Monday, June 29, 2009

Reports from the Blogosphere

After an eventful 24+ hour trip home (thunder storms in New York, stranded in Washington D.C., oy vey), I'm finally back at the World Wide Workshop headquarters and still feel exhilarated after such an amazing Summer Academy! It was such a pleasure to get to know you all.

I have a lot to share with you, but I thought it would be nice to first put the spotlight on what your reflections have been in the blogosphere since we all parted ways:

Denise writes:
"It is very motivating for me to be in a room with a group of West Virginia teachers who care and are willing to give up your summer time to take training that is so intense. You are willing to learn new curriculum and go out on a limb to offer a new class that you think will benefit your students. It makes me proud to watch everyone work and learn. It inspires me to be a better teacher because I want to keep up with everyone else and what they are doing. In fact I wish my own children could of had all of you as teachers because they would have learned so much."
The RED team honing their skills.

Bill offers a great tip for organizing Flash files, and reflects,
"We didn't do physical labor, break a sweat, or lift a finer for much more than typing and eating the incredible meals over the past three days but we had really worked our brains, imaginations, and our mental limits."

And in his inspiring Global Biology blog (which is now added to my blogroll along the right), Bill challenges us to consider what our legacy will be.

Tracy turns in a late homework assignment (tsk, tsk), but at least has a good excuse:
"I purposefully did not complete the homework assignment for the last day of the academy, because for me one of the most powerful learning moments has occurred in the past few days. I became a teacher because I connect with kids and feel like I have an understanding of how to teach content in a way that they can easily grasp. With the Globaloria program, I will have to completely revamp my teaching style."
The NED team learning Flash.

Great stuff! I look forward to hearing more from you all in the coming months, and please have fun with it! This summer is the perfect time to "tinker" with your blogs, and really get energy generated behind our blogosphere for a more vibrant virtual educator's community than ever before.

Your GB,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My Powerful Learning Experience

Here's my confession: I am a horrible student. I swear to you I earned D’s and C’s in some classes in high school (same goes for college) and I believe I am currently the record holder of my high school for having been absent the most times for someone who still managed to graduate.

The reason for this can be traced to my "powerful learning experience".

When I was a sophomore in high school, I got it in my head that I was going to be a filmmaker. I wrote a script with my childhood best friend Hannibal (yes, his real name), about a young hero who was torn between his Spiderman comic book collection and a girl he yearned for. It was called “Call Her Mary Jane”, and even though it clocked in with a running time of about 20 minutes, it took a month of laborious filming (with a volunteer cast and crew) and meticulous editing to get it completed by the submission date of the film competition I was planning to enter. My amazing "Constructionist" parents had to help me pretend to suffer from a string of mysterious ailments so I could cut class and toil day and night on the film, which ended up proving to me I most definitely did not want to be a filmmaker.

Beyond that important discovery, I learned how to master number of editing and filmmaking programs (which has helped me ever since with learning new technologies), how to manage an unreliable teenage crew (which taught me to be an effective leader), how to construct narratives (which inspired me to pursue writing) and how to work hard and have fun at the same time.

I’ll also (perhaps presumptuously) take credit for launching the career of the young lady I cast as the love-object of my film, Dianna Agron, who used this role on her early resume to get her first real acting gigs.

I'll admit to an unfair ideological advantage. My dad is a close colleague and friend of John Seeley Brown, who was cheering me on and forecasting my future Oscar acceptance speech while I charged full speed into an early version of the...let's say...productive neurosis that would characterize my educational career. At the time, I was oblivious to JSB's influential educational philosophy, and only knew him as some dude with white hair who would hang around the house and, to my delight, generally authorize what my school Dean called "bad" behavior.

It strikes me now how much like Globaloria "Call Her Mary Jane" was. All the same frustrations with technology, creative struggle, hard, self-motivated work was in play. It's too bad that I had to actually trick my school so I could educate myself in this way. With Globaloria, the school is able to play a part in this kind of learning process. Educators can help to create the kind of studio space needed to develop the important skills project-based (or "tinkering") learning gives students-- rewarding kids for this hard/fun work, and not punishing them for it.

"Call Her Mary Jane" was the first large self-motivated project I worked on, and it led to a string of them through my high school and college career. I have always been able to leverage my "portfolio" of passionate work to find opportunities and achieve what successes I can claim in life.

Civics and Blogging

Ask and ye shall receive:

Given its popularity with team RED, the "shaming mechanism" of having the educators' blogs listed and organized based on their most recent update, is now updated and in-place on my blogroll . The new educators' blogs should all be now listed there as well. If you do not see your blog there, please comment with your blog address so I can add it.

The first day of the Globaloria Summer Academy was a blast. I got to unsheathe my baby: the Globaloria Guide to Blogging site. Like a beaming mother, let me draw your attention once again to all of the cool hyperlinks links I used there. Aren't they beautiful?

It was a whirlwind day: we learned how to wiki, set up blogs, game and brainstormed about civics. It got me thinking about different possibilities and opportunities we have to open the conversation about civics to kids with games online. Georgia Tech runs a great blog about News and Gaming, and one of my favorite thinkers about the synthesis of News and New Media is Jeff Jarvis' blog Buzz Machine, see also Publishing 2.0.

Finally, if you liked the video Idit showed us of Clay Shirky, you can read his blog here.

He gave the keynote address at the Web 2.0 Conference in San Francisco:

It sparked quite a few interesting reactions. What do you think?

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gaming and Art

In the May "Blogs of the Round Table" hosted by Man Bytes Blog, participants were asked to imagine what a favorite piece of artwork might look like as a game. You can read all of the responses here, but I'll highlight a few of my favorites below:

ihobo provides a thoughtful response, reflecting on the Impressionist movement, and taking this opportunity to ask "capital Q" questions about the nature of art.

Water Lilies, Monet (1916)
When I go to a gallery, I am seeking an experience beyond the rational – I do not greatly enjoy art that asks me to decode its puzzle, or otherwise rationally interact with it, to anywhere near the same degree that I enjoy a piece of art that transfixes me in a space beyond thought – an experience of emotion or transcendence that is wholly beyond conscious thought. That for me is the essence of great art. This brings me to the second problem: can a game actually access the transcendent experience of what great art means to me? And I suspect, perhaps that it cannot.


From the point of view of impressionism as a rebellion against the previously accepted forms, a direction could be found, but any non-game might be claimed to fulfil this goal. Unless I could find a way to capture the essence of the experience of an impressionist painting, I would feel I had failed to successfully make the transition.

Perhaps what this shows for me is that game design as a process is always for me a rational experience, while art for me is at its greatest when it transcends rational experience. And thus, perhaps my problem is not that there cannot be an impressionist game, but rather that an impressionist game is not something that I can personally conceive – it is in some sense beyond me. And that, perhaps, is precisely what I am looking for in art.

Other respondents took the bull by the horns and crafted dramatic plots inspired by art history. GB Games chose Michelangelo's "The Last Judgment" from the Sistine Chapel as his premise.

Click here for a high-res version of this painting

World Maker chose Nighthawks as his game inspiration.

Nighthawks, Edward Hopper (1942)

The Game Critique chose The Great Wave Off Kanagawa to orient the force of nature as the centerpiece of his game.

The Great Wave Off Kanagawa, Hokusai (1832)

I love the idea of this challenge because it causes you to consider gaming as a medium of art--which it absolutely is. Obviously, programming a game requires a math/science aptitude, but the designing and conceptualizing of the game interface and premise is very much an artistic/creative endeavor.

Gaming is an expressive medium like any other art form; and it's an exciting one insofar as it's interactive. In gaming, the audience engages with art on a level of activity that no other medium parallels. This relatively new, technologically enabled, medium (just like photography and film before it) will doubtlessly tap into the talent of "great artists", many of whom remain to be seen. I wonder who the Kubrick (or Michelangelo) of gaming will be...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Curating Online with Tumblr

Jenna Wortham writes in the New York Times,

The Internet is awash in content — and a whole lot of it is junk, spam or inane status updates. How do you begin to navigate through the zillions of news articles, Web sites, tweets and other stuff online to find content that matters to you?

You need digital curators.

More and more, bloggers are becoming online "curators." They no longer just generate content--they aggregate it based on their particular theme, agenda or taste.

Mindy McAdams even suggests that curation is a form of online journalism. I really recommend taking a look at her piece on this, as well as Jeff Jarvis' writings about curation on his excellent blog Buzz Machine.

Far be it from me to miss out on this exciting new trend. Globaloria needs a curated space of its own!

A perfect tool for virtual curating is a platform called Tumblr. I'd really like for you all to experiment with Tumblr by setting up your own account and trying your luck as an information aggregator. Just visit and poke around. I'm conducting my own experiment with Tumblr for Globaloria!

You can access the Globaloria Tumblr in the links section along the right hand side of the screen, or in the Tumblr feed just below the links. I strongly recommend you add it the new Globaloria Tumblr account to your Google Reader so you're sure not to miss out on updates.

What makes Tumblr different from Blogger is that it situates the multimedia component of blogging as the centerpiece of each post. While you're certainly able to compose text-heavy postings, Tumblr makes it especially easy and fun to share links, quotes, videos and images from the Internet with a mere click of the mouse. Better yet, Tumblr and Twitter are affiliated and I have found Tumblr to be a great gateway to the Twitter culture, which is becoming increasingly relevant in Web 2.0 culture.

As I explore the Internet day-to-day, I will Tumble interesting content I find that I think you'll all enjoy, and over time refine a curated space dedicated to the vision of Globaloria! I'm really excited about this forum for expression and hope you'll share your perspectives on it with me.

Your GB,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Blogs 101 from the New York Times

The New York Times Learning Network features a short Technology Tools piece to help educators understand Web 2.0.

This kind of guide highlights just how far ahead of the curve the Globaloria partners in West Virginia are. Most of you already have in-depth knowledge about these principles, and are running educational laps around less media-savvy teachers across the United States.

Despite our sophistication, there is always room to grow and the Times directs us to this links-based resource entitled Blogs 101, which highlights some of the most active and relevant blogs online. You may enjoy going through the list and explore some excellent blogs out there that you may want to keep up with (the best way to stay connected is by subscribing to blog feeds with your Google Reader)

Consistently reading high-quality blogs not only keeps you well-informed, but inspires you to update your own more often!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Learning with Surveys

In response to my introduction post, WV Design Diva (a.k.a. Monica Larson, a new partner from Shepherd University) asked me to share a little more about myself.

After some deliberation, I decided to spare the Globaloria blogosphere my lofty memoir and get down to the nitty-gritty with a survey I made on the free survey creator, Bzoink. You can find out all about me in the graphic below, but more importantly, I'm offering this survey to everyone in the Globaloria community.

Click "Take this Survey" at the bottom of the questionnaire and fill one out for your own blog. After you're done answering the questions, Bzoink will give you a code that you can copy and paste into your blogger composition pad and publish. If you don't have a blog yet, I'll help you get set up at the Globaloria Summer Academy 1.

I can't wait to read all of your answers!

Globaloria Survey
Created by rachelwwworkshop and taken 2 times on Bzoink
What is your full name?: Rachel Danielle Rosenfelt
What school/organization are you affiliated with?: World Wide Workshop Foundation
What is your position?: Assistant Programs Coordinator
How many years have you been working with Globaloria?: This is my first!
What inspired you to join the Globaloria team?: My belief in the power of digital media to change the world. This positive change begins with education.
About You
Where are you from originally?: Albuquerque, New Mexico
Where have you always wanted to go?: The Amalfi Coast in Italy, Berlin and Buenos Aires
What is your sign?: I was born on November 22nd, so I'm the border between Sagittarius and Scorpio. I think I'm more of a Scorpio, personally.
What do you like to do in your free time?: I love to read and write and explore all the amazing communities online.
What are you most proud of?: Having the courage to travel Central America with nothing but a backpack alone for 4 months when I was 21.
If you could wish for anything, what would it be?: I'd wish for everyone to have equal opportunities to follow their passions and compete in any field they chose to pursue.
If you could meet anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?: The Beatles--around 1962, just before they became famous.
Who is your hero?: My mom. And Madonna.
Movie: The Professional by Luc Besson
Book: The Collected Fictions, Jorge Luis Borges
TV Show: The X-Files. Even in reruns, it's television gold.
Actor/Actress: Leonardo DiCaprio. I was eleven when Titanic came out. Sue me.
Musician/Band: Sam Cooke, all of Motown, especially the Supremes and Marvin Gaye and Elvis Presley.
Quote: "Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman
For Fun
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?: Teleportation. I'd live in a cabin in the New Mexico mountains, pop into work in New York City every morning, grab Mexican food in Oaxaca for lunch, visit friends and family all over the world, sit down to some Thai food for dinner in Bangkok and be beneath the desert stars by nightfall. Plus, it would be really easy to sneak into movies for free.
If you had a time machine, what historical period would you visit?: Ancient Greece
Do you have a special talent?: I can make my face look like I'm a cast member in the original Planet of the Apes. It's uncanny.
What talent do you wish you had?: I wish I was a master cello player.
If you could trade spaces with anyone, who would it be?: Oprah. She is in a position to influence the world for good, empower women all over the country, create and fund positive initiatives, and do this all without having to hold an official public office.
You've been totally Bzoink*d!
Take This Survey | Search Surveys | Create a Survey

There are many services online that help to make your blog a diverse, fun and active multimedia platform. I encourage all of you to experiment with quizzes, polls and survey creators on free websites like Bzoink and others.

Your GB,

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Collaboration at the Globaloria Advisory Board Meeting

I was thrilled to attend the Globaloria Advisory Board Meeting in Charleston on June 2nd. It isn't often that policy makers, government officials, industry leaders, school administrators, educators and students come together to share their perspectives on the learning process. This kind of "meeting of the minds" is crucial for the success of any educational intervention – especially one that is as new and innovative as Globaloria.

A fundamental tenet of the Globaloria learning philosophy is collaboration. Globaloria encourages joint learning, creation and exploration among both students and educators. It utilizes technology to create an active statewide virtual learning community that transcends the physical borders separating schools and districts. As cool as this is, last week's Advisory Board meeting reminds us that there is no substitute for the dynamic interchange that takes place when we're able to gather in the same room to share perspectives on Globaloria.

Educators panel, (left to right): Ingrida Barker (Sandy River Middle School), Angela Cruikshank (Capital High School) and Denise Stalnaker (Randolph Technical Center).

I especially enjoyed listening to the educators reflect on their Globaloria experiences. Randolph Technical Center (RTC) teacher Denise Stalnaker claimed with Globaloria, “I think I'm a better teacher, but I'm doing less teaching.” Ingrida Barker from Sandy River Middle School agreed that the program "pushes you as an educator." The panel, which also included Angela Cruikshank, a teacher at Capital High School, Clinton Giles, principal of Capital High School and Don Johnson, principal of RTC, variously reflected on the challenges and successes they experienced with Globaloria's forward-looking program.

It strikes me that many of the educator's comments mirrored one student presenter's feelings on Globaloria. “I didn't think I'd get anywhere in this program" said Tyler, a game designer from Capital High School, "I thought I was just screwed.”

When First Lady Gayle Manchin asked Tyler how he felt when he was able to overcome his trepidation and succeed with Globaloria, he replied succinctly: “It made me want to jump around a lot.”

Clearly, Tyler has a way with words.

Tyler presents his game at the Globaloria Advisory Board Meeting.

The prevailing sentiment of the June 2009 Advisory Board Meeting was an embrace of productive challenges and the continued commitment to work together as we advance into the future.

In light of all this, I have to agree with Don Johnson who claims, "it is such an exciting time to be in education."

You could even say, it makes me want to jump around a lot.

Your GB,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Globaloria Blogger!

Greetings educators, students and friends! My name is Rachel and I’m happy to announce that I have come on board at the World Wide Workshop Foundation as the Assistant Program Coordinator in our New York office, and am your newly-christened GB (Globaloria Blogger).

Lee Kraus, our Globaloria Program Manager in West Virginia in 2008, started this blog in 2007 and I spent the last few days reading all his fascinating posts! It’ll be a challenge to fill Lee’s shoes, but I intend to jump into this blog as author just like I jumped into my new position at World Wide Workshop (and just like you all jumped into the Globaloria Academy): a wild plunge into the deep end.

I’m still recovering from an exciting trip to West Virginia, where I spent my first few days of work right in the eye of the storm at the Semi-Annual Globaloria Advisory Board Meeting, hosted by the First Lady Gayle Manchin and Dr. Idit Harel Caperton (my foundation’s President & Founder).

It was a lot of fun to get to meet First Lady Gayle Manchin my first day on the job!

I had opportunity to meet many members of the Globaloria community, see some amazing student presentations, visit a school, and am still catching my breath from taking in the beautiful West Virginia landscape. Suddenly, the potted plants lined up on my Brooklyn apartment’s windowsill seem to lack…grandeur.

Happily, it will not be long before I’m back in Charleston for the Globaloria Academy (June 24-26). I look forward to meeting all of you in the Globaloria learning community!

As the new kid on the (virtual) block, I ask you to share your insights, links and comments with me. Successful blogs are first and foremost forums for dynamic dialogue, idea exchange and communal learning. Let’s work together to reenergize the Globaloria blogosphere!

Your GB,