robin_anne_reid: (Treehouse)
robin_anne_reid ([personal profile] robin_anne_reid) wrote2013-01-16 11:34 am

MLA 2013 Session #550: The CLassroom as Interface

Finishing up my posting on sessions! As before--transcribed, lightly edited!

550. The Classroom as Interface
Saturday, 5 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., Hampton, Sheraton
Presiding: Kathi Inman Berens, Univ. of Southern California
1. "The Campus as Interface: Screening the University," Elizabeth Mathews Losh, Univ. of California, San Diego
2. "Being Distracted in the Digital Age," Jason Farman, Univ. of Maryland, College Park
3. "Virtual Classroom Software: A Medium-Specific Analysis," Kathi Inman Berens
4. "The Multisensory Classroom," Leeann Hunter, Georgia Inst. of Tech.

The classroom as interface--who could resist this title! NOT ME! I was so on this session, and it was as wonderful as I hoped.

And to heck with waiting for summer--I have to get a new net or some other nifty portable device ASAP! Before my next conference. (UPDATE: I now have a nifty Dell XPS Ultrabook, delivered yesterday, which I shall dig out and purr over very soon).

I love this blogging of conference sessions. I love that MLA has tables set up in the back for bloggers and tweeters.

I think this session will be very useful as I think about my Team Zombies vs. Team Werewolves popular culture course I've proposed teaching as part of my College's large-class initiative (the basic plan: 100 students, me, one GA, and a large major tech auditorium class twice a week, and discussions groups once a week, and lots and lots and lots of social media and technology--including games and other cool stuff I learned about in the last session).

Introduction: Kathi Berens

Avenues of access: define some terms at the beginning, for everybody, a colleague will be a participant for the Virtual Interface this talk. (My note: OK, this is great—she's doing the Virtual and well as Physical talk at the same time during the presentation—and it went beautifully).

User interface: space where interactions between humans and computer perform. Mobile commuting is part of our students' habits. Those people who still log in and consult internet at designated times (work email, shopping) are not in this group, but for those whose smart devices are never far from their bodies and consult the devices so many times during the day that the distinction between on and off line is gone: ubiquitous computing.

The classroom is an interface whether or not one's course design reflects this state of being.

We have yet to see about how mobility and on demand learning ought to shape education beyond investment in MOOCS (NOTE: I did not hear any good words about MOOCS at the places in MLA where I hung out).

Four contexts: university wide distribution of tech to students; learner's dispersed attention; virtual classroom platforms; and the unique qualities of bodies (non verbal modes).

Move from university to learner's body in presentations.

"The Campus as Interface: Screening the University," Elizabeth Mathews Losh, Univ. of California, San Diego

Mass distribution of hand held devices to students offer new ways of reading and writing is no longer new. Project allowing students to read textbooks, buildings, each other. The Sixth HP Initiative. Counter anxieties about post literacy and the distraction panic.

Ten years worth of work four case studies that should be studied in the "HISTORY" of this kind of campus initiative.

The 2002 HP devices at UC San Diego
2004 IPODS at Duke
2009 and 2011, IPADS at Seton Hill and Maryland

Tell us about how students should decipher meanings in higher education.

Rhetoric that documents a decade of ubiquitous computing and explores ideologies of what soon may be forgotten chapter. Unpacking the basic assumptions of these pedagogical experiments, perhaps we can learn something about our own inheritances, rather than assume that use of devices is always radical new. (NOTE: I know a similar initiative was 'new' on my campus a few years ago—wonder if anybody had looked at the results of the earlier initiatives—I'm betting not?)

Clickers, iPhone apps that exploit mobility and fluidity of classroom dynamics; there is a digital past to be archived, curated, and theorized for university stakeholders.

One of first mass distribution efforts rarely mentioned today--inheritance of my own. UC San Diego. I sometimes bring the device with me to show but didn't today though I felt kind of guilty--can still get it working.

Fall 2002 700 wireless equipped jordana HPs were given to students through the on campus program (residential college, didn't get name, innovative core curriculum theme of active learning). Institutional partners Institute of Telecommunications, CAL II IT , general education, digital literacy pre req in programming that requires ongoing work with Computer Science and Engineering.

First year writing requirement, but also lower division programming requirement.

Jordana distribution was meant to dramatize the fact that campus had developed a mature wireless network--information retrieval and digital awareness.

Wireless as a cultural imaginary was supposed to supply euphoria as oppressed subjects were liberated from lock down .

Wireless promises utopia… (name of critic I didn't get), and…

Planners wanted (JORNADA HANDHELD POCKET PCS) involved artist to get involved -- "beyond product placement"

Powering up 700 devices to be taken out of their box by ecstatic students to be photographed and filmed as part of narrative—the dramatic opening.

Big unveil (photograph).

Adriene Jenik Off_the_grid
Helped with effort--vulnerabilities of what it means to be off the grid.
Game like activities n art and graphic design--negative space--rethinking the elements of the campus.

Negative space of nonwired areas selected to investigate and challenge questions.

Explicit treasure hunt activities and other games Trigger, Tag, and Tell
Mystery History
Finders Keepers
Activities of Social Surveillance to identify presence and locations of actors in groups.

One of the hopes of distributing such devices was to allow students to be seen and see in new ways: Lev Manovitch: screen and not screen out.

Ideologies of transparencies: relationships based on proximity and transparency as metaphors, and how university should function.

One of the thing I'm interested in as a scholar--what are the analogies made between values associated with technology, and values associated with institutions. The ways I'm interests in how analogies between democratic institution in the form of a government agency might be imagined to be like certain kinds of distribute computer networks.

Unpacking metaphors that he's using (Griswold, chancellor?)

Hoped to use concepts of space and space--department, provides services for aggregate of people (Learning Assemblages slide), Griswold.

Any technologically and complex multiversity has a complete set of parts: Space, place, Ubiquity: residential college neighborhoods; departments have schools. Faculty belongs to college and department. Academic neighborhoods -- using mobile technology.

Unlike those imagined confident and technological fluent generation, the initiative leaders feared that there would be isolation and unfamiliar growth with the arrival of baby boomer children--these devices might guide students' participation into new types of spaces/communities--networked publics, and opportunities that could be mapped.

Networked publics: Issue of people not being in institutions -- people not there full time or with full attention. At time HALF of undergrads had cell phones.

Social Surveillance: Artist was inspired to develop dystopian rather than utopian devices of such devices.

Pedagogy of total information awareness -- she decided to use the technology artistically in somewhat different ways (collaboration with other artists), to create SpecFlic: installation about alienation from print artifacts.

Node in universal repository.

Giant hyperwall display.

Librarian image Jennik with appearance mediated.

Students enrolled in classes--contributing footage to the archive.

Saw how platforms can control and surveil.

Polling classes: sporadic intermittent quizzes to help students make sure they're enrolled in class

Clickers are used to poll students continuously.

Acknowledgement: power being used--the creators saw it as participatory not hegemonic The Politics of Polling: "The ActiveClass Project, Experiments.." Ratto et. Al.

Political aspects (professor and student) separate from physical effects (de Certau would disagree).

Jornada eventually jettisoned -- as technology changed--smart devices became perceived as scattering attention, distraction of students, intensifying conflicts between faculty and students about whose technology. "The War on Learning" Remixed of faculty and alienation. Angry professor.

Faculty: difficulty in using the original tool was cited as virtue because students could not use to multitask in class. (stylus, keypad, etc.)

The Distraction Panic: ActiveClass -- small display and pen-based input was seen as positive. Minimal distraction (but seen as problems).

Within a year even early adopters abandoned ActiveClass platform. Not required. Sold devices.

What went wrong, what went right?

Duke University 2004-2005

20 gigabyte apple iPads Belkin voice recorders, 160 students, freshmen.

Recording lectures, capturing sound from field work, skill and drill in foreign and language classes, peer feedback data storage.

Student appreciated being asked to curate an archive of materials in their first year experience. Mobile electronic practices may be social rather than individual in nature.

Participating faculty often were frustrated with copyright restrictions of ITunes, and apple lock down. Absence of training and support. Absence of systems for bulk purchasing or academic use.

People backed off after the first year

Valuable results claimed.

iPad distributions: Use of ebooks threatened to break monopoly on textbooks--but it has perils.

Class, race, gender operate in terms of Apple

Textbook wars? Elitism?


Emphasis on individual rather than shared social practices.

Dennis Jerz on Seton Hill: provides better feedback through it, would like to gather data on student annotations on their work.

Jerz, interactive fiction, active bloggers.

Hasan Elahi: digital artist who did work on surveillance after discovering he was on Do Not Travel list. Ipads very well suited. Experiment with students getting t-shirt, and QR codes and finding student to match up with shirt.

TransBorder Immigrant Tool

Ubiquitous computing technologies to avoid technology for political and social impact and work.

Community stations: group co presence around shared deliberative spaces. Low tech media (Wayne Yang, first year capstone comic con).

In virtual window, NAME not clear, Leon Batista Alberti to Paul.

Mass distribution to hand held devices offer new ways for students to read university and interfaces, maybe we should read the university differently ourselves, and consider connections of face with interfaces, in ways that respect technology of rapid building of systems in which we're constructing knowledge and regulating each other's conduct. The thought that system could be more transparent by handheld device .

Another saw first year experience as liminal time to be captured and stored/archived.

Recent romance with paperless computing--merits further close reading--as we unveil new interfaces with the classroom, don't lose memories of other experiments.

"Being Distracted in the Digital Age," Jason Farman, Univ. of Maryland, College Park

Number of mobile devices--huge numbers--most ubiquitous device no face of planet. Have to deal with mobile devices in the classroom.

Right now: three options:

Ignore the devices (probably most used).
Ban the devices (lot of people write ban into syllabus)
Incorporate the devices.

This s the method I'm talking about today, how to incorporate these devices, and one I do. The reason I've incorporated the devices is that I had to for a new job.

Digital Cultures and Creativity. Students given IPADS when they enter the program. Hired Fall 2007 to get program off the ground, and about a month before classes started I got an email that said all the students are getting IPADS, please incorporate into your curriculum.

I've never touched an IPAD I don't know what to do, or what machine can do. This brings me to the most fundamental question:

What is the right tool for this particular job? Not always digital.

The question about the proposal to incorporate IPADS into your curriculum.

You have a tool, now find some uses for it. Flips the question (should be, I want to do X, what is the best tool?)0

Third year teaching with IPADS in the classroom (will be the last year), this has been the most challenging aspect of my job. Is finding ways to use the IPAD and there's an expectation to use them dynamically.


Twitter backchannel
Site specific quizzes
Map making projects
Participatory surveillance
Flash mobs
Location based gaming
Locative storytelling projects

Does in classes without IPADS because students have the devices.

Download twitter application and create a backchannel where they create hashtag for class for discussion throughout.

Dynamic space of conversation.

Fantastic to hear from all 80 students--never ever hear from all, but with Twitter, I required that they contribute during the lecture.

The shy students are quite vocal on the backchannel.

Lots of resistance to using Twitter on the classroom, distraction, disconnection between the lecture and the information stream of twitter. Surveyed at the end, the very first tweet I got F 2010, this is certainly the first class I've taken where we're encouraged to be distracted by mobile devices.

"It's a distraction, but a benevolent one"

Sp 2012, survey, and some of the responses were "I was skeptical about the use of twitter but it felt like distraction, but started to appreciate it as it went on". We could have a dialogue of class while learning. I felt like it was a distraction but it deepened the discussion on important topics.

Was I requiring students to be distracted


One thing I pass on: idea that multitasking takes many forms, and it takes place within a variety of contexts. When I have a discussion with faculty member, it's a bad word, and a single bucket--wrong way of thinking about multitasking.

Understanding multitasking is the key to success (DAVIDSON).

Good and bad types--what is involved.

Driving and reading a newspaper that conflict, but driving itself requires multitasking.

Driving with a stick.

Embodied experience of multitasking relegates certain tasks to the background.

I like the question that she raising: what is monotasking. I don't think anybody is monotasking right now.

"There are really important things you cannot think about unless it's still and you're only thinking about only one thing at a time. Some things not amenable to thinking about fifteen things"

Hamlet's Blackberry: Digital busyness is the enemy of depth.

Opposite of what my students said.

Larger historical view of distraction: Derrida's entire project of deconstruction Western logocentrism was about exposing the fetish of thinking of the spoken word as the house of true presence, vs. written work as departure for it. Throughout history we fetishize certain forms of connection and dismiss others.

Ausander (book title): live meeting real time get together, transformed by recording media. All of us together are in synchronous proxemics engagement, but that's been informed and absolutely transformed by digital technologies, by recording media, the live and the mediated, the document and the live performance have been so enmeshed that you cannot separate any longer. To fetishize these real time get togethers or is illusory.

Using mobile technology, think about classroom as synchronous place and how we fetishize certain types of connections and dismiss other types.

PROJECTS using technologies.

Have site specific quiz where students engage with space and place (one thing mobile technologies did well).

Seven Scenes, platform, has quiz function, and real time feedback.

I start by asking them about relationship of content to space and place. What does that have to do with the space of campus, and find a connection between space of campus and your material, and get the students out there to think about relationships about the material.

Flash mob: October image, on video, MP# flash mob, University of Maryland. MP3, hit play at 4 am, doing activities, all of the things they were going to do, get as many people involved as possible.

Ideas about headphones are instead a connecting technology, listening to the same thing at the same time.

Locative game, open search platform, designed over weekend y students AT NYU.

They have to capture the flat, transform the university space into a game board, do to this similar to the flash mob.

Reimagine spaces of campus.

Created several maps using their devices--surveillance maps of U of Maryland campus where we have hundreds of surveillance cameras around, I wanted them to think about the campus as a surveillance space to ask questions about what is privacy in the digital age. Do you thin its important that you're being watched.

Other maps: accessibility map of the campus (on of the worst in terms of wheelchair accessibility, wanted them to see that).

Create infrastructure maps, chart data centers on the east coast, wireless towers, materiality about devise we're giving them.

Story projects, sort of littering parts of story around campus, campus narrative backdrop. Glitch project, screen capture. Google Glitch Project Maryland.

Students imagined combining Alice in Wonderland with the Matrix, what would that look like.

Documentaries using the IPAD, shot all video, did the editing, took a topic that we covered, and had to interview experts on that topic and deepen their relationship to is.

In conclusion; I think it's important for us to begin to imagine creative ways to incorporate these technologies rather than ban or ignore, such a pervasive part of our culture, woven into our students every day lives, we're missing important opportunity, and also I think to be my job to get the students to reimagine the uses of these devices. See students using them in ways that they don’t think about. Take the most intimate device of their life and reimagine how they use it it's transformative.

"Virtual Classroom Software: A Medium-Specific Analysis," Kathi Inman Berens

Begin by noting that this session is also being broadcast in my virtual classroom, run through Adobe Connect, people there are there right now, I'll just show you guys in the audience, what it looks like from the host's point of view; The software apportions the space, by work, by task, and I want you to keep that in mind as I work through some of the slides.

When we're in the classroom or embodied situation, relations are more social and fluid, and not so efficiently organized.

Walks away from podium to show what it looks like.

Also because I'm speaking, those of you in the virtual world, I'm not going to be here with you right now, so Jesse is.

So, this talk is called Virtual Classroom Software, medium specific analysis.

Software Design: transparency is the goal, you should be able to pick up a device and use it without reading any constructions. Manila folder on a desktop looks like a real folder, but you can cram more into the virtual one. Best image for aspiration for software design.

Not always the case: Does software take us

Transparency and ease of use habituate us to limit our thinking to terms of software presents us.

Virtual classroom, frequent experience of failure teaches us to resist being lulled or coopted by software because we must create workarounds.

Software failure every single class.

Students learn to 'see' how software makes choices for them which they may nor may not accept.

Students have invented workarounds.

What students also learn in that class of creating workaround--software makes choices which they may or may not accept.

Students have agency that they wouldn't have outside virtual environments.

My boss: one class, two classrooms. USC has a lot of master's programs that are entirely online. Often outsourced to third parties (how does university retain integrity of missions if there is for profit intervener supplying the interface). Undergraduates forbidden to take online courses for credit.

Classroom was experiment it is synchronous. We're all in the same space at the same time whether that space is virtual, embodied or virtual and embodied.

The software is designed for emote designers; it is not designed for what you see in this slide, the virtual classroom with the students actually face to face.

Backchannel is face to face.

Boss: "the virtual classroom software will always work, right

"define 'work'"

So the different stakeholders have different perspectives on failure:

Administrators: gazing mostly at themselves, mastery is the value proposition of university ; come to use and we will make you smarter and better, and we don't say come to us and fail, but failure is a key element of our pedagogy. It is absolutely essential to getting students digitally literate. Hard to explain to administrators -- they don’t understand ubiquitous computing, learning how to work with interface is just like reading.

Virtual classroom software mishaps made hackers of us all: this is what the software offers us, not letting us do what we want to do, so invent new stuff. Software presents workgroups to work out, not as effective to meet face to face. Need to meet face/face is so much more information dense.

They're doing research together and harvesting links can make sense of virtual meeting

Inoculation Theory of Failure: give them one big dose of failure early in the semester.

QR code scanner hunt inspire by Jason's work on campus, and I designed it so they couldn't win.

One team cheated to win, and that's fine (what that showed us, is that the pedagogical design of university, people do what you need to do to excel). My class is collaborating and relying on each other, and requires trust, and requires idea we will all benefit from it. I will share this knowledge, That experience enabled what became a big project the hidden USC, virtual tour of campus, they embedded a gmap with a lot of media rich links, we crated a couple of games in twitter and Facebook, pitches at prospective USC students, real work in the world for a real climate.

Failure is fixative (not sure of word): remember pain, remember to do differently. Auden's elegy to Yeats.

Students master the work around.

Design: "ace" is synecdoche" s software designed that it fetishizes the face when in fact what we learned is the entire body does the most work intellectually; my students disable the video, just use audio, faster, lighter weight, much easier for us to focus on the content of what were doing. It's the voice that works--face slows down working conservation because there are too many inputs for human and bandwidth load.

Only use audio when I lecture.

Key concepts in virtual classroom software: Katherne Hayles, Medium Specific Analysis; Jason Farman: Space is Produced through use; Ian Bogost Procedural Rhetoric. Janet Murray, Inventing the Medium, ABSOLUTELY MUST GT.

Thoughtlessly designed for Cognitive Overload: designed by for people who know nothing about pedagogy. Very hard to keep track of what you're supposed to be learning. We would reconceptualize it to make it a more fluid space.

Chat space better than video space -- refuse to come on camera because they don't look good.

Conventions of atomized bits don't allow simple integration.


Software cannot replicate: both virtual and embodied necessary in pedagogical design. Everything that can be digitized will be; optimize what cannot be digitized. Valorize the ephemeral.

Serendipity: MOOCS can't do it.

Photo, Jenna and Jenkins, went to Jenkins, got interviews for final project--and so that informal connection turned into formal learning, where they went back to revisit work--all came about through serendipity.

Pleasure: the pleasure of having good together, having a meal together, worked with Jack Halberstam at USC, and had an inverted classroom, and one team brought donuts.

Synchronicity=Eventness: Meeting 2 or three times a week suits F2F but not hybrid.

We supplement with micro meetings in Twitter.

Project based learning synchronizes so-learners across platforms b/c student activity, not teacher agenda, is focus. Unfolds dynamically.


Attending to software makes us impatient of inauthentic measures of learning, and got angry about final exam, and exceeded it to punish teacher. "This is how many fucks I give"

One last slide: discern the software's procedural goal.

Issue of Profession 2012 "remember that our basic message is 'we are allowed to think about alternatives" Manifesto for rethinking about the relevance of humanities. Need to think about procedural goal, and change it so that it can meet our own course.

Not currently designed for pedagogy, and would be nice interruption if it was.

"The Multisensory Classroom," Leeann Hunter, Georgia Inst. of Tech.

Now going to University of Washington-Pullman

Moving to embodied interface.

Multisensory classroom.

Part of problem: how to respond to the online and virtual interfaces from fae to face classroom.


Interactive classroom: multisensory cannot be easily replaced online.

New London Group:

GESTURES: movements of hands and arms; expressions of face, eye, movements, and gaze; demeanors of the body, gait, clothing and fashion, hair style; dance action sequences, timing and frequency, ceremony and ritual.

I come out professionally today: Child of Deaf Adults, grew up with six hearing children and two deaf parents.

Facial expressions and body language were a primary mode of communication. (Three boys before her as middle child.

For better or for worse, lighting, movement, touch and gesture and space were my primary modes of communication.

Had to be face to face more than I wanted to be, and as soon as I could disappear into a virtual body I did, and if I could interact without any single human being, I'd patronize (UNCLEAR)

F2F bad breath, smelly underarms, temperatures to rooms, we can't control, desks that are uncomfortable, difficulty to hear or see the speakers when lighting or bad or too loud. In short, the physical classroom for the easily distracted or very sensitive student is nothing short of a nightmare.

How I went from silent non-verbal child of deaf adults to English professor is another story.

2011 parents coming to visit--see me in classroom.

Asked students to remediate group projects into a deaf friendly format, could mean different things, and I thought they were excellent, and I asked my dad to pick out the best one. They put together fully captioned slide shows, performed min action sequences, and some learned some sign language.

My dad completely unimpressed, signing to her, saying, without bodies and facial expressions, that's not deaf friendly. I learned a lot from him that day

One of the points that he made was that it's not these visual aids or these captions or all these other supports that we do that is deaf friendly it's the story we tell with our bodies.

My dad is a master. Will Smith is dad's favorite actor, and, he has amazing facial expressions, if you're watching any other drama, and you're reading captions, might as well read book with pictures, as opposed to Smith telling stories with his body.

Because he was so disappointed in students to demonstrate what a nonverbal skit would look like.
When I was a child, he came to elementary school and did mimes for classmates.

The teacher tells the story of dimwitted professor teaching a boring class, droning on about class, words on textbook, he got hit by spitball.

The grumpy old teacher ends up threatening the students with a ruler.

Catches one, says, come up to front of room,

Big student, takes own punishment.

Parodies old classroom where teacher knows best, but students saying in non verbal ways that it isn't working.

Students don't throw spitballs any more, and teachers don't use rulers, we have mobile devices and teachers who give dirty looks to people looing at screens.

Nonverbal skit

I nothing happens in classroom when we ask them to put class away.

Has students prepare nonverbal skits in more formal setting.

One class period, low stakes activity. They compose nonverbal skits, and act them out, and talk about and reflect.

Terrifying thing for students, but so many of them have written on their reflections how much they liked being forced out of their comfort zone. I actively engage with them as they're practicing and preparing their skit. They never want to go over the top, and then during the presentations instead of just laughing and clapping, I have students identify effective uses of nonverbal gestures, or how they might present something in different way.

Skits explore spatial and non verbal codes--but what happens after. They're transformed.

They're all sitting with the laptops, they're not looking at anything but ME when I walk up to the front of the class.

All of a sudden their attention has been recalibrated, retrained , to see there is something happening in front of classroom, I am an embodied interface in the classroom.

Through play: people learn to trust one another (CATHY DAVIDSON). Chuck Hamilton, quote on play, Second Life.

Why do we leave play to change--why do we leave it to students and workers to decide what constitutes play in face/face setting. Taking after chuck's idea to create a formal play space in a virtual setting.

Create in physical classroom.

Using non verbal communication in projects:
Do rhetorical analysis of advertisement--they have to recreate advertisement with their own lived version for it.

Parody: Tobasco sauce…consume TABLASTO

Second one: often ask students to reflect on identities, and this sort of empty space of their mind, have students perform experiments to construct their identity as a consumer. This student decided to give away one of her coffee mugs, illustrates the redundancy of two coffee mugs, both as an object, but as a kind of rhetoric if the second coffee mug doesn't add anything to her life except the burden.


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