Still Considering Resistance & Its Connection to Stories

Source: Rule of Thumb – http://http://rule-of-thumb.net/

The CICMOOC has moved on to metrics and measuring this week, but I am still considering and thinking on resistance.  My good friends Dan and Karen were kind enough to contribute to an exercise from the MOOC that asked for resistance points to a goal I set up.  The goal I proposed to them was to turn my yet not finished dissertation into a book.  They were incredibly helpful resisters and gave me lots of good reason why I could not do this.  In fact, they pointed out more than one reason I had not considered myself.  (For more detail on the exercise – a fellow MOOCer has posted a slideshare of her experience with the exercise).

The exercise was helpful.  It forced me to dispute their resistance.  I needed to consider their points as valid and come up with solutions and or alternatives that they had not thought about.  This was a pretty  productive.  By trying to dispute my friends’ claims, I became more committed to my own goals.

This thinking coincides with the start of a new Collaborative Exploration entitled Stories to Scaffold Creative Learning offered up by the Critical and Creative Thinking Program at UMass Boston.  The first Google+ Hangout sessions was last night and as I am thinking on themes and threads brought up by the participants, I have come back to the resistance exercise.  Through the lens of the CE I am seeing how the exercise forced me to craft an alternative narrative of possibility and by doing so, helped me see a path for movement forward that was clearer than if I hadn’t considered the obstacles or barriers.

This idea of obstacles, barriers and challenges also came up today in talking about a project at Tisch College (located at Tufts University).  The project is an interactive, multiplayer game called Civic Seed (still in development) which is designed to prepare college students who will be going out into communities to do internships.  I am part of the evaluation team on the project.  The content designer was worried that the game designers had not sequenced the content and thus would create confusion for the players.  In communicating with her and the dean of the college, it seemed to me that often the path to solutions or problems are not neatly sequenced.  We get information at different times.  We encounter road blocks.  We get side tracked.  But at some point, if we are dedicated and have time to reflect and engage with others, we often make sense of all of the bits.

So where does that leave me?  Well thinking about how things like resistance and problems (like a government shutdown) can actually be opportunities for new types of stories.  Tension points for new possibilities and new visions. This has me thinking about terms like disruptions, destruction, counter culture, and so much more.

Creative Community; Community Creative

It is written in many places how the arts and creative individuals contribute to community and community development. The concept of “creative economy” owes its origins to this body of work.  But what about the influences in the other direction?  What does community add to the creative process?  Is there creativity without community?

We think of creativity as an individual quality.  Incubated and expressed by a singular brain making sense of the world.  And certainly there is an understanding that creative individuals can band together and form a community for mutual support and exploration of creative impulses.  But what if creativity only exists because there is community?  Because there are thoughts, ideas and connections to make sense of?

So this is the line of inquiry I started as part of the UMass Boston Critical and Creative Thinking’s current Collaborative Exploration -Everybody Can Think Creatively!!  I came across Rhode’s (1961) concepts of the four Ps in the creative journey (Person, Process, Product, Press) which works from that idea that creativity is part of individual cognitive processes. But Glaveanu’s 2012 article entitled “Rewriting the Language of Creativity” argues for a sociocultural approach to these concepts transforming them into ones that have more social meaning.  Person becomes Actor, Process becomes Action, Product translates to Artifact, and Press splits into its social meaning of Audience and its material component, Affordances.  Here is how Glaveanu details the relationship between Rhodes “sociocognitive” approach and this more “sociocultural” one:

Glaveanu5As

Glaveanu also provides a visual of how these 5As integrate with one another:

Integrating5As

As someone who is more of a sociologist than a psychologist, Glaveanu’s 5As resonate with me at a deeper level.  What if it is our ability to come to a situation and then the interactions of that situation that embody creative processes?  What if it is not the product itself, but the meaning we attach to the product, its function as an artifact, that is the more important aspect of goods and ideas?  And can any idea or creative endeavor exist outside of its social context, those who interact with it and the material constraints that birth it into being?

So how do these ideas and questions connect into the activities and concepts being explored in the #CICMOOC?  The concept of being an actor or having agency is my next line of thinking and it seems to me that the lectures and exercises presented in these first two weeks by the University of Pennsylvania team are all about individuals viewing themselves as creative agents.  By encouraging hands on experimentation and self reflection the materials invite and prompt us to think and act as creators.  They provide multiple doorways into the act of creation and this week we gets some actual tools to get us going.

These three things – 1) an invitation and openness to create; 2) permission and encouragement to start with what you have and enter into the process with what you are and 3) support and materials to get you going seem critical to becoming and agent and feeling empowered to be creative.  I still have much more to think about in relation to this creative agency concept, but I am at the start of this inquiry.

Referenced Articles:

Gl?veanu, V. P. (2013). Rewriting the language of creativity: The Five A’s framework. Review of General Psychology17(1), 69.

Rhodes, M. (1961). An analysis of creativity. The Phi Delta Kappan42(7), 305-310.

MOOCs vs. University Online Courses

I’m in the process of taking my second online MOOC (Massively Open Online Course) with Coursera.  I’ve been teaching online classes for UMass Boston over the last 6 years.  These UMass courses have taken the traditional semester long courses and in many ways their structures and moved them into a online environment.   These online courses have had the typical 10-25 students foll lowing along with material that would be somewhat similar to what is delivered in an face-to-face class.

The similarities of the MOOC with the UMass online offerings are the following:

  • Instruction is by a university or institutionally validated inidivudal
  • Classes have a defined start and end date
  • Course materials are released in a sequential nature
  • There are assignments and assessments
  • Students may be very geographically dispersed
  • Lectures via PowerPoint and instructor audio or video are present

Yet there are concrete differences between the two. In the MOOC,

  • There are thousands of students.
  • One on one Interactions with professor and teaching assistants are limited.
  • The role of the study group and peer learning community becomes much more important for parsing out confusion
  • The two courses I have taken were free
  • Individual motivation and agency in learning becomes much more important
  • External validation via a degree is not present, but I can get “certifications”
  • Not sure how more subjective work such as essays would be assessed and validated — guess I should take a literature course
So here are the questions that come to mind:
  • How can you leverage peer support and learning present in the MOOC in an online university course?
  • What sort of validation would learning done completely in MOOC have in replacement of a traditional college degree?
  • How can you enliven intrinsic motivation and independent inquiry present in a MOOC for a university course?
  • What would happen is an online University course could accommodate 1000 student each pay $10 or $15 rather than 10 paying $1500 each?
  • What content is not very appropriate for a MOOC?

Chuck E. Cheese

Last week I attended the birthday party of 5-year old fraternal twins Sofia and Samira. The event took place at the Chuck E. Cheese’s in Burlington, MA. I have never been to a Chuck E. Cheese and it was a bit of a surreal, banal and slighly sad experience. A sort of second cousin to Disney mixed in with a kiddie Vegas sort of amusement part feel. The kids seemed to enjoy it though.

The petty voice inside our heads

What is it about human nature that prompts us to want to dismantle, pick apart, and destroy.  To get preverse joy in tearing down other people. What is it that when dismissed or discounted, forces us to increase our destructive drive.  This small petty voice of a child that surfaces again and again leading to dismissal, anger, hate, intolerance and war.  If only we could quiet it and work from a stance of love rather than hurt.

Meaning Interrupted

Ok, part of my preoccupation with words and the construction of meaning has to do with teaching a media literacy class this semester. So here are some words that are at a crossroads and it seems that big debates are in the air over whose meaning gets the overall thumbs up.

immigrants

  • those born in another country
  • those born in another country but here withouth status (some times called illegal or undocumented immigrants)
  • those born in Mexico
  • often migrants and immigrants mean the same
  • often talk about our borders means the Mexico – US border
  • does American mean signing the “Star Spangled Banner” in English only

Marriage

  • a legal union between two people
  • a legal union between a man and a woman
  • a religious union between two people
  • a religious untion between a man and a woman
  • a holy sacrement
  • current issues – gay marriage, same-sex marriage, marriage equality

Life

  • starts at conception
  • starts at birth
  • starts somewhere in between conception and birth
  • ends when there is no brain activity
  • ends when all normal functions cease to sustain it
  • ends when external devices are withdrawn
  • ends when an individual decides to end it
  • ends when loved ones decides to end it
  • ends when a state entity decides to end it (including capital punishment)

I’m sure there are more contested meanings, but the big cultural value clashes come from our battles to resolve meaning over what on the surface seem to be very simple words.

Shades of Meaning

Off and on over the last few years I’ve thought about the variation in meanings these three concepts embody:

  • United States of America
  • America
  • USA

They each have subtle differences for me.  For instance, “United States of America” feels very constitutional to me.  A term that embodies the formal aspects of the country.  While “America” is more symbolic.  For me it embodies those things like “baseball,” “apple pie,” “the people,” “plains of wheat,” “the rocky mountains,” and the “Statue of Liberty”.  Finally, USA is the corporate brand.  The snazzy logo that sells us to the rest of the world.

Wonder what others think.  What other variations exist?

Brand Identity vs. National / Ethnic Identity

nikeThis semster I’ve been teaching a Media Literacy class at UMass Boston. Today the topic was advertising, brand identity, emotional branding, and the increasingly blurry lines between commerce and content. I was using Frontline’s “The New Pursuaders,” as a key discussion point.

At one point in the report an expert says that brands, like Apple, attempt to create a sense of community and belonging around them. That brands are filling voids left by the erosion of schools and churches.

It seems to me that in a globaizing world controlled by corporations brands are the new types of national flags. Kinda of like the world of Rollerball where the turf is the minds and dollars of cosumers. I asked my class if they felt that these newly constructed brand identies were any different than the early construction of clans, tribes, and nations.

One student indicated that national / ethnic identity was different because it is part of her and who she is. Will the next generation or the generations after being saying the same about their identification with a constellation of consumer goods that represent their “clan?”