Steven G. Anderson

history, technology, and life in academia

Originally posted on Ethnography Matters:

Lilly U. Nguyen

Lilly U. Nguyen

Editor’s Note: Lilly U. Nguyen (@deuxlits) tells us how in her own work on the ethnography of software in Vietnam, she both studies and embodies “diaspora” – and she shares the insights that diaspora has given her. She is a postdoctoral scholar at the ISTC-Social at UC Irvine. She studies race, labor politics, and information technology in Vietnam and among the Vietnamese diaspora.

Lilly’s post continues the March-April edition focusing on ethnographies of makers, hackers, and engineers.


In my work, ethnography takes on diasporic dimensions.

These qualities touch on several of the questions raised in previous posts in this blog series, such as the distinction between self and other and the Cartesian coordinates of studying up and down in Nick Seaver’s post and the disciplinary shifts as described in Austin Toomb’s post. For those of us who study decidedly contemporary phenomena like algorithms, hackers…

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Workshop Links

https://pinboard.in/u:sgahistory/t:digitalta


Ever wondered what digital pedagogy is? Want to know what it’s like to teach online?

Her2

Wonder no more.

On February 19th, 2014, join us for an introductory session on digital pedagogy.

We will introduce you to what Canvas is and does. We will show you some of the applications that make online teaching as good (and sometimes better) than face-2-face teaching, and we’ll discuss some of the best practices for online education in the physical classroom and in the virtual one.

Location: UC Riverside, Surge 170

Date and time: Wednesday February 19th 4-6PM

This is the first of hopefully many sessions aimed at training graduate students (and anyone else) in digital pedagogies.

Please RSVP to Juliette Levy – juliette.levy@ucr.edu

Juliette Levy teaches online and face-2-face in the History Department at UCR and at UC Online.

My post at Critical Digital Humanities on a recent workshop: TEI and Markup Fundamentals

http://cdh.ucr.edu/2014/02/16/notes-on-tei-and-markup-fundamentals-workshop/


On February 13th I attended a workshop on TEI and Markup Fundamentals sponsored by the Graduate Quantitative Methods Program. The workshop was given by Rochelle Gold and Kimberly Hall from the Department of English at UC Riverside.

480px-Text_Encoding_Initiative_TEI-800TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) is a method of encoding texts with markup language for digital representation. TEI markup focuses on rendering the semantic qualities of texts more visible. For example, sentences and clauses can be marked within a text, as well as the lines and features of a poem. This granular level of encoding allows for digital representations of these texts to carry details and information beyond their normal forms, which is valuable for critical interpretation.

→ read more at the original post

My post at Critical Digital Humanities on a recent talk: Rethinking Debates on Digital Learning

http://cdh.ucr.edu/2014/02/13/event-archive-rethinking-debates-on-digital-learning-12-feb-2014/


Event Archive: Rethinking Debates on Digital Learning . 12 Feb 2014

Yesterday CDH sponsored a talk by Professor Juliette Levy of the Department of History at UC Riverside. In her discussion, Professor Levy described her own evolution toward using digital technology in order to broaden the learning experience for her students.

Professor Levy’s talk began with a common experience many in academia have shared — traditional methods of teaching are not being adapted to the changing needs of students in our modern world.

The RSA talk by Sir Ken Robinson, which was turned into an animated video, was central to describing this need for change. There is a great chasm between the needs of students and the pace of innovation within the classroom.

→ read more at the original post

The virtual lecture that Professor Levy gave to her CHASS F1RST class on Monday went very well. This was the first time we attempted to produce a virtual lecture, and I’ve compiled some notes on the process and our experience.

1. The setup will take 5-10 minutes.
Professor Levy and I had both done Google Hangouts before, but never for such a large audience. Just connecting the laptop to the projector can take a minute or two, and then there’s the webcam, and the initiation of the Google Hangout. In order to keep students engaged during all this, I played the “#Hashtag” video with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. The idea here was to inject a little humor, and also consider digital technology as a theme for the lecture. After the video Judy (the TA) addressed the class and let them know about the video conferencing aspect via Google Hangouts.

2. Going digital in the lecture, means going analog in the classroom.
With the projector screen being used for video conferencing, the textual information needed to be given to the students in another form. A printed handout would work well (even shared between groups of students), or posting the information in an accessible digital location, like Piazza, Twitter, or Blackboard. Our “smart classroom” happened to have two projector screens, so the other screen was used to show the PowerPoint information — I changed the slides as necessary for Professor Levy. Also, the screen-share feature of Google Hangouts works well, but it takes away from the process and leaves the students somewhat lost. It’s much better to keep the person’s image on the screen and use a paper handout or alternative digital handout.

camera, screens, and whiteboards

Making notations on the whiteboards helped bring the lecture into the classroom, and the second projector screen displayed the Midterm review questions.

3. Interaction with the students is key.
Using the webcam to show the entire classroom to Professor Levy enabled her to see the students’ reaction to her lecture. She was able to call on specific students that had questions, and to ask certain groups if they needed help with a concept. Thankfully the webcam microphone was able to pick-up student voices as far as 20-30 feet away, so Professor Levy could talk to them directly amongst the entire class. During group work, students walked up to the tripod-mounted webcam and asked questions as if Professor Levy was in the room.

student asking question via webcam

A student asks Professor Levy a question at the tripod-mounted webcam.

4. Some glitches are to be expected.
Be calm and don’t tweak the setup too frequently. In any video conference there will be a few moments when the audio drops out, or the screen freezes for a moment. Try and let these pass by if possible, only making corrections if absolutely necessary. When something does go wrong, all the students might speak at once which makes it impossible to hear on the other end. Hand signals, either from the students or the TAs running the equipment can be helpful. For example, rather than saying “can you hear me now,” you might say “thumbs-up if you can hear me.”

5. And finally, work toward breaking through the digital barrier.
Initially, I thought an hour and a half virtual lecture would feel like a lifetime. Digital interactions can sometimes create the sensation of time compression, making a few minutes of audio/visual communication feel much longer. While this was the case in the beginning of the virtual lecture, we managed to break through into a sense of normalcy about 20 minutes in. Sharing with the students the agenda for the session is very helpful, and although this might seem obvious, with the digital aspect of the lecture it really helps to provide an awareness of pace and accomplishment. Also, group work within the virtual lecture can help as well — this takes some pressure off the video conference itself, and refocuses the students on their interactions with each other. And most importantly, lots of assistance in the room is essential. For our class, the TA and student mentors were able to keep students engaged with the lecture and each other during group work. The TA and student mentors also provided students with a feeling of authenticity in what has the possibility of coming across as a disembodied performance.

Connected Post: http://stevenganderson.org/2014/02/11/virtual-lectures-and-the-digital-classroom/

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This winter quarter I am a research assistant working on digital pedagogy and instruction at UC Riverside for Professor Juliette Levy. The class consists of about 60 students, and it’s a CHASS F1RST Humanities Course covering the history of Latin America.

Even though this is a regular in-class course, we’re using a variety of digital tools to help broaden the learning experience. These tools, which are helpful for managing the class itself and also creating real interaction between students, include:

  • Piazza — an online forum for student and faculty interaction
  • Twitter — for live-tweeting lectures and group quiz questions and answers
  • Storify — for creating and sharing storyboards of lecture tweets
  • iLearn (or Blackboard) — as the location for individual quizzes, film clips, written assignments, and grades
  • Trello — for course creation ideas and task management at the instructor level
  • Google Drive — for publishing the class syllabus and other documents
  • Skype — for student questions and project review

In addition to these tools, just yesterday we used Google Hangouts to connect Professor Levy, who was snowed-in in Oregon, with the students in the lecture hall. As this particular class was a review session for the Midterm, it was important that the lecture still took place despite the bad weather. Using a webcam we were able to connect Professor Levy with the entire class, with both audio and video interaction.

camera, screens, and whiteboards

Professor Levy instructing the class via Google Hangouts

This CHASS F1RST class also has a teaching assistant (Judy), and two mentor students, who were all extremely helpful during the lecture. Overall the virtual lecture was very effective, but it could not have been done without assistance in the actual classroom itself.

In the image above, both projector screens are being utilized for the virtual lecture. On the left screen, the podium computer is displaying a PowerPoint of the Midterm review questions. And on the right screen, Professor Levy is commenting on the material in the Google Hangout, which is running on a laptop connected to the classroom speakers, and the webcam with a USB extension cable.

The TA, Judy, wrote the information on the whiteboards as Professor Levy spoke, and the mentor students live-tweeted the review questions for the entire class to see on their smartphones, tablets, and laptops. There are no class requirements for any devices, the class solely relies on existing technologies that the students already have and are familiar with. Students are also seated in group arrangements, so device screens are easily shared.

virtual lecture webcam

Webcam for the virtual lecture via Google Hangouts

The image above shows the camera we used for the Hangout, which happened to be a Logitech C910, but many other webcams would also work. The webcam was attached to a tripod with a spring clamp in order to better position the field of view. Students actually walked up to the webcam/tripod and asked Professor Levy questions directly during group work.

Below is a 30-second video which helps show the whole process.

More comments and thoughts on this virtual lecture:
http://stevenganderson.org/2014/02/12/notes-on-virtual-lectures/

2 Comments

In 1947 a moth was found in a relay switch on the Mark II electromechanical computer, a true computer “bug.”[1] What’s most interesting here isn’t that an insect was found in the machine, but that the computer operator taped the moth into the logbook. It’s almost as if the moth was trapped in a thin sheet of amber, preserved as the pre-digital ancestor of the tricksters within our own modern devices.

"Log book with computer bug," NMAH

“Log book with computer bug,” NMAH

The insect was found by Grace Hopper, a computer scientist and rear admiral in the US Navy. Google recently paid homage to Hopper with a “doodle” showing her working on an early mainframe computer. Not only does the computer display an answer on a paper printout, but a moth also flies out at the end of the sequence.

Google "doodle" commemorating Hopper's 107th birthday last December

Google “doodle” commemorating Hopper’s 107th birthday last December


[1] It’s most likely 1947, but the Computer History Museum lists the date as 1945, before the completion of the Mark II and its delivery to the Navy.

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Lincoln at Gettysburg in 1863

Today is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.

Lincoln casts quite a shadow in history. There was a grand speech before Lincoln’s at Gettysburg in 1863 by Edward Everett, a well-known orator.

Speaking for 2 hours and over 13,000 words Everett’s speech was complex, referencing Ancient Greece and using terms in Latin. Today Everett’s speech is largely “invisible.”

Lincoln spoke only for 2 minutes, and his 272 words are inscribed on the Lincoln Memorial.

The words inscribed at the Lincoln Memorial are the “Bliss Copy,” one of the many versions of the speech that Lincoln wrote in the months after the ceremony.

gettysburg address - lincoln memorial

The Gettysburg Address at the Lincoln Memorial (2009)

I love videos like this, especially the “How it’s Made” series on the Discovery science channel.

The robotic ballet is mesmerizing, and it’s great that the new Mac Pro is assembled in the United States. With the complexity of the global marketplace, it seems unlikely that new high-tech devices could also be completely manufactured in the US though.

Google is producing the Motorola Moto X smartphone in the US too.

motorolatexas-7_verge_super_wide

Assembling the Moto X in a high-tech Texas factory.

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