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WE/ME in epedagogy design » Project

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Summer term 2009: “Games, Play and Education” (2nd Edition)

For summer term 2009 I’ll offer a seminar targeting ePedagogy-students who already have attended seminars dealing with learning theories, pedagogical media theory, and game based learning (see this post for a short list of authors and topics).

Seminar (presence) will be held on Thursdays from 10:00-12:00 (german time), starting with April 9th to July 16th 2009

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Reviewing the seminar “Pedagogical Media Theory and Game Based Learning”

Concept and structure

This term – winter 2008 – my seminar focussed on basics of media theory and their application to the understanding, use and creation of games in an educational frame. While my last seminar dealt mainly with learning theories and motivation, the view turned to media in general, in culture, communication and creation.
Taking a closer look at ‘New Media’ – networked digital media – isn’t simply learning about new channels for educative content. It may be a change from a receptive, interpretative, centralised form of communication to a configurative, collaborative, decentralised one. Both its’ (at this time) predominant traits, digitality supporting its role as recursive media-simulating metamedium, and networking supporting its role as global social medium, may influence the way we perceive information, knowledge and learning.
This seminar had a focus on ludic simulations, known as games and toys. These share some traits with digital media, but also may shed light on two inherent antagonistic sides: Rule-bound compliance and stability, as well as an appropriatable and configurable space of possibilities.

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a new ePedagogy Twine

Twine is an online service that is currently in private beta. It is something like a cross between del.icio.us and a community-based version of study.log.

Anyone can start a Twine about anything, and invite members. Members can post things there: essays, but also urls, media, and anything that can be stored on the web. Each post can be tagged, shared and commented on. Even better there is a Firefox bookmarklet that you can use to post any web page you are reading to the Twine of your choice, tagging it and adding a comment as you go.

This means that groups like ours can create shared libraries of interesting online material, and then link it through posting essays of our own that draw threads between various posted links and media.

Obviously I managed to get an invitation, and I have just invited everyone whose email address I had to hand. If you have not been invited (Wey hasn’t for one because I didn’t have his email address in Airset for some reason) then email me and I will invite you. This also applies to all the new students. Mail me at owen@owenkelly.net with the subject Twine ePed and I will invite you straight away.

It seems much neater in lots of ways than other attempts to create such an online shared library, and I think that we should try it to see what use we can make of it.

Web 2.0 and onwards!

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Reviewing the seminar “Games, Play and Education”

This is a short review on the seminar “Games, Play and Education” I held as a combined event for both online students in ePedagogy Design and offline students of educational science from Hamburg University during summer term 2008 in Hamburg.

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Memexies: beyond the electronic portfolio

Here are some thoughts based on a reading of Cohn and Hibbitts paper, and on the paper by Chris Dede. I will post them on my site later, in a slightly amended form.


Last year I began to explore the consequences of combining a blog and a wiki. This project initially seemed to consist of two related problems: one conceptual and one technical. It soon became clear, howeer, that they were simply two approaches to the same problem.

Both blogs and wikis were created by individuals wanting to answer a personal need, and only later spread across the web and became standard methods for organising and presenting information. Blogs were created out of a desire to keep a journal online, and to make it easy to add entries to the journal from anywhere with web access, and to read the entries back in a way that made sense. Wikis were created as a way of making notes that linked together. The original wiki was created to make it possible to add notes on a topic in any order; to link them as easily as possible; and to have those links appear within the individual notes so that a trail could be followed later by a reader.

Now that both of these formats have become quasi-standards, and are quoted approvingly in documents about education and pedagogy, my problem was to work out what advantage, if any, would accrue from combining blogs and wikis into a single piece of software. This meant finding out what they actually did, as opposed to what there were often discussed as doing. This meant looking at how they actually worked. The technical issues were simply manifestations of the conceptual assumptions that the programmers had made.

Received wisdom suggests that the difference is that blogs are sorted choronologicaly and reflect one point of view, usually passionate; and that wikis are sorted by topic or category and are designed to allow whole communities to work together on building knowledge. If this was ever true, then it is ceetainly not now.

There are, of course, many blogs where passionate individuals write chronological journals in which they assume the role of committed expert within their chosen field. There are also many group blogs, however, in which communities of interest document their progress towards goals. Some of these are official documents, used by companies to present themselves to their customers. Yahoo and Google both have many official blogs in which various teams within the companies keep users up to date on developments. Linden Labs use their company blog as the only official way in which they communicate about developments, upgrades and technical issues in the virtual world Second Life.

There are many wikis that followed the much-discussed path of Wikipedia and seek to become self-correcting repositories of group knowledge. There are also many individual wikis, where people gather togather material they may want to use later, just as there are company wikis which serve as online manuals and instruction guides.

Ralf suggested that one crucial difference between the two was the way that they pointed. Links in blogs tend to point outwards to other blogs, and other websites. Links in wikis tend to point inwards to other pages in the same wiki. In other words, blogs tend to be seen by their authors as nodes in a much larger network, and it is this network (the so-called blogosphere) that gives individual blogs their importance. Wikis tend to be seen as complete documents: everything you want to know about Subject X in one place. These differences are as much decisions of choice as technical constraints. It is perfectly possible to place lots of internal links into a blog, and there is absolutely nothing to prevent a wiki being filled to the brim with external entries.

The question of what benefit we could derive from combining the two cannot, then, be answered by simply trying to combine the current uses, for then we would simply have something with links that pointed inwards and links that pointed outwards: a standard website in other words. I would sugest that the question needs to be rephrased: what activity can we imagine undertaking that would require both a blog and a wiki to be successful, and how can we realise it. To ask this is to move beyond “blikis” (hybrids built to deomonstrate that we can build them) to human activity – business, learning, entertainment – and to ask how activity can be enhanced.

One answer to this question is the central subject of Beyond the Electonic Portfolio: a lifetime personal web space, a paper by Ellen R Cohn and Bernard J Hibbitts. Their arguments provide a concise summary of my own thinking, in that they address the issue of what people want and what tool they could have to help them meet that need.

They suggest that in a knowledge society there is a need for an individual, networked personal harbour for everyone in which they can store both data of their own creation and links to material found elsewhere. They suggest borrowing the term memex from Vannevar Bush to describe this. I feel strongly that this is a mistake, for two reasons. Firstly it confuses the issue by making it difficult to differentiate between the hardware Bush was referring to and the software we are talking about. Secondly Bush’s project was grander than the scope of what either Cohn and Hibbitts or I have been discussing. I am therefore proposing to call my personal harbour a memexie: a cute derivative term that implies it is less than a memex and different from one. This leaves us free to discuss the differences without confusion.

A memexie can be seen as a portfolio taken to its ultimate extreme. Cohn and Hibbitts envisage it including junior school reports, high school sports certificates, class photos, every essay that author has ever written since she learned to write, an ongoing journal, and links to every online resource the author has ever used. It might be worth pointing out that Buckminster Fuller would recognise the value f this even more than Bush, since he created just such a repository for his own life. His even included every receipt for every item he bought during his lifetime.

The value of the memexie is simple: it is the externalisation of the author’s mind in a form that allows for total recall.

What was the name of the girl I met in Manchester when I was 16? Which novel of Jules Verne did I quote from in my first term at university? Questions that may now be unanswerable will become instantly acessible. There are difficulties with this approach to one’s life, though, in that it presupposes that privacy in the conventional sense is an artefact of an industrial age and will change or disappear as many other aspects of industrial life have.

To some extent this has already happened without much comment. Mobile phones have completely altered the landscape of privacy and availability. Being out of contact is now a choice people can question rather than an inevitable side effect of getting the bus tothe city centre. Arrangements are now infinitely malleable where thirty years ago a decision, once made, (to meet at the cinema at 19.30, say) might prove almost impossible to rearrange.

However the problems that might arise in redefining the notions of privacy, availability and transparency are nothing compared to the problems the use of a memexie will pose for education, training and pedagogy. These issues are raised by Chris Dede in his paper Planning for Neomillennial Learning Styles, in Educause Quarterly. The arguments in this paper become more powerful once one imagines every learner and every teacher having a fully-charged, networked memexie of their own, and using it as a hub for communication of al kinds. They will become linked centres of what Dede calls “co-instruction” and a key mechanism for “infusing case-based participatory simulations into presentational/assimilative instruction”.

Once we get beyond the issues of privacy there will be no need for manufactured simulations because my life will become your case study, just as yours becomes one of mine. It is here, in truly transformative pedagogy, that e-learning starts to become a new kind of discipline, rather than simply a new way of doing what we already recognise as “education”.


ePortfolio and Transparency

As in the VLE course a discussion on ePortfolio and transparency arose – which is pretty much related to our panopticon-groupwork – I wrote something about this problem on the panopticon blog. Just my first thoughts on it. Perhaps the VLE-participants would like to contribute and comment on it, as it is a central point in our course? I could have done this in our forum to make in more internally, but I have put it in our blog because this is a topic I would like to do more research in the other project…


Blogging about ePedagogy

As you might already know Alex’s, Owens and my Project ist to do some research abot ePedagogy. In order that you don#T have to visit all our different blogs we offer a common blog without really writing it 😉

What is what we do?
Everyone is having his own blog. Alex uses the whole blog for his epedagogy research, I use a category and Owen just tags his eped articels. By doing this we have three different RSS-Feeds focused on ePedagogy.
To avoid that we have to write our content in two locations we mixed it with the help of xFruits and showed the aggregated feed as a “blog” at blog.epedagogy.org.
I diont like the use of external tools and prefer a installation on own servers. Though I kept on looking around for a tool which could do the feed mash up for us and finally found it.
So that is how we offer our common “blog”-site and a common feed.
You are envited to visit us there focused on epedagogy topics.
Maybe some of these tools or even the content ist interesting for you ;-).
Greetings from Hamburg,

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Second Life blog urls

When we were talking in Hamburg Wey asked me for the urls to some of the more interesting blogs about life in Second Life, and I promised to send some to him.

I am now happy to say that my blog/wiki thing is now almost working correctly: it has tags and tag clouds and rss feeds all over the place (including, at Ralf’s request, rss feeds for the tags). It also has a blog roll on almost every page, and there are seven SL blogs listed there, as well as some more general ones like Clickable Culture.

It seems sensible to tell everyone about it, rather than send some private emails; and then invite any comments, criticisms, suggestions concerning owenkelly.net

By the way, some of the individual entries need reformatting, and some of the links in individual entries may not work yet, because I ported them all over from WikkaWiki and the formatting and links need re-doing post by post, by hand. Since this only needs doing once then I *will* get round to it, but I haven’t had time yet.


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Transparency (and surveillance) is getting started

It is not Big Brother who is watching you, it is Every Brother… In this note we start our research in “Transparency and Surveillance in ePedagogy and education.” As we had communicated at the seminar here in Hamburg we are going to make our process transparent to everybody – and therefore I have now set up a blog (panopticon.ferngespraech.net) and a wiki (due to some problems with my Server only having PHP 4 my provider has to move my data to another Server, so the Wiki will be online tomorrow…) so that everybody can follow our thoughts and the work in progress.

Please have a look at our work – ideas, questions, recommondations etc. are higly welcome.



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Blogging for Comments

Quite a lot of us planned to start Blogging for they’re ePedagogy research. As beeing quite deep into blogging I set up a Wiki Page about Blogging. There you can find some basic information and they will raise up if you post your questions here or there. I would recommend WordPress as a Blogging system dooes’nt matter if you want to install it yourself or want to use a already installed one where you just have to sign up for.
But maybe you would like to use Vox which could become something like myspace for adults. The structure seems to be much cleaner and I think more serious than on myspace.
Btw, I set up a Blog (in english language) for my personal ePed-Research as well and hey YOU ARE WELCOME to visit it ;-).

Other useful social software apps are del.icio.us for social bookmarking and flickr as a photo sharing platform. (We have a epedagogy group at flickr!)

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