Sheltons Organic Turkey

if I empty out all the unimportant stuff here, maybe there'll be more room in my head for important things

name: shelton brett
location: western u.s.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Why educational technology?

The following is the beginning to a short essay that I wrote about my interests in the field and why I'm interested in pursueing research in this area.

One of the characteristics that keeps me enthusiastic about the study of educational technology is its cross-disciplinary nature. Scholars with backgrounds ranging from engineering, math and science to those from language, composition and art all merge within this line of inquiry to study what happens when technology is merged with instruction. Educational technologists are concerned with topics that may range in focus and audience, but we all share concern with the impact of technology in today’s learning environments. My niche within this discipline originates from my days as an engineer when I created scientific visualizations to transform complex information in ways to make it more easily understandable to everyday audiences. Now as a fledgling scholar myself, I have tried to merge my research interests with the activities and pursuits that are grounded within traditional educational technology and that have strong ties to learning sciences.

My interests can be described in two broad areas that have overlap in technical theme and share many theoretical perspectives.

The first area of research interest is the localizing and contextualizing of educational resources, in relationship to their availability and use. I have experienced some early success in obtaining funding and piloting research in this area, and want to continue my work as the world “flattens” in culture and understanding. The three specific threads of research within this category that interest me are the cultural interpretation of graphic symbols, instructional games and simulations, and modes of accessibility and universal design. This final thread covers issues of computer security and Internet safety. I am the co-principal investigator of a grant analyzing security issues in my home state.

The second area of research interest is most accurately described as the innovation of technology, and the role technology plays in mediating the understanding of complex concepts and phenomena. This category includes the investigation of how meaning is negotiated between people and technology-based artifacts, and the environments that support this negotiation. The three main threads of my research interest within this category include augmented reality, computer games, and instructional simulations. The roots of my approach relate directly to learning sciences in the way that “complex systems” might describe the interplay between learner and artifact, novice-and-expert, and the evolving understandings of how we understand the environment around us through the interpretation of our experiences. From my early empirical work and investigation of existing literature, it appears that the way students experience new phenomena as mediated through many different kinds of technological interfaces can change the way they develop their understanding of complex issues. I am not interested in revisiting the “media versus methods” debate, but rather building on an approach that accepts that learning is mediated by experiences that include more than the delivery medium itself. This is a perspective that I’m working from, but further exploration of this approach needs to be unpacked and considered while I investigate practice that can inform theory.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

At Thirty-Five

Three score and ten, the psalmist saith,
And half my course is well-nigh run;
I've had my flout at dusty death,
I've had my whack of feast and fun.
I've mocked at those who prate and preach;
I've laughed with any man alive;
But now with sobered heart I reach
The Great Divide of Thirty-five.

And looking back I must confess
I've little cause to feel elate.
I've played the mummer more or less;
I fumbled fortune, flouted fate.
I've vastly dreamed and little done;
I've idly watched my brothers strive:
Oh, I have loitered in the sun
By primrose paths to Thirty-five!

And those who matched me in the race,
Well, some are out and trampled down;
The others jog with sober pace;
Yet one wins delicate renown.
O midnight feast and famished dawn!
O gay, hard life, with hope alive!
O golden youth, forever gone,
How sweet you seem at Thirty-five!

Each of our lives is just a book
As absolute as Holy Writ;
We humbly read, and may not look
Ahead, nor change one word of it.
And here are joys and here are pains;
And here we fail and here we thrive;
O wondrous volume! what remains
When we reach chapter Thirty-five?

The very best, I dare to hope,
Ere Fate writes Finis to the tome;
A wiser head, a wider scope,
And for the gipsy heart, a home;
A songful home, with loved ones near,
With joy, with sunshine all alive:
Watch me grow younger every year --
Old Age! thy name is Thirty-five!

-Robert W. Service

Saturday, March 04, 2006

jonas and murdock

It's so cliche to blog about your pets that it's almost sickening. I mean, blogs are an exercise in narcissism anyway, but who cares about what pets you have? It's so ridiculous.

So here are my cats, Jonas and Murdock.

They are best buddies and about as opposite as two cats can be. Murdock is two weeks older than Jonas. He's a tall, lanky cat with huge hops and a verbose meow, especially when it gets close to kittymilk treat time. He's the all-black cat that I've always wanted, has funny cat-fangs, and will push you away when you pick him up but be mad when you put him back down. He's the smart one and instigates most of the trouble that they two get into.

Jonas is the first long-haired cat I've ever had and he's the sweetest feline I've ever known. We got him when he weighed all of 6 oz. from animal rescue. He was found abandoned and ears full of mites, plus a very serious respiratory infection. The first 3 weeks he would constantly sneeze, so much so that his nose would bleed (yeah, that was pretty messy). We had to force antibiotics down his throat for the first 3-4 months and were not sure if he was going to make it. Now at well over 20 pounds, he's got a loud purr, loves people and is the one whose curiosity is always getting him in trouble.

Those are my boys.

the permanency of it all

So, one of the things that's tough about email is the fact that there's no "undo" on it. You send that sucker and it's out there. I think almost everyone has a story of an email that they didn't mean to send and pressed that button and there you go, it's out there and there's no bringing it back. Ever write an email about someone and then accidently send it to the very person you were ragging on? Well, I haven't done that one but I've heard some horror stories. There's a similar issue with blogging. I've written some stuff only to read it the next day and take it back down. Perhaps that's the wrong thing to do, and blogs should be the place that you refrain from self-editing, I dunno.

Blogs also have that drawback of projecting what you want people to see, which is different than they are. If you blog something off-the-cuff and people read it, there's no controlling what impression they take of you and what you think. The same way you can project something you're not, is the same way the reader can take or leave what they want. It can be intentional or unintentional, but I'm guessing that often it's more the latter than the former. You can read a person's blog and think you're getting to know them, but are you really? Sometimes it's hard to remember that you're not. But what brought all this on was that I sent an email last night (about a blog, actually) and I'm regretting it's permanency. I need that undo button.