Sunday, November 14, 2010


Get a Voki now!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Guest Alum-sMACers

Class last Friday was a great way to end the summer semester. The three visiting teachers seemed to have gotten into the 'rhythm' of teaching and had discovered techniques that worked both for themselves and for their students. I was particularly concerned with Lauren Fardig's commentary because I plan to teach in a high need area. Her tips and advice will likely be helpful in my own experience. What I also realized from Friday's class is that as sMACers we already have quite a large network of teachers, throughout all parts of the US and in various parts of the world. It would be immensely helpful to be linked with those teachers when looking for job opportunities this coming Spring.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Things Will Turn Around...

I keep saying that Detroit is the place to be... but no one believes me. Yet here is more evidence that Detroit will turn around:

The New York Times reported today in the article Wringing Art Out of the Rubble in Detroit, that artists are beginning to gather people together with the common interest of sparking Detroit back to life with art as the fuel for that spark. Volunteerism is apparently not hard to come by, which I think is so unique to America: no where else is volunteerism so effective and so powerful! These unique conditions lead me to believe that Detroit can be returned to its previous state of grandeur... given some time.

Even Banksy, the well-known political graffiti artist of London has apparently visited Detroit. Banksy in my opinion represents the type of pop artists that I can envision, and have already begun, to sprout in Detroit. Since those with the means fled to the suburbs, let those that have remained in Detroit use this opportunity to reclaim the city and remake it in their own vision. This is what artists in London have been doing in the East, the rougher side of town: And its lovely, its hip and its cultural!

Here is some of Banksy's provocative work:

Banksy has made a great effect on Londoners, but also internationally. He has brought art to the working classes. Through his political commentary he has encouraged art appreciation throughout all socio-economic levels, which contrary to many schools of thought was once believed to be reserved to the 'intellectuals' and upper classes of society. Banksy caused quite an artistic revolution - from the bottom up!

Here is some of the art going on in Detroit:
This particular piece was created by Mr. Hocking who is intrigued by the idea of rubbish as modern relics.

I would add that the large numbers of buildings that are falling apart are also beautiful ruins, and should be saved before its too late. I understand that there is not much money to go into these renovations but that is where volunteerism may come handy... and I believe that many interest groups would utilize the incentive of renovating spaces if they could then use them toward their purposes. Where this isn't possible it might be a good idea for the city of Detroit to consider selling property relatively cheaply, which I believe they've already begun to do, so that the landowners could take the responsibility for a portion of the renovations and take some of the burden off of the city.

Please visit the following NYTimes article to read about the Soup gatherings and for the source of the last image (above).

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pay Attention Children!

It is true that Gen M is wired to many different forms of technology all at once. The same applies to myself: I have the TV on while I'm typing on my laptop and messaging both on Facebook and Blackberry messenger. Is this a good thing honestly? Its probably okay when writing my own personal blog but I wouldn't be doing all these things if I had to write a serious, well thought-out paper.
I am pretty open minded and accepting when it comes to technology: I am willing to embrace it within the classroom. But as the article mentioned, technology often promotes 'continuous partial attention' and that for me is difficult to accept. It is difficult to truly understand important concepts and ideas without one's the ability to pay attention fully... and that skill comes with training the self for many years. Thus, concentration is yet another thing a teacher must teach to students as that is what will be encountered in colleges and universities.
I think balance is crucial. Certain things like using mobile phones and social networks like facebook and twitter during class can negatively impact the potential for learning during class. So the teacher who desires to use technology must find a way to achieve this balance and use technology to promote, rather than take away from, learning.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Audio

I've been a Mac user for 6 years and never during that time have I utilized GarageBand. This is such a pity because now I realize how useful this program is... and I only presently understand a tiny fraction of the possible uses of the program. I was impressed by the ease of use despite not knowing anything about audio recording programs. As a teacher one concern however might be the time involved in recording particular texts. On the other hand, recordings may allow me to prepare more well thought-out explanatory lectures for my classes.

I didn't really grasp the concept of a Podcast before Fridays class. I seems I've been missing out. I can see how practical it would be to listen to Podcasts, while walking or working-out for example: I'd be killing two birds with one stone! Athletes might find this useful too as podcasts could help athletes keep up with classwork. It could also help students that are not physically active to accommodate both academics and exercise in their lifestyle. Podcasts might also be useful for those students, which have jobs or have to take care of siblings, to 'listen in' whenever they have a free moment. Additionally it could help those students with learning disabilities such as dislexia to absorb the material in another form or to reinforce the text they are reading.

Once again however I have to question the societal implications that may present themselves if it becomes appropriate to replace text with audio information... or even that it may become an expectation to multi-task while 'ingesting' material from podcasts.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Gaming to Learn

I wonder if I'd be different today if I played more video games... Would I be smarter, quicker, or better at solving problems? If yes, is it too late to start??? When I think of video games two things come to my mind: 1) amazing graphics and 2) my little brother who would spend entire days in the basement playing games. After emerging from his gaming sessions his eyes would be bloodshot as if he had been doing something inappropriate...
I love the idea of using games in learning. I love the idea of simulating practices such as biology or history through games and using textbooks as references... because honestly as James Paul Gee accurately contends, textbooks do not make any sense unless there is a context through which to understand them. As more and more graphic designers and video game designers are entering the job market and as more and more 3D and 4D technology emerges, we may very well be able to simulate learning through games and simultaneously assess this learning.
I wonder however if there is research about varying abilities for students to adapt to this type of learning. How do different students utilize these tools? Do some students have a greater affinity to games? What about students with learning disabilities: Do games facilitate learning or create more challenges? How does the cognitive process differ when playing video games?
The only game I ever completed entirely was Zelda and the Ocarina of Time. It was an amazing game. However, my gaming career ended there unfortunately. I can see value in efforts made for collaboration between game designers and educators to commission a series of excellent, fun, high quality games to facilitate learning. Video games are here to stay. We might as well make the most of this phenomenon... and it may prove favorable and enjoyable to everyone. Perhaps I shall revisit my old hobby of gaming...???
I suggest browsing through It includes digital art from artists all over the world. The image above is by the artist Mario Wibisono and I believe this warrior character has been used in a video game... She served as inspiration for many of my illustrations.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Splendidly Twitterful!

I have to admit I'm convinced... Since class last Friday I opened a Twitter account and am following 11 people/groups/organizations. Some of the favorite groups I'm following include the Museum of Modern Art, londonart, Reuters and NPR news. Since I'm addicted to my Blackberry, Twitter gives me something to do and at the same time proves to keep me updated! When I'm missing London some of the artsy Twitter groups provide some great images of street art....

Friday's class went very well. I think the student-led discussion was a great idea. Beyond simply discussing the readings it gives us a chance to practice going in front of a class and presenting material to a group of students. I was honestly a bit too intimidated and unready to make that move... but I hope I will have more opportunities to do so as the year progresses.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I have no PLN with the exception of Facebook (fb I guess...). Even that is maintained with frustration as evidenced by friends' complaints due to my lack of replies. And fb isn't even a source for learning really... I am one of those students who has been ingrained with traditional learning practices, accustomed to books and handouts on paper! In fact - and I guess it has become known within Section A - I print off all my readings on paper (yes, for tech 504 too) in order to read them and scribble notes in the margins and make annotations: It is part of my learning method, which I've been refining for the past 20-some years! I am starting to recognize my habits as a handicap. It is not that I do not adore the concept of teaching courses in technology and teaching students about all the resources through the internet: I do! I hope to be able to embrace it, become fluent in its language and enter the Matrix!... But I am overwhelmed with questions! Isn't it time consuming? What if I forget how to use the resources from lack of use? What if 'they' come up with yet more technology? How will I learn and adapt? Will I be spending hours grading papers in front of the computer? Will it add to the already existing attachment I have to my mobile? Will it eliminate actual face-to-face contact?

Yet I'm also intrigued about the possibilities: To be able to communicate internationally, to research about limitless subjects, to access historical archived materials, to organize one's entire life digitally, to be updated instantaneously, to be able to represent oneself for career purposes... the list is endless. Will my efforts to Excel in these tasks take over my life???!!!

And what will happen to Time? Is it old-fashioned, with the pace technology requires, to spend quality time on tasks? Whats wrong with reading literature at a conversational pace? Or spending time making art BY HAND? I fear I won't be able to keep up... Will technology consume our lives and should we embrace it?

Picture found from

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

July 9th Class

Among much valuable knowledge gained from Fridays Tech class two things were of particular importance:
1) Google and all of its Applications
I had no idea of the endless possibilities available through Google's products. I especially enjoyed the Life Magazine archive, which I could likely find very useful when teaching a social studies class. I will have to make a deliberate attempt to use these resources.
2) Lesson Planning
This being the first time we attempted to create a lesson plan, the process was a bit overwhelming due to the amount of factors that we had to take into account. However it was quite exciting that this project was relevant to what we will be doing in the near future. We were trying to incorporate the theory we have learned thus far to make an exceptional and engaging lesson plan. It did help that the particular topic we needed to cover was quite important and relevant to all of us. Practice, practice, practice.....
Photo from

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Virtual learning

In response to a few comments about my first post:

Has everyone seen the movie Avatar... in 3D digital quality??? If not, I urge you to do so ASAP! Seeing Avatar was a sentimental experience for me because 1) I really appreciate 3D graphics and the work that goes into creating them and 2) because I don't think I'll ever be able to create something that good! Its terrifying and very sad :( At the same time, I became very excited about what this new type of 3D technology means for the world of entertainment but also for education and health and fitness. Imagine your teacher is an Avatar walking you through a 3D forest and giving you a science lesson! Would students be more engaged?!? I think the answer is heck yes!!! What if Virtual lesson plans were created to make possible what is not realistically possible like being able to see living cells on a larger-than-life scale to reproduce and function as cells do, or see how the respiratory system of humans and other mammals works.... It would be like Ms. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus!!! Talk about experiential learning! Perhaps you can experience this with your classmates... or maybe it is homework assigned by your teacher. Maybe this 3D technology can provide part of that 'learning by doing' experience that really allows students to retain knowledge. This could also help communicate to the students so much information and so many details that time does not permit to be covered in the classroom.

I do not mean in any way that this technology should replace the teacher: As the Rich & Reaves article affirms, the teacher should be a guide to suggest an end or a plan. I agree with that point of view. I also think students should interact with each other as it is important in developing social skills. Also important is that students explore their real physical environments, which should not be replaced by a virtual environment. However, I do think Virtual Learning has some positive things to offer and perhaps it will play a role in the classroom some time in the near future. It could be used as a catalyst to capture students' interests or as a substitute when field trips aren't possible for whatever reason.

Why Not???

Ask the Audience

After reading Knapp's Google and Wikipedia: Friend or Foe I am reminded of Who Wants to be a Millionaire and the 'Ask the Audience' lifeline. Its not a coincidence that the audience usually has it right... with a few exceptions. The same seems to be the case for Wikipedia and the 'wisdom of crowds.' The greater the 'sample size' the greater probability that the information at hand will be accurate... and what greater 'sample size' can be created than through Google and Wikipedia?! Perhaps we should suggest two other lifelines for the TV program: 1) Google it! and 2) Wiki it! From there we could go on to perform a quantitative research study on whether these lifelines lead the contestant to the correct answer....??? (Experiment is subject to Pat's approval... of course :)

Friday, July 2, 2010

First Class Impressions

This class will be useful. I fully understand that technology will become increasingly important in the classroom and also increasingly useful because there will be ways of accelerating learning through technology. One scene of the Matrix comes to mind where Neo gets 'plugged in' to the Matrix and information is downloaded somehow so that he finds himself learning martial arts in a virtual reality. I wonder if it will be like that some day where we can learn everything as if it is a first hand experience in a virtual world... even things like experiencing history in the making or constructing 3-d forms, or more dangerous things like mountain climbing... but until then other tools can be used to increase understanding. For example, assessments can adapt to the test-takers skill-base and background as the GRE already claims to do (... though perhaps they need to refine that feature).

I am slightly intimidated by technology because I think much effort will have to go into learning how to use it. As technologies improve we as teachers will have to update our knowledge in order to keep things relevant. Also another fear I have is taking more time to figure out how a particular type of technology works, rather than on the content and knowledge itself. Nonetheless however, the gains technology has to offer makes it worth the time and risk.