Media Tools 3

For my final media tools project, I decided to use Gimp to create a remix picture of some of Banksy’s work. I’ve never really used anything photoshop-like to create an image of my own and so I used Camtasia to record that process of me trying to figure out how to use Gimp. Media Tool 3.png

I connected my ludic experience with a few theory concepts from class, including some of Kellner and Luke’s ideas on critical and political learning environments where students are given tools to deconstruct media and then create their own productions that break out of the hegemonic reinforcement of messages created by those in power. Kellner and Share state, “the new technologies of communication are powerful tools that can liberate or dominate, manipulate or enlighten,” which is why it is crucial that educators teach students how to critically analyze technology and use it to create their own powerful messages resisting and moving beyond oppression.

When starting out with the tool, I had no idea where I wanted to take it or what I was going to do with it. I opened a bunch of Banksy photos and decided to just go for it and do what I felt like doing with what I saw. The rest is above and I found that even though I had no idea where I wanted to take the piece, because I was given the tools to create something that was meaningful to me, I played around and created a remix picture that adds further meaning to Banksy’s already very powerful photos. I feel like I really had an “embodied learning adventure” and made learning my own, which ultimately allows for deeper learning and critical thinking to be applied outside of the classroom, without the presence of a teacher (Thumlert 2015). Even though I hadn’t used photoshop or a program that is photoshop-like, I found Gimp to be quite intuitive to use and I didn’t run into too many issues when wanted to create a certain affect with the burning tires and police signs across the girls’ bodies. The tools were well-labeled and if you hover of them the tool provides a small explanation of what it does. I didn’t find any constraints while I was using the tool.

Camtasia was a fantastic tool as well and I had no trouble figuring it out as I have used iMovie quite extensively and they felt quite similar. It was funny hearing my own voice recorded and played back to me and I found myself getting quite awkward in the beginning because it felt like I was talking to myself. But once I got started with Gimp and figuring the tools out, it no longer felt awkward and I almost even forgot that I was being recorded. Fantastic tool to use both in the classroom and for personal projects. While I was using it, I thought about how great Camtasia would be to model projects, ideas, assignments in class and it would be a whole new virtual instruction manual for students looking for a little extra support outside of class.


Final Project

Education, Algorithmic Culture & Social Transformation: A CALL TO ACTION

Inquiry topic: The Relationship Between Engaging in Creative Agency (Media Production), Politics and Social Justice Transformations

Explored the relationship between what happens when students are asked to engage in creative agency and production pedagogies around politics and current world issues, and what effect that has on students’ learning and social transformation.


  • What is the educator’s role in helping guide students’ curiosity towards current world issues? Who gets to decide what, in terms of world issues, is important enough to engage with and be brought into the classroom?
  • What types of multimodal tools and technologies would be best suited for students to engage their creative agency in the classroom? What type of reach can students have with engaging in media production, and what type of an impact would that have on social transformation and politics?
  • How can students who are allies best support these social justice initiatives? (i.e. BLM, Refugees, Trump, Muslim ban, Environmental Sustainability). How can we as educators promote algorithmic thinking in our schooling?

What I learned:

Like Bilkstein (2016), that if we looked at our education system, its content, and pedagogy from the understanding that children should be programming computers rather than being programmed by them, we would have individuals who would be much more likely to think about real-world problems (like Trump, wars, environmental sustainability, human rights violations to name a few ), as a puzzle to be programmed and solved, or at least, approached without the fear of being wrong. We would have individuals who are far more critical in their thinking, and therefore, actions, than in current society.

Teachers = co-constructors, facilitators.

What I designed/created:

  1. What’s been done.
  2. Engaging in Algorithmic Culture.
  3. Social Transformation.

How I learned:  process of becoming ethnographic/autoethnographic researcher, writer, filmmaker, author, game-maker, remix artist.  Researcher, developer, producer.

I was responsible to critical production and social justice, but was irresponsible to the traditional way of doing things.


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Experience course themes, theories, and readings!

Connected Learning. “socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity”

Professor Thumlert’s article, “traditional curriculum has ‘driven a wedge between learning and pleasure’ – disengaging students from learning in the classroom and on their own, which takes away from the quality of our lives as global citizens.

Kellner and Luke examine critical media literacies in relation to ethics, democracy and curriculum, focusing on critical/ethical and political dimensions of creating learning interventions. Media forms have a powerful role to play in organizing, shaping, disseminating information, ideas and values, which ultimately create a collective public pedagogy. Kellner and Share suggest that education loses its “transformative potential when programs teach students the technical skills to merely reproduce hegemonic representations” without the awareness of ideological implications or any type of social critique. I agree. What’s the point of education if all we’re doing is creating clones of sheep on a conveyor belt heading essentially the same direction – being programmed rather than being the one who’s doing the programming. We can’t “program” the world and education for a better future if we’re constantly being “programmed” to sustain hegemonic ideologies.

Here are 2 of my remix videos from the iBook.

Media Project 2

A Post-Trumpalyptic RPG game on Twine speaking to youth resistance and social justice.

Doing this project of courses connected with almost all of the theory we have been discussing in class. I specifically found myself to be having a connected learning experience as my work was “socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity,” in creating an RPG game about current political happenings in the world. To create the game, I found myself really doing the research on what Trump has specifically done since the time of his inauguration, and how that has affected world politics and America itself. I happily researched how the youth today could be of assistance in protesting, and doing active political work. Normally doing research for a project feels like added work, but because I was having a ludic experience with creating the game, and I wanted solid pathways in terms of if/thens in the context of my game, I did the research. Using Blikstein’s thoughts on our culture of you’ve either “got it” or you haven’t, I found that I had to use trial and error to make sure my pathways, the way the pictures were positioned, the general look of the game exactly as I wanted it. Creating the game also, in a way, increased my confidence in the fact that coding isn’t all that hard and I can do it if I’d like. Before this class, I hadn’t really ever wanted to code because I always saw the complex series of numbers, brackets, numerical figures and they always freaked me out. But having created this game through trial and error and guiding myself through it with tutorials online, I feel a sense of confidence in my coding abilities that I didn’t have before.

The tool itself is fairly easy to use and I didn’t have a whole lot of trouble using it. There were points where I felt stuck in terms of not knowing how to connect two pathways to the same outcome, but I looked on Twine wiki and the tutorial Kurt had put up. I didn’t really see a lot of limitations with the tool itself. The only thing I could think of was it would be cool if Twine itself could offer a comprehensive video tutorial in the program itself of all the ways someone can imbed media, like sound, videos, etc, as it can get a little annoying to have to go online and search each time. Otherwise, I had a connected, ludic experience where I was able to connect theory with application and enjoyed the work while doing it!

Week 12 [ Mon March 27 Blended] Connected Learning: Critical Participatory Cultures & Informal Learning

This week’s reading titled, “Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design” explores student learning when that learning is “socially embedded, interest-driven, and oriented toward educational, economic, or political opportunity” (Ito, 2013). The article states that if students are able to pursue a “personal interest or passion with the support of friends and caring adults” they are able to link that learning and interest to academic achievement, career success and/or civic engagement. I wholeheartedly agree with this statement as growing up, I was always encouraged by my parents to pursue what interested me school.  I shared similar interests with my friends and had teachers who believed in providing students with the opportunity to explore what interested them, which I think led to my academic success growing up, as well as being highly-driven and engaged in civic and political issues. I am not afraid to voice my thoughts in and outside of the classroom as I feel passionately about my interests. Because my learning was connected to my personal interests in and outside of the classroom, I was much more inclined to engage in critical production to expand my learning beyond just what my teachers taught me. As a child, I was always athletic and interested in how the muscles, bones, ligaments, tendons and other connective tissues worked together to make the body move. Because of the opportunities I was given to explore my athleticism and theoretical knowledge both in and outside of the classroom with peers and teachers who encouraged connections between concepts and experimental learning (i.e. acting out a live model of the filament processes through which the muscles move with my peers), I found myself carrying this passion into other subjects and aspects of my schooling.

The article states that for learning to be resilient, adaptive and effective, it must “involve students’ individual interest, as well as social support to overcome adversity and provide recognition”.  While reading this, I couldn’t help but think about individuals who are focused primarily on the traditional modes of academic studying (sitting down with a textbook or lecture material for hours each day), rather than engaging with related or unrelated extracurricular activities in addition to their school work . Growing up and even throughout university, I noticed that some students would primarily be focused on academics and had no other activity than to go from home to school and back. Whereas throughout university, I was captain of the varsity wrestling team, was an exec on multiple sport leadership councils, was a Residence Advisor, a student health ambassador and participated in multiple other side extracurriculars. I couldn’t help but notice the difference between the quality of my university experience and that of my friends and peers. I found that more often than not, I exceeded in the same classes that we were in, while maintaining an extensive experience profile relating to what I was learning in class. The experience applying what I learned in class (i.e. Kinesiology, anatomy or exercise physiology class) to my matches during wrestling or when training, or applying a theoretical background to the conversation with speaking with people as a student health ambassador helped feed my passion for life long learning in health and vice versa. I knew there was value in learning what was meaningful to me — and with the supportive relationships I had with friends, professors and teammates, I was able to form “diverse pathways and forms of knowledge and expertise”.  I am now able to contribute, share and provide feedback both within formal, academic circles and informal, impromptu social groups.

Week 11 [Mon March 20] Critical Making: Putting the Critical back into Making

This week’s readings explored critical making, DIY content and just how critical some spaces are. In the article titled, “A More Lovingly Made World”, Wark makes a distinction between critical making through media production and a pre-assembled maker-culture that has individuals putting together the stuff that has already been made (Wark, 297). Wark states that “maker culture seems mostly about basic concepts, in electronics, for example, or knitting patterns,” and that it is “not about actual labour processes” — which I think defeats the purpose   of what critical production is supposed to do for students. In class this semester, we have been talking about inquiry-based media production as a tool for students to become problem solvers and be engaged in their own learning. I think if we pre-assemble projects and outcomes for students and then ask students to assemble these pre-constructed projects, we’re defeating the purpose of IBL and allowing students to feel empowered by their learning.


This leads me to Pinto’s, “Putting the Critical Back into Maker Spaces” and the thought that, “if you’re just solving problems from a teacher with ready-made solutions, you’re doing it wrong” (p. 38).” I think if we as teachers are to implement IBL in the classroom, we need to do it all the way and commit — allowing students to explore problems that are important to them.


Week 9 [Mon March 6 ] From the ‘Transparency Gap’ to ‘Gender Gaps’ (and Boundaries)

Bray, F. (2007). Gender and Technology. Annual Review of Anthropology. 07 / Issue 36. (pp.37–53)

This week’s readings drew some interesting ideas about technology and gender to my attention. While I usually tend to be well-versed in feminist/post-colonial/gender theory, I hadn’t really thought about technology and its relationship with gender. While I’d always known about (and been upset at) gender disparities in the business world, reading Bray and Jenson’s articles gave me an added perspective in just how “bad” it is. Bray states, “gender is expressed in any society through technology. Technical skills and domains of expertise are divided between and within the sexes, shaping masculinities and femininities,” which makes sense to me. Hearing about women being forced out of STEM subjects by privileged men and hegemonic ideas of what is and isn’t for women is not something that’s new. I think stereotypical gender roles have been so finely ingrained and weaved into the fabric of our society that many women believe when someone tells them, “that’s a man’s job!”, which nudges women away from the STEM subjects and into other fields of work. This is hegemonic masculinity, as women become “passive beneficiaries of the inventive flame”. Men like the ones described in this article decide that other men are the only ones who can and should be able to study those subjects.

Jenson, J. & de Castell, S. (2014). Gamer-hate and the ‘problem of women’: Feminsim in Games, in Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: Intersectional Perspectives and Inclusive Designs in Gaming. (Chapter 13)

This article provided me with some really solid thoughts on gender, technology and intersectionality. It really is a shame that the misogyny is so bad that women feel the need to step back from positions of power and social capital where they have a voice, because some men feel threatened by the presence of a woman in “their” domain. It sounds almost ridiculous that someone would threaten a “massacre” or rape and/or murder because a perfectly capable and qualified person, who just happens to be a woman, decides to utilize her voice.

The article states that for “over three decades, it has been evident that women do not choose education pathways that lead to careers in the technology industry in numbers similar to their male counterparts”, which is because of the “intense and vitriolic harassment” women face by men and sometimes other women. Jenson states, “if you venture into traditional male territory, the abuse comes anyway. It’s not what you say that prompts it—it’s the fact that you are saying it”. So why is it that just the fact that women are participating in conversation about STEM subjects that pisses men off? What is it about the term “feminist” that is so frightening? I believe the issue is an institutionalized, systemic one. As I mentioned in the reflection above, hegemonic masculinity and misogyny has been weaved into our schools, systems, institutions and corporations. People don’t understand that feminism doesn’t mean hating men, or that women are superior to men, but that everyone is equal. I read this last week, and it reminded me of this article and our discussions in class: “equal rights for others does not mean less rights for you. Its not pie.”

I also really appreciate that Jenson spoke about intersectionality in her article as it is incredibly important to what feminism actually entails – because if your feminism doesn’t include women of colour, queer, black, poor, disabled, trans, women with all sorts of backgrounds, its not feminism. I think its important to recognize while it is terrible that white* women in the gaming/STEM/tech/gaming industries are targeted and harassed, at least they have a platform to use their voice (as dangerous as it is). How many queer, muslim, women of colour and different abilities and backgrounds make it to those positions in the first place? As the article states, “gamer gate is a part of a larger, systemic problem in games industry and culture, and whose history is far longer than either; and second, feminist approaches and practices can and do provide a means to initiate a broad-based, grassroots transformation, with a powerful cross-sectoral infrastructure.” An intersectional understanding of feminism and how that relates to opportunities and socio-political transformation in the STEM/tech/gaming fields is imperative to creating a safe and equitable society.

Week 8 [Mon Feb 27 Feb] Critical Literacies in the Age of Fake News, Algorithmic Culture & Trump Tweets

Kellner, D., & Share, J. (2007). Critical media literacy, democracy, and the reconstruction of education. In D. Macedo & S.R. Steinberg (Eds.), Media literacy: A reader (pp. 3-23). New York: Peter Lang Publishing

This week’s readings by Kellner & Share and Luke et. Al examine critical media literacies in relation to ethics, democracy and curriculum. In their article titled, “Critical Media Literacy, Democracy and the Reconstruction of Education”, Kellner and Share suggest that we live in a time where the majority of information people receive comes less often from print sources and more typically from multimedia formats. This means that media forms have a powerful role to play in organizing, shaping, disseminating information, ideas and values, which ultimately create a collective public pedagogy. The media (and before that the top-down tree branch of governments, institutions, political agendas) controls what information is put out to the general public.

To build just, democratic societies where individuals like Donald Trump are not elected, or are seen running for office and immediately shot down by the collective, intelligent public stating a strong and resounding, “NO!”,  our education system must empower students and citizens to critically read media (and other political) messages and produce media of their own. This would allow citizens to be more active participants in a democratic society – one that doesn’t elect bumbling buffoons like Trump. Students would be much better equipped to challenge the narratives they receive in day to day life, and be able to then engage in critical discourse analysis (on smaller and larger scales depending on what’s going on in the world at the time) with a problem-solver approach to issues.

The issue where we run into some trouble, I think, is integrating critical media literacy on a larger scale outside of, and not only in media studies class. We need to re-conceptualize and expand on our understanding of literacy and pedagogy so that we as educators are able to lead students to a “reconstruction and democratization of education and society”. Perhaps we can do this by of course, leading by example and implementing the IBL, self-directed teaching models as discussed in class, but also from a top-down policy approach where education is less a prescription pad of here are things you need to learn to become the following profession, and more of a “what is the root of what’s causing our current world issues? Lets work to address that!”. The top-down approach (in addition to the localized, leading through teaching example) signifies a prevention of social world-issues vs. treatment of world issues, with treatment plans where necessary. I think if the pedagogy we’ve been discussing for the last few weeks was implemented a 100% from the ministry down, I think we’d have students who aren’t afraid to be wrong – and thus, can operate through a problem-solving, inquiry approach to societal issues having grown up.

Kellner and Share suggest that literacies evolve and shift according to socio-cultural changes in society, and the interests of the elites. A question that came up for me while I read this was: what is it that we’re learning currently, from whose perspective? What are we be geared towards politically? Its a shame that we’re not able to ask these questions until university, or even graduate school, and that teachers in middle and high schools are often under the strict “I can’t talk about this, or discuss my views on this” guideline. I don’t think we can expect students to become engaged members of a democratic society if they aren’t able to discuss important (and controversial) issues in class.

Kellner and Share suggest that education loses its “transformative potential when programs teach students the technical skills to merely reproduce hegemonic representations” without the awareness of ideological implications or any type of social critique. I agree. What’s the point of education if all we’re doing is creating clones of sheep on a conveyor belt heading essentially the same direction – being programmed rather than being the one who’s doing the programming. We can’t “program” the world and education for a better future if we’re constantly being “programmed” to sustain hegemonic ideologies. This is why implementing critical media production in our classrooms is imperative in empowering those who are often marginalized or misrepresented in mainstream media (recent example: muslims). Media production allows us to engage in the social reality that the world is experiencing. Kellner and Share state, “the new technologies of communication are powerful tools that can liberate or dominate, manipulate or enlighten,” which is why it is crucial that educators teach students how to critically analyze technology and use it wisely.

Luke, A. et al. (2017) Digital ethics, political economy and the curriculum: This changes everything. In Handbook of Writing, Literacies and Education in Digital Culture. Routledge, New York. (In Press)

Luke et. Al, in their article titled, “Digital Ethics, Political Economy and the Curriculum” outline many of the same ideas and add social justice and ethics to the mix. As I mentioned above, Luke et. Al suggest a need for rethinking current policy and curriculum strategies through the following proposition: “the educational challenge raised by digital culture is not one of skill or technological competence, but one of participation and ethics.” They suggest that the educational challenge raised by digital culture requires (1) equitable access;  (2) ongoing dialogue over the personal and collective consequences of everyday actions and exchanges with digital resources and social media; (3) the critical examination of the semantic contents of media and how these may or may not portray the world; and (4) the use of media for the exchange of ideas, viewpoints and resources as part of a constructive civic and community engagement.

If the educational challenge raised by media is one of participation and ethics, how can youth engage and participate as valuable citizens in the public, political, cultural and economic sectors of the internet and media? I discussed the idea above that if middle or high school teachers are not willing or able to discuss critical issues in class, how are students supposed to understand that its okay to engage in what’s happening with the world? In relation to the internet and media, I think students won’t be able to critically analyze what’s wrong, right, truth, falsehood, representation and misrepresentation — especially in context of some of the “fake news” and Obama wire tapping that Trump speaks of. Without educators setting the example through pedagogy, I believe it would be very difficult for youth to engage as members of their local and global community without fear of being wrong and being marginalized for it. I think students need the questions around “what it is to be human”, ethics, and how to live “just and sustainable lives” in the constant barrage of information from digital technology. As Luke et. Al suggest, we need to refocus speaking, listening, print, digital reading/writing, signing/imagining to include “rigorous debate, study and analysis of digital communications in terms of: their real consequences as human actions; their ideological, scientific and cultural codes, truth claims and meanings; and their everyday possibilities for community based cultural and social action, for art and science, for human conviviality and sustainable forms of life.”