Tag Archives: Anthropology

Creative Commons and Cultural Heritage

These are some great thoughts about presenting cultural documents and artifacts to the public and how they should be licensed. Interesting ethical questions and dialogue.

Other Voices

Java PrintingI am very pleased to present a post and resource links on Creative Commons by my colleague Jason Baird Jackson.  More and more cultural heritage professionals and students are faced with questions about how to best present original documents for public access and the proper citation and use of internet files.  Jason provides a solid introduction and valuable links to Creative Commons licenses that are relevant today and will be increasingly important in the immediate future.

Creative Commons and Cultural Heritage

by Jason Baird Jackson

Do public archaeologists, heritage professionals, museum practitioners, and graduate students need to know about the Creative Commons? I think so. Robert Connolly does so as well, which is why he thought to ask me to contribute a short note to his blog. After you have learned a bit about it, I hope that you too will see the relevance of the tools provided by the…

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iPad Summit Keynote: Mimi Ito

The Keynote Speaker for Day 2 of the iPad Summit is Mimi Ito, Ph.D., a cultural anthropologist with the University of California at Irvine. Her focus is on the changing relationship of youth and new media. I have been following her work for some time, so it’s exciting to be able to see her speak in person! You can see a lot of her work published at Connected Learning.

Mimi argues that we’re at a tipping point in education: we are culturally ready for a student centered, engaged, and social form of learning that thrives in a digital world. We have an unprecedented readiness for this transition in the main stream community. In addition to observing students and children, Mimi is also the mother of two children. This gives her a unique perspective as both an outsider and invested insider.

Mimi starts out by discussing Minecraft, a hugely popular gaming platform. Minecraft has entered schools via various student initiatives. It has evolved in schools in interesting and innovative ways; promoting student self directed learning and exploration.

How can young people make the most of today’s abundance of information and social connection? – Mimi Ito

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia commons

The world outside of our classrooms has transformed and evolved, but our schools are taking some time to adapt to these changes. Our educational system evolved in an era of textbooks and chalk boards. Now we live in a world with stronger connections both inside and outside of traditional school learning.

While this vision of learning has been with us for a while, technology has enabled us to implement new methods of teaching learning (project based, student centered, and connected). While these changes may not be easy, we have those tools and opportunities to make changes in our schools and classrooms.

Mimi emphasizes the fact that children are readers. In fact, kids are more likely to read than adults! They aren’t just reading tweets, but longer content. Additionally, they are writers.

“Everyone can be a writer – technology isn’t killing our ability to write, it’s reviving it.” – Andrea Lundsford.

In fact, the writing rate has exploded and  the quality of writing has not decreased! Students do know the difference between texting and writing academically.

Other things are changing drastically, especially in terms of media engagement. Additionally, may of them are “multi-tasking” their screen time. Games, additionally, is the entertainment form of the day across gender and age. This is how we engage with one another and entertain ourselves today. Additionally, children are always connected now with access to mobile phones (especially smart phones). Peer to peer communication dominates in the mobile arena.

So what happens when these media connected kids walk into a classroom? The world around the classroom has experienced a massive cultural shift that isn’t reflected in the classroom. This poses a number of unique challenges for educators and educational institutions. Mimi polls the room about our opinions of the role of connectedness in the classroom – most of us are cautiously optimistic!

The fact is that modern technologies have various effects depending on digital practices, the population, and individual dispositions of children. As teachers, it means that it is our job to shape their use and direction, and not allow them to solely evolve on their own. The Connected Learning network and model is her and her community’s research environment and explores how to move forward.

“The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” – Mimi Ito

One of the first elements of Mimi’s and her group’s study is that parents and other adults view these activities as a distraction from learning – even if they see that these have value for themselves. So there is a gap that we need to mediate for in and out of school opportunities for learning. We have to deal with this in our every day practice in

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

schools. Additionally, young people are learning a tremendous amount from their online participation and interaction. Some of this learning was friendship driven (Facebook and Text Messaging) and interest driven (what do you want to learn, what are your interests and hobbies). The platforms change (remember Live Journal and MySpace?) but the interactions and objectives are the same; gaining community and building expertise. So peer groups at school are not always the best place for students to build and foster their interests.

Online communities especially help students with outsider interests! One student, “Maria” (name changed), was a 17 year old student that was starting college. She was very interested in WWE (World Women’s Wrestling Entertaining). Her friends and family teased her, so she didn’t communicate this interest with them. However, she found an online community where she was about to write about her passion for more than four years and build her writing skills. She gained a strong online following and was able to expand her influence. Those skills also transferred over to the school newspaper and ultimately “Maria” pursued a career in technical writing. So the abilities that “Maria” developed in her fantasy community transferred over to the “real world” and ultimately her career. So while “fan fiction” may seem frivolous, the reality is that the skills built in this passion driven learning is transferable. This is the core of “connected learning,” using peer and community support that a student has and then linking/connecting that learning into the spaces of opportunity that build positive futures for children. This will ultimately serve students best in the world that we live in, a connected, fast paced environment. These are important underlying skills and dispositions to foster.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

However, in the real world, we need to recognize that these experiences are not the norm. They are reliant on teachers being forward thinking and helping students to navigate these lines. Additionally, we are living in a world with increasing economic inequity – which translates over to access to connected learning resources. You can view the changing enrichment expenditures and its impact on children via the research of Duncan and Murnane here. We are seeing a gap between the children of the wealthy and the poor in terms of access to out of school learning. In addition to hurting under privileged children academically, it also adds increased stress on privileged students who are now exceedingly pressured at all times to perform.

In addition to traditional media, we see greater access to open learning via tools like MOOCs and outlets such as Khan Academy. You can see Justin Reich’s critiques of some of these movements in his article, “We were Promised Jetpacks and we got Lectures.” It’s also important to note that people overestimate the short term impact and underestimate the long term impact. MOOCs have had a significant drop off because they were not immediately and measurably successful. However, we’ve just gotten started! We have yet to see the long term impact of these models.

Meet Learners Where They Area

We have an abundance of access to content. This means that we can legitimately meet young people where they are. We have the opportunity to truly diversify for our students. We are in an era where schools cannot financially support a myriad of options. The online world opens up these avenues to us. Mimi’s research works on investigating students’ interests and how that drives learning. How can we mine these social and student driven avenues and harness it for academic learning? How can we translate a Harry Potter chapter to a University community? How can we use these tools to attract young women and traditionally “non-geeky” communities? Gamification is a great example of meeting kids where they are and building a curriculum on how students learn communally.

Tap the Power of Peer-to-Peer Learning

The goal is to realize the mission of learning on a stage wider than the classroom and connected to the broader world. The online world offers a new set of tools to

English Language & Usage Stack on Stack Exchange

English Language & Usage Stack on Stack Exchange

make that happen, especially through the power of social media. Online anyone can be a peer, mentor, or student. While this can create credibility problems, of which we should be mindful, it also presents a great deal of opportunity. While some avenues are not traditionally academic, there are some dedicated learning avenues. All in all, it’s about the skills and the learning.

Build Connected Maker Spaces

The maker culture is a huge new movement picking up speed both within and outside of the academic community! 3D printing has brought new opportunities to individuals in previously unimaginable realm! There are numerous environments set up dedicated to maker culture, the White House has even announced its first ever Maker’s Faire! These cultures exist both in the “real world” as well as online environments.

Seek Recognition in the Wider World

We also have the opportunity to share content out! This is controversial among parents as well as schools. However, it cannot be denied that when students are permitted to take their work to a broader community,  they have a greater investment in the product. Kids are motivated by an audience and it can be transformative for their own identities. The Quest to Learn organization encourages a public forum in which students can share their work. However, there are numerous online environments in which students can share their performance and projects. Metrics of achievement via tools like Top Coder reinforce skills and motivate improvement. Displaying achievements and abilities online is going to become more and more prominent, the more we can prepare students for it the better they will be positioned in the future.

There are many different ways to experiment with the online and connected learning environments and no doubt many of them will come and go. Mimi  has listed just a few examples of connected learning but ultimately it’s not about particular technologies and techniques, but about reconnecting to effective and powerful learning and teaching. So while there isn’t a specific tool, we do need to enable students to connect with people in the outside community (however that may look). If we  see opportunities for students to connect their outside experiences and passions to their educational realm, that is success.

Wicked Children Beware of Krampus!

Krampuskarten, courtesy of Wikimedia

Krampuskarten, courtesy of Wikimedia

While American children fear a stocking full of coal, German children learn to behave to avoid being snatched and eaten by Krampus! Featured on German “Krampus Cards,” Krampuskarten, he frightens young children into behaving during the Yule season.

To learn more about this frightening consort of Saint Nicholas, check out the article on the Smithsonian or the Wikipedia Article!

Help the Oxford English Dictionary Solve Dictionary Mysteries

Screen Shot 2013-06-05 at 7.11.33 PMThe Oxford England Dictionary (OED) is seeking help from the public in solving some dictionary mysteries. Do you have input on the history of the words or phrase(s): def, suicide (drill), “something for the weekend,” “Meandering of Memory,” Long Island iced tea, mullet, luvvie, demon bowler, and more (see their list of words here).

For information on what constitutes evidence and how to submit it, see their guidelines here.

Who’s afraid of a MOOC?: on being education-y and course-ish

On Thursday, 22 March, the then-Tertiary Education Minister of Australia, Chris Bowen, registered for my new, up-coming MOOC (that’s a Massive Online Open Classroom, if you’ve somehow managed to miss it). Apparently, he’ll be taking the course, ‘Becoming human: Anthropology,’ an introduction to human evolution. By the next morning, Bowen had resigned from the Prime Minister’s cabinet and moved to the government back bench, stepping down from his post overseeing tertiary education…

Who’s afraid of a MOOC?: on being education-y and course-ish.

Scientists apply Genetic Estimates to Homer’s Iliad

iliad-2-TOPHomer’s Iliad is one of the most famous works of Bronze Age Greece. Its date and composition, however, is one of the academically controversial. Recently, a group of researchers at the University of Reading applied the same techniques to researching genetic evolution (using the rate of genetic mutation) to the evolution of language. Using this method, they determined that the Iliad was written approximately 762 BCE +/- 50 years; a date consistent with historical theories.

“Languages behave just extraordinarily like genes.It is directly analogous. We tried to document the regularities in linguistic evolution and study Homer’s vocabulary as a way of seeing if language evolves the way we think it does. If so, then we should be able to find a date for Homer.” — Mark Pagel, Ph.D.

To learn more about the process and extensive findings, see the article published at Inside Science, “Geneticists Estimate Publication Date of the ‘Iliad‘” or the paper, published in the Journal of BioEssays.