The Mac Lab

Tag: collaboration

Artifactual Resuscitation (Week 13)

by on Dec.04, 2011, under Blog

Game developers know better than anyone else how to inspire extreme effort and reward hard work. They know how to facilitate cooperation and collaboration at previously unimaginable scales. And they are continuously innovating new ways to motivate players to stick with harder challenges, for longer, and in much bigger groups. These crucial twenty-first-century skills can help all of us to find new ways to make a deep and lasting impact on the world around us.
Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

From the beginning I’ve said that TAG is a work in progress. Our job is to test, refine, and redesign its foundation and structure to build something that actually does make a deep and lasting impact on the world around us.

Muhammad wrote something about the difference between PvP and Bounty Hunting that got me thinking. He makes a series of good points about the nature of PvP while disparaging Bounty Hunting. Calling it chaotic doesn’t bother me; after all I’m on record stating that chaos is part of the plan:

Controlled creative chaos is the overarching goal. Students quickly learn that self-motivated, self-organizing peers seem to be having more fun. Collaborative projects, always encouraged, never required, demonstrate the undeniable magic of synergy; the creative whole is always greater than the sum of its parts.

A bit of chaos can be beneficial. But ugliness? That’s definitely not part of the plan.

(continue reading…)

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Landmarks and Breakthroughs (Week 10)

by on Nov.08, 2010, under Blog

mark_l_self_portrait_01_smAt some stage in the process of creation, the creative product—whether painting, poem, or scientific theory—takes on a life of its own and transmits its own needs to its creator. It stands apart from him and summons material from his subconscious. The creator, then, must know when to cease directing his work and when to allow it to direct him. He must know, in short, when his work is likely to be wiser than he.
—George Kneller / The Art and Science of Creativity

The Mac Lab is currently undergoing a bit of re-creation as we modify the policies, procedures, and expectations to make the experience more rewarding for all of us. I’m well aware of how circumstances seem to mysteriously align sometimes to allow for yet another piece of the puzzle to slide into place. I’m also cognizant of my own place in the process and I try to behave as proactively as possible to facilitate positive results—to take advantage of what Cyril Connolly wrote in Previous Convictions:

It is impossible to undertake any kind of research without being perpetually made aware that the truth is plying us with suggestions, the past prodding us with hints, and if no benefits result from such assistance, it is not the fault of our heavenly helpers but of our all too human obtuseness.

So? What does this have to do with you?

When you’re working on your own projects, please don’t forget your own place in the process. Embrace and utilize what’s written above as well as the quotes from last week. As artists, you need to be aware of the ebb and flow of circumstances in order to ride the crest of your own creative wave. The 5 Stages are your ally in this endeavor. Everyone is capable of tapping into their own unique flavor of creative energy. Like all good things, it takes a bit of effort though. Those who refuse to try are simply cheating themselves.

The Mac Lab Tip of the Day: Moving the page to right here. Bookmark ’em, Danno. Here’s the first tip. Count on a new one every day.

Monday’s Good News: Paint the World with Light is the cover story for the December issue of School Arts Magazine (educator-only). Here’s the article: Page 1 and pages 2 and 3. Did you notice that the article mentions F L O A T? Time to get to work capturing your own submissions for this world-wide collaborative project.

Tuesday’s Even Better News: Wait until you see the splash the Video/Photography Team is about to make! All will be revealed tomorrow.

Kudos: Mac Lab Rookie, Mark L, scores with his first self portrait. Notice anything familiar about his pose? Look at the background over Mark’s shoulder. Check the Wall of Fame. Yep, he based his pose on big brother Christian’s winner from last year.

1109: Philip Behnam has extended an offer to mentor current students in the art of poster design. He’s available from 6:30 to 8:20, nutrition break, lunch, and 7th period. Interested? See his offer here.

The Ad that Launched a Thousand Sales: The wait is over. What are Zipbuds? See the ad. An Epic Win for Steven, Christopher, Kyle, Philip, Christian, Danny, Fadi, Evan, and Collin’s jacket. 😛

Tip of the Day: You are a Desktop Picture (Wallpaper)

Scholarship Opportunity: The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards are now accepting submissions. There are 14 categories to enter and many scholarships to be won. The deadline for entries is December 17, 2010 for Art and January 28, 2011 for Video Games. Categories. FAQ. Click to register.

1110: I want your finished self portraits. Well, I want those good enough to feature in the gallery. Not sure? Check out last year’s gallery or the year before that. When you’re sure, rename your Illustrator file (using your own first name and last initial): and put it in my Drop Box. Don’t know how? You must not have watched this Tip of the Day. What? You have more than one great self portrait? Great! Name the second one: and drop it in too.

Tip of the Day: The Missing Toolbar Video.

Coming Up Next Week: Your own logo/identity designs. Here’s last year’s gallery and the year before that. Want to get ideas over the next four days? Logos on the Inspiration Page: 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 (and watch the video there)

1111: Today’s Tip of the Day features instructions on how to create your first logotype.

1112: Today’s Tip of the Day features instructions on how to cycle through typefaces.

1113: Today’s Tip of the Day features a tour through the Character Panel.

1114: Today’s Tip of the Day features some OpenType Secrets.

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Ask Seek Find Believe (Week 9)

by on Nov.01, 2010, under Blog

kyle_shoots_philip_smThe function of thinking is not just solving an actual problem but discovering, envisaging, going into deeper questions. Often in great discoveries the most important thing is that a question is found. Envisaging, putting the productive question is often more important, often a greater achievement than solution of a set question.
Max Wertheimer / Productive Thinking

Do you remember the Albert Einstein’s opinion about the importance of formulating questions? Do you believe he’s right? What about E. E. Cummings profound observation? Consider the questions I’ve posed here. What’s your take? (You do realize that it’s kind of hard to answer those questions honestly without first checking the links.)

I’ve offered you a free pass to your ZIM! The question is: Do you know what to do with it?

Innocence, sometimes leaps to correct conclusions
when knowledge makes one resist with all one’s might.
David Brin & Gregory Benford / Heart of the Comet

What questions are you asking? What is it you’re most interested in?

Pay attention to the whispers of your soul.
Trust them as you would a map, because that’s what they are.
— Andrew Heller

Remember all the options you have to choose from?

Trust is time to ask yourself, to find the strength to ask
Questions free the answering, unbinding them our task
Faith is time spent wondering, what we’re meant to find
Imagine it’s your purpose, adventure by design
Belief is time to listen, but who has time for that?
Especially when the answers, knock expectations flat
— Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

If you don’t believe in the answers you find, who will?

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Vote: Now I have a few specific questions for you. Please fill out this survey.

Capturing the Moment of Capturing a Moment: Kyle Wheaton nailed this shot of Philip Behnam concentrating on capturing his own photograph.

1102: Today is election day and I’ll be casting my ballot after school. While the country must wait until tonight to see who won or lost, the final results from the First Great Mac Lab Survey™ are already in. Watch this short video to see how you can get your hands on the results.

The following is an excerpt from a much longer letter I was privileged to receive in June of 2009 (after graduation). The comments [in brackets] were edited to eliminate the [profanity]. Please take a moment to read this prior to our class discussion today.

Reason number five to thank you.
The Blog and your pre-class speeches. Ooooooh the Blog. The 3 minutes of reading every day before every class for the second semester. What a stupid idea I thought every day. Reading about someone I don’t care about or about one of your memories or about some stupid movie. Whatever big whoop. No. I know that’s what I thought in the beginning but I refuse to remember that that’s how it was. The Blog HELPS. Tell your new students who think it’s stupid that the kid who made those three cars on the Wall of Fame said that. Because it really is a resource that EVERYONE should grasp onto. It’s an important part of my day now Skocko, every day. And your speeches which always seemed like an eternity but were only 5 minutes. I apologize for all the times you had to mark me down for not paying attention. But I was so eager to work in all honesty. I really do take in every word you say and It always means a lot to me. You have taught me so much…

Alex is currently attending the Art Institute. His work is featured on three of our Walls of Fame™ and on one of equipment cabinets. He truly was a pain in the [something] sometimes and he’ll make one heck of a digital artist, 3D modeler, game designer, (insert any other artistic career) if he sticks with it.

1103: Today’s update won’t happen until just before 2nd period. Don’t want the early birds catching a bit of the worm too soon. 😉

Must See TV: You may NOT work until you answer all three questions…

  • What’s playing RIGHT now on our favorite channel?
  • What’s listed RIGHT below it?

Rules: Do NOT shout out the answers. Come up to me, one at a time, and whisper them.

A Little Bitly Hint: The answers are RIGHT in front of your eyes (and pouring into your ears).

What? You still don’t see it? (Or hear it?) Lyall Watson said that would happen:

The paradox has been apparent for some time,
but it seems to be one of those things that looms so large
and are so blatantly obvious that they are difficult to see.

Don’t be a Bird Brain: The answer’s RIGHT over there. What? You still need another hint? Okay…

  • What’s Inspiring and Informative?

Early Bird Treat: Check this out. Don’t watch this during class (it’s 20 minutes long). It is worth checking out at home though. An Epic Win!

End of Day: Answers: One | Two | Three | Here’s a screenshot of what the kids were looking for. And here’s the song that played on endless loop. It really was a fun day. 😛

1104: Thanks to all for playing yesterday. Hope it was fun AND informative.

Guest Speaker: Professor McGonigal makes a visit to the Mac Lab today. No, not this McGonagall, this one. I’ll be playing her TED talk on the big screen each period. This is an optional activity: You may work. You may watch. You may do a bit of both. The name of the talk? Gaming can make a better world. From the Institute for the Future.

Speaking of Games: Did you check the Answers I added yesterday? Easy, eh? (And I didn’t even point out all of the RIGHT and Twitter references.)

Question: Did any of you even think about Watson’s quote?

The paradox has been apparent for some time,
but it seems to be one of those things that looms so large
and are so blatantly obvious that they are difficult to see.

Don’t you wonder what he’s talking about? What else might be hiding right in front of us?

1105: Two short kinetic typography videos today to keep you thinking of how you might show that you know the Elements and Principles (01 | 02) and Color Theory (01 | 02).

Six Hours of Fun: The only Mac Lab Saturday School™ of November is tomorrow from 6:15 to 12:00. Don’t despair, be there!

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Teamwork (Week 8)

by on Oct.25, 2010, under Blog

macbeth_smSynergy is the only word in our language that means behavior of whole systems unpredicted by the separately observed behaviors of any of the system’s separate parts or any subassembly of the system’s parts.
R. Buckminster Fuller

My daughter and I went to see Legend of the Guardians yesterday. I confess I wasn’t that interested in seeing a movie about owls until discovering it was directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen). Noël loved it. The movie was more a meh for me, but one with breathtakingly beautiful animation.

Anyway, amongst the commercials and assorted clips that played before the movie started, one featured a football player scoring a touchdown. When the action began rewinding, I leaned over as said, Watch, this is going to be a message about teamwork. Noël shot a quizzical look my way then watched the play unfold again. How did you know? she asked. It really was a clever bit and I’d like to see it again but in answer to her question I said, Because nobody scores a touchdown all by himself. Football’s a team sport. Besides, the message is really about life. We all work together to make things happen.

That was a perfect segue into the movie because it followed the motley assortment of misfits saves the day formula that we’ve all seen so many times. No character is capable of doing it alone. It’s only as a team that they succeed.

That’s the essence of heroic synergy.

When Mrs Giard, Theatre teacher extraordinaire, asked if we could design a poster for their upcoming production of Macbeth, I said sure. When she said the theme was goth-anime, I laughed and told her I had just the team of artists for the job. When the Friday deadline loomed last week and a key member of the team was home sick, the others stepped in. It was a perfect example of heroic synergy. My motley assortment of misfits saved the day and together, Alicia, Julia, Tiffany, Mandy, and Chelsea delivered this winning design just in time to just beat the deadline.

Bucky, as R. Buckminster Fuller liked to be called, used words in a very precise manner. In his own way he called on all of us to become misfits:

The invisible tensive straws that can save us
are those of individual human integrities —
in daring to steer the individual’s course only by truth,
strange as the realized truth may often seem —
wherever and whenever the truths are evidenced to the individual —
wherever they may lead, unfamiliar as the way may be.

The world is in desperate need of everyday heroes. And misfit is a title more of us should aspire to. Together, we may yet find our own heroic synergy to save this day.

1026: Since a few of you are finishing the second self-portrait, it’s time to tackle the Elements and Principles and Color Theory. Alt. links: E & P (begin reading where it says The Principles of Design) and CT. Bookmark those pages! (I’ll be checking.) I’ll provide more detailed information soon. For now, research and think about how you can prove you understand the concepts. Hint: I want you to show me. Use any programs, tools, ways, means, strategies you can think of. The more creative your proof, the better! Try to utilize your ZIM! (Remember?) And, YES! You may work in teams to produce a group solution to the assignment.

Speaking of Teamwork: The Video Team is hard at work producing Telling Our Story for the school. First video: Valhalla is…

International Update: Country/territory number 166 is New Caledonia. That name took me back to one of the sitcoms the family used to watch on one of the two channels we got on our black and white TV (with terrible reception).

1027: Continuing our theme of considering new ways to view old problems, I’ll be showing a video you might want to watch closely in order to grasp it’s full brilliance. (I’ll post a link to it tomorrow.) For today, consider how you might prove you understand the Elements and Principles and Color Theory. Alt. links: E & P (begin reading where it says The Principles of Design) and CT. Here are a few of your own ideas from our conversation last week:

  • Short Story
  • Poetry
  • Song
  • Music Video
  • Music Production (Reda Z)
  • Short Film
  • Commercial
  • Animation
  • 3D Animation
  • Typography
  • Kinetic Typography
  • Font Design (Fadi G)
  • Drawings
  • Photography
  • Stop Motion Photography
  • Stop Motion Computer Animation
  • Light Painting
  • F L O A T (Kyle W)
  • Posters
  • Book Covers
  • CD/DVD Covers
  • Business Cards
  • Logos
  • Icons
  • Website Design (Ian C)
  • Wallpaper
  • T-Shirt Designs
  • Interactive Game
  • Programming/App Development (Oday Y)
  • Character Design
  • Comic Book

If you can think of other ways to expand our options, add your ideas in the comments and I’ll update this list (and credit you). While you’re pondering, remember what E. E. Cummings wrote:

Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.

Yesterday’s Video: Microsoft Redesigns the 2005 iPod Package.

1028: Please spend a few minutes examining the list of optional ways you might prove you understand the Elements and Principles (01 | 02) and Color Theory (01 | 02). I’ve added a few new options to the list and will show you two example of stop motion computer animation today: F is for Fail (some tweening but no filters) and Graphic Design: The Forgotten Web Standard (animated screenshots). Both, of course blocked at school.

Yesterday’s Video: The End of Publishing.

1029: As promised yesterday in class, here are the final designs for Mike Kus’ presentation (Forgotten Standard). Push your own imagination today. Look at the Elements and Principles (01 | 02) and Color Theory (01 | 02) and consider how you’ll show what you know. Check the list (above) for ideas (and don’t forget our Inspiration pages).

Yesterday’s Videos: F is for Fail | Graphic Design: The Forgotten Web Standard

Tomorrow: Sorry, no Mac Lab Saturday School™ until next weekend (Nov 6).

Have a safe and sane Halloween. 😀

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Taking Flight (Week 4)

by on Sep.27, 2010, under Blog

chadd_c_float_01_smOnce upon a child’s mind, did flutter butterfly
Gift to share with one then all, who’ll open wings to try
Asked to ask and seek and knock, on wooded points of view
Goodness treats patient resolve, with echoes ringing true
Child’s play remembering, climb branches looking sees
Others just can’t find the time, and hunt on hands and knees
Skocko / Dream Yet Complete

That stanza really does sum up our first three weeks. The recent +10 -30 debacle proves that we have both climbers and crawlers in the Mac Lab. To the latter group, may I suggest looking up instead? And while I have your attention, may I also suggest you read the stanza one more time? I really am trying to hand you a gift. Patient resolve means you have to work long and hard to open the gift. Or should I say Slow and Steady? We’ve got the whole year ahead of us. Are you sure you want to stay on the ground while the rest of us take to the air? (Chadd C)

Going Up: Once the self portraits start rolling in, I’ll throw add a gallery for those too but for now, I give you our initial entrants in the worldwide Float! fest. This is going to be good.

Upcoming Presentation: Ringling College of Art and Design, one of the best new media schools in the nation, is visiting the Mac Lab Thursday of next week (Oct 7). Unfortunately, our presenter will only be here 5th and 6th period. The presentation will focus on portfolio development, careers in art, and examples of student artwork. If you’re in another period and want to see the presentation, speak with your 5th or 6th period teacher in advance. Point them at this post for verification that you speak the truth. That way I don’t need to write a whole bunch of notes. Pretty smart, eh?

Giving it Up: On December 17, one lucky Mac Lab student will win a copy of the entire CS5 Master Collection.* To be eligible you must read the blog (as instructed), work diligently, follow instructions, and create your own stellar projects. Note: Following those instructions leads directly to the oh-so-important stellar projects. The prize will go to one of our many above and beyond the call of duty students who do not already have their own copy of the software. Amassing positive minutes is helpful. Trying to convince the judge of your worthiness is not. As Mighty Odin says: Deeds, not words. The decision of the judge is final.

*You must register the software with Adobe. You may NOT sell, transfer, or “share” the license. That’s the deal I made with Adobe and the winner must agree to the terms of this agreement or forfeit the prize to the next worthy student.

Today’s 1, 2, 3 Assignment: YIKES! Early morning problems. Just watch, don’t follow along with this video. Now: 1. Watch this video then set up your own Dropbox account, accepting all the default settings. 2. Get Inspired. 3. Finished already? Are you sure? Okay, watch this video.

Reminder: iTunes Tuesday is tomorrow. Bring up to 100 of your favorite songs. No, you’re not required to bring any songs if you don’t want to. I’m always happy to provide the day’s tunes.

Mac Lab Studio: Our clients are beginning to line up. Theatre want posters and program art for their upcoming production of Hamlet Macbeth (thanks, Alle) and Vocal Music wants posters, program art, and even custom tickets for their Fall Concert. Details coming soon.

0928: iTunes Tuesday. Please watch this video for procedures and a few rules. Finished early? Get Inspired.

0929: As an experiment, let’s see how you do with minimal instruction. While I’m at a district meeting today, sign up for CloudApp (email address required) then learn to use it. Some of you will figure it out quicker than others. Help one another succeed. By next week I expect to see this in action across the classroom. (Have patience, Grasshopper, if the email doesn’t arrive immediately.)

VAPA: Visual and Performing Arts teachers are meeting today and one of the things I’ll be sharing is how easy it is to create and embed a slide show like the one you see below. It helps that I have loads of great student art to pull from. What will you be adding to our collection this year?

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Moved to Save Bandwidth: Mac Lab Top 100

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Visiting Educators: The embedded slide show (above) is hosted by the Art Ed 2.0 Ning. Another educator-only community you might enjoy is Adobe’s Education Exchange. Both are vibrant examples of the power of collaboration. Note to my students: Please do NOT try to sign up for either of those communities because they’re reserved for the old folks. 😉

Reminder: After getting a handle on CloudApp, return to Inspiration or your to do list. The day is yours. Use it wisely.

0930: Just in case you didn’t find it yesterday, I expect you to be using this by Monday. Today’s adventure involves saving and organizing all kinds of other things that you can reach from any computer. It’s a great compliment to Dropbox and the link would go right here if I didn’t just discover that now they offer special deals for educators and their students. I applied this morning and once we’re approved, you’ll be the first to know. For Now: Watch this video.

Mac Lab Veterans: Please watch this video.

1001: Groundhog Day: It turns that some of you did NOT watch this video yesterday. And 41 of the students who DID watch it DID NOT follow instructions and read the page at the other end of the search. I’ll make it easy for you today. EVERYONE WILL READ THIS PAGE as instructed in the aforementioned video. If you do not enjoy repeating assignments, perhaps you should encourage those around you to follow instructions.

100110: Couldn’t resist. I love binary dates. Today, in celebration of all things binary, we’ll be experimenting with one of the many free quality apps available on the Internet: Google SketchUp. Watch this video (your version will prompt you to choose a template for some reason) then you’re free to play with SkechUp all period or return to Inspiration or your to do list. Enjoy the weekend and be ready for something really special on Monday!

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Learn it all.