Monday, March 4, 2013

File Under: Doesn't fit in any of my other blogs

One of my favourite videos. Molecular science and rap. It's the perfect combination.


#edcmooc Assignment & Assessment Thoughts

I wanted to post a few comments on my thoughts around the assignment and assessment process for #edcmooc.

First, I wanted to use the opportunity to try some software tools that I hadn't previously tried.  I'm still fairly new to blogging and have stuck mostly to text and image in my posts.  This particular blog has afforded me the opportunity to try out embedding video which was ridiculously simple.  For my artifact I tested a number of digital recording apps on an iPad before finally settling on one and my overall artifact was created in Prezi which I had heard good things about but never used myself.

I will say that my final artifact which was based on an existing Prezi template was very easy to create.  The controls and effects were easy to use.  That was not the case when using the blank Prezi template that I started out with and which was my initial plan.  I found that I had issues with frames freezing, zoom issues, paths shifting, and frames becoming inaccessible.  Those issues seemed to disappear with the template so I expect that some of the problem was me getting the feel of Prezi's more advanced features.  Consider that in the template scenario you just focus on dropping in your content and tweaking the frames and zoom a bit as you go as opposed to creating your entire path, background, etc.  So while I am content with my final version, I am disappointed that I couldn't create my initial project as I envisioned it.  Given more time I'm sure I could have smoothed out some of the issues I experienced, however I will say that I would have hoped that the tools would have been more intuitive.  There are also some limitations to the software in general; one example I came across was the inability to create a subscript or superscript in a simple way.

As for the course itself, I really enjoyed the way it had people thinking and communicating about various ideas around the themes.  The content was very intriguing and I enjoyed the time I spent on the course.  The final evaluation process was mostly smooth.  I ended up reviewing one additional artifact (required 3 to complete the course) and I enjoyed all of them.  People put some good work into their assignments and it was really cool to see some other perspectives about the content of the course.  I have posted the 4 that I reviewed over here: Peer Assignments.  Have a look; they are really quite diverse and interesting.

My one concern is that I only received feedback from one classmate.  I'm not sure if there was a system glitch that prevented me from seeing the others, if only one provided feedback, if I genuinely only received one review, etc.  I have posted a question about it in the forum but as this course is so massive I don't expect it to be addressed.  It is not a huge deal as I'm not relying on the results of this course for anything but personal gratification, but as I mentioned in my forum comment, I was really looking forward to the reviews from my classmates.   I think that this is one of the issues of the large online classroom - when there is any sort of issue it becomes hard to get clarity (which is exactly what the topic addressed).

For what it's worth, the single review I did receive was thoughtful, critiqued the work honestly and was well written.  I really enjoyed this course and although I expect this particular blog may fade away without #edcmooc providing a raison d'etre I am hoping that some of the ideas I began to explore during this course continue to grow and find traction in my future musings.  Until then...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Being Human #EDCMOOC

World Builder

This was a Week 3 film that was to help us think about being human in relation to technology.  This film highlights the idea of immersion into a (false) world created by technology.  Part of the focus this week is on technology creating an artificial world.  Simulation.  But how different is this from forms of art in the past (and present)?  Theater, literature, and cinema can all be forms that create a fiction in which we can immerse ourselves.  We do this everyday - when a favourite character in a book or movie dies, fans mourn that loss.  Certainly it isn't the same as reality, but we vest ourselves in it nonetheless.

But the discussions and the movies we've been watching focus on the shift from technology as medium for a story to technology as medium for reality.  We're no longer sitting on the couch after a day at work watching our favourite drama on television.  We're sitting on the couch living our lives virtually.  Or that's what the films seem to be suggesting may happen.

It's exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  As with many of the topics in this course, the idea that something seemingly good could have an undercurrent that is anything but good.  It forces one to always question the motivations and agendas that linger below the surface.  The World Builder video illustrates this is a powerful way although it doesn't contain a message of anything malicious.  What it does illustrate is that under the surface veneer can be dramatically different circumstances.

Fantastic stuff to ponder.

Final Assignments from my #EDCMOOC Classmates

Final Assignments from some of my #EDCMOOC Classmates

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Part 1 of the Assignment is complete #edcmooc

Done, with a couple hours to spare.  Barely.  I'm a little disappointed.  You can find it over here:  Your (Corporate) Education #edcmooc.  Aside from being all over the place with my theme, which at first made things difficult to nail down, I struggled with the Prezi software I used.  I was trying to work from a blank template but found it to be very unstable.  I eventually capitulated and went with one of the predefined templates and things worked much more smoothly.  So, me or Prezi; not sure which was the issue but in the end I was able to finish the assignment.

However, it didn't end up being nearly as rich as what I had originally intended.  I had parallels to the Blog, allusions to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, visuals that reflected the idea of the digital rabbit hole I find myself going down when it comes to technology and so much more.  The course was very rich in content and there were so many ways to go.  In the end I'm comfortable with my final submission and I really enjoyed the class.  I'm not entirely finished yet - I still have to review 3 of my peers' work.  Looking forward to that.

I hope to continue this Blog but there are a number of others that have been neglected over the past number of weeks that are wanting my attention.  So until next time.

Friday, February 8, 2013

(2nd) Sight #EDCMOOC

So I've watched Sight again and I find that I like it even more the second time.  It really pushes the message that a Utopian veneer can easily hide a Dystopian reality underneath.  This is such a popular theme in storytelling, both on the page and the screen.

It's a very rich story considering it is less than 8 minutes long.  There are issues of disconnection from society while being exceedingly connected to technology.  There are privacy issues.  Moral issues.  And ultimately, the protagonist is likely a sociopath.  Indeed, just as he can restart a level when he makes a mistake while chopping cucumbers, so too does he feel that a reset is in order when his date decides she doesn't want to spend any more time with him.  While we've all probably been in a situation where we would love to be able to reset a date that has gone wrong, Patrick doesn't just cross a line, he completely eliminates the line.

Whereas the Microsoft and Corning Utopian advertisements push a "better" world, reliant on their technologies, Sight is a moral tale.  It's purpose is not to glorify technology and the benefits it provides; it is quite clearly denouncing the Utopian vision.  Or at the very least, peeling back the curtain to expose what can be wrong with that vision.

Plurality is another short movie about the potential for technology that is purported to improve society actually making it worse.  We don't ever learn what the future holds but the story makes it clear that the benefits of the technologically advanced society do not outweigh the trouble those advances also bring.  I really liked both of these films.  I think I lean more towards this likelihood - that we go into it believing that we have created and adopted something that works for the greater good, but are always ultimately blindsided by something that was out of our scope and ultimately makes the whole thing less beneficial overall.  This is once again where being human comes into play - we believe in the fable of a Utopia that is within our grasp but the reality is even the best intentions will be undermined.  But it's not the technology that will do it; not on its own at least.  It's always us behind it.  That is our blind spot.  Or someone stands to gain. That is our flaw.  And the technology is always just a means.

Thursday, February 7, 2013


Just watched this one.  Wanted to quickly throw it up on the blog but I need some time to think about it.  My first thoughts are that it once again shows that one person's utopia can be another's dystopia.  And the theme of pulling back a veil to reveal the Truth is well portrayed here too.  Which has me thinking of The Wizard of Oz.  If nothing else, this course has me making many connections.  More later.