I couldn’t stop taking photos this morning!
The Road To Woodwynn Farms.
Today was pretty special out at the Woodwynn Peace Garden!
Might as well share this on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration….
It’s a post to talk about my contribution to the book: “Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications” edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version). The book has a long list contributors and many are names that folks in the field of digital learning will instantly recognize: Terry Anderson, R. S. Baker, Angela D. Benson, Amy Collier, Alec Couros, Michael Dowdy, Margaret Edwards, B. J. Eib, Cassidy Hall, Katia Hildebrandt, P. S. Inventado, Royce Kimmons, Trey Martindale, Rolin Moe, Beth Perry, Jen Ross, Elizabeth Wellburn, Andrew Whitworth. It is well worth a read and I feel bad for not having promoted it sooner.
Ever since the book became available late last spring, I have actually been afraid to re-read the chapter that I had co-authored with my colleague, BJ Eib. And without having done so, how could I promote the book? At the time the book came out, with Donald Trump as the Republican candidate, I was already feeling low about human rationality. I was afraid I’d find our little book chapter had expressed too much optimism about internet connectivity and the human ability to filter and learn (and ultimately make good decisions) from the information available online. Like everyone else, over the past year I had been witnessing horrifying examples of falsehoods and illogic on social media. And it was appearing that not enough was happening to counterbalance the misinformation. It certainly didn’t get better over the summer and of course we all know what happened in the fall…. So, remembering that the Eib/Wellburn chapter had been enthusiastic about the online world as a source of learning, but not quite remembering how deep (and perhaps narrow) that enthusiasm ran, I felt apprehensive about checking it out, in case the chapter had been part of a naive belief-set. I knew that in our chapter we had talked about new roles for teachers and learners in this information-rich era and I knew we had written this because we were excited to explore the types of online environments where amateurs and experts could learn from each other and where authors and audiences could exchange roles and connect with each other. Had we been too “rah-rah” about these possibilities, which were often based on the very social media that was now allowing the widespread proliferation of “Fake News”? Had we neglected to consider the critical thinking and filtering abilities that are important to make the online environment a worthwhile place to be?
Well, today I have taken the plunge and re-read the chapter! And I certainly feel better to know that we *did* address the cautions (things I have always considered to be important but haven’t always felt sure I’ve expressed completely) along with the enthusiasm I felt, (and actually still feel). When we first wrote this chapter around 2009 (and even when we revised it in 2015) “Fake News” and “Post Truth” were not phrases we heard on a regular basis, but there were plenty of authors writing to warn that new literacy skills were going to be required in order to make sense of all the incoming information. And, thankfully, yes, BJ and I did acknowledge and share the ideas of those authors!
Here’s one quote from the chapter that gave me a bit of relief (and there are others):
“How do we ensure that breadth and immediacy do not replace depth and analysis? A new responsibility seems to be upon us: to ensure that our learners have the opportunity to develop skills and literacies that are appropriate for deep learning from (or in spite of) the published but unfiltered information they are currently encountering.”
So… the chapter did include a call to promote information literacy skills. As recent events have shown, the challenges are more pressing than ever. AND the exciting potential is still there as well.
In the conclusion of the book, George Veletsianos states: “Scholarship should evoke change, and academics, particularly academics in schools of education, should strive to improve our societies in meaningful ways.”
In an era where “Post Truth” is the Oxford Dictionary word of the year…(Nov 8, 2016)…
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/word-of-the-year/word-of-the-year-2016 I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly with what George is saying.
Here’s some history of the book and of the chapter that BJ Eib and I created.
Here’s the link to the current 2016 book:
Emergence and Innovation in Digital Learning: Foundations and Applications
edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (including a freely available e-book version).
And here’s the title of the 2010 book “Emerging Technologies in Distance Education“, edited by George Veletsianos and published by Athabasca University Press (also including a freely available e-book version).
And here’s my blog post about the 2010 chapter:
Around that time I also blogged about all the other chapters as well, so if you explore my blog you’ll find those posts 🙂
For more, read about Wael Ghonim and the role of the internet in the Arab Spring revolution. It’s a fascinating viewpoint:
I had intended to write something different for my first 2017 posting here, but since, as a family, we spent the second evening of the New Year at Paint Nite – I now want to share my thoughts on this. Both my kids and of course professional artist husband Deryk are already into making artsy things. As am I. Son-in-law Tyler has more of an interest in technology so it was a newer experience for him. But we’d heard some general talk about the popularity of painting in a pub and we wanted to experience it.
It was a small room packed with 50 participants and we were elbow-to-elbow as we worked on our paintings. There was a set image that we were to paint, but there was no mandate to follow the rules. Almost everybody did (a couple of my family members were the only exceptions to this – I will not name them). We truly started with a blank canvas and I have read that this often surprises people as they expect the session to be more of a paint-by-numbers thing, with the drawing already done for them.
But the rules for outlining the image and then filling-it-in were given in small, humorous doses – a big raw blue sky, smooshy aurora effects, silhouette trees. And it was pretty easy to follow along.
A little refreshment, a lot of selfie-taking and an amazingly focused group of people. All the paintings came out strikingly similar. I spoke to people who planned to give their paintings as gifts and a friend’s daughter who happened to be at the same Paint Nite told me that this was her ninth time!
I did some reading on the topic the next day and found that this whole thing is much bigger than I knew, in fact it’s a multi-million dollar business. It’s clearly filling a need but NOT the need for self-expression. Folks wanted to have their painting turn out as close to the official image as possible. But, like knitting a sweater from a pattern, each painter could say “I made this myself.” And that is important.
Can it be that Paint Nite addresses the same need that drives people to love vinyl recordings and polaroid photos – that “turn your back on digital” point of view?
It makes me think that there is a lot of potential out there for people to take on projects that would be satisfying and perhaps a bit more individualistic than Paint Nite. I guess I hope that this trend will evolve and spark some further creativity.
And, although I won’t be giving my painting as a gift (or hanging it anywhere, even though it does look more or less like it’s supposed to) I did have a lot of fun and so did everyone else as far as I can tell 🙂
When “Solstice” was first installed at Woodwynn (last spring) I promised myself to be there at sunrise on the morning of the winter solstice. And today, with Deryk, I did just that. We arrived early. It was still very dark and we walked around as we waited for dawn, almost feeling the world turning under our feet in order to reveal that first glow in the sky. At first we heard an owl and then other birds awoke with different sounds. A flock of geese flew over and we laughed at the trumpeting noise. There were clouds today so when the light did appear, it gave a soft, shadowless feeling. There’s an infinity of moods in the Peace Garden. This morning was extra special.
As many of you already know, the sculpture was inspired by a quote by Albert Camus: “In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” (as translated in Lyrical and Critical Essays, 1968)
Here are a few photos:
Patreon.com is a wide-ranging online community where patrons can support the work of artists, musicians, YouTube creators and much much more. It’s extremely interesting to browse and see just who is putting themselves “out there”. The list includes Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his StarTalk radio channel for one 🙂
Deryk and I leapt into it today.
So, we’ll be having a bit of fun sharing information about the things that motivate us along with our videos and pictures, etc.
Please feel free to drop by and let others know if you think they’d be interested.
You’ll have to click on the link to find out what it means to be glasstastic, or to be my glasspiration.