Archive for August, 2003

28th August
written by Tom Banaszewski

I should have been home in bed, but I hate to miss class. This flu bug was still making me feel l ike crap. I hadn’t finished the reading for the class and had only eaten half of a muffin all day. I figured I would just absorb as much as I could and try not to fall asleep.

Not many profs start off by asking “Do we even need this class? Why do we need a History of New Media course?” It’s a rare event when a prof can keep an existential dialogue like that alive for over an hour with an afternoon class. Not one awkward pause or moment of doubt that we headed in the direction he wanted to go. I was trying to figure out how he did it. I can’t imagine that one can prepare for a debate like that. And he didn’t alienate anyone. It was clear he had an objective, he always knew what he was trying to elicit from us, and we delivered after just enough wait time. Having just left the classroom, I think all teachers do this, I am always wondering how I would teach the class if I were in charge. I think I would use this prof’s approach, but how do you cultivate that skill? You not only have to know you’re stuff but you have to know how to prompt people in just the right way. You have to trust that you’ll arrive at your answers.

I didn’t understand a lot of what we talked about in class today. I get McLuhan’s medium is the message a fraction of bit better, but there’s still so much to that guy I don’t get.

I think this prof would be a good advisor for me.

27th August
written by Tom Banaszewski

Now that I’m knee deep into blogging I want to create another blog. Before I started in on all this I never thought people would have the time to even read more than one blog let alone post to multiple blogs. I want a photoblog. Saw some great ones off the portal. But in addition to the photoblog I want to create a general blog where I can post about moving to Atlanta and life in general. I don’t want to give up on iblog for Mac OS X, but it’s not workng smoothly with my iDisk. I’m going to create a new .mac account and start the blog over to see if that helps. I noticed that you can integrate blogs hosted on other server into your TypePad blog by just making it a TypeList entry.

I figured out how to upload an .mp3 to my blog(see My New Favorite Country Song).

Blogs to come: Hanging Out at Hastings: Rm 221B and LHS METCO

26th August
written by Tom Banaszewski

Damn! Just lost my entry that I was working on. TypePad or Mozilla does not store what you were working on in the cache(i think that’s what’s happening). In non-techno speak, when you hit the back button while you’re working on entering text into a post Body, you lose it all when you try to come back to it.


I hit upload file because I wanted to put this .gif in this post, but TypePad thought I wanted to create a whole new post, thus erasing my eruditely composed post. So, version 1.2 of this post will sound much different than it did twenty minutes ago. It’s too bad. I had some intelligent things to say. I think I even used a pretty good analogy describing how it feels like the rest of my classmates are galloping around the first turn of the Java race and I’m still in the chute checking to see if I have everything. It feels like I’m back in basic training, only Drill Sgt. Johnson isn’t flipping by bunk for leaving my locker unlocked and I get to sleep way past 4am. This much I know is true – after this class, I won’t be using Java by choice. Maybe JavaScript, but no high-level language programming for this guy after I make it through this class. In basic training the goal was the same, just make it the finish line. I didn’t understand why did most things, but I made it, and I think the same will apply to this Java class.

When you think about the broad topic of how people learn from a business perspective you see the niche for delivering resources and materials to visual learners, kinesthetic, etc. Yet, most unversities still teach in the didactic ways of enhanced PowerPoint lectures or lecture/discussion. I know how I learn. Give me an illustrated Java workbook with plenty of examples and a narrative of how someone learned to think in Java terms and I’m set. I looked for a cartoon intro to Java, but no such luck. Too bad, I learned a lot from that series. Maybe I’ll help write one if I get a handle on it.

The Tao of Pooh was another great example of taking something very abstract and wrapping it in a containter I could hold comfortably.

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”

“What’s for breakfast? said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”

“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today ?” said Piglet.

Pooh nodded thoughtfully.

“It’s the same thing,” he said.

If Taoism can be translated through Winnie the Pooh, Java must be able to also. They’re both paradigm shifts. I don’t practice much Taoism these either, but I really like the idea of the Uncarved Block.

I almost left out the most important part. I got my first program to run today. Of course it was just a copy and paste from an example, but I learned a lot from seeing the prg. in action.

25th August
written by Tom Banaszewski

I should probably strart my Java whining off with something more optimistic, but it’s hard. I just spent the last hour, maybe two, trying to run a simple program. Having OS X is supposed to make it easier, but all of the docs on the Java site are for OS 9. I should have asked more questions in lab on Friday.

I asked my roommate, a Windows-native Java bean, to help me figure out how to run a program. He replied, “Didn’t you get this in lab on Friday?” A classic example of someone who has completely forgotten that all learning occurs at varying stages, and that they, too, were once at square one.

Last night, I downloaded Java for Kids and another free program to help Java beginners. I figured it had to be out there and why not use it? Also found this article to be a great overview with vocab I could understand and exercises to practice with.

25th August
written by Tom Banaszewski

From a small vase, sparkling blue, lift
a yellow pencil, the sharpest of the bouquet,
and cover pages with tiny sentences
like long rows of devoted ants
that followed you in from the woods.

-“Advice to Writers,” Billy Collins

I spend at least three to five hours each day reading technology/new media/graphic design-centric material for my classes. I’m trying to balance things out with a little Bill Collins, just as soothing as a Tom Collins without the….I’ve never had a Tom Collins. I was just reaching for a witty literary nugget. But failed.

Wow! This new browser is fast. I had to switch to Mozilla in order to get TypePad to work completely with OS X. I’m a little leary of installing any software that’s still under beta tasting and has a disclaimer in their front page warning of fried hard drives. I guess anything you put on your computer has the potential to burn out your motherboard. All technology will let you down at some point. Disappointment in products is what drives revision and new approaches to software engineering.

Back to edu-blogging. I read quite a few educator-blogs yesterday. The place to start is obviously weblog-ed. And then from there you can check out a number of edu-bloggers from Will’s list. Now, driving down to Atlanta from Boston I went thru NJ(Will’s home state) and again couldn’t figure out why anyone would live there. Of course the view from the highway skews my perspective. But, in NJ they’ve got seasoned, intelligent educators who know their technology. I’ve met and worked with a number of them.

I found Sebastian’s blog off of Will’s list and really liked, not only what he had to say about the validity of blogging, but his layout. Seeing a list of recent blog topics in larger type size encouraged me to read more of his blog.

Does TypePad support polls or audioblogs? Anyone?

24th August
written by Tom Banaszewski

I think it’s accurate to say that the Edu-blog movement has made it’s way to the front of the race of the “next big thing” in educational technology. Even though the UK has been using blogs for a few years already, many US educators are experimenting with blogs in the classroom. I just left the elementary classroom to go back to school to learn more about using technology for storytelling foremost, but for enhancing literacy practices in general. Now, that’s a broad topic and a great question for educators – what is your definition of literacy? Does it include visual, computer, media, procedural(programming), and cultural literacies? I’m straying from the focus of this blog, which is to note my experience of coming from a non-designer background and entering a grad program to equip me with the tools to express myself digitally.

I find myself gravitating to the educational technology issues. I may have to transfer to the other program that has more edu-tech classes. Who knows? There aren’t that many edu-tech classes- or are there I know I want to focus on learning the photo/video editing tools, some scripting languages, database mgt. I think it’s like when they changed the teaching certificationr requirements in MA. You had to major in a discipline like Math, Biology, English, etc. and minor in education. Most students wound up doing a double major in the early years of that transition. But, I think for me it’s important to have an area of expertise within the broad field of edu-tech. I don’t think it’s enough to say that I want to figure out how to help students use technology to empower their voices. What tools do I need to know in order to teach those skills? I’m not worried about the theory to back all of that up. I’ll get that, no problem.

I found a bunch of great edu-blogs today. I even found a prof. right next door at GSU in their ed dept. using them. Maybe I’ll connect with her. I didn’t find anyone doing what I’m planning to do, not even a blog that was not teacher-centric. Nothing where the students and teachers were sharing a communal space. I really like the yarn idea that took off on the sites. I think that’s something my students will take to easily.

I want to create another blog for the students in the METCO prg. back at LHS. I think it would really take off and it would help me along with my A Place at the Table site/tool.

Look into audio blogs!

Blog, blog, blog.

24th August
written by Tom Banaszewski

So far, it’s been easy to figure out TypePad. I like the TypeList option of creating lists of topic-specific links. I think it’s sort of like fishing. When someone visits your sight, you want them to check out your content, so you put lures out there on the sides of your page and as they scan it, hopefully Krispy Kreme or Digital Storytelling hooks their interest and they bite.

I know on other blogs people can create hyperlinks within their posts. The iBlog program was a sharp interface that allowed you to import photos from your iPhoto library and iTunes, also I think. That OS X is a powerful system!

23rd August
written by Tom Banaszewski

So, here it is, my first blog. Well, there are few other first attempts out there at, RadioLand, Sparkpod, and iBlog. I would have stuck with iBlog if I could have gotten it to publish to my server space at Tech, but for only five bucks per month, I’ll see how TypePad suits me. MoveableType seems to be leading the way for most folks. But I may check out Manilla because that’s what education people are using. We’ll see. I’ve been drawn to the idea of blogging for a while. Putting my ideas up on the web and seeing where they go and seeing what it’s like to share voice wiith strangers appeals to the writer in me. And then there’s the social technology side of all this. I have not been one to read a lot of blogs and I wonder if that will change now that I’ve found a client to make publishing so easy. Will I feel guilty if I’m selfishly posting and not reading and commenting on other blogs. I like the vast array of blogs that are out there. I’ve got to check out A prof said it was all about video game culture. I wonder if the bloggers of the world are those that have desk jobs that allow them to post daily or is blogging a self-discipline like writing in your journal or jogging 5 miles every morning?

The biggest draw to blogging has been to see how educational environments can be enhanced by the collaborative nature and obvious writing benefits of participating in a blog. I want to create a blog for my past students to visit and post regarding school, books they’ve read, whatever. I want to find out if a virtual community can sustain a once tangible community. I guess that’s like asking if email can maintain a connection between two people who have moved apart. I think it would be a cool virtual place for them to post to, keep in touch with me, a teacher they respect.

I know people keep multiple blogs and I’d like to do that, but I think I’ll stick to chronicling my odyssey of back to grad school for a degree in Information Design and Technology at GA Tech. Now, plenty of people go back to school after working for many years, but this is program is a unique experience. Maybe all grad programs are the same in that you really have to know what you want to get out of it when you’re going in. But, this blog is meant to note what it’s like to follow a program that is supposed to make me knowledgeable and proficient in graphic design, new media theory, programming, user-interface design-or is that part of graphic design. I’ve been getting by on my tech skills quite well being an elementary teacher, but I don’t want to wing it anymore. I really want to know certain things and I want to know them well.

I think what makes any grad program successful is the people you meet from your classes. I just got back from hanging out with a crowd of second year students at the local bar and I learned a lot from them. I didn’t have these kind of people to talk to up in Boston. I made the right move, packing up and leaving everything I know.