“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own!” — Number 6
And so it begins.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Red Burns lately. For someone so influential, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information or analysis of her work out there. I think I was looking for tweets where she burped out bite-sized nuggets of wisdom or maybe I wanted a memoir where she lays out her philosophies on art and technology in an easily-digestible, quickly-consumed listicle. What I got (with my limited research) instead was Big Bird and Beyond: The New Media and the Markle Foundation and a 1971 New York Times article called, “TV of the People Operating on Cable.”
Both sources talk about Burns’s work with NYU’s Alternative Media Center, which eventually morphed into the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), and Burns’s overarching philosophy that technology should empower people. Specifically the Big Bird book and NYTimes article focus on Burns’s work with public access cable and training citizens and community organizations to produce shows for public access cable. Public access cable was a platform for a community’s voice.
I grew up in rural Virginia in a town with less than 10,000 people. There was one elementary school, one middle school, and one high school. There were no traffic lights. Once school was out for the year, I spent summers writing letters to my friends in other parts of the county, because calling some of them meant making a long distance phone call. Long distance calls required parental permission, and permission was granted only in special cases.
The pen pal ads divulged important and essential information about the pen pal seeker: favorite color, favorite foods, favorite movie, favorite member of New Kids on the Block. If someone sounded like a potential BFF, you picked up a pen and wrote a letter. Sometimes those lucky enough to have their ad chosen for print in the teen magazines wrote back!
I’m assuming that the kids who had their pen pal ads published in the teen magazines were swamped with letters from adolescent girls and boys. I didn’t get many responses, but there were enough for me to realize that ads for pen pals in teen magazines were just a gateway. There was a whole pen pal culture out there, and part of that culture was friendship books, which circulated with letters.
Friendship books were small books that accompanied letters. The creator of the friendship book would include his/her name and address and then pass it on to one of his/her pen pals. That pen pal would send it to another pen pal. When the past page was filled, the book was returned to the friendship book’s creator. He/she then has a passel of potential pen pals.
I wrote A LOT of people. A few of them lived overseas. Most of them lived in the states. A pen pal in Louisiana told me all about Mardi Gras and sent me a package full of Mardi Gras beads and cake babies. Jenny from South Carolina and I exchanged letters for a long time. We probably started writing to each other when I was in 10th grade. I sent my first email to her my freshman year of college. I met her for the first time when I went to tour the University of South Carolina for graduate school in 2000.
My hometown was so far away from everything. We didn’t have cable. The “local” college was 30 minutes away, so listening to the college radio station wasn’t an option (and I probably wouldn’t have known it was a thing anyway). I was at the mercy of mainstream radio and its top 40 hits. Like the Internet, exchanging letters exposed me to a lot of music and books and ideas I wouldn’t have considered mainly because I didn’t know what was out there.
Those friendship books held the names and addresses of people who contributed to the evolution of my taste in music and teenage philosophies. I found REM (which was not hard to do as all of this coincided with the release of Out of Time). I found Juliana Hatfield. I started taking guitar lessons. Somewhere along the line there was a subscription to Sassy. I found zines. Somewhere along the line I had a pen pal fight about Lollapalooza.
A pen pal once sent me a mixed tape.
I can only recall one song. It was “Oh Bondage Up Yours” by X-Ray Spex, and it was the most amazing thing I ever heard. It sounded like every show and house show I would see in graduate school and beyond (I was in Farmville for my undergrad years, and the bands that came through there sucked).
Things, of course, changed. As they do.
Physical letters stopped coming and going. I maintained some relationships for a while through email. Chat rooms and forums opened up opportunities to meet and talk to new people.
Things were more immediate, naturally. But interactions were also more fleeting like conversations with someone in an elevator. Each person was going somewhere else. Might as well chit chat along the way.
But this isn’t a “Technology is bad. I wish things were slower, and I wish people sent me mixed tapes and Mardi Gras babies” post.
Reading about Red and her work with public access cable got me thinking about my history with the Internet, which got me thinking about pen pals and the flow of information (in this case friendship books and mixed tapes) through a network of folks interested in and doing the similar stuff.
Talked about makerspaces and hackerspaces and schools and blogging and such with some friends last night. Good conversations should always results in GIFs.
Summer vacation is almost here, and I’ve got plans. Big plans. Some of those plans involve working a little bit–tending to stuff in the library and co-teaching some Scratch/Makey Makey camps with Carolyn. A lot of those plans include kicking around the city with my 5-year-old son.
It looks like a place called The Village figures prominently in the show. It’s funny, but a place called The Village here in Richmond figured prominently in my life when I moved to RVA in 2006. The Village was one of my favorite places to visit before I became a responsible adult in 2009. It was full of artists and writers and riff raff and misfits. The Vesuvio of the east, perhaps? Sometimes there are nostalgic conversations about the Richmond of the 80s and 90s on the Richmond Counterculture Facebook page.
I spent a lot of time on Grace Street going to see shows at the Nanci Raygun (which became the Bagel Czar which became Strange Matter). Many conversations were had in the booths of The Village before and after shows and on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
So here’s to a summer of DS106. #4life.
Now the tutorial for anyone who may need it:
1. I found a picture of The Village through a Google image search. It was a static image of course.
2. In order to animate it in some way, I figured I needed some contrast, so I opened the image in GIMP and painted the neon sign a darker red so that it would resemble a neon sign turned off.
3. I then found this nice tutorial that explained how to turn .jpgs into an animated GIF in PhotoShop, because as I previously stated, my PhotoShop/GIMP skills are rusty.
4. Then I had the wonderful GIF posted three photos above that closely matched what I was imagining.
It’s nice when it turns out that way.
* Also, I’m rereading this post the next day, and it sounds totally incoherent. That’s because I was writing it while watching the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie with my son, which means there was a lot of, “Hey mom, look at this!” followed by somersaults on the sofa and kicks in the air.
The summer of 2012 was transformational. The summer Olympics were held in London, England. The US witnessed one of the hottest summers on record. The Curiosity Rover landed on Mars. Carley Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was the official summer anthem. And campers everywhere flocked to Camp Magic Macguffin for a summer of hijinx, mystery, and animated GIFs.
DS106 was my first exposure to a networked course. It was a class that demanded participation in the community through a host of creative assignments, tweeting, blogging, reading/comments on the blogs of others, and animated GIFs, animated GIFs, animated GIFs!
Dr. Amy Nelson lead a workshop called Networking Your Hybrid Humanities Course on the last day of AltFest. Several of Dr. Nelson’s classes are hybrid classes. Students meet face-to-face, but they also spend time analyzing and interacting with primary sources. The syllabus for the fall 2014 Russian History course emphasizes the role of the student in defining the class….
“Much of this work will take place in a networked learning environment, which will use blogging, Twitter, and other learningtechnologies to construct, elaborate and refine the contours and content of the course.”
The blogging assignments are intended to leverage the freely accessible resources of the World Wide Web as well as the digitized collections of the Virginia Tech libraries in order to:o Develop your skills in historical analysiso Develop your skills identifying, using and citing historical sourceso Develop understanding of the key developments and dynamics of Soviet History
Sometimes a class can have over 30 students, which means over 30 blogs, which means over 30 posts to read and leave comments. Nelson has an editorial board in place to help with comments. This team also selects the posts that appear in the coveted Editor’s Choice spot. Students on the editorial board also contribute to the body of knowledge the class creates over the semester. You can read a couple of examples here and here
Selections for the slider are posted (in a perfect world) every Wednesday during a semester. Nelson said she notices an uptick in traffic on Wednesday afternoons. Students check out the mother blog to see what posts have been chosen for the week.
Dr. Nelson builds courses that are engaging and participatory. She and her students leverage the best the web has to offer. They make use of open educational resources. They share their analysis and thinking in the open through their blogs and comments.
— Steve Greenlaw (@sgreenla) May 15, 2015
You can find links to student blogs, blog post guidelines, mother blogs, archived class notes, and more on this Google Doc.
Here’s the Pizza Hut commercial in its entirety:
Last year the school where I work explored options for a new schedule for lower, middle and upper schools. A consultant came in (as they do) to evaluate the current schedule, the culture, the ins and outs of the lives of students. There was a long meeting where a few drafts of schedules were reviewed; the pros and cons were weighed. I don’t remember many of the details or the conversations (it was, after all, over a year ago, which is practically an eternity ago). I do remember talk of rallying points. These are points in the school year that give students, staff, and faculty a break from normal routine. The rallying points are something to anticipate. Convocation. Homecoming. Fall break. Snow days. The spring fair.
I’m at the AltFest at VCU, which is very much a rallying point for me. Even though we’re close to the end of the school year, it’s good to get away and explore topics of open and connected learning, technology, #learningheroes. It’s nice to see some friendly faces that I haven’t seen in a while and meet some new folks.
AltFest kicked off Tuesday with #ALTCamp or a couple of media-related workshops led by Molly Ransone (who has the most awesome blog header ever). Those attending the “Lights, Camera, Teach!” session were invited to pick from a host of props (a model of an anemone, a butterfly net, a DNA helix, etc.) and a script. We then entered the Jazzmosphere to film the bit, which would be used in a later workshop on editing video and making amazing things from green screen footage.
Wednesday’s dose of ALTFest started off with Mimi Ito, who unleashed some interesting research about affinity spaces, the lack of access to extracurricular activities for kids in homes with limited resources, engagement (or lack thereof) in formal educational settings, successful mentoring, how to be the “Aquarium Shop Guy*” or connect kids with their Aquarium Shop Guy/Girl.
The keynote resonated as I’ve been thinking about access to extracurricular activities through schools, public libraries, and other community organizations as well as the fierce competition for students’ time. With the new schedule, the clubs period was reduced to 40 minutes once a week. Students in clubs, which are (in theory) created and directed by students, met during this block of time assuming there were no class meetings scheduled.
* Mimi Ito started with a story about her son, who found and scooped up tadpoles on a hike. He went to an aquarium shop to find the necessary accessories for keeping these tadpoles alive, and ended up finding someone (the guy who worked at and/or owned the aquarium shop) passionate about aquariums, aquatic life, amphibians, etc.
The Wikipedia Edit-a-thon
Alice Campbell, Digital Initiatives Librarian at VCU, hosted a Wikipedia edit-a-thon where participants added or edited Wikipedia articles. This tweet from Melissa (who writes things here) sums up the feelings:
I added a citation and some facts to a Wikipedia page!! Watch out, world, I am going to edit ALL THE PAGES. #vcualtfest
— Melissa (@bunnycaper) May 13, 2015
There’s a lot of pressure when it comes to adding or editing a Wikipedia page. I was going to create a page about Nara Sushi, a sushi restaurant that once existed at 1309 West Main Street here in Richmond (it’s now home to a hotdog shop or something). One could eat sushi by day, but by night it was home to some AMAZING punk and metal shows.
I opted not to add the page, because what could I offer other than the physical address? Could I use oral histories from people who went to the shows? Could I use information from people who once worked there? Does that stuff count as reliable resources to Wikipedia, or is that stuff considered original research? Would some Wikipedia editor curse my name, because Nara Sushi isn’t notable enough to warrant its own page?
So many questions! It was the questions that made me think how great a Wikipedia edit-a-thon would be for students who struggle with citations or who are bored with a traditional research paper. When creating a new page or editing a page that currently exists, (if one is a decent human being) one must be informed on the topic. Therefore some prior reading and synthesizing is necessary. I’ve seen plenty of students pull a quote out of a source and slap it in a paper with the justification, “Well, I need to cite five sources, so….”
I imagine giving students the opportunity to become an expert in an area of interest to her/him and contribute to Wikipedia, something she/he is familiar with, would bring about some compelling results.
Students struggle with citations and sources. What’s credible? When is something considered authoritative? What’s the difference between a journal and a magazine? What does peer-reviewed mean? The Wikipedia edit-a-thon really allows for the unpacking of a source, especially if there’s the chance that another editor might call one out (in a nice way, of course) on a questionable source or edit.
Co-Creating a DML Distributed, Open, Collaborative Course
Lindy Johnson and Anna Keune talked about their work co-creating open, connected courses through DML Commons. After discussing the planning process and the elements of the two courses currently in progress, we broke into small groups to plan our own DOOC. What would the subject be? Which elements would we include? The group I was in decided that we’d want ALL the things: a course hub (and this, and this), the integration of Twitter, blogs, etc., webinars and accompanying etherpads for conversations/questions, the opportunity for students to help and teach each other, etc.
As for the subject, we didn’t get to that, but I have a few ideas circling. What would a distributed, open, collaborative course about Richmond neighborhoods and their histories look like? Can public libraries leverage DOOCs for entrepreneurs, inventors, and makers in the community? Based on an email from a friend in a local public library, I wondered if public libraries can leverage the DOOC model to address the learning needs of the community. How does one solve for the digital divide that still exists in many areas? There’s a tech committee at school, and we’re talking about digital literacies and how to teach those. Would a DOOC work? Is it even necessary? What about a 23 Things-like thing for staff and faculty? Is that even necessary or wanted?
And there is the question. What do people want? What do learners want to learn?
Lindy and Anna asked us to share a time when we asked students what they wanted to learn and came out of that. I didn’t share (because, introvert), but I did think back to a info literacy session I did last year when I asked students to write down their thoughts or questions about research on a post-it note. The post-its were given to me, and we went through them. Questions ranged from “Is it ok to use Wikipedia?” to “What is NoodleToosl?” It was an awesome conversation. Often the question on the post-it lead to other questions and concerns.
STEAM is Not a Big Enough Tent
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math have coalesced under a larger interdisciplinary tent known as STEM. Recently educators in the field found that there was a missing creative element, and STEM became STEAM. The story we will tell is about how STEAM is still not a big enough tent.
I’ve talked a lot about STEM and STEAM and project-based learning and social entrepreneurship with staff, faculty, and students this semester. I didn’t think I had the cognitive surplus for one more STEAM-related conversation. After watching some curious tweets roll though, I regretted not going.
— Josh Weisgrau (@jweisgrau) May 13, 2015
If you don’t have time for the Youtube video, you can read Colin’s “Outgrowing the Acronym.”
So that’s the quick run down from day 1 and 2.
Good morning! Happy Mother’s Day! Let’s make some GIFs!
… and I’m going to finish it by god!
I signed up for the Think. Create. Code. MOOC. I felt like it was a good entry point into coding/programming since it seemed centered around the making of images and animations with ProcessingJS rather than starting out with print (“hello world”). In other words, the payoff is faster. The gratification is instant. Those things are important.
Once the semester is truly over, my goal is to move into Python (again).
The “Think. Create. Code.” community is large and impersonal (or so it seems), but I managed to find people locally. I created a coding Meetup through the Women of HackRVA and folks joined up. We’re using Basecamp for asynchronous conversations, the posting of resources, etc. and trying to get together once a week for encouragement and troubleshooting.
My initial thoughts on ProcessingJS is “Why would you do this rather than using PhotoShop?” It takes a long time to create primitive shapes with lines of code. I answered my own question when a member of the group mentioned this octopus created by a MOOC mate. One day I’ll have my own octopus, but in the meantime I have these:
I’m looking forward to getting into the more advanced, interactive work just like I look forward one day (soon) getting as far as chapters 12-15 in Python for Informatics. Right now ProcessingJS has a deeper hook.
We’ve been back in school a week following spring break. It’s been a busy week. No easing in. It’s hit-the-ground-running all the time in schools. A colleague said over the salad bar Friday, “I feel like I get buried deeper and deeper under work instead of catching up.” That’s about right.
So here’s what’s happening in senior seminar in pictures!
Sure. It may look like these guys are just sitting around and hanging out, but I’ve heard actual tracks made in the recording studio (or what is now called the “Beats Lab”).
This paper circuit is a prototype and will eventually exist on canvas.
A Rube Goldberg machine. Originally the parts were modeled in Tinkercad with plans to 3D print them. Then the printer broke as it is wont to do. The students continued with Lego and other found parts. This Rube Goldberg machine incorporates LittleBits.
Learning about Scratch
Makings things with Scratch and Wedos.