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Mindframes

After presenting today in class, Lissy and I wanted to post our comic on our class blog so that you all can dive deeper into the material similarly to how we did while completing the project. Enjoy :D

 

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Mindframes: A final project by Lissy and Julie

The setup for this class has been a new experience for us. It has been a rollercoaster of learning – we began with doubts of our abilities but have come to the realization that if we put our mind to it we succeed. After being seminar presenters, our interests were sparked in the topics we presented on. We were discussing the readings outside of class one day and realized that collaborating upon our two seminar pieces, Mindstorms  and Time Frames, could make for a great final project. While discussing, we felt that the way in which McCloud’s message of time was expressed through comics helped us to comprehend the information on a more complex level than we had in previous pieces. Mindstorms was a piece that we found interesting and relatable to our lives. By explaining this reading through comics, we thought that we would achieve a higher understanding like we experienced in Time Frames.

We chose to explain a nugget in Mindstorms  (pg. 416) that dealt with using programming to help children “think about thinking” and do away with “black and white” versions of success. In order to connect Papert and McCloud’s ideas, we decided to use the framework from McCloud but tweak his illustrations to portray Papert’s message of programming. Once recognizing how they could relate, we went through the nugget, analyzed each sentence and tried to pull out the full meaning that Papert was communicating. After discussing the nugget on a deeper level and considering both our views on the reading, we went through McCloud’s comic to find frames that could illustrate that message.

When we were reading McCloud’s comic, we began to see the hidden messages which made us realize that the meaning behind the frames isn’t always apparent. Although you can get a basic message the first time you read through the comic, you can gather more in-depth information if you re-read it. We wanted to incorporate this aspect into our comic so that our readers could have the option to question the ideas. We gathered that McCloud’s Time Frames is about how one thinks about time and how this affects time overall. After reading Papert’s Mindstorms, we saw parallels between the two author’s messages. We felt that Papert’s message was portraying that learning depends on how one thinks about thinking. Both these authors show how powerful the human mind is and how it can affect your perspective on life. In general, this class has made us realize that you should keep an open mind in learning and continue to be curious.

We followed our curiosity and, as writing our comic, we found that other pieces we read this semester related to the nugget from Mindstorms. We looked back on nuggets we highlighted throughout the semester and found some interesting connections to Mindstorms. Theodor H. Nelson was the first connection we made. In a nugget we found from Computer Lib/Dream Machines, he spoke of how computers are not only a tool of clarity and power, but should also be simple and easy to use. He writes, “If a system for thinking doesn’t make thinking simpler – allowing you to see farther and more deeply – it is useless…” (pg. 331). We included this in our comic because we felt like it related to Papert’s idea of how programming could help children learn.  Programming and computers are powerful because they teach children complex ideas, but they can do it in a simple way.

We also found connections between Mindstorms and Bill Viola’s piece Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?. We found the sections about “carving out our own realities” and how “the whole is the sum of its parts” relatable to Papert’s nugget. Both portray that discoveries can be found when you look deeper into the material. You find that many things are interrelated, “fitting into an interlocking whole.” We illustrated learning as a puzzle in our comic, because everything we learn can be interrelated and every step is important. Papert distinguished this message of learning through his programming techniques for children.

After completing this project our own knowledge of these readings increased dramatically. We feel that the idea of  “thinking about thinking” can increase anyone’s understanding on a certain topic.  We think this idea could be great resource for education. We loved doing this comic because it forced us to learn and think about the information in a new, visual way. The format of comics does not explicitly layout information, which causes the reader to think about the subject matter in order to really understand it. This can link back to McLuhan’s idea “the medium is the message.” We used the words of Papert and expressed them in a new way. Changing the medium that the information is given in can drastically change the way it is perceived by the learner.  Learning all depends on the way you think about it…

Since everyone thinks about thinking differently, our individual thoughts are written below.

 

 

As I began this project with Lissy, I really had no idea what we were getting into. Since I had done my seminar presentation on Scott McCloud’s Time Frames, I wanted to incorporate his visual way of sharing the message into my final project. I loved his way of expressing time in a comical/spooky/intriguing way. When Lissy presented on “Mindstorms” it clicked that the reading would be perfect to incorporate into our final presentation.

When we started the project we were not sure exactly where it would take us. As we discussed it further and further, analyzing Papert’s “Mindstorms,” I realized that even if our comic didn’t turn out the way we had envisioned it, it didn’t even matter. Lissy and I talked about the readings and the class on a deeper level than we ever had. By backtracking, re-reading, and asking each other, “what does it all mean?,” we learned an immense amount. We thought about our thought process. We thought about what Papert was thinking, what McCloud was thinking, etc.  These realizations made me begin to consider how this type of project could be used in education to stimulate children’s creativity while getting them to understand material on a more comprehensive level.

Now as presentation day quickly approaches, I am nervous whether you all will see our connections to other authors and understand “Mindstorms” in a more complex way. I really feel like creating a visual component has helped me learn so maybe it can help you all learn too. Thinking of ways to be creative and incorporate ideas into the comic proved difficult, but we did it! I hope you all enjoy our in-depth look at Papert’s “Mindstorms” tomorrow!

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Good enough

Even as I started reading the introduction to the “World Wide Web,” I began to realize the differences and similarities that the web today has from the web 18 years ago. The sentence, ” The Web demonstrates…the technologies that prevail don’t have to be the best ones – they just have to be good enough,” immediately caught my attention. Maybe years ago, when things were just starting to begin with the World Wide Web, technologies could just be “good enough” but does this apply today?

I think not. Think of Itunes (or Apple products in general), Google, Facebook, smart phones, etc. There is always a competitor. There is always someone who isn’t “good enough.” For example, the Amazon.com MP3 store sells the same music as the Itunes music store (and sometimes for cheaper) but what’s missing? Bing.com is a great search engine, but we still use Google.com. Googleplus could be a great way to connect with other people use Facebook. Why is it that although these technologies are good, they don’t triumph over the “best ones.” Or are the best ones only just good enough and we just don’t realize their flaws?

As I continued to read, I found yet another interesting point. “If you haven’t yet experienced the Web, the best way to find out about it is to try it.” This quote made me think of my grandparents who do not own one piece of technology. I am constantly trying to explain the Internet to them and computers, but they just don’t get it. They can’t imagine why people would like to look things up and why people enjoy connecting with friends through email or Facebook. I think this sentence really hit home for me because of this situation. I’ve never really thought about it, but if I hadn’t grown up with computers and taught myself about how they operate, I wouldn’t understand it either. I wouldn’t get that the internet is more than just a way to communicate – it’s a way to be curious, to learn, to discover things. I understand why my grandparents have a hard time with technology – because they don’t use it. I also realize that, even with annoying pop up advertisements, junk email, etc, the Web is definitely good enough for me.

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In Control

After the discussion in class today (and in class too), I kept asking myself – why do people like to play games? I keep thinking about whether we like to play games because it is an “escape” or whether we like them because we enjoy figuring out the secrets and breaking rules. I think what it really comes down to is we like to be in control. I know that when I play games (which isn’t too often, but who doesn’t like to occasionally play?!) I enjoy the feeling of deciding what to do with the character. It is kind of what we talked about with virtual worlds, people like to create what to do. Whether it is finding the secret passages, getting points, etc. I believe that control has a lot to do with why we dive into these games.

As Sherry Turkle explained Roger, the fifty-year-old businessman who gets into a different state of mind when he plays games, I got this thought again. Roger states to Turkle when talking about playing video games, ” …My mind is clear. Things pass through it. I make connections. They say its mindless, but for me it’s liberating. I am in control of the game but my mind is free.” I thought it was very interesting that he likes to be in control even when he isn’t thinking about anything. This transitioned very well in the reading to Turkle’s next point about the connection of mental and physical capabilities in gaming. She states, “…the experience of feeling a continuity between mind and body is part of the inner game…” Those individuals who game begin to learn the motions and patterns so well that they no longer have to think about it – they will just react. Sherry says that knowing these motions and rhythms makes the experience of gaming exhilarating for people. Do you think people game to get their minds off of everything else? Do they really have a continuity between mind and body?

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Questions.

How does our interaction with computers influence our outlook on the world and our perspective on ourselves?Why do we consider computers a fact of life instead of new technology? Why do older generations feel threatened by computers? Why are video games “almost hypnotic”?

Is the heart of the computer culture really the idea of “rule-governed” worlds? How can people who fear games compare them to TV? Interactive microworlds? Are video games addicting? What kind of skills do the games require? How do you learn how to learn? Why is Pac-Man so interesting? What is so fun about avoiding getting eaten by monsters? Is it because it is a virtual reality-like situation?

Are most games offensive and defensive strategies? Can games help a person’s decision-making skills? Does gaming make someone automatic? What freedom do game designers have? How do they make a successful game? Do people enjoy the freedom from the “real world?” How does space make a difference with games?

Does the competitiveness of gaming entice people? Why is there such a difference between how parents view games and how kids view games? Do kids play games to feel in charge? Why do we like figuring out the “secrets” of the game? Why does Jarish like games to be more complicated? Do we use our imagination a lot?

Why does the “polarization between action and imaginative identification break down the presence of the computer?” What is the culture of computer programmers? Why is pong so addicting? Was it because it was widely available? What technological advances helped computer game designers? How are designers breaking limitations? What does the future hold for computer graphics?

Why is it important to have a connection between culture and culture of simulation? What rules does the game universe conform to? Why don’t computer games deal use computers in their virtual design? Fantasy games? What’s so appealing? Why is there always a stopping point in games? Why do games hold our concentration for such long periods of time? Are games good for “unwinding?”  Why isn’t conscious playing enough to master a video game? Emotional power of video games? Why do they give you three chances? How does mastery of one level make a person want to keep going? Are games perfect? How can a computer make a person question their perfectibility? Why are you considered the “pure you” in video games? How can games change?

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“formal” thinking

Mindstorms, by Seymour Papert offered some interesting nuggets throughout the reading.  I thought one of the most intriguing parts of the reading was about how when a child learns to program, the process of learning is transformed. I started wondering when I learned to “program” but Papert states it, but he says that formal thinking doesn’t develop until around the age 12. But this was written in 1980 – how have things changed since then?

I grew up with computers. I have never lived without one. All through elementary school I took typing classes and got the chance to play “learning” games like Troggle Trouble Math and Jump Start. I continued to take typing classes and play these games throughout middle school (my mom really loved that if she bought me a computer game, even if it was educational, I would sit still for hours until I could finally master the game). When I reached high school, I was fortunate to be in a great school system where they purchased a laptop computer for every student. I feel like this experience helped me realize the educational value that computers hold, but did it change my way of thinking? Did computers help kids my age learn formal thinking earlier? This is a question that I don’t know the answer to. I don’t even have the slightest idea of whether computers can change a person’s “program.”

This leads me to the next section I found interesting, the psychological impact of the television show and how computers can increase the impact.  I immediately thought about the Malcom Gladwell book The Tipping Point (Check it out! Its a great book!)  about the kids television shows, Sesame Street and Blue’s Clues. When Sesame Street first came out it was the first of its kind! Parents loved the puns and wordplay, while kids loved how interactive Big Bird and the other characters were. Did it really get kids to think though? Or did they just enjoy feeling like part of the show? Did they understand what the characters were saying and doing? When Blue’s Clues came out, it really changed the way television interacted with kids. They would ask the kids questions like “where is the clue?” and pause, waiting for the child watching at home to answer. But there was something special about the show that Sesame Street didn’t do. The same episode of Blue’s Clues would play over and over again in one week. They wouldn’t air another episode in one week. The children would have to remember how to find the clues, what they were looking for, and what the end solution was. It helped children learn and think like no TV show had done before.

After reading what Papert had to say about how the computer could increase the impact of TV, I wonder what’s next? We already have interactive websites that coordinate with the TV shows, but what can make computers and TV connect even more? What will be the next idea that can help children learn “formal” thinking?

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“…as powerful as the profit motive”

As I began to read “immigrant” for class, I immediately was overwhelmed with questions. Not even a page in, I read, “The man who cracks the Kimon situation is the one who will have it big.” Thoughts started to rush through my mind. What is the Kimon situation? It can be cracked? Why hasn’t someone cracked it already? Why would they make it big? I continued reading, sparked by my own curiosity towards this unique situation. It seemed that these people speaking (whoever they were) were on a journey to Kimon. I guess it’s a place? The way these people were talking about it, it seemed impossible to reach. I liked the fact that the story told me what Kimon was shortly after I had all of these questions. Apparently it is a never-never land where few individuals could reach. Those who could go were people of a high IQ, of incredible intelligence.

I continued to read and was surprised at the explanation of Kimon. I was intrigued that Kimon booted those people who were not up to their standards out of their society. Having a minimum IQ, a great scholastic achievement record, being 99% or better of Earth’s population, dealing with years of study, were some of the requirements to reach Kimon. I started to wonder – why would anyone want to go there? I have high aspirations of myself, but would I have done those things to reach Kimon?

Yep I sure would have. This other world seemed to consider education extremely important – something I value as well. “For here was a planet with a culture far in advance of Earth, a people who had schooled themselves or had naturally developed parapsychic powers.” That sentence stuck out to me because I think it an interesting idea for people to school themselves. I find it interesting in this story however that the writer kept mentioning profits, wages, gold, and diamonds, luxuries that are involved with the Kimon lifestyle. The curiousness of money continues when Selden Bishop is introduced. I found that he concentrated on the money he had in his pocket. He couldn’t get his mind off of it, although  “he couldn’t bring himself to regret the money he had spent to make a good impression.” Why are these people so concerned about money?! When Selden’s story starts to unfold, I found the fact that “…for no planet, no culture can exist in complete self-sufficiency.” Does this statement have something to do with monetary sufficiency as well? The idea of money is brought up throughout and continues to be once Bishop is on the planet. Monty tells him that if he needs a loan that they are all friends because they’ve got to be. Why do they all have to be friends? Is it because they know that, like Maxine says, Kimon will become “passé” to those on earth?

Why will she not explain how earth will get board with their planet? Is it because Kimonian people are so concerned about cultural development? Is it because they don’t use money? Because they don’t care about wealth? Do you think our society today could be like the Kimon culture? Would it even be possible for humans to not have assurance of wealth? Like Morely Reed mentioned to Bishop, would technological information revlolutionize our entire economic pattern? Did it? Has it? Will it?!

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Sparks

As I sat in class on Tuesday, listening to others speak about their opinions of Illich’s work, I began to wonder about questions brought up in class…what is the point of teaching? What is the goal? Like I mentioned in my last posting, I feel like some teachers have lost their inspirational touch. Many teachers do their job and don’t make learning enjoyable to kids..so why do they do it? For me, I think the best answer to this question comes from taking a step back and looking at the classes I have taken.

Being a Econ/Marketing major, I have had to take courses in accounting, business information technology, etc. These classes haven’t made my semester enjoyable and I really dislike attending them, but they have made me realize something very important. I have learned that in order to flourish, I need to set my own expectations. Like we talked in class about a certain level that we are expected to perform at, I feel like I have a high level that I have set for myself. I realize though that I have set lower bars for courses that I don’t enjoy. But why?! Shouldn’t I have a certain expectation that I want in all of my classes?

I realize that as a learner, I need that guidance and direction that professors give. If a class, like accounting for example, doesn’t give me that leadership role, I tend to lower my personal goals. I absolutely love economics, but I have also had professors who have been willing to help and answer questions. These professors help create a spark in learning. They have helped me realize why I like their course. It’s not that I am better at econ over accounting, it is the fact that my professors have made me curious. They have made me want to learn the material.

We spoke about how in some classes, teachers just simply go through powerpoint presentations that come directly from the textbook that you are supposed to read. Well if they come right from the textbook why should I read it? I feel like if a greater effort was made to relate classes to real-world scenarios, people would begin to realize how a subject can affect them. They then get a spark…they understand how the class can enhance their well-being in the future. We would begin to become so curious, we would want to become experts in the material! I feel like this is the goal of teaching. It’s not to have the class get the best grades or have the class love the teacher, it is about making students comfortable. If a student is comfortable around these leaders, they will ask questions, they will do work, not because they are required to, but because they want to. Do you think that these characteristics of teaching and learning relate to “Deschooling Society?”

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What we learn

How can we depend on self motivated learning instead of employing teachers to bribe the student to fid the time and will to learn?

In “Deschooling Society” Illich talks about how if we change the style of leadership education can change. He says a good educational system should have three purposes: “provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and finally furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.”

Why do so many schools require things? Why isn’t it up to the teacher to determine what to teach? I grew up with the SOLs – the Standards of Learning assessment tests that the curriculum of kindergarten through twelfth grade revolves around. Since the main goal was to make our counties schools seem wonderful, teachers followed the strict curriculum and always reminded us that “This might be on the SOL at the end of the year!” Not once did they have the chance to teach what they wanted to teach. Not once did they seem interested in the material we were covering only for the SOL.

I think that this is an important issue in education today. Students are expected to learn certain things, which is understandable, but when teachers no longer love what they teach because they have to follow guidelines, students start to suffer. I never took a test that wasn’t multiple choice until high school. I never got constructive criticism. I never had to think critically – I just had to circle the little letters beside the correct answer. I never found a subject that I was truly passionate about because the teachers didn’t seem to enjoy teaching me the material. Why would I like something if the teacher doesn’t even like it?!

Why can’t the student figure out what they want to learn about instead of following the guidelines of society? As Illich says, there are four approaches that allow the student to gain access to educational resources that will help her achieve her own goals. I think that if we work to focus on the students, education could be transformed. Children wouldn’t dread going to school. People would find inspiration and creativity that they can’t find currently. Do you think students should have more of a say in what they are learning?

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The Big Picture

Memory is strange to think about. When I think about what I remember, I start to wonder…is this actually a memory? I often realize that my mind plays tricks on me. I may think I remember something clearly, but soon find out that I actually remember the event because I saw a picture of it. Or I heard a story about it. I felt like I was a part of something, but then I realize that I actually never experienced it.

Bill Viola writes in “Will there be Condominiums in Data Space?” that memory gives us “highlights” of certain times in our lives. We have to fill in the spaces that exist in between those parts. We have to be creative, and practically shape our memory into the way we want it.

This is where I believe media comes in. TV shows, movies, newspapers, YouTube…they all give us that extra information that we need to fill in the gap. We can get online and see images, news stories, and videos instantly. Media makes these things a part of our memory, and we remember vividly since media surrounds our lives.

Take September 11, 2001, for example. I was in fourth grade at the time. I didn’t know what was going on and didn’t understand. I did not indulge myself with videos of the event, but the fact that the media constantly played and replayed  footage from those attacks not only makes me remember the event, but I think it made it real and personal for every single individual who watched the footage. From then on, those events became part of our memory. It was inescapable. Sometimes, and in this example in particular, the fact we are intermingled with media on a constant basis can make people feel like they are reliving the event – causing psychological problems for certain individuals.

I feel like media does not always give us the big picture, which causes our memories to be shaped and sometimes biased. Viola writes about holism, and explains through an example of a jigsaw puzzle how important it is to look at the whole picture. He writes that examining the thing in its entirety can help us think from a different perspective and realize how things fit together. Do you think that media doesn’t allow us to truly understand why things are connected and related? Do you think that videos and TV shows make us want to piece things together instead of seeing the entire image? Could society manage to make a change so that people can see the whole picture?

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