"To inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives. Because there certainly is meaning to life."
-John Coltrane on Uplifting Others

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Isn't the semester over? That's right it is, but I think this site is wicked cool, and ties in what Drs. Burton and Zappala were trying to teach us.
Mashpedia is a website devoted to connecting as many different sources together on any given subject. For kicks and giggles, I looked up the classic comic book character, the Hulk. The site brought up the wikipedia article, images, tweets, blog posts, books, and other sources. Intrigued, I looked up Jaymay; here is the link.
How cool is this site! Instead of going to traditional sources like Google or Wikipedia, Mashpedia connects all those sources. In their About page, the authors point out the site is for learning and redefining how we learn.
Where have we heard that?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Final Reflection Post and New Beginnings

For those who are new reader of this blog, let me catch you up: at the start of this semester, I began a Digital Civilization class. In it, we students would explore late Western History using a digital lense. We were asked to redefine ourselves along the way. I started this adventure in Digital Civilization with a post detailing how my learning paradigm would shift and my PLN would explode of the map. Well, I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt that this class shook my learning to the core. I learned so many new tools throughout the semester. I can now Skype without problems on my end (which is important for my job teaching English to students across the world!). I use Diigo all the time now to remember sites and citations I will need for future classroom settings. I now view history in a different light, because the professors who taught the class challenged us to change perspective.
This class was different in that most of the reading done was interesting. I learned plenty from my own readings and bookmarks, but I learned exponentially more from my classmates. Their blog posts throughout the semester have been above par. I refer you to these nominations for my favorites. This is a wildly inventive class, and shows some humility on the part of Drs. Burton and Zappala. They gave the class the reins and I am grateful we took to the concept. Social learning is vastly important for the new digital age.
Now, the beginnings. I am not certain if I will maintain this blog as much as my other. I am inviting you all to follow Mike Lemon. On this blog, I post portions of my creative writing, including poetry, flash stories and concepts. I need your feedback in building my portfolio, because.................................................(wait for it)...................... I'm going to grad school! I decided that the layover in high school teaching would not benefit me or my future family. Therefore, I will be applying for graduate schools here and in Texas. I am pursuing either both a Masters and Doctorate.
Thank you to my classmates for a wonderful semester. You are all truly future leaders in your fields. Let's keep in touch through the Web and MeetUp. Also, let's pressure Burton and Zappala to teach this class again! Others need it as much as we do.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nominations (Much Too Late)

In celebration of the all too familiar "my dog ate my homework" topos, I present to you my excuse for being late for this blog post.
Tuesday, November 30
Upon talking with my African American professor, I realize that the day of reckoning was nigh at hand; my term paper was due in seven days. My research lacking, I resorted to self pity and stress, then willed myself to a nap.
Wednesday, December 1
I am rushing to get a full rough draft into my Shakespeare professor, with the irony being we did peer editing solely on the first paragraph. Knowing I had nominations at hand, I also realized that I had to pull an all nighter at work. I found time for a nap.
Thursday, Dec. 2
I am not good at making decisions. Instead of attending class, I text Kristen and tell her I can't make it. I crash until one in the afternoon. Later that evening, I meet with my group and start editing for the conference that is to be held in a week. I then ship off to work.
Friday, Dec. 3
I am writing most of the morning, then have an afternoon and evening filled date that involves Korean food, socks, rock concert, a Christmas party, and the vintage French film "The Mad Adventures of Rabbi Jakob."
Saturday, Dec. 4
Work, meet with group and edit some more, realize that life would be easier if I switched back to an English major (more on this in another post), college football, writing on two term papers, Scrabble and sleep.
Sunday, Dec. 5
I know I should nominate some people by now, but instead I work on term papers and think about grad school (I swear a post is coming about my educational future).
Monday, yesterday
I'm writing all day; no time for a nap. I watch a documentary on Black Masculinity and Jack Johnson, then go to work.
Tuesday, Today
I am writing down useless information, vying for sympathy from the masses, but expecting none. One term paper is due in eight hours and lacks three pages, but nonetheless, here are some nominations for Best Bloggers:
Overall Cohesion: Kristen Technology in Exile
  • This was not a required nomination, but I think from every blog I've read in this class, Kristen has kept hers on one topic: Digital Civilization and Tibet. There is a cohesion there that Drs. Burton and Zappala encourage for good bloggers.

Historical Content: Sarah Willis Pacemaker

  • Talk about a powerful blog post. She not only brought in the history behind the pacemaker, she shared her personal history. While I blogged about roadways, she brought in something more powerful. A wonderful example of connecting the history to oneself.

Self Directed Learning: Ariel Future Shock & Facebook Etiquette

  • Ariel does a nice job bringing in different sources for this idea. I had read a few articles about this subject, but more along the lines of employment and job security. She takes the idea of future shock to another level, and I found it enjoyable to read.

Computing Concepts: Madeline Coloring Art on Photoshop

  • Madeline consitently creates some fo the best computing posts; she incorporates screenshots, step by steps, and finished products into wildly simple instructions. I chose this post in particular because I believe she used it to accomplish another project for this class; namely, the creation of a coloring book for Gulliver's Travels.

Best Overall Design: Sean Uma Pitada de Tolices

  • Wow, what a beautiful design for your blog. If you are looking for conciseness, easy user interface and clear directions as to where to go, check out what he is doing with this blog.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Historical Context for Final Project

Originally, we had Civil Disobedience as the Historical Background for our project, Digital Literacy without Borders. However, because of the touchiness of the Tibetan-Chinese situation, we as a group decided to change the Historical Context for our project.
We decided to see the way frontiers change or influence culture. What happens when a person removes himself from the center? Is there cultural evolution (or devolution) occurring? What can a community do to preserve their culture?
I would answer these questions here, but I feel it more apt to direct you to our site. With the permission of my group, I rewrote the section "Historical Context." Feel free to comment on it. Is it understandable? Did I miss the mark? What's the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Web 2.0

1. Last night, after several failed attempts on our part, Sean, Kristen, Parker, and I sat around a kitchen table in Provo, UT, and conducted a thirty minute interview with Norbu Jinda, the director of a TCV (Tibetan Children's Village) in India. On several points during the interview, a group mate would look at another with amazement in his or her eyes. That amazement spoke (among other things), "Can you believe this? We are talking to a man in India."
2. A few months ago, I quit my job as a shift manager at Little Caesars to begin a new employment opportunity. I now teach English to students scattered in South Korea and Japan, from a center in Provo. How do I do this? Through Skype, as well as other programs. I did not think it possible, but I feel a connection with these kids who are half way across the world.
3. There is a blog I follow with delight. Written by a college English professor, it details her struggles with teaching and understanding students, as well as her thoughts on knowledge. I have commented a few times on her posts, and was much surprised to see her and others respond to my thoughts. I even braved (thanks to the encouraging words of my professors, Drs. Burton and Zappala) to link a post of my own into my comments on her blog. This professor, whom I have never met, commented positively to my ideas.

How are these three opportunites and connections possible? Simply put, the Internet is changing. When I was younger, the things for kids to do was join chatrooms; parents were in an uproar. Still, I remember the amazement of talking with someone from England, without paying exhorbant landline fees. Now, I stay connected with friends in Mozambique through Facebook and Skype. I can see their pictures, read their ideas, and comment. The Web has evolved at a speed equivalent to Moore's Law. And it is still changing, accomadating to man's need. I read this article on CNN about the next Facebook; does anyone remember MySpace? I did not have time to watch or read the materials prepared for this lesson, so I did my own research.
This is not the first time I have embedded a video by Michael Wesch. He is an Anthropology professor at Kansas State University. In this video, Dr. Wesch explores the Web 2.0. I hope you pay attention to his insights at the end. They tie in nicely with the goals laid out by Digital Literacy Without Borders, and our desire to see how the evolving web connects and influences culture.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Mass Media: Some Anecdotes

As many of you know, I teach Korean and Japanese students English over the Internet. It has provided plenty of laughs, but also opportunities to see just how "different" our cultures are. For one of my sessions, I talk one on one with fifteen year old middle school students, and we fly through the material. That way, we can talk about other things. I was teaching "Leo" (his English name. He chose it, not me!) and asked him the following question
me: So Leo, what kind of music are you listening to right now?
Leo: Hmmm, have you ever heard of Eminem?
me: (slight pause) Just a little, yes.
(Some more conversation happened, including a challenge issued from me for Leo to check out Outkast. Laughter also pervaded the conversation, but we move to this next point.)
me: Leo, what do you like to watch on TV?
Leo: Cartoons...
me: Oh, you mean like Korean anime -what's it called -manhwa? I like that stuff.
Leo: (laughs) no, I like Spongebob
me: (shocked) Spongebob?!! Me, too!

As I ended my Skype call with him, I couldn't help but think Leo is more American than I am. The shattering of my nationalistic center and ego was further when I attended Dr. Hickman's lecture on the Beatles' influence on America. He submitted an interesting thought to the audience. He said the Beatles weren't the flagship of a British Invasion. On the contrary, they were indoctrinated in American culture. He pointed out that being from Liverpool allowed them access to the latest American rock and roll records. When John, Paul, George and Ringo made it to the Ed Sullivan show in '64, they were British only in nationality. In reality, they projected to Americans an image of themselves.
I have thought of these two incidents in terms of mass media. I think sometimes we focus so much on the differences between "us and them," but the truth of the matter is media is slowly bringing the world together. In his book Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers,(2006) Kwame Anthony Appiah discusses that man is essentially the same, with each culture adding a uniqueness to the world. He says "People everywhere, buy and sell, eat, read the papers, watch movies, sleep, go to church or mosque, laugh, marry, commit adultery, go to funerals, die. Most of the time, once someone has translated the language you don't know, or explained some little unfamiliar symbol or custom, you'll have no more (and, of course, no less) trouble understanding why they do than you do making sense of your neighbors back home" (94). What then, is the language we must understand or have explained?
I suggest it is the digital language. I love when I look up videos on youtube, just to find comments left by people from around the world. I posted earlier about the relationship I have with Norbu, the Tibetan school administrator my group will be interviewing. I said then -and reiterate now -that the two things we have in common is education and digital means to communicate. But there is so much more we have in common: appetites, the ability to be tired, the emotions of love, pain and regret, etc.
Have any of you had these experiences of recognition? Leave your stories in the comments and I'll highlight a few in the upcoming posts.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Final Project: Questions

Our project is to bring awareness of digital literacy's impact on Tibetan exiles in India. I'd like to thank Parker for this posted goals. As part of our project, we will be interviewing Norbu, one of Kristen's contacts there, but he is scared (intimidated, maybe) by the interview. To assuage his fears, we are preparing 10 questions each for Norbu, although with overlap, there will probably only be 25-30 questions.
The issue I am facing with asking these questions is language barrier. From my experience teaching ESL students, it is hard to ask questions. Often times, the problem lies in my wording; my questions have to be as simple as possible. This language barrier only highlights a common thread in Digital Literacy Without Borders; in today's world, the lingua franca is continuously becoming education and digital media. What do I have in common with Norbu? A love for education, and an Internet connection.
On that note, here are some questions going through my head. You can check out the others on our website.
Tell me about the Tibetan culture. What is it?
How have computers and the Internet changed your culture?
How are students educated in your community?
How do they learn with computers?
How do you view Tibet, your native land?
How do you use your computer to talk with fellow Tibetans?

Do you have a question for Norbu? Leave it in the comments, and maybe we will ask him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Interstate is the Bomb.Com!

Remember those bumps, you know the ones when crossing state lines? The best is between the Texas and Louisiana border, travelling east on I-20. That bump is ridiculous! It literally catches your breath, and it holds it there, along with memories.
The Interstate Highway System, which was passed in 1944, took civic precedence during Eisenhower's administration. While many may cite technologies as the automobile or telephones as shaping America, but for me and a few others, the highway system encapsulates the American Dream. Here's a quote:
"In the Interstate Highway System we have done nothing less than express our vision of ourselves ... Ultimately, the Interstate have become a physical expression of the part of the American character that desires to resolve our destiny in this seemingly limitless land."
Tom Lewis Divided Highways, 1997

As we mentioned the Frontier, I should mention the Interstate's role in it. While the highway system brought the continent together, it allows more Americans movement than previously thought. What would take days, even weeks now takes a matter of hours or days. There are correlations between the importance of the highways and the Internet, but I choose the right to remain silent. If you see the similarities, comment, please.
In the meantime, enjoy this short cartoon from Disney. Just like bumps, it brings back memories of my childhood.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Reflective Post, Take Two, Take Two

So Bri commented on Reflective Post, Take Two, and made me realized I was suppose to review her blog. Big Whoops to me, but I'll double back and take care of business.
Bri's blog, Bri Colorful, is wonderful in its simplicity. Her blog is not bogged down by widgets or distractions. It is all about the writings. Bri is good at synthesizing historical and digital content. Furthermore, she is adept at bringing in outside classes. Let me explain.
In her post "Digital Coordination," Bri demonstrates an example of using digital tools in another class. I believe this post gets to the core of what Drs. Burton and Zappala want from this class. They want us to use the digital tools and ideas we discover from Digital Civilization in other parts of our lives. Bri has shown through her posts ways to extend digital literacy to other classes, screenshots, and personal life. In fact, Bri has done the best job of any blog I've read in balancing historical, digital, personal and other sources in the posts.
Bri, I am impressed, and you all should be too!

Friday, November 12, 2010

An Interesting Timeline

While checking Google Reader, a blog I follow posted this timeline. I liked it, because it encapsulates our journey in digital learning, through a viewing of the past. Thanks to Education Innovations for making this.

Education Innovations (Timeline)
By: eLearners.com

Reflective Post, Take Two

For this post, I am focusing on Kristen's blog.
I first met Kristen in a British Literary History class, so I know her. But I did not know her dreams of a field study. Her blog is focused on her upcoming field study to Tibetan exiles in India. If I can say nothing else, she is consistent in her objectives. At the beginning of the semester, she clearly stated her goal was to see how digital literacy affects not only people in the States, but how it is shaping the lives and culture of Tibetans. She has varied her posts, from historical content to Skype conversations with her Tibetan contact. She has branched further than most in the class as far as creating PLN's; she has contacts from all over the world. Added to this is Kristen's blog is easy on the eyes (not a mess of divergent widgets), and her posts are enjoyable to read. I believe of everyone in the class, I have commented more on her blog than any other.
(Not that I don't like the other blogs; I do. Simply put, Kristen and I share similar ideas, so I am intrigued with what she writes and observes.)
So Kudos to you, Kristen C. You and your blog are going places.

Photo courtesy of love-your-neighbor.blogspot.com

Reflective Post, Take One

In preparation for this post, I returned to my first from this class. I had hoped to find some list of goals or aspirations that would enhance or guide my learning throughout the semester.
There were no such goals, only abstracts written down. I wish to clarify this oversight right now.
For the remainder of this class, my goals are as such:
1. I will post on the historical content a minimum of two times a week.
As I have read through the materials, I see the correlation between the digital age and historical paradigm shifts. When I read on the Atomic Age and its influence on all aspects of early and mid 20th century history, I focused on the way media shaped and influenced public perception. The frontier ideology of the 18th and 19th century is still alive, though the exploration is not of lands stretched into the horizon. Rather, we explore the capabilities of computers and the connectability of man.
2. I will focus my writing to reflect my own tastes.
I am a bland blogger. That's right; I wrote it in bold, because I feel it true. I don't allow my personality to come out in my blog writing. Hidden behind these words should be sarcasm, witticism, a sly smile that is slightly off kilter with the world. I fear I am not reflected in my own blog, and that is a scary thing.
But that is the superficial problem. How many of you reading this blog post know I want to be a teacher? That I study comedy? Or that I cook exceptionally well? One of the goals behind this Digital Civilization course is to connect with others through digital media. Am I attaining this goal? I fear I am not, so I will allow more of myself into the text.
(This is the same issues playing in The UnCommon Reader by Alan Bennet. I encourage to read this novella, or at least a plot summary. It is meta!)
3. I need to prove I'm a consumer.... but not the kind you're thinking of. Kurt Witt reviewed my blog, and noticed that I don't bring in many outside sources. My use of the Diigo group is also subpar. So, what is there to do? I need to mark my education down, using digital bookmarks. Watch out kids, I can go on tangents in understanding class principles.

Those are two defined goals for not only the end of this semester, but the rest of my life. Why, Mike, be so dramatic? Because the idea behind this course should course through my veins, I am being desperate. I will be a teacher in a few short years. How can I teach my students anything if I have stopped learning? Or, if I say "I have my Facebook; that is enough?" Digital media and social networks are reshaping communication. If I don't "keep up," I run the risk of not knowing (this shows the fallibility of English. We have know for countless meanings. What do I mean? At least in portuguese, there are two words for know; this knowledge falls into the conhecer family.)
how best to reach them. This is all the time I have at the moment; class begins soon. I will post more in due time.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Atomic Age, Part 2

Going further with this discussion of the Atomic Age's propaganda, I found this website called Modern Mechanix. If you peruse their various articles, taken from papers and journals written in the 30's and 50's, you will see how technology shaped the World of Tomorrow. What does this all have to do with the Atomic Age?
As discussed in class today, the technological breakthroughs of the twentieth century are interconnected with aspects of war and the arms race. People embraced these modern conveniences, and even took them a step too far (see Pooch in the Automobile article on the above linked website for proof). Heck, we wouldn't have the Internet today if military forces didn't need a new connecting source.
What are some other conveniences we have today due to the technologies of the Atomic Age? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

A Call for Help

For my final piece in Creative Writing, I have decided to experiment with something Stephen King mentioned in his "memoir" On Writing. He encouraged writers to use music as a source of setting mood for a piece; if you want anger, blast Metallica. However, what would happen if you created your stories from the music itself?
My idea is to create a playlist on which I can create short stories based on the imagery and story I hear within the music, its movements and its lyrics. Here is where I need your help. Leave me suggestions of songs to put in my playlist.
Here are two songs I've already decided on. Hope you take the time to listen to them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Atomic Age in Media

Don't think the Atomic Age was a big deal? Look no further than Godzilla. Before then, no one had thought of giant lizards as being radioactively enlarged; they had come prepackaged. In 1954, Godzilla changed the world. One critic said, "Godzilla is pop culture's grandest symbol of nuclear apocalypse." Indeed, he is. Enjoy the trailer, though here's a warning: It is in Japanese.

After today's lecture, I realize how much this post missed the mark. The Atomic Age affected the entire political structure of the world. As the A and H bombs propelled the United States and Russia into a prolonged Cold War, both sides used media for their own use. For the second part of this post, I will focus on the United States' use of the "Atomic Age" to portray an Era of Technology and Prosperity.
When I think the Atomic Age, my mind turns to bombs first, then families. It was in the 1930's that the term Nuclear Family became popular. The television during the 1950's and 60's was inundated with Leave it to Beaver-esque families.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Economy Today and the Digital Age

Forewarning: This is not the best post in the world. I acknowledge that, so tread through it with mercy. Thank you.

I am currently sitting at a cubicle, a blue screen draped in the background. Another teacher is sick, and as I am the only other person in the office who understands how to teach NodaJuku classes, I will be in the office all night. What can I say but C'est la vie!

As I am tied up at work, I did not have enough time to go over the material about economy today; I don't know much about Keynse theory (or if I am spelling his name right). What I can say is how the economy is changing because of the digital age. I believe Keynse theorized that supply and demand was not the foundation of modern economy; rather, the market fluctuates on investment and consumerism. The digital age has proven this true with shopping.

Beforehand, if you wanted a specific shirt or LP, you had to either search for it around town. If the stores were out, there were only two options: special order or go without. Today, people don't have to leave their homes to shop. They can shop online for the things they want, and generally the supply across the world is limitless. So then, what drives the modern market? I don't know; perhaps you can comment and school me a little. What are your thoughts on the modern economy?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Final Project Website

I need to get this off my chest: I hate Google Sites! The user interface is confusing at times. I especially don't like having to exit the Edit interface in order to check for mistakes. Where is the preview option?

With that said, our team is preparing the website for our final project, Digital Literacy Without Borders. Here is a link to the site; I wrote the "What We're All About" page. I hope it gives a good idea of what we are trying to achieve with this project, and that it simply is not a means to a grade. I believe that all of us (Kristen, Parker, Sean and I) are invested in using digital tools to better improve our understanding of other cultures and our own. Hopefully we can take the spirit of Digital Literacy Without Borders to other parts of the world.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


ENIAC was a beast! Originally conceived to make ballistic charts, it led the computing world for several years. Here is an artice called The ENIAC Story, as told by Martin H. Weik, in 1961. In the story, Weik makes a point of ENIAC being an internally programmed computer. Take a look at this newsreel unveiling ENIAC to the American people.
Just as Babbage saw a chance to compute algorithms with the Difference machine, the government saw an opportunity to use computers to reshape war. Weik opines the computer "was provided by the extraordinary demand of war to find the solution to a task surpassing importance." This reminded me of something Dr. Zappala mentioned about the Internet. He said the Internet was created and owned by the United States' military and government for years. Is it just me, or is anyone else disturbed by the way technology seems to go hand in hand with war or industry? Or am I being pessimistic?

A Story Worth Telling

Recently, I began teaching English online to students in Korea and Japan, and I must say, The job is Boss! Last night between sessions, I talked with another employee, Danny, who told me a miraculous story of a Chinese student he tutors in the Salt Lake area. Granted, I do not know all the details (neither did Danny), but the idea behind the story is powerful. Notice I said idea, not moral.
Harrison is an abnormal student for the private school he attends. He is a wizard with chemistry and physics; he builds websites and creates animations from scratch. However, he struggles with history and English, because Harrison is an abnormal student. He is a refugee (for lack of a better word) from China. In authoritarian China, Harrison is a troublemaker in the works. In his 15 years, he has questioned, and his mother, fearing for him, remembered an old friend, a Scottish woman she had met who had moved to the Salt Lake area. Harrison's mother contacted her old friend, and together, they formulated a plan. Harrison would become an exchange student and come live with the family friend. Here, he could escape the pressures of Chinese rule and also receive a better education.
Which brings us to now. Harrison is here. He is studying. He struggles with the language, but as Danny told me last night, he is opening up. I can feign imagine what could have happened to him if Harrison stayed in China. I told Danny about my final project for Digital Civilization, and asked myself how Harrison's story fits into our class goals. I suppose Digital Media paved a way for Harrison to connect with Danny; they share a love of video games. The impetus behind the move comes from a mother who reacquainted herself with an old friend; she must have used e-mail or Skype to reconnect.
Now the family friend is trying to get the capital for an exchange student program, which will help bring teenagers from troubled parts of Asia to the United States. That way, they can escape government oppression, receive a better education, and also introduce a higher level of digital literacy. Students like Harrison and the Tibetan exiles that Kristen knows have a higher level of digital consumption than American students. The cross cultural perspective works with my final project: seeing how digital literacy works within other "developing" countries and their education systems. However, Harrison's story works within microfinancing as well. What could happen if that group got a hold of this Scottish woman's company, and gave out micro loans to bring students over here. What do you think? Is there a link, or am I looking for the trees in the forest?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Psychology, G. Stanley Hall, and Adolescence

I thank Dalton for his wonderful post "From Philosophy to Psychology." In it, he linked to a wonderful history of psychology, which I will not link to; you will have to go to there yourself. I was surprised to find G. Stanley Hall on the list.
It was Modern American Literature, 1915-60; Dr. Matthews introduced the course's theme: Adolescence. To introduce adolescence, she had us read the introduction to Adolescence. The author? G. Stanley Hall. He not only introduced psychology to America, but he advanced child development. From what I understand, until the late 19th century, most people thought of children and teens as miniature adults. Hall placed teens apart from both; he coined the term "storm and stress."
So, thanks G. Stanley Hall! You have given us a way to understand what teens don't know. Do you have an interesting story from your youth? If you tell, I'll tell one too.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Laugh Out Loud

Most of you don't know this, but I'm part of Laugh Out Loud, the improv comedy club on campus. It's similar to Whose Line is it Anyway? and ComedySportz. We have two Halloween shows this Saturday, one starting at the six and the other at eight. There's going to be a costume contest and laughter. Here's a link to the Facebook event. I hope to see some of you there!

An Hour with Brian Doyle

I just finished a lecture with the essayist Brian Doyle. I put my notes online, on my other blog. If you love stories or have an inkling for writing, read these notes. I guarantee you will like it.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Understanding Modernism

In order to understand Modernism, I have to share with you the theory of movements behind aesthetics. Whenever there is a major movement in art or literature, there is a major paradigm shift in the world. For example, Romanticism happened as a reaction to the Industrial Revolution; American Realism occurred as a result of the American Civil War and as a rejection of Romanticism.
In Modernism, the chief historical thrust behind its movement was the First World War. Think about it; for the first time, machines are being used to effectively wipe out thousands of men. War became more brutal and dehumanized, with the advent of chemical warfare, machine guns and tanks. This detachment is found in the works of T.S. Eliot ("The Waste Land"), Ezra Pound ("Canto XLV") and Wassily Kandinsky (I would link to one of his paintings, but none are in the public domain). Their works are elevated; they desired to detach art from the masses. Instead of being beautiful for beauty's sake, Modernist demanded that art be art for art's sake. If one doesn't understand, then it is their fault.
As I remembered all those literary discussions on Modernism, I began to wonder how it works or is apparent in today's digital culture. Are there people or companies that elevate their computing language so as to become detached? Is social media leading to a detachment of real and viable relationships? Please leave your thoughts in the comments.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Month In

I started working for Eleutian Technologies a month ago, and let me tell you, it's boss! Eleutian is part of the growing E Learning community. With this company, I connect with students in South Korea and Japan through Skype, and teach them English.

Let me detail a typical lesson for you:
10:00 PM: make my way into the office
10:05 PM: log into Skype, make sure my recorder is working and that video is clear
10:10 PM: Enter into the Korean website (in English!), where I find my lesson plans
10:11 PM: For the next hour and ten minutes, I go over lesson plans, locate images and cards to help teach the phonetics, check my time, think up crazy games for the kids, double check my lessons
11:19 PM: With just thirty seconds to go, I call my first class. It is a group of ten year olds just learning English. I start class.
11:50 PM: I finish my class, and made the most of the games. I make a quick review of the lesson, self-deprecating along the way. This is done quickly, because I only have four and a half minutes before my next class.
11:54 PM: Same as 11:19, except the class is now composed of twelve year olds. My lesson is completely different, and my vocabulary changes.
12:25 PM: Last class ends. The kids laugh at my inability to pronounce Korean names, so they give me "English" names. I swallow my pride and make my final report.

That is just a brief glimpse into what I do. I also teach one on one sessions with older students, where we just talk and work on sentence structures. I am beginning a new shift where I will talk to teachers and give them tips on teaching English as a Second Language.
Sure the hours are rough (anywhere from 5 PM- 9 AM), but I can't think of a better job. With my decision to become an English teacher, Eleutian is giving me opportunities to prepare to teach, specifically students from a foreign language background. That is just a small case; the big deal resides within. I am learning about myself, my pedagogical views and desire to teach professionally. It is frustrating sometimes, but I love what I do. And at the end of the day, that is the motivation behind teaching. It isn't the money; it's the desire to make the world better, one student or class at a time.

Digital Lab: Thumbscribes

Are you an aspiring author? Or, do you have some things you need off your chest? Then thumbscribes is the site for you.
Thumbscribes is a collaborative writing website, where you can begin a poem, haiku, short story, novella, etc., and have others contribute until the finished project. I created a login name, and decided to create something. So, I started a haiku entitled "Open Source." I wrote, "Struggling for new life," and this is what happened (with commentary!):
Open Source
Struggling for new life, (I know. A little hokey, but I just wanted to start something)
A peer to peer production, (Contributed by another; a pretty good follow up to the initial idea)
Gun pointed at you (What?!! Who jumped the shark?)

Upside to this site is you can co-create literature with other people. It allows you to connect ideas into something new and unique. The flipside is sometimes what you envision does not transpire. When I think Open Source, I don't randomly put "Gun pointed at you."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Being a Latter Day Saint Today

Yesterday, I received news the Elder Christofferson dedicated Angola to the preaching of the Gospel. While there are about 900 members there in three congregations, the official opening of the doors happened now. I am glad for this, because Angola is part of my mission: the Mozambique Maputo Mission. It brings me joy to know that missionaries can now go over with more fervor than before, to preach the gospel to my dear African friends.
While I have never been to Angola, I take comfort in this news. Being a Latter Day Saint in today's digital world means becoming part of the global church. There are stakes scattered across the globe, where faithful members congregate and share in the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where I use to send letters to members in Mozambique, I now use Facebook to talk to them. (I know that makes me seem old, but I have been home for four years. That's how much social media has changed.) I can even Skype.
That the church has used technology to further the Lord's work is amazing to me. I was not in class today, but Kristen told me about the full time missionaries whose sole purpose is to do online work. When she told me, I felt a confirmation of the Spirit; this is God's work. How grateful I am to live in a day and age where Jesus Christ's gospel can go the world over.
Here's a picture from the beginning of my mission:

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Evolution and Medicine

I work in the Widstoe Building on the weekends doing minor janitorial work. That's the way I like to keep my relationship with science: on an acquaintance level. After reading Origins of Species, my mind went back to my acquaintance and a comic strip posted there. It is on a professor's door, I believe on the seventh floor, and it depicts a doctor talking to a patient about TB. The doctor asks his reeling patient if he believes in evolution and whether he would like the disease treated as it once was or as it is today.
That was a really awkward sentence, so let me break it down for you. Diseases are evolving at a rapid pace. It seems that once a new vaccine comes out for TB (Not Tampa Bay!), a new, more deadly or contagious strain arises. Flu is another example of this rapid evolution; in the early twentieth century, it was Spanish flu that caused death and quarantine. Now, populations the world over fear for both avian and swine flu. Even though we have shots, thousands die around the world from the flu.
Science is desperately trying to combat new forms of old threats by understanding their evolutionary patterns, but my question is: Is it worth it? Could man's attempt to vaccinate be causing some of the problems?

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dirty Dash: the "Evolution" of Running

I forgot to post this picture after the race, but here's my team after the Dirty Dash in September. Hope you enjoy it.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What I'm Reading Right Now

After listening to him read on Friday, I bought a book of poetry by Tomaz Salamun. He is a Slovenian poet and the book I bought is Woods and Chalices.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lyrical Ballads: A Letter to Wordsworth

I would like to thank Kristen and Bri for their presentations on Lyrical Ballads. After reading it, I went to Goodreads to voice my opinion. You may call it a rant, but it is my review of the piece. I fashioned the review in an epistolary fashion. I pasted it here into my blog, but you can also go to my Goodreads widget and click on my review. Who knows? We might become friends on this literary community.

Lyrical Ballads, 1798Lyrical Ballads, 1798 by William Wordsworth

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Oh Wordsworth,
How you and I have battled through these years. Ever since that fateful trip to a Daffodil farm in seventh grade have I stuggled to understand your Romanticism. Even now, as I review your first book Lyrical Ballads, I must admit I entered with hesitation. I found some of your poems to be bemusing; I especially enjoyed "Lines Written at a Small Distance From My House." I know the importance of viewing nature, in (how did you describe it?) idleness.
Your writings, Wordsworth, are masterpieces for Romanticism. They should be read and analyzed by English students the world over. Sadly, my critique is that I don't particularly enjoy it. I understand your frustration at this admission of bias, but I feel that it must be said. You may tell Coleridge that I enjoyed "The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere" very much.

A Jaded Voice from the Twenty First Century

View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Boolean Logic

Aside from having a rocking name, Boolean logic underlies the digital revolution. Essentially, the logic works by simplifying and "[buildings] combinations that will implement any digital component you can imagine." This implementations happen through specific "gates:" not, and, or, nor, nand, xor, and xnor. Explaining these gates would make this post too long, so I'll place the link right here.

As you go through these ideas, I wonder how I might simplify my life through these algorithms. Instead of looking at each decision through it various "outcomes," what if I looked at it as a yes and/or no situation?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Four Necessities of Life

According to Thoreau in Walden, man only needs four things: Food, Shelter, Clothing and Fuel. Everything else is luxury, and Thoreau wrote:
Most of the luxuries, and many of the so-called comforts of life, are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind (11).
I'm wondering how true his statements are. Aren't human interactions a necessity, or is it a luxury to have friends? Is this concept part of Shelter? I know that even though he went to the woods to experience a primitive life, Thoreau also entertained friends from Concord.

Quote and book found on publicliterature.org. Like the Gutenberg Project, they are digitizing thousands of free books. Check them out for your favorites!
Photo found on talkingtree.com

Rapid Reactions

I just finished skimming our reading for today:
1. A friend mentioned reading "Democracy in America" to me yesterday, and here it is in my reading. I disagree with what de Tocqueville wrote on American's desire to find the shortest route to happiness. I believe it is the idea of social mobility and individualism that drives the American, not "the pursuit of worldly wealth."
2. I find the idea of the frontier shaping American thought more than Atlantic principles interesting and refreshing. In a state government class at Kilgore Community College, my professor broke down voting patterns into three categories: community (the North), aristocracy (the South), and individual (Everywhere Else).
3. I had a different experience from Thoreau in the forest. I spent a week in Canada by myself, but found that I couldn't think straight. Either my thought process is whack, or I didn't take to my task like Thoreau did. Maybe next time, I'll take a copy of "Civil Disobedience."
4. I liked "Civil Disobedience." It reinforced ideas that I've had before, but never had the moral constitution to enact those kind of principles.

There you have it. I also found this quick video on American Expansion. Enjoy

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Let's Talk Romanticism

That's right people. Let's talk some Romanticism: put on some Teddy Pendergrass, dim the lights down low, and forget the Industrial Revolution. Pull out some Goethe, Browning or Longfellow, although, nothing gets the mood against industrialization going like some snippets of Wordsworth. Here's "The World is Too Much With Us," read by Samuel Godfrey George.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Some Book Ideas

Here are some of the books that have sparked my interested, although what my fellow classmates think should be taken into consideration. These are a few of my interests:

Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 by Stephen E. Ambrose
I love trains, and the building of the Transcontinental Railroad opened up American expansion. It is also over 600 pages long, and has a reputation of historical inconsistencies. Maybe this book would best suit my personal library.

The Fatal Environment: The Myth of the Frontier in the Age of Industrialization, 1800- 1890 by Richard Slotkin.
Here are two ideas I would not put together. Slotkin theorizes that the American image of the lone cowboy is an allegory of territorial expansion. Once again, here is a book that is over 600 pages, and the limited time of this assignment (two weeks!) facilitates that such a book be shelved (do you see the word play?! Love it.).

More likely to read:
The Blithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Hawthorne explores the doomed commune of Blithedale against a backdrop of social and cultural issues of the 19th century.

My Antonia by Willa Cather
An immigrant's story, Antonia comes from Bavaria to Nebraska. Underlying her story is Jim's transition from the country (agrarian) to the city (industrialization). Good read.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I now have a class in Korea, which I will begin teaching this Wednesday. I "meet" my Korean counterpart tomorrow night during a Skype meeting at 10 PM my time. Starting in mid October, I will be teaching a group of Japanese students.
As a side note, I guess this teaching job will be the great experiment to see if I can connect with people through a digital medium. Will they listen to me if I'm not physically present?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Digital Scaffolding

As I think about final projects for this class, my mind goes back to scaffolding. Scaffolding in learning means that a group of students with different levels and skills in a concept will, if placed together, learn the whole idea faster than alone. An example of this would be three students living in a foreign land. None of them know the language fluently. However, Student 1 is good at identifying cognates, Student 2 knows verb conjugation, and Student 3 has an ability to understand sentence structure. If they work together, they will learn the language faster and become more fluent than if they stayed alone. Now, this is common sense (at least to me), but how does this transition to Personal Learning Networks and Digital Literacy?

I have a few ideas of how this correlates, but I would like to hear from you. What do you think?

Photo from the Commons on Flickr.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Democracy and Stuff

How truly free are we under our republic? I know several strung out acquaintances would yell "Legalize Pot!" at this moment to express their disapproval for America's form of government. Others would cite existing gun laws or abortion as proof for or against democracy. But I wonder how well they or I understand these principles.
John Locke wrote in "Of The State of Nature," "A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is mutual, no one having more than another ... But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license; though man in that state has an unrestricted liberty to dispose of his person or possessions ... no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions" (69). What does this mean?
My high school government teacher summed it up this way. He said, "We have laws because my rights and liberties might infringe upon your rights and liberties." I don't readily understand all democratic principles that Locke, Rousseau, Burke, and Jefferson espoused centuries ago. I do know that Mr. Berry was on to something. Anyone have a suggestion for a book on democracy for imbeciles like me?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Quick Review

Let me take this post to recap what I've learned thus far in Digital Civilization.
-Transition from Ptolemaic to Copernican system shifted authority; similar to shift from Britannica to Wikipedia
-Humanists elevated the power of words; Microsoft Word doesn't compare, but I use it anyway
-Metadata details and categorizes data; metafiction attempts to define the importance of writing fiction
-Open source is interesting, and I am still trying to grasp the concept surrounding the idea
-Protestantism and Personal Learning Networks work in a similar fashion; both break from traditions (Catholicism and traditional organizations) to create something new. I posted about this earlier.
-I read Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam to understand the decline of traditional organizations, but I took his ideas further into the digital age.
-I interviewed and was hired for a job teaching English using Skype.

Digital media or concepts that I've tried so far this semester:
-Google Blog Search
-Crowdsourcing (Goodreads and Amazon)
-Just Paste It
-Google Docs publishing
-Edit Html on Blogger
-Flickr Commons and the Commons on Wikimedia

Monday, September 27, 2010

Abundance and Scarcity

I just finished reading this post on Economics, and couldn't help but see a contradiction. Namely, I saw the shift from necessity (scarcity) to abundance. While there is an abundance of consumer products that came with the Industrial and Digital revolutions, the prices for staples (food especially) are rising. Some may chalk this up to inflation, but there is a scarier trend happening.
Recently Mozambicans rioted because of rising food prices(see picture above); hundreds were injured. CNN wrote an article on "food security;"I'm still not sure what that means. However, I realize the implication. While we have abundance in bandwidth and other technological goods, food and water are becoming scarce. Here's another article about the problems we're facing.
Are there people using today's technology to enhance food productivity, other than genetically enhanced fish or pigs?

Who is This?

CNN says it is Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, but doesn't it look like this man?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Swagger of Life

If we haven't met in real life, I must admit I sport a sick 'stache. Because of Dressing and Grooming Standards at BYU, I am limited in the amount of facial hair, and was somewhat hesitant about the moustache. I denoted it to creepers and jerks from 80's movies. Then I tried it, and life changed.

There is a certain lifestyle associated with moustaches. Like wearing cowboys boots, a moustache brings a change of pace; it sets the individual apart from the world. I enter into a brotherhood with Burt Reynolds, Charles Bronson, and Tom Selleck, amongst others. I want to share this brotherhood with you.
I recently joined a group on Facebook called the BSS. It is completely devoted to Boots, Staches, and Sweaters. I'm sending an invitation to you.

Man's Need for Labeling

This cartoon came to mind when I read d'Alembert's thoughts on Language. In the light of Saussure, d'Alembert is an idealist with linguistic signs. He sees the evolutions of language as embodying man's need to convey abstract thought with clarity.
But how clear is language? Does the word dog look like a dog, or is it an arbitrary collection of linguistic signs we have readily accepted as defining a canine?
In my postmodern American literature last year, we discussed the fallibility of language. I thought of this during my creative writing class, and reinforced the thought when reading the Preliminary Discourse.
For the record, I love language. It's the best we've got, but I think it important to question just how effective our communicative skills are, especially when facing a digital world that has multiple languages and variations of language. It would be interesting to look into the digital language that is being created to overcome these communicative hurdles. Any ideas?

Just Paste It

I follow a blog entitled Free Technology for Teachers, and they mentioned a website called Just Paste It. With it, you can cut and paste texts, video, images, etc., which they make into notes. I tested it out by making this note for Diedorot's thoughts on Dreams.
Compared with Diigo, Just Paste It doesn't hit the mark. While the concept is cool (making individual notes to share with friends), I cannot tell if there is way of tracking notes, other than keeping track on a blog. With Diigo, you have a Library where your bookmarks are found.
Then again, I might be comparing apples and oranges. Maybe they are two different sites and function in different ways. I invite you to try the website out for yourself. Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Publishing with Google Docs

I read Autumn's post about reading The Road, which for the record is one of my favorite novels of all time. I couldn't help but think of an essay I wrote for my English Teaching application. I published it using Google Docs (never new you could publish web pages with Google Docs. The things you learn in this class.) Here is the link. I would love to hear your thoughts on this essay; I can make another post about it.

In Conversation with Kurt and Francis

Kurt posted an interesting thought: With the democratization of learning on the internet, is it necessary to go to college and receive a degree? He concluded that it was still necessary, but what intrigued me was the segue into tomorrow's topic.
Francis Bacon wrote a new Scientific method, one based on observation and inductive reasoning. He also warned of the four idols: tribe, cave, market place, and theater. I believe Bacon would answer Kurt's question the same way, and he would base his argument with the Idol of the Cave. To Bacon, a man left alone to gather knowledge distorts reality, adding his own misinterpretations to truth. Likewise, today a man can learn as much as he desires on the Internet, but without the proper training (college), he cannot help but distort it. While there are cases of self made geniuses, they are the exceptions, not the rules.
So what I'm trying to say with this post is "Go to college and get the training you need. Don't live in a cave."

An Opportunity

I just received a call from Eleutian technology, setting up an interview to be a teacher! I cannot think of a job more in line with this class's theme. If I'm hired, I will be teaching English to students in Korea, China, Dhubai, Japan, etc., via Skype. When I first arrived at BYU, I had dreams of teaching overseas after graduation, but with this job, I can teach while studying here.
I'm a little nervous, because this is my first time using Skype, but I take comfort in Kristen and several others who are trying new things. I'm hoping for the best, but we'll see.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Quick Thoughts

1. I won't be in class today, so if everyone can write down impressions (as they see fit) on their blogs, I'll be most appreciative. I was going to ask for notes, but if we're doing what Dr. Burton and Dr. Zapala want, I won't need notes.
2. There is a company in Provo that uses Skype to teach English to students in Korea, China, Japan and several other areas. I have a video interview with them as soon as I can get my webcam to work. If anyone else is interested in this venture, they are hiring. Click here to turn in an application and become a teacher.
3. Interesting that we are talking about strong central governments and the digital world. It seems that the Internet is pretty democratized (except in Iran, China and a few other places), but I'm curious if there are strong central authorities in this new world? If you have an idea, comment on this post.

Open Source and the Talmud

A few months ago, I read The Talmud and the Internet by Jonathan Rosen. I reviewed it in an earlier post. That review is from a teacher and deconstructed perspective, but what after last class, I've thought of it a different way.
The Talmud and the Open Source movement are similar in an interesting way. Any rabbi can add on to the Talmud, but he or she must enter into training and earn a certain level of reputation. Then their writings are listed alongside centuries of others around the original text, which is then read and pondered by faithful members of the covenant.
Likewise, the source code is open to anyone, but it takes experts to look for bugs and clean up. While I can consume their software, I do not have the expertise to enter the source code; it takes training, much like the rabbis with the Talmud, to enter that conversation.
I recommend reading this short novel to anyone who is interested in the ties that bind or in the idea of an "open" book or source.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Protestant Reformation and Digital Isolation

I thought I would kill two birds with one stone. I recently posted about PLN's, and received some interesting comments. Eric's comments about the paradox of the digital age (vicarious connection while isolated) led me to rethink a few of my thoughts; I also want to acknowledge Jeff's suggestion for reading Bowling Alone by Robert Putnam. I'll try to place these ideas into the lens of what Luther and the Reformist desired.

From my understanding, Martin Luther wanted to focus people's faith on the grace and Word of God, instead of the priest as the go between. His 95 theses centered on three main points: man is justified by faith alone, every man has direct access to God, and the Bible is the sole authority. You can hear these tenets in the hymn assigned. Why then, with these isolationist ideas, did the Protestants feel compelled to create churches? If man is justified by faith alone, why does he meet with others of his faith?

This is where Luther and PLN's come parallel. Even though the Protestants believed these tenets, they knew man must have a society. Salvation may be between man and God, but man needs one another to keep the faith. I believe the same idea applies with digital media. In most instances (such as now), people sit alone, writing on blogs, hoping for a communication of sorts. Hopefully they receive this communication, but this digital revolution, like the Protestant Reformation, has not completely destroyed the need for society. I can communicate with Mozambicans through Facebook and Skype, but I also have a network of friends here with whom I have dinner and laughs. It is all about balancing the ideas of the past (church and community) with the Reformations and Revolutions of today (individual salvation and digital communication).

Crowdsourcing and Goodreads

For my digital project, I looked into crowdsourcing, which is a term I did not know. In laymen's terms, crowdsourcing is adding to a growing online project, be it a review on Amazon or an article on Wikipedia. It allows consumers and critics alike an opportunity to opine.
Once I understood what crowdsourcing is, I realized I have actually contributed to a website of this nature: Goodreads. It is a website where you can review and rate books that you have read, are reading, or want to read. A professor introduced me to Goodreads last year, and while I've slacked in adding new reviews, I wrote one today on Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
A nice feature with Goodreads is the widget that you can add to your blog. That way, readers of your blog can see what you think of current books. I'm adding a widget right now. Look for it on the right side of my page.
It is easy to add on to these websites; all you need is a membership (and those are mostly free). Plus, with websites like Goodreads and YouTube, a Google account works as your membership.
Are there other instances when you have crowdsourced?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Unintended Consequence

I just finished reading Kristi's post on Screencasting. This is not my first time seeing Jing, but she did a great job showing another technology with it. After watching her tutorial on Wordle, I decided to make my own. Thanks Kristi, for showing Jing so well, and for motivating me to try Wordle along the way.
Wordle: My Blog

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Humor U Show

If you are like me, you haven't finalized plans for this weekend. Maybe you have a date planned, but you haven't the faintest what to do. If you want an idea, try this out. Check out Humor U's Best of Spring and Summer Show.
Humor U is BYU's stand up comedy club, and they're ridiculously funny. I've had the pleasure to write jokes with them, so one day I can perform. Until then, take my advice and go see them. Tickets are being sold at the Wilkinson Center's Information Desk.

Leave a comment on this post. That way we can compare notes.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Personal Learning Networks

Have you ever felt like the Reverend Al Green here?

Well, you're not alone. Learning alone is tiresome and lonely. Luckily, with the advent in technology, we don't have to be alone during our education. What Dr. Zapala said during lecture has kept with me; there was a time when you could slip into class, turn in your homework, and not have to interact with other students or the teacher. That is not the case today. Professors ask students to frequently pair up to tackle tougher principles. That's where Personal Learning Networks (PLN's) begin.
Personal Learning Networks are your group of friends, professors, professional associates, blogger buddies, etc. who you turn to when you need help or want to learn something new. You can create your own through classes, blog searches, and Google Reader. For instance, I follow my PLN through Google Reader and Facebook; every time someone posts, I know and can read their ideas. That's the beauty of the class we're in: we can create and connect with people from all over campus and the world who share similar goals.
Doesn't it feel good to know you're not alone?

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Twist on Humanism

As I was reading Mirandola's Manifesto on Humanism, I was struck with the difference between the Humanism of now and then. Today, many humanists disregard or distance themselves from any faith or belief in God. In contrast, Mirandola espouses a different idea for man's role. I cite:
God the Father, Supreme Architect of the Universe, built this home, this universe we see all around us, a venerable temple of his godhead, through the sublime laws of his ineffable Mind. The expanse above the heavens he decorated with Intelligences, the spheres of heaven with living, eternal souls. The scabrous and dirty lower worlds he filled with animals of every kind. However, when the work was finished, the Great Artisan desired that there be some creature to think on the plan of his great work, and love its infinite beauty, and stand in awe at its immenseness.

God created man so that he may look upon his universe and find out about this "venerable temple of his godhead." How then, does this idea of humanism work out for our class journey? Just like God's creations, we have this wonderful digital universe, full of good and evil. And we should think about the beauty surrounding us today. There is so much that man can use, if we're willing to contemplate our ability to create.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Social Learning and Individual Discovery

This blog post might not make much sense, but bare with me as I answer a few questions and put down a few thoughts:
Danny, I took that picture while I was camping in southern Alberta this summer. It is the Red Rock Canyon in Waterton Lakes National Park. Here's another from that trip:

Dr. Burton, I would be happy to teach about PLN's or Google Reader, whichever you would like.
Kristen, I'm going to research Google Wave more and let you know my take on it.
Everyone, if you would like, I also keep a personal blog. Look at my bloglist and you should find it.
That's everything for questions, but now I want to dive into what we discussed in Digital Civ today. We discussed the personal and social aspects of learning, but as we counseled, I couldn't help but feel that they are intrinsically connected. Individually we are all different: different majors, life goals, experiences, etc. What brings us together into this class or society is a desire to learn. With Facebook and these blogs, we are learning from one another in a similar fashion to Vygotsky's ladder. We all bring different backgrounds and levels of digital literacy to the table and in turn we help all learn and expand. This digital learning wouldn't be possible without each individual's unique take on digital culture. What are some of the goals you all have in taking this class? In other words, what do you want to take from this experience?

A Little Behind the Times?

I notice the time on my computer (7:49 am) and realize I have but ten minutes to hastily post on the assignment today. I read Ariel's post about Copernicus and found the correlation between Brian Regan's joke and Copernicus's struggles to find an audience intriguing. The child in the joke woke up to deliver his terribly prepared science project, only to find everyone else's to have been prepared by their parents.
How did Copernicus feel, preparing his theories (which were much better prepared!), only to have the Ptolemaic kids have their parents prepare theirs? As Ariel pointed out, "The big blue one is the Earth" doesn't have the same feeling to it.
But this idea contrasts with the Utopian piece. The narrator is amazed when the Utopians take to learning from the Greeks. However, there is a slight feeling of sarcasm or satire running through More. Is he truly admiring the idea of information dissemination, or is he poking fun at the current trend of rediscovery?
It is now 8:00 in the AM.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Redesigning and Re-Tooling this Blog... and Life

Hey all,
My name's Mike and this is a "new," old blog. I originally began this blog for an information class last semester, so if you scroll through my older posts, you'll find class projects and musings about using technology in the classroom. Now, with the advent of this Digital Civilization course, I've taken it upon myself to not only redefine this blog, but to shift my own learning paradigms.
I expect to stretch myself with this class. In fact, while looking over Google reader today, I found an new challenge for students involving blogging. While some may say I've taken the easy way out by using an older blog, I signed up for this ten week challenge to improve my blogging skills and increase my PLN (personal learning network). I feel good about this decision; I just hope some of you will join me in this venture.

Mike Lemon

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Moving Beyond Grades

I just finished reading a post on Microcosm, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs. She describes a troublesome student who doesn't take the time to get tutor, but still insists on arguing grade points with her. As I read, I couldn't help but think on how I will react to this behavior. It is inevitable; there will be students who will argue the grade points without putting in the required work.
I feel the first step to move past this behavior is to help students and myself look past the grade. In a way, grading is arbitrary. I have been in enough English classes to know that each teacher expects something different in their essays. Some focus on cohesion, others on MLA citations, sentence structure, word count, the list goes on. I go to each new class with this knowledge, and come out of it modeling the paper's structure to that teacher's specific paradigm. I had to change my writing to that teacher's expectations, and it is in that process that learning happened. The grade is an outward expression of what teachers expect out of their students.
Seeing grades in this way, as an outward expression of cognitive growth, should become the focus of the classroom. To make this happen, I need to relate to my students my expectations with each assignments. I can demonstrates these core objectives through specific criteria. If there are issues, I need to meet with that student, and help him/her see what I'm looking for in the paper. In this way (and clearly this is theoretical), I can show students that the assignments work toward a learning goal, instead of an end grade.
What do you all think? What can teachers do to help students look past grades?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Final Reflections and a Few Comments Misplaced

As we wind down the semester, it's time to get nostalgic about what we learned. I believe the most important principle I took from this class is that students are learning differently. Just as there is a tremendous paradigm shift from chalkboards to interactive white boards, students are learning better in social environments than the traditional lecture. As a teacher, I have to adapt accordingly, and shift the classroom from "How can I teach this?" to "How did I learn this?" By acting more as a moderator instead of lecturer, I can guide students to learn the core principles, not just vomit them back onto a test.
I went and visited the achievements of my classmates, and was able to comment on the majority. All in all, I was impressed with what they were doing. A few people I wasn't able to comment (I believe comments are blocked on the blog) or find their final presentations, but I'll comment here. Sorry it wasn't on your blog, hence the misplacement. Madison's class website is impressive. She knows what she wants her students to achieve, and she relays that to them in an effective manner. Plus, it's a classy template. Melissa has a great looking blog, and I was impressed by her multimedia presentation, and what went into it. While I'm not a dancer, I can see using that technology in helping students streamline their writing process.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

My Crowning Achievement!

Well, maybe not the crowning achievement, but I do feel proud of this video I set up for the Multimedia Project. I hope you enjoy it, and give me some feedback! You may also like my podcast, which can be found on my website.

Wiki Assignment

I just finished editing my page on the class's Wikispaces Wiki, and I have to say that was easier than the google site I set up for my own class website. For future reference, I will use Wikispaces for my classroom websites. It seems more manageable, and the idea that students can edit portions of it intrigues me. It goes back to the idea of social learning which all these technologies bring to the surface. Helping students help each other is the sign of a great teacher, because a great teacher motivates his or her students, not lecture.
My contribution to the Wikispaces Wiki is Mike Lemon's Podcasts. You will find my lesson plan for my Personal Technology Project, as well as the soundtrack to my video. I learned while doing these podcasts that, if I use Audioboo for the RSS feed, the recording must be under five minutes. I incorporated the time constraints into the lesson plan. Since I am not taking classes during the summer, I might record some more podcasts, just to make sure I understand the technology.
For the second portion of this assignment, I am amazed at how my Personal Learning Network grew during the semester. Because of good blogs, I found other blogs where I found ideas for classroom activities, as well as free technology. On the Wikispaces, I added links to these two blogs: Classroom as Microcosm, and Free Technology for Teachers.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Review for The Talmud and the Internet

Recently for my postmodern literature class, I read The Talmud and the Internet: A Journey between Worlds by Jonathan Rosen, and I found it fascinating. In it, Rosen discusses the similarities between the Talmud, a collection of rabbinical discourses expanding across centuries about the written word of God, and the Internet, a massive beast of information that spans the entire world. For Rosen, the two entities encompass the idea that truth does not necessarily have a physical center. For the Jews, the physical center -the temple -was destroyed, but they have the word, which has been passed on. The Talmud represents the transition from the people of the temple to the people of the word. Similarly, the Internet gives us an example of the great paradigm shift, from physical centers of information and knowledge (books, libraries, universities, etc.), to a democratized virtual centers of information (Wikipedia anyone?)
As I read the book, I couldn't help but think on this class, and what I have to do as a teacher. The question that pervades in my mind is "Where will I center my classes?" Kids learn in a different way than I did in school. Should I stick to my guns, and force them to research solely in libraries? Or should I allow them the liberty of using sources from the Internet?
I believe the best path here is in the middle. Kids should learn to find reliable sources off the Internet, from JSTOR to blogs (like this one, perhaps?), but also they should learn the value of libraries, and finding that book. But enough from me, what do you guys think of this?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Conversation with a Niece

In light of my recent searches about internet safety, I called my niece, who will remain nameless. While she is still in grade school, she has not escaped bullying, and I fear that, as she grows older, she may encounter more and more viral bullying. We have talked before about bullying, how it isn't ever right to say bad things about others, and when others are mean, we should pay them no mind. In our recent chat, I tried to show her the difference between what's real and what's fake. Things that are real are bruises, kicks, and such, and that she should avoid fighting, if possible. Fake things are words, gossip and mean faces, which only become real if we think about them too long. I told her that the fake can hurt, but if you pay them no mind, fake things can go away. I told her that there will always be people who love her, and that trumps anything someone can say.
Most importantly, we talked about being nice. She loves to draw, play, and take care of people. She also has a temper when provoked, so we talked about how being nice, whether in person or online, won't lead her down the wrong path. We talked about how she should never hit back or say mean things, even when the other person deserves it.
It was good to talk to her, and I feel that's something that all parents or responsible adults should do. Granted, I am being idealistic in this regard, but shouldn't we teach kids to treat each other with respect?

Internet Safety and Cyberbullying

As I watched the voicethread for last week, I remembered a case pending down in Florida that involved cyberbullying. Because the victim had posted some ugly remarks on her Myspace page, the defendants decided retribution was best served cold, and then posted on Youtube. It's disgusting to think that kids are capable of such violence, but there's an increase in violent movies being uploaded to Youtube. Don't believe me? Just type in girl fight at Youtube and see for yourself.
There is no denying that cyberbullying is a new beast that we, as teachers, need to address. Everything from gossip to social pressure to nude pics, cyberbullying is incredibly pervasive in the classrooms and the lives of students. It has led to countless acts of violence, as well as arrests for the sending of child pornography, in the case of sexting or sending nude pics. How then should teachers address this topic?
A website I found that could help younger teens, I would say fifth to eighth graders, is That's Not Cool. It has a section called two-sided story, where separate videos give both sides of the story, and teens can voice their opinions at the end. I found it a great tool for younger kids, who are increasingly being exposed to cyberbullying and social pressures. For older students, I found a couple of articles I read could help them see the importance of acting right online. If they can understand the gravity of Facebook posts in regards to getting a job, they might think twice about looking overaggressive in their status. While this may not help all students, it might deter a few from making stupid mistakes that could affect their future.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Thoughts of the IIC Finalists and Social Learning

I just finished looking over the videos from those students brave enough to enter the Innovative Instructional Competition held by the McKay College of Education, and I have a few thoughts about them. First off, I am amazed by the different ideas proposed by my fellow students. I would have been put to shame if I had entered. Lewis and Alyssa's presentation interested me the most. I have used Google Docs before in collaborating ideas between students, but Google Wave makes more sense. The real time aspect in it is intriguing. I'm going to take a look into it.

The main theme I found throughout the videos is the idea of social learning. Returning back to my school days, I remember group projects as being few and far between. However, I consistently find that, if I work in a group, collectively the group learns more effectively. I understand the "con" of group learning: kids won't focus, more time spent talking than learning, blah blah blah. That is, to an extent, true but, in the course of the conversation, the students will bounce ideas off one another. Brainstorming (which I hated as a high school student) can be incorporated into this shift. Teachers can assign students 5 minutes to think out a topic on their own, and then 15-20 minutes in a group, considering ideas. At this time, the teacher can bring in Mindmeister or Google Wave, as a way for students to map out their ideas in a more cohesive manner than loose leaf paper.
The question becomes, at least in my mind, "How do I encourage social learning in the classroom?" I mentioned above brainstorming. Another way is peer editing. In this exercise, students come together to read their papers to one another; in lieu of printing off multiple copies of the paper, the teacher can create a Google Doc or Wave for each students paper. As the students read the paper together, they should be encouraged to comment -either vocally or within the Wave -about the paper. In all this, the teacher should have a specific rubric that the students follow in critiquing one another's papers, such as identifying the thesis, cohesive paragraphs, good citations, well argued point, etc.
My hopes with social learning is that students make the most of their education. I fear that sometimes teachers go on power trips, and attempt to prove their mental superiority to the kids. They forget the reason they became teachers: to help students become, through education, something more.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Now That My Video is Approved!

So, when I uploaded my video to TeacherTube, I was unaware that there was an approval time needed for it. I just checked on it, and I felt good about the final product. So far, it's been viewed 5o odd times, so cheers to me. Without further ado, here is "Theme for English B."

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Few Thoughts

My video is uploading to TeacherTube at the moment, so I decided to take this time to write down a few thoughts about these processes. I found during the making of this crudely constructed and barely feasible montage of images from Harlem and Hughes that the lessons I learned making my podcast came in handy. Because I learned Audacity for sound mixing, I easily lay the poem and underlying music. Plus, my knowledge of the Commons in Wikimedia sent me every single one of the images I used in the presentation. By the end, I was both frustrated (due to my computer freezing a few times before I could save) and elated that I made a movie! It's something I can stress to my students: it's easier than you think.

Well, there's two cents for y'all. The movie has finished uploading, so I embed it onto the blog shortly. Take care, and leave some comments for me. That way I can improve.