Curiosity Conversation: Virtual Reality Storytelling

Bonnie

I have known Bonnie Kaplan for more than a decade now, through our affiliation with the National Writing Project and our common interest in digital storytelling. She is an avid video documentary filmmaker, and we have jumped into more than a few projects over the years (including the Collaborative ABC Project and the launch of the iAnthology writing space for NWP-affiliated teachers).

When I learned she was just back from a course on Virtual Reality Storytelling, out in California, I wanted to chat with her, to pick her brain a bit about the potential and the possibilities of this new technology in terms of where it might lead us into storytelling down the road. (You can read her blog reflections here).

Then I remembered Scott Glass and his Curiosity Conversation ideas from CLMOOC this past summer, in which one teacher reaches out to record a discussion with another on a topic of personal interest, so Bonnie and I chatted via Hangout.

I am grateful for her time and friendship, and her reminder that stories are at the heart of any digital storytelling.

Peace (in the chat),
Kevin

Engaging Students (and Educators) as Citizens of the Digital Age

Jacqueline Vickery Keynote

There’s a term kicking around the new Networked Narratives course that I keep referring to and which I am curious to get to in the coming weeks: Civic Imagination. Mia Zamora hints at this a bit with her posts over at DML about the Networked Narratives course that is a hybrid between a university class and an open course (with Alan Levine), with the theme of digital storytelling.

Mia’s terminology was on my mind yesterday as I listened to a keynote presentation by Jacqueline Vickery, a professor and researcher out of Texas, during a local technology conference that I attended. Vickery’s focus in her talk was about engaging students as citizens in the Digital Age, and how adults often thwart those moves by teenagers to engage with the world through fear and intimidation. Vickery’s talk reminded me of the deep work by danah boyd, too, and how we need to pay attention to the “stories” of our young people, and help them find ways to positively engage with the world through social media and other technology/communication avenues.

Vickery (who has a book coming out called Worried about the Wrong Things: Youth, Risk and Opportunity in the Digital Age) noted that her research comes from observing young people interacting with technology. Many adults — parents and teachers and public policy makers — often react without taking the time to understand the underlying issues, or what is really taking place between youths when they connect.

“This narrative (of young people not in control and falling prey to the dangers lurking everywhere) … ignores what they are doing with technology,” Vickery said. “We often hear young people’s technology use pathologized .. (ie, web junkies, addiction, etc.) … as if they have no sense of agency of what they are doing, as if they are just passive users of technology.”

TIE Conference

Vickery laid out some tenets of helping young people see themselves as Citizens of the Digital Age (see image above), where social interaction across the technology is a vital component for participatory media and connections, for the betterment of the world.

She asked, rather rhetorically, if schools were doing enough to teach students about use of technology, from the standpoint of:

  • Civic Engagement
  • Emotional Growth
  • Social Justice
  • Equity

Probably not, in my estimation.

And this brings me back around to Mia’s reference to the term of Civic Imagination, and it has me wondering how we help students envision a better world ahead of them, and then how to turn that imaginative yearning into reality through awareness, information, agency and engagement with the world. This is the whole underlying premise of Connected Learning, by the way.

Vickery didn’t dispute that there are places where young people need help and oversight from adults to navigate the tricky waters of technology, but overall, she remains positive about the choices and the actions of young people.

“There are many ways to connect students with digital media, to see themselves as agents of change and active citizens,” she said, near the end of her talk. “If we view young people as agents of change, then we as adults can help them.”

Peace (here and into there),
Kevin

 

Charting My Open Learning

A few weeks ago, Greg McVerry interviewed me for some research he and Sarah Honeychurch are doing about literacy and leadership in open learning spaces. Before our conversation, Greg asked me to construct a diagram of the open learning projects I have been involved with, and gave me the ‘cartesian coordinate’ labels (involvement/learning) to consider playing with.

The diagram above is the best I could do .. I am sure I am probably leaving things out (Slice of Life? Is that open learning?) and I know that some should stretch more across time but it made the design of the graph ugly to do so as a visual. My ideas didn’t quite fit the grid. But it works for what it is, I think, which is a reflection point for myself

What I found interesting is my perceptions about what I learned in various networks, over time, and the corollary discovery which the graph shows me is pretty simple and expected, if you know me at all, and that has to do with the connection between agency and learning.

What the chart shows is that the open learning spaces that invited me to create knowledge, with freedom to explore (Rhizo, CLMOOC, etc), are the ones where I came away with a lot to think about, mainly because of the interactions with others (or it was where I was a facilitator with ideas on opening up the space to the emergent unknowns). The projects where it felt more like a structured class or course (Deeper Learning MOOC, IMOOC) were less “sticky” for me, in terms of learning. That doesn’t mean they didn’t have value. But the value was less fundamental to me as a writer/teacher than places where I had more agency to pursue my own interests in the company of others.

Peace (on the edge of the platform),
Kevin

App Review: StickNodes

A few weeks ago, for the #CLMOOC DigiWriMo Pop Up Make Cycle, the focus was on animation. There are all sorts of apps that allow you to animate now, and StickNodes is one of my favorites (I paid the $1.99 for the Pro version). It’s an update on an old freeware that I used to use with students called Pivot Animator. When we shifted to Macs, I had to move away from Pivot (it is a PC-only freeware) and tried Stykz for a bit.

StickNodes Pro is pretty easy to use, and has a lot of powerful features for animating stick figures. It’s also pretty darn fun to use. You can create and then export your animation as video or gif files, which can be hosted elsewhere.

Here is one of my early experiments: Stickman Walking. (I had uploaded it into Vine, which you can no longer do)

 

No surprise that there are tutorial videos on YouTube for using the app. Here is the first in a series done by this person.

Give it a try. Or try some other app, and let us know. We’re animating this week!

Peace (in the frame),
Kevin

Stopmotion: A Little Nomad’s Christmas Tree

My friend, Sarah Honeychurch, send me a lovely holiday postcard for the CLMOOC Postcard Project, and she included a little traveling knitted “Nomad” with the card (see her online moniker for why that is a perfect name for the little knitted traveler). It was so cute!

My first reaction was how cool it was to get this little gift like this from across the world. My second reaction was that this Nomad is the perfect size for stopmotion animation. My third reaction was, I can finally use this USB Christmas Tree that sits in my closet all year long.

I got to work … eh, play.

Thank you, Sarah, and thank you to everyone else who is part of my various networks. That hug that the Nomad gives the tree at the end is symbolic.

Peace (let it it light the world),
Kevin

 

School-wide Engineering Challenge: Building Towers

As part our week-long Spirit Week this week (hosted by our new Student Council, which I am advising and helping), we are hosting a school-wide challenge for a designated “Engineering Design Day” today.

My sixth grade science colleague, Lisa Rice, suggested this Marshmallow Tower Challenge as a way for our entire school to come together as designers. I love that! We hope all teachers take part, but there is no requirement. Lisa is collecting school-wide data, though, in hopes of sharing out a huge experiment across the building, and getting kids and teachers excited about engineering design.

Look who does the best in this TED presentation? The kindergarteners!

And notice the talk about “high stakes” (adding money reward to the challenge) and how the high stakes negatively impacted the creative design of the towers … I guess we could easily draw some parallels to the current educational climate of high-stakes testing, right?

Peace (in collaboration),
Kevin

 

Book Review: Photos Framed

This is a quick read, but one that might require a few reads, if that makes any sense at all. Not because it is confusing. It is so interesting. I am one of those people who has come to photography late, thanks to the emergence of mobile devices for visually capturing the world (and double-thanks to the work of my friend, Kim Douillard, whose photography and image prompts always get me thinking at odd angles).

Photos Framed, by Ruth Thomson, is a collection of very famous photographs. What Thomson brings to the table is the curation and reflection on the composition of these famous photographs. In tight text alongside the images, she explores the back stories of the images and photographers. She also pulls out small moments (literally … cropped shots sit alongside the full image) from within the larger visual frame, asking questions about lighting, perspective, colors, textures and more.

Sure, I’ve seen the famous images of Migrant Mother (Dorethea Lange), The Horse in Motion (Eadweard Mybridge), The Kiss by the Hotel de Ville (Robert Doisneau), Afghan Girl (Steve McCurry), The Cottingly Fairies (Elsie Wright), and Tank Man (Jeff Widener). Thomson showed me aspects of these famous images I never saw or considered before.

She reminds us that images are story, with contexts. To ‘read an image’ is to dive through the lens at many levels. That doesn’t mean these photos don’t stand on their own. They do. What it means is that each one can draw you in further, if you choose to go on that journey. Photos Framed is a nice tour guide.

Peace (well-lit and standing still),
Kevin

When #CLMOOC Met #DigiWriMo

(A collage of “grounds” from the Look Down to the Ground Collaboration)

We’re wrapping up two weeks of Pop-Up Make Cycles that the CLMOOC Crowd (past participants who have stepped up to facilitate the Connected Learning MOOC this past year) organized for what used to be Digital Writing Month (but may be no more). We invited people to share photos, annotate and curate on the Web, make and share animations, discuss Digital Writing in a variety of formats, produce inspirational images and messages, and more.

It’s probably not the ideal time of year to hope that many, many people will take the CLMOOC up on the invitation to make, create, share. Still, that’s the beauty of the Pop-Up Make Cycle idea (first launched by Joe Dillon and Terry Elliott, I believe). It comes. It goes. It’s an open invitation.

Two of the pieces I am proud of making:

and

Do I wish more folks participated? Yes. But then I remember something we said early this past summer at all due to a different focus for the National Writing Project, when it seemed that CLMOOC might not happen in 2016.

A few us (participants and past facilitators) chatted and decided: Yes, CLMOOC will indeed happen, and those few soon grew to more than a dozen people who volunteered to become the CLMOOC Crowd (my name for it). We agreed that “small” is perfectly fine. The “M”  in this mooc does not have to be “massive” anymore. It just has to be “meaningful.” So, “minimal” works, too.

And you know .. this is the Open Web. Anyone at anytime can access any of the ideas. You’re invited. You’re always invited.

Peace (and connect),
Kevin

 

Talking in the Open: Conversations with Howard, Ian and Greg


flickr photo shared by *Robert* under a Creative Commons ( BY-SA ) license

In the past six weeks or so, I have found myself being interviewed by three different people I respect greatly: Howard Rheingold, Greg McVerry and Ian Guest.

All had different reasons for reaching out — Howard has been doing a series of video interviews for Connected Learning; Greg and Sarah Honeychurch are exploring an open research project about literacy and leadership; and Ian is interviewing educators for his own research on how Twitter might impact professional growth of teachers.

Kevin Hodgson on Connected Learning from Connected Learning Alliance on Vimeo.

I was honored and humbled to be on the other side of the screen with these people. Howard, of course, is a towering figure of the Internet Age, whose thinking about the ways we interact and write and create community on the Web stretches back to some of the Web’s origins. Greg is someone I have known from when I took part in the Massachusetts New Literacies Institute (while Sarah has been a long friend through many projects, including the most recent CLMOOC), and he and I (and a few others) have remained connected, through projects like Walk My World. And Ian is someone I know from online activities like Rhizomatic Learning.

The Internet, and the possibilities of connections and sharing, is pretty amazing, with lots of potential and lots of barriers. I hope I was articulate enough in answering their questions. As a former journalist, I think I am more comfortable on the other side of the microphone. But I appreciated that all three wanted to share their interviews out in the open.

I know that the discussions swirled in my head even after we had turned off Skype or Google Hangout, so their questions about learning, technology, digital literacies, leadership and more continue to be part of my reflection.

Ian Guest interviews me

Here is the link to the podcast interview with Ian.

 

Peace (shining a light),
Kevin

 

 

#DigiWriMo #CLMOOC: Making Simple Animation with Para Para

 

Here are steps to making and sharing a simple stopmotion animation with Para Para Animation (part of Mozilla’s Webmaker family … I think …) Warning: The site is kind of funky at times and not always completely stable. And I am not sure how well it works on mobile devices. Just warning you. But I have used it with students and they LOVE it for the simplicity and easy entry point. You will, too.

Here is the Para Para Animation Site

Using ParaPara Animation1
Using ParaPara Animation2
Using ParaPara Animation3
Using ParaPara Animation4
Using ParaPara Animation5
Using ParaPara Animation6
Using ParaPara Animation7

Well .. good luck. Share your art out at #clmooc or #digiwrimo or wherever you find yourself.

Peace (framing it one at a time),
Kevin