Alternative presentations: Prezi

Geology Instructor, Alvin Coleman, gave his students options this semester.  Students were divided into groups and ask to research and present on a specific geologic/environmental disaster.  The oral presentation did not have any specific visual requirements.  Alvin left it up to the individuals groups to decide their  presenting the material.  Coleman did, however,  introduce a new visual tool to his students. Prezi, a free web-based presentation software.

Prezi is non-linear. Think of it as a  concept map rather than a typical slide (Power Point) presentation. 

Perks of Prezi

  • Access anywhere, anytime.  You don’t have to worry about carrying around your flashdrive.
  • Real time collaboration- can have up to 3 people working on a presentation at the same time.
  • Presentations are stored “in the cloud”.  500MB of storage if you join with an education license.
  • Ability to download a flash copy of your presentation to your computer.

The design and specfications of the assignment were clear and provided to the students.  Coleman also provided a detailed grading rubric in addition to the project requirements. 

Here’s a look at some of the Prezi’s groups created….

“The stars look very different today”

Re ignition

Have you ever experienced the ignition of a spark behind some one’s eyes during instruction or a lecture? I’m not necessarily referring to the classic “aha!” moment. This spark lies deeper, it’s the moment some one’s eyes say to you, “Yes I get it, and not only that, I can’t wait for other people to get it too.”

To bear witness to moments such as this are rare and beautiful. It is infectious and captivating. While conducting a workshop on Digital Storytelling last month, I saw it. I saw the exact moment of the “reigniting of creative passion” as she so delicately worded it herself in a recent write up for the English Department’s newsletter. It was then I knew I had a partner in my Digital Storytelling pursuit (ahem… obsession).

Major Tom

Originally a communications major, Bridget Floyd worked as a DJ for the local radio station in Morehead, NC. But working in the limelight left Bridget with a desire to reach out and do something more for humankind. She wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.  To inspire. Bridget wanted to teach.  So, Bridget headed back to her Alma mater, East Carolina University, to pursue a Masters in Creative Writing.

Bridget Floyd has worked in the English Department for the last seven years and even has her own family within the CFCC family.  Her hubby is Justin Floyd, the talented graphic designer.  [side note: the story of how these two became one. wicked cute. ask them.]

It quickly becomes clear on your first encounter with Bridget that she has an inner strength and passion for life that most can only hope for.

Commencing Countdown

Tech-NO-logy.  The technology-infused-instruction spectrum is vast  that is for sure.  On one end you have the “I just–I am just NOT good at technology” attitude to Jimmy Fallon’s  SNL character Nick Burns: The Computer Guy.   Watch it.

Yes. As quick as technology advances, it becomes outdated.  We begin to convince ourselves and others that it’s a waste of precious instructional time to learn the “newest” thing.  Soon it will become just another useless object sitting in the corner of a classroom, right?  Bridget was brutally honest  in her write up Reigniting Creative Passion Through Technology when she stated, “Our students are the generation devoted to fast paced technology, and some of us, mostly me, are still stuck in the year 2000.”

No. This admission does not make Bridget Floyd an ineffective teacher. Quite the contrary.  Bridget felt a need to try something different.  She signed up for a 60 minute Digital Storytelling Workshop. 

3…2…1…blast off…

The crux of the Digital Storytelling workshop was to introduce the participants to the wonderful world of Animoto. This is a lovely place where anyone can create a professional looking slide show simply by: uploading images, writing 32 or less characters of text, selecting a song, and clicking the ‘Finalize” button.  Animoto does the production work for you somewhere off in cyberspace and sends you a confirmation email when they’re done.

During the workshop, the participants were asked come up with their own definition of  ‘digital storytelling’ using Animoto as their medium.  But, Bridget didn’t stop there, she went home that night and created an Animoto of the English Department’s Welcoming of Spring Celebration. She shared it with her fellow faculty.  And we have lift off.  

Ground control to Major Tom

In less than a month, Bridget has successfully created and implemented two new Animotos on rhetorical modes (check out her one on ‘Argument’ below) and has plans to complete the other three this summer.  Bridget said that the fast-paced movement  and music in the Animotos have her Developmental English students begging for more. 

Bridget also worked with Margo Williams to introduce Animoto to students as an option for using it with their creative writing  projects. When Bridget’s students read The Color of Water novel this fall,  she has plans to strengthen students critical thinking skills by converting ‘images to text’.  And how will they do this? You guessed it, Animoto.

 Can you hear me Major Tom?

Bridget Floyd not only reignited the spark of passion within herself but me as well.  While she was at home that night  creating a beautiful slide show of her faculty comrades, I was at home  daydreaming of co-teaching a free Digital Storytelling Workshop to the community. Imagine the many magnificent life stories our residents could tell if only they had a means…

Thank you Bridget for reminding me of why I became an instructional technologist, and thank you for agreeing to be my Digital Storytelling partner-in-crime. :)

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Get Published

Red Rockets

Most seasoned veterans of CFCC are aware of Portals Annual Literary and Arts Magazine.  But for newbies like me, I began to wonder why I kept seeing red rockets (see below) in flight on inconspicuous walls and bulletin boards around campus.  Curiosity led me to the English Department’s webpage and… “voila!” Suddenly, I was immersed in beautiful works of art and literature created by Cape Fear Community College’s pride and joy – the students. With an online archive dating back to 2004, anyone can get their fill of poetry, fiction, essays, art and photography.

In The Beginning

The origins of Portals began in the late 1990’s as a small xeroxed “handout”, if you will, of student pieces. A collection of their hard work throughout the semester, a keepsake.

[Fade to black]

In comes Margo Williams, English instructor, who gave new life to Portals.  Margo, with the help of another instructor and a couple of student interns published an online version of Portals in 2003.    With a vision and a school grant from the CFCC Foundation, Margo brought the magazine (in classy black n’ white fashion) to print in 2004.

It Takes a Village…

As the  revitalized literary and arts magazine gained popularity and status, Williams recruited fellow English Department members to the Portals team. One can imagine that publishing a magazine is no easy task.  The 2010 issue, headed by Meredith Merrill, had a grand total of 32 members of faculty and staff (12 English department and 20 CFCC faculty/staff recruits) who collaborated to get 1000 copies into print. Editors, editorial assistants, judges, art and photography editors,  layout and design. Merrill lead the committee from 2005-2010 and is due some serious credit for securing additional funding and increasing readership of the magazine.  Heading up the 2011 Portals Committee is the beautiful, talented writer/instructor, Jada Ach. She has what it takes to coordinate something of this magnitude, passion and youth.

…And an Artist

Does the image below  look familiar?  It should, it’s everywhere–and catchy. You can’t help but stop and admire the eloquent selection of font type, object placement and color scheme.   This year’s flyer was designed by one of CFCC’s most talented artists (who just happens to be on our payroll), web designer, Justin Floyd. Justin has designed the Portals flyer for the past 3 years. Fan-tas-tic design? Yes.

The Good Stuff

To publish a magazine you need content.  The English Department has done an unbelievable job of encouraging students to submit a piece of their work.  As added incentive to “get published”, cash prizes are awarded for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place writing pieces and if your photograph gets selected for the cover art…100 bucks. And if that isn’t enough to entice the students, new this year is the Louise McColl Award for Literary Excellence (350 smackers!)

Faculty and staff, feeling left out? There’s even a separate category for us! $100 award for a writing piece. Sorry Charlie, we’re too late for this year’s entries, the deadline was in November 2010.

Over 300 pieces of literature and art were submitted for entry this year.  Entries must adhere to strict guidelines and are only accepted through an online submission form. All submissions are directed to a special Portals Groupwise email account.  The entire process is cyclical in nature.

Bring It

This April, the awards ceremony for Portals will be held in Tabitha’s courtyard.  The ceremony includes readings from winners, a performance from CFCC’s orchestra, light refreshments and a jolly good time.  Bring yourself and a friend and support CFCC’s most talented writers and artists. I know I’ll be there on a lovely spring day. :)


It’s no secret that the Math Department has got it goin’ on when it comes to technology infused instruction. But, since my arrival at CFCC last November, I’ve heard a name repeatedly dropped into the “techie” conversations.  It’s almost like a whisper…Clauuuuude Mooooooooooore.

Where to begin?

Dr. Claude Moore was paving the way for technology integration when I was still taking my dolls for a ride in the Radio Flyer.

Example #1 in the early 1980’s Claude had a student who was leaving for a few weeks one semester to go to NYC and study design.  Rather than having her withdraw or get grossly behind in class, Claude videotaped all of his lessons and mailed the videocassettes via FedEx to New York. Talk about innovation and dedication!

Example #2 while working at Danville Community College in Virginia, Claude was the first instructor to deliver class through satellite television.

Example #3 he started his own math webpage in 1997.  It’s still active!

Math Department and Moore…

The Math Department works hard to prepare students for the work force.  From screen captured lesson recordings using Camtasia to interactive web-based lessons created with Soft Chalk, the students are in abundance of resources to help them in their mathematical endeavors.  The Math Department has initiated Student Workshops and work together organizing the upcoming events using the collaborative tool, Google Docs.  Department Chair, Kenneth Hufham, definitely keeps ahead of the curve and just recently purchased web cams for every math instructor.

Claude Moore is spritely, full of energy, knowledge and ideas. After spending over 40 years in the field of education and teaching, this is a rare find. Claude began working at Cape Fear Community College in 2005.  He is the webmaster for the Math/PE Department and the Math Lab page.

It’s the students that count

When it comes down to it, Claude Moore is dedicated to his students and a master of his craft. Everything  (class notes, lectures, problem examples, etc) is posted online and available 24/7 for his students.

Moore is not a man who tests the water with his feet, he jumps in.  This semester, Claude started his own blog through CFCC Blogs called Having Fun…Learning Math and has even toyed around with online animation using (one of my personal favorites) Go! Animate.  Watch his 16 second “Who Am I?” animation here.

Still hungry for Moore?

All “Moore” puns aside, the faculty and students of Cape Fear Community College are lucky to have Dr. Claude Moore.

The Instructional Design of CFCC’s Interior Design


Student Portfolio example

snapshot of student portfolio


 Size Doesn’t Matter

For a department that consists of a lead instructor and three part time instructors, big things are happening in Interior Design at CFCC’s North Campus. 

When Patricia Battershill, lead instructor, made the move from Fort Lauderdale two years ago, she found herself a part of a department that had already exceeded its high expectations.  But don’t let this woman fool you…she is a true instructional gem.

Student-Centered Instruction

One of the most impressive facets of the I-Design program is the blend of student-centered learning  and scaffolding. The program is designed for courses to be completed in “blocks” with 2 rotations of 16 students.  Ideally, each group of 16 students completes the courses and program together.

In the Beginning

During first semester, students are introduced to interior design concepts and principles. Then, students are asked to apply these concepts to design a project of their own selection.

The open project is intended to embrace the students’ individual style and creativity.  Battershill believes this builds student confidence and understanding in their work and learning. As the students advance through the program, parameters are established and projects increase in complexity.

 Bring in the Pros

At the end of a group’s final fall semester, Interior Designers from the local community are brought in for a professional review. The local pro’s are treated to a review session of  projects completed by students. Each student is then provided with individual feedback from interior design professionals in our community. This allows students to reflect and adjust their work in preparation of their final semester. 

Capstone: The finale

The foundation has been built. It’s time to add the finishing touches.  During the final semester, the students are b-u-s-y

  • Putting together their portfolio. Both digitally and in an 8.5 x 11 binder.
  • Learning the ins and outs of self-marketing.
  • Final exam, 1 day assessment: students are presented a project and required to draft, space plan, and articulate in writing their concepts for materials.
  • Participating in the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) local chapter’s design competition.  **Note, in 2008 CFCC Interior Design swept the competition with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place.

The Goods

 Both classrooms in the Interior Design Department provide each student with their own individual workspace.  The student workstation includes: 

  • drafting table
  • computer with Internet access, AutoCAD (engineering, design software) and Photoshop


student workstation

Student Workstation: I-Design

Other noteworthy “goodies” for the students include a cooperative learning center which includes: movable desks and chairs, large HD television, Elmo presenters, scanners, design supplies, and yes, even the kitchen sink! Adjoining is the lighting lab which also connects to a high-end sample room.

cooperative learning room: i-design

Needless to say, the Interior Design graduates are true 21st century citizens and career ready. The graduates are comfortable with working relationships. They are self reflecting. These Interior Designers are skilled and innovative.

Click here to check out student portfolios!   

Author’s Note: My original intent was to feature the development process of the student’s digital portfolios but during my interview with Ms. Battershill, I realized that the Interior Design program itself is the real story.

PC versus Mac…how ’bout a VC?


The Business Technologies Department is without a doubt up-to-date with current technology trends.  Melissa Watson, CIS 110 & 111 instructor, is the MVP of the VCL at CFCC (how are those acronyms for ya’?).

Virtual Computing Lab, or VCL,  is just that, a computer lab our  students can access from home.  North Carolina State University, who houses the project, has partnered with community colleges in NC to spread the use of the program.

With student enrollment approaching 600 for  CIS 110/111 distance learning sections for the year, Melissa Watson recognized a need. Students who “do not reside near the campuses or who use a Mac computer are now provided with an opportunity to use a computer from home that includes all the software required for their courses without having to travel to one of the school’s’ Learning Labs”, states Watson.

Recruiting the help and expertise of both Dom Friant (IT Services) and Pat Hogan (Business Technologies Chair), Watson has successfully provided students with access to 20 virtual computers.

How does it work for students?

  1. Head to the lab! Turn on the PC or Mac and head to the VCL homepage to login.
  2. Make a reservation  Strictly on a first-come-first-serve-basis, students reserve an environment (ex: WinXP), date and duration for use of the virtual machine.
  3. Transform At the time of reservation the student’s computer is literally transformed into a CFCC image while running the app.

For more info on the Virtual Computer Lab go to or contact Melissa Watson at

Faculty! Staff! Do you know of any technological  awesomeness on our CFCC campuses? Email 

Have a couple minutes? Make sure to check out the kickoff post “Let’s get things started” to get you in the mood. :)

New spotlights posted Thursday of every week.