Multimedia final: Creating a Camtasia lesson

For my final project in “Teaching Multimedia,” I had to put all of my new skills together and create a lesson, with a Camtasia tutorial to accompany it. I actually looked forward to this project, because I had heard of Camtasia before but never took the time to learn it.

I just used the free trial, which has a watermark, but it’s definitely enough of an asset that I would consider investing in the full version.

Initially, I struggled with using the timeline and editing features – they’re *just* different enough from iMovie that it threw me. But, I re-watched the tutorials (which had seemed “so easy” the first time I watched them – ha!) and eventually caught on.

Here is my full lesson, with the Camtasia video and linked resources. For my lesson, I have students watching the video at home and then using the skills in an in-classroom activity and assignment. I’ve liked the idea of a “flipped classroom” for a couple of years now, but was never able to make it happen… mostly because I didn’t know how to use Camtasia!


Title: Creating COB’s (Cut-Out Backgrounds) for your Yearbook

Overview and Rationale:
Yearbook students often want photos with cut-out backgrounds to add to their traditional yearbook coverage. This lesson gives students the steps and reasoning for how to quickly and efficiently create a photo with a cut-out background to place on a yearbook spread.

Goals for Understanding
Essential Questions:
• What is the best way to take a photo that will be used as a COB?
• What is one tool that can be used to create a COB?
• What is a feather?
• What is transparency?
• How should a COB be saved before placing in your yearbook project?

Overviews and Timeline:
Activity 1 (One 50-minute class)
Teacher will introduce examples of yearbook spreads with COBs to students, and discuss the visual characteristics of each. Students will be asked what makes them look nice, what added graphics they have, etc. to understand the importance of full-body photos, or graphic anchors, and placement within the module or spread.

Examples can be found here: Examples of COBs Slideshow

Students will then plan and shoot at least five photos to be turned into COBs for a yearbook sidebar module.

For homework: Students will watch the Camtasia lesson on how to execute a cut-out background photo. They will use this information to take notes on the steps, and be prepared to create COBs tomorrow in class.

Activity 2 (One 50-minute class)
Students will remove the background from each of the five photos, concentrating on eliminating all unnecessary background components, while maintaining the integrity of the photograph. Students should save the new COBs as identifiable file names, ready to place into their yearbook spread.

Assessment (One 50-minute class)
Students will place their COB photos into their otherwise complete yearbook spread, and submit for evaluation by their section editors. Students should turn in their original 5 photos, as well as their 5 edited photos, and their completed spread. Students will be graded according to the attached rubric.


Facing my fear of video


My niece is currently enrolled in the same undergraduate journalism degree program from which I graduated. We were discussing her classes yesterday and she said “you know, that big video project you have to do….” and I stopped her there. When I was in the program from 2004-2010, there was no video component. I managed to graduated just as convergent media was becoming a “thing” and never took a single video or multimedia course in my entire bachelor’s degree program.

Then, I got hired at one of the (very) few small school districts in East Texas that had completely separate print and broadcast programs already established. I taught all of the print courses, while another teacher, on the opposite side of campus, handled video.

As such, over the years, I’ve developed a real fear of anything video-related and had almost convinced myself that I was incapable of shooting and editing video.

For this project, though, I had to do both. I also had to tackle another fear – interviewing a stranger for the interview portion of the project.

I scheduled the interview, but then my subject had to cancel at the last minute for a family situation. So, I went as scheduled and shot some B-roll footage, with my story ideas in mind, but not having any A-roll to base it on.

Eventually, I was able to shoot the interview. I wanted to shoot it outside, but it was a VERY windy day, and I knew that I would have lots of noise interference from the wind. So, we did the interview in the business office, where we could be alone – except for the alarm system, which went off every time someone opened the front door.

After returning home and working on my video edits, I quickly realized that my B-roll didn’t match my A-roll audio, and I had to return to the orchard again to shoot more of the farm store and the items they have for sale.

I know my video is far from perfect, but I’m glad that I did it, and now I know that it IS possible. I think the biggest thing I gained from this project – and the course itself – is that I *can* do hard things. Multimedia things. The things that I’ve been expecting my students to do all along.

Week 14 Reflections

“We get the news we deserve.”

This quote from veteran journalist Nick Clooney really stood out to me in this week’s readings and discussions.

What news DO we deserve, as Americans in 2018? And what can/should we do to deserve better, and get better?

I happened upon a story last night on my Facebook newsfeed, from The London Times, and the comment section was filled with angry readers who refused to pay the subscription fee or article fee to be able to read the story. One (or more) reader even said, “If it’s posted on Facebook, it needs to be free.”

How did we get to a place where the general public thinks that all news should be free? People have paid for newspapers for as long as they’ve existed. At one time, newspapers were considered expensive and only the wealthy could afford them. Later, with the “penny press,” the general public could read the news, too – but still not for free.

I agree, in theory, that everyone should have access to the news so they can stay informed… free speech and fourth estate and all. BUT. Does that mean that it should be a free service? Just by becoming a free service, it would somehow have to be government funded, and isn’t that exactly what we’re trying to avoid?

I’m younger than most of the commenters I see on these Facebook stories, so it confuses me – how did Americans, especially those even older than myself, come to believe that they DESERVE free news? It appears they are slowly getting what they think they deserve – but it isn’t what we need, at all.

The Info on Infographics

This week in Multimedia, we’re working on infographics.

When I attended the ASNE/Reynolds Institute for journalism advisers in the summer of 2016, we worked a lot with infographics and saw how student journalists were incorporating them into their work. I was fascinated, and brought several of them back to the classroom to try on our own online newspaper.

Students liked some of them and didn’t care for others, but I do think they’ve gained in popularity since then, and I think they can be a great asset to your reporting.

For this week’s assignment, we are created three infographics.

Google Maps

After becoming a Google Classroom school last year, I fully embraced all things Google. Now, I’m not sure how I would get anything done without it. I have multiple shared calendars through Google Calendar and keep almost all of my documents in Google Drive.

Now that I’m a yearbook rep, I use Google Maps for directions on a daily basis. And, this summer, my area office created a shared Google Map to help us keep track of our assigned schools and territory.

This was my first time creating my own Google Map, though, and I found it a bit cumbersome at first. I had to google how to create a Google Map, because I didn’t easily find the option at first glance.

Here’s how to create your own map:
When on the Maps page, you will need to expand the main menu and choose Your Places. Then, choose Maps and Create Map.

Once your new map loads, you can edit “Untitled Map” to name your map. Then, you can edit “Untitled Layer” to edit your layer, if you need different categories of places on your map. For instance, I placed individual school districts in separate layers. In our shared Balfour office map, each person has their own layer.

Now, with the desired layer selected, type a place or address in the search bar and, when you get the results, select to Add to Map. You can customize the type of marker, color of the marker, and edit the text associated with the marker.

Once you get the hang of the map-specific steps, everything else is fairly self-explanatory. You will want to Share your map and change your privacy settings in order to embed the map in an article or as independent content on your site or social media. Happy Mapping!


Because iFrame code only works with WordPress sites paying for the Business option, you cannot embed it directly to a WP site. You can, however, access PollDaddy polls through a URL:Safety on Campus poll

Though I have created polls for previous graduate school classes, we never created any for use in our student publications. After using PollDaddy, I would highly recommend it to anyone hoping to incorporate a poll or survey into their news gathering.

After creating a login account for the site, you can choose to create a poll or survey. I selected survey, to hopefully get a little more experience with the site options. On the first screen, you will name the survey, create a custom (optional) message, and choose your survey settings – such as requiring a login for respondents, closing the survey after certain criteria are met, and allowing multiple responses from one computer.

On the second screen, you create your actual survey. There are types of questions on the left side of the screen, and you simply drag and drop them in the order you would like them to appear in your survey. Depending on the type of question selected, you will then type your question and, if applicable, your answer choices.

Here, you can also request information from respondents, such as name, email address and phone number.

On the third screen, you are able to stylize your survey. You can selected pre-created themes or customize one to suit your specific needs. You are able to edit colors and fonts for your survey here, as well.

Finally, you are given options on how to share your survey. Your survey is assigned a permanent link to share, or you can get share links for social media or embed code for websites. Unfortunately, you do have to have a Business account with WordPress to install the PollDaddy plugin, which makes embedding a little easier.

Having used Google Forms and other similar applications, I think PollDaddy has an easy learning curve and is very student-friendly.

Timeline JS from Knight Lab

For the timeline portion of this lesson, I chose to use TimelineJS ( I’ve actually had this site listed as a resource for my students since attending ASNE, but I haven’t used it much myself.

I was surprised to find that they’ve changed the way the site operates – it now bases the infographic off of a Google spreadsheet file. When going to the website, you are given step-by-step instructions for creating your timeline.

First, you copy their Google Sheets file to your drive. The spreadsheet has pre-filled columns (which you are instructed not to change) to help you know what information goes in which box. You can enter a single date, or a range of dates, a headline and an explanation. You can then share a URL to a photo to accompany the date – the examples are given in Flickr photos, but I uploaded my photos to Google Drive and had no trouble using the shareable link.

Once you have filled in all of your dates, you are guided through the publishing process. It’s a little confusing at first because as of the summer of 2017, you no longer use the Google published URL, you just copy and paste the URL directly from your browser into the JSTimeline site.

You are then shown a preview of your timeline, and can change fonts and sizing as needed. Although you don’t have as many customization options as with other timeline sites, it is simple to input your data and you do end up with a beautiful, professional-looking timeline. I think students would love how easy it is to use, especially if they are already familiar with Google Sheets.

Similarly to the PollDaddy code, JS Timeline uses iFrame coding. You can see my sample timeline here: History of Carthage High School Publications

An Interview Adventure

Like I’ve already mentioned in previous blog posts this semester, my familiarity with audio and video technology leave something to be desired, even for an amateur. I’ve always tried to avoid either, and I especially hate listening to my own voice – which doesn’t lend itself well to audio OR video production work.

For this week’s assignment, I was to create a podcast over a work-related topic, after interviewing someone on that topic. We had to incorporate multiple audio layers and work with editing, fading, layering, and other audio principles.

Because I no longer work in a traditional journalism classroom, I wanted to interview one of my colleagues about life as a yearbook rep. I selected my co-worker, and former student, Kimberly Ferguson. Because Kimberly and I live over 3 hours apart and both have busy schedules outside of work, it was difficult to coordinate our schedules.

When we finally sat down for our interview, I had typed up questions and a partial script for myself to go by, but found that because I know Kimberly so well, the conversation was fluid and the interview went off without much effort.

A couple of days later, when I sat down to start editing my interview, I found that the ease in which it happened had created two problems. One, editing was actually a little harder because there were no awkward pauses or long stretches of thought… we both tended to talk in turns and leave little space between our sentences to add transitional elements.

Additionally, in my excitement to get the interview out of the way, I completely forgot that I had also been expected to take a headshot of Kimberly. Unfortunately, we won’t be in the same place again for several weeks, so I didn’t get that part of the assignment fulfilled.

However, I didn’t want to leave you wondering what Kimberly looks like, so I did include a headshot of her which was used with permission from our company directory.

Of course, if a student had returned to me from assignment, essentially missing half of their expected work, I would have been pretty upset – and yet, here it had happened to me – and I had quite a bit more time to work on this assignment than what I ever gave my students.

Maybe this class is teaching me a lot more than just multimedia techniques. 😉

Adventures in Podcasting

So, I’ll admit, even as a consumer, I was late to the podcasting train.

Way back when I was an undergraduate, we had a few assignments using Audacity and SoundCloud and the like, but I was intimidated by the technology, so I learned just enough to do my share in the group projects, and quickly tried to forget everything I’d learned.

After graduating from college, I was thrilled to find a print journalism-only teaching position, where I could happily advise newspaper and yearbook, and not have to deal with all of that new-fangled “convergent media” that everyone was talking about. Luckily (or unluckily) for me, my school had a dedicated broadcast journalism teacher who taught the audio and video side of the industry. With our classrooms almost as far apart as possible, it was easy to avoid any of those lessons in my own classroom.

Of course, I realize now, I was doing a disservice to my students by avoiding podcasts and audio technology, especially as we launched our online newspaper with as little dynamic content as probably ever seen before.

This week, in my graduate school Multimedia course, I was thrown headfirst into the world of podcasting and found out – of course – it wasn’t nearly as bad as I remembered it to be. Probably because I’m now a veteran teacher. Even though I’m no longer in my own classroom, I can easily walk into a customer’s classroom or a workshop space, or even a convention session, and teach on the topics I know about. So, sitting in an empty room talking to my iPhone 7S about UIL journalism writing, didn’t seem so daunting at all.

My podcast is fairly basic, with just the required elements from my assignment this week, but I’m fascinated by the concept as a whole. This year, as my job takes me thousands of miles each month, I’ve become a bit addicted to podcasts. I love “Stuff You Should Know,” “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” “Criminal,” and now, Phoebe Judge’s newest series, “This is Love.” I listed to some NPR this week, as part of my course readings, and finally listened to RadioLab’s “The Gun Show” episode, as recommended on Facebook by a classmate.

It’s almost as if journalism and storytelling have come full circle – from the vivid stories on radio in the early 20th century, through television and online media, and back to the good, old-fashioned audio files (now of podcasting instead of radio). Although, a quick listen to any of the popular podcast series and you’ll realize there’s nothing old-fashioned about it at all. If you haven’t already, take a listen! And, you might even want to record a podcast for yourself.


Weeks 8-9 Reflections: Student Media’s Leadership Role

One of this week’s readings, a student editorial entitled “Is School Safety an Illusion?,”  was censored by the student writer’s administration. 

The reading got me thinking about student journalists, including my own former students. Student journalists often feel like editorials are a “free for all” for student complaints and concerns.

However, it is important as scholastic journalism instructors that we still urge our students to write reasonable, fact-based pieces that not only present a problem, but also a possible solution to the readers and community.

In this particular editorial, the student makes some bold assertions about weapons being on campus and implies that certain staff members are not doing their jobs in protecting students. Does she have factual evidence – proof – of these claims? Even if students are writing on more mundane topics, it’s important for them not only to rant or complain, but also to offer possible pathways for improvement.

Along the same lines, to ensure accuracy and transparency in her editorial, students should speak with administrators and staff on the backstory to the issue, that students may not be aware of.

Often, there are pieces and actions in play that students are not aware of, and a little extra investigating can go a long way in fostering a relationship with administration. All of these pieces are important elements to the overall story at play here, and when students are guided to addressing them, can help to validate the student stance in the editorial – and to present all the information possible, so that readers can come to their own, informed conclusions, about the situation.

No more faking it

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To all of the incredibly talented student photographers I’ve taught over the years, I feel like I owe you an apology of sorts. I didn’t have any photography classes in high school, or in my undergraduate journalism courses.

So, that very first year in A6, when I knew I needed to teach photography – especially to my intro Journalism 1 students, I started Googling. I read photography blogs, photography lesson plans, just anything I could find that would tell me enough to pass on to my students.

I learned about shutter speed and aperture and ISO, and I learned some composition techniques like the rule of thirds, and I figured it was enough to survive. So, I whipped up a handy PowerPoint presentation, and I taught you what I knew – which was barely anything at all.

As I sent you out into the school to practice your lessons, I worked with you on what might be making your photos too dark, or how you needed to hold the camera to make the photo look the way you saw it in your head. And really, you were teaching me as much as I was teaching you.

From there, of course, I got better. Each year, I added more to my photography unit, and each year, I went to as many photography workshops and sessions as I could go to. We all got better together, except that some of you were always much better than me!

Now, in my last full semester of my master’s degree program at Kent State, I am taking a multimedia course. And I, myself, had to “go out into the world,” as I so often said to you, and take pictures in manual mode. I’ll admit… it was much more frustrating than I imagined it would be, and I realized I still have a lot to learn.

So, I’m sorry for “faking it” all of those years – especially that first year. And thank you, for all of your help along the way. ❤

Week 7: Social Media and Students

My favorite part of this week’s readings was the Storify with SPLC’s Frank LoMonte. I’ve always been interesting and knowing, and somehow helping to protect, students’ constitutional rights. I think that far too often, adults and teachers alike are misguided and misinformed when it comes to the rights students have.

In the reading (, Frank discusses students’ constitutional rights and how those still exist, even when talking about students posting on social media.

As a high school teacher, I’ve seen student rights questioningly stifled over social media posts and other “technology”-based behavior issues. I think there is an increasing knowledge gap regarding social media and technology, and school policy is lagging even farther behind in these areas than in other areas.

For journalism students, it is increasingly important for them not only to know their rights, but to help inform their peers of those rights, so students can help guide the policy and have an ongoing conversation with administrators about what is feasible and what is not.

Social Role: Week 6

Fake news.

We hear and see the phrase everywhere now. If you read the comments on any given news story shared on Facebook, someone will have commented those two little words that carry so much meaning.

How can we teach our students to believe in, and practice, ethical journalism, when everyone seems to think there’s no such thing?

Just this week, a local newspaper outlet published a story and shared it on Facebook. The story referenced a police negotiator who worked with a suspect “for ten years” before police decided to forcefully enter a house. The years was actually hours, of course. When a reader commented on the story and noted the error, a representative from the newspaper responded something to the effect of, “We’re sorry about the error. We were trying to get the story published as quickly as possible.”

The story was already being published hours after the standoff had ended. They couldn’t spare two extra minute to have someone proofread the story?

Similarly, another local news outlet published a brief to social media this week: “11 year old girl missing from [neighborhood].” No description of the girl, no photo, no further information. Readers were understandably upset and immediately started questioning the post. The outlet responded, noting that police had not yet released the photo or description, and they wanted to get the information out as quickly as possible.

Of course, timing matters. Especially when children’s lives are involved. But this overwhelming desire to be the first to publish any story, no matter what information you have, is incredibly detrimental. Not only for that story, and that news outlet, but to the entire industry at large.