Category Archives: everything is a remix

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.


Arduino Motor Controller Part 1: Making a Plan

I am not sure exactly how many parts this series will be. As I publish more of the parts I will return to this post and modify it to have links here to the other parts.

The first thing I did is decide on a goal. I wanted to have a potentiometer control the direction and speed of a motor as I turned it. The reason I wanted this was because my next project is going to be having the motor respond to inputs from sensors that I have not used before, so I wanted to make sure that when the time comes to learn how to wire and program with those sensors that I will have the wiring and programming already correct for the motor part. Everything is baby steps.

After coming up with the goal I reflected on what I already knew and what I would need to adapt from this.

  • I already knew how to use LEDs and I knew that putting a stronger resistor with an LED will make it glow dimly while putting a weak one will make it glow strongly.
  • I also knew that a potentiometer is a variable resistor. This means that as you rotate the dial it will go from being a weak resistor to being a strong one.
  • So what I needed to do first was figure out how to make it so that the potentiometer is set as an input with the middle value set as a neutral and anything below that value triggering a red light and anything above that value triggering a green value.
  • I had found good tutorials for Arduino at Learn Sparkfun before and decided to look there for a potentiometer tutorial. I found one, copied it and within 5 minutes had a blinking LED. As I turned the potentiometer the light blinked faster or slower. (I used their code exactly as it appeared, so if you are trying to replicate this. Follow their wiring guide and their code.)
  • Now to figure out the motor. I knew that the motor and motor controller were from FingerTech Robotics in Saskatoon, so I thought I would start with their website. They had a video of a guy using the ESC (electronic speed controller) with a RC controller (a radio controller) not an arduino. Hmm. I knew from the robot competition last year that I saw students from other schools using an Arduino to control their motors, but how? I googled Arduino TinyESC tutorial and found a tutorial at tech valley projects, it looked hopeful so I dutifully copied it.
  • The motor started to turn. That is fun. I have no idea why. So I think I have the hardware setup, now I have to figure out the programming.

Figuring out the programming turned out to be a lot harder process. Join me in part 2 as I go through the tech valley programming and discover that while the hardware setup is correct that the programming is almost completely wrong and I need to go in a different direction if I actually want to have control over the motor.

The other thought I have about all of this is that it reminds me of one of the lessons from my ECI 831 class on the importance of remixing. There was a great video series that I watched on remixing and the role it plays in creativity and learning called Everything is a Remix. Right now I am in the copy stage of the copy –> Transform –> Combine. Part 2 I will enter into the transform portion of the project as I start to change things in the code.

Original image Available for download at Everything is a Remix

Thanks for stopping by, hope you enjoyed the read.


Teaching is Stealing

download
Image Link Here

Open Education is defined as “education without academic admission requirements and is typically offered online. [It] broadens access to the learning and training traditionally offered through formal education systems” (Wikipedia, 2017).  After watching the videos this week, I’m all for open education and honestly, I think I always have been – I just don’t think I knew it had a real definition or official term.  If I think back to my university days, I was all over Google looking for math help to make it through those tough math courses and I found a lot of help in websites like Khan Academy and Wolfram Alpha.  They were necessary resources for me to survive these courses, as well as help from fellow classmates.

As I moved into my teaching career, it is very rare I make a lesson or project from scratch.  In university, the famous Rick Seaman told us “Teaching is Stealing” and I still believe that to this day.  There is no need to reinvent the wheel if there are perfectly good resources online, or in another teacher’s hands.  I have taken from the web, from websites like Teachers Pay Teachers, and used videos from Khan Academy as well as my new favourite resource, Desmos.  For those of you who don’t know what Desmos is, it’s a FREE online graphing calculator app.  No longer do you need to pay obscene amounts of money for graphing calculators and even better, it’s in colour.  There is also a plethora of teacher-made lesson plans and graphing calculator activities on this app which anyone can access.  I have yet to figure out how to make these activities, but until I do, there are plenty activities there that I can tweak and use for my students.

But back to my point on “Teaching is Stealing;” I think teachers should live by this rule.

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From Everything is a Remix Part 3

As a beginning teacher, I have survived my first few years by asking other teachers for resources for courses they have taught, and in return, I pass on my resources to other teachers new to the career or a course I have taught.  I believe the teaching community motto should be “pay it forward” always!  I can’t tell you how many teachers have asked me for resources and I gladly help however I can, because when I need resources for a new course, there will always be another willing teacher to help me out.  This is where I feel the “Everything is a Remix” theory fits directly into education (and I need to say, this video series was so interesting and informative; my mind was blown many times while watching).  The main purpose of the video series was to break down the barriers of original concepts and make people realize that everything is indeed a remix, even subconsciously.  Everything ever invented, has concepts from other places integrated into it, in order to create the completed puzzle.  Teaching is the same way.  Original ideas are awesome, but in a demanding career, why not remix a resource you find online or from a fellow colleague, instead of spending hours reinventing the wheel only to find someone has already done it?

Copyrights.  According to Kirby Ferguson, “the belief in intellectual property has grown so dominant, it’s pushed the original intent of copyrights and patents out of the public consciousness” (Everything is a Remix, Part 4).  In 1790, the original Copyright Act was intended for the “act for the encouragement of learning” and the Patent Act was to “promote the progress of useful arts.” We have gone so far beyond this, and as humans, we have become selfish.  We are fine with copying Ferguson says, as long as what is being copied is not our own.  There are constant lawsuits over this idea and as teachers, we do need to be aware of the consequences of copying resources online, if there is a copyright infringement.

The idea of open education as a teacher is great, because it gives a plethora of resources that we can freely access without the worry of our school budgets.  However, we do need to be aware of where we “steal” things from.  The idea of the Copyright and Patent Acts was to “better the lives of everyone by incentivising creativity and producing a rich public domain.” (Everything is a Remix, Part 4).  We depend too much on paying for resources, and not enough time taking risks.  The idea is to beat the big companies forcing us to pay too much for ideas that should be for the greater good, our students, as Lawrence Lessig discussed in his Ted Talk, Laws that Choke Creativity when comparing the ideas of BMI’s victory over ASCAP in the music industry.  So, we need to get back to this idea of sharing before it is too late for our society and we all become too selfish and stuck in the idea of personal wealth over common good.