Author Archives: halliedominick

“Suddenly I See…”

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.

Comments Off on “Suddenly I See…”

Filed under Uncategorized

Computers Sharing Data?

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.

Comments Off on Computers Sharing Data?

Filed under vtclis12

“I Don’t Think, My Fingers Think.”

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.

Comments Off on “I Don’t Think, My Fingers Think.”

Filed under vtclis12

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

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?

Comments Off on Are You A Skeptic, A Critic, or a Papert?

Filed under vtclis12

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

“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.

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

Filed under vtclis12

The Usefulness of Blogging.

Since I am presenting this thursday on “The Lessons of Lucasfilm’s Habitat” by Morningstar and Farmer I thought that I would save my ideas for presentation day.  I have a lot of ideas that I don’t want to you all to get previous exposure to before presentation day. With that being said I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on my blogging experience.

Before taking this course I had been slightly against blogging. It seemed like an activity created to gloat about oneself. Something that was created to say “hey look at me,” “listen to me,” “I’m so interesting.” Being an introvert I like to keep my thoughts to myself. Sharing these ideas was a challenge for me. However, like most activities, with time I became more accustomed to it and more comfortable with it. It has evolved into a form of conversation. The conversation being before me and the read. Or more specifically, me and my blog. As if my blog was just another one of my friends.

Now, at this point in the course, I am completely pro blogging. Honestly, I never thought I would be saying that. However, blogging has opened up a whole new world of opportunities for me I never thought imaginable. This summer I am interning for a company called Job and Talent in Madrid, Spain. As a Finance and Accounting major I’ll be helping the company in investing its assets. Surprisingly, the blog is helping me with this internship. Job and Talent offers a scholarship for those who will blog over the course of their internship about their experience in Madrid, Spain. The qualifications to apply for this scholarship included having a previous blog. I was able to use my blog from this course to apply for the scholarship. I haven’t heard yet but if I do receive it you all will be the first to know. The fact that the blog gave me this opportunity is only the start of things to come.

Comments Off on The Usefulness of Blogging.

Filed under vtclis12

A Life Without Schooling, Not Possible.

It is generally accepted that the schooling system we have today is corrupt.  The purpose of schooling is no longer centered around gaining knowledge.  With such widespread dissatisfaction, one would think that something could be done.  However, it is hard to imagine what this something could be.  Ivan Illich’s “Learning Webs” from Deschooling Society helps to outline what he thinks this something could be.  More importantly, it outlines some of the major problems with schooling in our society.

Ivan Illich states that “a good educational system should have three purposes: it should 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.” He says that “what are needed are new networks, readily available to the public and designed to spread equal opportunity for learning and teaching.”

Though I think approach is a great idea, I feel that it is extremely unrealistic.  Even if students had access to all of these networks, society has conditioned students to do the least amount work possible for the best grade possible.  In theory, “someone who wants to learn knows that he needs both information and critical response to its use from somebody else.”  This condition is idea.  Unfortunately, this is not the case. Currently our  condition would be extremely hard to reverse.  In order to reverse it, the generation undergoing the deschooling could not be exposed to the behavior of the generation before them.  With this said, I believe Ivan Illich’s theory is great in theory but impossible to attain.

 

Comments Off on A Life Without Schooling, Not Possible.

Filed under vtclis12

The Gestalt Principles of Time.

“Will There Be Condominiums in Data Space?” by Bill Viola left me with a whole new perspective on time (not unusual for this course). We all understand that time is continuous. However, there are certain situations when we do not perceive time as continuous. For example, when we recall memories. As Bill Viola says, “it is memories, and to some extent sleep, that gives us the impression of a life of discrete parts, periods, or sections, of certain times or ‘highlights.’”

I believe that Bill Viola intentionally drew a parallel between the gestalt principles and time. Rather than our eyes attempting to make sense of a photo, our minds are attempting to make sense of the concept of time. “Gestalt is a psychology term which means “unified whole”. It refers to theories of visual perception developed by German psychologists in the 1920s. These theories attempt to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into unified wholes when certain principles are applied.” In short, the gestalt principles attempt to describe why we as humans tend to view the whole and then view the sum of the wholes parts. We first view time and then we view the discrete parts, periods, or sections of time. I find this extremely interesting because it applies to everyday life. When we tell a story to a friend we do not simple tell the story from beginning to end with every mundane detail in between but rather skip around and tell the parts that apply. The sum of these parts make up the whole story. As Bill Viola states “life without editing, it seems, is just not that interesting.”

Comments Off on The Gestalt Principles of Time.

Filed under vtclis12

The “Aristotle of Comics.”

I never thought such a simple concept could cause such a headache. I grew up reading the comics in the Kid’s Post and I still read them in the Washington Post. Some of my favorites growing up included Archie Classics, Calvin and Hobbes, and Dennis the Menace. To be completely honest I still read these same comics today. However, from a young age comics just came to me. I never had to think much about the complex ideas behind what I was reading, I just enjoyed them.

After reading Scott McLoud’s “Time Frames” which is an excerpt from his popular book “Understanding Comics,” I have a new perspective on comics. “Understanding Comics” is “an exploration of the definition, history, vocabulary, and methods of the medium of comics, itself in comics form.” In short it simply describes “how the comic format works and its structures and techniques.” He goes in-depth about how this new medium does in fact have rules and regulations that one may not pick up on as a child when perusing the Kid’s Post.

By far, the nugget I found most fascinating was our perception of time in comics. It is a concept that seems so logical yet seems so illogical at the same time. As we read through a comic we usually read from left to right. The amount of information contained in each frame tends to define our perception of time in each frame. A crowded frame would take a significantly longer period of time to read than a blank frame with only an image. As we pass from frame to frame we assume that time is continuing on. However, we have absolutely no clue at what exact time in history the comic is illustrating. We tend to assume the present but it may actually be the past. It could be a past or future memory or situation. How do we define now? How do we define the present? It is these situations that often lead us in a vicious cycle of thought with no end solution. I think after this cycle of thought, similar to what we experienced in class, it is only appropriate to take a brake and read comics for what they are.

Reference: http://www.slideshare.net/hexakali/scott-mccloud

Comments Off on The “Aristotle of Comics.”

Filed under vtclis12

Changing The World One TEDTalk At A Time.

Most recently, “TEDTalks, Ideas Worth Spreading” have gone viral.  Believe it or not TEDTalks actually began in 1984.  TEDTalks began as a conference that brought it’s audience together to discuss technology, entertainment, and design (TED.com).  This conference met twice a year in Long Beach and Palm Springs California (TED.com).  The recent hype about TEDTalks came with the introduction of TED.com in 2007.  This website stretched the scope of TEDTalks topics.  This website put everyones favorite talks from TED online for FREE.  Right now more than “900 TEDTalks are available online”(TED.com).

What is most impressive about this website is it’s goal.  It does not aim to make a profit like most capitalistic organizations of our time but rather to “spread ideas” (TED.com).  This seems a bit cliche but is actually extremely impressive.  On TED.com it is stated “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.  So we’re building here a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from the world’s most inspired thinkers, and also a community of curious souls to engage with ideas and each other.”

Though a website cannot single-handedly change the world it is definitely a starting point.  The ideas that have branched from TEDTalks including the TED Prize “awarded annually to an exceptional individual who receives $100,000 and, much more important, “One Wish to Change the World” (TED.com) and theTEDx Events “designed to give communities, organizations and individuals the opportunity to stimulate dialogue through TED-like experiences at the local level” (TED.com) all contribute to a world where one is open to sharing their opinion without fear of rejection.  From this innovative ideas and a more progressive world can come.  By progressive I mean a world in which countries not as advanced as the United States can break the societal roles they are given at birth due to their demographics.

Comments Off on Changing The World One TEDTalk At A Time.

Filed under vtclis12