CategoryTech Projects

Using Instructional and Interactive Videos for Online Teaching

Instructional Video created as a recorded slideshow using Apple Keynote 

As part of the online French course I teach for NHTI, Concord’s Community College, I provide instructional videos to supplement the students’ assignments. Some videos are designed to elicit “video responses” as a means of giving students the opportunity to practice speaking while interacting with their environment (one involves me showing objects on my desk and asking them to respond in turn with a video showing objects on their own desks). Other videos, like the one I posted above, are meant to guide them in understanding new vocabulary and grammar.

The above video is a particularly successful one that I created to supplement the lesson on reflexive verbs (verbs that express actions one does for oneself). This video clarifies how the verbs themselves are to be conjugated, and also puts them in context with non-reflexive verbs to describe activities that one performs during the day, creating a sort of personal agenda. I also surreptitiously sneaked in a little lesson on how to express time in French, a lesson I think is poorly presented in the textbook I’m using. Again, contextualizing time with daily activities is a great way to have students learn how to understand otherwise confusing syntactical/grammatical structures. The video is also useful to them since it aids them as they write their compositions, and ultimately provides them with the opportunity to use new vocabulary in context.

Thus far, my observation with this video (it’s only the second semester I have used this particular one) is that when students are asked to write a composition describing their daily routine, they are more creative and draw on more cumulative vocabulary than students in semesters before the video was in use. They also seem to have a better understanding of how to conjugate reflexive verbs, which was one of my original goals when I set out to create the video in the first place.

I feel that as a professor who teaches online, it is helpful to build a repository of materials that can be repeatedly added to and drawn upon to create a rich and interactive learning environment for students and faculty alike.


Macaulay Snapshot 2014 at the New-York Historical Society!

This year our annual Macaulay Honors College/CUNY Snapshot student-curated exhibit of student photos taken on October 11th was on display for one day at the New-York Historical Society.  Here are some of my own snapshots (and one video of a multimedia display) of the event.

Students were asked to take part in a “re-curation” of the exhibit by taking photos of different parts of it while considering these questions:

Imagine you live in the year 2114 and discover this photo exhibit from 100 years ago. What ideas do these photos give about the peculiar lives of New Yorkers in 2014? What were these people from the past trying to say about their lives? Take pictures of photos in the exhibit, treat them as if you are examining them from the future, and caption them with your impressions.

When you’re looking at the other exhibits (Leibovitz, Jerni Collection, etc.) on display, you are looking into the past. Compare what you see in those exhibits to the Snapshot photos using the same criteria: what seems to have changed about life in New York City? What has stayed the same?

What strikes you, a person living in 2114, as particularly different or similar about life in the 21st century (2014)? … about life in the 20th century? … about life in the 19th century?


A Night at the Museum

Students milling about in the Beaux Arts Pavillion of the Brooklyn Museum

Students milling about in the Beaux Arts
Pavillion of the Brooklyn Museum

Tonight was our inimitable Macaulay Night at the Brooklyn Museum.  The event went smoothly after a tremendous amount of preparation.  About 550 Macaulay first-year students descended on the Brooklyn Museum for a private event where, armed with recorders, the students documented their conversations about the works of art they viewed (we had previously trained them in the SmartHistory methods of how to look at and discuss a work of art they are unfamiliar with – more details can be found on my Events and Other Projects page). To the left I included a snapshot I took of a large group the students convening in the corridors that surround the Beaux Arts Pavillion, and below is the Brochure we distribute to them (that I helped to design) that includes a background of the museum, guidelines for the project, as well as tear-out pages to keep track of group members and recorder numbers, in addition to room for notes.  Later, the students will reconvene at Macaulay for a series of Media Arts workshops where they will create SmartHistory style videos based on the work they did this evening. In all, it was a huge success and I cannot wait to see and hear the students’ projects!

Download (PDF, 3.42MB)

Before December 21, 2012: End of the Apocalypse Course

Apocalypse 2012“The notion of a collective death or rapture can be very attractive to those who live a very solitary life. The protagonist of my film lives by herself, she has alienated her family, and she keeps her neighbors out by triple bolting her door. She is able to find solace through her church where her Pastor preaches that those who love God will be raptured collectively. The predicted day is December 12th, 2012 at noon ( The protagonist has a dream the day of the expected apocalypse and is certain the Pastor’s prediction is correct. However, when she calls the Pastor in preparation to come to the church, he unexpectedly insists on the solitude of the rapture for unexplained reasons. This film shows the behavior of the protagonist in her inner fight between certainty and doubt.”

The above quotation is by student Colby Minifie, introducing her creative film project, “A Solitary Apocalypse,” for the cross-campus seminar Apocalypse: Before and After, taught by Professor Lee Quinby with me as the instructional technology fellow.  The course follows a similar format to other courses that Dr. Quinby has taught, relying heavily on weekly blog posts by students to reflect the readings that address Apocalyptic narratives from a critical and creative standpoint. The sophistication of students’ written analyses and the level of their discussions in class rivals any graduate course. Although I’m not normally inclined to highlight one particular student’s project, I was astounded by the work that she did on this film.  Although it was shot on a high-quality camera, the movie itself was edited in iMovie. I believe this is one of the best examples of what students are able to accomplish when given support by the university in the form of instructional technologists (whose job it is to conceive of projects that support faculty learning goals and help students as they execute them) and the equipment (video cameras, computers to accomplish these projects). Macaulay’s unique approach to instructional tech increases the digital literacies of its students at the same time excellent professors increase traditional literacies of reading and writing.

I do urge you to take a look at Colby’s film, as well as peruse the other projects and blog posts that were created by this exceptional group of students.

A Solitary Apocalypse from Colby Minifie on Vimeo.

Snapshot 2012

On October 11th, the members of the Macaulay Honors College freshmen class each took a photograph that would capture for them some aspect of New York City. Their photos were uploaded to a gallery – – and a group of student curators, under the mentorship of artist and professor Corey D’Augustine, came together to create an exhibit of these photographs at Macaulay.

The freshmen class came to Macaulay on December 2 to view the exhibit (of which they themselves were the artists), and armed with video cameras, still cameras, and voice recorders, they explored the exhibit. The assignment was to re-curate the exhibit it by using selected images to tell a story, and to created a multimedia presentation of their vision. With the assistance of their Instructional Technology Fellows, they used a variety of tools to create their projects: Vuvox, iMovie, Prezi, and Voicethread to name a few.

My role was to coordinate the event, from setting up the online gallery so 500 students could upload their images, to arranging for the technological needs of the curatorial team, to conceiving the shape of the multimedia projects that the students were to create.  I also worked closely with Macaulay ITFs with the technologies that students were going to use and arranged for coverage and support.  The day was a huge success, as is usually the case given the caliber of my colleagues and students, and the projects showed a level of creativity and investment on the part of the students that made me proud of what I do.

Snapshot 2012 Project Website

Snapshot 2012 Project Website: