Animated learning

I have had great fun creating a simple dialogue using different animation tools. I think they provide engaging, accessible and entertaining clips of learning that can have a helpful impact on an ongoing plan for any level of learning.

Here is an example I have created using a simple web-based tool called xtranormal. I have decided to take a simple story of two robots trying to make sense and understand the learning styles of humans.

I was given a series of options with either one or two characters, a backdrop with a background sound. I could edit in the camera angles, expressions, gestures and pace into my dialogue using drag and drop.  This is the result from my first published experiment!

What would be your weekly message? Have a go at creating your own animation.

 As I discover more free animation tools I will add them to this page.


#edcmooc: Today’s metaphors for future reference

This is the second assignment in my #edcmooc. This time I have been invited to comment on some possible perspectives of Utopia and Dystopia in the future presented in a series of short videos and films.  I plan to experiment with some metaphors and explore the following questions. Who is set to benefit from the personal, constant attentions of information technology, and who might lose out?

Now, I leap into this inquiry with a Utopian view.  I have trained both digital natives and digital immigrants and, while they ask me for a completely different approach to the way I support them, they have a common intention. They are looking for THEIR new innovative solution. This could be to find a way to build a roller-coaster in Minecraft in 30 seconds or it could be to figure out how to send a simple message on a smart phone. In their quests I think they are equal and, in a learning context, they bring the importance of diversity in how we learn.

In the following two videos, Microsoft and Corning are selling the Utopian view of life being much easier (and rather clean!). Everybody is at ease with the technology. Both digital natives and immigrants could be present.   Here the information is accessed with a simple swipe of the hand within the zone of a sensor. It follows that all those with good spacial awareness and can ask for the right data will be winners. (Note to self: I really should take a course in sign language. Addendum: will I have to live through an age of sitting completely still? Addendum II: remind me to take out shares in massage chairs).  Are there any losers in the frame? Well, there those who will not have the physical dexterity to take exams in fly-swatting or commanding visually dominant data, there are those who will not have the financial collateral and there are those who will choose to opt out of the omnipresence of data control. The digital anti-heroes who want to win a different battle for human-ness.

Where was I? Oh yes, metaphors. In both videos you are invited to imagine the accessibility of information in learning and working. A sort of white hole that is continually providing data. In the Corning video “A Day Made of Glass 2”, The glass is a window into anything you would wish to know or need – in an instant. As observers we see people being at ease, perhaps not even noticing the technology. It is transparent with intelligent augmented reality to enhance our environment.

In the second video, “Productivity Future Vision (2011)”, Microsoft is keen to how much easier life can be where people integrate their life into the digi-sphere. Fascinatingly it shows us that the keyboard and the Size 0 phone is a resilient tool for facilitating this. is this the story of the perfect future?

Furthermore is this future Utopian or Dystopian? I find the idea of all my dull tasks being managed by intelligent online systems VERY seductive. And, conveniently clean. I enjoy the positive messages in the two promotional videos. If the participants of this world trust their world, why not see this image as Utopian.

BUT is it all rather too clean? Why do I decide to conjure up a dramatic picture with passionate people rejecting this perfect life style and living in derelict factories wearing dirty, badly knitted  jumpers? Because popular media finds the Dystopian view irresistible. Our myths, stories, films and newspapers are filled with examples. Heroes (with imaginative disadvantages) are relentlessly fighting the corrupt, all-powerful authorities. Yes, the evidence is overwhelming. The dull fact is that the Dystopian plot buys more interest than the relaxing clean Utopia.

It follows that with the current huge wall of distrust in the managers of these magical digital interfaces together with the blooming ‘live’ examples of cyber-crime, I am inclined to shed my neatly fitting Utopian suit and vote with my badly knitted woolly jumper.

Other blogs I have enjoyed include:

Ary Aranguiz

David Hopkins


#edcmooc Utopia v Dystopia: Where does technology come into this?

So lets start with what I think I am talking about here. I want to ponder on the issue of whether the onward march of technology is a good thing or a bad thing in our daily lives. Whether technology is creating a Utopia or a Dystopia?

This pondering was prompted by a brilliant new Massive Open On-line course, or MOOC, organised by Edinburgh University. This is a collaborative learning course where many thousands of people can participate through a range of communications and learning technology platforms. I am not sure how many there are participating in this one but I do know 40,000 learners has been mentioned a few times. Yes, it is a lot of learners on one course! It feels like jumping down a waterfall into a VERY large pool of fresh water.

So, on with the task in hand. In this blog I am going to focus on four short films. Each film represents a different reflection of technology Utopia v technology Dystopia.

But what do I mean by technology Utopia v technology Dystopia? I was invited to study articles and resources including Daniel Chandler (2002) and Hand and Sandywell (2002). The latter argues that an Utopian view of digital culture and digital education is one where I can choose either to see technology as an enabler towards a better world in all its forms. A neutral and widely available force that is “intrinsically democratizing”. Alternatively, I can choose Dystopia where technology is harmful, providing at best a sharp, cruel instrument designed to ‘manage’ or control all online conversation and thereby ‘manipulate’ opinion, Hand and Sandywell (2002).

In the first film, Bendito Machine III, this eye-catching animation tells the story of what Caroll Purcell might identify as ‘the semi-religious faith in the inevitability of progress’ (Purcell: 1994, p38). Loaded with familiar symbolism of climbing mountains, lights from the sky and present alien-like-machines silhouetted against a sinister orange. It tells a simple story of a community’s lurch through an evolution of deities that mirror an evolution through a series of technologies. Each new arrival is worshiped and, when it dangerously malfunctions, it is dumped . As one of my fellow MOOC learners pointed out it was important to see the one of the deitie was a TV, while limited in it functions was a important innovation that had a significant global impact on society and learning. As each deity gets larger and more impressive, the shorter its period of usefulness – another parallel. Well, I suppose my saucepans have lasted a lot longer than any of my computers! The mystification of this techno-evolution is unaltered by the incidental “accidents” made by each new technological deity.  Do the worshipers have a choice? I think they do from my safe observational place. They think they do within the confines of their understanding of how the world works. Perhaps a Dystopian film with Utopian characters.

In film 2 called “Inbox” we are told a delightful story of two young people who are clearly shy and uncomfortable with other people. Synchronicity connects them through two red carrier bags. The magical powers of these two bags introduces them to each other and allows them to transport messages and objects to each other. We are clearly told that this b-mail is more than just a social network because we were invited to notice one of the characters did not want to use Facebook. It reminded me of the personal pleasure of writing and receiving a letter in the post…. except this appears to be gratifyingly faster. Yes, there was a Utopian theme as it demonstrated how this magical technology allowed two young people to dance on the edge of that scary place of being vulnerable with another.

In film 3, Thursday, we are pulled into a angular patterned world of digital productivity in which a small bird, representing nature, is looking for food. Our feathery friends are curious and resilient in their digital urban landscape. They are noticed only when they interfere with the digital world. It is our little bird who has the agency The digital natives are uninterested and inert without the continuity of technology. In fact, its is Daniel Chandler’s ‘technological determinism‘, the technology lead theory of social change (Chandler, D: 2002), that is demonstrated clearly with all aspects of the human workers world defined by a well thought through technological world.

I have to say it threw into sharp focus how much I am connected to my technology!

The dark portrayal and overwhelming technological force in the final and fourth short film New Media is suitably depressing. There is dull light and cold colours in this augmented film. A deserted landscape with overbearing machines sucking/maintaining (?) life in the name of the technological imperative. Parallel themes with which I identified with the first short film  Bendito Machine III were the shape of the machines, the use of menacing colours and the bland landscape. The Dystopian and reductionist imagery where the inevitable irrelevance of life leave an city empty an desolate.

Other blogs I enjoyed include:

Suzanne Hardy




Hand, M. and B. Sandywell. 2002. E-topia as cosmopolis or citadel: On the democratizing and de-democratizing logics of the internet, or, toward a critique of the new technological fetishism. Theory, Culture & Society 19, no. 1-2: 197-225. (p.205-6)

Chandler, D. 2002. Technological determinism. Web essay, Media and Communications Studies, University of Aberystwyth.