DS106 Radio – Get some.
Radio Free #ds106
Loading...add your soundcraft to #ds106 radio
Tags5card 5cardflickr 5cardstory animatedgif animated gif AnimatedGIFAssignments art assignment3 audio badges bag of gold dailyshoot DesignAssignments designassignments43 DesignAssignments172 DesignAssignments332 DesignAssignments342 ds016 ds106 ds106radio ds106tv dtlt FERPA gatechfail innovation jimgroomart kickstarter macguffin makerbot mashup mooc movienight music nv11 pirate box protocol radio video VisualAssignments VisualAssignments311 VisualAssignments320 VisualAssignments353 VisualAssignments595 web2.0 yam
Day 1 – Sunday, December 2
After a somewhat stormy drive, I arrived at my hotel, checked in, then drove about six minutes to the breathtaking environs of the Ritz Carlton. Half Moon Bay, all dressed up for the holidays – the hotel, not me. I wore jeans and a t-shirt.
The warm-up activity was not for the slow-to-warm, and hinted at the overall intensity of the Big Ideas Fest experience to follow. Participants shared stories of the ways in which schools and teachers had failed them, and it was enlightening, and in some cases heartbreaking. The most memorable story in my mind – Betsy Ross is Black!
The dinner keynote from Karen Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology, U.S. Department of Education was top-notch, and contained some provocative ideas:
Good keynote speakers are those with whom you’d like to sit down to continue the discussion, and I wish I’d had the opportunity to sit down with Karen Cator and discuss how conservative (read “paranoid”) interpretations of FERPA (as it relates to student work) are making it difficult for folks in my system to innovate using technology. Some additional clarity from DOE would go a long way toward soothing some higher ed district counsels.
Day 2 – Monday, December 3
The ornaments from the warm-up activity (above) became part of a beautiful display!
Following a morning walk on the beach…
…was a rousing set of Rapid Fire speakers, including the truly inspiring Stephen Ritz, founder of Green Bronx Machine. I’m very interested in all things garden (see http://www.foodforestgarden.org/about/), and so I was really impressed with Stephen’s commitment to providing amazing urban agriculture experiences for students and fresh food for his community, and for his crackling, electric energy. Wound up like a ball of wire, he was, and it’s easy to see why his projects have been so successful.
After the energy-enhancing morning speakers, we got down to business, and began the Action Collabs. I was in Cohort 7, addressing the challenge of “How might we create educational offerings for adults who want to improve their employment opportunities?” Our skilled facilitator Natalie Thoreson led us through an explanation of the design thinking process, a process with which I was somewhat familiar, having participated in ISKME’s Teachers as Makers Academy in Summer 2012, facilitated by Megan Simmons (some photos of that event, which you should definitely attend if you have the chance, here).
While somewhat familiar with design thinking, I was not prepared for the variety of improvisational exercises woven into the day (and subsequent days), which involved physical performance, word play, imaginary games of catch with invisible, multicolored balls, and other things I can’t remember. Here I’ll be honest: these improvs were by far the most personally challenging part of the process.
I understand the function of improvisation in this context, and I understand its role in getting people to think in different ways, to bond, and to expand their thinking. I’ve been a musician my whole life, and I love performing music. I’ve been a teacher most of my adult life, and I love teaching and working with students in a classroom, so I’m no stranger to performing. That being said, short, unprepared performances always make me squirm, and maybe that’s the point. In any case, I knew what was expected of me, and did my best. Our group was full of interesting and experienced individuals, and we tackled the challenge and the improvs with creativity and a collaborative spirit.
Lunchtime Rapid Fire speakers included Shuman Ghosemajumder, Co-Founder & Chairman of TeachAIDS, with a presentation titled Designing for Global Impact: The Art and Science of HIV Education. I was intrigued by the concept, and tweeted about it, in the process drawing @savasavasava into the conversation from New York. The magic of networks…
Dinner keynoters were Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz of EepyBird. I’ve seen their Coke and Mentos thing for years at the Maker Faire, so it was nice to hear a bit more about their creative process, and the ways that they iterate to solve a challenge. To bed with you!
Day 3 – Tuesday, December 4
The day began with toys on the table (provided by William Brown of the Eli Whitney Museum and Workshop), and this really fired the imagination. Folks at my table (including Emily of Open.Michigan fame, who I had the good fortune of hanging out with prior to BIF2012 at Open Ed 2012 in Vancouver, BC – here’s a picture of her and others at a traditional Canadian sushi kegger, in which the photo’s focus is indicative of the overall vibe of the room at the time) had a hard time concentrating on the morning speakers, as we built and rebuilt and combined and remixed our wooden rubber band-powered car kits. Perfect way to start the day. Note to organizers – LEGOs on the breakfast table EVERY DAY!
Back to the Action Collabs, and here it got really interesting, as we finally (this being the Prototype phase of the process) had the opportunity to get our hands dirty, assembling a visual representation of our project. I felt most connected to the process during this phase, as I had the opportunity to work with my hands, which is an important component of my own learning. We finalized our project prototype and pitch and picked our presenters, and I spent some time on a rough draft of a logo for our project, Myne.
After lunch, we posed for an aerial photo (see http://www.dolookdown.org/2012/12/09/aerial-art/) and it was a welcome break, and an opportunity to see some great technology in action.
Day 4 – Wednesday, December 5
Presentation day, and I broadcast the proceedings on DS106 Radio, a free and open internet radio station associated with the DS106 community, so that folks from the network could listen in.
As it turned out, our project, Myne, was selected to “live on.” Truthfully, until the third day of BIF2012, I was a little unclear about the whole semi-competitive nature of the Action Collabs, but I suppose it’s always nice to be part of the project chosen for additional consideration.
The final keynote was a riveting one by author and UC Berekeley Professor George Lakoff, a true professional and gifted orator. The title of the presentation was Creative Intelligence: What the Brain Tells Us About The Importance of Teaching the Arts and Humanities, and Lakoff’s mastery of these ideas was a wonder to behold.
And then it was over…
Some final thoughts… Though the project sketch that came from our Action Collab was “chosen,” for me the experience was about the process, not the product. The process, incidentally, is a good one, a creative way to interrogate ideas and arrive at meaningful solutions. Moreover, the conference was an intense opportunity to apply a structured approach to addressing particular challenges in education, broken up by a barrage of interesting and thought-provoking speakers, improvisations, including invented details from imaginary vacations, walks on the beach, earnest talks with professionals from all corners of education, and with fancy jams and jellies for breakfast besides. I guess you had to be there, and you should probably find a way to be there next year.
Storify of Tweets from BIF2012
Thanks ISKME, all the presenters, organizers and facilitators (especially Megan and Natalie), to the gifted individuals in Cohort 7, and to all the participants for the stimulating conversation.
From Harry: We sure are lucky to have a shark as a pet! Dexter is geting pretty jealous though.
A follow up to Keira and the Shark…
Original photo by sharonkravitz – http://www.flickr.com/photos/31341883@N05/
Many years ago, when I first began working with faculty, helping them to navigate the waters of distance education, one of the primary fears I dealt with had to do with the idea that, if they did the hard work of creating online courses, faculty would eventually be supplanted by their own creations.
In response, I would challenge them by suggesting that if all of what they brought to the classroom – all of their teaching magic – could be recorded and bottled and packaged and put online, then they probably needed to find another profession, or at the very least step up their game. Those words sound harsh to my ears now, but they provided some perspective, and seemed to soothe, or at least calm those fearful faculty. Surely teaching and learning, online or in the classroom, is more than just an act of content? As a wise faculty colleague once told me: “If you want to cover content, find a tarp.”
A fellow faculty member approached me recently, and asked if he ought to be looking for something else to do with his life. He had read and seen and heard about MOOCs – and who among us hasn’t? – and had concluded that perhaps education as we know it, as we practice it, is on the way out, for better or for worse. He imagined a situation in which our Board of Trustees, or indeed the California Community College System as a whole begins to ask the question of why, when there are lots of open courses to choose from, designed and “taught” by the best and brightest faculty from the most prestigious institutions, should so many of those same courses be offered at individual colleges? In the resource-constrained environment in which we find ourselves, shouldn’t we just partner with one of the MOOC providers, license their courses, and offer credit for them as other institutions have done? He ruminated on his role as a faculty member, as a scholar, as a teacher, and concluded that it was quite possible that in the near future, he would be relegated to the role of a reader or test proctor, an overqualified TA. Noble endeavors all, but not what he signed up for.
I suspect that these kinds of discussions (or at least thoughts) are happening all over the place, among educators and legislators and capitalists and taxpayers and administrators and faculty. I’m not going to bash MOOCs, as seems to be the fashion these days. I’ve come to understand that Ed Techs (myself included, I suppose) are in some ways like music snobs. When some technology becomes mainstream – watered-down, corrupted by capitalism and cheapened by profiteers, sullied and simplified and soundbitten – we decry its popularity and head for the exits.
In any case, I began to run the thought experiment of how exactly a MOOC licensing arrangement would play out at my college. I imagine that to those focused on efficiency, MOOCs have a sort of fast food appeal. How better to serve thousands cheaply, quickly, and easily? At the shallow level of the soundbite, such a partnership appears the ideal solution…
Setting aside the long-term health effects of a fast food diet, the reality of such an implementation would necessarily (at least within the California Community College System and given current law) pivot on the construct of “regular effective contact” as detailed in California’s Title 5. To whit:
55204. Instructor Contact.
In addition to the requirements of section 55002 and any locally established requirements applicable to all courses, district governing boards shall ensure that:(a) Any portion of a course conducted through distance education includes regular effective contact between instructor and students, through group or individual meetings, orientation and review sessions, supplemental seminar or study sessions, field trips, library workshops, telephone contact, correspondence, voice mail, e-mail, or other activities. Regular effective contact is an academic and professional matter pursuant to sections 53200 et seq.
Faculty at community colleges across the state have wrestled with this construct since the dawn of distance education, attempting to define and quantify and qualify “regular effective contact.” Setting aside the quantification – how much? how often? – it occurs to me that this regular effective contact is perhaps the best part of teaching, those relationships, the individual and collective aha! moments, the spaces in between, the connective tissue, the scaffolding.
I’ve yet to see a technology that is able to bottle teaching magic. For now, or until such time as legislators change the law in the interest of efficiency, I hold on to the hope that this “regular effective contact” will accompany and keep honest any attempt to create drive-through solutions for undergraduate bottleneck course problems.