“Reduce a movie, story, or event into it’s basic elements, then take those visuals and reduce them further to simple icons.”
Those aren’t my words, but rather the instructions from the Four Icon Challenge ds106 assignment. Since this coming semester’s ds106 theme is apparently that of a “fantastical voyage” (the opening post for the course is “journey to the center of the internet”), I thought it might be appropriate to pay homage to the 1966 Academy Award winning film, Fantastic Voyage.
For those of you who may be new readers of my blog, I am an open participant in the most excellent storytelling course, DS106. A completely open, collaborative effort by a growing number of universities, DS106 (digital storytelling 106) is an exploration of media, technology, and story telling in a way that challenges its participants to create, remix, and manipulate images, sound, and video to tell a narrative. Besides being witness to stupefyingly great digital art that assaults my education-focused thoughts with the kind of creativity and deviance that attracted me to teaching in the first place, ds106 is a great way for anyone, including teachers, to explore and experiment with all sorts of free tools and software that can aide in the creation of digital artifacts for learning.
For example, I created the image above using Adobe Illustrator, a terribly complex and robust piece of software that no elementary-trained educator in their right mind would ever really need or want to use. However, thanks to the extremely helpful ds106 community, I was able to focus on just some very basic tools within the program, use some of the great free icons from The Noun Project, and assemble this piece of digital art. Sure, I don’t understand how to create vector-based artwork (for which the tool is intended), but I at least now know how to manipulate paths, fill colors, and arrange layers to remix images for educational uses.
Even IF you don’t want to take the plunge and start exploring a professional grade graphic suite, you could always just use a word processor or a simple paint program to have students assemble their own “four icon assignment”. Using the free icons from The Noun Project, have them build a representation of the learning goals for a particular unit, or summarize the main ideas of a reading passage. You could even use the visual element as a springboard for writing, reflection, or compare and contrast all of the students imagery to see if the class can pick up on common important elements of a story.
At the very least, you owe it to yourself to check out what some of the other people have been doing with this visual assignment for ds106, and see if you can’t challenge yourself to create a four icon image of your typical day at school and share.