Remixing a Webinar


So I took some notes from the webinar that stood out to me. I would watch the video as a lot of great things were said during the hour. There was also a discussion after the webinar with those who could stay.

Watch the full video if you like here with Randy Bass, Cathy Davidson, and Mike Wesch.

There is also another video that was suggested by the connected courses folks that helps set the mindset for changing the way we think about the mundane, the common, and thankfully, the annoying.

It was interesting to be one of the co-facilitators. Being a graduate student and new to the concept of organized transformative education, which happens to use a lot of the mindset present in studio I have found, I honestly did not know if I could facilitate a discussion on what I am new to. But that is why you form a community to support each other. There are guides who you to learn the topics and the methods of transforming what is currently education.

So moving on from the actual event, what were some of the ideas that could form take-aways, from the perspective of a new educator?

For an educator that is just learning what it can mean to teach others. It is interesting to see that my experience in education is now undesired as a teaching style. I moved through a system that was memorize this and recall that, with almost no synthesis. It was explained that this not necessarily the fault of teachers but of the system, as during the webinar there was a call for reforming standardized testing.

But that is a much longer discussion for another time. So what can we, as future educators and present educators, do to make a difference in our students’ lives while “big” academia catches up?

For me much of this is relatively new, but for others its might seem like common sense.

First are we, as educators, a sage on the stage or not? With all of the new information that is constantly weaved into the internet every single day, how could we know it all? You simply cannot. So instead of trying to memorize it all, we can become facilitators in the classroom as well, not only in these webinars. Cathy describes it as: coming in and listening rather than solely teaching. Who knows, you might have an expert in your class and never know it because you never let them speak, only listen to you. Being a sage, does not let your students come together to learn, instead it presents a rift between you and those who want to learn (or at least see the necessity of it).

This sage on the stage is no longer the method for keeping our students attention. We need to find other ways of teaching that can simultaneously entertain and teach. I am not saying that everything needs to be entertaining as opposed to educational, but fused. Instead of seeing higher education for what it currently is, let us see what it can become in the future. We do not need get rid of the sage, but transform the sage to a guide.

A guide walks with you. They see you faults and strengths and mentor you. These mentors need to be able to inspire students and you to find that one question that needs to be answered most in your mind. This question can drive learning for a lifetime, and research into the future. They find questions that do not have definitive answers, and give purpose to information. That we as teachers and as students, can learn from others instead of closing our mind to new potential. It is the intersection of the known boundaries of disciplines that becomes new topics of inquiry.

We, as perceived sage, must learn how to learn again. We must cast aside a prideful nature for knowledge.

Second is the ability to design classes that are structured with large amounts of freedom. These classes do not need to be original, as everything is a remix, but authentic. Many of you have seen this, and some showed it to me, but this video compilation of Kirby Ferguson’s remix documentary. It is a remix of a remix about remixes.

We do not come up with all of the new ideas, just the personal interpretation of these ideas for others. That what we experience and perceive becomes our experience and later knowledge and perhaps a sense of wisdom. As a heads up I find myself in the epidemiological world of phenomenology.

The great and powerful Wikipedia has a good beginning on what this means:

But back to classes. Social contracts can take the ambiguity out of the unknown for students who have never been in a “flipped” classroom or have never experienced anything outside of a typical classroom. The ground rules as set, but the expectations are defined by the class. This is also supported by a safe environment for critiquing work, and not the student.

Finally is assessment. The most fun you ever had on a Saturday night. The ideas put forth by Randy, Cathy and Mike show how these concepts of atypical classroom can be melded back into our current form of education. Regardless of how arbitrary letters assigned to percentages is, it is what we use, at least for now. Peer-review, the idea of not-yet grades, and feedback show that the investment the student is giving to the class is the same as the professor.

Before you say that professors spend a lot of time designing lectures and notes and tests, and who know how many other things, I understand. I have done it. But the students do not know this and their perception and preconceived notion of our worth is what can shackle us as educators and as leaders. If we show that they have agency, the ability to determine and feel self-worth, in the classroom, students will begin to respond to new methods.

If we dictate and demand of them, nothing will be gained. They will close you off and the results will be… problematic.

What we have is an opportunity and a choice to teach others and to learn from them. These webinars can provide the basis for remixing something new with what we already know, to make something; hopefully for the better. Without operating in our default settings, assuming we are put upon in this world of ours, we can find a sense of place in a new educational plane.


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Thinking about a personal methodology

thinking map

We can sometimes be at a loss for words. But being dumbstruck by life is not good enough. If we consider the potential situations have, we all can use the physical world of drawing and sketching to help move past the obvious. Above is a map of my thought process of how I think when it comes to dealing with boredom and other effects of stress.

Like the video from the connected courses website, sometimes its the little things that can add up to defeat our ability to think. But like how the speaker, David Foster Wallace, explains if takes will and effort to be able to look and think past the monotony of everyday life.

We have opportunities to see past the automatic decisions and possibilities. For example, I have lived in a dormitory for many years, as part of an academic community. Here, sometimes people are loud, and talkative, often late at night. I could let this get to me. I could let their fun night annoy me as I have to get up and perform my duties the next day.

But I don’t. I relax and lay there. Why Why do this? I do it because in that moment community members are bonding, and having fun. They are learning how to interact with others and gain friendships that last a lifetime. I could go out, being the ‘grumpy old man’ in the dorms and tell them to scatter off. But I don’t because the potential could be there to create new ideas.

So, why do we need a why?

Because we do not want to be without purpose. I certainly do not. I want to have the choice to think. Above is the how I have mapped my thought and my method of thinking. It’s how I do not let my possibly mediocre life get to me, and how I choose to combat blind certainty. But it is important to not get lost in abstract thought, but be in control of what I think.

It is the engagement in my life, that I do not idle in neutral and let it pass me by. I like to stay one step away from being completely overwhelmed by work and life. But I make sure the my obsessions do not define my life. Its that in-between that become my why.

My ‘why’ is to help others achieve what I will need to cultivate for the rest of my life: a meaning to what “their” form of Architecture is.

This is that I can help facilitate another’s thinking, to begin stripping off the monotony of a basic education, giving something that took me 24 years, 7 in higher education, to realize. We currently teach information, we instead need to teach information and understanding. With these two abilities, students will be able to synthesize knowledge which can protect them from the basic, the mundane in life.

Also if this knowledge yielded wisdom in the future it would be fantastic. Because I still do not know what that could be, or even should be.


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Bloggin’ it Up

Hey so it’s Ken here!

Just one thing before we start up in the next couple of weeks with connected courses. So the connect courses has a mindset that I believe will be critical to the overall success of what we, at Virginia Tech, and all of us in the connected courses, hope to achieve.

They have started to set up a mindset for dialogue. As with some of the teaching and future professoriate classes have sought to teach us, everyone, students and teacher alike, should be engaged in a common set of dialogue. This does not mean that we all need to agree on everything and have a single-track mind, but that we can discuss in a civil manner the merits of many ideas.

Connect courses has set up guidelines for dialogue that will serve us well:

I suspect that many, if not all of us are perfectly fine, but in the heat of the moment we might get worked up and lash out. This does not mean that mischief is forbidden, but do it in good faith. The dichotomy is summed up very well here:

These concepts will help use to commit to the idea that we have here of reaching out and learning with each other. We have an amazing opportunity to use the experiences of others to help us and then in turn be able to learn with them.

The last one on the list is “sharing is caring”. I remember hearing this from my parents when I was quite young and it has served me well. Specifically with this idea is that we have so much more to gain from bouncing earnest ideas off of each other, molding and melding our collective potential. This brings up something that has followed me in my life and might help everyone as well.

We should look, listen, and learn.

Sometime we are so busy thinking about how we are going to respond to someone who is talking that we forget to actually listen and look at them, and take in what their message is and analyze it. If we truly listen to each other we will have the opportunity to mix ideas and have the boundaries of our knowledge overlap, and perhaps create new potential, as well as exciting new concepts. This is the “mischief” I will subscribe to: taking older styles of teaching and passive learning and engaging them for a different future.


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Hey Connected Courses


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Where do we go from here?

Hi everyone!

First off, I would like to thank everyone for making the class this semester very interesting and overall fun. I honestly did not know what this whole process would be like and how we would need to react.

But it turned out to be fantastic!

I have read many of the blogs over the semester and have learned so many different things, and what things others find interesting. I have not commented on all of them (so many different ones), but have found many different topics to choose from in my own explorations in how to prepare myself for being a possible faculty member.

There are so many different things that we as students and teachers have the potential to be doing, and learning. It is my hope that I find a way to truly be a life-long learner. By seeking new tasks and information and being flexible in nature we can be successful in a fast-paced and increasingly competitive world.

But we cannot forget that we have a responsibility to ourselves, our families and our community. We must remember those who came before. These people have helped us achieve and be successful and in many cases will continue to do so. We must not only seek that which helps us, but that which can help others. We can be competitive, but we must also be supportive.

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

This sentiment has been echoed though the history of all things. The combined experiences and the wisdom of past generations serves to inform our future. And it is this future that we will not only create, but also have the power to destroy. There are issues everywhere that demand our attention, our time, our resources. These issues not only reside in academe but in our collective lives both domestic and abroad. Some may never be inherently solved, but they can be abated, mitigated, and relieved.

We are the potential that our teachers, mentors, and parents have spent their time and effort in molding and preparing for the future. Now we must meet their expectations with not only a sense of theory and information learned but also in the act.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” -Aristotle

This quote, as well as its ethos, is how I attempt to engage the world. That what I do defines who I am to others. So when we leave a community, or join a new one it is our legacy we leave behind and our reputation the precedes us. So where do we go from here?

We go to influence the lives of others for the better. That by positively influencing the lives of others we can continue to live a life worth living. If we then continue to go and act on a set of principles we will not live a life that is arbitrary in manner, but seeks to learn, to teach, to grow, and then give; that others may find success though our deeds.


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What to add?

My idea for how higher education should change is that higher education needs to come to terms with how it hires and fires personnel. What I mean by this is how it treats its primary mission: education.

Over the year we have heard the story of how faculty are hired, how the tenure process occurs, and the support staff that is involved. What is interesting to me is how the teaching staff becomes more transient, with universities not wanting to commit to the idea of tenure. I have heard stories about the committee processes that make up a tenure committee. Not all of them are good. To string along faculty and not commit to them, the way a faculty member is fully committed to their research or students, is unnecessary.

Is it acceptable to be considered not useful by other people? If you consider someone for the merits of their scholarly work, that is fine. If you just give them a run-around to see what an un-tenured faculty will do, that is unacceptable.

Unfortunately, I do not have a way to solve that issue, other than to treat others with respect. We, as people and as humans, have emotions and morals. This concept of morality and ethics is what should guide us in other behavior with others, not because other say we should but because we ought to do so.

It is the story about how you behave when you think no-one is looking. How do you behave behind closed doors? If we behave in a manner that is not conducive to a positive group dynamic, then what good is academia in promoting educated citizens if the system itself does not believe in the morals and ethics it is expected to uphold?

So, in a way I would not change anything, do anything drastic. Higher education will evolve on its own or become a relic in the face of emerging technologies.

What I do ask is the education should be about people, from the knowledge professors to the students who receive this knowledge. That we treat this process in the manner in which it should be treated, not necessarily in the manner it sometimes is.



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Disruption in the Classroom

So, MOOCs.

We will start from the article you all probably have seen in the New York Times in 2012:

These classes are massive, open, and online courses that can be taken for a variety of needs, reasons. Really its open season on what could be taught online and a few companies deal with MOOCs such as Coursera and Udacity and edX. These courses allow for many other people to have the opportunity to have educational opportunities. In a way, these MOOCs take away some of the economic barrier that higher education inherently creates.

However, are they the future? In some cases quite possibly, in others no, not as much. For example studio courses in architecture would not translate well into solely being in the digital realm. This does not mean that other disruptive technologies cannot be used in architectrual education.

Blogs, websites, twitter, tumblr, and many other ‘disruptive’ technologies can enhance and widen the viewership of work done in a more traditional setting. For example a designer uses a website to promote their work to potential clients or employers. Twitter and tumblr can be used to create a presence online which can reinforce and disseminate ideas.

So, in this way these ‘disruptive’ technologies are not disruptive to the goal of education, but to the monotony of it. They allow for new opportunities and learning experiences to be achieve through the use of atypical learning  and teaching styles.

An example of these Web 2.0 capabilities in the classroom is found in this pre-print pdf article

Its a hefty link, but the work done by Lowenthal and Dunlap is very interesting. They talk about how online learning must shake hands with social process of learning.

The fits nicely into the one of the concepts of communicating science: not everything thing need to be completely scripted in learning. To have things be more open to improvisation and the ‘just-in-time’ interactions twitter can provide show how social media can be used in the classroom.

Remember though that anything can be abused, like cheating blatantly in the MOOCs or forced into a learning environment, like twitter. Web 2.0 and other disruptive technologies have the potential to do great things in the classroom, we cannot afford to misuse them.




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how to present work

This week in class we talked alot about Open Access and how it effects publishing academic journals and articles, and how this ties into authorship. We talked about who gets what kind of authorship, in what order and why depending on your discipline. We talked about how we as academics use published material as a means to prove our worth to others when applying for jobs in our respective fields.

Since there is not alot of funded research in architecture, authorship tends to be determined by the amount of involvement. Also, much of the work is individually based in studios, so not much is terms scientific journals would accept.

In terms of determining the order of authorship, Architecture is a mix of the examples given in class (at least in building science). I do scientific research about vegetated roofs and stormwater runoff modeling with one of my advisors. It is her work, I run data and write data regressions, among other things, but we worked together on the paper. At the beginning she asked me if being a second author was fine. I said yes. That was all it took. This is actually work not directly related to my dissertation. I worked with her one this to learn more about the topic that is similar, but not directly used in my future research regarding vegetated facades.

Another form of research I am working on is related to false color or value rendering. With one of my other advisors we study how the color of an image does not need to be true to life (for example people could be a vibrant purple) but the amount of shading and relative values of the color could be correct and your eyes read the image. This work is directly related to my dissertation, but will be shown as an exhibition, not a journal article most likely. In this exhibition my work will be along side that of my professor.

I enjoy that architecture has the means to do both scientific and artistic methods of reviewing and presenting work to others. This flexibility allows for designers to convey their work using the best means available.





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Open Access: Architecture [ARCC]

The journal that I decided to look at was the ARCC Journal of Architectural Research. The Journal is produced by the Architectural Research Centers Consortium, which as a place for finding research on architecture. The journal also addresses topics such as aspects of urban design, interior design, planning and landscape architecture.

The website is:

When referring to the fact that the journal is part of the open access movement, the journal describes itself as, “a member of the Open Archive Initative (OAI) and listed on the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ). Enquiry is indexed by Worldcat, OAIster, and Google Scholar.”

This is interesting as a journal as it covers a very wide range of topics from the questions that are asked in urbanism, while similar in nature to the ones in architecture, apply to an entirely different scale. Also when doing research in architecture and its allied fields, crossover is very common, and often theories applied to some areas will have impacts on other allied fields or inform design methods.

Also, the style of research that is incorporated into the journal is not necessarily strict quantitative or qualitative research. For example, subject such as architectural discourse, historical photographic studies, Web 2.0 in city adaptation, and Google’s Datacenters are some of the topics in the last journal issue for 2013.

Imagine the opportunity that having these subjects indexed by some of the largest and respected search engines and being open access. The information is out there to be seen by many people and can influence the research direction of many researcher and students, as well as professionals.

To have this information out for the world to see instead of hiding it behind pay walls, allows for a faster integration time into the collective knowledge base that is present in architecture. This systematic inquiry directed towards the creation of knowledge benefits everyone. The systematic nature of the inquiry does not have to be mechanistic, but that all avenues are explored and accounted for, that what is studied is studied to its fullest extent.

So, to have an open access journal to the information present in current research in architecture is very helpful.


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ORI: unfortunate but necessary

Professional ethics are different for every profession, every nation. These ethical issues and views are not always clear, but are important to understanding how people operate, and how commonalities such as honesty, conduct, protections and inherent biases influence situations. Sometimes even a perception of a negative, such as conflicts of interest can large impacts.

Others are more ominous, such as faking data, or fraud. Simple falsification even data preparation and collection can have huge societal or personal ramifications.

While my profession lies in architecture and design, one case on the ORI misconduct summaries caught my attention: Mr. Kornak.

From the case summary:
From May 14, 1999, to July 10, 2002, in connection with the above protocols, Mr. Kornak participated in a scheme to defraud the sponsors of the clinical studies in that “he would and repeatedly did submit false documentation regarding patients and study subjects and enroll and cause to be enrolled persons as study subjects who did not qualify under the particular study protocol.”

This sounds innocent enough. Fudge a few numbers, get some more subjects. But its not. These were and are people. People whose health would be affected by certain treatments, in this case a bladder study. So far Mr. Kornak has only falsified documentation; however it get worse. It turns out that the little number he was falsifying would cost someone their life.

Mr. Kornak caused the death of a study subject when he “failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that death would occur when he knowingly and willfully made and used documents falsely stating and representing the results of [the study subject’s] blood chemistry analysis,”

His actions caused someone to be one the study that should not have been present. This falsification along with other conditions made it lethal. What concerns me more is that Mr. Kornak had a history of doing unethical or criminal activities. Yet he was still in practice. However after committing criminally negligent homicide, he was finally disbarred. After this death he was declared a detriment to society.

I understand that this is a severe case, but it is unfortunate that someone lost their life in medical trials. I know that the vast majority of professionals are ethical, but it is unfortunate when such a person is able to conduct themselves in such a manner.


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