Ben Pettis

Teaching Examples

I have collected here a sample of class exercises, grading rubrics, and lectures that I have prepared for various courses. My hope is that these sample materials will give a sense of my teaching strategies, but also that they may help other instructors as they plan and prepare for their own courses. Except where noted otherwise, these materials are released under a Creative Commons License (CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0) - please feel free to re-use and re-mix these, but please give me attribution and share under a similar license. Thanks!

Jump to a Specific Item:


Photoshop

Photoshop Crash Course Video

Spring 2022 - Intro to Digital Media Production (CA 155)

One of the CA 155 projects requires students to work with Adobe Photoshop to design a promotional poster for an imaginary TV show about their life. This is a challenging assignment, and the difficulty is compounded for students who are using Photoshop for the very first time. While we do provide numerous in-class demos and 1-on-1 instruction, it is still a difficult piece of software to learn. With that in mind, I produced this introductory "crash course" video to provide to students as a supplementary resource. The goal was to include just enough information for them to get comfortable with the interface and begin experimenting with the tools they would need to use for the project. Additionally, I wanted to design the video so that it would be easy for students to skip back and forth to the sections they are most interested in.

This guide introduces the basics of the Photoshop interface and shows you how to do several basic functions that will be necessary for your poster design projects:

  • Importing Images into Photoshop
  • Manipulating and rearranging layers
  • Selecting a subject and removing the background of an image

A copy of the files used during the video demo is available for you to download: Click Here!

Back to Top of Page

Web Design

Basic Webpage Layout with CSS

Spring 2022 - Intro to Digital Media Production (CA 155)
a screenshot of a website with the title 'My Meme Page'

Teaching technical skills can be incredibly difficult - both for the instructor and the students. I had previously tried a format where I demonstrate something by making the entire class watch as I walk through the process step-by-step. Yet the pacing of the demo is never quite right. It's too fast for some students, and for others it feels like I'm just dragging along, leaving them to zone out while they'd rather get to their own projects. And inevitably, I would end up having to help go back over the exact processes that I had just shown.

I have since moved away from that format, and have found a lot of success following the teaching strategy that Miriam Posner has described on her blog. Instead of talking at the class for a while before setting them loose to work on their own, she recommends giving everyone an individual handout with instructions and letting them all work at their own pace from the beginning. I'm still available to help answer questions, but because they have a sheet of written instructions in front of them, I'm able to focus my attention on more students and spend less time answer simple process-based questions.

In this lab exercise, we take some pre-existing HTML code and edit it to customize the display and layout of the page. We’ll do this by adding several HTML container elements and then using an external CSS stylesheet to control how each of those containers should be displayed.

Download a copy of the lab exercise handout here: Click Here (PDF, 148 KB)

A copy of the files used during this exercise is available for you to download: Click Here (Box.com shared folder)

Back to Top of Page

Advanced CSS Techniques

Spring 2022 - Intro to Digital Media Production (CA 155)
A photograph of Bob Ross playing on a childrens playground

In this lab exercise, we work on a website that already has some basic CSS rules applied. We modify the existing rules and add some new ones as a way to practice some more advanced CSS techniques. The purpose of this lab exercise is to give students a chance to practice reading CSS code and understanding how to construct a CSS declaration. Additionally, the lab exercise demonstrates some additional CSS properties and concepts that have been discussed in passing in the assigned reading, but have not been directly covered in class yet. Specifically, this activity shows how to use linear-gradient() to set a background color, how to use the CSS pseudo-classes :hover and :active to add simple interactivity, and finally a use-case for transition: transform .2s; and transform: scale(1.5); to create a very basic animation effect.

Download a copy of the lab exercise handout here: Click Here (PDF, 112 KB)

A copy of the files used during this exercise is available for you to download: Click Here (Box.com shared folder)

Back to Top of Page

Validating, Testing, and Exporting Websites

Spring 2022 - Intro to Digital Media Production (CA 155)
A screenshot of the W3C Markup Validation Service website

I use this lab exercise during the last day of class that we have prior to the submission deadline. Ideally at this point in the project, students should be mostly finished with their websites and will soon be ready to export and submit their work. This lab exercise serves as an instruction guide for how to ensure that all of their web files stay together (by creating a .zip archive) and making sure that students know how to submit their work to be graded. Additionally, the lab exercise is an opportunity to reiterate the importance of writing accessible HTML code. Beginning coders often forget to include alt attributes on images, or may write incorrect code that ends up displaying okay in their own browsers—but may not work properly in all settings. This lab exercise asks that students submit their HTML and CSS code to the W3C validation services to identify possible errors and warnings in their code.

Download a copy of the lab exercise handout here: Click Here (PDF, 197 KB)

Back to Top of Page

Audio Editing

Noise Reduction in Adobe Audition

Fall 2021 - Intro to Digital Media Production (CA 155)
A screenshot of the Spectral Frequency Graph in Adobe Audition. The majority of the screen is a purple, red, and orange graph with several bright spots on the bottom of the screen

This lab activity is used toward the middle of our unit on audio editing and podcast production. At this point, many students have had a chance to begin experiment with basic editing in Adobe Audition - including cutting clips and re-arranging tracks. Many have also begun to try recording their own audio.

This lab activity builds on this prior knowledge and showcases some of Audition's powerful noise-reduction tools. It walks through 3 methods for reducing un-wanted noise in an audio recording:

  • Using the EQ to reduce a single tone (or range of tones)
  • Using "Noise Prints" and the "Noise Reduction" tool to remove background hissing sounds
  • Using the Auto Heal Tool to remove a highly targeted selection of audio

Download a copy of the assignment description here: Click Here (PDF, 158 KB)

A copy of the files used during the lab is available for you to download: Click Here (Box.com shared folder)

Back to Top of Page

Public Speaking

Bad Manuscripts

Fall 2018 - Intro to Public Speaking (SPCM 200)
A split image. The left side shows the American flag on the moon. The right side shows President John F. Kennedy giving his moon speech

Objective: Provide students ideas for how they might choose to write and prepare their manuscripts for an upcoming speech assignment. In this activity, the focus is on the actual manuscript document that they will use for their speech delivery. The activity emphasizes formatting details such as font size and spacing, as well as delivery cues for the speaker. This activity also reminds students that although they may think otherwise, manuscript delivery is in many ways more challenging than impromptu speaking.

Download a copy of the assignment description here: Click Here (PDF, 263 KB)

Back to Top of Page