One week just thinking…

Last day in Amsterdam after a week listening to my colleagues, sharing ideas, entering discussions and observing the general feel. The best I take from all I’ve seen and heard are new possibilities presentations like Diane and Thomas Wilcox’s opened to me. I don’t teach chemistry, but I could see how I could use OpenSim, which my research group ARGET has used before, to help high complexity schools in Tarragona. The workshop, the first day of the congress too, was just amazing. I can’t wait to try MakeyMakey and Pocket code.

Something however I have to say is that it was a bit disappointing to find so few people with critical ideas on the uses of technology. The fact that there are moral and emotional implications in the uses we give to tools, particularly but not exclusively, talking about early education, was never mentioned. Even the economy behind tools, I mean, there are companies there, making profit, using our data, using our social media presence… And we not often reflect on the consequences of that.

Besides, I’m progressively tanking a more “ecological”, “Integral” take on education and the roles technology and multimodal resources should play there… I will be the editor of a special number of our faculty journal: “Multimodal Discourses on Education: Reflections on Contemporary Practices of Creation and Interchange of Meaning” – UT. I hope I will be able to set an agenda in my editorial. I am very conscious I’m nobody to put forward an agenda for multimodal pedagogy… But I feel like doing it, anyway. And, from what I have seen in EdMedia2018, I think it is necessary.

I will leave you with a pick from yesterday night at the beach of Amsterdam at, wauuu, 10:30pm. It was a perfect sunset. I will be going home now with mind and heart full of ideas, happy for having met interesting people and for having spent a whole week just thinking… Yes, I enjoy that and I have to thank EdMedia2018 for having been the scenario for all the things I have realized this week.

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By the way, here is the information on the call for UT, in case anyone out there is interested:

Deadline for manuscripts reception: 05/October/2018

The UT Journal: Universitas Tarraconensis – Journal of Educational Sciences is published by the Department of Pedagogy of the Rovira i Virgili University. It is biannual (two issues are published every year: June and December) and until 2015 it is published on paper and as of this year it is published in exclusively digital format. This call is for one special number. The monograph “Multimodal Discourses on Education: Reflections on Contemporary Practices of Creation and Interchange of Meaning” aims to explore, through scientific review, the multiple ways through which the educational landscape transforms and is potentially transformed by semiotic practices. With this monograph, we address the question of how representative and communicative resources change the educational landscape, as well as the political, social and cultural implications of these processes. As Editors, we expect a variety of topics at the intersection of social semiotics, digital ethnography and pedagogy. This monograph tries to bring together work related to the contemporary changing educational and communicative demands.

We welcome the presentation of unpublished manuscripts. They can be empirical or theoretical research studies. UT uses an electronic platform “Open Journal System” to manage the peer-review process. If you have not submitted a paper to this journal before, you will need to create an account. All manuscripts must be sent through this electronic platform.

Manuscripts can be written in Spanish, Catalan, Portuguese, French and English and must be original. Only those that have not been published previously, nor submitted for review to other scientific journals will be accepted for publication. Authors who send a manuscript to UT are invited to include their professional data and to add their ORCID identifier. (http://orcid.org/). Please find enclosed instructions for the authors.

We invite you to send us your work.

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June 29, 2018 at 9:12 am Leave a comment

Digital literacy to make a better world

I’m attending EdMedia 2018 this year and it opened with two parallel workshops. I decided to attend “Making with kids in Europe – to foster digital literacy, to make a better world, and to build a new entrepreneurship education”. It was so inspiring. The team began presenting the ideas that underline their practice: the maker movement and the implications of new digital gadgets, fabrication tools and spaces for creative learning and teaching.

Than, just to wam up, we did the marshmallow challenge. We organized in groups. in fifteen minutes, teams must build the tallest free-standing structure out of 20 sticks of spaghetti, one yard of tape, one yard of string, and one marshmallow. The marshmallow needs to be on top. And my group won it =) I have to say we did really well, collaborating to create the best structure and then building it. It’s all about working together and being able to try things out. It was fun, but just the beginning.

Captura de pantalla 2018-06-25 a les 13.04.18

What came next was demonstrations of many different activities that would introduce kids to really complicated themes in a fun way through the mediation of technology. What I liked the most about it was the whole number of possibilities it opened my mind to. I mean, my student teachers explore digital tools in our multimodal literacy classes at the university, but I really never dared anything in the field of programming, robotics or 3D printing. The thing is that as I don’t feel qualified in these fields, I felt I couldn’t guide my students there. But in fact I can, cause it is not about what I can do. It should be about what my students can imagine and do.

In the workshop we had some  hands-on experiences with simple maker tools and projects with children for beginners and insights into diverse European approaches and experiences with maker education. We saw some experimental projects from the European initiative DOIT , we saw how we could program educational games in Scratch, and we played with a dough piano and with conductivity using a MaKeyMaKey set.

I will begging by buying my Makeymakey kit and plying with my 2,5 year old kid. Then I will think how I can bring it into my teaching and how I can make a better world with all that. I still don’t know exactly what will come out of it, but I wanted to share the links and the joy of this morning with you.

June 25, 2018 at 1:18 pm Leave a comment

Not something out there

The Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology of URV has now a new space of intelectual inquiry: the study circle Education, Discourse and Society – EDiS.

We had our first work session on the 25/05 receiving Teun van Dijk. Teun used a rather informal and conversational tone to share decades of knowledge and experience in the field of linguistics. Although he is one of the very founders of Discourse Analysis, he told us he prefers to call it Discourse Studies, to avoid misconceptions like considering Discourse Analysis as a methodology that can be applied in the field of Education or Anthropology, for example. Discourse Analysis or Discourse Studies, if you may, Teun told us, is a field of research on it own. It is transdisciplinary because it is in constant dialogue with many other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, but it has its own contribution to make, its own methods and theoretical background.

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Teun explained how Discourse Studies evolved as a need researchers felt to move beyond a Linguistics of text or sentences and approach the level of discourse and the discursive practices associated to it. In his own approach, Teun also brought insights from Psychology to understand how the notion of cognition is related to discourse. This is how he came to define the context and situations in which discourse is created, negotiated and enacted as a mental representation discourse participants hold of what is going on. In this sense, Teun argues, the context is not something out there, something that is happening and can be objectively described. Instead, each participant will have his or her own mental representation of context.

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Many questions arise from our discussion with Teun van Dijk. Analyzing textbooks and the curriculum so that we ensure social equity and respect to cultural diversity is definitely a beginning, but there is more. In the field of education we intervene. So how do we design educational interventions taking into account that both the teachers and the students have different mental representations of what is going on? How do we help overcome stereotypical or sexist mental representations? How are we to change them any way if we do not fully understand how mental representations are created after all?

Food for thought, my friends. Welcome to the club =)

May 30, 2017 at 9:47 am Leave a comment

Getting ready for KAME

I was awarded a travell expenses to present my paper “Race: insanity Intertextual discursive practices challenging race and ethnicity in the digital age” at the KAME international conference, in Seoul, South Korea.

KAME stands for the Korean Association for Multicultural Education. I’m so exited about it and hoping I can make contacts that will lead to the development of projects in field of multiculturalism. Actually I have just received the announcement for the 6th International Conference “Multicultural discourses”, which will be held in Tilburg, the Netherlands, in October 2018. That means we have plenty of time to start an international collaboration group.

I really enjoyed writing “Race: Insanity”, but now its as if I had to do something more serious. I feel like contributing to overcome inequalities and build a world cultural and ethnically diverse through research. This is definitely something that matches my personal goal. If my point of view, from Discourse Analysis can make something there,  I will be the happiest researcher in the world =)

Than Seoul, here I go. I will let you know the updates on my asian adventure.

seoul

 

May 10, 2017 at 6:21 am Leave a comment

Cercle d’Estudis “Educació, Discurs i Societat” – URV

Benvolguts i benvolgudes,
 
Des del Departament de Pedagogia us convidem a la sessió inaugural del Cercle d’Estudis “Educació, Discurs i Societat” que tindrà lloc a la Facultat de Ciències de l’Educació i Psicologia de la Universitat Rovira i Virgili el dia 25/05 de 11:00 a les 12:30.
 
En aquesta oportunitat, a més de compartir els objetius del cercle d’estudis, comptarem amb la presència del doctor Teun Van Dijk, actualment professor de la Universitat Pompeu Fabra, que ens farà la conferència “Educació, discurs i societat”.
van
 
El professor van Dijk és un referent internacional en l’Anàlisi del Discurs, editor de dues revistes JCR y autor d’innumerables llibres i articles d’investigació.
 
L’activitat és gratuïta, oberta a professors i alumnes de grau i doctorat, però cal fer inscripció a través del correu sdpeda@urv.cat fins el 15/05 perquè puguem preveure l’espai més adequat a la Facultat per realitzar aquesta primera sessió de treball.
Us preguem feu màxima difusió entre docents, investigadors i alumnat de la URV i altres universitats.
 
Cordialment
Janaina Minelli de Oliveira .
Pedagogia
Universitat Rovira i Virgili

April 3, 2017 at 11:56 am Leave a comment

Sometimes worth all times

What if we used technology to make our students research, think creatively and represent their learning in sharable semiotic resources?

Well, sometimes beautiful things happen than.

I asked my student teachers to chose among a list of concepts like germination, fertilization, boiling, mitosis, infection, blood circulation etc. I teach the subject “Communicative habilities” #hhccurv and we dedicate 3 ECT to multimodal literacy, guiding our students in the development of their own digital competency, but also asking them to think as educators and imagine what they would do in schools. They were supposed to work in groups to explore #digitalstorytelling. Each group should tell the story of that concept using stop motion as design technique and Wevideo as the editing tool. I wanted them to see digital story telling can go beyond traditional uses we first think of, like telling kids a story.

In general they all enjoyed the experience and made good jobs, but this one brought me to tears – Yes, I’m that kind of teacher 😉 They watered the seed of education with friendship, respect, solidarity, innovation, creativity, maturity, motivation, positivity, empathy, love, criticism and responsibility. I define myself as a person who is interested in people and things that can make this world a better place to live and to love. As I see this seed germinate, I feel “today was a good working day”. Just love my job, cause sometimes the unexpected blossoms. =)

November 8, 2016 at 9:53 am Leave a comment

Ethics, Social Semiotics and Creativity

During a seminar with @jordi_a at @argeturv , I interrupted his line of thought to say “Technology did not change the world; people did”. Don’t get me wrong, it was a quite informal conversation. Jordi was there telling us how he evolved over the last ten years from being someone who would try out any new piece of technology available in the market  into being someone who questions every single aspect of applying technology in education. Jordi has been a reference in the Spanish scenario of educational technology for a good while. To my eyes, his later version is so much more interesting the the first ones and so is what he does and says. The thing is that after my interruption, Jordi, very calmly, told me: “Oh, didn’t it? Maybe you should know that there are people out there who  ascribe some form of moral agency to technology.”, or something like that. I said, “What?”.

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The “moral agency to technology” sounded like nuts for me. Before I gave the theme any consideration, my ideas about humans and technology were very clear: humans make and use technologies. Period. I understood technologies as meaning delivery artifacts, semiotic resources. But after reading “The moral status of technological artifacts”, edited by Peter Kroes and Peter-Paul Verbeek, I now think I did not quite understood what I myself was saying and writing. I had to go back to “Literacy in the new media age”, by Gunther Kress, to reorganize my thoughts. I’m not done yet ;), but here is what has emerged for the moment.

@ppverbeek argues intentionality, freedom, and agency – generally ascribed exclusively to humans – are in fact the result of intricate connections and interactions between human beings and technological artifacts. This is how material artifacts penetrate the realm of Ethics. Peter thinks it is necessary to “develop an alternative account of the relations between humans and technologies in ethical theory – an account that allows us to understand how moral practices are coproductions of humans and technologies, rather than exclusively human affairs in which technologies can only play instrumental or obstructive roles.” And there we go: artifacts have moral significance. Peter does not mean machines have agency themselves. Instead, he invites us to reconsider moral agency as a fundamentally hybrid affair. “The central idea is that technologies-in-use help to establish relations between human beings and their environment. In these relations, technologies are not merely silent ‘intermediaries’ but active ‘mediators’ that help to constitute the entities that have a relationship ‘through’ the technology.”

I am totally seduced by this argument. Actually, I am re-reading Social Semiotics with new glances now. It is like, \o/ How could I not see that? Gunther Kress says in many different moments that the affordances of technology give rise to the expression of social factors. He considers social conditions to enable that in first instance, but he reminds us “we also have to remain aware that technology as a tool has its shaping effect”. He goes on to say that “practices can only be understood when the potentials and limitations of tools with which one practices are understood”. Gunther defines his academic work as an intent of understanding how we as humans come to be who we are in our cultural and social environments. I would add, come to be who we are using the tools we have at our disposal, but I think that might only be redundant. What is implicit in Gunther’ interest statement is that we are not just humans. We come to be who we are. And we do so as we use tools. So using tools changes us as much as we change/create the tools we use – please excuse me if I am going too far, I get really exited thinking about this kind of things. This will take us inevitably to reconsider moral agency as a fundamentally hybrid affair, right?

And we can go further and think of learning. Learning in a world where meaning is mediated through an unprecedented variety of technology delivery artifacts needs to be reconsidered as much as moral agency. In “Advances in language and education”, Gunther says that “when you learn to represent, you learn a whole orientation to the world – certainly to the cultural wold, but maybe also as a means of semioticizing the natural world”. At least some technologies are means we use to semioticize the natural world. As humans, we change things, but we change too in the process. Do we change ourselves or do things we create change us? This is probably not relevant – or maybe it is -, but the point is that, as I had read one thousand times in Gunther Kress’ work, “the resources through which meaning is made are changed in the process of meaning making, but so is the inner disposition of those who have made that meaning inwardly in interpretation or outwardly in articulation”. This is precisely what takes me to creativity.

However, there is a paradox here. I can theoretically asume that even as we speak we are never only using a system. We are always to some extent creating, doing semiotic work. Semiotic work is always creative work, at least to some extent. The paradox is that when I ask my student teachers do create an education resource and tell them it can be of any theme, they can use any tool, it can be aimed at anyone… Most of their work is so plain: help kids identify the name of the colors, help kids develop habits like brushing their teeth.

Ok, I will leave it here. I’m becoming negative and i really don’t feel like after having been able to put down my thoughts on my new discovery in the filed of Ethics and my renewed way of looking at Social Semiotics. Thank you Jordi, Peter and Gunther. You chance the world with your semiotic work.

October 15, 2016 at 7:31 am Leave a comment

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