My Reflection and connection

Making connection and reflection

What an epic journey this has been! When I just started out, I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. However, after delving in the rich discussions and readings, I was naturally drawn to the course and never let go ever since.

 

I am an instructor of literacy so I was very upbeat about orality and literacy even though I wasn’t too familiar with the term orality. However, after engaging with the reading, it started to fully register and resonate with me. First, I never thought about a culture where everything is done orally and print is absent. This opened up my eyes and took me way back to the situation that existed during the times when my ancestors were taken from Africa and placed in the Caribbean to work as slaves. It was there and then that I was puzzled and wondering how could such a situation exist. As I weighed my thoughts, I realized I was viewing the situation from my viewpoint since I am a part of a print culture. After careful analysis, I started reflecting on topics I discussed with my students in class about oral tradition and the impact it had on memorizing concepts.

In addition, I was fascinated by the discussions and readings centered around the invasion of our culture by technology or Postman’s technopoly as it relates to the cultural disturbances because of the sudden extension of communication technologies (Neil Postman, Technopoly, 1992). I am still very concerned about this erosion of culture by technology but never looked at it from postman’s viewpoint. When I compared what existed now and then as it relates to memorizing concepts, I realized that there were tremendous benefits in those oral societies. Today’s generation relies on technology for memory and also use it as external brains. In addition, it was amazing how this course brings the past and present so close. The connections made were so clear and vivid and the transitions from the former to the latter were obvious and put into perspective throughout; for example, the movement from writing on the walls of cave to hypertext especially when one considers that our written identity is, like hypertext, dynamic, flexible, and contingent.” (Bolter, 2001, p.190). From then I realized that every technology actually feeds off another.

Exploring digital natives also resonated with me and my current practice. As a result, of this course, I was able to zoom in on the netgeneration and contextualized my current situation. As a result, I was able to make connections with how I am currently teaching the netgen and the cutting-edge tools and applications involved. Also, how could I forget the definition of literacy and the advent of eBooks. I want to fuse both topics as the latter is integral in redefining literacy. I was always of the view that literacy cannot be defined without the inclusion of technology and this course put that into perspective. Ebook was a major factor in my interaction with this course and others as I figure it will be a major game-changer in literacy and how the netgen will learn in the future in collaboration with social media. Overall, this connection was great as one needs to know the past if he/she is to make the best of the future. Therefore, I intend to use this connection for the rest of my teaching career of which I know will be successful.

Last but not by no mean least, I want to say a big thank you to my professors and fellow classmates who were very supportive throughout the course. All the best to you all. 🙂

References

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN: 0-8058-2919-9.

Ong, Walter. (1982.) Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. NewYork: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.

 

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Rip.Mix.Feed

This slideshow was made by creating an image gallery of library scenes found in the commons area of flickr. I knew I wanted to create a slideshow I could embed on my blog page but I couldn’t figure out how to do that using flick. I ended up downloading the images on my computer and then using Smilebox to create the slideshow.

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The Evolution of Organizing Information

According to J. J. O’Donnell (1994) the phrase ‘virtual library’ suggests a vast, universal collection of information that can be instantly accessed from anywhere. Although this ‘virtual library’ does not exist except as a fantasy, digital technologies of today are bringing its existence closer to reality. The phrase ‘virtual library’ is found in popular press only as recently as 1987, but the concept of a ‘virtual library’ has been around for much longer. All cultures that have used written records to record knowledge have had the fantasy of building a virtual library, it is not a novel idea unique to the people of today (O’Donnell,  1994). J.D. Bolter (2001, p.81) describes a dream of the Greeks, Romans, and medieval writers to create the ‘great book’, a place for all verbal knowledge. The great book of knowledge arises in two forms that function to organize, control, and make texts available to readers, the library which holds a collection of books and the encyclopaedia which condenses them. This essay will summarize the evolution of encyclopaedias and libraries as information organizing structures as they head towards becoming a ‘virtual library’ in the digital age.

Libraries

Traditionally libraries were collections of books and the structure in which they were organizes and stored. Today libraries provide access to various media formats including maps, prints, documents, microfiche, audiotapes, CDs, DVDs, eBooks, and the internet (‘Library’, 2011).

Recognized for being the first library to allow the public access along with scholars, the great library of Alexandria was founded about 300 BC by King Ptolemy I (305–282 BC) and aimed to hold copies of all the written works in the world (Krasher-Khaut, 2001). The works were held mainly on papyrus scrolls, they were stored in pigeonholes with the titles written on wooden tags. The works were organized into three major topics which were stored in different rooms. Within each topic the works were then organized alphabetically by the first name of the author, a novel innovation at the time. As the library grew, the first category was subdivided into the main genres of literature of the day which were then each alphabetized (Philips, 2010). Another new feature of organization of the library was the pinakes or ‘Table of Persons Eminent in Every Branch of Learning Together With a List of Their Writings’, which was an alphabetical list of works by author. It functioned similar to a library catalogue except it was on a scroll, patrons of the library could use it to find a work by an author, see how it was categorized, and where would be found (Philips, 2010).

Other ancient Greek and Roman libraries also organized the papyrus rolls by subject and then by author. Libraries of the middle ages used a similar system but divided books into topics by university faculty before alphabetizing by author. Books in modern libraries continue to be organized by topic first but the topical schemes became more complicated and few library users understand the Dewey system commonly used (Bolter, 2001, p.91). Card catalog systems or computer databases are used to search for books by author, title, subject, and keyword, once the desired book’s record in the system is found, the call number of the book is used like an address to physically locate the book in the library.

Encyclopaedias

Encyclopaedias are a summary of knowledge, divided into articles that focus on factual information. The oldest encyclopaedia still in existence is around 2000 years old. Written by Pliny the Elder, ‘Natural History’ is a compilation covering a self-claimed 20,000 facts from 2000 works by 200 authors. The articles are arranged in 37 chapters covering disciplined of history, art and architecture, medicine, geography, and geology (‘Encyclopedia’, 2011).

During the middle ages encyclopaedic writing was a popular type of scholarly writing as a vehicle for reaching the goal of synthesizing all knowledge. Medieval scholars study and summarize important texts in their own handbooks, which could subsequently become authoritative texts. Although more encyclopaedias were produced after the printing press, writing encyclopaedias became more difficult due to the increased number of texts being written. The goal of encyclopaedic writing shifted from being a synthesis of knowledge interrelating all subjects to reporting accurate information (Bolter, 2001, p.82).

Organization of information is an important characteristic of encyclopaedias. During ancient and medieval times topics were organized by association in a linear fashion the author deemed the content best to learn in and this fit well with linear nature of the papyrus rolls being used. The invention of the codex format allowed ‘random access’ of content and more elaborate categories and deeper hierarchies were used. After the advent of print, the linear nature of the medieval topical systems become inadequate for organizing and categorizing new scientific knowledge and organization schemes shifted towards the neutral methods of alphabetizing and indexing information. The majority of encyclopaedias from the 18th century on use alphabetical organization by article title (Bolter, 2001, p.84).

Organizing Too Much Information

The above graph is timeline graph showing the relative number of articles by year for the term ‘history of library’ in the Google search engine. One can see the surge in articles over the time period 1500 to 1990. Although the term ‘information revolution’ is commonly used to describe the abundance or overload of available information since the computer, textual overload has been actually been a permanent condition since the advent of the printing press (Bolter, 2001, p.83)

In 1945 Vannevar Bush made a call for scientists to work towards using technology to make the accumulation of scientific information more accessible. He describes how science has created an information bank that is a record of ideas that can be manipulated and extracted from. Bush recognizes that the amount of information being recorded is growing into an unmanageable mountain and as scientists are increasingly specialized in their disciplines, the links between disciplines are becoming superficial. Scientists need to spend too much of their time reviewing and reading the findings of others to stay current, methods of communication between scientists are old and inadequate for the amount of information being produced. (Bush, 1945)

Bush describes many upcoming technologies to deal with the information overload problem in two ways, by creating smaller, more accurate records and by changing the systems used to organize and store information. Bush believed the major difficulties in retrieving or finding information is caused by the artificially of indexing systems that humans have used to organize information. Usually by topic or alphabetically, indexing systems do not work like the human brain which operates by association of thoughts in the brain which can be thought of as a web made of information trails. Bush believes its possible for selection by association to be mechanized, and describes a machine, he calls the ‘memex’, to do this. The memex is an extension of an individual’s memory, it will store books, records, and communications, and it will also be mechanized to facilitate speed and flexibility when being consulted. Information can be found by conventional indexing but the power of the machine is in providing a mechanism by which the user can link information in different sources, providing a trail through various information sources. He accurately predicts that new forms of encyclopedias will arise, complete with ready made associative trails running through them. (Bush, 1945)

The Encyclopedia Britannica 15th ed. 1974 fulfills Bush’s prediction for using new type of organization in and was an attempt to create a hypertext before its time. It had both an alphabetical and a topical arrangement, the Macropaedia component contained written articles arranged in alphabetical order and the accompanying Propaedia  was an outline meant to be a guide for reading the Macropaedia articles. The reader could look up a topic in the Propaedia and then follow a reading outline of referenced articles in the Macropedia, in essence turning the encyclopedia into a hypertext that the reader had to physically manipulate to find the required volumes and pages. The Propaedia was not popular with readers and was phased out by the mid 1980s (Bolter, 2001, p.86).

Encyclopaedias and Libraries in the Digital Age

The goal of encyclopaedias being a synthesis of knowledge rather than being primarily factual information has remerged with the use of digital forms remediating print encyclopaedias. (Bolter, 2001, p.83) In a digital encyclopedia the search engine can find any topic because it searches the text as well as the categories used by the author. In this way, there are unlimited topical arrangements as well as alphabetical organizing that can exist with an electronic text. The order of the text is no longer defined in the linear front to back fashion of a book. (Bolter, 2001, p.88) Today, the World Wide Web (WWW) contains millions of pages of hyperlinked text and media that can be considered as both a new encyclopaedia and library (Bolter, p.83).

Online Encyclopedias and Libraries

References:

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Bush, V. (1945). As we may think. The Atlantic Monthly, 176(1), 101-108. Retrieved Nov. 15, 2010 from http://www.theatlantic.com/past/docs/unbound/flashbks/computer/bushf.htm.

Dobson, T. & J. Willinsky. (2009). Digital Literacy (draft). The Cambridge Handbook on Literacy. Retrieved on December 2, 2010 from http://pkp.sfu.ca/files/Digital%20Literacy.pdf.

Encyclopedia. (2011, January 1). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 2, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Encyclopedia&oldid=405331603

Krasher-Khaut, B. (2001). Survivor: The History of the Library. History Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.history-magazine.com/libraries.html

Library. (2011, January 3). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved January 2, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Library&oldid=405592286

O’Donnel, J.J. (1994). The Virtual Library: An Idea Whose Time Has Passed. Retrieved Oct. 20, 2010 from http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/jod/virtual.html

Philips, H. (2010). The Great Library of Alexandria? Library of Philosophy and Practice 2010. Retrieved on Dec.1 from http://www.webpages.uidaho.edu/~mbolin/phillips.htm#_ftn1

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WWW vs. Gutenberg: A Fair Comparison?

Localization of Language in Digital Text on the Internet

Introduction

We have been considering the changing spaces of text and text technologies, and the impact this has had on teaching, learning and communication. In Bolter (2009) the author discusses “the breakout of the visual” (p.47), and originally this paper was to look at the possible increases in accessibility that a heavier reliance on visual elements over text might bring. The problem with that is that visual elements have a culturally constrained language, just as much as text.

At a very basic level, some elementary functions of web pages, like navigation buttons, are based on Western symbols, and text direction can be right-to-left, or top-to-bottom. As an example, help buttons are often circles with a question mark. If your script uses a different mark to indicate a question, you would have to learn the convention that “?”  indicates the help menu.

So if graphics and visuals are not going to be the tools which localize content and access to the Internet, is there an equality of text on the WWW? Is this important? Is English really the dominant language of online text, and if it is, is this a major barrier to access for the large percentage of the population who are not literate in it? How is the English and Roman alphabet history of computing languages influencing the form and function of the Internet today? Is it possible that without invasion, or even physical contact, English-language communities will come to re-colonize the non-English literate societies by replacing local languages and scripts (Djite, 2008)? Is the legacy of the English-dominated origins of the Internet possible to overcome?

In the concept map that accompanies this paper, we examine two main points. First, that the development of text on the Internet and digital text in general, follows the same path as the development of movable type by Johannes Gutenberg. Both technologies began by utilising Western and European languages, but movable type is now able to represent almost any script used by humans. Is it now possible to represent non-English and non-Roman scripts in digital text?  Second, if there is evidence that the dominant language of the internet, originally English, is being challenged by other scripts and languages, and in particular by non-Roman scripts, then we may tentatively conclude that the language path of the Internet will follow the same route as movable type and become more accessible internationally.

Cmap Tools

Figure 1 Click for Cmap Tools Main Page

The main body of this paper has been represented in a concept map, using Cmap Tools software from the Institute for Human and Machine Cognition. Cmap Tools allow for the building of collaborative concept maps and a spatial representation of ideas and thoughts. Please look at the concept map for an elaboration of the main argument (link to a web-based version of the map is below). When you first look at the map it is best to follow the blue arrows which indicate the most linear path through the information. As English is my first language, the map was created with a distinct left-to-right, top-to-bed bias.

The main summaries of the argument are in purple nodes joined by purple arrows.  The diagram below gives an overview of the main sections of the map; the web version will be full sized. Nodes which have an annotation or a web link have a small icon in the lower margin of the node (see diagram below). Clicking on the icon will bring up the title of the resource and clicking on the title will open the web page, image or file.

Node with web link

Figure 2 Node with web link

Concept Map

WWW vs. Gutenberg? Concept Map Overview

Link to the Cmap concept map:

http://cmapspublic.ihmc.us/rid=1HY8M1WPT-119PY9T-1MWN/WWW%20vs%20Gutenberg.cmap


References

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Askew, M. K., & Wilk, R. R. (2002). The Anthropology of Media: A Reader. Retrieved December 1, 2010, from Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=L2h-pKb2tVAC&oi=fnd&pg=PR8&dq=chinese+movable+type&ots=BELncPoVk5&sig=lsMyaRDHiOfz75c4kQCANLGYf5U#v=onepage&q=chinese%20movable%20type&f=false

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Bharath, A., & Madhvanath, S. (2008). Online Handwriting Recognition for Indic Scripts. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from Hewlett Packard: http://www.hpl.hp.com/india/documents/papers/HPL-2008-45.pdf

Bolter, D. J. (2009). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext and the Remediation of Print (2nd Ed). New York: Routledge.

Connor, A. (2001). The Digital Divide . Retrieved November 3, 2010, from SIL International: http://scripts.sil.org/digitaldivide

Crystal, D. (2009). Engish Professor says Arabic may overtake English in the future. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from YouTube.com: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IJk5Tzh8jM&feature=related

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Djite, P. (2008). From liturgy to technology: Modernizing the languages of Africa. Retrieved November 15, 2010, from ingentaconnect.com: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/jbp/lplp/2008/00000032/00000002/art00002

Encyclopedia Britannica Online. (2010a). ASCII. Retrieved November 30, 2010, from eb.com: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/37933/ASCII

(2010b). Unicode. Retrieved November 3, 2010, from eb.com: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1387633/Unicode

Ferrick, The Red Hat (2010). The British Empire. Retrieved November 15, 2010, from Wikimedia Commons: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/The_British_Empire.png

Hammo, B. H. (2008). Towards enhancing retrieval effectiveness of search engines for diacritisized Arabic documents. Retrieved November 3, 2010, from Springerlink: http://www.springerlink.com/content/5p6227t3j6128344/fulltext.html

Hauben, M. (2006). History of ARPANET. Retrieved November 12, 2010, from Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto: http://www.dei.isep.ipp.pt/~acc/docs/arpa-Introduc.html

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Making connections

ETEC540 has been more than what I imagined it would be when I subscribed to it. I must say that it far exceeded my expectations and surprised me in a different way than I expected. The course has been enlightening for me in many ways. Postman`s Technopoly opened my eyes to the many angles from which people see technology, hence helping me to identify my position in that spectrum. This reading piqued my interest a lot and making me anticipate what was to come.

Initially, Ong`s definition of orality threw me into a muddle as I realised that my understanding of orality was different from Ong`s assertions .This placed me on the opposing end of the spectrum. However, further reading began to open up a better understanding of Ong`s points to me especially as the course progressed and I observed what others opinions and mine, I began to see a lot of the characteristics Ong mentioned in practical terms. I realised that I started to question how my understanding of concepts and writing skills may have been influenced by the (residual oral) environment I grew up in and how that may have been altered by the (literate) environment I find myself working in now.

At the start of the course my impression of text was merely anything that is put together using lines and curves- a form flowing from one end to the next which has particular meaning to the producer or consumer. Hence text for me could have been a drawing or letters and number. Prior to ETEC 540, I did not think of text as technology but after I read Botler`s synthesis of techne and definition of literacy, I realised that technology does not just mean electronic device of some sort but is a skill set that requires practice and review over time.

ETEC 540 has done a great job of connecting the technology of writing from centuries past to present times. There has been so much material that I sometimes feared information overload. I particularly enjoyed the assignments which availed me the opportunity to research and explore technologies myself and also read what others discovered in the process and find connections across each others entries thus it became a technology melting pot.

From the papyrus to the printing machine to computers and hand-helds, students and teachers have come a long way. Wesch`s “A vision of today” is an eye opener to this. The NetGeneration are redefining the way we see and know teaching and learning. I am not a teacher, but I am excited by this video and the realisation of the need to see beyond the walls of the schools and into the virtual world of the Netgen using the tool and gadgets they are so “addicted” to, to open up the intellectual world to them.

References

Bolter, Jay David. (2001). Writing space: Computers, hypertext, and the remediation of print [2nd edition]. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. ISBN: 0-8058-2919-9.

Ong, Walter. (1982.) Orality and literacy: The technologizing of the word. London: Methuen.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. NewYork: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Wesch, M. (2008). “A vision of students today (& what teachers must do).” Accessed online from:  http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/10/a-vision-of-students-today-what-teachers-must-do/

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Making Connections

Although this course has been a struggle for me due to time constraints and personal challenges I have found it to be extremely interesting, far more so than I expected when I signed up. I have enjoyed the readings and find there are many connections that can be made between the topics and have been by others. In this post I am going to describe a couple of topics that I found particularly intriguing and how they relate to my teaching practice.

Oral Cultures – I had never contemplated what it would be like to live in a primarily oral culture before and found Walter J Ong’s portrayal of an oral culture in ‘Orality and Literacy’ to be extremely fascinating. I found the following quotes from Postman to be food for thought when deciding how to deliver a lesson to my classes:

  • ‘orality stresses group learning, cooperation, and a sense of social responsibility’
  • ‘print stresses individualized learning, competition, and personal autonomy’

Articles related to oral cultures in this weblog: Orality, Literacy, and Education, Oral Cultures are Everywhere, Bridging the Knowledge Divide, and Indigenous Knowledge Through Oral Narratives.

Changing Definition of Text – At the beginning of this course I defined text as being writen language and would have defined literacy as being able to read and write. Now I agree with the New London Group that the definition of literacy should be expanded to one of multileracy that includes meaning making from images, audio, and text (New London Group, 2000). It is becoming more and more obvious to me that print is being remediated by hypertext and hypermedia. As an educator  I am unsure of how to incorporate multiliteracy in my daily classes even though I am sure it is often more important to my students to learn to navigate the digital information available to them than to memorize all the facts in their textbook. However the realities of the classroom teaching environment with one computer and projector, two bookable computer labs for a school of 800 students, and a school-wide ban on electronic communication devices are frustrating parameters on what I can do to implement student learning and communication using multimodal methods.

Articles related to multiliteracies and education in this weblog: ‘Commentary #3 – Bolter, J. The Electronic Book – Chapter 5‘, ‘Why Professor Johnny Can’t Read: Understanding the Net Generation’s Texts’, ‘From Multiliteracies to Social Equity’, and ‘Power Shifts Reflected Through Changing Literacies’.

Reference:

New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60-92.

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The surrender of culture to technology. New York, NY. New York.

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Making Connections: Opening Doors (cautiously?)

ETEC 540 Text Technologies: The Changing Spaces of Reading and Writing was my first MET course, and I have enjoyed it immensely, though (like some of my colleagues have also mentioned in their reflections) I feel like I need a year to digest the content, catch up on my reading, and invest in some new technology.  The course opened many doors for me, giving me the impetus to immerse in many technology tools and strands of thought that I simply had not taken the time for before.  It has also created a caution in me to be very careful and balanced in my approach to new technology, as I get a sense that we are hitting a threshold of possibly going too far too fast when it comes to embracing digital media in favour of traditional forms. 

 On the surface, the course served as a text technology trade show for me.  I read with interest (and envy) how colleagues were incorporating e-readers, smart phones, I-Pads,  social networking sites (Twitter & Facebook) and on-line resources to keep up with their reading and posts to discussion forums, collaborating and staying connected to current trends, and teaching in their classrooms.  The incredible speed at which technology tools are becoming available and accessible to everyone is breathtaking, and for me, exciting and daunting in almost an equilibrium of internal debate.  I cannot help but view these changes through the lens of education, as I am an elementary school principal.  Since the early 1980’s schools have been chasing the technology rocket, fundraising and begging for money in order to “keep the computer lab current.”  For a number of years schools were a little bit ahead of the curve, having better digital technology than most of the kids had at home. Is that the case now?  Maybe for some schools, but not mine, and I know many other schools that lag behind us when it comes to technology.  When a smart phone walks into our school, it can outmanoeuvre every computer in my lab.  We have approximately 5,000 books in our little library, but not a single e-reader.  Ninety percent of our students have access to the internet, but we do not offer a single course (or substantial part of any course) on-line.  When I read about the preferences and aptitudes of NetGen students, this is a problem!  I know that I need to step out and lead when it comes to preaching the gospel of the changing spaces of reading, writing, and learning in general (as it relates to new technology). And yet, Neil Postman’s words come back to me when I start feeling anxious about being left behind, “Every technology is both a burden and a blessing.” (Postman, page 5), and “When we admit a new technology to a culture [insert school], we must do so with our eyes wide open” (Postman, page 7).  It is easy to buy new stuff, but the challenge is to integrate new technology as part of an integrated, proven and enriching pedagogy.  Not a small task, when monumental changes are happening every two years or less on the digital side of things (hard to know what to choose in terms of “best practices” for technology integration), and textual culture in schools has a 400 year head-start (hard to know what to throw away). 

 As a platform for clarifying some of the historical and modern trends in text and print as they relate to education, ETEC 540 does a wonderful job.  I don’t immerse myself in history very often anymore, as the present day seems to consume all of my time.  I was engaged by the thoughts and images within the learning modules that swept us through museums and websites dedicated to textual antiquity, from papyrus scrolls to the codex, from the printing press to the word processor and world wide web.

What I found more challenging was trying to reconcile myself with what I should know and immerse myself in when it comes to digital literacy.  Michael Wesch’s 2008 blog titled, “A Vision of Students Today (& What Teachers Must Do)” spells out how kids in this modern digital age will not be served by archaic and fully textual teaching methods.  In his “Solution” section (solution to how to engage students who are immersed in digital media and are not engaged by traditional methods), he states, “Fortunately, the solution is simple. We don’t have to tear the walls down. We just have to stop pretending that the walls separate us from the world, and begin working with students in the pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions. When we do that we can stop denying the fact that we are enveloped in a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where the nature and dynamics of knowledge have shifted.”  He (and many other authors in the course), goes on to encouraging the embracing of these new technologies in the classroom.  Throughout the course I got a sense that many of my colleagues truly believe that this is the most beneficial direction for students (and I do too), but there is that niggling doubt as to whether we can embrace new technology without losing too much of the fundamental skill set that have long defined a learned person – reading ability, spelling, printing or handwriting, creative and technical writing, and so on.   I say yes to an emphasis on acknowledging digital literacy, but a more emphatic yes to recognizing that students need to be formed in a way that encourages and solidifies their multiliteracy (a balance of the traditional and the new).

The multi-faceted readings and activities in ETEC 540 have provided many insights from the prophets, the sceptics, the realists, and the academics.  The breadth of discussion and insights from students and instructors in the course (within the discussion forums and weblog) has made the journey very communal, while allowing for many side trips. I admit that I read more people’s ideas in the discussions than I contributed.  More of a tourist than a tour guide this time around.

 I conclude the course with a sense of knowing much more than when I started (doors opened), knowing much less than I want to know (some doors to still walk through), and knowing many sources and avenues from which I can continue to glean information as I form my impressions and responses to the changing spaces of reading and writing.

Gordon Higginson, ETEC 540, Making Connections

References

Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. NewYork: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Wesch, M. (2008). “A vision of students today (& what teachers must do).” Available:  http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2008/10/a-vision-of-students-today-what-teachers-must-do/

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Making Connections

It has been challenging throughout this course to make connections between everyone’s contributions and the context of my workplace, which is not classroom based. I’ve had to redefine terms such as ‘learners’, ‘classroom’, and ‘literacy’. There were numerous postings that impacted me and challenged the way I viewed the materials we’ve been studying over the past 13 weeks. However, the connections I’ve outlined below are meaningful to me in terms of my own journey, as it applies to my work in fundraising and the social profit, or not-for-profit, sector.

Both Postman’s notion of the costs and benefits, and gains and losses associated with emerging technologies (Neil Postman, Technopoly, 1992) as well as Innis’s opinion that “…sudden extensions of communications are reflected in cultural disturbances…” (ETEC 540 Prefatory Materials) resonated with me from the beginning of the course. The implications for both are wide reaching as it relates to fundraising. On the one hand, the implementation of information technologies for fundraising and communications can significantly increase an organization’s reach into the community. However, if it is unclear as to what the intended results are, the strategies behind using social media could be ineffective and have a negative impact in the long term.

Bolter writes about temporary versus permanent affiliations. (Bolter, 2001, p.204)
Temporary affiliations can be seen in an online learning environment such as this course. It is ideal for learning, coming together as a group to exchange ideas and expand communally. He goes on to explore the notion of forming and maintaining affiliations, (Bolter, 2001, p.204) which suggests a direct connection to the area of fundraising. Working within the mental health social profit sector, maintaining affiliations is about creating a permanent space focused not only on fundraising, but also on community outreach and developing a supportive space for individuals who struggle with mental health issues. It is critical to build a safe environment, one that encourages permanent membership.

Laura Bonnor’s post references Kress, who wrote, “The audience is no longer controlled by the author and the content is controlled by the interests of the reader”. (Kress, 2005) In determining how to create a safe, permanent online community for mental health, it’s important to strike the balance between having the ability to monitor and direct the quality of conversation while promoting open and authentic knowledge exchange.

In Barrie Carter’s post, “Making Connections – Know Students Left Behind” he writes that, “understanding technology is not so much about knowing how to use the hardware and the software as it is about knowing the purpose and the meaning behind the technology. Here, it is about expanding social networks, building social communities, and building knowledge.”

In designing a social media strategy for my Foundation, it simply wasn’t enough to use various tools merely for the sake of using them, or because other organizations were. We had to take a close look at our intended results as well as the potential gains and losses that could come from utilizing social media. For example, both a Twitter and a Facebook page must be kept current with relevant information. People must be encouraged to become permanent members, and this can only be achieved through a demonstration of ongoing, authentic engagement. The consequence of not carrying out an analysis before implementation would be a potential waste of time, money and credibility.

Ashley Ross made reference to Leo Burnett in her post titled “The Evolution of Advertising: From Papyrus to YouTube.” She stated, “What made Leo Burnett so successful was the innovative use of textual, audible and visual elements to capture the imagination and the emotions of the target demographic. It is these elements combined with the emergence of communication technologies that have allowed advertising to evolve into an entity that blends information, innovation and science to be the educator of new technology.”

There is a direct connection between advertising and fundraising where the goal of both is to draw attention to, and attract support for, a specific product or cause. The use of multimedia definitely impacts the ability to connect with people’s emotions, evoke responses and move them into action. Glenn Close’s “Bring Change 2 Mind” video on YouTube (included in my post on Technology) employed the use of the innovative textual, audible and visual elements that were inherent in Leo Burnett’s success.

Bolter states that “…the reflexive character of writing is emphasized: we write both to express, to discover, and to share who we are, and in a postmodern age our written identity is, like hypertext, dynamic, flexible, and contingent.” (Boter, 2001, p.190) Participating in this course has provided me with a greater understanding of how Web 2.0 is impacting the way we communicate and interact with the world around us. The study of the changing spaces of text and technology is one of great breadth and depth, and one that will continue for me well into the future. I have learned a great deal from this cohort about various applications and have been challenged intellectually when applying all that I’ve learned to the arena of fundraising.

REFERENCES
Postman, N. (1992). Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. NewYork: Vintage Books, A Division of Random House, Inc.

Innis, Harold. (1951). The Bias of Communication. Toronto: U of Toronto. As quoted in Dobson, T., Lamb, B., & Miller, J. (2009). Prefatory Materials. Retrieved November 28, 2010 from: https://www.vista.ubc.ca/webct/urw/lc5116011.tp0/cobaltMainFrame.dowebct

Bolter, Jay David (2001). Writing Space: Computers, Hypertext, and the Remediation of Print. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers

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Gord Higginson’s ETEC 540 Rip.Mix.Feed

I combined a number of tools to create my Rip.Mix.Feed.  “Spelling with Flickr”  (http://metaatem.net/words/) brings up very interesting banners with just a few keystrokes.  “Dumpr” (www.dumpr.net) has wonderful tools to add interest and character to your images.  “Smilebox” (www.smilebox.com) is easy to use and gives a polished product with ease.  I had difficulty adding more than one image per slide, though.  May be possible, but wasn’t obvious.  I found this a bit limiting, as I wanted to put some images side-by-side.  All images (except the Ipad) were taken at my school.   This was  a fun project, and eye-opening! Wow, there are a lot of cool tools out there to try out. 

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Rip.Mix.Feed

This was a very entertaining and engaging assignment. The numerous tools available coupled with my growing experience with information technology made choosing one interesting.
I’ve created a cartoon strip using Toondoo. I wanted to have fun and let my creativity flow while challenging myself to use a new application from start to finish.

Hope you enjoy this comic strip which illustrates my journey through ETEC 540.

ETEC 540 Rip.Mix.Feed

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