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Live blogging: Orality, Pedagogy, and New Media with Black Cloud at the Digital Media & Learning Conference

Nice to see famliar faces, Antero Garcia and Greg Niemeyer of, from our 2008 Digital Media & Learning competition, who are presenting Orality, Pedagogy, and New Media: How Children Develop Self-Awareness and Collective Consciousness at the Digital Media & Learning Conference: Diversifying Participation at UCSan Diego. Davida Herzl, Dehanza Rogers (who also worked on Black Cloud), and Scott Ruston will also speak.

(Antero posted slides of his presentation with Greg here)

Greg Niemeyer: we know spoken word is fundamental unit of conversation. Jazz is an art form that happens on the spot, which is a great way to describe orality. You don't make music for the audience, you make music with the audience on the spot. You have people doing things in the present moment with each other. (Shows image of vocal chords!) We produce speech with our vocal chords, women have more developed vocal cords than men (interesting). Walter Ong (1912-2003) talked about the issue of secondary orality, which happens after literacy is introduced, which gets mediated through radio and television, so it becomes broadcast orality. Walter Ong, "...on a computer network, the recipient can receive what is communicated with no such interval. Although it is not exactly the same as oral communication, the network message from one to another is very rapid..."

Psychodynamics of Orality are present in text-messaging world. It is a "spoken byte."Modes of playing and learning: introduces Achievers, Explorers, Socialisers, Killers in MUDS (Research by Richard Bartle: Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, SPades: Players who suit MUDS: 1996). Combination of learners: achiever-learners, explorer-novelty seekers, socializer-observers, killer-competitors. All are legimate ways of playing, but they produce different learning outcomes. Achiever-Learners learn how to play, Explorer-Novelty Seekers learn how to work the system for short-term gain. Socializer-Observers learn how to bond, and Killer-Competitiors learn how to win.

When you have oral communication, there are many ways to engage in it, and we need to understand them better, especially among our youth. The act of you, (me), writing things down, changes oral communication, which is perceived as temporary or on the spot, it then becomes a permanent record in text. That record is then read by those who want to engage in "plausible futures forecasting." Think of YouTube, which has many instances of oral performance (he shows "10 Questions that every Christian must answer," because it is one of the most discussed videos on YouTube with 734,359 comments).

This space of performance looks temporary, but of course every view is part of a record, but every single viewer leaves a trace. The interface is the website, but the back end is a huge data structure that constantly collects all of our behaviors, which is being constantly monitored, observed. Can be scary, but also can create opportunities for discourse. For example, the Black Cloud sensor, which measures air quality and types of pollution. Science is very important in terms of facts, but how can we translate those facts into helping us do what we know. We perform air quality as a participatory game (shows data viz of Black Cloud air sensor data). But we wanted to have people engage with the sensors and to play games with them, own them, argue about what the sensors told them. Instead of teaching an English class where people write papers, they wrote text messages around Black Cloud, which indicated where it was through clues sent over Twitter. Text messaging is a type of language that the students were already familiar with, but having Black Cloud communicate to them through txt messaging created a powerful force of change because of what kinds of ideas they found.

The students found that their classroom had aggressive cleaning solutions used on the walls, closed windows for bad circulation, and were able to produce graphs that showed what kinds of air quality existed over time. (Shows a data viz of how much pollution fluctuates). Because the students created and knew what the data meant, they went to the principal and asked the school to change and improve their air quality. (This is now being discussed by the school district and school board.)

Davida Herzl (Aclima/NextEarth) approached Greg about Black Cloud sensors. She co-founded a company as a "for-benefit" business, and they have licensed Black Cloud air sensors so that anyone can buy them, for schools, for individuals. So instead of having agencies tell us about our air quality, we can have something that will do this for us. (Lean in, innovators and learning people, this is interesting.) Ecological intelligence is a concept developed by Dan Goleman, who also developed emotional intelligence. Ecological intelligence allows us to comprehend systems in all their complexity. Demands a vast store of knowledge, one so huge that no single brain can store it all.

The development of this new intelligence will depend upon three fundamental factors: 1. New systems for generating, sharing and storing radically transparent data about our ecological impacts. 2. Citizen and community participation in the creation of that data. 3. The requisiste literacy to understand, analyze and utilize that data (ecoliteracy).

Scott Ruston (post doc fellow Arizona State University): (asked us to take out our phones so we can participate in a hands-on exercise). Had volunteers dial a phone number, then choose to dial one of four codes and listen to what they hear. Murmur is a project that he refers to as spatial annotation project. A collection of community stories (shows image of sign on tree in San Jose that says: murmur Here you are, Hear you are, then 408 414 7787 (629598).

How does a cellphone give you access to conversations? To orality? Powered by connectivity and networks. Telephone is highly oral legacy. But now, connection to data, connection to broader audience (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Shows map of where murmur is located on San Jose map. Now listening to one of the community stories that you can call in to hear from that area. (Website is so you can also listen online) We listen to one: A woman is speaking, talking about what you see, the playground you can see from that area, the kinds of people in the neighborhood, the community who came together to create this playground, and how only the children have figured out how to get the fountain to work.

Another one: about San Jose and history of city lynching.

People can connect to each other, to the history of the neighborhood, to the stories, through micro-neighborhood narratives.

Dehanza (Daye) Rogers: if you have a phone, you already have the ability to be a media maker. All you need is a story, an idea, and you can create something. I asked a 10-year-old friend to write a story and create a story. The basics: media creation includes filmmaking but can be any combination ofmedia. Pictures and audio, or audio only. Writing, cinematorgraphy, sound recording, preplanning and visualization, and editing. (Shows image of her friends script, then shows video of what they recorded. His story was about twist ties, so footage of finding twist ties at the grocery store, with narrator telling a great story! He shows how he makes Slender Bender out of twist ties, and how he prefers to build them, starting with the legs, then the arms, to make Slender Bender.) He also shows us how he makes a snake monster out of aluminum foil.

Daye talks about his story, which he called "Hero," who goes out into an imaginary island, who comes across this half serpent and his trident. His character Twister will have to battle the serpent in order to be able to stay on the island. He wanted to make sure you saw things from the point of view of the hero. (We see footage of the Hero, which he created with the video on Daye's iPhone.)

Daye observed these challenges: He was eager to learn the grammar/vocabulary of media making. He was very enthusiastic about sharing story and how to create the characters. His only challenge seemed to be in writing the narration. (Daye shows us that she took some snapshots of Greg while he was talking, using iMovie and Evernote.)

Antero Garcia (shows image of his school, on Fox news, when it was on lockdown. School is in South Central LA). Stories are usually told from "up here" instead of down where the kids can tell their own stories. Antero talked about John Dewey, and how "play and games are 'relief from the tedium and strain of regular school work." (From Democracy and Education, 1916.)

Direct Action: illegal gardening parts of the city is considered vandalism! So create seed bombs, put wildflower mud bombs and throw them places where they could improve what the community looks like.

We did an activity where we looked at Google Image Search to see what stories are being told about where they live. Looked at Beverly Hills (beautiful palm trees, attractive architecture, gardening), then South Central LA. You will see gang signs, people being arrested, power lines. To show the students what stories are being told about their community. Then they looked at images of doctors, which produced images that were all white males. If the students can tell their own stories, how can they change that story, one as basic as what is told through image search results.

Community stories: how can you create a dialog with othe people in your community? To get them to think about how the stories are controlled.

Students don't just give you a story, they ARE that story. Through FB updates, through Twitter updates. So how do we embed this in the curriculum. How can we situate it in the community?

DEBATE: Should we allow any and all forms of electronic media to be available to students in schools at all times?How does the age group of students affect the answer to the question? What are the implications of electronic media on today's school policies? What lessons regarding citizenship do digital/oral society teach youth?

(12 people in the room said they were for ALL forms of electronic media, 11 were against.)




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