Family Adrift

Our journey to reconnect

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Video: A Lesson in Courage and Perseverance

Below are video links for the creative works of my classmates who are taking Social Media and More with me. I enjoy the distinctive flair these talented ladies bring to this assignment. Each video expands my notion of the range of applications for video.

Christina’s video of her music collection opened my ears to musical styles from around the globe. Her knowledge about the different types of music and the artists made the journey even more intriguing.

Julie’s whimsical demonstration of the scribing software shows how much fun it is to make a video. I love her use of vibrant colours.

Kathy’s self-made video shows her beautiful photography portfolio. I admire her courage to step in front of the camera and her perseverance to stick with this assignment through to the end.

Michelle’s personal video of the devastation of the Alberta floods is full of helpful and practical reminders about flood preparedness. This video is an excellent resource.

Tara’s video shows her selecting fabric with her friend January. The tips about how to choose fabric are useful. The interruption by Tara’s son about dinnertime is chuckle worthy.

Being a mom too, Sheri’s video about spending Earth Day picking up garbage at a local park is inspiring. I am a huge fan of inquiry-based learning and appreciate her sharing her experience.

A special thank you to each of my classmates for having the courage to bring us into their world through their videos and persevering when technical challenges seemed insurmountable!


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Who is your Audience?

Whether doing written communications, audio, or video, the process all starts with defining the audience. The key is to choose one but keep in mind that each platform appeals to different demographics.


This question might be better answered after we work through the video exercise.  In the government environment, the dissemination of information is best accessed by the target audience from the website.  The information needs to be accessible,  clear and concise.

Video can support some of the “how to” questions and we often post information accompanied with video on the blogsite.  The blog, interestingly has become more or the public service announcement platform for media to pick up and basically copy, paste and link information.  Podcasting or audio story telling appears to be more of a special interest medium, and the benefit is that it can be accessed when and where the audience chooses.  michele

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Going Beyond Do-It-Yourself Videos to Professional Applications

Let’s face it: policy development, analysis, and writing is heavily weighted towards the written word.

My work is focused on land policy. This type of policy involves complex interactions between the policy intent and the related implications for society, the economy, and the environment. Policy often feels so abstract that people do not understand why it should matter to them or what they could gain from participating in planning processes. In fact, many Canadians are stepping back from engagement in policy.

In these instances, video can be a tremendously powerful tool. Videos can help to show the relevance of policy choices to quality of life: economic benefits, maintenance of species habitat, access to parks, efficient transportation. Often, the choice to act or not to act has consequences. Videos can make different policy options more clear by actually showing how something would be different. A picture really can be worth a thousand words.

The following links show how video can be used to explain why land use planning is important to different stakeholder groups. Videos are especially important when trying to understand the benefits and impacts of land policy changes to different stakeholder groups. The following examples show how this knowledge can help policy developers consider these impacts to identify mutually beneficial solutions.

Reindeer herders, GIS and Land Use Planning

The Power of Aboriginal Mapping


Treating Family Like It Matters

Sometimes when I get home from work, I am met by an angry mob. Everyone wants a piece of me:

– Where did you put my favourite jersey?
– What are you making for dinner?
– When can you help me do my school project?
– Will you drive me to practice?
– Did you throw out my favourite jeans?

I have to tell you, I miss the days of being met at the door with a hug and a kiss. I miss hearing happy screams of “Mommy, mommy… you’re home! I missed you.”

Indifference has fallen like a cloud on our home. I am waiting for the sun to come out again. I am tired of waiting.

This video describes why I think this is happening to my family and what I think we need to do about it. Making this video has made me feel better. I am more aware. I now have ideas about how to use this video.

My family watched the video today. They were strangely quiet. No one asked any questions, but they are thinking about it. I can tell. In a couple of days, I think a new conversation will begin.

If you are having these struggles too, share this video with your family. Start a conversation about how to make changes for a richer family life.

I hope this video helps you as much as it has helped me.

Family Adrift: Episode 3 – Treating Family Like It Matters


Create a Plan, Work the Plan

Mount Rushmore
By Kimon Berlin (IMG_3850) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons)

My kids attend a school with a leadership development program (No, you can never start too early!). The program is called The Leader in Me. Developed by Franklin Covey’s son Sean, this program is a child-friendly adaptation of the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. My favourite habit–“Begin with the End in Mind”–was central to completing my video. In short, my approach to video production was to make a plan and to work the plan.

I wanted to try a program that I had never used before to produce an animated video. I played with Go Animate and Sparkol. After playing with both programs, I realized that it would take weeks for my son to teach me how to use GoAnimate, so I opted for Sparkol.

Inspired by Robin Williams in the Dead Poets Society when he encouraged his students to “seize the day”, I crafted my plan for Sparkol. And yes, in my nostalgia, I watched a clip again on YouTube at (It’s still a great movie!). Sorry, I digressed.

In accordance with my best laid plan, I:

1. picked a theme
2. prepared a concept map
3. drafted the script
4. selected images
5. developed the image sequence on Sparkol (upgraded to Pro to get better images)
6. inserted a suitable music clip for background
7. recorded script on Garage Band
8. integrated the Garage Band audio file into video
9. spent a ridiculous amount of time adjusting and aligning the audio to the pace of animation

After 16 hours of effort, I completed my video. Once finished, I produced the file as a movie. I chose the best quality because I worried about file degradation. I uploaded to PodOmatic using DropBox after attempts to upload stalled repeatedly.

Somewhere along the way, the project became a labour of love. Perhaps not a good thing. My family got tired of waiting for me, so they pulled out of the driveway for the family camping trip without me. 😦

You will soon discover the irony when you see my video. If I have any measure of integrity–and I do–I pledge to forgo all technology for a week when this course over.

Uh oh, a little yellow caution icon… that can’t be good.

Hope you enjoy the video!


A Case Study on Effective Videos

In the Zen of Social Media Marketing, Shama Kabani asserts that “[a]lthough video doesn’t usually fall within the category of social networking sites, it is an important tool within the bigger sphere of online marketing.” (2013, p. 174) The greatest benefit of an engaging web video is to attract the attention of a viewer.

With that in mind, I decided to explore what makes a web video effective. I selected three videos from YouTube that focus on the same theme of work-life balance. Each video had a different style, audience, purpose, and duration.

Rethinking Work-Life Balance is an animated video produced by The Wellness Lawyer. The animation is in the style of a video scribe. The verbal presentation links to live sketches to provide visual reinforcement. The black-and-white sketches contain few words; however, key words or concepts appear in blue text and stand out. The verbal presentation is rife with questions to engage the audience in thinking about work-life balance. This approach creates the feeling of introspective reflection for a well-defined audience–lawyers. For this video, the challenges discussed are most relevant to practicing lawyers struggling to manage work demands with personal life. The video asks the audience whether these challenges are things they struggle with and directs the audience to a website to get more information. The video is 5-minutes long but the style is so engaging that even the audience is not a lawyer, they are interested in seeing the entire video. Overall, this video is very effective in attracting the attention of the audience.

How to Make Work Life Balance Work is a TEDTalk by Nigel Marsh. In his video, Nigel engages the audience with a joke within the first 30 seconds. His humour is critically important to attracting the attention of the audience: relevant without being offensive. During his talk, Nigel moves around, and uses his hands effectively to emphasize key points. The camera angle switches at frequent intervals in order to keep the audience interested, and also pans back and forth between Nigel and the audience to capture the interaction. The length of this video is twice as long (10-minutes) and the resolution is not as sharp as Rethinking Work-Life Balance. Consequently, both the video length and quality would tend to deter an audience with only a moderate interest in the topic. In the case of TED, the brand is strong and the videos attract the audience to the website in order to explore other new ideas.

Work-Life Balance: Five balls of life is produced by Daily SelfHelp. This video consists of a series of slides with visual images. Every slide in the presentation features the address of the website: Instead of a verbal presentation, the video has musical accompaniment. The music is peaceful, evoking a sense of well-being the audience seeks. The message to the audience is simple: you can withstand the ups and downs of work, but many aspects of life are fragile. Family, friends, health, and spirit are not easily fixed when broken. The presentation is only 53 seconds. This style of video is not nearly as engaging for the audience. In addition, this video provides the least information about the services of Daily SelfHelp. For these reasons, this video is the least effective in attracting the audience to the website.

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Policy Podcasts for Professionals

How could podcasts be used in my work on policy development and reform? At first, I was skeptical. Absolutely impossible. Policy is so difficult to explain verbally. After giving the idea more thought, I have changed my mind.

People have different learning styles. When internalizing information, I prefer to learn about new, complex topics visually. Complex policy matters consist of valued system components that may or may not interact at different timescales and geographic scales. The interactions are difficult to explain and so are the implications. I only have complete understanding through reading or hearing about the details.

When learning about policy issues, many executives prefer a brief description of the policy intent and rationale and the implications of the policy to their company. How does a policy benefit them? How does policy reform affect them?

Podcasts could reinforce initial briefings. By focusing on frequently asked questions, a podcast could provide a durable record for those who need a more time to think about complex subjects, to assess risks, and to ask more in-depth questions. The other advantage of podcasts is that new staff can review older podcasts to understand the history of policy issue. This approach lightens the workload of subject matter experts by reducing the number of meetings needed to help bring new staff get up to speed on a file.

A more useful application for podcasts in the policy world is for the dissemination of new research and ideas. Podcasts of interviews with leading researchers can be a very effective way to enable policy analysts and developers to remain knowledgable about new theories and practices within their professional field. Several policy institutes, universities, and colleges use this model to push out new research. For examples of podcasts used by policy professionals, check out:

Institute for Research on Public Policy

Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

Science Insider’s Science Policy Podcasts