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  • “Suddenly I See…”

    Posted on April 30th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    Enlightened; freed from ignorance. A feeling of tranquility. A feeling that Siddhartha Gautama reached once realizing that in order to reach enlightenment you must not seek enlightenment. A feeling that I have now reached. A feeling I reached once realizing that in order to understand the broader themes behind #vtclis12 I must not seek the broader themes behind #vtclis12. I had to let the themes come to me rather than force them to me. I guess I could say hindsight really is 20/20.

    As I listened to Dr. Campbell speak on the first days of class, I was astounded by the #vtclis12 colloquia. I did not understand the significance of #vtclis12. I decided to approach the #vtclis12 colloquia like any other colloquia. Unknowingly, I was forcing enlightenment. I quickly learned that this was not something that I could force. As I read over the syllabus, I came across a list of tasks. I immediately felt the need to complete the list of tasks. I was unaware that this was not the appropriate mindset for #vtclis12. Under the appropriate mindset, I would be able to see that the syllabus did not contain tasks but it did contain opportunities. These included the opportunities to grow, expand, and learn. Opportunities I may only experience once in my educational career. At the time, this philosophy was foreign to me. With time, this has definitely changed. As I listened to Dr. Campbell speak on the last days of class, I felt like a third party observer. Looking in on our class, I could see that #vtclis12 was more than a course. It was a way of life. There was no right and there was no wrong. There was simply a chance to better oneself.

    The completion of my final project was the last step before my the realization of my enlightenment. The articles within the new media reader decided to pack up and move from one condominium within my mind to another condominium within my mind. Their original place of residence was crammed with abstruse, confusing, and puzzling ideas. On the opposite end of the spectrum, their new place of residence was overflowing with comprehensible, straightforward, and unambiguous ideas. These articles have now nestled themselves into the most comfortable region within my intellect. A region of understanding. This place prides itself on its conviction that the society in which we live must be challenged and not be accepted. This challenge is the only means of social change. The change that I hope to see is from institutionalization to deinstitutionalization. I would like our society to be characterized by freedom rather than oppression. Of course, our civilization does not embrace this challenge and it does not welcome this change. Unlike the conventional members of our society, Illich, Morningstar, and Farmer have decided to embrace this challenge and welcome this change. They have done this through their controversial writings entitled “Deschooling Society” and “The Lessons on Lucasfilm’s Habitat.” Through these, Illich, Morningstar, and Farmer have expressed their progressive theories. These theories have given me the confidence to express my own opinions in #vtclis12.

    The congruence of my ideals with Illich’s ideals is why I decided to do my final project on Illich’s “Deschooling Society.” It was the first article of the year that I felt an true connection to. I had always found our society’s educational structure to be dysfunctional. Though I felt this way, I could not help but play to its power. Throughout elementary school, middle school, high school, and even into college, grades have been of extreme importance to me. Some would say of too much importance to me. I was taught that unless I received an A in a course, I had not mastered a course. The anxiety that the educational structure imposed on me as a student was loathsome. It squashed any and all of my potential creativity. Illich took the words right from my mouth when he proclaimed that “schools were designed on the assumption that there is a secret to everything in life; that the quality of life depends on knowing that secret; that secrets can be known only in orderly successions; and that only teachers can properly reveal these secrets.” This disappointment in humanity was not the only disappointment in humanity that Illich and I shared. Our dissatisfaction ranged from a disapproval in humanity’s political structure, to its economic structure, and finally to its educational structure. All of these structures share a common theme of centralization. This centralization has come about through years and years of the gradual shift of power from the people to the institution. Most of us were unaware of this gradual shift. Thankfully, it is not to late to reverse this gradual shift. If we attempt to deinstitutionalize one structure, it may lead to the deinstitutionalizing of the other structures. Illich affirms, “that the institutionalization of education is considered to institutionalize society and that ideas to de-institutionalizing education may be a starting point to de-institutionalized society.” This same proposition is brought to attention in Morningstar and Farmer’s “The Lessons Of Lucasfilm’s Habitat.” Morningstar and Farmer boldly proclaim, “detailed central planning is impossible. Don’t even try.” Though they are approaching the situation from a different perspective, their perspective still sheds light on Illich’s statement. They are asserting that with the vast number of citizens within our society, we must be cautious of generalization. This generalization takes from in institutionalization. Each citizen’s diverse goals, interests, motivations, and types of behavior are neglected when a society becomes institutionalized.

    I decided to explore Illich’s “Learning Webs” in reference to “Deschooling Society” for my final project due to the rationale that diverse goals, interests, motivations, and types of behaviors can be nurtured when a society becomes deinstitutionalized. These learning webs are the most practical mechanism for fostering a student’s learning. Learning webs possess four networks that allow a student to learn what they want, where they want, and when they want. For my project, I analyzed three contemporary learning webs including Academic Earth, Khan Academy, and Course Networking. I analyzed them in terms of the four networks presented in Illich’s “Deschooling Society.” These networks included reference services to educational objects, skill exchanges, peer-matching, and reference services to educators-at-large. Each contemporary learning web possessed some unique strengths as well as some unique weaknesses. I found that Course Networking had the highest score followed by Khan Academy and then followed by Academic Earth. Completing this scoring system provided me with a new level of cognition regarding learning webs. Getting involved with learning webs was completely different than reading about learning webs. Suddenly, I reached an epiphany. I caught myself THINKING about what Illich was THINKING about when he defined his four networks. What exactly was he thinking?

    This is when the deviations of my ideals from Illich’s ideals became evident. I found that though Course Networking received the highest score, I did not believed that it was the  “best” contemporary “Learning Web.” I found that Khan Academy was the “best” contemporary “Learning Web.” It incorporated more content and more educational resources than Course Networking. When logging into Course Networking I felt a sense of confusion. I wasn’t sure what the purpose was. I wasn’t sure what I was suppose to do next. I attempted to peruse the educational resources but didn’t understand what I was doing. I joined a conexus but couldn’t figure out who my peers were and I couldn’t figure out who my instructor was. However, when logging onto Khan Academy I felt the complete opposite. Once creating an account the next steps were human nature. What I got out of Khan Academy was a direct function of what I put into Khan Academy. I do think it’s important to share that I am a bit Khan Academy bias. Its immense amount of publicity is hard for me to ignore. It is easy to find information regarding the site and its easy to see the future of the site. A future that is optimistic. Academic Earth and Course Networking have not been around long enough to reach this stage in its development. I am hoping that with time the Academic Earth and Course Networking can evolve into aggressive competitors of Khan Academy. These thoughts as well as other thoughts allowed me to reflect on my final project. In addition, as I caught myself thinking about these thoughts I became aware of my enlightenment. I had not only analyzed the contemporary learning webs but also challenged Illich’s ideals. All without any intention of doing so. The continual thinking about thinking led me to a state of content. I realized that there was no right or wrong anymore. There was purely a preference. A preference that applied too more than just contemporary “Learning Webs.” It applied to life.

  • Computers Sharing Data?

    Posted on April 11th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    Unfortunately I did not find many nuggets within this article. I found that the article was extremely technical. However, after some research I found some interesting nuggets on the world wide web (W3) about the world wide web (W3).

    What I find most fascinating about the world wide web (W3) is how it came to be. It is mind blowing that Tim Berners-Lee single handedly invented the medium. Even more mind blowing is the fact that he handed the medium over to humanity rather than making a profit off of it. Can you imagine how wealthy he would be?

    What I also find fascinating is the fact that Tim Berners-Lee was the first one to come up with this idea. The idea for websites, https, and urls. The idea to share information in a new medium. We often think of such an idea as a norm. However, we rarely think about how revolutionary ideas are when they do not have direct competition. We rarely think about how difficult it is to come up with an idea that has never been thought of before. I believe the following video says a lot about Tim Berners-Lee and his devotion to humanity.

  • “I Don’t Think, My Fingers Think.”

    Posted on April 9th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    After reading Sherry Turkle’s “Video Games and Computer Holding Power” one video game came to mind.  That one video game was Beatles Rock Band.  I felt that my experience with Beatles Rock Band paralleled Marty’s experience with Asteroids. I felt that we had similar personalities and played the video game for similar reasons.

    Marty describes himself as “a real worrier. A real ‘type A person.'” “The game forces him into another mental space where the thoughts and the cares of his day cannot intrude.” “The game allows him to feel swept away and in control to have complete power and yet lose himself in something outside.” “It’s the relaxation of forcing himself to withdraw from the rate race, yet receiving a score that reassures him that he is the winner.”

    I would also describe myself as a real worrier. A real “type A person.” I find it difficult to escape the anxiety of tasks upon tasks I have to complete. However, the anxiety is suppressed when I play Beatles Rock Band. I purchased the game junior year of high school. In a under a week my best friend and I had managed to beat the game on all levels of difficultly from beginner to expert. We couldn’t stop. Marty describes the feeling “where he feels like an extension of the game or the game is an extension of him.” After that week I realized that the movements my fingers made on a guitar were similar to those movements made when on a keyboard. I did not think about what buttons to press but saw the trigger on the screen and my finger pushed the button. It was as if my mind had created a short cut. “Call it ‘muscle memory,’ call it ‘flow,’ call it ‘trusting your instincts’ – the experience of feeling a continuity between mind and body is part of the inner game.” I did not work at this feeling, this feeling simply came. It was relaxing. It was a sort of meditation.

    It is this feeling that leads “one to say he or she is more “possessed” by the game then playing it. I think everyone can relate to telling themselves “one more game.” More times than not there will be more than one more game. What is it that causes this addiction? Why doesn’t this addiction wear-out? We may never know. However, what we do know is that the feeling is unlike any other achieved through drugs, alcohol, or any sort of psychoanalysis. Maybe video games will be the next form of medication.

  • Are You A Skeptic, A Critic, or a Papert?

    Posted on April 4th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    Diving into Seymour Papert’s “From Mindstroms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas” we were met with the all too familiar idea of recursion.  Papert states that in “in teaching the computer how to think, children embark on an exploration about how they themselves think.” He then states that “thinking about think turns these children into an epistemologists.” We can all now thank Dr. Campbell for turning us children into epistemologists.

    Papert then shifts from the idea of recursion to discussing the cultural divide that exists between not different countries within our world but between precomputer cultures and the computer cultures within our world. After Papert defined this divide I couldn’t help but think of the divide between our generation and the generation before us. I couldn’t help but think of the hours spent attempting to help my mother understand FaceBook, Twitter, and Youtube. All inventions that did not exist when she was my age. When she was my age the idea of a personal computer was uncommon. Of course there were the few who believed it was possible. Overall most did not agree with Papert’s prediction that “long before the end of the century, people will buy children’s toys with as much computer power as the great IBM computer currently selling for millions of dollars.”

    The different perspectives on personal computers fell into three categories: skeptics, critics, and what I like to call, Paperts. “Skeptics did not expect the computer presence to make much different in how people learn and think.” “Critics did think that the computer presence will make a difference and were apprehensive.” In the middle lied Paperts who were able to view both perspectives. What intrigued me most was the idea of taking our current society and placing them within these roles. Honestly, I believe society has become a bunch of critics. We are constantly criticizing the medium that has brought us more than we could ever imagine. It has opened up doors we never thought could be opened. Personally I do not think I could fit into any three of these categories. Do you think you could?

  • Synonyms: Adoptive Citizen, Alien, Colonist, Documented Alien, Foreigner, Incomer, Migrant, Naturalized Citizen, Newcomer, Outsider, Pioneer, Settler, or Undocumented Alien.

    Posted on April 2nd, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    “Immigrant” by Simak stuffed my noggin full of both questions and answers… Of these questions and answers, there were two nuggets in particular that left me asking question upon question upon question.

    This first of these two nuggets came from the title of the reading itself. I didn’t quite understand what such a title could be referring to. However, this class has given me the ability to think thoughts that lead to additional thoughts that lead to additional thoughts. After reading “Deschooling Society” by Illich and “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat” by Morningstar and Farmer I have developed a new perspective on society as a whole. This perspective takes into account a lot of factors I had never considered before. For example, the first thought that came to mind of my series of thoughts was that the immigrant was a person within the experiential level not able to access the infrastructure level. I think of an immigrant as a foreigner who is able to experience (experiential level) the United States but not able to live (infrastructure level) within the United States. Thinking even deeper, this immigrant is able to live (gain access to the infrastructure level) within the United States with time. What I then asked myself was with time could one gain access to the infrastructure level? I believe this is a question we may never know.

    The second of these two nuggets came from the general idea of “Immigrant.” Once again I felt that “Deschooling Society” by Illich and “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat” by Morningstar and Farmer resonated within this article. What sat most with me was the idea of the IQ tests. I believe that these IQ tests were a direct comparison to our modern schooling system. In “Immigrant” only a few select humans were permitted to emigrate to the alien world.  I viewed these IQ tests as SATs or ACTs where only a few select humans are permitted to enter college.  Everyone who has the ability to attend college will tend to share their experiences with those who did not have the ability to attend college. However, due to the fact that our society is full of glamorous actresses and actors it is too easy to think that the quality of life once one enters college may not necessarily be what one imagines beforehand entering college. What I then asked myself was why did Simak choose to put these IQ tests within his story? I believe that he shared a lot of the same views as Illich, Morningstar, and Farmer. The three best friends that anyone could have.