Archive for the eci831 Category

The Social Artist – IS COMPLETE!

Posted in eci831, Online with tags , , , , , on January 11, 2013 by onepercentyellow

About a year ago, I started on what turned out to be a daunting journey.  For Alec Couros’ #eci831 class, I interviewed 7 individuals from the Augustana Faculty of the University of Alberta, and 3 individuals from the University of Mary-Washington (UMW) in order to flesh out a series of descriptive words to aid me in conducting a course review for the UMW’s Online Learning Initiative (OLI).  I also used the interviews to create a series of videos meant to introduce the two campuses to one another, a role Nancy White calls being a “social artist”.  This involves creating a space that allows others to come together to learn from each other.

When I began the project, I had little experience in either conducting interviews or editing videos, and I quickly realized the huge time investment required.  I have since read in professional video editing, each minute of video requires roughly one hour of editing.  For me, a beginner, it took me twice that time!  In addition, the motivation to complete such a project long after my course was finished required that I draw on my own self-directed learning skills.

Moving forward, I’m excited to see the developments in the OLI since I participated in the course review a year ago.  Subsequent cohorts have added to the list of Liberal Arts values  and have begun to contribute to the teaching ideas page.  The digital community at UMW is growing, and I look forward to conducting my final research project for my MAIS program – a case study of the OLI.  I have submitted a Fulbright scholarship application to support me in this project, and hope that my research will feed into Teagle Foundation research being conducted into digital education by the COPLAC group.

The world of digital education is expanding rapidly with large universities participating in the MOOC movement, but Liberal Arts has a particular contribution to make in this digital environment.  It centers on community and connections and will push us to ask the big questions in the digital realm: Who am I? What does it mean to be human?  What does it mean to interact and contribute to my community?

So here is the link to the complete Social Artist Series.  Thanks to all who participated and followed along!

The Social Artist – Interactivity

Posted in eci831, MAIS with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2012 by onepercentyellow

Learning happens when the world bumps up against what you already know.  In our clumsy stumble through life we’re constantly colliding with new ideas in text, in music and video, in objects around us, and in other people.  The thrill of having your own notions of existence confirmed, and the conscious-raising experience of understanding a resistant view of the world is one of the great drives of education.  We want to understand our world no only for ourselves, but for each other.

In the educational world, it’s tempting to submit this interaction to a top-down structure that reinforces power relations found throughout society, but one of my favourite pedagogues, Paulo Freire, argues (with the help of Erich Fromm) that this type of interaction is a drive toward “necrophily”.

“The necrophilous person is driven by the desire to transform the organic into the inorganic, to approach life mechanically, as if all living persons were things… He loves control, and in the act of controlling he kills life” (Friere, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 77).

It is not enough to simply have interaction among the players in an educational enterprise.  We must encourage authenticity, presence, and a drive toward a dialogical method of teaching that will encourage a love of life through a profound curiosity and desire to interact with ourselves, one another, and our world.

The Social Artist – reflection

Posted in eci831, Online with tags , , , , on October 25, 2012 by onepercentyellow

When I returned from teaching abroad to finish my undergraduate degree, I was not expecting to truly engage in my coursework.  I had planned to complete the necessary tasks to obtain my parchment and had written off any naive desire to engage in the big questions of life.  My first day in class at Augustana banished that thought as I suddenly had names and theories to analyze my experiences in other countries over the past 4 years.  I realize now that this was my first taste of reflection, and I was immediately hooked.

The process of engaging the world with a set of questions and theoretical tools in the hopes of coming to some kind of understanding of how this crazy train fits itself together is the joy of the human project.  It’s the motivation behind learning – we want life to be easier, more rewarding, more enriching, more fair, and if we can determine why it is not this way, perhaps we can unlock the mystery that would lead us to our own utopia.  If we are sensitive enough, we move from examining the ticking mess of the outside world to scrutinizing our own reactions and interactions with our existence.

This process of reflection is not always a given.  There are many ways we have learned to refrain from asking questions of those things that are ‘working’ – if it’s not broke, don’t fix it – but there are cultural norms, systems of power, political agendas, and personal relationships that are not actually ‘functioning’ though they seem to be ‘working’ when analyzed with the untrained eye.  It is only through exercising our critical reflection skills that we may have a chance to understand our own KEY role in life and the greater world.  Suddenly our actions have meaning, our thoughts and ideas have influence, and we begin to consciously create the world we want to live in, rather than blindly reproducing the world we have been taught.

ART – keeping you real since the internet began

Posted in eci831, MAIS, Online, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on August 24, 2012 by onepercentyellow

Well, it’s that time again: the beginning of the semester.  While I have not signed up for my next MAIS course, I have been enticed into participating FOR REAL THIS TIME in #ds106, the MOOC with the MOST (other than ECI831 – sorry, all… @courosa still holds the special place in my digital heart!).  This coming as I prepare to present on autobiographical theory and digital identity development, or as I like to think of it – living the autobiographical self.  I put out the question – what makes people real in the digital world – to the #ds106radio audience on my birthdaycast.

So I have finally made my first true entry into the #ds106 world… I AM REAL!!! I can make an ANIMATED GIF!!! With @cogdog’s help, of course.
#makesomeartdammit

The Social Artist – Active Learning

Posted in eci831, Online, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on July 18, 2012 by onepercentyellow

Active learning, while a contentious term, stands against what Paulo Freire calls the “banking model” of education.  At one time it was enough for the professor to stand at the front of the room and simply lecture at students, trusting that the carefully prepared packages of knowledge were properly transferred to the willing participants.  While there is a level of success that accompanies this type of instruction, other pedagogical practices are changing the focus from the instructor to the learner.  Active learning asks students to become actively engaged through dialogue – dialogue with the instructor during class time, with fellow students both during and after class, with themselves through journaling, and with the larger world through experiential education (including community service-learning and fieldwork). In editing the reflections on active learning I was reminded once again of George Siemens and Stephen Downes theory of Connectivism.  When we encourage active learning, we are pushing students to develop their own connections to people, to ideas, to theorists, to disciplines.  We demystify knowledge, adopting the humility of fellow discoverers and allowing students to find their own significant connection to the material.  Walking along beside students we show how we have adopted the knowledge into our own lives and turn to them to say – Ok, now it’s time to make this your own.

The Social Artist – What is liberal arts?

Posted in eci831, MAIS, Online with tags , , , , , on January 11, 2012 by onepercentyellow

The question, “What is a liberal arts university?” is a little like asking someone to describe post-modernism. Often people know more what it feels like and looks like rather than exactly what it is. A description involves questions of the value and purpose of a post-secondary education, and, as such, becomes a rather self-revealing political statement, rather than a detached list of descriptors. Individuals are involved in the telling of liberal arts stories, and perhaps this passion is the most revealing of all.

In this second video of the Social Artist, we discuss the makings of a liberal arts university in general. For me, this video has been created alongside readings in the theory of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) for my MAIS 638 course with Dr. Carolyn Redl. As a part of CDA not only am I considering the responses to the question, “What is a liberal arts university?” but this new theoretical background has me pondering the context each person inhabits in the liberal arts system and how that has influenced their responses. What’s more, I am reflecting on how my role as editor is manipulating the recordings to speak back to the audience in an abridged, entertaining and engaging format. I find it fascinating that in many ways, my own voice is populated by a series of clips of the voices of my interview subjects.

I have also been contemplating my goals in creating these videos. I want the story I am portraying to encourage people to take up their own conversations on liberal arts and online learning. From this perspective, I wonder how the individuals interviewed view the responses of their colleagues. From the social artist perspective, I wonder how presenting an audience’s words back to them influences levels of interest, involvement and buy-in on a project.

These ponderings are simply questions I have come up with along the process of creating the videos. I hope to share more of my reflections on the creation of the videos and the OLI process in this space. In the meantime, enjoy the show!

The Social Artist

Posted in eci831 with tags , , , , , on January 4, 2012 by onepercentyellow

In June of this year I returned from my world travels to my undergraduate university, the Augustana Campus of the University of Alberta in order to volunteer at the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) annual general meeting.  I simply couldn’t miss the opportunity to connect with people who may be able to help in my investigation of the role of narrative in liberal arts education.  I knew that should I attend this meeting, I would be inspired by initiatives at other institutions, and find a way into the COPLAC group.  Much to my surprise, I knew one of the speakers!  I had been following Jim Groom (@jimgroom) on Twitter due to the activity around his digital storytelling course, #ds106, and he was scheduled to speak, along with John St. Claire and Steve Greenlaw (@sgreenla), on the Online Learning Initiative (OLI) at the University of Mary-Washington (UMW).  While Jim was not on the campus in person, choosing instead to Skype into the presentation, I was able to continue the conversation with him via Twitter, and came to volunteer as a reviewer for the upcoming online course.

In the meantime, I continued my masters work, taking Dr. Alec Couros’ (@courosa) Educational Technology and Social Media course, #eci831.  For this course, I created a proposal to broaden my role in the OLI.  Since the summer I had been investigating UMW’s online presence, and, being an online student myself, was quite impressed with the openness of their digital campus.  I wanted to not only assist the UMW with the review of their online learning initiative, I also wanted to showcase the possibilities for connected online space to the folks at Augustana.  In order to serve these two needs, I conducted a series of informal interviews regarding liberal arts values and the role of online learning.  I have compiled these interviews into short videos meant to not only inform my role as course reviewer, but also to digitally introduce, or e-troduce, these groups of people to each other.  In short, I want to become a social artist that helps link these two institutions.

I hope that in this space, interview participants as well as others who are interested in online learning and liberal arts will engage in a discussion of the topics presented.  Feel free to comment, even if it’s just a short hello.

And feel free to connect with each other!

@onepercentyello
@jimgroom
@sgreenla
@lethejerome
@sherbani

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