Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Digital Artefact Final Assessment

Blood, sweat and tears....well okay perhaps not quite to that extreme but A LOT of research and late nights. So please enjoy my digital artefact, I've viewed it in IE8, Firefox and Chrome and experienced no problems.

The videos have been carefully chosen to reflect each theme within the digital artefact so if you do have the time please view them.

Please click the hyperlink below

Alison's Digital Artefact

thanks for watching

Image: 'Hayden Panettiere is a Cyborg' [online] by J (
Available from: [Accessed Feb 2013]
CC BY 2.0

Friday, 15 February 2013

#edcmooc WK 3 Humanity is man-made

I decided to start my week three blog with a word cloud compiled of elements that I consider make up what it is to be human. It seems to have sparked a great deal of discussion amongst my fellow moocers.Being human can be a collective experience but it can also be a unique experience. 

"Have we always, sometimes, or never been human?" I thought Steve Fuller's Tedx video was very interesting in questioning what is necessary to be human and that the criteria has changed over time. His talk also brings up the issue, at what point do we no longer fit the category human? When we die humanness lives on in our loved ones.

Humanity is artificial and is a result of our self-imposed conditioning. One could argue that we trust less in our intuition and more in technology. The ancient Chinese and Indian cultures had a deep understanding of the inner workings of the human body and mind despite not having the technology that we have today. The Yoga Sutras is a core text in Yoga Philosophy and details in four chapters how to still the fluctuations of the mind, this is the ultimate "goal" of yoga. Each sutra or "thread" in the chapters instructs the student on how to get rid of the obstacles so we can prepare the body, mind and soul for liberation. Yoga can be a very powerful practice if done with diligence and it can deeply connect a student to their intuitive self.


"as soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live" Johann Wolfgan Van Goethe

Some thoughts on Steve Fuller video
1. Why does Professor Fuller say (almost as a joke) that education is ‘a dying art’?

Everything is changing but we are still teaching our children in the same way. Is the way we educate our children the best at preparing them for living in todays society, or should be continue to teach them the essentials? Education needs to move with the times.

2. He talks about the ‘modern artifice’ of enhancement: how might this notion of becoming more ‘fully human’ via enhancement impact on the project of education?

I think this will impact education by causing more of a divide between those who have and those who have not.

3. Professor Fuller argues that there’s historical precedent for considering only some homo sapiens to be ‘human’: what are the political implications of this in contemporary times? And how might such a notion position education?

4. Do we educate only those who are deemed “intelligent”? Do we test children at a young age to determine their potential, their worthiness of being educated. There are certain cultures in the world who punish those who strive for the freedom to be educated. No one should have the right to deny another human being the pursuit of knowledge.

He suggests that we are questioning the very existence of the ‘human’ because we have failed in the humanist project (for example, we are far from achieving racial, gender or class equality): do you believe this?

5. Inequality exists, will we ever get rid of it, probably not but that doesn’t mean that the majority who believe in “raising the overall level of humanity” should give up. Nobody achieved anything by giving up. Recognising that there is inequality is just the beginning, its what we do about it that matters.

In claiming that ‘the old humanistic project should not be dropped’, Professor Fuller links his talk to our key theme of re-asserting the human. His stance seems to be that ‘you can only be morally credible’ if you are addressing issues of human freedom and equality. Thinking about education specifically, might we see MOOCs as an example of an ‘old humanistic project’, particularly in the promise they appear to offer for democratisation, equality of access and so on?

I think MOOCs will have their place in online education but they won't be for everyone. If a student has a "bad" experience on a MOOC its likely to put them off enrolling on another. Are the students who feel overwhelmed by the scale and amount of information already disadvantaged by their background?

WK3 Competition entry

I came up with lots of ideas but this image took my fancy. All editing done in PowerPoint. There are things I would already change about it but I'm just going to leave it as it is so I can turn my attention to the Digital Artefact for the final assessment.

Monday, 11 February 2013

The heat is on....

This past week has been so hectic with juggling family stuff and producing material for an Introduction to Digital Storytelling for some nursing students. The creation of the digital artefact is in my thoughts in the shower, on the bus to work, whilst out walking the dog. So far I've got three ideas, in my head. The third idea which came to me whilst singing in the kitchen might just be achievable.

Looking at the Masters' student digital artefacts I particularly liked Candice Nolan-Grant's A Day Behind Glass and Anabel Drought's Soundtrack to the future, they really helped me to build on the ideas I have for my digital artefact.

Haven't finalised which tool I'll use but at the moment I'm thinking glogster, wevideo or sliderocket but that may change as I start to put my ideas together. Need to go do some reading for wk3.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Why Touch Matters

#edcmooc Wk2 A Day Made of Glass 2 & Productivity Future Vision
Both films show a Utopian world where everything seemlessly and effortlessly works. Both are a very clinical, striped down versions of reality as we know it now and how we think the future will pan out. Of course we know that in real life nothing is seemless and effortless and lets face it how many of us thought all that glass would be a nightmare to keep clean.The scene from A Day Made of Glass where the children are "mixing" paints just filled me with sadness if that is regarded as progress. Learning should be multi-sensory and messy as Eleni (fellow Moocer) pointed out.  Like others who have commented on the Coursera discussion forum there are elements of both films which would  be amazing to have; the worktops in the kitchen, the medical and car technology but there are somethings which technology cannot replace, touch being one of them.

It is interesting how technology has evolved from the typewriters on the 1860's and how touch typing has become a very useful skill to have. Will future generation begin to lose skills like touch typing as everything moves towards a woosh and a tap. A few weeks ago my oldest son had been playing on his tablet pc then came off it to read a book (real paperback). At the end of the page he tried to woosh the page over like on his tablet pc, he paused and laughed at what he'd just tried to do. I jokingly told him that what he had in his hands was a real book, with real pages that turn.

A few years ago I trained as baby massage instructor with IAIM which was a wonderful experience to share with new parents. I saw first hand how powerful the simple act of touch is between humans and that touch is fundamental to our survival as a species. Touch allows us to stay connected to one another, to feel that we are part of a meaningful relationship. Sue Gerhardt in her wonderful book Why Love Matters explores why touch is essential to the development of our social skills. Touch deprivation can cause developmental problems with the brain, depression and feelings of isolation. If I relate this back to the two films and how at a touch of a button and a woosh of screen it is possible to "stay connected" to people around the world 24/7, is this the future that we want? Is it really necessary to push forward with expanding the ways in which we "stay connected". Do I really want to be answering emails as I brush my teeth? I think we need to be careful we don't lose touch with what makes us quintessentially human.


Image: 'Brain of the Sistine Chapel'
Found on

Disclaimer: Yes, there are other things which technology can't replace but this post just focuses on once aspect.

Gotta have faith - Thinking about the ArtEFact

At the end of wk1 I decided to look at the final assessment for our Digital Artefact. I have a few ideas of what I might do but the problem I have at the moment is that they are in my head and not in digital format.If only someone would invent a device for transferring ideas from the brain into reality, now that would be impressive, perhaps one day. I'm hoping that by the end of the week after I've looked at the wk2 material that my ideas will start to take shape, what shape I don't know as yet. Mustn't forget to include the "try to have fun" bit, not sure when that will come into the process but I'm looking forward to having a sense of achievement when its submitted.

Final Assessment

We mean something that is designed to be experienced digitally, on the web. It will have the following characteristics:

it will contain a mixture of two or more of: text, image, sound, video, links.
it will be easy to access and view online.
it will be stable enough to be assessed for at least two weeks.

Try to have fun with this and use it as a chance to think broadly and creatively: anything goes in terms of the form of this essay. As long as you keep the assessment criteria in mind you can be as experimental as you wish.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Reflections on Week1 #edcmooc - Utopia & Dystopia

On my way home from work on Friday I opened my local newspaper to see the title "Dystopian vision for Scottish education 'to provoke debate.'" The article discusses various scenarios put forward by the Scotland's Futures Forum project which began in September 2011. Some people thought one of the scenarios of "gated communities, rising crime and social unrest" was already prevalent in our society today. The report said "most peope saw this world-view as a dystopia; a vision of a dysfunctional society and almost unimaginable in the time-scale." Sir Andrew Cubie, director of Scotland's Futures Forum wants people to think long-term about "Scotland being a world-leading learning nation by 2025."

I thought this article really tied in nicely with week one theme of Utopia and Dystopia.

Week One Films
Bendito Machine III (Dystopia)
This film reminded me of a shadow puppet show with its black silhouettes and coloured background. One of the characters ritually climbs up the hill to receive the next piece of technology. The community are exposed to the new technology until it breaks and the cycle begins again. Nothing gets fixed to prolong the life of the technology, its all about replacing old technology with the latest thing. I think we can all recognise that we live in a throw away society, days of getting your tv fixed when something went wrong are long gone. People queue up for the latest technology e.g ipads, iphone fans even though there is probably nothing wrong with what they have. Are we leading the way or is technology driving us forward?

Inbox (Utopia)
A charming film with likeable characters. Interesting how the girl had nothing in her Inbox on her laptop but through the magic of the red bag begins a conversation with a complete stranger. The post-it notes were short "tweet-like" messages that engaged both characters. The key thought for me with this film was engagement, technology is great but it requires human engagement to be effective.

Thursday (Utopia & Dystopia)
Like other Moocers I thought that Thursday offered the balance of Utopia and Dystopia. The bird adapting to the landscape trying to communicate with technology but not speaking the same language. The male character who's life is shaped by technology from the moment he gets up, dealing with the frustratiing aspect of technology when it doesn't work (hand scanner). Humans at a loss when technology breaks down in the office (we've all been there!). Couple going up to an outer space ride for their date instead of staying on the ground, walking in the park. 

New Media (Dystopia)
Like the film my comment is short, technology is sucking the life out of everything.

Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

Having seen "digital natives and digital immigrants" referred to in other articles I was interested to read this for myself. Despite my profession I would describe myself as a digital immigrant as I am guilty of using some of the language Prenksy talks about. I also recognise other digital immigrants, particularly instructors who are afraid that:

  • technology will replace them. 
  • technology will devalue their teaching. 
  • their lack of digital skills will leave them feeling exposed. 

As for the digital natives, they may have grown up with technology and speak the language but they don't all have the necessary digital skills .Sure, Computing students will be savvy with technology but in a different way to a nursing student, its not necessarily across the board. I do agree that digital immigrants need to change their teaching to reflect the language the digital natives use if they want them to engage with course material.

Friday, 1 February 2013

To finish or not to finish...

...that is the question. Just read the New York Times Article that Chris Swift posted earlier (thanks Chris) The article mainly deals with the rise of Coursera and how Mooc's can make money but was interesting was the percentage of students who finish a Mooc, approximately 24,000 of us will finish this course. I will be one of those who complete this course even though I'm having to put in long hours to juggle work, family and other commitments but there is a lot of my fellow Moocers in the same situation so its a case of just getting on with it.

Unlike any other course I have ever done the pre-course activity on edcmooc has been most impressive. The collaboration via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to name but a few has created a community of like-minded life long learners who have shared their knowledge, resources and tools of their trade in the true sense of "online openness." I am grateful for the experience I have had so far. Time to study:-)