DALN 2 – Researching to Innovate

As part of the project I’m working on for the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives, I have been researching free apps for the iPad 2 that might help innovate the current recording process of the DALN.

Let me explain in more detail:

Representatives from the DALN go to conferences, usually rhetoric and composition, or other English studies related conferences, and collect live literacy narratives. I have volunteered for DALN more than once, and usually have a fun time doing it. the task involves roping people in to come and sit in front of a computer (always a mac) and record a short narrative about literacy. It can be anything – reading, writing, digital – whatever. They talk into the recording device, which takes video and audio, and then when they are finished, we save and upload the recordings, along with a release form participants fill out.

As part of the project, I am looking at streamlining this project – innovating it, if you will. So instead of using MacBooks, I am looking at using iPads. So far, I’m sort of stumbling around in the dark, but I have found one fun, if not confusing tool:

Stage: An Interactive Whiteboard and Document Camera – And while this program will not likely work for innovating the DALN recording process, it may be useful for something similar.

The biggest difficulty I find myself having at the moment is the “free apps” part of the task. On iPad, movie maker is $4.99. This is problematic, and may lead to some interesting access-oriented innovations.

In the meantime, if anyone finds some use for this whiteboard app, please share.

iBooks Author and Me

I’m interrupting my workflow on the Tobacco Ebook project to talk about some issues I am having with the tech.

In my post, “It’s the Little Things,” from August 8th, I established that I am not a Mac.

Over the last several weeks, I have spent a considerable amount of time using a cute little MacBook Air. I’ve been familiarizing myself with a program called iBooks Author – a program that can only be used on an Apple product – as indicated in its name. I’m having more problems just figuring out how to download items and use Word on a Mac, that… hours later – I’m writing a blog about it.

Luckily, I have a lot of friends and colleagues who are Mac people. Today I have figured out how to track my downloads, save them in one easy step, and even how to change my scrolling options! I feel so accomplished! Sheepishly however, I did have to use my PC to figure out how to download a word document from sharepoint onto my own computer.

Which leads me to an interesting observation: When there are the EXACT SAME buttons available in the exact same places on both PC and Mac, I can’t see them on the Mac. It’s like I have some weird Mac blindness. This makes me wonder a lot about interface studies in my own discipline of rhetoric and composition – which may even lead to a paper.

Even frustration can lead to some pretty cool ideas and innovations, it seems.

Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)

One of the projects I am assigned to is to help Dr. Michael Harker work on the Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN). The DALN, as we refer to it, is a collection of narratives from all over the world about literacy. This could mean anything from reading, to writing, and even to digital literacy.

I have helped with the DALN in the past, (wo)manning tables at conferences, enticing potential storytellers to our table to get them to speak their narratives into a computer. We then store all these narratives at the link above. Anyone can look into the archive. Anyone can use the archive to do any kind of research they may have relating to literacy, or even beyond.

This week, I’ve been spending hours uploading narratives to the archive that were sent to us on a drive all the way from Singapore. Many of these are about learning English, but some are about speaking Mandarin, Idioms, and several are about computing.

I am the only person on this project. Once I upload the rest of the files from Singapore, I’ll be playing with an IPad 2, trying to figure out a better way to collect narratives at later conferences. Hopefully I’ll have plenty to say about that project in later posts. 🙂

Digital Pedagogy Meetup 1.0

This Monday was the first Digital Pedagogy Meetup of the school year. It was held at Manuel’s Tavern in the back room (though it’s really not as clandestine as it sounds), and is part of a larger atlanta studies community now called “Atlanta Connected Learning.

Nirmal speaks about Mahana - a part of Georgia Tech's first year experience.

Nirmal speaks about Mahana – a part of Georgia Tech’s first year experience.

Spearheaded by innovative faculty from several Georgia schools in the atlanta area, including but not limited to GSU, SPSU, Agnes Scott, and GTech, Atlanta Connected Learning is going to be an umbrella community that will eventually house several different educational and innovative meet ups designed to encourage the kind of innovation that is already happening in this community, but gather more followers and minds to take on all the projects to be tackled in the Georgia school systems.

Digital Pedagogy Meetups will continue to feature 2 sets of speakers who will talk, in a casual setting, about the projects they are working on to promote lifelong learning and a journey into the future of pedagogy.

Check out atlcl.org  for more developments, as the site will be developing and changing a lot over the coming semester.

Get on board, if you aren’t already.

I’m an ArcGIS Convert

Today I attended the ArcGIS outreach presentation:

Spatial Symposium: An Intro to Mapping

… and I learned SO MUCH!

Amber introduces the presentation to us using the cool CURVE screens.

Amber introduces the presentation to us using the cool CURVE screens.

First, I learned that pretty much any person with a computer, an internet connection and some data can make a map specialized to what s/he is working with.

For example, let’s pretend for a moment that someone is writing a dissertation, say for example, me. And let’s say I want to map out an object, say a high-end wrist watch (like the one below), and I want to be able to show when certain styles and techniques of watchmaking happened. I can do that using one or more of the map-making software featured in today’s presentation.

Piaget Skeleton watch - taken from http://blog.perpetuelle.com/

Piaget Skeleton watch – taken from http://blog.perpetuelle.com/

Another thing I might do for my personal enjoyment is map out places that have various foods. Let’s say I am searching for the perfect noodle in Atlanta, I might input restaurants with noodles as a main dish, and then input attributes and create a ranking system.

Essentially, if you can imagine mapping it – you can probably use some of these resources to create it.

And this makes me very excited about mapping possibilities.