blogger counters

Thursday, December 27, 2007

San Francisco Zoo Mauling and "Endangered" (1997)

What makes some stories catch on, while others do not? How and why do certain cultural narrative ring true? This post continues the contemplation of the San Francisco Zoo's escaped tiger and the 1997 play, "Endangered." Please see Part I of this story.

Please disregard the wind noise -- a storm was coming in at Wailea Beach in Maui.

SF Zoo Mauling and a 1997 Play: Life Imitating Art

I am always amazed at the way that certain issues resurface and renew themselves in the new times, circumstances, and contexts. At the same time, it's interesting to see how life imitates art -- not just in visions of the future (science fiction) or heinous crimes (action-adventure and crime drama), but in other areas as well. In 1996, I wrote a couple of plays featuring animals. The first, Let Dogs Lie, explored the parallels between using animals to test surgical procedures for humans and relationships between people. The second, Endangered, probed the nature of being not only captive, but having one's captivity be the subject of spectacle. It, too, explored parallels between animals in captivity and people in awkward situations (families, relationships, the past).

Because of the recent mauling death of a teenager who was visiting the San Francisco Zoo, and who was mauled to death by an escaped Siberian tiger, I thought I'd take this opportunity to provide links to the play (with podcasts), together with a few thoughts.

A play about large cats in zoos and zoo patrons. First published by Potes and Poets Press in 1997, and performed at St. Gregory's University in the spring of 1998.

Endangered: Part I

Endangered: Part II

Endangered: Part III

Please email me (Susan Smith Nash - if you're interested in finding out how you can obtain copies of the other play, and also license a production. My email: beyondutopia at gmail dot com

Recommended experimental poetics sites:




Light & Dust

Small Press Traffic

Avec Books

Monday, December 24, 2007

Viral Videos, Web 2.0, and Strategies for E-Learning

You're probably familiar with some of the most widely disseminated viral videos -- Chris Crocker, Diet Coke and Mentos, Apartment Guy, ... all » "Don't Taze Me!" -- the list goes on and on. Viral videos become a part of the social "conversation" and as such, they interplay with current events, news, and the types of mythos that make it into the collective unconscious.

Because of the way they are produced, distributed, and hosted, they are definitely a part of the great "Web 2.0" world.

E-learning that incorporates the file sharing, networking, and communication of Web 2.0 can use viral videos to great advantage. This video, guided by Susan Smith Nash, explores some ways to accomplish this.

Recent Great Posts -- check out the blogs below -

Golden Swamp:


The Learned Man!:

Random Walk in Learning: digg reddit

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Learning Chinese and Other Languages with New Web 2.0 Strategies

New Web 2.0 applications such as ones like italki ( that encourage interactions in multiple languages in social communities, virtual worlds, and information sharing are perfect complements to traditional language courses as well as the new podcast and radio-based programs. For example, students who take courses through the new podcast and satellite broadcasts of Chinese language lessons by China Radio International (CRI) could find participating in the language-learning community to be very helpful.

A new endeavor, aims to incorporate the functionality of Web 2.0 to encourage language learners to participate in activities designed to motivate as well as providing practice in the target language. In doing so, is creating unique language learning communities.’s language learning communities are an excellent way to overcome a sense of isolation. Further, they provide learners a great way to practice speaking, writing, and listening to others. The sense of community can help the learners overcome the psychological blocks (anxiety, low self-concept) that often hamper the efforts of language learners.

In fact, language-learning anxiety can be reduced dramatically in the environment because there are a number of resources and tools at one’s disposal in the online arena. For example, pronunciation and vocabulary support are at one’s fingertips. In addition, the use of avatars and screen names can help one feel as though one is role-playing instead of actually jeopardizing one’s real identity or self.

Perhaps the most powerful way to use language-learning social communities is to develop a personal learning plan, and to clearly and systematically integrate the activities in the community with a more formal language program.

For example, the lessons offered by China Radio International (CRI) could be incorporated because they are standardized, and are being offered in more than 38 countries (

Uniform study materials have been compiled by the Office of Chinese Language Council International.

Confucius Institute Project:

Office of Chinese Language Council International:

Confucius Institute at Michigan State University:

CRI Talk China:

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Highly Recommended Web 2.0 Sites

Are you looking for ways to update your skills and your web presence, and to communicate and share information more effectively? The following websites and programs will help you get started.

My favorite part of lifehacker is the fact that it is a great gateway to free programs. Who has time to conquer all that software? No one, but still it’s fun to windowshop. If you’re overwhelmed, try narrowing the search by taking a look at lifehacker’s 2007 top choices:
web 2.0
Also included is a "most improved" list of web-based software applications. Google's gmail makes the list.

There is an excellent Lifehacker article on how to host your own domain with your own URL using free web applications:

Lifehacker recommends one of my personal favorites: Zoho web-based software.
Home of fine hypertext products. And, this is nothing short of the truth! Wonderful short, pithy links and finds, with excellent tags. Today’s discovery: a youtube video about the Apple Lisa (my first computer, along with an Apple 2e)… love it!!

Webware allows you do download very useful and intriguing web applications that are ideally suited for integration and creating mashups. There are a large number of applications, and it may be useful to skip to’s top 100.

All things Ajax. This blog provides a great overview and introduction to AJAX and combining web applications.
web 2.0

Programmable Web:
Very thorough program that focuses on Ajax applications and has a nice link to interesting mashups.

Yahoo directory:
Amazingly, still relevant (after all these years). :
Digg is a place for people to discover and share content from anywhere on the web. From the biggest online destinations to the most obscure blog, Digg surfaces the best stuff as voted on by our users. You won’t find editors at Digg — we’re here to provide a place where people can collectively determine the value of content and we’re changing the way people consume information online.

digg facebook reddit

Monday, December 17, 2007

Top 12 Technologies Innovations by 2025: Implications for E-Learning and Oil and Gas Production

Futurists and analysts at the research and consulting firm, Social Technologies, listed what they project to be the top areas of technology innovation through 2025. The innovations are listed below, with speculations about potential implications for the future of oil and gas production in mature basins. Yearbook Experts at ExpertClick distributed the explanations, responses by E-Learning Queen and

(Note: Back by popular demand: link to Britney Spears "Construct Constantly Deconstructing" post)

1. Personalized medicine-
* the creation of an individual's genome map for a retail price of less than $1,000
* the correlation of specific genes and proteins with specific cancers, Alzheimer's, heart diseases, and diabetes, which will allow both physicians and patients to anticipate, plan for, and mitigate, if not cure, DNA-based health challenges
* the development of pharmaceuticals to treat gene-based diseases (medical treatments that replace surgeries and chemotherapy).

People with access to such breakthroughs can live longer, work longer. How much will these cost? We will have to see. Transfer of skills can be more long-lived. However, it also sets up possibilities of gamer vs. boomer generation tensions. If the studies are true, gamers really do think differently than boomers and the WWII generation. Gamers are said to be multi-taskers and independent thinkers; while boomers are said to be more linear in their approach to problem-solving. This is a gross generalization, but numerous books and articles have been published, so people are tending to perceive and believe that there is a difference. Perception is reality, so it will be good to pay attention.

2. Distributed energy
* hybrid vehicles
* advanced electricity storage devices and batteries
* design of new power systems with fuel-switching flexibility.

For all the people who are eager to exploit the undeveloped reserves of gas and oil in mature basins, it might not be a bad idea to diversify into some of the "green" energy sources. The oil in the ground is money in the bank. Save it.

E-Learning: Solar-powered devices (phones, laptops, cameras, mobile devices).

3. Pervasive computing-
* very simple and inexpensive computing devices with integrated wireless telephone and Internet capabilities (the worldwide $100 computer)
* the "semantic Web," enabled by Web data that automatically self-organizes, allowing search tools or software agents to actually identify the relevance of Web pages (not just find keywords on them)
* intelligent interfaces, in some cases enabled by virtual reality.

This means much better information in the field, and better monitoring devices at the wellhead or in pipelines. Corrosion control, gas compressors, scrubbers, gas conditioning, nitrogen or salt water injection, etc. will be affected. The key is to develop the appropriate chemical processes and technologies to piggyback on pervasive computing.

E-Learning: it may be hard to find a course that is strictly face-to-face.

4. Nanotechnologies for innovative materials and fibers-Although they have received much attention, the R&D of nanotechnogies is progressing very slowly. But the experts expect major breakthroughs to occur within the next two decades, including inexpensive ways to produce mass quantities of nano-fibers.

Nanotechnology in terms of catalytic agents and devices to enhance imaging (downhole logging tools) will probably be the first place for applications.

Improved performance in chips? This could expand computing capabilities. In terms of e-learning: there could be a boom in engineering, science and math programs.

5. Biomarkers for health-
* individualized, private, and self-administered diagnostics, as well as home diagnostic kits that detect early signs of diabetes, heart disease, and types of cancers
* individualized exercise equipment and regimens for individualized benefits (weight control, blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.)
* advanced CAT scans, MRIs, and brain scans to identify disorders earlier and more accurately at less cost.

How about biomarkers for oil? This could be a breakthrough in terms of developing a better sense of fluid flow through fractures and faults. What is the provenance of the oil? Where is it going? Where did it come from? (this is sounding like a Gauguin painting)...

Education online: It is important to provide access to all kinds of programs so that individuals are able to equip themselves to be able to participate in the new economies. Online programs in medicine, biomedical engineering will be in demand.

6. Bio-energy-
* high-energy (as measured in British thermal units, or Btu) blends of gasoline and diesel with biofuels (beyond the ethanol blends known today)
* biomass production of a methanol that can be used as a fuel for fuel cells
* new discoveries in plant genetics and biotechnologies specifically for energy content.

Genetically modified corn for ethanol is a good idea. However, it may continue to be true that it actually costs more fuel to raise the corn and process it into ethanol than to produce oil and refine it into gasoline. If government subsidies continue, it's probably a given that this will happen. If not -- perhaps more ways to fuel municipal turbines using locally generated methane would be the answer.

E-Learning: more online labs and simulations to test new products and procedures. The labs can be online or, onsite, but remotely accessed.

7. Micro-flexible manufacturing and processes-
* advanced computer-aided design and control
* multiple variable and inexpensive sensors linked with computers
* expert systems and advanced pattern-recognition software for very tight quality control.

The implications for the oil field are quite interesting. This could mean custom pumps, custom valves and gauges, and chemical applications for existing wells.

8. Universal water-
* ultra-fine filters (probably from nanotechnology)
* development of energy sources for desalination and purification, including hybrid systems, especially solar power.

This is good, but it does not solve the problem of inland water. In some parts of the MidContinent, the depletion of the Ogalalla is already posing real problems. Drilling requires drilling fluids. Secondary recovery requires injection. Would it be possible to desalinate the water produced with oil and then sell it at a reasonable price to cities and municipalities. Places like Dallas could obtain water from the Barnett Shale. Eventually, the water would be more valuable than the gas.

9. Carbon containment-
* affordable and effective carbon capture and storage technologies and systems for coal-burning power plants
* new emission controls for transportation vehicles
* containment systems for methane.

This will be very important in the production of natural gas. It will also be extremely important in gas-powered electricity generators and in refining.

10. Engineered agriculture-
* identification of specific genomes for desired growing and use qualities
* GMOs as the next generation of hybrid plants and crops
* crops designed specifically for energy content and conversion.

Animal husbandry is probably affected as well. There are undoubtedly consequences and impacts on MidContinent oil. Just how big will the hogs in the hog farms be? What will it do to us to eat this stuff? We have all heard the rumors of what eating growth-hormone laced dairy products does.

ELearning: new needs for ethics courses. Increased data sharing, information sharing, but also a heightened need for individuals to be able to create their own security systems.

11. Ambient surveillance-
* security cameras linked with computers with expert systems/pattern recognition
* multiple integrated sensors (including remote sensing)
* radio frequency (RF) tags for people and valuables.

There are enormous possibilities in monitoring production. Ethical issues abound in all the possibilities.

E-learning implications: no more cheating on tests! (J)
Personalize encryption and security, new kinds of firewalls and access monitors.

12. Intelligent transport-
* organized and coordinated personal transportation through wireless computer networks, information systems, and Internet access
* onboard sensors and computers for smart vehicles
* next generations of GPS, navigation, and "questmap".

This will help coordinate production on demand, and timely delivery of oil field chemicals.

E-Learning: more need to understand how to integrate web applications and to be able to easily create one's own set of mashups.

Useful Links:

Social Technologies:

Expert Click:

Fayetteville Shale:

Barnett Shale:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Interview with Karen Locke (New Series - Life in the E-Learning Organization)

Welcome to Life in the E-Learning Organization. Today's interview is with Karen Locke, who works with project-based e-learning.

What is your name, and what is your involvement with e-learning?

Karen Locke. I work at EdVisions Off-Campus High School in Minnesota. We are a project-based school associated with EdVisions, which is a nonprofit company helping to promote the use of project-based learning in different states around the country. The “parent school” was Minnesota New Country School, and we are kind of an online “offshoot”. We are a charter school and we also get money from a Gates grant from the Gates Foundation.

How did you get interested in distance education?

The opportunity to spread education based on projects (as opposed to education based on pre-written curriculum) to students at home was very exciting, so I joined the group that was designing the program.. Students in our school work at home and in the community, logging hours on projects in a variety of areas so they can get credits and graduate from high school. We help them design the projects, but they are truly self-initiated (as much as possible, since they also need to fulfill distribution requirements).

What is your favorite new trend in distance education?

I like to help students use video and/or audio presentations to show their learning. I’m also interested in the Ning network (our school has its own site) , Elluminate (our school meets there), and Classroom 2.0 (see ) where teachers help introduce each other to different online resources.

What is your favorite technology?

Elluminate has been wonderful - we teach math, hold advisory meetings, see student presentations, and our students have meetings like Movie Madness (discussing current movies)

What kinds of instructional materials do you use in elearning?

Students tend to do internet research, interview experts, and we use Accelerated Math for most of our math. I also use site for designing math review sheets for special ed kids

How do you use textbooks in e-learning?

Occasionally individual kids use textbooks on something they’re interested in, but otherwise we don’t use texts.

What is your favorite quote? or, what’s a book that caught your eye recently?

Quote: “This life is a test- it is only a test. If it had been an actual life, you would have received further instructions on where to go and what to do”. (anonymous)

Book- “The Deep Democracy of Open Forums” by Arnold Mindell. The Deep Democracy of Open Forums: Practical Steps to Conflict Prevention and Resolution for the Family, Workplace, and World This isn’t about online education, but it’s about helping organizations (including schools) to become more aware of what is happening there, raising issues that need to be dealt with and showing how to deal with them.

Interviewed by Susan Smith Nash

Monday, December 10, 2007

Interview with Franklin King (Life in the E-Learning Organization Series)

This week's interview is with Franklin King, Associate Vice President for Distance Education at Jacksonville State University. His leadership has expanded educational opportunities for many individuals from diverse backgrounds and contexts. This interview is a part of Life in the E-Learning Organization, a series of interviews with e-learning and distance professionals.

What is your name, and what is your involvement with distance education and/or technology?

My name is Frank King. I am the Associate Vice President for Distance Education at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama . I am also a Professor of Instructional Media.

How did you get interested in distance education?

Our regional university serves a rural area in the northeast section of Alabama . Many of our students are employed and are non-traditional. Some are involved in shift work and require flexibility in their scheduling.

On a personal level, in the early 90s a mother contacted me about her son that had been paralyzed in an accident. She desperately wanted him to continue his education and to feel that he was still a part of a learning community. At that time, there were fewer options. Her desperate cry for help completely changed my attitude towards technology and the need to search for new answers.

Similar requests have come from parents of young men and women who have been incarcerated. I believe that no one should be denied the right to learn and to belong within an educational community based solely upon an unfortunate event or bad decision.

What is your favorite new trend in distance education?

A willingness to explore new options to reach students in which the best use of a variety of technologies is utilized. I remain confident that there is no one best way to reach all students.

What is your favorite technology?

My favorite technology, on a personal level, remains interactive video-conferencing. I feel that it is underutilized and is an excellent augmentation to existing internet based courses that can result in a well balanced hybrid.

What kinds of instructional materials do you use in elearning or distance education?

Like the State of Alabama with its pioneering Alabama Connecting Classrooms and Educators Statewide (ACCESS) initiative, we make use of both the Internet and IVC. We utilize Blackboard as our course management system.

Do you have a favorite social network (LiveJournal, MySpace, FaceBook, etc.)?

FaceBook Its popularity among students ensures its vibrancy.

How do you view them in e-learning?

While not having a personal site on one of the social networks, I see the merit and the benefit of such utilization. It certainly augments the use of e-mail, cell phone usage and other personal formats in a very convenient way allowing for general postings and the sharing of information. In many ways, it is a social eportfolio that can be used effectively, or it can serve as a future detriment to the student when unwisely used.

Do you have a favorite web application (Google Scholar? MapQuest? iGoogle?

I do use Google Scholar. For much work, however, Google is sufficient and the materials are more readily available.

What is your favorite quote? Or, what’s a book that caught your eye recently?

“A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem,” Albert Einstein

Please scroll all the way to the bottom and check out the blogroll.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Workplace-Focused Language Courses: Keys to Effective E-Learning

It is becoming extremely important for workplaces to offer courses that allow employees to communicate across languages and cultures. In addition, many companies are finding that offering bilingual or multi-lingual service allows them to expand markets. While few companies can afford the investment on an immersion experience or intensive face-to-face course, many are finding that using e-learning (both web-based and mobile learning) is extremely effective Here are keys to effective language e-learning.

1. Identify and articulate precisely what you want to accomplish in the course. Understand the background, contexts, and needs of the learners. Prioritize the presentation of content so that it aligns itself with urgent needs of the course.

2. Good materials. Identify good books, video, audio to supplement elearning (web-based and mobile).

3. Situated learning. Make sure that the activities are placed within a realistic context, and use simulations, graphics, diagrams, interaction, and life-like scenarios whenever possible. This will assure that the learning is "situated" and situational. For example, a course on Spanish for Health Professionals should provide conversations and vocabulary for what one is likely to find in a busy clinic or hospital.

4. Problem-solving approach. Engage the learners by making the learning as experiential as possible. Use a problem-solving approach, which encourages learners to move beyond memorization of terms and vocabulary and to accomplish deeper learning. For example, in a class, Spanish and English for Construction Sites, you may wish to ask students to identify hazardous situations in a workplace, and the find a way to communicate it to co-workers, in Spanish and English.

5. Logical sequence. Make sure that the lessons are placed in a logical order. For example, a course on Spanish and English for construction sites might be organized around the way that learners are likely to interact in the workplace and on the job, as well as the sequence of actions. You may wish to identify various jobs and roles, first, and then the actions of each, and the tools used in each.

6. Scaffolding. Be sure that the lessons build on each other, and that you provide proper cognitive scaffolding.

7. Repetition, Practice, Enactment: Incorporate active learning, which includes repetition, practice, and taking an active part with the content. Focus on student engagement with the material, but make sure it is meaningful engagement. For example, in a course on Construction Spanish for workers and supervisors primarily from Mexico and central America, avoid texts and materials that are idiomatically dissimilar. For example, Spanish from Spain is distinctly different from that of Mexico.

8. Assessments in Same Form as Practice. It is amazing how many times students will learn through video, conversation, and speech, but when it is time for assessment, they are forced to take a text-based multiple choice exam.

9. Clear, Straightforward Learning Platform. The ideal elearning experience for workplace-focused language courses will include a combination of simulations, interactive audio, text, and graphics, along with dynamic interaction among the learners (audio and video chat, informal webinars with multiple presentation capabilities). Although complex applications are attractive, it is important to keep in mind the abilities of the learners and their own situations (infrastructure, hardware, software, wifi or high-speed internet connection availability, mp3 players, etc.).

10. Redundancy of Content Presentation. Not all users will be able to be connected to the Internet. They may not have constant and consistent access to high-speed connections. At the same time, they should be able to use the devices, players, and equipment that they feel comfortable with. This includes the use of mp3 players, video players, even cell phones and handheld (pdas, etc.).

11. Cultural Considerations. Language is more than just words. It is communication that includes and incorporates values, beliefs, traditional behaviors, and codes (both verbal and non-verbal). Needless to say, one could spend a lifetime working on the cultural differences between different groups. In-depth http://www.italki.comcoverage is not necessary. Nevertheless, it is good to provide the learners with key cultural points in order to facilitate and enable mutual understanding. The coverage should include discussions of values and attitudes about family, community, religion, personal relationships, authority, and tradition. In many ways, the writings of Hofstede can be found to be useful.

Useful Resources:

Rosetta Stone. Extremely effective CDs and blended solutions. Excellent breadth. Not many courses are industry-specific. Excellent resource for finding language partners, and other resources for learning languages.

Berlitz. Berlitz is a well-known and trusted source of language instruction techniques and materials.

Free Online Language Coruses. Adequate, perhaps, for vacation traveling. It's a good start. Pretty skimpy in terms of what is really needed in the average workplace or job site. Relying on the average Lonely Planet phrasebooks and such will just cause hardships and problems if you're trying to communicate with your construction crew, food service employees, or health professionals.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Blogs of Note: Corgi Catches December 4, 2007

Here are a few blogs that caught the Corgi's eye -- they address ethical, technological, access, and instructional strategy issues.

Ed Tech Lady:
Useful and insightful discussion of some of the unexpected violations of privacy in Facebook. For my money, LinkedIn has some of the same challenges.

Golden Swamp:
Golden Swamp addresses technology from a global perspective, and places concern with potential second and third generation digital divides.

Training Day:
Interesting discussion about the gadgets that seem to be released in a flood just before the end of the year.

This blog is a lot of fun. Michael Blowhard's discussion on "Books are not Sacred!" has inspired some technorati back-and-forth. I hope someone downloads my books that are up on Kindle. My kindle-formatted books are cheap. Ophelia's Gold is a buck-ninety-five. I guess you get what you pay for... (gallows humor -- it's that time of the year). Kindle Blogs
I'm waiting for a Kindle reader. They are still back-ordered. Grrr. Blogs on Kindle are not free. (grrRRR). (official corgi growl)

Favorite FeedReaders

This list is not inclusive by any means. However, one of the keys to being able to take advantage of E-Learning 2.0 and Web 2.0 is to be able to process and evaluate significant amounts of information in a way that you can then use. While one might automatically I'm referring to web applications, the truth is, the integration of information is much more flexible than that, and the way that information can be used, particularly in an experimentation-friendly learning management system, such as haiku or moodle, is still an open book.

Google Reader:

Very nice, web-based reader / aggregator. The presentation is very clean. I like it a lot.


I’ve been using bloglines for several years now, and it has never let me down. It’s great. Very simple to use, straightforward, and basically a huge stress-reliever. All your information is at your fingertips – RSS, RSS 2.0, Atom, etc. are all accommodated.


Netvibes is a multi-lingual Ajax-based personalized start page. It is organized into tabs, with each tab containing user-defined modules.


Simple, clean design, with an easy-to-use interface. It integrates with other services as well. Guess it got killed, though. Figures. Just signed up, learned the interface, then read the following words: “we’re pulling the plug on Newshutch.” Grrr.


What? You have to download it? Perish the thought.

Feed Demon:

It’s $29.95 and you have to download and install it, too. What happened to “free” (even if the free version is limited)?

Feed Ghost:

Free “lite” version, robust version is $20. This seems fair to me. Lots of features.


Juice is free. Juice is good. Juice’s main function is to manage podcasts.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Japanese Avant-Garde Visual Poetry: Kitasono Katue

The “plastic poetry” of Kitasono Katue, Japanese avant-garde poet, provides a convenient entry point for understanding the various strands and streams of influence that characterize experimental poetry in the twentieth century. Moreover, because of the nature of Kitasono’s invention strategies, which were essentially collaborative and which included responses and enormous feedback loops, the process as well as the final product can be considered to be an aspect of the art itself.

Kitasono Katue, pen name for Hashimoto Kenkichi (1902-1978), developed a style of visual poetics that was, in the early years of his poetic production, influenced by Futurism and Dadaism. Toward the end of Kitasono’s life, his work took a turn that anticipates the conversations or dialogues of collage encounters with viewers who have the power to incorporate, manipulate and comment upon in the social networks of the Internet. Kitasono’s process moved far beyond the notions that were current at the time of the Plastic Poetry (50s, 60s, early 70s and abstraction, “happenings” and performance art) to something that essentially deconstructs conceptual art, to reveal its often disorderly and uncomfortable aesthetic, perceptual, and material underpinnings.

Readers who have wished to understand the nature and provenance of the ideas and techniques of Japanese avant-garde poetry have found that there are few translations into English and even fewer analytical or biographical texts. The recent publication of a book of essays, interviews, and an overview of Kitasono’s work constitutes a valuable resource. Translated by John Solt, with an in-depth introduction by avant-garde and visual poetry publisher, poet, and critic, Karl Young, the book, oceans beyond monotonous space (highnoonmoon press, 2007), presents Kitasono’s work from the 1920s until his final Plastic Poems from the 1960s. In addition, the book provides backgrounds, contexts, interviews, and explanations of how to read and to appreciate the poems.

For example, Kitasono’s work, Black Fire (1951), which responds to the fire bombing of Tokyo (Young xxii) is created with carefully arranged typography which forces the reader’s eyes to move from right to left (Solt, 119) . The poem can be viewed on the Light and Dust Mobile Anthology of Poetry ( . Later work, Black Rain (1954), responds to the use of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Kitasono’s Plastic Poems, which embodies a process as well as an artifact, is explained in the book as well, and a significant portion of the text is dedicated to Kitasono’s Plastic Poems, which includes an essay on the subject by Kitasono (

For students of avant-garde poetry, oceans beyond monotonous space reflects important movements in art as well as literature. In an online course, it would be useful to visit examples of the movements, as well as to become familiar with some of the most influential or celebrated examples.

Italian Futurism: F. T. Marinetti’s famous Futurist Manifesto (1909) served as the model for many artists and writers eager to break from the aesthetic bonds of the 19th century. Luigi Russolo’s The Art of Noises (1913) encouraged aleatory music and beyond. Giacomo Balla’s “The Futurist Universe” (1918) shed light on his own views and approach to painting.

Slovenian Expressionism: Srecko Kosovel (1904-1926), brilliant installations, images, poetry:

Russian Futurism:
Father of Russian Futurism (David Burliuk) ;
aleksandr blok ;
V. V Khlebnikov (with very cool audio files):

Dadaism: Kurt Schwitters is probably the most anthologized – Collage and poetry:

Kurt Schwitters "Merz"

Concrete Poetry: Ubuweb’s Concrete Poetry: A World View:

Visual Poetry: Kaldron: and
The Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry

Fluxus: Fluxus Performance Workbook and Fluxus Heidelberg Center

Fluxus Film: The Desert of the Real (narration from Guy DeBord's Society of the Spectacle

Mail Art: One of many online galleries:

Contemporary Poetic Collage Collaborations: “Translating Translating Apollinaire” by bpNichol

After reviewing and contemplating the movements, trends, and contexts of Kitasono’s world, one can then return to the virtual gallery at Light and Dust Mobile Anthology and to the book itself.

The experience of plunging into the virtual gallery and world of Kitasono is deeply stimulating and satisfying. Not only does it encourage one to participate in a poetic collaboration, or a “plastic poetry” experiment online, it also allows one to reperceive and appreciate what one might have formerly overlooked or taken for granted.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Educational Mashups and E-Learning

A variety of web 2.0 applications from flickr to google map and across to rss feeds are being combined to create one seamless and integrated user experience. This post explores how one might combine tools to achieve educational objectives. Bottom line: Web tools and content are being mixed and matched to create interactive tools and content. What seemed to be a very 2005 kind of concept has “legs” today, thanks to the fact that google, yahoo, and others are making their web applications more amenable to integration. They are providing platforms and/or are encouraging the use of AJAX (asynchronous javascript and xml) that is rather rough around the edges, but produces results.

Let’s take a look at what a mashup is. A mashup combines web applications so that several can be integrated and viewed at the same time. Typical mashups import data that somehow relates to each other. For example, allows you to see where the visitors to your site are coming from. In certain ways, it is no different than the web traffic statistics you already get, but Frappr goes a bit further by providing actual graphics and information drawn from the various social networking sites.

Cautionary Note about Mashups: The quality is only as good as the quality of the information you’re incorporating. Case in point:’s mashup of the highest paid college presidents. The information is dated – there are now $1 million college presidents – Union College in Schenectady, NY is one, RPI in Troy, NY is another.

Are mashups truly useful? Or, do they simply create “fun facts”?

E-learning Uses of mashups:

1---Increase participation and interaction with your social networking spaces
2---Create interesting interactive activities as a project
3---Excellent display for presentations for school or work
4---Quality control of information, sharing methods, etc.

Getting Started: Easy-to-Use Sites that Allow you to Combine Feeds:

Google Personalize Homepage: (click on iGoogle)
Add a gadget for the google reader – this will allow you to get the feeds you want and need and to see them in a single place. You may choose from the menu on iGoogle, or add your own.




Mashups that Combine Maps and Social Networking


Mashups with Audio Books
Project Gutenberg:
Learning Portal:

Mashups with Podcasts:
Smithsonian Institute Podcasts:

The Smithsonian Institute's Folkways project provides content for mashups:

Maps Mashups:

Free map mashup application

Outstanding maps mashups:
Word of caution – be aware of the source of the data. Some data is flawed, resulting in a flawed mashup.

Flickr Mashups:
Helps children learn the English alphabet via Flickr photos.

Science and Data Mashups

Chemistry Quiz:
Chemistry quiz that uses strikeiron

Take a look at StrikeIron’s Data Pack
With the Super Data Pack developers can leverage multiple data sources for use within a diverse set of rich applications with no cost or commitment. StrikeIron provides the first 10,000 hits per month across all of the Web services within this Super Data Pack for FREE!

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Power of Personal Experience in E-Learning: A U.S. Marine’s Memoir

Eugene Jackson’s recently published memoir, How Fear Moves, can be used in online courses that deal with creative non-fiction, literature, and film, as well as courses in sociology and psychology. Based on Jackson’s experiences rising from a harsh environment of abuse and urban poverty near Dallas, Texas, to success in the U.S Marine Corps, the memoir provides a rare and authentic view of a side of life many avoid. Used in conjunction with web resources that provide other examples of memoirs, rhetorics of autobiography, theories that explain how people come to understand people, human relations, and society, Jackson’s memoir can be used to encourage learners to make connections with the text, share experiences, and to develop a framework for future work.

The Journey Begins with Form and Function
Understanding the literary tradition of creative non-fiction, and the form and function of the memoir can help the reader start making connections between the works that he/she has read, and the impact they had on her life. In addition, the reader can begin to see how his own journal writing starts one on a great heuristic, and can be an effective method of self-discovery. As far as Augustine’s Confessions,, the memoir or confession has been a way in which literary texts reinforce a deep sense of shared humanity and spiritual, physical, and emotional vulnerability.

Learning Activity:
What type of memoir is How Fear Moves?
Investigate and post ideas and explanations in a discussion forum.

One good way to start is to begin with the definition of creative non-fiction, and then to different forms. One can argue that Jackson’s work is essentially a bildungsroman.

Creative non-fiction: Definition from the Web English Teacher:

Bildungsroman definition from Victorian Web:

The Narrative Begins: Excerpts and Dialogical Evocation of Other Memoirs

Jackson’s text is available in book form, as well as via excerpts in the web and audio posts. The reader is likely to find in Jackson’s work a deep resonance with his or own life, as well as other authors.

In doing so, an inner dialogue is established, even as one becomes aware of the presence of a narrative dialogical presence, something that Mikhail Bakhtin referred to as the “dialogic imagination” at google books here.

Excerpts of How Fear Moves (available via here) are also available through Jackon’s blog:

Jackson’s narrative starts in Como, Texas, and his narrative is a blend of episodes from his childhood, childhood imagination, and a kind of mystical dream-narrative. An example can be found in an audio of “Boxes”

In another example, his dream of his grandmother Estella, shows an archetypal power:

The narrative includes boyhood pranks and adventures. In many ways, it evokes the work of

Mark Twain: Life on the Mississippi

Richard Wright: Biography:
Native Son: google books edition
Black Boy: View of the author and his work:

Despite adversity, Jackson pursues an education. His quest to read, write, and to excel in his studies and in his physical self-discipline often reminds one of Frederick Douglass:

Frederick Douglass:
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: e-text:
PBS Guide to Frederick Douglass

Unfortunately, Jackson’s younger years are marked by abuse, and by watching adults struggle not only with poverty, but also addiction. No matter how difficult his situation, Jackson realizes that there are ways out. His world of the imagination gives him relief from pain, as well as his unwillingness to give up the fight for a better life, a better world.

He deals with the poverty and difficulties with humor:

The narrative does not stop at the end of childhood, but continues to Jackson’s experience in the Marines.

Other Marine memoirs include Wesley Fox’s Marine Rifleman, which also includes scenes and vignettes that illustrate how the bond between individuals in their units is forged.

Learning Activity:
Identify formative events in Jackson's life. Discuss how he views their impact on his sense of self. Discuss his response to stress and pressure.

Compare and contrast Jackson's narrative with that of others.

Respond with a journal entry and share with fellow learners, open discussion board posts, sharing video clips.

Contexts and Global Views, Including African American / Sociological Perspectives:

One can analyze Jackson’s narrative from many points of view. Because his life and life’s purpose are forged from the difficult environment of Como, Texas, and he so clearly describes life in that community, it is very useful to relate his narrative to what sociologists and ethnographers have written.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. has expanded the field of African-American studies and has promoted an appreciation of the contribution of African Americans. He also addresses current issues help the public gain an understanding how, why, and when African Americans are perceived in certain ways.

Franz Fanon: Overview of his thoughts about post-colonialism, which includes notions about the internalization of oppression, and colonization of the imagination. Black Skins, White Masks is one of his most influential books. Here is an overview:

Cornel West: Race Matters and other influential works have helped raise awareness of the role of African Americans in the 20th century and beyond.

Never Forget a Journey of Revelations (discussion of hip-hop) – reaction to “ice age” and indifference to suffering of fellow human beings:

Part I:
Part II:

bell hooks: Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood

bell hooks has written provocative, fascinating, and insightful critiques of culture, gender relations, and representations of race, gender, and religion. Her memoir of her childhood brings to mind Maya Angelou's work, and it also discusses how a sense of self and an interpretation of one's place in society are formed in childhood.

Bell Hooks on Madonna:
bell hooks deconstructs American myths, and the construction of self and celebrity.

Bell Hooks and Henry Louis Gates:
Slide show with music and captions

Learning Activities:
List key ideas of the theorists presented in the readings above.

Discuss the ideas and how they relate to the memoirs linked above and referred to in this lesson.

Discuss the ideas of theorists and how they relate to specific ideas, descriptions, statements, or scenes in Jackson's memoir.

Essay / short answer with feedback
Sharing links and posts / videos
Sharing films and movies / pop culture ideas

The Stories We Tell: Constructing Worlds:

Finally, an effective approach to Jackson’s narrative it to look at the narrative structure and to understand how his story constructs a world. The values, the dynamics, and the way meaning is structured and interpreted shed light on the way our own culture programs us to think, and it makes us more aware of the processes we use to start to create order from chaos, a narrative (with some predictive value) of the events of our lives, and an explanation for the people we know and their behaviors.

Dan McAdams: The Stories We Live By (google books link)

Blog response to McAdams – Dare to Dream:

Peter L. Berger and Thomas Luckmann (1966):
Social Construction of Reality (google books link)


Archetypes: A Way to Tell Ourselves We Understand the People We Meet, and What they Represent

In many ways, Jackson’s bildungsroman is a quest for heroes, and in his quest to find a hero, he himself becomes a kind of heroic presence as he overcomes adversity and develops a mental mindset that allows self-overcoming.

Joseph Campbell: Campbell takes Jung and the idea of myth, psyche, and symbol and applies it to the creation of the hero. The series built around Campbell’s writings, Mythos, can be found on YouTube:

Carl G. Jung: Jung’s psychology bases around the notion of archetypes.
Google Books: Four Archetypes: Mother, Rebirth, Spirit, Trickster

Here is a student’s response to Jung and Dawkins (memes), which is thought-provoking, especially because some may not agree.

Learning Activities - Stories and Archetypes

List archetypes and their functions
Discuss the dreams in Jackson's memoirs and how they relate to archetypes
Describe one scene and explain how the story helps build an identity

Depending upon the learners' access to high-speed connections and their ability to work with some of the web applications that are available, ask students to post their own video on google video or youtube and to connect to their own sites (MySpace, FaceBook, Ning, Tumblr, etc.).

Encourage them to share their own stories and scenes from their lives, and encourage them to list the memoirs / autobiographies that have shaped their lives.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Articles of Note: Corgi Catches, Nov. 27, 2007

We dig through databases, online journals, an e-learning magazines for online learning articles of interest. In this series, we present a few articles that you might find useful, thought-provoking, or simply interesting. Instead of giving you only the citation, we'll give you more. We'll provide a brief overview and synopsis of the article.

We hope you find this to be helpful!

An article that caught the Corgi’s eye this week:

Herberger, J. A.; Murray, A.; Rioux, K. (2007). Examining information exchange and virtual communities: an emergent framework. Online Information Review Vol. 31 No. 2, 2007 pp. 135-147

This paper presents a new conceptual framework for examining virtual communities. The goal is to look at different ways of evaluating the communities, and to present a four-tiered pyramid approach.

The base of the pyramid consists of membership, and suggests that the primary motivator for individuals to join a virtual community is become members and to have their needs met by means of emotional connections. The second tier has to do with information networks, the third tier includes informational exchange, and the fourth has to do with the process of acquiring and sharing information.

In many ways, the conceptual framework presented in this article shares much with McMillan and Chavis’s (1986) analysis of traditional communities. McMillan & Chavis found the following basic building blocks of community: membership, influence, integration and fulfillment of needs, and shared emotional connections. Somewhere in the formation of a community, the boundaries and limits that define who belongs and does not belong are forged, and the attendant rights of membership are clarified. A community has certain attributes: safety, sense of belonging and identification, personal investment, and a common symbol system which includes community myths, symbols, rituals, rites, and ceremonies.

The authors conclude that people acquire and share information based on a mix of cognitive, affective, procedural and motivational needs. In conclusion, the emergent framework for evaluating virtual communities can be used in the following ways:

1. to help troubleshoot and diagnose problems with communications.

2. to quantify the importance in the community of satisfaction and dissatisfaction or other affective states.

3. to understand why and how information sharing in communities works, and what people perceive themselves to be doing (giving a gift? Showing they “fit” in the community?)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Finalist in Best of E-Learning / Corporate Education Edublog Awards

It is an incredible honor to be a Finalist in the EduBlog Awards in the category of Best E-Learning / Corporate Education. As you can see by the co-finalists, we're in amazingly good company, and that in itself is an honor.

I would like to invite you to visit each of the blogs listed below, and to be sure to vote. Here is the link to the voting page:

Clive on Learning
E-Learning Queen
eLearning Technology
In the Middle of the Curve
Mohamed Amine Chatti’s ongoing research on Technology Enhanced Learning

Many thanks to the EduBlog awards for promoting blogging on elearning. They are doing a great service create and sustain a wonderfully supportive learning community.

Moodle Teaching Techniques Meets Numerous Needs

Packt Publishing’s Moodle Teaching Techniques (2007) by William H. Rice, IV, is a welcome addition to any instructor, course developer or administrator’s personal library. Although the text is geared toward the Moodle open source learning management system platform, the ideas and techniques contained in this book are universally applicable for any learning management system, and, more universally, to any e-learning program. What sets this book apart from other texts that discuss ways to develop courses and to teach effectively online is the fact that it has a heavy Web 2.0 orientation, which means that it incorporates interactive web applications and encourages sharing and interaction, which in turn accommodates multiple learning styles and also facilitates the development of a robust, active learning community.

Schools, not-for-profits, training institutes, and corporations that are turning to Moodle to host their online learning. They have gone to Moodle because they like the fact that it is open-source and very customizable. Many people are finding that if they use a hosting service like Site Ground ( the hosting service is very helpful in getting the user started with exciting user applications.

If one does not have the time an energy to configure Moodle for their server, one can also use a service such as Moodle Rooms (, which exists to help individuals and organizations put together Moodle sites.

Here are the specific areas addressed in Packt Publishing's book. Please bear in mind that what appears below is not a table of contents, and the actual content in the book is arranged in a different way. I’ve simply categorized the content along instructional lines.

The book does an outstanding job of connecting the ways to teach with specific instructions of how to do the activities in Moodle. Screenshots and captures help the reader follow what is happening.

Learning Community Activities:

Moodle Forums

Moodle Chat

Content Mastery Activities:

Quiz set-ups, solutions, and deployment

Proctored, Timed tests from Secure Locations

Content Presentation:

Lessons Settings

Lesson Instructional Materials

Sequence of Activities

Wiki: Interactive content

Supplemental Activities:


Moodle Teaching Techniques

While the organization and presentation of the instructions is very clear, concise and easy to use, it is possible that the reader will be left asking “why” to a number of the suggestions and guidelines. For example, in the section entitled, Need for Sequential Activities, the book states: “We don’t want our students to ‘meander’ or wander through course items. We want to enforce a specific order of resources and activities” (Rice, 2007, 88). My immediate question was, “Why? What’s wrong with meandering?” Such questions would be well answered if the author provided a rationale, and at least two underpinnings from learning theory – one pro and one con- to help the reader gain a sense why decisions are made, and how learning is enhanced.

The book is quite technical, which is good. However, it would have been very nice to discuss other issues, such as motivation, in an online course. I realize that there was perhaps not enough space in the book, and, perhaps it would be better to have a separate book – one that deals exclusively with learning theories as they apply to distributed education (whether online, or via mobile device).

A key question that the reader is likely to have at this point is, “Must I be using Moodle to use this book?”

Moodle Teaching Techniques bridges all learning platforms and addresses the deeper issues of how to really take advantage of what the Web has to offer in terms of e-learning effectiveness. So, the answer to that question is that you don’t really have to be using Moodle, but this text certainly makes it easier to take advantage of open source solutions.

In the past, colleges and universities have shied away from Moodle because they have feared that their online registration services, their grade databases, and financial services databases will not easily integrate with Moodle. While this can definitely be true, there are new solutions that will place a student in a course (and in the Moodle room) as soon as they’ve paid for the class. It is not necessary to manually enroll every student. As for entering grades in the final gradebook, many colleges and universities still use programs such as DataTel for their grades and transcript management. It may be necessary for instructors to manually enter grades in the DataTel system, rather than relying on a program to integrate the Moodle database and DataTel.

I only mention the mechanics because I want to show that it is not necessary for the large users to shy away from Moodle. One popular misconception is that Moodle is only good for the newbies to online education, or the small user, and as soon as one gets a bit of experience under one’s belt, one graduates to Angel, Blackboard, D2L, or another even pricier (and ultimately unreliable) solution.

The nice thing about Moodle is that it is likely to be stable for quite awhile, and the twice yearly version changes that have made Blackboard and WebCT administrators’ lives a nightmare can be avoided in Moodle. In Moodle, you don’t have to wait for the program to provide all the applications, features and functionality you desire. You can easily import them and integrate them into the platform.

This book helps course developers, instructors, and administrators put together very effective Moodle-based courses that include asynchronous as well as synchronous activities.


Rice, W. H. (2007). Moodle teaching techniques: Creative ways to use Moodle for constructing online learning solutions. Birmingham and Mumbai: Packt Publishing.

Blog Archive