Tag Archives: media

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Social Media (Part 1) – guest post by Alexander Sheko

I asked my son, Alexander Sheko, (also known as Sasha) to write a post about how he uses social media for his academic and personal pursuits. He is currently in his second year of Master of Urban Planning at The University of Melbourne, and at the stage where his interest in mindful and pro-active involvement in urban and environmental issues have blended his studies, personal life and work. I have recommended the use of social media to him since his later years in secondary school, so it’s interesting for me to note that his use of Twitter and Facebook have taken off at a time when they could serve a real purpose in connecting him with experts/like-minded people and enabling him to organise and promote forums and events. As a teacher librarian with an interest in social media in education, this observation has confirmed for me that students will appreciate and use social media platforms when there is a real world significance – and this is often problematic in schools where the agenda is more about practising for life rather than experiencing life. If nothing else, I hope this post will help educators reflect on possibilities for real life connections made possible for our students using social media. 

Photo by Alexander Sheko

Social media – especially popular platforms such as Facebook and Twitter – are often characterised as frivolous time-wasters, manifestations of first-world banality and ennui. They are platforms on which to post cat pictures and selfies, the means of production by which we broadcast the minutiae of our lives to nobody in particular, craving likes, follows and other reassurances.

Certainly, they are often seen as counter to productivity, tools of procrastination. We might switch to another tab when a manager or (not so long ago, for me) a parent enters the room. Of course, there is more than a grain of truth in this perception. When attempting to focus on a set task or meet a deadline, it can be unhelpful to have the ping of a Facebook notification providing an excuse for distraction. And unless one is an academic in the field of communication analysing memes as “nuggets of cultural currency”, it is probably less than productive to spend hours looking at Doge, Dolan, Insanity Wolf and the such.

However, as with all tools, the utility of social media is determined by the user and the manner in which they are used. Contrary to the prejudices discussed above, tools such as Facebook and Twitter can be invaluable in finding information (and new sources thereof), sharing and discussing opinions, and making useful connections with others. Over the past year, having begun studying a postgraduate degree and exploring career opportunities, I have been able to use these tools to considerable benefit.

Finding information is perhaps the most basic way that these tools can be used. I often recommend Twitter to those reluctant to use it as a quick way to receive updates and notifications on topics of interest. For example, following a variety of news sources is a good way to get a large number of headlines and snippets of information that can be followed up (perhaps using a service such as Pocket to save articles for future reading), while following cafes and restaurants in the local area can provide updates on changes to menus or opening hours, special events, etc.

Of course, this one-way communication does not fully utilise the interactive nature of social media; however, it often does make use of social media’s networking effects. By following a particular journalist, politician, musician or writer, you are likely to see who they interact with and what information sources they use. You may also get useful recommendations from the social media platform along the lines of “people who liked X may also like Y”. This is a great way to expand your pool of information sources, providing a greater variety of perspectives.

For example, rather than only reading about sustainable transport (an interest and potential career path of mine) through local mainstream media sources such as The Age, Twitter has helped me find sources providing information and opinion from around the world, covering a more diverse range of topics and a broader set of perspectives. (For those interested, I often read The Atlantic Cities, Sustainable Cities Collective, Next City and Co.Exist, as well as blogs such as those of Mikael Colville-Andersen and Brent Toderian). Of course, whatever your interest or profession, finding and following a few key sources and active individuals will start a cascading network effect that will expose you to an increasing array of information and opinion sources.

I’ve talked mostly about Twitter so far, as I’ve found it the most useful platform for finding information in the ways I’ve discussed. Facebook can also be used for this purpose by following pages of organisations of interest (for example, I “like” the Public Transport Users Association page, which often posts articles and other updates on public transport issues in Melbourne). However, I find it is not as useful due to its more dominant use in socialising with people known in “real life” (friends and family). One aspect of Facebook that I do find quite useful, however, is group pages on particular topics that allow for sharing content and discussion.

For example, I often visit Urban Happiness, a group that was started by a professor from the faculty in which I am studying at the University of Melbourne. This is quite a successful group, with 650 members at time of writing, and frequent activity and interaction on urban-related topics, such as architecture, transport, placemaking, design, environment and policy. The group’s members include students (past and present), teaching staff and other interested people. Members are from a range of backgrounds (planning, architecture, landscape architecture, engineering) and include those employed or active in a variety of professions, sectors and locations. This diversity is incredibly useful in exposure to a broad range of information (when people post information that is relevant to their background or expertise), a variety of perspectives (when various people comment and provide their take on material posted by others) and a diverse pool of knowledge that can be accessed (for example, when posting a question to the group page).

I’ve published this despite the fact that it is only a portion of what Sasha had intended to write. When his life is less hectic, I hope to convince him to complete his post, or perhaps take part in an interview-style post. 

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Can we see the process in the end product?

indoorlanewayproject

Last Saturday my sister (art teacher) and I finally saw the exhibition of work which was the culmination of The Indoor Laneway project. My last post explains the project.

The exhibition space is quite large and the ideas behind the exhibit well thought out. The adolescent bedroom and laneway leading to the main screen showcasing students’ work is effective. We sat on the chairs provided (I felt a little like Papa Bear on Baby Bear’s chair) and enjoyed the mix of styles and perspectives.

As we were going out, I said to my sister, ‘It’s more than it looks’.

That’s not to denegrate it in any way. I thought the exhibition looked professional, and considering the short six-week time period for the whole thing to come together, it was very impressive. It is true about art in general – and many other things too, of course – that there’s more to the whole process than meets the eye, and I think it’s worth thinking about. The Indoor Laneway Project blog solves that problem for students and educators involved, and in this way it holds the valuable stuff – the evolving thoughts, thrown-up ideas and resources, positive feedback, documentation of the process which leads to the final product, but which is almost more than the final product.

I thought I’d pull out some examples of what I mean from the blog:

Eugenia defines the most important part of the experience – collaboration:

Hi Indoor Laneway creators,

I can see you’ve been working hard and exploring the remix idea which is so excellent to see. A big part of this project is about connecting with others even if you live hundreds of kilometres apart and using this blog as a portal – and Terrie and Rebecca it’s so cool that this is the concept you’re using in your portal/portrait work.

Nikita (student from Mooroopna) says:

Hi everybody. I’m Nikita and i was thinking about making a virtual dance video if Daniel was interested…It would be great to have us both filmed in front of a green screen and then all footage is combined here… The most exciting thing about this is it could be the first time that this has been attempted. Hope you guys are really interested in this idea.

Yolander called for a combined effort from the cohort:

We need sounds such as laughter, voices of family and other important sounds that will relate to it, would you be able to assist me in writing this particular way?… Help in researching sounds. (it is easy to spend all day…) We have 8 min of swamp sounds as the birds all wake up for background… 

We would also like to use lots of home bits and pieces from both schools, sporting things and home items and animate them in and out. HELP!!!

Nikita thinks out ideas and process:

I was thinking of the way we could tackle this Virtual Dance video. Firstly we need to find a soundtrack from Jamendo that goes for 3 mins minimum that has an easy beat to dance a simple routine to. Then we should choreograph a simple routine for Daniel and I.

Pros- It will look great when finished.

Cons- It will look a little artifical and the greenscreen size will restrict movement but thats ok.

Kayla and Laura share an idea:

We are working with the other students on this project and we are glad that you like the idea of involving everyone.

We would like to get some Photos and/or short Clips of close ups of eyes or people pointing in and looking from WFS when possible to add to our project.

Emma, Yolander, Tom, Josh, Maddison ask for contributions:

A group of us have decided to concentrate on our original idea of the light beams coming from the computer screen. We would like to have the photos from home going into the computer with Indoor Laneway open on the screen, with the light beams as a way to remix them. We have recorded or sourced sounds that will be appropriate for this project, such as ‘catch it’ when a cricket ball goes into the screen and waves for a surfboard. This idea will incorporate everyones work. Could you please send us HEAPS of high res. photos and if possible with the objects eg. cricket ball, skateboard, guitar, etc. selected out and saved in a .PNG format? That would be really awesome

 These are just some of the extracts from the interactive process at the heart of The Indoor Laneway Project. I think you get an idea of where the strength and value of this project lies.

Will viewers of the exhibition understand the depth of this project? Probably not. If they took time to have a look through the blog on the computers provided in the exhibition, then they’ll have some idea. If they browse the tab ‘Make and create tasks and responses’ on the blog, then they’ll have an even better understanding of the project.

Does it matter? Do viewers need to know every aspect of the process? Well, from an assessment perspective, yes. Surely the entire process would be considered in the final evaluation. This brings me to the question of assessment in general. If we understand that the entire learning journey is valuable, and not just the final product, are we convinced that our method of assessment is appropriate, or should we rethink it?

Clearly, what the kids get out of it is more than the finished product. Their learning experience has been enriched by the challenge of a multi-tasked program, through online collaboration with another school, spurred by a project taking them out of the school to a public audience. I can imagine that the face-to-face meeting would have been fantastic, and building the sets together enjoyable.

Wouldn’t it be good if there were more opportunities for students of every discipline similar to this one?

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Filed under 21st century learning, art, creativity, Education, networking, Web 2.0

The world is talking; are you listening?

globalvoices

Global Voices aggregates, curates, and amplifies the global conversation online – shining light on places and people other media often ignore

At the moment the special coverage reports on Gaza strip bombings, Thailand protests 2008, Google street view arriving in Japan, and more.

I’m always looking to expand the often selective media coverage on mainstream news services.

A map at the top right of the screen changes its focus on different countries; you can click on the country to reveal how many news articles and links are available for the current day. Today in Kazakhstan there are 3 articles and 11 links available.

There are offshoots of this website including Rising Voices which

aims to extend the benefits and reach of citizen media by connecting online media activists around the world and supporting their best ideas.

This section includes project updates, Delicious links, videos and flickr photos;

Global Voices: Advocacy – Defending free speech online;

Voices without votes –

Voices without Votes opens a window on what non-Americans are saying in blogs and citizen media about US foreign policy and the 2008 presidential elections

 This site is easy to navigate with a search option or browsing option within countries, topics and authors.

I think this would be a valuable teaching resource. Worth noting is the Creative  Commons Attribution 2.5 License with ‘some rights reserved’ at the bottom of the page.

Please let me know what you think, and how you can envisage using this resource in the classroom.

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The Herd 2020 and Mike Daly – power of creative media

I found this on Boing Boing, and enjoyed it so much on so many levels that I had to share it with you. Try not to dance to this. Inspirational as political message, visual feast, creative production, political springboard for discussion, power of media.

It’s a music video of the song 2020 by the Australia-based band, The Herd,  and it’s directed by Mike Daly.  Mike recently won the award ‘Australian Music Video of the Year’ at the 2008 J Awards for this video.

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Sharing culture – Creative Commons video

George Siemens put a plug in for this Creative Commons video. Thought I’d share it.

Some of the thoughts I’ve taken out to give you an idea of the video:

What does it mean to be human if we don’t have a shared culture? What does a shared culture mean if you can’t share it?

We have all these new technologies that allow people to express themselves, take control of their creative impulses, but the law gets in the way.

Creative Commons wants us to be able to say ‘here’s the freedom that I want to run with any creative work’.

A Creative Commons license says give me credit for my work.

Creative Commons allows you to exercise your copyright more simply.

It’s really about creativity and connection, access and control

Creative Commons is a bridge to this future – thinking not about content but about communities

It’s the space for more speech, more expression.

 

What do you think about Creative Commons?

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Capzles: time captured in a story

Capzles is a new way to combine videos, photos and mp3s into rich, multimedia storytelling.

capzleobama

Until I’m successful in embedding the widget, here’s the link to a capzle on Obama. 

Capzles promises to ‘claim your memories; tell your stories; travel through time’, and they do that eloquently. The Obama capzle traces Obama’s life sequentially, and includes photos, and video and transcripts of speeches. I can definitely see the value of capzles for teaching subject matter, but more than that, kids would enjoy creating capzles to present research. This application really does have the potential to capture what’s essential and interesting, and package it neatly for viewing.

It’s free and simple to join. You can browse capzles created in popular categories, eg. history, art and design, film and movies, people and life, vacation and travel, etc. Under history, for example, you’ll find ‘history of Apple computer’ and ’75 years of the popemobile’. It’s a great way to share travel experiences, or present biographies in an engaging format. Or encapzlate your old photographs. Oh, and of course, it’s another great sharing tool. Although there isn’t a huge amount there at the moment, I expect it will expand its archive very quickly.

Thanks to @grosseck for this.

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Words come to life in Wordia

oscarpuppet

I love the idea of a dictionary created by many people, but Wordia is more than that. It’s a media dictionary created by people sharing their own videos. It’s people talking on video about a word that they’ve chosen. So it’s much more than a definition. Watch Oscar Puppet’s video defining the word ‘buncombe’ and you’ll see that it’s just as much about the person (or character) behind the chosen word – it’s a word definition with personality.

What else is Wordia?

It’s a community of people who, for one reason or another, care about a word enough to spend time making a short film to explain their chosen word.

wordiacommunity

You, too, could join this collection of people who make this media dictionary. This is what you have to do:

wordiainstructions

 Wordia is in beta and is far from comprehensive. There’s something good about a brilliant, new idea in the making, especially when anyone is invited to contribute.

I got sick of searching for words that weren’t there so I browsed using the ‘words’ tab. There’s a list of ‘best words’ and that’s how I came across the definition for ‘fermata’. Very entertaining.

Wordia has it all. Aside from the obligatory dictionary definitions on the page, the list of synonyms, you also get comments from people, making Wordia not so much a dictionary as a linguistic peopleonary.

There are many ideas for the English classroom here. Apart from the kids watching or making their own Wordia clip, you could discuss which videos work best and why, or how the video presentations could be improved, or you could get the kids to choose 5 words they didn’t previously know, or 5 words that sound the most ridiculous, or 5 legal words, 5 words associated with emotions, etc. You get my drift.

Have a look for yourselves and tell me what you think.

 

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Filed under creativity, Education, film, humour, language, learning, play, teachers, teaching, Web 2.0