Monday, June 15, 2015

Day Three: Making!

Last day is always hard for a conference, as lots of people are leaving, but I was staying the whole day on Saturday (leaving at ungodly 5AM on Sunday), so that meant I got to do some great stuff on the last day too. Here are my notes from Day Three:

Plenary. This morning's presentations were good, and I was glad Nishant Shah participated by sharing some stories from his own world in his introductory remarks (right at the start of the video). Then David Sengeh, Leshell Hatley, and Fabian Debora all had powerful messages to share. Having four people without a theme that really tied them together made this event feel less focused than the two other plenaries, though, and I thought Fabian was the person who brought something forward really different from the other plenaries with his perspective as an artist, so his presentation was the one that affected me the most. One not so good thing: I was uncomfortable with the experiment Leshell conducted; it was designed in a way that was not likely to get at the deep perceptions she wanted to detect, and there was no opportunity to discuss what happened. Anyway, you can see what you think if you watch the video; I heard lots of voices around me that were not recognized even though one of the "raters" was sitting just a few feet away, and that's inevitable if you are going to rely on group shouting (something that always makes me uncomfortable, like in the preface to the Ignite talks). Plus, the ambiguous prompt (I don't think people can really say what they see "first" in a photo) meant that what people verbalized is probably not quite what Leshell was trying to get at, although that question of perception is really important and worth exploring. That was my experience anyway; you can see it all in the video here. Meanwhile, Fabian's presentation — so powerful, and with such beautiful images, naturally — starts at about 46 minutes; I've embeded that separately:

SCRATCH. This is a session which I was really looking forward to, and it was even better than I expected: total fun and also very informative: Hip-Hop Dance and Scratch: Interest-Based Pathways into Computational Fluency. Kudos to the presenters for creating an experience so that we were able to connect with one another and so that all of us, even total Scratch beginners, were able to have a successful experience. I loved it! I got to work with Aina Braxton, who was someone I had met earlier; she had asked a super question in our panel, so I had sought her out later to talk, and then she showed up for this session! Here's the dance we made: Girlz Gone Wild.

Going to this session really convinced me to build in some new kinds of "digital storytelling challenges" into my classes for students who want to explore great tools like this. I've always had "Tech Tips" that were about quick learning, but I really like the idea of a challenge that would take maybe 30 minutes or so, like what we did with Scratch here in this session. Scratch is especially appealing since you can work on a project element by element, so I could offer a sound-and-motion animation challenge, and then another challenge to add text, and another challenge to build in some user interaction to the story (which we did in a small way, letting the user change the background). So, a big thank you to the Scratch team and the people from Progressive Arts Alliance for this wonderful workshop - I can't believe how much we got done in the time we had available! Nifty quote image from someone else at the workshop that is making the rounds on Twitter:

DML Cafe: Mozilla and #clmooc. I was inspired by the Scratch workshop to choose the DML Cafe for the final session: I was in the mood to make things! I visited the Mozilla table where I learned about Thimble and Goggles; those will be good tools to set as challenges in my class, and the nice lady from Toronto HIVE who helped me, Karen Smith, assured me that these tools were going to carry on for next year (alas, poor Popcorn Maker). Then I visited the Making Learning Connected MOOC (#clmooc) table where they had physical things to make with (crinkly scissors!), with dice to roll for a theme. I rolled the dice and got "vibrant equity" as my theme words. I did a kind of tortoise-and-the-hare thing, but run for fun instead of in a race:

I also got a chance to connect up with Karen Page of Tech Summit Africa again, since she had a table there in the Cafe. I am so impressed by the work she is doing!

But here's the thing: the Cafe was pretty much deserted when I was there, though, and it didn't feel much like a Cafe since we didn't have coffee in there or in the adjacent meeting commons. The Cafe is a fantastic idea, but it might be better to have scheduled it to run during the lunchtimes on the earlier days; I certainly would have gladly stuck around and visited Cafe presenters while munching on a bagel and having a coffee instead of going out for lunch on Thursday and/or Friday. And maybe knowing that attendance is going to drop off on the afternoon of the last day it would make sense to schedule fewer sessions during that time...? That was the one event I attended that didn't have the wonderful vibe and energy of the other events, just because there was not the critical mass to make it come to life as the other events did.

And then... that was all the end! I went out for a fun walking-around adventure after leaving the Cafe, and that brought the wonderful DML fest to a close. It was a fantastic experience in every way, and I am really hoping I can come back again next year. I wanted to get these notes written out today (Monday) after getting home, and then over the rest of the week, I'll write up in more detail some specific ways in which I want to change and improve my courses for next year based on the great ideas I learned from the presenters and other people I met at DML!


  1. Thanks so much for these posts. I was all packed for my trip to LA, went out for one last workout on my bike the night before and took a very bad spill. My bumps and scrapes were not up for the trip but I've been so jazzed that I was able to follow so much in the streams and Twitter feed and blog posts. I would loved to have been in that Scratch workshop.

    1. Oh no, what a mess!!! I hope you are feeling better! The Scratch workshop is so do-able anytime because they created a special tutorial for the Hip Hop and a gallery of shared games people are making as they offer the workshop in various places (I think we were their third iteration). So when you are feeling like, take a look: SO MUCH FUN!
      Shared gallery: Dance Dance Dance Studio
      And to get to the tutorial just go to:
      then click create
      then click the little ? in the right sidebar for tips
      and choose dance dance dance from the tips menu


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