Saturday, 30 November 2013

EDCMOOC2: Week four: feel the fear – and get visual anyway

This week for many of us is all about the artefact. Here we are – all grown up – and suddenly we start to worry about committing to our ideas – about showing our thinking – and about being judged! Noooooooooooooooooooooo!
So – this post is about feeling the fear – and getting visual anyway; because the biggest feature of the digi-verse is that it is visual. We know this – this is why we have been asked to represent our learning visually each week – this is why there was an images competition – and this is why our artefact is supposed to contain as few words as possible. Let the pictures do the talking…
First: Don’t Panic!
Try to loosen up – stop hiding behind the sofa – and think. Have something to say… work out some ideas and thoughts …
Then leap in and play with one of the bits of tech.
And if the tech bit feels overwhelming – reach out to the #edcmooc community and ask for help. It is there – and working online with a frainger (virtual friend and stranger) makes this #edcmooc experience even richer.
Don’t wait for the answer
As with academic writing though, do not wait till you know everything that you want to say…as we write to learn, so we make to learn – and our ideas can develop as we construct our artefact.
Tech tools and resources can be found here:
And here’s one I could never have made - Animating Chomsky’s ideas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zex7yxN4GW0
Thinking about the visual
Drawing is a useful tool for thinking, exploring, reflecting, understanding and communicating. Drawing and other art practices can also be really useful in qualitative research: to disturb those commonsense answers that might automatically come to respondents; plumbing deeper or more interesting thoughts about our questions. This is why the production of a visual artefact is so very right for #edcmooc – and I would say for all courses.
If you need more convincing, check out how drawing and visual practices have been embedded in and across the curriculum at Brighton University (see http://www.brighton.ac.uk/visuallearning/). Here you can see examples of Medical students set a photography project to develop their ability to really ‘see’ – to harness that in their diagnostic practices. Travel and Tourism students sent out with cameras and asked to construct visual narratives of Brighton that told its story as a viable tourist destination.
The one that I liked the best was where Art Students and other participants in a Community Arts Project were all issued with white overalls and asked to use them as their (embodied) Learning Logs. Not only was this a great way to invite and capture immediate reflections, at the end of the Project the overalls were mounted on mannequins and provided a powerful exhibition demonstrating the work of the Project.
Building a visual strength
If you have no confidence in your own drawing – try this out. ‘Blind draw’ someone in the room with you right now – or ‘blind draw’ an object in the room. This is NOT drawing with your eyes closed – but drawing someone whilst looking at them – but not looking at the paper you are drawing upon. Also keep the pen on the paper – so there will be lots of crossing lines – there will be breaks and gaps in the drawing. There will be – gasp – whisper it – mistakes and errors!!!
Of course these drawings cannot be an accurate realistic representation of someone – but they can be fun and energising. And that is the point.



Too many of us stop ourselves from drawing because, ‘I can’t draw!’ But drawing can be free and crazy as well as detailed and accurate. We have to play with drawing. Build our confidence to use drawing for exploration and communicating. Without this we are cutting ourselves from a very powerful thinking tool.
Try practising ‘blind drawing’ your #edcmooc ‘learning logs’ or ‘blind drawing’ the illustrations for your blog. Use these drawings to build your artefact. In earlier parts of Last Refuge we have explored how to communicate in collage and memory envelopes – and by creating installations or cabinets of curiosities… Any of these might be useful for you to harness when making your artefact – check out:
I do hope this helps a bit!! 
Postscript: Post- and Transhumanity:
A very positive TED talk from Henry Evans – rendered mute and quadriplegic by a stroke – on how robotics has enabled him to do tasks, talk with people – and move around the world. Remembering that first he needed his family and friends to hold him in the world after the event…

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