Habits of mind, new media studies and the curriculum

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HAL Beta 0.66, originally uploaded by jurvetson.

I’m back from the ELI Annual Meeting in San Antonio, wading through the emails I’ve been ignoring, looking in on Twitter trying to recapture a little of that unthreaded love thang weave — thankfully it’s been as unstable as normal, so I’ve been forced to move ahead.

I have three, maybe four (we’ll see how brave I am) posts percolating in my head, and I really do want to get them out. The accumulation of sleep deprivation, the inrush of daily employment taskage, reconnecting with family, my own cognitive weakness, I can feel the intensity of my impressions receding. Nothing would make me happier than sitting down calmly, taking a stress pill and thinking things over, and maybe doing justice to the many fabulous contributions people made to my learning this week. But if I’m going to salvage anything out of the experience, I need to let go, get what I can up on the open web, and accept the limitations thereof.

So, some fragmented, non-integrated responses to the session led by Gardner Campbell, Serena Epstein and David Moore entitled “Information Fluency as Curricular Innovation: New Media Studies in General Education.”

* First off, there was a hell of a scheduling dilemma. Because I attended this session, I missed George Siemens discuss Connectivism (I do hope to catch up via the podcast), and also Cole Camplese’s session…

* Gardner’s opening remarks framed the challenges beautifully. How do we reconcile the fact that the web, while being the most powerful technical medium of expression ever created, can be described as fostering a culture whole greatest literary achievement is “LOL”? How does the academic community step up, move towards a mindset in which attention to the means of communication is “baked in” to the curriculum, and not simply “bolted on”? To be truly curricular new media needs to be seen as legitimate inquiry, about “habits of mind,” and not merely a set of useful skills.

* The New Media Reader proved to be an immensely useful core textbook, and can definitely be a useful resource for anyone who cares to integrate these issues meaningfully into higher education. I need to snag myself a copy.

I was simply blown away by the poise and intelligence of the students, and by how differently the two of them approached their final projects (representative of how diverse the methods of new media studies can be).

* David Moore fought valiantly through a flu bug, presented a detailed and impressively grounded overview of the challenges implicit in the structure of discussion forums, and outlined a very promising model for a recommender and referral model that goes deeper than the Slashdot model, one that reminded at least one attendee of eBay.

* Serena Epstein had a much more visceral and artistic approach to the new media domain. She showed a short excerpt of her final project film, and I am a bit sheepish to admit how much I related to the slacker angst the clip depicted.

Later that night, I watched Serena’s whole film, and was moved in a number of respects. First off, it’s just a fine piece of moviemaking. I was especially affected by the sections acted out by Gardner and Shannon Hauser… But the part that just smacked me was the post-film final blooper reel, of all things. Something about what it revealed of what a teacher-student relationship can be… My throat actually tightened up when they walked out of the coffee shop together.

Yes, this culture can foster something a little deeper than LOL.

Technorati tags: ELIAnnual08, Gardner Campbell, literacy, new media

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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8 Responses to Habits of mind, new media studies and the curriculum

  1. Jim says:


    An all-star cast. Speaking with Jerry over lunch today he said that Gardner’s opening twenty minutes of this talk was some of the best he had seen by the voice of God, which is saying a ton. Sorry I missed it, but have the abject to frame always makes it a resource.


  2. Serena says:

    Re: the ‘slacker angst’

    Glad (well, perhaps ‘glad’ isn’t the right word) that you found a personal connection. I’ve been there too. (Much of my material was salvaged from past chunks of my life, I’m sorry to say.)

  3. Chris L says:

    Please tell me that this session was recorded and a podcast or something will be made available? I’m dying because this topic is so squarely in the middle of my current work!

  4. Chris L says:

    I have to add how much I enjoyed Serena’s film as well, with similar feelings of identification (that I don’t make any apologies for)!

    I remember seeing this (or a version) in July when I watched Gardner’s final project festival webast…

  5. Brian says:

    @Jim – I’ve seen and heard Gardner do his thing too often for me to meaningfully rank… but suffice it to say Dr. Glu was on his game.

    @Serena – once again, awesome work, thank you for it. Trolling the abyss and transforming that experience into something that can instruct, amuse and inspire is one of the most miraculous things about art. Onward!

    @Chris – I assumed Gardner would record it, perhaps I miscalculated. As Gardner mentioned in his post (and during the discussion) that he would like to rework this seminar for 1st year students, so at the very least we can hope for a return to this theme.

  6. Shannon says:

    Is it sad that what finally makes me comment on your blog (which I lurk on frequently) is the fact you mentioned my name? I’ll just ignore the feelings of narcissism hah.

    I can’t tell you how honored I feel to be in that movie and it was only because Gardner’s daughter couldn’t make it that I was thrown in. Serena put so much time and effort into the movie and the final product blew me away. She even made it look like I could sort of act : )

    I do believe that the internet can foster more than an “LOL” kind of culture. In fact I actually knew Gardner from his blog before I ever met him. I would say I was reading his blog about four months before I ever met him in person. Additionally, it wasn’t until we filmed those scenes that I had a long conversation with him.

  7. Brian says:

    Praise be to lurkers!

    And as someone who coined (I think) the phrase “the power of positive narcissism” I can relate…

    I don’t doubt Serena’s direction helped, but you more than held up.

  8. Serena says:

    Gosh, I feel like a celebrity. In her other life, the one that she keeps under wraps, Shannon is a spectacular film star 😉

    There really was so much coordination and cooperation in the film that equal credit goes out to everyone who participated. (Also, be sure to look up Brady Earnhart and listen to some of his other music.) I really enjoyed using my film as a showcase for everyone’s art, not just my own. I felt that was appropriately web 2.0.

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