Was Pinocchio on to Something?

Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ’d only for an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and the Truth comes limping after it; so that when Men come to be undeceiv’d, it is too late; the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its Effect…

                                                                                      Jonathan Swift, The Examiner, 1710 (Craik, 2010)


Every generation seems to think that their politicians created the art of the lie as a campaign technique. Actually, lying has been an important persuasion strategy for a very long time. In fact, religious scholars actually date the practical application of lying back before the dawn of time. Sometimes they are complete fabrications, but the more artful manipulative technique, often dubbed propaganda, mixes a sprinkling of truth in as a flavor filler. This somehow gives the factually challenged aspects of the communication a hint of acceptability. Admittedly though, it is hard to deny that technology has provided political figures and movements a new and wondrous venue in which the technique can flourish to new speeds and levels. Continue reading

Political Breadcrumbs

It is early to say exactly where the research will take my final paper for IDC 6010 this semester, but I am interested in examining the communication strategies that we have watched evolve over the course of the 2016 Presidential campaign. The Republican candidate provides new extreme examples every few days, but noticeable unconventional communication response style changes have emerged from nearly every candidate at some point during this election cycle. Is this just a by-product of the growth of social media or is social media simply one of the vehicles that carry out a transitioning approach whose germination we can now spot signs of in past election cycles? My hope is that some of the following sources will serve as bread crumbs along the path to better understanding what we are witnessing.


Borrowed from Pixabay: CC0

Ø  Panagopoulos, C. (2016). All about that base: Changing campaign strategies in U.S. Presidential elections. Party Politics, 22(2), 179-190. doi:10.1177/1354068815605676

The author in this study examines what he contends has been a growing shift in partisan campaign strategies, moving from an approach that focuses on persuading independent, undecided, or swing voters to one that emphasizes mobilization of its base. He contends that this shift has “likely contributed to intensifying partisan polarization in America”. (Search term: presidential election strategies)

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Enter the Jungle

   How will my personal experiences inform my topic of study for the final paper of my class? My first thought was immediately, “an introspective question for this assignment…oh joy”. The follow up question might be how much do I dislike introspectively analyzing myself in a public forum? While the answer would simply be, not so much, it might also tie right back into the answer for the first question. My disdain for public self-reflection is likely closely related to being a bit of an introvert (and yes, that is perhaps understated).


Borrowed from Pixabay: CC0

   My theory is that the nature of being an introvert, and trying to just blend in without making waves or drawing attention, just tends to make introverts extremely good observers of others. After all, in order to blend in with others, one must understand their actions and motivations. So, like Jane Goodall deep in the jungles of Tanzania, we go through life observing, listening, and occasionally interacting with the focus of our studies.

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Visual Media Flashback



Borrowed from Pixabay: CC0

My experience with visual media has lagged just slightly behind it’s growth and development over the years. As an unabashed life-long learner most of my years were spent as a visual media consumer. My development as a generator of media is in it’s infancy.

From an educational perspective, during my primary and secondary years, that generally meant viewing some form of old video or film displayed from a noisy old projector that was pushed into the classroom by a kid that was bestowed the title of “media center aide”, but actually received little aide himself when it came to running the equipment. Often, the teacher, if even still in the room while it played, sat quietly at the back of the room staring blankly with us at the presentation. In the end, the media tie in back to the learning objective, or value whatsoever, may or may not have been apparent.

The early years of my military career did not fare much better. There we traded in the underpaid, burnt out teacher from our childhood years for an underpaid burly old crusty Sergeant (full disclosure, he was old in the eyes of an 18 year old. At most he was in his early 30’s). His tools of the trade at that time were more often in the form of a once translucent acetate, displayed on an overhead projector. Years of salt intrusion from sweaty palms and repetitive writing and wiping with the marker (the special effects tool of the time) had long prior turned each sheet a hazy yellow. The presentation was often enhanced with his glowing personality (he really enjoyed glowing loudly in your face if he sensed you not grasping his message quick enough).

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Can We Efficiently Multitask?

I began this inquiry a few days ago, after reading a passage on it in Cathy Davidson’s book Now You See Me (actually, multitasking is listed no less than 50 times in the book), but unfortunately I found myself side tracked and distracted several times (another pun, she mentioned distraction even more). I wish this statement was just a weak attempt at sarcastic irony (well, it’s not just that), but I think it’s the reality of many learners today. I began my reflection with the adult learner in mind, but thinking about it, don’t teenage learners face this challenge more than any of us? Gone are the days when writing a report meant a trip to the public library and for hours, bravely facing the risk of mortal wounds from paper cuts.

Nostalgic learners today may still venture out to the library, but cell phones, laptops, and tablets likely take the place of some of those books. In my own home, I used to find my youngest child “studying” with multiple windows open on her laptop, one of them being a music app blaring what I will loosely refer to as music, another on the latest social app, and then several others that were actually related more clearly to her studies. She would alternate flipping back and forth through the windows and then over to her cell phone for a few minutes and back. I tried, unconvincingly, to assure her that a brain was not wired to effectively or efficiently process data via that back and forth pattern (ok, it may have frequently come out as “please turn that crap down”…but I meant that other thing). Since I haphazardly, and naively raised my children to think for themselves this exchange frequently led to an intellectual debate that went something like this, “it does not…does too, does not”…and so on. As it turns out, the findings of researchers on the subject of multitasking echo that same tone.

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Food for Thought: (or Grade A Prime Rib snack with Dr. Davidson)

Just four syllabi into the semester and names like Chaing, Braundy, Thomas, Brown, Silver, Zuckerman, Davidson, Rorabaugh, Kincheloe, Siemens, Cormier, Stewart, and Shirky, to name but a few, have exposed our class to a variety of different educational concepts, terms, and philosophies. However, I noticed two not so subtle themes that connect all of them. First, they all want to change at least some aspect of our educational system. Well, that’s not accurate; most want to overhaul it. The overwhelming contention is that it is a system built to sync with the onslaught of the industrial age. In her book, Now You See It, author/educator Cathy Davidson points out that the current style of learning “reinforces a type of thinking and form of attention well suited to the industrial worker–a role that increasingly few of our kids will ever fill” (158).

Secondly, they all present their ideas of the ideal setting or approach, but I have yet to read a transition plan from any of them. How do they propose we get from here to there? Even Davidson points out that “we had over a hundred years to perfect our institutions of school and work for the industrial age” (158). Surely they don’t think we can flip a switch and get buy in from politicians (we agreed week 1 of the semester that the education system is indeed politically influenced), or from mass centralized parental portions of the population.

Technically, I think it is safe to acknowledge another commonality, debate on any of these angles or theories can fill libraries (or to most of their points, a lot of e-books). Since this is a simple blog and not a thesis (thank goodness) I will limit it to a few short chapters on a discussion of the virtues of grading.

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Can’t Find the Love: Reflection on Sharky v. Bady (with help of a few friends)

I know this title sounds like a bad song lyric from the 80’s, but it’s the feeling I cannot seem to shake no matter how many articles I read on MOOCs. Oh, please don’t get me wrong; I really want to find the love. The utopian appeal of the concept of Massive Open Online Courses is difficult to ignore. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, “almost 67% of college students who graduated in 2012 had loans, up from 63% a decade ago”. Many critics complain that the government’s long defunding of state education is to blame.

In a news article, on the site Genius, author and educator Dr. Cathy Davidson writes that it is a product of a pattern of neoliberalism, dating back to the “late 18th and early 19th century” (footnote: she also shares a short castigation on the subject during Unit 1’s video on our Connected Courses MOOC). She also points out that this is not unique to U.S., that there are instances of the same pattern across the globe. The most radical followers of this neoliberalism concept believe that no state money should go to public education, that it should be funded and managed by industry and private companies. Clay Shirky provides a slightly different explanation for the rising costs of education.

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