Category Archives: Technology & culture

Day 3 and 4: Interactions, Applications, and Considerations

So many ideas surrounding the virtual world have been presented in the last two days that it is difficult to give all of them the attention they deserve.  It is very apparent to me that those responsible for arranging the activities and lectures for the course, primarily (almost) Dr. Kyle Stooshnov, have chosen the A-Team of Virtual Reality knowledge keepers to share with us.

Some notable quotes:

“With VR, you either win or lose quite badly.” ~Michelle Knight,  Pound and Grain Digital Creative Agency

“Don’t create VR for the sake of VR. Create with purpose.” ~Michelle Knight

“The future is not a screen you can touch.” ~Meehae Song

“You don’t need somebody to teach you about gravity.” ~Stoo Sepp

Littering YouTube with 360 video that is without purpose is a grand waste of space and time. Having just completed my first 360 video with my group mates, it takes a heap of effort to pull a video off, as an amateur. Although we tried our best, I am sorry to say that it will not be showing at the Cannes Film Festival. The video was not long but it did take a lot of planning and editing.  As with many forms of technology, the troubleshooting process is real and non-trivial. In my opinion, 360-video is not quite ready for prime time, due to the challenges it can present, from start to finish.  Thankfully, taking a 360 still image is relatively easy, and over the last two days, I have learned a few ways to make use of “360 Junior”.

Warning: As these cameras come down in price, the more crappy video will be coming down the shoot. Prepare to be crapped on, YouTube!

Meehae Song may be one of the most creative and brilliant people that I have met in recent times. Her projects were absolutely incredible . To name a couple…

  1. The Digital Heritage Project: she has reproduced heritage buildings in VR that have been put on the wrecking ball list.
  2. Bioresponsive VR: utilising wearable technology that used to assist people with epilepsy, she can monitor breathing and heart rates as viewers are immersed in VR.  Using a treadmill, participants can stroll through a “Virtual Meditative Walk”…

Virtual Meditative Walk from Meehae Song on Vimeo.

Stoo Sepp also stepped into our class on both days.  He is someone that you can’t help but want to be around.  The kind of person that knows the right thing to say at the right time (if this academia thing doesn’t pan out for him, he may wish to consider a television career!) I very much appreciated learning about Google Street View and Google Tour creator applications of VR.  Both of these have grade school applications for any subject matter. (And for what it is worth, Stoo, I spend a heap of time teaching kids about gravity, haha!!!)

Lastly, on Day 4, we were treated to a talk by Dr. Sandrine Han. Specializing in visual culture, her talk helped us understand the difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation within digital contexts, specifically within Second Life.  I was blown away by her choice of presentation methodology. Sandrine could have easily lectured about this topic, but instead, she created a story between two characters in the Second Life world. Within the story, the learning was weaved throughout. While she spoke, images from the Second Life landscapes were shown.

I felt like I was in the presence of greatness!

Not only was the content so incredibly important, but she opened my eyes to the power of alternative forms of pedagogy. Not everyone in the class felt the same way as I. Perhaps a little more explanation prior to the story commencing may have helped people earlier on in the half hour long presentation.  But then again, figuring out where the purpose of the story, without being told directly, was part of my heightened amazement.

And one last quote:

“I’m a ghost! Now, I’m not a ghost.” he said whispily. Kyle Stooshnov, July 11, 2018

I am not sure what piece of cheese or cloth Dr. Stooshnov has been cut from, but it has been delightful being in his presence this week. He’s got game!


As this week ends, and my 10th MET course is almost behind me, I am in a state of disbelief that I have made it through.  It has being a very difficult 3.75 years for me and for my family.  Having said this, I am also going to greatly miss being in these heightened states of amazement.  IN ETEC 521, I recall writing, “The more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know.” I am not sure how I will be able to recapture these moments when MET is complete. I will need to find a way.


Filed under EDUC 490V, educational apps & programs, Google Apps For Education, Technology & culture, Virtual Reality

Digital Textbooks and Business Pitches: The One-Two Punch!

This last month has been somewhat of a blur.

As luck would have it, my group presentation was exactly one week before my Pitch Assignment, resulting in 50% of my grade being determined in a very short period of time.

Although some folks would prefer to have the band-aid ripped off quickly,  when it comes to completing projects for my Master degree, I am not a fan!

“Mum.  You’ve had too much screen time.”

…said my son, as I lay in a crumpled heap at the base of his bed. Yes, Son. I have.

Punch One: Digital Textbooks, An Opportunity Forecast

What I am particularly proud of is that my group produced our project as a digital textbook. As obvious as this may seem to do, from what I can tell, groups of the past created websites to present.  As time was short and three people were working on their own chapters, the cohesion of our book could have used a bit of glue.  With more time to fine-tune, I would have liked to have planned the aesthetic of our book a bit more.  It is not terrible, however, and the look of the book is pretty slick, overall.  One of our goals was to include as many different features to our book as possible: quizzes, timelines, videos, images, PDFs, sidebars, SoundCloud, etc. This resulted in the book being less “book-y” and more “website-y”.

The platform that we chose was Avatist. I would definitely use this Platform again.  Limitations on the free version included not being permitted to have more than 5 editors at a time.  This was problematic since our entire class was slated to create a group book, as their weekly activity.  We worked around this by having classmates fill out a Google Form that indicated which chapters they preferred to work on and which days they were available. I was able to schedule everyone, and conflicts were easily avoided.  Another warning to any who chooses to undertake a similar activity is that if two editors are working at the same time, on the same chapter, then only the last person to save will have their work saved.  The other person’s work will be lost! #goodtoknow

To view our opportunity forecast on Digital Textbooks, click here.  My major contribution was to Chapter 1, where I probably spent a little too much time on that timeline.   It really became a passion project, however.  Should the history of textbooks from the very first to where we are today, is of interest to you, have a peek!

To view our collaborative book, click here. Each student in ETEC 522 contributed to one or two chapters of our Tips and Tricks book for being a UBC MET student.  I would like to add to another chapter or two myself, and I would also like to set up a system to allow other MET students, past or present, the opportunity to contribute.  The bigger the book the better, no? Send me a message if you would like to contribute!

Punch Two: My Business Pitches

I think for this blog entry, I will take a shortcut and post my Reflection for the project.  It sums up things pretty nicely!  Here is a link to my work via the course’s blog, where one can access my project and read comments from my classmates. For just the project, see below:

My Reflection
  • Strengths: The biggest strength to the Third Space Learning pitch is that it provides forward yardage in a cultural playing field that has been unfairly refereed for too many decades. The idea itself is solid, is needed, and not only that, it has the potential to perpetuate more ideas that nurture culturally responsive learning spaces. I feel that not only my passion for the topic was evident, but that I created a realistic venture opportunity.  Every statistic that I used was sourced from reputable websites (BCTF, SD61, StatsCanada, The Government of Canada). The only fictitious value was fabricated from the grant money, however, the actual grant does exist, should I wish to pursue my venture.  The cost of creating the videos came from a local videographer, as well; overall, I am very proud of the fact that this venture was researched to the best of my abilities. I also feel that I produced a product that thoroughly describes the pain point and that I feel like my pitch told a story, as opposed to merely checking the venture pitch boxes. I think that my favorite part the project was the creation of the Elevator Pitch. My friend Gail, who agreed to be part of my Team, said that seeing the school and listening to my message made her tear up, as she only just left our school last summer. Having my friend’s support fills my heart.
  • Weaknesses: I really valued Cassy’s comments (her input throughout the course was truly remarkable, actually). In her feedback, she would have liked to have learned more about distribution networks: “…this content is great but only if the right eyeballs are on it”, she wrote. Jonathon also mentioned wanting to learn more about the next steps, beyond the videos. Both Cassy’s and Jon’s comments are very valid, and should I ever move forward with this venture, I will address those deficits.  I clearly went overtime for my venture pitch, and I think that if I had started this project earlier, I would have been able to find some additional edits.  I think that I put about 50 hours into this project, however, and once I had completed the slides, I had personally attached myself to them too much. When I posted the final project, it was akin to biting into apple pie immediately after it comes out of the oven. I recognize that projects, like fresh baked pie, need time to cool before submitting! Another issue I had was simply making the videos so that the sound quality was not horrible. In the end, because I was not able to figure this one out in a timely manner, my audio for my venture pitch was not as solid as I would have liked. Consequently, I simply did not have enough time to do a fourth take.  In general, time management is not one of my strengths, at all.
  • Key takeaways:
    • A large amount of my time was spent watching YouTube videos and reading articles on how to make a great pitch. Although I may not have mastered the steps, I feel like I have a decent foundation on the pitch components. This legwork allowed me to more easily see the strengths and deficits in other pitches, as well.
    • I thoroughly enjoyed creating the two videos, despite having to overcome a few steep learning curves. I learned that in these pitches, it is better to have fewer words on the slides. Although website pitches were of  excellent quality, I did not enjoy my classmates’ website pitches as much as the video pitches since they were very wordy. Because of this, I ranked Robert’s and Shannon’s the highest (out of the ten that I reviewed).  Both classmates created final products that not only covered the bases but were easier for me to follow. I am but a simple math and physics type; too many words and I get bored. (How I made it to the end of Course 8 in MET is somewhat astonishing to me!!!)

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Filed under Digital Textbooks, ETEC 522, Indigenous culture, Technology & culture, Uncategorized

ETEC 521, BC Politics and Cabbage Patch Dolls

During the 2014 BC Liberal campaign, in which the party shockingly upset what most people thought was going to be an NDP sweep, the returning party used social media and its “Digital Influencers” (a.k.a. trolls) to act as an “overseeing gaze” on the pulse of the province. The NDP was destroyed, and the BC Liberals had an overwhelming majority for their next mandate. Twitter trolls were easy to spot as their accounts were freshly made, they had very few followers, and hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tweets in a very short time.  Looking through their tweets, they were almost entirely negative towards anything resembling NDP affiliation. On the BC Liberal homepage, you could even apply to be a “Digital Influencer”!  (Does anyone remember last election’s Troll Truck, that followed prominent NDP campaigners around the Lower Mainland?) Knowing that this was the New World Order for BC politics, made me incredibly disenfranchised. To be fair, I would not be surprised to find out that the NDP is now taking some pages from this campaign. Sigh.

I use this as an example to illustrate my agreement with this week’s statement:

…that “the Internet provides indigenous peoples powerful new means of self-representation, but as its use expands and intensifies, so does the ‘overseeing gaze’ of encapsulating polities and transnational corporations.” (Prins, 2002)

It seems to me that with most, if not all, technologies, with affordances come grievances. The mid-eighties land treaty victory and federal recognition of the Mi’Kmaq tribe was due in part to the Prins documentary, “Our Lives in Our Hands”. Yet, public releases of sacred knowledge, puts that knowledge at risk of exploitation and appropriation. Reflecting on Michael’s last post, what makes the most sense to me is to resist the urge to look at situations like these through a binary lens.  Perhaps residing in the “third space” is where our best time can be spent.

The BC Liberals dominated social media’s cyberspace two elections ago.  Since much of an average citizen’s political discourse was now being shared on Facebook and Twitter, that is where the BC Lib’s strategically targeted their campaign efforts.  It was brilliant!!!  As soon as cyberspace is encroached upon, anybody and everybody can enter the conversation-slash-fighting arena. It makes your thoughts, your beliefs, your culture, vulnerable to attack. This is a very good thing if one is trying to win an election.

But does that mean that you should abstain from that space?

To each their own, however, I say no. Technology is evolving faster than technological-use rulebooks can keep up with. Late-night talk shows, viral videos and presidential Twitter accounts are swaying New World Order. Alternatively, and are making grassroots causes have nonnegligible traction leading to societal change.

Sometimes I feel like cyberspace is like trying to buy a Cabbage Patch Doll in the early 80s. Here was this fairly large doll, complete with a birth certificate, that parents lost their entire sense of civility over. The doll itself, was just a stuffed, and in my opinion, freaky looking toy. It is what humans did with that doll that needed some serious re-examination.

Hmmm… this is ringing some Module 1 bells.  Is the problem the technology or what people do with the technology???

Prins, Harald E.L., “Visual Media and the Primitivist Perplex: Colonial Fantasies, Indigenous Imagination, and Advocacy in North America,” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on a New Terrain, eds. Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. Berkeley:University of California Press, 2002, 58- 74.

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Filed under ETEC 521, Indigenous culture, Technology & culture

Is technology culturally neutral?

Perhaps it depends on your definition of neutral?

Definition A:  Not taking a side. Unbiased. Impartial.

Prior to the past two week’s readings, I have always been interested in advertising’s subliminal messaging. In Grade 9, I based my Science Fair project on this topic, along with eventually taking Psychology 11, religiously watching the Mad Men series and enjoying CBC’s “Under the Influence”. It would be difficult to dispute that messaging from advertisers have one goal— to sell their product and/or idea. I think it is also very legitimate to believe that as in advertising, Western influences are impacting indigeneous culture, amongst many other cultures, via technology and its messaging. In the essay, “Native People and the Challenge of Computers: Reservation Schools, Individualism and Consumerism” (Bowers, et al; 2000), the authors outline three fundamental ways native students interact with computer technology:

1. The Illusion of Autonomous Choice

Western culture seeping into students’ cultural belief systems.

2. The Commodification of Thought and Communication

Computer moguls IBM and Apple purchasing computers for schools thus reinforcing their brand for their future customers. (This is done throughout schools via vending machines, mounted TV screens and scoreboards, as well. For some reason, I need to go grab a Pepsi right now, but I don’t know why…)

3. The Objectification of Everything

The images on the screen are perceived as being real, in combination with educators’ mistakenly believing that student’s are constructing their own knowledge through the technology. Problematically, this “construction of knowledge” is being filtered through a Western lens.

Continuing on page 193, “… there is much more that can be learned from computers if the teacher understands that computers are a culture-mediating technology; teachers must understand how computers amplify certain cultural ways of knowing and how they reduce or eliminate others.”

It is clear to me that when these ideas are accepted as truth, I could not possibly argue that technology is culturally neutral.


Definition B: From a chemist’s perspective, neutrality is achieved when a solution has a pH of 7.  It turns out that should one mix equal amounts of an acid with a base, a neutralization reaction occurs.

Let’s say for argument sake, that Western technology and the content it delivers, represents an acidic solution. Could we not then introduce equal amounts of non-Western, “basic solution” content, thus creating a culturally driven neutralization reaction?

As described in “Screen Memories Resignifying the Traditional in Indigenous Media” (Ginsburg & Faye, 2002), both indigenous producers in both Canada and Australia created authentic content in attempts to recoup lost histories that have been stamped out by the “dominant culture”.  Could more content be created to neutralize the Western acidity?

At the end of the day, although I think that I could adopt the latter definition in the future, we are far from obtaining equal amounts of “acid and base” technologically delivered content. To that end, I would have to side with the viewpoint that technology is not culturally neutral, regardless of the chosen definition.


Bowers, C.A., Vasquez, M & Roaf, M. (2002). “Native People and the Challenge of Computers: Reservation Schools, Individualism, and Consumerism.”

Ginsburg, F. (2002). Screen Memories: Resignifying the Traditional in Indigenous Media. In Media Worlds: Anthropology on a New Terrain.

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Filed under ETEC 521, Technology & culture