CEP811: Thrifting – Creating a Quiz Buzzer System

This week we were tasked with visiting a thrift store whether virtually or physically to come up with ideas for re-purposing materials. This is something I’ve done for most of my life. Artists are masters of re-purposing whether it’s using old jars as paint containers or finding a tackle box to store art supplies. It’s a great way to save money and to reuse materials that might otherwise end up in a landfill. At first I was a little perplexed because I teach adults not children, so it didn’t seem like there were as many possibilities to do this. However, the perfect answer came to me when I was thinking about playing Jeopardy to review for exam. I have done this in the past, but fighting always ensues when relying on my judgment to see who raised their hand first to answer. I saw a system of lighted buttons that locks out after the first one was hit. It was perfect, but cost $250 for the system. As usual, necessity (and cheapness) is the mother of invention.

After a little bit of play, I realized the Makey Makey kit would be the perfect tool for creating a buzzer system. I went in search of possible ways to do this online. No one had directions for using the Makey Makey, but I did find a variety of directions for other homemade buzzers. I wanted to figure out what might work for buzzers and what I else I might need before shopping. I typically approach projects in this manner. I figure out what I might want and what might work and then hit the store. I have more success when I have a better idea of what’s needed. Luckily, I found some Staples Easy Buttons at a thrift store. There were a number of them, but I only needed three. It seemed a little serendipitous, but I’ll just be thankful that no one else was interested in them. Based on my explorations, my other idea was plastic bowls. The remainder of the items were gathered from Radio Shack as I did not locate them during my shopping trip. I figured that would most likely be the case. If I wasn’t using the Makey Makey, I would have looked for a USB keyboard to use for the processing. I found several sites that mentioned that was an option.


At this point, I went to talk an electronics instructor that I know to make sense of the electronics part it. I am not an expert on the electronics. I understand the programming part, but needed a better idea of how the electronics worked to reconfigure it to the materials I wanted to use. I showed him some of the examples I found and he drew out the below diagrams to explain how it worked. This helped me better understand some the flaws in my initial thinking and to work out how everything needed to be wired to each other. I’m at the point where I’m ready to start creating the physical parts, but need a little more time with the programming. I would like to have the ability to use this soon with my class.

Electrical Wiring Drawing courtesy of Terry Taebel

3 Staples Easy Buttons
Red LEDs
LED Holders
Project Box
2 conductor wire
Glue Gun
May need a soldering iron w/solder
Arduino Software



  1. Remove the pads on the backs of the Staples Easy Buttons to get access to the screws. Unscrew the screws to expose the wiring of the buttons. I can disable at the sound at this point either by removing the connecting wire or simply remove the batteries. The batteries are unnecessary for making this work. I will also need to drill a hole for the alligator clip to run to the button when the button is reassembled.
  2. I then need to connect the buttons to the Makey Makey via the alligator clips included in the kit. When the button is pressed, it should generate a feed to the program written for the Makey Makey to process the information.
  3. The Makey Makey then needs to be connected to the LED that will light up indicating which buzzer rang in first. (I realize this step may be unnecessary as I may be able to program it to just put a message on screen, but I think the light may be more beneficial with students.
  4. The LEDS than need to be secured inside the project box. I will start by drilling three hole the LEDs in the top of the box. I will feed a LED holder into the whole. Then, I will place the LED inside. I will need to also make a hole in the side to feed the wires back to the Makey Makey. It was suggested that glue be used to secure the items in the box.
  5. Write the program for the Makey Makey. You will need to download the software posted here: https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/388. This software will give you an editing window to reprogram your Makey Makey for a new purpose. The site also breaks down the basics of working with the console. It will be helpful to have some understanding of programming for this step.
  6. Continue testing your program as you go until the pressing one of the buttons causes the corresponding light to light up and locks out the others.
  7. Test out in class and enjoy the fun.


At this point, I’m still testing the specifics. The electronics instructor thought I was crazy to try to get it done in a weekend and it looks like he may be right. I will update with more specific instructions once it is completely worked out. I think this would be a great tool for teachers of all grade levels. In my past experience, Jeopardy is a great tool for reviewing for an exam. My hope is this project can help others teachers implement this into the classroom and eliminate disputes about who “rang” in first while still being affordable. Right now, the project is costing my under a $100, but I would like to reduce the price further.

Arduino – Learn the basics. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/HomePage>.

“Cee’z Blog.” RSS 20. N.p., 25 Sept. 2008. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://my.opera.com/ceez/blog/buzzerlockout>.

Chrétien, Philippe. “public pchretien / quiz.”GitHub. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <https://github.com/pchretien/quiz>.

“Electronic Games.” Game Circuits. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://www.techlib.com/electronics/games.html>.

“Game Show Buzzer System.” uosuıqoɹ ɯoʇ / projects / easybutton / buzzer.php. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://tlrobinson.net/projects/easybutton/buzzer.php>.

Hoover, Dan. “DIY Game Show Buzzer System.” DIY Game Show Buzzer System. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://http://danhoover.net/dh/index.php/diy-stuff/diy-game-show-buzzer/21>.

“MaKey MaKey Quickstart Guide (Part 2) – SparkFun Electronics.” MaKey MaKey Quickstart Guide (Part 2) – SparkFun Electronics. N.p., 14 Aug. 2012. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <https://www.sparkfun.com/tutorials/388>.

“Quiz Show Buzzer System using Staples Easy Button.” Instructables.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://www.instructables.com/id/Quiz-Show-Buzzer-System-using-Staples-Easy-Button/>.

“Quizshow buttons on the cheap – Intro.” Quizshow buttons on the cheap – Intro. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://hackadayhttp://spritesmods.com/?art=quizbtn&f=tw>.

Robinson, Mark. “How to Create a Lockout Buzzer System | eHow.” eHow. Demand Media, 30 Sept. 2011. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://www.ehow.com/how_12112065_create-lockout-buzzer-system.html>.

Szczys, Mike. “Building a Quiz-show style buzzer system.” Hack a Day. N.p., 1 June 2012. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://hackaday.com/2012/06/01/building-a-quiz-show-style-buzzer-system/>.

“basbrun.com.” basbruncom. N.p., 30 May 2012. Web. 3 Nov. 2013. <http://basbrun.com/2012/05/30/quiz-buzzer-system/>.


CEP810: Final Reflection

As the course comes to an end, our instructor asked us to reflect on the course and what we learned. I have to admit it’s been quite a journey since September. I started the program with a general idea of what to expect, but it has been so much more. In some cases, the program forced me to get outside my comfort zone. In others, it simply pushed me to think beyond the obvious. Finally, perhaps the biggest benefit to me, I was exposed to a whole new world of thinking about teaching using technology. The course definitely expanded my horizons as promised.

Like so many people, I have a bad habit of wanting to stay in my comfort zone. I have no good explanation for why because past experience has taught me that the most rewarding things tend to lie outside of it. This class forced me to do things I did not consider beneficial in the past. I lead a very busy life and tend to resist anything I don’t directly see the benefit in. The course forced me to start blogging and to join Twitter. I have considered blogging before, but never found the motivation to follow through with it. I’m happy to report that I enjoy the process and might consider incorporating it in my classroom in the future. I was also reluctant to join Twitter because I felt like it was just one more time suck to my day and offered little in terms of value. However, after being forced to join, I must say I kind of love it. I am able to follow designers and educators that I admire. I am exposed to even more information that I would not otherwise come in contact with including numerous articles that I turn around and share with my students. I must say that I am a convert. Twitter helps me expand my PLN in ways I never thought possible by shortening the distance between me and the people I’m most interested in learning from. It really helps eliminate the barriers that prevented access to leaders in the field. I can now see exactly what they think and are interested in on a daily basis. It’s an excellent tool for growing your PLN beyond the network of people in your geographic region. I am again glad to say that leaving my comfort zone was for the best.

The course also focused on the use of technology in the classroom. I must say that I originally felt this part would be more like review for me. I teach a subject that mandates the use of technology, graphic design. I have been hooked on computers since my father first exposed me to programming at eight (monumental at the time). I spend most of my day tied to technology in some form. However, the course really forced me to think more about how the technology was used. Typically, technology is used just because it is available and sometimes as a matter of convenience. I really didn’t think about the why or how it could encourage student learning in a more meaningful way. Now, I am looking not just for new technology to use, but also evaluating on a deeper level the why and the how. I think more about how it contributes to what I want them to gain a deeper understanding of. Some of my experiments with it have proved successful; others may need to be rethought. The course inspired me to challenge how I approach technology and how to use it as a more effective teaching tool.

Finally, the course exposed me to new learning theories and other new approaches to the topic. I’ve explored several more traditional theories about learning in my quest to be a better instructor. However, this course often challenged the very notion of what learning meant and how learning occurs in the advent off technology. I have pondered the massive changes at the hands of technology. In fact, I even lecture on it in terms of how it impacted graphic design as a discipline. I also realized from my own classroom that students push the boundaries of traditional education. As instructors, we too often view it from a negative light as we view it more in terms of enabling cheating and lowering the bar for academic standards. However, the material in this course really pushed me towards further embracing a radical change in looking at education. TPACK forced me to consider what role technology plays in the classroom including exactly what defined technology. Dr. Mishra’s Keynote address highlighted that even a simple pen and paper can be technology depending on how it is used (view lecture here). The chapters from “How People Learn” introduced concepts about how race and other culture factors impact not just the learners but also instructor’s perceptions of the learners. It is a topic I now want to explore further as I teach a population with a very different background than my own. Furthermore, reading work by Will Richardson, Mizuko Ito, and James Paul Gee challenged deeply held ideas about defining the educational system and how it would work into the 21st century. Overall, the material helped challenge and define my views of technology in the classroom and the future of education.

To conclude, the course meets to goal of expanding my thinking about technology in the classroom and helped reassure me that I’m on the right path for the future. It helped me grow personally and professionally as well as expand the dialogue about technology’s role in education. I am excited to see what is to come as I travel down this new path.

CEP810: Final Networked Learning Project Blog and Video

For my class Networked Learning Project, I had to learn something by using only YouTube and help forums. After consulting friends and family on Facebook, I chose to learn to play the guitar. More specifically, I planned to learn how to play “1, 2, 3, 4” by the Plain White Tees on the guitar. I purposely chose something out of my normal field of interest. I have no musical background and I am deaf in one ear, which makes anything sound based difficult. I wanted to use this task to give me a better idea what students feel like when they are trying to learn something that they too may not be able to connect to their existing knowledge. My hope was that I could use the project to also explore the frustrations of a new learner, something we often lose touch with once we are experts.

I encountered a number of difficulties along the way. I was able to use help forums and YouTube to fix most of them. I did require an app in order to tune the guitar as I was unable to do so just by listening. Help forums provided a solution to my problems with finger pain and with stretching exercises to help improve my ability to play chords. However, learning tabs, the format guitar music is written in, proved elusive to me. I tried several videos on YouTube and at least a dozen help forum sites before researching what other tools might be available to assist with the task. I ended up downloading an app called “Guitar for Dummies” to try to assist with the task. The diagrams and animated fret board proved to be far more useful in learning tabs. With the YouTube videos, I couldn’t see exactly where they were placing their fingers in most cases. The help forums typically did not have images to accompany their written descriptions. The app brought both together and I finally started to make progress.

I started the process of learning to play guitar by learning scales and basic chords. For me, it seemed important to learn the basics first before trying to learn the song. I looked at a few videos of people teaching the song, which further emphasized the necessity with starting at the beginning. I couldn’t understand anything they were saying or doing. I found a series on the Howcast channel that offered quality videos and broke the learning process into nineteen simple steps. (View the first video here) In general, they provided quality instruction on the basics. However, as the series progressed, I found it harder and harder to follow along. I definitely was not following tabs and it seemed like he started with the hardest possible chords. I grew frustrated with my lack of progress. I tried several other videos with no luck in making a break through to understanding the concepts. I downloaded the “Guitar for Dummies” app and finally started to understand. The interactive features seemed to help me with the learning process.

Unfortunately, I did not accomplish my initial goal. I tried very hard to make progress towards it, but just couldn’t get to that point in the six weeks. I also think it may have been an unrealistic goal. I talked to the guitar teacher at the college and she told me it is one of the hardest instruments to learn for some of the very reasons I encountered during my efforts. I have to say I felt a lot better after hearing that. I was able to play the beginning of “Silent Night” which you can see on the video. I’m still having issues switching between chords, but at least it resembles a song.

I don’t think YouTube and help forums are the ideal way to learn guitar. I think working with an instructor and getting feedback would be far more beneficial to the learning process. The instructor could offer tips to help with finger placement and could tell me whether or not I played a note correctly. I think there are things that both YouTube and help forums can assist with learning. I know eHow comes in handy every time I spill something. I also find help forums beneficial when I have specific question like “how do I set up the drivers for a networked printer”. However, I think this is a case where feedback is important to success and you can’t get that from watching a video or reading a post. My past experience with YouTube supports this. Students often find tutorials on YouTube and become frustrated when they can’t follow. The tutorials are often missing steps or have unclear instructions. I do use videos covering basic topics that are beneficial.  I use them as additional support to the classroom instruction. However, as with learning guitar, feedback can be far more beneficial than struggling to try to find answers. I think the success of this method depends both on the person learning and what the person is learning. Certain activities can be learned successfully this way as demonstrated by my classmates. Others really require more interactive or instructor led teaching methods for success. Likewise, some learners may be able to interpret what they see and find to learn while others may not be able to do so. Successful learning needs to be tailored to the learner and the task.

CEP811: Remix, Reuse, Recycle Project

This week we were tasked with creating a video using Mozilla PopcornMaker to create a remix to describe one of the Edtech Cheat Sheet terms. Remixes involve taking someone else’s work and reworking it to create new meanings. With the advent of the internet and easy-to-use technology, remixes have become a commonplace occurrence. They can offer the opportunity to add to a conversation on a subject or create something entirely new by changing the context. As a graphic designer, I struggle with the idea of a remix and using other people’s work. It is a slippery slope when you start borrowing other people’s work even with permission. This is why it’s hard to convince student’s that you can’t just take someone’s photo and use it in their project (or worse download the entire project).

My chosen term is eLearning. I am currently an eLearning instructor at my college and I am also an eLearning student through the MAET program.  I understand the term well. I wanted to convey the meaning of the word including why people choose that method for education. eLearning is more than just a method of learning. It is about convenience, the ability to set your own pace, and the ability to schedule it when you are available. It helps make education more accessible to people it may not previously have had the opportunity. It is also still in transition as we figure out how to best use and incorporate technology into the experience.

I did not find Mozilla PopcornMaker difficult to use. I was only frustrated because I am used to the level of control from Adobe Premiere or even iMovie. This offered only minimal control, but was easy to use in almost no time. I wish I had the control to fix the typography to my liking, but it will suffice. The program definitely has potential in the classroom to be a quick way to create a video.

Video Video at – https://kkrcmarik.makes.org/popcorn/1i7w

Resources for Video

“See You Later” by Pitx (feat. Fireproof Babies, Bmccosar)
is licensed under a Creative Commons license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/

“Kaplan International Center Whittier College, LA.” Flickr. Yahoo!, n.d. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.flickr.com/photos/kaplaninternational/100354307/>.

N.d. Photograph. Web. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABrisbane_Nighttime_Skyline.jpg>.

N.d. Photograph. Web. <http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Seven_Sisters_daytime.jpg>.

N.d. Photograph. Web. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Inside_a_Harvard_Business_School_classroom.jpeg>.

N.d. Photograph. Web. <http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/39IJzbAAVbvpRB1KmJutwQ>.

“Intro to eLearning.” YouTube. YouTube, 19 June 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBtNm1grK-w>.

“Learn e-learning.” YouTube. YouTube, 7 May 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rgy2SH4qJEs>.

“Online Learning Orientation Series – Episode_02: E-Learning Platforms.” YouTube. YouTube, 30 June 2013. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=29jbUIQ5-Zo>.

“Studying From Textbooks (music included).” YouTube. YouTube, 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIQ4uJKGWCE>.

CEP810: TPACK Quickfire Activity

This week in class we were given the challenge to have someone select a plate, a bowl, and a utensil for us without knowing what they would be used for. The person then also drew a slip to select which of the five activities we would need to complete, again without knowing why.

The goal of the assignment is to demonstrate how to use tools that may or may not be ideal for a project to accomplish a goal. This is a common issue I address everyday in the classroom. Students believe they can only create if they have the exact tool available, which is rarely the case. I point out that when they work as a designer later on things will frequently go wrong or there may not be a big enough budget for your dream tools. Good designers can still get the job done. Good teachers also have to be adaptable to technology failing or not having the ideal supplies/technology for their classroom.

This further connects to the topic of the week, TPACK or Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. This system involves the intersection of Content, Pedagogy and Technology for effective teaching and technology integration. (http://www.matt-koehler.com/tpack/what-is-tpack/) In this activity, the technology is the utensil, plate, and bowl used to complete the task. The content is chosen task. The pedagogy is the knowledge of how the task is normally accomplished as well as what the items provided can do. I had to solve how to use the technology to accomplish the content based on the pedagogy associated with my task and chosen items.


Koehler , Dr Matthew J . “What is TPACK? | TPACK.org.” tpack.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2013. <http://www.matt-koehler.com/tpack/what-is-tpack/&gt;.

Learning to Play the Guitar: Week 3

I had the chance this past week to read a classmate’s blog post who is also trying to learn the guitar. She has a completely different approach to the task than I do. It appears she is just trying to learn the song without learning the basics. I, however, have focused on learning the basics before trying to learn the song. I did look at videos for the song, but the videos made me realize it would be better for me to learn the basics first. In many ways, this parallels what I have witnessed in the classroom. A good portion of what I teach centers on teaching students design software. Some students will jump right in and try to create their project with little to no effort on learning the basics. They just want to feel like they have accomplished something and completing a full project makes them feel that way. Others are more like myself and wade in by learning the basics before attempting anything more substantial. Like me, they feel they cannot advance without wrapping their brains around how everything works and connects together. One way is not better than the other. The different methodologies reflect the different approaches to learning of the students. I also think it depends on what you are learning. I tend to jump right in when it is something that I can reference other knowledge I already have. When I have no base to draw from, like with music, I only feel comfortable wading in slowly.

I think this project is helping to remind me what it is like to learn something completely new. I had no base on knowledge going into this other than a year of playing the clarinet when I was ten. None of what I learned before stuck with me. This part of the reason I wanted something so outside my usual interests. I was hoping the struggle might better connect me with the struggles students sometimes have when learning new material. It has reminded of the difficulty of learning something new when you have nothing to connect it to, but it also reminds me of the strategies I have learned over the years to help overcome this hurdle. These are the same strategies I suggest to students that struggle. I recommend and currently use the following strategies:

  • Seek help from multiple sources. If you don’t understand how one person explains something, try other sources to see if another method works better for you. I often direct students to some of the best video and written sources I’ve found and encourage tutoring from someone besides myself. It doesn’t mean that I’m not doing my job effectively. It just allows students to hear things in multiple ways from multiple people. One of the ways is bound to help. It also helps encourage students to seek out sources when I’m not around to go over the steps. I tried new sources when the main source was lacking the information I needed. I also tried multiple sources for the song to see which one I liked best.
  • Take notes. If you don’t think you can remember something, write it down for later. You take the best notes to jog your memory. I do this with everything.
  • Practice, practice practice. I always tell students that the couple hours a week that we use software in class is no where near enough time to get proficient at the software. The students who take this to heart and do spend time outside of class usually excel. Practice does make perfect. I remind myself of this everyday to keep from getting discouraged. I do try to practice every day even if it is only for a short period of time.

Videos Completed
Again, I am mainly using a series of videos I found on YouTube’s Howcast channel that takes a learner from the basics to actually playing a song. I did finally move forward this week. Much to my frustration, I find learning to play the guitar a slow process. I tend to have an easy time learning things, but I also tend to stick to things that I know I have the skills to complete. This represents a departure from my comfort zone. This week, I reviewed the How to Play the Chromatic Scale on a Guitar Video (View Video) and I’m happy to report that I am improving, but it is still a slow awkward progress, but at least I can get through it. I have also moved on and viewed the following videos:

Whole and Half Steps on Guitar (View Video)

How to Read Guitar Chord Charts (View Video)

Guitar Strumming 101 (View Video)

Learn Your First Guitar Chords: G (View Video)

I did look at videos of people teaching how to play the song I selected, “1, 2, 3, 4” by the Plain White T’s. I’m having trouble understanding how they connect everything together despite watching a few times. This is where I would prefer to have a person who can explain things to me and to whom I can ask whatever questions occur. This is one of those things that seems like it would be better learned by teaching from a person. I’ve also noticed that many of the song videos assume basic knowledge that I did not have. I think this is why I’m struggling more with the song. This something I have observed in the classroom. You can’t assume a student knows something. You really need to explain everything until you get a better feel for a group of students’ skill level. The videos clearly fail on this aspect of effective teaching.

Plain White T’s – 1, 2, 3, 4 Guitar Lesson (View Video)

Plain White Tees – 1234 – Acoustic Guitar Tutorial Lesson easy song (View Video)

How to Play “1, 2, 3, 4” by Plain White T’s on Guitar (View Video)

Here is my attempt at playing the chromatic scale as well as a little strumming. I’ve made some progress, but I think it is evident that I am still struggling. I hope it will start to click soon.

CEP 810: Creating a Lesson Plan

Course: ART 121 – Intro to Graphic Design Theory and Process
Grade Level: College Students (Ages 18-50 in class)
Class Time: 3 hrs. once a week

Week Overview
This week we will take an in-depth look at the research phase of designing a project. Students have discussed the design process in general and now we are starting to explore each stage in greater depth. The goal of the week is for students to understand why research is important for a graphic designer and how they can use it to make a project better. We will cover popular techniques for research like mood boards, focus groups, and word mapping. Students should be able to use these techniques in their own projects by end of the class.

Instructional Objectives

  • Evaluate the process of creating graphic design and working in the profession.
  • Describe how a graphic designer gathers the necessary information about a project and what information might appear in a client’s design brief.
  • Differentiate between types of virtual and actual research that contribute to a successful design project.
  • Discuss the strategies graphic designers use to define the problem to be solved in a project.
  • Give an example of each of the techniques used to record research in visual formats.
  • Outline the steps of the research process that lead to creating a graphic design.

Key Terms
Students should be able to define the following terms by the end of the week:

  • Deconstruction
  • Focus group
  • Mood boards
  • Observational research
  • Positioning chart
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Word mapping

Access to Lab with Apple computers
Internet Access

Reading for Week (completed before the start of class)
Chapter 4: Researching a Graphic Design Project in Guide to Graphic Design by Scott Santoro
Students can either read the book, listen to the audio file of the chapter, or use the interactive reading experience online.

Begin by announcing the topic for the week. (Students should have completed reading for the week prior to class) Lead a discussion about the importance of research. Ask the students the following questions:

  • When you begin any type project that will involve research of some sort, what is the first thing you do? What is the first thing you did when you started the first project for this class?
  • Does it depend on what you are researching, i.e. a new car to buy versus a school assignment?
  • What do think the most important thing is to do when researching?
  • Why is research important to the success of a project?
  • How can research make your current project better? What type of research might you want/need to do for the project?

Review with students the main topics of the chapter. Provide examples of each one from the real world. Provide examples from my personal professional experience to show students how designers really use these techniques in the field. Questions and discussion is encouraged during this portion of the class.

Present the activity for the week, Research in Process (see below for details). The activity is designed for students to put to use the material covered in class this week to increase their understanding of the material. I will also show the examples for each part of the activity. I will make sure the students know what pinterest is and how to use it. I will demonstrate how to use the online word mapping software. The last thing I will do is put students into groups. Groups are chosen at random by students counting off. This helps encourage the students to mix with classmates they may not otherwise talk to. I will be observing while the students are in the lab and offering assistance and answering questions while they are in the lab.

End class with groups presenting their summaries, mood boards, and word maps. The class will then discuss how effective they feel each group’s research was given the design brief and the examples. We will also wrap-up with students reflecting on how they can use these techniques for their own projects and why they are so important to successful graphic designers.

To put the skills they learned this week to use, students will conduct typical research for a design project. Students will be given a design brief for a fictitious logo project, Cordog Bleu. The students will use the design brief to begin the research process. Students are encouraged to explore both dog food as a product and the competitors of the client. Students will be placed in groups to better simulate a real work environment as well as to improve their team work skills. They will use the design brief to complete the following:

Write a short paragraph (4-5 sentences) about what direction you would plan to go if were actually going to make a logo for the company. It should include reflections on the company and their product. You may also want to conduct some research by looking at competitors to see how you might want to differentiate their logo from the competition. You also want to look at the given examples of logos they like. For example: I plan to create a logo that reflects the upscale aspect of the client’s market by including rich colors.

Mood Board
Mood boards are a collection of images that represent the direction you plan to go with a project. They should include colors, images that might represent the target audience, images that represent the feel you want for your design, and images that may inspire your design. Using the below information, you need to create a mood board for the logo design. The paragraph you wrote should serve as direction for this step.

To do this, you need to sign up for pinterest (pinterest.com – unless you already have an account). Pinterest is free. You need to post at least 15 items to the pinterest board you create.

Example a client sent to me: http://www.pinterest.com/philomathkid/logo-ideas/ (Does not represent this project)

Word Map
The last step in your research process will be to create a word map. Word maps involve brainstorming words that you associate with the company and their products. You will create a word map using http://www.text2mindmap.com/. It is free to create the word map. Start with dog food company in the center and then create words from there. You can keep branching off at different levels. You need to have a minimum of 50 words on your word map. (Shows students the example I am posting below.) When you complete your word map, click the download button. Chose the download image button. This will download an image to your desktop (or other location).

Upon completion of the activity, groups will present their summaries, mood boards, and word maps to the class for review.

Example Word Map


Design Brief – cordog_bleu_design_brief

Expected Activity Outcomes:

  • Students learn how to read and utilize a design brief.
  • Students demonstrate their understanding of mood boards and word maps as part of the research step of a design project.

Assessment Measures
Students’ ability to successfully complete the week’s activity and present to the class. The students will be provided with feedback as to how closely the students meet the needs laid out in the design brief. I will also offer feedback as to areas they could improve on in the future.

After class, I will take a moment to reflect on how the class went. I look for what students had the most trouble understanding to adjust those aspects. I also evaluate how interested the students are in the material. I want the students to engage with the material.


Rational for Lesson Plan
This week’s materials focused on preparing students for a 21st century learning environment. Renee Hobbs sets forth five core competencies (Hobbs, 2010) essential in this new learning environment. The competencies are: access, analyze, create, reflect, and act. I have demonstrated these with my lesson plan in the following manner:

This concept is demonstrated in my lesson plan by showing students real-world examples and demonstrating to them how they can create their own examples of the material talked about in class. The main activity for the class encourages the students to seek out information through a variety of sources. The students will use the internet to complete the research and two specific online sources, pinterest and text2mindmap, to complete the portions of the activity. They are only provided with a general framework for conducting their research. The rest is up to them to decide what they need to look up and where they will find the information. Students will work with their peers, randomly selected, to allow for varied opinions and insight.

Students are asked open ended questions at the beginning of class to get them thinking about how they currently approach the topic as well as the benefits of the project. Student must analyze both the terminology and concepts from the course to complete the activity. They must also analyze the design brief provided to them to complete their project. They must research the target audience, the product, and the competition to make decisions on what to include on their mood boards and word maps as well to write their summaries.

Students create mood boards and word maps based on their analysis of the design brief. This allows them to demonstrate understanding of the material in an active format. It also gives them real-world experience that they can take to their future careers.

Students reflect on their current thoughts and attitudes towards research at the start of class. The students must explain why they made the decisions they did to complete the assignment. It’s always interesting how different the solutions can be based on the same starting point. They also reflect at the end on their success with the material and their ability to successfully create a mood board and word map based on a design brief. Students are also encouraged to offer critique on their classmates work with the goal of students thinking critically about the material.

This one was not as easy to incorporate as some of the other competencies. The students can put what they learn to work in the world when working as graphic designers. These techniques will also be applicable in a future project where they will have to come up with their own design brief as well as research a project from scratch. Future courses will also demand these skills from students.

In general, the course is hands on and designed to give them real world skills that they can use in their future skills. I work to encourage them to think and seek information, a necessary set of skills to be successful in their future careers.

Hobbs, R. (2010). Digital and Media Literacy: A Plan of Action. Washington D. C.: The Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program.