Friday, May 6, 2011

Concept Map 5

For this weeks readings, I was most impressed with the ideas of the power of actually creating something. There was a real sense of accomplishment when I was actually creating stuff with my daughter during my DIY project. The sense of accomplishment was really nice. Sometimes in graduate school, there are always so many big projects that you are working on, it is difficult to feel like you accomplish anything. Many jobs are like this too. Perhaps something that I have learned from this is that it is important to set smaller goals and projects that you can have within larger projects so that you can get some of the sense of accomplishment.

Justin's Concept Map 4

The connections between the Reas, Dewey and Peppler papers have lots of great connections. I think the connections that I think were most interesting deal with the creation of actual artifacts, whether digital or physical. Art doesn't have to just be painting, sculpture or even music; it can be a mashup or a computer program. Lots of experiences can be very powerful as someone goes through the process of creating something.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Justin's Concept Map 3

So I finally am finishing up my concept maps and it has been a great activity to look for the connections between the articles and the other class material. I even found a pretty good mind mapping software through the Mac App store called MindNode. There is a Free version (which I am using because I am a cheap-skate), and a pro version which lets you embed pictures, links, and some more features which look pretty good. Anyway here is my Concept Map #3.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Final Chapter... (or is it?)

I have really enjoyed this class and wish I would have spent more time with all of the materials. I spread myself a little too thin this semester and plan to use this summer to go back and take a deeper dive into many of the topics of the course. I was not sure what to expect from this course and felt like coming in I already had a pretty good idea of what new media was, but Dr. Peppler did not disappoint! Some of the readings were of people that I had heard of, but never read, and many were new to me. I have learned so much in the course, but feel like there is so much more to learn. To use an on overused cliche, this really is the tip of a huge iceberg for me and I know it will take a while, but I am very interested in learning more about the many topics that we touched on during the semester.

I think the things that were most interesting to me were finding out about some of the real life projects that people are doing with kids (and adults) to include new media. Great stories about after school projects where students don't want to go home at night because they are still building a circuit or creating something on a computer program. This kinds of stories are so interesting and inspiring to think that there are more types of activities out there to inspire kids to learn.

It was also good to see a well organized online class that took advantage of some of the new tools that are available. I really liked how the embedding of the wordpress site worked well to be right in oncourse. It was nice that Dr. Peppler actually worked within Oncourse to a good extent, while many other professors just bypass it and go to an external site. I wish we would have had a few more synchronous sessions using video chat or face-to-face for those in Bloomington as I think this really adds a great dimension to an online class. I would recommend having at least 3 or 4 synchronous sessions in the future as I think it would add to the class.

I also like having the smaller blogs so that we got to know each other a little better without having the whole class in one single space. I really like the VoiceThread and while I had played a little bit with it before, it was capable of a lot more than I previously thought. I really, really liked being able to record my own voice and be able to hear Dr. Peppler rather than just read the text. The commenting feature was great, but similar to a forum, one disadvantage is that if you are the first person on the thread you might not get as much out of it, or you will need to go back and read the comments again which can be time consuming. I found myself wanting to wait until the end so that I would be able to read the others comments or posts, but that is not really a good thing. In comparing it with the forums, I would say that I like the VoiceThread a lot. The one advantage of the forums are that if you are really in a hurry, you can digest a lot of text in one quick spot with a forum, but you are not able to get as much out of it. The VoiceThread, kind of forces you to take your time and read all of the comments which is a good thing.

Overall I have really enjoyed this class and have gotten some good ideas for future study. I know that this area will continue to change and I am very excited to see what the next steps of new media will be. I put the title of this post as "Final Chapter...(or is it?)" because really this is not a final chapter for me. I am still trying to figure out future research areas and this will hopefully fit in well for me so that is just the beginning of a bunch of future studies.

Thanks everyone that has made this class great!!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Solomou, M. (2011). The final chapter!

I joined this course thinking that I knew most of the major work around new media. I was excited that I would have the opportunity to create projects and reflect, but I wasn't sure how things would look like in the online version. Throughout the semester, I came to realize that what I was experiencing (with the readings, the concept maps, the studio projects) was a great, creative process. Organizing my thoughts on a concept map was a very helpful activity. Especially by adding to my concept map every week helped me realize how concepts and ideas relate to each other, how authors' work is related with the overall theoretical field of constructionism, what the value of the particular theory is for explaining how people learn with new media and technologies, as well as how I can relate to the field.

My work within the class generated ideas for future work around media, games and literacies. I see games (this is the major area of my research focus) as contexts for creation and authorship, not just consumption. When I played with atmosphir, for example, I realized the potential that such games have for the future of play and the ways creativity can be expressed. The web 2.0 technologies that were introduced in one f the VoiceThresds  showed that the direction participation is taking leads to a different level of online presence.

Overall, this course has taught me valuable things and pushed my thinking towards being more critical and reflexive. I enjoyed it and I must say that I am taking the thinks I learned outside the course, towards my future development. I love it when a class affords that!

P.S. Comparing the VoiceThreads with the forums... I think I prefer the VoiceThreads. When I was receiving notifications for the forum posts, I didn't know which post they were referring to, unless I logged on Oncourse and viewed them. On the other hand, VoiceThread gives everyone's responses for each question and I could see everyone's pictures along with the responses. Like that better!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

DIY with your kids

I must start off by saying that this was the most enjoyable 'assignment' I have done since I started grad school! For my DIY project I wanted to try and do some DIY projects with my 5 year old daughter. I spend quite a bit of time looking at different projects and kept finding more and more projects that I wanted to do... and more and more websites that I wanted to visit. The best websites that I found (some from the previous lecture notes) were , , , , and other fun sites that had kid projects. Of all of the cool ideas, that ones that we actually made were:

Groovy Lava Lamp

This project is all about oil and water not mixing. Basically you take a bottle and fill it about 2/3rd of the way with water then fill the rest with water that has some food coloring in it. Then to actually make the lava effect, you put little pieces of alka-seltzer in the water and it bubbles and makes the water rise through the oil. It didn't work very well, but it was fun to do. The bubble didn't last very long and the alka-seltzer kept floating to the top.

Marshmallow Catapult

Making the marshmallow catapult was also pretty fun, but with mixed results. One of the problems with this one is that the instructions were really vague and didn't give enough detailed information so we had to guess a little bit. It was pretty fun to make and I think that if we made a Marshmallow catapult 2.0 it would be much more successful.

CD Hovercraft

The CD hovercraft was also somewhat less than successful. It kind of worked, but the wooden spools that I bought were too small and the balloons kept coming off. I got some bigger spools to try again, but the first version was not very good. Hopefully the next round will be more successful.

Duct Tape Fun -

Our most successful craft came from making stuff out of Duct Tape. I must admit, that I was quite impressed that my daughter did most of this on her own. She wanted to make a bag, and so I said go for it. I helped her start the sides of the bag after she made the bottom, but she did most of the bag by herself (including straps and a pocket). She spent almost the whole weekend playing and making stuff out of two roles of duct tape. I couldn't help but feel so proud of her for being so creative.

Finally we did the nice Mentos and coke experiment, just for fun.

It was really fun to spend some time with my kid, and she loved having some attention from her dad that tries to play with her, but doesn't always do a good job of it. It was neat to teach her some actual scientific information about how some of these things work, and I hope that more of this DIY movement continues to spread.


This is a group shot of our upcycled jars and plastic bags! I would have never thought of this idea without having seen it on blogs or on Etsy. It is helpful to have visual aids to help imagine new possibilities. New media certainly affords numerous avenues I cannot fathom the possibilities for the future!
Above is a finished wallet I created weeks ago. I planned on doing something else - such as a shopping bag, but my sewing machine needle isn't working correctly and I don't know enough about sewing to figure out how to fix it. I wanted to show what I have created through this process. It's not the "best" product, but it's functional!

In order to complete this project, I followed the instructions that I posted earlier - to fuse the plastic. Then I cut and sewed the fused plastic together to make a pocket, then folded the top down. I used a zig zag and a straight stitch for decor.
Here is a closer look at the "slipcovers" I made out of "orphaned socks" - before I found this innovative way to decorate the jars, they looked horrible - with peeling labels and glue collecting dust. After cutting off the toes of the socks, I slipped the socks over the jar - and presto! Tinkerbell is now decorating the jar holding the paintbrushes! The girls love how the craft jars are decorated with their favorite princesses - and I think it looks cute, too! Now, I just need to find some kind of fabric that "feels" more like summer - this reminds me too much of winter!!

Maria's DIY project - A Video clip with iMovie

Figure 1: Creating the project
I spent this week debating on my studio project until yesterday. I knew I wanted to create a movie using iMovie... but what should my theme be? I wanted it to be something meaningful to me, something that I can share and express myself. Last night I remembered that... mother's day is approaching... what a great opportunity, right? My mom has been asking me to create a collection of pictures and dent them to the family. So here I am, blogging about my experimentation with iMovie, creating a movie with pictures of the family. After watching a short tutorial (that always comes up when I open iMovie), I created my project (See figure 1).

Figure 2: The buttons to select and import music 
and images, text and transitions in iMovie.

I went through a million pictures, until I choose the ones I wanted to include in my movie! And then... it was time to choose a song. my mom like Frank Sinatra, so I picked a jazz piece that seemed to be happy and matching the whole theme (see Figure 2). I then put the pictures in order in the working space and started experimenting with the transitions, the time, and the feeling of each picture (see Figure 3). I have to say that this whole process brought wonderful memories in my mind :)

Figure 3: The working space in iMovie, the 
import section and the main screen.
One important implication of new media in the 21st century is that new media allows so much space for creativity and self expression. Learning moves beyond of the conventional boundaries of school and new doors are opened that lead to open learning practices, on the way, and by the way learning. It was a learning process for me, as I mastered a new tool for making movies. Learning does not have to be aligned with the curriculum and the standards. Learning that is useful in real life is what we should address to be most valuable. Learning is lifelong and powerful means of participation.


Video: The final product of my studio work: a video clip that I will send to my mom on mother's day :)

As I am learning this new technology, I am, at the same time learning things about myself. How confident and competent I am with new media and technology, but also how much I miss my family: my parents and my two little brothers.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Tonight, I worked on my DIY project(s) - I have taken odd socks and cut the toes off and slipped them onto glass jars to decorate the storage the girls use for their art supplies. I have been collecting the glass jars for some time, now. I kept some of them sock-less in order to see the objects. However, I have created slipcovers out of socks for the other jars in order to hide the glue/labels.

I found this idea on the internet when researching upcycling ideas - Upcycling is recycling/reusing items - but to an extreme! When one upcycles, they are taking their reused items and "spruce'n'" them up to be a bit more than a reused item - it is conceptually a different item. For example, what use to be a plastic bag is now a piece of fabric which has been sewn into a wallet. Another example are the socks - which are no longer socks - they are slipcovers!

Below is a website that shows how to fuse plastic - in order to make wallets, bags, bibs, and much more. Below the website link is a photo of the "orphan socks" project that inspired my slipcovers for my art jars! More to come about my specific projects this weekend!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Career path of the future

I have been a little slow in watching the lecture material from last week, but I just say WOW to the ideas there. Some of the ideas are just so incredible and have such potential for change in the future, it is kind of hard to wrap my head around. I love the whole idea of the DIY and will post more about my projects with my daughter later this week, but we have been having fun and I will just say that my daughter has made some pretty awesome stuff out of duct tape!

One of the comments (by Allison) about the Tinkering school really got my attention. Her comment simply was asking if people would chose different career paths if they were exposed to this kind of school as a child. For some reason the phrase 'career path' seemed to jump out at me and say (in the voice of my daughter), "what do you mean path? I don't want to have a single path that I follow through life." This really got me wondering about what future 'careers' will even be for many people. I have heard talk that we are already entering a 'gig' economy where many people will just go from gig to gig (like a musician) rather than be tied to a single job. This may be someone scary to some people, but I think it can also be so liberating too. To think that the idea of a single path that you have to find and get on to be successful seems so overwhelming. I like the thought of being able to work and create new opportunities in the future.

Perhaps I am just rambling a bit, but I think that the jobs of the future are also going to be very different.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

DIY - From Atoms to Bits and Back Again

This week's readings helped me to understand DIY as a sub-culture of New Media culture that is emerging or has emerged right under our noses! Without even realizing it, we have been participating in activities and learning environments that are actually more complex than simple hobbies - The articles gave me a sense of understanding Crawford's Useful Arts as possible careers, while Gershenfeld's Fab Labs are places where anything you can dream can be created! All in all, I never associated that DIY could be extended to the workplace (for example, sheet metal creations) - I think of Martha Stewart when I think of DIY - but now I think of MIT Fab Labs!

Beuchley's LilyPad Arduino brings BIG ideas to the home front in regards to learning how to program toys, clothing, bags, and just about anything that can be attached to it. By making this so accessible to the general public, it opens the doors further to the creative markets and education opportunities. Afterall, if children become engaged in programming their own toys - they will learn all about circuits before they realize it!

Beuchley's article about the computational sketchbook also amazes the reader with all the possibilities one can do with such technology. I did have trouble imaging what this paper and paint can do - even with the photographs, I want to see it, touch it, and work with it so I can understand it better. How can teachers integrate this into the learning environment? What an idea to have the students and teachers learning how to use this together! Wouldn't it be wonderful to just drop this kit off in a classroom and tell them "I'll be back in 90 days to see what you all created!" Of course, I would want to have them creating tutorials as they were making their creations, just as the peers do in the Fab Labs!

I see this heading in the direction of classrooms evolving into Fab Labs - where students will be inventing and creating - sharing and publishing their work. This interactive learning that is happening in the FabLabs and with the LilyPad is the type of learning that children of the Tech Age need to have access to - in order to stretch and challenge their knowledge they already have developed over time using computers and playing with technology.

Finally, I hope to see more schools like Tinkering Schools and Brightwork Schools open around the United States. Places that embrace construction and flexibility will allow for more technical learning to occur. Afterall, having collaborators as your guide is more appealing to a learning environment that embraces constructionism.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Maria's Concept map with DIY links

"Craftsmanship entails learning to do one thing really well, while the ideal of the new economy is to be able to learn new things, celebrating potential rather than achievement." (Crawford, 2009, p.19)
For this week, I updated my concept map... once again :) The new color for this week's readings is yellow (see image below). My initial understandings of the concept of DIY was mainly related to the creation of useful objects, e.g. going to IKEA and buying the parts of a table and then assembling it yourself. As I got to learn more about this type of work in relation to the arts, I came to understand what Gershenfeld characterized to be "useful arts". So DIY can also be a form of art, through which we can create anything we want, with the tools and materials we have available, and sometimes conveying some sort of messages (other times the product is simply decorative).

Click on the image to view the map. You can also see it HERE.

With the reading around LilyPad and all the materials on Computational Sketchbook, the conductive paint, the Living wall, I am realizing the potential that these DIY projects have, which is not only utility (some have no practical utility) but also creative, personal expression. One can improvise and create or sorts of stuff, like for example the sketchbook that Buechley presented. Indeed, digital elements are brought into the real world and become embodied in it, through our interactions with them. I mean, the LilyPad is a very interactive digital tool that becomes one with the real world, as we manipulate it and move it around as we would with a battery, or another object.

What would be interesting to explore, apart from the potential for creativity, is the potential for learning with such technologies. For example, learning about circuits through these practices is a very powerful way of engaging students in complex and difficult concepts in the classroom. What would that mean for formal learning environments? How would we introduce such technologies to teachers and also a curriculum that responds to the needs of the school?

I think that the future of such technologies is promising in relation to the affordances provided. We are heading towards a participatory culture that is open and welcomes new opportunities of crafting, as Crawford says in the quotation at the beginning of this blog. The examples in the readings and in the videos of this week are inspiring for new kinds of creation and participation. For example, storytelling would be greatly expressed and communicated through projects like LilyPad and materials like conductive paint. If I had an opportunity to create something with those, it would probably be a story but at the same time, with taking lots of screenshots and videos throughout the process and create a video in the end showing both the creation process and the message/story I would like to communicate...

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Maria's DIY adventures

So this week I experimented with a couple of DIY stuff. This year, I wanted to learn how to make my own bread, and I have to say, I am enjoying the process. Now that I am becoming an "expert" baker (not), I started making alterations... Adding sunflower seeds, nuts, cranberries, etc. It is so tasty! Lately, I started experimenting with the baking process: Instead of putting it in the stove, I am taking the dough and I toast it... making paninis! My latest invention was the banana bread... it tastes delicious :) I looked online for some recipes but I ended up making alterations and coming up with my own version of banana bread.

A couple of days ago I stumbled upon this video:
It is a very interesting video, showing different types of DIY communities and DIY ideas. We are all makers was the phrase that made the greatest impression to me. By nature, we grab stuff and we manipulate them, we create products, we express ourselves and we are being creative. From bread making and all culinary arts, to crafting, to video creations and to remixes.

I decided to create a video to upload on YouTube (haven't decided on the topic yet). I created videos a few years ago, but never thought the creation process in terms of the topics we explore this semester. I think that the future of new media is leaning towards a kind of interactive participation that allows people to create freely, but also to create discussions around the products. It seems to be a future that affords opportunities for collaboration to a greater extent and for creative expression.

The DIY spaces also provide opportunities for collaboration and creative expression. People can take what is out there and generate new ideas (powerful ones, like Resnick argues) and come up with new forms of DIY products. For examples, the LilyPad provides opportunities for people to create all sorts of products and to participate in the communities in their own, unique ways. I think that, and the conductive paint projects (Sketchbook) and work that the MIT lab leads is a very powerful media that alters the way we look at participatory learning and creativity.

DIY- Adventures of Upcycling

Upcycling is a coming back trend hitting homes around the world. My grandmother use to do this out of necessity - for example, tearing old t-shirts up to make 'rag rugs' - Now we are doing it as a way to be creative AND to help keep the environment clean. I discovered the 'art of upcycling' when exploring for photography props. Some items I have seen are purses, suitcases, jewelry, clothing, and so much more. Here are a few recent examples:

In search for how to make something from my plastic Target bags, I came across a blog that shows step by step instructions for sewing together plastic bags to make a tote or a wallet. I also have a wonderful book that shows even more projects and techniques for creating totes and purses from our plastic shopping bags! The blog I am referencing for this project, though, is:

In addition, I found at the Better Homes and Garden site an interesting and useful idea for the spring and summer months - turning your orphan socks into something more beautiful and very useful -

Thus, I will attempt to create a flower pot decorated with an orphan sock and sew a tote from my plastic bags! I will be tweaking the tote directions a bit - this blog shows how to take a feed bag (already fused plastic) and converting it to a useful tote - I will be fusing the plastic shopping bags and then creating a tote. An extra step, but well worth it - after all, what in the world will I do with all of these plastic shopping bags I continue to shove into my pantry? Now maybe, I will make enough totes to take with me to the store as my future grocery bags! And these totes will make great beach bags for the summer picnics at Monroe Reservoir.

Discussion questions:
What is the future of new media”? In short, I think the future holds great potential for new media - we are already surrounded by it (whether we know it or not) - thus I believe it will be a part of our daily lives from waking to an iPad alarm to mapping our route to school using our GPS devises to our children learning in a paperless environment during the day. We will not escape the up and coming changes already in the works. New media is the future for living, learning, and creating a greener environment - by eliminating the use of paper in books, newspapers, and magazines - our children will be publishing their works before they can write with a pencil and our relatives will be eternally remembered via digital videos saved on the cloud. This type of world leads us to a type of learning that relies upon the fundamentals of constructionism - where children will create their spaces through the arts, sciences, or mathematics - online for the world to see and explore. I found the following TED talk that shares how people can make their own music - regardless of your abilities to understand how to read it or write it! MIT has created Brain Opera, Toy Symphony, and Hyperscore. MIT has taken this to another level - to help individuals not only learn to read and write music, but to use it to better their lives holistically. MIT aims to use new technologies to make new music which affects the mind and health of all. In this presentation, you will see Dan Ellsey perform using the software, Hyperscore. Dan is a quadriplegic and uses sensors that he controls with his movements to choreograph and perform his music. Please take time to watch this TED talk! To me - this is a mind blowing example of where new media is taking us!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Cupcakian Adventures - DIY Project

Hi everyone!

I am continually inspired by the awesome studio projects that you are doing. I am a guild leader of a large World of Warcraft group. We have a particularly large female gamer base, and this last weekend, we decided to have a virtual girls night. We talked about the project and decided that I should focus baking. But, it gets better! My friend Joan (Waterlilies, H-Malganis) turned me to the website Bake It in a Cake. This site is hilarious! Basically, you take things and bake them into other things, such as Cadbury Eggs in Brownies or Peanut Butter cups in a cupcake! How fun!!