Learning with Social Media: The Positive Potential of Peer Pressure and Messing Around Online
Mimi Ito, a cultural anthropologist who studies new media use, described her views on how students use of the web and social media is not being taken advantage of fully either by the students or their instructors. There is a clash between originality vs. appropriation. Students are using the web to find easy routes. They use cheathouse.com for term papers and ratemyprofessor.com to weed out difficult instructors. While their instructors expect them to produce original work, yet they use standard measures to assess them. Students today tend to share knowledge more than they ever have before. She gave examples of the amateur webcam video genre and how young people are creating mashups of their favorite videos and creating fan remix videos, something she termed as "disruptive innovation". They are adept at reshaping existing media to create new media expression. The old model of focused attention seems to be breaking down. We need to embrace this fact and train students to become constantly adaptive. She raised the question of how do we leverage the social media to get the students' attention? She gave the example of Snafu Dave, who started an online comic strip, which ended up becoming quite famous. It was something he could pour his energies into. She gave other examples of how the web was being used for learning, such as The Peer to Peer University (P2PU). The P2PU helps you navigate the wealth of open education materials that are out there, creates small groups of motivated learners, and supports the design and facilitation of courses. She also showed examples of anime remix videos and the community of fams of animae. It was all about experts who look to each other for teaching and learning.
Developing Online and Interactive Content with Adobe Flash Catalyst - No Coding Required
Adobe Systems, Inc.
This was a hands-on session with Adobe's Flash Catalyst program. The program is an interface builder especially helpful for designers who work in Photoshop. They can import their Photoshop images into Catalyst, preserving all layers, then select separate elements to enable as buttons, pulldown menus, text areas, etc. Once the component was created, it was simply a matter of choosing the action each component would initiate when selected. Catalyst would then write all the actionscript for the component immediately in the Actions window. These are called "code snippets" and are touted as an easy way to learn the code for creating such things. For instance a Flash video game could be created by selecting the arrow keys to make the character move about on the screen. It just lays in a pre-canned script that you can go into and modify if you choose. The idea behind Catalyst was to allow designers to design and let them create a base level of interactivity that could be handed off to a coder who could add more elaborate interactivity, like connecting to a database for example.
I spoke the the folks from Adobe and they showed me the Entourage Edge eReader they had with them. I w as quite taken with both its looks and functionality. They said it would fully support Flash 10 in about a month (much to the chagrin of Steve Jobs no doubt). I looked it up on YouTube and found a great demo video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28vvRbhOdg8
. It is very much like an iPad or Kindle, except that it has two screens, one for the eReader and a tablet notebook run by the Android operating system on the other, which can play thousands of applications. It has the ability to record and play audio and video, is Wifi enabled, has a touchscreen keyboard (or you can plug a USB keyboard into it), The eReader side has a Wacom tablet built into it that you can either use to highlight text or annotate in your book or use it standalone to draw and write into a notebook application. This would be great for taking notes in class. The Edge has a one-touch backup system so you never have to worry about losing your books or notes. I have requested a loaner from Entourage to assess and pit against the iPad. They will be sending me one to assess for 2-3 weeks starting next week.
Digital Literacy: The State of Play
Angela Thomas, University of Tasmania
Angela discussed why they did digital storytelling, what students got out of it, training, and assessment. A question was raised as to how a course like Physics might use digital storytelling and an example was given where one instructor personified a concept and used digital storytelling to tell its story. She mentioned Viddler, which allows you to assess and comment right on the video. The classroom seemed to bond as a community, she noted. The students got to know each other better through their stories. They used peer-supported learning groups as well as hands-on training. Students would self-assess to see if they needed to enroll in a one-credit video production course. Students had to do criteria-based assessment of their peers' work. They were theng instructed to send the instructor an email and answer the criteria for each video shown in class and assess them, picking the top 3 videos. That gave the students the incentive of winning as well as a touch of competition to do well.
When Work Gives You Lemons, Make Strategy
Al Gonzalez, Cornell University
The same week Al was hired as a publications and marketing director, the university laid off 4 people in his unit. The university was moving to the Web and didn't need as much print design. In response to the lemons of the obstacles and challenges, he reacted by trying to foster trust, identify strengths, and control fear. The results were innovative media systems and strategic plans. After the layoffs moral was understandably low, and those that were laid off were replaced by Web developers. He couldn't say for sure whether there would be more layoffs, and this created an atmosphere of fear, jealousy, and lack of trust. He was the project manager for 18 staff, and they had one IT person for 70 people, so they had to make strategies for economies of scale. They had no formal testing group for quality assurance and needed a comprehensive time-tracking tool for 40 hours per week. In 14 months they delivered a new message framework application and a 5 year plan to promote the University of Cornell. They rolled out their new CURLO system, an online repository that learns and organizes news stories. They also rolled out a redesigned HR website with hundreds of pages of content and over 300 publications. Dominant themes for their promotional plans were the student experience, messaging and branding, and a caring community. He said "What makes a message stick is when it's unified." He gave the example of a rash of suicides at Cornell - 6 within a 3 week period. They needed a website that addressed what they were going to do about it. A Caring Community was promoted. The website was built in one day. "You don't want to just capture the public's attention," he said, "You want to also capture their imagination." He discussed how he did an audit of his staff's strengths and weaknesses and compiled them into a dashboard to easily view them. He described four different types of workers: the Visionary, who leads by vision, the Warrior, who is always ready to attack a problem, the Nuturer, who wants to make sure everyone is safe and happy, and the Critical Thinker, who figures out how to carry out the vision. He talked about fostering a healthy working environment, saying feedback is the oil that runs the machine. You need to identify sensitive issues and proactively strengthen relationships. We also need to understand the role we play in developing conflict and how to diffuse it. He offered his website http://algonzalez.info
for more information about the team personality mix as well as some of his other topics. Looks like a helpful site.
Learning and Teaching the Tools of the Animation Trade
Steven Martinez and Stacey Eberschlag
ToonBoom Animation, Inc.
I was a bit disappointed in this breakout session as it was billed as a hands-on workshop, but the s/w wasn't even installed on the computers in the lab. They did, however, demo their products. They have a storyboarding s/w and several animation packages. ToonBoom is used by all major animators, including The Simpsons, South Park, Pixar, and many more. He showed how characters are built so they can be easily animated. It looks like a great package and I'll be downloading a demo copy to assess.
The Mobile Horizon: A Panel Discussion
Kyle Dickson, Kyle Bowen, Shan Evans, and Bryan Alexander
As mobile devices are becoming more mainstream, campuses all over the country are struggling with how to best support their use. Smartphones are thought to be the most competitive market in the last 5 years. There are now many different hybrid devices available. According to Morgan Stanley, smartphones will overtake desktops and laptops in the market, and as far as popularity goes, it's all about the number of applications that are available to them. The Horizon Report predicts that mobile phones will be pedagogically important and that video production on smart phones will be the next new thing. Web content will shift to mobile content stored in the cloud via phone. The term "cone of distraction" was mentioned. This was the fact that a person sitting in the front row with their laptop open will distract 2 people behind them, 3 behind them, and 4 more behind them. Purdue created a web application called Hotseat to allow for student backchannel discussion in the classroom, which can be used with Facebook, Twitter, and SMS. They were able to get 86% student adoption. They were also using their lab computers as farms when they are not in use to help with encoding video for their server. Abilene Christian University's iPhone initiative gave all students an iPad or an iPod Touch. They were able to mobilize anonymous feedback systems to eliminate the need for students to buy clickers. Their students also like the handheld version of BlackBoard better as it was simpler and easier to navigate to the info they were looking for. They were also going to roll out FaceTime this fall, which is a small group discussion tool to simplify setup of groups and discussion. You can either join a discussion on your smart phone or create one. You can create groups, deploy topics, assign roles, and distribute points of view for discussion. Their lessons learned were to build on proven practices, seek faculty input, use mobile phones to complement class instruction, and consider different points of view.
Project Management to Foster Creativity
Megan Bell, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Talked about her approach for project management in a creative multimedia shop. Project management starts with a good project definition. Document the who, what, when, where, and why of the project in a Statement of Work (SOW). It's best to make the other party sign the document so you know they read it. They may not read it otherwise. Home in on the target audience for the project and what the goals are. What are the high level responsibilities? What do higher ups need to know and sign off on? How long will the project take? Typically, faculty will need a more general schedule and a more detailed schedule for staff customers. Make clear short and long term goals. Figure out what the deliverables are. Decide on copyright ownership. Manage changes to the project effectively. Also state exclusions (what is NOT included in the agreement). Also talked about stimulating creativity through mind mapping. Discussed left and right brain thinking and how both must be present to get the most creative solutions while staying on track. Agendas should be created for all meetings. You should know what your steps are so you know you're making progress. A needs assessment should also be done prior to starting the project. At the end, a project close statement that includes all the measurables from the SOW that both parties can sign off on as being complete.
Using Adobe Photoshop as a Visual Analysis Tool in Research
Dave Wilson, Univerity of North Florida
A few of the more interesting posters were one that described using Photoshop as a research tool. By using controlled photography, photos could be analyzed and compared using the color tables in Photoshop to compare the healing of a wound, for example. Another was measuring the distance between say a man on a bicycle and a car passing him by using Photoshop's built-in tools.
Less Filling, Same Great Taste - Comic Books Instead of Video for Student Projects
Jerod Bendis, Case Western Reserve University
This was a simple, but effective idea. Instead of using video, students were asked to take photographs and use a program called Comic Life to help them construct the comics with word balloons. This was a low tech digital storytelling technique so that students wouldn't get bogged down in learning digital video and could instead concentrate more on their content. He said it required minimal training for the students as most have used a camera and many have used some sort of photo editing software as well.
Collecting the Digital Story
Kenneth Warren, University of Richmond
The University of Richmond showcased their resources for no-cost digital storytelling production and publication. They produced over 250 DST stories last year and are using the free open-source web-publishing platform, Omeka to archive these stories.
5 Minutes of Fame
Houston Community College let a large group of students use Kindles for their classes. They found that Amazon was bad to work with, but didn't elaborate as to why. Students overall took to the Kindle quickly, but found that it wasn't very easy navigating to parts of a book they wanted to review and that it was hard to find things in general. eBooks were roughly 1/3 the cost of print textbooks. The students also didn't like the limited use of the Kindle since it could not do chat and Facebook. This might be were the iPad and Entourage Edge will have a distinct advantage.
MIT had their students create a Russian history timeline for the Kerensky conflict. Students were assigned to research certain groups of people involved in the conflict, such as soldiers, and were also told to assume that group's point of view. This was an exercise to get siloed information into a diachronic format where it would be easy to cross-reference different groups and their point of view at any given point on the timeline.
A demo was given of "virtual bubbles" where live video of the audience was displayed and a particle generator was overlaid over the live video. When people in the video would "touch" a bubble, it would bounce away from them. Not enough explanation given as to how this was done, but it was interesting.
Pearson eCollege is using free web-based audio recording tools such as Jingo, PhotoStory, and Voki so faculty can better connect with distance education students. They are used for a variety of things such as speaking practice where the instructor can listen to and critique foreign language students, for assignments, and for verbal feedback.
A New Culture of Learning
John Seely Brown, University of Southern California
John talked about how small moves, smartly made, can set big things in motion. The new thing now is Global Processing Units (GPUs) where computer systems share the processing load to do heavy computing. He said our technical skills now only have a 5 year half life, and that if you're not leading the way, you're falling behind in a way. He posed the question "How do we afford curiosity?" How can we better leverage mobile devices as curiosity amplifiers? We need to rethink how we learn, what we learn, and how new media has changed the fundamentals of what we learn. The saying used to be "I think, therefore I am." Now it's more like "We participate, therefore we are." We live in a much more collaborative environment. Understanding is socially constructed, and a student's ability to join study groups is the greatest indicator of their success in college. Study groups are both physical and virtual. He talked about how Reyerson University missed the point when a student started a chemistry study group on Facebook. He was expelled for cheating, when it was merely an organized study group. He was later reinstated. He then told of a 14 year old boy from Hawaii, whose life goal was to become a world champion surfer. Although his parents wanted him to have a fallback job in mind, they said they would support him. He picked 5 friends who were just as into surfing as he was and they formed a study group aimed at perfecting their surfing techniques. They used video to replay the top surfers in the world to break down their techniques frame by frame, so they could quickly learn them. They also pulled the best ideas from adjacencies: wind surfing, skateboarding, mountain biking, and motor cross. They kept in tune to what was happening in the surfing scene all over the world. The boy became a world champion surfer by the age of 20 and makes a lot more money than his father. He said you need the passion to achieve and the willingness to fail. World of Warcraft was also presented as an example where it is important for players to pay attention to the social life on the edge of the game (the knowledge economy). The World of Warcraft mantra is "If I'm not learning, then it ain't fun." Gamers like to be measured to see their improvement. There is much in-game and out-of-game learning going on. They use graphic dashboards and analysis tools created by users. After-action reviews are conducted to rate how raid team members performed. We need to spend more time on the tacit instead of the cognitive structures of learning. Speed chess was cited as an example of how to learn patterns quicker.