Faculty end semester with Digital Storytelling

Thanks to a great group of faculty, we ended our first year with a great storytelling and media training experience. We welcomed back Mary Ann McNair from the Center for Digital Storytelling to work with ACU faculty Al Haley and Jennifer Shewmaker facilitating the three-day workshop. This is our third workshop this year working with staff from the CDS, and faculty from across campus continue to be challenged by the format to produce original content and reflect on the role of media in the broader curriculum.

Thanks to faculty participants for investing their time and creativity in the workshop. Here’s a glimpse into the experience.


Digital Stories – May 2012

Kent Smith


Tenure and Promotion portfolios on WordPress

Since 2009, over a hundred faculty per semester have built course blogs on WordPress to host discussions, share content and announcements, or have students post projects. ACU Blogs has proven to be a flexible platform for teaching in many disciplines across campus and this fall will be available to faculty going up for tenure or promotion.

Monday in the Adams Center we’ll host the first discussion on producing your portfolio on WordPress. Here are just a few of the topics we’ll cover.

  1. Creating Posts and Pages (Pages–>Add New)
  2. Using Categories and Parent Pages
  3. Linking to content (within the blog or on the web)
  4. Uploading content (Media–>Add New)
  5. Embedding content from YouTube/Vimeo
  6. Customizing the theme (Appearance–>Themes)
  7. Customizing the horizontal menu (Appearance–>Menus)
  8. Customizing the side menu (Appearance–>Widgets)


If you haven’t seen the sample portfolio produced by the University Tenure & Promotion Committee, you’ll find it here.

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Faculty Photography Workshops

In our first year, the Learning Studio has enjoyed working with Nil Santana in the department of Art & Design  on a series of workshops for aspiring digital photographers.


Digital Academy in Gruene

Last month we took our fourth group of faculty members to the most photogenic town in Texas and worked to build their confidence in the fundamentals of digital photography. Full-time faculty members interested in more information, please fill out the RSVP form below.

*For more information on the Digital Academy format or to see work produced by our faculty alums, check the Digital Academy blog.

Lightpainting at Fort Phantom on April 19th

Our last photography event of the spring is coming up a week from Thursday when we’re inviting interested faculty and staff to join us for an evening of long-exposure shooting. All you need is a tripod and a camera capable of shutter speeds longer than 3-5 seconds. Novice and advanced shooters welcome for an evening shooting out at Fort Phantom Hill.

*Here is a post on the lightpainting trip last fall to see what you’d be getting into.


Short Documentary projects

In our first year, we’ve had opportunities to work with some extraordinary faculty at ACU. Nil Santana teaches a range of photography and graphic design courses in the department of Art & Design and has led several of our faculty workshops as well.

This week Nil sent us a video he’s been working on that we knew others would want to know more about. From the tradition of the short-subject documentary, Nil’s visuals capture the time-honored process of binding as the interview with Stan Chapman reflects on the future of an industry.



About the Film

This is a project Nil will be giving students in an Advanced Photography class next fall, so he wanted to produce a sample film himself to help them understand the process.

The video was shot on a Canon 5D mkii with all pans and movement captured as video using a tripod. The only significant change he made to the video in post was bringing it into black and white.

One rule of thumb for students new to DSLR filmmaking is to try to keep the shutter speed as close to 2x the frame-rate as possible. Nil shot everything at 1/60 of a second and 30 frames per second (fps), making adjustments as needed to either ISO or f-stop to maintain that shutter speed.

Most of the wide shots were shot with a kit lens he had (28-135mm) but the striking close-ups of machinery used a fast 85mm that gave him the narrow depth of field.

Finally, all audio was captured in the camera with one of our check-out video mics, though he’s still looking for a better solution when recording on-site.

All editing was done in either FinalCut Pro or Soundtrack Pro.

For more information on DSLR filmmaking or check-out equipment for an upcoming project, drop by the Learning Studio.


Teaching with Digital Storytelling

One focus of our work in the first year in the new Learning Studio has been digital storytelling. Previous posts have highlighted workshops in May and August where guests from the Center for Digital Storytelling helped ACU faculty and staff understand the value of the approach.

The following interviews from December asked faculty to reflect on the value of teaching with digital storytelling for the first time. Thanks to each of them for their time and energy at each stage of the pilot.