Category Archives: Projects

Smile for your mind map

Mind Mapping 101

Mind mapping sounds like something diabolical scientists do… but in actuality, it’s a simple tool to process the scope of work and direction for any project or idea. Like your average brainstorm, it usually starts with a circle in the center of a blank page, and expands with arrows out from the center connecting other free floating ideas, eventually leading to a page full of words, doodles, and color…

Once the concept has been thoroughly mapped however, people usually don’t understand that a mind map can and should be simple, easy to read, and easy to understand.

How do we do that?

  1. Start with a firecracker
    • Consider how you frame the context of your map and you’ll find that a good starting point can lead to all kinds of interesting connections and discoveries. For example, if you put the words “Users ignore our product” in the center of your mind map, you’re going to have a much different outcome than if you put “Users are buying from the competition!”
  2. Speed map
    • A wise man once told me to read every book twice – once for feeling, once for meaning. Sadly, I don’t have time to read most books once, but most of us have time to draw two mind maps, so try not to get bogged down in the details during the mind mapping process the first time. First time around, just write what you feel!
  3. Keep it brief
    • As you speed map, try to limit yourself to 3 connections per node (the bubble or box containing the concept). Beyond 3 and you might be reaching for connections that don’t exist. Less than 3 and you’re just not thinking. By limiting yourself to 3 connections the first time around, you’ll find that you spend less time thinking, and more time mapping.
  4. Value the connections
    • Simple lines and arrows suffice for most mind maps, but mind mapping possibilities are endless if you consider the value of the connection. Label your connections, use colors, and draw unique symbols to represent connections. Your connections are as valuable as your nodes. As an example, the words “Fruit” and “Dried Cranberries” might connect well together, but “Fruit” and “Salad” might not connect well without an arrow labeled “Dried Cranberries”.
  5. Mind mapping should move at the speed of authenticity
    • I know I just told you to speed map, but if this is your second time around slow it down! By the time you get your first (and most pressing) concepts on the page, try only adding and taking away from the map when you can justify the action. Because it’s an iterative process, don’t expect it to be finished in just a few minutes. Return to it after a day or a week if time will allow and you might see a new node or connection you hadn’t before.

In the end, mind mapping is a tool best exercised with patience. I’ve been promoting mind mapping for a while now, and I’ve found that most people’s reservations about it stem from thinking it’s a waste of time. However, if you ever learned to make an outline before writing a paper, consider it the parallel process for project development. Take it one step at a time, and maybe your map will be as beautiful as the one above. For some good mind mapping tools try using Mind42 or CmapTools!


Design Thinking 101

Design thinking is key to maximizing both brainstorming potential and project direction. Thanks to the D-School at Stanford, the picture above highlights 5 simple steps to designing a better project or product. This blogpost however is not reiterate how to design think, but rather what design thinking can offer you. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider design thinking for your next project:

  1. Perspective
    • Gaining or even changing perspective is difficult. We’re often so close to our own biases that we don’t even need to articulate them. Deliberately empathizing with the target audience is an invaluable exercise in changing perspective. Your dedication may be unshakable, but your approach may be askew. Try mapping out the life of, and needs of, your target audience, and defining what is most important to them before proceeding with innovation.
  2. Fresh voices
    • People who both lead and dominate discussion, don’t have to be in charge of either of those roles in design thinking. Encourage your quietest team members to contribute by deliberately silencing the leaders, choose a random facilitator for each session, or ask your team to bring inspiring youtube clips or artifacts to the meeting. The opening stages to design thinking should be wild and unpredictable.
  3. Planned brainstorming
    • The only thing worse than a long-winded office meeting, is a long-winded brainstorm session. Planned brainstorming has a limit, and design thinking will allow you and your team to close the door on brainstorming in a collective and convenient way. Try having your teammates bring ideas to the meeting before it starts, have them share their ideas with another, then present on each other’s ideas. Feel comfortable closing the door on a brainstorm session when it’s time to prototype.
  4. Distillation of ideas
    • Ideas are always good until they’re shared, then we may realize most of them are flimsy. There’s no better way to distill ideas into useful prototyping directions than to bounce them off other team members. Keep in mind that by empathizing wholeheartedly with the target audience, your ideas should resonate well with your team.
  5. Rewarding experimentation
    • By the time you move on to prototyping and testing your ideas, you should feel good about how radical your brainstorming process became. It’s equally as valuable to cull bad ideas from the table as it is to find the right idea to proceed with. And as the process becomes increasingly refined, feel free to return to the brainstorming process for something a bit more specific.

Design thinking doesn’t have to be the kryptonite of your group focus – and don’t expect it to be the savior of every project. Try it out here and there with intentionality. Tap into the creative potential of your team by pushing them to the edge of their comfort zones and welcoming their ideas as invaluable parts of the process. So next time you hear someone suggest design thinking a solution, give it a chance!


DLC Data Fall 2014

J term is a time for reflection, evaluation and planning in the DLC. As a graduate assistant, I was tasked with compiling the statistics on DLC usage during Fall 2014, collected through three online booking systems. The data focuses on three service areas that the DLC provides: individual consulting sessions, digital recording booths as well as the community Design Sp@ce.


Appointments Statistics

Through the online appointment system, users can select a time/day, a service, and a graduate assistant or staff member to work with. We offer four general service areas: Audio and Video Help, Blogging and Web Tools, Instructional Technology, as well as Presentation and Graphic Design. There is also an “other” category if the topic doesn’t fall under one of the pre-established categories.

The data from the online appointment system shows that during the fall semester, we served a total of 93 unique users, who booked 232 appointments through the online reservation system. We logged a total of 116 hours of consulting sessions.

In terms of the popularity of topics, Blogging and Web Tools was the most popular category as 59% of the consulting sessions were on this topic. Audio and Video Help came in second, with 26% of the total sessions. 8% of the sessions focused on Presentation and Graphic Design. Instructional Technology represented 3% of the documented appointments, however, this statistic does not reflect appointments booked outside of the system. 4% of the sessions were on other topics.

In terms of frequency of appointments throughout the semester, October was our busiest month, with a total of 78 appointments. While we were ramping up in September when the online booking system was first introduced, we logged 33 appointments. In November and December, we logged 64 and 57 appointments respectively.

Recording Booth Statistics

We have two recording booths, which can also be reserved through an online booking system. The data shows that during last semester, 50 unique users booked a total of 176 recording sessions which lasted about 300 hours.

A closer look at the schedule reveals that as the semester progressed, the booking steadily grew, culminating in the most appointments in December, which accounted for 40% of the total sessions. Based on our observation, recording booths were used primarily as a quiet space for Skype and phone calls, Adobe Connect sessions, recording voiceovers for Podcasts, Camtasia screen capture projects, and video editing.

Design Sp@ce Statistics

The Design Sp@ce has proven to be a popular choice for hosting events and classes on campus. During Fall 2014, we hosted a total of 59 unique gatherings which included 8 graduate courses, 27 events, 17 meetings and 4 workshops. Among the 59 gatherings, 18 were recurring. Recurring classes were the norm, as 7 out of 8 classes were scheduled multiple times during the semester. Among the 27 community events, there were receptions, potlucks, movie nights, morning yoga, weekly dance club, blood drives, presentations, guest speaker sessions, etc.

This diversity of events demonstrates that the DLC continued to be a campus event hub while the Holland Center was being renovated . The 17 meetings were mainly class discussions or club meetings. The majority of the 4 workshops were sponsored by the DLC, with a focus on popular topics such as WordPress and screen capture. The space was also used for other purposes such as video filming.


Below is the infographic representation of the statistics, made using Piktochart. Infographic stands for the graphic representation of information or data. Piktochart is a website that allows users to easily create an infographic chart through using the existing templates or creating their own. Piktochart is very user friendly with its drag-and-drop feature. Once the chart has been created, it can be either downloaded as a static image or pdf file or viewed online which shows the interactive features.

Click here to view the online version.

DLC data (1)


“Next Generation” Learning Breakfast Conversation – Deep Learning with Instructional Simulations

What?    Pastries, Coffee & Tea, and Collegial Conversation
Where?  Design Space @ the Digital Learning Commons, 420 Calle Principal / 001 McGowan
When?   9:00-10:30am, Friday, February 21, 2014
Who? MIIS Faculty, interested staff and students
Seating is Limited! Please RSVP online by Wednesday, February 19, 2014. No technical skills or hardware required!

The Digital Learning Commons is pleased to invite MIIS faculty as well as interested staff and students to the next breakfast conversation on effective and emerging ‘next generation’ teaching and learning practices, part of the DLC’s “Next Generation Learning Project”:

Inspired by some of the experiments we see taking place around the globe, and on our own campus, the “Next Generation Learning Project” promotes discussions, activities, and design challenges that help the MIIS community explore the thinking behind educational innovations. From MOOCs, “flipped” classrooms, and various permutations of “online learning,” to more subtle shifts in the way learners and teachers interact, the Next Generation Learning Project seeks to explore how teaching and learning are evolving, in our individual lives, on our campuses, and in the communities with which we intersect through our many immersive learning opportunities.

The topic of focus for this breakfast conversation will be the use of instructional simulations or “sims” to engage students and their potential for enhancing learning experiences that activate deep knowledge formation and critical reflection.

Invited faculty panelists for this session:

Dr. Catherine M. Ashcraft
Visiting Assistant Professor
Middlebury College
Dr. Kent Glenzer
Associate Professor
Monterey Institute, Development Policy & Practice
Dr. Michael McGinnis
Associate Professor
Monterey Institute, International Environmental Policy
Dr. Bill Potter
Professor of Nonproliferation Studies
Founding Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Participants will have opportunities to hear about effective practices from our guest faculty, discuss and reflect upon pedagogical opportunities (and challenges) presented by the use of simulations, and take away some new ideas for future course development.

Make a Narrated Video in PowerPoint

Welcome to today’s workshop on narrating and recording in PowerPoint!

Please sign in!

Make video

  • You can work with one of your own presentations, or you can use this template google presentation.
  • Download the presentation as a powerpoint file (click the image below to see how).

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 2.36.21 PM

Share video

Similar Resources

  • Keynote
  • Quicktime
  • Camtasia
  • iPad Apps: Doceri, Explain Everything, ScreenChomp


Thank you for coming!  Please fill out our feedback form.


TEDx Student Speaker Opportunity


Have you always dreamed of speaking at TEDx?  TEDxMonterey is seeking an inspired student presenter or performer for the April 13, 2013 TEDxMonterey event!

Wednesday, February 27 in Irvine Auditorium from 8:30am – 4:00pm the Institute is hosting the Live Simulcast from the 2013 TED Conference in Long Beach .  Review the day’s exciting program and REGISTER to attend this free community screening.

Lunchtime TEDx Talk Pitch Session
During the lunch break from 1-2:00pm in Irvine Auditorium the MIIS student community is invited to pitch their ‘ideas worth spreading’ to an expert panel who will make the final recommendation to the TEDxMonterey curating team.  Pitch guidelines and sign up below:

Pitch Guidelines

  • 3 minutes or less per pitch
  • No slides
  • Review the TED commandments
  • Story, Talk or Performance welcome
  • Submit a 3 minute video if you are unable to attend in person
  • Come prepared!
  • Make an appointment with the DLC to pre-pitch your idea, practice, and receive feedback on your pitch
  • Sign Up to Pitch your idea worth spreading below!

Need inspiration?
Check out MIIS student presenters from previous TEDxMonterey events:

TEDxMonterey – Aaron Ebner – Sharing Empowerment

TEDxMonterey- Whitney Anderson – What used to be…

3D Map

We’re halfway through our community-driven project to create a 3-D model of campus on Google Earth. Learn how you can help!

Come to the Digital Learning Commons to learn Google SketchUp and help us create a 3-D model of campus on Google Earth. Last semester we launched this project and completed models of some building on campus.

Each project participant or group will have the opportunity to create a model of one of our campus buildings and compete for prizes. Prizes will be awarded at the end of the semester to the top models and their creator(s). These models will be featured throughout campus and submitted to Google Earth.

Whether you would like to compete, help your friends, or simply show off your SketchUp skills, all are welcome – students, staff, faculty, alumni, and friends!


MIIS Lion is a student-run, student-driven initiative that gathers dedicated translation and localization management future stars to promote MIIS internationally, while providing an environment for everyone in the MIIS community to learn and discuss new ideas.  Most importantly, students gain firsthand experience to showcase to their future employers.

MIIS Lion can provide the following services:

Content Creation:

It is never enough to just translate the content.  Content must be attractive and appropriate (both linguistically and culturally) for the targeted audience.  MIIS Lion Project Managers allocate resources and assist with QA, while translators “transcreate” the content to suit the audience.  Currently MIIS Lion can cover all the languages that are offered by the MIIS TILM program (i.e. Chinese, Korean, Japanese, French, German, Russian, and Spanish).


Businesses lose their opportunity often because they cannot communicate to their audience in their native language.  MIIS Lion is currently helping the school with its marketing through online media such as blogging, facebook, twitter, etc.  Content published using these outlets are created by students who speak the languages and have a deep understanding of the school.


MIIS Lion also assists with localization.  In the past, the group has localized the website of MIIS, providing information of MIIS’ academic programs to speakers of the 7 languages.  PMs and engineers also resolved technical issues associated with localization along the way.  Currently, speakers of different languages can access information on MIIS’ academic programs, videos, blogs, etc., just by clicking the top right hand corner of the landing page.

MIIS Radio

MIIS Radio started in the Fall of 2011, and is an open platform for the Monterey Institute community to share stories, events and cross-cultural experiences. This online forum is modeled after community radio, with segments, including feature stories, interviews, talk shows and current events. We encourage participation from any interested community members – see How to Contribute.

You can also make radio part of your personal academic and professional development. Every semester we offer a one or two credit radio directed study for interested Monterey Institute students.

MIIS Radio is part of the Digital Learning Commons and receives support from Student Council and the President’s Office.


The DLC has been a formative partner with the local and independently organized TEDxMonterey events, connecting the Monterey community through ideas worth spreading and cultivating new connections between innovators, scientists, artists, community activists, and global dreamers. Past events include:

TEDxMonterey 2013: Leading Out
TEDxMonterey 2012: Sea Change
TEDxYouth@Monterey 2011: Inspire Tomorrow, Today
TEDxMonterey 2011: Cultivating Innovation
TEDxMonterey 2010: Be the Solution