Adventures in E-Learning and Digital Culture


Filed under: Uncategorized — essgarland @ 12:00 am

My response to the CEO’s desire to bring PLN’s into the organisation. A little short on writing (because over the course of the MOOC I have written tens of thousands of words for Uni and still am! and I need to be creative now).  Fun  putting together and I persevered even though time pressed because thought this viewpoint needed to be added to the mix.

Thank you everyone who participated and discussed and debated and challenged me in #xplrpln and  especially to  Jeff Merrell, Kimberly Scott and Keely Sorokti for giving me the opportunity to learn more.

Sit back and enjoy.

Ess 🙂


March 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — essgarland @ 7:56 am

A wonderful reflection on edcmooc journey

My MOOC experiences

Following on my previous post, here is my deeper analysis and reflection on why this course worked for me and my peers.

To start with, below is the #edcmooc course details as mentioned on Coursera site:

“This course will not be taught via a series of video lectures. Rather, a selection of rich resources will be provided through which you can begin to engage with the themes of the course. While the teachers will be present in the discussion forums and in various other media environments, there will be an emphasis on learner-led group formation, and the use of social media to build personal learning networks and communities of peers. Rather than approaching this course with the expectation of exacting teaching methods or precise learning routines, we invite all participants to collectively experiment with what the MOOC experience might be.”

Target audience:

“E-learning and Digital Cultures is aimed at…

View original post 1,379 more words


March 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — essgarland @ 10:03 am

Great blog on the essence of #edcmooc so posting it with the rest

Online Learning Insights

The Web as a classroom is transforming how people learn, is driving the need for new pedagogy; two recently launched courses at Coursera highlight what happenswhen pedagogical methods fail to adapt.

I wrote recently about the Fundamentals of Online: Education [FOE] the Coursera course that was suspended after its first week and is now in MOOC hibernation mode. Over thirty thousands students signed up for the course hoping to learn how to develop an online course. It was a technical malfunction when students were directed to sign-up for groups through a Google Doc that shuttered the course, along with hundreds of student complaints about lack of clear instructions, and poor lecture quality. The course was suspended on February 2, and there has been no word yet as to when it will resume :(.

On the other hand there is the e-Learning and Digital Cultures course also offered on Coursera’s platform…

View original post 1,116 more words


My Digital Artifact – A Souvenir #edcmooc February 27, 2013

Digital Artifact #edcmooc


Tiki-Toki’s script does not work with WordPress, spent too much time trying. This will get you there.

Hope you enjoy my artifact as much as I enjoyed making it.


Week 4 Video Reviews – Robbie the Manipulator et al… #edcmooc February 22, 2013

The videos this week were highlighted to evoke forms of transhumanism however in yesterday’s blog I outlined that I am not a convert of the movement.  My video reviews reflect that.

Robbie the Manipulator

Throughout the video I kept being reminded about how we attribute human emotions to our pets.  Design a robot, albeit a highly complex one, give it a kind, trembling, dying voice to manipulate the heartstrings and voila you have half the viewer’s raging about the injustice of what has happened to him.  Hey.. he’s not real!!  To be honest I felt the same yuck about  ET (he wasn’t a robot but creepily non-human).  Call me pragmatic but I cannot believe a robot will ever have the same attributes as a human.  We program, they respond.  When it changes they can come after me.

Gimme Gumdrops

I want one (as long as I can change her accent and mute her from time to time)… but I don’t believe in her as anything more than a complex, well designed robot with advanced levels of interaction. (I don’t believe in her at the moment because she doesn’t exist).


True Skin

Horrible, dystopic view of a life with the wrong body part, us and them, surveillance, grey and seedy city life and the Cyborg.  Realistically people do opt to enhance what they perceive as their quality of life.  We see that with choices eg, when they are sick or want to improve their appearance, or stay young – some choices are life-threatening, unsafe and unproven but they persevere because of their own personal drivers.

On the other hand hip replacements, heart pacemakers, and the like, wonderfully improve quality of life now.  My young friend, off to do Megatronics at University this year, tells me about exciting technology that replaces limbs, maybe bionic eyes.. all good and all useful human endeavour (let’s just hope everyone can afford it?)

I watched a Ted-X talk (a headset that reads your brainwaves) – a chap could think/control a simple computer task with brain responses and a fancy hair net.  Brilliant.  This is wonderful technology with potential BUT THE DEVICE OPERATES  ON HUMAN RESPONSES not on its own.



Truly sad to me who gets immense pleasure from the real world but for those who do not have choices about the colourless world’s they inhabit an Avatar could provide an escape .  Here, when the players are in character, they are unique, complex and important.   (And I learnt today if you are good at this particular game you get paid well).

One of the players on the video did sound like a joyful killer. From Gabe Zichermann’s Ted talk (reference in last blog below) research shows that people with violent personalities become more violent when gaming.  Other research talks about people with addictive personalities becoming game addicts.  (Interesting – current research says the problems start with the people not the technology –– not technology determining the bad behaviour.. just enhancing it).

Research shows some games do help us multi-task, problem solve quickly, drive better … but an excess is problematic.  Disruptions to circadian sleep rhythms are not uncommon and can present as psychoses to doctors.   I have seen teenagers (not mine) in this state due to heavy gaming and it is disturbing.

“Sleep researcher Yaron Dagan states that “[t]hese disorders can lead to harmful psychological and functional difficulties and are often misdiagnosed and incorrectly treated due to the fact that doctors are unaware of their existence.”[1]


I enjoyed the quality of the videos this week and appreciated the connection to the subject matter.  I am just not of the transhuman persuasion so they didn’t have huge resonance.




Transhumanism and its Unique Relationship with the Emperor #edcmooc February 21, 2013


I find the views of the Transhumanists in our readings a bit like the Emperor’s new clothes, all rhetoric but nothing new.  It might be I am too pragmatic (and tired) to understand the nuances?

“Transhumanists view human nature as a work-in-progress, a half-baked beginning that we can learn to remould in desirable ways. Current humanity need not be the endpoint of evolution. Transhumanists hope that by responsible use of science, technology, and other rational means we shall eventually manage to become posthuman, beings with vastly greater capacities than present human beings have” N Bostrom

We have been “evolving” like this since our earliest times.  We had a wonderful BBC programme on Early Britain recently – which showed how we have evolved, physically, mentally and spiritually.  It is a remarkable story and a credit to the humans’ creativity – not just evolutionary but revolutionary.  Transhumanists’ aspirations will be fulfilled and that is because of human’s boundless creativity and seemingly infinite ability to adapt and improve.

I have been reflecting on Gabe Zichermann and his infectious passion for gamification and how this new technology is resulting in improved abilities to learn, multitask, come up with solutions faster and it’s wider application in various arenas.   But the technology is not the cause of the improvement – it is the human brains ability to adapt and maximise.

One random thought – we, in NZ,  had devastating earthquakes recently that have destroyed human landscapes and infrastructures – Nature does seem to have a its own indiscriminant, final word when it comes to any exalted state humans feel they have evolved to or created.  But what do we do in the face of disaster – regather, create, rebuild better.  Brilliant.

On the basis of my limited introduction Transhumanism falls deficit because it bases its idea of evolution on “rational means” which minimises the irrational, extraordinary or inexplicable human aspects which fascinate us. How do aboriginals teleport without machines, how do humans perform amazing feats under duress without bionic body parts, how do some people foretell the future without time machines?  What about intuition and faith – all valid expressions of being human in most cultures.  I am not widely read on transhumanism – they may have explanations?

“Transhumanism promotes the quest to develop further so that we can explore hither to inaccessible realms of value. “ N Bostrom.  Transhumanism is in luck because that is exactly what humans do.   History speaks for itself.  Technological enhancement may be a part of that but there is much, much more.


Week 3; Video Reviews; Humans in Control … Just #edcmooc February 16, 2013



One minute of well executed, advertorial brilliance on many levels.  Clear contrast between real and dystopia or technological … Digital driver in digital world commentary – “there is no “alive” in this town, just pixels, pretence and driver assist.”  His reference to alive indicates that he knows what real is.  Was he formerly a non-digital human?

The real car is concealed, hidden and only available to those who know where to look and have inside knowledge.  Digital driver arrives with a suitcase (prepared to leave digital world) and goes to a shop full of old things, books, with lots of light bulbs – all illuminated (metaphorical “seen the Light” experience).  Here reality exists in contrast with the grey uncluttered world he left, digital shopkeeper is eating a real hamburger, there’s a real plant … the car is the only thing hidden.  On revelation of the real car and on driving it Édith Piaf starts singing “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien,”   (No I don’t regret anything) dedicated to the French Foreign Legion (how deep should we go here?) – a well-trained military service with a high (human) ethos of morale.

Morale (also known as esprit de corps) is the capacity of a group’s members to maintain belief in an institution or goal, particularly in the face of opposition or hardship.  Morale is often referenced by authority figures as a generic value judgment of the willpowerobedience, and self-discipline of a group tasked with performing duties assigned by a superior.   Wiki

Happy face now he’s driving, goosebumps (human response), “feeling” alive.  No going back once experienced driving this car, past Danger end of World sign and then revs through a wall which happens to made of glass (so well done) into nature and the real world “Once you feel it no going back”.  Triumph of the real over technology – of the human over the digital.


Great Ad for BT landline and a Real Human Encounter.  Funny the son who is physically present asks the guy who is away if he has talked to Mum.  Why doesn’t the son?  “Yes we talk all the time”, says Adam … NOT.  He meant digitally not for real.  Text and techology are no substitute for voice contact and conversation on a telephone, the ad tells us.

“Something is up with Mum” initiates a phone call from Adam.  She still looks pensive during and after the call, as if she has still not divulged what is going on with her as she pats her tum.

The fact that, even when he rang, she didn’t tell him could indicate their relationship’s “real life” neglect, built on shallow technological exchanges, could have adversely altered things. Or she may be pregnant and not sure how he will take the news, preferring a face to face meeting to tell him.  Or.. she could have an ulcer just worrying about everything.


Man builds a replica (not original in the true sense), artificial world similar to Italy.  Starts with blocks, adds detail, colour, trees and flowers, smell, movement etc to evoke an emotion in a woman (he loves). It turns out he does all this to get a photo of her loving the smell of flowers.  She is really in a hospital bed lying unconscious.  Somehow he accessed her imagination.  Nodules on her temples may have given him access to have her imagination to allow her travel to this world with all her humanity, touch, sight, feel, happiness, puzzlement, smell intact.  But why couldn’t he jump out of the door way?  Was this really just for his photo opportunity rather than her needs?

I think (?) this is technology provides a lovely gesture in this instance but awful in the wrong hands.  After he got his photo the world dissolved in a way that did not make her happy although he comforted her in the hospital bed later and brought a flower that existed in his artificial world (could have been a 3D print out).

An example of humans in control of technology with the ability to manufacture images for other humans to experience (unwillingly or not) subconsciously and parts of those images can become real.  With that technology they could surely cure her?

I don’t like that he could organise this artificial experience in her mind generally but have often felt people in comas are trapped in their bodies – you communicate intuitively but never really know if that is for you or them (in a similar way we attribute human emotions to our pets) – it would be wonderful to be able to interact with people in comas.  Oh dear, I just said, “you never really know if it’s for you or them”  … like the man’s photo shoot.!

They Are Made Out of Meat

Alliteration and repetition of the word meat became appalling to the point that I could smell meat and wanted this video to be over.  Aliens visit to decide whether to engage with us – reasonably impressed with humans(meat) ability and our achievements, thinking, dreaming, talking, inventing machines but for our constituency – MEAT.

In the meantime the students living and being around them are really, really enjoying themselves, friendship, love, food, play.  Meat made Machines, Meat does the thinking.  Their view to me is repellent, although funny.  The aliens could not get past what we were made off (meat) and so to them we were worth erasing.

“Who wants to meet meat”.  The aliens could get past the meat to define humans – it was a tainted classification.  We are not told what the “meat” represents to them – poison, food, a caste system in their own community?

Luckily the aliens’ viewpoint has no relevance to how humans define themselves.  Happy they rejected us.  They do, in this video, provide a unique and humourous viewpoint – humans as outsiders might see them.  “Who meets with Meat.”  Take “heart” the body is amazingly complex and unique to humans, as is our character, mind, spirit and intuition.!


Still feeling a little behind but more in a rhythm and less frenetic about web tools and flicking around new digital sites.  Loving some of the other things I have read and Week 3 Digital images.  Wish I could get a handle on GMT for the meetings.  I am trying a clock on my computer.

Am hearing completely foreign things now ref: Prof Steve Fuller on being human but some great blogs are helping me interpret.  Saw the note about the time commitment needing to be reviewed if this course is run again – feel very relaxed about this and trust #edcmooc staff can too.  We are talking about a great learning adventure not honours and I feel privileged to be part of it….