Final Lifestream Blog Summary: Time Flies When You’re Having Fun

Over the past twelve weeks, I have produced a surprising amount of information, including hundreds of posts, my Block 1 video artefact, a poetry Netography and a critique of Learning Analytics for Twitter and Google.

In Block 1, “digital culture” and the exploration its meaning caused initial anxiety, but I eventually re-focused through discussions and postings. The weekly readings – core and supplemental – also offered valuable guidance.  The Lifestream blog was especially helpful as both a repository of information and a place where I could ramble without academic formalities (for the most part but not entirely).

Investigating the creation of a new “race” of humanity – posthumans or transhumans – was quite engaging. Discussions with James, especially in re Frankenstein, were intriguing and deserve further investigation. The use of AI applications in education will also be the subject of future inquiry.

In Block 2, I participated in a poetry MOOC.  Looking at a community I had never been a part of, and creating my Netography about it, was quite enjoyable.   Of great meaning was writing my own poetry, posting it on the MOOC site itself, then emailing it to the professor who was very encouraging and seemed quite genuine.  I realized that some aspects of culture cannot be digitized such as the flow of energy and emotion in one’s surroundings.  Feelings of inclusion and uniqueness also cannot be effectively programmed or made subject to an algorithm.

Block 3, specifically algorithms, was initially somewhat intimidating.  After considering what algorithms do however, and how meaningful they can be, relieved that somewhat.  As an educator though, I considered the subjective application of algorithms as one who is looking for meaning in learning.  Can an algorithm teach me meaning, or just point me in a direction it determines I should want to go?  The meaning of community was also analyzed in this Block, in terms of how and what true “community” should consist.

And then there was (is) Twitter.  I normally use Twitter for basic information.  My research skills lead me beyond Twitter if I desire more.  I did find Twitter provided a link to classmates for exchanging information, resources, media sharing, and cheesy jokes. I learned presence is not always about location but substance.

The Learning Analytics (LAs) exercise was useful for revealing quantitative information.  It did not tell me the context of Tweets, or the quality of any exchange absent additional information.  I reflected on my own research methods and discovered how much those methods are guided by algorithms.  I also learned just how predictable I had become.

One part of the course that could have gone better was the IFTTT application.  It was awkward at first but I became more adept at its use as the course progressed.  Then, I began to be spammed quite frequently making necessary to go back and adjust IFTTT settings. I did however, trash some bona fide posts and had to have them resent.  In the end, I managed to get it working enough to avoid continued issues with spam.

Another unfortunate aspect was my inability to fully participate in Google Classroom and Skype chats.  I attended two, but the times were such I was simply unable to manage the others.  I have chatted with other classmates apart from the course schedule and have found those quite enjoyable and informative.

Finally, while my Lifestream blog looks messy, cluttered, and disorganized, I know where everything is.  Each pile of clutter is a facet of the wonderful journey I have been on in this course.  My experimenting and use of technology certainly leapt bounds from where it started in Week 1.  If there is one main concept I will take away from EDC17 is that no matter the level of technology humans meld with, a shred of humanity will always protect our presence as individuals.

Link to Lifestream Blog page:

The End

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Who Rings the Bell When It’s Time to Get Off the Bus?

Here is an interesting point I only just realized:  In the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still, Klaatu made a reference to a Supreme Being.  Remember, the film tells the story of an alien from another world who comes to warn the Earth that if humans move their violent tendencies into space, and threaten other worlds, the Earth would be destroyed by a race of robots Klaatu and his people had created to maintain galactic peace.

In the process of all this, Klaatu was killed by humans, and his body recovered by the robot Gort.  Through the use of some mysterious machine, Klaatu’s fatal injuries were healed and he regained his life.  The human woman with whom he had formed a friendship wondered what power he had over life and death.  Klaatu simply said the Supreme Being made those decisions, not he or his people.

This caught by interest as it addresses, albeit inadequately, the issue of human progression into posthumanism.  Humans can integrate human and machine, but is there still a superior power, a “Supreme Being” we still must answer to?  this question was not answered in this film, but the issue itself was acknowledged.  Today, we still grapple with the question of how far is far enough when it comes to human-cyborg relations.  When does our exploration of making better human become over-reaching into spiritual realms better left to whatever we define as our Supreme Being?  Or is there a limit?  Who answers the question of what is too much?  What has gone too far?  When is it time to stop?


Will I Ever Enjoy Video Games Again?

I wanted to write this down so I wouldn’t forget it, and to make it part of my Lifestream blog.  I was thinking yesterday about video games I like to play, specifically the old “Asteroids” game, where you move a spaceship around the screen and blow up asteroids that seem to appear at random from around the game area.

I don’t know what the algorithm is that determines when and where asteroids appear, or how, when hit by my blaster, they break up into smaller bits.  Of course, as asteroids hit each other, are shot with a blaster, or collide with my ship, the trajectories and speed of movement changes, again seemingly at random.

I was just thinking as I was playing the game, that I seemed to be spending more time and concentration now on detecting patterns in asteroid appearance and movement, and less on developing my skill as a spaceship pilot and gunner.  I owe this break in focus on what I’ve learned in this course about algorithms, or perhaps more to the point, what I think I have learned but really don’t know.

What I do know however, is that I will never look at or play another video game the same again.

. . . *sigh*


Week 11 Summary: “Gone Fishin’!”

This past week I have basically “gone fishing.”  This is a term many people use to describe their state of mind when circumstances are seemingly out of order a bit and they are fumbling about for a course of action or train of thought. This past week, I have spent quite a bit of time fishing: reading postings from my classmates, and offering some of my own, all in an attempt to narrow down what and how my final assignment will look like.

I suppose to be more specific, I want to go back and discuss themes we covered in Block 1.  These themes of digital culture I found quite intriguing especially now as there is more and more focus on the integration of technology into the daily lives of people.  As I was discussing this with friends at lunch, the tentacles of technology (good or bad) are now reaching beyond the laboratory or “drawing room” and are now on display as we watch TV, listen to our iTunes, even as we talk about medical issues with our physician.  I read an article I posted about on Twitter that humans are moving into a new form of slavery as we allow technology to influence and even control almost everything we do.

I also find so interesting the concept of human-cyborg-robot integration and the benefits/ramifications of that.  Looking over my postings over the course, I reviewed Frankenstein, I, Robot and other “fictional” characters that would seem now to be not so fictional.  What really grabbed my interest however was not so much the technology involved but the subjectivity of the posibility of when these machines achieve self-awareness, or sentience.  What does that mean for humankind?  Will humans as we know them to be now eventually cease to exist?  How far has technology come that machines can not only be made more human, but can be made to BE human?

Of course, as always, I shift around and focus on what this may mean for education and the pedgogies we use in the classroom.  I am not sure it should be a difficult question but I am finding it to be just that.  How will we teach in the future?  How will we LEARN in the future?  Back in the days of the original Buck Rogers and The Twilight Zone these questions were basic entertainment.  Now, I believe this are very real and legitimate issues that are standing right on front of us, right now, today.  I would love to take, or even lead, a course dealing with just this issue.  I regret we only had a couple of weeks to bat this about.

And of course, what medium will I use to pinpoint my fianl assignment and make it coherent and not to out of the box?  I used Lino for my Netography and that turned out fairly well, I think.  I am leaning to that again.  I will of course ook at other platforms to see how creative I can be yet not over-extend my presentation so it seems too busy or unorganized.  In short, I want my final assignment to reflect the fishing trip I went on and came back from, and not reveal the fact I may still be gone.


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