Unit 1 Week 1

Manovich discusses many important points regarding Kay and his colleagues, and how their work has changed the understanding and workings of media. “Kay wanted to turn computers into a “personal dynamic media” which can be used for learning, discovery, and artistic creation. His group achieved this by systematically simulating most existing media within a computer while simultaneously adding many new properties to these media”(Universal Media Machine p.5). Kay had many ideas on how to adjust computers, media, and software to better the programs and make them function in different ways. The thought behind this was to create “a new medium with new properties”. This is very relevant in education, software programs are constantly being altered to become more user friendly within schools allowing students to communicate, learn and create in very new and different ways. Just like Kay, the programs aren’t being completely restructured, they are just being altered or getting add ons to improve the quality of the programs. For instance, programs like Scratch were made from other more difficult programs allowing for a much younger audience to start coding. Scratch is not a completely new concept, its a software that was already developed but it was much more complicated; someone simplified it giving us Scratch.

After reading and watching Seymour Papert, it's clear about how he feels using technology in the classroom. In his study, Climbing to Understanding: Lessons from an Experiential Learning Environment for Adjudicated Youth, Papert discusses how creating a radically different learning environment for the students at The Maine Youth center allowed them to express their ideas better in different forms. “By not just focusing on articulation of knowledge primarily through text but rather by facilitating hands on creation of concrete artifacts and thereby facilitating multiple learning styles and by having a better than 1:1 ratio of computational materials so that each student could create multiple projects simultaneously and express their ideas in formas more closely resembling their own concepts”(Climbing to Understanding p120). Papert believes that by allowing the students to create themselves and not follow pre-set guidelines, they create more meaningful projects that actually help them develop and understand the concept. This is an idea that should be brought into every classroom, if you let the students learn something on their own it’s more likely that it’ll stick with them over listening to a teacher just tell them something. Something that I do question though is allowing students to have a greater than 1:1 ratio with technology. Papert believes this allows them to create more than one thing, but I feel as though that might only be relevant to higher thinking students; I could definitely see my students becoming too off track using multiple forms of technology at once.

It seems as though both Kay and Paperts legacies have lasted. There are many people still going about adding new components to softwares to improve their abilities and make the programs more efficient. Kay has left us with the idea that minor improvements can lead to great new abilities within a program, “a new medium with new properties”. Paperts ideas are something that every educator tries to incorporate into their classroom; how can you create a radically new learning environment to help better educate my students. The incorporation of technology is just one of those great tools that educators get to use in the classroom.

I believe that both Kay and Papert still have very relevant ideas that relate to the classroom and education. Kay has set the groundwork for how to adjust programs to make them more friendly and efficient, without his ideas many programs that students use in the classroom now would not be around. Papert had many relevant ideas in his book Mindstorms, one of them being the “QWERTY Phenomenon”(Mindstorms p32). Papert describes the phenomenon as, “the tendency for the first usable, but still primitive, product of a new technology to dig itself in”(Mindstorms p32). This was something that stuck out because it is so relevant, especially in education. Many teachers will choose to stick with a piece of technology that they know, something that is simple but might not be the newest tool out there; they choose it because it does whatever they need it to do but there is probably something out there that's a little better. Something that will also do what you need it to do while also providing something a little extra for your students. Take for example a smart board and a projector, yes they both do the same thing but a smartboard allows your students to be involved and engaged while a projector does not allow for the same. This is something that I will keep in mind for my students going forward; does it do what I need while also providing that extra learning tool for my students?

    • Gerald Ardito
      Gerald Ardito

      Nina,

      You did a really terrific job with this response, and your raised some very interesting and important issues.

      I loved what you said here:

      The thought behind this was to create “a new medium with new properties”. This is very relevant in education, software programs are constantly being altered to become more user friendly within schools allowing students to communicate, learn and create in very new and different ways. 

      In addition to the point I think you were making, you are also touching on the fact that we tend to want to "smooth out" (or "dumb down") more complicated things for children so that, seemingly, they never have a bad or negative or frustrating experience. This flies in the face of our stated goals to have them be better and competent problem solvers and critical thinkers. As you rightly point out, it is all about  

      how can you create a radically new learning environment to help better educate my students. 

      You also make a good point about (vis a vis the QWERTY keyboard) about how teachers stick with technologies (and pedagogical practices?) they know:

      Many teachers will choose to stick with a piece of technology that they know, something that is simple but might not be the newest tool out there; they choose it because it does whatever they need it to do but there is probably something out there that's a little better. 

      I am wondering how you plan as a teacher to bypass these pitfalls. I am eager to hear your thoughts about this.

       

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