Sunday, November 30, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Landscapes and Lifestyles

The links to future architectural designs, personal goods and software were quite entertaining. I was most impressed with the ultramodern community buildings and residential concepts that were rendered. One the one hand it brings about a feeling of optimism in what humanity may do to respond to the global changes in energy needs and climate. On the other, it is disturbing to consider that humanity will respond to such devastating events as the oceans rising by simply building floating cities. Of course, the pessimist in me is skeptical that such cities will support all of the citizens of the world who are displaced by natural disasters. Something tells me that only a privileged few will get to occupy these spaces.

As I dwell further into my fantasy about the perimeters and borders of these futuristic dwellings, I envision a really hungry, really desperate population of people that really would not have much to lose trying get what the elite have. I see the technology being an awesome asset to the lifestyles of the rich and famous and being used as deadly deterrents to unwanted people. In short, I am cynical to say the least. I want to be an optimist but have yet to develop that kind of faith in the intentions of my fellow man. There is hope. I am not giving up. I just have my fears.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's No Game

The use of simulations and games just logically fits into what learning is about. By practicing in unreal or staged situations an individual or group can repeatedly work on perfection of skill sets and understanding. The use of technology combined with gaming and simulation in the classroom setting has wonderful potential. The use of a medium that is preferred by millions of young learners should not be overlooked. There is nothing wrong with the term edutainment. There is nothing wrong with education being entertaining. If a lesson can be packaged into an exciting and gratifying multimedia experience then we are using technology appropriately.

As the realism of computer interfaces advances then maybe the spatial-visual experience will indeed add to the measurement of IQs worldwide. The realistic nature of what simulations portray would seem to better prepare humans to interact in the real world. The real world is becoming more interfaced with the multimodal environments of technology so it's a win-win situation. There are undoubtedly drawbacks however. There is no opportunity in real life to start a new game if things don't go well. Combat sometimes results in real death. Reality can not always be imitated.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Animal Cruelty

I was trying to think of a way to inspire children to write. To loosen up and feel at ease about putting their words onto paper. I looked at my dog for inspiration. What would Smokey write about? What events in his life would be interesting to read about? Of course, the idea of seeing the world through an animal's eyes is not unique, but what could be done with Digital Media Arts that a kid could do? This was my shot at integrating a writing project with DMA. The references to writing only exist at the beginning and end and somehow seem out of place. Oh well, it was still fun.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It Should Feel Good

All of the discussion about being emotional beings in a social setting leaves me feeling a bit blue at times. How an environment feels in any classroom is dependent on how everyone else is doing at any given time. The ability of the teacher, or facilitator, to pull the different emotions into a positive and comfortable place is a skill that not all have an equal capacity to perform. Will a technologically advanced and enhanced future classroom provide the tools to bring people closer together in their emotional states of existence? Will they ever all feel safe, welcome and comfortable around one another? Will the realities of life that students face outside of the classroom be something that the classroom environment, no matter how positive and well intentioned, can override? Hopefully, the classroom of the future will be able to pull any individual up from whatever hold them down, at least while participating in the process of learning and socializing within the classroom environment. Hopefully the role of technology will act to pull people closer together and not isolate them even more, which is an effect that technology sometimes has in the here and now.

There is a tendency for the instant electronic gratification that we have at our fingertips to be accepted as the only form of communication that is necessary. After reading many of the blogs, I would have to join many other member of my cohort as remaining a bit hesitant to put too much faith into technology, at least as we know it at this point in time. The leap of faith that I have taken by investing in, signing up for and attempting to utilize fully the technology at hand is evidence that I wholeheartedly believe in its potential.

The brainstorming that we have been doing in our teleconferences about the projects we are working on is following me throughout the day, every day. I am concerned about the projects of course, but have an immediate need to articulate what is going on in my present task of getting clearance from the UCSB Human Subjects Committee for research in a 6th Grade classroom in Santa Barbara County. The process is tedious and confusing but must be done. Getting permissions for student images, student work, online access, web posting, etc. creates many risks and liabilities. There is much more to the use of technology to be concerned with than whether it simply has something good to offer or not. There are many dangers that lurk in the presence of technological use for education. It is no simple matter to prepare for and implement a program that has fully taken into consideration all of the legal and confidentiality concerns that are out there.

Along with this posting I am including some more Digital Media Arts productions from last year. There are good examples of what students of all ages can accomplish, in varying degrees, with very easy to use and readily available software. These projects all were done in groups of 4 or 5 students, using 6 computers during 2 hour intervals.