Sunday, June 27, 2004

Project M (continuation)

I have enrolled for project M to be able to see how it works from the inside but am still an outsider as I did not find a group to work with. Many groups chose their sides and competed for World Power using Media strategies to convince different onlookers to vote for them (through mobile phones). The game ended today.

What attracted me at first was the innovative, interactive content of a Media Awareness game allied to a wiki collaborative platform, SMS messaging and gsms.

"The Purpose of Project M is to use exciting technologies to develop new media literacy and create a space for young people to think and act critically"

However, the loaded language and bias I found inside is what held me back. The game seems to reduce human interaction to manipulation, control and domination through media strategies and urges young people to achieve their goals through any means available.

"Empower your team with convicing content, attractive layouts, stunning advertising, seducing gossip, uplifting slogans, good stories, friends and or examples of wrongs, lies and cheating of one or more of the other teams."

I do not know what the sequence to this game is or if there will be any. However, I feel that if the game is left at this level, without any further discussion, the result is a brainwash of the same minds it claims to free.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"Project M" - a Virtual European Game using Open Source

Project M is the result of a joint effort of 6 innovative organisations from three EU member states to produce an online game with learning focused on global change, media literacy and critical thinking.

What is interesting is how the whole game is structured on role play and uses Free and Open Source Software, like Tikiwiki for instance, allowing for great teamwork. Worth a visit as it gives ideas on how to use the wiki system even more creatively.

Participants have to create a logo and a slogan and are given several assignments which earn them points to win the game.

I am very curious to know how it is going to develop. Lots of material for meanigful interaction and collaborative work. Definitely an exciting experience for learners of all ages.

"Tool up. Make sure you're no 'rebel without a clue'. Learn about communication, media manipulation and power play. Play Project M and determine the future of the world."

"Blogs and RSS - Tools for Creating, Collecting, and Sharing Ideas Online".

This was a two-hour, hands-on session given by Trevor Ettenborough that centered around a webquest that asks teachers to explore blogs and news aggregators, using blogs in their classroom, news aggregators, and how news aggregators can help save time.

Wonderful material with many interesting links and ideas to be used by teacher trainers and teachers of all areas interested in blogs in education!

Monday, June 07, 2004

A videoconferencing experiment

This morning Venny (Taiwan) invited me through YM to join him in a video-conference room at Uvault. I plugged my cam and mic on and off I went into cyberspace. I landed smoothly in a room with 6 screens, a chat space and a login feature where I had to write my name and choose the connection speed. On the screens I saw Venny's smiling face and Master Robin Good's big grin(Italy)...he is the one responsible for the experiment.

The video and sound quality are excellent although there was some echo because Venny was not using his mic. The video images were coming fluid and there is also a possibility for users to freeze both sound and image , which eats less bandwidth and allows you to cough from time to time (my case) or stop interfering sounds from reaching the others.
Robin had to leave us but we invited Fernanda(Portugal) and Michael (Australia) to join. Sus tried to join us from Denmark as well but although she could hear and see us she could not login. Bizarre.
I logged in later and found Sus, Venny and Karen (USA)...apparently Sus's problem was a very strict firewall control.

I took some a print screen for you to visualize an occupied room.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

NMC 2004 - Small Technologies Loosely Joined

Small Technologies Loosely Joined is the " wiki-blog-chat fest" which will be presented at the New Media Consortium Summer Conference 2004 on June 17, 2004, 4:15 - 5:30 PM Pacific Coast Time. You can find your local time via World Clock:
The organizers, Alan Levine, Brian Lamb and D'Arcy Norman, are asking education oriented bloggers to remotely take part in the event by contributing to one of the three perspectives suggested: Centralized, De-Centralized or Fence Sitter Position.

This sounds like an incredible opportunity to exchange ideas internationally!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Moodle Experience - a continuation

People in the course have been split in smaller groups. I am together with about 5 others in Group A and we have started to experiment with the wiki version you can find in Moodle. Susan Burg (Florence) suggested a digital role-play story so we are interacting in a small group in the wiki environment. It's interesting to be able to edit and add, but I find the wiki formatting inconsistent. In one environment we had certain rules, in the other, different ones. This is very time consuming and will certainly disorient newbies and students. I tried to use bold letters everytime I edited something but did not manage completely because the code changes into something else if we skip a line or inadvertedly use an exclamation mark. It would also be interesting if we could edit in different colours so that we could track who did what. Anyhow, I do not think this is the purpose of a real wiki.

Moodle has lots of different possibilities but the collaboration relies mostly on forums and this is where most people interact. Having a large number of forums, however, is confusing and unless we choose the email notification feature in each (which means flooding your inbox if people post a lot), we must chase the latest messages by clicking everywhere (not very practical if you are on a dial-up connection). Not many people are patient enough or have the time to do so, so we find messages scattered everywhere with not much connection or interaction.

There are many other features to Moodle I have checked, but again, only with moderator rights. The journal, for instance, can only be viewed by the student who posted it and commented on by the moderator and not the whole community. So it is a private asynchronous dialogue between student and teacher.

The glossary is a nice feature, as it allows you to post definitions, links and you may choose the option to highlight the word in all the posts.

As a student you have a very limited range of action, while as a moderator you can do more (I believe there are different levels of moderation). I feel students should be given the opportunity to produce and suggest content and have some freedom to modify their environment according to their needs. There is an interesting post in Kairosnews I read the other day on this subject: My Brilliant Failure: Wikis In Classrooms

It's difficult for me to visualize the structure of this course as it is. I do not know whether it is because there is none, and Karen's idea was to adapt and shape it according to our expectations(which may eventually be an interesting experiment) or it is just plain muddled. Other participants seem to have the same feeling from what I have read in the forums. People are just running around like mad hares, without knowing what to do and where to post. I wonder what point Karen is trying to make or where she is heading. I have the impression that while she is more worried about how the philosophy of liberation can be implemented through online environements, the participating teachers are after "the fast and neat, no frills and down to earth" solution for their classrooms as Renata Suzuki (Japan) puts it.

Meeting Karen for a YM chat later today, so we'll discuss it. It would be interesting if she posted her impressions as well, how she sees things from her perspective. For the time being she's just responding to our ideas. Well, I must say there is more dialogue, interaction and learning happening in the YM chat than in the Moodle cold shell...which scores a point for informal education based on dialogue. :-)

Mercedes Rossetti has posted an interesting ressource on Content Design. I'd like to see how to start a course in Moodle from scratch. I wonder whether my secondary school students would find their way in this environment.