visually learning, collectively yearning

#edcmooc

what a blast the past week has been with all these lovely pictures to look at and ponder on!

and the google hangout by the course teaching team this week was just wonderful, from my point of view. As I’ve been saying in various comments online (such as), I’m finding the ‘openness’ of this online learning we’re doing within and beyond this mooc quite extraordinary and fabulous… I am acutely aware of the storyline that says moocs are a disaster for higher ed, and fully expected this one to be pretty crap, as I said to Angela when we first met before this course began – we happened to attend the same small group meeting at the uni where I work about moocs and eLearning and in introducing ourselves around the table as you do we found we were both enrolled in the same upcoming mooc.. Angela had a bit of experience already, and was clearly quite enamoured of the potential riches they offer (girl in candy store was the feeling she described having), while I was the sceptic, enrolling just to see if it was or wasn’t possible for students not yet particularly proficient in English (the sorts of students my work at uni focuses on helping), and fully expecting this kind of environment would evidence a hundred reasons why it’s not a great place for them to be… and after this past month I have come away with quite the opposite than expected experience.

Obviously I’m not in the linguistically vulnerable position here (I’ll experience that when I try to do a mooc in one of my ‘other’ languages), and I don’t pretend to speak on behalf of others, but what I am finding amazing is the amount I’ve learned and been freely able to consider in this environment about my own teaching practice and what else I could be doing with available technologies and task ideas and subject design…. I mean I’m pretty happy with what I do generally (or I was til I came here), but I have learned far more than I anticipated I would, and I am coming away with a very different conception of what ‘open’ education means…. which I’ll probably elaborate on in the final artyfact thingy I guess…

but meanwhile, I’m just enjoying thinking about what a great opportunity this is, not just to learn a few new technological tricks of the digital trade, but to learn by doing what effect networking on this scale and at this speed can do for a renewed sense of joy and value and potential in an eLearning environment. and best of all is the ability to see so much of what goes on not just in this course context, but also in others, so that we can compare, and we can also immediately see and hear what others with every possible level of experience and perspective think about it all… I mean, here we are, hearing the team who have designed and are managing the delivery of this course, talk openly and honestly about what they are thinking as it happens! How often have you experienced that as a student? How often do you, if you’re a teacher (which most of us here are) how often have you been that transparent with your students?

This is a kind of openness and connectedness to ‘the literature’ (which now includes various modes of representation and delivery) that I have NEVER experienced before – not this fast. I mean it normally takes literally years to get this level of juxtaposed information and opinion based on extensive observation and experience happening in this way… that’s the big impression I’m getting at present anyway, and I’m really impressed! I think because of the ease of sharing digitised material in these social networking spaces, we’re currently able to make comparisons and develop collective understanding of what does and does not work well in eLearning not only faster, but with far greater fun and joy than is the usual dragging of self through the academic treadmill of ethics approvals to ask your own students a few bloody questions and publishing and peer review and yawn yawn – here it’s all happening live and now and it’s fun. what? no this isn’t higher education as we know it, it’s a damn site better! And what is more, and better still, the community of learners is more diverse and is growing and diversifying all the time. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see the facebook and G+ pages being posted up with messages in languages other than English – this is how it should be. It’s real. and it’s human.

None of which is to say I am oblivious to the problems and limitations, and I’ve been tracking the growing great debate for some time, and reading with interest various other and no doubt better trackers of this debate (such as Ronald’s blog and scoopit pages)… but somehow the more diversity that appears in this debate about moocdom, the more interesting it becomes, and that’s of course the other great take home message – opening up discussion like this is what higher ed is all about, not limiting and pretending there is only one ‘correct’ way of looking at anything

Anyway, that’s enough for today, got to look at some more visuals and read more blogs by others, and get to the beach!

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kinetic typography

I love text animations like this one based on a talk of Stephen Fry’s…. I have been exploring Matt Rogers’ other work, and discovered this one, based on a talk of Carl Sagan – it seems so relevant to our course I added it to the ‘about’ page of this blog.

I have done a few ‘prezi’ presentations (eg this edited down to just the visuals version of a much longer walk and talk through version that I won’t bore you with here), but I haven’t yet dabbled in the creation of kinetic typography – maybe the assignment for this course will be a good reason to… Matt uses Adobe ‘After Effects’ software, as do most people doing this kind of work.

I really like the videos Elena and Angela have made also, using Sparkol’s VideoScribe software, but I haven’t gone into that yet either… maybe one day, when I find the time, and money, 🙂

There are lots of great videos ‘out there’ playing with animated text and drawing like this – do you have any favourites?

filmfestival

just watching some of the shorts recommended in the EU version of the EDC course (the slightly more serious course framing the free fun short mooc we’re in)… will add comments as I go (when I find time! – just doing this for distractive fun)

 

re-volution

back on deck again after a lovely, rejuvenating break at ‘Wordfordia‘ – that’s the ephemeral tent village which appears each year around a folk music festival, for a week just after Christmas at a rural place called Woodford, then disappears again as quickly as it came…. sort of Australia’s contemporary answer to the Woodstock of an earlier life in another country …

pulp_31jul11_sbooth-179-2

This was my first time at Woodford, and made me feel both very old and very young at once… I went because my 13 year old daughter has been at me for a few months about it, since she found out her ‘favourite singers in the whole world’ were to perform there… while I’m very glad she’s so passionate about music of a certain kind, reminding me of how I felt about Dylan, Baez, Mitchell, Guthrie, Melanie, Cohen etc, but it is a big ask to go there from where we live, it’s over 1,000 kms… I opted for a road trip rather than a flight, because they’re fun, and good for our relationship… lots of quality music to share in the car, lots of quality talk and good laughs… memory making stuff.

Well anyway to cut a long story short, it was a delightful trip and the festival was fabulous. What made me feel very young again, and included in the atmosphere at the festival is perhaps best summed up in a line from one of the songs on a Gregory Page cd I bought while hiding in the festival music shop tent from a random torrential downpour that ended the oppressive heat of the first part of the day and began the rather more pleasant cool of the late afternoon and evening… on the journey home a few days later I was being regularly reminded by him that “it’s never too late to be the person you’re meant to be” … and that just felt so right. After the main event for us – performance by Julia Stone (in which her brother Angus also appeared, yay) – we stayed for Kate Miller-Heidke, whose first number (politics in space, or space politics or something) includes the line “the 60s was 50 years ago, get over it” – which made me laugh out loud, and feel old…

Other flashbacks included an appearance by Bob Hawke (former prime minister from the 80s) who spoke (disappointingly lamely, but the guy is over 80 now so I’m a bit forgiving) about our relationship with China, and then a comedy debate with a very good Kevin Rudd impersonator…  then on Sunday the current pm actually appeared at the festival… it was all bit surreal – not because the festival was therefore a bit political, but because it was incorporating politicians rather than just slagging off about them. Somehow I can’t quite imagine a sitting president appearing at Woodstock in 1969… but it didn’t (surprisingly, to me) make the whole thing a conformist sell-out, it struck me as rather more intelligent, engaged, and just being part of critical public debate. It was rather good.

Also spent a day at GOMA exploring the Asia Pacific Triennial… Again making me feel old in that I’ve been to most of these and the first one was 20 years ago. Good grief, seems like yesterday. But more important – the show was fantastic and images are as alive in my mind now a week later as the day I saw them – perhaps more so, as they become more part of the daily re-woven patterning that constructs the coherent sense of narrative we call understanding, thought and identity…

wish we could have stayed away another week at least – but can’t leave the dog with neighbours for too long, and oh yeah, there is that thing called a job to be getting back to… but yay – there is also that emergent community online I have just started engaging with 🙂 Time to get back to cyberspace and meet up with all my new pals in edcmoocland! yay