It’s time to transform with creative thinking

You’re currently reading words that are floating around on cyberspace. You’re not viewed as a reader, but as Aerseth writes, you are on your own adventure, taking risks. So, while we’re taking risks and exploring, Nelson mentions that most of us don’t actually understand the computer.  At first I thought that this meant we don’t understand how computers work, or even, how to operate computers and I expected to read something like a computer manual. Don’t get me wrong, Computer Lib / Dream Machine is certainly a manual of some type, but not the traditional manual.

Everything we’ve been reading and learning about recently has been quite the opposite of the traditional things we’re used to. I even though about writing this blog post in a different way, against the grain, but I had no idea where to even start; we must take baby steps. As Nelson argues, we learn most things by beginning with “vague impressions” (p. 303).  The first step in understanding the computer is to learn that it is a media that provokes emotions and helps us write, think, and show (Nelson, p. 306).

Now, the key word is help. It’s not the writer itself, nor it solely just the delivery method. For example, in Taroka Gorge (and the others too), a real human being came up with the basic structure: the main idea and the words. The computer put together the form and structure: how the words appeared to the audience. In the poems we read, there’s a feedback loop that keeps using the same words and creating different outcomes. I’m going to attempt to do so myself, but I have a hunch it’s much easier when a computer does it.

Roscoe retaliates to grab my banana whole heartedly.

My banana retaliates.

Roscoe grabs.

My whole banana.

My heartedly banana grabs Roscoe.

I think you get the point. Something that took me a few minutes to do would take a computer seconds to do. So in essence, it can be argued that computers essentially think for us, but not without the correct input.

But how do we learn what the correct input is? Well, as Nelson shows from the article,  “No more teachers’ dirty looks”, it’s beginning next to impossible to teach. Schools are focusing so much on standardized this and standardized that, that creativity is thrown out the window. Surely this is displayed in any type of creative situation, but especially in computers. How can the youth of the future learn how to be creative when computer classes are tailored to very specific tasks and are very standardized?  Furthermore, it can be said that the education system is behind in change. Literature teachers are teaching poems from a long history ago, yet they seem to glide over the current period of poems: e-lit at its finest.

Last week, we struggled, or at least I struggled, to understand the electronic literature we were required to read. We learned that it was difficult for us to tailor our traditional style of reading because it was all that we had known. If schools spend time teaching electronic literature, alongside traditional literature, students would become accustomed and be better able to code switch from one to the other.  As Nelson argues, “students should develop through practice, abilities to think,  argue, and disagree intelligently (p. 310).  But instead of this, students spend countless hours learning about topics that bore them to tears. One that I can recall, from both high school and community college, is the basic computer class that teaches you how to use Microsoft programs. Why is that a real class? And even more, it strictly taught and tailored the projects we would do. The whole class had to create an excel spread sheet from the same baseball statistics. How boring and inconclusive. And even more, these classes started the rave for PowerPoint, and we all know how Tufte feels about PowerPoint (which I think goes for all of us as well). I think it’s time the school systems caught up to the technology that is vastly developing.

The question about all of this, which Nelson asked as well ,is how will we use these creations? (p. 117). This is something that could truly be in our hands, yet it might also slip away if not treated carefully. School systems, and society, need to recognize these new ways of writing and creative thinking as a real possibility, and they need to begin to educate on them.  The time for transformation is now.

Categories: class activities, images, information architecture, mapping, semantic web, technology, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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4 thoughts on “It’s time to transform with creative thinking

  1. I think part of the issue is that such a change doesn’t just start with the students… it starts with the teachers. How can a teacher teach their students modern things, like say elit and code poems, if they haven’t had any exposure to it? An average teacher in a grade school today is probably in their 30’s, which means they may have been out of college for over 10 or 15 years… long before we had a lot of the modern innovations that we have today. Rowan often teaches students to look towards different ideas, so any Elementary Education majors here might be able to start teaching these new ideas to their students… but then in another 15 years, will they still be keeping up with the times?

    The world is changing fast, and no one can completely keep up with all of it. I think this “transformation” you mentioned can’t simply be a single, permanent change. There needs to be an ability to constantly adapt and change over and over again, and that’s hard for a lot of people to do.

  2. Piggybackng off Jason. there is another problem with the teachers. They simply do not see computers often enough as a teaching tool. The school where I work is fairly experimental in that it has Ipads that the elementary students can use (mostly games) but then again I’ve been enrolled in classes at Rowan and been told to have computer shut off in class because they are nothing but a distraction. If they continue to remain largely out of the “information ecology,” if they continue to see computers not as a tool for the creation of art, then it doesn’t matter anyway.

  3. Devon

    I think a huge issue with these “new” types of creation are that they are extremely misunderstood. By teachers, by students, by ME! At first I didn’t like the E-Lit pieces we were asked to read. I didn’t want to be part of this interactive scenario. I wanted the text to come to me, from a page, in the way I always expected it to. And this is probably why teachers and students alike shy away from using these new modes of creation. I am currently immersed in these new teaching techniques and I find myself confused and frustrated, so I can only imagine what others who have been out college for years must be feeling. (Or those who did not go to college at all.) One way to bring E-Lit into focus in education settings is to slowly introduce and engage students and teachers. Like Cassie wrote, we learn from vague impressions, so it is important to not overwhelm new users. I also think allowing students to teach their teachers would be helpful. In fact, it would boost the students’ confidence and foster a more community-driven learning environment. AND teachers would be able to stay more up-to-date on what their students are doing and are interested in. E-Lit is a transformative realm of literature that I think many people will quickly latch onto because it is so dynamic and malleable. Excluding it from the classroom won’t help anyone, but allowing students and teachers to learn about it together could help make schools, and learners of all ages, more open to changes in creative writing.

  4. Remember in the article about the Dynabook and in Nelson’s “Dream Machines” how both authors said computers and new media would attract kids more than anyone else? I think Devon hit the nail on the head (metaphor) when she said students could teach teachers how to use technology to reinforce their learning.

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