I was on SEEDlings

Last night I had the honor of taking part in the SEEDlings podcast with Cheryl Oakes, Alice Barr, and Bob Sprankle. Mary O-Brien and I talked about Second Life, Black Bear Island, and a virtual worlds in general. I had a great time and thanks to everyone for listening. You can find the episode and the backchannel chat here.

Great Lessig Quote

This weekend I finally started Lawrence Lessig’s Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy. It is a great look into our copyright laws and ideas to make it reasonable again in the world of “read/write” culture. I am not that far into it, but I had to share a great quote on page 79. He is discussing Japanese children and how their media culture encourages kids to engage in recombinant and user-driven content at a very early age. Here he compares with US culture:

American kids have it different. The focus is not: “Here’s something, do something with it.” The focus is instead: “Here’s something, buy it.” “The U.S. has a stronger cultural investment in the idea of childhood innocence,” Ito explains, “and it also has a more protectionist view with respect to media content.” And this “protectionism” extends into schooling as well.” “Entertainment” is separate from “education.” So any skill learned in this “remix culture” is “constructed oppositionally to academic achievement.” Thus, while “remix culture” flourishes with adult-oriented media in the United States, “there’s still a lot of resistance to media that are coded as children’s media being really fully [integrated] into that space.”

I am still letting that sink in. Are our students passive consumers of knowledge as he suggests? Part of me wants to think that is the traditional approach to education in a nutshell. It seems things are changing though. MLTI has brought so many different creative possibilities to the learning process of Maine kids. Now if we could just encourage the next step; creating a amenable legal environment that encouraged students to create new culture out of old. Yeah, I am talking to you congress.

Word Clouds

The New York Times has created an fantastic interactive word cloud of all the inaugural speeches from US presidents. Not only does it give you the frequency of words, but it pops up with text to put them in context. It even throws in a graph to show you when the words came up in the speech. Of course, they also include full-text version of the speeches as well. Very well done. I love when technology provides a way to look at information that just wasn’t feasible a few years ago.

Witty Comics

This morning as Logan and I were watching Elmo, I can across a cool site for making comics. With Witty Comics you choose characters, backgrounds, speech bubbles and write you own creative banter. While not as powerful as something like Comic Life, it is still a fun little website to play around with. If you are not versed on the power of comics to portray information I suggest you read Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art by Scott McCloud. You won’t look at comics the same way again. It made me wonder why we don’t use them more often for complex ideas in learning. Anyways, here is my attempt at a witty comic. Try it out and send me yours.