My boy is in Kindergarten, and it’s hard to look at him without thinking of the 20 children that were taken today. I can’t look at Twitter without thinking of Principal Dawn Hochsprung who, by her tweets, demonstrated such love and compassion for her job, her community, and the children under her care. And, I can’t stand the politicizing - debates over the 2nd Amendment, the NRA, treatment for mental health issues – on these days that we should simply be mourning for those lost, celebrating their lives and their heroism, and giving this community the space and support needed. The politics can wait and these issues will be divisive long after we’ve laid the victims to rest.
For the record, no one in Newtown was talking about gun control laws, mental health issues, or anything. We were just holding each other, trying to make sense of the senseless. We are ok with you grieving with us, but put down the camera and help us try to piece back together our lives. We need that more than media coverage of this sad day in our history.
And if our mainstream press really wants to make sure that this tragedy is not repeated, take some advice from this Charlie Brooker segment (especially after the 1:30 mark) on how *not* to report on mass murder.
To the victims and families devastated by this tragedy, I mourn for you. My heart is broken, and I can’t imagine your pain.
My brother George recently wrote the post “Denying Our World” where he recalls a compelling narrative that causes him to reflect upon what it means to live ‘online’ and our associated imperative as educators to teach to this reality. In the comments of this post, ‘Kirsten T.” pushes back with a thoughtful response, and in part states:
I find the argument “It’s not going away” to be neither substantive, nor compelling. It echos to me the feet stamping of educators who say “I’ve always done it this way”.
I’ve used a form of the “it’s not going away” argument in past conversations and presentations, but its meaning for me seems very different than what is described by Kirsten. Since there seems to be discrepancies of understanding, I feel that the statement is worth exploring and further articulating. So what do I mean when I say “it’s not going away”?
First of all, what is the “it” that I am referring to? “It” is a transformed reality where access to new tools, abundant content, and vast networks simultaneously provide countless new affordances and associated challenges. “It” describes:
a world where governments, corporations and educational institutions try to control all of these forces but most often, realize that their attempts are futile.
I could go on …
And what do I mean by “… is not going away”?
Change is constant, so obviously, our current conditions will not remain exactly the same. Rather, there are likely three possible futures related to these new affordances (this is a simplified argument but for real substance, check out Downes’ “Ten Futures“)
Things regress, people get bored with media, and we go back to some pre-telephony version of society. I think this reality may include roller-rinks, dance-halls, and lots and lots of bowling. Actually, bowling may be a bit too high-tech especially if there are those digital scoreboards. In any case, I’m pretty sure this reality isn’t going to happen so there is not much need for further speculation.
Things move ahead; new tools are created, more content becomes available, and networks continue to be used to form and sustain important aspects of our relationships (including those of teaching and learning). And the implications of these technologies will continue to shape our world. Think, for instance, of what the impact of this “breakthrough” in spoken-word translation could have on our lives. We will soon have the ability to have accurate, automated live translation of our words into just about any language spoken. What does that mean for second-language learning? What does that mean for opening up our world to different forms of cultural knowledge? What does that mean for creating a more global, and peaceful society? And that is just *one* new technology.
We live in complex, media-rich, connected environments. As adults, we have built these spaces for our kids and set them up in situations where I’ve heard members of our generation exclaim, “I’m sure glad Youtube or Facebook didn’t exist when I was a kid!” But these do exist. And no one – no one – really understands the full implications of what these devices and spaces have on the future of our children. So what are our *obligations* in all of this as administrators, parents, and educators? Do we selfishly ignore “it” because it feels uncomfortable and complex? Or do we roll-up our sleeves, embrace this discomfort, and live up to our ethical responsibilities for our kids?
We don’t need to have all of the answers. But we need to model what it means to try.
I’ve been discussing memes such as Gangnam Style in my recent presentations. I’m particularly interested in memes as an emerging information literacy and their study is important for comprehending the way in which information flows through systems. Dae Ryun Chang wrote that one of reasons why Gangnam Style has taken off is that “the song intentionally lacked a copyright so that people would be encouraged to create their own online parodies, in essence their own ‘XYZ Style’”. It’s not quite factual (as argued elsewhere) that the song ‘lacked’ a copyright, but it is certainly clear that Psy has encouraged the remix and reuse of the song which has led to some incredible statistics (such as being the first video to reach 1 billion views). And, besides the ability to reuse/remix, the song is just downright catchy.
The video was shot over a two week period at various locations around the school. Once all the post production work was completed, the school held a ‘spirit assembly’ last Thursday and the reception was astounding. Not only was the crowd entertained, laughing and cheering to the on screen antics, but for the rest of the day students could be heard excitedly talking about it or mimicking dance moves.
Creating such joyful events at school are vitally important for an overall healthy learning environment. Combine this with complex, project-based work that seamlessly integrates new literacies through media development and your institution has just made great strides toward the development and modelling of a positive digital footprint (for the institution and for the individuals involved). And these sorts of activities can go a long way to ease some of unwarranted fears regarding social media felt amongst parents, teachers, administrators and students.
And the Grade 11 French immersion students at Holy Trinity Catholic High School (from the Ottawa Catholic School Board) have taken the Gangnam craze even further by creating a French version of the song. Even if you are not a French speaker, you will quickly notice the creative effort that has gone into this parody. That, and the students look like they are having so much fun!
These last two examples demonstrate the successful intersection of emerging media and school learning. It can also be seen as an example of what Thomas and Brown describe as “The New Culture of Learning“.
The new culture of learning actually comprises two elements. The first is a massive information network that provides almost unlimited access and resources to learn about anything. The second is a bounded and structured environment that allows for unlimited agency to build and experiment with things within those boundaries.
So how is your educational institution embracing this new culture of learning? Or, how are you as a teacher, administrator, or learner creating opportunities to critically discuss and/or participate in these new media environments? I’d love to hear from you.
In mid-August, I wrote a post to gauge interest in a possible Edtech-focused MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) to begin January of 2013. I received a handful of responses on my blog, dozens of Twitter replies (captured in this Storify), and (to-date) 142 individuals stated their interest in participating via this Google form. I believe there is more than sufficient interest in an Edtech MOOC, and so I am very happy to begin the development process. I am looking forward to those who have expressed interest and those we are likely to pick up along the way.
I thought I would share my ideas for the course. These ideas are informed by my initial thoughts on the MOOC (from my experience running #eci831 & blended courses), the growing body of literature on MOOCs (especially the cMOOC variety), informal conversations with individuals (theories, practitioners, students), and the many responses received through the process mentioned in the above paragraph. I also hope to make as much of the planning & development of the MOOC open & transparent so that others can understand and learn from decisions made around tools, technical processes and pedagogy. Thus, I will be doing my best to gather documentation, and I invite others to do so as well. I hope that the ‘making of’ the MOOC will be as valuable as the MOOC itself.
Ideas will be shared below. I will then copy the headers into an editable Google Doc so that facilitators/participants can write, edit, add feedback or sign-up for key roles.
What should this MOOC be about?
I am hoping that this MOOC will be developed on the topic of educational technology & media, a broad-ranging and continually expanding area of study. I believe that this MOOC can be relevant to all educators (P-12 school teachers, instructors, professors) and learners across a number of educational systems. As well, it is my hope that the MOOC is accessible and relevant to participants across the globe, wherever there is access to Internet technologies.
Some possible topics may include, but are not limited to the following (in no particular order):
History of educational technology in teaching & learning.
Digital citizenship, digital identity, footprint, ethics.
Privacy, edu. business models, terms of service – what to know about web services.
Digital storytelling & other non-literary modes of expression.
Memes, viral videos, and how information spreads.
21st century literacies (whatever that means).
Openness in education (Open educational resources, MOOCs, etc.).
BYOD initiatives, responsible use policies, and other ed. leadership topics.
Future of … (technology, schooling, education).
Again, these are just a few suggestions. I’m looking for your feedback. I think that once we refine the list, we can start scheduling and finding individuals willing to facilitate these topics (and others that have not yet been suggested).
Beyond the content itself (outlined above), I am hoping that the greatest benefit of this course will prove to be be participants developing resilient personal learning networks, forming the habit of connecting with others to facilitate independent learning goals (both planned & serendipitous), and nurturing online communities based upon sharing & transparency.
How should the MOOC be organized and/or facilitated?
It feels traditional, but I assume we will need to come up with a time-frame for this experience (start & end date, semester framework?) and methods of facilitating content/connections (e.g., live seminars, networked writing spaces, microblogging, newsletter, etc.). Other logistics needing to be discussed may include:
the bridging of educational sectors (K12, university, tertiary).
development of global nodes of activity, time-shifting, & having localized events.
assessment (peer assessment, do we need assessment?).
credit (badges, peer developed, localized approaches, no credit?).
development of a research agenda/protocols/ethics for those wishing to study this experience.
getting people interested & involved & sustaining participation & engagement to avoid MOOC dropout.
What do we need to make this happen?
What tools & processes will we need to develop the content? Timelines? Responsibilities?
What tools & processes shall we use throughout the course?
Who shall we invite to facilitate? How do we develop localized nodes?
Who’s going to help, and what role will you play?
In the online form featured in my first post, I broke down participation into four major roles: development/planning, session facilitation, online mentors, participants. Obviously, individuals could choose more than one role. Am I missing anything?
For those who would like to help planning/developing this MOOC, consider signing up for the #etmooc Google Group. If you have a suggestion for a better place to collaborate, please let me know.
Thanks to everyone who is considering some form of participation in this experience. I look forward to working with you and making this experience beneficial for those interested in exploring technology & media in education.
“… ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today.” (Stephen Downes)
If you follow my Twitter-stream, you know that I spend a lot of time viewing, collecting & sharing videos. In this post, I share ideas on certain types of videos that I’ve gathered and how educators might use related methods or styles to engage students in constructing and deconstructing media while becoming critical consumers and producers of digital media.
1) Conversation with Future Me/You:
“A Conversation with My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition” is a recently popular video by Jeremiah McDonald. In the video, McDonald has created an interview with himself through the use of 2 decade old footage that he created as a 12 year old. The video had me kicking myself for not having the forethought to have produced something like this, but I suppose there’s always interviewing my 60 year old self at some point.
While presenting with my brother George (he’s likely blogged about this somewhere) in Australia this past Summer, I remember him discussing how this activity would be an excellent beginning/end of year exercise that students of all ages could enjoy and learn from. I agree. If done well, this type of activity could provide a student with not only a rich assessment of learning/growth throughout the year, but provide individuals with a precious artefact to be collected, shared, and cherished.
Genre-shifting video projects are valuable in a number of ways. As video creation projects, they would not require a high-level of technical ability. In fact, I would argue that students with basic video editing capabilities could create videos like these from a purely technical perspective. However, if done well, such projects could challenge students to think deeply about the grammar of storytelling while considering essential elements of creating video (e.g., music, timing, edits/cuts, effects, pauses/silence, etc.) for various genres . As well, students would have to acquire a keen eye for the curation involved in finding & gathering elements that would support a chosen genre. But, even without offering students a hands-on component, these videos would be great for discussing questions around how film directors/producers make us feel a certain way through the thoughtful use of various edits & visual/auditory/stylistic elements.
I would love to see schools take on a video project such as this where elementary school students were responsible for writing, narrating and recording audio stories and then had middle school or high school students act out and lip-sync the video in creative ways. This could provide an onramp for greater collaboration amongst teachers, across grade levels, and also provide a project that would be humorous and fun for the entire school community to view.
What I like about these videos is that there is so much variation and creativity among these pieces. There is no simple recipe or formula and from a technical standpoint, the method for creating stop motion effects is done in a number of unique ways. And, if you consider a video like “Amateur” by Lasse Gjertsen, you will realize that stop motion is more than just choppy video. Rather, it’s a method of construction that allows artists to create things that could not be formed similarly through other methods. Gjertsen states at the end of his video, “I can neither play the drums nor play the piano”, yet through his video editing mastery, he is transformed into a talented musician.
6) Course Trailers:
Back in 2007, I used a course trailer to provide information and to get potential students interested in the open online course I was introducing. It was a fun experiment and I’ve since had many people interested in taking on the idea. I just noticed this Vimeo Channel from Harvard where there are a number of good examples.
The conciseness of the course trailer has similar advantages to what was expressed above about the plot synopses. However, I also think that educators taking on projects like this not only learn a lot from creating the project (e.g., technical skills, core focus), but also, it can provide a message to students that you are willing to push your own learning and have some fun while doing it.
7) Summaries of Learning:
For the past several years, I’ve been asking my students to create a “Summary of Learning” that captures and describes growth and key learnings throughout our course. Students have utilized a number of different formats of video to take on this task (e.g., stop motion, vlogging, podcasts), but the most popular format has been screencasting. Popular screencasting tools used include Screenr, Screencast-o-matic, and Camtasia (and a bunch more here). Dozens of examples of these summaries of learning can be found here but to get a sense of the different types, I’ll point you specifically to Leslie’s (stop motion), Lauren’s (video on identity), Kevin’s (traditional video cast) and Matt’s (stop motion + Photoshop).
This assignment has been very popular with mystudents and I’ve been quite pleased with the results. Our students need the opportunity to reflect on their learning, and providing them with alternatives to written summaries helps to improve their communication abilities while providing potentially rich artefacts of and for learning.
There are two major things I like about these projects. First, I see this as moving beyond the ‘digital essay’, to achieve what we’ve always wanted to do in classrooms, to take and build upon the work of others and while doing so, to create something uniquely original and new. And second, this type of project allows student to play within the boundaries of fair use/dealing, not to only better understand copyright, but to execute our rights in current/emerging copyright legislation. If we do not act upon our rights, we are sure to lose them.
9) Video Re-creations:
My brother George introduced me to Ton Do-Nguyen, the sixteen year old who recently created the Snuggie version of a Beyonce music video. If you watch the side-by-side comparison, it is easy to see the incredible skill and attention to detail of this young man. And to know that he learned this on his own without any formal instruction makes this even more amazing.
I don’t have many examples of this type of thing, not that I don’t think there are any, but that I just haven’t been looking until now. But I am going to go out on a limb here and say that the process of discovering, recreating and reverse-engineering complex editing processes like seen in this video must lead to deep learning, and thus I do believe this is a worthwhile type of project to pursue.
This type of social commentary and critique is greatly lacking in our schools. I would love to see more students take on social causes of interest, to speak their minds in support of change, and to learn how to do it with candour, respect and persuasion. We have the ability to look into a camera and record our words and to be heard locally or globally. Yet, is this happening in school? Let’s make sure it is – let’s be sure to educate this generation to take advantage of these new forms of empowerment. If we are not heard, if we do not engage in these participatory forms of media, I fear these freedoms will not be around for long.
During my sabbatical year (July 1/12 to June 30/13), I plan to focus on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) as one of my key areas of research. To do so, I’m considering planning, organizing and facilitating a semester-long MOOC focused on educational technology starting January 2013. I am envisioning the course to be somewhat similar to my EC&I 831 course, but with the focus more explicitly on the integration of technology in teaching, learning & professional development (hands-on sessions exploring major categories of tools with a focus on pedagogy & literacy).
I’m thinking that this course would be relevant to teachers, administrators, preservice teachers, teacher educators, librarians, parents and likely many others hoping to sharpen their understanding of emerging skills and literacies. Also, it would be great to have newbies involved (people that are fairly new to educational technology and/or those we wouldn’t normally find on Twitter). However, before I get too far along in this, I want to make sure there is interest from both those that would enroll, and those that would help develop & facilitate the experience.
So, is there a need for this sort of thing? Is there anyone willing to help plan the experience? Anyone interested in participating in a course like this? Any thoughts on what we could do to make this successful? I’d love to hear from you.
Edit #2: I wanted to capture the responses of potential collaborators/participants, so I put together this Storify. I’m really excited about this, and will get back to everyone by early September at the latest.
Two years ago, I was asked to do a co-keynote with Graham Attwell in Barcelona for the inaugural PLE Conference. At that time, Graham and I decided to crowdsource our ‘unkeynote/keynode’ and to invite participation from anyone who wanted to contribute to the live conversation. The original call is found here. The contributions from others were amazingly creative and generous, and we both felt that the experiment was a success.
So, if you have a few spare minutes, this is where I could really use your help.
The question that I am hoping to facilitate is, “Why do (social) networks matter in teaching & learning?”. To help answer this question, I am hoping that people will do one of the following things:
Submit a short video or audio clip (between 30 seconds and 1 minute in length) that helps to answer this question.
Submit a single PowerPoint or Keynote slide or image that in some way represents your response.
Respond to this question on your blog or similar personal space.
Respond to this question via Twitter using the hashtag #WhyNetworksMatter.
While I am happy if you respond in any way possible, I would love to have at least a few video or audio responses so that I can feature these during the presentation. And respond in any way you wish – whether it’s very personal (from your own experience) or something more ‘academic’ – the key question is broad and ambiguous to allow for multiple interpretations and responses.
To submit, use a medium of your choice (e.g., Youtube, Soundcloud, blog, etc.) and send me the link at email@example.com. OR, submit the file directly to my Dropbox folder using this link with the password ‘pleconf’ (this option will only work with files that are 75MB or less). For Twitter responses, I’ll likely use Storify to archive and arrange your tweets.
And, because the conference is coming up very soon, I am hoping to receive your responses by July 8, 2012 so that I can sort and arrange your work in some meaningful way. Sorry for the short notice!
Intel has released “The Museum of Me“, a website that connects to your Facebook account, pulls out relevant data, and produces a virtual gallery/archive of your social (network) life. I am not sure it did a great job of capturing my social ‘essence’, partly because I don’t pay much attention to Facebook (I don’t feed it much these days), but the resulting virtual gallery is really quite impressive.
If you’d like, give it a try here. Remember that it is accessing your data and the shared data of your Facebook friends (as the majority of Facebook apps often do). For those who would rather just see a demo of what it does (rather than trying it yourself), I’ve captured the rendered video using Snapz Pro X, a higher-end Mac-only screencasting tool.
I am fascinated by PSAs. I am especially interested in what I believe to be a false assumption that the more graphic the ad, the more effective it will be in delivering its intended message to viewers. I can think of recent ads from the UK regarding txting while driving, and ads from Ontario on workplace safety that received much attention due to virality and mainstream media coverage. However, I wonder what effect such videos actually have in the end. Can anyone point to a decent study on the possible correlations?
Aside: The PSA I remember most from the 90′s was about Methamphetamine. And it was not because it was graphic, but because I found the song in the advertisement to be really, really catchy. Not a good thing.
So I thought, why aren’t there more examples like this? I though of the recent, bizarre political ads from New Orleans and the misdirected, personal attack ads from two of our Canadian political parties. Am I naïve to believe that positive messages can bring us forward as a society, and that all of this negativity is truly a drain on our collective spirits? Maybe this ‘relatively new parenting thing’ is just rubbing off on me, giving me crazy ideas about hope and positivity.
We have just launched a new, open access journal titled in education. While the journal is set to cover various topics in the field, the first issue is a special volume focused on technology & social media. I was the guest editor of this issue, and you may want to read the editorial that gives an overview of the entire process, and outlines the contents of the issue.
I’d also like to use this opportunity to announce a second call for papers. The theme of the issue was quite popular, so we will be offering a second issue of the same theme to be published in Spring 2010. See the call for papers.
Please feel free to pass on the information. And, if you are interested in submitting a paper, please let me know. Thanks for reading.
George Siemens presented “Roots of Connectivism” to our EC&I 831 group on September 29, 2009. George provided a basic understanding of various theories of knowledge & learning (e.g., behaviorism, cognitivism, social constructivism, constructionism, neuroscience) as he led us toward a theory of connectivism. I warned my students beforehand that the presentation would be theoretically heavy, and our presenter (no surprise) provided us with the challenge of (re)thinking of our assumptions on learning.
As an aside, a tweet from one of the participants summed up what I have noticed about George’s presentation style.
Greater detail of the presentation within the context of the course can be found at the EC&I 831 wiki. The presentation was facilitated via Elluminate and the recording of that session, including the chat, can be found at this location. Slidedeck and audio-only version (MP3) are available below. Enjoy!