Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh snap! You just got served...on my vlog

Over the course of the weekend and into Monday 2 of my fellow grad students (let's call them Menna and Meffrey to protect their identities) took what was to be a simple activity like a meet-n-greet video introduction and turned it into an electronic video version of dueling banjos. The idea was to take a simple process--getting to know an unfamiliar person--and adding in a new media twist--video. So where am I going with this? No, I'm not marketing a new angle for Could it be more reasonable to move away from written media to primarily visual media? With written media it is near impossible to decode tonal inflections and facial expressions (and since serious written media shouldn't have emoticons, there's a lot of room for interpretation). I'm sure at least once in your life you got a letter or email from a boss, coworker, family member, significant other, or friend and thought to yourself "did they mean x, y, or z?" Not only that, but have you ever had a battle with the spellchecker? With a visual media such as a vlog, we no longer need to interpret cave paintings but rather we can enjoy the full range of human emotion. We have visual forms of communication such as Skype video chat that further enhances our telephone experience, why not similarly enhance our email or blogs? Even video games show a wide range of emotions. The furthest back that I can think would be Doom--as your marine gets more and more beat up you seem him become more haggard and disgruntled. For me that just added to the intensity of the game. The transition to visual media seems like a good next step in the evolution of digital communication in a world that is increasingly smaller due to globalization, requires us to be everywhere, and allows us to be at the fingerstips of any individual with a computer or cell phone. A very convicted person once (well many times) told me that print media is not viable. Could it also be said that soon text media will no longer be viable?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Is Baby Einstein killing your child? No, this isn't an excerpt from the Glen Beck Show

Alright, so Baby Einstein isn't killing your child. But is it really helping them out? Let me give you a little back story. As you may know, my wife and I are expecting our first child early next year. That being said, we are very excited as are my parents since they'll be first time grandparents. My mom brought a book on baby products and ratings and other interesting information. This book had a section of items that were not worth buying and among them was Baby Einstein. The reason the book listed Baby Einstein as a bad product because it is essentially an edutainment product. We recently discussed the difference between edutainment and playful learning so I believe there is a good grasp of what I'm talking about here. Now, before all of you already parents may boo me, I love TV and have since a young age and I am not saying my child will be brought up not watching TV. But there is a limit to this at a young age, or so I believe. To plop you child down in front of the TV and assume that a passive activity will make baby smarter seems a little far fetched. Instead, why not enact some playful learning experience with baby--which might also lead to some increased bonding with mommy and daddy. At a minimum, one could hope to grow baby's motor skills.
This brings me to a second point of contention for me, and America's youth. I don't know about you, but I feel it is sad that commercials like the NFL "Play 60" program show up on TV. For those of you not familiar with Play 60, it is NFL players encouraging children to go outside and be active for a minimum of 60 a day every day. Since much of the socialization of children will take place in the home, is it right to start out baby's first months or years plopped in front of a TV being edutained? With younger generations become more and more wired (or wireless), it seems plausible that it will be harder and harder to pull them away from technology to go and interact in the outside world.
Just a little food for thought. You're welcome to ask me how things are going with my implementation of this early next year.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Constructionism: an itch I can Scratch

So, in the last week or so I have been playing around with Scratch which is like a WYSIWYG version of Flash. While having had some informal instruction in class as to how the program works before being untethered, the whole program has befuddled me a little bit. It utterly shocked the bejesus out of me that this is a project that is taught to younger children and implemented very well while I, a college graduate steeped in digital and electronics knowledge is struggling to fully grasp the program.

While troubles have been a point of frustration they have also been one of exclamation. The limited help (otherwise known as scaffolding) from Kylie coupled with the collaborative thought with my classmates have brought me to a curious thought. Scaffolding and constructionism is a method of teaching that I agree allows students to better formulate ideas and information for themselves, but takes a longer time to fully implement as a lesson (opposed to direct instruction). However, assuming that the instructor takes an active role in the construction of knowledge and couples that with peer collaboration and personal reflection, doesn't this ultimately yield more one-on-one instruction in the end? Not simply for the fact that you (instructor) or peers are working one-on-one, but the fact that this is done over a longer period of time--say a week for what would otherwise take a couple days to teach.

I also have to add in an unrelated side thought to this post. The article "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants" was interesting, however I felt that they were presenting some ideas that were a little out there. The ideas about how current students process information differently than the digital immigrants do makes sense. To me I equate the older generations to different versions of PC operating systems. First there was DOS, then Windows 97, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista (and soon to be 7). While each of these systems inherently do the same functions, they all do them in varying ways and (of course) at varying speeds and with lesser or greater degrees of difficulty. However, the notions that he never seems to really firm up about how "students' brains have literally changed" is a bit like the rhetoric you may have found in a mid-1900s public service announcement video like Reefer Madness. It just seems to be such a blatant and unfounded rant from a frightened digital immigrant. But hey, what do I know? I'm just a brash digital native.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Stuff you might not find out about me from my facebook page...

Hey everyone. As you may or may not remember, I’m a first year student in the Learning Sciences program under Dan Hickey. I hope by now you realize that I’m in the P650 New Media course—if not, how did you get on my blog?

I completed my undergrad here at IU in secondary education in social studies. Unfortunately, due to the saturation of able-bodied teachers in Bloomington it was near impossible to find a teaching job. So, for the sake of putting my wife through her last year of her IU undergrad in elementary education, I had to find a decent job. That’s why for the last 2 years I have sold insurance. Fortunately I not only sold insurance at a very large firm (about 400 employees), but I also got to train and educate many of those employees as part of my job.

If you want anything really interesting out of me you’ll just have to talk to me in class or meet up with me sometime. See you all on Tuesdays.