Friday, November 24, 2006

GarageBand workshop

GarageBand has many purposes among educators. Some are using it to create student or teacher podcasts, others are using it more musical composition or to aid in creating media-rich presentations. There are a number of communities sharing GarageBand-made music, many by and for children & students. Here are some useful links:

Tutorials & Guides
Apple's intro to GarageBand capabiliites & possibilities
Apple's guide to GarageBand includes tips & video tutorials
NewMediaGuides on Audio thorough guide to audio editing, hardware choices...
MediaBlab how to build your own microphone popscreen

Shared GarageBand songs & ideas: very cool, GB songs and loops wicked cool, amazing repository of sound
Garageband sample songs Apple's rss feed of student GB projects

Other related links: all about audio, includes GB resources
Audacity free cross-platform audio editor & recorder
Apple project gallery student video uses GB
Teaching with GarageBand creating recorder accompaniments

Any other feedback or suggestions?

Thursday, November 23, 2006

campus 2020 thoughts

I recently spoke at a "Campus 2020" forum where participants were asked to respond to some questions about the future of post-secondary education in BC... here were my responses:

1.  Understanding the future: How will the BC of 2020 be different than today? How will these differences affect the way people live and the way people learn? What will this mean for our post-secondary education system?

Threats to the environment will create & deepen issues which are not present priorities; mostly related to habitat loss, agriculture & forest land alienation, and loss of biodiversity

Electronic learning & the interactive web will challenge & replace much of what occupies present pedagogical space. By this I mean that new media and new ways of connecting people & ideas don’t necessarily fit well with how education is done in most schools

The connection/disconnection of people from sense & place will become a major theme for both of these trends, and post-secondary education will increase the time, effort, and money it applies to this theme.

2.  Creating opportunity: In 2020, what are the barriers people face in getting the education or training they want or need? Are those barriers geographic? Financial? Technological? Other?
Yes, yes, and yes. Besides these ones, I think one could find lots of evidence for age, gender, and race barriers in BC.

Probably the best thing we could do to address barriers is to deconstruct colonialism in the system and make it easier for people to take post-secondary education at any age or situation.

Another barrier will be overcoming the socially isolating tendencies of technology and environmental disconnect.

3.  Understanding the purpose:  As we move toward 2020, what are we educating people for – jobs? intellectual achievement? informed citizenship? personal interest? all of these and others? Can our institutions, programs and services be better designed and governed to support these goals?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. and Yes. Like the caption on the 2020 Think Pieces page states: “be intrigued, be enlightened, be outraged, be an explorer.” Whatever the purpose or designation of an education program (trades & training, arts, sciences, continuing studies), allowing the experience to be open to experimentation and dissent will help guarantee that it stays intriguing and enlightening. Practically, this could mean developing and funding programs enhance quality of life and aren’t tied to research dollars.

As a secondary teacher I’ve seen what often happens to elementary students when they come to high school. We beat the “play” out of them and then wonder why they lack creativity and original thought. Society can do the same things to college & university grads, so I think it is really important that young people squeeze all the revolutionary juice from their post-secondary experience -- deep questioning, energy, passion, originality; the man will try to beat it out of you, so get your kicks in while you can.

4.  Defining quality and measuring success: How we will define terms like “student”, “teacher”, “program”, “institution” in 2020? How will we measure their success? Do we have the appropriate mechanisms to measure our progress? 

Too little emphasis on accountability and things don’t change, teachers and students get lost in the system or stuck in a rut.

Too much emphasis on accountability and individual experimentation gets stifled, teachers and students have to follow the program and don’t have the free space to innovate. Collaboration is forced from aboev, and not allowed to develope as an deeply felt need withing a community of educators. It is tough to create mechanisms which support the right kind of accountability without prescribing behaviours for teachers and students.

Concepts like life-long learning will become more relevant as people see education as something they return to over and over again and as education becomes deschooled. Campuses will still be important places, but they have to offer something special to compete or coexist with virtual schools and independent learning

5.  Supporting innovation: As we move toward the future, how should our post-secondary system define BC’s position on the national and world stage? How should we support individuals and institutions to be innovative and responsive to change and opportunity?

Take some cues from the environment: we have an incredible biophysical heritage in BC which has sustained people for thousands of years and must continue to do so.

Take some cues from the interactive web: innovative work which honours student identity and pushes teaching and learning is taking place in elementary and secondary schools all over the province. This work experiments in multi-modal literacy and both reflects and develops a new kind of learner. I’m talking about podcasts, blogging, wikiwork, videojournals, web portfolios, gaming, and forums. Post-secondary universities need to pick up where this leaves off and really provoke society with high-quality, thoughtful, poetic forays into new media and critical response to relevant issues.

I think the most innovative work will focus on the issue I’ve raised, that of connecting people with their senses, with others, and with the earth in a future that faces environmental crises and pervasive technology. With our cultural and ecological diversity, high-tech & media industries, and the need to move beyond resource extraction in BC, I think we could be a real leader on this issue. I know many post-secondary institutions have already started to make this shift, but it is by no means mainstream.