Today I pitched the #8bitmooc project to my #duke21c class and - for the most part - it went over well. Nobody thought it was a terrible idea, and most of the questions that were asked were for elucidation and not to instill criticism. For a business pitch, it went well, since I managed to cover…
Way back when we were developing our websites for #duke21c, I started talking about how it’s generally considered “bad practice” to man-handle your text by using raw HTML instead of leaving that to the theme designers. As a programmer, I take concepts like these for granted, but like good academics, everyone in class immediately scoffed at my statement. I couldn’t articulate my argument well that time, but after having some time to let it simmer, I think I can at least express in a cohesive way it is so very important to decouple form and content.
Web standards represent an informal contract between providers of web content (websites, authors) and consumers of web content (browsers, aggregators, screen readers). The idea is that by using a standards-compliant website theme, you can
You see, even when you precisely align your pictures and text to appear a certain way on a website, there are two things to note:
- The browser is not required to honor that
- The user may have overridden the browser to prevent that
- The browser may not be capable of it, because it’s mobile or text-only
When you decouple your content from your form, you are putting the onus to display text correctly on the browser or screen-reader or what have you, rather than having to create one website for desktops, one for tablets, and one for cell phones.
The moral of the story is, unlike print, you can never guarantee that the site you’ve designed will look the way you expect it to on everyone’s devices. So by using a theme to your advantage and not trying to manipulate it yourself in your post text, you can avoid breaking the experience for your users.
What do you think, #duke21c?
Today we had the second meeting of the Current Issues in Teaching Research Reading Group, and had a lovely discussion - nominally about a paper1 on social media in the classroom, but quickly devolving into what the affordances and consequences of using social media in the classroom.
This weekend, I gave a talk at the Lilly South Conference on College Teaching on a subject near and dear to my heart. It starts with an analogy I came up with about ten minutes before giving my talk:
Instruction is to teaching as programming is to software development.
There’s a lot that…
When a Teacher Dare Day is announced from this blog:
- Reblog the announcement!
- Ask one question related to education on your tumblr for your followers to answer. Post the responses in one single post later.
- Ask at LEAST 2 of the tumblrs in the education community a question in their ask box. It…
This is fun - I’m currently in-between blogs, so I’m posting this on my #duke21c tumblr.
One thing I like to do is tell my students all of the behind-the-scenes stuff about teaching, like Bloom’s Taxonomy and why I grade their projects blind. I do this in order to show them that there’s a method to my madness, even though they’re Computer science Juniors.
In what ways are you transparent for your students?
In class yesterday, I was asked “what context I’m trying to shape” with this website I’m making. This has actually been eating at me for a while now, so the way that Dr. Davidson said to express it was to share my ultimate goal and work backwards from there.
Ultimately, the most important thing in my life is to become a professor and have myself a lab of grad students that I mentor. While folks like Sebastian Thrun have proven that you don’t have to be in academia to make a difference in education, I want to be able to run a lab and play a role over the course of a four-year mentorship for students. This is my goal.
The reason why I started a research blog (and want to transition to a research wiki) is to create a platform that shows what I and my students are doing as a way to build a public portfolio that advertises itself to potential future students. While Dr. Davidson said that most portfolio websites are often geared towards the subliminal message “HEY HIRE ME! GIVE ME MONEY”, I’m not trying to advertise myself to the people in power who want me with them, but to the bright student who wants a mentor to work with them. That’s the end goal.
What is with this silly #duke21c tumblr then? What affordances does this Tumblr have? Well, as I’ve said time and time again, the coolest thing about a Tumblr is that my followers can ask me questions and prompt me to write more. I also added a neat little sidebar widget that shows the #duke21c twitter feed. What I’m trying to build here is a place where the other #duke21c folks can interact directly with me in the context of this class - not my big, bulky primary portfolio which has drifted so far away from its original intention that it’s barely recognizable.
The goal of the class is for most of us to create a professional online presence, but I’ve already got that. What I want is a compartmentalized space just for this class. Maybe I’ll tie it in to my main blog, and maybe I won’t, but that’s just part of the beauty of the #duke21c experience:
It’s an opportunity to play around and experiment with the way I represent myself online. I haven’t given myself that opportunity for a long time.
@jadedid went and guilted me into putting a CC badge on my tumblr with this.
even though i really wanted to but was too lazy to edit my theme
Posting this as a response to Thomas and Brown. A bit longer than desired, but I have a lot to say.
I find it funny that while I’ve been hesitant to use the World of Warcraft analogy when describing what I think about collaborative learning, Thomas and Brown basically lead up to it by using the Guild and Raid culture on the game in the final chapter of their book. I’ve never played WoW, but I have dabbled in other online games, usually MUDs and the occasional space game. I’ve been contemplating the idea of putting together an LMS based on the principles of MMO collaboration for a while now. Between Blackboard, Moodle, and Canvas, I have yet to see a single LMS that supports the ability for students to identify “friends” and build “groups”, something that social networking sites have had since their creation.
There are three major types of collaboration that occur in MMOs. The first being the one that Thomas and Brown cover extensively, the large scale creation of guilds as learning environments for players. Guilds attract the most dedicated players for the game who take it seriously enough to make playing a regular habit. This is one audience, the hard core audience, but it doesn’t account for the casual crowd. In spite of it, I’ve never seen an LMS that supports the creation of such study groups, requiring them to be formed out of band.
They briefly mention casual gamers when they refer to kids, parents, and grandparents who all play together as a social and bonding event. The players come into the game with a cohort to keep them company and keep them motivated. The best games are those where when you log in, it lets you know which of your friends are online and what games they are playing so you can immediately jump in, yet I’ve not seen an LMS supporting “friendship” either.
However, for those of us who don’t have friends who like the games we do… those of us on the periphery, I feel like we are left out of Thomas and Brown’s analogy. As a very casual player who drops into a game world maybe once a month, I don’t have the time or energy to commit to a guild, so I usually pursue the quests and adventures at my own slow pace. Occasionally I’ll bump into other players who are doing the same thing, and join up with them for the duration of the quest, saying good-bye and signing off until I decide to visit the next month, with my original companion either much farther ahead in the game or done playing and moved on to the next.
I have a theory thatin a massive environment with goals that all players take part in, the chances are high that two people who spontaneously meet in the same location will be simultaneously pursuing the same goal.
Imagine that instead of learning taking place on a single website, each lesson or module is its own “room”, and you could “see” and “interact” with people in that room. Whether you are taking a course religiously each day of the week or dropping by occasionally when you have time to kill, there is bound to be someone there that you can work with to take part in a collaborative exercise. I posted my idea to Twitter:
We already see this in some of our social media. How many of you have entered a completely spontaneous Twitter conversation with a stranger just because you happened to be looking at your feed when they posted it? I have, and that’s what reaffirms my participation in Twitter is worth it. It’s the same reason I idle in so many channels on IRC… because sometimes I happened to be able to get drawn into a conversation. This is where that social learning can really come into play - not by collectives of the most dedicated (who will form their collectives whether the platform supports it or not), but by building common areas for collaboration where strangers can meet and work together with a very low barrier to entry.
Coming soon is a little sketch of how I would expect such a project to look.
Today we had the first in-person meeting of what will most definitely be a hybrid course: ENG/ISIS 890S: 21st Century Literacies: Digital Knowledge, Digital Humanities.
Today’s class was basic getting-to-know-you fare, but with a twist: rather than being given a form or survey to introduce ourselves, we were asked to help come up with a survey of our own. We got to make the decision about what we wanted to know about our peers, which was a pretty clever way to get the tone of the course across. I have a feeling I’m going to see lots of traces of what I saw in MOOC MOOC as I participate in this class - it seems like this course is going to focus on play and emergent outcomes, which I’m perfectly OK with.
In a class about digital literacies, I expected to keep a blog as a portfolio. Here’s hoping that this blog ends up getting a bit more action than the tumbelogs I’ve been keeping for my other MOOCs.