I absolutely love Google Docs. I use the application for school, for work, and even for personal reasons (like co-creating a vacation itinerary with a friend). Google Docs allows for multiple users to type, edit, and converse in real time on a document. The technology also allows for cloud-based storage and sharing, as well as allows for users to access it from anywhere. Aka: Multiple students can all work on writing an assignment together regardless of spacial distance, location, or time.
For our class group project, first my group discussed via email how we would be approaching the project as a whole as well as this particular assignment. Then we utilized a Google Document in order to collaborate on writing and editing our assignment, as well as to brainstorm for the assignment and converse in general. One of the challenges, as with any group project of course, is overcoming time constraints (i.e. one person is able to work at a certain time while another is unable). Google Docs, therefore, makes it simple for everyone to contribute without the issue of time getting in the way.
For the midterm, I was most excited about the creative aspect of the project as a whole: i.e. designing the blog, editing my video, and writing my content. My first endeavor was to create my header as I figured that would be fun and also set the mood and aesthetic for my blog. As we’ve done in class before, I used Pixlr to create a header containing some of my press clips (FYI: I did my blog on my work in PR).
Theme-wise, I chose a clean, professional-looking blog layout that I thought would be stylish enough to engage visitors while also minimal enough to look attractive to potential employers and other PR practitioners. However, having only the free version of the theme proved to be a limitation/challenge as I would have loved to have customized my layout even further. (Maybe I’ll do this in the future though!)
The video, as fun as it was to make, was also a challenge in and of itself as I wanted to make sure it upped the game more than my previous video for this class. Gathering and organizing all the images and clips I wanted to use, as well as selecting effects that made sense and looked seamless in the video, was another challenge, but again, one that was entertaining to execute.
Unlike my screencast video, I did the voiceover for the midterm video after editing the video together. Selecting my music bed was also a lot of fun, though I struggled a bit with the audio levels.
Finally, I found actually writing and organizing my blog content to be fairly simple, intuitive (I’ve blogged before), and fun, as I quite enjoy blogging. I’d never actually blogged before about my work in PR, so it was kind of refreshing to tackle that as being such a personal topic.
Top 5: My Classmates’ Midterm Blogs
Everyone in my class did such a great job with their blogs. In no particular order, here are my favorite midterm blogs from my peers!
The Daily Orbit:
I think this blog is particular great because it’s such an interesting topic. I can also see that the person behind this blog is incredibly passionate about the topic, which makes me more invested as a reader! When a writer cares about what they’re writing about, you can tell, and it makes for a better blogging experience all around. Also, I really love the consistency of the posts on this site; the blogger updates and provides content in a consistent stream, which is very important for a blog in my opinion. Also, you can clearly see from the design alone what the blog is about.
I think this blog is so positive and empowering. From a feminist standpoint, I really appreciate the blog’s topic, which is to celebrate natural hair and hair diversity. This blog is uplifting in its mission to squash homogenous cultural beauty standards, and I love how passionate and dedicated the writer is to her topic. I also think the blogger did a great job with her video, creating a professional-looking, personalized video that was both informative and fun to watch. I also think the “About” page does a great job highlighting and clarifying the mission of the blog.
Cosmic Drag Race:
Anything pertaining to drag queens is okay with me! This blog is a lot of fun, with a bright, colorful design theme that very much so reflects its topic matter aesthetically. I think the posts are fun but also really quite informative, which is very important for successful blogging. I love how thorough the post discussing what drag is and I actually learned about drag kings, which was cool! Finally, I think the video content was executed very well, particularly in regards to transitions/title cards/captions and overall audio editing.
This blog is beautifully designed. It’s very stylish, clean, pleasant to look at, and reminds me a bit of Tumblr which, aesthetically speaking, is a good thing! You know right away when you access this blog that it’s a personal style blog, and the blogger does an exceptional job in terms of personalizing her content with personal style and outfit photos. The content here is not text heavy but relies on quick information and great photos, which is another great way to blog. Finally, the video posted is incredibly professional-looking with really great editing.
How To Drive Like A Moron:
This blog is pretty much hilarious. The person behind it has a great sense of humor which translates very well to their content. As someone who is personally highly frustrated by idiot drivers, I can relate to a lot of this content, even if the topic isn’t that “heavy” or personal. The best part of this blog in my opinion, however, is the “About” page, which is really, really great in terms of giving me a real sense of who this blogger is, their ideology, and how important this topic truly is to them! This quote from their page stood out to me: “But the one thing that stays the most consistent about bad driving: a belief that your own decisions are more important than anyone else’s. I believe this is what is at the root of most bad driving practices.” This is so true, and really resonated with me! And that connection with a reader is what makes a blog successful.
I’ve worked with video production minimally in the past, so I wasn’t too intimidated by this project. I decided to use Windows Live Movie Maker as I use a PC and, while I do think that iMovie tends to have more professional-grade features (in my opinion), I knew WLMM would be more intuitive and convenient for me as a PC and Windows user.
Overall, I found screencasting itself to be pretty easy and actually quite fun after a little trial and error. My favorite challenge from this assignment was using Screencast-O-Matic in an engaging and visually appealing way while looking at the two portfolios I examined; being able to simply showcase two portfolio sites while keeping it interesting proved to be very satisfying. Admittedly, my least favorite challenge from the assignment was trying to find a good pace of speech for my voice-over, as I found myself doing multiple takes in order to get my narration to a place that I liked.
I think video editing and screencasting skills can definitely come in handy in order to showcase visual media skills, which I think are becoming more and more valued in the workplace. Anyone working with media or communication in particular can certainly utilize these skills and software, since they exemplify certain creative and digital competencies that are valued in these fields and industries. Creatively, I think video media content such as tutorials, commentaries, and reviews can definitely benefit from screencasting software, and this project has piqued my interest to maybe try it out myself.