Expanding on The On Button

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I received an e-mail from an attendee of my educon presentation, The On Button: Instant and Always on collaboration. She was asking about one of the items in the presentation, in which I described adding an opml file (which was created by a Live Search OPML creator). Rather than simply e-mailing her and walking her through it, I decided to use ScreenToaster in order to do the nuanced topic a little more justice.

Here is the link to the tutorial.

Now, I have been a big fan of screencasting for a long time, but until tools like ScreenToaster and Screencast-o-matic become more common place, I don’t think that we will really start using it as a way of communicating our thoughts. When it is easy enough to demonstrate your learning, I think it is heinous not to create an archive of that learning.

I guess my biggest question is, how much learning has dissapeared because e-mails get deleted or the school period ends?

My next question is, what can we capture now that we couldn’t capture before?

Why shouldn’t students be able to show what they know, literally.

(Also, as an aside, I will be expanding on many of the ideas of my presentation over the next few weeks. Let me know if there is anything specifically that you would like to hear more about.)

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  1. My initial response to your first question is to think of all the drafts and files I’ve lost over the years. For the things that were on deadline, I went back and re-created them. The act of re-creating pushed me to think about and re-connect thoughts.
    Because that learning was only a shadow in my mind, I was forced to examine what I wanted to do with the shreds of ideas that lingered. I worry that some of my students capture words or pictures or audio or video and think that because that initial learning has been saved, there’s on need to delve more deeply into the content.
    A friend of mine tells the story of working for weeks on a paper for a college English class. I mean, she slaved over this thing. When she got to the class, the prof. told all the students to stand up with their papers in-hand and tear them up. “That,” the prof. told the class, “was your sh*tty rough draft.”
    My friend tells me it’s changed how she’s looked at all initial efforts since then.
    If we can save everything, do we run the risk of never seeing anything as a “sh*tty rough draft?”

  2. Ben Wilkoff

    I believe in the crappy first draft. I enjoy them, even.

    I agree that students may stop short when they know that everything is being captured, but I think if the expectations change, if all learning is captured, there is no reason to not push further.

    If students can get comments and feedback on every draft… If they are able to show their thinking, won’t it get better?

    My question to you is: If your friend was able to publish that first draft and get feedback from each of his classmates on that paper, do you think it would be better than simply going back into his dorm room and working on it some more in isolation.

    It isn’t that I want to simply archive everything. I want to create a conversation around every archive as well.

  3. I don’t know. At some point, I need to provide my own feedback rather than looking to others for what they think and suggest. I keep a journal which I use to refine my thinking on all sorts of thoughts. It would certainly be a different work were I to have someone else look at it and give me feedback, but I don’t want that feedback. I take joy and see great value in providing my own feedback. At times, only one voice is necessary.

    Sometimes, too, writing/creation gets to a place where everything should be dumped in order to let the original idea have room to grow. Rarely are we bold enough with feedback to encourage such pruning.

    As to the idea of creating conversations around every archive, I worry about the pressure that creates. Some ideas are born to die. I worry, sometimes, about how much we like to talk ideas to death rather than letting them slip peacefully away. I see immense value in archiving many ideas. I will be at the front of the parade for peer editing, defense of thinking, carousel feedback and the like – so long as we’re throwing parades for Independence Day-sized ideas and not every Arbor Day and Groundhog Day that rolls around.

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