Exploring the Federated PeerTube: Poems Made Visual

I’ve been on Mastodon (federated social networking space) long enough now to have a simple grasp of how federated networks work — a system of servers (incidents) that overlap and move data, with no one fixed home. I had been hearing about PeerTube as a federated alternative to YouTube. A federated place where videos could be shared.

I dove in months ago, even as I still am getting my mind around how it might work for me. (You can read more about PeerTube here) Here is my Digital Poems Channel, if you want to see all the poems I am sharing out.

The embedded poem above (hosted in PeerTube) was one I wrote with Bud Hunt a few month ago, as he shared images for inspiration. I took my small poem and used Lumen5 to make a visual interpretation, and then used PeerTube to host it.

This one is from this weekend, a smallpoem about the morning’s quiet time.

Here’s another poem made visual with Lumen5. This one is about writing haiku, or teaching the writing of haiku poetry by freezing the world into a moment of time.

I’m curious to see how well it embeds, and plays. It seems like there is periodic lag time. I chose to join a PeerTube instance (an instance is a hosting system, often set up around themes of interest) that has some connection to Mastodon, but the two spaces are not one and the same. (The name of the instance is the connector).

The benefits to such video hosting alternatives to YouTube include the important aspects of no-advertising, no-tracking, no-corporate-ownership of your creative materials. What you lose with this is a potentially wider audience (if eyeballs are your thing) and maybe some technical stability (which I suspect will be ironed out). I’m OK with that trade-off for these kinds of digital poetry projects.

Peace (tubing it),
Kevin

 

The Unseen Cloud and the Nature of Learning

The Cloud Changes Our Learning

Stephen Downes, of E-Learning 3.0,  consolidates his thinking on “the Cloud” with the lines above, which intrigue me as a writer, teacher, learner. I don’t have a clear sense of what it means for me yet so I am in the “mulling something profound” stage. (And I am already behind in this course, as Stephen keeps moving us forward at a rapid pace.)

This, too, from the same post:

It’s easy to think of the cloud simply resources as “someone else’s computer” where you run your applications online. But the technology that makes it possible to use the cloud has created a whole new class of resources, a class where resources are more than just text or multimedia, but resources that are in fact fully functioning computers. – Stephen Downes

Read Stephen’s piece, entitled “Cloud” and see what you think.

It’s a bit abstract for me at times, with technical language and concepts that I sort of understand but sort of don’t understand. Yet Stephen’s reflections are still worth perusing how technology innovation like what we call the Cloud is changing the ways we learn and maybe the ways we teach. I have this feeling that this course is just seeding my brain for some future thinking. (Rain from the cloud brings flowers in the Spring?)

Stephen suggests that we need to move beyond just seeing the Cloud Storage Idea as just some unseen box of stuff where we park our digital parts for later access, and that we — as educators and as learners, formally and informally — view the Cloud more as part of a larger systematic underpinning of conceptual learning frameworks whose potential has yet to be tapped.

And maybe in doing so, in viewing the Cloud in this different angle of moving parts and learning acquisition potential, we can begin changing the very nature of what it means to learn, and how we go about doing it.

Huh.

Cloud Control

Then, the other day, Greg made a comment about ‘containers’ in the frame of writing — of how we use “sections” in essays as containers for ideas, or how some story narratives (and I am have misread his intent but it got me thinking in this other direction, which is what learning is all about, right?) use the idea of “three” as a container (three little bears, three little pigs, the kids in Harry Potter, etc.) for narrative. This brings up a tension between archetypes that pen us in at times and freedom to explore beyond the boundaries (which is what Stephen is suggesting).

Huh.

Peace (grounded and clouded),
Kevin

Engaging From the Margins: A Fake News Studio Visit

Fake News studio visit

The folks at Equity Unbound explored the concept of Media Literacy and Fake News this week with a “studio visit” with two insightful participants — Mike Caulfield and Cheryl Brown. As it turns out, I am working with my sixth grade students this same week on this same topic of fake news and media literacy (through some cool symmetry of curriculum overlap), but I missed the hangout.

I popped the hangout into Vialogues (which allows for conversations about video), so I could engage with the discussion from the margins. You are invited, too.

Visit the Vialogues: Studio Visit on Fake News

And while thinking of Caulfield’s work around Digital Media Literacy, such as his Digital Polarization Project, I was pondering his conceptual framework of the Four Moves of determining the veracity of news, from his ebook Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. Somehow, in my brain, I had this idea of the Four Moves of fact-checking for students being re-conceived as Dance Moves. I know, it’s strange.

Thus, a comic:

Dancing about the Four Moves (of media literacies)

Peace (moving forward),
Kevin

 

 

 

On Beyond Like (The Place Where Conversations Happen)

On Beyond LikeI was sifting through a magazine article about the ways that social media make it easy to interact with text and how this has unfolded through sharing via the “like” and “plus one”  and “thumbs up” and “boost” buttons (and others with different monikers — choose your context). That got me thinking about how I, too, use those easy avenues for interaction, too, but also, it reminded me of the opposite — of how I often do try to add a comment, a question, spark a conversation.

Maybe I don’t do it enough but I try. If I read a blog post, for example, I try to leave some words for the writer, if only to plant a flag of “I was here with you.” Sometimes, I’ll grab a centering phrase. Or create a found poem. Or ‘take a line for a walk’ with reflection. If I see something interesting in a tweet, I’ll respond and wonder out loud. Many times, that’s where the conversation ends. Not always, but often.

Perhaps too often.

The above comic was an attempt to distill this idea of shifting away from the “read-and-run” mentality of online spaces, and maybe spend a little more time with a text or sharing. Engage the writer/creator in a conversation. Wonder out loud. Ask questions. Probe the topic.

Is there any doubt that the world would be a little better place if we took the time to talk, even in digital spaces, with each other? A “like” or a “plus one” or a “boost” or whatever is something, to be sure, but is it enough? Does it have depth? Nope. I can’t even remember what I liked yesterday and I bet you can’t either.

In Dr. Seuss’ not-well-known On Beyond Zebra, he imagines endless letters beyond our traditional English alphabet, spaces where creativity and imagination take hold, in Seuss-like ways, of course. The letters beyond Z were always there, we just never saw them.

Until we did.

This post is titled On Beyond Like because I am thinking that maybe, like the Seuss story, we have not yet gone beyond what the technology companies have designed for us. Remember: the likes and thumbs and all that are merely ways to gather data about what we like and don’t like, so they can push content and advertising our way. We are voluntary giving them tracking data on us. Imagine that.

This morning, I saw that Charlene had responded to my initial sharing of the comic. She asks a good question.

And I don’t know the answer. While my impulse is to say yes, do away with the buttons, the reality is that this would take away much of the way people show appreciation and interact. There needs to be some middle ground, perhaps, one that I don’t yet see.

Do you?

Peace (beyond like),
Kevin

 

 

 

In Defense of Google Plus

CLMOOC Google Plus

It feels odd and strange, defending the information-sucking, ad-selling, money-making Google behemoth here, but the recent news of the demise of Google Plus is actually worth a mention, given so much of the negativity it has seemed to arouse in people in some networked spaces. Putting aside the recent privacy breach (which is always something alarming and maybe should not be put aside at all … forgive me), I’ve read with some frustration as folks in some of my other networked spaces have mocked Google Plus, along the lines of “only three people who use it will care” to “Google Plus is still here?” to “Why would anyone use Plus?” and so on.

I get it. Google Plus never caught on with the masses, and is often listed as a “failed” experiment for Google. I get it.

But I have to tell you, Plus has been quite useful for a handful of projects that I have been involved in. In particular, the Connected Learning Massive Open Online Collaboration (CLMOOC) has long used its CLMOOC Google Plus space (3,000-plus members) as a way to easily share media files, engage in quick conversations and check-ins, and organize Make Cycles.

CLMOOC itself, as an experience, is never in one place for anyone person, so the Google Plus space was always just one of many platforms being used by folks to explore art and learning and making and connected learning.

Still, Plus was quite useful for what it was, providing a flowing connecting point of easy sharing. In particular, the sharing of images — for ongoing ventures like SilentSunday or Doodling — and adding video files was somewhat easy to figure out. Sure, things got lost in the mix as new material was added, but that’s what connected spaces are like.

Everything is always in flow.

And compared to the terrible visual design of Facebook (which is still, despite all that money flowing in, an awful mess to my eyes and gives me headaches whenever I happen to look at it, which is not very often) and unsteady tinkering of Twitter (which I use and still find useful), Google Plus — with its tiling box-like post formats — worked for me. I actually liked the organization of it. I found it useful.

I’ll miss it.

What happens to the CLMOOC G+ space now? It will probably disappear, but I figure with connected work, that is always bound to happen at some time. We will still have our main website hub (Thanks, Karen) and folks will continue to share and connect in other spaces, online and offline (postcards, anyone?). Some of us will investigate some other possibilities for sharing. Maybe it will open up more doors for more projects in other exploratory spaces. Who knows.

CLMOOC was always more than the technology and still will be.

Peace (the defense rests),
Kevin

 

What Words Surfaced When Talking Augmented and Virtual Realities

VR AR Words Surfaced

I spent the weekend in New York City with a gathering of National Writing Project colleagues, talking and sharing about experiences around augmented and virtual reality, in connection to learning opportunities. The word cloud comes from my messy notepad, where I was trying to pay attention to key words that were surfacing across a day of project sharing.

Notice how the technical aspects — of how things work — is less visible than the “why we might do this” aspect, as well as the literacy components. This is not to say we didn’t talk technical at times, but mostly it was a rich discussion about how such virtual and augmented experiences might extend our definitions of literacy and composition, and how keeping an eye on the human interaction nature of technical innovation systems is a key component.

Peace (in real time),
Kevin

 

 

Google’s Reach into Classrooms (via NYT)

Piece from New York Times

It’s a strange bit of circumstance but the shift in discussions for Equity Unbound this week — in the form of a slow Twitter chat, unfolding over days — is about technology’s reach and impact into our lives. The odd part is that I had just been interviewed last week by a science/technology/education reporter at The New York Times about Google’s reach into the classroom through its “Be Internet Awesome” site.

The reporter had seen something I had written way back when the program was first announced and asked if I could talk. I did, explaining that while the site has some solid potential for teaching about technology use, the branding of it by Google clearly is a business strategy to hook kids into the Google ecosystem, early and often. I suggested that teachers use more than just the Awesome campaign when teaching about digital life. (I use elements of the CommonSense Media Digital Citizenship resources, for example.)

The issue is complicated further in that we are a Google Apps for Education school district, and we use our Google accounts regularly for writing and for media making and more. It’s a valuable addition to our writing and technology and research work. I find the Google accounts more than handy … yet …. yet … I know that GAFE and cheap Chromebooks are all ways to get more schools to use Google’s infrastructure (even with privacy protections on GAFE accounts, if we believe it). More schools, more kids, more users.

And the more we use Google, the more ads they sell. (To be clear, there are no ads directed at students within GAFE itself.)

As it happens, I am right now in the midst of teaching my sixth graders in a Digital Life unit, where we discuss and explore issues of privacy, identity, choices, and the ways corporations like Google are using our browsing histories and data to target us with advertising. You won’t find mention of that state of the modern day technology world in Be Internet Awesome.

Here is the link to the piece in the New York Times.

I am quoted about halfway down, and then again at the very end. It’s interesting to see myself in The New York Times — when I was a reporter (before I became a teacher), I often wondered if my career would ever take me to the Times (it didn’t and I am glad for where I am as a teacher, and I don’t think I ever had the skills or talent for the NYT, anyway.) Now I find myself in there, in the newspaper itself.

I’m going to get a paper copy today and share it with my students.

Peace (in the ink),
Kevin

 

My Students and Their Technology Use


Digital Tree of Life flickr photo by ehren deleon shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Each year, as I begin a unit called Digital Life, I ask my sixth graders to take a survey, and the results help frame discussions about the role of technology and media in their lives.

Personally, I look for trends across the years of doing versions of this survey (Facebook, almost non-existent now; Snapchat, increased use; less negative experiences; more adults talking about technology; etc.)

Here are this year’s results:


Or here

Peace (wondering),
Kevin

What Does Project-Based Learning Mean to You?

What Comes to Mind with PBL?

I’m working with some teachers in my school district, exploring Project-Based Learning. In a gathering, we used Answer Garden to gather a bit about what comes to mind when we think of PBL (which is rather new for all of us). How about you? What comes to mind when you think of Project-Based Learning? I’ll share these responses with my colleagues.

Use the embed (just add your response) or go to the site.

Peace (and appreciation),
Kevin

NYT: Soundscape Ecology

NYT: Soundscape Ecology

We get the Sunday New York Times here at home because we are former newspaper reporters wanting to support the newspaper world in the Age of Trump and media-bashing, and because the Times often has deep dives into interesting topics. We like the voice of the Editorial Board, too. It pushes back on the president.

Anyway, the Times often does special sections for Sundays and this weekend, I noticed a large magazine called Voyages. I figured it was another one of their travel-themed magazines, which I will barely glance at. I’m not going anywhere anytime soon. Same with Home sections. We’re not remodeling. But as I flipped through the Voyages magazine, I saw it was all just photos. Beautiful, fascinating, inspiring shots. And a note came with it, saying there is an audio component that you need to access online.

I dove in, headphones ready with my phone, and I was transported to places in the world through my ears and eyes. I listened to a lava flow, to the crackling of salt deserts in Chile, to the movement of a single tree with thousands of trunks in Utah, to creatures under the ocean, and more. It was a wonderful immersive experience, which one of the folks being interviewed on one of the tracks called “Soundscape Ecology.” I like that term.

It is a reminder of how much we forget about sound when telling a story, and how important it can be. It’s also about remembering that the world’s animals, plants and weather is talking, if we only take the time to listen.

Visit if you can. These Voyages are worth it. (There’s even an audio Crossword Puzzle “that you can hear.”)

Peace (eyes closed),
Kevin