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  • 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.