Initial Impressions: Twitter

Last week I began using Twitter for the first time. As someone who almost never posts things on social media it has been a slow process getting comfortable with the platform. Naturally, I have been reading other people’s tweets far more than I have been posting myself. My first impression is that twitter is a platform that is effective at sharing resources, and marketing oneself.

A key feature of twitter is the limiting character limit allowed per tweet. This feature can be both a negative and a positive depending on how you look at it. I believe that the character limit is an advantage for sharing resources and news articles. When sharing something, you do not need to go super in depth when justifying why you posted it. Just a quick description and possibly what you thought about it is all that is expected.

Last week our class had the opportunity to participate in #SaskEdChat. This was an experience I greatly enjoyed. Initially, I was so focused on thinking of my own answers for each question and making sure they were written correctly before posting that I realized I was not paying enough attention to the tweets made by everyone else. While I understand the reasoning behind not allowing edits to tweets, the fact that the primary method of interaction is through text without the ability to edit does add some pressure to making sure my tweets are free of mistakes and reflect what I am trying to convey.

World twitter Connection on Blackboard

I ended up taking a break from tweeting during the last half of the #SaskEdChat in order to focus on reading other educators’ responses. Someone more experienced with Twitter might be able to handle posting and reading at the same time but I did feel overwhelmed by all the information. This is a feeling that I have had throughout the last week. I feel that if I do not check Twitter multiple times throughout the whole day, I will miss a lot of information. I expect it will get easier as I become more comfortable with the platform, but right now I find it difficult to keep up with just our EDTC300 List with 33 members, I can’t imagine keeping track of my feed if I was to follow multiple hundreds of users.

Despite my own challenges getting comfortable with Twitter, I absolutely see the potential in using it as a learning tool and even in the classroom. I feel like having a setup like we do in our EDTC300 course and allowing students to share information with their peers’ benefits everyone involved. I could see it being incorporated at the beginning of a unit and allowing students to share information they find outside of the classroom. This could encourage students to take responsibility for their learning and take initiative in seeking out knowledge. Also, by incorporating Twitter into the classroom, it opens the door to the possibility of teaching students about respectful interactions on social media, critical thinking and evaluating the origins of content they find online. Finally, Twitter can also be used to communicate with, and update, parents regarding what is going on inside their children’s classrooms.

Donut Judge the Process: Creating 3D Models

This week my aim was to familiarize myself with the Blender workspace by focusing on creating a 3D model. After searching around on YouTube I decided on using a beginner’s tutorial created by Blender Guru. The first part of this tutorial series can be found here. I felt this would be a perfect start to my learning as it goes through the entire process of modeling, shading, animating, and rendering a donut from start to finish with step-by-step instructions. My completed donut as well as a gallery showing some progression in my model can be seen below:

Donut Animation Loop

Making it all the way through the tutorial was a huge time commitment. And while I had expected the process to be time consuming it surpassed my expectations. The tutorial series I chose is comprised of 16 parts which, all together, have a watch time of just over 6 hours. That being said, it covered many aspects of 3d modeling I had not even considered such as lighting. Even though the tutorial went beyond the scope of what I had initially planned on learning in my first week, I decided to commit to completing it. The creator Blender Guru did such a fantastic job of showing every step and explaining things in beginner friendly terms. I also appreciated that while the tutorial was step-by-step, there was still freedom to add my own details and make design decisions.

Ultimately my Donut took around 8-9 hours to complete. I enjoyed the learning process so much I decided I wanted to test what I had learned by creating a new object without any guidance. I decided I would create an apple. It seemed appropriate as a future educator, and I felt it would allow me to apply what I had learned without getting too complicated. I also wanted to experiment with methods of documenting my progress. I decided to record my screen while working on my apple model in order to create a timelapse. The video below shows my timelapse, I should note that I did not record the entire process as I am still experimenting with the idea. There was also a lot of trial and error I did not want to include.

Apple Creation Time-lapse
Apple Animation Loop

In total modeling and animating the apple took around 6-7 hours. I was very pleased with how it turned out, especially the colouring.

Reflection

I believe YouTube is a perfect resource for learning this kind of skill. As a beginner I feel it would be totally overwhelming to hop into Blender without being shown where to find the various tools required and how to properly use them.

Key things I got to practice include:

  • Building 3D models using the mesh system as well as sculpting
  • Colouring, shading, and using textures
  • Lighting the object/scene
  • Simple animation (rotating the object)
  • Rendering settings
  • Compiling Renders into a full video

Thoughts moving forward:

  • This learning project is a huge time commitment. I may need to adjust my expectations of what I can actually achieve each week.
  • As I move forward with learning more complex animation, I will need to limit how much detail I put into my models. Both due to the time it would take to create but also render. (The 10 second donut clip took 1.5 hours to render)
  • In future weeks if I am focusing on learning how to animate, it may be in my best interest to find and use models created by others online.
  • I think it will be difficult to find resources in other locations besides YouTube. It will be something I will have to explore.

Plans for next week:

  • I plan on learning how to prepare a humanoid model for animation. I will try to create a model myself and set of the rigging so I can move individual limbs.
  • I will most likely use more tutorials from YouTube but see if I can find other sources.

Reanimating Old Dreams: Learning Project Introduction

For my learning project I have decided to challenge myself with learning how to create 3D animations. When I was in high school, I created a 2D animation of a children’s story book as a project for one of the classes I took. Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of this project. That being said, it has been so long since then (I don’t even remember what program I used to create it) and with my focus being on 3D animation, I believe it is fair to say I am approaching this learning project with essentially zero prior experience.

My interest in animation first started when I was around fifteen years old. I was a fan of a web series Red vs. Blue which was created by recording characters in the video game Halo in order to create each scene. This method of production utilizes the video game engine in order to animate the characters and environment rather than doing it oneself, saving time and resources. In the later seasons of the show, the company creating it hired an animator named Monty Oum in order to animate scenes that went beyond the limitations of the video game engine.

I became a huge fan of Monty Oum’s work and was blown away by his ability to take these characters out of the video games I knew them from, and create scenes I would have never thought possible. Monty became a bit of a hero to me during this time and watching the content he animated gave me the desire to learn how to animate myself. Sadly however, in 2015, Monty passed away and the motivation I had to learn how to animate faded.

Now, over seven years later, this course has given me the opportunity to dust off this childhood dream of mine and commit to making an honest effort to learning this skill for at least two months. And while I do worry that I may have been too ambitious in my choice, I am beyond excited to finally try! After doing some research on potential animation software available for use, I have decided to use the program called Blender. This program is available for free and there are many learning resources available online including countless tutorials on YouTube.

Screen capture of Blender workspace from tutorial video found here.

In all honesty I have no idea where I can hope to be in terms of my learning by the end of this course, I might be lucky to simply get a basic walking animation done, though I am hoping to be able try more complicated projects. I am planning on spending my first week or two learning how to create 3D models within Blender. I feel this will be the best way to get comfortable working with the program before I move on to actual animation. I plan on starting by simply animating someone walking. After that, there really are infinite possibilities on how I could progress. Some ideas I had would be to animate a well-known scene from a movie or trying to animate viral dances found on social media.

Introducing Myself

Hello! And welcome to my very first experience with blogging. My name is Vincent Grabowski and I grew up in the town of Hamiota, Manitoba located on Treaty 2 territory. I come from a family of six, my mother, father, two older brothers, and little sister. My little sister was born with Down syndrome and has always been an incredibly important part of my life. Growing up with her blessed me with many opportunities to learn, and allowed me to see how the education system adapted to allow her to achieve success through IEP planning, social interaction with classmates, and extra-curriculars.

I moved to Regina in 2016 in order to complete my Bachelor of Applied Science in Electronic Systems Engineering.  My experience in engineering was incredibly rewarding and enjoyable, but ultimately, I decided that it was not a career I wanted to pursue and that the difference I wanted to make in the world was as a teacher. After graduating from engineering in the summer of 2021, I enrolled in the Bachelor of Education After Degree (BEAD) program at the University of Regina.

Growing up I was no stranger to utilizing technology in order to learn. Google or YouTube are often the first places I look in order to find tips, tutorials, or inspiration when it comes to solving problems, or the hobbies I enjoy. That being said, social media is an area where I am incredibly lacking in experience. I have very little online presence and, if I am honest, the idea of posting or sharing my own thoughts online makes me nervous. So, a course like EDTC 300 where I will be blogging and tweeting regularly is certainly outside my comfort zone. That being said, I intend to put in a genuine effort and am hopeful that this experience will help me become more comfortable in these areas.

The Twitter account I created for this course can be found here.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog,

-Vincent