Tag Archives: technology

Awakening the Digital Imagination: Virtual Worlds #nmfs_f11

After participating successfully this summer in the Digital Methods summer school “Big Data”  in Amsterdam at the University of Amsterdam (UVA) lead by professor Richard Rogers and his wonderful team (a post on the theme and the experience will follow soon), I’m so excited to continue digging the theme of New Media in interesting and innovative ways…

This fall I’m participating in another innovative seminar #nmfs_f11. I was invited by one of the organizers of one of the groups, Liz Dorland from Washington University to participate this fall in the Virtual Worlds New Media Faculty Staff Seminar 2011. This seminar is very special since it not only contributes to the exploration of fundamental themes in new media but we translate the discussions and findings in the context of education: what implications do these developments have on education. I’m loving the readings, the syllabus for this course is The New Media Reader, by Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort. This collection of timeless essays is very popular and an often used reference work, for it lays the history, developments and applications in the field of new media. Since I live in Aruba, it would be geographically impossible for me to leave the island and my work behind for a whole semester in order to follow the seminar, but my SL avatar nadiagabriela kroll will “teleport” (I’ve always wanted to do what that verb implies) weekly to meetings at the NMFS campus, in the beautiful park Ars Simulacra under the starry sky, sit around a campfire and interact with interesting individuals from different countries on interesting topics. I hope to write more on some of the topics. The first topic I’ve experienced with the group is on Norbert Wiener’s cybernetics and Licklider’s Man-Computer Symbiosis.

The #nmfs_f11 is a networked seminar. The seminar is being held in different groups in the United States. The seminar is the idea of Gardner Campbell who works at Virginia Tech. Our group is special because we meet in Second Life, making it possible for people like me -who live abroad- to participate. Here you can read more on the background and logistics of #nmfs_f11 and especially on our specific group. We also have a blog were participants can post their thoughts on the topics and the questions that emerge from the interactions. All the blogposts, links and tweets from the other groups will be sindicated in a sort of mothership blogroll by professor Campbell.

I’ve missed the first two sessions, but I’m getting on track with the readings of these and I can’t wait for the next meeting. I also look forward for the keynote we will have in SL on october the 10th of Howard Gardner, known for his theories on multiply intelligences.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Liz, for her passion that is contagious, her patience in teaching me some basic skills in SL (I’m kind of a late adopter of SL) and for giving me the chance to experience this great journey where I learn and connect with others. I know Liz from twitter and I follow her interesting curated page on Visualization in Science and Education

I see a lot of opportunities for Aruban students and my colleagues at the University of Aruba in Virtual Worlds. Teleporting is ideal for islands 😀

around the campfire @Ars Simulacra

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Digital Time capsules: Memory cultivation & preservation in the Digital Age (3 apps)

The digital age is like a fast lane, navigating it both as a consumer or as a producer of information can feel like riding the German Autobahn. Timelines are perpetual. We can’t grasp the past that easily, all is in the present-tense, but becomes past so rapid the moment the pieces of information dissappear for instance from your Facebook newsfeed screen.

There exists this massive, humongous,  beyond our wildest imagination archive of  collective human memory stored forever in the internet’s metaphorical brain.  All our activities are stored in theses archives. I imagine my information stored in digital manila folders, with the labels: “Nadia Dresscher”. We constantly leave footprints, like crumbles of bread, that one day can help us reconstruct our human memory. If a comet ever hits Earth and the hard-drives of the digital social infrastructure survives, we can tell the story of human culture just as digital cultural analyst Lev Manovich preaches.  Have you ever searched yourself on Google? And were you astonished with the findings? Did you come across that comment you posted in that specific Manga lover’s Forum in 1999?

Our digital self goes on, it is in a dynamic ongoing state, it doesn’t match your biological rythms. Even when we are sleeping, we have “an extension of ourselves” that is perpetual, as stated by media theorist Marshal McLuhan. When you are counting sheep in your dreams, people are still commenting on your Facebook profile, re-tweeting your tweets, checking you out on LinkedIn (etc!) and expecting something of you…

I won’t go into the public-privacy debate surrounding the data online, nor will I go into the question of data ownership. I just want to focus on how we are actively creating memories online every millisecond of our digital lives right now. We do this consciously, often strategically and even times unconsciously. I know with certainty that I can trace one day when i’m 90 years old, my footsteps back. My grandchildren will search for my information too and reconstruct who I was according to my digital self.  Henri Bergson once reflected on similar issues, he was fascinated by the radical changes in terms of how memories will be retrieved thanks to the invention of photography. By just looking at a photograph of that vacation in Paris, you revive it again. We become easily Prousts of the 21st century ‘In search of the lost time’, this time without smelling the sweet lemony Madelines.

Take a look at 3 applications that can help you start scrap-booking that digital memory lane right now. I came across these, thanks to some FB and Twitter friends (Thanks Zizi, Venessa and Benjamin). These applications use the data you have stored in social media platforms, such as Facebook, to accumulate  your memories (data=memories) and present it to you in an unique form. As a tangible book (Social Memories), in form of a Museum (The Museum of Me) or as a timeline of your activities on diverse social media platforms (Memolane). Continue reading

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Goodbye Perfectionism! ‘not perfect’ is the new black (part 3 of 3)

This post is a reflection (part 3 of 3) on my participation in the course entitled ‘Transforming education for the 21st century’ .

After the classes Tito gave at the UA, I asked myself, why is it that I love to write, but sometimes have difficulty posting on my blog. The answer is: the sometimes agonizing believe that ‘it isn’t good enough’ to post yet that scares away all the inspirational creative energy I have. The underlying message is here: everything is good enough. The fear of not being good enough to go public (internet is a public place) paralyzes creation. Tito taught us that participation and trying  new things is better than having everything in a perfect way. For instance, when designing courses with the help of technology, the fear of  not doing it right away, can stop you of trying. I want to refer to my first post in this series of reflection on the course: Transforming education for the 21st century. I wrote that the education system has to be fluid, our minds and hearts have to be fluid, in order to create space for learning. This space will give the process of learning the freedom for it to emerge in its own unique way. Fluidity, self-adaptable, everything is just perfect as it is…

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A little on Technology, a lot on Pedagogy (part 2 of 3)

This post is a reflection (part 2 of 3) on my participation in the course entitled ‘Transforming education for the 21st century’ .
The course has been going on for three days already. I will first sum up all the applications we have used during  this course (this is the technology review) in order to get that out of my internal hard drive (brains) 😀

With professor Tito Melendez; Transforming Education for the 21st century

We started by creating concept maps with bubbl.us ; This application is very user-friendly and in my experience it can capture the inituitive aspect of our brains very well, when our brains start their spectacular reasoning and creative thinking process. I myself, are accustumed with mindmapping applications such as mindjet (not free) and mindmeister (free) and once I tried freemind (free) but found it not really user-friendly. But since mindmapping starts with a central concept as departure, bubbl.us gives you freedom to start with several concepts and relations emerge in their own pace. So I loved that, my mind is always a myrad of associations. So what then do I experience as user-friendlieness?  I experience user-friendlieness as the degree to which technology can mirror natural human behaviour. In other words what you would do inituively can be manifested without technological barierrs of the application (in other words, the application doesn’t interupt the natural flow of natural human behaviour).

We learned to work with a leaning management system (LMS). The course was focussed on edu20.org. Edu 2.0 is an open-source LMS, compabarable to moodle.com and blackboard (commercial). edu 2.0 rocks! I love the rubrics you can make as a teacher to grade your assignments etc. The University of Aruba (UA) is contemplating the LMS issue for a while already, we are still in the progress of deciding which type of LMS will suit the UA better, since we are a small university. As a student I have experienced the workings of Blackboard during my whole student carreer. I have so say all the open-source versions you have available do the ‘magic’, even better than blackboard. The whole concept of open-source appeals to me. Open-source is the future! It is based on reciprocity, collaboration and open access to learning for everybody. The fact that ‘we’ all are responsible for the workings of the system, makes the system one that is in ongoing progress (constant flow of feedback and self-organization based on a non-profit aim).

We learned to translate other Web 2.0 tools in the classroom setting (blogs, wikis, digital conference, video-making,  etc). For me the added-value was when Tito taught us how to use these in a pedagogical way. I really enjoyed the dynamic collision between technology and course content. I’m looking forward to implement more tools in the classroom.

I’m used at building wikis to support my classes (e.g.  Critical Literacies and Caribbean Sociology), but I’ve always had the impression that my students didn’t really understand the ‘collaboration’ opportunities that the wiki platform had to offer. As a teacher you need to explain the added-value of the technological application to the students and let them experience this. Next time I will  incorporate this opportunity and skill more explicitly in my courses.

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Welcome to the liquid 21st century (part 1 of 3)

This post is a reflection (part 1 of 3) on my participation in the course entitled ‘Transforming education for the 21st century’ .

Light shades in the Aula of the University of Aruba: All that is solid melts into air, or becomes liquid

Most of the teachers at the University of Aruba were invited to participate in the above mentioned course. We are honored to have dr. Juan Melendez, who is a full professor at the Department of Art, Technology and Innovation at the College of Education in the Rio Piedras Campus of the University of Puerto Rico. What an excitement, this time I get to be the student. (okay in a formal way. that’s the beauty of being a teacher, you are always a lifelong student 😀 with major responsibilities).

I have to say, I was a bit skeptical in the beginning (now I feel what my students feel at the beginning of each course). I had mixed expectations, I hoped this course was not meant for people who are new to the discovery of the so-called wonders of technology. I hoped deep in my heart that this course would be on education, more than on the wonders technology can bring in the classroom. And I was blessed,  the first thing  Tito (Juan told us to call him Tito) told us was that this course is about education , and to be more concrete: on the transition of education as a practice of the 20th century reality to the 21st century realities. And that is not a typo, as a child of post-modernism, I want to underline that: ‘realities’. I was relieved 😀  (first lesson: aligning expectations at the beginning of a course, gives peace to the student’s heart and makes room in their mind for openness to the new, teacher and student clear together assumptions out of the air!) Tito cleared all the assumptions and readjusted all the expectations at the beginning of the class.

The first half of the first day was a philosophical dialogue on the practice of education and its role in the 21st century. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation. I’ve been contemplating this subject for a while already as a teacher of new literacies, but what really deepened the experience is having this conversation with my colleagues for the first time. (second lesson: we as teachers have to keep coming together to have conversations about things that matter). I learned so much of the way my peers view this transition. I want to share this video by Sir Ken Robinson. He talks about changing paradigms in education. He has really inspire me in seeing education not as one-size fits it all practice:

In my opinion the education system has to be a place that provides space for learning. Unique individuals have unique ways of learning. Technology as a tool provides diversity as a platform for learning, the teacher as facilitator navigates together with the students, the real explorers. New skills required for the 21st century are: attention (this has become a commodity), authentic participation and collaboration. Learning is no longer an individual process, but a social process catalyzed by reciprocity.  The education system of the 21st century is fluid, not solid. It has to be adaptable for and emerging from the needs of the students and the 21st century. I chose the above picture I took once in the Aula of the University of Aruba because of its symbolism. The solid glass window becomes fluid when struck by sunbeams. The fluid light-shades symbolizes the emerging natural process of learning.

Click on the concept map to view how I played with the concepts of education, learning and technology.

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