Monday, October 5, 2009

First Draft of Proposal


‘Schools kill creativity’. Sir Ken Robinson, one of the world’s leading thinkers on creativity and education,goes on to assert that throughout the entire academic track from grade school to university level education, creativity is systematically eradicated. Public education has been designed as a process that values certain subjects above others, ‘strip-mining’ students’ minds of particular commodities and leaving the rest (creativity in particular) behind. (

If we are to adequately educate the upcoming generation for a future that we cannot yet even envision, we must reinvest in the commodity of creativity. Facts and knowledge will be ever changing, but the creative process, or the production of valuable, novel ideas, will endure. Einstein, himself, proposed that creativity was to be more highly prized than knowledge.

The task of educators today, should be to focus on the power of creativity by encouraging students to unwrap their own personal gift of human imagination, and explore the energy of this valuable commodity. Current technologies provide an increasingly relevant venue for exploring this under-developed resource.

Virtual worlds allow art students (via their avatars) to literally walk inside an Escher painting, following the winding, nonsensical maze of staircases and allow architecture students to visualize buildings from every conceivable angle, as they build, rotate, and walk around their products. In both cases, the creative process seems to be enhanced by immersion in a 3D virtual space. Virtual worlds, or those “computer-based simulated environments intended for its users to inhabit and interact via avatars”, (Wikipedia),certainly seem to hold promise in promoting creativity. Since students today are, as a whole, accustomed to interacting with computer technology, educators can capitalize on this interest and provide opportunities for creation that are more easily accomplished ‘in world’ than in the traditional classroom.

Johnson and Levine state that: "From the earliest models of learning that we know of, immersive experiences have proven to be effective, effecient ways to learn at high levels and quickly". Virtual learning is certainly immersive, highly social, and lends itself to learning quickly and encourages higher forms of abstraction and experimentation than more traditional lecture methods.

Harry Pense, noted author and Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Suny-Oneonta in N.Y. states:

It appears that 3D virtual worlds are poised to make a significant contribution to higher
Education…the potential applications offer many exciting possibilities…Millions of
teenagers are already involved in virtual games…and when they reach college age,
they will expect to see this technology that has become familiar to them. The widely
respected Gartner Research Group has predicted that 80% of active Internet users will
have a “second life” in some virtual world by the end of 2011. Developing effective
pedagogies for teaching in virtual space may be the most serious challenge to face
higher education in the coming decade (J. Educational Technology Systems, vol.36(2)
171017, 2007-2008).

It is crucial to develop pedagogies that take full advantage of virtual education and especially as it relates to student creativity. By developing such pedagogies, and testing their efficacy, we will be able to more accurately answer the question, “When university level students are presented similar tasks, how much does student creativity increase in an online, avatar-represented virtual classroom as compared with the creativity of those who participate in a traditional class room setting?”

If we are to prepare today’s students adequately for tomorrow, educators must accept the challenge of reversing the accusation of Sir Ken Robinson, “Schools kill creativity” to read “Schools kindle creativity”, which might well be accomplished in the virtual classroom.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dissertation Question Analysis

Is there something (unique) about (virtual world) (education) that (lends itself) to (cultivating) (creativity) in (university level) students?

unique: novel, new, uncommon, innovative, singular, different,

virtual world education: immersive, avatar-represented educational experience to be found within the confines of an online, virtual world.

virtual world education: educational pursuits conducted in a web-world environment.

virtual world education: learning strategies experienced in a virtual world environment.

virtual world education: learning experienced within an online, virtual world.

virtual world: online, web-generated world

education: process of constructing knowledge


Is there something singular about learning experienced within an online, web-generated world that fosters novel thought in university level students?

Is there something unique about learning experienced within an online, avatar-represented immersive web environment that fosters novel thought in university level students?

Is there something unique about learning experienced within an online, avatar-represented immersive web environment that fosters novel thought more often than in a conventional, university classroom setting?

Title: "The Pitfalls and Promise of Virtual Education"

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Disciple Scholar Thoughts

It's the start of another Fall, and a new school year begins. We're washed away in the tide of studentism, and our separate identities merge with an innumerable host of others. Our minds are busy adding to a voluminous "to do" list, preparing for the wave of work to come. But just for a moment, we stop to think about what we are thinking about. We attempt to look down at ourselves from somewhere above the world, and survey the seascape, or should I say, the mindscape. How do the concepts of gospel discipleship and gospel scholarship fit together in this ocean of people and information?

To answer this question, we might, at first, be tempted to capture the sand and waves in separate jars, neatly compartmentalizing them into their own sterile units to understand their separate properties. But the fact is, that neither the ocean nor the ebb and flow of life are amenable to this we venture into the water, we become increasingly aware, that the waves are, moment by moment, curling around each and every grain of sand, creating new and ever changing swirls and imprints beneath our feet, unsettling the very foundation upon which we stand.

As we acknowledge the idea that our lives are in constant motion, being shaped by the Spirit, being guided in an upward path that might not always seem straightforward, but might seem to swirl and change and leave us feeling unsettled at times, we become more comfortable with the counter-intuitive, more at ease with the perplexing, more willing to find peace in the unanswered questions of life. For me, my life is about finding truth in everyday living, whether it be studying words in a book, or by studying the words of a child...and the meaning of my life is formed by taking those words, and allowing them to infiltrate my soul like the waves do the sand to create something of worth and beauty.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sharing Part 3

Exploring SlideShare, Diigo, and Google Analytics was great this week! I was especially excited about the following Slideshare presentation on Instructional Technology revolving around
Web 2.0. Even though there is a slant toward libraries of the future, (in fact, one slide speaks of the "Expresso"-a $US50,000 vending machine with a conceivably infinite library, consumer- ready, a "library ATM" that made its debut in 2007!) the presentation really captures all of the applications that we have been discussing in class in a creative, well thought-out, visually appealing way. This slide presentation not only reviews the qualities of Traditional vs. Open Learning, but two of the slides gave a telling comparison between 20th Century learning skills and 21st Century Learning Skills. The slide on 21st Century Learning Skills was particularly appropriate as it lists Life Skills, 21st Century Content, Core Subjects, Learning and Thinking Skills, and ICT Literacy, all withing the frame work of appropriate 21st Century Assessment. Additionally, one of the slides says, "Creativity, not Productivity" which I thought was very insightful. It is a very thorough visual summation of what we have explored so far in class!

As 'design' underlies all of our instructional technology, the two web sites that follow provide informative and thought-provoking material on design. The first, promotes the idea of how critically important and foundational design is (and should be!). "Design is the fundamental Soul of a man-made creation" is one of the slides. This Slideshare presentation focuses on the business side of instructional technology. It poses the question, "What is Design"? and answers, "It is the principal difference between LOVE and HATE!" (It shows a Mac computer, and iPod, and a beautifully designed bed, and then as the opposite, a slide of Bill Gates, and six remote controls!)

Finally, you may link to a very short Slideshare presentation about "Designing for the World", an altruistic, practical site that underscores the necessity of thoughtful, humanitarian design!

In addition to enjoying Slideshare, I downloaded Diigo, and commented on Lyndell Lutes' blog by highlighting and creating a floating comment. I always enjoy reading Lyndell's blog with her strong writing style and wise insights!

After class on Wednesday, I went over the the Apple Store and spent some significant time with one of their specialists, who helped me apply Google Analytics to my Timeline Journal Website. Apparently, there is no smooth technology transition between Google Analytics and iWeb, and so there is a 'hacker' sort of way to accomplish it. After quite a bit of figuring and convoluted configuring, we were able to succeed! I am very interested in the subject of web analytics, as it adds such an important dimension of understanding as to the 'success' of websites, whether that success is defined in monetary terms, or in more spiritual terms. Cahlan and David both gave the class much 'food for thought' as 'key words', 'Google Pipes' etc. were explained. I was quite impressed with both, and saw possible applications for each in potential projects! As for the ways that the aforementioned tools can be used to share the Gospel, I can see how we might be able to quote passages of scriptures and highlight and comment on them for non-members. We can also prepare slideshare presentations that would focus on Gospel topics, or present our testimonies visually. It also occurs to me that when we say, "share the Gospel", we might also be including "sharing our testimony of the Gospel" which may extend to members of the Church as well as non-members.

Sharing Part 2

This week was fun! I really enjoyed creating a podcast in Garage Band! I actually posted it to iWeb and if you go into my Online Timeline Journal Site, you can press 'blog' and hit 'podcast Oct. 25th' and you will be able to see it! (see: I also downloaded Jing, and enjoyed creating a couple of short screencasts highlighting President Uchdorf's General Conference talk, as well as Brother Wirthlin's. I also used this application to take screen shots of various pictures that I had in a powerpoint presentation that I've created called, "Art and the Master" since I was unable to pull those images out of powerpoint. These screenshots became the images that I included in my podcast!

Also this week, I created a YouTube and TeacherTube account. I downloaded my podcast to iTunes, and found some interesting articles on the educational uses of podcasts.

The educational article that I found to be useful was a London Learncasting Presentation at: It is basically a powerpoint presentation with bullet points on each slide detailing some important information to remember about podcasting. They highlight the idea that a podcast should be interactive not just a one-way 'broadcast'. They present reasons for using the audio medium in education, and then list the advantages of using audio in teaching. Some of these advantages included: providing new ideas to learners who won't or can't read, providing a trigger for group sharing of ideas, incorporating voices of experts, users, clients, to an audience, including contributions from people (in the form of verbal interview) that would be unlikely to write, and providing variety in learning.

I then listened to a podcast about how to create an effective podcast. You can link to this presentation at:

This was a great little podcast. I actually took 1 1/2 pages of notes! The five main points stressed in this podcast were: (1)Know and show respect to your target audience...spend time to include tools in your podcast that will include a blog so that it can be interactive, (2)Use good equipment that is appropriate to your need, for example, if you are conducting a 'man on the street' interview, use a dynamic microphone that will not pick up as much of the ambient noise associated with that type of interview. However, if you are conducting an interview in a closed setting, you would want to use a condenser microphone that would be sensitive and have a better signal. Apparently, a microphone called the SM7 is of broadcast quality and would be great to use if your podcast needs to be of a professional quality. (3)ALWAYS BE PREPARED in your podcast... in other words, script it. It can seem off the cuff, but a great podcast is always (as Dr. Yanchar would say) 'pithy' and insightful and uses the time efficiently. A good podcast would last from 10-15 minutes, and would be well edited. Use of storytelling is an effective tool, as well as the use of leading questions..."What do you think about..." "How do you feel when...". Always leave your audience wanting more. (4)Consider using theme music to begin and end your podcast. Use an 'intro' and an 'out-tro' in your podcast. Introduce yourself, and pre-announce. It would sound something like: "Coming up later in the podcast will be...but first we will discuss..." then be sure to thank your audience for their time and interest. If there are additional podcasts to come, 'bait the hook' or give your listeners some 'hook' to look forward to...I thought all of these suggestions were very worthwhile!

As far as the use of podcasting, screencasting, or video on the web to share the Gospel, I found two very compelling sites. One is found at:
and gives you the ability to have the scriptures download automatically in whatever formate you selectn and in whatever segments you would like (ie. Please send one chapter per day from the Book of Mormon to my iTunes account). This seems like a great way to set and meet scripture reading goals!

Another great site can be found at: I was particularly impressed with this site which allows you to contribute prose, poetry, music, multimedia presentations, and has a link to the Mormon Videos on UTube. I will be spending more time investigating all that this site has to offer in the future! All in all, this was a very enlightening week in my personal progress in technology!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Educational Uses of Flickr

Being in the field of art, I found a great website that exemplifies a great educational use of Flickr. If you go into: and click on the painting of Christ, several white boxes will appear. When you roll the curser over each box, a different question about the artistic elements of the painting will pop up. The students are then asked to blog about their thoughts on the painting, whether or not it is from the Renaissance period etc. I am so excited to find this application for future art tasks in my 326 class! What a great educational use of Flickr!

Also, as I was searching the web, I found another article that highlights additional educational uses of Flickr. This site gives a wonderful visual graphic showing tags that are associated with photographs. It displays the photos in a virtual photo album-when you click on the photo on the left, it appears in the format on the right as the featured photo. You might have students post photos under a particular tag, or send them on a 'treasure hunt' to find particular photos associated with your curriculum via references to tags. For my class, we discuss the principles and elements of task might be to find and save one photo that exemplifies each of the 13 principles and elements of art. Another idea would be to have the students create a photo book where they photograph their art work and create a final portfolio via Flickr and Inkubook at the following link:

Additionally, this site allows one to experiment with color, a color wheel etc. A great resource for a an art color unit:
As you move the slider on the website, photographs of that color appear! Very cool!

As for the field of Art Aesthetics (the philosophical questions surrounding art) a sight that allows you to Bickr (debate) whether or not that particular visual is art or not is available at:

I can't believe I am still finding more great sites related to art and Flickr...the following site is a concentration game based on art images...

I promise that this is the last one: Montager creates a montage of several smaller flickr images...this could easier be converted into an art lesson on composition.

Thanks for indulging me in pointing my search for educational uses of Flickr in the art direction!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Comments on Social Networks, Social Graphs, Data Portability and Education

The subltle and almost unconscious nature of technology acceptance and use might be likened to a crowd of people passing by a doughnut shop in the early morning hours. The enticing smells of the freshly baked pastries wafting lazily through the air, settling lightly and enveloping the senses, fall on various unsuspecting passers-by, one individual at a time, in varying degrees of intensity. Some individuals will notice the wonderful aromas immediately and succumb completely to the enticment, others with practical restraint, will walk onto the other side of the street, to avoid the temptation, but with the delicious smell still lingering in the air around them, and yet others will not even be aware of the delectably distracting smells at all! The first acceptors will then buy some doughnuts, offering them to co-workers and friends. Those that walked onto the other side of the street, though vowing to avoid, still smell the lingering aroma, and think, "maybe tomorrow...". Those that were oblivious to the smells originally, might walk by the next day and awaken...

Maybe I'm just hungry, but it seems like the subtle settling of an aroma on individuals
and their varied responses to it approximates the idea of technology acceptance and use.
Some individuals who are highly sensitive to a particular medium might be the first to find, accept and experiment with a new technology. Many others, in turn, as the 'aroma' finds them either directly or through a friend, will engage in the technology. Some will be even later-comers, and then a handful of people will never 'partake' of the technology.

Social networks, Facebook included, seems to share that analogy. Many of the
early adoptors found the site immediately and immersed themselves in the technology. They were the first to find the uses and enjoyments from this social platform. The next wave of individuals are now discovering, through friends directly or word of mouth, the different ways to use that platform that is most helpful to them.

Educators have begun to incorporate the idea of social networks and find that by so doing, the students are being guided in learning and practicing 21st century skills. Christine Greenhow, a learning technologies researcher, states, "Students are developing a positive attitude towards using technology systems, editing and customizing content and thinking about online design and layout. They're also sharing creative original work like poetry, and film, and practicing safe and responsible use of information and technology." In a first-of -its-kind study, researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered the educational benefits of social networking sites. The same study found that low-income students are in many ways just as technologically proficient as their counterparts, going against what results from previous studies have suggested. From this study, 94% of the students observed used the Internet, 82% go online at home and 77% had a profile on a social networking site. Their use of social networking sites focused on learning the technology, enhancing their creativity, and becoming aware and open to new or diverse ideas and communication skills. They also found that students connected on social networking sites to discuss problems in homework. Greenhow suggests that it is up to educators to broaden the use of social networking to promote education, and what it means to be a good digital citizen and leader online.

As for the social graph, it is truly amazing how connected we all really are! It really makes me think about the brotherhood/sisterhood of man, and how we need to find our commonalities in order to have peace and unity in the world. Maybe these social networks will enhance our ability to see those common elements. I also thought about how unity was stressed in the various Conference addresses. Maybe social networks, and the social graphs that describe them, will be a tool for unity. A social graph is a sort of geneology that might actually be helpful to the church's genealogical efforts!

Data portablity, as I view it from the articles I read, although frought with technological problems and privacy issues, is still valuable concept, and the discussion about it is the beginning of a conversation that may well eventuate into a more open internet society.
It will be interesting to see what develops over time in this area!