Personal Reflection

Future technology — but not too distant future (probably!)

by Marty Crossland on February 24, 2013

I was introduced to the video below through the Coursera MOOC (massive open online course) in which I am now enrolled. The course is about “E-Learning and Digital Cultures” and I, plus about 260,000 classmates (yes, it’s really that massive), have been exploring how learning intersects with past, present, and future digital technologies in our culture.

The course has asked us, the students, to consider whether past, present, and future technologies of the emerging digital culture have been or will be utopian (i.e., contributing to or even causing a “better” or “higher” culture and society) or dystopian (i.e, contributing to or even causing a “worse” or less-desireable version of culture and society). In this video, Microsoft is obviously inferring that the future appears more utopian with the new technologies. The optimist in me wants to embrace this view. However, in the course we have also explored how technology potentially has a dark side, potentially being disruptive in a negative way, giving certain privileged segments of the population unfair or even potentially oppressive power. For an example, see my earlier post about whether we should trust Google. As a university professor, I now include a review of these cautions about Google in my own courses on computer network design, security, and privacy).

I found the video below, produced by Microsoft, quite engaging and thought-provoking. I’m mainly wondering how long (or, how short) the time will be before we see most or all of them in common use in our homes, education providers, and businesses. I think you will enjoy it, too.

(6 minutes)

#edcmooc

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I’m taking my first MOOC — Massive Open Online Course

by Marty Crossland on January 22, 2013

I just signed up for the first MOOC I’ll have been any part of. MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course. Several different educational consortia now offer quite a few such courses. The course I’ll be taking is E-Learning and Digital Cultures, from a team of “tutors” at Edinburgh University in the UK. A course description from the Coursera website:

“This course will explore how digital cultures and learning cultures connect, and what this means for e-learning theory and practice.”
More info at: https://www.coursera.org/#course/edc

The course starts next week, and runs for five weeks. I just received an email confirmation from the course team today, and they shared that they now have over 260,000 participants enrolled in this one session alone!

One of the hallmarks of MOOCs is that they are nearly all free, as this one is. It is coordinated by a consortium of universities founded by two faculty members from Stanford University, named Coursera, at www.coursera.org.

Here is a short video overview of the course:


(3 minutes)

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I recently discovered The Piano Guys, and I’m hooked!

by Marty Crossland on January 13, 2013

I was recently watching a Fox News morning program recently, and they introduced a set of guests I was not familiar with at the time. They are five talented music professionals that got together “by accident” in a small music store in Utah (although I think they now believe it was divine Providence) and started making original music and entertaining videos together. They now have a very substantial website at www.thepianoguys.com where you can enjoy their work.
Part of what amazed me about their talent is how they turn a single piano into a veritable symphony by each of them “playing” a different part of the instrument at the same time. You’ll have to watch the video below to see what I mean. Be sure and notice how their cellist uses a cello bow to stroke the wires of the piano to get a background note, plus all the percussion opportunities the various members of the group take (such as banging the keyboard cover up and down!).

Watch this same clip that hooked me, and learn a little more about the group members themselves, as well as watching their amazing music performance live in the TV studio.

(5 minutes)

Finally, here is my favorite of their pieces I’ve heard so far. It’s a moving combination of classical instruments (piano and cello) and African rhythm and lyrics. Read the story about how and why they created this piece at: http://thepianoguys.com/newstore/songs/peponi.html.

(5 minutes)

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Happiness Revealed — Nature. Beauty. Gratitude.

by Marty Crossland on December 9, 2012

I was moved and inspired by this TEDTalks video by Louie Schwartzberg. He has spent a lifetime producing vivid images of nature in still photography and videography. He has become an internationally-reknowned specialist in time-lapse nature photography, and his special interest is documenting the delicate and wondrous opening of hundreds, if not thousands of varieties of flowers.

In this video he shares with us how his own wonderment for these natural processes, and he reflects on the natural reaction many of us have in our own minds, or even our own verbal exclamations of “Oh my God!” when we actually notice such everyday wonders. This spills over into a sense of appreciation and gratitude to our Creator as we acknowledge our own day-to-day blessings.

Be sure and watch the preview of his current project at the end of the video!

(10 minutes)

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A whole new way of thinking

by Marty Crossland on January 20, 2010

Author and speaker Daniel Pink has completed some very provocative work on trends in business and the economy. He is a hugely entertaining speaker, especially when he shares that he was a woefully unsuccessful student in law school. Dan shares three macro-level drivers of 21st century careers:

  • Abundance
  • Asia
  • Automation

This talk was delivered around 2006 while promoting his book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future. I have watched it multiple times, and it has profoundly affected how I think about how we should be planning our learning and our careers for the future. For us as educators, it should really spark discussion about what a higher education general education curriculum should look like. Ask yourself questions like these:”What types of careers will American students need to be prepared for in five or ten years?” “How do we identify the proper learning outcomes and the teaching methods to ensure our students are achieving them?” “What assessment methods and tools will allow us to measure student progress toward these outcomes?”


Once you’ve finished the presentation, watch this ten-minute question and answer session with Mr. Pink:

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