ConnectDC2000 Staff Notes
Notes of N’Dieye M. Gray, ConnectDC2000 Project Director
Week One 07/19/00 – 07/23/00
The first week was very challenging. Not only did my instructor quit, the technical level of the students was far below our original expectations.
The first week was supposed to be focused on intense media training, but I found myself teaching simple computer functions and email tools, i.e. saving files, finding files, opening files, closing files and reply/reply all.
After Jarvis Grant announced-in front of the class-that he was “consulting”, I had to reevaluate the curriculum based on my ability to teach the planned programs.
We decided to teach only those programs that we would use to produce the sites and were user friendly: Adobe Photoshop, Sound Forge (which we did not use for the interview sites because of it was very cerebral and Studio DV allows simple editing of sounds, including laying of several audio tracks, music, voice-overs) Netscape Composer, Excite Email, Studio DV and MS Word.
What was decided was to get “consultants” in the areas that needed instruction that Melba, Vernard and myself could not cover.
The first week of workshops included: Louise Gray, Storytelling workshop; Vernard Gray, map logistics and Metro travel; Melba Searcy, Photoshop; Jarvis Grant, Sound Forge and Photoshop; and I reviewed the seven elements of storytelling.
The students were given storytelling assignments, both written and oral. One Assignment was to tell a story from calendar artwork. The other was to create a story from a series of photographs taken from my portfolio. The students also had to tell their own life story.
These simple assignments showed which students were creative, had strong grammar and public speaking skills.
I also played a radio game called “don’t say aahh/uhmm.” Few in the group were successful in speaking for 30 second with out the exclamation.
Our group started with 17 students, and then grew to 22 by the end of the week. We had three extremely young students (10 years) who were a constant distraction and did not have the maturity or mental capacity for the intense level of training.
Our Techworld students were also late to class or absent for this week. There training delayed the rest of the class because the information had already been covered.
Our first week ended with a field trip to Hober.com an on-line radio station. It was good for the trainees to see their new skills in action.
Week Two 06/26/00-06/30/00
More training and more students.
We were acquiring new equipment and software daily. I feel it would probably operate smoother if we had the items before the program started.
At the end of the last week we got twenty headsets. Already a few are missing. It was now apparent or “by trust” sign out policy has to be reevaluated. I had to create individual nametags for each headset, and instead of being checked out, the headsets have to be signatured out/in. Melba had been letting the students check their own headsets in/out previously. Since this policy was instated no other headset went missing.
Our network was not in place until this week, so several items had to be saved to the desktop. Since we are not in our final space we want to leave the computers at Southeastern Univ. uncompromised. Already I had felt harassment by two staff members at SEU, Mr. Zolinski and Mr. Slava, his assistant. Daily they ask what are we doing, when are we going to leave, we can’t do a, b, c to the computers and also some of our files have been deleted by Mr. Slava, who claims to have been configuring the systems for classes the following week.
We decided to divide the students into four teams with certain students having specific functions. Each team would consist of one journalist, two web designers and two documenters. This was a difficult selection. We still had several students displaying inconsistencies with attendance or had negative attitudes. The others we were unsure about their skill levels.
Those list were to change several times until a final one was created two weeks later.
This week we started working with the video equipment. Khayan Lewis did a video overview workshop. In retrospect, we should have also done a still photography workshop.
The highlight of the week was a cultural workshop with Melvin Deal. The students learned more about the institution of slavery via the Willie Lynch document and what a real “hoochie mama” was.
The students were given a lesson on creating pages with Netscape Composer and how to acquire images for backgrounds off the Internet. Thus their individual projects have begun. Several times I had to explain plagiarism. I believe next time I will let them create their sites first, sketch a layout, do a storyboard before I have the lesson on appropriating images off the web. At this age they don’t understand the gravity of stealing others work.
The week finished with us removing all of the programs from the computers. We were moving to a new room because SEU had given us an extension. The group also visited the Library of Congress. To my surprise, out of 25 students, only 3 knew the LOC’s mission and purpose. Scary. I made sure the guides gave us a quick overview of copywrite infringements.
I had to have a talk with
a few unruly students this week. Two were released because of their
age; the other one was eventually terminated.
Week Three 07/03/00-07/07/00
We are still getting more students from 500 C Street. It’s a bit crowded in our room, however some of our students were terminated or quit.
Since week 1, the students
have been given daily written and electronic (via email) journal assignments.
I am still not receiving email from every student. Some have just
come in consistently late (the journal is the first assignment of the day)
and have missed the assignment. Others either don’t have a grasp
of email or have issues with writing. Later in the program, we used
those assignments in our scrapbook project, those who did not participate,
did not get included in the scrapbook.
Each of our workshops and field trips were given a one to two page writing assignment. I can see the improvement in the students writing as the assignments progress.
Taking the students out of
the classroom and exposing them to a new environment also has been helpful.
They are a restless bunch and the changing locations keep them motivated.
Week Four 07/10/00-07/14/00
We have finally settled on the groups, four in all, three interview groups and one support. Each group is given a name: black, red, green and gold (support). Starting the following weeks are interviews.
This week each team member received specialized training in his or her field. Documenters received additional video, lighting and audio training. Journalists received logging instruction. The web designers were introduced to the interview templates for the websites.
Everyone is completing his or her individual web pages. With the “unrulie's” terminated the program is flowing smoothly. Next time more specific screening should occur to reduce problems associated with students who are not suited for program.
Students are starting to
seek out knowledge on how to improve their websites. We’ve had inquiries
about html and java script, also animated gifs. I believe html and
java script are a little advanced for the group, but we have explored simple
Week Five 07/17/00-07/21/00
Elder interviews begin this week. On Monday Vernard and Waletta Cotton performed a mock training interview to prepare the teams. Tuesday, the actual interviews started. There were ten in all.
We traveled by metro and car. In the future, we should get a van.
Problems arose with equipment handling or mishandling. One of the lights was broken and the memory cards for the cameras went missing. I believe that was a direct result of the transfer process.
In the future a more productive method of image transfer should occur. Each interview should have its own set of disk/CDs prelabeled for file storage. There should be a team member whose sole purpose is to handle the data transfers (both video and stills). Each still photo should be resized in Photoshop to 72 res and given a alpha name (the cameras designates numeric files automatically).
I believe if the journalists are given writing training from week one, they can actually write the elder statements.
Each interview should be post logged by the person whom is writing the elder statement. It is a good way to review and get the exact time for the edits. After which, anyone can edit if they are properly trained because you have specific time codes.
The teams are starting to “gel.” I have observed teamwork and team support and bonding. I believe the team element should be introduced earlier in the program.
Also, if pre-interview calls are made with the elders, research for websites can begin before the interview.
A scanner and laptop should
be taken to interviews to get the best possible copy of elder’s photos
Week Six 07/26/00-07/28/00
Interview wrap-ups. Web page editing. Last week at SEU.
Research begins for the sites. Team members search for information to link to their elder pages.
Individual pages are in completion. We held group critiques. In the future, I would hold critiques every week, showing every stage of the building process.
Melba and Marion are handling the Metric aspect.
Network folders are cleared of all extraneous background gif and jpegs.
Folders are created for each
interview, although the files were originally saved to individuals network
folder (this caused confusion when trying to locate them-didn’t know where
each was saved).
Week Seven 07/31/00-08/4/00
Over the weekend I learned how to use StudioDV by reviewing the “guided tour” and tinkering with the program.
On Monday, I met with the Journalist and Web Designer and gave two sessions on editing. That afternoon, the documenters went to MLK to watch “The Amistad.” After which, they had to write a first person narrative of their imaginary experience on the boat as a kidnapped African.
The rest of the week was focused on finishing the editing for the sites. Some of the students were better editors than other. Some students were better documenters than other. We had problems with clips being extremely short (2 –11 secs) and with bad, low lighting and inappropriate camera shots.
Throughout the program we emphasized over and over again the look and what should occur during the interviews and later on the sites. Listening was a problem with most students, even our brightest.
I spent most of the weekend,
with the help of Melba, Brian and Cardell, cleaning up the sites and editing
Week Eight 08/07/00-08/11/00
We had our closing ceremony on Wednesday. Most everyone was please, except for Mrs. Ware, whose site was not completed by the program.
All of the individual folders were deleted from network and student pages were put in one folder.
Post interviews of students
videotaped by Vernard.
Week Nine 08/14/00-08/18/00
Equipment Inventories performed.
Interviews re-edited by N’Dieye, Melba, Nehemiah and Matthew
Metric evaluations completed
by Melba and Marion.
Notes of Melba Searcy
Week of June 19-23
Today was the first week of the program. I wish I could say that it started out without a hitch, however, no one is ever that lucky.
The server had not been completed, so we did not have any programs to go over. Not to mention a few of the computers were not functioning. Jarvis, the teacher that was hired to help us out for the next couple of weeks did not have any lessons planned for the day which of course put N'Dieye and myself in quite a predicament. I'm the most impatient person in the world, and I knew, that I would soon end up having to teach. We had to come up with some plans and quick! Everything eventually ended up okay though. We finally got the programs on the machines so we could begin teaching the students the programs.
Mr. Gray came in and taught a lesson on how to get around D.C. What amazed me is that I'm from Tennessee, and it seems that I know more about getting around than the students do! On the 21st, we had Mr. Gray's sister come in and talk to the students about storytelling. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, which was wonderful, after all these students seem to have the attention span of a four-year-old.
This week the students were
told to begin brainstorming ideas for their website. I'm looking forward
to seeking what they have come up with.
Week of June 26 - 30
Fresh new week, fresh new room! Our server is finally in and Jarvis finally got himself together and began a lesson on Sound Forge XP. The students had fun editing and rearranging sound clips. While Jarvis was going over this, I was getting my lesson together on storyboards. We decided that there had to be some organization in the creation of the student's personal websites, which is where the storyboards come into play. The students were told to draw out how they wanted their website pages to flow complete with some mock text and some spaces drawn out for pictures that they might want on their site. Once again, I have that sinking feeling that the lesson has gone through one ear and out the other. However, I was pleasantly surprised that more than half of them came in the next day with a complete storyboard. On Tuesday, Khayan Lewis came in and gave a lesson on video journals and how to use the video camera. This lesson was unfortunately not as, how do we say, entertaining as Ms. Gray's. Some of the students (and I'm embarrassed to say that even myself BRIEFLY) were knocked out during the presentation. Actually, no one is to blame for this; it was just ill preparation on both ends. We have just learned that everyone needs a break, especially teenagers. I could actually hear their minds shutting down.
On the 28th, Mr. Gray came in and gave the students a lesson on Netscape Composer. This program was made for these students. Its not too detailed for them, and that’s exactly what they need. Later on, we gave the students a lesson on how to "appropriate" images from the Internet. They are really getting the hang of it quite quickly.
On the 29th, Melvin Deal came in and gave a lecture on "ghetto/slave mentality.” This was wonderful because most of these students have that. I'm glad that someone has finally shed light on this issue. Before the visit from Mr. Deal, we had a workshop on storytelling. We gave the students a picture from a calendar, and they were to go in front of the room and give us a story about it. We really have quite a talented bunch here. I wish we had told them to write these stories down.
On Thursday, the students
were told to take a look at the Library of Congress website so that they
(the LOC) would be prepared to answer all of the questions that they (the
students) had. Friday's trip to the LOC was to be a lesson in streaming
audio and video, however, it was more of a lesson on how interesting the
Library of Congress is to the people who work there. Once again, I can't
blame the students. I thought we were going to learn how streaming media
works, but, instead, I learned how they transferred billions of documents
to the net.
Week of July 5 - 8
This week, the students were to show us what they had accomplished on their websites. Some obviously did not take us seriously when we told them that we were going to be checking their progress. N'Dieye and I have begun to notice that the behavior has gotten a tad bit out of hand. They are starting to go from being "just teenagers" to blatantly disrespectful.
Derrick Medley came in to give a lesson on lighting and video. During his lecture, I received a note (that obviously was not supposed to get to me) that said "Bo-Ring.” N'Dieye and I then decided that it was time to address the behavior.
On Friday we had another web page critique. Some of the students have finally got their “asses” in gear, however there are some that I'm clearly going to have to have a talk to. There are some other that simply just don't get it. I don't understand this because we have done just about everything short of doing their website for them. Apparently, this is their goal, because the other students have picked it up and gone to town with it! Some are creating frames while others are trying to figure out how to make gif animations.
Saturday, we were supposed
to have a lesson with Mr. Medley, but, the room in the MLK library was
double booked, and we lost out. So, we went to the Smithsonian African
Art Museum, and the Photography exhibit called "Reflections on Black.”
It was a remarkable exhibit. The exhibit captivated some of the students.
However, most of them were sitting down. It's amazing to me how they can
live in a city that has some of the best museums in the world and not take
advantage, or appreciate them.
Week of July 10 - 14
On Monday, Mr. Gray came in and spoke to the students about how the behavior they are exhibiting is exactly what Mr. Deal spoke about - ghetto/slave behavior. The students seemed a bit taken aback by the fact that we would say some of the things that we said to them. But, It seems like it finally sank in. We told the students that if some of this behavior did not stop, a few of them just might end up getting fired.
After the lecture, we worked on the web pages and went to the MLK Library for another workshop with Mr. Medley. The students were given an assignment. They were to go to the art exhibit within the library and give a report on video.
The students continued to work on their websites this week and they are really coming along great! However, I'm a little worried about Mechelle's and Charnise's websites. Charnise seems to be a bit clueless about the entire process, while Mechelle - well, her grammar is just terrible.
On Friday, we critiqued the websites, and gave them an extension until Wednesday of next week to have them completed.
This weekend, we have also
arranged the groups into teams so that they can successfully carry out
the interviews that they are supposed to be doing. A few of the students
have also been fired this week. Oh well, they should have taken the job
Week of July 17 - 22
This week is the beginning of the interview process. Mr. Gray and Waletta Cotton came in and gave a demonstration on how to set up for the interview. We found out that some students were not listening during the video and lighting lesson. They once again acted as if they were clueless about the entire situation. We also made sure that each team member understood his or her role within each team. We also had to make them understand that if one member of the team fails, then they all fail.
On the first day of the interviews, the Green and the Black teams were sent out into the field. The Black teams interview went quite well, however, the Green team did not even bother to check the lighting and the picture was dark. This makes me worry about the other interviews because the students are once again displaying their blatant disregard for instructions. I don't know much about what is going on during the actual interviews, because I am working with the students and their personal and digital storytelling sites at Southeastern. The basic setup of the Digital Storytelling website is fairly simple. It's kind of like a "plug and play" setup. I hope that these projects look good.
On Saturday, while some of
the students were out on the interviews, I went four of the other students
to the National Building Museum to see an exhibit on "Reinvigorating Cities.”
They were surprisingly interested in it. They were told to write an essay
on the exhibit, however, one student not only wrote an essay, but created
a website on what she could do to help. I was quite pleased with this.
So pleased in fact, that, if anything else goes bad today, I'm still going
to have a wonderful day.
Week of July 24 - 28
Today, the students continued
to work on the websites of the elderly citizens of D.C. while I began to
gather ideas for the scrapbook that some of the students and myself are
going to be working on. The web designers are setting up pictures and getting
the statements together for the sites. While they are doing this, some
of the documentarians (who are lacking things to do) are researching the
Internet for links for the sites and pictures that will enhance the sites.
This has been the pattern for the past few days.
Week of July 31 - August 4
New Building! Today we just moved to the Carnegie building. I'm happy that the people at Southeastern no longer surround us; however, we are now only working with 6 computers. It’s a challenge, but we're going to be okay. N'Dieye has come up with a plan to allow the students to work in shifts. On Monday, while the Journalists and web designers are getting lessons in video editing with Studio DV, I have taken the other students to MLK Library to watch Amistad so we can get them out the way.
On Tuesday, I have begun to go over the scrapbook guidelines with a few of the students. The team consists of basically the documentarians who don't have anything constructive to do. I hope this works out okay because too many students working on this scrapbook can be deadly. After all, as the saying goes, too many cooks spoil the soup.
By the end of the week, the
students are in full swing with logging and putting the scrapbook together.
We are now just pushing to get finished by August 9.
Week of August 7 - 11
We are running around quite a bit this Monday. Everything has to be finished before the 9th for our open house. This is crucial because we need more investors so that other students can get this opportunity to learn about multimedia, and web design. I feel that everything has been going well so far and it would be a shame to have nothing to show for it. The students have been working hard. However, we are quite disappointed with the video clips.
Apparently some of the students had misunderstood what we meant when we said we wanted a short clip. We meant clips that were at least 30 seconds long, not 12 seconds long. Some of the clips have to be deleted because they are so terrible. However, the quality of the websites far outshines those terrible clips. It still shows the student's hard work they put into the CDC websites.
Every night, N'Dieye, Brian, Cardell, and myself have been staying late trying to correct the work of the students. Some of the personal web pages had to be altered due to their poor construction. It's okay though, because we all want the open house to be PERFECT on Wednesday.
On Wednesday morning, there is a mad dash to complete things. The scrapbook is finally finished, the Carnegie Library Lobby looks wonderful and we are up and ready to go. I'm still worried about those bad clips though because they are super shitty and we could have done better. However, the overall project, I feel is a success. We have had a lack of sources and materials, yet we finished everything!
The open house went okay with the exception of Ms. Ware yelling at LaJuan. On Thursday, we had the journalists re-logging the videos so that we can take off the terrible clips. There is a lot of work that still has to be completed such as the metric and the exit survey. I've been running around so much lately, I almost forgot about the exit survey, thank goodness Marian was there on my back to remind me (yay rah).
Friday is our last day of the program. I'm very excited that it's over. I'm tired, and I know that N'Dieye and Mr. Gray are exhausted beyond belief. We took some group pictures and then took the students out to a farewell/job well done lunch. It has really been a lot of fun this summer. A lot of the students have grown up a lot since they first walked in the door at Southeastern University. I know that I was given the position of Youth Project Coordinator and teach them certain programs, however, I will admit that I have learned quite a bit myself this summer. I have never videotaped anything, edited a video, or taken the Metro before this summer. Not to mention that I have learned patience this summer that will certainly help me out in the job field in the future.
Well, that’s the last summary. Let me conclude by simply saying this - It’s been real!!