Rhet/Comp, Durkheim, Hybrid Pedagogy, and Me

In the last 7 or so weeks as a SIF, I have learned more than I ever imagined I would.

A few weeks ago, I decided to write an article featuring the SIF program. In a stroke of benevolence, Brennan gave me permission to spend some of my hours developing the article. So I set to work – basing the article on a footnote I harvested from Emile Durkheim’s sociologically ground breaking book The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life written in 1912:

“A tool is material accumulated capital.”

When I read that note, I knew I was going to use it for something – but I wasn’t sure what – until I began to read Writing Teachers Writing Software by rhetoric and composition scholar Paul LeBlanc.

The article I wrote went live this morning at 3am on Hybrid Pedagogy. Here is the link:

Addressing the Elephant: The Importance of Infrastructure

Designing for Tools

This morning the Tools Wiki team had a meeting with Brennan Collins to discuss our design research for the project. I must say, we came up with some pretty great stuff. Mostly, I’m impressed with the amazing ideas my team has – Go Team!

Ultimately, we decided to use edublogs because of the features the different themes afford us. We each chose a different theme and 3 tools to feature and we set to work playing with the sites. Below are links to the 3 pages we built – all experimenting with things that edublogs can do:

Roxanne: http://sites.gsu.edu/rgreesontools/

Wasfi: http://sites.gsu.edu/wmomentools/

Me: https://sites.gsu.edu/vrobin1/

As you can see, each has a distinct look and feel and even the menus act differently, which is our biggest struggle. We have decided to go with Roxanne’s theme, which is called ‘fifteen’ and she is going to play with the menu functionality to see what she can get the theme to do.

Please check back for updates on the tools wiki progress.

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.

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.

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.