the best of qualities is dispassion

Month: October 2016

Response to Chapter 3: “The Evolution of the Digital Storytelling Practice”

I enjoyed reading Joe Lambert’s piece describing the evolution of digital storytelling. Part of my enjoyment arose from an important connection between Lambert’s piece and the digital story that I critiqued this week. The digital story was “What If Money Was No Object?” which was […]

Assignment Bank Visual W10: Your love for your pet

The assignment, Visual 1729: Make a collage out of photos of your pet (or your favorite animal)! Either take past photos or take photos throughout the week that show how cute or how funny they can be! Well, although some may refer to these two […]

Digital Story Response No. 8: “What if Money Was No Object?”

Alan Watts was a very influential British intellectual, philosopher, writer, and speaker of the twentieth-century. Watts spent much of his adult life living and teaching in the United States. He wrote much on Eastern philosophy and worked to put it into terms that his Western audience could understand. Watts interpreted Eastern philosophy through a Japanese lens as he trained in Zen Buddhism early in his adult life. He was well versed in many religions including Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Pantheism, Christianity, Religious Naturalism, and Taoism. Watts appreciated the respect for nature expressed in Taoism, and how its natural flowing ways were incorporated into Chinese Ch’an Buddhism, which later became known as Zen after its arrival in Japan. As Watts often acknowledged, much Eastern philosophy focuses on motivation and therefore emphasize that the act cannot be pure if the motivation is impure. Watts and Eastern philosophy in general also stress the importance of the path versus the goal which helps explain the following Eastern thought, satisfaction lies in the effort, not the attainment.

When one synthesizes these core aspects of Eastern philosophy it is easy to understand why Watts produced the talk “What if Money Was No Object?” I’ve learned a great deal from Watts but always keep in mind that his view of Eastern thought is through a Japanese lens, which at times is quite helpful, and yet at other times carries too many purely Japanese cultural elements with it, and hence, misinterprets the thinking of earlier Eastern philosophers. Fortunately, in this talk, which has since been made into a digital story, Watts accurately expresses several key concepts of early Eastern thought. He applies these concepts to education and how to live one’s life. These are concepts that I value and hold to be truths. And the important question he asks that permits one their path; what do I desire? Not what have I been taught to desire, but what path do I desire?

This digital story sets the audio excerpt from one of his talks to flowing digital images. Watts sharing his important philosophical views set to lively images with engaging background music. Philosophy as a digital story intrigues me and is a genre of digital storytelling which I hope to produce. I find this very creative as well as invaluable, as we are taught vocational skills in our educational system but little about how to live. The producer of this digital story did indeed do their research and have a firm grasp of Watts’ philosophy. The flow and pacing of the images and music support Watts’ message and are well chosen. The images indicate that the producer understood their audience and the 7,800 YouTube up-votes and comments affirm this. I’m not certain if the producer had the proper permissions, but they do credit alanwatts.org. Nicely done and a worthy copyright risk.

Mobile Media Project: Three Steps to Meditation

View on FlowVella – Presentation Software for iPad and Mac

Learning With Digital Stories Robert’s Mid-Point Gallery Walk

View on FlowVella – Presentation Software for Mac iPad and iPhone

Mobile Mayhem: Funny Hangul Study

I live in an older neighborhood in Uijongbu-Shi, Republic of Korea (ROK) primarily populated with senior citizens. I relocated to the ROK in August of this year with my wife Hyejin who is a citizen of the Korea. We previously spent seventeen years living in the United States where we had intended to live out our lives. And then life happened, yet again, and we decided that living in Korea would be right for us. So, here we are, and due to our previous plans and my earlier challenges and experiences with learning languages, I can’t speak Korean.

Years ago, I studied German, Japanese and Spanish while living in countries where these languages were spoken. Complete immersion where I was highly motivated and yet struggled to learn. I describe my proficiency with these languages as speaking like an intoxicated preschooler, and yet I could communicate, and truly enjoyed socializing, as well as learning the perspectives’ of others. Now I find myself motivated to learn Korean and yet struggle. The seniors in this neighborhood greet me with broad smiles and a few words whenever I wander about, and my wandering is frequent. Many of these folks are quite elderly and I really wish to engage them in conversation, as well as demonstrating my respect for them and their culture by learning their language. My wife is so supportive that she wrote a Korean grammar book while she was teaching Korean in Hawaii so that I might later use it to learn. And I am using it, and have spent some time learning the basics, and yet I find it a challenge. Well, enough backstory, and now on to the app I’m using to help me learn Korean.

opening-screenOpening Screen

Funny Hangul Study (Korean), is a mobile educational app designed for children learning Hangul, the Korean alphabet. The perfect level for this fifty-nine year old child. It is an Android only app that is available on GooglePlay, which is where I recently found it. Funny Hangul Study (Korean) was created by Teacher Heodang Moon (허당 문선생) and is distributed for free. The “main lessons screen” offers the following four choices, or steps: 1. According to a letter, 2. Word study, 3. Grammar Study, 4. Learning quiz. My app displays these choices in English and Korean.

main-lessons-screenThe Main Lessons Screen

The app contains a wide variety of flash cards and simple grammar lessons. The subsection that I am presently using falls under “According to a letter” and is step 3, vowels, as I’ve mastered step 2, consonants.

categories-in-according-to-a-letterThe four steps, lessons in: According to a letter

The lessons in this section include writing Hangul by tracing the onscreen characters which are displayed with stroke order arrows. This is critically important as when I first started writing Hangul I was uncertain of the stroke order and had resorted to printing diagrams that showed the correct order. Since the app shows the stroke order with the character I can focus, instead of glancing over to a stroke order diagram.

writing-exampleHangul practice screen with stroke order

The app speaks the character sound each time a new character is displayed and then offers positive reinforcement by congratulating the learner with cute, childish  exclamations and happy faces. A learner can touch the onscreen speaker button to have the sound of the Hangul character repeated as often as necessary.

The lessons in the main section headings 2 through 4 are more advanced and I look forward to tackling them in the near future. I have looked through the word study lessons and I find them quite appropriate for a beginner, like myself. Although this app was designed for children, I noted when I visited the developer’s blog that the recorded video comments were from adult learners of Korean as an L2. I’m not surprised by this as the app is very well designed and easy to navigate. I think that this app could be used in a wide variety of educational settings by anyone, of any age, studying the Korean language. I highly recommend this app to anyone that wishes to study the Korean language and hope that they find it as useful as I am. With the help of this well-designed app and my wife’s grammar book, I should be conversing with the neighborhood seniors in the near future.

My Response to “At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media”

This week I critiqued and wrote a response to the digital stories “Nanna’s House” and “Grandma’s Roof.” These digital stories were produced by two seventh-graders, Abigail and Victoria. The girls composed poems about their visits to their grandmothers’ homes and then read their poetry as […]

Digital Story Response No. 7: “Nanna’s House” and “Grandma’s Roof”

Poetry, written and performed by 7th graders is used to narrate these digital stories. This one digital story actually contains two which are packaged serially and labeled “7th Grade Poetry.” This film is a fine example of collaboration and creative cooperation, as even the transcript […]

Daily Create: Fall in Korea at the Jogyesa Temple’s Chrysanthemum Festival.

     Jogyesa Temple Chrysanthemum Festival

Assignment Bank Video: When It’s Cold Outside in Uijongbu

This is a video assignment for my Learning With Digital Stories course. I was required to produce I short video where I describe what I do when it’s cold outside. I live in a cozy little apartment in the pictured building.

Digital Story Response No. 6: “The Bookmobile”

As they say, I’m a sucker for happy endings” and I also love books. Therefore a digital story that includes both books and a happy ending is irresistible to me, and this rich story includes both. The Bookmobile begins by describing that the narrator, Storm […]

Response to Chapter 7: “Social learning”

I argue that some topics, even those which are seemingly innocuous, are better suited to abstract discussions than large collaborative projects. In these cases, the educator can offer both sides of an argument and then encourage an open discussion of it, and perhaps, a later independent response.  To support my argument, I endeavor to analyze a collaborative project described by Lankshear and Knobel (2011) and offer a hypothetical alternative:

Schools could enter relationships with organizations, groups, and community leadership to produce knowledge artifacts that would be authentically useful for and usable by their end users. Right from the start, the work to be done was negotiated between the schools and the end users.  Moreover, the intended recipients were also seen as sources of expertise on matters of quality, usefulness, standards, relevance, etc., that an artifact would have to honour in order for it to be acceptable. (p. 222)

They share a typical example where groups of Australian sixth-grade students worked collaboratively“…  with the local cattle sale yards to produce a documentary about the history of the sale yards for a Beef Expo in 2003” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 222). They then describe how students video-interviewed representatives of the local cattle industry and shot footage of cattle yards. The students later incorporated voice-overs and edited the footage to produce their documentary. The completed documentary was distributed on CD-ROM, which was used at an international beef festival to promote the region and its cattle industry (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 222).

cows-love-300x175

On the surface, this all seems innocent enough. It appears the students did indeed learn a great deal from this large collaborative project. And yet, how might a person who is a vegan, for ethical reasons, feel about their involvement in the production a documentary film about the history of the cattle industry and even worse, promoting it.

Now if the topic of the cattle industry and the consumption of beef were presented in a balanced lecture with a classroom discussion, even those in the minority might be able to express an opinion counter to the majority. In this hypothetical case, our young vegan “might” speak out and offer a heartfelt ethical argument and thereby expose the majority to new knowledge. Although it is doubtful that our hypothetical young vegan would do the same while interviewing those expert adults involved in the local cattle industry, or even be permitted the space to ask critical questions of those industry experts, especially if it is an industry that is crucial to the town’s economy.

Whereas a lecture which includes multimedia followed up by an open classroom discussion of the topic and then a short paper might permit more students to voice minority opinions. A digital story, instead of a collaborative video project should encourage students to share their nonmainstream opinions instead of quietly yielding to class, or herd opinion (pun intended). An independently produced digital story appears to be a good fit here. It would offer the students exposure to, as well as experience with, many of the same the 21st-century tools required to produce a collaborative video. The production of an independent digital story would also require a certain amount of collaboration, by pulling the required information and expertise from the internet, a practice described as a “pull approach” which assumes “passion-based learning” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2011, p. 228). Supporting nomainstream arguments by reaching out and pulling from the internet is critically important, as members of the leaner’s local group may not be supportive of their stance. This, to me, is where the intent shines as one can most often find an affinity group that will openly share their knowledge and even help support the posited argument.

Industry influence in our schools is not always such a good thing, and as we know even the old industrial model of education has come into question, and now it appears that we are allowing these profit focused entities, to design the schools of the 21st century. STEM is crucial but what about the humanities, are they to be forgotten in our 21st-century model. I certainly hope not and am deeply concerned that an over-dependence on corporations will lead us down the wrong path. A path where ethics, important discussions, and minority opinions will become no more than distracting noise.

 

Reference
Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2011). Chapter 7: Social learning, ‘push’ and ‘pull’, and building platforms for collaborative learning from New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Social Learning. New York: Open University Press, 209-230.