Week Four: Ascilite (Sydney) – Wellington – Auckland

ASCILITE (SYDNEY): After an intense week of #marmw2013 (mobile augmented reality movie workshops), it was a 5am Saturday start as myself Thom Cochrane and Laurent Antonczak flew to Sydney to deliver a condensed version of our Mobile and Augmented Reality Film Workshop at the Ascilite conference. Planning the session was in itself a useful exercise as it forced us to trim the workshop right down, sticking to the main points and activities.

DSC01267 by heloukee
DSC01267, a photo by heloukee on Flickr.

In yet another ‘incredible shrinking world’ moment, the first people we bumped into at Ascilite were some of the Canberra team (big yay!), and it was great to have Cyntia Franco at our workshop. Cyntia’s into digital art installations and sailing around the world… i.e. awesomes.

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Huge thanks to all of our workshop participants who were happy to get hands-on straight away and engaged in discussion and debate throughout – topics ranging from identity and ethics through to transmedia practices and geocaching. To finish off the workshop we all headed down to the local station, which had a rather striking set of escalators with a lift/elevator running down the middle: quite the Metropolis feel. Using Vyclone, we positioned ourselves on escalators, concourses and the lift and got to work. Rather pleased with the finished product (WE MADE ART GODDAMIT!) – example of rapid co-creation – and filters – which you can see here. Vyclone seem to like it too.

MASSEY UNIVERSITY (WELLINGTON): The following morning it was another early start (4.30am this time – my bodyclock is getting really screwed…) to fly back over to NZ: Massey University in Wellington – or Wellywood as it’s also known. Often referred to as one of the world’s coolest cities, it’s easy to see why – it’s colourful, quirky and oozes creativity. I was fortunate to be there on an unusually sunny/hot/calm day (Welington’s notorious for gale-force winds and earth tremors), but liked the vibe of the place straight away.

Went to Massey University today - here's a Photon Plasma Acceleration Rifle :)

I was visiting the College of Creative Arts at Massey’s Wellington Campus – highlights included seeing a plasma proton gun, meeting up with Antony Nevin and finding out more about his work, learning more about Maori culture embedded in the currlculum, the fact that this is a campus with a high school in the middle, there’s a graffiti wall of fame on campus (used by kids for art projects), visiting the audio studios (felt like home)… and of course, seeing Max in his home environment. Max and the lovely Karen Curley gave me a whistle-stop tour of Welly in the evening before another early morning start – this time heading back up to Auckland for the last few days of our mobile and augmented reality film workshops.

(#marmw2013 – AUCKLAND): Over the past 5 days, workshop participants back in Auckland had been working on their personal #marmw2013 projects so these were the main focus for the rest of the week. Projects ranged from geo-located mobile-mentary through to new forms of engagement with architecture and interactive video applications. Dave Cowland did an excellent job of demonstrating how one device can be used to engage with architecture in different ways through media-rich POIs on an interactive map. Troy Egan had made a film based on the Augmented Reality Game INGRESS, which gave us a genuine insider view into the world of Ingress players in action. This actually made a wonderful complement to Candy Elsmore’s presentation at MINA – although bizarrely Troy wasn’t at MINA and wasn’t aware of Candy’s presentation. His inspiration for the film came from seeing a group of people acting strangely with their phones at a station and asking them what they were doing. SPOOKY – and yet more incredible shrinking world syndrome/serendipity/synchronicity. This was an ambitious project, giving us not only a rich insider perspective on INGRESS gameplay, but also touching on game addiction, game mechanics, identity play, social capital  and communities dynamics.

Although I’ve only highlighted a couple of examples here, one of the most interesting developments (for me) has been seeing the way participants went in completely different directions when they went away to work on their personal projects. These individual interpretations and applications of mobile AR film across multiple contexts perfectly demonstrates the potential for media-rich, engaging, mobile AR across the curriculum. I’d love to have one more week (or more!), so that we could bring all participants together again to collaborate on a major project  – after seeing their individual work and convening for group reflections/feedback, the potential for multidisciplinary teamwork is becoming increasingly apparent…

Auckland: Mobile and Augmented Reality Film Workshops/Journalism Symposium

(and a title so long it reminds me a really must sort out my WP template…)

Oz/NZ Week Three

Many of the contributions to last week’s MINA 2013 Mobile Film Screenings and Symposium explored locative media and geo-located production practices. Carrying on the same theme, for the past week I’ve working alongside iCollab/ELVSS collaborators Thom Cochrane and Laurent Antonczak, with the welcome addition of Vik Narayam from AUT. We’ve been running a series of Mobile and Augmented Reality Film Workshops (#marmw2013) for academics from AUT and beyond.

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It’s been a packed week, where we’ve covered many aspects of mobile/locative media creation with guest speakers from around the world dropping in via Google Hangouts. Together we’ve explored collaborative mapping and augmented reality applications (similar to the recent #iCollab project); collaborative movie making using Vyclone; Vine and a range of mobile film apps; Vimeo and YouTube (or rather Vimeo vs. YouTube); mobile film history and aesthetics; mobile filming techniques; mobile audio production tools and practices; and transmedia narratives for audience engagement.

Guest speakers via hangout included:

  • Vernon Rive (NZ but currently at Cambridge University in the UK) – as an environmental lawyer, Vernon’s use of social/mobile media in his casework is a real eye-opener as he uses online platforms to highlight community issues in relation to legal cases. This led to Averill Gordon musing on the blurring of boundaries between law and PR if lawyers are using digital media to engage people/raise awareness of campaigns – reminding me of Ron Burnett‘s writing on transdisciplinarity in networked spaces, which I find myself referring to on a regular basis, including in our paper “New Global Learning Cultures: Interdisciplinarity through Networked Technologies
  • “The Swedes” (Sweden, funnily enough) who told us about the ways they’re using mobile and social technologies at Umea University – they’re wonderful, as is Thom’s blog post which tells you more about them…
  • Dan Wagner (UNITEC, NZ) who gave us a live demo of filming techniques (from the great outdoors – well the lush grounds of UNITEC at least – complete with a serendipitous tui birdsong accompaniment) particularly focusing on the technical capabilities/limitations of camphone lenses.
  • Everybody’s favourite German mobile filmmaker Max Schleser (Massey University, NZ) who gave us an entertaining yet erudite perspective on mobile filmmaking, including a sample of his mobile-mentary “Frankenstorm“, filmed at the Jersey Shore, two month after hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast and caused an estimate of over $71.4 billion in damage.
  • Catherine Cronin (Ireland) – a member of the iCollab team, who talked about our international collaborative google mapping project, raising important issues around trust and identity in online networks. It’s always good to hear Catherine’s graceful musings on learning and teaching through social and mobile media…
  • Finally, Mark McGuire (University of Otago, NZ) joined us on Friday afternoon and gave a rich overview of digital media practices and possibilities before spending time talking to each participant individually about their projects, which was much appreciated and ensured that people went away brimming with ideas.

While the workshops ran Monday to Friday, we also spent part of the day on Wednesday at the AUT Journalism Symposium, where Thom was presenting on the use of mobile technologies in L+T and I was a panellist (Innovation and The Future) along with Jeremy Rees (Editor-In-Chief, APN-online/NZ Herald) and Richard Pamatatau, expertly mediated by Helen Sissons, where we discussed, debated and occasionally disagreed on the role and impact of social media on mainstream journalism.

Danni Mulrennan, who organised the Symposium (and is doing great stuff with mobile/social in journalism ed.), also gave us a tour of the fantastic journalism facilities at AUT. Myself and Laurent had a great time playing around with the VidyoCast system and making… erm… screen art

All in all it’s been a packed week, and we’ll be seeing the workshop participants again on 5 and 6 December to view their individual/group projects, which I’m really looking forward to.

Here is the G+ Community for the workshops, which gives an idea of the kind of things we’ve been covering, and for a visual summary see this Flickr set.

Teamwork: Interdisciplinarity and Pedagogical Beliefs

A few days ago I attended an ‘away day’ along with my academic colleagues who deliver modules on our BSc Professional Sound and Video Technology degree (PSVT). We’ve been running the PSVT programme for over 10 years now. It is a combined technical/creative degree with elements of audio, video and web. It’s less ‘technical’ than our other course offerings within Computing, Science and Engineering – such as Digital Broadcast Technology and Acoustic Engineering – and while it used to be seen by many as a poorer sibling to the more technical degrees, as our organisational culture has gradually shifted towards interdisciplinarity (resulting mainly from a general shift towards renewed appreciation for interdisciplinarity in HE along with our move to MediaCity) it’s now really coming into its own. Entry tariffs are increasing year-on-year, and our students are building up fantastic portfolios and blurring the boundaries between education and industry through a smorgasbord of live briefs and student placements. And yes, our students ARE awesome.

I’ve never opened up in an online space when it comes to PSVT as a programme – or as a team of educators. Nowadays, our academic identity can be played out over so many spaces; from our personal learning networks (blogs, twitter), to international collaborations (in my, case I often work alongside colleagues in New Zealand and other countries more than I work with colleagues in my own institution). While we work and often socialise together, I’ve certainly never shared deep discussions with most of my immediate colleagues on the PSVT team in relation to THEORIES of learning – and crucially, our personal beliefs. The reason? Partially, time – but also, we’re so damn different…

This is why Tuesday’s meeting was so special. We spent 3 hours together with the sole intention of learning more about one another’s approaches to assessment and module content in order to identify areas for improvement in terms of curriculum, pedagogy and overall coherence. We’re already very proud of the PSVT programme which we review/refine every year, but thanks to ‘Our Leader’ Dave Eustace (sorry Dave, hope I’ve not embarrassed you) we all came away from this meeting with a much deeper understanding of one another’s practice, identifying emerging relationships between modules and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the broad range of pedagogies that the students experience on the programme, which is highly interdisciplinary in nature. Upon entering the room, we were greeted by guitar music played and recorded by members of the group – enjoyed by us mere mortals while the audiophiles critiqued the production (there’s an insight into the team right there – I love that we can rib one another in this way). Dave had peppered the walls with quotes and articles from educational research/reports designed to get us thinking, and opening up about our practice and how it fits (or not) with the rest of the group.

I feel truly honoured to be part of a team who are able to open up and articulate their beliefs and pedagogies in the complex space that characterises PSVT (traditionalists… progressives… scientists… arts… teaching vs. learning curriculum), and it was basically the perfect end to the academic year for me. These are the kinds of discussions that would be commonplace in a school of education – less so in a science faculty (which is where we ‘belong’). Our discussions were illuminating, informed, respectful, and genuinely rewarding. I feel extremely positive about our team and our programme, and in all honesty it’s great to feel this way after what has been a turbulent time both within our institution and the HE sector in general.

I’d be really interested to hear from others who work in highly interdisciplinary teams. What are your experiences? How to do articulate your practice to one another? How do you resolve tension and conflict in terms of pedagogical beliefs (assessment is an obvious one here)? How do you negotiate the terrain between traditional and progressive approaches, between diverse/competing epistemologies?

So many questions… would love to hear your thoughts.