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  • MindFrames: The Comic

    Posted on April 26th, 2012 lisskane No comments

    Here is Julie and my comic that I previously blogged about. Our collaboration of McCloud’s Time Frames and Papert’s Mindstorms. Hope you all enjoy!

  • MindFrames

    Posted on April 24th, 2012 lisskane No comments

    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 we said above, this class has definitely not always been the easiest for me. At the beginning of the semester the material was exceedingly hard for me to comprehend and the idea of coming up with a final project on the material, without many concrete guidelines, seemed undoable. Throughout the semester I started to feel more comfortable with the material, with my understanding and with stating my opinion. I could tell there was a difference, however I could not pin point what had made the difference. Now that I look back, I realize that at the beginning I was not looking at the material in the right way. I was simply skimming the words and waiting for the message to pop out at me. If the understanding that that was not going to happen was clear then, it is extraordinarily clear to me now after our final project. To complete our project we had to really think about what messages we were trying to portray we had to dig way deeper than we had before. We had to go through trial and error in order to find exactly how we wanted to say something and what actually made sense. When we chose the project, we definitely thought it would be a lot simpler than it actually was. We had to look at the material in ways that we had not before and use both of our mind powers to not only take information from the text, but also create it. For example, when you first look at Time Frames you might assume that McCloud is simply talking about how you show the passage of time in comics, when really it is all about the perception of time and how time is really dependent on an individual’s frame of mind. Or in Mindstorms, at first glance it may just be another computer guy talking about the technical way in which children can learn how to program. But at second glance, it is really how computer programming is just one way (a powerful one) for children to learn how to solve problems by “thinking about thinking” and learning how to learn.

    What is crazy, and recursive, is the way we had to go about our final project in order to find success, was exactly the idea we were trying to explain in our project. And we didn’t even realize it. We just portrayed our message by creating our message. Just like Papert explains in Mindstorms, we had to think about thinking. We had to think about what we were doing and go through steps of “debugging” to get to a solution. The reason we may have thought this project seemed so impossible to begin with was because we thought there was an exact solution that Dr. C was looking for. But there are many ways to get the product that is required; it all depends on how you think about the material. Which I think is sort of the point, the point of the project is to show a true and deep understanding, and the only way to do this is to think about it on a much deeper level. The point is to make connections from throughout the class and realize that the whole of the class is a sum of all of its parts (the readings, discussions, blogs).

    So it turns out that the reason I started feeling more successful in this class was because I was thinking about thinking, learning about learning and also thinking about learning. I become more comfortable with sharing my opinions because I found that there is not always a concrete “right” or “wrong” answer. And if there is a concrete answer, getting it wrong the first time does not mean you are a failure, it means you have to try again. You have to “debug”, like in programming. When we learned the word recursion at the beginning of the semester and were told we would see it everywhere, I was a little skeptical. But through our final project, I am finally now seeing how completely true it is. Our final project may not have included all of the pieces and authors we read, but it somehow managed to bring it all together for me to really “get it”. What you get out of this project, this class and learning as a whole all depends on your MindFrame.


  • Our Expierence of WWW

    Posted on April 12th, 2012 lisskane No comments

    I’m going to completely admit that before this class I knew absolutely nothing about the WWW and Internet infrastructure. And honestly, it still confuses me. Who knew that the web and the Internet were different things? I thought they were simply interchangeable words, synonyms that could be looked up on Microsoft word. But they are different and when to my surprise when I click on Internet, there are no synonyms for it. It is it’s own thing. Which brings us to what John Udell was saying in class. When it comes to the World Wide Web, our imagination is our only limit. We decide what we want to make. Who we want to share it with and what we want it to mean. Take words for example.  Dackolupatoni: when you Google that, nothing comes up. But here is our experiment. Let’s search it in a few hours and probably this will come up. Which is recursion. And then that person can be linked to this. And it goes on and on. Now isn’t that cool?

    In the book Berners-Lee states that “If you haven’t yet experienced the web, the best way to find out about it is to try it” Now isn’t that true (and also for pretty much everything). But it would nearly impossible to understand the web if you have never used it, never experienced the networks and seen its power. Which is why I think that there is still a problem as John said with realizing the difference between things in the physical world versus things in the virtual world. Maybe it is a generation thing. Maybe when the Clickerati are one of the other generations alive and everyone below them was born into a world fully immersed in the WWW, this distinction won’t be a problem. Like Julie said it is impossible to try to explain to our grandparents, sometimes-even parents, the purpose behind what we are doing on the web. Why we would possibly fb chat a friend instead of calling them. But I feel like once you truly discover the web, you can’t turn your back on it. So it will be interesting to see what happens when every generation has a knowledge of the web to some degree. Although there will probably be something new by then…

    Another piece of our discussion that really caught my attention was the idea of ownership on the web. When you purchase a domain name you are essentially renting a url. I think that is interesting considering how every tweet has it’s own url. Why do we have to “rent” a url in some cases, but when it comes to twitter every single time we tweet, we create a new url. It comes down to advertsing. If the site uses advertising, you don’t need to buy it. But why would a site use advertising so that we get a free product? Because we are the product. What would facebook or twitter be without its users? Nothing. It needs us. We are facebook and twitter.

    So maybe this reading wasn’t the most exciting for me, but without fail #vtclis12 developed an intriguing discussion from it that broaden my horizons and made me think.

  • The Difference in “Doing”

    Posted on April 10th, 2012 lisskane No comments


    The nugget that discussed the comparison between television and video games reminded me of Mindstorms. In Mindstorms, Papert explains that computers will make a much bigger impact on our culture than any previous form of technology, such as televisions, because children are simply listening explanations, while in computers children are actually doing something with the material. They are using computers as a tool to work through problems and think about thinking. Very similarly, in the nugget directly under the title “The Myth of “Mindless” Addiction”, Turkle explains the difference between video games and the television. Turkle says, “Television is something you watch. Video games are something you, something you do to your head, a world that you enter, and, a to a certain extent, they are something you “become”.

    The pattern between the two writers is there because it is true. Computers and video games may at first appear in the same league as televisions, but at second glance they are not all that comparable. Computers and video games give kids the “me stamp”. They allow kids to make visible and noticeable changes and actions. They are active tools rather than passive. Video games go even further than just computers in as Turkle puts it “Video games are interactive computer microworlds”. In video games you can become something and virtually anything that you want to be. In order to become something, you have to immerse yourself in the game. This requires thinking power and is not always what others may say as “mindless”. Now I am not saying that video games are all good and that children should replace their real lives with a virtual world (this is were is becomes a problem), but I do believe that video games, depending on which one, can make you think and create. When you are playing a video game your mind is certainly at work and you must enter an “altered state”. Video games, unlike the television, depend on us to work.

    Speaking of the “altered state” I thought that section had some interesting nuggets as well. The example of Marty who used video games as a way to distract himself from his life. “To have complete power and yet lose himself in something outside.” I think this is were the line between video games being helpful and hazardous meets and becomes blurry. Yes, video games to require your full attention and thinking skills, thus sharpening your mental skills. But what happens when you are always playing games and your attention is always fully directed at video games. People can get sucked into these virtual worlds and it can distract you from your life. It is fine to use video games as a form of entertainment and to take a quick break from reality, but we have to be careful it doesn’t become our reality.

    I think our previous discussion(s) on video games way extremely engaging. It is a topic that is so relevant and visible in so many of our lives and I am excited to discuss further what implications you guys all think video games have on our culture. Do you think it is good? Bad? Both?

  • Got it?

    Posted on April 6th, 2012 lisskane No comments

    I really enjoyed our discussion today. I thought it was really cool looking at the differences in generations just between the grad students and undergrad student. I feel that being able to hear both perspectives in our discussion was super helpful. Now all we need is a few kids born in the 2000’s! Anyways what I really wanted to talk about was what we were discussing at the end of class. The topic came about by bringing up the “got it right” or “got it wrong idea” that seems to be so present in our lives, especially when dealing with education. As I said, in Papert’s The Children’s Machine, he says that he believes that learning is a natural act, but schooling however is not. The institution of school with its fixed curriculum has made the act of learning more goal orientated and by that I mean specific goal oriented with a specific way of getting there. This strict code of what is to be taught has made learning a technical act and the teachers the technicians of the “learning”.  Papert claims that telling children to take charge of their learning, but then ordering them to discover a specific conclusion from a certain path. is contradictory. What I think is important to realize is that there may a specific answer for some things and there are certain things we should be taught. But the problem comes in when we are told that we must find that answer in a specific way. Everyone learns differentially and has different answers, and when we constrict the act of learning, we constrict what is being learned. And that is where Papert believes computers can come in and restore “childlike wonder to learning”. Papert realizes we need a way to make learning a more diverse art. We need a way to get children to derive at answers in a way the makes sense for THEM and not in a black and white fashion laid out by teachers. Papert admits computers are not the only way to do it, but he believes that computers and LOGO could be a concrete  and powerful way of going about it. BUT only if it is done right. In class we were skeptical of LOGO and if it can really teach us anything. What is the purpose of drawing a star on the computer when you can draw it on paper? I think in a lot of cases LOGO may not have been useful, but I think it is the way that it was implicated in schools. LOGO is supposed to be a creative process that helps you to think about thinking. But when it is used in a specified manner, it thwarts the child’s creativity and drive to learn. When the teachers make LOGO a separate subject, unrelated to anything else, it seems silly and unimportant. It must be used as a tool for furthering other skills and for allowing the minds of children to run wild until they come to the answer themselves. Thus really learning and absorbing the information. So back to the star, the point of LOGO is not so that a child can draw a start, but so that the child can figure out his or her own path to making a star. This way the child can use the amazing and complicated brain of theirs to work through their thoughts to a conclusion. It comes back to this. I think the problem of school is not that there are right and wrong answers, but that there could be a wrong way of getting to the right answers. We don’t need to change the whole idea of school so that children can learn absolutely whatever they want, but so that they feel comfortable and able to figure out their own ways to organize information and come to conclusions. Sorry for rambling again.. hopefully that made sense!

  • who is really being programmed?

    Posted on April 5th, 2012 lisskane No comments

    “Computers can restore childlike wonder to learning – challenging the nature of school itself”– Papert, The Child’s Machine

    Since I am leading the discussion tomorrow on Mindstorms, I thought I would hold off till after class to really do a complete blog. However, I did want to point out (which I’m sure you all noticed) all of the parallels between our other readings this semester. Education reform and how to go about it seems so be a pretty common theme. Being a psychology major and wanting to go into child psychology, this piece was really relevant to what I am studying. Which was a complete coincidence, but really cool! Anyways, I am excited to discuss with you guys tomorrow and find out your opinions on how the presence of computers in education has changed our development and learning..if you think it has (any skeptics?) See you in class 🙂

  • Out of This World

    Posted on April 3rd, 2012 lisskane No comments

    At first I wasn’t so sure about this reading, but after I got into it I found in strangely very interesting. And then I had a hard time picking out just a couple nuggets. Overall, I found something very fishy about Kimon and wondered how it was that these people were so eager to go there when they didn’t really know much about it. Once Bishop was there and started realizing what Kimon was actually all about, I started getting mad that everyone had too much pride too admit to the rest of Earth what it was really like on Kimon. But in the end, humility is what he found Earthlings were missing. I started thinking about this, and found it pretty true. I feel like a lot of people could use a little more humility. People should be able to admit when they are wrong, confused or just don’t have any idea what is going on. Instead, I feel that people are very wrapped up in an ideal image of what we should be like. No doubt, knowledge, experience and expertise are traits humans for strive for. But I don’t necessarily think that a lack of knowledge should be considered an opposite or vice, but simply a state you must start at and acknowledge before you achieve higher levels. Anyways here are some of the nuggets I really liked….

    I found the nugget comparing Earthlings and Kimonian children to children who really wanted a puppy very interesting. Comparing them in a way that showed that the Kimonian children meant well, but it may come across wrong. I enjoyed listening to Bishop’s thoughts as he worked though the realization that maybe they were like pets..or playmates.. or where they something else? Looking at not only how the kids saw him, but also putting himself in the dog’s shoes and finding what he feels would be compatible feelings. Such as smugness that he was associating with this advanced race. But maybe instead of being downgraded to the level of a dog, he was simply downgraded to an intelligence of a child, and not a very smart one at that. Going through this thought process is when he came across the idea of how strong human pride is, but at the same time how easily it can be wounded.

    I also really like the very last part, where he related what his life on Kimon would be like to school and that to be successful in Kimon you had to “start out by saying, I don’t know. Then you say, I want to know. Then you say, I’ll work hard to learn.” I thought this was especially interesting because I feel like that is really what you have to do to be successful in real life. You can be arrogant and believe/pretend you know what you are doing, but I believe that can only get you so far. I think that the real success in life comes out of learning and growing from challenges and working to get where you want to go. Earlier in the piece, Kimon was talked about the easy or soft life and a life you wouldn’t want to get up. For me personally, I don’t believe I would be satisfied in a world where I got everything I wanted, without having to worry or think or work. Sure it might seem nice at first, but there is no real satisfaction out of it. I truly believe that pain must be present in our lives for us to really appreciate the good. Every time I achieve something I work hard for,  it feels a hundred times more rewarding to than when I was handed it. But to get this sense of achievement, you must start out from the bottom and work, even struggle, your way to the top.

    Also in general, I just thought there were a lot of cool futuristic concepts. The idea of a cabinet that answers your every will, reading minds and getting to travel and experience any moment in time were all fun to read about and imagine. It makes me think of the types of things people 100 or so years ago predicted would exist today. It makes me wonder if our current technology and advancement of society would live up to what they expected.