Saturday, May 14, 2016

Second Tutorial: Survey Script

Hi and welcome to Devil Nation Media. I’m Mark Davidson. Today we’re going to create a survey using This tutorial follows the video on how to create a poll, so if you haven’t already, you’ll want to check that out.

As with a poll, a survey is a great way to collect public opinion from our readers. It allow viewers to give us more in-depth information, and we can even use it to gather sources for personality profiles. Plus, it’s a great tool to help us plan for future stories.

It helps us interact with our audience in a meaningful way, so think about how including a survey could benefit Devil Nation Media when creating content for the site.

Let’s get started.

Head over to By now you should already have an account. If you don’t check out the previous video to see how to do that.

Remember you used your school email, and your password should be your student ID.

Go ahead and log in.

Once again we are at polldaddy’s dashboard. You should see the poll you already created under “Your media”

Click on the blue box and select “survey” from the dropdown window.

So this time we are creating a survey instead of a poll. This allows us to gather more detailed, multi-faceted information on a topic rather than just asking one question. 

Our first step in creating a survey is done under the settings tab. We need to give our survey a title. Poll daddy allows us to name the survey one thing but show a different title to the public. For our purposes, you should title the survey the same as it will be displayed. For this tutorial, I’m creating a survey to gather information  for an upcoming feature story on student drivers and the traffic pattern around the school. My title should reflect that.

You also have the option to create a custom message for your survey. This is a good opportunity to tell our readers what the purpose of the survey is and why they should complete it. Could they be a source for a future story? Can they weigh in on an important issue? Could they win a prize? Whatever you write here, keep it simple and to the point.

Other options on this page allow you to show a progress indicator and a back button. You’ll only need the progress indicator if your are creating a multi-page survey, and for our student audience, you want to avoid making the survey too long. We want surveys to be quick and painless so that students will want to take them.

At the bottom of the page, we have “survey options.”  Do you want to close your survey after a certain date? Will you allow multiple responses from the same devices? (This is probably a good idea as our students share Chromebook carts and computer labs.)

The next step is the question editor. Here you can add your questions. Looking down the left side of the screen, you can see the options available. Just drag and drop the type of question you want to add. For this assignment, you need to add three different types of questions, and your survey needs to be at least five questions, but not more than 10. 

Skip the page header, since our surveys will only be one page. Let’s add a question.

I’m going to add a multiple choice question, so I just drag one here. When you do this, a box will pop up so you can write your question and create your possible answers. So I’m going to put in my question and record my answers. 

You also have several other options to customize your survey, which is one of the reasons I like poll daddy. You can add media, include an “other” option, or make the question mandatory. When creating your survey, think about what options will best suit your purpose. I’m going to make this question mandatory, and my order choices randomized.

When you have your question ready to save, click on “done.” Now I’m ready to add my second question. 

The next tab is “survey settings” where we can customize the look. 

Use the scroll bar to see what options are available. Remember: your choice should be consistent to the look and feel of the site. Don’t choose a look that creates an unwanted connotation (so avoid the skull and crossbones option) and the sunset option is a little too beachy for our site.

The standard option we use is “plain black.” If you have a question, check with an editor.

We will also select the size the poll will appear on the site. Our option are narrow, medium and wide. As I said before, we normally use narrow for polls since they are so short.

FYI, if you scroll down, poll daddy gives you a preview.

Once you’re happy with how your poll looks, click the “save style settings”

Our third step is to choose the sharing options. 

The default tab is Javascript, which we use most often. Other options are specific to WordPress or allows us to create a direct link to the poll. Choose this option only if you want to allow readers to leave comments. Most of the time we want to put the survey directly in front of our audience. This increases the chances they will use the content we’ve created.

In JavaScript, we have another choice: inline or slider popup. Because we’ll post multiple surveys on the site, you want to choose the inline option.

Now it’s just a matter of copying the HTML code that appears in the window and pasting it into the HTML window of the site. For this video, I’m pasting it into my blog so we can see exactly how it looks and make sure we’re happy with it. If you need to change anything, you can always go back into poll daddy, edit the survey and recopy the code.

So here is the survey we just created, and I’m happy with how that looks. 

That’s all for this Camtasia video. Thanks for watching!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Enhance storytelling, interaction by adding polls, surveys and infographics

Adding a poll to your content from Mark Davidson on Vimeo.

This tutorial is part of a curriculum for beginning journalism/communication students. The lesson centers on how adding polls, surveys and infographics to written content to make our multimedia news cite will help us interact with readers and gather data and public opinion to plan future stories and allow readers to react to current published stories.

The video was created with Camtasia 2, which was a new program for me, but one I hope to purchase as I create a new multimedia program curriculum. With Camtasia, I can simplify what may seem to be a complex and difficult task for my students, who will have had no prior journalism or media experience. Using the program was quite intuitive and user friendly. Without using the tutorial, I was able to teach myself the basics simply by playing, and I feel that is a great way to learn. In this spirit, I want to introduce my students to the basics, but I want them to have authentic learning experiences by playing and doing. This is one of the reasons I'm really drawn to projects like this one: not only am I able to learn, but I also am able to acquire new skills through exploration.

This particular lesson encourages students to add interactive content for a variety of purposes. They are asked to create a survey, publish it, collect data, and use that data to create an infographic that could accompany a story published on our site. The lesson spans a period of four days, and allows students to self-evaluate and reflect. It includes homework assignments and a rubric for evaluation and feedback.

To access these materials, click on "Pages" then "Multimedia Lesson Plans" or "Assignments/Rubrics" in the top right corner of this page.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Springfield Volleyball workouts with fitness trainer Nick Beakus

SHSVB Workout 1 from Mark Davidson on Vimeo.

For most of this week, walking down a set of stairs was a difficult task.

That's because on Monday I worked out with the Springfield Volleyball program at Nick Beakus Personal Training in Perrysburg, Ohio–a small gym located a few miles from my house. For this workout, Nick decided to turn up the intensity for the team, who has been training there since last summer.

When Lori King, my professor for Teaching Multimedia at Kent, assigned us a video project and urged our class to find a story that has to been seen to be told, I wasn't sure exactly what to do. Then I went to a Monday workout, and I knew that this was my story.

These girls work extremely hard in the off season to train for their sport, and going off campus to train at a gym such as Nick Beakus Personal Training is not something every sports team does. Beakus creates a circuit of cardiovascular and strength-building exercises that offer unique challenges each week.

When I showed up in my khakis instead of my gym shorts, and I was toting a camera in my hand, the girls were a little nervous, and some of them couldn't help but stare into the lens. I decided I wanted to give my story a tighter focus, and being a senior in this program is a very serious role, so I focused on next year's seniors.

I tried to capture various angles while the girls rotated around the circuit, and the different movements allowed me to shoot a good deal of action. That was the easy part. Recording the interviews proved to be more difficult.

The seniors were visibly not comfortable talking in front of the camera. I interviewed for of them, and the best sound clip came from a girl who will be a senior, but was not on the team last year. Nick had already started his next class a few minutes after we finished, and with busy schedules (she was preparing more than 80 students to take the AP psychology test and planning a birthday party and I was finishing the yearbook supplement and putting a newspaper to bed), the coach and I couldn't find an evening we both had free.

Subsequently, I had to make due with the few clips from the seniors, finding their best sound bites, and using them to introduce the players at the start of the video.

Editing came much more easily because I had a definite idea of how I wanted the video to look. I scoured the internet for music I could use legally, and found a song I liked on Once I found the music, the editing went by quickly.

Creating this video was a fun experience: I shot video using my DSLR for the first time, and I was able to refresh my skills using the video editing software.

I'm looking forward to developing a program at my school that incorporates more video/broadcasting into my curriculum.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Exploring maps, surveys and timelines


No, this isn't a bait and switch tactic. And it's not an ad. Cross our hearts.

But we need some feedback about the 2015-2016 Meridian. All we're asking is a few questions like "How did you place your order?" or "When did you buy?" So relax. We promise not to collect any top secret information about you, only the answers that you provide.

And you CAN win a free 2016-2017 yearbook. We're going to select someone at random, and it could be you. Didn't order a yearbook this year? No biggie. You can still take the survey, and you'll still be entered.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Overcoming bumps in the podcast road: Episode 2 of Breaking the Grid

It was so much easier the first time.

When I made Episode 1 of Breaking the Grid the Podcast, titled “Becoming an Adult,” the stars seemed to align. The interviews with my girls went exactly as I pictured, the sound quality was good, and editing the content together seemed effortless. Everything I tried seemed to fit perfectly the first time, so when I was planning the second episode, I envisioned a repeat performance.

I could not have been more wrong.

Coming up with the concept was the only part of the process that was easy. Executing the idea came much harder. I wanted to tell people’s stories about small decisions or actions made that had a significant impact, and I seemed to remember a television commercial that I could use. I found it on YouTube, and I knew I had my concept. I drafted a script describing the commercial after doing a little research about the advertising agency that created it and “the snowball effect” itself.

Having some experience with Audacity, I was able to import sounds from the commercial and use the audio duck tool after I recorded my voice-over. I experimented with the envelope tool to increase and decrease the background audio so that it was not too distracting. This was a useful tool that could save my students time when they are creating a multi-layered Audacity file.

Next, it was on to my interviews. And this is where the difficulty began.

I envisioned my episode to be comprised of three to four stories of people who had a “snowball effect” experience, but finding the time and the people to interview presented a challenge.

Fourth quarter grades were due, and I had neglected the mass of papers growing in my school bag in order to concentrate my efforts to help my staffs complete and submit the yearbook and the sixth issue of the school newspaper.

I had a hard time describing what I was looking for to potential interviewees, or they had a hard time thinking of a story from their lives to tell. This brings me to the next thing I learned this week: it is not enough for me to have a clear understanding of the concept for a story or podcast; I need to be able to communicate that vision to others.

Once I had my first interview scheduled, I though my podcast was finally coming together.

I was interviewing a good friend–someone who had a fitting story to tell that would be interesting for others. We sat down, I turned on the microphone, and we did a sound check. But for some reason, even though the microphone was pointed directly to her, when we listened to the few seconds of the recording, her voice sounded like she was at the end of long tunnel. My voice, even though I was sitting to the side, was loud and clear.

She tried to project her voice more, and away we went. For 28 minutes.

When I listened back to the interview, I had two challenges in front of me: the audio of her voice was much quieter than mine, and I’d have to find a way to edit her story down to five to seven minutes at the most in order to fit it into the episode.

When I started recording voice-overs for the interview, I had the microphone pointed directly at me, and I realized my voice was quiet and sounded hollow, like Susan’s had during our interview. When I turned the mic to the side, my voice was louder and more clear.

So I also learned this week to test my equipment often and make sure I can manipulate it properly in order to obtain the best quality of product possible.

After a great deal of time editing, I had the first interview down to about 10 minutes, and I recored my second interview. But the deadline for the project was quickly approaching, and I had a lot more work to do on what I had already started. I decided I had to focus my energy on what I already had, and my second interview would have to be featured in part two of the episode.

From this, I learned that the final product will not always turn out exactly as I had imagined it, and I have to teach my students to learn to roll with the punches and allow the creative process to be fluid.

Overall, I’m happy with the final product, albeit the bumps in the road along the way.