Status Update. New York, October 7, 2012

The below adds a few more listings 16-19 from my previous post of the top 20 things I need to be reading this fall:

16. Nina Simon’s Khan Academy and Online Free Choice Learning
17. Gretchen Jennings’s Museum Educators – What’s Next and a second post on the topic
18. Erin Branham’s First Steps to Embracing Digital Literacy for Musem Educators
19. Tina Barseghian, Mindshift Cathy Davidson’s blog
20. Stephen Downes, Half an Hour and Stephen’s Web ProfHacker
21. Will Richardson, Read. Write. Connect. Learn.
22. George Siemens, elearnspace

23. Drum roll… while although previously mentioned, but worth mentioning again as I consider ways that Khan himself scrupulously avoids posting his own face or other human faces in his video content, this link for MIT’s research about “the shaky hand” as a contributor to impactful learning online.  

The Shaky Hand

Much of the research that is worth examining has been conducted by Harvard and MIT, the very same universities seeking arguments that can bolster and strengthen the push towards MOOCs in the first place. The edX platform was envisioned not only as a means of delivering  course content, but also as a test bed for educational experiments.

This article outlines one of the first such experiments that have already been performed by an alumna of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, who is now working at Microsoft’s research lab in Bangalore, India. 

The researcher conducted a usability study in which students compared versions of video lectures in which diagrams were presented either as slick PowerPoint slides or as shaky hand drawings that took shape as the professor lectured, much as they might on a classroom blackboard.

Students  preferred the hand-drawn diagrams by a substantial margin. “It lets you pace  yourself,” Agarwal says. “The PowerPoint is going to flash a picture on the  screen, and you don’t develop the idea in the same way that you develop the  idea by drawing a picture on the chalkboard.”

I find that I connect to the concept of “the shaky hand” to the concept of sketching in a journal before presennting a final or finished work. The skecthes, the shakes of the hand, can be more easily understood precisely for their roughness and looseness. The concept of “the shaky hand” is especially interesting to me because I cannot fathom how videos about living artists wouldn’t include the face of the artists themselves. Is this an exception? The collection I work with now is one of humans that create objects. face of the artist speaking about the work would make such videos inaccessible or lessen their ability to connect audiences with the subject matter. Humans discussing artworks. Humans talking about other humans. If the artist is still alive, seeing the artist speak about his or her own work seems especially relevant.

I have felt free to speak and think about “collections” in dramatically different ways now that I am no longer working and teaching in a museum. Could a collection be of people? Of stories and texts? Filmed and captured in time?  

Status Update. New York City, October 2012.

It’s time to set aside my diversion readings and begin amassing a list of 20 things that I must read this. Not all of them are books, but most of them fall into the category of theory and theorizing, online education, disruptive technology, and museum practice.

The sad part is that on the same day that Pierre Bourdieu’s Distinction arrived on my doorstep, so did my long-awaited copy of Trampled Under Foot (2012). Somewhere, there has to be a space to consider overall driving forces behind rabid fan-bases this month, as Art21 also releases its 100 Artists: Box Set, which is the only other box set I really have been amped to get my hands on. Trampled Under Foot: the Power and Excess of Led Zeppelin is a book that is named for a song by the same name on the album Physical Graffiti (1975), and the song was even played in the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony a few weeks back. Powerful. Unobtainable. Unattainable. Really, there just has to be a connection here.

Led Zeppelin was a band that never grows tired on my weary ears. Reading the cover of that book, sitting atop Pierre Bourdieu is rather agonizing in the face of the above list. Reviewer for the Guardian Michael Hann asks why 20 million people applied for tickets in their one-off reunion in 2007, despite no recent albums. Those 20 million ‘bestrode the world like a priapic, all-devouring monster of depravity in the 1970s.’ Why, he asks? The answer is in those albums. He quotes the sinuous, thrilling interplay of instruments in “Nobody’s Fault But Mine“; the preposterous bombast of “Kashmir“; the magnificent idiocy of “The Immigrant Song” (“The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands!”); the brutal combination of 60s freakbeat and proto-metal in “Communication Breakdown“.

There were the songs that made Led Zeppelin the biggest band in the world, he writes, and it was being the biggest band in the world that also made them a horror show.

Here is a stab at the top 20 other things I need to read this fall:

In Theory:

1. Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: a Social Critique in the Judgement of Taste (1984)

2. Mike Apple, here plus Ideology and Curriculum (1979)

3. Jean Anyon, and Anyon’s notes on both Bourdieu and David Swartz

4. At least one social theory reader like this one

In Disruption:

5. Clay Christensen, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail (2005).

6. Sal Khan, The One World School House (2012).

7. Walter Archer, D. R. Garrison, T. D. Anderson. Adopting Disruptive Technologies in Traditional Universities: Continuing Education as an Incubator for Innovation. University of Alberta  (2000).

8. The Myth of Disruptive Technologies, as Dvorák’s definition of disruptive technology describes the low-cost disruption model, plus overuse of the term – as many disruptive technologies are not truly disruptive.

9. Some other selections from this bibliography, especially as it relates to libraries and higher education

On Learning, In General:

10. Diane Ravitch. Must read more Diane Ravitch.

On Online Learning, In General:

11. Many articles gathered here on about interactive learning and teaching

12. This study from MIT about the power of the “shaky hand” in online learning

13. Something about Agarwal at MIT

Museum and Education Links:

14. This one from yesterday about the Khan Academy

16-19. There are so many readings I should be assigning my students on museums, education and technology that this space is being left intentionally blank

20. How to give a great Ignite talk, since it seems lots of what I will be doing this fall will be a series of five minute peppy-talks in 20 slides or less about research interests I am currently or quietly considering.

It’s not yet a daunting list because most of these are texts on my desk or open in a browser window, and the list is decidedly theory-free, save at the very top. Which means Trampled under Foot will stay trampled under the foot of Bourdieu and field theory, since there really is no way around understanding that all of our judgments of taste are related to social position, or more precisely, are themselves acts of social positioning. My head space is lost in box sets of yore, and at the end of the day, there isn’t that much more time left to delay wading neck deep into theory at this point. So I am going to not lose sight that there will be more fun reading ahead, and soon, and then the rest of it will be fun, too.

“Sending off a glancing kiss, to those who claim they know
Below the streets that steam and hiss, the devil’s in his hole”

– Led Zeppelin on Achilles Last Stand