Category Archives: social activism

Behind the Scenes of: The Learnings of Chris

So my final project is a playful remix of The Legend of Zelda for NES. It is an unusual approach so I thought that I should unpack why I did it this way and what I was hoping to achieve with each scene. To begin with the idea for the project came to me as a result of wrestling with the realization that I would not have time to explore my learning this semester and still have time to talk about my personal learning project of learning to program the Arduino. I knew that we would have a final post to explain our personal learning project, but I wanted something of it to be in my presentation as well. I played around with ideas of somehow working the Arduino into the project, but try as I might I could not figure out a good way that would not distract from the summary of my learning. So I decided that I would instead use programming in a different way, and that I would use it to animate the story. I also wanted something that was original and uniquely me. That was when I decided that it would be neat to have my learning represented as a quest. I knew that creating an animation with all of the sprites (characters in a game are called sprites) would take way too long so I decided to use an existing game that had already been heavily remixed before and go with it. I also decided that even though I focused on learning Arduino this semester that I would program in Scratch, since it is a platform that I am very familiar with, and that I knew would be capable of this kind of project. So that is where the idea for the Zelda adaptation came from.

Concept Map

The first thing I did even before settling on the approach was to go through notes from each class and to look for themes and commonalities. After I found my major themes I went back and started to look at connections and did a concept map. A website that I discovered this semester for creating concept maps with my science students is sketchboard.io I was able to create the following concept map to help me organize my thoughts.

The green circles are my key ideas that most things connected to and branched out of. I decided then that if I did do my learning as a quest that I would need to find a way to visually represent my learning in each of these 8 main areas. I thought about what I had learned in each of these areas and I wrote my transcript of what I wanted to say. I recorded these using my cell phone and made sure that it came to less than 7 minutes. Then I started to think about how to animate each scene.

Part 1 and 2: The title card and the crawl.

The game of Zelda is a genre game, it follows a defined format and that includes providing the player with a backstory. In modern video games this would be done with a cut scene before the player could take over, but there was not enough memory available to the writers of an NES game to include an animation like that. Instead they did what Star Wars did and many other movies before that, they provided the player with a scrolling text that could fill them in. I decided to do the same. So in this part my goal was to explain a little about what the viewer could expect of the learning summary, and then with the crawl to provide a starting point for the beginning of my learning.

Part 3 and 4: The opening scene and the cave. 

In part 3 you first get to see the game and the little character that represents me. During this part I explain about how my personal learning network (PLN) was analog and not digital and I symbolized this by having it as a life meter up in the corner of the screen. It is full health, but it is not digital and you will see this change to developing and growing a digital PLN as the game goes on. Also you will see that I have a SAMR level indicator at the top that shows that much of my technology in the classroom at this point is substitutionary. As for social media I have Twitter but hardly used it and that was represented with the spiderweb on the logo. Finally my two inventory boxes are shown as empty to begin the course with.

Opening part of the my quest.
My little character being introduced to various social media from Alec Couros.

Then I enter into the cave. Here Dr. Couros tells me that I am going to need to learn about these different social media platforms and that I will need to be doing this a lot. My little character receives a phone to do social media on. I feel that I should point out that I did not receive a free phone in this class. Pizza yes, phone no. Also I was pretty pleased with my little 8-bit version of Alec Couros. So anyway, the point of this scene was to highlight the platforms that we used in the course. The other reason I did it was because the original game starts with Link (not Zelda) receiving his sword from a man in a cave to go on his quest with.

Part 5: The Twitter storm. 

In this part I talk about how Twitter was originally intimidating to me and how Dr. Couros taught us about how to use hashtags and tools like tweetdeck to help make sense of everything. I show this by having my little character fire hashtags out of his phone at the twitter birds that are swarming me. As I do this they quit attacking me. You will also notice in this part that the spiderweb leaves the twitter logo and I also get followers below the twitter logo. This is to show the success that I found as I started to use twitter properly. You will also notice that with the addition of Twitter followers that my digital PLN life meter increases.

My character using hashtags to make sense of Twitter.

Part 6: Digital Citizenship and Social Activism.

In this next part I wanted to show the things that we learned from our guest lecturer Katia Hildebrandt about digital citizenship and social activism. I tried to show a digital world with another version of my character in a blue part of the screen surrounded by scenery made of binary. This I hoped would be the clue that it was the digital version of me. When I first enter the scene it is moving up and down independent of my character. As Katia speaks she tells us to take control of our digital identities, so I do and it starts to mirror my offline movement. I can only do this so much though as the digital me hits the wall and stays behind as I leave the screen. If I had had more time I would have had this character continue to follow me throughout the rest of the game, but I could not figure out a good way of doing that so I settled for it only being on this screen. Some of you might have noticed that the sprite I used for Katia is a modified version of Princess Zelda. The other thing that happens in this scene is that as I take control of my digital identity my social media platforms jump to include Google+, WordPress, and Chrome, I also give my digital PLN a half a heart to show growth.

My character controlling its digital identity.

As I leave this screen to the next I encounter a monster who is shouting at me. In the next three screens my purpose is to show the moral wrestling I have done with the idea of social media activism. I can see the logic behind the idea that your digital self should be representing those things that you believe in and that you should be speaking up about issues. My concern that I am still wrestling with is that so often what wins an argument is not the facts, but the relationship and the facts. You can tell someone they are wrong, but if they do not care about the relationship with you they will just ignore you, and in fact thanks to the backfire effect may even become more polarized to your position. Instead by talking with someone as if you are in a partnership in which you are both desiring to seek truth you are more likely to see a change in belief and behaviour. I am convinced that this happens better in private conversations than public ones. So for myself I think that my kind of social activism is to discuss the issue with the other party in a direct message. This has worked sometimes and not others. I show it working as a I change the mind of the troll.

My character initiating a private conversation with someone I disagree with.

Part 7 and 8 Open Education Resources.

In this scene I wanted to present the concept of open educational resources, OERs. These are not locked away behind some kind of paywall so I show them being open by having my character unlock the room that they are in. Also I want people to remember that it is important to contribute and not just to take. I do this by having my character build a lesson and leave it in the OER  room. Then I leave the screen with a book in my inventory and I head to the next screen. In the cave on that screen is a man who wants to buy the OER off of me. I use this to explain the attribution rules that exist on many OERs.  I end up giving the OER resource to the man in the cave after he agrees to the rules of attribution for the document.

My character is creating a lesson plan to put in the OER repository.
My character explaining that you need to follow the attribution rules.

Part 9 SAMR.

The SAMR principle of how to use technology in the classroom is something that I have fallen in love with. The idea that many people at first only use technology as a substitute for the analog way that they used to use it, until they become more familiar with the technology and then they begin to adapt their approach. But to truly use technology well we need to use technology to modify/change, with the best use of the technology being when it completely redefines how learning takes place in our classes. The analogy that we talked about in class was someone exploring the ocean. Substitution and adaptation are shallow water explorations. Modification and redefinition are deep ocean exploration. I tried to show this by having my character put on scuba gear and head out into the water. When he goes below the water the whole screen goes dark blue and he finds and amazing resource at the bottom of the ocean. I am not completely happy with this scene because I do not know if anyone else will get that visually from it. I hope they do but I could not animate it better in the time that I had. In the end I had to say good enough and include the scene as is. Oh yeah, the SAMR level moves over each level as I go deeper and deeper into the ocean in this scene.

My character is underwater with scuba gear getting a redefined lesson plan.

Part 10 and 11 Fake news, 4 Moves, and Filter bubbles. 

I really like the visual for this metaphor. My character comes onto the screen and sees two ponds with apples floating into each pond. He cannot tell which is good or bad so he uses the four moves and a habit and heads upstream to check out the source. He finds the one stream has an apple tree growing and dropping good fruit into the stream. The other stream has a monster who is reform balls of dung to look good before putting them in the stream. I think the metaphor for how fake news is produced and repackaged works well.

My character discovers that some of the news it sees is literally crap.

Then I head upstream even more and find that there is other good fruit that I am not being exposed to. This represents news that is true that I might not agree with, or that falls outside my areas of interest, etc. My character investigates and sees that there is a dam acting as a barrier, this is a metaphor for the filter bubble that we all live in.

This shows my character discovering that the news it receives is being filtered.

Part 12 LaFOIP and THINK.

The final part that I present before the closing credits is about LAFOIP and the acronym T.H.I.N.K. I show this by having a monster be the legal department demanding that I take care of students properly online. I reassure the troll that I am teaching my students how to evaluate if something is true,helpful or honest, inspiring or illegal, necessary or  kind before posting. I also explain the four key points of LAFOIP. My favourite part of this scene is when my character unlocks a record that he is done with and destroys it by burning it. Deleting things on the computer is not nearly as fun as burning it, oh well.

My character is destroying records it no longer needs.

Credits

In the credits I thank everyone and I need to apologize for something here. I mispelled Katia’s name. I called her Katie. I am really sorry. I went based on memory and should have looked your name up. I plan on fixing it in the next week, so if you ever want to link to it in the future you will see your name spelled correctly, I just do not have time before the class it over to re-edit the two places in the video where the mistake are.

In the credits I thank everyone in the class and I also talk a little about the idea of remixing. I really, really, really enjoyed the Everything is a Remix website. I was engaged by it and inspired by it. I hope that my remix of the Legend of Zelda into the Learnings of Chris, was enjoyable for you.

 

Thanks for stopping by.


ECI 831 Summary of Learning

Hi everyone. This post is about my summary of learning for my ECI 831 class. For those of you that might be reading this, who are not in the course with me this assignment was to be about all of the things that we had learned throughout the course. For myself I also wanted to allude to my learning project on computer programming a little without it becoming the focus of the video. For myself I decided to use my programming in the making of the video. I used the language Scratch that was created by MIT. I chose this language because everything that is done on this website is available to others for remixing. In this way I also felt that it fit with the idea of open education, which did get its start partially through the open education at education movement at MIT.

I will include a making of post in the next week, but for now here is the project. I hope you enjoy.


Privilege Leads to Responsibility

This week we are to analyze and comment on social activism online and whether it can be meaningful, worthwhile, productive, and finally what our responsibility is as educators in teaching it and modelling it are.

At the start of the week and throughout it I realized that my position on social media has largely been one of do not rock the boat. I have on occasion participated in social activism, but it has generally been on the safe side. I have shared some news articles in the past, I have donated money to some GoFundMe.com drives, and I have been a good personally responsible citizen. Everyone is always happy to have me as a neighbour both physically and digitally, because I mind my own business and help out where I can. If you were to try to place my on the kind of citizen table that Katie Hildebrandt shared on her blog I would likely come in moving back and forth between the responsible citizen and the participatory citizen. I have on occasion organised things to help others, but I am more likely to help out with existing charities. Why have I not done more? Well to be honest because it makes me uncomfortable, it takes time, and sometimes I do not know what to say, and I feel that I am being intrusive. So how have the things that I have read helped me to see this differently or have they?

To start with there is the question of whether social media activism even works. Near the beginning of the week I came across and shared an article from Wired.com about whether or not social activism accomplishes anything. You can read the article yourself but one of the conclusions it draws is that, “It’s often the case that the people or organizations you shame “publicly” via social media will never see the criticism at all. Your social audience is generally a group of like-minded people—those who have already opted in to your filter bubble.”

obtained from https://medium.com/@tobiasrose/empathy-to-democracy-b7f04ab57eee

So the article questions whether is it useful and I think that it somewhat missed the point, also that our filter bubbles are not as homogeneous as we think. For example my family and extended family are in my filter bubble on Facebook and Twitter. While I share a lot in common with my family I differ quite a bit politically and in many of my social justice views. Regularly things put up by them and friends of mine that I disagree with show up in my feed and  I sometimes comment on them. I also know from the comments I receive from them on stories I share, and things that I post that my stuff is showing up on their walls, and in their feeds.  So when I share a post it does reach people outside of the filter. In addition to that it increases the likelihood of something trending. This is not the only thing that the article brought up though. It also brought up the idea that people are less likely to do something concrete to bring about change as they will have already felt that the venting of their moral outrage will be enough. Again I think that this would be hard to prove. The ALS ice bucket challenge raised a lot of money, did this redirect money that may have been spent elsewhere? Probably. Would all of that money for sure been spent elsewhere? It is hard to say. Not likely. There was likely some new capital spent that otherwise would not have gone to charity. I suspect that it is not a zero-sum game. In conclusion it is difficult at this point to say conclusively whether or not social activism for sure works. I know from talking with my friends and family that there have been things that have changed my mind, behaviour, and have made me open my wallet. So I am voting that yes it works.

Okay so if social activism works what is my roll in it?

This one really made me think, and honestly made me uncomfortable, which is good. I will start by saying that I am very privileged in life. I am a white male. I have a stable high paying job (top 15% of earners in Canada). I have good health. I have had some things in life literally given to me, while some I have had to work for. While I have gone through some really difficult things at times for the most part my life has been very comfortable and likely will remain so. So why do I bring this up? Well because of the idea of rights vs responsibility.

When I read Katie’s article about silence speaking as loud as words I hit the first bold point and started to argue with it. What she said was, “If we are online, as educators, and we remain silent about issues of social justice, if we tweet only about educational resources and not about the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report in Canada, or about the burning of Black churches in the southern United States, we are sending a clear message: These issues are not important.”  I started to think about justifiable reasons that someone would have for not posting. Maybe they are really busy, maybe they are in a vulnerable position and making this kind of statement online may make their situation more volatile, etc. Then I reached her second bold quote,  “I have a responsibility to use my privilege to speak out and use my network for more than just my own benefit or self-promotion; not doing so is a selfish act.” This one diffused me. See, she talks about using our privilege. It is not the responsibility of the vulnerable to endanger themselves by doing social activism, it is the responsibility of those with privilege. (Although sometimes it does fall to the victims to say something like with #metoo.) What does this mean for me? Well it means that as someone with a lot of privilege I have a job to do. I need to work towards developing myself as a justice orientated citizen. I need to say something when I can, and also I have a responsibility to go looking for those opportunities. In other words I need to be willing to be uncomfortable, especially since I have a choice and many do not. 

With all of that said I do want to be smart about what I post. I really liked what Shelby had to say on her blog with her idea of 4 rules.

  1. “How will this be viewed by people who do not know me?”
  2. “How will this be viewed by people that do know me?”
  3. “Would I be okay if my students saw this?”
  4. “Would I be okay if my colleagues/family saw this?”

To this I am going to add that we need to remember that it is not our job to make our families and colleagues comfortable. It is our job to make them better. Hopefully they are doing the same for us. So I would add one more rule.

5. “Will this likely accomplish the change I want it to accomplish?”

With that said I realize that I am going to have to change my use of social media. I am going to have to come up with an action plan to change, just like Marley suggested on her blog. The only thing that is 100% clear in that plan is that silence is not an option.

Thanks for reading.