About jmhiggs

I'm a first-year PhD student in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program in the Graduate School of Education. I enjoy documenting the ordinary and extraordinary with photographs, an activity made ever easier with the multitude of technologies available nowadays!

Project: dialogical semiotics in digital stories

First, some background info and explanation of the audio clip:

I am a GSR for Glynda Hull’s Kidnet project, which examines how youth communicate and construct global/local identities through a closed social networking site (www.space2cre8.com — it’s very similar to Facebook, with each student having a profile, “friending” capabilities, wall posts, instant chatting, media uploading, etc.). There are research sites in Norway, India, South Africa, Australia, NYC, and Oakland, and the students at these sites create digital stories, video “tours,” still images, artwork, etc. to share online. My site is the newest Oakland site, Oakland Military Institute (if you ever have a chance to visit, you should – it’s a great school with amazing digital resources). My co-instructor and I have now met with our group of 12 high schoolers four times, and they are gearing up to create their own digital stories to post on the site. Their assignment for this upcoming Saturday is to shoot footage for their own digital stories, and in preparation for this assignment, students watched videos from each site. Because we’re interested in our students’ critical thinking processes and their responses to their peers’ media artifacts, Jones (my co-instructor) and I decided to engage them in a K-W-L (What do you already know/What do you want to know/What did you learn) exercise as we watched videos. The audio clip I’m including here is of 2 minutes from our discussion before we viewed a “My Life” digital story from India.

How this relates to my project:

This audio clip illustrates the beginning of the OMI students’ digital story process: viewing examples, generating ideas before and after viewing, and understanding their audience. To be honest, I wish I could fast-forward to Saturday so that I had a clip of my students’ video footage and their director’s cuts (I plan on asking them to explain what they shot and why), because my project really focuses on if/how their videos reveal dialogical engagement with their space2cre8 peers’ videos, and how they (OMI students) construct meaning through these multimodal compositions. For my theoretical framework, I’ll be turning to Bakhtin’s notion of heteroglossia and social semiotics (the van Leeuwen and Jewitt chapter we read provides an overview of social semiotic analysis, and I’ll also refer to some of their other work and Kress’; additionally, Murch and Wingstedt et al. will aid my discussion of semiotic affordances of sound/image in the examined digital stories). Ideally, I would like to offer an overview of OMI students’ composition practices (do they consider other videos when they create their own digital stories? what do they choose to include/omit and why? are their videos explicit responses to others? if so, how is a dialogical relationship made evident?) and offer a semiotic analysis of one of my students’ digital stories.


P.S. I used Audacity to edit this clip, but I’ll be using Final Cut Express in the future. I notice how loud some of the background noises are — any pointers/tips on how to decrease those would be appreciated!

Jenni’s project description

For my project, I would like to examine digital  “My Life” stories created by Oakland high schoolers in response to similarly themed digital stories created by peers in India, Norway, NYC, Australia, and South Africa. I’m a GSR for Glynda Hull’s Kidnet project (www.space2cre8.com), which examines how teens communicate and shape identities through social networks; my responsibilities include acting as co-instructor and participant observer each Saturday morning at Oakland Military Institute (OMI). We have only had two sessions so far, but I’m really interested in how OMI students “read” other students’ videos and “write” their own video responses. Does one text inform the other (thinking of Bakhtin here)? If so, in what ways, and can a semiotic analysis of videos reveal intertextuality?

Jenni’s 3: Story Time

Colors from around the world

Thought you might enjoy the bright hues in this post. Having lived in Tokyo for over a year, I can attest to the multiplicity of colorful photo opportunities in Japan! I know these posted examples focus more on color than overall composition, but I was a little surprised by the pic of the Colombian rainbow over the coffee fields, which is nice if you take the time to read between the lines …

AM shots

RedEye Photo Challenge winner

I am sharing my friend Matt’s winning entry in Chicago’s RedEye Photo Challenge. Over 2,000 photos were submitted after last week’s Great Blizzaster (which dumped 26″ of snow on the Chicagoland area!) so I’m extra proud 🙂 I love the subject, composition, light, and colors. He has other interesting pictures on his site, which the editor mentions in the accompanying blurb. After our discussion about composition today, I thought you might enjoy seeing this (and the other 31 top entries)!

N.B.: You’ll need to scroll all the way to the right to see Matt’s photo (the snowman pic that shows up on this link’s page is actually #32; the picture scroll is right below the enlarged image).

Jenni’s intro

Hi all: Aaminah told me about this class just this morning, and I knew I had to take it—even if it meant showing up to the party a bit late! I’m a first-year PhD student in the Graduate School of Education’s Language, Literacy, and Culture program. One of my main research interests is the bridging of print-based and digital literacies in the high school English classroom; I conducted a qualitative study last semester that examined students’ uses of Adobe Flash to visually represent their interpretations of 14th century Anglo Saxon poetry.  I also just started working as a GSR for Glynda Hull’s Kidnet project (www.space2cre8.com), and taking this course sounds like a terrific way to explore the role of visual documentation in my current and future ethnographic work.

This class also appeals to the enthusiastic amateur photographer in me. I am an avid traveler and enjoy sharing my adventures with family and friends through my blog and Facebook albums. Documenting the ordinary and extraordinary on camera (using SLR, DSLR, smartphone, computer, etc.) is just plain fun to me, and I look forward to becoming better at it. I’ve taken some darkroom and digital photography classes, but I have much to learn and am looking forward to becoming more skilled at capturing moments/narratives through photography and video. I have some experience with Adobe Lightroom and iMovie, but, again, I have a lot of room for improvement and am eager to learn more about presentation software and techniques.

I check my email often: jhiggs@berkeley.edu