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meandering into 2016

January 1, 2016

lisa hammershaimb

Today marks the first day of 2016. To commemorate what feels like a start much fresher than an average morning, I decided that I should get back to writing more about academic stuff…which actually means I should make reading + reflecting on academic stuff more of a priority.

Coincidentally, I stumbled on Jeffrey Keefer’s #5papers initiative (here’s his first 2016 post) this morning and that coupled with having just read Mobile Photography and Open, Networked Learning by Mark McGuire seemed to be the perfect alignment of elements to start the new year on a good, word-filled, academic trajectory.

In addition, Jeffrey had broken down #5papers initiative on his blog with guiding questions so all I really had to do was filter my thinking according to his seven points and then write, share. Basically, I’d be a model open educator and competent digital citizen by happy hour.

And then I hit point 1 “Write a Reference to the Article” and all began to unravel.

I’ve been on break for almost a month, which means my APA citation skills (tenuous at best) had completely evaporated. While trying to figure out just what sort of paper I had actually read so I could properly write a citation, I dug a bit more into the website where I’d found the paper itself (spoiler alert: it was from an online, open-access, peer-reviewed journal.) While digging, I encountered an intriguing article about participatory video collage making and the term “Quantum Film Theory(basically “participatory video-college produced through social media” and super super cool), which led me to another article about the potential in digital graphic novel design for adolescent audiences, and then magically an hour+ had passed and I was downloading an iBook called Josie and the Whales which explores the multimodal capabilities of a graphic novel by merging art and ambient soundscapes into a sequential narrative about conservation and social responsibility. After I’d thoroughly explored the book (and added “make super cool multimodal iBook” to my 2016 resolution list) I shut my computer and, full of inspiration and ideas, promptly forgot the whole reading, reflecting, and writing challenge.

Then evening came and my day slowed down and I remembered I was actually going to do something resolution-ish and so I opened up the computer, revisited Jeffrey’s list and began to answer each point with intense focus lest I be seduced again by all the other opportunities within internetland.

But here’s the thing…after dutifully answering each question and getting to the place where I distilled what I learned things got a bit complicated.

Though the most obvious answer is that from the McGuire article I learned about the interesting overlap between photography and education. The less straightforward answers is that through the article I learned about the potential in participatory film collage, the power of visual narratives and story in an iBook, the way sound and visuals together can transport an audience, and once again how to cite a journal article in APA.

For me the article I started with was a rich learning resource for its own content but became an even richer learning resource for the connections and meanders it took me on through a combination of its own situated nature on a website and my own open schedule and open hands to see where it might lead.

This is what I love about learning in general and learning via the Internet in particular. You come to the experience dead sure you’re going to do x, y, and z (in that order) and yet if you’re open to it, the process is much more about going from x to r to g to y to c and then x again. The process is delightful in how it all surprises you (even as it’s maddening in how it refuses to be mastered.)

So…here I am later at night writing what is not the polished piece of summary text I’d hoped to craft that brilliantly distills the McGuire article into concise, digestible-yet-provocative points (preferably 140 characters) and speak to my own academic prowess.

Lest this is all total self reflective nothingness…here’s my reflection on the basics of the actual article I set out to read and analyze:

McGuire draws interesting parallels between changes in photography (first the move toward digital cameras and next the move toward mobile technology/smart phones) and changes in education (first the move toward online delivery methods and next the move toward BYOD and mobile delivery.) Two iterations of a course that uses smartphones as its primary tool (thus blends photography and networked education) are then profiled showing how mobile devices can be used to teach not only principles of photography but also principles of network learning and collaboration. On the surface, this is an article about a fairly niche topic but if you engage with McGuire’s argument and metaphor, he really does bring up some fairly universal ideas and provocative about knowledge generation and knowledge dissemination.

If you’re into these things…read it. It’s an awesome article and you’ll be inspired. If you’re not into these things…read it anyways because you never know, as you’re reading, what links/ideas/experience might align. X, y, and Z (in that order) has merit but even more I think there’s magic in seeing where the meander might take you!


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  1. January 2, 2016

    I’m honoured that you chose an article that I wrote to focus on, Lisa. The truth, of course, is that it was curated more than written. It is a fiction to believe that anything could possibly have a single author. Like you, I am easily distracted and could easily spend half of every day following conversations and engaging with others via social media (Twitter is my preferred platform). In the process, I read what others have published, collect resources, and patch together a quilt-like assemblage of observations and ideas. The bits and pieces come from all over. What I can lay claim to as my contribution is the choice of which bits to use, the arrangement of the pieces, and the shape and design of the whole. Conversations are ephemeral and belong to no one; publications are tangible artefacts and are attributed to someone. Of course, a published work can then serve as another conversation starter; the work can be unpicked and the bits can find their way into compositions that others patch together. And so it goes. What goes around comes around. We are becoming better at seeing research, writing and all creative effort as frozen moments from complex, time-based processes — as pull out quotes from wide ranging, never ending conversations. That’s part of what fascinates me about social photography, open design and open education. It’s not so much about convincing people that it’s a good idea to give their stuff away. It’s the realisation that it was never really theirs in the first place any more than recycled bits of fabric or words borrowed from half-remembered conversations.

    • January 2, 2016

      Thanks! Love the idea of endless assembly and abundant remix potential. So true each different iteration can spark another conversation, speculation, or revision and so the process moves forward and new communities/connections are created.

  2. January 2, 2016

    I love what you did here, Lisa, and am thrilled that something I wrote actually helped, but that you then went to Mark’s work (as Mark was more than generous with initial ideas for this). That you then tracked what you did, along with how your thinking evolved over the period, is rich learning and sharing and further learning based on the initial process. What better way than starting 2016 with such rich learning and connecting on many levels.

    If only all of us could be so rich!!

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