdoor shots first, then all of your indoor shots, and so on.

Working with Images of Others

Working with images composed by other people can both simplify and complicate your composing process. It might seem easier to find stock photos on Google Images, but those images were shot for different purposes and their compositions (in terms of camera angle or distance, for example) may not be well suited for your purpose. Additionally, because you didn’t create those images yourself, you don’t hold copyright and therefore, you don’t automatically have legal right to use them. If you use Google Images, always search for copyright free images. Other sites like Flickr and Morgue File are also great places to find copyright free and high resolution images.

Finishing Up

Finishing up an image usually means “rendering” it to make it easy to share with other people. Often that means “exporting” the proprietary file from Photoshop (PSD), Illustrator (AI), or InDesign (INDD) into a more universal format (like JPG, GIF, or PDF). The proprietary formats are great when you’re still working on the project and need to manipulate and edit the images in Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign. These formats keep the various layers of the image separate and will allow you to edit and alter the image as much as you like. However, there are two main “limits” to the proprietary formats: 1) the file size can be quite large (depending on the file, up to 100 MBs) and 2) the PSD, AI, or INDD file can only be opened by the expensive proprietary software. In contrast, the rendered file will be “flattened” into a single layer, which will decrease the file size and make it more universally shareable. Unfortunately, the flattened nature of JPGs, GIFs, and PDFs make them difficult if not impossible to edit because all the separate layers have gone away.

One last consideration: when you’re rendering a file that is meant for print, you should set the DPI (dots per inch) to 300 to achieve the sharpest image quality, if printed. If you’re rendering a file to appear exclusively on the web, set the DPI to 72 to ensure the image will load quickly in your user’s browser.

Tips and Tools

Tips

The ABCs of Visual Design – A blog that teaches basic design principles and offers examples and exercises. A useful tool for learning and teaching design in new media.

The Gestalt Principles – Concise page that discusses Gestalt Principles and provides examples.

Some Ideas about Composition and Design Elements, Principles, and Visual Effects (2012) by Marvin Bartel – Shows how to teach basic design elements. The design of the page itself reinforces the principles taught. Very useful source for students and teachers.

Examples

Using New Media to Shed Light on Old Art Narratives – Short post, with embedded video, that discusses and shows how new media can reinvigorate visual narratives for a 21st-century audience. The video is a strong example of such strategies.

Tools

Copyright Fair Use and How it Works for Online Images (2011) By Sara Hawkins – Easy to understand summary of copyright law regarding images; uses clip art and images that illustrate concepts.

Copyright FAQ by the U.S. Copyright office – Helpful Frequently Asked Questions with links to other documents and laws about using someone else’s work.

THE DIGITAL MILLENNIUM COPYRIGHT ACT OF 1998 – 18-page document detailing the new law.

Additional Image Collections

Canva Stock Images – Includes a large collection of free stock images as well as templates for creating a range of designs, from social media posts and brochures to menus and flyers.

Dreamstime – Very large collection of photographs, illustrations, and clip art (many free). Also a place to upload and sell images.

Flickr – Free access to high quality, Creative Commons licensed photographs.

Free Digital Photos.net  – “Download free and premium stock photos and illustrations for websites, advertising materials, newspapers, magazines, ebooks, book covers and pages, music artwork, software applications and much more. All our free images are of high quality, produced by our community of professional stock photographers and digital illustrators. Our free photos and illustrations are ideal for business, personal and educational use. Every image is free, with an option to buy larger images at reasonable prices.”

Free Media Goo – A smaller collection that includes photos, textures, and backgrounds.

Google Images: Advanced Search – The advanced search page where we can filter by usage rights.

ImageAfter – This is also all free for any use and has multiple search features.

morgueFile  – “Looking for high resolution stock photos for your illustration, comp or design needs? Search morgueFile for free reference images. Yes, they’re all completely free. Whether you’re an illustrator, art director, instructor or looking to add a defining visual to a presentation.”

morgueFile Classroom – Lesson 1, about composition and impact is helpful for students and teachers working on new media projects.

Open Photo – A free database of images, supplied by the community of photographers. Images are organized in many categories such as Animals, Light, Recreation, and Technology.

Stock Vault /TextureVault / Shutter Stock – Includes 44,000 photos, along with textures and video clips; many are free. Stock Vault also offers tutorials in Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and CSS.

Document Design

Overview

Many writers do not consider the potential impact of document design. When popular programs such as Microsoft Word pre-select font and formatting options, writers may overlook these choices. However, ensuring an effective design can be a difficult task. How can you make sure that your handout, syllabus, resume, or CV is easy to read and communicates your desired message? Even the smallest decisions have consequences: font choicefont sizefont color, paper orientation (portrait or landscape), organizing information by rows or columns, use and placement of images, etc.

Getting Startedquickbrownfoxop_2

What kind of document are you designing? How are you going to deliver information? Almost any project can benefit from knowing more about document design. The type of project you are designing will help you determine the software you will want to use. If you are designing a text-heavy document, such as a resume or handout, you will probably want to use a word processing program such as Word or Pages. For a flyer or other project emphasizing images, you might consider Adobe’s InDesign or Microsoft’s Publisher.

In-Progress
As you craft your document, knowing about principles of design will help you effectively communicate your message. The CRAP principles are contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity:

Contrast: Try “to avoid elements on the pages that are merely similar. If the elements [like type, color, and size] are not the same, make them very different.”

Repetition: “Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece. You can repeat color, shape, texture, spatial relationships, line thickness, sizes, etc. This helps develop the organization and strengthens the unity.”

Alignment: “Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean, sophisticated, fresh look.”

Proximity: “Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several disparate units. This helps organize information and reduces clutter.”

Source: Robin Williams’ The Non-Designer’s Design Book (1994).

Finishing Up

Will you be printing a physical copy of your document, or will your audience view the document on a computer screen? This decision will determine whether you need to use high-definition images (for printed documents) or whether you need to optimize images for web publishing.

The best way to know if your design is effective is to share your document and get feedback. Print a draft of your document or email it to a friend. You can also get advice at the CDEx.

Resources

Another way to think about document design is through information design. This term, familiar to graphic designers, emphasizes that designers should convey information both efficiently (by avoiding unnecessary elements) and effectively (by conveying a purpose or persuading an audience).

Design consultant Terry Irwin further explains the concept in “Information Design: What is it and Who does it?” (available as a PDF download).

Microsoft Word is the most popular program for document design projects. Even though Word makes default decisions for writers, such as font and margin size, you don’t have to use the default. Download the CDEx’s “Document Design w/MS Word” (PDF) by Melanie Kill and Curt Rode for design tips with MS Word.

Other software options
Pages – Apple provides a detailed tutorial for Pages, their version of Word.

Adobe InDesign – InDesign gives users the most freedom in terms of document design choices. InDesign works best with image-heavy projects, such as flyers or brochures.

Indesign Basics by CDEx

“How To Get Started With Adobe InDesign CS6 – 10 Things Beginners Want To Know” by Terry White:


Document Design Guides
Microsoft Publisher’s “Publisher Quick Start” – Though Publisher does not provide as much freedom as InDesign, it is another option for designing documents that use a lot of images.


Design Principles” 
(requires a free Adobe ID to view content) – (from website) “Designers use design principles to evaluate and inform the consistency and visual hierarchy of their design. Put into action, design and typographic principles, can then be used to make sure designs reach an intended target audience and/or meet the goals of a company or individual. Use this activity to introduce the how to use design principles and typography so students can evaluate and inform their designs.”

“Effective Print Document Design” – A thorough introduction to designing print documents.

“The Big Four: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity” – More information about the CRAP principles from chapter six of Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds.

“Document Design Tips” from Simply Put – Keep it simple!

The ABCs of Visual Design – A blog by Donna Tersiisky that teaches basic design principles and offers examples and exercises. A useful tool for learning and teaching design in new media.

The Gestalt Principles – Concise page that discusses Gestalt Principles and provides examples.

Some Ideas about Composition and Design Elements, Principles, and Visual Effects (2012) by Marvin Bartel – Shows how to teach basic design elements to students. The design of the page itself reinforces the principles taught. Very useful source for students and teachers.

“Good Handout Design: How to Make Sure Your Students Are Actually Learning From Your Lecture Notes” by Anna Johnson (Mt. Hood Community College) – A resource for teachers on handout design.

“How to Use CRAP in Your Design” – A well-designed infographic about the CRAP principles from CopyJuice.com.

Presentation Design

Overview

Being able to create and deliver effective presentations is a valuable skill in all kinds of settingsclasses, the workplace, even community organizations. While all good presentations start with a clear and compelling message, shaped for a specific audience, a well-designed slide show can enhance a presentation (and a poor slide show can detract from good information–we’ve all heard of “Death by Powerpoint”).

Getting Startedbetterexperienceopsmall

Plan the points you want to make or write a script.

Consider whether your audience will expect a smoothly delivered narrative or talking points AND whether you’re comfortable speaking from notes or prefer to write out what you want to say and study it so you know it well enough not to have to read from your notes.

Choose your slideware (see some options below).

Consider whether you’ll have internet access or need to store your presentation files on the computer you’ll be using.

Consider whether the computer you’ll be using on the day of your presentation will be the same as the one you’re using to create your presentation.

Create a folder on your computer to store images that you create or borrow.

In Process

Design your slides to illustrate or enhance your talking points or script. Mark your script to indicate slide changes.

Give credit to images you borrow from others. Consider adding a caption on the slide or include a list of credits at the end of the slide show.

Save. Save. Save. Save. Have access to at least two copies of your slides.

Finishing Up

Practice your presentation with your slides. If possible, practice on the same kind of computer you’ll be using.

Time your presentation.

Adjust your presentation notes and/or slides to improve pacing or fit the designated time slot.

Know your notes or script well enough that you won’t have to read from the screen and can look up from your notes or script and make eye contact with your audience.

If you’ll have access to the internet, consider saving a copy to Dropbox, Slideshare, iCloud or other internet-based service.

If you plan to connect your Mac laptop to a projector, don’t forget your dongle!

Tips

Consider framing your presentation content as a story.

Nancy Duarte, author of Resonate, recommends applying these storytelling principles:

Begin with a description of the way things are and compare that with the ideal world that will be achieved if your idea is accepted.

Move back and forth between what is and what could be, pointing out what must be overcome.

End with a final call to action, followed by a description of the new bliss that can be achieved if your big idea is accepted.

Remember that you, the presenter, aren’t the hero; the audience is the hero. The presenter is the mentor who leads the audience from an ordinary world to a better world

Source: “The Secret Structure of Great Talks” TEDTalk by Nancy Duarte.

Here are more storytelling tips from filmmaker Andrew Stanton:

  • Make the audience care
  • Make a promise from the beginning
  • Make ‘em work for it
  • Story is about change. No change, no story
  • Construct anticipation in your story
  • Have a clear them
  • Stimulate a sense of wonder
  • Use what you know

Source: “The Clues to a Great Story” by Andrew Stanton.

Choose your slideware
Create slides that illustrate or enhance your talking points or script. Create or gather images. If using images created by others, give appropriate credit.

Consider these “Ten Tips for Slide Design” by Garr Reynolds for designing effective presentation slides:

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Limit bullet points and text
  3. Limit transitions and animation
  4. Use high-quality graphics
  5. Have a visual theme but avoid templates
  6. Use appropriate charts
  7. Use color well
  8. Choose your fonts well
  9. Use video or audio
  10. Spend time in the slide sorter

More tips from Damon Nofar’s 8 Tips for an Awesome Powerpoint Presentation”:

    1. F—ck normality
    2. Colors are nice
    3. Use good fonts
    4. Text is evil
    5. Images say more
    6. Big is beautiful
    7. Infographics are amazing
    8. Get inspired

8 Tips for an Awesome Powerpoint Presentation from Damon Nofar

Consider giving a Pecha Kucha presentations in which you present your ideas using 20 slides that advance automatically every 20 seconds. This format can help presenters focus on their most important ideas.

For suggestions on classroom applications for Pecha Kucha presentations, read the “Challenging the Presentation Paradigm (in 6 minutes, 40 seconds): Pecha Kucha” article by Jason B. Jones at Profhacker (Chronicle of Higher Education).

And for an even faster demonstration of brilliance, try Ignite! (20 slides that advance every 15 seconds).

Tools and Resources

Google Slides

Like all Google docs, presentations can be saved on your Google Drive and worked on collaboratively. 

Haiku Deck 

Free application for iPad that breaks down presentation design into three steps: apply text, apply an image, and arrange layout. Though options are limited (no sound, transitions, or animation) Haiku deck offers what one reviewer characterizes as “bold headlines and hip, high-quality images” for an Apple aesthetic.

Powerpoint

See what’s new in the industry standard for PowerPoint.

Prezi 

Web-based presentation software that allows mapping of ideas on a visual surface and the creation of non-linear movement between ideas, including zooming.

Slidesharebetterexperienceopsmall

Site provides a place to upload and access slides as well as exemplary slide decks and lots of advice about creating effective presentations.

For interesting critiques of bad presentations design, see

Carrie Leverenz’s “Presentation Design: Be Like TED”

Ian Parker’s “Absolute Powerpoint”

Edward Tufte’s “Powerpoint Is Evil”

Matt Helmke’s “Presentation Zen”

 

Website Design

Overview

The world wide web is a unique medium that gives you the opportunity to communicate simultaneously through text, images, audio, and video by choosing and organizing these elements to achieve a desired effect. As with any form of composition, before you begin creating a website, you need to have clear goals. Do you intend to showcase and sell a product? To share your hobbies, photos, or personal news? To showcase skills and experience for potential employers? To educate viewers on a particular topic? The elements of your website will change depending on your goal, your message, and your audience.

Getting Started by Answering the Difficult Questions

Your website is a rhetorical composition. In other words, it’s an argument. So, before you worry too much about matters of design, you should first spend time considering the following questions:Web_Design_Banner_2

Purpose: What do you want the webpage to accomplish?

Audience: To whom do you most want to speak? Who most needs the site’s information, or who most likely will visit your site?

Topic: Narrowly defined, what is your central concern? Does it have a practical focus?

Stance: What is your relationship to the topic? What gives you authority to speak on the issue?

Exigency: Why is this issue not only important, but in need of our immediate attention?

Decide what to include in your website

Everything you include in your website says something about you and your purpose. That said, depending on how you answered the above questions, what you choose to include on your website will vary. Start by finding similar websites to the one you envision yourself creating. Then make a wish list of things you would like to include on your site based on what other authors have chosen.

Generally, most websites include the following:

An “About” page: could be “about the author(s)” or “about the company” or “about our mission”.

A call to action: make sure that what you want your audience to get out of your website is front and center. Do you want your readers to contact you? Read more about a particular subject? Get involved in a particular cause?

A logo: Whether you’re creating a personal portfolio or an educational site, your logo is the first thing that the reader usually sees. Place it consistently at the top left hand side of all your pages, and link it to your home page. If you’re creating a personal portfolio, use your name. If your purpose is educational, choose a logo that sums up who you are and what you represent.

Planning your website

After you’ve looked at some examples of professional blogs or websites in your field and have some ideas about what you’d like your website to include, it’s a good idea to map out the structure of your website. What categories will you use to organize your material? What will be in each category? You should be able to literally draw a map that shows the home page, the subpages, and the material that will be included in each subpage, as well as any images that you want to use on each of those pages.

Questions to consider while organizing the larger site:

What overall information or material do you have to present?

What specific text and visuals are best suited for each individual page?

What specific external links are best suited for each page?

Are the pages connected (linked) in a way that reflects your purpose, audience, topic, and stance?

Are the pages clearly related to each other? Do they carry out your purpose thoroughly and consistently?

Do all your individual pages link back to the homepage?

 

Tips

Get organized and stay organized

Keep all the files for this project (html, PSDs, gifs, jpegs) in a single project folder. Don’t have different files saved in different locations.

Keep your file names simple but descriptive. One word file names are ideal. Do not use spaces or capital letters.

Always have a backup of your project folder.

Limit the number of machines you use to work on this project to no more than 2 or 3.


 

In Progress

Follow the Basic Principles of Design

In The Non-Designer’s Design Book (1994), Robin Williams offers the following basic principles of design:

Contrast: Try “to avoid elements on the pages that are merely similar. If the elements [like type, color, and size] are not the same, make them very different.”

Repetition: “Repeat visual elements of the design throughout the piece. You can repeat color, shape, texture, spatial relationships, line thickness, sizes, etc. This helps develop the organization and strengthens the unity.”

Alignment: “Nothing should be placed on the page arbitrarily. Every element should have some visual connection with another element on the page. This creates a clean, sophisticated, fresh look.”

Proximity: “Items relating to each other should be grouped close together. When several items are in close proximity to each other, they become one visual unit rather than several disparate units. This helps organize information and reduces clutter.”

Finishing Up

Revise your website through the eyes of your audience. Consider the following:

How easy is the site to navigate? Are the links directing your reader to each page clearly defined and consistent throughout the site? Do all of the links work on every page? (Don’t assume that if they work on one page, they will work on all of them.)

Are the links that direct users to other websites clearly distinguished from the links that direct users to pages on your website?

How readable is the text throughout the site? Is the font choice and font size easy to read?

Is there contrast between the color of the text and the color of the background (like black text against a white background)?

Are the paragraphs short? Will the readers be able to gather the important information, even if they are scanning (which, studies show, is how people read on the web)?

Does the author use headings and subheadings? How effective are they? Where might the author consider additional headings and/or subheadings to help guide the reader through the text/argument?

Does the author use bold text to highlight or emphasize especially important words within individual paragraphs? Where might the author use bold text to a greater advantage?

Is your content as concise as possible?

Do your images strategically support the content on your site? Avoid extraneous images that don’t actually add anything to the content.

Does the author use bulleted or numbered lists to highlight or emphasize especially important facts or key points? Where might the author (better) utilize bulleted or numbered lists?

Evaluate the logo/ banner. Do the choices of color and images set an appropriate tone for the larger site? (Note: the logo and/or banner should be pleasing and effective for the intended audience, not the simply for the author).

Does the author utilize images elsewhere in the site? Are the images being used all displaying properly?

Where might the author consider using more or different images?

Publish to your web host

Website hosting

Depending on the tool you choose to create your website, hosting may already be provided for you. If you’re using Weebly, GoogleSites, FourSquare, Wix, or a variety of other online tools, you can publish your site by simply clicking publish. If you choose to create your website in an offline tool such as Adobe Dreamweaver, you will need to choose a host server and purchase server space.

TCU offers students and faculty free server space and an easy way to publish your work online. Keep in mind that once you graduate, your website will be deleted. If you’ve created all your files offline, you can publish your website somewhere else after you leave TCU, but if you anticipate wanting to keep your website long-term, you might want to choose another host from the beginning.

You can also purchase server space and a domain name through the following websites:

www.ionos.com
www.godaddy.com
www.fatcow.com

Always do your research before picking a company to purchase your domain name and/or a company to host your website. Check out “The Best Web Hosting Services of 2017” article by Fahmida Y. Rashid and Jeffrey L. Wilson from PC Magazine and these LifeHacker articles by Alan Henry, Five Best Web Hosting Companies” and “Five Best Domain Name Registrars” for additional recommendations.

When designing your website, keep the following tips under consideration:

Use headings to break up long chunks of text

Put important information at the beginning of paragraphs

Use visuals strategically to break up long chunks of text

Tools and Resources

Anatomy of a Website

For a website to function and become accessible to viewers, you need three parts: domain, server/hosting, and a web design tool.

  1. Domains are familiar to us as the address for a website.
  2. When someone visits a domain, the content of your website is projected from files that are hosted on a server. These files include all the written content, images, PDFs, etc that populate the website as well as HTML and CSS files that provide the structure and design of the site.
  3. Web design tools, which are described below, allow users to design a website, either directly through HTML and CSS or through builders or content management systems (CMS) that do the coding for you.

These three components can be obtained through the same service or individually. When you create a free website through services like Wix or Weebly, they provide the domain, hosting, and design tools. If you use coding software like WordPress.org or Dreamweaver, you will need to purchase your domain and hosting separately.

See below for a description of the various tools currently available for web design and digital portfolio development. They run from the extremely user-friendly (Weebly & Wix) to the professional (Dreamweaver), so it shouldn’t be hard to find a tool that’s right for you.

Web-based platformsWeb_Design_Banner_2

*Generally include domains and hosting

FrogFolio: Supported by TCU with customizable privacy options (best if you don’t want to create a public site), but restricted to a single template and less user-friendly than other builders.

Weebly: Considered one of the most user-friendly website builders, but has fewer styling options compared to other builders and may look less professional.

Wix: Drag-and-drop feature lets you customize your site while drawing on their extensive templates, but you are locked into a template (must completely recreate the website if you want to change templates) and features lots of ads.

WordPress.com: This builder gives you access to hundreds of free and paid themes, but does not have the same drag-and-drop functionality of other builders.

Yola

GoogleSites

Software Platforms

WordPress.org (Intermediate)

Adobe Dreamweaver (Intermediate – Advanced)

Here are some general guidelines and cheat sheets to help you on your web design journey.

HTML Cheat Sheet (PDF)

CSS Cheat Sheet (PDF)

Codecademy: Learn to Code


“Teaching Codecademy” Presentation by Dr. Jason Helms

http://cdex.tcu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Codecadamy.pdf

Blogging

Overview

Blogging is a genre term frequently mentioned in pop culture conversations, but everybody has different ideas about its purpose. Before Google took over the Blogger.com online platform, the site defined blogging this way:

A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world. Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules.

In simple terms, a blog is a website, where you write stuff on an ongoing basis. New stuff shows up at the top, so your visitors can read what’s new. Then they comment on it or link to it or email you. Or not.

Recreational blogs are fairly easy to find and commonly shared through social media sites like Pinterest.com. Common recreational blog topics include cooking, parenting, health, exercise, and much more. Professional blogs often showcase work-related skills and experience in traditional discussion-post style formats, but some also function as digital portfolios.

Tips

Getting Started speedofcreativity.org

First, study and collect examples of blogs you like, considering the following factors: design and content.

Design: each blogging platform is a tool that affords you a wide variety of templates as design choices. Note what colors, fonts, and layouts you most enjoy viewing as a blog reader, and consider whether or not those design choices would enhance the message of your blog. Note also which blogging platforms made those design choices possible. If you don’t see the name of the blogging platform in the URL, scroll to the bottom or check the side widgets. Usually there will be a theme or platform marker to denote the site the blogger’s using.

Content: what will you write about? What images will you share with readers? Again, looking to other blogs you admire can help inform these decisions. Consider the timing of your content, too. You can be organic in your timing, posting just as often as you like or as needed, or you can plan to post once, twice, or multiple times per week. What’s nice about blogging dashboard is that these control centers allow you to draft and save pages and posts well in advance of your intended publishing date and to schedule content to be pushed out at later dates. Not sure what dashboards, pages, and posts are? Read on.

The Language of Blogging

Once you’ve chosen your blog theme, you’ll open a dashboard with a lot of pre-set options. Here are a few terms to get you started in understanding those options.

Dashboard: this is the main screen that allows you to control the administration of your blog. You might also think of the dashboard like the desktop on a computer. When you need to start over or start something new, going back to this main screen is always a good idea.

Pages vs. Posts: even seasoned bloggers sometimes misuse or mix up these two P-words, and that’s probably because the screens used to compose pages and posts look very similar. However, you might think of a page as being more static and a post as being rolling content. Of course, you can keep a post forever so long as you have the link saved or your blog is searchable, but eventually new content will push a post further and further down the screen until you can’t scroll for it anymore. On the other hand, a page can be included in your menu tabs so that it’s always available for easy viewing. There are easy ways to feature or hide both, but neither will show up as live content until you press “Publish.”

Appearance: also in your dashboard center is the appearance setting, which allows you to choose a new theme, customize an existing theme, create special menu tabs, and add or remove widgets.

Widgets: contrary to the popular use of widget as a word in business culture, a widget in blogging culture is similar to an application. The widget applications you choose to install on your page will direct readers to other quick links and information you want them to have easy access to. For example, there’s a widget that adds a Search bar to your pages and a widget for directing readers to an Archive of past posts. Other commonly-used widgets spotlight social media platforms as a way of connecting with readers outside of the blogging platform, such as the Twitter.com widget that’s available on most blog theme templates.

Up and Running

Most new bloggers prefer to keep their blogs private or unpublished until the appearance of the theme, widgets, and menus are all designed to meet their blogging visions. You can control the privacy settings of your blog by visiting the Settings page of your dashboard. You can customize your theme design for as long as you like before publishing the blog publicly, but you can also make ongoing adjustments at any time after publishing.

In blogging, it’s safe to say that the “In Progress” and “Finishing Up” stages are one in the same. Maintaining a blog is an ongoing process that benefits from reflection and refinement over a long period of time. In other words, a blog is a living text. The dashboard of the blog will change, usually offering you more  options to improve your designing and composing processes. It’s likely that your blog preferences or writing style may change, too, so a blog is never really finished. 

Set time limits. It might sound unnecessary, but once you start tweaking themes and appearance settings, it’s hard to stop. Giving yourself a start time and a stop time will save you hours in the long run.

Back up content. You may want to keep an alternate storage system for archiving the content or images you post. Most blog sites do an excellent job of saving all the images and content you upload, but even with built-in storage features, it can be challenging for new bloggers to relocate old content.

Get social. Adding social media widgets to your blog can help readers connect with you in multiple places, boosting the visibility of your site. Pushing content through social media platforms can also help direct readers to your site over others. Many bloggers integrate PinterestTwitterFacebook, and Instagram to connect with more readers in more places.

Link up. Adding hyperlinks to other websites increases traffic to your site in two ways: 1) the sites you link to can track back to your hyperlink and 2) search engines are more likely to increase your indelibility if you link out to other sites. You can also link to relevant content previously published on your site to increase blog traffic.

Read other bloggers. Subscribe via email to other bloggers’ sites to send new content directly to your inbox. Over time, you’ll learn their stories, see how their site themes and content preferences change, and get a fresh perspective on what it’s like to be a reader. You might also notice that successful bloggers refer to other bloggers all the time, oftentimes borrowing Proust-style Q&A features or news stories to generate new content.

Tools and Resources

Tools

New blogging tools and sites are cropping up every day, but some tried and true favorites we use in the CDEx regularly include:

Weebly
Wix
WordPress

There are plenty of others to choose from, but these three provide the most useful templates to new users. What’s nice about Weebly is that it features a lot of drag-and-drop design decisions. Once you become more adept at blog designing, you may find yourself preferring WordPress or another platform that provides more design and HTML coding options.

The costs associated with blogging can be minimal or completely free if you don’t select a more advanced theme or personal URL domain name.

Resources

Blogging Basics 101

This blog is dedicated to all things blogging, featuring annual reports on blogging, projections, suggestions, and no shortage of tips on how to approach blogging as a contemporary but always changing genre of writing.

Blog Theme Considerations

Read Smashing Magazine’s in-depth editorial on choosing WordPress blog themes that match the design vision you hope to achieve.

Free vs. Premium WordPress Themes

Read a blog on blog themes for WordPress or search the site for more information on non-WordPress blog themes.

How to Get a Sponsor

If you’re hoping to use your blog to support any sort of entrepreneurial effort, read what writers at The Houston Chronicle recommend for securing blog sponsorships.

How to Get More Traffic

Creative professional and writer Jeff Goins has experienced full traffic and no traffic on blogs, but in this article–commented on 492 times–he reveals his best tips for directing more traffic to your site. 

Copyright

Overview

In the age of Open AccessOpen Education, and Web 2.0, copyright and fair use can be tricky to navigate for both students and faculty. It’s true that videos and music are easy to download and that a website’s text is easy to copy and paste. But it’s still our ethical and legal responsibility to make sure we have the proper permission to use someone else’s imagesmusicanimations, and text inside our own new media compositions before we share, post, or publish them.

Getting Started

What is copyright? Copyright is a form of intellectual property, enforced through laws that enable the creator of an original work to receive compensation for their intellectual work (usually for a limited period of time).

What is Fair Use? Fair Use allows for a limitation and exception to copyright law. In other words, you can use someone’s work without asking their permission or paying a royalty fee. Examples of Fair Use exemptions include parody, criticism, commentary, search engines, research, teaching, library archiving, and scholarship. Typically, Fair Use can be judged on four factors: purpose and character; nature of the copied work; amount and substantiality; and effect upon work’s value.

Educate yourself about your institution’s copyright and fair use policies (librarians are a great resource for questions about copyright).

Tools

Creative Commons licensing – Take control of your intellectual work and create a Creative Commons license for your work. Students and faculty alike can license their projects.
Fair Use Evaluator – Online evaluator that helps you how to determine the “fairness” of a use under the U.S. Copyright Code.

Books
stolenwordsStolen Words: The Classic Book on Plagiarism (2001). By Thomas Mallon.

 

 

 

 

reclaimingfairuse

Reclaiming Fair Use: How to Put Balance Back in Copyright (2011). By Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi.

 

 

 

 

makingunmakingMaking and Unmaking Intellectual Property: Creative Production in Legal and Cultural Perspective (2011). Edited by Mario Biagioli, Peter Jaszi, and Martha Woodmansee.

Consultations

If you have questions about your digital project, please make an appointment with our CDEx staff. And if you’d like a CDEx staff member to visit one or more class sessions of a course you’re teaching, let us know!

Schedule a Consultation

Events and Workshops

The Center for Digital Expression’s workshops are open to anyone at TCU! We welcome beginners and advanced participants alike. When we have an event or workshop scheduled, it will appear on the form below.

Registration