How to Find Copyright-Flexible Music for Multimedia Presentations

This video provides one method for finding copyright flexible (Creative Commons) music via SoundCloud.

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2017 Arch Street Prize for Undergraduate Writers

Hello Students! Have you written a work of nonfiction or fiction that is under 10,000 words? If so, you may be interested in submitting to the Arch Street Prize for Undergraduate Writers.

Arch Street Press is pleased to present its annual prize for America’s best college writer. The Arch Street Prize is designed to stimulate interest in writing and to promote today’s extraordinary young writers. The contest is open to any undergraduate or graduate student between the ages of 18 and 30 who has not previously had a book published. Arch Street Press offers each winner a standard book contract for a future work, together with a mentoring program and $1,000 cash prize.

The manuscript must be a work of nonfiction or fiction that does not exceed 10,000 words.The contest deadline is May 31, 2017.

Include a cover sheet with your name, address, phone number and the title of your manuscript.

Put your name on the cover sheet only; to ensure that every manuscript finalist is evaluated with the utmost fairness, all manuscripts are submitted to the judges without any identifying material.

Arch Street Press accepts both email (preferred: contactATarchstreetpressDOTorg) and postal mail submissions. Manuscripts may be mailed to:
Robert Rimm, Managing Editor
Arch Street Press
1122 County Line Road
Bryn Mawr, PA 19010

For full contest details, please visit

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Welcome Spring 2017 Students

If this is your first time visiting my multimedia composition blog, welcome. You will find resources related to copyright and fair use, technology programs, troubleshooting WordPress, and much more. Many of the resources have been built in direct response to student questions or struggles

lightbulb_image_crIf you can’t find a resource that you think would be helpful, please let me know so that I can add it. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, even if they seem like they have easy answers. Other students may be struggling with the same question.

Also, times change quickly in our techno-world. If you notice a broken link or an outdated resource, please let me know.

Happy composing!


Image from Backdoor Survival on Flickr.
Creative Commons BY-NC 2.0 license.
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Finding Copyright Flexible Images using Flickr

Need help finding copyright flexible images for a multimedia presentation? This video offers a step-by-step approach to finding media you can legally use via Flickr. Be sure to pay attention to the license type attached to each image and use only images that do not claim “all rights reserved.”

Want to know more? Click the play button to watch this two-minute video.


Please note that the “license type” button also allows you to search for U.S. Government works, which are considered “public domain.” You can use any public domain image in a multimedia project.


Please let me know if you have questions.

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Writing Great Blog Posts in Four Steps

I was playing around with Venngage this morning and designed this list of four steps to follow to write great blog posts.

The best bloggers pay special attention to #4, revision. It is a myth that blogs utilize informal, stream-of-consciousness writing. The purpose of all blogs is to gain readership, which requires great writing.

Most blog readers value engaging content, concise language, and readability.

Speaking of readability, please click on the image below to see the full-sized infographic.


Writing Great Blog Posts in Four Steps – Brainstorm, Plan, Write, and Polish.


This graphic doesn’t take Search Engine Optimization into consideration. SEO can be increased by adding tags and repeating common keywords in the body of a post.

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Fall 2016 Students

Hello Fall 2016 Students!

Thanks for visiting the Multimedia Composition blog. Please take a look around. If you don’t see a resource here that you need, please let me know so that I can either help you find it or start developing it.


Nicole Piasecki

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My Concept in 60 Experiment

The Natural – An Oral History Trailer

I was very inspired by The Olive Project by Erin Anderson when creating this oral history. I want to create more pieces that tell family stories and present them in a curated collage format so that each piece contributes to a greater whole. I don’t believe that a linear style would work for composing family history.

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Multimedia Composition Syllabus Sample

This post includes a syllabus sample that I have revised during the course of the 2016 DMAC Institute and will continue to revise for my fall of 2016 online class entitled “Multimedia Composition.” I wanted to share this syllabus here for students and colleagues to get a sense of my new iteration of the course.

Syllabus Teaser Image

Piasecki Multimedia Composition Sample Syllabus. (pdf) – Launches in a new window.

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Captioning Multimodal Texts

The graphic below is a rectangular pictorial chart with vertical alignment. The image is titled “Five Ways the Think Rhetorically About Captioning.”

Since infographics are not accessible to screen readers, I have decided to caption this document in two ways, textually and aurally. In addition to trying to create an accessible art form, my reasoning for doing this is to gain experience with the rhetorical nature of captioning and to consider the decisions I must make when captioning a graphic with different tools and in different forms. Below, I’ve included the audio file and a textual version of this infographic.

Audio Infographic:


Textual Infographic: Five Ways to Think Rhetorically about Captioning

  1. Captioning is a research activity: Captioning images, movies, music, and voice requires close reading of texts. Captioning helps researchers identify and understand linguistic and conceptual patterns.
  2. Captioning inspires creativity: Captioning is its own art form that can inform the design process from the start. In Sean Forbes’s Music Video, I’m Deaf on YouTube, he creates several layers of meaning through creative captioning and visual communication.
  3. Captioning is good universal design: All designs should integrate captions to enhance readers’ experiences by providing multiple ways to access the text. Texts are more effective for all users when captioning is part of the design process, instead of an afterthought.
  4. Captioning is inclusive: Captioning allows all users to access a text, regardless of their abilities of preferred methods of engagement and access.
  5. Captioning requires rhetorical judgment: The captioner must consider the needs, abilities and concerns of his/her audience. Auto caption software doesn’t work because it cannot think rhetorically. The best way to understand the complex rhetorical nature of captioning is to caption a simple text (image, video, or audio) and track your rhetorical decisions and questions during the process.


Visual Infographic: Click the linked image below to launch the full-size infographic.

5 ways to think about captioning cropped

Visual Infographic: 5 Ways to Think Rhetorically about Captioning

This information was drawn from a variety of resources, including:

The best way to understand the complex rhetorical nature of captioning is to caption a simple text (image, video, and/or audio) and track your rhetorical decisions and questions during the composing process.
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Free Infographic Creators

Venngage allows students (or anyone) to create and customize a variety of types of infographics. I’ve personally used this site and love it. One note of caution is that you cannot download image files of your Venngage projects unless you subscribe. Students who do not wish to subscribe can link to their files but not embed them in blogs or websites.  You can link to Venngage by clicking the following link:

PiktoChart works similarly to Venngage. Students have used this program in the past with great success. I was impressed with the quality of the graphics they created. I haven’t personally used this program and don’t know its quirks first hand. You can link to the PiktoChart website by clicking the following link: is a tool used by a couple of my students in the spring of 2016. One student noted: “I really enjoyed pulling together the infographic. I feel that was my strongest assignment all semester. I especially liked using a tool as slick as It is really easy to use, but theresults look very professional.” To experiment with click the following link:

I’ve also recently posted a resource on free photo editing programs, just in case you want to create an infographic from scratch.

Looking for infographic inspiration? You could also check out the book Best American Infographics 2015 (ISBN 978-0-547-97451-4) for some beautiful examples of artful infographics.

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Free Photo Editing Programs

David Nield from Field Guide published a list of free photo editors that have some of the same features as Adobe Photoshop. I have not personally used any of these programs, but Nield does a nice job demonstrating the interfaces through screen captures and description of the features of these programs:

  • Adobe Photoshop Express
  • GIMP
  • Pixlr
  • PicMonkey

If you do experiment with one of these, I would be very interested in hearing your impressions and first-hand reflection on the adequacy of a given program to do more than just basic cropping and color correcting.

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The Basics of Fair Use

Check out this Copyright Crash Course resource from the University of Texas that helps users understand fair use. The information presented is based on recent court decisions in fair use cases that have set a new legal precedent. The hyperlinked webpages on the Copyright Crash Course are also really helpful.

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Multimodal Story Samples

These two readings demonstrate some captivating possibilities of multimodal texts.

Middle C:

Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek:

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Thoughts on Story Structure

Having trouble structuring your story?

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a no single formula to follow that created great stories every time? Of course such a formula doesn’t exist, but great stories do share some common characteristics.

In most interesting stories, elements of tension are revealed and a character in the story is forced to grapple with that tension. There has to be something at stake for the narrator or main characters and/or the reader, and the writer has to help the reader into the story and help him/her care about the struggle presented. It’s best if you can introduce that tension early on so that the reader knows the purpose and gains investment early.

The conflict in a story, however, doesn’t have to be major. It can even be an internal conflict or a small, nagging annoyance that guides a character’s actions.

You’ve probably heard the term “narrative arc.” This is a fancy way of describing the most basic story structure that can serve as a starting point when thinking about your own story’s structure. If you use Google to find images of a narrative arc, you’ll come across many diagrams that look like similar to this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-10 at 8.30.23 PM

Writer’s Digest shares one perspective on creating a narrative arc here by introducing the concepts of beginning, middle, and end and what each part of a story must effectively do to be successful.

Of course, experimental writers often push back on the idea that a story needs a traditional narrative arc. Reading collage essays may help you get ideas for structure and jumping off points that can inspire a less linear story structure.

In any case, the structure should serve to connect the reader with the story and motivate him/her to continue reading/viewing your work from beginning to end, while staying true to your own vision.

Whew. That is a lot to accomplish. It might help to create a story board for your in-progress work to see an X-ray of the structure or experiment with a variety of approaches to sequencing your work.


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Linking to Venngage Infographics

If you don’t want to pay for Venngage’s upgraded membership, you’ll only be able to link others to the Venngage website to share your infographic. It’s true, you won’t be able to embed the full copy of the beautiful image you created into your blog.

How can you make your blog post look great and encourage others to click the link to your infographic? Here’s one idea.

Take a screen grab of the infographic you created using the Snipping Tool (Windows) or Command / Shift / 4 (Mac).

Edit your WordPress post (or create a new one)

Click the “Add media” icon and upload your screenshot image.

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 1.37.09 PM

Insert the image you snapped of your infographic and align it to the right of your screen.

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 2.16.04 PM

This infographic sample was borrowed from Best American Infographics 2015 for educational purposes.

Write well-written text that introduces the infographic to the left of the image so that you can entice your reader to click the link to your Venngage infographic in its entirety. You might also add a link right on the infographic image snip itself so that if viewers click on it, it takes them to the full image on Venngage.

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