A final note

This morning I went to reprographics to pick up my cards and the printed versions of my article and paper. I was told the cards would be done and everything would be ready. The cards were not yet done and still had to be cut. Problems continued as they could not line the cards up to print and cut properly. So, in the end I came away missing some cards. I believe there is around 10 missing from the entire deck.

I have handed 2 decks in (minus the 10 from each) and these serve as the prototype for this outcome. I have also handed in the digital pdf files which have all 52 cards on. I really did want to hand in more than a prototype and in some respect I have as the outcome is above the quality expected for a prototype but there are some cards missing still. I also wanted to create a tuck box to house the cards in but having only got the cards this morning, that was not possible as I didn’t know the dimensions of the depth of the deck.

This short post was just to explain the reasons I addressed prior to submitting my work.

New learning

My development and new learning during this assignment has evolved in two ways; further growth of current skills and a strong development in consolidating newly acquired skills.

Given the scale of this project, time management and research were both very big factors. These are two things which I have experience in from previous projects, however nothing to this scale. Therefore this project represented a new opportunity to develop those existing skills.

The core process of my project began with research into my subject and assuring I had a wide breadth of knowledge and understanding on the matter. My scope was far narrower but the material which I explored undoubtedly had a great influence on my understanding and opinion. I think this is reflected in my outcomes which illustrate that I have a very good understanding of my subject. The way I managed my research and also identified new material to focus on was something that I improved on as the size of the project demanded thorough planning and handling of sources.

Also, considering the canon of my study was something that had been properly introduced to me and I found this a very good way to embed the full extent of my research in a strong foundation of understanding for my topic. Furthermore, because I was handling a lot of material, it was important to ensure I had the skills to evaluate their worth. Figure 1 shows the chart I made to help me identify the different aspects of a source where I could understand the opportunities and limitations of the research material. This was not something I had done before in such depth and I found this to be very beneficial.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The size of the project meant that my organisation of time was essential and the scale to which I have carried that out in this assignment is above anything I have ever done. I had created a Gantt chart which gave me a convenient overview of tasks and time and a daily schedule plan which informed me of what it is I should be doing each day and where I should be at each week. I was aware that my workflow would not follow these plans exactly, especially the daily plan. However I redrafted those plans to better reflect the time remaining and the tasks to complete. This was done at important intervals throughout the project where significant progress or change had occurred. I think it was my ability to address my current situation and plan my time accordingly which was a very good skill to develop and it certainly helped my keep on top of my work and produce quality outcomes.

The aspect of my work which demonstrates development in consolidating newly acquired skills lies in my creative decision making through my graphic visualisation cards, particularly with using Adobe Illustrator. My organisation in handling assets when creating the cards in Illustrator was a very important factor. As this project was far bigger than anything I had done before I knew I needed to organise every aspect when creating the cards to ensure the process ran with extreme sufficiency and this is something I believe I achieved very well and also, it is something which I documented very well on the blog.

Also, something which I had no experience in at all was setting up files for printing and cutting. Through this part of the project (the cards) I have had some activity with setting up bleed and crop marks and getting files test printed. This part I think is fundamental practise and is a good way to develop problem solving skills through the process of elimination. When I planned my time I initially gave myself a week (or less) to get the cards printed off. I assumed this would be more than enough time. However I had nothing to base this assumption on. In actual fact, printing the cards was the longest process of any task in the project and this surprised me. I expected for this task to run smoothly, however, this was not at all the case. I ran into a lot of issues which were very time consuming. It was fortunate that I changed the order in which I produced my outcomes. Had I left it that late I would certainly not have got far. I was very naïve in my assumption and this experience has taught me that this process, especially when I have no experience with it, requires a lot of problem solving and continuity time. This was a very big aspect of my new learning and this experience allowed me to better understand how to effectively manage a big project, including handling and planning for tasks that I have little or no experience in.

Creative decision making

My creative decision making during this assignment has developed through my final three outcomes; the academic paper, the journalistic article and the graphic visualisation cards. Although the written work was more centred on my approach to research as opposed to the cards where I had to make a lot of visual decisions. Therefore I will use this text to discuss the cards as they represent the opportunity where my creative decision making was most prominent. This decision will allow me to explicate the thinking behind my working processes.

After looking at existing examples of probes and playful playing cards I decided that the colour scheme of all of these cards should remain black and red. After looking at David Carson’s Book of Probes I am not very fond of colour as I think it can cause unnecessary noise and distraction. I also decided to invert the usual colour association of playing cards. So, diamonds and hearts will be black and clubs and spades red. This was a very bold decision to make however these cards are my opportunity to be playful with design and step out of the box and experiment with conventions and ambiguity. At the same time I feel it is a design choice which will not confuse the user. It is something that is quite minor but at the same time it has a big impact.

The reason behind this is to represent the colossal transition we are experiencing from two different modes of thinking. Essentially this is the core idea of my project and by reversing the conventions of colour, this somewhat represents this dramatic overhaul of existing ideas that have been set in place for such a long time.

Another factor to consider in the creative decision making was what type face to use. I decided against a sans serif font as although it is more contemporary (which my subject matter is) it is likely to reduce comprehension and reading rates (http://www.awaionline.com/2011/10/the-best-fonts-to-use-in-print-online-and-email/). I found that some sans fonts though were quite difficult to read because of the design in letters where it drew attention to itself and required a short moment of attention. This is what I wanted to avoid as the content of the cards was meant to be subtle and something for the user to browse over and digest naturally. Therefore if an aspect of the design causes a break in this natural experience then I have a problem. This therefore was a very important decision.

A very big aspect I had to consider was the way I would portray the messages and the language I would use to help achieve my intentions. However I had already decided that the written pieces were my opportunity to be very precise in my examination and critic of this subject and the cards were a way to provide a very open and ambiguous representation of my idea. Therefore I decided that the design could be very open to interpretation. This was to allow the users to create their own understanding of the ideas that I have put forward and I really liked this aspect. So, on some cards there is very little given meaning. However I have examples where the meaning of the card is very clear and this was to establish a basic level of understanding throughout. I felt this was something that was very important to ensure there was a good balance in the language and execution of the design. I also ensured that the design was clear and avoided any noise by thorough planning of the cards. In one sense, the cards are actually quite minimalistic but I believe the design is very meaningful and strong in what it suggests. Avoiding noise was also important to ensure higher rates of comprehension and absorption.

I also made these cards with the intention that they could serve a secondary purpose by being distributed in digital format on a mobile device and so my creative decisions somewhat reflected this aspect.

Obviously my target audience and the products dissemination were at the heart of all these decisions and I think that I made sound design decisions based on research, justification and knowledge of my product as opposed to just ‘what I thought would be good’. I also placed emphasis on high comprehension and readability and looked to address aspects of visual design to help achieve this. Items such as the use of typeface and font size, consistency of the card design and colour were important to avoid noise and unwanted distraction to again improve the comprehension rate.

Also, I decided to print off physical copies of my paper and article to hand in as well as digital copies. Usually I would just hand in digitally but I did this for 2 reasons. The first is that as I am handing in the playing cards which are physical, it would be aesthetically pleasing to hand in all 3 outcomes in physical format so they could be seen beside each other and appreciated more. More importantly, during my research I found that there are studies which indicated that paper based reading results in better comprehension and absorption rates (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/) and so I felt that is a wise choice to put this notion into practice and further demonstrate my understanding of both my subject matter and project.

References

Wood, J. (2011) The Best Fonts to Use in Print, Online and Emsil. [online] Available at: http://www.awaionline.com/2011/10/the-best-fonts-to-use-in-print-online-and-email/ [Accessed on 11/08/15]

Jabr, F. (2013) ‘The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens’. Scientific American. April [online] Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/ [Accessed on 09/07/15]

Solving problems

I have spoken to reprographics for the last few days to chase up what is happening with the printing of my cards. Today they said that they have been printed and will be getting cut later and that they would be ready for Tuesday morning.

I also sent across my article and paper for them to print off ready for the presentation and to hand in.

Unfortunately though this means that I cannot buy/make any kind of box to house the cards in. Although I know the dimensions of the cards, I do not know how thick the stack will be. They are certainly thicker than a standard deck of cards and so a normal playing card tuck box would not work. This means that I will just have to hand in the cards. This was my initial plan outline din my planning folder that was signed off but I did really want to have something to house the cards in so it finished the project off well.

I have now finished everything and so all is left to do is practice for the presentation next week.

Finished article

Today I have been redrafting and proof reading my article which is below. I have a natural tendency to write in a more analytical style because of the previous work I have done. Therefore, I needed to edit the language and the structure of the article to make it more suitable for a journalistic style. The word count is 1800 (200 short of my initial plan) and this is because I needed to fit it on an a3 sheet to be laid out in the style of an article. Therefore I was quite limited with space but I do not see that 200 words less is at all a problem. The 2nd draft of my paper is below.

2nd draft of Article

I also designed the journal in Illustrator and the final outcome is below. Please note that the image is pixelated as it is a jpeg and is just there to easier illustrate the look of the work. The pdf is also linked.

Article

Article


Other than printing and uploading a few things to the blog (which are already done) I have finished all of my work. I have a week left and so I am at the point where I planned to be and have 1 week left before hand in for contingency. I will read over my work in both the blog and the outcomes and look to see if I can make any improvements. Although most of the week will be spent practicing for the presentation and finalsing the printing of my work.

A few last things

This is my first post in almost a week; this is because I have been completing the various tasks I have left and so I have just been getting on with these. I have now finished and redrafted my final blog posts on creative decision making and new learning as well as my  Learning Outcomes Matrix (LOM) which are below. As well as this I have also spent a considerable amount of time practicing for my presentation and making notes.

Creative Decision Making

New Learning

LOM

I have also been speaking with reprograhics as there has been problems with printing my cards. They cannot seem to align them properly so they have asked me to resend them the cards. I did this Friday and I will speak with them asap to see what is going on with that.

The main thing I have completed this week was the 1st draft of my journalistic article (below). This is a very rough draft and I still need to make a lot of improvements. After editing and proof reading I need to check the fog index and continue to edit until it is at a satisfactory point. Lastly, I need to format the text into the style of an article and then have it (along with my paper) printed off at reprographics.

1st draft of Article

Presentation Planning

In previous posts and on my time planning charts, I said that I wanted to begin planning the presentation early. Well that did not happen. In actual fact, it began 3 days ago where I started making notes. Today I refined those notes and made my slideshow.

When I decided it would be a good idea to plan early, this was because I was going to try to ‘remember what I had planned (in detail) what to say’. I would usually write a script and practise it. Therefore writing a script for 15 minutes would take a while to remember. Ultimately though, this is bad practice. It is better to speak off my head, and I feel that I know my project very well and that I will be able to discuss the project with more fluidity. Also, it is a better skill to develop by doing it this way. Because of this I decided that I needed less time. From today I have 2 weeks which I think is enough to practise what it is I will talk about and refine in my head what needs to be discussed.

I have gone through the brief and created my presentation based on what I can see it asks me to demonstrate. So I will introduce my project, the inspirations behind it, what angle I took and talk about what I actually produced. However most of the discussion will be an evaluative reflection on my research, new learning and problem solving and decision making. Anyway, the slideshow is below.

Presentation

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13

Mind Change

Tags

Although I am coming to the end of the project I have been thinking more about the issue of mind change and plasticity, and about the change in modes of thinking McLuhan discusses. I came across some content of Susan Greenfield and I am going to use this post to talk about some of her work. Her work is very closely related to my study and so it is very beneficial to see what she is saying. The reason I did not discuss the following material earlier was because it is very new. Furthermore, the content that is discussed can form part of my identification of the forefront of my study.


https://screen.yahoo.com/technology-debate-baroness-susan-greenfield-131846789.html?format=embed

The above video is a clip from Channel 4 involving a debate between Susan Greenfield and Dr Vaughan Bell, who is a senior lecturer at UCL. Both are discussing the arguments Greenfield puts forward in her book, Mind Change. Bell immediately open his critique by highlighting that to date, there is no scientific support to Greenfield’s studies. Furthermore she has opted against publishing her work is the  Scientific Literature where it can be evaluated by scientific processes. Admittedly this is a long running issue that Greenfield finds herself defending against. She does so however by saying that her book is based on the supporting evidence of 200 peer reviewed papers and it is not reflective of experimentation, but rather a review of what is happening in regards to cognitive adaption. She makes a very good point here but it is hard to disagree that submitting her work for scientific approval would undoubtedly raise its value and authority.

She also claims that her work helps inform individuals on the wider issue and opens them up to the implications of becoming dependent on technology so that we can collectively understand the result of what is happening to our brains. She has created a very accessible book on an extremely current and relevant topic. This alone is extremely important.

Screen Cultures, explores the nature of modern life and how technology defines our experiences in a time when digital media is prominent in the way we live our lives. Above all else though, Screen Cultures is about the study of the cultural aspect of our journey from paper to screen technology, and how that journey shapes how we see and understand our world. What we are currently experiencing is a surge in the use of digital technology and the Internet, especially among young children.

Therefore her identification that this could lead to serious cognitive issues is right at the forefront of my study. Although she acknowledges the opportunities, she claims that our exposure to these devices could lead onto autistic like symptoms. Dr Bell is very critical of this claim, along with many others but they failed to understand, which Greenfield corrects, that she says ‘autistic like’. This is very important as there is published research which suggests young, as well as old people are experiencing a lack of concentration and absorption as a result of our immersion into technology. As I have covered before in my research, this is a reflection of the nature of the technology we use, particularly online with the hypertext versus the book. This argument is very much linked to Carr who you actually discusses in depth that he is experiencing effects – which arguably are autistic like.

Greenfield has argued that our brains plasticity is prone to reshape and acclimatise to its surroundings. This notion of thinking and mind adaption is extremely important to look at in correspondence with what Carr talks about, especially when considering that thinking processes are in part the product of interaction with an environment.

Given this concept then, it could be argued that at every significant milestone of technology in our existence, our mind adapts to suit the nature of such device. We aclimatise and adapt to technology, and the Internet is another example of this. However to adapt in such a way where we can fully utilise the opportunity the medium facilitates, we must first understand the signs and conventions, and it is with the Internet that we are still learning. We are at a point where we have developed a technology which has so much to understand, and we are amid that journey.

So ultimately, her argument and discussion of the implications to the development of our mind in increasingly important given our increasing immersion into digital technology and the Internet, and therefore Greenfield and her work (including this video) are right at the forefront in my study. Furthermore it gives more emphasis on what Carr argues in terms of looking at the forefront and considering he is the main inspiration for my study, this is very important.

 

 

References

Greenfield, S. (2015) Mind Change. United Kingdom: Rider.

Channel 4. (2015) Technology Debate:Baroness Susan Greenfield and Dr Vaughan. News video. [online] Available at: https://screen.yahoo.com/popular/technology-debate-baroness-susan-greenfield-131846789.html [Accessed on 25/08/15]

Resolutions?

Just a quick post to say that I spoke with reprographics this morning and they said they would print and cut 2 new sets of cards and post them out to me. Hopefully these will turn out ok. So this is quite a positive result and one that I am glad has been resolved very quickly.

Annnd, we have a problem.

So I dropped off all 55 pdf files to reprographics and was there whilst they were printing and cutting. I got 2 sets of cards; 1 to hand in, and 1 to use during the presentation and to keep for myself. The full deck is laid out and shown in Figure 1 below.

20150824_181932

Figure 1. Printed playing cards

Unfortunately I noticed that the way the cards have been cut in extremely bad. It appears that upon cutting the rounded edges of the cards, it has completely messed them up and they all have jagged edges. The images below (Figure 2) are close up’s of the cards and you can see what I am referring to. There are only a few cards which do not have these miss cut edges, the images below are just a few selected examples.

20150824_182315

Figure 2

20150824_182343 20150824_182400 20150824_182509

I am very disappointed as the cards themselves look very good. The quality of print is very high, and the benefit of using vector graphics over bitmaps is extremely evident. Also, I was worried about the surface of the paper causing friction with each card where they didn’t slide over each other well (like playing cards should). However this is not an issue at all so that is a positive note.

I’m really not happy with the outcome of the cards. It was staff at reprographics that advised that they could cut rounded edges and they showed me examples where this had been done. These were mostly business cards and the finish looked very clean and professional. My cards aren’t even close and its very obvious that they haven’t taken care or time to achieve a clean finish which is disappointing.

I will not hand these in as I’m really not happy as they are. I have put a lot of time and effort into this project and these cards and I feel that at present they don’t represent that and also they will drag the overall quality of my work down. Therefore I will contact reprographics and ask them to print 2 sets again and ensure the finish is as it should be. If they cannot round off the edges without making mistakes I will just have the cards with straight edges. If they will not re print I will just have to get refunded and hand in digitally.

I really want to hand the cards in as a physical outcome and I really hope this can still be done. However I have now spent a day on this task and its very frustrated as it is a day wasted. I will speak with reprographics tomorrow and blog about what I will be doing next.

Printing

Today I have come into uni to speak to reprographics and print out some test cards that I made in Illustrator and posted on the blog – (19/08). Figure 1 (below) shows the rough print and cut of a 2 cards showing the one front and the back design. I think the design has printed very well and looks very strong.

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Figure 1. Test prints

After talking to the staff at reprographics we discussed the best way to export the documents and they explained some more things to me. This was very helpful as I understood the process on their part which meant I could create the files with these facts in mind. For example, the crop marks are the exact lines that are cut on but the cutting lines are not always 100% accurate. This means that the black edge I had previously could interfere with the cut and the finish would be poor. I can get around this by removing the line, creating the background the same colour as the card, and then adding crop marks on the card itself. This means that the cards will be cut to the exact measurements I need and if there are slight imperfections, they will not be noticeable as opposed to before because there is a constant colour.

However this meant that I had quite a lot of exporting to do and as this was going to be time consuming I thought I would try to put each suit onto one a3 sheet, adjust the background colour, remove the lines and add crop lines to each. Figure 2 (below) shows a print off of these files. Unfortunately the staff at reprographics said this was not the best option and for a clean cut I should create each file individually.

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Figure 2. test prints .2

I have now created 55 individual cards (13 for each suit, 2 jokers and the back) that are ready to be printed and cut. Some examples of these are below in Figure 3. Please note that the images are poor quality and quite pixelated as I have just exported the pdfs as Jpegs to make viewing via the blog easier.

Clubs A

Figure 3 Cards setup for print

Diamonds A Hearts A Spades A

Joker 1 Joker 2

back

Finishing things off

Since I last posted I have been finishing up on some small tasks. I broke down everything that I have left to do before submission and the list is as follows:

Cards

  • Print tests
  • Print off 2x cards
  • Buy plastic tuck box/ Design and get one printed.

Paper

  • Add key words
  • Proof read
  • Design to style in Illustrator and get printed at reprographics

Article

  • 1st draft
  • 2nd draft from Alans notes
  • Proof read
  • Design to style in Illustrator and get printed at reprographics

Blog/ Lom

  • One long post on the wider issues of the forefront (Greenfield, McLuhan, Lev, Carr)
  • Continued blog posting
  • Blog posts on new learning and creative decision making
  • LOM

Presentation

  • Create slides
  • Make notes
  • Practise

I have been extremely specific here by listing each small task. I find this very useful as it allows me to see what I have left to do and I can plan my time very effectively.

Since my last post I have completed my LOM and my blog posts on new learning and creative decision making. Below are the files for these items. (I will redraft the posts and so I will post these to the blog last).

Creative Decision Making

New Learning

LOM

I have also finished proof reading my paper and putting together the documents as a pdf. The file is below.

Paper

Tomorrow I will be going to reprographics to get my test cards printed. Hopefully these will work out and then I can export each card to the correct specifications and hand them all in for print the same day.

4th Project Tutorial

1

Figure 1. Tutorial notes.

2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Today I had my 4th and last tutorial with Alan (notes above).

We went through what I have remaining and discussed my project in relation to the forefront and how I should go about evaluating my work in the presentation. 1 aspect of the blog which I have yet to complete is to discuss existing materiel in relation to the forefront. This therefore was something I talked through with Alan and he suggested I look at Susan Greenfield as she has very recent work. He suggested I post an in depth discussion regarding Greenfield’s work in relation to McLuhan and through to Carr to discuss these ideas and how they are at the forefront of my study and form part of a potentially huge social issue which is very important and one that requires coverage and increased awareness.

We both agreed I have made quite good time up to this point and I should aim to have everything done by the 2nd of September. This would leave a week until submission and therefore gives me some contingency time and also allows me to focus solely in that week on preparing for the presentation.

As I mentioned above, we went through what I have remaining and how I should go about completing those tasks. I think rather than discuss the issues we talked over it would be more beneficial, especially so for my own organisatiuon and time management for me to list those remaining tasks to address exactly what I have left.

Paper

  • Proof read
  • write abstract
  • Mock up to paper style and print off

Article

  • Write 1st draft
  • Redraft
  • Proof read
  • Mock up to article style and print off

Graphic visualisation cards

  • Test print
  • Export each file to correct requirements
  • Get cards printed
  • buy plastic tuck box for cards (depending on time, I may make a box)

Presentation

  • Create slides
  • Plan presentation
  • Practise

Blog

  • Redraft 2 x evaluative posts on new learning and creative decision making
  • go through previous posts where I analyse/discuss new/current material and talk about how and why it is at the forefront
  • New post on wider forefront issues concerning Greenfield, McLuhan and Carr (mentioned above)
  • Continue generic documentation of tasks

Random

  • Complete LOM

 

It does seem as though there is a lot left but this is because I have really broken down each task in quite specific detail. In actual fact I have a lot of small tasks left to complete in a very manageable time scale. By breaking it down like this it give same a much more efficient overview of exactly what is left before submission.

We agreed that I would send Alan a draft of my article to look at by the end of next week and so I shall be starting this tomorrow. I would also like to get my slides started (and finished) soon just so I can dedicate a small amount of time each week going over and preparing for the presentation, which is 3 weeks today.

After the tutorial I quickly edited some tests of my cards to get printed. Unfortunately I didn’t get to reprograhics in time before they closed so the printing tests shall have to wait. This is not a big issue as I have time. Below are the 4 test files (2 different variations in the crop marks) that I will get printed. I am very inexperienced with this part of my work and so this will give me a much better idea of what it is going to look like. Also if it does not work out, then I will have a better understanding of how to solve the issue by eliminating tried methods.

print test front 1

print test front 2

print test back 1

print test back 2

 

 

 

Journalistic article plan and notes

Below is the outline of my plan for my 2000 word journalistic article. This may seem vague but I have already made my argumnets in my 7500 word paper. Therefore this article is a way of me putting forward the same ideas but expressed in a different manner. So I just need to make sure I have an outline of what I will say. Obviously I cannot talk about everything so I feel that it is important to highlight the core discussion in the paper and use this as the basis of my article which is what I have planned for.

Introduction to the main body of ideas and the context of the subject 1000 words

Bush’s paper

Link to McLuhans idea of changing modes of thinking.

Then onto our actual change through discussing Carr

Link to McLuhan again regarding the importance of the medium itself and extensions of knowledge and memory.

End with debate on as ‘we may think’ to as ‘we think’.

 

Expand into current studies and how this argument of mind change is effecting our current behaviour 300/400 words

Talk about Greenfield and idea of plasticity.

Relate/ link to Mark Prensky and digital native/immigrant in response to how young people learn

Explore ideas put forward in Blackboard video.

Expand on theme of Internet as a tool for learning through information retrivel.

 

Identify significance of this situation in relation to learning 300 words

Identify the importance and significance through Neil Selwyn

And William Draves.

Use government documents (Department for employment and learning and House of Lords – The UK’s digital future) which emphasise the need to implement online strategies of learning.

 

Emphasise this point through the way young people are taught to capitalise on this new mode of thinking vs old (Again McLuhan here) 300/400 words

Discuss idea of autodidacticism in relation to using the internet as a tool for learning.

Expand this into how the internet is implemented within schools to teach young people (Wadhwa).

 

Below is the full reference list to the individuals/ material mentioned above.

Blackboard Inc. (2010) The Voice of the Active Learner. Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ5Vy9BgSeY [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Bush, V. (1945) ‘As We may Think’ [online] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/1/   [Accessed on 22/03/2015]

Carr, N. (2010) ‘The Shallows.’ London: Atlantic Books.

Department for Employment and Learning. (n.d) ‘E-Learning Strategy For the Further Education Sector. [online] Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Draves, W A. (n.d) ‘How the Internet Will Change How We Learn’. [online] Available at: http://www.williamdraves.com/works/internet_change_report.htm [Accessed on 09/04/15]

House of Lords. (2015) ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future. [online] Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [online] Emerald Insight 9(5) September. pp. 1-6. Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/10748120110424816 [Accessed on 25/03/15]

Selwyn, N. (n.d) ’19 Key Essays on How Internet is Changing our Lives’ Open Mind. [online] pp. 191 – 215. Available at: https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BBVA-OpenMind-book-Change-19-key-essays-on-how-internet-is-changing-our-lives-Technology-Internet-Innovation.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Wikipedia. (2015) ‘Autodidacticism’. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism [Accessed on 30/06/15]

Wadhwa, V. (2015) ‘Here’s How We Can Reinvent the Classroom for the Digital Age’.
SingularityHUB. [online] Available at: http://singularityhub.com/2015/04/09/heres-how-we-can-reinvent-the-classroom-for-the-digital-age/ [Accessed on 30/06/15]

*** Note ***

Accessed date on list of reference is from when I compiled research notes, hence why they are not extremely recent

 

Updated time plan .2

Tags

As I discussed in my last post, I have decided that since I had changed the order in which I have worked and because I completed the graphic visulisation cards a lot quicker than planned, it would be a good idea  to create new time plans to better represent the tasks I have left to do and the time remaining. This will allow me to asses what time I have to do the remaining work and give me deadlines that are now more realistic and obviously my old plans are now useless given the above facts. At this point I think I have made quite good progress and have a good amount of time left but I also have quite a few small tasks left. Admittedly the biggest parts are finished but it would be very beneficial for me to factor in the smaller tasks in my time plans to give me a working guide.  I will create a new gantt chart which will give me an overview of what I will be doing week by week and then I will create a daily schedule which very precisely outline the work I will be doing each day.

Below are both of the charts.

Gantt chart new.2

Figure 1. Gantt chart

Daily Plan new.2

Figure 2. Daily schedule

Managing time

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I finished my card designs in Illustrator yesterday and I finished these a lot quicker than I initially expected to. Because of this I am ahead of where I wanted to be and so I am in a very good position given the amount of time until submission and the tasks I have remaining. Given this fact I will redraft my time plans to help assess what I have left to do and this will allow me to break down my time and plan well.

(https://screeninculture.wordpress.com/2015/07/22/update-time-plan/)

Referring to my previous time planning (link above) I can see that I allocated 77 hours to complete this task broken up over 4 weeks (Figure 1). It actually took me 1 week and about 20 hours which is a very good turnaround given my initial predictions. I gave a large amount of time because of my inexperience in this area and so I wanted to ensure I had enough time for the quality of the outcome to be high.

GC 1

Figure 1. Gantt Chart

DP 2

Figure 2. Daily Schedule.

I gave myself 10 days to complete the designs in Illustrator (Figure 2). Admittedly during those days I was also blogging and doing tasks orientated with the presentation but even for argument sake if I said 5 full days of Illustrator designing. I actually managed to achieve that task in 1 (very long but still) day. Obviously I did over compensate with the time I allocated myself but it is certainly better to do that than to under plan and now I am in a very good position time wise.

Also it was because I was very organised with every aspect of the work and I will use the rest of this post to discuss this. I feel that there were 3 main reasons that allowed me to start and finish the cards in a very quick time scale.

Research and understanding.

I was able to come up with ideas very quickly for the content of the cards and this was largely down to my understanding of my subject. I had collated a lot of research during the first half of the project and I produced very in depth analysis of the work and ideas I was working with. Some of this research has not had a direct influence with my work and I have previously mentioned this. However I have no doubt that it has had a big influence throughout the project and especially when brainstorming for ideas.

I have spent a lot of time researching and put a lot of effort in with the whole of this project. As a result of this I have a very good understanding of the topic which allowed me to constantly develop idea after idea based off of both the research and going through my paper to highlight key parts. This aspect was very important as I have been able to take a part from the paper and rework it into a different form, but still trying to ensure it puts forward the same message.

I also looked at a lot of material to do with playing cards, graphic visualisations and probes as well thinking about the logistics of the medium. This has saved time now and given me the understanding to be able to go straight into designing as I was very aware of what I wanted to create and I was confident that my ideas were strong. I can really appreciate that this research has benefited me hugely now in regards to time.

Pre-Planning.

I looked back through my blog and over all of the material I had collected and then read through my paper and highlighted key points, names, arguments etc.. I then scribbled down ideas and also gathered lots of images that were associated with my project and put them on a mood board. This process took about an hour and from this I was able to come up with a lot of ideas. So, I think this was very effective.

Also, I ensured that before I started I had finalised the drawings of each and every card. This meant that I didn’t have to think about any aspects when designing. I just needed to implement the designs. Therefore the only thing I had to worry about was using the program. This was extremely useful as I am not very proficient using Illustrator and so this meant I could focus all of my energy on actually using the program. This was one aspect that really allowed me to complete the tasks in Illustrator in very good time.

Organisation

Before I began implementing the design in Illustartor I made sure I had gathered all of the vector files that I needed. This ensured that I didn’t have to stop in the middle of a card to either find one or make one. This in some instances took a bit of time and so it meant that I was able to make the designs very fluently which was a big help.

I also made sure that I named all files in the same manner and put them in folders that were in the right categories. Figure 3 shows the folders I had to make the cards and it made it very easy to switch between each to find what I needed. Obviously this is not a huge factor but it ensures I don’t misplace things and waste time by saving in the wrong place and trying to look for things I can’t find.

Figure 3. Folders

Figure 3. Folders.

Comp

Figure 4. Compilation of designs.

Figure 4 shows the Image I quickly made to compile together every design. This made it easier to choose which design should go where and how I should split them up into their respective suits. Figure 5 shows the same image with each card that has been used crossed out. This helped me see which images I had used and what I had left. I won’t explain the differing shades and colours as it is not relevant. Although this is very rough, it was extremely quick to do and easy to keep on top of and it was very effective.

Comp red

Figure 5. Compilation of designs crossed off.

Figure 6. Illustrator workings.

Figure 6. Illustrator workings.

Figure 6 shows a screen grab from my working in Illustrator whilst creating the cards. Take note of the layers panel. I found that creating new layers for each card design, separate to the card template was the best way to organise the document. I ensured each one not being used was locked and this made it easy to find the graphics when I needed to move, edit or resize them. I am far more familiar with Photoshop and I find that Illustrator’s layering system is more complex and so my method really helped. Although it is standard practise and very simple, I found it to be something which helped me keep on top of things. When I have previously used Illustrator I have got stuck in situations because I couldn’t find where something had been layered as it was messy. Whereas this time I had few instances where I came across problems but when I did I was able to locate and resolve the problem far easier and this was because of effective planning and organising.


I think I have shown very clearly in this post my approach to self and project management including how I have handled time, worked in an autonomous way and shown an initiative in my personal direction. I have also highlighted the extent to which I manage my work and the production processes of my project. Furthermore I have demonstrated my ability to be able to address my current situation and plan my time accordingly based on what has changed in the project in terms of both time and completion.

Rewiring the Brain

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Rewiring the Brain

Figure 1. Screenshot from clip.

http://bbc.in/1GJeTi9

The above is a clip from the BBC’s Tom Chatfield’s, ‘Has Technology Rewired Our brains’ episode. I think this video is one of the best things I have come across in the way it explains the ideas concerning our brains changing due to the technological surge. It is very authoritative and clear, especially considering the content of the message. The narrator questions whether we should worry about our immersion into digital technology. She responds by saying that we absolutely should be concerned as everything we do transforms the connections in our brain. Plasticity is the brains ability to change and adapt in response to our experience in the changing environment around us. And our interaction with objects is very much part of our changing environmnet.

The video considers both sides of the argument in response to this statement; that we are developing screen addictions that could result in attention disorders – much like Nicholas Carr argues.  However it also recognises the potential opportunities. The message of this video is very similar to the core idea behind my work and what McLuhan first argued would happen – a change in the way we think as a result of a dramatic change in our environment due to technology.

Also I would just like to highlight that this video is extremely recent (2015) and draws on issues which we are currently experiencing and more importantly, ones that everyone can relate to. It also makes reference in the video that because of our increased use of screen technology and the pervasive behavior it facilitates that in the future our brains will only be able to focus on short artefacts – such as this 2 minute animated video. This is very effective and is suggestive of what our activity could lead to and gives a great example by referencing itself. Furthermore, the video is narrated in such a way that it is very explanatory and does well to explain the importance of this issue. This is a great example of material which sits at the forefront of my study and because of this it is even more useful.

 

Although at this point of my project, this videos value lies elsewhere. My graphic visualisation cards sit in the same kind of culture space in respect to both being creative, playful and witty. Also they are both somewhat a short experience in the way the material is delivered – the activity resumes on the audiences behalf where they have to think and consider these ideas. However this video is far more direct and didactic whereas my cards are more heuristic because of their ambiguity. Despite this though I think this video is an excellent example of something which is similar to my cards and this helps identify its place in terms of relevance.

 

References

Figure 1. Image obtained from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02hj624 [Accessed on 14/08/15]

Chatfield, T. (2015). ‘Rewiring the Brain’. BBC Radio 4. video [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02hj624 [Accessed on 14/08/15]

Printing Problems

This morning I wen’t into reprographics to enquire about having my cards printed. I was advised to use 350 gsm and it felt thick but not to weighty to the degree it would be to difficult to hold. Also the guy I spoke to said they can cut rounded edges which is very helpful. He asked to put each card in a separate file and export as a pdf however he could not advise me on bleed and crop marks. This is not something I have experience with as I have never had to setup a document for print and cut. So I will speak to Alan in my next tutorial this Wednesday (19/08/15) about this and try to find someone in the CA school who could advise me what I need to do. I plan on having the cards finished by then so it would be good for me to get them sent for printing on that Wednesday.

Although each card needs saving separately I will still design them over 4 documents (1 for each suit). This way will be far more efficient and I can see how things link up when the design crosses over cards. Then I can just highlight each card and drag it into a single document. I have 55 cards – 4 x 13 + 1 back design and 2 Joker cards (1 red and 1 black). Although this may take a little time it will be far quicker to do it this way and also easier to keep track on the overall look of the cards.

Despite the fact I am still not aware of how to get these cards setup for print and cutting, I really hope this can still be achieved. I think that handing the cards in as digital files would be very disappointing as I had, and still have very high hopes for the quality of the final outcome.

Although I am unsure of the bleed and crop marks, I wills still start designing in Illustrator. As I am dragging each card over to a new document I can setup the marks easily enough.

Typography Tests

The last thing I have to do design wise before I begin in illustrator is to decide what front I will use. As I said in an earlier post (09/08/15), I will only be using 1 font throughout, with the cards split into half red and half black – just like in a conventional deck of cards. Below are 7 mockups of 3 cards which all have different fonts that I have narrowed my selection down to.

TypeBookman

Bookman Font

TypeCenturyGothic

Century Gothic font

TypeGaramond

Garamond Font

TypeGeorgia

Georgia Font

TypePalatino

Palatino Font

TypeVeranda

Veranda Font

TypeTimesNewRoman

Times New Roman Font

The first thing to decide is sans or sans serif. From research it is commonly accepted that sans fonts are more suitable for screen and for print sans serif is the best option.

“In his book Cashvertising, Drew Eric Whitman cites a 1986 study of fonts (printed on paper) that found only 12 percent of participants effectively comprehended a paragraph set in sans-serif type versus 67 percent who were given a version set in serif typeface.

Those who read the sans-serif version said they had a tough time reading the text and “continually had to backtrack to regain comprehension.”” (Wood, J 2011)

Out of the seven font types, two are sans serif as although it is unlikely I will use these I still wanted to consider them. Admittedly though I think the sans fonts look better because they have a more traditional feel to them and this is synonymous with playing cards. Also, the design on my cards will be (as illustrated above with the ‘e’) very clean and contemporary and so this aspect combines well to create an effective mix of old and new design which is very reflective of the content and message.

Out of the above fonts I think Garamond is very easy on the eye; its clean, thin and delicate. Also this aspect would be something which saves on ink which whilst not important in this situation, it could be when thinking about the dissemination of my work and mass printing. However I find the ‘W’ quite distorting in the way the lines cross over themselves and I find that there is a short pause when I am reading over the cards. This is a big problem as the point of this project is for the cards to be read very easily whilst they are being used. Therefore the text must not be causing communication issues. Also the font is quite close together, although I could change this by increasing the kerning but because of the issue with the W I think I will refrain from using this font.

The font type I prefer is Times New Roman. Its easy to read, the letters have a good weight and the font is widely used and commonly known which will help increase comprehension and absorption which are very important in this case. Also, as I mentioned above, it is accepted as a traditional font and I think it sits well amongst the contemporary vector design.

References

Wood, J. (2011) The Best Fonts to Use in Print, Online and Emsil. [online] Available at: http://www.awaionline.com/2011/10/the-best-fonts-to-use-in-print-online-and-email/ [Accessed on 11/08/15]

Halek, K. (n.d) How To Pick The Perfect Font For Print Projects. [online] Available at: http://millo.co/how-to-pick-the-perfect-font-for-print-projects [Accessed on 11/08/15]

A few things…

Today I spoke to the Reprographics department at uni and talked to them about printing cards. They said they can print on paper and then cut them out. They can also print both sides which means I can have a both sides of the card printed. The card they use is 250 or 350gsm and playing cards are about 300gsm so I will have to go and feel the thickness of each and decide which is appropriate. The only issue is that they can only cut straight lines so I will need to find a way of rounding off each edge of the card. Each playing card measures 63 x 88mm which means that I can fit all 13 cards on the page (A3) and that means I will only need 4 pages. Half of the cards will be designed with just black and half with red and each page (double printed) is £1.08/£1.06 (dependent on gsm) or 32/36p (for black and white). Therefore this is very viable and an extremely cheap option as opposed to having the cards printed. Obviously they aren’t cut to exact shape but this is something I will just have to sort myself.

I spoke with them about setting up bleed marks to enure the cutting would be correct but I need to speak with them in person tomorrow. I produced the Image below to show them exactly what it is I want printed and then they can best advise me on how to set up the file for the preferences they require. As I would need bleed marks on each card (13) I would not be sure how to do this but I managed to apply an offset path to each card and the Ace card on the second image shows this. So I will take this in too to see if this option would work.

Figure 1. Card tests.

Test 1.2*** Notes ***

I also have my last class lecture tomorrow which is concerned with the evaluative process of the project and will cover aspects of the presentation. For that lesson I have to have 2 X 200 words on documenting and evaluating my creative production processes and identifying and evaluating my individual learning processes. I know the brief asks for these to be 500 words on submission so this will be a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

Final card designs

I have now finalised in detail the designs for my 52 playing cards which are shown below. The drawings are in just black and white to represent the design as there will be colour.

Figure 1. Final designs TT FINAL 2 TT FINAL 3 TT FINAL 4 TT FINAL 5 TT FINAL 6 TT FINAL 7 TT FINAL 8The cards shown are the exact measurements (88 x 63mm) but the content inside them is not to exact scale, but rather a guide. Hence there are some cases where the card suit and number in the corner is drawn over/on – this will not be the case in the finished product.

The content inside the cards will be one flat colour, either red or black. This is synonymous to playing cards and it is a clean and easy on the eye design which is essential given the content being very ambiguous.

However I have decided that the usual colour association will be switched. So, diamonds and hearts will be black and clubs and spades red. This is a very bold decision to make however these cards are my opportunity to be playful with design and step out of the box and experiment with conventions.

The reason behind this is to represent the colossal transition we are experiencing from two different modes of thinking. Essentially this is the core idea of my project and by reversing the conventions of colour, this somewhat represents this dramatic overhaul of existing ideas that have been set in place for such a long time.

*** Notes ***

I still have to decide on a font type. Also I thought about having a different font for each suit (so 4) but I think this creates unnecessary distraction and will only confuse the users. It will also look much more coherent and have a strong element of synergy throughout the cards if one font remains the same.

Having said this I still need to decide on a font to use as the above discussion applies here too. Therefore before designing the cards on Illustrator I will do some tests by experimenting with different fonts to see which works best.

So, once I do this and speak with Reprographics I will be able to start creating the cards.

 

Card Designs

I began brainstorming ideas for my card designs by reading through my paper and highlighting key figures, ideas, arguments and quotes and to look at what I wanted to try and visually depict. I also then looked online at images which were associated with these findings and created a mood board (below) which helped inspire the initial designs for my cards. This was quick and easy to make; its very rough but I think it is a very good idea and made great use of my time because of the ideas that developed from it.

Figure 1. Mood BoardI also looked back at my posts from Practice 2 where I analysed similar work to mine in Marshall McLuhan and Douglas Coupland and used this work to help with my ideas. Below are 6 sheets which have a total of 60 card designs on them. Obviously I only have 52 cards, therefore I need to re draft and edit these designs into final drawings and decide what I will and won’t use.

TT1

Figure 2. Initial card designs

TT2 TT3 TT4 TT5 TT6

 

The card specifics

I will now discuss the cards intention, design and interaction elements of creating playing cards as a medium for my graphic visualisation.

Audience

My cards are aimed at quite a large and diverse audience, this being because it is not really applicable to a tightly defined age group. I would say that based on interest it would appeal from anyone in their mid 20’s upwards to late 50’s. However I would argue that rather than basing it on age, it is more dependent on their personal interests and whether the Internet is something that intrigues them in terms of its implications. So a 35 year old woman who uses social media and websites for news and shopping may not care for the knowledge and factual history of the Internet or the way it can be harnessed for educational uses or self learning. Also, I would argue that individuals who have a better grasp and relationship with the Internet are far more likely to find these cards of interest so it could be put down to a generational sense of audience.

Furthermore I think it is important to acknowledge that these cards require a level of maturity and so young audiences would not be attracted, neither would older individuals who do not have much Interest or investment with spending their time on the internet. Also I think a certain level of intelligence, patience and attention is required to be able to decipher understanding from the cards and to realise their greater meaning and insinuations as they will be very metaphorical and ambiguous in places.

Figure 1. Playing Card sizes

Figure 1. Playing Card sizes

Card size

It is important for me to consider the feasibility of using this medium and one major issue is the size the cards will be. My intention was for them to be ‘Poker size cards’, measuring 2.5 x 3.5 inches. This is because they are the most common sized cards and also because they are not too big to carry around and can be easily stored in a pocket. However their size is small when compared to the space of working with a book (making example of The Medium is the Massage and The Age of Earthquakes) and so this could propose issues with design as it will certainly limit me with the designs I could use.

Therefore it could be beneficial to use a Tarot sized card which measures 2.75 x 4.75 inches; although only slightly bigger, this would be very helpful in giving me more freedom for design. Also, they would be better sized in terms of their aspect ratio to fit on a mobile screen. Although the initial intent for this piece will be physical cards, they can also be appropriate to go on screen as an app (this will be discussed further on in the post).

Figure 2. iPhone aspect ratio

Figure 2. iPhone aspect ratio

Looking at figure 2 we can see that from iPhone 5, the aspect ratio is almost identical to the Tarot card – 1920/ 1080 = 1.7. 1497/897 = 1.668. Where as the ratio for the Poker card is 1.364 (1122/822). This therefore suggests that the Tarot size would be far more appropriate because of its ability to adapt for screen and also the extra size to work with. Although I could still adapt the poker size to screen. However I do think the smaller size offers a lot more convenience and the fact it would be easier to carry around is a big attraction for my vision of the cards. Furthermore they would have a use in the sense that they are playing cards. Given this factor, I think that this product would have a far bigger pool of attraction and it would sell more. Given this factor I think it is extremely important to make playing cards as my idea will have far wider exposure.

Deck size, colour, and design ideas

After looking at Carson’s book, I feel that using colour can cause unwarranted distraction from the content’s message and so I have decided that I would like to use predominantly black and red as these are the conventional colours.  Also I have thought about the joker cards in a playing card deck and this is something I would like to use in my own cards. I think that the figures of Vannevar Bush and Marshall McLuhan would be very appropriate here as I will mention them on the cards.

Potential for digital adaption

As mentioned earlier, although these cards are meant for physical use (and that is how I will be producing them) I want to make it aware that they would also be appropriate for use digitally. Both the size and the way they are to be viewed would work well for mobile devices and they could be used for an app where the audience swipes back and forth to view a card at random. This does pose the issue that the back of the card would become redundant but I do not see this as an issue and it could always be incorporated if needed, for example, by having a button that flips the card.

Also I think it is very accessible as it is quick, easy and does not require a lot of time. There are existing apps for example that reveal jokes for random facts and you merely swipe across to reveal  new content. Figure 4 is an example of this and illustrates the type of app that is not required for the individual to invest any effort.

Figure 4. Random fact app

Random app 2
Figure 3. Random fact app

 

 

References

Figure 1. Playing card size dimensions. Image available at: http://pstudiocdn.appspot.com/images/site/card_bleed_safe.jpg [Accessed on 02/04/15]

Figure 2. iPhone aspect ratio. Image available at: https://gigaom2.files.wordpress.com/2014/09/iphone-aspect-ratios.jpg?quality=80&strip=all&w=804 [Accessed on 02/04/15]

Figure 3. Image available at: http://a1.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Purple3/v4/dc/0d/04/dc0d044a-bbac-d9a0-58f3-baabfd5a76a3/screen568x568.jpeg and http://a4.mzstatic.com/us/r30/Purple4/v4/63/e5/1f/63e51f1f-c817-7bd7-5f4f-3cea392da5bd/screen568x568.jpeg [Accessed on 02/04/15]

3rd Project Tutorial

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Figure 1. Tutorial notes.

2345

Today I had my third tutorial with Alan (notes above). We talked about my paper and discussed how I could better improve it to better refine the introduction so it is tighter and cleaner in stating the issue at hand. We agreed though that at this point I should move on to other tasks and permitting I have the time, I can revisit the paper and redraft.

We went through what time I have left by breaking up the weeks left and assigning tasks to each week. We agreed that next I should begin the Typo Text cards. Initially I planned I would do this last as I could then fully sumarise the content of both written pieces and then base my designs off of that. However this will greatly reduce the time I leave myself to get the cards printed and so I could run into a lot of problems which would be very difficult to rectify given the time. Despite what I mentioned above about having both pieces done prior to starting the cards, I think that I already have my body of discussion and the article will only rework that to its appropriate audience. Therefore the content will stay similar and so it will not effect my design choices.

This is also a good decision as I know that the Typo Text cards are something that I have less experience in creating, where as the article is something I could produce very quickly if needed. Although I do not plan on this being the case, it does give me security in terms of finishing the work in time.

I said that I think Typo Text needs to be changed as they do not explain themselves. It would be very hard to distribute these cards based on this name as nobody would understand what they based on that. Although they will have a name/title and be part of a collective piece of the ‘Open Mind’ project, they still need something to help people understand what they are. We agreed on Graphic visualisation/s (cards).

I also talked through the process of how I would plan my article as it is based off of my paper which is not something I have done before. I will read through, summarise key parts, pick out important figures and essential aspects and base my plan around those. Alan suggested that I focus the article mostly on the context/background of the article which consists of the discussion of our transition form paper to screen technologies and how our immersion into online activity is changing the way we think and behave. I think this is certainly something I will do as it will give me the opportunity to focus solely on the initial inspiration I had for this project.

The most important part of the tutorial was talking about designing and producing the cards. I planned on getting them professionally printed. However cost and time was an issue as they are custom and I am not getting the cards printed in mass. I found one website which could produce in good time and at a good price (above). However after experimenting with their upload options for my images I found it to be temperamental and as it is a US company it is risky if the designs do not print correct/well. Given this factor I decided that I will have to get them printed at universities with the available facilities, at home using my own printer and good card, or hand them in as a digital file. I really do not want to print them myself as I think the quality would be low and in that case it will be better off to hand in digitally. Therefore at some point soon I will enquire with the university about the printing services they have to see if that is an option.

The next few tasks I need to do then are to begin initial ideas and designs for the cards before I can begin finalising them to be ready to start creating in Illustrator and to find out about how I will produce the finished product.

 

Paper redraft

Below is the second draft of my paper. I have made quite a few changes, both content and error wise. There were a lot of instances where I mentioned a term/idea in relation to my argument but I did not introduce that idea and therefore this would create confusion and likely mean that some readers couldn’t fully understand the paper. I have also amended mistakes and edited in adherence to the MLA format like I stated. At this point I am content with what I have produced and will leave it here and move onto the Journalistic article. At the end of the assignment if I have time left over I may look to return and improve the paper but I am happy to leave it as it is.

Paper workings part II

I have now finished the 1st draft of my paper (document below). I have wrote 7200 words so I still have room to redraft yet and as I said I wanted to, I have left this to ensure I didn’t have to cut out too much of what I already have. I think that I have provided a well supported argument to put my point across and I have concluded effectively by summarizing what I found but I do think there are points where the writing does not flow that well and some things are awkward to read. Therefore this is something I will address when redrafting. Also at this point I have not proof read for errors or wrote in MLA format. This is because I will go over it with Alan for guidance and so I expect to change aspects of this based on his advice. Therefore it makes sense to edit the content before ensuring all mistakes are addressed and the paper is in the correct format. This way I only need to do this once and I can ensure it is all done at the same time.

I planned to carry out interviews at a primary and secondary school with the headteachers to find out about the way the Internet is implemented in the students’ learning experience. However I still have not yet received ethics clearance and so unfortunately by the time I do and then carry out the interviews and process the results this will be very late on in the assignment. Therefore I have decided to not follow through with this option and instead I have planned my paper in a way where new research I found replaced this element  in a suitable way.

1st draft of Paper (finished)

*** Notes ***

Aside from finishing the 1st draft of my my paper I also decided that I want to begin planning for my presentations soon. I know it is soon but I feel that begining this stage will allow me more time to practice to ensure I am prepare. This aspect will not take up much time until a couple of weeks when I dedicate mor etime to the task but I think the extra two weeks will put me in a good position further down the line. At this point I am writing which is something I am strong at and can produce in good time because of prior experience. However when I come to making my Typo Text cards I feel this could be difficult because of my inexperience with Illustrator. Therefore getting a start on my presentation soon will ease that pressure slightly. Obviously my slides and script will change as I get closer to finishing but the core structure will remain the same (or very similar).

I also have thought about getting the Typo Text cards printed and unless I have planned in advance then I think I will have issues getting them printed in time. So I need to begin researching companies who print cards with custom designs and get in contact with them to enquire about price, how long it takes, product, quality and file types. This is something I will discuss with Alan in our next tutorial this coming Wednesday (05/08/15) as he may well have a better understanding and be able to give me advice for a starting point.

Now I have finished my Paper I plan to begin my article and so I will plan this base don elements of what has been discussed in the paper. I will also look through the guides I found to familarise myself with style guides for journalistic writing.

And lastly, as stated above, I would like to make a start on my presentation soon.

 

Paper workings part I

This post will be an update to just illustrate where I am in terms of writing my paper. At this point I have wrote the introduction and the background which accounts for 2400 words, so a third of the way through. This extract can be found in the document below.

1st draft of Paper

The background is split up into 2 parts (which I will discuss shortly) and because I had planned quite well I found that I was able to write this initial section quite efficiently. I started off with this quote from Carr,

“We seem to have arrived, as McLuhan said we would, at an important juncture in our intellectual and cultural history, a moment of transition between two very different modes of thinking.” (Carr 2010: 18).

My paper discusses the account that Carr gives regarding his experience of how he is responding differently to reading on the Internet as opposed to books; essentially he is talking about the change in mediums and this is something which is fundamental to my argument. Therefore opening the paper with this statement instantly establishes this ‘change of thinking’ that is very important for readers to understand.

Also, I felt that the background was a very important section to allow the reader to understand the meaning of what I am discussing and by talking about Bush I was able to explain in detail the historical context, and also the need and relevance to discuss this subject. I talked about the journey from Bush’s Memex through to the world wide web in order to show how we have got to where we are in reference to what Carr discusses. This helps understand what Carr was arguing by making sense of the way we think and process information.

The second part of the background was talking about our shift from paper to screen technologies and making example of the 1st section (above). I think that by stating we are in the middle of a transition between two different modes of thinking and explaining the influence this has on our ability to learn through the Internet follows up very effectively for the body of my paper which will I will be starting next.

*** Notes ***

Aside from starting my paper I also looked through the brief to famiarise myself with the Items that had to be handed in. I am very aware that I need to produce three linked elements; My project, documentation recording the process, an evaluative presentation and a completed LOM. It was the exact requirements of the blog which I was not familiar with. Although now I have looked I know that I need to produce the following:

  • 10 examples of material that is on at the forefront of my study that relates to my project.
  • 5 examples of where I have shown that I can effectively manage my time.
  • A 500 word post on creative decision making.
  • A 500 word post on new learning.

Obviously the last 2 will be something I do after finishing my project artefacts. The first 2 though I know I have already shown examples of throughout the blog. I just need to see how much I already have and then I can figure out what is left for me to do. I will tag the posts and also put in separate sub categories to make it easier to find these items.

 

 

Academic paper plan and notes

Following on from my tutorial where me and Alan discussed the direction of my project, I have now completed the plan for my academic article which i will begin writing shortly.

Intro – 400 words

Theory Part to introduce main idea (200 words)

Introduce Carr’s idea and say how despite 2010, it is becoming increasingly more relevant to examine in light of eLearning and information retrieval.

Introduce Neil Selwyn Ideas

Shirky platform ideas

Aarseth link back to Carr

Explanation of paper (200 words)

Explain paper will look at context of bush’s memex and how it materialised into www.

Then list what will be looked at in order to examine the implications of online learning through internet.

 

History/ Context – 2500 words (1700 – 2000)

The issue in context – 1400 (1000) words

Explain Bush’s paper. As we may think. How Bush visualized a machine that would work ‘as we may think’. For machine to work by association rather than numerically and alphabetically.

Ted Nelson developed this vision by exploring the idea of hypermedia and TBL materialised the memex notion into the WWW.

To which we return to Carr’s work and present day in which we can look at Bush’s notion by, – As we have come to think.

Explore the idea that carr’s established ‘problems’ could be unintended consequences of the memex idea.

Support this by McLuhan’s idea that “We make the tools and the tools make us”.

This leads onto the idea that Bush devised the idea of the memex so that machine could operate the way we do, but taking Carr’s argument into consideration, do our minds now operate the way machine and hypertext do?

Support this with Susan Greenfield and her argument that our brain is accustomed to acclimatise to changing environments and the surge of the internet and its influence on our lives is the biggest change we have experienced – and it is having unprecedented effects.

On the cusp and bridging the gap – 800 (500/600) words

What is natural thinking? Singular or poly. Singular favours traditional paper reading – the book. Poly favours what is current – hyper reading and the www.

Introducing the change from physical information. – The library/ books/ concrete geographical locations – means limited. Singular, chronological reading/ dictating/ one to many

To this…

The internet/ hyper, ergodic reading and navigation/ multiple media at once/ not limited by location/ grassroots up/ liberating/ increased opportunities.

Talk then about Marc Prenky and Digital native etc…

However…

Implications come with this, and these implications (mentioned in the intro) will be discussed in the following body to assess the limitations of eLearning and information retrieval. Explain the relationship with internet and its users and talk about their online behaviour.

State that the affordances the Internet offers in terms of learning and providing us with information are seriously undervalued. In many ways they are undervalued because individuals are unaware of the potential that the Internet facilitates and also due to the fact that they are unaware of how to harness these possibilities (this behaviour is explained in B1 and B2. In B3 we can establish the remedy for this and where these issues begin – in education.). At the present time, we are at a point where we have not been taught to deal with what is now. The state of information cannot be harnessed because it has not been taught. Teaching needs to catch up with where we are now, and the internet is at the centre. This is where B3 leads on and wraps up as the remedy or ‘solution’ to this article.

Explain the currency and relevance of the paper – 300 (200) words

 

Body 1 – 1400 words (1000)

Immediateness/ Our reliance on S.E/ The physical change

 

Body 2 – 1400 words (1000)

Reliability/ Democracy of content/ Active & passive learning online/ PC Culture

 

Body 3 – 1400 words (1000)

eLearning/ Mooc’s/education in the classroom/ Autodidacticism

 

Conclusion – 400 words

 

 

I decided that I would write a rough first draft and so the word count in brackets is my guide for the 1st draft which adds up to 5000 words. I have done this so I can then sumarise what is missing, what is needed and what isn’t to then add to it. I feel this is a better and smarter way to work than to write 7500 words and then realise I want to add more which could be another 1500 words. This means I am having to cut out content and not only does this take up time, it also means I may be reducing the quality by removing something that is valuable.

Below is the document of my notes. I have separated them under the headings for each section of my plan which for me, is the best way to organise my research. This way I know exactly where I need to make references and what to. It is also easy to refer back to when looking at my plan to see what I need to cover.

Research notes.

 

Progress report and 2nd Project Tutorial

Prior to my tutorial with Alan this week I emailed a progress report ready to discuss. Some of this content is below. I have included it in this post as un update as to where I am with everything on the project and where I’m headed.
* I looked at an article which discussed a web application called ‘Flipword’ which automatically translates basic words in to a different language on whichever web page you are browsing. This was very useful to my research as the tool can be considered a practice of passive learning. The way that a language is learnt is embedded in our continuous activity online. Other language tools require you to make conscious effort to go to their site and interact with the learning material. For a lot (probably most) this becomes tedious and can grow old quickly. It is not to say it isn’t effective, but it is forced if the individual isn’t fully committed. Whereas Flipword runs in the background and works in a way that is more natural to its users. I don’t necessarily think the idea could work in helping people learn much past common phrases, but it is more about the passive nature of the application that was of interest to me.

* Planned for the symposium – what I took most from that activity was the currency chart which I reworked from your drawing. I also talked about the canon of my field/ study which you introduced me to in our tutorial. That was the first time I had come across that term and it was helpful to me, both in the symposium and for my study.

* Looked through style and formatting guides for academic papers and journalistic articles. Decided on MLA format and so I will ensure the guides I find are reliable by triangulation. Found a lot of useful material on journalistic articles too and fog indexed a selection of existing articles. Results returned between 11.5 and 13.5. Using 13 as the figure to be highest for universal and generic reading I decided that I will (try to) ensure mine is no higher.

* As you suggested about having a title for my paper I realized that I need a title/name for each 3 outcomes. I have the name for the project – ‘Open Mind’. I think this works well. It concerns the wide issue of online learning, it is ambiguous but I believe it draws interest and it is effective in establishing coherence in the whole project and its 3 outcomes. I think the title for the cards needs to somehow try and inform the audience of what it is. I don’t know quiet how to achieve this yet but I think that ‘Typo Text’ needs more. An academic paper, a journalistic article, they are self explanatory but people will not understand what Typo Text entails and that is a problem. Also, in terms of titling the paper and article, I’m not able to do this until I have refined the direction of my study more (see below).

What I plan to do next is:

* Discuss this article which I think is an interesting read – http://singularityhub.com/2015/04/09/heres-how-we-can-reinvent-the-classroom-for-the-digital-age/

* Plan for symposium next week (It’s on currency and the forefront of my practice). I have covered a bit of this in this module and Practice 2 so that is good, I have more to add to it and will look to find more if I need to, but it’s good to have a strong foundation for the symposium already.

Some thoughts:

* I’m at a bit of a blank space in terms of continuing with research however. I fully agree with you that at the moment my focus is too wide and not refined enough. This makes it hard for me to visualize the outcomes of my work and to really think about it in detail and I am at the point where I really need to be doing this.


2nd Tutorial

20150723_214006

Tutorial notes

20150723_214020 20150723_214045 20150723_214059 20150723_214114 20150723_214127 20150723_214156

Today I had my second tutorial (notes above) with Alan where we reflected on my progress report and identified where I am and what needs to be done next. The focus was on the academic paper as this will be my first task. This will include in all detail everything I have on this subject. Therefore when I come to write the academic article I can asses what is best to include based on my paper. Then finally I can consolidate every idea and argument I have put forward and begin designing my typo text cards.

We went back to my initial inspiration for the project which began with the Nicholas Carr and The Shallows and talked about how my project initially began and what my interests with this were. From there we discussed Vannevar Bush’s paper, ‘As we may think’ through to Nelson’s ideas and onto the materilisation of the world wide web and back to the point where Carr discusses. This forms into a very strong set of ideas about the context of what my paper will be about, followed by an introduction of the change from paper to screen technologies and how with the internet at the hub, our reading and information retrieve habits have been reformed, or arguably, reformed us.

I agreed to meet Alan again in two weeks for another tutorial and in the meantime email him a draft of my paper. At this point I now need to organise my existing research and finalise a detailed plan and then I can begin writing my paper.

Updated time plan

Tags

As I discussed in my last podcast (#6) I have decided that since I am half way through the assignment that I will create new time plans to better represent the tasks I have left to do and the time remaining. This will allow me to asses what time I have to do the remaining work and give me deadlines that are now more realistic. I will create a new gantt chart which will give me an overview of what I will be doing week by week and then I will create a daily schedule which very precisely outline the work I will be doing each day.

Below are both of the charts.

Figure 1. Gantt Chart

Figure 2. Daily schedule

DP 2

 

Planning for Symposium #2

I have just completed my day of planning for the symposium which is in one week’s time. Below are the images for my slideshow followed by my discussion revolving the questions/areas that need to be covered.

Figure 1. Symposium slideshow.

Figure 1. Symposium slideshow.

Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6Slide 1. Intro, name, project name and short synopsis.

Slide 2. How your work relates to the forefront in your field?

My discipline, Screen Cultures, explores the nature of modern life and how technology defines our experiences in a time when digital media is prominent in the way we live our lives. Above all else though, Screen Cultures is about the study of the cultural aspect of our journey from paper to screen technology, and how that journey shapes how we see and understand our world. Screen Cultures is concerned with the devices we use to entertain, to educate and inform ourselves and, essentially, in 2015 the Internet is at the hub of everything media. Screen Cultures in many ways is about convergent cultures.

My project begins with and draws on Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows (2010) in which he provides a commentary about our immersion into screen based hypertexts and the comparisons this has with paper based reading, and how both shape our mind and view of the world. Carr argues that with the shift from paper to screen there has been a significant change in the way we think, remember and experience cognitive processes.

This therefore is right at the forefront of my field and is concerned with the very nature of my degree.

 

Slide 3. How have you identified the forefront of your field in terms of: people & key works?

Nicholas Carr (John Naughton similarly discusses) In his 2010 book, The Shallows, Nicholas Carr, an American author whose work covers technology, business and culture discusses his experience with the Internet in the last 10 years and explains how it has changed the way his brain receives information. He identifies that now he will find his mind wondering off and argues that it is his obsession and reliance on the Internet that has caused this change. He states that the net is a tool which houses an abundance of information but because of its infrastructure we find ourselves intercepting small pieces of information which are often not thoroughly developed. It is this concept that he ultimately argues is the result of us living in ‘the shallows’ of the medium.

Susan Greenfield (Marc Prensky). Both contribute to the current debate about the way our brain processes cognitive activity and behaviour that are shaped by dealing with information online. She believes technology is having an impact on the brain and states that the brain is susceptible to acclimatise to its environment and with the environment so drastically changing (our activity online and its increasing dominance) – this causes unprecedented effects to the development of our brains.

Slide 4. How have you identified the forefront of your field in terms of: current debates and ideas.

When we think about using the Internet as a tool for learning, for many of us we can acknowledge how this is achievable. However I think the affordances the Internet offers in terms of learning and providing us with information are seriously undervalued. In many ways I think they are undervalued because individuals are unaware of the potential that the Internet facilitates and also due to the fact that they are unaware of how to harness these possibilities.

I also came across two government documents, the first from the ‘department of employment and learning’ and the second published by the authority of the ‘London House of Lords’. The first document concerns the Interest of solely E- learning strategies whilst the last one regards ‘The UK’s digital future and credits significant discussion to that of the Internet’s importance in developing education. This alone highlights the currency and relevance of this subject matter.

I have also looked at Massive open online courses and came across how they were being implemented in Africa through the African open university. It is very recently that these open courses have experienced exponential growth and as a result they have gained interest from governments. It is very plausible to say that in lower economically developed countries in Africa the need for education is so important. Poverty, violence, extremism – One of the roots of these problems is lack of education. Taking this statement into account illustrates just how important education is and more so in countries which lack the opportunity’s to do so.

eLearning has become high on governments agendas as they begin to understand the monumental development in Africa that online learning could encourage. 19 African countries have signed a charter that establishes the AVU as an intergovernmental organisation and the African Union has prioritised virtual learning in its long-term development strategy which highlights the increasing demand and importance of online learning.


Slide 5.
How the forefront you have identified relates to commercial practice’s including technologies and processes.

Online learning is at forefront in that it can disrupt (and radically change) existing ‘economies’ of learning. The financial models by which universities operate and how government manage the workforce of education. Also the way ideas are spread and promoted are commercial practices which are influenced by open sources of information. Information which is distributed by the web challenge the commercial industries of physical artefacts. For example, Wikipedia, blogs, YouTube and eBooks all in some way diminish the value of a traditional book. The same can be said for newspapers and magazines because of online news and fan base communities. Online content presents convenience and immediacy which rank high and appeal to the mass. Finally, the nature of knowledge has changed. No longer is it as important or necessary to remember and recall information, but how easily you can find it and what else you find on the way. It used to be that knowledge was power but in many ways, communication and the ability to be able to find new things has replaced that and this is a huge issue underlying the shift from paper to screen.

 

Project update

This is just a short post for me to track my current progress and where I am. Overall I am behind where I would like to be at this point. I have researched as much as I intended. However I still have enough time and I have also completed other tasks which have been very important to the ongoing development of my project.

In just over a week I have my second symposium which will require a day to plan for and make a presentation. The symposium is about the project at the forefront and the below extract is taken from the module schedule.

“How is your work ‘at or near the forefront’ in your field? How do you know? How do you map the forefront?”

I will probably be planning for this later this week and so it is good for me to just be thinking about these questions over the next few days. I have covered aspects of currency and how my project is at the forefront of my field in this module and Practice 2 so I have a good foundation for the symposium. However I would like to cover this in more depth and obviously my project has progressed a lot since then so I will have more to discuss.

Moving on to a different topic, I have not heard back from the schools that I emailed regarding interviewing their head teachers. I am aware that this time of year is busy for schools so that does make my request difficult and also I only emailed two schools so I was limiting my selection. Over the next couple of days I shall email more schools and see what happens with that.

Recently I have looked into the style guides for academic papers and journalistic articles which I think I did very well and identified the direction I need to be heading in. This knowledge isn’t needed until after I finish my content research but I think it is beneficial to find out this information early so I am aware of it and I can think over it. I also have taken time to consider how to handle and process my research by considering its value to my project. This was developed for the symposium and it help when I research as I can make decisions about material that allows me to be using content which is of the up-most value to my study.

So now I need to continue my content research and begin building my notes and arguments ready to start writing my academic paper.

 

Journalistic article style guide research

Following on from my last post where I looked at the style to write my academic paper in, today I will look into style guides for my journalistic article. I have only wrote a journalistic article once before, in my first year and I didn’t look through guides for that project. So like the academic paper, this style is new to me and I think i will get a lot of value by going through guides which will outline the conventional language and format of a journalistic article. The below article, ‘How Journalists Write’ by Peter Cole of ‘theguradian.com’ talks through the essential demands of journalism.

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/25/writing.journalism

He states that “Journalism is basically a simple game. It is about finding things out and telling other people about them” and “Ultimately there is only one purpose: to make the reader read the story”. (Cole 2008). Cole talks about the difference between story reading, newspaper reading and how journalism is different to creative writing. His passionate account of journalism is very thorough but at the same time simple and obvious. It is a very to the point read and explains the motivations, intentions and opportunities of journalism.

I also looked at these two articles below which are guides to the basics of writing engaging news online, covering language, style, visual appeal – and how to avoid making mistakes.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/article/art20130702112133610

http://themetaq.com/articles/how-to-write-an-article-for-the-web

The first talks more through avoiding mistakes and techniques in doing so, it preaches strongly on multiple proof reading. It states that

“When writing for the web, tell the story upfront. For it to work across all possible platforms and devices, it needs to be told in essence in the first four paragraphs, around 70 words:

  • Make sure the crux of the story is in the introduction – not in paragraph four
  • Check that paragraphs are clear, balanced, provide context, and are effectively self-standing
  • Double-check that the headline matches the story.” (BBC n.d).

The first part is important as it considers platform accessibility and this is something that is extremely important now considering journalism is viewed across multiple devices and so it is essential it is effective in all situations. This is subtle but effective.

It also places emphasis on titles and headings, claiming that the summary is the single sentence which follows the headline and should expand on the headline and should encapsulate what the story is about. Also, these individual items of interest I think are helpful to consider,

  • Subheadings (cross-heads) should be interesting/intriguing phrases that refer to something that is definitely in the copy below it – something that has not been subbed out
  • Quote boxes should sit higher on the page than the actual quote appears in the text
  • The promotion of stories requires strong images and text, but do not over sell
  • Poor links are frustrating for the user; if they do not work or take people to the wrong place. Test them out.

The second of those links starts by identifying the inverted triangle (figure 1) as a general rule when beginning journalistic writing.

Figure 1. Inverted triangle which proposes that the introduction (title, sub head and story intro) is the most important factor in attracting audience attention and is where the article should give its most important information which can be very quickly digested.

Figure 1. Inverted triangle which proposes that the introduction (title, sub head and story intro) is the most important factor in attracting audience attention and is where the article should give its most important information which can be very quickly digested.

 

It also places emphasis on the ‘hook’ and the  ‘lead’ which is the first sentence or two and the first paragraph respectively. These two features spark the readers attention and provide a clear and concise overview of the main points – the who, what, when, where, why and how. The article also says to write in shorter paragraphs as this reflects screen readability and break up the story into sections with subheadings and make use of bullet points or lists if beneficial to making a point clear. I think the following extract is also very important and useful.

“The headline

Search engines don’t get humor. Unfortunately, even the most sophisticated algorithm won’t get that pun, no matter how clever you think it is. That means your headline must be direct and must say exactly what it is you’re trying to convey. Keyword is king, so your cleverly titled ”Ctrl + Z broken code,“ may show better results with the headline of “How to fix broken code.”” (http://themetaq.com/articles/how-to-write-an-article-for-the-web).

To develop on from this I also looked at the following which is written by Allan Little, a former BBC special correspondent and presenter  – http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/article/art20130702112133594

He places emphasis on simplicity and says this is the key to understanding. Shorter words in shorter sentences present the reader with fewer obstacles to overcome which therefore increases comprehension rates and reading speed. Little says that the writer should start with a clear understanding of the information they are trying to convey and regardless of style, clarity and simplicity is at the heart of good communication.

This lead me to think about Fog indexing and using this to identify the score of my writing in accordance to my readers. According to both, ‘Using English.com’ and the ‘Gunning fog Index’ the index for students aged 18 years old is 12.  Technical documentation typically has a an index between 10 and 15 and professional prose almost never exceeds 18. Whilst texts for a wide audience generally need a fog index lower than 12 and the requirements for universal understanding generally need an index less than 8.

I thought it would be a good idea to look at the Fog index of some existing journalistic articles which have a similar topic to my project.

Figure 2. Fog Index for Richards' article (below).

Figure 2. Fog Index for Richards’ article (below).

Doyin Richards. ‘Critical Thinking vs. Social Media’. askmen. Index Score – 11.5 (http://uk.askmen.com/dating/single_fathers/critical-thinking-in-the-internet-age.html)

Nicholas Carr. ‘Is Google Making Us Stupid’ – The Atlantic. Index score: 13.7 (http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/)

John Naughton. ‘I Google, therefore I am losing the ability to think’ – theguradian. Index Score – 9.3 (http://www.theguardian.com/media/2008/jun/22/googlethemedia.internet)

John Naughton. ‘ The Internet: is it chnaging the way we think?’ – theguradian. Index Score – 13.1 (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2010/aug/15/internet-brain-neuroscience-debate)

Cory Doctorow. ‘The Internet is the answer to all the questions of our time’. – theguradian. Index Score – 13.5 (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/jun/15/internet-answer-questions-of-our-time)

 

Therefore based on the above information I would say I should aim my article to be around 12 – 13. By keeping it below 12 it will be more suitable for a much wider audience than that of 13. However I feel that this is a topic which is quite intellectual. Therefore it would be a bad decision to try and aim it at ‘everyone’, and I think there is certainly a required level of intelligence in order to process the ideas that are being discussed.  As my project is split into three texts, this one was intended to be suitable for a more generic and wider audience in such a way that I could spread awareness of the topic. The other two items I produce are then there to approach the topic in much more analytical detail. Based on this factor I would say that it is best to produce this article to have an Fog index score of 13.

Finally, I looked at ‘The Guardian and Observer style guide’ (below) which is the guide to writing, editing and English usage followed by journalists at the Guardian, Observer and theguardian.com. The guide is sorted alphabetically and is extremely in depth as it goes through a multitude or words and phrases by each letter, explaining their proper use. Whilst this list is very useful, realistically I do not have the time to ensure my article adheres to every word or phrase it lists. However I can still look through aspects which I am unaware of and use it as much as is beneficial.

http://www.theguardian.com/info/series/guardian-and-observer-style-guide

 

Refrences

Figure 1. Image available at: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/ca/Inverted_pyramid_2.svg/400px-Inverted_pyramid_2.svg.png [Accessed on 10/07/15]

Figure 2. Image obtained from: http://gunning-fog-index.com/index.html [Accessed on 10/07/15]

Cole, P. (2008) How Journalists Write’. theguardian [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2008/sep/25/writing.journalism [Accessed on 10/07/15]

McComb, L. (2011) ‘Meta Q how to: writing a web article’.
[online] Available at: http://themetaq.com/articles/how-to-write-an-article-for-the-web [Accessed on 10/07/15]

BBC. (n.d) ‘Writing for the Web’. BBC Academy. [online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/journalism/article/art20130702112133610 [Accessed on 10/07/15]

theguradian.com (2015) ‘The Guardian and Observer style guide’. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/info/series/guardian-and-observer-style-guide [Accessed on 10/07/15]

Gunning Fog Index. (n.d). [online] Available at: http://gunning-fog-index.com/ [Accessed on 10/07/15]

Using English. (n.d) ‘Term: Fog Index’. [online] Available at: http://www.usingenglish.com/glossary/fog-index.html [Accessed on 10/07/15]

 

Academic paper style guide research

Today I have begun researching the style, format and structure for academic papers to prepare for when I begin writing. I have never wrote a paper, only essays. However the both of these are very similar and I have previous experience in covering aspects of an academic paper such as the methodology of my research, writing an abstract and summarizing my findings from primary research. Admittedly this is something I have only done once but I still have an understanding of the generic format required. The link below is a guide for formatting and organizing a traditional academic paper.

http://uncw.edu/ulc/documents/OrganizationofanAcademicPaper.pdf

The guide states that, “Most traditional academic papers adhere to the following basic format –

I Abstract,

II Introduction,

III Background/ History/ Lit-review or Methodology,

IV Results,

V Argument/ Critique or Discussion,

VI Conclusion,

VII Works cited or References.”

Looking at the above, I can asses which of the criteria is most applicable to me. Obviously I will have an abstract and introduction. However the methodology is more appropriate for primary research. Whilst I do have this, my paper is not centered on my findings, they merely help support my argument and so the methodology may not be essential, at least not in great detail. I would say that discussing the background and history of my subject is more important as what I am looking at is extremely current and therefore a lot can be gained and understood by reviewing what my topic proceeded and its earlier influences.

Again, I will have primary research but it is qualitative data therefore there would not be figures to establish prior to my argument and so this section may be superfluous. Of course the following sections would then be applicable.

Of course this style guide is intended as a general guideline across multiple disciplines to get familiar with the content of an academic paper. I found this useful however just to get a firm understanding of the layout but I will also consult specific guidelines for the journal I am aiming my paper towards.

I have found two writing styles, MLA and APA which are both featured in the links below.

MLA guides- http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/academic1/mla-style-papers/, https://www.academia.edu/1128004/Style_Manual_Review_The_MLA_Style_Manual_and_Guide_to_Scholarly_Publishing

APA guides – https://explorable.com/apa-writing-format

I also found a very detailed style guide for ‘SAGE journals’ (below) which outlines in great detail every aspect of the requirements for their journal.

SAGE guide – http://studysites.uk.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/pdf/SAGE_UK_style_guide_short.pdf

As well as SAGE I also looked at academia.edu (https://www.academia.edu) which is a platform for academics to share research papers. As a member I could upload my paper unlike SAGE, where it has to be reviewed and published upon acceptance. I think given my short time frame for this project it makes sense to upload my paper to academia.edu. This way I can still produce an academic paper and publish it online as well as submit for my assignment.

Looking into the MLA and APA styles more, MLA is widely used in humanities, whereas APA is used more in the social sciences. MLA is accepted as a format to publish on academia.edu therefore this is the style I will use to write my paper and I will use the two guides above (one of which is via academia.edu).

I also came across another paper, ‘Writing an academic paper for publication.’
It provides a very in depth discussion about how to structure a paper and a methodology of the entire process. For example, one aspect which was very helpful to me was the following:

“Different people have different writing styles, but we suggest you write in small sections, you start without thinking too much about grammar,punctuation and style. Once you have some draft sections on paper you can come back to it at anytime and edit the text. More importantly, when you have a draft you can both (a) make notes of ideas for later, e.g. things that don’t fit your argument exactly; points for your discussion or recommendations; and perhaps more importantly, (b)let a colleague, friend or supervisor read and comment upon your draft.” (Simkhada PP et al 2013: 3).
Of course it is still good practise to write in as close to the style as is easily natural without having to stop and look through the guide. I always have my full bibliography wrote out which makes it very easy to find the author, date of publication, title, URL etc.
Now I have decided on a journal and a writing style I will read through the guides again and revisit these later when I begin writing my paper.

 

 

 

References

Wilkinson, W. (n.d) ‘Organization of a Traditional Academic Paper’. WRITING SERVICES – UNCW – DePAOLO HALL, 1ST FLOOR-962-7857. [online] Available at: http://uncw.edu/ulc/documents/OrganizationofanAcademicPaper.pdf [Accessed on 07/07/15]

(n.d) ‘MLA Format Papers: Step-by-step Instructions for Writing Research Essays’.
Jerz’s Literacy Weblog. [online] Available at: http://jerz.setonhill.edu/writing/academic1/mla-style-papers/ [Accessed on 07/07/15]

Heaton, R. (n.d) ‘Style Manual Review: The MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing’. academia.edu. [online] Available at: https://www.academia.edu/1128004/Style_Manual_Review_The_MLA_Style_Manual_and_Guide_to_Scholarly_Publishing [Accessed on 07/07/15]

Explorable.com (n.d) ‘APA Writing Format’.
[online] Available at: https://explorable.com/apa-writing-format [Accessed on 07/07/15]

SAGE. (2011) ‘SAGE UK Style Guide’. SAGE journals. [online] Available at: http://studysites.uk.sagepub.com/repository/binaries/pdf/SAGE_UK_style_guide_short.pdf [Accessed on 07/07/15]

Simkhada, PP., Teijlingen, E van., Hundley, V. (2013)Writing an academic paper for publication‘. [online] 11(1), pp. 1 – 5. academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/3030574/Writing_an_academic_paper_for_publication [Accessed on 07/07/15]

 

 

Autodidacticism and the class room

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In this post I am going to look at autodidacticism as this is something which greatly expands on the context and history of self teaching and it is very much applicable in the digital age of how we inform and educate ourselves. Therefore much can be gained from researching autodidacticism as it has direct links to my study.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism

I am going to discuss autodidacticism based on my findings from the above page. Although much of Wikipedia is questionable, I think that in certain instances, and this is one of them, Wikipedia can undoubtedly suffice for the task at hand. Furthermore my study advocates the use and awareness of encouraging platforms like Wikipedia because they are able to provide information by convenience like no other can. Therefore at a time like this when I’m using Wiki’s to gain an overview of a topic and a basic understanding which will help in what proceeds, this is a justified and wise choice. Yes, if i wished to explore this concept further and develop greater knowledge on the matter I would expand my sources and triangulate my material. This however is not always the best choice to make and understanding this is pivotal within my study.

So, autodidacticism is the act of self directed learning about a subject where the person has received little to no formal education. This was a term which was developed centuries ago where education was not as common and therefore self teaching was more of a choice to many individuals. Many notable contributions by have been made to society by autodidacticists through their own venture to enhance their knowledge.

Within education autodidacticism can be a frame for encouraging students to take their own initiative to direct their learning. However, this is something which students of higher education find themselves practicing, mostly at university where students have more independence to control their learning experience. Students at school however partake in a curriculum which is aimed at a wide group. lessons and content are taught as one and the way students work is. The teaching is congealed as a singular method which does not encourage autonomy but rather dictates the learning. The article below expands on this point extremely well and provides a great discussion on why the classroom education is outdated and does not fully utilise the possibilities that digital media encompasses.

http://singularityhub.com/2015/04/09/heres-how-we-can-reinvent-the-classroom-for-the-digital-age/

Vivek Wadhwa identifies the change in education by claiming that “Today, the blackboard has become a whiteboard; chalk has become a magic marker; the slates that students used have been replaced by notebooks; and classes have sometimes gotten smaller. ” (Wadhwa 2015).

However, little else has changed and education does not embrace digital technology as it should. Wadhwa recognises that some schools provide students with laptops and tablets with teachers using technology to direct their teaching. The issue is that they are implementing digital devices, but their teaching methods are the same – dictating learning.

This does not encourage innovation. It encourages passive and repressed activity. The current model of education better reflects the needs of a requirement of factory workers that have to perform set tasks within set teams and meet set targets. Wadhwa furthers this argument by arguing that “If we want to train a group of people to obey orders and not think for themselves, then we should continue with traditional education” (Wadhwa 2015). Current teaching encourages its students to follow a set of guidelines which restrict their creativity, innovation, communication and problem solving skills.

Despite this, a revolution in education is possible. A transformation of the way teaching is delivered where we see the computer replace the role of the teacher with the latter guiding them through as students take responsibility for their own learning. Technology, specifically the Internet can transfer more knowledge than a human can. Wadhwa says that if a student prefers reading and lecture based teaching, a digital teacher could deliver material through ebooks and videos. If the student does not perform best to traditional academic methods, they can learn through games, puzzles and holographic simulations. The teacher should teach their students core values such as integrity, teamwork, respect and commitment whilst the students themselves take ownership of their education through the Internet and technological software and applications.

Wadhwa makes the following points which re very useful in developing on what has been said above.

  • Giving students some control of their learning is the key to engagement. Whilst that sounds simple, in fact it requires a moonshot, because schools of education train teachers to always maintain control. They are worried that they will be evaluated on “loss of control” in their classes and they do not want to take a risk.
  • Mastery of learning is also important. Children need an opportunity to redo assignments until they learn the material. Some people take longer than others to learn, but that does not mean that they are inferior or cannot learn. Grades can be an inhibiting factor: students who get a bad grade don’t want to do the assignment again; they get discouraged. But if they just get the corrections, with instructions to revise (the same instructions everyone else gets), they will do the work. They all want to succeed.
  • This methodology can be used in all subject areas. If students were given as little as 10 percent of the time to work on a project of their choosing, they would be more excited about learning the subject matter. Wojcicki says that 50 percent of the time should be dedicated to blended learning.

 

I think Wadhwa puts forward a very bold argument here by essentially saying that the current education system is redundant. Whilst some of the points that are made are very valid, they are extremely opinionated with little material to back uo the claim. That being said there is a strong identification of the fact that technology is being implemented rather than used as the primary method of students’ education and this is a problem. Again this is opinionated, however I am inclined to agree with this and I think this article is spot on in its general argument. The structure of the way education is delivered should be more tuned to a laissez faire system which enables the students choice. It is this choice that will prevail and create individuals who posses far superior skills.

As I have previously discussed in my research, the way the education curriculum incorporates the Internet in its learning is extremely important. Susan Greenfield has recently published a lot of new material which focuses on our mental plasticity and claims that our brains restructure and acclimatise to their change in environmnet. We are experiencing a big change in our transition between mediums which sees us explore a new mode of thinking and working. However education does not wholly embrace this concept and the structure of early teaching is falling behind the surge of technology.

Wadhwa puts forth very intriguing points which argue that education requires a complete overhaul where the Internet is implemented at the heart of student education. This is a very bold statement to make but rightly or wrongly the discussion Wadhwa puts forth is extremely important to consider. It is very current and relevant to the problems I have previously discussed and this concept of online learning and the way education is delivered is at the very forefront of my study.

 

 

Refernces

Wadhwa, V. (2015) ‘Here’s How We Can Reinvent the Classroom for the Digital Age’.
SingularityHUB. [online] Available at: http://singularityhub.com/2015/04/09/heres-how-we-can-reinvent-the-classroom-for-the-digital-age/ [Accessed on 30/06/15]

Wikipedia. (2015) ‘Autodidacticism’. [online] Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autodidacticism [Accessed on 30/06/15]

Planning for Symposium #1

I have just completed my day of planning for the symposium which is this Wednesday. Below are the images for my slideshow followed by my discussion revolving the questions/areas that need to be covered.

Figure 1. Symposium slideshow.

Figure 1. Symposium slideshow.

 

Slide2 Slide4

Slide 1. Intro, name, project name and short synopsis.

Slide 2. How you are approaching documentation process (techniques, frequency, amount etc…)

My main source of documentation is through my blog. I have one category for the module and tags to categorise the content. So for example my research is different to documentation reflection and also to my evaluative input. I blog on a Sunday and Tuesday as a minimum but so far I have been more frequent and I do expect this to continue, however I stated 2 because I did not want for my blogging process to be detract from the project itself as whilst documenting the process is important, ultimately the outcome is obviously most important.

All of my blog post lengths differ. I set myself no minimum or maximum length as I judge what I need to document based on the current task. For example if I am reading a book or a paper I may be more analytical in one instance than another because I feel it is more beneficial at that point. Because of previous work I feel confident enough to judge how my research and working methods are contributing to my project and what is sufficient enough.

Slide 2. Why is this appropriate for my particular project

The blog facilitates the use of multimedia and so I can show and talk about many different formats, which is very useful to my research. Also, by being able to tag allows me to structure my documentation for a more convenient method of access and this saves me a lot of time.

Slide 3. How am I approaching reviewing my documentation and reflecting on activity

At the end of my working week on a Tuesday I podcast for about 3 to 5 minutes where I address how things have gone in the week, if I am on target with my schedule, and what I have found at that is beneficial to my project as well as what I have to do next week. This allows me to reflect on the current progress and sit back to see where my project is going and it also allows me to keep on top of my work which is very effective.

I also ask myself at the end of the week what I found out that surprised me and why. This stimulates deeper thought and interaction with the material I am looking at and helps me to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of my work.

Slide 4. Any changes I plan to make

I have reviewed where my project is and I am looking to refine the content and rather than be diverse with my scope. By narrowing it down and being precise will allow me to produce work which is very developed and deep in what it looks at. Of course this means that previous research may not be directly usable, but it is certainly not wasted as it gives me a wider and richer insight into what is happening in my field and influences my thinking and understanding of external factors.

Slide 5. Any effective or striking aspects that may be useful to other members of group

Talk about looking at key figures (canon) to embed knowledge of whatever you are doing in experts of your field and also consider the reliability of whatever it is you are looking at and if appropriate, judge its value based on currency vs reliability.

 

 

 

 

 

1st Project Tutorial

Alan's notes.

Alan’s notes.

Scan-1 Scan-2 Scan-3 Scan-4 Scan-5

Today I had my first tutorial with Alan for the project this semester. We looked at where I was and covered quite a few things regarding my work which have been very helpful in different areas. I have attached the images from Alan’s notes (above) and will make reference to these further on. I will use this post to cover what we discussed and add my thoughts by breaking it down into the 8 different aspects we covered.

1. Ethics

A few things on my Ethics forms were wrong, either missing or not outlined with enough detail. Also, I hadn’t included any detail to seek permission to interview University staff as I assumed it would not be included. Alan suggested I did just in case and it does make sense to cover any aspect in case it did require approval. I have now updated and sent these forms off.

2. Handling sources

We spoke about how I am evaluating my research material and also how I am considering its reliability. Obviously my study is extremely current and therefore much of the material I look at has to be new in order for me to grasp what is happening with my study. This means I find myself covering a  lot of material which is more journalistic whether through blogs or independent websites and magazines. So, I am dealing with items that may be unreliable with low authority. As a result of this I need to be aware when I look at material like this and to judge its value to my project.

I have always thought of this type of practise in a very narrow way where simply, the newer the source the less reliable it is (generally speaking), however Alan talked through looking at other aspects that are inclusive in these decisions as the diagram from Alan’s notes (above, image 5) show. This is very useful as it allows me to asses the value of an item of research and whether it is good enough to be used in my work. We agreed it would be beneficial for me to make a detailed chart which represents these ideas for me to use in a way that best suits my work. This will be shown in the next post where it will be explained in more detail.

3. Wikipedia

We had a discussion about Wikipedia whilst discussing sources which we both had differing ideas on and I think it is beneficial to quickly talk about it here. I think of wikipedia as a collaborative medium but not entirely. Sure it is formed by multiple contributions into one article, however each edit is done by someone who is in a different place at a different time. So, the end product (the article) is collaborative, but the process I would argue is more singular. An author of an article is editing based on their knowledge and their view on the matter therefore their contribution is not really influenced by others. Essentially (in this instance), it is the article we are concerned with and that has grown in its importance and there is no guarantee that 100 editors of an article is better than 5.

4. Podcasting

Alan explained how the way I have uploaded my podcasts so far is not very effective. They are in a post somewhere which also contains other content and has nothing in the title to acknowledge it is there. On reflection this is a very poor way of organizing my podcasts as it makes it difficult for tutors and even myself to track my weekly progress, which is what the podcasts are intended for. I have now created a sub category for the podcasts and assign them each their own posts. I also title, date and number the post. This is definitely a much more efficient way of access. I also need to introduce the podcast by saying my name, project title and the date and week number to stop the podcast starting in a very abrupt and unstructured manner.

5. Typo Text

Although I stated I would produce 32 cards, my initial idea was to make playing cards. However I decided against this idea as I could only make use of one side of the card (the backs would have to have the exact same design for this idea to work as playing cards) and so I felt it was too restrictive. However I have since felt that as they are they are very niche; they will be used by people who have an interest. Whereas as playing cards the message of the content will be more subtle and it will cover a far greater audience segment. This is because they will be usable as just playing cards. Obviously this does just restrict my space to design but I think it is something I can get around. Also there is the issue of having to produce 52 cards which is a lot but some could be replicated to enhance meaning. I am aware this is a big change from what I proposed however I feel that the development and critical thinking of what I’m producing is positive.

6. Project Name

I already have my project name – ‘Open Mind’. I think this is a very appealing title and fits the nature of my project well. It is short, snappy and easy to remember and it provokes thought about what my project is.

However it is quite ambiguous and does not give enough description to each three of my works. Therefore I need to give a title to each one. I think this works well; the project has its own title and then three individual titles for the academic journal, the journalistic article and the typo text.

7. Style guide

I need to begin looking at style guides for academic journals soon to gain a better understanding of how they are laid out, how they are written, the language that is used and the way arguments are proposed. I will follow up on this task shortly as obviously I need to do this before I begin writing.

8. Project timeline review

Alan commented that at the minute my project is quite open and widespread and that it needs to be more refined. I very much agree with this. Online learning is a very big subject and the specific areas I am looking at cover a lot of ground and that is a bad thing. Obviously I looked at MOOC’s as part of my research and Alan suggested I focus just on MOOC’s as it will be very direct and also it is extremely current in online learning. I think this is a good idea and I certainly think that MOOC’s is a strong and relevant topic to focus on however I feel a lot of my initial inspiration for this project will be lost.

I used Nicholas Carr’s book, ‘The Shallows’ as my starting point and was very interested by the way we receive and store information and how it influences our learning as well as how our reading differs when it is done via hypertext. Although my wider reading will have influence on my understanding and opinion of my subject I feel focusing on MOOC’s will not allow me to focus enough on what I am passionate about studying.  So, I need to think more about the direction I want to refine my project towards.

 

 

Can you waste time online and learn?

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I found these articles online whilst searching and thought they would be of interest to my research.

Hustad, K. (2015) ‘ UIUC’s FlipWord Helps You Learn A Language While You Waste Time On The Internet’ [Online] Available at: http://chicagoinno.streetwise.co/2015/05/27/uiuc-startup-flipword-helps-you-learn-languages-while-online/ %5B

Karis Hustad evidently points out that squandering time on the Internet is no longer a new concept, the web is a hub for procrastination. Whether you agree with this or not is irrelevant at this point, for there is now a way to “waste time” and learn in unison. Whats more is it is all through everyone’s favourite activity – social media. This is the idea of new venture, Flipword which is a web application which automatically translates basic words in to a different language on whichever web page you are browsing in order to make the activity of learning a new language feel natural and non extranoematic.

What is fascinating about this application is it is a passive tool; there is no demand to seek a learning experience and it becomes embedded in an activity which individuals spend a lot of time partaking in. The software automatically changes words on any page to whatever language you choose to learn and by hovering over that word, its native translation is revealed. The transparency of this concept certainly makes it plausible to become successful. There are plans for audio translation to be developed and added into the software. At this point this feature is not really explained so to assume it is intened that audio replace readable words I think may be a negative addition. The benefit of this idea is that it is simple, natural and as pointed out above, passive. However If it is meant to replace the spoken word on web pages then that is certainly an interesting idea. Although I think it is something which could frustrate the audience. This is because listening is a different activity to reading and the latter affords different leniency’s of time, unlike the former which remains the same.

It is important to highlight the passive nature of this tool. Most learning is achieved by active participation where an individual has to make conscious effort to perform tasks that contribute towards their newly acquired skill or knowledge. In the case of Flipword this is not the case as it merely runs in the background and is arguably, subtle in its method of intrusion. Of course it is too early to say if this venture has the appeal to become successful but its intentions would suggest that there is room for something like this to be capitalised on.

This application is a program which is extremely useful in online learning in the sense that it not only is based on passive learning but it is something relatively untested and so at this point it could have huge potential. This is at the forefront of my filed as it reverts the traditional conventions in learning because of the way the tool runs in the background when individuals are online.

 

Sparks, S. (2015) ‘Does Google Help Students Learn (or Just Think They Do?)’ Education Week [Online] Available at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2015/05/does_google_help_students_lear.html

May 26 2015

Similarly to Sparrow et.al, Sarah Sparks looks at whether our ability to outsource our memory actually helps us to learn or whether we are just developing the skills to find answers at convenience. In a symposium on the effects of students’ online searches, several studies looked at how using the Internet affects both the way we remember and the way we think about what we learn. This article is similar to what Sparrow et.al discuss in their paper, ‘Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips. Safer Communications.’. According to the study, which analysed 900 studenst online searching habbits, “59 percent looked for a “quick answer,” 26 percent sought “in-depth information” on a topic, and another 15 percent were simply browsing. Even when students knew the answer to a question, they were likely to check the Internet before answering. “There’s a sense that it’s in there somewhere but it’s easier to pull out your phone than think about it,” Ward said. “ (Ward in Sparks 2015).

Obviously the numbers here are valuable but what Adrian Ward (the proposer of the study) says is very instrumental above all else. She acknowledges that we rely on using the internet over brain. We have acclimatised to a situation where we naturally turn to search engines to consolidate any query we may have. Of course this is extremely beneficial and convenient, not to mention it undoubtedly provides us with an opportunity to develop our collective intelligence. However what it also does is take away from the need and the desire to think about things. Sourcing our answer has become a natural reaction to use the internet and we are developing an ability to learn how to find answers rather than for the reason itself. We are beginning to lose sight of the line which separates where our brains end and the internet begins. As Susan Greenfield has pointed out, amongst others, we are beginning to change how we behave in reference to information; we outsource our memory by becoming inclined to remember how to access the information rather than the answers.

It could be argued that for a long time, knowledge was power. However given what Sparks argues above I think there is a lot of evidence to say that that the ability to outsource and locate knowledge is far more powerful. The shift in the mediums we use is very important, but it is the effects which are more fascinating and this is one of them. There is a lot of current debate about the Internet’s effect on our brain and the way we behave in reference to retrieving information and this article addresses an issue which is right at the front of those debates.

 

References

Hustad, K. (2015) ‘ UIUC’s FlipWord Helps You Learn A Language While You Waste Time On The Internet’ [Online] Available at: http://chicagoinno.streetwise.co/2015/05/27/uiuc-startup-flipword-helps-you-learn-languages-while-online/ %5B
[Accessed on 23/06/15]

Sparks, S. (2015) ‘Does Google Help Students Learn (or Just Think They Do?)’ Education Week [Online] Available at: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/inside-school-research/2015/05/does_google_help_students_lear.html [Accessed on 23/06/15]

 

 

Online or Conventional: Which is the More Valuable form of Learning?

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In this post I have looked for very recent news which dates back to no later than a month in order to gain a greater understanding of what is currently happening at the forefront of my practice. This week I have chosen to develop my understanding of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) and look at how technologies including tablet and mobile, interactive tools and video calling facilitate the possibility of online learning that is rapidly growing in popularity across the world. MOOC’s are developing a lot of interest and their growth is undisputed. The material I have found below undoubtedly demonstrates how these practises are right at the forefront of my study because of their impact and the way they are viewed in society, education and among government officials.

Anderson, M. (2015) ‘Out of Africa: e-learning makes further education a reality for tens of thousands’. The Guardian [Online] 20 May. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/20/elearning-africa-conference-addis-ababa-further-education [Accessed on 18/06/15]

20 May 2015

Zuhar Yasin holds a bachelors degree from Indian University in America. However Yasin has never been to Indiana or the US; she attained her degree via the AVU (African Virtual University), which makes use of video and virtual learning environments online. The AVU was created in 1997 and has offered degrees to 43000 students to date, it is monumentally growing in popularity having announced the opening of 29 new distance learning courses. Teaching authorities utilise apps such as Skype and WhatsApp to communicate with students although specialist software is used to teach actual classes. There is also plans for the AVU to offer lecturers via mobile devices which would dramatically increase the possible penetration of Africa’s estimated 112 million smart phone devices.

Figure 1. An African virtual learning classroom.

Figure 1. An African virtual learning classroom.

However the fact that they use apps such as WhatsApp does reduce the potential reputation of the education that is delivered. There is an unavoidable impression that using such apps take away from the professionalism that degree education so favourably encourages. Although on the other hand WhatsApp is just as sufficient in some ways as email, and for many it is more convenient and accessible. Furthermore these contemporary methods of communication may veer away from a depicted view of professionalism but they are forever increasing in their use in a society where social media, networking and communication is developing through these sort of apps. It should also be essential to recognise that this method achieves what is required – effective communication. None the less, it still feels like a playful version of what should really be academic practice using email.

Yasin is from an independent state in Somalia, a region in Africa which in 2008 had the lowest university attendance in the world with just 6% of school leavers going onto further education, compared to the world average 26%. ‘eLearning Africa’ are an organisation who aim to reduce that gap and nurture the human resources necessary for economic development. The development of such online learning tools can help connect African students with MOOC’s (Massive Open Online Courses) for free from such of the top universities in the world. Mark West who is a mobile learning expert says that “[Virtual learning] is a portal into educational opportunities that, frankly, hadn’t existed before, and some of those opportunities – if you can afford the broadband connection and the hardware to use that connection – are free. For really self-motivated learners, it’s remarkable.” (West, M in Anderson, M 2015). To consider the opportunities that are available, and especially what will be available in the future is quite unbelievable when we think about the economic stature of these countries.

Bakary Diallo of the AVU claims that “In Africa, the need for education is so important. Poverty, violence, extremism – I think the root of these problems is lack of education.” (Diallo, B in Anderson, M 2015). Taking this statement into account illustrates just how important education is and more so in countries which lack the opportunity’s to do so. Education in third world countries is more than knowledge. It is democratic empowerment.

Diallio claims that in his 15 years working in virtual learning, only recently have governments become really interested. It is now though that they have put eLearning high on their agenda as they begin to understand the monumental development in Africa that online learning could encourage. With many parts of the continent facing irregular power supply and internet access it will be a while before eLearning can be fully utilised. However 19 African countries have signed a charter that establishes the AVU as an intergovernmental organisation and the African Union has prioritised virtual learning in its long-term development strategy which highlights the increasing demand and importance of online learning.

This above extract exemplifies the growing importance of online learning and shows how instrumental it is within LEDC’s. This importance is proven by the AVU prioritsing online learning and at such a recent date it shows how it is in their interest for it to continue to develop.

PR Rocket. (2015) ‘E-learning: moving toward a self-servicing society by GSS Infosoft Limited-UK, Parinama Group Company’ [Online] Available at: http://www.pressreleaserocket.net/e-learning-moving-toward-a-self-servicing-society-by-gss-infosoft-limited-uk-parinama-group-company/218914/          [Accessed on 18/06/15]

 

June 15 2015

The authors of ‘Press Release Rocket’ discuss the rapid growth in eLearning and credit the huge growth in mobile, tablet and cloud services to helping this develop. Online learning has existed for quite a while but its popularity to grow in educational sectors is seeing its capabilities increase too.

It is becoming important to look critically at the outcomes of tasks and to adapt those outcomes. We are delving further away from requiring an endless accumulation of general knowledge with a higher focus on the skills to find those answers and increase efficiency and effectiveness. Students are encouraged to add to and modify the content of a course based on the forefront of their field and by increasing the use of eLearning facilities, students are constantly engaged with the course through their smartphones and they are able to capitalise on a dynamic learning experience.

PR Rocket make a bold statement by claiming that “In the near future, universities will not survive as the future is outside the traditional campus and outside the traditional classroom.” (PR Rocket 2015). Whilst this may be true to some degree I think it is very doubtful that universities will become redundant. There is certainly evidence to support the fact that the growth of online courses and MOOC’s could decrease the amount of university applicants, especially with the increased fees. However to assume this is close to happening by sating “near future” I think is possibly too optimistic but certainly not at some point given the increasing technology that allows for greater eLearning. Although to question the existence of university’s future’s is a long shot as there are many benefits it affords such as the social aspect and the peer contact which cannot be replicated via online amenities in quite the same way.

University’s have for so long been an established stronghold for education across the world. The possibility that MOOC’s and online learning could disrupt this fact are extremely important. At the minute this is of course very speculative but the argument remains important. There is no doubt that MOOC’s are gaining more popularity and whether they make physical establishments redundant or help to extend them is as issue which is right at the forefront of my study as the Internet and its capabilities are right at the hub of this observation.

 

Malik, A. (2015) ‘Growth of Smart Online Education Over Conventional Learning’ iamwire [Online] 16 June. Available at: http://www.iamwire.com/2015/06/growing-predominance-smart-online-education-conventional-learning/118182/comment-page-1 [Accessed on 18/06/15]

June 16 2015

Aditya Malik also discusses the debate of where the surge in online learning leaves traditional classroom teaching. He acknowledges the influence of eLearning within traditional education but claims that education restricted to just classroom teaching is now a passé. As true as this may be it should be recognised that universities do not sit in the past and do not impede the implementation of technology to enhance students’ experience and opportunities.

Malik does explain the increase of online learning well by acknowledging the dominance and importance of the university classroom for a long period of time. However he states that people are quickly beginning to welcome the use of eLearning as a way of expanding the concept of a classroom beyond 4 walls to enable greater opportunity.

He goes onto discuss important elements that online learning offers citing interactive tools such as gamification, collaborative and social learning which he says creates a more engaging experience. As well online learning provides students’ with a better ability to evaluate performance via assessment tools which are a lacking affordance of classroom teaching he claims. However he says that online learning benefits from interaction with a 50% increase from a traditional classroom because of the fact that individuals directly interact with professors and are not surrounded by their peers. However peer interaction is something which is in fact extremely beneficial to a students’ learning experience because of idea development, peer reviewing and moral increase and whilst these can be replicated online, they will not overtake what physical presence can offer.

Furthermore he claims that tools such as discussion forums and cloud services empower a learning system which is 24/7 and this surpasses the constrained borders of classroom teaching. However this is a very unjustified claim. There is no reason what so ever that traditional classroom teaching cannot offer online services, and in fact they do. Blackboard for example offers students the ability to further study at their own convenience.

Therefore whilst Malik and many others are right in advocating the benefit of online convenient learning, they also often undermine the fact that classroom teaching can offer the exact same opportunities to compliment the students’ ‘traditional’ experience. Of course this does not take away from the colossal pull of free education that MOOC’s offer but it cannot be wholly said that they offer opportunities that traditional courses cannot, as quite simply, they can.

Malik makes observations which all advocate the implementation of online learning in the classroom and this is something which is very current. It could very much be argued that the current generation are the first to grow up immersed in technology but they were not taught to live and work in this environment. Teaching did not prepare its students for this change but rather taught in such a way that reflected modes of thinking that relied on traditional media. Given this, Malik’s argument is very important to consider and his identification that the Internet can be fused with teaching is something that is right at the forefront of this subject area.

 

Mason, C. (2015) ‘Online courses: grown-up learning gets a makeover with MOOCS, from creative arts to business skills’ [online] Available at: http://www.high50.com/life/online-courses-the-rise-of-the-mooc-and-where-to-find-the-right-course [Accessed on 18/06/15]

3 June 2015

Claire Mason also discusses the tremendous opportunity that arises from MOOC’s by looking at the variety of course that are available. Not too long ago MOOC’s were an unknown term with little offering and now there are thousands of options available with prestigious institutes such as Oxford and Harvard also weighing in. MOOC’s offer the chance for everyone to study whether it be for the purposes of increasing ones skillset or merely as a trivial interest. All study material is provided online and so students are encouraged to interact via social communities which really allow individuals to enhance their learning experience by sharing and supporting each other. However whilst you may be studying with hundreds and even thousands of fellow students virtually, in reality you are very much on your own with just your computer and this is the very primitive structure of MOOC’s. For some people this works well and they would relish the chance to study alone and at their own time and pace, whereas others may feel the non-existent physical community reduces the attraction of online over traditional learning.

She highlights the versatility of courses available by bringing attention to those below; Film making with the NFTS and BFI, creative coding and the literal works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

 

 

 

 

Mason also talk about the benefit it can have to employment attraction. She claims that many employers are becoming more aware of MOOC’s and are beginning to appreciate and understand their value. Employees who have completed them are viewed favorably as having a thirst for knowledge, and the proactivity, enthusiasm and initiative to seek out the knowledge they wish to learn. Furthermore it also displays extremely high levels of motivation, time management skills and autonomy as well as the ability to engage with modern technology which is something that is very appealing to potential employers.

Mason recognises the appeal MOOC’s have and her argument that it is something that employers would appreciate is very important. Of the material I have come across, most of it has discussed MOOC’s on a level of education and improved skills. However there is little coverage in relation to MOOC’s and employability. As a collective we all are prone to develop our knowledge and understanding of our world and this is something MOOC’s can help achieve. An improvement in skills is also something which is highly sought after. However it could be argued that employment perspectives are a very high priority in continued education. Therefore Mason’s observations are very important to highlight when considering the currency and forefront of my study.

 

 

References

Figure 1. (see below)

Anderson, M. (2015) ‘Out of Africa: e-learning makes further education a reality for tens of thousands’. The Guardian [Online] 20 May. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2015/may/20/elearning-africa-conference-addis-ababa-further-education [Accessed on 18/06/15]

Malik, A. (2015) ‘Growth of Smart Online Education Over Conventional Learning’ iamwire [Online] 16 June. Available at: http://www.iamwire.com/2015/06/growing-predominance-smart-online-education-conventional-learning/118182/comment-page-1 [Accessed on 18/06/15]

Mason, C. (2015) ‘Online courses: grown-up learning gets a makeover with MOOCS, from creative arts to business skills’ [online] Available at: http://www.high50.com/life/online-courses-the-rise-of-the-mooc-and-where-to-find-the-right-course [Accessed on 18/06/15]

PR Rocket. (2015) ‘E-learning: moving toward a self-servicing society by GSS Infosoft Limited-UK, Parinama Group Company’ [Online] Available at: http://www.pressreleaserocket.net/e-learning-moving-toward-a-self-servicing-society-by-gss-infosoft-limited-uk-parinama-group-company/218914/          [Accessed on 18/06/15]

 

 

 

 

Ethics and some self evaluation

Today I have been completing the ethics forms that will give me permission to interview the headteachers of two schools. At the moment I have identified two schools and contacted both of the head teachers and I am still waiting to hear back. Should I not be given the opportunity to interview at these two schools I can always look for new places; this will then only require minimal change to my ethics. Obviously I will not send them off for approval before I have agreed on a school/s to visit and conduct my interview. The ethics forms are below.

EC1

EC3

EC6

 

 

Interview questions drafting

Following my last post where I discussed the interviews I planned to undertake, I am going to start drafting questions that I think will give me the information I need to understand how the Internet is used within education. Obviously at this point I have no conformation that I can proceed with interviews but I am confident of getting the opportunity to do so, and if not I will pursue other schools.

Also, I have spoken with Ivan Phillips who is a lecturer of mine who teaches on the Screen Cultures award as well as other courses with the School of Creative Arts about interviewing him to find out his opinion on the matter. So I will speak with him about students who go through their school years and the importance of using the Internet during their learning both at school and at home. I will also be talking about Internet learning at University but whereas the other interviews concern the curriculum of education, I hope to discuss more of the social implications of my subject matter with Ivan.

 

St Andrews Primary School

– Can you tell me about/ give me an overview of the policy of Internet use for your students and also    tell me how it is used within lessons?

– At what age do your students begin using the internet and how do you introduce that?

– How important do you believe that introducing the Internet for learning purposes is in order to prepare them for ways in which their skills will develop in Secondary School?

– Is the Internet and its uses embedded as an integral part of the teaching the students receive or do you just use it to complement existing methods?

– Does the school have an online network/intranet where students and their parents can access work outside of school?

– What is your opinion of interactive learning material, particularly on tablet devices? Do you believe that this is an opportunity that can really help young children develop or do you think it is too distracting in respect to learning?

– Can you give me examples or an insight into the methods you use to incorporate the Internet into teaching and the ways in which you are allowing students to use it themselves. I.E, any particular websites you may encourage students to use to find information on the subject they are currently learning.

– How much time do they spend actually getting use of Internet facilities or even time on computers?

– Do they have an IT lesson? What is it they are taught? Do they learn skills that can then be used outside of that lesson, so in other lessons or at home?

– Do you encourage your students to learn through more digital means as opposed to physical?

 

Debden Park High School

– Can you tell me about/ give me an overview of the policy of Internet use for your students?

– Is the Internet and its uses embedded as an integral part of the teaching the students receive or do you just use it to complement existing methods?

– Does the school have an online network/intranet where students and their parents can access work outside of school?

– What opportunities do you feel this enables for both the teachers and the students?

– What is your opinion of interactive learning material, particularly on tablet and mobile devices? Do you believe that this is an opportunity that can really help your students develop or do you think it is too distracting in respect to learning?

– Are tablet or mobile devices used as platforms for learning and are these provided by the school or the students?

– Can you give me examples or an insight into the methods you use to incorporate the Internet into teaching and the ways in which you are allowing students to use it themselves?

– How much time do they spend actually getting use of Internet facilities or even time on computers?

– Do you encourage your students to learn through more digital means as opposed to physical?

– In regards to homework, are your students encouraged to search further afield using the Internet to help them develop an understanding themselves?

– What do you think about the importance of students developing an autonomous working ethic. Of course following guidelines that are set out by the curriculum and by teachers is essential and beneficial. However being able to be independent with their resources is excellent practise and encourages the development of problem solving skills.

– Is IT a compulsory lesson through all years (if not at 10 and 11 do you think it is something that could add great value to your students education considering the skills it promotes that are very useful when they leave)?

– In IT, what is it they are taught? Do they learn skills that can then be used outside of that lesson, so in other lessons or at home?

– How valuable do you think it is for students to be able to search for credible information and decipher what is relevant and reliable?

– Would you encourage students to make use of Wiki’s for both school learning and independent means?

– YouTube, can you appreciate the value it offers from tutorials of help to informative information? Is this platform at all used by students?

– Do you think that in times where we have immediate access to a huge wealth of information, this is damaging? Is it reducing the ability to find out things for ourselves and to learn through a more unconstrained and free flowing way rather than have answers provided for us?

– At the same time do you think that reading and learning through hypertexts (Internet) opens up different avenues that physical books never could. I.E, navigating through multiple pages on wiki’s that can allow one to develop their knowledge in their own way by making their own choices.

 

There are more questions for the Secondary School as it is this interview which I am more interested in in terms of how much information it can provide that is relevant to my project. Students at Secondary School will be of age to be able to be more influenced by online learning. With the Primary School I am more interested about how they integrate the Internet with their learning as a way of familarising young students to this notion of learning so that it becomes a natural part of the way they think to learn.

 

Consolidation…

This post shall be split into two sections; primary and secondary research.

Part 1

Figure 1. Project influences diagram.

Figure 1. Project influences diagram.

Figure 1 is the diagram I did just to briefly outline the key figures and individuals whose work is influential in my project. This is the result from the research I have completed so far and I think I have a very strong platform and well defined idea to develop on from.

Below are 3 ideas which will form the main argument of my work and the points below exemplify the content of each argument. This is proceeded by a look into the history of hypertexts, online learning, autodidactism and MOOC’s (this will be discussed in later posts).

Reliability issues of online content

  • The authority and trustworthiness of information.
  • The ability to look for credible information and skill to decipher what is relevant and reliable.
  • The democracy and widespread of blogs and wiki’s.
  • The role of Social Media in altering the channel of distribution of content.

The practice of searching for information and reading texts.

  • The surge of video tutorials and entertainment platforms such as YouTube as a learning environment.
  • The changing habits of intercepting information, from chronologically reading a book to skipping between links.
  • Participatory culture and its effect on creativity, self-learning and autonomy.
  • The effects of having immediate access to a huge wealth of information.

The change from a physical to a digital medium.

  • The change in format, from typically written work to multimedia.
  • The physical vs virtual security of content (a book is constant, a webpage can become unavailable and is forever gone).
  • The implications of developing our knowledge and collective intelligence and how effectively we are achieving this.

My methodology of research revolves around looking for content that consider the three ideas above, as well as the historical context section. Below is a word document I have attached which is all of my notes that I have made on current sources. This is the beginning of my secondary research.

Current research notes

I have 26 sources and 7500 words of notes which, as I stated above, is a good start to my research. However I have an average of 4 sources for each of the three sections, with the rest being historical and more general content. Therefore based on this I shall begin looking for material which addresses notions that are concerned with each section. Of course there are a lot of crossovers, hence why I have more general (by general I mean applicable to the whole project) research. So this now gives me a plan of action as to how to develop on from what I currently have.

Part 2

For my project I intend to interview the Head of a primary and secondary school as well as a lecturer at my University. As my project revolves around using the Internet as a tool for learning I am very interested in how this is introduced in education. Therefore these interviews will be a fantastic opportunity to get an insight into how the curriculum of school advocates the use of internet alongside teaching its students. For the primary school the interest sparks from how children from an early age are introduced to this tool and onto secondary school to see what skills they are being taught in relation to learning. Speaking to a lecturer I will discussing more of the topic as opposed to how it is used. So this interview will be more about the implications, the opportunities and limitations of using the internet for autonomous learning and directed teaching.

I want to have my ethics forms completed and sent off by the 24th June, Ideally earlier. Today I sent emails to the headteachers of St. Andrews Primary School and Debden Park High School (links below) to ask if it were possible to interview them. I explained what my project was about and made them aware of the ethics approval and consent procedure. I also have obtained the ethics forms. Now I need to begin drafting questions that I propose to use. For the purpose of documentation I have copied the contents of the email I sent out.

“Hello,

My name is George Whitworth. I am a former student at Debden Park and I am currently Studying at The University of Hertfordshire, doing a Masters degree in Screen Cultures.
For my Final Project I am partially researching into how the Internet can be utilised as a platform for learning, both autonomously and through education. I am very interested to find out about the ways in which the curriculum at your school incorporates the Internet as a tool for learning  and I want to ask if it would be possible to talk/Interview you regarding this matter.

This would be a fantastic opportunity and it would be extremely beneficial for my project. You will receive a consent and ethics form prior to any possible interview that will outline the nature of my project and the manner in which any information is used.

I very much hope this will be possible. Thank you for taking the time to read this email and I look forward to hearing your response.

Kind regards,

George Whitworth”

 

I feel that I have completed sufficient research that I have a very good understanding of my project this early on which gives me the knowledge to create the right questions for my projects benefit. I need to get on with this as it is of course necessary in obtaining ethics clearance. Also, it is most likely that I will need to provide the interviewees with questions prior to the interview. As I mentioned above I will interview a lecturer and so I will need to begin drafting questions for this too. Secondary research is a phase which I have complete control over whereas my Primary research involves the dependence of other people and so for those reasons it is extremely vital to begin with this aspect of the project straight away

St. Andrews Primary School – http://www.standrewsnorthweald.org.uk/

Debden Park High School – http://www.debdenparkhighschool.org/

Mind Change

ArtworkIn his book, The Shallows (2010) Nicholas Carr argues that the Internet is having detrimental effects on our mind and our ability to think, learn, understand and Intercept and process information. He claims that for many, this feeling extends to when we are away from the computer; it has changed our cognitive behaviour even away from the screen. Carr believes that profound use of the Internet has reprogrammed the way our brain works. He continues to argue that the net is chipping away at our capacity to concentrate and excogitate; he explains that he is now accustomed to receive and understand information in the way the net distributes it in a quick moving, skimming nature, and consuming small parts of relevant information.

Carr outlines the harsh reality of our relationship with technology and the progression from paper to screen and the implications that follow. Ultimately he believes that we are merely skimming the surface of information without truly delving in depth like we have done with paper format.

Based on this notion, my project will put forward innovative ideas that develop Carr’s theory and explain the implications of using the Internet as a tool for learning. In response to The Shallows my project will discuss the reliability issues of online content, the practice of searching for and reading information and the change from a physical to a digital medium to argue that despite the negative implications, the Internet is a medium stood to be by far the most effective tool for information retrieval. Ultimately the Internet allows us as a society to dramatically develop our information literacy and learning but fundamentally, our ability, knowledge, skills and interaction are failing to capitalise on the possibilities that this medium facilitates.

 

My Project will deliver three outcomes:
• A 7500 word academic article
• A 2000 word journalistic article
• A Typo Text consisting of a set of illustrative playing cards.

These outcomes will all draw on the same themes and arguments that are developed through my research but each will represent the ideas through different methods. Each outcome compliments each other whilst at the same time, appeals to different audiences. Therefore the reason behind this is to explore different ways to put forward ideas through both text and image that will typically be viewed in different ways. So it can be said that whilst the main inspiration of this project is the concept surrounding the Internet as a tool for learning, there is also on emphasis on producing material that draws on the same ideas but is appropriate for different audiences and platforms and that seeks to address the issues in different ways. Arguably each of the three has its own advantages that the others cannot achieve and therefore each of these outcomes serves a valuable purpose in putting forth my arguments.

My Major Study

Tags

Today I had my sign off tutorial where my project was given authorisation to go ahead. The first link above is to my planning folder that was handed in today and the second link is my project prospectus which outlines the studies intentions in full detail.

At this point I am at the beginning of the module, however my project has already began in some respects from my previous assignment last semester. My project is already very defined and I have started research, although at this point I have only touched on the surface of where I intend to go. Therefore I will use this post to identify what tasks I need to undertake next and also illustrate what time I have available through a gantt chart and daily schedule plan. Doing this will allow me to see what tasks I have to complete by which date. So I can see if I am ahead or behind schedule and avoid being too rushed to complete certain tasks.

Both charts (shown below) are very useful to me; the gantt chart giving me a convenient overview of task and time whilst the daily schedule informs me of what it is I should be doing each day and where I should be at each week.

Gantt chart pdf

Daily Plan pdf

Figure 1. Gantt chart

Figure 1. Gantt chart

Figure 2. Daily schedule

Figure 2. Daily schedule

Daily Plan colour_Page_2 Daily Plan colour_Page_3

I have decided to podcast on a Tuesday as I class this as the end of my working week given that lessons take place on Wednesday’s. During the podcasts I will address the following questions:

– Is the project on schedule according to the daily plan?

– If no, what slowed it down (if applicable)?

– What have I found out that has been valuable to the project?

– In what aspect has the project gone well and why?

– What has not gone as well and how can I tackle this next week to catch back up?

– Has the project deviated in its research in any way because of new learning?

Answering these questions will allow me to evaluate my short term work and this method gives me a platform to keep a constant update on how my project is progressing and also for me to show this in my development.

I have stated that I will blog on a Thursday and Sunday (as well as the podcast blog) and I feel as a minimum this is sufficient. of course there will be instances where I blog more often based on whether I have material to show. Twice a week I think is enough for me to illustrate how my work is going and ensures I don’t spend too much time focusing on documentation as opposed to research. Obviously I appreciate this is essential to track progress of my project and to show how it is developing but I feel I have the right balance by a minimum of two fixed posts a week.

The following tasks are what I shall be covering next in my posts:

– Establish my project concept and deliverables

– Consolidate current research and identify what I need to be looking for

– Continue Research

– Contact schools for interviews and begin drafting interview questions as well as complete ethics form. I have identified on my schedule to have completed and sent ethics on or around the 24th June so that I can interview on/around the 9th Juky. Therefore I need to begin immediately with this task.

This week I will blog more than twice as I have more to cover since it is the beginning of the module.

 

 

 

1000 Word reflective post

My discipline, Screen Cultures, explores the nature of modern life and how technology defines our experiences in a time when digital media is prominent in the way we live our lives. Above all else though, Screen Cultures is about the study of the cultural aspect of our journey from paper to screen technology, and how that journey shapes how we see and understand our world. Screen Cultures is concerned with the devices we use to entertain, to educate and inform ourselves and, essentially, in 2015 the Internet is at the hub of everything media. Screen Cultures in many ways is about what Jenkins has called ‘convergent cultures’ and ‘participatory cultures’.

My final study begins with and draws on Nicholas Carr’s book, The Shallows (2010) in which he provides a commentary about our immersion into screen based hypertexts and the comparisons this has with paper based reading, and how both shape our mind and view of the world. Carr argues that with the shift from paper to screen there has been a significant change in the way we think, remember and experience cognitive processes.

This therefore is right at the forefront of my field and is concerned with the very nature of my degree.

To expand on Carr’s work I have looked at Vannevar Bush’s paper As We May Think (1945) in which he proposes ‘The Memex’, an early vision of the modern day world wide web, and Ted Nelson’s thinking about hypertext. I will also be taking into account the work of Mark Prensky and Susan Greenfield. They both contribute to the current debate about the way our brain processes cognitive activity and behaviour that are shaped by dealing with information online. Espen J Aarseth’s Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature (1997) will be of great importance to my project as it provides a framework for discussing the user experience of hypertexts, especially the ‘ergodicity’ of the web in relation to its effect on our concentration, comprehension, absorption and recall rates.

Two further figures I shall bring in to my work are Marshall McLuhan and Douglas Coupland, especially their books, The Medium is the Massage (1967) and Age of Earthquakes (2015). While McLuhan may provide useful ideas in discussing the ‘screen cultures’ turn, it is the layout and design of the text that is important here. Unlike the previous figures whose work is central to the content of my project, these two texts are more influential from a design and visual communication perspective.

The ‘probing’ and playful layout of these texts present ideas through experimental use of both text and image – creating ‘effects’ that contribute much to the overall message. This is similar to one of the artefacts I shall be creating, not in book form but as a deck of cards where I will put forth my arguments in a provocative, obtrusive and satirical manner.

The currency and relevance of my practice is demonstrated through addressing a contemporary debate, looking at very authoritative figures in my field such as Carr, Greenfield, Prensky and Coupland whose work is no more than 5 years old. Bush, Nelson, McLuhan and Aarseth allow me to embed my work in a richly supported context from media theorists whose work is extremely predominant in my field, adding historical depth and bringing together diverse ideas. My work offers something that steps beyond those sources and offers something different in the sense that I will pull their ideas together to look at the Internet as a learning tool, drawing on the work of Neil Selwyn, a very highly regarded figure in this field, he is a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Monash University and a researcher in the field of education and technology.

I will be taking into account aspects of participatory culture, the physicality of media, cybertext study, convergence culture, content reliability and the development of skills needed to capitalise on the nets potential. Whilst this may seem quite widespread, they are all aspects which influence using the Internet as a tool for learning and it is difficult to separate out one part from another.

My development during this module has evolved in two ways; further growth of current skills and a strong development in consolidating newly acquired skills.

The first part of the brief allowed me to explore new ground in terms of design choices and visual communication. I was able to define my work based on its purpose, audience and distribution and from these factors I made design decisions based on research, justification and knowledge of my product as opposed to just ‘what I thought would be good’. I placed particular emphasis on comprehension and readability through using both the Fog index and measurements of reading speed and aspects of visual design, such as the use of typeface and font size, and on consistency of screen design to avoid noise and unwanted distraction to again improve the comprehension rate. My visual design was also influenced by considering my audiences understanding of semiotics to ensure the user experience was smooth and transparent with a minimal sense of aporia.

In the second part of the brief I was able to progress my existing research skills and planning abilities in order to ‘break the ground’ for my major study next semester. This is/will be the biggest project I have worked on and so my ability to assess certain aspects such as feasibility, relevance and currency were essential in analysing the worthiness of my idea. Similarly to the first part, I identified my target audience and thought through how I could distribute my work across different mediums that would appeal to a larger audience given that the topic is very universal. I have also improved my skills in the critical reception of existing material, and in developing my own ideas. This builds on previous experience and skills in making decisions based on research and supported by judgement – which I feel is the most valuable skill gained and developed on this module.

Word Count: 995

 

References

Aarseth, E. (1997) Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature. Maryland: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Bush, V. (1945) As We may Think [online] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/1/ [Accessed on 22/04/15]

Carr, N. (2010) The Shallows. London: Atlantic Books.

Greenfield, S. (2014) Mind Change: How digiutal technologies are leaving their mark on our brains. United Kingdom: Rider.

Greenfield, S. (2014) Technology & the human mind August 2014. Available at:  http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/Technology-the-human-mind-|-Sus  [Accessed on 22/04/15]

McLuhan, M., Fiore, Q. (1967) Medium is the Massage. Gingo Press Inc: USA. [online] Available at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BwyDePyHbx1RMzdjMGUxZjctZTI2MC00NTNiLTg1YWYtY2U2YzNjZjBkODJl/view?pli=1  [Accessed on 22/04/15]

McLuhan, M. (1964) Understanding Media. United Kingdom: Routledge.

Nelson, T. Project Xanadu. [online] Available at: http://www.xanadu.com/ [Accessed on 22/04/15]

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. [online] Emerald Insight 9(5) September. pp. 1-6. Available at: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/pdfplus/10.1108/10748120110424816 [Accessed on 22/04/15]

Selwyn, N. (n.d) ’19 Key Essays on How Internet is Changing our Lives’ Open Mind. [online] pp. 191 – 215. Available at: https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BBVA-OpenMind-book-Change-19-key-essays-on-how-internet-is-changing-our-lives-Technology-Internet-Innovation.pdf [Accessed on 22/04/15]

 

Podcast episodes

Episode 1. https://www.dropbox.com/s/1x1pehbvd2apify/Episode%201mp3.mp3?dl=0

Episode 2. https://www.dropbox.com/s/ir1hf5so3m61g6m/Episode%202mp3.mp3?dl=0

Episode 3. https://www.dropbox.com/s/a4a14s3z95d0x4f/Episode%203mp3.mp3?dl=0

Episode 4. https://www.dropbox.com/s/m3s75k5wzu01po0/Episode%204mp3.mp3?dl=0

Episode 5. https://www.dropbox.com/s/tum2d7wc488cs2y/Episode%205mp3.mp3?dl=0

The five links above are to downloads of each episode of my podcast. Episode 1 and 5 should be listened to first and last with episodes 2 – 4 at random.

Below is the artwork for my podcast series

Podcast artwork cover

Typo Text drawing development

Figure 1. Typo text mock up drawings Storyboard 60002 Storyboard 60003 Storyboard 60004 Storyboard 60005 Storyboard 60006 Storyboard 60007

Above are the initial drawings for my Typo text designs. Obviously I have three sections which will be represented through illustrations. In the instances above I have just focused on the argument that Carr discusses regarding the depth of information we receive.

The first 3 images are my first rough ideas with the following 4 images showing a more refined version of each. In the 4th image I have tried to represent how books might seem transparent in comparison to Internet which could be classed as obtrusive. However I have tried to put across the notion that despite this the Internet provides greater opportunity for the depth of information that CAN be explored.

The fourth Image (drawing on the left) is portraying the idea that we are only engaging with a limited breadth of content. I have shown my logo for my project from my proposal which is a brain, with half of the image missing  to depict this idea.

In the next few images my drawings show a 2d and flat Internet logo and very thick and 3 dimensional books to suggest that with book reading we tend to develop a more defined and deeper interaction. This obviously opposes with the first of my ideas but I plan to include both. It should be noted that these drawings depict Ideas which are quite bold in some aspects but it is essential to do this I believe to provoke thought. These cards are not me saying this is it, but rather here is an idea, its bold, very opinionated; what do you think?

I think by doing this it will be more likely to stimulate greater thought and appreciation for the topic. If I was to merely put forth some ideas without authority or directness, I don’t think it would be as hard hitting and provoking and it would not ‘probe’ with the same effect.

My last design represents the amount of encyclopedias it would require to fill Wikipedia’s content (only including English language), and gives context to the size by comparing the amount of books to a human. The purpose of this design is to highlight the sheer amount of information on just one website, and to compare this with its physical equal. I think it is very intriguing and it certainly emphases on this idea that the Internet provides us with an abundance of information and at a great level of convenience.

I am happy with the initial designs I have started to develop and I think they can be very effective in putting forth my ideas. I have tried to be quite minimalistic with words to avoid noise however I think in some instances, especially with the last one, I need to make improvements. None the less, these initial drawings are very helpful in showing how my ideas are progressing and also will allow me to continue improving the design aspects through to when I begin the project next semester.

Last lesson

Today I had my last lesson with Alan before my submission in 1 week. This is my first post in over a week as I gave myself time off for the Easter break to be able to reflect on where my project currently is. This has been helpful for me to see how I have developed over the course of the module, which is something I need to write about in my last blog post which is also part of my submission.

Looking back on the second part of the module I am very content with the work I have produced and I feel my extensive research and development of ideas has put my in a strong position to start my final project next semester. As I have outlined very clearly what I will be doing, including the areas of concern my work breaks down to, I can begin further research into these areas and bring all of my finding together very efficiently.

So, I have a week before submission and I have the following tasks to complete:

  • 1000 word reflective blog post
  • Typo Text design development and creation
  • Complete project proposal

I have begun working on my project proposal and at this point it is pretty much complete bar a few aspects. When this is complete I shall upload the document to the blog before my final 1000 word reflective post.

The biggest proportion of the remaining tasks is creating examples of my Typo Text to go in my proposal that will allow me to demonstrate what it is I will be producing. I have been making some rough drawings and designs for cards and Alan suggested that I show the progression of design to show how my ideas are developing. So my next post shall show my final Typo Text card designs for my proposal as well as my designs.

 

Podcast Tutorials and learning

I have now finished my recording for each of the 5 podcast episodes and am at the point where I need to begin editing. I have 22 final clips to use as well as the videos which I showed in the last post. I have converted each video to an audio file and have identified the specific pieces which I shall be using, but I have yet to edit each one down to just the required clips.

I found that the areas I identified in the last post regarding sound recording were very helpful and it was something I feel had a very positive effect in the outcome of recording. So, I shall be using this post to show some of the research I have done into editing a podcast through reading and watching various online video tutorials.

http://sixcolors.com/post/2015/02/how-i-podcast-editing/

The above webpage is very detailed and provides material on simply just editing. Straight away emphasis is placed on identifying the level of editing required; in some instances it can be just trimming the intro and outro, or a lot more complex and involved – depending on what is required.

The writer, Jason Snell talks about the importance of deciding whether to be very clinical with editing, especially clearing out pauses, removing every um and uh and awkward pause and spoken digression. He states that,

“People speak with pauses and ums, with tangents and elliptical phraseology. Our brains are really, really good at taking all of that input and smoothing it out into something understandable. You could even argue that with too much editing, speaking starts to sound artificial and alien, because it no longer sounds like what we hear coming out of people’s mouths every day.”
(Snell 2015)

I think that this is a very good point. Removing all ‘unnecessary’ noises can create a very unnatural and uneasy feel, although this does not apply to unwanted background noise. Of course I certainly think that too many err’s and um’s cause unwanted attention, can draw unwanted attention and in some cases undermine the authority and professionalism of the podcast. Based on this I feel that having some un-perfected elements of speech in my podcast is the way to edit. Of course it should be kept fairly minimal so that it does not become unnatural in the sense that the audience do not merely brisk past it, but at the same it needs to avoid feeling too artificial.

http://tv.adobe.com/watch/adobe-for-academics/using-audition-to-mix-music/

The above link is to a video from Adobe and it gives a great overview on using Audition. I have had previous experience with Audition but I have not used it in a while and so it really helped refresh what I already knew. However it also covered things which were new to me and will be very helpful in editing. Also it is specifically aimed at using Audition for podcasting and so it is very beneficial to me. I find that a lot of Adobe’s tutorials are extremely useful, they are easy to follow, descriptive and divulge fantastic help and tips.

The above video offers very helpful techniques in removing background noise from your recordings in Audition by altering the noise reduction and restoration effect, as well as using rack effects and transitions to help create a smooth and free flowing podcast.

References

Adobe TV. (2013) ‘Create audio recordings and podcasts with Audition’. Available at: http://tv.adobe.com/watch/adobe-for-academics/using-audition-to-mix-music/ [Accessed on 20/04/15]

Snell, J. (2015) ‘How I Podcast: Editing’. [online] Available at: http://sixcolors.com/post/2015/02/how-i-podcast-editing/ [Accessed on 20/04/15]

Web Talk Revolution. (2013) ‘How to use Adobe Audition to give your podcast audio that professional edge’. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t6B7iwDuu0 [Accessed on 20/04/15]

Podcast planning

I have now completed my Research and have found the following videos which I will be using during my podcasts. Each are interviews of authoritative figures in my topic who provide very insightful accounts of their own work and ideas. By editing the audio and cutting the clip I can really give my podcasts a dynamic and exciting feel.

 

I am now at the point where I have loosely scripted my work through bullet points, short paragraphs and improvs which will help me stay on track of where my discussion is heading. Prior to recording I have been searching for tutorials and tips that will help improve my technique of podcast recording. The below websites give some very useful tips, some of which I was aware of, and others which I would not necessarily think to do, but all of them are achievable.

http://labnol.blogspot.co.uk/2006/09/audio-podcasts-tips-video-tricks.html

“Always maintain a constant distance between your mouth and the microphone [~3”] so that the sound levels do not vary during the recording process

 A sample rate of 44.1 KHz with 16 bit resolution in either mono or stereo channels is perfect setting for most podcasts.

Most audio software have a recording meter that displays the volume level in real time. You may want to maintain the level around the -12db mark for best recording. Don’t let it touch the infinite mark.”

The first point was something I have identified earlier in this project as it was something I have previously experienced issues with. At the time I was quite unaware of the repercussions that would arise from not maintaining consistent and correct mic positioning.

Both the last 2 points are new to me and not something I knew. Of course I will try these settings but I will also try experimenting with a different resolution. Also, regarding the level maintenance, I feel this is something that can quite easily be adjusted in post production. Of course I understand the importance to record with the best quality achievable but I am just highlighting that I feel there is room for contingency in this aspect which can be very helpful with sound recording.

http://www.feedforall.com/top-podcasting-great-sound.htm

“Find a secluded spot to record your show; this will help minimize background noises. Use the same spot to record each show, which will result in continuity in recordings.

Prior to recording, conduct an audio test to make sure that the sound quality is acceptable and background noise is minimal.

Record longer shows in short segments; this will make the final editing process easier.”

I think the above point of honing in on consistency is very important in producing podcasts, not just during recording but each aspect of the project. Also, I will ensure testing as mentioned above to compare the quality based on different settings, but also so I can check if the mic is picking up any unwanted background noise.

As I have stated, I have a rough outlined script and I plan on recording shorter segments of the whole content. I have an introduction, conclusion and 3 content episodes averaging at around 3 minutes. Therefore I will break each section up into 1 minute recordings as I feel this will make the editing stage more manageable.

Therefore because of this I expect to have around 20 separate recordings (obviously there will be more that are discarded) and so I feel devising a strategy for filing them correctly is essential. I think the level of consistency is far more important than the format of the name as this will ensure efficiency and less errors.

http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/tap090-how-to-organize-audiovideo-podcast-projects-audacity-audition-or-anything-else/

The above website is very thorough in explaining how to organise podcast projects. As well as discussing file naming he covers the whole process of making a podcast and recomends documenting each thought process that could help aid the episodes by using paper, note pads and note taking apps. He suggests to keep an unedited and unprocessed version of each recording, even if it is unused. Whilst I feel this may be slightly inefficient as files can be recorded once not in the final edl, it could provide extremely useful to keep them. If organised correctly they are easy to store and may need to be used, even if unplanned.

A final thing I will bring attention to is this point.

“Some editing programs allow you to create a “label track” that can hold annotations at points along your timeline. This can help you find locations in larger projects”

I have used smilar techniques in other programs such as Flash and this proved to be very helpful, however I was not aware that this could be done in audio editing programs and so I will have to explore whether this can be done in Adobe Audition. If so this is a very helpful thing to have found out and I think it will be very beneficial to me both in this project and in future ones.

References

Agarwa, A. (n.d)10 Killer Tips for Creating Successful Audio Podcasts’.
[online] Available at: http://labnol.blogspot.co.uk/2006/09/audio-podcasts-tips-video-tricks.html [Accessed on 16/04/15]

Ch@nge (2014) Neil Selwyn about OpenMind’s Ch@nge, in Mexico . Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bajz0Ey2ptU [Accessed on 16/04/15]

‘Feed For All’. (n.d) ’10 Podcast Tips To A Great Sound’. [online] Available at: http://www.feedforall.com/top-podcasting-great-sound.htm                        [Accessed on 16/04/15]

Happy & Well (2014) Marc Prensky ‘Brain gain: technology and the quest for digital wisdom’ at Young Minds 2013 . Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wowZRDx344 [Accessed on 16/04/15]

Lewis, D J. (2012) ‘How to organize audio/video podcast projects – TAP090’.
[online] Available at: http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/tap090-how-to-organize-audiovideo-podcast-projects-audacity-audition-or-anything-else/                     [Accessed on 16/04/15]

The Guardian (2011) Susan Greenfield: Mind change is ‘an issue that’s as important and unprecedented as climate change’ . Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FE61qIV0zSQ [Accessed on 16/04/15]

The Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) (2013) Susan Greenfield: Mind Change – New Technologies & The Future of the Brain . Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEc2p8UcFeU [Accessed on 16/04/15]

Tom Maynard (2012) Nicholas Carr & Stephen Fry on The Effects of Web Culture . Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MA_kxQTutbA [Accessed on 16/04/15]

 

 

 

Project proposal

Below is my official project proposal which firmly outlines my inspirations and intentions for this work.

Project Proposal

Statement of intent:

For this project I will be looking content wise at the same issues as for my major project. I intend to make a series of 3/4 podcast and so I feel my time will be spent for the majority learning the practical elements of producing this. I previously enjoyed making a podcast before but I felt there was a lot of improvements I could have made therefore I want to use this opportunity to achieve a much higher quality outcome. I will use much of the research for content from my other module (Practice 2) that is preparing me for my final project. I feel as this is my only module that is based primarily on using software applications, it is important for me to allocate most of that time in enhancing my skills as opposed to research.

Also, for my final project I am producing three outcomes all of which are in a different format/medium that are based on the same topic, but that express my arguments in different ways and appeal to different audiences. So for example, an academic piece of writing, a journalistic article and an interactive/illustrative piece. Therefore by making a podcast I can create a 4th medium and this will allow me to really develop my skills in being able to produce an outcome on a different medium that serves a different purpose, albeit at the same time still puts forth the same ideas.

Furthermore, I would say that my practical skills with using software applications is far less developed than my ability to research and so I feel this assignment would be a great opportunity to really enhance my abilities in this area.

So I propose that I will spend 1/3 of my time in research – this encompasses the research I will be conducting for (Practice 2) and 2/3’s of my time developing and learning skills to better enhance my ability to create a podcast. I feel this way that I will end up doing additional research which will help towards my final project which is very beneficial too and because the subject matter is linked it allows me greater time to focus on the practical aspect.

 

Idea/ Content:

The message I would like to put forward is that the internet is a medium that encompasses a great level of democracy and with that notion there will always be a high risk of negative behaviour. However the internet provides us with a platform that facilitates the ability for us to be able to develop our knowledge and understanding, far more so any other platform it has preceded. Furthermore it is essential to understand that it is wrong and naïve to blame the medium for negative behaviour when it is the individual’s actions that ultimately decide the outcome of their learning and participation.

Below are 3 headings which will form the main argument of my podcasts and the points below exemplify the content of each argument.

Reliability issues of online content

  • The authority and trustworthiness of information.
  • The ability to look for credible information and skill to decipher what is relevant and reliable.
  • The democracy and widespread of blogs and wiki’s.
  • The role of Social Media in altering the channel of distribution of content.

The practice of searching for information and reading texts.

  • The surge of video tutorials and entertainment platforms such as YouTube as a learning environment.
  • The changing habits of intercepting information, from chronologically reading a book to skipping between links.
  • Participatory culture and its effect on creativity, self-learning and autonomy.
  • The effects of having immediate access to a huge wealth of information.

The change from a physical to a digital medium.

  • The change in format, from typically written work to multimedia.
  • The physical vs virtual security of content (a book is constant, a webpage can become unavailable and is forever gone).
  • The implications of developing our knowledge and collective intelligence and how effectively we are achieving this.

I plan to create a podcast of each section to be played in random order with a first and last podcast that introduce and conclude my arguments. They are created for intent to be used as a shuffle play so the ideas can be digested singularly but they work in unison by complementing each other. However I do feel that this takes away from the natural and free flowing shuffle aspect, but at the same time it is essential to give the viewer context and a conclusive ending.

 

I have now finished my research, looked at inspirations for narrative structure and identified the relevance and currency of my topic within my field of study. I shall now begin over the next few weeks constantly looking for tutorials that will help aid to develop my skills in podcast production. Alongside this I shall now begin writing my script/notes ready for recording as well as searching for existing material (interviews, conferences sound effects, music etc…) that will be used in my podcasts. These lats two tasks should be done simultaneously so I can see how they will merge together as I may feel it appropriate to draw upon what others have said to make it fit well into the podcasts.

Narrative structure

As I earlier stated, one of the initial inspirations for wanting to create a podcast was the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects and so I wanted my project to model on a similar structure to this. In this instance Neil MacGregor presents a 100 part series of 15 minute podcasts where he talks about ancient artefacts from around the world. Of course the magnitude of this is far superior to mine but I very much liked how he gives a significant introduction to the next podcast at the end of each one. Furthermore the sound that is used really creates great consistency and synergy and this congeals the series very smoothly. Therefore I wanted to break my podcasts up into differing sections but use the same theme music and style, for example the way other speakers are introduced.

BBC’s  History of the World in 100 Objects presented by Neil MacGregor’s – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00nrtd2

I also wanted to use this project as an opportunity to experiment with narrative. As I have already identified that my project has 3 differing sections I know that this can consume 3 podcasts. Furthermore, whilst they cross over and have similarities, the audience can listen in whichever order they choose, as the argument’s are singular. However the issues that arise are introducing, concluding and providing historical context (early hypertext systems). I could possibly give a short 1 minute intro and conclusion on each of the three but this is repetitive and unnecessary. Or I could make the intro (including context) and the conclusion static and randomize the middle content, meaning there will be 5 individual podcasts. Of course the intro and concluding podcasts would be shorter.

Figure 1 - 3. B.S Johnson's 'The Unfortunates'

Figure 1 – 3. B.S Johnson’s ‘The Unfortunates’

B.S 2 B.S 3

B.S Johnson’s The Unfortunates (above) is a good example to bring up here. The Unfortunates is an experimental “book in a box” originally published in 1969 and later reissued in 2008. The book consists of 27 unbound sections with a first and last chapter that are required to be read either side of the 25 sections in between that are to be read in a random order so the story is a differing experience each time it is read.

So, obviously my idea is very similar to this in the sense of intending to have an intro and conclusion with 3 sections in-between that should be listened to in random order. I will include a brief discussion of the historical context (Bush’s memex and Nelsons Xanadu) in the introduction as I think this should be included within this part as it helps create better understanding and meaning within the middle sections. Therefore the conclusion will definitely be shorter.

I propose that the introduction will be 2 – 2.5 minutes, followed by 3 content sections to be played at random that will last 3 – 3.5 minutes finished by a conclusion that will be 1.5 minutes. This gives an approximate time of 12.5 – 14.5/15 minutes. I feel that this is an adequate amount of time for this size project, if anything slightly longer. However I think the top end of time is good to acknowledge in case it is required to be that length with the research I have collated. As with the BBC’s podcasts discussed above and like my previous podcast, I shall break up each section with the same themed music to achieve consistency and a recognizable theme.

 

References

Figure 1. Image available at: https://winstonsdad.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/the-unfortunates-001.jpg [Accessed on 11/04/15]

Figure 2. Image available at: https://anzlitlovers.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/img_1612.jpg [Accessed on 11/04/15]

Figure 3. Image available at: http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Observer/Columnist/Columnists/2010/7/28/1280312036142/bs-johnson-005.jpg [Accessed on 11/04/15]

The currency and relevance of Internet learning.

I will use this blog post to show evidence as to why my particular subject is not only very current and at the forefront of my practice but why it is very important for a lot of different people. I believe that this area of research is very widespread and applies to a whole range of issues which is why it is important that I establish a strong and refined angle so my work has a defined direction and does not lose track of the points I am trying to make.

I think it is important at this stage to look at the currency of work that is being published. All of the work that I have looked at over the last few posts is extremely new; mostly no older than 5 years with the majority about 3 years old. Furthermore, when we look at the figures who I have discussed, there are some very big and influential names who are very prominent in their discussion of these issues – Nicholas Carr, Susan Greenfield, Mark Prensky, Clay Shirky, Henry Jenkins etc…

When we think about using the Internet as a tool for learning, for many of us we can acknowledge how this is achievable. However I think the affordances the Internet offers in terms of learning and providing us with information are seriously undervalued. In many ways I think they are undervalued because individuals are unaware of the potential that the Internet facilitates and also due to the fact that they are unaware of how to harness these possibilities.

Neil Selwyn who is a Professor in the Faculty of Education, Monash University and a researcher in the field of education and technology, and in research on the sociology of technological use in educational settings states,

“In many ways, it is difficult to discuss any aspect of contemporary society without considering the Internet. Many people’s lives are saturated so thoroughly with digital technology that the once obvious distinction between either being online or offline now fails to do justice to a situation where the Internet is implicitly always on.” (Selwyn n.d: 196)

Selwyn exemplifies the prominence of the Internet within society here and in his paper he continues to advocate with great detail, the implications of Internet’s role within education, even likening the two based on the fact that both are concerned with information exchange, communication, and the creation of knowledge. Selwyn is a very authoritative figure in the study of the Internet and education and his paper provides a very insightful look on how important this issue is in current time.

Nancy Coleman who writes for The Guardian online discusses similar issues in her 2014 article, ‘Online learning: the UK’s scepticism is holding it back’. She provides an argument that UK colleges and universities should expand more in their offering of online courses. She argues that online tuition is moving into the mainstream and that there is a cultural shift as a result of necessity. There is room for expansion and international opportunity and she states that there is a “bigger social and cultural changes brought about by digital technology and the use of mobile devices in everyday lives.” (Coleman 2014)

Figure 1. Nancy Coleman's article

Figure 1. Nancy Coleman’s article

William Draves, is President of LERN, a US organisation on learning and an author of online teaching and learning on the net. His paper, How the Internet Will Change How We Learn’ puts forth a great set of ideas about our cognitive learning using the Internet over traditional taught methods. He argues that learning can be better achieved online and much like Coleman (above) he advocates the development of interactive online learning. He makes very bold statements but he does provide great explanation and evidence to back up his arguments. Furthermore he is very clear in his explanations and vision of Internet learning and claims that online learning is rapidly becoming recognised as a valid learning delivery system. In this quote Draves argues makes a very strong point regarding the importance of online learning and this puts forth the notion of importance and relevance to my own study.

“Online learning will do for society what the tractor did for food. A century ago food was expensive, in limited supply, and with very little variety. Today food is relatively cheap, in great supply in our society, and with tremendous variety. The Internet will do the same for education. More people will be able to learn more, for much less cost, and with a tremendous variety in choice of topics and subjects. It is something that societies of the past could only dream about. And it will come true for us in a very short time.” (Draves n.d).

I will now bring attention to two government documents, the first from the ‘department of employment and learning’ and the second published by the authority of the ‘London House of Lords’. The first document concerns the Interest of solely E- learning strategies whilst the last one regards ‘The UK’s digital future and credits significant discussion to that of the Internet’s importance in developing education. Both reports place significant emphasis on establishing strategies for online learning and recognise that the internet is “important to everyone’s lives (), going onto discuss the personal and economical benefits of online skills, identifying that the Internet should be treated as a utility service and universal access for the entire population would place us in a position to achieve exponential growth.

Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future – http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf

E-Learning Strategy for the Further Education Sector – http://www.delni.gov.uk/elearning_strategy_for_fe_sector.pdf

Following on from this I would like to briefly mention Martin Robbins article from The Guardian which is aimed primarily at Susan Greenfield’s work. Greenfield is a neuroscientist and also a member in The House of Lords to which this article discusses her statement at Westminster. She talks through her ideas on the way technology is having an impact on the brain and states that the brain is susceptible to acclimatise to its environment and with the environment so drastically changing – this causes unprecedented effects to the development of our brains. Whilst Greenfield has received widespread criticism for her failure to provide solid scientific evidence to support her claims, the significance of this article is it shows how my topic is a very current issue.

 

Figure 2. Martin Robbins' article

Figure 2. Martin Robbins’ article

In this post I have demonstrated through various material that there is a real demand and relevance for using the Internet as a learning tool, and furthermore I have shown that it is right at the forefront of my practice. I think the last three sources I have discussed are a great support to this notion as if they are topics of concern and debate that are amongst our government, it shows their currency and importance.

References

Robbins, M. (2014) ‘Mind Change: Susan Greenfield has a big idea, but what is it?’
The Guardian [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/science/the-lay-scientist/2014/oct/03/mind-change-susan-greenfield-has-a-big-idea-but-what-is-it [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Coleman, N. (2014) ‘Online learning: the UK’s scepticism is holding it back’
The Guardian [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2014/sep/07/online-learning-uk-scepticism-holding-it-back    [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Draves, W A. (n.d) ‘How the Internet Will Change How We Learn’. [online] Available at: http://www.williamdraves.com/works/internet_change_report.htm [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Selwyn, N. (n.d) ’19 Key Essays on How Internet is Changing our Lives’ Open Mind. [online] pp. 191 – 215. Available at: https://www.bbvaopenmind.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/BBVA-OpenMind-book-Change-19-key-essays-on-how-internet-is-changing-our-lives-Technology-Internet-Innovation.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Department for Employment and Learning. (n.d) ‘E-Learning Strategy For the Further Education Sector. [online] Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

House of Lords. (2015) ‘Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future. [online] Available at: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/lddigital/111/111.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

The project proposal

I am now at the stage where I feel I have gathered a lot of material for research and inspiration, both content wise and for my third outcome (Typo Text cards) and so I will now begin to develop the artefact that is required for submission. This is a formal project proposal document that will outline exactly what I am doing for my major project next semester as well as the details and implications that regard this. Below I have listed each of the sections I will need to include in my proposal.

 

Title (working)

My name

My topic – an overview

Inspirations/ key individuals

Relevance in relation to Screen Cultures and its currency

Statement of intent (a description of the three outcomes with similar examples)

Experimentation/ visual examples of Typo Text/ cards

Scope of enquiry

My methodology

Study Plan and feasibility

Ethics

Resources

Current development and new learning

Achieving professionalism

Project documentation

 

“Breaking the Ground Enquiry – through to end of Semester B

 This is work which ‘breaks the ground’ for the Semester C Project. It is an initial scoping of an area of interest in which the Project will be placed and an investigation that supports the clearer definition of the Project itself. That area of interest has to fall within the sphere of Screen Cultures as a cultural and as an academic activity and should have a measure of topicality, or relevance to current debate.

The outcome is some form of report on

  • the feasibility of the project in terms of logistics – time management, resource needs, current skills and new learning
  • its scope – existing literature or other materials, primary and secondary sources and materials
  • its relevance – showing how it falls within Screen Cultures and the debate(s) it addresses or provokes
  • a prospect of outcomes – audience, venue, delivery, form, format, along with some test or prototype materials illustrating the intended or expected outcomes”

The above extract is taken from the assignment brief for this project. I think through my blog I have demonstrated a strong approach to what has been asked for in that first paragraph. Through my intended project proposal (above) I think I have initiated an effective response for what is being asked in the second paragraph regarding the outcome as I will have included all of what it suggests.

Therefore I feel that outlining the above information will be more than sufficient in giving an effective proposal for what it is I want to do. Some of them have already been done effectively, such as the overview of my work, the Relevance, key individuals etc… Whereas some will require more work, most notably producing visual experimentation of my Typo Text. So from this list I can now progress with my work and start producing this document by writing up each section before implementing it into the document. My future posts will display visual aid in reference to how these tasks are coming along.

 

“Is Google Making Us stupid?”

During this post I will look at material that is relevant to the last of my three sections for the main content of my work. This post shall focus on the following:

The change from a physical to a digital medium.

  • The change in format, from typically written work to multimedia.
  • The physical vs virtual security of content (a book is constant, a web page can become unavailable and is forever gone).
  • The implications of developing our knowledge and collective intelligence and how effectively we are achieving this.
  • The effects of having immediate access to a huge wealth of information.

 

In their paper, ‘Is Google Making Us stupid?’ The Impact of the Internet on Reading Behaviour’ Val Hooper and Channa Herath offer a very good insight into the impact the Internet has on our reading behaviour. They take into account the difference between online and offline reading which is a very intriguing concept when the two are compared. Rightfully so, they acknowledge the Internet’s advantages and give praise to many factors that are related in this discussion. However they do argue that there is a presence of disadvantages with the Internet having a negative impact on memory, lack of concentration and a lack of comprehension.

The article presented a lot of original findings that questioned a lot about the comparison at question. They found that the motive for online reading was primarily for work and to seek information – at a matter of convenience. Furthermore, immediacy was an influential factor which offline material could not match. Hooper and Herath also contend that a common pattern occurred that highlighted individuals desire to simply ‘browse’ as opposed to get involved with the content. They concluded that there are definitive differences between reading on and offline, most notably the results show online reading has a negative impact on an individual’s cognition. Concentration, comprehension, absorption and recall rates all showed to be lower when reading online.

This article is very helpful in my study and has presented me with very insightful research that is original and that states a lot about the influence and effect of information received via online amenities and is presented with a strong, well developed and supported argument. Furthermore, their direct comparison with on and offline reading really developed my study and the exact effects that Hooper and Herath have identified here are very helpful and unique.

Figure 1. Article from the Scientific American

Figure 1. Article from the Scientific American

The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens – http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/

A recently published article in the Scientific American entitled, ‘The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens’ by Ferris Jabr (link above) gives a thorough and well supported insight into the research that suggests reading on paper has numerous advantages over tablets and e readers despite their increasing popularity. Jabr makes a lot of excellent points and they support very well the arguments that Hooper and Herath make (above).

Firstly I would like to bring attention to Jabr’s attempt to acknowledge who his article is aimed at; to which he states that it is not just relevant to the digital natives amongst us but anyone who reads. I think he subtly identifies how prominent his discussion is by declaring that this debate involves the activity of all of us. This is certainly something I want to achieve in my outcomes as I think it is a strong method to establish why my work is important.

Moving on, Jabr explains that in the last 30 years, research has concluded that people read slower, with lower accuracy and comprehension on screen than paper based mediums. He also states that it is common opinion that individuals prefer paper when reading intensively. I can see why this activity would generate common agreement; paper suffices for singular, chronological reading and as he goes on to say later, many people miss the physical properties and experiences of reading a hard cover book. However I think it should be made aware that screen based reading offers greater affordances when reading and its opportunities allow for a seamless and fluid navigation through various sources as opposed to just one or a few like the paper offers and this is a hugely important factor.

Jabr goes onto state that despite e-books currently making up between 15 and 20 percent of all trade book sales, evidence indicates that screen based reading fails to recreate certain experiences of reading on paper that many people miss. I think this is quite misguided though in the sense that e readers and screen based reading doesn’t need to re-create the physicality’s of a book and the pleasure it creates. This is a new medium that offers different advantages – most notably convenience, cost reduction and accessibility. Therefore I think to some degree it is pointless to make these judgements based off of nostalgia. Yes, books offer a differing experience but no one is taking away that opportunity, it is merely enhanced by the choice of a new medium. Whilst it is important to compare reading performance, judging experience I think is quite cynical when it is most commonly the book which gains favour.

“Compared with paper, screens may also drain more of our mental resources while we are reading and make it a little harder to remember what we read when we are done.” (Jabr 2013) states Jabr. Furthermore he states that many people approach computers and tablets with less emphasis on learning in comparison to paper. I think these are very important and valid points when comparing both mediums and with the last one I think it is very easy to appreciate this fact given the broad range of entertaining facilities provided by computers and tablets. In reference to the quote, he discusses the physical and mental impact that screens have, labelling them demanding. He state that paper reflects ambient light whereas screens shine bright light into the readers eyes and this can cause strain, headaches and loss of concentration. He goes onto to provide numerous accounts of research to support this notion and this really gives his work a level of authority.

This article is very specific and in depth whilst providing a lot of authoritative research to back up arguments. More so it is extremely relevant to my study, particularly when looking at the implications or physical vs virtual reading and learning. Also, I have now come across a lot of new material from links in this article that give me some ground for research in this area when I begin my project.

In terms of looking at the effects of having immediate access to a huge wealth of information it can be very helpful to look at Betsy Sparrow et.al’s paper, Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips.

Sparrow et.al provide a very insightful look at the consequences of having information at our fingertips in an age of online immediacy. They argue that no longer do we have to make conscious effort to find out what we want. We do not need to remember information or make a huge effort for a multitude of tasks now we can easily experience a strong sense of agency using online tools. They claim that the Internet has become a primary form of external memory that is outside of ourselves and that we simply call upon this medium to get what it is we require. Sparrow et.al argue that the notion of online access has become an external system of memory fuelled by an urge to acquire information with immediate effect. Like Hooper and Herath (above) would agree, we are a species whose internal coding has developed the ability to find out how to get information merely to find answers, not for the purpose of the content and I think this can be a severe problem in many cases. The ability to instantly recall the precise information we need dramatically reduces our need to ‘work’ for the information we require.

This article provides significant interest towards my study as Sparrow et.al explore ideas that develop on from Vannevar Bush’s idea of the ‘memex’. He argued that by having the ability to store, track and recall information we could dramatically improve and develop our current knowledge and understanding which would allow us to progress with great efficiency. However Sparrow et.al argues in some respect that in actual fact, the ability to recall this information results in us developing behaviour which has a negative impact on our cognitive ability. In light of this, it is extremely helpful to have an idea that opposes with another source as it allows me to significantly develop my own understanding.

References

Figure 1. ‘The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens’. Image available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/ [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Hooper, V., Herath, C. (2014) ‘Is Google Making Us stupid? The Impact of the Internet on Reading Behaviour’. [online]. Bled eConference, eEcosystem. Available at: https://domino.fov.uni-mb.si/proceedings.nsf/0/245b68041b843574c1257cee003df66a/$FILE/04_Hooper_Herath.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Sparrow, B., Liu, J., Wegner, D M. (2011) Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips. Safer Communications. [online] July. Sciencexpress, Sciencemag. Available at: http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~wegner/pdfs/science.1207745.full.pdf [Accessed on 09/04/15]

Jabr, F. (2013) ‘The Reading Brain in the Digital Age: The Science of Paper versus Screens’. Scientific American. April [online] Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/ [Accessed on 09/04/15]