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

Google Reader is your friend.

Ok. I just wanted to make this post to let all you people out there in the interwebs know that GOOGLE READER IS YOUR FRIEND. If you have a G-Mail account or any other type of Google account, then you can have a Google Reader account with a few clicks, and no cost!   :-)   Just go to www.google.com/reader. It can really make sifting through your daily internets a much more reasonable endeavor. I think I’ve been using it for about a year or so now, and I just want to outline some pointers. But first, here are a couple intro videos…

First, we have “RSS in Plain English” presented by leelefever of http://commoncraft.com. It’s a fun little run-through of the basic concept of Google Reader and utilizing RSS feeds …and it’s less than 4 minutes:

And next, we have “Google Reader in Plain English” presented by Google. Again, it’s basic and clear. And it’s just a smidge larger than a minute long:

So, basically Google Reader is a relatively easy way of taking advantage of all those RSS feeds out there. And if you don’t know what an RSS feed is, don’t worry about it, just start using Google Reader, and it won’t matter that you do, or do not know what Really-Simple-Syndication means. Just be content that it can bring all your favorite daily interweb perusaling to one central place that’s easy to sift through and consume. But here are couple additional tips from me:

Google Reader Images 1. In your Google Reader page, there is a little text link area at the upper left corner of the actual feed called “Show:” and the choices are “Expanded” and “List”. (Please see image to the right) It’s pretty self-explanitory what these 2 text links toggle between, but I wanted to call them out, because this feature is GREAT!

2. There is a little Google drop-down-button under the blue title bar that has “Mark all as read” as a default selection. (Please see image to the right) Get to know this button. It can be your stress relieving pal when your “All items” is showing 1000 unread blog posts. (maybe it’s me, but I feel like I’m “falling behind” when that number gets up there like that, and just selecting a couple prolific blogs and nuking their “unread” status can do wonders for my ability to TURN THE DAMN COMPUTER OFF at night when I get home… or at least at a reasonable hour.) Don’t worry, the articles are still there if you want to read them… they’re just no longer marked as “Unread”. Also, when you’re getting familiar with this great little tool, get to know the other choices in the drop-down, as they allow you to apply a time range for your nuking.

3. And guess what? There’s a supercool SHARE BUTTON TOO!

Here is a little YouTube diddy that walks you through sharing items and how to add friends and what-not:

What that video didn’t cover, is the fact that you can make your shared items completely open to the public if you’d like! (There’s a small text link at the bottom of your “People you follow” area of your left navigation area, click that, and the first item on that screen is a drop-down that will allow you to set the Public or Protected nature of your sharing.) Setting your shared items to public is essentially like starting personal google blog that requires no blog maintenance! WARNING: Depending on the type of daily interweb perambulations you make and decide to share with your friends, you may not want to share these things with the whole world wide webs… but that is entirely your call… I’m just alerting you to the setting’s existence, which by default is set to NOT make all of your shared items public knowledge… just to the people you follow.)

So in conclusion and review:

1. You can use Google Reader to consolidate your daily web travels into a single, easy-to-browse happy-fun-time.

2. Don’t be afraid to nuke stuff when it all comes flooding into your little Google Reader corner of the webs. Sometimes you just gotta say UNCLE. Do it. It’ll make you feel good in the long run.

3. SHARE! Get your friends to start Google Reader accounts and add them to your “People you follow” list! And if you feel so inclined, open your share up to the public masses… like I did here: http://www.google.com/reader/shared/rizzionet

Enjoy!

Acura – Dealer Association Website

Summary: Under a tight deadline and budget, create a portal website for the regional Acura trade association to efficiently educate users about current promotions and direct them to their closest local dealer website. Additionally we were tasked to build the site to allow for quick and efficient monthly updates. The HTML was generated in such a way as to only require a single image and text file change for each model. Efficient and effective.

Tech: Photoshop, Illustrator, Flash Video
Role: Designer / Art Director / Project Manager
Link: www.DelawareValleyAcura.com

Awesometown, population Pomplamoose.

Yeah, so I’ve been loving this band for about 6 months, and not even sure I remember how I heard them, (tekzilla maybe? is that geeky enough for ya?) but this band is GGGGGREAT! They’re called Pomplamoose… which the name is sort of a phonetic version of the french word for grapefruit. (pamplemousse) …but I can tell you this: THESE FOLKS NEED TO PUT OUT AN ALBUM AND TOUR! THEY ARE AWESOME!!

Pomplamoose is basically a duo (and a happy couple btw) out of San Francisco. She’s Nataly Dawn, saucy but demure, and smart (recently got here Masters in French Literature) with a voice on her that makes you sit up and listen. And he’s Jack Conte, creative and free, and talented. (and the ladies at my work feel he’s a looker too!) And they make goddamn good music together! And VideoSongs too! (VideoSongs are basically WYSIWYG music. {WYSIWYG, aka “What You See Is What You Get” or wizi-wig}) Which can be seen on their YouTube channel. Also, you can download some free tracks, and buy a bunch at their MySpace page. (Covers are FREE. Originals are $1.)

Nataly and Jack formed the band Pomplamoose in the Summer of 2008. The band’s presence is primarily online, having only performed one live show. Nevertheless, the collaboration has garnered significant fan support. Fueled by the feature of their video Hail Mary on the main page of Youtube, Pomplamoose’s channel has about 13,000 subscribers as of August 2009. The band recently produced the next studio album of Julia Nunes.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Conte

If you haven’t heard them yet, it’s time to check ’em out and get a good seat on the ol’ bandwagon… pun entirely intended. So here are some of my fav VideoSongs and such:

C’mon Congress, get us some affordable healthcare!

So… last night, our President gave a speech about health care reform. There was a little defense against all the so-called “Fair and Balanced” nonsense being circulated, (talk about manufacturing things to argue about… yes FOX News, I’m talking about that ridiculous scuffle about President Obama’s “Stay in School” speech.) but it was really inspiring last night, hearing him speak to Congress. Directly to Congress itself! He really seemed to be trying to get the politics to be put aside, and try to get these Washington folks to bring us affordable healthcare!

If you have an hour, the vid is below, but the good stuff starts around 20-25 minutes in.