Archive for August, 2008
I have kept an eye out for Photosynth since the beta was demonstrated at TED 2007 by Blaise Aguera y Arcas. This morning, I was catching up on a few RSS feeds and noticed an August 21st entry by Eileen Brown noting that Photosynth is now publicly available. I immediatley started planning a way to test it; the first several ideas I had weren’t instructionally meaningful, so I brainstormed until settling on the idea of photosynthing images of a dissected cat. The visualization possibilities are instructionally exciting; I think the natural sciences offer a great deal of opportunity for Photosynth. I’ll detail my quick experience with creating my first Synth, but briefly, I found it to be relatively easy while producing more than satisfactory results.
You can make the jump to my Dissected Cat Synth, but of course, you’ll need to have a stable – perhaps empty – stomach and need to download and install the Photosynth plugin. It does run successfully on Firefox 3.
Going into the process today, I had watched the Blaise’s TED 2007 presentation a couple of times and have been capable of explaining the way it functions in non-technical terms, at least. I had also already had experience browsing other Photosynth’s for maybe a cumulative 30-45 minutes. I had not spent a great deal of time preparing or learning, but I didn’t come into the creation process blindly either.
Today . . . I spent less than an hour creating the actual Photosynth
- 10 minutes scanning through the photosynth photo guide with tips/suggestions for taking photos to be used in photo synths
- 15-20 minutes taking pictures (with a biology faculty member and a lab supervisor looking on);
- 15-20 minutes waiting for the the site to process/upload and arrange the photos; this happens automagically once clicking “upload”
This worked out VERY well given how very little time I spent on it, and the 3D arrangement of the photos, I think, is much more impactful than a regular 2D arrangement, like flipping through in slide format.
I know several things will improve the Synth.
- more photos; I only took 77.
- better planning of angles and content; I deliberately didn’t plan to spend time on this until I had an idea of how well the Synth would turn out.
- better lighting; we tried to get closer to natural lighting, but the lighting could be much better.
- a more capable camera; the camera I used was a nice camera – not a point and shoot – but several years old. I was shooting at 2 megapixels, and a better macro mode would have been helpful.
Here’s the embedded Synth. Linking to the original is better.
Reading Sarah’s post at Ubernoggin from today regarding the notion of identity in social networks; I don’t think my comment posted properly (kept getting timed out after submitting), so I wanted to post my thoughts here. Be sure to read her post and the comments that follow – interesting discussion.
I have three thoughts.
I post personal and professional tweets and have tweeps that I’ve met in meatspace and those that I haven’t. The end result has been that I’ve connected more personally with a number of professional colleagues, and a few folks from my personal life know a little more about my professional life.
I have caught myself thinking twice about what I’m posting given that an increasing number of colleagues at work have started tweeting. However, I think that’s more a function of having the good sense to mind what you say in what should be assumed to be a public forum than it is a new dilemma posed by Twitter.
I wonder to what extent people segregate their different social networks/identities by application. For example, I’ve been encountering professional colleagues in Facebook, and I’ve sometimes hesitated – thinking that I already have Twitter, LinkedIn and others that I use for professional networks, why not keep Facebook for my personal network? The implication of that I think, hits upon a question/issue I’ve heard asked more than a few times, most recently by Matt Croslin at EduGeek Journal. If a learner wants to keep their different “hats” separate, what happens if/when faculty are trying to integrate social networks into formal learning environments, as more than a few seem to suggest we should? While using Facebook in a course may, as many may advocate, “go where our students are going,” Matt may be right. If students’ have the opinion of “keep your class out of my Facebook” then aren’t attempts to integrate social networks into learning spaces simply creating a situation where learners are awkwardly forced (a) to refuse class participation or (b) to allow a class to infringe upon their personal space?
Giving more thought to Personal Learning Narratives.
I believe this may be our first opportunity to truly explore personal learning narratives.
First, as Wesch has noted, we have always had a grand narrative of some sort that provided cultural context and reason for learning; I believe the absence of a grand narrative not only suggests that the presiding reason to learn is for the sake of learning itself but also provides a unique opportunity in our history to focus on personal learning narratives.
Second, technology has enabled and educators are advocating the change in the loci of control within the learning process; individuals taking control of their own learning process has become uniquely possible given dramatically increased access to information. It’s within that context that personal learning narratives have become possible and perhaps necessary.
I believe there’s an argument that the development of personal learning narratives – with education shifting to facilitate individual learner development of personal learning environments – is critical to the further development of the information age. If our culture and our country are to be successful moving forward, we need to focus on the issues, infrastructure and changes necessary to support personal learning narratives.