Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Textbooks of the Future?

I wanted to add something to our discussion from class today about the future of education that I didn't get a chance to say during class time. As far as reading and textbooks go, I really like the idea of something like Apple's iBooks Textbooks and iBooks Author. Using this system, professors could create tailor-made textbooks for class and incorporate images, video, audio, graphs or charts, etc. that could be used as learning tools while students read.

Perhaps one of the most important pluses to something like this is the fact that the textbooks can be easily updated and pushed out to all the students. The professor could go in and add a chapter or some sort of supplement to the reading and the students could easily update their textbooks.

One problem with this approach is making the technology necessary in order to read these textbooks available to everybody. Would everyone have to buy an iDevice if they wanted to read their textbook? That would be more expensive than textbooks today. I think it would work best if Apple opened up the app so that students can access the material from different devices, whether they use iOS or Android or something else entirely.

There may be more to discuss but I just wanted to type this out quickly while I still have time and before I forget.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekly Summary - Digital Storytelling

I couldn't believe it when I first found this class in the course catalog. It sounded like a lot of work, but also a lot of fun, and so far it hasn't been a disappointment. I've learned a lot about the Internet and what its future might be this past week, and the possibilities are exciting. Now that everyone can be a content creator, humanity is linked even more closely than before. Collaboration, the flow of information and ideas... If this week has taught me anything, it's that we have a huge tool at our disposal and that many people haven't figured out just how to use it yet.

I've done simple things like the daily creates and the about me video which have been fun and have given people who may not know me in person an opportunity to learn something about me, but I've also watched videos of a lot of smart people theorizing on the future of the Internet, and through this blog I've also been allowed to be a part of this discussion. And I think that's really important going forward.

There are still some concerns and some problems that have to be addressed, and one of the big ones we've talked about this week is the question of intellectual property and copyright. Creative Commons may be the answer, but there may also be some other solution that hasn't come along yet. As Michael Wesch said in his videos, we also have to readdress questions of ethics and identity in the midst of this new Internet culture. But I think we're moving into an age of information sharing, with people learning and creating a lot and I'm excited to see where we go from here.

Things I did this week:

Thoughts on the Storytelling Animal
Copyright law vs. Creativity: The Legality of Remix
Daily Create: Favorite Thing To Do
Daily Create: One of My First Childhood Memories
Daily Create: Capture True Love
About Me video
Daily Create: A Groan Inducing Pun
M. Wesch and the Future of Education

M. Wesch and the Future of Education

I found Michael Wesch's video on the state of education to be very interesting. I am attending one of the top public universities in the country, and despite that I think the current educational system is flawed, for many reasons similar to Wesch's. It's not that U of M doesn't do a good job of teaching me things, because it does. But I feel like there is a more effective way that hasn't been widely implemented yet.

I recognize that things are slow to change (this video was made like five years ago!) but I do feel that change is taking place. Every semester, professors seem more willing to incorporate images and videos and audio clips pulled from the Internet in their lectures. Students are being encouraged more and more to bring a laptop or tablet to class. Some classes even rely on the Internet as part of the lecture: one of my Sociology classes incorporated Lecture Tools, where students take notes online and can interact with the presentation material given by the professor.

There are still some holdouts; yes, some professors do not allow any technology in their classrooms, usually out of concern that students will lose focus and be multi-tasking during lecture, which is a legitimate concern. I'm curious to know just how much focus is lost, though. As a generation, and as is mentioned in the video, we are rapidly getting better and multi-tasking. Is it possible that a student could be absorbing the material while also being on Facebook? Maybe not, but it's an interesting question.

"What? I'm live-tweeting the lecture to my friend 'cause she's sick!"
Photo by Raffi Asdourian.

Either way, it cannot be denied that technology and the Internet have provided new interesting ways of learning and it's a type of learning that my generation is familiar with. When there is something that we don't know or something we'd like to learn more about, gaining access to that knowledge is as simple as going to Google or Wikipedia. We are online all the time, and we are constantly absorbing, and yes a lot of times it may be trivial things like pictures of cats with a Hitler moustache, but the potential is there to be taken advantage of. It's just a question of how to implement it effectively.

I like the idea of this Digital Storytelling class, and I think it could be applied to other classes as well. Couldn't an English class follow each other on Twitter for up-to-the-moment thoughts and analysis about readings or suggestions about what to read? Anthropology students could share ethnographic studies on YouTube for other students to view. I believe that learning is best accomplished when collaboration is encouraged, and one student's ideas inspire another student, who then might share his thoughts on his blog that inspires countless others.

The old way of learning may be just fine, but there is so much untapped potential that isn't being explored.

Daily Create: A Groan Inducing Pun

About Me video

Daily Create: Capture True Love

My roommates and NHL '13. They get it all night every night.