Blind Spots

         After listening to an amazing talk given by Paul Prinsloo, I was very intrigued by the concept of blind spots. When considering information, (any sort of information) – it is essential as Paul puts it, to approach with critical consciousness. Throughout the talk Paul gave the analogy of a soccer field and through the conversation it was shared that as players we must be able to interpret not only where we are within the field (of information), but who the other players are also and what we must do next.

         Blind spots, however causes me to think along the analogy of a car instead, and so in my thinking, I will ‘shift gears’ if you will, in order to approach with a deeper critical consciousness myself. Being aware of blind spots as you drive as a metaliterate learner along the highway of information means that you try to become aware not only of what you know (what is ahead of you, in front of you, the path you see on your gps, the person sitting beside you), but that you also take into account the information you aren’t seeing. I see recognizing these blind spots as such an important step in expanding the knowledge of learners, but also a step that can be very difficult to do?

          As a former educator, I spent a lot of my time learning how to bring blind spots into view for my students (or help them to see it for themselves, rather). And yet, this wasn’t an easy step for everyone. Sometimes it meant that we needed to take two steps backward from where we had come before taking the next step forward. One of the most tangible memories was a lesson that dealt with fractions. I remember it clearly because some of my students weren’t ready for the conversation that happened next. I was supposed to be teaching fractions until one very bright child asked if things could continue to get smaller than 1/4. I said yes. Then he asked if it could keep going. I said yes again. Rather than diverting the conversation, I engaged and as students kept asking our seemingly basic conversation about fractions drifted into what infinity actually meant and if negative numbers would ever reach positive numbers. These were very large concepts for some of my third graders.

            Yet, though not everyone was ready to learn… there was energy and spark in the room because together we had uncovered something new; something we didn’t know, and didn’t know we didn’t know; a blind spot.

             At this moment in time, I am realizing that there are some blind spots that I may never see and knowing that seems both intimidating and implies a certain type of freedom at the same time. Freedom perhaps because I realize that I can choose to focus on uncovering what it is that I don’t know and due to the large amount of technology that I have access to, I might be able see more clearly what was obstructed from view before. I say might because there is a chance that I might not be able to fully understand it or that I might not have access.

             Within the Mooc Talk, we also discovered that as Paul mentioned in one of his slides ‘not everyone is included but everyone is affected‘. This statement was in regard to the fact that due to connections and access, some of us (or some vehicles) may not be able to access information because it isn’t available.  For instance, perhaps I would like to learn about information that isn’t available on the Internet in an accessible form because it is protected or because I don’t have the ability to afford the publication of this information.  In that case, even if I am aware of a blind spot, who will help me navigate? This brings me back to the feeling of intimidation – for there are information highways I may travel  and places I may never be permitted to see. Both shape my perception.

            We can all agree that it is important to be aware of what you don’t know (to the best of your ability, right?) The next step, in my opinion, would be to develop a plan that would help you to know what you don’t know. In this case, pulling out a map in order to get from point a to point b. Perhaps it’s also important to include that in the information age, the map changes even as you’re driving down the highway.  Potentially new blind spots could be popping up all over the place. Over time, say ten years from now, will I still have the ability and the access the blind spots I’m aware of? I hope certainly hope so, because it is the blind spots that inspire me to keep driving. 

Advertisements

Metaliteracy within Job Searching

       I recently attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing and had the opportunity to sit in on a panel that focused on describing some of the differences between academia and industry. The panel also mentioned the process involved in an academic job search and what could be expected.

       While I was listening to the descriptions of the academic job process; preparing materials, looking at the Chronicle of Higher Education website and other job-related sites, gathering recommendation letters and sending materials, interviewing, and finally accepting the positions, I thought of the metaliteracy required. At the University of Albany, I will graduate with a Masters of Science degree in Information Science. A broad degree will offer me the chance to look for a position in library science, but it also gives me an avenue into other technology-related fields. Navigating the process requires critical thinking and the recognition of patterns if you are looking within multiple disciplines. Challenges require metaliteracy skills in order to know where to start, how to assess the information found, and knowing which steps to take next.

       Some of the patterns I noticed while searching for positions include some common terminology and website navigation. In many academic websites employment descriptions can be found through the human resources tool link or sometimes a link at the bottom of the page. Just ‘googling’ for career descriptions can be helpful in learning more about general requirements for a position, but specific jobs may be out of date, include a number of ads, and bring more definitions than positions. Being able to apply your knowledge of how information is stored and retrieved within the realm of academia vs. industry can also be a challenge.

      As the session went on I learned that the ability to search as well as the ability to manage information you collect is important when entering the job search  process. Not only is it important for one to be able to orient themselves among new websites, new vocabulary, and new paths to information, but also the ability to collect and the bread crumbs as you wind your way down many different strands on the worldwide web. I felt proud to be a metaliterate learner in the room, for I know that changing technology and challenging waters are becoming more comfortable and more familiar as we navigate the ocean of information together.

Presentation Web Tool – Flowboard App

Metaliterate Adventure: (App-seeking in process)

Image

Used with cc permission, http://farm3.staticflickr.com/2758/4163909778_a07dd8e269_o.jpg

Part of becoming a metaliterate learner includes the investigation process of new tools! I couldn’t wait to dive into the Web to see what I could find to compare to Padlet. We used Padlet as in class to define metaliteracy collaboratively in real time. One of the things I loved about Padlet was it’s simplicity to use – semi-intuitive icons, customizable backgrounds, an interface that allows you freedom to edit and move. This enabled me to think quickly during class and these were the features I was looking for in my search.

The Hunt: Searching… and revising the search

Because I thought that ‘tools’ sounded like a good place to start… and I was hoping that some brilliant techy educators had looked for snazzy presentation tools before, in my search process, I used the key words “presentation tools”  to begin my Google search. Although I KNOW I could have used the advanced search feature – I was just casually hunting – skimming really and wanted a quick Internet throw-down of the new and the latest.  After finding lots of reviews for education purposes (and noticing that I wasn’t getting that collaborative , I refined added the word collaborative to my broad Google search – “presentation tools collaborative”.

I found this website, http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/06/05/8-free-collaboration-tools-for-educators.aspx , and while I wasn’t impressed with the results on the initial first scan – I decided to give Flowboard a try. BINGO.

So – now I encounter a problem… I’m in love with an app that’s not Padlet. It’s not collaborative (which is what I was looking for), but it is very attractive, the examples are fresh, and it’s free. I download it, open an account and play around (because in the spirit of metaliteracy, I enjoy pushing buttons). 

Creator: A metaliterate role

At this point, I’ve jumped in full force and I’m in the process of making something.  I’ve viewed the very helpful and even entertaining interactive tutorial (while planning my own tutorials), and I’ve pushed my first button, the infamous + sign. Then the wrong button. Then the back button. This dance continues. After realizing that I need content, I decide that I have a lot of cat photos, and that it’s ok to use my cat for educational purposes.

Taking a step backwards and reflecting on metaliteracy, within this process I’ve been able to consume, produce, create, search (and re-search as a part of research!), participate, and publish. Getting my feet wet and hands dirty seems to be the most practical way to accomplish using these skills. Not only does it let us choose our own path, but the product becomes more valuable when you have a hand in choosing your own adventure.  

 

Initial Reflections and Final Thoughts: Flowboard vs. Padlet:

Flowboard feels friendly. There are templates, ways to add media (lots of places to pull from in your search for media aside from your own camera). Sharing is an option, but as I pressed share – I immediately cancelled, thinking, I don’t know where this is going… and how much of my information I’ll let float away… Some of the examples of presentations looked to be more professional in nature and advertized companies or photography services. I was hesitant for both viewers (in case it wasn’t ‘good enough’), and myself (did I want to enlarge my digital footprint for this?)

I enjoyed that Flowboard seemed more like a presentation to me than Padlet had. Flowboard encourages the use of stringing and arranging multiple slides (in the way that Powerpoint would), whereas Padlet was used for one static slide. Both could be shared and allowed multiple social media avenues. Padlet let you choose which way you wanted to share your work, where as Flowboard didn’t provide options within the initial sharing scenario. 

My final choices for use would depend upon my role. As a teacher, I think Padlet is a better tool for quick results, allowing instant collaboration, sharing, and feedback. It’s simple design allows for some customization, but doesn’t allow you/or students to get lost within the world of design while sacrificing content creation.

Flowboard would be an excellent choice for me personally. I enjoy the leisurely process of choosing images, tweaking the design, arranging and rearranging. For this reason, I liken Flowboard to digital scrap booking. This would be a great way to send a more visual presentation to others. The simple design concepts are the same and the tutorials are necessary — greater number of options, for me, would equal more time, and for that reason I’d avoid using it within the classroom.

Helpful features of Flowboard:

– attractive interface

– intuitive icons

–  interactive tutorials

– social media sharing

– many options for customization

–  inspiring examples

– free

– can be embedded in a website

– allows for adding social media, websites, locations, and videos

Would you like to see a ‘professional’ example? This Flowboard was posted on the website, advertising a chocolate company through a visual and interactive narrative.

Sample Flowboard          

Now, for my Flowboard example. (Please pardon the cat).

Image

A screenshot taken of the first slide – complete with ‘buttons’.

My preference for presentation tools? Padlet

 

 

Inventory of a Metaliterate In Progress

Revisiting the plenary session on the Metaliteracy MOOC, I decided because a metaliterate learner wears a lot of hats according to the model, it might be helpful for me to reflect on both my past experience and current experience as a learner in order to direct my efforts and energy within this course. Rather than a checklist, perhaps a brief summary would be more appropriate. I’ve chosen to include two foci for each category; a reflection on familiarity and a possible goal to attain. 

If you’d like to view the diagram that I am referring to, which includes the roles of a metaliterate learner, the slide can be viewed at the time  8:14 within the plenary session, the first Collaborate session of the MOOC.

Consumer

  • This role feels most familiar – though my digital diet consists mostly of scholarly or teacher-centered articles regarding instructional technologies and sometimes the occasional youtube video of a cute kitten, consumer is a role that is very comfortable and needs no more attention than I give it at the present moment.
  • I’d like to branch out into consuming more academically-focused blogs and twitter users.

Participant

  • I’ve been a participating in online communities for awhile now, I believe since 1996. One of my first experiences was using ICQ an instant messaging computer program to talk to friends after school.  While modes and methods of my participation has changed (and I would like to think evolved also), the pattern of my personal connections has remained the same.
  • I would like to establish a more consistent pattern, building a long-term relationship as a participant to one project. I tend to join events/engagements for a shorter period of time and then leap into something else.

Communicator

  • I recognize any of my interactions includes this role. Communication can take place in a variety of ways, of course. Lately, I’m attempting to use digital photography to communicate emotions.
  • This is a role that rather than increase, I would like to improve the quality of my communication by communicating more succinctly.

Translator

  • This role is a role I use as a teacher. I routinely rephrase, use analogies, connect stories and experiences, in order to help others understand concepts within technology or information literacy. I’m an expert by no means, but will be someday.
  • I’d like to develop several analogies for explaining metaliteracy by the end of this course. Currently I keep thinking of houses and explaining rooms within a house, but I’d like to look for others as well.

Media-Maker

  • Media-Maker. Hmm. When I think of making media, I think of youtube videos or narrated PowerPoints or tutorials. This role isn’t completely familiar nor completely comfortable to me. This is an area I’d like to learn more about and reflect on at a later time.
  • Goal: Learn more about this role and what it means to make media (and then, go make some, of course).

Teacher

  • This is a role I love. I’ve taught third grade for five years and continue to teach in informal settings and situations now as they come up. I teach faculty at times and other students at other times. I enjoy making the complicated simple.
  • I’d like to learn how to make the simple more complicated in order to elevate the level of understanding.

Collaborator

  • Within my education as a Masters student at the University at Albany, collaboration is a door that is beginning to open. As many might, sometimes I wrestle with feelings of inadequacy – desiring to ‘bring enough’ to the table and hoping that I have something to offer.
  • I’d like to find more opportunities for collaborating on projects involving distance learning.

Producer

  • By now, producer feels redundant – if I have pressed ‘publish’, send, or entered any permanent digital information and increased my footprint, I’ve produced something, right?
  • The quality of these productions will be my goal —  may I produce more sentences/posts/emails regarding academic-flavored content than casual personal content… at least for the next few months.

Publisher

  • I might have once viewed this role only in the sense of publishing a book. Now I view it at an extension of production and for that reason consider myself a publisher.
  • I would like to be a publisher of content worth reading. If you’ve chosen to read my thoughts, I thank you for your time and hope that you’re enjoying this MOOC experience as much as I have.

Image

An image of multiple hats, licensed by creative commons. http://leostartsup.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/multiple-hats.jpg

 

Finding Others and Sifting Through Noise

Yesterday I attended the first MOOC Talk in person, and also today again online through the recordings link. I was listening for ‘noise’, particularly to see if the face-to-face experience was very similar or different from the online experience at home. I thought I would share a few things I noticed, but also mention the mental concept of ‘noise’.

What seemed the same:

Seeing the speakers and listening to the presentation and the details about metaliteracy was very much the same in both experiences. People were sitting, engaged with their technology, and also connecting with others within that technology. In both cases, I caught myself listening, watching, and commenting on Twitter (or reading what everyone else said too). In both experiences I found new information and didn’t quite have enough time to think deeply about a concept before it was time to move on to the next topic. (I’m sure part of this has to do with my own learning tendencies, but also the speed of new information and how long it takes me personally to process it.) I found that in both experiences, my screen looked the same and I appreciated the familiarity, the participants in the chat, and the questions everyone asked which made the MOOC feel collaborative.

When it seemed different…

There’s something oddly strange about being in a room with others but talking through technology. I can safely say that I would be more likely to look next to me and just ask a question, but in a conferencing situation and a meeting where some people are at the table and others are ‘in the chatroom’, its very appropriate to engage in the chat too! ( I didn’t engage by commenting, but I read every post and looked at every person’s name to feel more connected to what was happening.) Another difference was the sounds – within the face to face meeting there was a delayed echo and I found it a little distracting, but I was curious to know that the technology was working, so in that sense, the noise was an encouraging part of the experience, kind of like a heartbeat making you feel a little more alive. I’m starting to see and find the rhythms within the MOOC and as I begin to enter in the conversations I’m noticing that there are voices and there are noises. What’s the difference? Finding what you’re looking for…

I attempted to find some of my classmates within the MOOC today and it was harder than I thought it might be. I found some of them, but I also found ‘noise’. I found bits of information that I had to read through, glance over, or walk around in order to stay on the same path and accomplish my mission: finding what I was looking for – the other people in my class! This is not to say that every member of the MOOC isn’t my classmate – they are – which is an amazing thing about MOOC’s in general, but in this case because I was interested in what EVERYONE had to say, it took me a much longer time than I thought it would, which made me think of noise.

Metaliteracy – the act of thinking critically about the information, in some cases, is about having the skills to sift through noise and find what I’m really looking for. Perhaps it’s even feeling more comfortable with all of the extra information and knowing how to navigate through it… partially (it’s also a lot more than just searching and finding relevant information). As I plan my little paths, whether it’s to find someone or to connect or to compose or make sense of this MOOC, I’ll be sifting and moving and swerving around information. It’s fun and it’s a little unexpected – just like our changing technological landscape.

In case you wanted to know the end to the story – I found them. I also found a lot more than I was looking for. 😉

 

 

What is Metaliteracy? Acclimating in Process

My definition of metaliteracy in its infancy means making sense of the world of information. This definition, I expect, will evolve during and after this Metaliteracy MOOC course and will continue to change as my thinking changes. I begin with this preface because I’m aware that I don’t exactly yet know how to put my finger on it.

 

At the moment, at 11:05 on Wednesday morning, metaliteracy means the two components of the word. Meta, according to a google search and thanks to Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meta,  meta means ‘beyond’. I know literacy to mean being fluent in the consumption while making meaning of something. Literacy can mean the ability to read, but beyond that, and most importantly the concept of literacy extends to being able to think and process about the act or reading.

Metaliteracy –  beyond literacy. Exploring and thinking beyond making sense of something and in this case , that something in information. Thinking and making sense of information. At this point, I’d like to add the criteria regarding the quality of thinking and say, “Metaliteracy is being able to think with maturity and critically about the concepts, the process, the production, the reciprocation, and the reception of information.”