Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Digital Artifact Time

This is a Collection

The nature of my interactions with the EDC MOOC have been non-linear, distracting, disjointed, and chaotic.

The term 'infowhelm' was a feeling reported frequently by EDCMOOC participants in the social media postings.  Our experience of wanting to take in all that was being offered in the way of collaborations and information was likened to trying to drink from a fire hose.  I'm mostly guilty as charged by Nicholas Carr's Atlantic article titled Is Google Making us Stupid?  "...people’s minds [have] become attuned to the crazy quilt of Internet media..." Based on self-observation, I can see that the way our minds have become attuned is not all good.  Carr quotes playwright Richard Foreman, ...Foreman concluded, we risk turning into “‘pancake people’—spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.”. My reaction to that is, "pass the syrup!".

However I've loved every minute of it!  By participating in this expedition in learning, I've been allowed to focus on and explore quite a number of topics that I would not have otherwise done. Technological determinism (by the way, I realized I'm not a TD), the nature of what is human, current thinking on utopian and dystopian futures, and so much more.

Just as my journey has been chaotic and disjointed, so too is my digital artifact.  I’m declaring - that's okay.  Whereas I might have produced one stunning piece of digital genius, as many of my course mates have done, I didn’t – no genius, and no singularity.  Instead, I offer several related bits of digital creation courtesy of moi.  The first of course is this blog which I created and posted to for the sole purpose of this course.  I offer, not so much erudite and educationally referenced information, more a sort of opinion board about some things we’ve been studying.  


Another offering here is my humorous take on the issues surrounding transhumanism.  

Styles and Roles

During a lot of the course I thought about the role I was playing in this EDMOOC, and how others’ styles and roles were influential to me.  So I did a survey using a Google form shown here. Please note that one respondent chose to add an additional category onto the form in each question, and then select those.  I have omitted that from my analysis (I put them in the categories I felt they fit most closely).






Finally, my notebook for much of my readings, links, and thoughts may be found here:  It is a Microsoft OneNote file that contains many great ideas, links, references, and other writings, inspired by this course that did not end up in my blog.

 I'm also posting it as a pdf here

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hackles Up!

This got my hackles up!
In his article The Human Touch, Monke (2004) led me down the garden path of agreement only to leave me feeling nearly angry at his conclusions and advice.  To begin with he denounces an “uncritical faith in technology itself”.  I’m right with you Monke.  The uncritical use of technology is terrible and dangerous.  He goes on to speak of the uneven allocation of funding in schools to computer technology at the expense of what he calls ‘firsthand experience’ -  non-virtual interactions and learning such as music, sports, etc.  Right!  People need to be holistically educated, they need art and music. I’m right there with you Monke.
Next he speaks of McLuhan’s ideas of technology causing a process of amplification and amputation. The example is something like, if a man were to use a microphone he may lose his ability to develop a robust voice. Uhhh…
Then comes a bombshell statement: He asserts “The general computer skills a youth needs to enter the workplace or college can easily be learned in one year of instruction during high school”.  Wait, did I just hear that right?  As a person who has devoted the last 20 or so years of helping empower people to participate in the modern world through teaching computer and software use, I’m far from objective. I feel amazed that he thinks teaching IT skills such a simple and speedy process!  Not that it is rocket science, but I’m beginning to wonder how few skills he himself may possess if they could all be gained in year.  Yup I'm biased because I love my job and I love technology.  I keep reading. 
Next Monke outright attributes the decline of modern societies’ ethics to computer use:
“In reconstituting learning as the acquisition of information, the computer also shifts our values. The computer embodies a particular value system, a technological thought world first articulated by Francis Bacon and RenĂ© Descartes four hundred years ago, that turns our attention outward toward asserting control over our environment (that is essentially what technologies do–extend our power to control from a distance). As it has gradually come to dominate Western thinking, this ideology has entered our educational institutions. Its growing dominance is witnessed in the language that abounds in education: talk of empowerment, student control of learning, standards, assessment tools, and productivity. Almost gone from the conversation are those inner concerns–wisdom, truth, character, imagination, creativity, and meaning–that once formed the core values of education. Outcomes have replaced insights as the yardstick of learning, while standardized tests are replacing human judgment as the means of assessment. No tool supports this technological shift more than computers”
But don’t get him wrong, he goes on to say:
“None of this is to say that we should banish computers from all levels of K-12 education. As young people move into subject areas like advanced mathematics and chemistry that rely on highly abstract concepts, computers have much to offer.”
Now I’m almost relieved.  He’s made himself out to be a bit of an extremist and I am able to discount his ideas as such.  I suspect he is a man who has enormous and paranoid fears around technology.  A re-read has me certain of this as I read again about his realization that his students ‘suddenly had more power to do damage to more people than any teenagers in history’.
I don’t want to think of the worst pictures of teen violence and crime, but I’m thinking it didn’t happen because a high-schooler had ahold of an iMac.

What angers me is that he is taking for granted (and asking us to) that technology is the cause of our daunting societal problems.  I don’t think it is a major cause, and I know it is not the only solution.  Human nature itself is the cause of societal ills.  Our use or misuse of technology is just a symptom and reflection of our nature. 
Monke, L (2004) The Human Touch, EducationNext

Monday, February 4, 2013

It's Awufl and I Want It!

Having just viewed Sight, a film that “the increasingly blurry line between the digital and the material might play out in the sphere of human relationships” (instructors at the University of Edinburgh), my horror is not at the dystopian depiction of this couple’s date, but rather at my own desire to have all that cool technology despite how poorly the protagonist has used it!

See for yourself:

Clearly, I am not a technological determinist in my thinking.  I believe that people are influenced very much by current technology and yet, we have the ability to think critically and make choices.  We have free will. 

I’m not much of a gamer, so the apps for dating don’t appeal, and for heaven’s sake I would much prefer to cut a cucumber without trying to gain points!  But wow the rest of it looks so cool!!!  Do I want a room with no furniture and art other than what is digitally viewed?  No.  Do I want to see that technology and use it when and where I think it would be good?  YES!  It’s really only awful if misused – as is all technology.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Being a MOOC Star

The way I see it, there are two principle ways to contribute in an important and/or recognized way to a MOOC.  You can:

1) Think great thoughts.  Come up with a new take on the issues being discussed that your readers and viewers have never heard of or thought of before.


2) Bring the great ideas of others to the attention of your readers and viewers.

People participating in the EDCMOOC that I'm in right now are doing a lot of both - mainly number 2. 

I'm not doing either particularly.  But I am doing something else - so I guess I'm adding a third category.  One that won't make me a MOOC star, but will be a good contribution I think, and that is I'm an encourager.  I'm reading and responding to others' ideas and trying to applaud what I think is good and useful.

I'll probably end up focusing on "MOOC identity" during this course, and perhaps in my course artifact.  So I'm thinking of a short. simplified taxonomy of MOOC participant roles.