Saturday, 22 September 2012


BA LTR will help you develop creative technology skills, the process of making many kinds of media has become a lot less complex over the last decade and digital photography has become the norm where it once was a rarity. Making a poster using a photograph, and overlaying a text message on it, is something you can do even in the most basic graphics software. At the start of this semester  our new year 1 LTR students will create a poster at the start of their journey.

The first image below might not go so well on touch screen devices as it is a Flash .swf file but the same effect could be done using animated gifs or a slide show file. The aim was to identify and add an appropriate image to go with the text message. This is a skill that is often very useful when working in PowerPoint. It is not unusual to see PowerPoint presentations where clip art or even a seemingly random set of images has been used. This activity is the start of the journey towards developing good media design skills, BA LTR students will study this theme over the three years of the degree by working in a wide range of digital literacies. We always get very positive comments from the external examiners about the standard of digital literacies achieved by our students.   Throughout this post if you click on any image it will open in a larger size. This first is a set of related images that might take a few moments to start rolling through.

This next one was to promote a new course, the course director wanted a simple message along with an image that projected the sense of starting a journey. I have taken the contact details off it as they have changed since it was made.
In each example the images and text relate to each other to reinforce the message. The link between boats setting out at sunrise on a voyage obviously parallels the idea of students setting out on their journey of discovery. The course also had a strong technology theme, the other perhaps less obvious link is to the technology of the boats. When this design of boats was first used  they were a cutting edge technology ideal for purpose and local conditions. To achieve this, innovative solutions were developed to refine technologies that have been around for thousands of years. Every student has access to a range of modern technologies, they are the vehicles that enables the fully online learning journey. Every student finds their own collection of technologies that work for them, they develop creative and sometimes very innovative ways of building their own boat to steer their own course towards the future. It took a fair few words to describe all of that, I could have written many more, maybe even a thousand, far too many to put on a poster. The imagery of a poster is important, it may not always replace a thousand words, but it can be the thing that embeds in memory and provides a hook for retention of the wider message. 

In this one I have tried to link between tangible reality and the reflective world, I though about post processing the holiday snap to bring out the texture and colour of the corner of the pier but I sort of like the reference to black and white against the colourful depths and my shadow down there in reflection world. Are you seeing the world as black and white; immerse yourself in reflection. 

The next snapshot is from a meeting of the TEL MAP cluster in Manchester this September. The aim was mapping the future direction of Technology Enhanced Learning. Vana Kamtsiou is explaining concepts put together by Debbie Holley using sticky notes and Richard Millwood is adding them to the Cmap map. Aesthetically it is not a prime poster image but the content has relevance to the Technology for Dissemination module (T4D) where students will make preparations for a dissemination event that is held in the following semester. The findings from their Work Based Major Project will be shared via a presentation in their workplace.

The image shows two presentation technologies used in parallel, neither is PowerPoint :-)
The students will explore a range of potential technologies and decide on which one or combination will best suit; their competence level; the material they need to show and the needs of their audience.

There are some good examples of using images with text amongst Hamish Scott Brown's introduction sequence on his web site. Hamish worked at the Ultralab and had a lot of input into the Ultraversity learning design as well as being a key part of the facilitation team for many years. He has won prestigious awards as a result of his MA work and in his current work as a professional photographer. The web, TV the outdoor world are good sources of using image and text to convey or promote a message. Look around you for influences, pause and look deeply into the images, think about the elements that have been brought together on posters, banners, on the packaging of products, adorning vehicles, buildings, in shop windows, magazines etc.

This one was for our Wallwisher (now Padlet) wall, the photo was taken from the little ferry that takes people over to St Michael's Mount at Penzance. Hopefully the notion of a journey and of creating solid foundations/building something wonderful are conveyed:

What message will you put on your poster? The process of designing a poster can also be a valuable one for the designer. Immersion in the task helps to deepen engagement with the subject and that can lead to new insights. When you are in the final semester of year 3 and heading towards graduation you will look back at your learning and reflect on the journey. It might be useful to have an initial poster that conveys your future aspirations, you could also reflect on your current skills or any aspect of who you are. Another approach would be to promote a local service or an event in your workplace. Choose a theme and see if you can find a photograph you have taken, or go out and take one, that relates to your message.  If, like Julian, Toby and many other of our students, you decide to try a blog as a learning journal, you could add your poster and share it with others. If you do post it somewhere public please post a comment on the bottom of this post with a link to the location. You might want to keep it less visible in which case it would be a good opening image for a more private reflective learning journal in a Word document.

If you enjoy the activity or can't decide on one theme to focus on your could always do a set of posters, there are many questions you could ask - here is one group:

How am I feeling...
What skills do I have…
What are my choices…
Where do I want to go…


  1. I am suffering from blank page syndrome here! What is the best forum for opening up discussion on this task? I was thinking of a picture of a student (garbed in graduation robes and mortar board) in front of a computer and the words "explore possibilities, achieve potential". But I reckon there is a more compelling visual.

    1. Hi Tim we will discuss posters in the VLE forum this coming week. You are welcome to discuss your thoughts here as well if you wish. Your image sounds like a good idea - starting by defining the goal. Maybe a story board of small posters would work for you if you have more to say about the journey.

    2. Its taking me time to work out how to find everything but I'm getting there. I was thinking along the lines of a series of pictures 1. walk through a forest.. leading to a field with a beautiful blue may be a long trek but the skies the limit. Another idea I had was a picture of a sunset over a mountain or someone climbing a mountain saying aim high to achieve higher both are a little cliche...still working on something more original. Am I heading in the right direction or have I missed the point of the poster

    3. Hi Sarah you have painted some lovely images via your text. Cliche is not a problem; feel free to refer to sayings, proverbs, write a verse of poetry or whatever you feel works well to convey a message. Next semester you will find I have used the mountain climbing scenario to frame a journey through a reflection module. Somewhere I have a forest image with a "Can't see the Woods for the Trees" reference, sometimes the familiar and obvious can carry quite an impact.

      The poster activity has several purposes, some of them are: to prompt reflection on what you hope to achieve, consider any reservations or uncertainties you might have at the start of the journey, make a start on creative use of technologies to convey messages.

      In the final semester of year 3 students look back at the journey they have been on, they reflect on; their progress, the impact of their learning (on themselves and others) and they consider who they have become. This helps prepare for future learning and career progression. This poster might be a key signpost on your journey that is useful to look back on when you approach the end of the journey.

      As with many aspects of the course, artefacts like that are good evidence of you engaging with technologies, however; the real value is in your own self-assessment of the process you have been through. As you approach the final stages of this module you will evaluate your growing technology and communications skills in an evidence based discussion piece. As well as the aesthetics you will consider your feelings and your skills progression.

  2. Hi
    I have found this helpful reading other people's comments about the poster as I was finding it hard to think of something. I got married 6 weeks ago and I wondered if I could use a picture of myself and my husband during our church service holding hands as the vicar blesses us, with a caption about my journey looking to the future (I haven't exactly thought of what I would write yet) Can this be about ourselves? Can we 3 small images each having a message? I was also wondering about where people might create there poster? Sarah and Tim have very good ideas and the picture they describe sounds great.

    Any pointers would be very much appreciated, like Sarah it is taking me time to find everything. I worry I may miss something.

    Thanks, Natasha

  3. Sounds like a lovely starting point Natasha, 3 images would be fine, it is easy to get carried away but I suggest no more than three for this activity and don't spend days and days on it, capturing a brief insight is enough. I have Adobe Fireworks image editor it is a bit out of date now but works fine, I also use Flash that is part of the same suite of software. Photoshop is great but costs a fair bit. I am on a Mac and can make poster type images in iPhoto, I can also do this using Word and a range of other software. There are loads of free image editors and most cameras come with stunning post processing functions, the how is not a big issue. Where - you can keep your image private and just put it in your e-portfolio if you wish, copy will have to go in your e-portfolio for assessment purposes - I posted about the nature of e-portfolios in the IOCT bit of the VLE recently. If you want to share your image you might use it as the header on a blog learning journal or put it in a blog post, have you seen Julian and Toby's blogs? You could add it to a Tweet with the LTT2012 hash tag. Just remembered we have a blog that links blogs - not been used for a while but has another example of a simple poster image at the top.

  4. Hi,

    Have created a poster with the tools in Google Docs (Drawing) and have published my method on my own blog site here. Could you have a look at this and see if it is along the right lines for the task.

    1. Hi I have also commented on George's blog - great post George, that is a good learning journal entry it describes your journey and includes a reflective element and your 'workings out' are clearly presented as you go through stages in improvement.

  5. Some great ideas from everyone. I was thinking of an image of beach huts that are smaller in the distance and larger as they are closer to you with a message something along the lines of 'Learning; my never ending journey'. Would I be on the right track?

    Also, I'm really not familiar with blogs, having never created one. What medium would you suggest is an ideal one for a novice?

    Thanks, Karen.

  6. Hi Karen, beach huts can be really good in photos and paintings. I can see some mileage in that idea.

    I will create a thread in the VLE about blogs and other technologies this evening.

  7. if you are not sure what to put on a poster you could think about completing the sentence using the "Before I graduate I want to..." sticky notes. We could assemble posters on the wallwisher space as you can add an image to a note.

  8. How do I know if I can use an image I have found on the web. I'm also wondering where to find other peoples blogs

  9. You need to check for copyright symbols or conditions attached to images. a lot of repositories use the 'creative commons' approach these days that allows use within limits. Some sites put a watermark of some sort across the image and you can pay a nominal fee, or sometimes an exorbitant one to use the image. The creative commons web site gives some good insight and links to some good sources . You could also try searching for creative commons images.

    There is a discussion thread in the VLE on blogs and there is a weblinks folder as well, maybe we could organise blog links in there. I am happy to add any to the Ultraversity bloggers site on request.

  10. On a Mac, I use Preview to put text on my photos. I have also been using the Drawing app in Google Docs and am impressed at how easy it can be. I nearly always use my own photos (for everything), as this avoids potential copyright issues - and for students there is a bonus in using original photos.


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