Welcome to the WRTG 544 eportfolio for Donald Jay Bidwell. He is a Graduate Student in the written communications program at Eastern Michigan Universtiy where is also a Graduate Assistant where he teaches in the First Year Writing Program.  Here you will find the various projects and assignments that have been completed over the semester.

Panel 1

Graduate Project

I met Stephanie Rekowski through a mutual friend about seven years ago. She was really into the Michigan music scene taking photos at shows and running her own music promotion company called Ro-sham-bo Promo. At the time I was running my record label Capeside Records and we immediately hit it off. I hired Stephanie as head of promotion for the label and she was responsible for the website, social media, took promo photos, and shot music videos for the bands on the label. She left to pursue her dream job that we talk about in the interview below and we remain great friends today.

1.   Where do you work? What is the title of your position? How long have you been with the organization? What websites are you responsible for within the organization?

I work at Little Caesar’s Arena and employed by the Detroit Red Wings and have been with the Organization since October of 2015. My title is Web Production Manager and am responsible for our company websites which include DetroitRedWings.com, RedWingsSeasonTickets.com, OlympiaEntertainment.com, 313Presents.com, and HockeytownCafe.com.

2.     What does your education background consist of and how did it prepare you for this job?

I studied to become a teacher but decided to change my major after about 3 years of developmental psychology and math classes. For 2 years I studied digital media and web design which consisted of web design classes, digital photography, video production, story boarding, audio, Illustrator, Photoshop and a few others. I earned a bachelor’s of fine arts.

I feel that my years studying to be a teacher prepared me to be organized and able to work with many different types of people while my years studying design prepared me for understanding the value of creative feedback and constructive criticism , and also the importance of the different stages of development that you undertake when beginning any project.

3.     What does a typical work day look like for you?

My typical work day involves communicating with several different departments within the organization in various forms whether it be via email, face to face, instant messenger or through our online project project management tool (trello). I also delegate job requests to the members of the web team and provide creative feedback and direction on team projects. Furthermore, I make sure all of our websites are current and up to date as well as posting press releases and overseeing show announcements.

4.     Do you use a content management system? If yes, who supplies the CMS?

We use several different content management systems. For the Red wings we use a custom CMS built for us by a company that acquired a contract with the NHL to host all of the club websites. It is similar to a bootstrap platform that allows us to build pages with multiple different organisms in rows and columns based on %’s for Mobile Responsiveness.

I have set up and built a couple of our sites with WordPress, my favorite CMS, and our 313 presents site uses a CMS called Showtime, powered by carbon house. Carbonhouse is super expensive unfortunately but they power a great CMS for posting events and also provides real-time analytics in the dashboard. Check out @visualmodo for some of the best WordPress themes!

5.     Can you talk about what coding (HTML, CSS, JavaScript) is involved when creating these websites? Is there a style guide that you have to follow?

With Showtime and the NHL CMS, we are able to customize newly built pages with our own custom HTML and CSS but cannot include Javas script. The CMS has restrictions on Java, so it does not clash with the internal java script already coded into the theme.

6.     How do you stay current with the latest “best website design” practices?

I am constantly reading design blogs. I use a chrome app called “panda” that allows you to set up a whole dashboard of RSS feeds to popular design news and blogs. I also will be attending a design conference in San Francisco this April held by smashing magazine. I suggest checking smashing mag out! They always are posting great, modern trends that will keep you learning and fresh to date on common trends!

I also follow a lot of designers and design resources on Twitter that share a lot of great content. Check out @designrfix @designerstalk @designmilk @smashingmag @codepen @chrisspooner @designmodo


Panel 2

CodeCademy Exercises

Click here to view my CodeCademy

I found the exercises on code academy to be rather helpful and great refresher I really need to have. During my undergrad program at Saginaw Valley State University, I took a call that basically is a mirror of this class. We used a tutorial website call HTML Dog and it very similar to Code Academy. If I was to compare the two services I would say that Code Academy is better and offered more. For example, HTML Dog at the time didn’t have a run option to see if the changes took effect. If I remember correctly we had to make a separate document using Notepad and copy and paste and then keep refreshing the document every time we made changes. This way of doing things can also be a good thing because the student is learning what you need to write your code and then what do when your code is writing and how the HTML and CSS link up. It could also confuse a novice.

The beginning of the exercises I found to be the easiest part of the whole tutorial. I like how simple Code Academy makes it in the beginning for someone who is new to coding and may have never seen it. It is a slow progress throughout and I like that. What frustrates me the most is if there is one character in the wrong place the whole things won’t run and sometimes it can take a bit to find out what little thing was missing. What I have always found difficult is working with CSS. The padding always gives me a run for my money and can frustrate the hell out of me.

Another thing that I found to be very frustrating was when I was trying to get the code to load on people.emich.edu/dbidwel2. I was getting most of it to load be something was missing. I thought the CSS wasn’t properly linking the HTML or something simple. Well, it turned out to be a very simple and stupid mistake. I was saving the files on my Notepad wrong. I had named the CSS folder stylesheet.css and then it was adding another. CSS for some reason. The same thing was happening when I was saving the HTML. Finally, I figured out what I was doing and was able to fix it and upload it and it works perfectly.

The proudest moment I had was working with the CSS and the padding. I got through the entire CSS tutorial with one try. Like I said before CSS can give me a headache and I told myself that I would not hit the get hint, get code button, or google it. This little mini goal that I set for myself really help me get through it. Plus, I kept thinking that knowing this without looking for outside help can help me in the future if I get a job where HTML and CSS knowledge is a must.

I really want to learn more about CSS. I think that HTML is pretty straight forward but when it comes to CSS I feel like there is a lot more that I need to learn to fully customize a website as far as size of footers, headers, colors, font size, and font style. I would also like to learn a bit more about the Bootstrap format and how that works. I have messed around with it in the past, but I really need to sit down and look more into it.

The second tutorial I have been working on is the JavaScript section. JavaScript is one of the main “web languages” alongside with HTML and CSS. I feel that it should automatically be the next tutorial for anyone who wants to learn more about these languages that websites and other documents are written in. The main reason that I want to learn to how to use it properly is that when I was on the job market last year a lot of the jobs that I was looking to apply wanted you to not only have some HTML and CSS knowledge but also were able to write JavaScript. On a personal level, I have always wanted to learn how to use it, but I have never pursued it until now.

The JavaScript tutorial taught me that JavaScript is the language that calculates numbers on the websites. I had no idea that was one of the components. I’m not sure exactly what else JavaScript does. It seems to control a lot of memory with the text on a website. The JavaScript tutorial has proven to be much harder than the HTML and CSS tutorial we did as a class. It was frustrating and took a lot for me to continue and I would like to learn even more about it.

Panel 3

Usability/Text to Hypertext

Click here to view my Text to Hypertext Project.

Click here to view my Usability and Reflective Essay

Usability Testing Part 1

I was part of the group that was asked to participate in a usability test dealing with the College of Education at Eastern Michigan University.

Task 1: You are a prospective EMU student. After thinking about your career interests, you’ve decided that you would like to pursue an education in teaching. You’ve come to the EMU College of Education home page. Apply to the undergraduate program.

User Response: When I first landed on the College of Education homepage to apply for the program I wasn’t sure where to go. I expected to see somewhere on the page that said, “apply.” I noticed a menu list on the left side of the screen and decided to start with the top link labeled “about the college.” When the page opens there is a bright green button that says “apply now” on the right hand of the screen that is hard to miss.

Task 2: You’re a current student at EMU about to begin student teaching. You need more information on it. Find the student teaching handbook pdf.

User Response: Starting from the College of Education homepage the first place I looked was at the menu list on the right hand of the screen. There I found a link that was labeled, “Forms, Manuals & Handbooks.” When I clicked the link, it took me to another page where I found a link labeled “student teaching” and clicked it. This brought down a list of other links and about half way down I found the link to the student handbook PDF.

Task 3: You are about to graduate from the undergraduate program in the COE, and you want to make sure that you have completed all the requirements for your program of study. Navigate the website to schedule time with an advisor.

User Response: Starting from the College of Education homepage I found in the menu list the link labeled “advising.” Clicking on the link it took me to the advising page. I noticed immediately a bright green call to action button labeled, “book now.” I would like to add a side note to this task. Also, I noticed that right below the call to action button there is a way to self-audit an undergraduate degree. I feel that if someone has been at Eastern Michigan University for a while they have probably run a self-audit on their degree. I suggest that there should be a disclaimer that says something like, “to be certain you are ready for graduation you book a consultation with an advisor.”

Task 4: Your daughter is about to start her first year at EMU. You would like to learn more about how she may apply for financial aid. Find information about the cost of tuition and the different options for financial aid.

User Response: This task took me all over the College of Education homepage and child pages. I went through each page one by one starting with the link labeled “scholarships.” I started with this link because financial aid and scholarships usually fall into the same category. Finally, the way I completed this task was going to the quick links tab and clicking on the pull-down menu. Next, I found the link to the financial aid office and clicked it. This took me to the homepage for the financial aid office where I could easily see the link labeled “applying for aid” and clicked it. This took me to a list of different financial aid options. I found the link where I could apply for financial aid through the FAFSA website.

The way this task is laid out to the user, I would assume that I would be able to complete the task from the College of Education’s homepage. I feel that if I was really put in this situation I would realize that the College of Education and Financial Aid are different departments and I would have to find financial aid information through that department.

The College of Education homepage is not a bad website. The design is clean and most of the information is laid out rather nicely. I found the first three tasks that I was asked to complete rather simple to complete. The last task proved to be a bit more challenging and took me well off the College of Education’s homepage.

Remote usability testing can be a tricky thing to tackle. This was my first time participating in a remote test.  I found that I really needed to stay on task but found that difficult at times because I was taking notes as to what I was doing during each task. Usually, the person conducting the test will take notes or there is some sort of screen capture or eye tracking software being used to help record the results. I think that remote testing can work with simple tasks like the ones that we were asked to do. There are the more intense tasks that require more attention from both the user and the administrators.

I am curious to see other results my team members share. I’m particularly interested in how well people did with the fourth task and if they were able to complete a different way then I found.

Panel 4

Social Media Project

The Social Media Collaborative Online Reader/Textbook Experiment went rather smoothly for me. I was part of the professional lives and using social media group for the first part of this assignment and I knew that there were a ton of articles on the subject after searching for them quite a few times. At the same time, I wanted to expand my search into something I could use and help me with teaching first year writing next year.

The first article I posted was about using social media in the professional world called, “Staying professional on social media: Keep your reputation in mind before you hit post.”This article I thought was interesting because it was about posting on social media but posting on behalf of your company and how to make the right decisions when doing so. It was a short article that was written in list form and the tips were short and to the point.

Since I am teaching WRTG 120 and WRTG 121 this year and next, I was interested in looking into articles that had to do with education and using social media in the classroom. I found an article called “Six Ways to Use Social Media in the Classroom.” It was formatted like the first article I found and was actually a resource to read what the author suggests but then offers links to other sources.

Some of the ideas I have for next year is making more use of what google has to offer for classroom use. Google Hangout really sparked my interest after seeing it in use in WRTG 621 a few weeks ago and got me thinking on how my students can make study groups and work online together outside of the classroom. The article that I shared about using social media in classroom gave the reader a tip about using Google Hangout in the classroom which I thought was very helpful.

Working in groups as part of an online class can prove to be a difficult and sometimes frustrating experience. We are never in the same place at the same time and communication can become sometimes non-existent. People check messages and Canvas notifications at all different times and people can get the feeling they are being ignored or they are doing more work than others. Most of the time my group communicated pretty well throughout the project at time and other times there was nothing. One thing we should have done as a group was talk about how we were searching for the articles. For example, what keywords were we using to search for our articles. The reason I think that we should have talked about that is, if we were all using the same keywords as, “professional lives and social media” I’m sure we were all coming up with the same articles.

Also, we could have talked about who is using what to search for articles. For example, some could have just use the library to search, some could use Google, and others could have just used Google Scholar. We succeeded as a group by all of us participating in the group discussions and sharing our articles on time as to not hurt the rest of the group. The most stressful thing about online groups is the waiting for someone to post or respond to what you have shared. You want to make sure that your contribution is good and so you can move on to the next part or if the article was not working you could continue working.

I knew that the use of social media in the world was huge. I thought that it was interesting that there are some many people writing about how to use it to your advantage and disadvantage. A lot of what I was reading was just reaffirming what I was thinking about or what I thought I knew about social media.

One thing I learned from and will take away from this project is all the different ways to incorporate social media in the classroom, not only as an instructor but also how to utilize it as a student this last year of my master’s program. I really think that it can be helpful in the class and really never thought about the people who think it may not be such a great idea to use. I really appreciated their thoughts and ideas and shared their research with others and allow people to make their own decisions about it.

I thought this assignment was very interesting to do. I really like to explore the different ways people are using social media. I think a disconnect came for me when we were in the groups. I felt like there was not a whole lot of group interaction and we found articles on our own and posted them and never really talked about the articles we posted. It felt like we just posted them and then you chose what articles worked and what articles didn’t. Like I said earlier online group work is a tricky task to tackle. Maybe instead of making the first part of this assignment group work the student should find an article for each category and write an intro for each. The only time I was confused was the part where we were posting the links and our introductions to the reader. I just happen to click on the side tool bar for the page or blog post for the formatting and saw that we needed to check what category it belonged in and I wasn’t too sure if we needed to uncheck the uncategorized box. I unchecked the box and it seemed to be added successfully.

Another Suggestion I may have. It felt like such a long time had passed when we did our practice introductions for the first few readings we did. With all of the other things going on during the course of the semester I needed to go back and see what was being asked of me. Even though this took just a little bit of time I feel like we should practice these intros closer to the ending of the readings that the instructor assigns. I think this will not only help the students, it will also help with the quality of the introductions for the “Social Media Collaborative Reader” project.