Archive for the 'Digital Life' Category

Twitter from a User’s Viewpoint

Twitter just went public. Some may be mystified by how it will make a profit. Others may remain skeptical. I and I suspect many other content contributors just want it to keep on doing what it does for us.

How I use Twitter (the short version) :

1. As an outlet to express myself
2. To connect with others I identify with
3. To explore topics I care about
    A. Get information about these topics from other fans or people in my communities (knitting & instructional design)
    B. Engage in conversations with these audiences & subcultures
    C. Find out what others are thinking saying about my interests using hash tag searches
4. Getting the word out about topics and news I care about to the communities or individuals who follow me
5. Finding others who can relate to my own (perceived or not) weirdness.

image

How do you use Twitter?

I’m attracted to Twitter because it was one of the first social networking sites where I really could reach out to an extended community. Also it met my needs and did not prove to be as annoying and invasive as FaceBook. You can get in and out quickly and it satisfies my need to connect or engage online. Plus I can be selective or inclusive about whom I follow as I wish.

Digital Artefact: The Future of Learning #edcmooc

I think I’ll have more time to reflect and comment on my artefact and the experience of making it in a few days, but for now here it is.

http://prezi.com/eaixra1t5vnf/future-of-learning/

Frontpage of digital artefact for #edcmooc

Digital Artefact for my “Elearning & Digital Cultures” class

 

Clarke’s 3rd Law #edcmooc

Added yesterday.  Got my imagination going to think of what I think would be magic…

What is magic to you? Will it be magical to your grandchildren?

Technology Can’t Replace Teachers – Week 3 Image #edcmooc

An attempt at a digital image for Week 3. I was inspired by Week 2′s Twitter Chat’s question:

Q2: Is the future teacher a computer or a human?

Screen shot 2013-02-10 at 4.36.52 PM

Technology is Magic. Stop Thinking in 19th & 20th Century Metaphors Already! #edcmooc

Our relative view of the magic

Arthur C. Clarke’s third law states that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Don’t you think someone born 300 years ago would think this is magic?

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 10.18.32 PM

How about someone alive 30 years ago (including myself). Wouldn’t I think this is magic?

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 10.18.01 PM

For nerdy little me… it’s this dream come true:

Screen shot 2013-02-09 at 7.09.08 PM

When I watched the films from this week’s resources: A Day Made of Glass & Productivity Vision of the Future, Clarke’s law repeated in my mind. Glass becomes a tool that people use to access information, view entertainment & learn. The other thing that struck me was how incredibly antiseptic & affluent both views of the future were.

As we are fixed in our time and reality, technology that is unfamiliar may seem like magic to us, but because we live in times where things are changing rapidly and imagining the future and it’s technology is a normal part of our culture. Thinking about my relative understanding of technology as magic got me to think about my own education and understanding of how things have developed even in my lifetime. I decided to create a timeline of my own education and compare it to the development of technology in that time. It’s in rainbow colors because I was a child of the 80′s.

My Digital Timeline

Click to view in full size

So just by looking at this timeline that spans over forty years, claims made that technology pundits that technology is developing and advancing at a more rapid speed. The ways and tools that we can use to learn and whom we can learn with has expanded even in my lifetime.

Will Technology Replace Teachers?

Many science fiction depictions of both utopia & dystopia paint a view of the future in which humans have been replaced by technology. Similarly, I’ve seen this question come out of several discussions in the #edcmooc class: Will technology make the teacher obsolete? As is evidenced in numerous forum posts, tweets from students in this class. The act of making order out of the chaos of a learning experience with so many people and so many learning tools has required guidance, the human kind. If not from a facilitator, from the other students. We still need teachers and guides. Every learner is different and how the learn best is unique. Can we assume that technology will devise a mechanism, automaton or script functions like a combination Yoda & “Electric Grandmother.”

I think what’s more likely, is that learners are learning how to adapt to use the tools and technology for learning to their best advantage. We learn to use tools online that help us filter and use content. Here are a few tools, some of which were new to me before I took this course. But here’s the thing… no tool is perfect. Again, it’s all about diving in and finding out what works for you.

Twitter Feed → Tweetchat, TweetDeck, Paper.li

Content Curation (Bookmarks) → Scoop.it, Storify, PearlTrees – pearl trees provides a visual map of what you’re curating or sites your saving online.

Blogs → Quadblogging (to connect and reach your audience) edutopia article on

Stop Using the Classroom Metaphor to Describe the Online Learning Experience!

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I know that metaphors are powerful in explaining and introducing the strange and foreign to the natives. But is it just me or am I the only one who’s tired of hearing this metaphor used to describe online learning. Perhaps my irritation and other’s indicate the obsolete nature of the metaphor. This bothers me just as much as my last boss insisting on using the logo below to indicate a phone contact for an audience of 20 somethings:

rotary_phone_0515-0909-2116-0157_smu

Here’s why we’re not in a classroom anymore:

  1. You might be sitting at a desk but not looking out a window wishing that the teacher would stop droning on and on
  2. You don’t have to have your attention fixed only on the teacher. In fact the other students can provide just as much information and knowledge as the teacher
  3. You’re not learning from a text book that has gum stuck to the cover or doodles from the previous owner anymore; texts and media are available online

I could go on…. but most importantly, when you’re learning online you expect to be able to share, re-mix, create content. Like these kids:

My Technological Timeline #edcmooc

I’m still working on this and probably will have more comments on this subject, but as I was watching all the ‘utopian’ videos I thought about Arthur C. Clarke’s third law & wondered how advanced does technology have to be for it to appear to be magic to me. This started me thinking: how much has technology developed since I was born.

By the way I admit, I’m no graphic artist and I put this together  in less than 30 minutes using Google Docs. It’s my way of sketching because I can’t draw :) Also, I’m not claiming that this timeline is historically precise or accurate, after all it’s based from my memory.

 

Click on the image to see an easier to read version

Screen shot 2013-02-06 at 7.29.08 AM

How Technology Can Fuel a Culture of Lifelong Learning #edcmooc

In another assignment or response to the resources for this course we are asked to choose which of the perspectives below most resembles our views on the relationship between technology and pedagogy. We are asked to answer the question:  Can you point to instances in society or in your own context where this stance is necessary or useful?

  1. Uses determination: technology is shaped and takes meaning from how individuals and groups choose to use it. Technology itself is neutral. An example of this way of thinking can be seen in the educational mantra: ‘The pedagogy must lead the technology’.
  2. Technological determination: technology ‘produces new realities’, new ways of communicating, learning and living, and its effects can be unpredictable. This is the position Chandler explores in detail in our core reading.
  3. Social determination: technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society. Questions about ownership and control are key in this orientation.

The Pedagogy must lead the technology or do we find the technology and use it as we see fit?

This sounds about as stuffy and patronizing as a grammarian berating you for ending a sentence with a preposition. But if I take the view at face value it really means that the needs of the students to achieve the stated learning objectives must drive the design and use of the technology. Online learning has really been through some experimental phases in the last ten or so years so it actually seems that stance #2 or the idea that “technology produces new realities” (or learning environments is the case.  Let’s take the example of online forums and chat and their adoption as learning environment tools. Forums and chats were really developed more as a way for people online to carry on social conversations. One only needs to recall the days of the AOL chatrooms as places to meet like-minded folks. Developers of online learning courses adopted these tools as areas for discussing course topics and content. Later as the Internet became the spawning ground of many social sharing tools like YouTube, SlideShare, online communities, wikis, blogs and self expression tools like Glogster many tech savvy teachers saw the potential use for these tools as ways for students to develop expressive content in response to whatever they were learning. So it seems that both teachers and learners online were adopting the technologies as they existed rather that requiring that technologies be designed to meet their needs.  Most of the time pedagogy and the need to educate formally was NOT requiring or driving the formation of these tools and widgets.

Technology is determined by the political & economic structure of society. Copyright is King. So What’s a Mashup Maker to Do?

The third position maintains that technology is determined by the political and economic structures of society.  You could rephrase this in the argument that the market demand or the government may determine the development in one area of technology. One might argue on one hand that in a society where the government regulates application of technology via patents, is stifling innovation. On the other hand this same government could be protecting the interests of those who invest their resources in research and development of these technologies.  I’m of the view that stringent control will only stifle open exchange that leads to more innovation. Great ideas and the next disruptive innovation will most likely be based on ideas or products that are already out there, and to plant the seeds for this innovation the ground needs to be fertile with exchange, exploration and application of existing technology. Some of the most innovative and creative works are often derivative of past works and content, as Kirby Ferguson so effectively points out in his video series, “Everything is a Remix.” As Ferguson illustrates film makers such as Quentin Tarentino often borrow and reinterpret classic movies that inspired them early on. Tarentino’s Kill Bill series references many of classic Asian Martial Arts films while the recently released Django Unchained re-imagines and brilliantly combines elements of both Spaghetti Westerns and 70′s Blaxsploitation. Both Kill Bill & Django Unchained are remixed products that are completely unique and do what film should do & they do it well: they entertain.

But the creative process that relies upon being able to reference, re-hash or remix older works may be under threat. As content has become more easily shared on the Internet and corporations learn that there’s a demand for this content some may see opportunities in mining for content that has potential. As the European powers staked out land for their colonies entertainment corporations will lay claim on classics in the public domain. Watch out Dickens fans. Currently some major music labels are claiming copyright on public domain songs. Lobbyists for the copyright industry continue to push for laws that extend copyright claims.

Online resources for public domain works that provide a rich source of educational resources such as Project Gutenberg may be at risk in the future, and so is the ability to use content on the Internet creatively to learn. Several years ago Internet sharing helped give birth to the Mashup which allowed many people including students to do some remixing of their own.  If I were still teaching in a classroom, Mashups present the kind of learning opportunities that would excite me as an educator. They allow the student to really internalize the content and reinterpret it, which if I’m not mistaken prove that learning has occurred on the higher end of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  It makes a lot of sense that in this Coursera class, we’re being asked to create a Digital Artifact as our final project. It’s a way of proving whether we got the major points of the class, but not in some old fashioned way like writing an essay. We’re embracing the new way of measuring learning: making our own content to express and demonstrate how we’ve internalized what we learned.

While intellectual property laws are meant to protect everyone who creates content, it seems that eventually the only parties that IP laws will benefit will be the companies that have the resources to bankroll the legal teams it takes to enforce and defend. I could be wrong, but it seems that these opportunities for engaging in creative learning experiences may be at risk.

Which position do I lean towards?

Perhaps the question isn’t worded correctly or at least to my liking. I don’t feel like I lean towards any of these positions. Seven years ago, I felt that the Internet and sharing and content creation technologies opened a wonderful playground for learners, the kind of playground that would get people to fall in love with learning.  The tools and access to information and material allowed people to engage, learn and create their own content. But I have to admit I felt that we were living in the “Wild West” where possibilities were endless. It also seemed that my biggest wish as a child had been answered. From a very early age, I wanted an “Answer Genie.” This would be a genie that could answer any question that I had. The Internet seemed to provide me with something that’s just about as good, a philosopher’s stone. But this technology is changing me and everyone. As the economy and markets drive corporations to claim ownership of more, I can’t help but see them as this Leviathan that will sweep us away.

I can’t predict how things will develop. However, unless more people become more active producers of content instead of passive consumers of it, or if they realize the potential the Internet has as a learner’s gold mine, then we may not be able to take cues from anyone other than the companies that claim to own the content.

Kirby Ferguson Points Out: Nothing is Original

Additional Reads:

Copyright Monopoly Trends and Predictions for 2013

Discussion: Major Labels Claim Copyright Over Public Domain Songs

Technological Determinism is Beside the Point #edcmooc

A number of my fellow students in this course have been taking a similar stance when it comes to Technological Determinism.  As I noted in my previous post about dystopian views of society and technology, such thoughts are fantasies. These fantasies originate from fearful reactions that technology may change our world and ourselves for the worse. These fears stem naturally from our apprehension of the unknown possibilities that new and unfamiliar technology pose.

In Technological or Media Determinism, Daniel Chandler argues that Technological determinism can lead us to develop erroneous conclusions that insist that technology plays the driving role in the development of society and culture.The theme of Technological Determinism’s negative effect can be seen countless times through human history each time a disruptive technology appears on the scene. From Socrate’s lament that writing would ruin human thought and reason to today’s pundits claims that obsessive texting renders youth into socially retarded bumblers, the an establish and usually older group takes up the  argument that a new and attractive technology will have deleterious consequences on the normal function of people and society.In most cases, new technologies are adapted from generation to generation despite the railing of the older folks and the establishment.  Despite the reticence of some to adopt technology, it advances.As educators, we need to objectively determine if any claims that new technology may have a negative effect on our students and how they learn. Though in designing online learning experiences and environments, we need to always aim for helping students achieve mastery of the topics we teach and not be dazzled by the potential of technologies.We need to test these technologies on ourselves and explore learning via these tools and platforms and assess whether or not they will work.

One of the major complaints around online learning is the overwhelming stream of discussion as well as information overload that comes with having seemingly unlimited access to information… not all of which are reputable resources for information. Thus, it’s our responsibilities as educators to help our students, young and old develop the skills and ability to be both discerning consumers of content as well as effective curators of what they find online.

Ia this where we're headed?

Is this good or bad? What do you think? Image found here

Lost in Utopia? Found in Dystopia? #edcmooc

I’m taking the Elearning and Digital Culture Course via Coursera.

We were asked to evaluate the following films and describe if they are depicting a technological dystopia. I’ve decided to respond by giving short descriptions and reactions to the films.

BENDITO MACHINE III:

Dystopia begins with the

Idolatry of Technology

We are charmed by what we perceive to be the magic that technology brings me

Technology has been used to manipulate us…

It tells us what we should buy,

how we should live,

makes use feel paranoid & inadequate,

But in the end what we worship mindlessly

becomes obsolete,

and a new technology takes it’s place.

It begins again.

INBOX:

I feel that this video has both utopian & dystopian messages. Perhaps in watching the story of a man and women who become attracted to each other by way of two paper bags with a magical connection and with the help of pens and post-it notes. The charming interchange between the young couple points out the magic of the Internet and connective technology that we use, yet at the same time it reminds us how simplistic connection can be. Before texting on cellphones we had notes carefully folded in origami to be passed beneath desks or left in strategic places for the recipient to find. In watching stories like “Inbox” we’re also reminded how the Net and cellphone texts can encourage shy and antisocial behavior. Perhaps this can be seen as dystopian if you feel that making physical connection and interacting in the ‘normal’ social manner is threatened by excessive use of texting.

THURSDAY:

The message of this film seemed to be tied into the importance of being connected to the natural and real world. In this film the characters’ lives seem overrun by technology from being constantly connected to instant messaging or depended upon technology that can be disrupted by the simple act of a bird mistaking wires for food or nesting material. I have to laugh because as I heard the sounds of bird tweeting in this film, I remembered that a few weeks ago, I heard a duck quacking somewhere and I reached for my cellphone thinking it was the duck quacking ringtone. Like the couple in the short, technology has replaced some of the natural things in my life. And like them, every now and then I need to attempt to get a bird’s eye view of things to realize how little things like a cellphone and it’s constant connection affect how I see and treat others in my life. I have tantrums if I have no connection. Am I wrong but did that couple get it on after having the earth view inspired epiphany?

FILM 4: NEW MEDIA:

I like Jellyfish but something about this film gave me a creepy feeling. I was reminded of that film District Nine. Obviously this is a dystopian view of technology that plays on the fears that technology will evolve into this alien lifeform that will take over our lives and society.

ABOUT ALL THE FILMS & IDEA of DYSTOPIA & UTOPIA

I feel the same way about dystopic parables as I feel about armageddon stories. They both seem to be coping mechanisms for our fear of change as well as ways to play out the guilt of living in a civilization. Sometimes we ask ourselves in the backs of our minds, like some drunken kid in their twenties just waking to a lucid moment of clarity… we can’t go on living like this forever? How is our civilization held together? Could it simply fall apart or be threatened as in the “Thursday” film by a small animal ready to wreak havoc on a network that we depend upon for daily life. Or maybe our anxiety stems from intuition or hunches that something is inherently wrong in the systems of culture, economics, politics, and codes of behavior that seem to keep us all safe and in line? When has our legislature actually done something in our best interest a s a people anyway? Stories and films about dystopia and the crumbling of civilization allow us to play out the fantasies of ‘just what might happen’ if it all fell apart. Thus, art and literature present us with emetics that can help us both express and extrude our fears and unmanageable thoughts and perhaps make sense of it all (or not).

And utopia, I hate to be a realist, but it’s nice to shoot for and everyone needs pie in the sky goals. But there are examples of Utopia in application. I think of any city I’ve lived in including the one where I am now that had the foresight to develop park spaces for their people. Living in a country where for the most part we don’t have to pay off the DMV just to get our license or grease the hands of the beat cop.

Technology always brings the potential for utopian possibilities but like any tool at can be use for both negative and positive purposes. On one hand Internet technologies can provide us with seemingly limitless ways to learn, gather information, and connect with others. A good example of this is this online course. Who could imagine that over 40,000 people could engage in an online learning course with each other.  On the other hand, this widespread connection can render us too visible. Diving into the pool of social networking many of us forget that when we share our feelings online they’re no longer private. As people make embarrassing YouTube videos or become part of a petty bitching party online they might forget that this can put an indelible mark on one’s character. My original dystopian view of technology painted a world where people become increasingly desensitized to what it means to act like a true asshole or jerk. But gladly, I’ve been continually surprised by how many online communities are quite civil and supportive of each other. Flamers and bullies usually get snuffed out by others, or simply the people who don’t want to put up with this behavior just move somewhere else online.

In other words, utopia is what you make of it. Dystopia can be brought about by acting upon your worst fears.

Brrrr-ainstorming online learning activities

I have a little bit of time to think about generating as many ideas for online learning activities. This list of course is not exhaustive, and I will probably benefit from the contributions of colleagues, at work and not at work.

Click to view larger image.

I’m trying to keep these activity ideas simple and as ‘familiar’ as possible. Not all stakeholders are open to newer forms of learning online. Whenever introducing a strange or unfamiliar tool or technique (for example: using synchronous chat or Twitter to facilitate discussion)  I try to pair it with a similar or analogous term use for traditional or face to face training.

In my past experience, I found that designing learning opportunities is only the first part of good online learning design. Facilitator preparation and training is the next key piece to achieving success. In my last position I was fortunate enough to work with a crack team of Instructional Designers who worked hard not just to create the training materials, LMS (Learning Management System) simulations, and activities to prep our facilitators by helping them adjust to the ‘culture’ of working online.

Last week I was able to quickly develop a slide set that covers my take on successful online facilitators based on what I’ve learned from my experience. You will have to download the presentation via Slideshare to view my notes.


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