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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Anti-Bullying E-Learning // Interview with Pavel Tchourliaev, Kiwi Commons: Innovaters in E-Learning Series

1. What is your name and your relation to e-learning?
My name is Pavel Tchourliaev, and I’m the COO of Kiwi Commons Inc. At Kiwi Commons, we feel that e-learning is essential in educating kids and raising them in a digital world. While we are very aware of the risks that surround the online world, we also feel that emerging technologies, if used responsibly, can be a great learning tool to engage students in the classroom, and an intuitive way to continue their learning at home.

Pavel Tchourliaev

2. In your opinion, what is cyber-bullying?
Cyber-bullying is the use of online technology and social media to deliver deliberate, repeated, and hostile messages and pictures (using e-mail, instant messaging, texting, or sending images via cell phones, blogs, Web pages, and/or chat rooms) by an individual or group with the intent of causing harm to someone.

3. What are common manifestations of cyber-bullying? What does it look like when children engage in it?
The most common way cyber-bullying occurs is through the use of social media where it’s easy to target people. It’s generally done through ridicule, humiliation, spreading rumours and other means that threaten a victim’s reputation and safety. It is arguably more pernicious than schoolyard bullying because it can occur at any time and its young (often anonymous) perpetrators cannot be brought to justice by traditional authority figures like teachers. To the victim’s chagrin, it can persist indefinitely.

4. How can one combat cyber-bullying?
Restricting access to social media sites until children are old enough, can help prevent the early on-set of cyber-bullying problems. ‘Blocking’ itself however, is not a solution. Parents can combat cyber-bullying through communication and education about online issues. Teaching empathy at a young age can help deter children from becoming bullies when they are older. It is also important to have open conversations about kids’ online lives and create an understanding that whatever is said in the digital world can have consequences in “real life.”

5. Are there ways that social media can help children develop empathy and courtesy? How?
Social media is a great way for children to learn what it is like to be in another person’s shoes. It can teach empathy by exposing them to the real issues that their peers might deal with on a regular basis. The lesson that needs to be taught when they come across these issues online is to not be a bystander to bullying. It takes courage to speak up against bullies, but it can make a world of a difference to a person who is being harassed.

6. What is Kiwi Commons?
Kiwi Commons Inc. is an organization dedicated to Internet safety-related topics such as cyberbullying online privacy and gaming addiction. We deliver free seminars in schools through our non-profit division - Kiwi Seminars. Kiwi Filter is a great web filtering tool for parents with kids ages 4 to 11.

Kiwi Commons itself is a blog, with a mission of educating parents and teachers about the risks that surround youth on the Internet so that they are better equipped to educate their own kids. The website also provides resources for both parents and teachers about how to deal with specific issues, hands-on.

7. How does filtering really get at the core issue of bullying? It seems to me that it would take more than simply blocking content. Please explain how you would address cyber-bullying in a more integrated, larger way.
Kiwi Filter goes beyond just blocking content because it works using a whitelist that parents can create themselves. Creation of these safe website lists encourages communication between parents and children about websites they need or want access to. Filtering is also a good deterent for cyber-bullying as it can remove access or reduce time spent on social media websites.

Since bullying is often driven by a victim’s reaction, lack of it can help prevent the escalation of the problem. An understanding of the risks and a responsible online behaviour should be established before children are allowed to use social media sites.

Kiwi provides tools and information necessary for parents to address topics such as bullying, whether they believe their child is being bullied or is a bully. You can view these resources at:

Monday, October 17, 2011

Interview with Jody Hoff, Federal Reserve Bank: Innovators in E-Learning Series

With all the recent efforts by the U.S. federal government to respond to the ongoing economic challenges, the demand for understanding the role of the Federal Reserve Bank has grown dramatically. In response, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco (FRBSB) has developed an informative and innovative way to help learners of all levels gain an understanding of the banking crisis of 2008, in addition to ongoing current challenges.

The materials that the FRBSF has developed are appropriate for online and hybrid courses, and would fit in well in portfolios developed for many different subjects, ranging from economics to marketing.

Welcome to an interview with Jody Hoff, Senior Manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.

1. What is your name, your organization, and your relation to elearning?

a. Jody Hoff, Senior Manager

b. Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco

c. I direct our education efforts for the 12th District which includes nine western states. An important component of our educational strategy leverages elearning approaches to reach our key audiences, including students and educators.

2. What is the Federal Reserve Bank San Francisco (FRBSF) doing in the area of elearning?

a. In the Education group, we are in the process of shifting our strategy to provide content to students and teachers in an electronic format. Examples are the Crisis and Response and What is the Fed? web resources. In addition, we are rolling out a new project called DataPost that will provide a weekly chart/visualization of the economy with a brief explanation of the story behind the data, discussion questions for the classroom, and the actual data set so that students can experiment with their own visualization or chart.

3. What is the mission of the FRBSF's educational outreach? Why? What do you hope to see in the future?

a. Our education mission is to provide meaningful learning opportunities about the Federal Reserve, economics, and the economy.

b. As an institution, the Federal Reserve is charged with implementing monetary policy to promote a healthy economy, job growth, and stable prices. We are committed to providing a variety of opportunities for people to learn about the Federal Reserve and its role in the U. S. economy.

c. The explosive growth in access to technology and information is erasing the traditional split between teachers and students. I recently witnessed two teenagers utilize a YouTube video to complete their algebra homework. They were having trouble remembering the classroom lecture from earlier in the day and rather than dig through the textbook, they pulled up a video on the exact topic, watched it for about 90 seconds and then completed the problem. We view our online resources, like the Crisis & Response site, as offering a self- serve, if you will, source of information and analysis. Our strategy is to support learning in a way that gives the user some control about how to process the information. OurWhat is the Fed? resource follows this model with text, conceptual images, discussion questions, and a monetary policy game called The Fed Chairman Game.

4. You've used a combination of video, animated graphics, and an interesting schema-building instructional strategy that allows learners to move to ever increasing levels of detail and depth. Could you describe how that happens in your site, and why you took that approach?

a. The sites are organized around essential questions and bullet point answers. We wanted to provide a way for the reader to get their arms around the big picture before diving into the specifics of the content. We also wanted to provide a variety of tools for the reader to develop their own meaning about the narrative. We used compelling data and graphs to support the bullet point answers and also created a number of conceptual images to help readers understand unfamiliar terms such as ‘macro-prudential supervision’.

b. Our approach was to frame the issues around essential questions that would tell the story of the economy without completely overwhelming the reader. We wanted to experiment with an approach that didn’t just drop you in the deep end of the pool and hope you could swim. Rather, we wanted to provide an entry point to the story that you could follow to increasing levels of complexity.

5. Cause and effect plays a big role in the fundamental narrative and logic structure of your site and the approach you take. It seems extremely effective and appropriate given the economic crisis and the need to untangle the basic "why's" and "how's" of what occurred. Could you discuss how you settled on which major issues to address?

a. Because of the challenge of synthesizing the complexity of the crisis into a concise, essential question format, our most senior economists wrote the narrative. And, we spent a great deal of time thinking through the story of the crisis and how best to contextualize the issues.

6. What are your plans for the future? Do you have any plans to encourage banks to put in links in their online banking portals? If so, how do you see your role in relation to local banks and also users of banking services?

a. That’s an interesting question. A direction we are exploring for the future is the use of short, immersive video “talks” to quickly and directly pull the viewer into a look at the economy from the perspective of a research economist. Our goal is to share new understanding and insight about economic processes. These efforts are focused primarily on educators, students, and the general public.

7. Please discuss an aspect or two of your philosophy of elearning.

a. My philosophy of learning is based on the constructionist perspective that places the learner at the center of the action. We design content with a specific context and provide tools that support the learner’s efforts to understand and create meaning. Taking that perspective to the elearning environment, we’ve incorporated many of the instructional design principles outlined in Richard Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. The Crisis and Response site is really all about trying to reduce the cognitive load for the non-expert members of the public, including teachers and students, who want to understand more about the complexity of the financial crisis. Our What is the Fed? resource and upcoming new DataPost project also incorporate these design principles.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Interview with Jill Ambrose, CourseSmart: Innovators in E-Learning Series

E-textbooks and other digital assets have become extremely important in the world of textbooks. The texts are evolving quickly, in both the way that they are delivered and in the kinds of instructional activities, materials, and collaborations that are included.

Welcome to an interview with Jill Ambrose, Chief Marketing Officer at CourseSmart.

1. What is your name and your relation to e-learning?
Jill Ambrose, chief marketing officer at CourseSmart, the world’s largest provider of eTextbooks and digital course materials. CourseSmart believes in anywhere, anytime access of course materials for everyone. Therefore CourseSmart enables and supports access to e-learning.

Jill Ambrose, CourseSmart

2. What are some of the latest trends in e-learning?
I would say the two biggest trends in e-learning right now are the push towards mobile access and learning as well as interactive course materials that improve learning outcomes.

With today’s students being more tech savvy and taking their college learning experiences beyond just the classroom, mobile access to e-learning tools has become increasingly important. CourseSmart has been committed to meeting the growing mobile needs of today’s students, and just this year, we led the industry in mobile innovations by introducing the first eReader app for Android™-based devices which joined our other industry firsts – the iPhone® and iPad® apps, launched in 2009 and 2010, respectively. We also launched an HTML5 single platform reader (another industry first) allowing users to access digital course materials online, offline or on mobile devices. And earlier this summer, CourseSmart launched the industry’s first social commerce tab on Facebook, giving students unprecedented access to eTextbooks through a site where they already spend a lot of their time.

CourseSmart is the only digital course provider that offers eResources from multiple publishers. eResources are highly engaging and interactive learning products that make faculty teaching more effective and student learning more engaging by providing immediate feedback to the student to ensure comprehension of key learnings. eResources include an automated, integrated grading system that provides real-time feedback to ensure comprehension of key learnings by the user.

It’s not just about what’s “fun and interesting” in their eTextbooks, but rather, it’s what truly helps students with learning and ultimately the comprehension of that learning experience.
All eResources are not alike but many include quizzes, tutorials, interactive exercises, videos, links to other websites and the digital text.

3. How have digital textbooks changed over the last 5 years?
First off, the content has not changed. Availability and how you interact with the content is where there have been dramatic increases.

Regarding availability, digital course materials and eTextbooks are now available through multiple channels; online, through some Publishers and the campus bookstore. The sheer volume of the CourseSmart catalog of eTextbooks continues to grow everyday and currently includes more than 20,000 eTextbooks which represents 90% of all core higher education textbooks in use today.

How you interact with the content has also changed. Mobile access is a big shift in the last few years with the increase of smartphone and tablet usage as well as emerging mobile app technology. At CourseSmart alone, almost one third of all users (faculty and students alike) prefer to read their materials on a tablet rather than on a computer. Product features have also improved significantly, as CourseSmart has continued to listen to consumer feedback, adapting our features to meet the changing needs of students. This includes improved highlighting and note-taking functionality, the ability to cut and paste sections of text, email select content to classmates, etc.

4. What do you see as some of the main trends in cloud-based digital texts?
An important element that CourseSmart recognizes in the use of digital texts is the ability to access texts when needed, without limiting storage to only one device or access through multiple devices, as well as creating the ability to synchronize notes and highlights when you are working between computers and devices. This is where the case for cloud-based digital textbooks becomes especially relevant to our customers. The availability and portability of cloud-based applications, such as CourseSmart’s library of eTextbooks and digital course materials, means that students and faculty can access the texts and course materials anytime, anywhere. Access is available from any web-enabled device or through one of CourseSmart’s downloadable apps. Our cloud-based model perfectly fits with the on-the-go lifestyle and need for portability without the burden of carrying around heavy textbooks. Even notes on the texts, if entered within CourseSmart’s interface, are portable!

The cloud-based nature of eTextbooks and digital resources also eliminates the need for costly investments in storage and infrastructure by schools and students to store loads of downloaded materials. While CourseSmart eTextbooks and digital course materials can be accessed offline, they remain stored on the cloud, taking advantage of the efficiency of cloud storage.

5. How well do CourseSmart texts integrate with learning management systems?
They integrate extremely well. CourseSmart is dedicated to providing a streamlined teaching and learning experience for faculty and students. CourseSmart Solutions for instructors and institutions can be fully integrated with various learning management systems like Pearson LearningStudio, Blackboard® and Desire2Learn, allowing instructors and students to access their course materials in their current daily workflow. Current solutions may be found at Arizona State University, University of Michigan and Western Governors University to name a few.

6. (Revised) What kinds of multimedia do you typically bundle with an e-text? Do you have standalone audio (mp3 format) that students can download to their portable devices, or do they have to access the e-text through the CourseSmart portal each time they want to watch a video or listen to an audio podcast?
Publishers determine the content that should be offered as an eTextbook or an eResource. The publisher also determines appropriate content that should be bundled with eTextbooks. There are various forms of multimedia used with titles offered by the publishers. Again, these are determined by the publisher. The types of multimedia selected are based on how well they support the concepts being taught.

All of CourseSmart’s eTextbooks are stored within the cloud and are accessible to students and faculty anytime, anywhere via a Web-enabled device connected to the Internet. At this time, only CourseSmart’s non-multimedia content can be accessed offline.

© 2011 CourseSmart, LLC. All rights reserved. CourseSmart® is a registered trademark of CourseSmart, LLC. All other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Interview with Joe Landsberger, Website Study Guides and Strategies

Welcome to an interview with Joe Landsberger, who has put together extensive online study guides and study tools to meet the needs of students everywhere. While courses can be relatively easy to find and OpenCourseWare more prevalent, it is often difficult to find effective study tools, particularly in different languages.

Joe Landsberger:
For the past 16 years, I have researched and authored content, as well as developed and financially supported its Website Study Guides and Strategies. This stemmed from my professional and educational background in assisting learners and developing training modules in a university setting, as well as discovering the educational potential of the Internet back in the early 1990’s. In a chance encounter with an academic support professional at a conference, I discovered that a Website should be a useful tool delivering study strategies in a learning center environment. With publication of those first pages in a Website, I immediately began to receive appreciation from developing countries. A cadre of dedicated volunteer translators and collaborations also emerged to where its resources are translated in 39 languages.

Joe Landsberger
Study Guides and Strategies

Over 250 topics in content have been developed. Some have been developed as part of a logical sequence, some by chance encounters identifying a need, and even a few by request. They include options in learning as types, in the classroom, with others, online; time and project management; test preparation and taking; reading and writing guides. Each Webpage adheres to a similarly bulleted style and format in a consistent design and navigation template, which is of course reversed for right-to-left text as Arabic, Hebrew, and Persian.

Initially the content was verbal without images, but as capabilities progressed more were illustrated. In 2003 Flash was deployed in order to facilitating engagement with content, and over 100 interactive exercises are now online as well. Aside from developing these exercises, another effort toward enhancing the effectiveness of the resource has been made to group, and even sequence topics. One limit to the singular nature of the Website, is that there is no institutional affiliation, which impedes research into determining effectiveness or in terms of outcomes, and also limits my opportunities for funding (while a public service, the organization is not non-profit, just without profit!). However, over 60,000 (educational) institutions link to the site worldwide, and traffic has continued to grow each of its 16 years, currently increasing at 23% in 2011 to over nine million visitors.

Due to the anonymous nature of the Internet, it has been difficult to gauge characteristics of visitors, whether student, teacher, support professional or parent. however presented this profile (December 2010): "Compared with internet averages the site's audience tends to be aged under 25 and 55-65; they are also disproportionately low-income, moderately educated, childless women browsing from school and home." English accounts for about 80% of pages accessed. Interestingly, only about 5% of visitors use handheld/mobile devices.

Approximately 51% of traffic originates in the US, 6% the Philippines, 4% Canada, 3.6% Mexico, 3.5% India. Over the years the international traffic has increased as more guides are translated. One curious source of traffic originated in a developing country. When I inquired from a researcher the reason, he stated that the guides seemed research-based, freely accessible, and that his country did not have the resources either to develop them, or to provide academic support in school settings.

Aside from adding topics, translations, and exercises future projects will respond to advances in technology. Recognizing the limitations of Flash and evolving standards and specifications for web-based e-learning (SCORM), I eagerly await HTML5, as well as other applications and developments in promoting interactivity for the topics and content of the Website.

Currently all 1500 pages of content are being migrated into CSS, with 20 of 39 languages completed. This effort has magnified the limitations of myself as developer. I had to dedicate several months of time not only to assess the next iteration, but also, lacking any collegial environment, teach myself the development and implementation. This last has involved a line-by-line review of not only code, but also the content itself. Foreign languages presented a unique challenge that was remedied by machine translators and Internet searches to verify and optimize text!

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Review of Drive (dir. Nicholas Refn, 2011); OpenPlan Film Criticism Collaboration Sample / Tool

E-Learning Queen is delighted to offer an OpenPlan Film Criticism Collaboration Paper example and template / tool. This OpenPlan offering is designed to help overcome some of the problems that accompany online collaborations. For example, lack of motivation and confusion with course procedures can cause online collaborations to fall flat. However, with wikis and other documents sharing programs (Google Docs, for example), collaborations can be the highlight of an online course.

The key to successful collaborations is having a good instructional strategy that includes a topic that is intrinsically motivating. One of the most engaging collaborations can be to develop movie review teams, and to create reviews. The structure can be very flexible, ranging from a back-and-forth point-counterpoint approach (or a thumbs-up, thumbs-down exchange), to the production of a seamless document that successfully melds together the two voices to create a satisfying, engaging read.

There may be some utility in maintaining a bit of the rawness in the process. In E-Learning Queen’s OpenPlan Film Criticism Collaboration Paper In the example below, some of the data is presented at the end as a kind of mini-appendix.


Drive (dir Nicholas Refn, 2011) by Susan Smith Nash and Seth Lynch

Drive (dir. Nicholas Winding Refn, 2011) features a gorgeous noir city with sharp-edged skyscrapers and pinpoints of light above the labyrinth of roads that constitute Los Angeles. The opening voiceover refers to the seeming infinity of interweaving streets, the labyrinth of physicality and solitude, which wind and converge. One might think that the taciturn Driver is the hero of the film, but it's much more complicated than that. Like so many self-reflexive films, Drive contains interpenetrating references and allusions to elements in the popular consciousness: the first that come to mind are video games (Grand Theft Auto, Midnight Club), cartoons (Speed Racer), classic car chase sequences (Bullit, The French Connection), and the cars themselves -- gleaming, fast, classic (‘73 Chevy Malibu).

One of the elements of Drive is extreme, almost surreal precision. The Driver (or “Kid”) meticulously plans his heist getaways. For example, in the opening scene’s basketball game getaway has been planned to the second. The film begins with him in a hotel room with the game on the television. After the opening getaway scene, nowhere else in the movie does it show him watching or listening to sports. While in his deliberately anonymous Impala, he simply listens to the game for the timing, knowing the exact moment to lose the cops in the arena’s parking lot. He dons a team hat, but he doesn’t wear it again. He has no interest in the game other than using it as a getaway. His sole focus and purpose is driving and when Irene asks him what he does for a living, he responds, “Drive.” Of course he follows this by saying he is also mechanic, but only after Irene asks if he drives for the movies.

Precision shows up in other aspects of the film as well: the Driver carefully works on an intake manifold and gangster Bernie Rose (Albert Brooks) slices the veins in the hapless Shannon’s arm with surgical finesse so that it bleeds out quickly and “painlessly.”

Like the Damascus knives that Bernie Rose collects, precise engineering can either mean the ultimate heist getaway – allowing mere mortals to transcend the limits of our corporeal existence, both in the bodies that bind us, and the laws – or the ultimate meting out of carbon-steel justice. You transgress, you pay.

One might think the gangsters in the film are uniformly clocklike in their precision, as is the Driver. They are not. In fact, the gangsters are refreshing in that they are not filled with hubris and do not have ostentatious lifestyles. Instead, they are fearful and essentially greedy. Their violence is messy but mercifully quick.

The Driver enables gangsters to do what they do, but he is not gangster. Instead, he is a layered, complex, paradoxical presence. The Driver possesses attributes that blur the line between hero and anti-hero. Once he decides to act (violence, expert maneuvers), he doesn’t hesitate. He is very controlled under normal circumstances, but has difficulty restraining himself from bashing a mobster’s head in with a hammer, and his inner struggle is evident in the fact he is sweating profusely. The audience may notice that the strippers in the dressing room who witness the violence are not shocked, but are still in a kind of frozen tableau that also gives the impression of a scene from a comic book, cartoon, or video game.

The Driver knows he is flawed, and with that self-knowledge, he can detect the flaws of others: when Bernie extends his hand, he is left hanging for a while, then the Driver says his hand is a little dirty. Bernie says his hand is dirty, too. This scene parallels the scene when Bernie reaches out to shake Shannon’s hand only to slash the veins in his forearm. Judging character seems to be something one possesses as an instinct. When watching TV, the Driver asks Benicio how he knows a character is a bad guy and Benicio says he just knows.

The overall mise-en-scene reinforces the experience of being the driver and feeling the car, the streets, the omnipresent threats (police, gangsters, and attachment). Panning long shots establish the driver and the viewer in a maze, and prepare one for high speeds and adrenaline, while two-shots where the individuals are on the edges of the frame reinforce the idea that togetherness is something strived for but never quite achieved.

Further, many of the shots are framed within the frame, which gives the sense of looking through a window or from a keyhole. The experience is both distancing and voyeuristic, which adds to the sense that you can never really get to know the Driver, nor can you establish consubstantiality or true resonance. There is a wall that blocks the viewer from projecting too much of one's emotions, except in the sense of alienation and profound existential solitude.

With the modifications made to the cars, and the latex masks and costumes / disguises employed by the stunt driver / getaway driver, identity is problematized. It is always changing, except for the things that do not change -- scorpion jacket and a sleek, fast car.

The city itself adds to the notion of problematized identity as drivers make their way in the pristine, dark labyrinth of city streets at night. The implication is that one can ever get free. All roads lead back to an emotional minotaur, or at least to Nino, who will call due your obligations, and will trap you with your own dreams, whether they be of money, freedom, or emotional connection.

The white satin jacket with the embroidered scorpion on the back represents the Driver’s life. In the beginning it is clean; likewise, the driver is unencumbered with emotion: he has no real feelings for others. He works for Shannon, but they do not appear to be friends. It is little more than a business relationship, but he is loyal to his boss (he goes after Nino right after he discovers a bled-out Shannon in the garage, though he likely would have gone after him anyway to save Irene and Benicio). In the beginning of the film, when the Driver shows up at Shannon’s garage to take out the Impala, he is told about the car (the most common model in California, but with a modified engine), but the Driver does not respond. The Driver only speaks to Shannon twice: he tells him to cut out his joking with Irene, then angrily confronts him after determining how Bernie learned who drove the getaway car in the pawnshop robbery.

The jacket becomes soiled with blood after he assaults Cook in the strip club and later when he viciously kills a hit man in the elevator. The stains on the jacket show parallel a life soiled by the messy relationship he forms with Irene. Though their relationship is mostly pure (while Standard is alive, they do nothing more physical than hold hands), the responsibility he feels for her and Benicio compels him to help to make any sacrifice. The scorpion is emblematic of the driver. He asks Bernie if he’s heard the story of the scorpion and the toad, indicating that he is the scorpion and will act accordingly. His fate is to kill those who fail to recognize his true nature. He also knows that Bernie is no different. He instantly sizes him up at the track and does not change his mind. When Bernie offers to meet, the Driver understands what is in store. They will both act predictably. The Driver knows not to trust what Bernie says to him at the restaurant. When Bernie says he will be let go, only to look over his shoulder for the rest of his life, the Driver simply responds with a smile.

Drive is amazingly intertextual, and the icons in it evoke elements of other films. There are many references / visual allusions, probably too numerous to mention here. However, the Driver’s scorpion jacket must be recognized as utterly metonymically intertextual, namely, with another racing film in which the protagonist wears an iconic jacket: Rebel Without a Cause.

The Driver wears the mask to conceal his identity while performing stunts. He also takes it from the trailer at the movie set and uses it to stalk and kill Nino. Anonymity provides the driver with a sense of comfort in his violence. He becomes habituated to using it while doing dangerous stunts and it gives him the courage to take out a ruthless gangster. He does not use it as a getaway driver, because these situations call for self-control. He doesn’t simply outrun the cops, but skillfully hides from them. In this scene, and in the chase scene following the pawnshop robbery, he uses slick tactics, not aggression, to evade his pursuers.

In a larger sense, masking is the essential mechanism that resonates in an uncertain world, where people can’t be trusted, and love is always unattainable, either due to one’s own honor codes, or because it’s taken away before things can be realized. Masking is the protective carapace that allows one to take action. To be emotive means you’re incapable of true action, and, further, you can’t be an action hero. To be taciturn and emotionless, means that you are capable of action. You possess the essential attributes of an action hero.

The action hero must live with contradictions and paradoxes. The Driver is at his happiest when he can be himself around Irene, but he has a secret identity as a wheelman. Of course there is another side to him that he tries to hide. He does not tell Irene he about his criminal activity, even when he plans to help Standard pay off his protection debt. He does not want to burden or implicate Irene with any knowledge of the robbery, but wants them to remain pure. Likewise, he does not want to provide them with any knowledge of his violent nature, but when called on to protect them, he will act. He knows he has to kill the hitman in the elevator, yet he understands Irene will be appalled. He kisses her, knowing that what he has to do will change her perception of him. After he stomps in the man’s head, he looks at her with a wild sadness as he realizes Irene is too shocked to speak or to stop the elevator door from shutting between them and their relationship closes. The driver knows that whatever happens, he and Irene can never be together. He calls her one last time to conclude things. He tells her that the time he spent with her and her son was the most meaningful experience of his life.

During other times of violence without the mask, it is essential for him to remain in control. After he smashes Cook’s hand with a hammer, he has his arm back ready to bash him in the head as he speaks with Nino on the phone. Even after Nino questions the offer to settle things, the Driver does not kill Cook because he hopes the situation can be resolved.

Feelings do not flow freely through a mask, and likewise, the viewer is not likely to see much emotion in the action hero. Blood, however, does flow freely, which allows the catharsis to take place, and the action to have a focus. In Drive, as in many other action films, the emotions / blood starts flowing when a loved one is harmed or in danger of being harmed. The anti-hero's flawed nature is what gives him the advantage when dealing with the villains of the film because the anti-hero possesses the same knowledge and perhaps even the same nature. What ultimately saves the anti-hero is the fact that his motives are sacrificial, and that his blood flows almost as freely. The Diver is shot, beaten, and broken -- his pain absolves him. It also awakens him, and he feels again. Ultimately, the loved one is spared, and the audience has experienced a vicarious flow as well, either in relating to the sacrifices of the hero, or in a cold recognition that they, too, inhabit a world where the price one pays for being (or seeming) emotionally impervious and distant is a brutal (and often fatal) pain upon awakening.


Appendix: Violent scenes

  1. Gangster (“Cook”) stabbed by Bernie in the eye with a fork and then with a knife in the chest.

  2. In Shannon’s garage, Bernie slices Shannon’s arm and causes him to exsanguinate

  3. In the parking garage, two thugs seek out Standard in order to collect on the “protection” debt that Standard incurred while in prison

  4. In elevator, the Driver stomps to death a thug sent to kill him

  5. In parking lot outside pawnshop, there is violence when Standard is shot by someone in the pawn shot (and not someone in the Chrysler 300 with tinted windows that pulls up as though it’s part of a rival gang. (startling since you don’t see who shoots Standard – expected something to happen because the Chrysler 300 with limo-tinted windows pulled up close to the driver’s stolen Mustang and no one got out, but didn’t expect shooting to come from the pawnshop; similarity to precision driving because of quick action, must have quick reflexes)

  6. In hotel room (didn’t expect Blanche to be killed with a shotgun blast to the head since she was with the mobsters, she called them when the driver leaves the hotel to call Irene).


OpenPlan Film Criticism Collaboration Template / Tool

  1. List the name of the film, the director, year released, and the key characters and actors.

  2. Where and when does the film take place? What is the atmosphere?

  3. What is it about this film that makes you care about it? How does it engage you emotionally? Intellectually? What is the primary focus of the plot?

  4. What makes this film special? What are the narrative elements that set it apart from others?

  5. How do the characters distinguish themselves? How are they special / unique? What do they do or say? (Describe illustrative scenes)

  6. What is the dominant camera work? What types of shots characterize this film?

  7. What are other films that may resonate with this film? List them, and describe what makes them have something in common with this one.

  8. What are some aspects of the film that you’re not quite sure how to process, but which linger long after you’ve seen the film.

  9. List a few philosophical / psychological ideas that may relate to the film.

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