Innovate to Educate Entry
Soma Mei Sheng Frazier, COG: The New Face of Literary Publishing
What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?COG: a multimedia literary publication staffed by students in my ENG299HA course - a hybrid course meeting on campus once a week, and in the ether the rest of the week. This hands-on, project-based course provides undergraduates with the nuts and bolts experience of running an international literary publication. Though they comprise the editorial staff, COG is not a venue for student work. Instead, the staff solicits content from writers, artists and luminaries. Beyond poems and stories, COG features an audio broadcast called Cogitate, hosted by public media giant KQED's flagship show producer Irene Noguchi, and a video series of videogame and literature reviews by Chris Baker, former WIRED Magazine Angry Nerd (who has ostensibly undergone anger management, yet still rants in his COG reviews). Students' production tasks include manuscript selection, editing, layout, promotion, audio engineering, videography, vendor/printer and contributor relations, event management and adjudicating first-round literary contest submissions.
One major component of the project is managing two international literary competitions: the COG Page to Screen Awards and the COG Poetry Awards. The COG Page to Screen Awards competition, judged this year by Daniel Handler (AKA Lemony Snicket) was opened in November 2015 and drew entries from the 21 states in the country as well as Sweden, Canada and Australia. The COG Poetry Awards, judged by A. Van Jordan, yielded similar results. The winning pieces from each contest will be adapted as a short animated film, 2D animation, graphic novel or interpretive illustration series by the students of Cogswell College's Digital Art and Animation Department.
"'The Outdoor Movie' is a mesmerizing evening," said Daniel Handler, author of the Lemony Snicket book series, of the COG Page to Screen Awards' winning short story by Siamak Vossoughi. "It is romantic, mysterious, flickering with wonder and curiosity. It's over too soon and lingers in the brain like love, or at least a good movie about love. Like the characters in the story, I look forward to seeing more."
Said A. Van Jordan of the COG Poetry Awards' winning poetry set, written by Anne Harding Woodworth: ''The Last Gun' opens with smoke and closes with a bang. These poems toggle between the spirits of the living and the spirits the living carry into death 'to ask questions, to contemplate a state of being that is no more.' These poems care about what we carry with us on our journeys and how others hold us in memory. As a reader, you'll find that The Last Gun is 'a gathering place for- admirers, rememberers, the once-armed,' and this poet has prepared us both 'for the journey--where it will be judged,' and for the 'deeds on earth.''
What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?Some of the biggest challenges to this initiative included: 1. Bridging gaps between those students who were technology-focused but inexperienced in reading, analyzing and publishing literature and those who were literary industry-savvy but lacked technological skills. To meet that challenge, we used on-campus class time to hold nuanced discussions of literature, including that which was submitted to our editorial staff for consideration, by authors working in the U.S. and beyond; and our online communication to accomplish nuts and bolts tasks (web-based discussions, sharing of online resources, introduction and collection of staff assignments and academic assignments, etc.). Another significant challenge was creating a robust, reliable-yet-fresh multimedia literary home for the content. To meet that challenge, we settled on a website that is both visually pared down and 'urban' (with black, gray and orange as our color palette) and alive with movement (spinning cogs, videos etc.). The site is organized as a traditional literary journal (with fiction, poetry and nonfiction sections) but integrates the richness of content that technology permits.
What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:
Administrative and campus community-based support (and yes, this includes a willingness on the school/district's part to invest strategically in a tech' budget).
|Faculty members who - in addition to being subject matter experts, experienced in teaching within their fields - are technologically savvy, or willing to learn new technologies, so that tech-based learning fully engages and supports students as a powerful instructional tool.|
Accessible resources that are user-friendly for students and faculty, supported by reliable Wi-Fi and helpful tech' support professionals who keep things running smoothly.