Friday, April 19, 2013

Final Thoughts on a Class Well Done

Just wanted to give myself a little conclusion post with my post final, post class thoughts.

  • First, this class was a success in dozens of ways. It was a success in different ways for different people too. The one I think most importantly affected me was the structure (or perhaps lack there of...or at least the flexibility of it).
    • We went from a generalized goal of having an eBook to a jumbled mix of ideas to videos.
    • I don't do well with disorganized classes; with that said we were still able to, over the course of the semester, narrow our focus from one eBook and six themes to just one playlist on Youtube with one theme. I could work with how chaotic everything got because in the end, we were still based on our themes, our primary sources, and the goal to get the Renaissance out into the digital world.
    • As we saw examining this whole semester (hard to think sitting in the HRCB classroom to the lab in the JFSB were all one semester; it feels like two separate semesters), our class went from individual students focusing on their own grades to a collaborative group focused on getting a prototype project done. We relied heavily on each other to get our thoughts and research out there. All things we've said in class and mentioned in our final, but this probably the biggest point in our success as a class. It wasn't my success as an individual student. It was ours.
    • I mentioned this in the chat of our final today, but I'll mention it again here in a bit more detail for anyone who missed it. Finland has scored either first or second around the world for scientific, math, and reading literacy for the last three years. Its graduation rate for secondary students was 93% in 2008. Their upper secondary schools use a structure allowing students to "design their own learning programs based on their individual needs and interests." ( Our class really did exactly that. The students were in charge of their learning, what they contributed, and how. Even as Josh and Lauren chose to do the research paper instead of the video project, our class allowed for each individual student to learn the best way they could and took charge of their own learning.
    • With me personally, I know all of our themes well and will remember them. I went from being in the Ad Fontes and Humanism groups to Typographia, and then in our final ended up talking about Brave New Worlds. There's no way I could have done that without everyone doing so well in researching and explaining their own themes, as well as integrating them altogether with other themes.
  • Second and finally, a thank you so much to Dr. Burton and you all in the class! It was incredible. I learned a lot more here than I have in any other class I've taken at BYU. Our collaboration and camaraderie is something I wish I had in all of my classes. The roller coaster ride in our class might have driven me crazy sometimes with frustration and time commitment, but in the end it was a good kind of crazy!
PS - Our chat was the best part of the final. #diazombie
PPS - Chuck Norris asked permission from Alonso to be Chuck Norris

Hope for Humanity

When I first enrolled in the class, I was expecting new techniques of pedagogy, some digital components of coursework and a project-based structure--but I never expected a non-structured, seemingly non-focused curriculum, the daily panic-attack of a surprise homework load and the inability to plan ahead due to the non-presence of any syllabus at all. "I should drop it," I remember thinking, "I can't handle this in my last semester of school--and my first semester married--and my first semester working--and the semester when I'm in a hardcore capstone class." I stayed, because I've seen the potential for creativity in learning fluidly, with group members, in projects, and in a new medium--and I've seen the results without such encouragement... 
I made this myself. All rights out the window. 
Also, I just noticed this zombie could be in the middle of the Thriller dance. 

My mom just wrote a post for her parenting blog reflecting on her experience with pedagogy in home school with my little brother. She was amazed at the change she's seen as he's been allowed and encouraged to direct his own learning and become invested in that process: "In the past year, our Zombie child morphed into a more self-directed teenager with greater confidence in his own talent and abilities—a transformation nearly as incredible as that in the movie [Warm Bodies]!" She claims that several aspects of public schooling are "Zombie Makers," including low sleep, high stress, inefficient, focused-on-the-squeaky-wheel/overburdened teachers and, especially, a one-size-fits-all curriculum. You can read more of her essay on education-created zombie teens here

Albert Einstein quothe: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its
ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life thinking it's stupid."
Humanism in the English Renaissance was intensely concerned with returning to classic education techniques, which, if followed together, would enable humanity like never before in history (except of course ancient Greece, haha), and create the perfect "Renaissance Man," able to speak, write, reason and make clever conversation. Erasmus of Rotterdam said famously, "It is the chiefest point of happiness that a man is willing to be what he is," but the next happiness, of course, was extending the mental and logical facilities of man to make him, as Hamlet says in Shakespeare's play, a "piece of work:"
What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals...

Hamlet ends his speech, as usual, vacillating between opinions, "—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" but the vantage point of humanism is already established. The potentiality of man, enabled through education and speech/writing training, was almost limitless. In Erasmus's treatise on rhetorical strategies entitled de Copia, he comes up with 100+ variations on just one, boring sentence: "Your letter pleased me greatly."  To see some, click here.

What does this have to do with zombies? The emphasis of humanism was on the potential of human creativity, and through its course, our class has taken a necessary pulse in that vein of thought in order to arrive where we are now: not passified, individually grade-grubbing zombies, but an enlightened (if still amateur) team of Renaissance men and women (Sprezzatura), seeking out (Brave New Worlds) sources and ideas from previous centuries (ad fontes) and repackaging, refreshing and revitalizing (Humanism) them through our new media (Typographia), relying on our faith in God (Ploughboys and Bibles) and in each other (Humanism again!) as we go.

I found myself praying for unity and a sense of purpose, along with the strength to just carry on. 
It was partially a primary text and partially an assignment that answered my prayer, I feel, and changed my experience of the course--a video introduction of Michel Montaigne's Of Cannibals. In re-vamping the situation but retaining the original themes of the piece, I found new inspiration in the Renaissance artist and writer's take on previous centuries. It was exhilarating to find that with a webcam, , dark eye shadow, creativity and a little ketchup, I could do it, too--I could excite and inspire and amuse with the rest of youtube (the modern printing press, making public and simple what had previously been elite and closed to amateurs). The results of the class's video debuts launched us into a whole new aspect of pedagogy: getting the information to the masses in formats they were comfortable with (as in Plough Boys and Bibles) and working fluidly, in teams and as a class, as we did so (just like courtiers).

Though at the beginning of the semester I was ignorant about Erasmus or humanism's claims, I did recognize the stagnant signs of zombi-fied learning in myself. I don't think such drastic measures as we took are necessary to avoid the zombie'd student--and indeed, at the beginning, I found myself slipping into a stupified, anxious sphere from the inability to plan homework assignments ahead of time--but when I started really getting to know my teammates and trusting their creativity, I felt a change in the spirit of learning that enabled real scholarship the form of puppet shows. Go figure, huh?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Strengths and Weaknesses, FINAL Presentations



  • Different entry-points/levels of engagement 
    • college audience member loved ad fontes videos (more analysis, assumes familiarity w/ text)
    • middle school audience member liked the more simple puppet shows (introduction)
  • audience member with illness likes that it's self-led: can take breaks and come back to it
  • need to build in redundancy in the videos (in case annotations don't exist)
  • need a longer pre and post screen and a "tip" to turn on annotations
  • need longer text inclusions to allow for reading
  • need a better video intro to Renaissance
Ad fontes: 
  • text adaptation into a visual/video format, how to include the primary texts
    • refreshing the primary sources with a new format, new story, new context
  • touch on evolution from e-book to website to video curriculum
  • began with iterative structure: looking back to the themes throughout the rest of it. 
Brave New World:
  • evolution from e-book to websites to cereal to video curriculum
  • shifting media, novel media (zombies)
  • creativity and collaboration, project based learning
    • required to work together: you have casualties! 
    • picking up for each other
    • HUGE PRO--way harder to grade, though
    • trusting the students to be able to do this
Plough Boys and Bibles:
  • praying for help!!
  • religion, how much do we incorporate LDS with the project
  • Evolution of the class: toward more access (digital dialogue to blog)
  • grades, how much do we depend on a syllabus and grades (ordinance to personal salvation)
    • caring about learning instead of getting graded
    • but no security about knowing how you're doing AND no competition
      • frustration!! 
  • Technical methodology: how to annotate videos, including screens before and after the video, how to form a narrative, the map, structure of intro to adventures to quizzes. 
  • Consolidating the new mode of presentation into a narrative.
  • AHA! getting people talking, social interaction, allows for this fluid class non-structure
  • sociality is primary
  • agile development (small teams who can quickly change direction)
  • conversations don't think it's a problem when we tangent or change direction
  • badge system

OK, let's actually look at the PROCESS of our CLASS

Professor overview
1. Lecture-based iterative, six themes, whirlpool structure
2. theme-based--independent, ad fontes, looking for primary texts, review on digital dialogue
frustration of not knowing classmates, not knowing what to do next, not knowing what matters or what to look at, confusion about not having a syllabus.
3. group formation and picking some digital tools (picked wiki)
4. wiki (still focused on making an ebook) independent research combined into categories
5. blog: more creative: cereal idea, video idea (zombies, paradise lost disney intro), video intros (Petrarch), entire video curriculum (dinosaur puppet). 
6. Finally deciding to go entirely to videos, curriculum, working as groups and giving group days

Throughout: became more personal, more collaborative, more pedagogical, shifted to more creative and less rigid, more accessible, less school-regulated. 

Viewer Comments and Presentation Ideas

A 14 year old, homeschooled, computer-savvy male: When I asked him to do it, he said that he usually didn't like "super-annotated" videos on youtube, but when he heard it was in place of class he was all ears. He had to find the Brave New Worlds by searching the youtube account (eRenaissance2) <hard to find>.  He thought it was funny and kinda silly. He said he "failed miserably" at the quiz, so he just clicked through all the answers until he found the right one. He wanted to keep going after the first (cannibals) adventure because he thought it was hilarious, so he went on to the Winthrop/America challenge. He said he guessed right on those quiz questions. He didn't understand Blazing World at all because he'd never even heard of it.
"Everything was laid out pretty well... it was fun... way better than sitting in a classroom..." It sounds like the narrative really helped him understand what was going on.

A 26 year old, BYU grad student, barely ever gets online: "I lost patience with the thing about two minutes in. It was funny, though. It's just not my learning style I guess." I think he would've enjoyed the Ad Fontes videos more than the Brave New World or Typographia ones. It's great that we have different levels of engagement, though!

My mom needed extensive coaching to find the beginning of the video chains, but then she thought they were hilarious. She needed help figuring out how you would use the curriculum in a home school course, too. We assume some level of Renaissance awareness (basics: when/where are we talking about? what are the themes?) that many readers and even educators may not have. The intro video (map video) should probably address those things (my fault!!).

Our project involved evolution and a focus on the creative (instead of dogmatic) learning experience. Each person was encouraged to work on the problem individually, and we got about 100 variations of the Renaissance (i.e. your letter greatly pleased me) in video, text, essay, collaborative essay, intro, tweethis, the Tempest, wiki, blog, etc!!
If we aren't talking about the experience of the project in another group, I think it would be a great point in Humanism (I liked what Jerrick said, though, about the grade experience for Plough Boys, and the evolution of the project like Julie Ann was talking about).

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Presentation Ideas

Ideas on presentation:

Ad Fontes:
  • Since this is the “back to the sources” group, is it possible to discuss our original thoughts on what the project would look like in comparison to how it actually turned out? (eBook vs. youtube channel, or even individual thoughts when first signing up for the class in comparison to final thoughts now that the class is over)
  • How to incorporate the sources into our video, whether by a separate video with just quotes, a link to the actual text, or a summary of the text.
  • How did we incorporate current teaching ideas (the source) into our revolutionary youTeach idea?

Plough Boys and Bibles:  
  • I was talking to Dr. Burton last Friday because I realized that I hadn’t even thought about my grade in this class since our first midterm evaluation with him back in February where we discussed our knowledge on the 6 themes. I thought that was interesting, especially considering that I am one of those people who need to know where they stand grade-wise in a traditional class. Did any of you have this same experience? This actually ties in well with the Plough Boys and Bibles theme when you examine the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism. Catholics are focused on outward ordinances (in our case, that would be a syllabus and solid grading system) whereas Protestants aren’t (our class, no real syllabus and no set grading system, we were focused on the project itself and not our grade for the project). How did this focus help us in our project, and what are the positives and negatives that go along with this sort of learning when it comes to grades? (Hopefully I explained that well enough for you to understand what I’m talking about.)
  • The role of religion in our class
  •  Our class had different ideas when it came to this project. We could talk about the collaborative nature of our project and how that mimics the importance of the individual in the reformation (this might go better with humanism).

Thoughts from Project Guinea Pigs
  • 13 year old boy – It was hard to read some things, but the quizzes were more fun than my class tests even though I got most of the questions wrong.
  • 17 year old girl – She liked the storylines for every theme group. The links worked. I liked it being online because I was able to take breaks and not need to worry about missing anything.

Typographia Test Subjects

"I watched your shop of sock puppets. The videos looked pretty good. It was easy to navigate. If one paid attention you would actually learn something. It was easy to navigate and the link worked great." -41 year old male.

"It was easy. It says at the beginning and ending what to do. And the video titles give it away too. Don't know how someone would mess it up." -17 year old male.

"Very clever." -43 year old female.

"It was very enlightening. It was easy to use the links." -21 year old female.

"Those are awesome sock puppets." -12 year old female.

So there are all my test subjects for our Typographia playlist. The only instruction I gave was to search the word "typographia" in youtube and they were all able to figure it out. They said it helped to have the black screen saying click a link so they had the chance to turn on annotations and click the link to previous or next videos.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reflections on the Project and Plough Boys

This project has provided a really interesting learning opportunity.  Rather than knowing right at the start what our final product would look like, we, as a class, embarked on a journey.  The end result was a curriculum model and platform that I don't think any of us had expected at the start.  At the beginning of the semester, we struggled with the question of how to create an eBook that would be more than just a digital version of an anthology.  But what we created wasn't even an eBook.  Instead, our book evolved into a curriculum which took form not in writing, but in videos.  

So then we were, and remain, faced with new questions: who would use the system we had put together and how much of it would they use?  Would it be used primarily by high school/middle school instructors as supplementary material?  What about university level and homeschooling families?  If used in a classroom, what might be used?  The introduction videos? The quizzes?  It is certainly a lot of questions to answer.  My preliminary thought is that these videos would be useful as a part of an online course.  Online courses are being used more and more in today's society and the online medium would allow for easy integration of videos, online badge systems, and links to external study sources.

This learning process has also meant a lot of creative work on the part of the individual theme groups.  While we were only able to work on three of our six themes for the final product, each theme group had ideas and concerns about our individual topics.  As a member of the Plough Boys and Bibles group, I wondered how Plough Boys would have developed if we had time to create this theme's curriculum.  One of the question we had as a class generally which tied in particularly with this theme was the question of faith.  As students at a church-owned university, there is a (I think) natural desire to share our religious knowledge as well as or in conjunction with our secular knowledge.  Since the Plough Boys theme is all about the accessibility of religion, there is a ready-made connection here.  Like early Protestants, we want to make our religious beliefs accessible and understandable to others.  But we certainly don't want to cram our beliefs down anyone's throat or be so religiously focused that it adds a bias to our work.  This would limit our audience.  In short, the idea of "how much religion?" is both important to the Plough Boys theme and to our class in general.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Final Presentation Ideas

Class Ideas
  • Technology and Presentation
    • orienting methods
      • formal devices that we use to orient people:
        • The Tempest
        • Ebook/textbook
        • Wiki
        • Blog
        • the map + annotations/links that direct people to different PLACES
          • platform/rope/swimmers on a lake
          • 6 themes
          • 3 texts each
          • we have NOT multiplied this into the Norton anthology
            • Too much information problem is FIXED
            • A jumping off point: you'll remember these 6 themes
    • Narration versus no narration when presenting texts.
    • how we assess their learning
      • how we used the video quiz (branching), google doc quiz
      • generation of interest, not a Testing Center type exam
  • Six Themes
    • Aspects for each theme
    • what we would do for the three themes we didn't do:
      • Sprezzatura
        • fluid conversations: find out how much you know as you talk! 
        • learn how to be a Renaissance Man **badging**
          • the assessment system
      • Bibles and Plough Boys
        • spiritual aspect of the class
          • faith, failure, how much do we put in?
        • orientation and evolution from textbook to ebook to youtube
          • oral presentation
      • Humanism

      • Printing
        • Maybe issue of different media--what are the problems of making it more open to all (like Thomas' bookshop: manuscripts to printing)
      • Brave New Worlds
        • Pedagogy:
          • Collaborative learning
            • mastering new skills, project based learning
            • individual learning to group involvement evolution
      • Ad Fontes
        • Maybe issue of representing primary texts should go here instead...
        • Issue of representing primary texts
          • what's the role of 
            • quotes? narration? summary? putting it into a different format?
            • Nate's text video, Sarah's "new take" on sirens, Dia's zombies

A Final Presentation

As my students have been braving a new world of Renaissance literary study, they have pioneered the creation of a mini-curriculum for introducing newcomers to the Renaissance and mostly to the British literature of that period.

They will present their accomplishments and preliminary findings during our final exam next week, which will be conducted as an academic conference which students presenting to a small but prepared audience. Some students (who were not part of developing the curricula) will be on hand to provide informed feedback.

In their presentation they will showcase their Renaissance literature curriculum, reporting on results to date, and outlining next steps.We will film the event to show to future students so that they can both understand and build upon the work this group has done so far.

Each of six themes will be presented on, and the students will comment on how that theme is being handled as content, and on how that theme has or can still inform the methods by which they are choosing to introduce newcomers to Renaissance literature.

Along the way, they must be prepared to discuss how a curriculum like this is justified, especially given how different it is from traditional semester- and institution-based teaching about the Renaissance. They must also describe their intended audience(s) and how this literature, and this way of presenting such literature, can engage those people.

Monday, April 8, 2013

What to do next?

A More Complete Prototype for the Minicurriculum

Group 1:
some way to teach the primary text
link videos together
(first vid has links to all three missions, also a way to GET BACK to the beginning)

Group 2:
finish and clean up annotations in quizzes, [[add end black screens--maybe too hard!!]] and structure
primary text (read out loud) videos

Group 5:
Add links to other videos and quiz

Friday, April 5, 2013

Ulysses and the Siren Quiz

Here's the link to the Ad Fontes, Ulysses and the Siren quiz!

If you get all the questions right, you're on your way to becoming an Ad Fontes master!

Blazing World Quiz with Answer Key

1. The book A Description of the New World, called the Blazing-World is usually referred to by which nickname?

a. The Blazing World  (That is correct! Link 2.)
b. The Description  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--it is usually referred to by the shorthand The Blazing World.)
c. The New World  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--it is usually referred to by the shorthand The Blazing World.)

2. Who wrote A Description of the New World, called The Blazing-World?

a. Margaret Thatcher  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--Margaret Cavendish wrote The Blazing World.)
b. John Winthrop  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--Margaret Cavendish wrote The Blazing World.)
c. Queen Elizabeth  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--Margaret Cavendish wrote The Blazing World.)
d. Margaret Cavendish  (That is correct! Link 3.)

3. Where is the Blazing World in relation to Earth?

a. underneath Earth  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Blazing World is on top of Earth.)
b. on top of Earth  (That is correct! Link 4.)
c. at the center of the Earth  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Blazing World is on top of Earth.)

4. What does the Emperor do when he first sees the Lady?

a. worship her  (That is correct! Link 5.)
b. ask her to marry him  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Emperor first tries to worship the Lady as a deity.)
c. order her execution  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Emperor first tries to worship the Lady as a deity.)

5. Which of the following creatures is NOT mentioned in the text?

a. Fish-men  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--Goat-men are never mentioned in the text.)
b. Bear-men  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--Goat-men are never mentioned in the text.)
c. Goat-men  (That is correct! Link 6.)
d. Ape-men  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--Goat-men are never mentioned in the text.)

6. Why does the Empress eventually return to our world?

a. She misses her family.  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Empress returns to defend her homeland from attack.)
b. The Blazing World is drifting away from Earth and she does not wish to be trapped there.  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Empress returns to defend her homeland from attack.)
c. Her homeland is under attack.  (That is correct! Link 7.)

7. What was the occupation of the Bird-men?

a. They were Philosophers.  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Bird-Men were Astronomers.)
b. They were Mathematicians.  (I'm sorry, that is incorrect--the Bird-Men were Astronomers.)
c. They were Astronomers.  (That is correct! Link 8.)

8. The Blazing World is an early example of what genre of fiction?

a. science fiction  (That is correct!  However, we would have also accepted the answers "b. travel fiction" and "c. utopian fiction", as The Blazing World contains elements of those genres, as well. Link 9.)
b. travel fiction  (That is correct!  However, we would have also accepted the answers "a. science fiction" and "c. utopian fiction", as The Blazing World contains elements of those genres, as well. Link 9.)
c. utopian fiction  (That is correct!  However, we would have also accepted the answers "a. science fiction" and "b. travel fiction", as The Blazing World contains elements of those genres, as well. Link 9.)

9. Write two paragraphs or record a short video describing why The Blazing World relates to the theme of the Brave New world.  Include an explanation of why we should study The Blazing World today.  Post your paragraphs or video HERE (imbed).

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Petrarch quiz and quotes

Here's my quiz for the Petrarch letters. It's very elementary, and I couldn't figure out how to show the answers on the form itself, so I ended up just saying the answers in the next window that comes up once they submit the quiz. Try it out!

... and here's my quote video. Unfortunately blogger won't let me embed the video here, so a link to it on youtube can be found here.

Typographia Quiz

Here is our Typographia quiz. Just three questions with captions to tell you what is being asked and what the options are. The links at the end of the video will be added once I upload the other two videos, and when we have our map video (are we still doing that?) that will link to everyone's intro video.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Quiz Formats?

Quiz formats:

Group 1: google doc quiz that leads to badging system

Group 2: interactive video quizzes

  • characters continue
  • each quiz question has two following videos?
    • A- YAY, you got it right, here's the next question
    • B- NAY, you got it wrong, here's the reason WHY--now click the right answer (go A)
  • three questions: 
  • and three texts
  • 15 videos (or 12)

Quick Prototype of a Text Intro Video

I didn't finish it, but I learned what I need to do to make the process faster. The music (creative commons from, I had to register to download anything) helps, but it's still pretty dull.