Smithsonian’s NMAH ~ Educational Citizenship Website

Summary: Working in partnership with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Office, we developed an interactive, multimedia-rich website that supports aspiring citizens’ efforts to pass the civics portion of the new USCIS Citizenship Test.

Using content from the NMAH collections and working with a consultant that specializes in teaching English as a second language, we created a flexible, progressively scaffolded learning environment through which students move through learning, practice, and test stages commensurate with their mastery of the question topics. Given that the interactive experience should appeal to learners for whom English is a second language, and that the civics test is conducted as an oral interview, voiceover narration and closed-captions are provided, and learners have the opportunity to practice responding to the audio prompts.

The framework contains 100 vignettes, 19 activities, and 32 zoomable object explorations, that help extend learning beyond merely teaching to the 100 questions on the test. Instead, using objects and documents from its collections the NMAH offers aspiring citizens a vibrant look at our nation’s history, the functions of our government, the rights and responsibilities of U.S. citizens, and the power of democracy. By providing context to the questions on the test, prospective citizens can facilitate their learning of complex facts and concepts, and draw a deeper connection to the significance of becoming an American citizen.

Stats
100 Historical vignettes
51 Interactive activities
15 Topic areas
1 Daunting test demystified

Awards
AAM EdCom Award for Excellence, 2013
IMA Award Best in Class for Government, 2013
IMA Award Best in Class for Education, 2013

Tech: Illustrator, Flash, Actionscript, XML, Photoshop, HTML, CSS
Role: Lead Designer / Lead Flash Designer
Link: www.americanhistory.si.edu/citizenship

Smithsonian’s NMAI ~ Environmental Challenges Website

Summary: American Indian people have long thrived on, respected, and protected the environments that make up their homelands. Night Kitchen Interactive collaborated with the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) to create an educational website for use in classrooms, to inform younger audiences about the ways in which American Indian communities continue these efforts today.

To fulfill student and teacher needs, the site presents a media-rich, scaffolded learning environment with progress tracking and assessment features. Students watch videos, explore interactive activities, and answer questions along the way to gain deeper insights to the integral role the environment plays in the daily lives of American Indian communities and draw connections to local environmental issues. The culminating classroom presentation activity allows students to collect notes taken across the site into one central web-based planner.

The site was designed and built to be visually inviting and reflective of the rich design traditions and unique voice of each tribal community featured therein. The visual and UX design was crafted to create a learning environment that supports the storytelling traditions that are central to communities featured within the project. Feedback from NMAI and Smithsonian has been glowing.

Tech: Illustrator, Flash, Actionscript, Photoshop, HTML, CSS
Role: Lead Designer / Lead Flash Designer
Link: www.nmai.si.edu/environment/

SFMOMA Country Dog Gentlemen ~ Mobile Website Conversion

Summary: In 2009, with some of the 20th century’s greatest artists as inspiration, Night Kitchen Interactive created an engaging kiosk installation and website, bringing to life the works of Piet Mondrian, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo and others. Roy De Forest’s colorful work acted as an aesthetic springboard, paving the way for vivid, lively animations. Each animated story reflects an individual artist’s unique approach, creating different extraordinary worlds to be explored. Performance artist Sebastienne Mundheim collaborated with Night Kitchen to craft the voices of two colorful canine characters from Roy De Forest’s work. With the dogs as guides, modeling behaviors of inquiry, this journey through modern masterpieces is reflective, whimsical, and insightful.

These stories and activities excite and inform young museum visitors, inspiring them to contribute their own creative responses to the museum’s website. Targeting children aged 6-10, a rare audience for modern art, this interactive experience engages younger museum visitors and their families with playful narratives and interactive activities. Each reinforces key learning points associated with an individual work and encourages visitors to share their own creative responses in a visitor-contributed gallery on SFMOMA’s website.

In 2011, SFMOMA was interested in adapting the existing Country Dog Gentlemen animations into an HTML5 experience, so visitors with mobile devices that do not support Flash can still partake in the enhanced rich-media experience. We implemented the main menu utilizing “responsive web design” techniques promoted by many of today’s most advanced HTML5 and CSS gurus. We used @media CSS queries in combination with Max and Min device-widths to create a single menu page (and CSS) with break-points that serve up different layouts and different graphics depending on the size and orientation of your device! It was really fun and exciting to be part of bringing this new technique to life while working to improve the museum and online experience for SFMOMA’s younger audiences.

Tech: Illustrator, Photoshop
Role: Lead Designer / Technical Advisor
Link: In-Progress

How far Right have we moved?

I was doing some reading for work the other day, and saw an original handbill for the 1963 March on Washington event. And it had some details in it that sparked my curiosity, so I went googling for a higher resolution (i.e. more readable) version of the document, and found this website with a longer and more detailed version, described as the event’s program.

March On Washington, 1963 Handbill

March On Washington, 1963, Event Program's Demands

First, I had no idea it was originally called the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” … Jobs and Freedom? Jobs? I had no idea at all that jobs were even part of the March on Washington? I mean, I was never a huge fan of American history class as a youngster, so I can’t completely blame the school system, but I think I would have remembered something that significantly different than all the focus on the “I have a Dream” part of the March? When do you think the “Jobs” part of the March disappeared from the discussion?

Anyway, there’s a “WHAT WE DEMAND” section, with a numbered list of “DEMANDS”. And I was struck by #7 in the list: “A massive federal program to train and place all unemployed workers – Negro and white – on meaningful and dignified jobs at decent wages.

Wow. Lets set aside for a second, the whole concept of people wanting their government to train all of it’s workers, (What a crazy concept huh? We’ve got private trade schools and private colleges to fund with our private money for that! Why would we expect our government to fund that for us? That would be communism to make job training publicly paid, you pinko fascist socialist commi! :-) but look at how it’s phrased, right at the beginning: “A massive federal program”! Right there in black-and-white! Can you imagine any public officials rallying around demands phrased like that now-a-days?

More importantly, I often wonder how far to the Right this country has moved in the last 50-60 years… and then I see something like this and it comes into clear contrast for me. I’m not saying that all of our country’s problems should be solved with “massive federal program”s, but it’s such a contrast to today’s environment of slash-and-burn everything but “3rd rail” issues… and even those “you won’t get re-elected” issues are becoming vulnerable to attack because of their “socialistic” implications. Just look at the Presidents bi-partisan debt panel. (nothing in that name about the fact that it was stacked with pro-big-business types… not a labor representative or academic-type looking out for small business or social concerns in the house) They’ve come back recommending, among other things, raising the retirement age and having “less generous” annual cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security! My grandmother, were she still with us, would be quite unhappy with these prospects, that’s for sure… and she was no socialist.

It just makes me sad that so many people believe things that are, and vote directly, against their own interests. Government isn’t good for everything, but it sure works in that gap between individual self-interest and Corporate self-interest. People need to remember that they are not indistinguishable from Corporate interest. It’s good to have a healthy economy, but it’s also good to have a reasonable level of protection as individuals, against being trampled by Corporate interests. We need to remember that we, as American citizens, can ask for our government to do a wee bit more for us than just “getting out of the way” of Corporations and Industry. We as Americans, deserve more than being left to fall with nothing to catch us but a safety net shredded by Corporate interests to make more and more, by giving out less and less. I would have hoped we’d be past begging simply for Jobs and Freedom over 45 years later, but I guess that was just a dream after all.

My very first SlideShare presentation!

Looky here! My first ever SlideShare.net presentation! It’s a little ditty I created to help our traditional media buying folks transition over to the brave new world of online banner ads and all the specs they have to understand and bring into their Work Orders. It’s pretty basic, and it assumes I’ll be talking through some of the details, but it’s hopefully still somewhat informative… and maybe a little entertaining.

Google Wave

Can’t speak for it’s actual usefulness, as I don’t have an invite yet… but from the videos I’ve seen (good overview video below) it looks like it could be a really amazing new communications shift. Almost like going from paper letters to email… but I’ll hold off judgement until I actually get to try it out. :-)

CAPS – Promotional Video Edit

Summary: Create a promotional video for the Council for the Advancement of Public Schools (CAPS). This 3-5 minute video needed to illustrate all the positive public relations work that had been done in 2008 by the CAPS organization, while also engaging potential new supports to the cause of supporting our public schools. The biggest challenge with this project was the lack of video assets. Most of what was supplied were still photography and newspaper clippings. We did however have a previously edited broadcast quality commercial we made earlier in the year, and a small budget for voice-over talent. (Generously donated at a greatly reduced rate to help support the cause.) In the end, the video was very well received by the client, and we got some great feedback from them about its reception by their supporters. Everyone involved considered the project a success.

Tech: Final-Cut Pro, Illustrator, Photoshop, Flash
Role: Editor / Designer / Art Director
Link: See video below

Time for Bed Game – Flash Interactive

Summary: Teach children how much sleep they need in a fun and engaging way. (What kids haven’t been preached to on this topic by parents or other adults when bed time rolls around?) Animals are a proven hook for our target age group of 5- to 10-year-old boys and girls. We used illustration, animation, funny voice talent and interactivity to engage the audience. Actionscripting was used to keep score during the games 10 question screens, with a congratulations at the end that loops the user back in for another try or sends them off for additional reading material. Overall, and very popular and successful interactive piece for KidsHealth.org. So much so that it was also featured in GD USA Magazine’s 2005 annual.

Tech: Flash, Illustrator, SoundForge
Role: Designer / Art Director, Character Illustrator, Sound Engineer, Developer, Voice Talent
Link: See Flash Below

[kml_flashembed publishmethod=”dynamic” fversion=”8.0.0″ useexpressinstall=”true” replaceId=”time-for-bed” movie=”http://rizzio.net/home/wp-content/uploads/KH_timeForBed.swf” width=”450″ height=”450″ targetclass=”flashmovie” align=”top” salign=”tr”]

Get Adobe Flash player

[/kml_flashembed]