Tuesday, 19 February 2013

On Metaphors, the Future and the Way We Are Wired (#EDCMOOC, #ETMOOC)

Cable Bundles
Photo Credit: craig1black via Compfight cc

I am now two weeks late with my weekly reflections. The week I will be writing about here is Week 4 in EVO sessions and in #ETMOOC and Week 2 in #EDCMOOC. I managed to follow the weekly activities in my workshops and be more or less on time, but the weekly blog posts are something completely different. It takes a lot of work to put together everything that went on in all these learning spaces and turn it into something meaningful.

I am glad that this week there'll be digital stories to help me along.

In Neuroscience we learnt about the way we are wired. And, you know what? We are all wired differently. Let me put it like this:

See this story on Storybird

Dr Medina explains schema in a fun way:

Meanwhile, in #ETMOOC it was the first digital storytelling week and I created several 6-words stories on Twitter.

First there was the horror story series:

His last words: "Let's split up."
Last seen running into the woods.
She ran upstairs. Front door creaked.

Then there was this standalone melodrama:

"See you", he said. He lied.

And here is my first ever animated gif:

Uploaded with ImageShack.us

For the animated gif I used this simple tutorial provided by #ETMOOC.

It was a fascinating week in #EDCMOOC, as we discussed future-focused visions of technology and education, both the utopian and the dystopian ones. We looked at metaphors as lenses through which these visions are seen. Metaphors are deterministic. This is the point where #EDCMOOC has a lot to do with Multiliteracies. Here Vance Stevens writes about why looking at computers as tools determines the way we use them and why the tool metaphor shouldn't be enough. Here's more on computer metaphors from the #EDCMOOC reading list. And here's a blog post I wrote about computer metaphors when I attended Multiliteracies two years ago. In this post I compared the computer to a geenie from a magic lamp, a magic wand and a communication tool. The second and the third are tools, but what about the geenie? Is the geenie a person? I think I will have to go back to this in my next post where I will look at this week's #EDCMOOC topic - redefining the human.

A Manifesto for Networked Objects with its notion of "blogjects" will amuse you. But just at first. Are the "blogging objects" and the "networked objects" really our future? Or, are they already our present? Are they really "more dangerous than the Terminator"? Or will they save the planet for us? Yesterday, I read in my son's weekly science magazine about a project which aims to save the rainforests by equipping the trees with mobiles. Once somebody tries to cut it down, the tree "calls for help". It is this type of thing Bleecker is looking forward to.

Now for something dystopic. The following film (7:50) was the highlight of my week:

Sight from Sight Systems on Vimeo.

I believe this movie can be used in TEFL to discuss, among other things, the gaming addiction. Not to mention the future and relationships.

Another point where #EDCMOOC crosses paths with Multiliteracies is the idea of edupunk. Here's what I found in the Multiliteracies wiki archives about edupunk:

EduPunk and Learning Management Systems - Conflict or Chance? from Martin Ebner

Am I an edupunk? Two years ago I wasn't sure, now I am. I am sure that I am one, that is. Why else do you think I am addicted to MOOCs? And what do you think I am doing here blogging about my online learning experiences?

If you think you might be one too, you should listen to this (one hour long, but worth it):

And if you are the sort of person who likes to take notes, Audrey Watters has already done it for you here.

Well, that's all folks. Next week, we will be looking at what makes us human.

I would like to finish with a great image I found in the #EDCMOOC Flickr pool which, I believe, says it all.

"Always On"
cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Angela Towndrow: http://flickr.com/photos/90243669@N05/8461301620/

Tags: #evomlit, #mmooc13, , #2013evo, #brainelt, #edcmooc, #etmooc


Saturday, 9 February 2013

Tales of the Unexpected: On Networks, Utopias and Memory (#EDCMOOC, #ETMOOC(


Last week was a very interesting week in my workshops and MOOCs. Very interesting and full of unexpected twists and turns.

I have personally provided a new twist for you, dear reader, by joining #ETMOOC.

You might be wondering exactly how many MOOCs I am attending now. Sorry, but I won't tell you. Or, rather, can't. I am not sure. A few. More than two, less than twenty. So, there's still room for more MOOCs.

Let me just say that I now feel like a full-time student.

If you are an ETMOOCer and are here for the first time, here's something about me:

Meanwhile, elsewhere (and in no particular order):

Last week in Neuroscience we studied memory. I found this clip useful:

The way Dr Antonio Damasio describes memory reminds me of an orchestra playing in a concert. First there is a single clarinet. Then, the string instruments join in. After them, more and more instruments join until finally the whole orchestra is participating. It follows that, as teachers, we need to add more and more "instruments" when we are reviewing, so that the students can hear the same "melody" several times in different ways.

In Multiliteracies we did networking, which made me reread this two-year old post of mine on the same topic. Nothing has changed much, except that now I am moving in even wider circles that before. Two years ago my network consisted mostly of EFL teachers, but now there are other educators, poets, poetry lovers, various other people who like to sign up for MOOCs... The ties are looser as I get to know more and more people, but I still believe that real friendships can form between people who have only met online. Don't you?

Meanwhile in Mentoring we read this very intriguing text about what really happens when our learners leave our protected classroom environments and enter the real world of L1 speakers. What roles do they play? And do those roles give them enough opportunity to practice speaking? And if they don't, then how are they ever going to sound anything like a L1 speaker. It is a Catch 22 situation.

Meanwhile in EDC Mooc on Coursera... Honestly, I am beginning to lose myself in these MOOC names. EDC stands for E-learning and digital cultures. Anyway, in EDC MOOC we looked to the past digital cultures. Rather, we looked at ways in which this past is viewed - as a utopia, or as a dystopia. Our homework, among other thing includes creating images that somehow describe the topic.

I am a utopian, but I still created this image as my homework:


 I love EDC. Our instructors are very creative and they have collected for us a most amazing curriculum consisting of YouTube clips, among other things. Here's one clip that could be called utopian, I suppose:

Notice that the red bags are only the medium. What matters are the real people that the red bags have connected.

As this was Week 1 in EDC, the professors provided this amazing Google doc. And in this post Jeremy Knocks, who is one of our professors, asks a very important question - should MOOCs focus on the process or on the content?

This wouldn't be a tale of the unexpected if it didn't come with a twist. You see, one of my MOOCs died a sudden and unexpected death. You can read more about this here.

I am in no position to judge. Let me just say that I did enjoy the course while it lasted. I loved the readings and I had no problem signing up for groups (in fact, I succeeded in doing so twice). I wouldn't even mention this if it hadn't given rise to a most amazing new MOOC - consisting of the "refugees" from the course. There are two Facebook groups (one for EFL teachers only) and the beginning of a course on Canvas. It is early days and I have no idea how this course will turn out. However, there are people in the group who know a lot about instructional design, so we'll see.

If you are still here, congratulations. This was a monster of a post. Next time, however, I promise something completely different. Next time there'll be digital stories...


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