Friday, March 27, 2009


This is a video essay on the phenomenon of lurking -- the tendency of the majority of the members of a(n online) community not to participate in group discussions on topics of interest to that community.

I chose to explore the topic because it's something I'm dealing with in my own work as a community coordinator, and I decided to approach it from a personal angle because the course got me thinking about my own online behaviours -- rather than simply theorizing about others'.

I also wanted to explore the 'video essay' genre: part documentary/part presentation. I think it could be an effective way to communicate information on the Net. While I've had the opportunity to do promotional videos and instructional videos, I've never done anything personal or reflective like this.

I cringe a bit when I watch this now -- I see it as long-winded and narcissistic, although when I was doing it, it seemed intellectual and profound. Showed me what an intimate medium this can be.

Videoing the web to explore the web was an added bonus and challenge. While it's great to have all your footage at your fingertips, it was hard for me to make the Internet look interesting in a video. So I had to play with integrating my own images and text. I don't think I quite succeeded, but I did learn.

The voiceover had its own interesting moments. Transferring my ideas written in text to the live medium of voice made them sound stilted; a whole new set of performance skills is required. Also, because I did the voiceover on each clip as I was recording it, when I finally put them all together it came out disjointed at points.

The best part of the learning experience for me was going through the workflow of the project and working with new tools at steps along the way.

I started with my basic concept -- a personal history of online communities I've been part of, and why I did or did not participate in group discussions. I went through and found (the current versions of) each of the sites and storyboarded the pages I wanted to hop through on the tour.

I found and used SnapzPro X (for Mac) for screen and voice capture as I flipped through the sites and rendered the resulting videos as .mov files. I also used this tool to grab images and edited the .jpeg files in Gimp.

I used Quicktime Pro to export the .mov files as .dv files.

I opened the .dv files in Final Cut Pro and edited the video clips, images and audio. My first time using this tool and I learned a lot about its basic functionalities, plus had some fun. I think it's a fairly intuitive tool to use, if you've used other video editing software.

When I couldn't take watching it anymore (at roughly the 7-minute mark), I decided to close the project without finishing it as per the initial concept. I figured it had served its purpose as a learning experience and I would have the opportunity to flesh it out in the future, after feedback and reflection.

I exported the final project as an .mov file and uploaded it as a video to this blog.

When I had problems or questions with any of the tools above I simply went to YouTube for the tutorials (somebody has always done it first) or did Google searches and ended up with answers by following discussion threads.

This was a rich learning experience for me, particularly when I pieced the whole thing together and watched it. I know what I will apply and not apply from this in my upcoming presentation.

Friday, March 13, 2009

CMAP - Intro to ETL & my learning environments

This is a concept map I did of how the Intro to ETL course fits into my wider learning environments.

I like this c-map because it contains cycles within cycles. The pre-existing learning environment, itself a cycle, is part of the larger cyclical structure of the current learning environment.

I see the cycles operating as mini-motors on the page, like cell structures powering a cell.

The element of time, which snakes across the map in red, lays out the chronological pathway that my learning has followed as I enter new situations with new information needs. The new knowledge gained is then transferred back into pre-existing and current knowledge cycles.

I consciously included two aspects I liked from the Collection of PLE diagrams studied during Week 2 of the course:
  1. The idea of environments nested within environments, which I got from Joyce Seitzinger's diagram.
  2. The element of time and a history of learning, which I got from Jeremy Hiebert's diagram.
Constructing this map helped me define and categorize the types of learning I have been doing in each of my learning contexts:

While the institutional context requires production, the community context allows for reflection and relationship building, and my personal web spaces provide opportunities for creative experimentation.

The ETL program is helping to organize all of these forming concepts and practices into a more comprehensive and comprehensible whole. At least that's what I'm hoping, as my learning pathway snakes forward.

In doing the map, I had to better learn
the language of CMAP to depict relationships between the different elements on the page.

In particular, I spent time thinking about:
  • whether arrows should be two-way or one-way (I settled on two-way to show knowledge sought and transferred flowing in both directions)

  • what to put as descriptions on the links between the elements (I ended up using verbs to express the action that was being taken in that link)

  • how to indicate time in a non-linear, multi-cyclical diagram (I went for a cascading sequence of cycles and the red time line)
The ability to communicate succinctly visually -- worth a thousand words, they say.

All part of building up my digital literacy.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


This is a diagram of my Personal Learning Environment, the place where I organize and access my online learning resources.

I put it together using the free version of a mind-mapping tool called The Personal Brain. I chose the Brain because:
  1. I find the user interface easy to use: click-drag-and-type, copy-and-paste.
  2. I like the logic of parent, child and peer relationships between 'thoughts'.
  3. I like how it collapses and expands to organize and display information in clusters.
  4. I like the interactive final document it produces: searchable, navigable, hyperlinked.
  5. I can export the final document as a web page (that I FTP onto a server) that displays both the map and the web site I'm working on in the same page.
Now when I get online I go first to my PLE page and then through that to all my learning links (including this blog). I love having the map available to me on any page I'm working on: just click a small arrow at the top corner of my screen and the map unfolds down to let me navigate to another page.

The Brain also helped me resolve what for me was an 'intellectual conflict' between producing a visual map of my PLE and visualizing the final environment itself. I guess I wanted to build it as I was mapping it out. With this tool, I was able to produce an image that is itself the final space, so two birds with one stone, I felt.

I appreciated doing this assignment because it forced me to consider and organize my favourite online places visited for information and knowledge. Just seeing visually how my visits are clustered helps me to understand and shape my learning.

The assignment also forced me to open other online spaces: an iGoogle aggregator space for my emails and RSS feeds, a GoogleReader space for my journal subscriptions and this blog to document my progress through the course.

Guess my digital footprint's growing.