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  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

Piaget Skeleton watch – taken from

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.

Wiki Mayhem

This week was the start of school. But that’s not as important as the fact that it’s also Dragon Con week. What this means is that I will need to be front-loading all my work into the first few days of the week, save some meetings coming Thursday because my friend, author, and fellow blogger, Giando Sigurani will be coming in to join in the festivities with me.

What does that mean for my SIF work? It means that I’ve been researching far and wide the different styles and platforms for wiki’s out there.

In case you haven’t read this helpful over-view article, here is an handy “How to Start Your Own Wiki” article with some great starter links in it. I’ve explored several wikis with some pretty attractive design elements (never minding the content): Wet Paint is a celebrity gossip page, and  my favorite video game, Don’t Starve, even has its own wiki page for users to try and figure out how to build and create things the characters need in the game.

The great thing about wikis is that they don’t have to all look like wikipedia. They can be designed to look like a regular web page, but they still are made up largely user content. The idea behind all this research is to create an attractive and intuitive wiki where students can post pages about tools they can use in class, on projects, or just to make life easier.

I will be posting relatively regularly about the tools wiki as it develops, so please check back often for news, successes and failures on this project.

SIF Orientation 2014

Today was orientation for the Student Innovation Fellowship. It happened in the new CURVE facility, which is a pretty sweet place.

Not everyone could make it today, but here are most of us, introducing ourselves, getting to know a little more about one another, and discussing things like, “What is innovation?”


Brennan and Justin give us some direction

Here you can see a little bit of CURVE giant television in action.

Here's a shot from the back of CURVE.

Here’s a shot from the back of CURVE.

The CURVE is a really beautiful facility and we are lucky to have it.

I’m excited to work with all these new people. We’ve got a bunch of cool projects on deck. Anything could happen – and it’s all going to be pretty cool.  

Innovation and the Multitude

In my introduction, I declared that I would be attempting to define ‘innovation.’ This is one such time.

My dissertation is complex. It is theory heavy, and as soon as I start to describe it, 3 out of 5 people begin to lose consciousness. Instead of risking your current state of awake-ness, I’ll save you by telling you that my dissertation concerns itself with time – specifically the ways in which our American-dominated-yet-globalized world values the way we spend, talk and think about our time. The part I’m concerning myself with for this particular post is the “American-dominated-yet-globalized world values” part of that sentence.

Over the weekend, I dove head-first into Empire by Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, followed by an equally head-first dive into Multitude, by the same authors, 5 years later, and it’s also the ‘sequel’ to Empire. Hardt and Negri first distinguish ‘Empire’ from ‘Imperialism’ defining ‘Empire’ this way: “The concept of Empire is characterized fundamentally by a lack of boundaries: Empire’s rule has no limits… as a regime with no temporal boundaries and in this sense outside of history or at the end of history…. Empire not only manages a territory and a population but also creates the very world it inhabits” (Empire xv). In short, we currently live in an Empire – one that is very different than the sort we learned about in history class.

The next important thing to define is ‘multitude.’ I’ll do it quickly this way:

The people = 1 homogeneous entity
The multitude = the many, the diverse, including social stratification
The masses = the indifferent, lacking in social stratification, the passive (Multitude, xiv)

Within the multitude are knowledge workers – people like me, and Hardt and Negri who make knowledge like what you’re reading here. Now here’s the big finish:

At the end of the preface, Hardt and Negri explain that “The multitude is working through Empire to create an alternative global society… the postmodern revolution of the multitude looks forward, beyond imperial sovereignty” (xvii).

In being student innovators, I like to think that we are, in fact, looking beyond any upper-class sanctioned sovereignty – those that rule the masses – and creating our own globalized world – a world, with enough work – that will look very different from the world we know today.


Getting Started

Yesterday I met Monique McGee, my now co-editor of the main SIF (Student Innovation Fellowship) blog. We sat down to talk about the direction our blogs, and the main blog, would take over the course of this SIF induction. In case I haven’t yet mentioned, we are the first SIFs ever. Not Monique and I alone – there are about 18 (guestimation on my part) of us. And we’ll all be getting started, bumping around in the night, together.

A few things I learned from our very first meeting, which also included our new colleague Ramsundar Sundarkumar, called simply Ram (I’ll link his blog as soon as I can), include the following:

1. It’s going to be fun to be a SIF. There is a sense of humor in the office that is subtle, dry, and referential to a lot of the pop culture I already love.

2. Anything could happen this year. ANYthing – could happen this year.

We are all on this journey to explore innovation – we all have different skills – we all want to learn as much as possible.

If I had a seat-belt here in my kitchen where I am currently standing and writing, I would strap myself in.

It’s the Little Things…

A large portion of my life has been spent missing out on little things – normal things that happen to most ‘normal’ people. For example: I had never celebrated Halloween until I was an adult. Sure, my family let us go to ‘The Harvest Festival’ at church, which was pretty much the same thing – but I’d never been trick-or-treating. In kindergarten, I took it upon myself to tell all the other kids that Santa Clause wasn’t real and their parents were all liars. Needless to say, my parents got a call that day.

Fast forward to my college years, and would you believe me if I told you I got all the way to my senior capstone seminar without ever having written a paper over 5 pages? Well, it’s true. It’s unfortunate and true.

And yesterday, one of my closest friends said the following to me: “How have you never extracted a file before? How is that even humanly possible?”

The truth is that I have never had to extract a file before. I have (probably too many) guy friends that are somehow involved with the computing profession and who have always just done everything for me. So on Monday, when I went to download Adobe CS6 onto my personal computer (which I lovingly refer to my PCcomputer [yes I do that on purpose]), I had no idea it would take several hours. Zero of the ideas. I thought something was wrong. I thought I had done it all wrong and everything was broken and it was all over.

As it turns out – my experience was totally normal. Everything uploaded, installed, and extracted just fine. And now I have CS6 on my computer. Next step – learn the differences between Adobe on PC vs. Mac. Another little thing I am just now figuring out. I am not an Apple user. And all the lab equipment in my current lab is Apple. Lo!

You see – it’s the little things I’ve missed out on as I’ve begun my journey into tech. And I know I’m going to have more than a few struggles with very simple concepts, and that’s okay. I’m rather advanced in other areas, despite missing out on the starter activities. It makes me unique. And I’m okay with this.

SIF Introduction

When I began my studies in Rhetoric and Composition in the English department, I had no idea that I would become interested in technology. Three years later, I have been awarded a Student Innovation Fellowship, or SIF, through the Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) department of Georgia State University. I’m excited and a little nervous to be joining a team of student innovators who all possess different skills, backgrounds, and ways of implementing knowledges.

Over the course of the next year, and beyond, I will be running this blog to let those interested in on what is happening for me as I make my journey through my Humanities degree as a SIFellow. I bring a little bit of knowledge about a lot of software to the table, and I bring a lot of knowledge about creative deployment of technology in a classroom setting. My hope is that I will experience a unique sort of bartering over the next year as I get to know my colleagues and trade my know-how with theirs.

And since all blogs need a theme – I’ve given mine an inquiry theme. In April, 2014, I wrote an article for an open-access pedagogical journal called Hybrid Pedagogy called “Taking the ‘No’ Out of Innovation.”  As I formed the article, I found that no one out there in tech-talk land really has a strong idea of how to concretely define ‘innovation.’ As I find myself an “Innovation Fellow,” I feel it should be my pursuit as a Digital Humanist of sorts to attempt to nail down what this word means. What does it mean for me, personally? What might it mean for my colleagues here in the SIF Program? And what does it mean for the University system at large?

So join me in my journey to attempt to answer this question, and form new ones. I expect to have a bunch of successes, and a lot of fun failures. Please don’t hesitate to comment, or email me with any questions, problems or concerns you may have as you read.

– Valerie Robin