Transmedia Annotation with Zeega and Hackpad

My name is Terry Elliott, AKA tellio (@tellio). I fancy myself a ‘learning concierge’, but my job title is “instructor”. I have taught English for ten years at middle and secondary levels in the U.S and ten more years at university level teaching composition and literature both F2F and online. I have been a MOOC facilitator the last three years for the National Writing Project’s connected learning MOOC, CLMOOC. My wife and I have three grown, unschooled kids and we own a small flock of Clun Forest sheep in southcentral Kentucky near Mammoth Cave National Park. In a previous life before teaching I owned my own chimney cleaning and repair business. That was the second greatest education I ever received, parenting being the ultimate. I am very happy to be authoring a four-part series on digital writing and annotation for DiGiWriMo.

Rays of light

flickr photo by Vermin Inc  shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-SA) license

I make a big point of accessing low barrier to entry tools like the ones I have mentioned in three previous posts here, here and here. The beauty of these is that by building a repertoire of digital tools it is almost inevitable that you will seek out even more expressive and complex tools based nearly always on the skills you have sussed out using Canva and SnagIt and Witty Comics. Take, for instance, Zeega.

Zeega was one of my favorite tools for creating rich digital experiences that had sound, image,moving image, text, texture and color. Unfortunately, like so many of these online, multi-modal tools (Mozilla’s Popcornmaker also comes to mind) the creators pulled the plug on them and they went into long term life support. i.e. open source software at Github.  Luckily, I knew a Dr. Frankenstein who could bring it back to life.

Aside: my holiday project this year is to bring it back for all to use, but for now I can show you a project that jumped out of it just the week before #digiwrimo was set to begin.  This is a work in progress so bear with it, I am extending it every day. Below you will see what I consider a classic example of the translation that I think digital writing can be so good for.

In this case I saw this reference in one of Maha Bali’s tweet to a post from a former student, Ayah Elewa.

I considered her word “listen” and went to the post expecting to hear a voice, but then I realized Maha meant for us to read Ayah’s post.  Happy accident that. I read the post aloud using Soundcloud and imported it into Zeega. Now I am working on a deeper translation of her text with pictures, more text, and animated gifs.  Below is the work in progress. (Viewing advice: go to lower right of zeega box, mouse over, click on full screen view, turn off volume when done.)

Here is one that uses music but is a translation of a post by Susan Watson. Derivative? Yes.  Creative? Yes.  (There is a bonus in this kind of ‘close reading’–you can pay respect and honor the author’s voice.  You can begin to really hear the genius loci in a post and the genius behind it as well.  You can be properly grateful.  Reciprocation is the price we pay in the infinite game of life.)


Here is one that embraces togetherness from last summer’s #CLMOOC

Transmedia Prompt

I have tons of these zeegas from the defunct site. They work but I cannot edit them anymore. My “resurrected” version of zeega is not quite ready for prime time so I have an alternative you might want to try–Hackpad.

Use Hackpad (it’s free) to gather Soundcloud files as well as pix and gifs.  First,  all you have to do to embed a SoundCloud file is to copy the url  into the Hackpad. It is equally simple to insert images either by drag and drop or by using the insert function in the menu at the top of the page.   Once you have enough pix and gifs click on the sound file to get it started, then click on the first image.  That sets up a slideshow which you can cycle through as the Soundcloud file plays.  It’s a transmedia blast.

Check out this sample and play with it as you will.  I have included a jukebox of four songs that you can choose from as well as lots of images and gifs.  Or you can just start your own transmedia Hackpad.

P.S. If you want a taste of the original zeega, let me know and I will see if we can give you an alpha test of the zeega club this week so you can make a transmedia masterpiece (or crash and burn),  Transmedia completely transformed how I experienced digital writing.  For the better.  Here’s hoping the best for you as well.