Originally uploaded by acousticdad

As mentioned in other posts, I recently offered at session at the NMC Symposium on New Media and Learning (keyword tag NML2009). One of the key aspects of my presentation was to examine, practically, the different expression of conventions that are afforded by the new environment.

I have begun a series of articles exploring the transformations and extensions that are possible in 3D MUVEs when compared to their offline counterparts.

On this occasion I chose to take the well-known process drama “The Seal Wife” as my example. It was still very new to most participants and yet there was some great engagement in the activity.  I did not follow the standardised approach to the drama but rather used the story as a springboard to exploration.

This image (captured by Mike Bogle) shows participants in my session engaged in a Spectrum of Opinion activity.The question posed was “Should the Seal Wife return to her earthbound children?”

While we stood immersed in the Spectrum we reflected on our choice… one of the great moments for me was when Larry Pixel commented that he had begun to draw connections between the Seal Wife’s predicament and a recent case of the Austrian man who imprisoned his daughter.  Other fine moments were when we expanded the metaphor of the Seal Wife’s tears – the connection with the ocean, salty and bitter, flowing, ebbing…  and the questions posed to the Seal Wife, who was present as a statue and appeared to speak her own answers – albeit my interpretation of combining Hot Seating with Noises Off

The model I was discussing and only briefly engaging with was my theory of “generative play” – this example highlighted for me the potency of this approach.

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Internet usage…

I pulled this out of Larry Johnson’s closing remarks on the NMC Symposium on New Media and Learning – I think its worth keeping in mind as we focus on what we do:
Session after session has reinforced that new media is not about tools, but about the ways they link us together.

As practitioners of new media, we seem to just naturally document everything we do, whether in a 140-character tweet or in a video or in photographs. We do this almost automatically, without thinking about how or sometimes even why we are doing it.

The media themselves are just part of what we want to say, how we reach out to one another.  They are context, and they are glue. …

New media increasingly provides the forum for us to explore boundaries between the virtual and the real, boundaries that are ever permeable and always a little hazy… the space in which the experience takes place ebbs and flows from the physical world to the virtual one. New media tools set the stage for students to work with this flow, to travel between the real and the virtual, and to reflect on and document their journey.

They led us, but none of us created or experienced the events of the past two days alone.

We came together as a group, and as a group we saw our many diverse individual impressions come together as well into a single shared experience — an experience that affected each of us in different ways, but one that is so much richer for having been built by all of us.

That’s the true takeaway for me from this symposium: that new media can connect us to one another and enlarge our individual experiences in ways we can only begin to imagine.

From my perspective this symposium reinforced the richness of experience that these new media afford us when they are blended with our sense of humanity and social-engagement… how anyone can fear this is beyond me.
It reaffirms my belief that if we are not incorporating these new modalities into education we are severely diminishing the experience for students and teachers alike.  I spoke about my theory of “generative play” in my workshop (or playshop) and to me this symposium was like living the theory.
The event was as much the participation and participants as it was the material being explored – the learning experience was a social encounter with ideas and practices… it was operating simultaneously on the affective, psycho-motor and cognitive planes.
I know I will be seeking out more opportunities to teach and learn that provide such a positive sense of engagement… and I’m guessing that more learners the world over will also start to look for those organisations who can provide this.

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