In this module, you will write your first reflective essay about the goals you had for your master’s program as you began your program.
There are a couple of new things to keep in mind this week, as we introduce the concepts of:
- The Capstone Coffeehouse – We explain our online video conferencing system that we call the Capstone Coffeehouse.
- Tech Check – We introduce the Tech Check requirement that requires you to test out the Capstone Coffeehouse before the end of Module 10.
- Office Half Hours – We explain the optional times available for you to join us online in the Capstone Coffeehouse to talk to instructors about the course and coursework, including as an opportunity to complete your Tech Check with an instructor.
- Review Last Week’s Feedback – Before you start on your new task, make sure you review the feedback you received on Flipgrid from peers (and perhaps instructors) last week. Taking the time to make adjustments each week will lead to more helpful feedback from peers in their Flipgrid feedback and from instructors when we reach the time for mid-semester feedback.
- Things to Keep in Mind for Your New Assignment – As you design your work, keep the following in mind:
- The Rubric – Make sure that you align your goal reflection essay to our standards, rubric, and common issues for Goal Reflection Essays, which are always available at the bottom of every assignment page under “Elaboration”.
- A Work in Progress – You do not have to finalize your Goal Reflection Essay now, as the goal in this course is always to get something working first and to continue to refine it based on feedback.
- Need Inspiration? – Consider a few examples of Goal Reflection Essays from past semesters, including: Jenna Krystyniak, Katie Kappler, Allison Birbal, and Jenna Gabel
- Looking Back at Your Goals – Here, you will look back in time to reflect on the educational goals you had upon entering the program and how those goals have changed (or not) since then. Start by finding the goal statement you used on your original application to your master’s program. You may have this on a flash drive, saved to your computer, or embedded on a website somewhere. Wherever it is, find it! If you can’t find your original application statement, do your best to remember what your goals were.
Create a Webpage and Essay – Create a webpage on your portfolio called something informative and expressive (you’re free to use any descriptive name you’d like, but try to make it grab your audience’s attention!). Compose an essay about your goals that adheres to the following criteria:
- close to 500 words
- describes your original goals upon entering the program
- describes your current goals
- discusses how you goals have changed or stayed the same, and why
- Video Reflection and Feedback – You know what to do by now. Post a video reflection that talks about your work and add two pieces of feedback, using this Flipgrid. Fill out all the fields! Remember that posting good reflections and providing feedback is is an important part of this course—full posting description and rubrics are below in “Elaboration” if you would like more guidance.
- Learn About Office Half Hours – We now provide optional times for you to meet an instructor online. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with this opportunity via our Office Half Hour Page, which can always be found under the “Communicate -> Office Half Hours” Menu.
- Learn About the Tech Check Requirement – We use an online video conferencing software in this class to host office half hours and for our final exhibitions in this class. In order to make sure you can use this software, we require everyone to do a “Tech Check” – in other words, we need everyone to check out their ability to use all the features of this software. This is worth 2 points and must be completed by Module 10. Please read about this on our Tech Check Page, which can always be found under the “Course Documents -> Tech Check” Menu.
- Learn About Image Attribution – As you build your website, you will add more and more images to your site. It’s important to understand what images you can (legally) use, and how to properly attribute those images. Please read about this on our our Image Attribution Page, which can always be found as an entry on the FAQ.
- Reminder – Your 1st Piece of Flair is Due in Module 5 – Your first piece of flair is due at the end of Module 5. You can check out the full requirements for each of our pre-approved Pieces of Flair and following the instructions. As with your regular work, there is a Flipgrid for you to share your work and give feedback to your peers.
Each assignment in this course is important for developing your abilities to design and implement your portfolio. There are 100 total points assigned in this course; the specific assignments in this module will count towards your grade as follows:
- (Up to 1 point) – Creating a Goal Reflection Essay and posting the link in Flipgrid on your video reflection
(Coming up) – The quality of your video reflection in this module will be self-assessed (with some guidance) at the end of Module 5. There, you will give yourself between 0 and 5 points for your efforts across Modules 1 through 5.
(Coming up) – You have to complete a Tech Check sometime before the end of Module 10. This requirement is worth 2 points and is explained in “Elaboration” below.
As you design your Goal Reflection Essay, please use the following standards to guide your work. These represent the particular criteria that your instructors will be looking for and giving you feedback at mid-semester, and final grading.
- Title – Does your essay have an expressive title?
- Quality of Multimedia – Do you use text accurately and effectively? If you use images and other media, do you also use them accurately and effectively?
- Identification of Original Goals – Does your essay identify and describe the goals you included in your program application?
- Reflection on Changes in Original Goals – Does your essay clearly explain how and why your original goals have changed or stayed the same?
- Word Length – Is your essay about 500 words?
- Watch your Focus – Do not write a revised goal statement.
- Jargon & Acronyms – Remember that people outside your program or workplace might not understand all the terms and acronyms you use. It’s always a good idea to “spell out” an acronym (like MAET or MAED) the first time you use it, and you should also consider defining terms that aren’t commonly used.
- Stick to Goals – We have no doubt that you’ve made a lot of changes over the course of your program, and we’d love to hear about all of them, but we’re specifically interested in your goals and how they have changed.
- Add a Link to a PDF – Think about adding a link to a PDF copy on this page so that viewers have the opportunity to read your essay in an alternative format (and this makes for easier printing if someone wanted to print your essay).
- Avoid PDF-only access – An additional link to a PDF is great, but it cannot replace a web-page version of your essay. If you’re going to do one format, put your essay on a webpage. If you want to go that extra step, add an additional option for a PDF (but don’t replace your webpage with it).
On camera, make sure you start each video by saying your name. For example, “Hi, this is Matthew Koehler, and today I’m talking about …. ”
After you record your video, there are a couple of fields to fill out. Make sure you pay particular attention to how we use these fields in the capstone course:
- First Name – Put in your first name
- Last Name – Put in your last name
- Email – This is optional, but if you give your email address you will be able to delete this video by yourself without instructor intervention
- Title – Give your video a descriptive title (e.g., “my awesome resume page”, “help me fix this resume!”, etc.)
- Link – Give the full link to the website or page you created for this assignment so that others can visit it and provide feedback to you
App for your Phone
There is a Flipgrid app for your phone that you may wish to use instead. Visit the appropriate app store for your phone to download it.
The app may have several advantages over using your computer, in that if you wish to discuss something you see on screen, it is easy to film the screen with your phone and point to what you’re talking about.
If you do use your phone, you will be prompted to “enter a code” to get to the right Flipgrid. The code for our class is “msu_capstone.”
Flipgrid does require Flash installed on your computer. It also requires a working camera and microphone—these are things you would need for the exhibition and tech check or office half-hours anyway. Consider using your phone if you don’t have one on your desktop. If you have problems beyond simply installing Flash, a camera, and a microphone, try the excellent Flipgrid support page, or contact us.
When you post and reply in this course, please pay attention to the following guidelines. These are guidelines also form the basis for the rubric used to grade your discussion contribution.
What makes for a good post?
It depends on the specific assignment, but the following generally apply:
- Pay attention to the prompts
- Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you.
- Show us what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking it.
- When sharing your own work, point to some places where people who respond to you might be most helpful in giving you feedback.
What makes for a good feedback?
Good feedback is important in all design activities, including the design of portfolios. It is especially important in this class. When giving feedback, keep in mind that good feedback is:
- Thorough – Use a good portion of the 3 minutes allotted to you. Try to cover as many aspects of the assignment that you can—do not focus on only one thing. However, don’t try to cover too much, because each point you make should have some details (see next point).
- Specific – Avoid generalities like “you had a good design,” and instead be more specific, like “Your headers are easy to read, clear, and helpful in breaking up text into more manageable pieces.”
- Critical – Point out what needs improving. Even if you’re looking at the best piece of work, you can give the author something to think about working towards or thinking about differently.
- Supportive – Point out what is working well. Even the earliest of drafts is the start of something good that can be highlighted as a success.
When you contribute feedback at the end of a Module, you are usually expected to provide feedback to two of your classmates.
Our Bonuses and Bummers policy describes exceptions to this expectation as follows:
- Bonus – If you’re the first person to submit your work for an assignment, you do not have to provide any feedback to anyone.
- Bonus – If you’re the second person to submit your work for an assignment, you only have to provide feedback to one person (the person who submitted first).
- Bummer – If you’re the last person to submit your work for a task or Piece of Flair, you probably won’t receive any feedback from anyone.
Finding ways to meet face-to-face in an online class can be tough, but we’ve found that it’s worth it, especially for your exhibition in Module 11. To make exhibitions go smoothly and to give you some additional opportunities for face-to-face feedback, we require you to check out the Capstone Coffeehouse technology at least once by the end of Module 10. In short, the Capstone Coffeehouse is Zoom – the video conferencing software we use in this course.
You can find some general information on using the Capstone Coffeehouse here. To fulfill this requirement (and get your points), you must specifically do four things:
- Check video: Make sure that your webcam is working and that you (and others) show up on the screen when you join the Coffeehouse. This should happen automatically.
- Check audio: Make sure that you can hear other people in the Coffeehouse and that they can hear you. Zoom, the Coffeehouse technology, should ask you for permission to use your speakers and microphone once you join. In a few cases, though, this takes a little fiddling to get it to work properly.
- Check chat: Make sure that you know how to open the chat window in Zoom (the Coffeehouse technology) and that you can read and write messages properly. If you’re using the Zoom desktop client, the Chat button should appear at the bottom of the Zoom window.
- Check a page: You (and each of your classmates) should take a few minutes to share a page that you’ve recently completed. If possible, make this a Piece of Flair page, but you really have free range on what you’d like to look at. Have some specific questions and concerns in mind: What are you trying to accomplish with this page? What are you still struggling with? This is a great chance to “practice” for the end-of-semester exhibitions and to get some more face-to-face feedback, which capstone students consistently point to as one their most valuable experiences.
For most people, the Tech Check is a quick and easy assignment, but problems do occasionally occur. If you are experiencing frustration with the Tech Check, keep in mind that it’s better to experience this during the Tech Check than during the exhibition! Also, please remember what you had to do to get past the difficult spots, just in case they come up again.
There are two ways to complete the Tech Check: through office half hours or with a classmate.
Office half hours (if you prefer to talk to instructors)
In addition to talking about your portfolio during an office half hours session, you can carry out the Tech Check with the instructor who is running office half hours. Just mention that you’d like to take care of your Tech Check, and she or he will walk you through the steps and make sure to give you the points!
Classmate (if you prefer to talk to your fellow educators)
The great thing about the Coffeehouse technology is that it is available 24/7. If one of the office half hours sessions doesn’t work for you or you would prefer to meet with a classmate instead, you can schedule a time to meet with a classmate in the Coffeehouse and take care of the Tech Check on your own. Walk through the four specific steps listed above, and once you’ve made sure that everything works for all of you, send us an email to let us know that you took care of everything. While this should be a short email, please include enough detail that we know who you worked with and that you walked through all four steps together.
The great thing about the Internet is that it’s really easy to find attractive pictures for your portfolio. The tricky thing about the Internet, though, is that:
- it’s not always easy to tell if you’re allowed to use the attractive pictures that you find, and
- it’s not always clear how you’re supposed to cite images that aren’t your own.
We’ve made a short video to give you an overview of some of the issues regarding the use of images on your website and some common solutions that work for most students.
Can I use a specific image?
Are you confused about whether or not you can use a specific image? Consult the flowchart below to help you determine what you can or can’t use: Click on the image to bring up a larger version or click here for the article that originally accompanied the flowchart.
Common Attribution Methods
We try to avoid being too prescriptive here in the Capstone Portfolio Course; as professionals, it’s critical that you learn the issues yourselves and develop your own strategies related to image attribution and intellectual property. However, the following strategies have worked well in the past:
- Attribute each image directly below the picture.
- Attribute the images at the bottom of individual pages.
- Have a sidebar that explains your attributions like Jessica Leadbetter
- Have a single page to show all image attributions from your entire portfolio like Lisa Harrison Piane, Andrew Greger or Michele Meshover
There are also a few other resources that might be helpful as you find images for your portfolio:
- Creative Commons is a licensing scheme that gives everyone permission to use media as long as they give credit to the original creator. The Creative Commons website has some advice on how to best write image credits.
- Lifehacker has a helpful article that provides important advice on making sure that you’re using images legally.
- Lesson 6 of the Web Design for Professional Portfolios series has information on copyright and accessibility.
As you enter the last stages of your master’s degree, we think it makes sense to start with where you began. Whether that was two years or two decades ago, your path to getting to this point is valuable! Specifically, we ask you to focus on your goals in this essay. Later, we will build upon this reflection by considering what your future learning goals might be after graduation. In this Mission, however, you only need to focus on your goals and reflection.
We know that for some people, the reason you started your master’s degree still plays a role in your daily life. For others of you, your goals have changed a bit. For still others, your goals have changed drastically. As a lifelong learner, it is important to be aware of your goals and use that to ground your work. This is your chance to do that.
Also, it is important to realize that you will write three essays for this class. The first, the Goal Reflection Essay, is this “looking back” reflection upon your goals. The second will be a “looking forward” to your future goals as a learner. The final essay will ask you to reflect specifically about your learning within the master’s program. In this essay, however, you only need to focus on your goals and reflection.
You might feel it is a little difficult to know how to write this essay—where to start, how to organize your thoughts and writing, or what your page could look like. We suggest that you peruse a few previous essays (which you can find on the Module 4 page) to get some ideas. However, we intend these examples, and others, to be starting points, not ending points. Please do not let these limit your creativity!
Most of the weekly course modules ask you do a number of concrete activities that help you build toward your final portfolio. These may include making a single webpage or posting some feedback to fellow students. We try to be very explicit with what will be getting graded in each module.
The Flipgrid assignments, while important, are ultimately less than a third of your overall grade in the course (see the syllabus for the full grading breakdown). Even then, the emphasis there in not on the quality of your portfolio work, (the style of your resumé, for example) nor its completeness. That will happen later—at mid-semester feedback, final exhibitions, and final feedback. Instead, we focus on whether you posted a link, and made some good faith effort on the assignment by the deadline and are able to report that.
In summary, we believe it is better to get something for a assignment posted on time (like a draft of a resumé) and to improve upon it as we go than to wait for everything to be perfect. There will be time to revise and improve later.