Live Free Creative Courses: Something to Learn?

November 11, 2011 in Blog Pile, change11 by Alan Levine

Like most interesting sites, I stumbled across CreativeLIVE from reading something in an RSS feed that linked to the site– so its not what you follow on line, what is key is what the people you follow, follow. Get it?

They run free (in person is free) classes creative tools and techniques, with what I find is an interesting financial model. And these are not cheesy one offs of someone standing in front of web cam in their dining room- these look like well delivered courses.

Did I say you can tap into this for free?

creativeLIVE is about providing the best free, live creative education on the web. From our studio in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood, we offer free online workshops in photography, video, web and graphic design, app development and a wide array of other creative topics.

All of our live creative workshops are available to watch for free in realtime. Once a live workshop is over, we edit the best of this content into easily downloadable files available for purchase through our online store. It’s that simple.

So again the courses are free if you catch them streaming online- you pay for them if you want to purchase full edited versions of the content- what you are paying for then is the refined content, and the ability to watch it at your own pace.

Lest you think no one would pay for what is free, see the 50 reviews for Foundations of a Working Photographer and you can see that many people find the price worthy.

The are using Ustream to provide the video and you can tune into broadcasts or the most recent live one via http://www.creativelive.com/live, such as this one on Beauty and Fashion Photography with Matthew Jordan Smith:

And check out this social media inducement- they run contests for best tweets sent out during a live class. So this would end up creating a collection of worthy material? Hmmm.

In moving about their catalog, you might even find value in the video previews, here is almost an hours worth of the Aperture 3 course you can get right form YouTube

How often education courses offer class previews?

I’d be curious to hear a review form anyone who attends a live free course here or has purchased one of the packaged ones. Note that they are apparently making a business successful by giving away content/learning for free (building reputation). And I’d be keen to see what connections people might make between this model and traditional courses.

There seems to be some things to learn here– in both the content and how it is being produced/delivered.

Why Kids Can’t Search (maybe we need to think of seeking?)

November 9, 2011 in Blog Pile, change11 by Alan Levine


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by Basajaun

I flinch a bit at such generalization, but “based on research” means something- in Wired, Clive Thompson speculates “Why Kids Can’t Search”:

We’re often told that young people tend to be the most tech-savvy among us. But just how savvy are they? A group of researchers led by College of Charleston business professor Bing Pan tried to find out. Specifically, Pan wanted to know how skillful young folks are at online search. His team gathered a group of college students and asked them to look up the answers to a handful of questions. Perhaps not surprisingly, the students generally relied on the web pages at the top of Google’s results list.

But Pan pulled a trick: He changed the order of the results for some students. More often than not, those kids went for the bait and also used the (falsely) top-ranked pages. Pan grimly concluded that students aren’t assessing information sources on their own merit—they’re putting too much trust in the machine.

And tus we stand affirmed- This tech whiz kids are not so savvy. Or We are still better. (?)

Yet, I believe the questions being asked are wrong.

“Kids” are given some assignment and want to get it done as fast as possible, to satisfy what is being set in front of them. They give the top results…because the question they are asked to “research” does not matter much to them.

When we talk of searching, we are talking the basic most bottom of the pyramid structure motivational task. Frankly, I don;t care if kids can “search”– I want to know what happens when they seek.

I expect the results change dramatically when the seeking matters, when there is an investment in the results (not just a grade). What happens when the study goes to looking what happens when kids (gawd I hate saying that again and again) are looking for an audio track to mix in their video, when they are trying to find out how to build something… I bet they are much more critical in the result- because they matter.

Thus I put little stock into these surveys because… well, I am sure everyone can remember being given rote assignments in school. Like 10,000 times.

And this blanket conclusion of “Kids Can’t do X”, well I can think of plenty of exceptions. What comes to mind was in 2008, when I got a chance to visit Brian Crosby’s 6th grade students in Reno. It was after I had skyped in to his class while I was in Iceland. As I was trying to tell the kids about things I saw there, like volcano heated homes and the northern lights, they were busily googling and asking me if this matched- they were in no way plucking the top results, but were connecting.

Kids can’t search because the questions we are asking are not big enough. Let’s stop patting ourselves on our backs for our critical thinking superiority.

And it’s not just kids, folks it is you too, when you ask questions rather than seek answers. For a large chunk of my career, especially in the last decade, most of my reputation for knowing something about technology came because people would call ro email asking a question, I would google the results, and send them a summary and links. I was not answering their question at all, but was seeking the answers. And it did matter to me because I wanted to help them.

This is not new, and I am not going to name people, but I regularly come across questions from some of my colleagues who are deep in the ed tech game — that I am able to answer by googling the query.

And I am finding some of this bleeding into my thoughts on Rhizomatic Learning – seeking is very much a part of this way of– being– it is more than a “model” or education or something to “integrate into a classroom”- we ought to be pushing a way of being in this world.

The nomadic way is seeking; the worker/solider way is searching.

We seek when it matters.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by The U.S. Army

Nomads or Nomadic

November 7, 2011 in Blog Pile, change11 by Alan Levine


cc licensed ( BY NC SD ) flickr photo shared by saamiblog

For this week’s change11 it is becoming much more clear with Dave’s posting of the presentation he did for Alec Corous’s class. The idea of the noble nomad, alone, surviving, self directed… becomes romanticized (maybe not standing in front of a tent with a reindeer dressed like an elf).

I am hearing Dave and he is not urging us to be nomads but having nomadic tendencies or traits. It reminds me a bit of how when we do those Myers-briggs test, it is easy to say I am an Introvert (I was always high on the I). It helped greatly in the 1990s when our office had done this and the facilitator describing these as moving targets and just what our natural tendency is- so as someone who feels a more confortable energy state as an introvert.

This does not preclude me from being extroverted, and in fact, I do it frequently. It is not a binding state.

And thus I am finding my way to a similar state to think about taking a Nomadic approach to work/life, and it has nothing to do with walking alone across the desert.

To me it mostly means seizing the day, taking the initiative, the D part of DIYing it. Not waiting for the system to give, but reaching in, making paths. It runs counter to most every structure of traditional education which is usually provided to learners hence transmission.

And now I get Dave’s model of rhizomaticism:

And now I see- Dave is saying “You need to create an ecology, a garden, around these things. You need to create restrictions – broad restrictions for where you want this plant to go.”

I’m catching up with you, Obi Wan Dave. Where do we find the ways of making those broad structures that allow rhizomes to do their thing inside a garden that has such porous walls.

As long as roots are not severed, all is well, and all will eb well… in the garden.

Rhizomic Wondering

November 6, 2011 in Blog Pile, change11 by Alan Levine

Giulia created a beautiful animated interpretation of Dave Cormier’s ideas on Rhizomatic Learning for this week’s change11 session.

In her post, Giulia put out the challenge to remix her work, and I could not let that slip by, here is my Rhizomic Remix / Wondering

Like most times, I started with about 1/8 of an idea, nothing planned on paper, but let the media I came across nudge me. The first was coming across references to a piece of audio equipment called The Rhizome:

The Rhizome is an innovative groove machine combining samplers, sequencers, synthesizers, mixing desk, totally open and compatible with VSTs. The Rhizome has been already recognized by professional like a very promising groove machine that will make a difference. The Rhizome is a key milestone in 2010 that will improve the way the music is composed and played live.

So I took a clip of their video and used the music as a back beat. The next idea was to inject a bit of lecture video, and sure enough there are plenty of stand and talk videos on “how roots spread”.

I settled on this “My Tutor Buddy” bit Plant Structure: Roots, Stems, Leaves, and Material Transport. I’m noting despite all of the head long rush into video as a form of media, the message has not changed- people standing in front of chalk/white boards talking at us. That is another rant for another day. My next plan was to insert stills of my own photos of various trees and plants, and do a bit of voice over. On a whim, I added a newer and relevant music track– today on ds106 radio, David Kernohan was playing “request radio” taking songs via twiter and playing them live on electric guitar, and there he was, playing Pinball Wizard.

@dkeroohan playing Pinball Wizard

and bam there it was- that whole thing with his music felt totally rhizomagic.

But that’s just playing with the remix. The real work is to do some thinking here. And I completely love and respect Dave’s passion for rhizomes, and as a metahphor grokker, I can dig it. It feels right as a model for networked learning, yet… I just do not know what to do with it.

To me anything I would call rhizome-like is totally beyond the bounds of structure, course, learning. It is the land of sweet serendipity, the places of potential where ideas bubble out of and bounce across the root system. Every time we starte talking about in a context of learning/school./education, it starts to feel like some freakish plant system grafted on to something else.

I spent some time Saturday exploring a precious area of florida swamp with @colemama, and was trying to think about the way cypress trees grow, with their limbs stretching down into the water (or so it seems, maybe te reach up), and forming these intricate connected systems of roots and feeders.


cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by cogdogblog

Rhizomic? I need a plant expert. Marie also showed me Cypress Knees, which seem to have that interconnected structure– Wikipedia’s explanation is a bit raw:

Knees are woody projections sent above the normal water level, roughly horizontally from the roots, with a near-right-angle bend taking them roughly vertically downward into soil, usually passing through water first. One early assumption of their function was that they provided oxygen to the roots that grow in the low dissolved oxygen (DO) waters typical of a swamp (see also mangroves, which have similar adaptations), acting as pneumatophores. However, there is little actual evidence for this; in fact, swamp-dwelling specimens whose knees are removed continue to thrive, and laboratory tests demonstrate that they are not effective at depleting oxygen in a sealed chamber. Despite the fact that there is no expert consensus on their role, the supposition that they are pneumatophores is repeated without note in several introductory botany textbooks.

Another more likely function is that of structural support and stabilization. Lowland or swamp-grown cypresses found in flooded or flood-prone areas tend to be buttressed and “kneed,” as opposed to cypresses grown on higher ground which may grow with very little taper.

I struggle a bit woth the biological metaphor as the root systems are ones that develop to server specific needs, and do not seem to have their own interests as a motivator, well I guess they do in terms of survival. But while they are interconnected, they suffer from a physical limit of connectedness that we are free of in the electronic space- all roots are equidistant, or equic-close in the digital space.

And that is powerful.

So in the end, I am eager to hear Dave, who may be the first speaker to lull me into participating in the MoaM (Mother of all MOOCs).

Whatever the case, I maintain we need more Pinball Wizards.