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….

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. :)

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.