Remixes and Mashups

My Remix/Mashup for ED 677

 


Reflection on my Remix/Mashup

Before I completed a couple of readings on remixes and mashups, I already had an idea in my head about what they were. If you had asked me to define each of these terms, I would have said that remixes take an existing artifact and present it in a new way. Mashups take multiple artifacts and combine them into one artifact. The readings I completed supported my simple distinction. For example, Gil (2017) described that “a ‘mashup’ combines services from different websites into a single website.” According to the Wikipedia mashup article that focuses specifically on education, remixes have two or more data sources. Remixes re-create an artifact in a way not originally intended by the user. So, in my mind, in the most basic sense, this is how remixes and mashups differ.

So what do they have in common? The key to both remixes and mashups is the evolution of an artifact’s meaning. Murray (2015) describes that, “artists have consistently challenged the idea that meaning ascribed to objects is permanently fixed. All cultural artifacts are open to re-appropriation. As with much else, technology has made this process easier and more visible.” The tools we have available now make it easier to assign new meanings to existing artifacts to create remixes; combining old artifacts together with different meanings to create mashups. With both remixes and mashups, we can use existing content as a springboard for new ideas and new content. We can create with old creations.

I think the animation I created for this assignment is somewhere between a remix and a mashup. It’s a remix in the sense that I took a lot of my own work and presented it in a new way; it’s a mashup in that I took all of the semester’s work and condensed it down into a 2 minute animation. Rather than being a commentary or a parody or an artistic process, I envision it more as a curation or chronological display. This adds meaning to the pre-existing artifacts because it puts them together in one place where they were previously disparate.

Reflection on the Process

Even though this video ended up being less than 2 minutes long, it took me a really long time to create! I wanted to have the opportunity to be brief and to really drill down to the heart of each of the past semester’s assignment. I wanted to create a mashup of the content and ideas that I will remember and take with me after the end of this semester. Consequently, deciding what content to include and how to present it was a fairly time-consuming process.

Moovly was also a new tool for me, so it took a little while to learn it. I initially tried Video Scribe (which was used by a student in the 2016 cohort), but decided it was a little too complicated for my purposes and the learning curve a little too steep. Moovly allowed me to create my moving infographic and ended up being a great tool for what I had in mind.

The reason I wanted to create what I would call an “animated infographic” was twofold: (1) I hadn’t had a chance to use an animation tool yet this semester, so I wanted to pick a technology that would challenge me, and (2) I wanted to challenge myself to tell a “brief” story instead of my usual long story. I always have a hard time being concise, but the participatory storytelling project in particular really reminded me of this particular tendency. So I chose a different approach to storytelling (brevity) than I have used in previous assignments. My story, then, is a story of small epiphanies. Each assignment gave me at least one “a-ha!” moment, and I think that in the future, it will be useful to me to have all of these discoveries curated into this brief chronological display.

References

Gil, P. (2017, April 21). What exactly is an internet mashup? Lifewire. Retrieved from https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-an-internet-mashup-2483413

Mashup (education). Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mashup_(education)

Murray, B. (2015, March 22). Remixing culture and why the art of mashup matters. Tech Crunch. Retrieved from https://techcrunch.com/2015/03/22/from-artistic-to-technological-mash-up/

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Participatory Storytelling

Media Presentation

Click on the image below to visit my media presentation of our participatory story.Participatory Storytelling


Deconstructing the Process

Choosing the Form of Media

I knew before I began that I wanted to pair our Twitter story with some form of images. I think that, in part because it was Twitter-based, the cohort spent a lot of time “setting the scene” or developing descriptive passages. Consequently, I wanted the opportunity to create a graphically-rich representation of the story. I imagine that we were all picturing some sort of scene or item or object in our heads when we read or wrote these descriptive passages. Taylor and Williams (2014) explain that, “McCall Smith… cites the critical role of the reader’s imagination in bringing these miniature tales to life,” and so I wanted to try and capture the imaginative scenes we were thinking about as we wrote the descriptive passages.

I wasn’t quite sure how to do that, so I started by brainstorming what kinds of tools would allow me to neatly integrate images into the already-crafted narrative. I considered doing some sort of “timeline” feature (such as the one here), as I remember a classmate used it in one of her posts in my summer Digital Citizenship course and I thought it was very visually appealing. However, it did seem more appropriate for a project with a clear chronological organization, so I kept looking. I found that another student in last year’s ED 677 cohort used a very interesting tool– Adobe Spark. Since I’d never used it before, I thought it looked like the perfect tool for what I was hoping to accomplish.

I found Adobe Spark very easy to use– and actually pretty fun! It was very simple to integrate Creative Commons licensed photos- although I spent probably more time than I should’ve browsing through the images to try and find ones that matched what I was picturing in my head. I experimented with the different themes as well as the different ways to display text so that the end product offered visual variety.

Reflection on the Twitter Storytelling Process

I had a hard time with this project initially, and this blog post and media presentation through Spark came together much easier for me than did the weeks of tweeting leading up to it. Logistically, I struggled to fit in two tweets per week because I primarily work on classwork over the weekend. I would login with the intention of completing my second tweet, but wouldn’t be able to because I would be breaking the “no consecutive tweets” rule. I also often found myself confused about what was happening in the story, which made it difficult for me to write tweets that I was confident wouldn’t derail the storyline further or cause even more confusion. Thus, the process of coming up with two tweets a week was sometime frustrating.

In general, I also think it was difficult for me because storytelling as a whole is outside of my wheelhouse, and this form of storytelling even more so. According to Taylor and Williams (2014), “Mitchell says crafting stories for Twitter requires a completely different approach to novel writing. Above all, he says compression is the key, and modification of the narrative is often required.” If you look at any of my previous blog posts (this one included), compression and brevity are really not my strengths. I always prefer to use more words rather than fewer words, so the shortened nature of each Twitter contribution was a challenge for me. In addition, I am much more comfortable with nonfiction than I am with fiction. I do think I’m a creative person, but not when it comes to telling stories or creative writing. I liked what Alexander (2011) said about this type of storytelling: “The social media world has made the outer frontier of stories porous. Where a story begins and ends, what the container is that holds a narrative: these questions are more difficult to answer than before” (p. 125). I found Twitter to be a challenging “container” with which to hold a story– I like continuity, order, organization, and a plan… which is tough with 140 characters and 10+ authors!

I do like what Alexander (2011) said, though, regarding “collaborative spaces.” He explained that, “One model for understanding storytelling in a social media world, one where content and audience interaction is distributed over multiple sites and across time, is that of the networked book,” and that we should think of the networked book “…as a platform, whereupon visitors build materials in a collaborative space” (p. 127). Twitter became a platform for collaboration, and it is kind of neat to look at my Spark presentation above and consider that it all started with one tweet and was created solely through collaboration.

References

Alexander, B. (2011). The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

Taylor, A. F. and Williams, M. (2014, Sept. 30) Alexander McCall Smith on the art of Twitter fiction. ABC.net. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/booksandartsdaily/beta-nav/alexander-mccall-smith-on-the-art-of-twitter-fiction/5777056.

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Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality in Action

According to Davis, “Augmented reality, at its most basic form, is defined by the incorporation of something virtual into something pre-existing, thus amplifying the experience.” Augmented reality offers us an opportunity to enhance natural experiences or static images with virtual experiences and additional information. In other words, the Auras below allow us to link digital content to something physical, which enables the information to be displayed and the story to be told in ways that were previously not possible (Mills, 2012). 

Disclaimer: make sure you follow vmw1925 on Aurasma so that you can view the following Auras! I also recommend you click on the image to enlarge it before viewing it with the Aurasma app.

Map of US national parks, indicated with tree icon

This first image is a map of the location of US National Parks. When you view the image with Aurasma, you’ll see two arrows appear: one for the past, and one for the future. Clicking on the arrows will take you to a YouTube video about the history of the parks, and a Ted Talk video about future potential for the parks.


 

Vintage poster advertising Grand Canyon National Park; depicts a sweeping canyon and sky.
A short video opens, showing a time-lapse of light coming up over the canyon.

 

Vintage poster advertising Yellowstone National Park; shows the geyser Old Faithful spewing up into the sky.
Links to “10 Things You May Not Know” about the park, and links to the park’s frequently asked questions.

 

Vintage poster advertising Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Links to top attractions in the park, and opens a PDF with hiking trails.

 

Vintage poster of the American Southwest desert scape, advertising Arches National Park.
Opens a video of the park taken by a visitor to the park, using a drone.

 

Vintage poster advertising Glacier National Park, shows a mountain reflected in a lake.
Discusses the history of the park; opens images of the building of the Going to the Sun Road and a video with a Park Ranger explaining the road’s construction. Double tap the second icon to view the Park Ranger video.

 

Vintage poster advertising Mt. McKinley National Park, shows a Dall's sheep in front of a mountain.
Opens two news stories about the park.

 

As evidenced by the auras above, AR can be used to integrate all kind of digital information into the physical world. User generated content, news stories or current events, hiking guides or visitor information, historical facts, and fun trivia can all be a part of an image with the use of AR technology. I will leave you with this one last aura to end your virtual experience of the story of US National Parks (click on the new image once it appears):

Image that says "Find Your Park."


Deconstructing the Process

Augmented reality is frequently applied to travel experiences (Graham, 2010), and so that is why I decided to explore that concept further in my AR post, just to see what kinds of materials could be integrated. My husband and I have traveled to quite a few US National Parks, and I appreciated their story in the broader story of US history. I noticed that over the past few years, the iconic “vintage” posters of each national park have been more popular, and I think it’s partly because they capture a particular feeling about the park and/or convey the park’s particular story. Since education (along with preservation) was one of the original intentions of the park system, I thought it would be fun to use these vintage posters as the trigger images for my auras. I tried to attach different kinds of information to each trigger image, so that I could practice adding various overlays and actions.

While I think that AR has exciting potential, I struggled with the technology in its current form. As the ASTE Presentation (2012) describes:

The biggest drawbacks to AR, right now, are access to technology and complexity. While there are a handful of platforms that lower barriers for participation, many exciting new applications of AR may be out of reach for many educators due to the level of technical skill required to build on many platforms.

I tend to agree with this quote. I believe that good instructional design seeks to limit extraneous load, but the extraneous load for AR is quite high  for both the creator of the content and the user. I know that I spent much more time learning the technology and trying to overcome glitches than I did developing the educational content, which is not ideal– the educational content, not the technology, should be the star of the show. Similarly, I think AR can also limit what kinds of materials we use. Trigger images have to have specific characteristics, so if the best image educationally doesn’t work technologically, you will have to use Plan B (which again, is not pedagogically ideal). I would also have some accessibility concerns, since it isn’t easily apparent to me how my above auras could be transformed into something equally accessible to all students.

Because of these experiences, I think there is a danger in AR becoming the use of technology for technology’s sake. As with all kinds of design, we must be intentional in our use of technology and in our technological choices to make sure that the technology serves to support and enhance the content and does not make it more difficult to access the content or distract from the objectives of learning.

References

ASTE 2012 Presentation (2012). Seeing more: Augmented reality. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/disruptingtheinstitution/seeing-more.

Davis, M. (n.d.). Augmented reality. Retrieved Aug 20, 2012, from http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~mcd332/Augmented.htm.

Graham, S. (2010, Nov 12). 7Scenes: Augmented reality authoring for digital storytelling. Electric Archaeology. Retrieved from http://electricarchaeology.ca/2010/11/12/7scenes-augmented-reality-authoring-for-digital-storytelling/.

Mills, M. (2012, July 19). Image recognition that triggers augmented reality. Ted Talk. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frrZbq2LpwI.

 

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Cultural Storytelling

The Curation


A Reflection on the Curation

The story above can best be classified as a “long form curation.” According to Content Curation Techniques, when you pull from multiple sources and tell a narrative or a story, you’re creating a long form curation. I’m not sure you can classify my curation as “storytelling,” because it doesn’t necessarily have the beginning, middle, or end that Content Curation Techniques describes, but it is also not the “short form curation” because of the abundance and variety of sources curated to create a narrative.

Kanter’s process of curation most closely resonated with what I worked for in the above curation. She describes content curation as:

“the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme.”

Rather than present my readers with a collection of links and allowing them to draw their own conclusions, I worked to “cherry pick” the content that its “important and relevant to share,” and put the resources in context with “organization, annotation, and presentation” (Kanter, 2011).

I found that most of the sources I curated in the above story did something similar to my process and to Kanter’s process. They chose an “angle” from which to discuss the topic, and then pulled in sources and statistics and content around that theme. This is the “sense” that Kanter describes: they chose to leave some things out, and chose to include other things. Most of them also chose a “side” almost in an attempt to persuade their audience that either the millennial generation indeed deserves this reputation, or that the millennial generation is treated unfairly. A few also chose to tell the story of the middle ground, pointing out that while a few common traits can probably be identified, it usually doesn’t work to vastly generalize a large group of people into a monolithic identity. In all of these, I found that they utilized the element of conflict: they juxtaposed what is “said,” or what “people commonly believe,” against what they say is “true.”


References

Content Curation Techniques. (2013). Retrieved from http://curationtraffic.com/podcast/content-curation-techniques/

Fry, R. (2016, April 25). Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

Hess, S. (2011, June 10). Millennials: Who they are and why we hate them. TEDxSF. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/P-enHH-r_FM

Hill, C. (2016, June 21). Millennials engage with their smartphones more than they do actual humans. Market Watch. Retrieved from http://www.marketwatch.com/story/millennials-engage-with-their-smartphones-more-than-they-do-actual-humans-2016-06-21

Kanter, B. (2011, October 4). Content curation primer. [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/

Main, D. (2013, July 9). Who are the millennials? Live Science. Retrieved from http://www.livescience.com/38061-millennials-generation-y.html 

Rose, F. (2011, March 8).  The art of immersion: Why do we tell stories? Wired. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/business/2011/03/why-do-we-tell-stories/

Stein, J. (2013, May 20). Millennials: The me me me generation. TIME. Retrieved from http://time.com/247/millennials-the-me-me-me-generation/ 

Steinburg, S. (2015, August 21). Millennial vs. Boomers: Habits and characteristics. Parade. Retrieved from https://parade.com/417128/scott_steinberg/millennial-vs-boomers-habits-and-characteristics/

Tanenhaus, S. (2014, August 15). Generation nice. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/fashion/the-millennials-are-generation-nice.html?_r=0

Taylor, T.C. (2016, March 23). Workplace flexibility for millennials: Appealing to a valuable new generation. Thrive. Retrieved from https://www.adp.com/thrive/articles/workplace-flexibility-for-millennials-appealing-to-a-valuable-new-generation-3-324

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Elements of Digital Storytelling

The Stories We Tell

What’s the point?

What is a story? Since that’s not an easy question, maybe it’s simpler to talk about what a story is not. A story is not a data point, an anecdote, spectacle, or even a simple narrative (Alexander, 2011, p. 13, and McClellan, 2007, p. 69). A story is not always fiction, nor is it always nonfiction. We see stories in literature, but also in business, journalism, marketing, and certainly politics. A common theme I found as I read and collected resources on this topic is that what separates “story” from “not-story” is simple: a story has a point or a purpose (Nick Montfort in Jenkins, 2010, Part 1; Alexander, 2011, p. 13).

This “purpose” and the progression of a story often takes a similar form. In Kurt Vonnegut’s lecture (Comberg, 2010), he points out that stories usually take a character from a low point to a higher point, with some sort of critical juncture, tension, or problem along the way that must be resolved. Stories have a particular arc: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, denouement (Melcher, 2012). I studied music in undergrad, and one feature of music theory that always stuck with me was the importance of dissonance. A chord expresses tension, and then when the tension is released, the music (the story) is propelled forward. Stories have a purpose or a point; non-stories lack this purpose or intention.

Stories Connect Us

Among their many purposes, stories serve a social purpose: they connect us to others. Considering music again, I had a vocal instructor who always said that you can’t sing “O Holy Night” without going for the high note (in the line “Oh night, divine”… you know which one I’m talking about), because that’s what the audience is waiting for. They’re waiting to see if you will make yourself vulnerable enough to attempt it, and then they feel fulfilled by your performance and their participation in your performance when they connect with your vulnerability. (There’s also a bit of “tension” in here too, as I think they are also waiting to see if you’ll mess it up).

McLellan (2007) explains that stories can become a conversation between the storyteller and the listeners (69). In the video by Melcher (2012), the narrator explains how researchers identified specific brain chemistry changes that occurred in response to a story. In this video, a researcher monitored the brain activity of people as they watched a story about a terminally ill child and his father. As people watched the story, the researcher observed that viewers experienced the release of specific neurochemicals associated with compassion and empathy. People who watched the video, too, were more likely to donate money or take other action as a response to the story. In other words “stories transport us into other people’s worlds” and in doing so, help us connect with others, even if we don’t know them and will never meet them (Melcher, 2012).

Digital StoriesImage of sunset that says, "Digital Storytelling: Intimate yet Participatory"

Like traditional stories, digital stories also have a point and connect us to others. In many ways, the purpose and point of stories remain the same, whether they are told orally, in writing, or using digital means. According to scholar Tom Abba, “Homo sapiens has always been a storytelling animal; so is homo digitalis” (A.C., 2015). Digital stories, then, are simply the art of telling stories with digital tools (Alexander, 2011, p. 3). 

McLellan (2007) contrasts digital storytelling with digital spectacle, explaining that, in spectacle, the audience members are observers. She continues: “By contrast, digital storytelling is far more intimate and participatory, with less flamboyance, yet with deep and lasting power. Ultimately, digital storytelling seems to reach people more profoundly than spectacle” (69). I think the core difference between digital stories and traditional stories, then, is twofold: digital stories have the potential to be more participatory, but also more intimate.

Reaching Up and Reaching Down

I envision that an oversimplification of the history of story and storytelling could be divided into three overlapping and co-mingling eras. The first era is perhaps the era before our reliance on the written word, when oral stories among small groups of people were the primary means of storytelling. In the second era, we got books, literature, mass media, film, and radio. Now, in this third era, we have digital storytelling, which as described by Alexander (2011), relies on tools like blogs, Twitter, Wikis, social images, Flickr, Facebook, Podcasts, web videos, etc. (p. 47-91).

So what separates this third era of digital storytelling from the previous two? In my second “era” of storytelling, most stories (films, books, movies, etc.) were transmitted one-way, but this new form of digital storytelling has the potential to increase the participatory nature of stories. According to Dean Jensen, before, only a select few individuals had the means to craft a story and get it out. Now, “almost anyone can create a story and get it out to a potentially unlimited audience. The fundamentals of storytelling are beginning to change” (Jenkins, 2010, Part 1). Clay Shirky explains that, in digital storytelling, we have more stories that overlap, told in multiple times, with more users actually participating in the story (Jenkins, 2010, Part 1). Barriers that the typical “storyteller” used to face are being reduced, as “digital storytelling makes it possible to capture, archive, and retrieve stories with greater ease and flexibility than ever before. And digital storytelling techniques make it possible to present and share stories with exceptional power” (McLellan, 2007, p. 73)

I think that digital storytelling also reflects a desire to return to the first era of storytelling, when the experience between audience and storyteller was more intimate. Digital storytelling is an attempt to reach “up” to reach more people and participate with wider numbers of people across broader platforms and with less linear restrictions, but it is also an attempt to reach “down” in order to connect more intimately with specific personal stories on a human level. As Lambert explains, digital storytelling is an attempt to “bring back orality in the communal circle as a core human activity” (Jenkins, 2010, Part 1).

Digital Stories and Education

Storytelling is considered “the” original form of teaching by some, and has numerous pedagogical merits. Stories were are are often used to teach us lessons, beliefs, and digital storytelling boasts many of the same benefits (Educause, 2007, p. 1).

When students are the creator of stories, they’re empowered and have the opportunity to find their own voice. This fosters “a sense of individuality and of “owning” their creations.  (Educause, 2007, p. 2). According to McLellan (2007) digital storytelling helps students develop critical transdisciplinary skills such as mastery of technology, collaboration, self-direction, personal initiative, and visual literacy, which are transdiciplinary skills necessary for student personal and academic success (p. 68).

When students are the audience of a digital story, they’re asked to participate, which taps into emotional learning as well as logical, sequential learning (Educause, 2007, p. 2). Students will be more profoundly impacted by a lesson or a topic if emotional learning is considered; if both reason and emotion are required for engagement (McLellan, 2007, p. 71). 

References

A.C. (2015, November 23). The real future of electronic literature [Web log message]. Retrieved Nov 26, 2015 from http://www.economist.com/blogs/prospero/2015/11/interactive-fiction?fsrc=scn/tw_ec/the_real_future_of_electronic_literature

Alexander, B. (2011). The New Digital Storytelling: Creating Narratives with New Media. Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger. 

Comberg, D. (2010, August 30). Kurt Vonnegut on the Shapes of Stories [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP3c1h8v2ZQ

Educause (2007, January). 7 Things you should know about digital storytelling. Educause Learning Initiative. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7021.pdf

Jenkins, H. (2010, August 23). How new media are transforming storytelling in four minutes [Web log message]. Retrieved Aug 20, 2011 from http://henryjenkins.org/2010/08/how_new_media_is_transforming.html

McLellan, H. (2007). Digital storytelling in higher education. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 19(1), 65-79. Retrieved from http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF03033420

Melcher, C. (2012, October 3). Empathy, Neurochemistry, and the Dramatic Arc: Paul Zak at the Future of Storytelling 2012 [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q1a7tiA1Qzo

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Personal Learning Network

Assignment Description

For this assignment, you will begin to develop and document your Personal Learning Network. Your PLN is an important element in the ONID program.

Establish and/or develop a personal learning network, the core of which will be Diigo and Twitter. You may use existing accounts if you already have them, or you may create new accounts for this program. These accounts will be used throughout your involvement with the ONID program. In the process of using these tools in this class, think about your larger PLN and the elements that comprise it, and begin searching for new tools that will enhance your PLN.

Visual Representation

Word cloud that spells out PLN. Words include things like reiterative, never-ending, communication, collaboration, internet, diigo, library

I created this word cloud because I think word clouds are fun. Too, I really enjoyed just taking some time to brainstorm about the types of words I associated with “personal learning network,” after working within that concept throughout the semester.

I really liked Bob’s emphasis on how a “personal learning network” consists of more than the internet– it’s also the people, your collegial and academic interactions, the brick-and-mortar resources, etc. Many of those types of resources are also included in my word list. Similarly, the word “reiterative” appeared frequently while I brainstormed and typed my list of words for my word cloud. I envision a great PLN as a reiterative, never-ending process. You revisit old ideas as you learn new ones, while new connections you make as part of building your PLN encourage you to think about both old and new concepts from a different perspective.

Reflection on the Assignment Design

I am nearing the halfway point of the ONID program (not quite there yet, though). I started in January, which means I also took courses out of sequence. In ED 653, Instructional Design, I was first exposed to the concept of the personal learning network, and it was in that course that I had the opportunity to create a Twitter, Diigo account, etc. So, when I saw the Personal Learning Network assignment in ED 431, it was probably the assignment I was least looking forward to, because it felt a little redundant.

Similarly, I try to be intentional about the time I spend on the internet, and so I am not one of those people who seeks to create an extensive Twitter following. Consequently, really the only times I would go on Twitter this semester was to do the required number of tweets for the PLN assignment, which often made it feel artificial. This semester (and throughout my time in school, really) I feel as if I am much more likely to expand my personal learning network when I have a purpose in mind. In other words, if I have a specific question or an assignment to complete, that’s when I am likely to dig up resources and websites and scholars that become part of my PLN. For this assignment, I often found myself just scrolling through Twitter looking for something somewhat interesting to share, which is quite different than the targeted searches and the exploration of specific issues that I am used to doing.
To sum it up, then, this is what I would offer in terms of feedback to the PLN assignment:
  • Make sure that the PLN assignment approaches the personal learning network concept from a different angle than the other courses in the program, and perhaps expect that many students will take the courses out of order.
  • While some may disagree with this suggestion, I think it would be great to give the PLN a more focused direction. I think it could be interesting to pose a new question, issue, or problem related to the course materials each week. Then, the cohort could practice using their PLN to expand their knowledge of that specific concept.
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Podcast Assignment

Assignment Description

For this assignment you will create a series of three audio files that you will publish in your blog and eventually in your portfolio.

For each of chapters 3-5 of The World is Open:

  1. Create a 1-3 minute audio podcast that highlights or explains one of the resources or topics mentioned in the chapter. The audience for your podcast will be a target population of K-12 or post-secondary teachers, depending on your preferred setting–e.g., elementary teachers, science instructors, counselors–or a topic of general professional development for all teachers. The purpose of the podcast is to introduce your topic to your audience as a potential resource that will aid in their personal or professional development. Your audio files should use the same short musical/voice intros and outros, as if they were part of a series of podcasts.
  2. Using SoundCloud, embed all three podcasts on your blog in an entry titled “Podcasts.” Remember to use the “ED 431” category for your blog post.
  3. Include the transcripts of each audio file.
  4. Post a 300-500 word reflection on the process of creating podcasts (issues, successes, discoveries, etc.) and the utility of podcasts as a teaching and learning tool. Once your podcasts and reflection have been reviewed and revised, publish them in your portfolio on a page titled “Podcasts.”

Podcasts

Reflection

When I first looked at the assignment description, I noticed that each podcast needed to be 1 to 3 minutes in length. I didn’t quite know how long of a transcript to write, so I found a website that stated how many words are needed for a script for a 1 to 3 minute video. This was a great resource to help me get started outlining my transcripts. According to this information, my scripts should be 150-510 words, or, 1 to 5 short paragraphs. I spent quite a bit of time composing the scripts for the podcasts, which was a little challenging because I recognized that, what might work for written material may not necessarily work for spoken material. After I wrote the transcripts, I spoke through them out loud a few times, adjusting sections that sounded awkward, too formal, or unclear. Next, I found intro/outro music at incompetech.com. I downloaded the music and imported it into audacity, and then was able to record the podcast text into audacity without too much trouble as well. I also added a “fade in” and “fade out” from the music to help transition from music to the speaking part of the podcast. I didn’t really encounter too many technical difficulties with the actual recording, since I’d used audacity before.

Skip encouraged us to reflect on the pedagogical merits of podcasting, and as I did so, it really made me think of our Mobile Learning assignment. In this assignment, I discussed how one of the defining features of today’s students is their mobility. Podcasts really speak to this– students can easily learn from podcasts while they’re commuting to work, while they’re washing dishes, or while they’re waiting in line at the bank. This is definitely a strength of the podcast teaching tool.

In addition, some studies indicate that students have roughly a 10-15 minute attention span. Podcasts allow information to be “chunked” into smaller segments, which have the benefits of fitting into the relatively short blocks of time students have available (like my example list above)– but also have the benefit of working with, instead of against, waning attention spans.

References

Bonk, C. (2010). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Fabris, C. (2015, March 24). Online or in person? One college lets students switch back and forth. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/wiredcampus/online-or-in-person-one-college-lets-students-switch-back-and-forth.
Hahn, D. (2016). How many words go into a script for a 1, 2, or 3, minute video? Main Street Marketing. Retrieved from http://main-street-marketing.com/faqs/how-many-words-go-into-a-script-for-a-1-2-or-3-minute-video/.
Kahn, S. (2012, October 2). Why long lectures are ineffective. TIME. Retrieved from http://ideas.time.com/2012/10/02/why-lectures-are-ineffective/.
MacLeod, K. (2015, November 15). Fretless [digital audio file download]. Retrieved from www.incompetech.com. Licensed under Creative Commons: BY Attribution 3.0 License.
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Google Docs Survey

Assignment Description

Create a Google Docs survey that you will submit to your cohort. The survey should cover some aspect of open resources, portals, or participatory technologies as covered in The World is Open–e.g., experiences with various portals or services, awareness of various tools, level of comfort in specific areas, etc. You may do a broad survey of technologies (e.g., open source software) or you may concentrate on a specific topic (e.g., Second Life). Your survey should be comprised of at least 12 related questions and should include examples of text, multiple choice, checkbox, choose from a list, and scaled response questions. Your survey should include branching logic (e.g., moving to a specified page based on a user’s response) when necessary.

My Work

Choosing a Topic for my Survey

Unlike some of my classmates, right now, I don’t have any particular real world need to gather data. I still wanted the topic of my survey to be useful to me, though, so I wanted to create a topic related to our assigned reading. As described by our assignment description (above), Chapters 6-8 of The World Is Open discusses “open resources, portals, and participatory technologies.” These chapters in The World Is Open emphasizes the vast potential of Web 2.0 to create participatory learning spaces, giving examples like:

  • The Museum of Online Museums, where you can virtually “visit” exhibits from museums around the world (Bonk, 2010)
  • Global Nomads Group, where students use videoconferences with students in other countries to learn about world cultures (Bonk, 2010, p. 232)
  • ePals, which helps connect students and teachers from one country to another for communication and learning (Bonk, 2010, p. 261)
  • Ice Stories, in which students could read and respond to stories from scientists working in Antarctica (Bonk, 2010, p. 262)

Just to name a few. Bonk (2010) makes a strong case for the new potential of online learning to help their students connect with outside resources and other people from all around the world. Bonk also spends part of Chapter 8 connecting the participatory potential of web technologies to Friedman’s ideas of globalization.  Bonk (2010) says:

Thomas Friedman argued that the world has become flatter, deeper, richer, and more personally empowering for those who want to compete and collaborate economically across countries and continents… Concurrent with this flattening process, the world is making available a huge percentage of its educational treasures. It is unlocking windows and doors to educational opportunities for the entire world that were previously sealed shut (p. 388).

According to ideas of globalization, the world is “shrinking;” the connections between cultures, peoples, and economies are faster, tighter, and more dense than they were in previous generations. Bonk, as the quote above describes, says this same process is happening to education. And to an extent, this is certainly true. We have the potential to learn from anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. We also have an abundance of resources (like the list of examples I provided above) in order to do that. But– here’s the question I thought about as I read Chapters 6 to 8– do we do so on a regular basis?

Ghemawat (2009) provides a contrast to Friedman’s expansive view of the potential of globalization. According to Ghemawat, the data suggests that, while we have the potential to act “global,” most of the time, we still act “local.” He points out:

Web traffic within countries and regions has increased far faster than traffic between them. Just as in the real world, Internet links decay with distance. People across the world may be getting more connected, but they aren’t connecting with each other. The average South Korean Web user may be spending several hours a day online — connected to the rest of the world in theory — but he is probably chatting with friends across town and e-mailing family across the country rather than meeting a fellow surfer in Los Angeles. We’re more wired, but no more “global” (Ghemawat, 2009).

Bonk successfully argues that Web 2.0 has a strong potential to help students access open resources from all over the world, and to learn and collaborate with peers they have never met. However, I think it is also important- rather than talk just about potential– to think about what instructors are actually doing in terms of participatory learning, and consider how we might improve those processes.

I believe, then, that even though we have the vast potential of web technologies to connect us with people and resources around the world, “local” is still one of the primary ways in which we learn and teach. We learn often from the other students at our school, in our class, who are sharing the same educational space and experience that we are.

So where did this take my survey? While tools like the Museum of Online Museums, Global Nomads Group, ePals and Ice Stories are fantastic resources for the motivated teacher, I wanted to use my survey to think about what participatory learning tools are used on a day-to-day basis by instructors; to think about tools that have the potential to encourage “local” collaboration.

Many university instructors use a learning management system, like Blackboard, Canvas, or Desire2Learn. We can debate the merits of these tools, but the fact is, they are being used regularly. Consequently, I think it is useful to consider how to make these tools more participatory, more collaborative, and more in line with today’s student’s needs. Purposeful education, I believe, should start with fostering connections between an instructor and a student; between students in the same class. Education can be global, thanks to Web 2.0, as Bonk describes. But, education is still intensely local. How then, can an LMS contribute to or detract from this process of creating local participatory learning spaces?

Consequently, the survey I created for this assignment gave me the opportunity to think about some of these questions and consider the relationship of a learning management system to the creation of local participatory educational spaces.

My Survey

You can access my survey at this link.

Reflecting on the Use of Google Forms

I had used Google Forms in one class previously (ED 601), so I was somewhat familiar with the use of the tool. However, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to test out the “branching” feature, and I was pleased with how simple it was to use. I also liked that I was able to create “sections,” so as to visually guide survey participants through the organization of the survey. Since our class was so small, I wasn’t able to necessarily see how the data comes in to and is analyzed/organized by Google Forms, but I felt that the process of choosing a topic and working within Google Forms to create a survey was still a meaningful exercise.

References

Bonk, C. (2010). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ghemawat, P. (Oct. 14 2009). Why the world isn’t flat. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/10/14/why-the-world-isnt-flat/

 

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Mobile Learning

What Does Mobile Learning Mean?

Mobile Learners & Tools

A good place to start in any discussion of a topic is to consider your definitions. As I’ve been working on this post, I think I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s more important to center the discussion on mobile learners than it is mobile tools. In other words, I think mobile learning is defined more by the mobility of the learners and the context of learning than it is about the tools those learners are using (see “Mobile Learning”). According to The World Is Open, “With mobile devices, the educational event or activity follows the learner, instead of the learner having to arrive at a designated place in which to acquire it. Access, access, and more access is demanded everywhere one travels” (Bonk, 2010, p. 293). Mobile learners are able to access academic material or complete their coursework as they move through their day: as they wait in line at the DMV, as they sit on a park bench on their lunch break from work, or as they ride on the metro on their way home. Mobile students move across contexts as they study and learn.

So what tools are “mobile” tools? Because I think that mobile learning can be conceptualized as being more about the mobility of the learner than the tool, I prefer not to include laptops as a “mobile” tool. Laptops are “transportable computers…one moves it from place to place, working at each of those places. But, one doesn’t use a laptop computer while one is moving about” (Norris & Solloway, 2013). In a 2015 Educause study, around 40% of students say they wished their instructors used smartphones or tablets more frequently (Dahlstrom, Brooks, Grajek, S. & Reeves, 2015).  Similarly, the number of students who do access academic resources on mobile devices is quickly rising: in 2013, 67% of students’ tablets and smartphones were used for educational purposes, which is nearly double from the previous year (Chen & deNoyelles, 2013). Clearly, post-secondary students are using their mobile devices (not just transportable laptops) to access academic content, which makes a discussion of mobile learning timely and relevant to higher education.

Context is Critical

According to a blog post exploring mobile learning’s impact on instructional design, “mobile learning assumes that modern learners are continuously in motion, and allows students to learn the right thing, at the right time, in the right place. This immediacy could increase the effectiveness of authentic and situated learning tasks by giving students the ability to approach a topic in real time, as they go about their daily routine” (Remington, 2015). In other words, mobile learning has the potential to adapt to the context of learning.

 

Venn diagram. Social aspect, digital aspect, and learner aspect all intersect in mobile learning, which is at the center.
Source: Koole’s FRAME Model. https://www.jisc.ac.uk/full-guide/mobile-learning. (“Mobile Learning,” 2015).

I particularly like this diagram of mobile learning, which explains mobile learning as the intersection of the social aspect, device aspect, and learner aspect. In the next section, I will first consider the intersection of Learner and Device, and then consider the intersection of the Social aspect and the Learner.

Designing for Mobility

If you are an instructor designing a course, you probably recognize that your mobile students will access your course content in a variety of contexts. According to Remington (2015), “Whether or not you formally design curriculum for mobile learning, it will exist. Learners will find ways to consume content and learn in different environments. So embrace that concept!” So how can we embrace the concept of mobile learners?

Practically Speaking

Device Usability

First, I think it’s important to consider a few practical elements of design that can make mobile learning more or less effective. How do learners interact with their mobile devices? (This is the “device usability” section of the diagram above). Obviously, viewing content on a mobile device is different than viewing it on a laptop or desktop. The way we use these devices, the contexts in which we use these devices, and the physical ways we interact with these devices are quite different (Buff, 2013). According to an article by ICS Learning Group, “While audience and content vary, one constant that is largely accepted; an mLearning module that tries to be like an eLearning module does not make for a great learning experience” (Gipple and Lord). If you’ve ever tried to scroll sideways on a smartphone or accidentally hit “cancel” instead of “submit” because the buttons were too close on a small screen, you know the frustration of trying to interact with a device that isn’t designed for mobility.

In order to take into account the needs of your mobile learners, you may want to think about things like screen size and file download limits. Unlike students working entirely on laptops, students who use smartphones for schoolwork are perhaps using up their (limited) phone’s data plan (Buff, 2013). Also consider your use of flash or other things that may not work across all devices. Remember that scrolling or typing essays can be difficult in a mobile context. An Inside Higher Ed article suggests that when designs for mobile learning could be “chunked, and be less about typing and text.  Video capture could replace typing.  Short statements could replace long paragraphs” (Kim, 2013). When in doubt, try out Google’s URL Tester to see if a course will work for the mobile learner (Avey, 2016).

The Benefit of Apps

When we use mobile devices to learn, we can access a variety of apps that can broaden learning, fill in knowledge gaps, and enhance academic productivity (West, 2013). For example, teachers could compile a list of reference apps and encourage students to use those apps. In an Educause study by Chen and deNoyelles (2013), these were some of the most common apps that mobile learners said they used on a regular basis:

An Inside Higher Ed blog post explains that:

We universally dislike the browser based learning management system (LMS), and universally love our phones.  We love apps.We love apps because they are purpose built, simple, lightweight, cheap, and fast. Imagine a mobile first online learning platform that strips away all the unwanted features of the LMS.  No more complicated gradebook.  No more list of features that we never use.  Only a method to collaborate, share materials, complete and collect assignments, engage in formative assessment, and build a community in the class (Kim, 2016).

The power of mobile learning is maximized when students are encouraged to take advantage of the unique features of mobile devices.

Pedagogically Speaking

Connectivity

Mobile learning has a unique potential to enhance student learning, and can be particularly powerful when courses for mobile learners are designed to play to the strengths of mobile devices. For example, mobile learning can be a uniquely connective and social process. (This speaks to the intersection of “social aspect” and “learner aspect” in the diagram above). Bonk (201o) describes that more people and resources are “fully loaded in the teaching and learning loop” (p. 353). Mobile devices offer instant opportunities for connection; more connection with resources, but also more connection with other like-minded learners. As Remington (2015) describes, “Social media has created a culture where people have near-instantaneous contact with any other person, anywhere in the world. By focusing on Mobile Learning, instructional designers can take advantage of this culture to further improve learning opportunities” (Remington, 2015). With mobile tools, “interacting with a learning community could become organic to activities of daily living” (Kim, 2016). Essentially, mobile learning creates new opportunities for connectivity with other learners as we move throughout our day and access learning spaces in a variety of contexts.

Learner-Centered and User-Generated Content

Some argue that mobile learning is more learner-centered. Access–instant, flexible, and varied–characterizes mobile learning. As The World Is Open describes, “The emergence of mobile and wireless technologies for learning— which place educational opportunities literally in the learner’s hands and allow him to schedule learning when he wants it—has paralleled the growing acceptance of a more learner-centered educational philosophy” (Bonk, 2010, p. 295). “mLearning” has become a common abbreviation for mobile learning. As you may imagine, the “m” usually stands for “mobile.” Sergio (2012) argues that the “m” could “just as easily” represent “me” (Sergio, 2012). Mobile learning has the potential to be centered on the needs of the learner.

Designing for mobile learners also means we encourage movement across contexts and user-generated content. Jisc explains that a “holistic” approach to mobile learning “is to engage the learner in creating user-generated content and engaging through audio, video and other features of mobile devices in the learning experience” (“Mobile Learning”). An Educause article also explains that mobile learning offers an opportunity to create user generated content, explaining that, “Devices such as smartphones, tablets, and e-book readers connect users to the world instantly, heightening access to information and enabling interactivity with others. Applications that run on these devices let users not only consume but also discover and produce content” (Chen & deNoyelles, 2013).

Mobile learning, then, represents this intersection of the Learner Aspect, Device Aspect, and Social Aspect. Considering these three elements of mobile learning will help us maximize the potential of mobile devices to positively influence higher education.

References

Avey, S. (2016, January 6). Mobile-ready education: Making education more accessible. [Web log comment]. Yale Center for Teaching and Learning. Retrieved from https://campuspress.yale.edu/yctl/tag/mobile-learning/

Bonk, C. (2010). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Buff, T. (2013, October 8). Top 5 design considerations for creating mobile learning. [Web log comment]. eLearning Industry. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/top-5-design-considerations-for-creating-mobile-learning

Chen, B. & deNoyelles, A. (2013, October 7). Exploring students’ mobile learning practices in higher education. Educause Review. Retrieved from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/6/~/link.aspx?_id=F2A5EF6E40704CAC8729BEDA7514E1AF&_z=z

Dahlstrom, E., Brooks, C., Grajek, S. & Reeves, J. (2015, August 17). ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2015. Educause. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/2015-student-and-faculty-technology-research-studies

Gipple, J. & Lord, E. Understanding mobile learning and best practices. ICS Learning Group. Retrieved from http://www.icslearninggroup.com/whitepapers/understanding-mobile-learning-and-best-practices/

Kim, J. (2016, May 11). 3 theories why we are intrigued by mobile learning. [Web log comment]. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/technology-and-learning/3-theories-why-we-are-intrigued-mobile-learning

Mobile learning. Jisc. (2015, November 12). [Web log comment]. Retrieved from https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/mobile-learning

Norris, C. & Solloway, E. (2013, June 5). Is a laptop a mobile computer? And why is that even an important question? [Web log comment]. The Journal. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2013/06/05/is-a-laptop.aspx

Sergio, F. (2012, May 31). 10 ways that mobile learning will revolutionize education. [Web log comment]. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcodesign.com/1669896/10-ways-that-mobile-learning-will-revolutionize-education

Remington, K. (2015, April 23). Mobile learning’s impact on instructional design. [Web log comment]. Designed to Learn. Retrieved from http://lpd.nau.edu/mobile-learning-impact/

West, D. M. (2013, September). Mobile learning: Transforming education, engaging students, and improving outcomes. Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings. Retrieved from https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/BrookingsMobileLearning_Final.pdf

Wong, W. (2012, June 1). How mobile devices are changing higher education. Community College Daily. Retrieved from http://www.ccdaily.com/Pages/Technology/How-mobile-learning-devices-are-changing-the-face-of-higher-ed.aspx

 

 

 

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Web Presence

Web Presence and Digital Footprints

A formal definition of “web presence” reads as follows: “A web presence is a location on the World Wide Web where a person, business, or some other entity is represented” (“Web Presence,” 2016). An obvious interpretation of the concept of “web presence” is simply, “being present online.” Another given definition, which I feel more accurately captures the nuances of the term, states that “web presence” is, “The art and science of being found online” (Pick, 2011). Developing a web presence is both an art and a science. Loosely speaking, it’s an “art” because of the creativity one must exercise to craft an accurate and positive presence. However, it’s also a “science” because it requires logic and strategy.

After considering this, I concluded that I’d like my personal definition of web presence to be, “the art and science of being present online.” I chose to flip the last part of the previous definition. While it’s important to be “found” online, that is more passive; it’s something that happens to you. I would prefer to define web presence in a proactive sense. A person can still achieve a strong and positive web presence without being dependent on others to “find” them.What I think? Web presence is the art and science of being present online.

As described in the assignment prompt, digital footprints are the “intentional or unintentional traces that you leave behind when you visit web pages, search for information, post on Facebook, tweet, shop online, or engage in similar activities.” Wikipedia (2016) similarly classifies our “digital footprints” into two categories–active and passive, or intentional and unintentional. According to this article,
“A passive digital footprint is created when data is collected without the owner knowing, whereas active digital footprints are created when personal data is released deliberately by a user for the purpose of sharing information about oneself by means of websites or social media.” (“Digital Footprint,” 2016). Clearly, our digital footprint defines and influences our web presence.

Curating Your Web Presence

If web presence is “the art and science of being present online,” than it is the sum of active and passive digital footprints that creates a web presence. In the tangible world, we “walk” where we want to be present. Digital footprints are no different–we should “walk” in the locations in which we want to have a “web presence.” What does this look like?

  • The “art” of web presence requires creativity. This means we walk in unexpected places; we try out new ways of expressing ourselves, and we seek out new opportunities to learn and engage with other like-minded individuals and groups. I think this can more easily relate to “active” digital footprints. In this sense, we intentionally travel to new and familiar places on the web, with the goal of establishing a positive and strong web presence.
  • The “science” of web presence requires strategy. As much as possible, a well-crafted web presence seeks to turn as many “passive” digital footprints as possible into “active” digital footprints. This requires analyzing and interpreting privacy settings, cookies, and other tracking tools, so that you become aware of all of the digital footprints you’re creating.

Passive Digital Footprints

Turning passive digital footprints into active digital footprints requires an element of digital fluency. According to Posner, Varner, and Croxall (2011), you should avoid signing up for any digital tool or social media platform “without understanding what it does with your data, whether you can maintain the privacy you want, and the conventions that govern the way the community operates” (para. 6). This “familiarity” informs my knowledge of privacy settings, and prevents “passive” digital footprints from taking my web presence where I do not want it to go.

As described by Dachis (2011), many sites use cookies to track your footprints on the web, and “As long as there’s a “tweet this” or “follow me” button on the site, Twitter harvests information on where you are” (para. 3). According to this Dachis (2011), if you don’t like the idea of creating passive digital footprints as a result of participation in a site like Twitter, you can take advantage of tools like Disconnect, Ghostery, or Do Not Track Plus. Alternatively, according to Reilly (2014), many sites use so use SSO to track your web movements. Any time you use your Facebook or Google credentials to sign up for a third-party website, “Facebook is watching, following, and cataloging your destination points” (para. 4). By becoming aware of how common sites I visit use cookies or a SSO to track my digital movements, I can more intentionally monitor and direct my passive digital footprints.

Active Digital Footprints

Adjusting privacy settings and learning about the ways in which online behavior is being tracked can help identify when passive digital footprints are being created. However, creating active digital footprints requires strategy, too. As you curate and develop your online presence, you should consider the interests and policies of employers or future employers, or of students. Who will see your work? Who will benefit from your work? What do you want them to see?

Creating strong, active, digital footprints isn’t just about avoiding posting things that I don’t want them to see, or avoiding the creation of passive digital footprints. It’s also about curating quality work. Typos, inaccuracies, plagiarism, and copyright violations could all harm my professional credibility. Active digital footprints require attention to detail and intentionality in the content and quality of your curation. The more I strive to create active digital footprints, too, over passive digital footprints, the more you will be in control of what I’d like to share publicly, and what I’d like to keep private.

According to Richardson (2011), “transparency fosters connections and with a willingness to share our work and, to some extent, our personal lives. Sharing is the fundamental building block for building connections and networks” (ASCD). Creating active digital footprints, though, means that I choose what you share. I choose where I walk. Consequently, I have power to create a web presence that reflects as much or as little of my personal or professional life as I choose.

Web Presence for Students

According to Richardson (2011), modes of learning are changing. Richardson quotes author John Seely Brown as stating,

“these shifts demand that we move our concept of learning from a “supply-push” model of “building up an inventory of knowledge in the students’ heads” (p. 30) to a “demand-pull” approach that requires students to own their learning processes and pursue learning, based on their needs of the moment, in social and possibly global communities of practice” (para. 7).

What does a “demand-pull” model of education look like in practice? In this type of new learning environment, students use the tools available to take control of their own learning and their own work. Students develop a web presence; students actively walk into places on the web where education and their interests meet. Traditional models of learning emphasized the transfer or knowledge. Perhaps, now, “we need to focus more on developing the learning process—looking at how kids collaborate with others on a problem, how they exercise their critical thinking skills, how they handle failure, and how they create” (Rebora, 2010, p. 20). Digital tools and network literacy offer students an opportunity to take charge of their own learning, to curate a collection of their own work, and to personally explore subjects that interest them. In other words,

“More than ever before, students have the potential to own their own learning—and we have to help them seize that potential. We must help them learn how to identify their passions; build connections to others who share those passions; and communicate, collaborate, and work collectively with these networks. And we must do this not simply as a unit built around “Information and Web Literacy.” Instead, we must make these new ways of collaborating and connecting a transparent part of the way we deliver curriculum from kindergarten to graduation” (“What Students Need to Know,” para. 2).

By developing a web presence, students have the opportunity to “own” their own learning. As an educator, I should be aware of the power of online presence, not just for knowledge, but for learning.

Web Presence for Educators

Many articles focus on the “resume-building” or “image-creating” or “networking” power of a strong web presence. While those are certainly some side effects of a strong and positive web presence, I think that I prefer to conceptualize the development of my web presence as a natural byproduct of an organic pursuit of my interests.

To provide a comparison, some people will attempt to establish a relationship with another individual simply because they think that person could help get them a job. Yet, others see networking as an opportunity to get to know people who are interested in the same things that interest you; you are curious about their perspective, and as a result, you are eager to build a relationship with them. In this second perspective of networking, the networking becomes a learning process in and of itself instead of a means to an end.

I’d like to view web presence in a similar fashion. Some people will develop a web presence because it is a way to strategically support their resume or help them “be Googled better.” It’s a means to an end. Although that is part of web presence, I personally would like to develop a stronger web presence because it can become a learning process in and of itself. By being “present” in certain places online, I can access new ideas and knowledge. I can travel places online that speak to my own interests and develop my own skills.

We are continually learning, and by developing a strong and positive web presence, we have an opportunity to take control of that learning and direct its path. It’s an art: so, creatively search out new opportunities and engage with new individuals and groups. But it’s also a science: so, be intentional and strategic.

Works Cited

Dachis, A. (2011, Oct. 14). Establishing a professional web presence this weekend. Lifehacker. (Web log comment). Retrieved from http://lifehacker.com/5850029/establish-a-professional-web-presence-this-weekend

Digital footprint. (2016, Sept. 22). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_footprint

Posner, M., Varner, S., & Croxall, B. (2011, Feb. 14). Creating your web presence: A primer for academics. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/creating-your-web-presence-a-primer-for-academics/30458

Pick, T. (2011, Oct. 11). What is web presence optimization, and why should I care? Webbequity. (Web log comment). Retrieved from http://webbiquity.com/social-media-marketing/what-is-web-presence-optimization-and-why-should-i-care/

Rebora, A. (Interviewer) & Richardson, W. (Interviewee). (2010, Oct. 11). Change agent. Education Week Teacher PD Sourcebook, 4 (1), p. 20. Retrieved from: http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2010/10/12/01richardson.h04.html

Reilly, R. B. (2014, Oct. 8). The cookie is dead. Here’s how Facebook, Google, and Apple are tracking you now. Venture Beat. (Web log comment). Retrieved from http://venturebeat.com/2014/10/06/the-cookie-is-dead-heres-how-facebook-google-and-apple-are-tracking-you-now/

Richardson, W. (2008, Nov.) Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership, 66 (3), pp. 16-19. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov08/vol66/num03/Footprints-in-the-Digital-Age.aspx

Web presence. (2016, Aug. 21). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_presence

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