Monthly Archives: January 2011

Art of Listening

Two weeks ago, if you asked me my opinion about synchronous learning tools I would probably roll my eyes and scrunch my nose as if smelling something very distasteful. Ugh, Elluminate needs Java, it’s a tech support headache. Students like flexibility and it’s a bit narcissitic of the prof to think that all the learning must happen through them.  Yeah, I know it has its uses but I’m not a fan.

I *am* a fan of listening to music while I work, though. So when Grant Potter set up a distributed, freeform, collective radio station from his DropBox account, I tuned in.

Listening to a bunch of shared mp3s is not much different than sharing the iTunes library of the other folks in my wifi-network-node in the other offices near mine. But ds106 radio is so much more than that.

Yes, I am thoroughly impressed with Grant’s technical prowess to get this up in running so quickly. Yes, I am equally impressed with Jim Groom’s apparent “cult of personality” that manages to mobilize so many people to start contributing in so many varied and interesting ways. But alone that wasn’t what jilted my brain on the issue of synchronous learning.

It happened when I heard live streaming voices- singing, talking laughing, discussing- woven into crafted sets of mp3s.

This moved the file-sharing experience beyond a file-listening experience into a file-listening-AND-sharing experience. With Twitter, I could see people REACT to what they were hearing. And I was hearing the same thing at the same time. I laughed out loud more than once. From people I had never met. People from all over the globe. There were more goosebumps.

It felt familiar. It made me nostalgic. At first it was like one of those wild forbidden boonie bush parties I used to go to in high school. It was fun. There were people I knew and there were strangers too. There was music and conversation. I thought of each of the people listening at any given moment- sharing that experience- that “happening” as Grant quotes @mikhailg. I was struck that I wanted to draw how I felt about it.

I googled “campfire” and found a reference image I liked. Then I imported it into SketchBookPro on the iPad. I created new layers and drew over top. I added headphones and earbuds to connote that we were together ‘virtually’. We were connected through sound.

Campfire listening:
Digital Storytelling

The next day I realized it was more than around the campfire. It was also akin to the early days of radio when the family would sit around and listen to stories together. Now my family never did this, but I’ve read a lot of books and watched enough films that I feel I have authentic nostalgia about the golden days of radio.

So, off I went to and browsed the radio programs from the thirties: mysteries, super heroes, thrillers. I googled “fifties family room radio” and found a picture I liked and did the same as with the fire: imported into SketchBookPro, created new layers and drew over top. This time I used the stats info with the different media players to further elaborate that the family in the room were only together virtually.

Fifties Living Room-style listening:
digital Radio Living Room

Some technical notes: Rachel Smith is my iPad drawing hero. She recommends using your finger to draw but I cannot for the life of me get a decent line with my sausage fingers. I use a stylus my Director purchased for my Associate Director (that I immediately “borrowed”). He bought her another one.

Aside: Yes, I know  that “wimpy iPads” aren’t allowed but I suck at following rules. I am not an iPad enthusiast, although I will admit it is extremely fun to draw with (even though partially tracing is kind of cheating).

Final aside: yes, there is a white elephant in the room and it is copyright. I will save that for another post.

Newspaper Blackout Poetry

News Blackout Poetry

The educators I follow on twitter have seemingly endless bounds of creativity.  Their incredible work has inspired me to participate, at least briefly in @jimgroom‘s #ds106.

First there was the remix of Gardner Campbell’s Bag of Gold, then it was amazing digital story telling: Until that Moment, and now, #ds106 radio. All have been really inspiring and fun. I should note that if you mapped as a venn diagram, it would look something like this:

Ds106 Inspiration

While I am not following the course linearly, I found a section called assignments and have cherry-picked an assignment that I could do quickly and would be fun. I opted for a visual assignment, since I am still experimenting with visual notetaking using the iPad and SketchBook Pro. I really like the rough-edgy nature of Tim Owens‘ Assignment 11: Newspaper Blackout Poetry: “Grab a marker and today’s morning edition and start blacking out sections to create a new story. It could be a poem, a picture, or a novella, all drawn from the words of the latest news.”

I decided to use the term “newspaper” liberally and use the Google Reader #ds106 feed in Flipboard instead. I took a screen capture of that page, imported it into SketchbookPro on the iPad and scribbled away. It was fun.
FlipBoard #ds106 Feed Screenshot
So, thank you, Jim Groom and Grant Potter and all those who have contributed to ds106 radio that have gotten me blogging again. I feel like I just found a bag of gold.