Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My future, augmented reality tattoo...

WHERE THIS STARTED FROM... A couple of days ago Dr. Curt Bonk had a very interesting guest speaker in his online class on “The World is Open”. Craig Kapp from NYU talked about mobile learning, digital books, augmented reality, and demonstrated come really cool examples of his work (Title of the talk was: “Visualizing the Future: How Augmented Reality can empower faculty, inspire students, and bring ideas to life in the classroom.” Click HERE if you want to watch the full talk).
The augmented reality idea is fascinating to me, as all the creative and inspiring ideas one has, can be animated… How exciting is it to look at a cardboard an see a simple drawing, but when you look at it through your mobile device, it is something totally different: Little red riding hood tale coming to life, animals in the jungle running around, or even your creative imaginations!
THE CONSEQUENCES OF THIS TALK... So my question that sparked the idea for what you are reading now is whether one can create an augmented reality tattoo that others can just see as a simple square or something, but then when they look at it through their mobile device, the tattoo has… “flesh and bones”… literally! People’s creative imagination is endless. Such a tattoo can be “re-programmed” to represent a different idea/shape/design… If I had such a tattoo, I would never get tired of it! Seriously! I mean, we adopt different identities based on our interactions with others, we transform our dispositions about the world, life, etc. I find this to be an alternative way of creative expression that portrays identities, moods, feelings, etc in a very dynamic way.
How such ideas can shape the ways we look at creativity in daily life? How can such creations represent one's creative ideas? Where is this evolution of digital media taking us? And how are such opportunities influence how we express ourselves, ideas, messages, or stories? These questions are not explicit to the idea of a tattoo, but refer to general concepts of creativity with digital media. What are the limits? Or are there limits to creative expression?
WHERE THIS IDEA IS TAKING ME TO.... Body as an augmented reality platform... Is such a thing even possible? Well, it looks like it is! Check THIS out! I have to look into this idea more, but I think I want such a tattoo… yes, a square that means nothing, but really augments the reality I want to create through it. Here is the YouTube video of a flying dragon tattoo. And here is another awesome, singing animation tattoo.
I think I’m off to creating my Augmented Reality tattoo… ;)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Another, more complicated concept map

"The field of media arts presents many unique opportunities for educators and researchers wanting to encourage active learning, make the schooling curriculum relevant to youths’ out-of-school interests, and teach youth how to communicate through a variety of multimodal discourses" (Peppler, 2010, pp. 29-30).
This week I worked on making my concept map even more complex. A new layer of connections contributes with information on creating with media arts and tools in order to give answers to the question "what is the role of arts, computation and digital creativity in new media"? I focus on Peppler's work on media arts, on Reas's tools and on Dewey's ideas, as well as on Sefton Green's creativity ideas. I also draw from my own experiences with my studio projects so far.

You can view an enlarged picture of the concept map HERE.

The role of the arts, computation and digital creativity is important for new media. Peppler's paper showed that impact at the Computer Clubhouse in Los Angeles. As an example, that study highlights the importance that freedom in creativity can have in the ways new media are explored, used and also in the ways they convey messages. It seems that this freedom allows experimentation and exploration within the areas of new media, and people learn through alternative ways of using tools. She promotes the ideas around learning in and out of school, and new media being the diode to such creative learning practices. Scratch is a tool that allows for experiential, experimental and active creation and learning.

Dewey was a great advocate of experiential learning and viewed the arts as an experience through which we grow our identities and knowledge. Along those lines, Reas and Peppler both reinforce this argument with their work. Reas proposes new ways of communicating with the computer, related to programming languages and authoring tools. He proposes Processing, an open source software that allow users to create easily.

Our understanding of new media derived through the ways they are used in daily life. We all design with new media, we share our creations and reflect on them. Creativity is key to how designs are reflected, and how they are being taken up by the audience. The Scratch community is a context where designs are evaluated. Designers publish that work and the community views, engages with the design, rates it, etc. This becomes a process of reflection, as members view and understand the elements that a project has that make it such.

For our designs studios, this is another opportunity for exploration, experimentation and active learning. We take the initiative to give flesh and bones to our idea, and then we share it with the community. I personally learned a lot about the role of new media for learning, as well as about the affordances that new media provide for creative expression and learning. For example, atmosphir was one of the tools that make the greatest impression to me. It is dynamic, and powerful tool that allowed me to experiment with an idea I had, develop it and share it. Whether one is a digital native or a digital immigrant, people can use them in the same ways. Literacy in new media becomes significant in such cases of authoring and digital production.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Experimenting with atmosphir

I created a game level on and I called it "Cake marathon". Atmosphir is a game design platform that allows users to create their own game levels and share them with the online community. I find the particular kind of media to be a wonderful tool for creative expression. Designers (users) can create whatever they want, can provide whatever experiences they like and design different difficulty features for their audiences. Creativity is for me a major characteristic of good digital media. The affordances of the particular medium fascinated me because I could manipulate everything in ways that other media had not afforded so far. For example, I could easily lay out the blocks with just one click or by dragging my cursor around the grid. I could easily add and remove objects, an action that would be difficult to obtain unless someone had advanced programming skills.

Screenshot from my cake marathon. Click on it to access and play the game (also at:

For my example, I created a level through which players must jump across several cake pieces, cookies, orange and kiwi slices, as well as a candy bridge in order to reach the final flag. It seems very easy, but when I tested it, even I had trouble getting across! I think the role of the arts and creativity is major in media for the 21st Century. It is not only colors and graphics that make digital media so much better and attractive, but also the opportunities for expression they provide. Creativity in the particular context does not mean colors and graphics, indeed. Creativity seems to be measured through the difficulty levels and the designed experiences users come up with. I find this to be a very powerful property because it comes to redefine the ways we perceive creativity in online spaces.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Multiliteracies in the 21st Century

“Defining what counts as “valid or legitimate or desirable” forms of understanding and creativity in current contexts will certainly continue to be one of the challenges.” (Buckingham, 2005, p. 149, in Greenhow, 2009, p. 249)
My additions to my concept map this week are in orange color... I found myself making even more connections and mixing this week's terms with the previous ones, which i really enjoyed! Click on the image to go to the actual concept map.

New media is about multiliteracies; it involves a (hidden) pedagogy that emphasizes on more than the ability to use language as a means of communication, but also text, music, pictures, animations, etc. It is sensitive to the cultural context one functions in and the community that speaks to particular pieces of work (e.g. when someone creates an animation about the planets, that might be speaking to the community of scientists, leisure artists, etc., depending on the character of the creation). There is a dynamic relationship between the different modes of literacies, as one can be combined with other modes. The result is a rich collection of projects and information that provide multiple perspectives, feelings and tones.

Perceiving the participants of the 21st century as being active, new media embrace diversity and freedom of speech. There are no boundaries in the way one can express themselves and there is always a means of communicating different messages. The result of the use of multiliteracies is a dynamic social change and transformation. Identities are constantly changing, being shaped and aligned with different aspects of new media. Digital immigrants, according to Prensky, are speaking the outdated language whereas digital natives seem to be talking the language of technology, of new media and can use technology naturally, as part of their lives (Prensky, 2001). In this sense, new media are a sine qua non of a person’s development in the 21st century.

I believe that new media, being so powerful, can change the ways we think about learning and professional development. Creativity in this sense becomes central in the ways that people learn and become productive in their contexts. The hierarchies that used to structure the ways people participate are no longer stable, and the power has started shifting from the heads to the participants; everyone has a voice and everyone participates in the construction of their learning. Our participatory culture, as Jenkins (2004) characterizes it, is being shaped from and shapes new media.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Another concept map... on New Media

“All existing media are translated into numerical data accessible for the computer. The result: graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces, and texts become computable, that is, simply sets of computer data. In short, media becomes new media” (Manovich, 2001, p.25).
I agree with Manovich when he says that this has changed the character of media and computer. Whereas media were the still pictures, the roll that showed a picture on the white screen, now it is a representation of powerful ideas, and whereas the computer was just a processing machine, not it is a synthesizing tool through which those powerful ideas get flesh and bones. The computer is getting smarter and smarter in terms of what tasks we can perform with it. Animations can give as fictional or as realistic feeling as one wishes and music can be remixed in every possible way. Youth, adults, and even kids can be programmers of the computers and create complex designs that would not be possible without the interaction with a computer (e.g. Scratch).

I found the Principles to be very informative; indeed Numerical representation, Modularity, Automation, Variability, and Cultural transcoding are characteristics of new media. Everything is digitized and can be represented with an algorithm, they consist of multiple elements, such as sound, images, movement, etc., and can be connected with each other in multiple levels and one can create multiple versions of a product representing the meaning coherently.

I think that what’s new about new media is the kinds of affordances that one can exploit and also the levels of creativity one can express. This novelty started creating a new, pop-culture that is growing very fast. My concept map started becoming complicated, with all the connections I am adding to it. Below is my concept map. Click on it to navigate to the actual website:

( )

Exploring Atmosphir

"Atmosphir runs on imagination. And Unity." (

Friday, January 28, 2011

A concept map on Constructionism

“The really interesting problems in education are hard to study. They are long term and too complex for the laboratory, and too diverse and non-linear for the comparative method. They require longitudinal study of individuals” (Hawkins, 1973, p. 135, Quote in Streefland, 1991) [italics added] What Hawkins called the “really interesting problems in education” are the ones that focus not only on the product, the outcome of the learning, but also on the processes that describe the different paths taken, extended, or abandoned by the learner (in Kafai, 1995, p.37).

I am starting my blog with the above quote because I think it captures the meaning and purposes of Constructionism, as reflected on my concept map. Considering the child to be the builder, the construction process a student goes through opens new ways of learning and of communicating with the computer, as those interactions afford powerful ideas to emerge and develop. Positioning the child as the builder, Papert created LOGO (Papert, 1993), a tool that enables students to create their own products by being able to programming the computer, instead of the computer programming them. As he stated, it is "possible to create computers so that the process of communicating with them is natural. Also, learning to communicate with the computer might change the ways other kinds of learning occur" (Papert, p.6).

On my concept map, I have, of course "Constructionism" at the center and then Papert and Kafai, that are tightly connected with the term and with learning in new media. Papert talked about mathophobia (fear for learning math) and explained that LOGO could afford new ways of learning math. Gong through the construction process, students are able to view the results of their programming. At the time this book was written, LOGO was a radical means of learning, that would open new doors towards learning and interacting with the computer (as we see nowadays). Those powerful ideas could be further developed and bring to the surface new ones.

At the end of the production process, there is an artifact, a constructed product. Kafai (1995) describes "Minds in Play", a game design project that constituted a pedagogical intervention. Time, diversity, integration, and choice were some of the characteristics of the multifaceted and rich learning environment. Through a rich description of what students were doing, new approaches were revealed to teaching and learning in schools.

Constructionism describes one view of how people learn, as Kafai and Papert describe. From my own experiences I can see how constructionism can explain many of the projects I work on. Even for the online class that I am teaching through a computer game, I can see how constructionism applies; my students participate online, collaborate and interact with their peers and the environment and they work towards specific goals that are achieved through the artifacts they produce.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Playing with Scratch

I started playing with Scratch about a year ago... Two days ago, I downloaded it again and I realized that I wasn't able to remember much! So I started experimenting with it again. I looked through all the options I had with the controls, the sounds, movements, backgrounds... I started with the yellow cat.. :) and then I added a butterfly... I happily discovered that I could have her say hello through the controls and also change her size from the buttons above the white screen.
Soon, Scratch and the butterfly were moving towards the right part of the screen and they were saying "Hello"! Easy task so far... How about adding some background? I searched my computer and found a picture from an online project I worked on... ok, imported... that was easy too! The process of playing with the controls and the commands was a bit challenging. I think it needs some practice though, until one can manage to be fast enough in programming animations on this (it was hard to figure out how to change the background after one clicks the space bar...).

I can definitely see the theory behind this tool. I can see the constructivist elements that we talked about in our last week's online class. Interacting with the tool, and at the end you have a product, an outcome, that is the result of your personal (in this case) learning process. I think I need to explore more those properties of Scratch in order to fully understand how it works. It is indeed a complex tool that takes time to master.

After looking at other projects on the Scratch site (it is amazing how creative children can be!!!) I wasn't confident for uploading it on the site... so I took some screenshots of the various modifications I made on my first project. I am hoping that throughout the next few weeks I will be able to have a decent animation project to share with the larger community!