Archive for the ‘popular culture’ category

Putting the moo into mooc

24 February 2013

Well I’ve finally reached the fifth and final week of The University of Edinburgh’s E-learning and Digital Cultures course via Coursera.

While I’ve found it demanding, I’ve also loved every minute of it.

The assessment for this course is a digital artefact which “expresses, for you, something important about one or more of the themes we have covered during the course”.

Since I have been blogging my learnings and extrapolations of thought along the way, I decided to use that content as the substantive foundation of my artefact. I also wanted to comply with the course’s instructions to use a mix of multimedia, in addition to honouring the subject matter’s debt to popular culture.

In order to meet all of these criteria, I have created an artefact comprising four images that relate to key concepts covered by my blogs, whilst giving a nod to the king of pop art, Andy Warhol.

Each image has two links associated with it: On the right, a link to my corresponding blog post; and on the left, a link to Wikipedia to shed more light on the esoteric Warholian angle.

Screenshot of Ryan's digital artefact

If you are wondering how I created this artefact, my steps were as follows…

After deciding which images I would use, I needed to source them. I secured the banana from the fruit bowl in my kitchen, I discovered the can of soup at the back of my pantry, and I bought the toy gun for $2 at a bric-a-brac store.

I originally intended to source a bar of Milka chocolate because its wrapper features a delightfully purple cow. However, despite scouring every corner shop and supermarket across the city and the burbs, I could not find a single vendor of this brand in Sydney. I even posted a call-out to Milka’s 234,000 Facebook fans – but to no avail.

Running out of time, I borrowed my wife’s beloved cow statuette.

The next step was to take photographs of each of object with my iPhone. I cut the backgrounds out with a graphics editor, played around with the brightness and contrast, and adjusted the colour balance of the cow to bathe it a Warholian purple.

After combining the four images into a single PNG file, I uploaded it to ThingLink. I used the software to “tag” each image, then I published the interactive media to my channel.

I then tried to embed the media into this blog post, but unfortunately WordPress.com doesn’t allow plugins that contain JavaScript code. So I took a screenshot of the media, uploaded it to Flickr, embedded it into my blog, and linked it to ThingLink.

I hope you like it!

All hail the electronic calf

28 January 2013

Given I’ve been blogging about MOOCs lately, I thought it was high time I better informed my perspective by actually doing a MOOC.

So I signed up to The University of Edinburgh’s E-learning and Digital Cultures course on Coursera.

It has just kicked off, and one of the resources that we have been pointed to in the first week is Zumbakamera’s short animation, Bendito Machine III.

This film really resonated with me.

Anyone familiar with the Judeo-Christian story of Moses climbing Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments from God will recognise its alignment with how modern consumers interact with technology. The arrival of the all-singing, all-dancing device-of-the-moment sweeps away all the false idols before it. Rejoice! as we consumers are only too willing to worship the one true god.

That is until the next one comes along.

Golden cow

Beyond the theme of religious zeal, yet another theme pervades the film: the distraction of the masses by “popular culture”. Whether it be news, lifestyle or banal entertainment, the machine can meet all your needs – and so the populace remains glued to the screen, flitting about from scene to scene without ever considering the context.

We’re intelligent because we’re hyperconnected.

Insofar as these themes relate to e-learning, the obvious parallel for me is the undue influence of Apple. The iPad in particular is heralded by some as the panacea of education. The archangel of autodidactism. The shining light of mobile learning.

The iPad can do anything and everyone owns one, so you would be a luddite not to use it, either as a teacher or as a student.

I sooo can’t wait to get mine. When I do, I’m going to put it in a golden case. With horns.

UPDATE: Helen Blunden from Activate Learning Solutions commented on this post pointing out the overly theoretical nature of the EDC MOOC content. I agree, so I have drawn out the following practical messages from the Bendito Machine III animation…

1. Don’t believe the hype - The ultra effective marketing campaign by the Apple folks would have you believe that the iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world. If you were to develop an e-learning solution specifically for the iPhone then, you might find that you have left most of your target audience out in the cold.

2. Future-proof yourself – The current situation will not remain so forever, so don’t paint yourself into a corner. (Just ask the Flash designers!) I’m not inclined to develop device-specific mobile apps, for example, but rather HTML5 that is web-based and device agnostic. I’m not saying never develop apps; what I am saying is if your platform of choice disappears (Nokia? BlackBerry?) you don’t want all your work to disappear with it.


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