New Media Faculty Dev. Seminar – FA2010

"Awakening the Digital Imagination" – a Networked Seminar

Browsing Posts published by Sondra

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

We have grown up with comics and have accepted the need to hop from frame to frame in a linear path. Time moves to the right and down in standard comics. So we have accepted the flow visually. This is not a new concept. We have been telling stories in this linear fashion with drawings from as far back as the Egyptians.

Looking for patterns – when the pattern is as simple as boxes side by side we see the pattern. But complex patterns are missed by many people. I don’t know if this is a new phenomenon or has always been a problem. As a dyslexic patterns are very simple for me to see. Is pattern recognition a measure of intelligence? I have personally witnessed in the last three weeks that many of my colleagues can not recognize or follow patterns. Are they unable to see them or do they see no value in recognizing them. Is this a fine arts skill that is not normally seen in analytically individuals.

Parallel pathways – comics today could be just like the web. You could select your path based on your own interest. We do this with web searches or YouTube when you select the next and then the next as the computer searches for similar videos. Before you know it, you are no longer anywhere near where you started with your original search.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

We do live in a society that values degrees. In previous years that was not as big a problem as it is today. Today parents and students alike value the degree but not what it takes to acheive the degree. In many cases both feel that grades and degrees give them some magical way to achieve their goals. They do not take into consideration what it take to learn the material or the importance of that information learned. This is best illustrated by grade inflation.

Some remodeling of content may improve students learning, as seen with cross discipline courses, but until the student make an effort no change in our educational system is going to make a difference. We use to value experience in college education. People from industry were not required to have the graduate hours to teach.

Today’s classroom is often focusing on “the test”. Teach to the test. The numbers on the test will determine funding, will determine if you have a job tomorrow, etc. Instead of teaching student the whole story we only focus on that which is on the standardized tests – what has that gotten us – a group of high school graduates who can not read, write, or do arithmetic at a high school level. I say the model is broken and we need to throw it out.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Back before television and radio people learned from books. A book was read by one person at one time. They were in limited supply. But radio and later television information became available to everyone at the same time. With the exception of a few close races we know who are politicians will be before we go to bed election day. “Dewey defeats Truman” just doesn’t happen much anymore. On March 30, 1981 in was announced on network television that James Brady was killed by John Hinckley in the attempted assassination of President Reagan – which was instantaneous – but wrong. But this is not the norm but an exception to the rule. We get our information quick and usually accurately.

Has the television cost our society their social skills. Did reading books and writing and mailing letters make us better communicators. I don’t really think so. We are much more likely to reply instantly to a text message or phone call or reply within a day to an email. When I have received written letters and had nothing more than an address to reply to it has taken me months to get back to that person. This is probably a personal flaw on my part – at least as far as ‘months’ but I do think it takes people much longer to sit down and collect their thoughts when writing a formal letter. Will we loose history with the lost of hand written letters. We have a President today that forced the Secret Service to deal with his need for his Blackberry. If you go to the White House home page to find an address to contact the President you find a link for email. Knowing President Obama that is probably the most effective way to communicate with him. But are these emails being saved. Our history is founded on the written words for thousands of years. How will we maintain our collection in the future. They are collecting Tweets for the Library of Congress – but that is probably the worst thing to be collecting – but it is probably all that they can get their hands on.

Television has had a huge impact on our society. What ended the war in Vietnam in 1973? Nixon? Number of deaths? No – Walter Cronkite brought the war into the living rooms of every American. They showed the war in a way no war had ever been portrayed before. Television has had a huge impact on our society. Today rapists have their victims shower and wash any bed linens before leaving – they watch CSI also. With the good comes the bad – they never travel alone.

The television has been entertaining us since its first introduction at the World Fair in New York. Franklin Roosevelt was broadcast opening the fair in 1939. The American people had no idea what they were in for. For over 60 years the television has been a source of entertainment with Gracie and Allen, a source of sorrow with the assassination of John F Kennedy and the death of Princess Diana, a source of information as Wichita Kansas was the second city in the nation with Doppler radio in an area where tornadoes are a normal occurrence, and a source of horror on 9-11 2001. It has been an integral part of our lives.

Growing up with an entertainment box in our home has force education to take on a role of entertainment to a certain extent. I constantly make references to authors like Jules Vern and Tom Clancy, shows like NCIS and CSI, and performers like Rock Hudson, Michael Jay Fox, and Christopher Reeves. Television (yes even for authors) has made the American public aware through entertainment and I tap into that entertainment. How many people remember the interview with Tom Clancy three days after 9–11 where he expressed remorse over his book “Debt of Honour” where he writes of a 747 passenger plane deliberately crashing into the Capitol Building killing the President, along with most of the Senate, House, and Supreme Court. Tom Clancy did not create the idea of using a plane as a weapon but 9-11 hit too close for comfort. Television isn’t going anywhere, nor is technology, we can either embrace it in the classroom or become obsolete.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Computers were once just machines that could calculate equations. They initially had no role in our day to day lives. This obviously changed and at the same time there was a transition in our society from books to television. Was this the first transition of its kind? – no. If you go way back stories were not read but instead told. People questioned the reasoning behind loosing the emotional input of an oral story telling and instead relying on written words alone to create the image. So as we put our books down and reading became almost obsolete for some, television took hold of our society. Instead of talking about what book they read or what was in the paper, people talked about the show they watched last night or the pictures being broadcast from the war in Vietnam. So has this lead to less intelligent people – no intelligence is not gained or lost by life experience. We do have a different society one that has most recently traded the television for personal computers, tablets, iPads, iPods, iPhones, etc. It is different but is it bad?

Does the computer and the internet stifle learning. Some would argue yes others would agree no. I think it depends upon the individual. Some teachers use the internet very effectively in their courses while others allow it to be a baby sitter of sorts. Some students push the envelope and learn new and fascinating things while others hang out in chat rooms. Is this any different from what other generations have seen?

Students are looking for hybrid courses where they can have the best of both worlds. When sold correctly hybrids have been quite successful. Student use varying forms of technologies in lectures today. I have students who follow my notes and take additional notes on their PCs, others go to Blackboard and make hard copies of the notes and bring them to class, and students even bring up my notes in lab on their phones to reference what they are studying. Students do not want to be bored. They surround themselves with this technology to stimulate their senses.

But one common mistake is the assumption that all students today want the technology and understand how to use the technology. When one book publisher did a study with 2000 students they show that less than half of the students wanted eBooks. They wanted a book to hold in their hands instead – thus my students who make hard copies of the notes. Their study also show very few students – less than 20% – want school related materials sent to their smart phones. They said that their phone were for more personal use not work. We need a more accurate picture of our entire student population not just the one’s being classically discussed as “Generation Next” – because a lot of the 18-21 year olds at this school missed the “Next” lecture and don’t prescribe to the stereotype. We have to look at all students not just the very intelligent vocal ones. You know the loud minority.

One last thought – is the internet providing valuable information? It completely depends upon where you go. I am not impressed with Wikipedia. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can edit that information. I edit chapters in textbooks on endocrinology and reproduction because I have spent many years studying these area. But I can go to Wikipedia and change sports statistics – I have never watched more than 10 minutes of any game even when forced to sit in the stadium. Should I have this power – I think not. We have to educate our students about how to utilize good internet sources and have good internet sense. The CDC is a wonderful website that is a great supplement to use in Microbiology. There are also photographs and information provided by many zoos that helps us in zoology courses where we do not have enormous specimen library’s. The internet takes us to some terrific places, we just need to be aware of its limitations.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Are we moving toward a “Brave New World”? Theatrics has always been an art form just like photography. And although computers have enhanced both forms of art we have to be careful not to replace the human talent with computerized simulations. This article talks about plays with odors as part of the performance and how this idea was dismissed because it was a distraction. Well with the food network would it be such a distraction – Emeril always says “we need smellivison”. Although is sound really cool it would most likely not be marketable and the market drives the technology.

“Tina and Tony’s Wedding” was an interactive play. Are we still doing this? – yes. Murder mystery’s are quite popular because people like to interact with the art form. This is further illustrated in computer simulations. We have come a long way since “Duke Nukem”. We can laugh at the graphics we started with and can be amazed at the graphics we now have on our phones. Interactive games have evolved with the technology but not necessarily for the better. “Myst” actually required you to use your mind to solve puzzles to reach a goal. Today’s “World of Warcraft” takes little skill and less intellect. You are doing menial tasks. Yes it is a form of social networking – but 10-14 hours a day – get real.

A different form of interaction is seen with the “Wii”. Here you actually move as if you are actually performing. It has been interesting to see all of the people who have flocked to this technology. I would be more interested in virtual reality games – with true “virtual reality” technology. I want the complete host of sensations not just the movement and its effect on a 2-D television screen. 3-D is much more exciting. On a more practical note in graduate school we would section organs (0.005 mm thick) and look at them under a microscope. We would photograph the tissues. And we could compare the tissues and see a pattern across the organ. We thought it would be perfect in we could digitize these images and reconstruct the organ on a computer screen with 3-D qualities. We were about 15 years ahead of the technology. Today we can do just that. If only we could have been the one’s to initiate it.

Finally I look at film and where we are today because of this technology. In 1963 Alfred Hitchcock made “The Birds” and everyone was so impressed. Today we look at that movie and laugh and the quality of the images. In the 21st century we digitally enhance our films on a regular basis. We have created images that are astronomical. In 1977 George Lucas made “Star Wars” which was a very cool visualization but in addition it was the beginning of what would become THX the next generation of surround sound. Theaters used to be very large. Today we make them small and close to the screen to bring the viewer in. The sound is now Dolby and surrounds us completely. People even have surround sound in their homes. It is a totally different experience. Where Hitchcock spent his efforts to build the suspense today we concentrate on the technology that will woo the audience.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

I knew that Xerox was around at the beginning of computers but I had no idea the important role that they played. My first laptop, many computers ago, was a xerox computer. I always thought Microsoft was the only big computer hijacker, but now I have found out that Apple stole the technology from Xerox first. Of course where would we be today if it had not been for the contributions of all of these companies. Computers have evolved to the laptops, and now tablets, that Kay and Goldberg were suggesting. They are in the hands of all people and not just and isolated part of the math and science world.

The other thing I found very interesting was the role that  they played in the creation of WYIWYG – and for the young crowd we affectionately know this as “what you see is what you get”. These was a technology that we were so excited to see. We could finally make our projects look professional. Before this the fancy fonts and graphics were left to artist and graphic designers. I remember spending hours working on my commercial art projects creating fonts with pens and later pen that today I use everyday typing in Word.

The thing that they did not predict is how we have applied this computing technology to our entertainment. We have smartphones, iPads, and iPods and many other pieces of equipment used for entertainment. We have remote controls that control everything in our homes. We have computers in our cars that are used now by mechanics. Computers are everywhere they are ingrained in our society and we don’t want to live without them. Y2K put an entire country into panic over something that never even happened. It was nice though the influx of money lead to the advancement of coprocessors that was at somewhat of a stand still.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

I find this article just as poorly written as the last for a general audience. I do not feel that an article like this helps in the learning process. Again if there were a larger summary of what was being said this would be helpful. His was a visionary. And I think we are farther than the public knows. I am not a conspiracy person, but I do know that we often save the back technology from the public to be used for the “greater good” – or so they think.

I was so happy when we developed wysiwyg and Engelbart brought us that – great use of computer application. I was a DOS word processor user and wysiwyg was all that I was missing. I still think my DOS word processor works better but I have to conform to the students I work with – so I switched to Office. I also remember as an undergraduate when we finally had the technology in journalism for there to be a network file that could be edited by everyone who accessed it. It was so efficient in reporting news. We do have some web applications that allow people to edit at the same time now, but I do not believe that the large software programs have even come close to this technology. I have had several students over the years who wanted to edit the yearbook at the same time but PageMaker would not allow this. This type of application is needed.

Engelbart allowed us to be where we are today with Web 2.0, intranet, internet, etc. I just wish someone would write an article about him that was easy to read.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

Although I was very impressed with Engelbart’s accomplishments, talking to a general audience is not one of them. It would have been better to read an essay written at a more general level explaining the accomplishments of Engelbart. The video did help. I do truly appreciate the amazing things he was able to do in the 1950′s and 60′s. We do forget sometimes where we came from and the video did illustrate that. I did not really get much of anything out of his text. I am not convinced that his written works should even be published. Maybe there is an audience that can follow his narrative and not get bored. I am not sure. I hope this week is much better.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

I think one of the most profound ideas is “For years inventions have extended man’s physical powers rather than the powers of the mind”. Wisdom is not negotiable. It should be a requirement for use of new technology. You can look at the atomic bomb – yes it put an end to World War II – but at a cost no one could have imagined. The radioactive fallout is understood today but was not considered by most people in 1945.

Technology can provide us unlimited access to worldwide knowledge and if applied correctly the applications are unlimited.  In high school I use micro fish and index medicus (scientific indexing series of books). By my senior year in my undergraduate studies I could pay ten dollars a minute to do a computer search in Medline (index medicus on—line). We also flipped floppies to load word processing programs and spell check. By my masters program WordPerfect dominated the educational world and laser printers could do proportional spaced fonts. By the time I was working on my PhD searching on-line was common, transmission of protein structure and DNA structure was common place. We now used email. Near the end of my graduate school years we could type in a line of amino acids and the computer could fold them into the shape of an actual protein. And technology has continued to change exponentially.

‘Star Trek’ proposed nano technology over a decade ago – based in physic hypotheses. In fact much of what was seen in the different ‘Star Trek’ show was based in physics hypotheses. I just read about nanobots that can crawl around inside our bodies moving proteins – we would have insisted thirty years ago that this would only be seen in science fiction like the ‘Fantastic Voyage’. There have been some individuals through out history that could see where we would be someday: Louis Pasteur (said their were viruses – it took him ten years to convince anyone in the scientific community), Einstein (were E+MC2 was not understood to the point that this him most important contribution did not get him the Nobel Prize), Jules Verne (who wrote about atomic submarines and spaceships going to the moon), Tom Clancy (picked up by the US Military 3 days after the publication of ‘Hunt For Red October’), just to name a few.

Another point the author brought out was “…effort to bridge between disciplines is correspondingly superficial”.  This is so true technology has lead to more specialization and less cross discipline study. Neurologists refer you to nephrologists who refer you to cardiologist. The technology has yet to provide us a way to absorb and apply the massive amounts of accumulating information. Advancements in technology moves science forward but not society and/or communication. We have separate bodies of information that is not inter-connected because we do not have enough time in the day to read all that applies to what we are working on. But technology would have been beneficial for Mendel and Darwin. They would have been able to communicate with each other and their findings would have been applied half a century sooner.

Almost all of technology today is driven by the economy (and we could say that this had been true for a very long time). I believe that Socrates, Aristotle, Michelangelo, or Pasteur cared about economic gain but instead the more pure gain of knowledge. But in 2010 in the United States technology doesn’t even have to work correctly if there is strong economic market. The new iPhone had serious problem as did Windows Vista, but the people wanted it now and they were released with tremendous increase of revenue. I know several people who say they love their iPhone and had switched to AT&T so that they could purchase an iPhone. They also complain that their reception is not good. Not as good as it had been with Verizon. So they have an iPhone that they love even if it doesn’t give them the reception they need. What motivates us to purchase new technology that does not improve our functional quality of life? Is this technology a superficial status symbol? “I have the iPhone.” “I have Windows 7.” Look at ink jet printers; it is cheaper to buy a new printer than replacing the cartridges in many cases. As consumers we have allowed this to happen. Supply and demand applies and I believe a lot of it simply boils down to I have, I have, I have…

I hope I don’t sound like a pessimist or someone opposed to technology because that is not the case. I have been fortunate to be able to use some of the best scientific equipment and technology over the years. I have tried to stay current with the computer age. And today I am trying to decide if I am ready to join the Android age. But for me it has to be functional or I do not want it. I rely on technology to work and do what it is designed to do. I am a very “Type A” personality and I am not tolerant of technological failure. For instance, I don’t just buy my computer at the cheapest location. I pay for quality not quantity.

Post source: Applications in Biology for a New Generation

This class is probably even more valuable that the tools that we will be discussing. Technology needs to be an enhancement not a hindrance. I use to be the first in line to get the new technology. I had Windows 95 delivered to my home the day it went on sale. I filled my computer with every device and gadget I could get my hands on. But one day it dawned on me I was collecting technology not using technology. I had the gadget and I even knew how to use them, but I had no time or application for them. I am afraid that the student who has the iphone and every gadget imaginable really does not use these gadgets to accomplish anything productive. I say the iphone because a lot of their on-line world no longer involves a computer but instead their smartphones. But you see even with text messaging that they do not read the entire message. They will address the first point but are totally unaware that any other question was being asked. So they skim their text messages like we use to skim our text books. Are they skimming everything and if so what will the consequences to society be?