Tout Instruction Manual: Instruction for Educators by Amanda Arp and Karla Koch

Tout Instruction Manual:

Instruction for Educators

By: Amanda Arp and Karla Koch


This manual is meant to teach the use of Tout in the classroom. Tout is an online video service that allows users to view and upload fifteen second videos. This technology is the video version of Twitter and can be uploaded to various social networks to instantly publish updates. Touts can be a versatile tool to enable teaching and learning in the classroom. This manual will demonstrate how to 1) sign up for Tout, 2) create an original Tout Post, 3) respond to a Tout, 4) design a Tout for classroom use,  and 5) design assignments using Tout.


Sign up for the Tout:

The first step to using this program is to sign up for a New Account, which can be done by going to Click the sign up button in the right hand side of the screen (as seen in the picture below). Options to sign up include using Facebook, Twitter, or “Other”. While it is easy to sign up with Facebook or Twitter, there are privacy issues to consider as Tout could have access to users’ friends, profile information, phone numbers and addresses if they are not protected by privacy restrictions. Consider warning students about the possible access to this information when signing up for new accounts.   


For instructional purposes, choose “other”.  In order to sign up, provide an email and password and receive an email confirmation.  After receiving the email confirmation and logging in, the user is now ready to begin.


There are two ways to create a Tout.  One is creating an original video and the other is responding to another Tout. 


Create an original Tout post:

To create an original post, find the button in the upper left of the page with a white and blue plus sign labeled +New Tout (see directly below). Click this button to reach the next page, the Tout upload page designed to create or upload the video.


Videos can be created in multiple ways: a computer with a camera, a digital handheld video camera, or a smartphone or equivalent phone. When using a computer that has a camera, either use the Tout website to record the new Tout (by giving the site permission to use the computer’s camera and microphone, seen in the top image below) or upload film from the computer, which could be created on the computer or uploaded from a smartphone or camera, directly to the site (seen in middle image below). Tabs on the right-hand side of the window allow navigation between these two options.


The length of the video is limited to fifteen seconds. Any footage after fifteen seconds will not appear in the Tout. This new Tout will take several minutes to be accessible through the account email, the account homepage, and, if in response to another video, on that video’s page.


Create a response to a Tout:

The other way to create a Tout is to reply to another one. In order to do this, search for videos by using the darker blue search tool next to the

+ New Tout button. Once a video is found, click the blue reply button at the bottom of the screen. This will bring up the Tout creation window. Follow the previously described steps to respond to the Tout. Once completed, the congratulations screen will appear (seen in bottom image on the previous page). Click the X in the upper right hand corner to return to the main screen.


Design a Tout for classroom use:

To use a Tout in a learning capacity, first create the Tout. Be sure to place a description of the video in the text box after creating the video and before publishing it. Students can access Touts by searching for the name of the person who created the Tout or the hashtags or words in the Tout’s description. By placing this same description on the syllabus, the students could easily search for, access and respond to the Tout. Warning: Once submitted, Tout responses make take several minutes to appear.


Design assignments using Tout: 

Because of the time limit of the Touts, the assignments would need to be specific and the responses required would have to be concise. Having students prepare their responses ahead of time could help with concision. An assignment option for this would be the use of a 10 word summary – or 10 word essay. This option requires preparation on the part of the students and an understanding of the importance of deep understanding before the summary occurs. This seems like an easy task, yet could be vacuous if not done correctly. 


10 Word Summary assignment

The following is a mini-lesson in the 10 word summary showing a great response example and a poor response example.  Demonstrating an example of the quality response helps students to understand the high expectations for this “short” assignment. 


10 Word Summary example (Click link below and then start with the top video):


Transcript of original video:

“Hi students. Please give us a ten-word summary for Chapter 3, the Russian chapter. A ten word summary must be content rich, very specific, and cover all the information in the third chapter. Good luck!”


Transcript of response video:

“Poor example response one:  Alice and family leave Russia in the middle of the night.”

This example is labeled “poor example” as the response misses the big ideas of the chapter as far as Alice is concerned.  The summary does not talk about the big event in the chapter. While it does summarize what is happening on one level, there is no evaluation of the events.


“Quality example response two:  Alice’s ingenuity saves Brad from confiscation by Russian Border Patrol.”  

This example is labeled as a “quality example” because there are some words that show higher order thinking and deep understanding on the part of the students. Alice’s ingenuity shows that she used her intelligence to problem solve a solution to Brad being taken. The phrase Russian Border Patrol highlights they were at the border of Russian and were being stopped by the Patrol there, which shows the circumstances of the end of the chapter and gets to the big ideas of the chapter in a more detailed and thoughtful manner than the poor response. 


Reader response assignment:

Another use of the Tout could be a reading response – students would be able to give two to three sentences in the fifteen second time limit – so again they would need to be prepared

ahead of time. By naming the article and author, the professor sets up what students are responding to. Student’s do NOT name the article and title in their response but simply start the reading response so they could make the most of their precious time.  This also organizes the content.  The syllabus could name the prompt and the deadline to respond. 


Reader response video example (Click link below and then start with the top video):


 Transcript for reader response question:  Our book is called Inanimate Alice. Inanimate means not endowed with life, not animated, dull, spiritless and dead. So why is our book called Inanimate Alice when Alice is the narrator and is growing and changing and moving?”


Transcript for student response:  “I think our book is called Inanimate Alice because by working with technology there is a part of her that stays inanimate and is not changing, not moving, and not developing.”


Utilizing the Tout to ask higher order thinking questions wherein open responses are required demonstrates the possibility of the Tout to create a digital classroom environment by allowing the students to see the professor asking the question. This dynamic can help professors adjust expectations and delivery based on the responses of the students. Another benefit of using Tout to create a digital classroom environment is that the students can listen to other students’ responses, which allows students to learn from each other.


Just the beginning:

These are just a few of the uses for Tout in the classroom. The possibilities for using this program are numerous because of the ease of use with the ability to create and upload the videos from multiple mediums. By being able to put a face to the names of the students, this technology can bring another dimension to the classroom.


There is a connection

In the article The I:Phone effect: How Apple’s IPhone changed Everything examines the past four years and the rapid changes that have occurred due to the technology launched with the IPhone and extended with the IPad.  I believe there is a connection between the rise in Iphones and Ipads and the lack of writing or text in the new digital humanities.  Last year at the Lab School, we went 1 to 1 and, as a Laboratory School there was a research study going on with half of the students getting Ipads and the other half of the students getting MacBooks.  While both are Apple products, the use of the Ipads by the students was found to be lacking compared to the full computer option of the Macbooks. There was little doubt that the IPad came up short as far as the students were concerned.  They had a difficult time completing assignments at the same level as students who were given Macbooks.  Why?  Because the wordprocessing features of the IPad were very difficult.  Students created their assignments on the ipads but they had couldn’t print them very easily and they were very slow at typing them.  Students were at a disadvantage if they had the Ipad.  Sure there was a debate about this among other schools who were justifying their decision of buying the cheaper IPads.  There was no debate among the students or teachers at the Price Laboratory School – the Macbooks were the best tool for the students to have because the students could do the highest quality work on them.  The teachers came to believe the IPads were more like toys and the Macbooks were more like tools.  By utilizing a system that operates more like a game and less like a tool, students found ways to write less and complete the assignments more easily.  As we examine the use of digital technologies and the changing face of the humanities or better yet a new field of digital humanities, we need to always be examining the connection between the tool and the end product.  If it is difficult to use in the ways we are accustomed, but is “sexy” to use and entices users with bells and whistles, then people will use it and choose the easier, “sexier” path. 


.As I try to settle on an idea to write about today, I am skittering about between articles, Ted Talks and my own delicious posts.  The connections between the ideas in Google Kills Print Frommer’s Guides. Now it’s all Metadata and the essay from Stephen Marche Literature is Not Data: Against Digital Humanities at first seem to be quite different topics but ultimately bring me  back to the same cautionary tale.  There is something wrong in Denmark.  The article about Google buying Frommer’s Guides and then eliminating their publication smacks of foul play and seems really like a poor decision on their part as some things need to be printed. The demographic of tourists is predominantly retired people who might be becoming more digitally savvy but still would benefit from having a book in their hands as they are out walking the streets of some new town or mountain.  I remember well when UNI digitized all of the Schedule of Classes and I had to log in every single time I wanted to think about a class.  I took a lot of time pondering what I was going to take weighing all of my options. I have many of my old booklets and it was fun to look back and see what I was considering taking back when I first started.  I also have my old books that I used in class and the notes I wrote in them so carefully.  These are documents of my life – my life in school – and they are precious treasures to me.   UNI had some backlash from students the first year the schedule was totally digital and they made it printable the next year.  I am used to the new schedule and could print it now if I wanted to, I guess.  Yet it isn’t the same.  I think travel guides are a bit like this.  Now if Google just wants to push everyone to use their online travel guides instead of Frommer’s then it seems that this is the stuff for anti-trust lawsuits and the courts.  Making the options fewer for consumers – Anti-trust law is there to “protect public interest in media markets” and Google is definitely a media market. 

What does this have to do with my Delicious post?  The idea that Stephen Marche is trying to get across is that literature is not data and cannot be digitized exclusively because there are real tangible consequences that must be understood before it is too late.  He discusses in his article one of the very first pieces of literature is about a ruin and only a small piece of it exists because it was ruined – the perfect irony of that brings tears to my eyes.   

I am glad there is a debate going on about what is acceptable as far as digitizing literature but I think the debate needs to occur in other ways as well.  The actions of Google to buy out and then eliminate Frommers Guidebooks are the start of something that feels too familiar – motives of money, monopolies with less options and freedom. 


In defense of starting at the end

I am a “big idea” person.  As a creative person, I love thinking in terms of big ideas and then working backwards from those ideas to get to the end product.  I am not sure I know another way to create.  The article McCann Erickson Gives New IKEA catalog a  Vitamin Pill examines the idea of backwards creation “we believe then we see if we can do anything about it” which is how Google Glass also seemed to be born.  He had the idea and then worked to find a way to create it. When creating in an emerging and complex form like the MOOC,  it seems that first we need to work on believing that this method of teaching can work and work well and then try to see if we can do everything we can to make sure it happens.  The problem for me is buy in or believing in the MOOC  as a legitimate delivery system for high quality instruction.  AS a people person, I have watched how much I learn because of the relationship I establish with my professors.  As a student, I have always walked into a new classroom with full buy-in to what is being offered and an open mind ready to absorb the professor’s expertise interconnected with my own point of view.  To me it is a magical and transformative experience that I have loved so much.  As I am nearing the end of my graduate program, I feel torn about how much I will miss the classroom and those moments  where “wonder and wisdom” occur.  My good friends Kurt Meredith and Jeannie Steele esteemed UNI Professors use that phrase to describe teaching and learning.  I was skeptical that a MOOC could deliver that type of experience for me as a student.  One of the most exciting things I found in this work is how many MOOCs are being offered from amazing professors around the world.  I will be able to keep learning and exploring from some of the best minds in the world as long as I want to do the work and walk through the door of the classroom – the virtual classroom.

  So what needs to be present to make it an experience of “wonder and wisdom” for the students enrolled?   In terms of rhetorical arguments, there needs to be ethos, pathos and logos.  I learned so much from my professors because I walked in with the belief that the class they were experts in their fields which gave them instant credibility, if their curriculum and content was logical and made sense to me in the way they explained it, and if they respect me and the other learners in the room and brought texts or work that touched me in some way  or taught me something worth learning, then I walked out of the class at the end of the semester wiser and more open to the world.   Starting with the lofty end goal in mind of keeping  what is important in teaching the humanities at the center of everything we create in the MOOC, is a good place to start. 

Life as art or the art of the real photograph…

dave-karla wed web-0317 (2)Taken by Matt Kollasch on 7/8/2009

Yesterday we discussed the ideas of photoshop and image manipulation as it alters reality or changes perceptions of what is real and what is memory.  The editorial Pogue’s Posts in The New York Times entitled Photoshop and Photography: When Is It Real?  ponders the question what is a photograph as a response to the photography contest recently held that was won by two photoshop pictures that could not have and did not happen in reality.  They were staged pictures created in a studio.  There was a backlash amongst the photographers stating the photos weren’t real.  This brought up the debate of what is a photograph.   While it seems like such a simple question, the article examines the ideas that “photography has never been strictly a “capture reality” art form. It’s never been limited to reproducing what the eye sees.” The article goes on to talk about the methodology utiliized to “capture” a good picture, from lighting, to positioning people, to recreating a scene for effect has always been a part of photography.  Considering that these photographs were created in a studio by mashing several pictures together, it is understandable that debate needs to occur and criteria established for winning a photography contest.

It seems that highly photoshopped pictures are a completely new art form.    They are mashing technology and photography together to create something completely new.  While the article examines the staging that is done in photography, there are photographers who take pride in “getting the shot”.  When I got married four years ago, my husband’s best friend Matt Kollasch turned our life into art that day as  he roved around during the ceremony and  captured  the “behind the scenes” shots. Now, when I think about the phrase I have been saying our life became art –  it takes on a different meaning because of the ideas presented in the articles and videos on photoshop. I know our friend Matt Kollasch was not staging the photos during the wedding but I do know that as a true artist he sees things differently and frames his shots carefully when he is taking the photos.  He also takes hundreds upon hundreds of shots.  He has described standing for hours sometimes as he waits for a picture to develop as he has spotted a frame of sorts that he wants to use and waits for a picture to develop inside of that frame (people to walk in or  out of his “frame”).  This is the work of a photographer.  So when our life became art on our wedding day, it was because Matt was bringing his years of photography experience, his knowledge of us,  and his artistic photographic eye.  His minimal use of photoshop later, (color effects and black and white images)  preserved the authentic nature of these images.  While the photographs don’t look like reality exactly,  they were our reality for a few hours on a July afternoon.  I can’t imagine a world where my memories are distorted to be more perfect and less real.

If these images were altered and mashed together and manipulated with photoshop so I was skinnier and my husband was too and that we looked less wrinkled,  it wouldn’t have looked real and I don’t think the photos would mean the same thing.  How can we be careful to honor the new art forms possible because of digital technology while still staying real with the depiction of our lives in photos.  Is it important that we don’t try to create reality but just live and capture our lives as honestly as we can?  I think so, wrinkles and all.

Critical Thinking – the essential element…

  I am interested in the ideas presented in the article by Jamilah King  Kony 2012’s Success Shows There’s Big Money Attached to White Saviors which reports the backlash that resulted because of some misrepresentations and a lack of insight on the part of the Invisible Children Kony 2012 campaign.   The video is one of the most successful non-profit campaign drives ever launched with over 75 million viewers with  31 million in a single day.  What disturbs me so much about the problems with the video content is that while tens of millions of people saw the campaign, few  people have seen the critique of the campaign and the issues that were not discussed or were misrepresented.   How and why did the filmmakers,  who seemed to have noble goals, make the mistakes they did?  The mistakes emerged very quickly after the video went viral.  They include not reporting  the most recent information on the issue.  First, Kony no longer lives in Uganda and in fact  Kony was driven from Uganda in 2006 and is now terrorizing other surrounding countries.  Secondly , they showed  film clips with hundreds of children sleeping in one room after moving to the city to escape being kidnapped in their sleep.  The imagery was quite profound and horrifying but was past film footage showing a situation that has not happened for many years.  They also  over-simplifed the very complex history of the issue, and did not get the stakeholders involved (namely the Ugandan people).

                 In order to view information with a critical eye,   it is essential that we teach and reteach the fundamental ideas of critical thinking so that viewers are not manipulated into believing something that isn’t true.  Consumer beware is a slogan that is needed when analyzing media messages maybe more now than ever.  The questions are simple –who is creating the message and  why are they creating the video?  What are they trying to gain?  What is the message they are trying to impart?  What is their purpose for trying to impart the message?    In fact, one of the sharpest criticisms (as the title of the article implies) is the idea of white savior riding in on a white horse and solving all the problems.   So what was their purpose?  Understanding the complex issues and the historical implications of trying to save people without asking the people what they want and need is hard to understand.  Also, not reporting the current facts and reporting old news is dangerous.  To be fair, the creators of the video might not have realized how successful the campaign would be and how many eyes would shine a light on their video and examine it with a microscope.  Creator beware – once something is posted  on Facebook, Youtube, text messages, tweets, etc., anything can happen .  Being critical, thoughtful and careful is important for both the viewer and the creator. 

The humanity of art.


I would like to examine the idea of humanity after a week of reading about the challenges faced by the creative artists whose work is broadcast, uploaded, shared, and owned versus the vast and open universe of the world wide web where changes occur daily and at such a rapid speed that it is difficult or impossible to keep up with these changes.  The terminology that keeps emerging from the articles (as Dr. Lamberti has pointed out) utilizes words of war from collateral damage to turf warfare.  Why the language of war?  Is it because the idea of humanity is being challenged or threatened? It seems to me the war is between the idea of what it means to be an artist – what it means to have ideas – what it means to promote and share your ideas and what it means to be rewarded for your ideas.  I loved the example of Jack White’s band the White Stripes which  was a band without a bass player allowing a bass player to mash up his bass playing with The White Stripes and create an entirely new sound and album.  It seems to me the new artists are more open to blending creative forces into a new force to be reckoned with.  Some new artists seem to get away with moving the line between honoring and blending and plagiarism.  I think of Lady Gaga and Madonna.  The first time I heard Lady Gaga’s song Born This Way, I thought it was Madonna’s song Respect Yourself. The songs, cadences, and ideas were so similar that I was sure it was plagiarized. While I believe Lady Gaga has said Madonna was an early inspiration, she said the song came to her “in a dream”. The old guard in music Willie, Dolly, Bob Dylan, are steadfastly working to maintain their rights of ownership while new artists like Jack White (and Kate Pullinger) seem to put their work out there to be used by other artists.  Why do they see things differently?  Is it because young people can imagine the digital possiblities more than the old can? Or does the old guard understand something about protecting your “brand” so to speak.

Artists highlight the human condition and help us to see ourselves in the work of others, in the words that remind us of who we are and where we are going and in the images that evoke another time and place.  Art in all its forms highlights our humanness and needs to be revelled in and protected.  Again I am reminded of Sherry Turkle’s words of wisdom that we need to consciously make decisions and take the time to make thoughtful steps in deciding where we want to go from here.  It doesn’t need to be war, but the people who are the artists who help us revel in our human elements need to be protected from exploitation and need to bring all of the stakeholders into the debate – the old guard who are fighting the digital freedoms and the new artists who are embracing them and find a way to have a peaceful transition and keep the idea of being  human at the forefront of digital humanity. 

What is missing…

Our readings for the day and our discussion from the readings highlighted some of the challenges society is facing in teaching and learning in the digital age. How do we take the new ideas so instantly accessible and available and learn from these ideas at a deep level? My article examined the notion that learning occurs when ideas are moved into long term memory. Is long term memory consolidation the sign of intelligence? The author described people today as being social magpies since they surf the net bouncing from site to site without really landing on anything . He argues that intelligent people question the source of information and don’t take the information for granted without further research. Considering intelligence as knowledge acquisition shortchanges intelligence. Expecting the internet to give the ultimate answer to a deep question is absurd. What we are getting on the internet is wide access to information from a variety of sources. The world WIDE web – I picture strands of information coming into a central location – are we the fly trapped in the middle of the web wrapped up in the strands of information that choke us? Or are we the spider who spins the web as we build our net to service the questions that we have. Forgive the extended metaphor but it works for me to consider the deep questions of where we are as a society and where we need to go from here. Sherry Turkel reminds us that this digital world is new and needs thoughtful dialogue about how it should best be used. She states digital technology is a tool – not the end – but rather the means. This is important to remember as what separates humans from animals is how we use tools. Her reminder to make sacred spaces at home and at work for time free from technology and constant connectedness to the outside world was embodied in our group discussion today when we sat together in the room with the chalkboard, our ideas, experiences and listening skills. We began to connect as a class without technology. ( Well the blackboard is technology as one of the optional readings pointed out- the blackboard was once hailed and damned when it first came out.) Change is hard – thoughtful change is even harder.