Emerging Technologies

Guinea Pig and Laptop
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Emerging Technologies has been a great learning experience for me, both in learning about new technologies and about myself. When I learnt about the course structure in week one, I was very excited, as it sounded very similar to IFN614 Information Programs which I studied and enjoyed last semester. That is participating in activities and writing regular blog posts, along with one group assignment. I learn well from doing, its how I learnt nursing all those years ago, and my learning style is summed up by this quote from Aldrich (2005).

Students are changing. They are increasingly pragmatic. They crave interaction and personalization. They are highly visual. They are problem solvers. Often they are averse to reading. They want more material in less time. And, hardly worth mentioning anymore, they are very computer-savvy

The learning environment was great for me. I loved the mixture of learning materials, webpages, videos, online activities and games, along with the odd scholarly article. I found this worked better for me, as I think sometimes I get overwhelmed with the amount of scholarly reading that we have. Whilst I think this level of reading is important in education, this unit gave me a welcome break from it, whilst still enabling me to learn. I particularly enjoyed the active learning component of the unit.

The mixture of types of assessment worked well for me. Designing my persona was an enjoyable challenge and I felt a sense of achievement and pride when I saw it in the Cube. The group work was good as it encouraged us to work together and collaborate. I particularly liked the blog and play aspects of the assessment, as I feel it works better with my organisational style and time management doing a staggered assessment.  I also enjoy writing blog posts, so much so that I do them when I am procrastinating from working on other assignments from other units.

I personally feel that the marks for participating in the community are an excellent way to encourage us to read our peers’ post. I feel that we can learn a lot from what they are posting, and by commenting it encourages us to think about what they have said. The only problem that I experienced with this was that all comments needed approving first and I didn’t get alerted by email when my posts were commented on. However, this did encourage me to check my site more frequently. I also found it was time consuming to check individual student’s posts to comment upon them. A student forum feed, as used in Information Programs may improve this.

I enjoyed all the play activities especially designing my persona poster, which prompted me to think about my use of technology. By doing this, I realised how Google- centric I am, no wonder my friends call me the Google Queen.deborahfullerN9568212Googling my name was an interesting and revealing activity. It was difficult to find any information on me, possibly as I have a common name, but also because I have previously been very guarded about building an online personality. I have started to build my online brand and am now an active Twitter user (@debfuller66), have a LinkedIn account and am in the process of building an e-portfolio on WordPress. I have however, just done a Google search and I’m still not on the first page. I need to work harder on my online brand, so I am on the front page for the right reasons. This has been a bit of a wake up call for me on the importance of promoting my online brand, although it is not unusual for individuals to struggle with building their personal online brand.

However, the activity I found most interesting and most challenging was the Game. As  discussed in my reflection on the Game, I’m not really a gamer, so it took me out of my comfort zone, especially the selfie  in QUT library.  Despite having a hiatus from playing due to work commitments, I  have learnt from this activity together with playing  Parable of the Polygons for my reflection post, that playing games can be educational, but as with all learning, one size does not fit all. I have also learnt that games can be time consuming, addictive and bring out our inner competitive nature. Games can be utilised in many ways, from military training to helping children suffering from chronic disease, which is something I had not considered before completing this activity.

Open data was the topic I found most interesting. It was interesting to examine some of the arguments for and against it. If all information is open, how does the creator get paid? Conversely if the taxpayer has paid for research, surely that information should be freely available for them to examine. Open education also came under this topic, and was a subject I reflected upon in my blog post How open is open education? Open data and open access is something I would like to research further in the future.

I found all the topics interesting, but the topic I enjoyed the least was the Quantifying Self movement. I took part in the activity and reflected upon it, but on a personal level it is not something I will continue. If I want to increase my activity or fitness, I will do so with or without tracking. However, it might help those less motivated and those with chronic health problems, particularly if it links directly to a health practitioner.

I think the unit comprehensively covered the emerging technologies relevant to information professionals. It would have been interesting though to look at  Artificial Intelligence and how it might effect how information is managed, by digesting and assimilating it. I felt that all the technologies covered had a place within the unit and were relevant.

I feel I really engaged with the unit. I thoroughly enjoyed the content and the learning activities and gained a great deal from it. As a digital immigrant, I feel I have embraced technology fully and I plan to try some of the alternate learning activities such as infographics, photo mash-ups and app creation in the near future. I have amazed myself with how far I have come in a short time, from someone who tolerated technology as a necessity in today’s society to one eager to try new technology for myself.

woman looking blankly at computer
http://itgsonline.com/?p=435. Licensed under Creative Commons

I have learnt so much from this unit, as someone who was educated in the pre-digital age. It never ceases to amaze me how far technology has advanced in my lifetime and I look forward to seeing what comes next. I am both interested in learning about new technologies, along with some slight trepidation and wonder at the constant changes. I think the one keynote I got from the unit is to be open to change, as its going to happen anyway and to enjoy the journey.

 

Forgotten Memories

 

juby

This is my favourite picture of my dogs Jazz and Ruby. It was taken when we took them on a picnic and I dropped a bit of food. Jazz being the greedy one of the 2, crawled under Ruby to grab it and then decided to stay there. I quickly took the photo and it always makes me smile. I’ve always loved dogs and whenever I feel stressed or down they are there for me. They accompany me on long walks and encourage me to go out when I really don’t feel like it. They keep their house and family safe and always welcome us home with a waggy tail. They’re rescue dogs from the RSPCA, but I think they rescued us and made our family complete. That’s why this photo always makes me smile.

This activity came at the right time for me, as I had just finished putting the finishing touches to an assignment that is due this afternoon and I needed something to make me smile. Thanks.

Game week: the Game!

 

I decided to take part in the game activity for this weeks play activity. I started off really well, due to my procrastination about starting IFN611’s literature review. “I know! I’ll start it after I have had a play on IFN612’s site”. I therefore managed to be the first to complete the first stage, which I really enjoyed doing. I gained a gold star for this, something I’ve not managed to do since I was 10 years old. Taking a selfie outside the media suite was not such an easy task for me, especially as it was witnessed by a group of very young students. I the took comfort witnessing several of my friends doing the same, whilst I was preparing for my group meeting. It felt good to know I wasn’t alone.

Commenting on five of my peers’ blogs was my next task. I found this really valuable, as even though I have made an effort to make regular comments this forced me to read more blogs, which was a valuable learning tool. I also had more comments on my blog, which made me think about what I had written in them.

In week 2 of the game, I decided to retire. There were a number of reasons for this. I am not competitive, but I could feel myself getting that way and I’d heard how competitive last year’s game was. I have nothing against competition, I loved a good game of football (sorry soccer) back in the old country, but being actively involved in competitions  stresses me out a little. I also returned to work, after an absence of nearly 4 months and I needed to focus on that. Last but not least, the dreaded literature review, I really needed to give it some time.

I got my 250 points and was in the lead for a couple of days so I am very pleased with my achievement. I also confirmed that I am not a gamer and I m definitely not competitive. However, never say never, if an activity appeals to me in the game this week, I’ll definitely give it a go.

I returned to the game for the Forgotten Memories challenge. I thought it was a really good idea to find a photograph that brought back memories, so was inspired to take part. It was also some light relief from my literature review assignment. I felt that by doing this challenge, I was uplifted and refreshed to get back to the assignment, so it achieved its aim.

Parable of the Paragons.

Game controller
Copyright © 2012 TechJunkeez | All Rights Reserved. Licensed under a Creative Commons 2.5 License. Retrieved from  www.techjunkeez.com

Games be used for a wide range of reasons other than just entertainment. They can be used for training professionals such as  the armed forces or improving an individual’s coordination and thinking. They can also raise awareness of social, environmental or medical issues. They do this by introducing the issue in a playful context. When playing a game, a person voluntarily tackles obstacles in order to progress through the game. The idea of serious games is to use obstacles to raise awareness of the cause. By the time an individual has reached 21 years old, it is estimated they will have spent 10,000 hours gaming. Why not use some of that time to raise awareness for causes?

I decided to have a go at playing one of these games to see if this concept worked. My original choice was Darfur is Dying, which aims to give the user experience of existing in a Sudanese refugee camp I decided against it when my second character was captured, after running round aimlessly for a few seconds. It’s safe to say I’m not a gamer.

Not to be defeated I tried Parable of the Polygons.  This consisted of rearranging squares and triangles until they were happy with their neighbours. There were different scenarios in which the polygons desired varying levels of segregation and mixing.

Screenshot (50)
Hart, V. Case, N. (n.d.) Parable of the Polygons. Taken 11/05/16 from http://ncase.me/polygons/

It was a simple but effective concept, illustrating racial bias in our society. Whilst the shapes denied they were shapist, they were only happy when their neighbourhood had the shape mix they desired.

I have always lived in multi-cultural neighbourhoods and never thought anything of it, but looking back there have been definite enclaves. In Manchester, there was the afro-Caribbean suburb, with the Indian suburb next to it and the Jewish area, the other side of the city. It all added to the rich culture of the city, but I can understand people wanting to live near people of the same culture, without any racism being involved.

I think it is a good game to raise the awareness of our biases and become more understanding of why people of the same culture often prefer to live near to those of the same culture. It also illustrated the concept of multi-cultural neighbourhoods being desirable by gradually introducing the shapes to other shapes and hopefully reducing their biases.  However, it was a simple game which presented few challenges.

Serious games are a good idea for raising awareness, whilst playing. I particularly feel that games aimed at children suffering from life threatening or chronic illnesses are a great idea, by empowering them and educating them. However,  for the serious gamer, games need to offer more challenges than Parable of the Polygons, although this did offer a good introduction into the concept of learning whilst playing and may encouraged further exploration of serious games.

 

 

 

Online piracy is it ever OK?

pirate

My gut feeling when we talk about piracy is that it is theft. By downloading movies, TV shows, games and music from the internet without paying, we are stealing from the artists who produced them. Yes, a lot of them are overpaid, but is that our judgement. On a more local scale we are depriving locally run businesses, such as the Regal Twin Cinema, Rocking Horse Records and Network Video of much needed business.

My argument when someone illegally downloads content is would you go into a shop and steal a CD, because that is what piracy is. Would my feelings have been different if the internet had been around to download music and films when I was younger? Probably, because my morals were different then and I didn’t have friends who were small business owners.

I don’t judge people who do download pirated content, I can understand why they do it. Music is expensive, as is going to the cinema, and it’s easy not too feel guilty about depriving rich Hollywood celebrities and rock stars of a few dollars. Instead look at the faceless victims, the local businesses and the people they employ.

When I was a teenager in Manchester, there were 3 record shops in the city centre (yes they were still called records then): HMV, Virgin and an independent, all of which were packed on a Saturday. In Brisbane city centre, I am only aware of one and as far as I remember it was the same in Manchester last time I went home. I know partly it is due to iTunes and the like, but I don’t feel piracy is helping either. We are losing community hubs where music lovers could meet and local bands could come and promote their latest LPs.

What can legislation do about this? Copyright holders have asked Australian ISPs to enforce a three strikes policy, where users suspected of downloading pirated content receive 3 warning letters and then the ISPS work with the copyright owners to deal with the users. This has been scrapped as it is too expensive. In reality enforcing copyright infringement on the internet could prove difficult as the downloaders often live in different countries than the copyright holders.

However, piracy is down in Australia, possibly due to streaming providers such as Netflix and iTunes providing  affordable legal streaming services, with high quality content.

Image attribution: http://freedesignfile.com/31991-set-of-pirates-design-elements-vector-art-02/ Creative Commons (Attribution 3.0)

 

Clickbait: Don’t do it!

Clickbait is online content which is designed to tempt a user to click on it in order to generate advertising revenue. It can also take the form of online quizzes on social media sites such as Facebook.

I selected this activity as it was something I have never heard of, but have been a victim of. A while ago, I did a quiz on Facebook and ever since an app has been posting random results on my website, the last straw being when one of them compared me to George HW Bush. I looked at my apps and along with that one, there were over 16O I didn’t knowingly install, which I have since removed.

I found this video, which opened my eyes to how prevalent it is on Facebook and how I have unknowingly been allowing access to my data and that of my friends by my not being able to resist quizzes. I will definitely be changing my behaviour now and I have warned all my friends likewise. Clicker beware, you too may be compared to George HW Bush!

 

Persona and user centred design

I was initially worried about my ability to create the persona, as I feel my technological knowledge is limited and mostly self-taught. When I left school, computers were unusual and mobile phones required a suitcase to carry them. Smartphones, laptops and tablets were unheard of. However, I feel I have embraced new technology and have done my best to teach myself its use, utilising the popular “Dummies” books, You-Tube and the help function on my computer, together with advice from friends and colleagues. Technology has enhanced my life: from using Google Maps when I am lost, to asking Google to settle an argument.

Since returning to study, my use of technology has increased even more. I am now learning how to design webpages, search databases and utilising social media for learning. I now use the internet for most of my banking needs, online shopping, booking travel, keeping in contact with family and friends overseas, running a social group and professional and personal research.

I store all my photographs online and also share them with family and friends. I am very active on social media, professionally and personally, although I do think carefully about what I post. It is great for networking and keeping in touch with my friends and family.

I read e-books, but prefer old-fashioned paper books. Although e-books have the advantage of being light and portable, so are great for travelling. I haven’t yet caught on with downloading movies and music online, probably because my music collection was developed before the internet and I prefer to watch movies at the local cinema.

My smartphone is used for more than phoning and texting. I use it for taking photographs, getting directions, banking, looking up train times, catching up on social media and use of the internet, amongst other things. It would be safe to say I would be lost without it.

I worked in a corrective centre for a while and no laptops or mobile phones were allowed in and I actually found this quite liberating, being uncontactable for 8 hours, although those trying to contact me found it hard to understand why I was not responding to their messages immediately. I feel that not being available 24/7 has advantages and I personally find it annoying when others stop everything to answer their phones and then proceed to have loud conversations. I also get irritated by other pedestrians who are reading their smartphones whilst walking and are unaware of their surroundings, which I feel can put themselves and others in danger.

Back to the persona, I tackled it like I tackle all new things, one step at a time and I’m really proud of the result. Looking at my persona, I realise that for someone who wasn’t educated in the digital age, I do possess a very active technological profile. From personal experience, people that I know in my age group are also becoming more technologically savvy, possibly in a desire to keep up with their children and probably because the world around us is relying more on it.

I think personas are important, as it would be very easy for designers to assume behaviour from certain age groups, genders and ethnicities (Miaskiewicz & Kozar, 2011). Traditionally software and web design was system focussed rather than user focussed (Anvari, & Hien, 2013). User centred design however, is centred around the needs of the users not the designers and it ultimately improves products (Miaskiewicz & Kozar, 2011).

Personas help the designers focus on real people and understand their needs and can be used when communicating with stakeholders (Anvari & Hien,2013, Massanari, 2010, Miaskiewicz & Kozar, 2011). By utilising personas based on real people, assumptions are reduced and products are designed for real people and become more relevant (Anvari & Hien, 2013, Massanari, 2010, Miaskiewicz & Kozar, 2011).

In order to get relevant and valid answers, they need to use a range of personas representing the age ranges, genders and ethnicities of the users they are targeting, and many personas do not depict minority groups such as the disabled (Massanari, 2010, Miaskiewicz & Kozar, 2011). They also need to be open minded in this, as their target users may not be broad enough. For example, Facebook was originally aimed at students attending Harvard, but now it’s hard to find a demographic group that isn’t represented on Facebook.

What have I learnt from this activity? I can achieve things I never thought possible using technology that wasn’t around when I was at school and university, or if it was, it would have been the province of computer geeks. I am also more comfortable around technology than I have ever been before, and am somewhat reliant on it. I have to admit I feel lost without my smartphone and do literally get lost without ready access to Google Maps.

I am probably over-reliant on Google, as it seems to be my platform of choice for most things, although I don’t think it’s going anywhere, anytime soon. I seemed to have completely missed the boat where Apple is concerned, having managed to avoid buying any of their technology, except for an old iPod, which is in the bottom of a drawer somewhere.

Digital technology is rapidly taking over all aspects of our lives but it is very important to realise that there is a still a significant digital divide, both internationally and in Australia. Whilst use and reliance on technology is increasing by many, there are still many that are excluded, either by choice, lack of knowledge or socio-economic factors. One in five Australian adults are not online, that is 4 million people who do not have access to the internet.

Technology therefore is becoming more widespread, whether we want it to or not. It is essential that steps are taken to close the digital divide and educate people in its use, and provide the means for them to access it. It is also essential that technology is aimed at all demographic groups and that personas are used to represent these groups. Companies are doing themselves and their users a disservice if they don’t accurately design products for the needs of all their potential users.

References.

Anvari, F., & Hien Minh Thi, T. (2013). Persona Ontology for User Centred Design Professionals, Reading

Massanari, A. L. (2010). Designing for imaginary friends: information architecture, personas and the politics of user-centered design. New Media & Society, 12(3), 401-416. doi:10.1177/1461444809346722

Miaskiewicz, T., & Kozar, K. A. (2011). Personas and user-centered design: How can personas benefit product design processes? Design Studies, 32(5), 417-430. doi:10.1016/j.destud.2011.03.003

Acknowledgments for Images used in Persona.

Avatar

The Sunspot Theme (n.d). Free Design for All. Retrieved on 18/03/16 on from https://freedesign4all.wordpress.com/category/female/page/5/

Facebook Icon

Retrieved on 21/03/16 from http://creativecommons.org.au/wp-content/plugins/social-media-feather/synved-social/image/social/regular/128×128/facebook.png

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Instagram Icon

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Laptop

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LinkedIn Icon

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Pinterest Icon

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Smartphone

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YouTube Icon

Retrieved on 21/03/16 from https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/40/Youtube_icon.svg/2000px-Youtube_icon.svg.png

 

How Open is Open Education?

mortarboard

Open education has developed a great deal since the emergence of the Open University  in the UK in 1969. MOOCs (massive open online courses) are the new face of open education, which by definition are offered online only.

But are they open to all? When I first heard about them, my initial thought was “great idea, but don’t you still need access to the internet to take advantage of them?” This was confirmed when I read Belawati’s article (2014). This, thus returns us to the digital age’s big dilemma: the digital divide and another example why those who don’t have internet access, either through choice or lack of means are becoming increasingly disadvantaged.

digdiv

One in five Australian adults are not online, and the elderly, indigenous people and those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds feature strongly in this number. Similarly, in Australia, where many of the remote areas have sporadic or no internet coverage, access to these courses will be difficult, although with the roll out of the NBN this might improve. It is interesting that Belawati (2014) states that the majority of people accessing MOOCs are men who have completed tertiary education and not the minorities, whom one could argue would benefit most from them.

Another way in which they are not completely open is that some of the organisations that run them have control over what happens with the materials and which institutions host their course.  If they were truly open they would be free to download, reuse and share the content of the course as they wish. This is in accordance with a commonly used definition of open education resources (OER):

OER are teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open educational resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, and any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge

I would argue that open education is not truly open for the above reasons. Until the digital divide is closed and the material produced for the course is open for everyone to use as they wish, it will never be completely open. The main aspect I feel effecting its openness is the digital divide as I feel this is causing us to develop into a society of haves and have-nots on a local, national and international scale, with the have-nots becoming increasingly disadvantaged.

However, on the whole I feel these courses offer advantages generally, particularly in areas where libraries have free Wi-Fi and computers. Time poor individuals can use them to study at their own pace and time in order to improve their knowledge and career prospects, but they will not be completely open until the digital divide is closed. I feel education should be freely available to all and MOOCs do offer a step in this direction, although there is a long way to go.

Reference List.

Belawati, T. (2014). Open education, open education resources, and Massive Open Online Courses. International Journal of Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning, 7(1), 1-15

Image Attributions

Digital Divide by Techsoup. Retrieved 30/04/16 from http://getmespark.com/always-the-last-to-know-nonprofit-tech-trends/

Mortar Board by Nicholas Menghini from the Noun Project. Retrieved 30/04/16 from https://thenounproject.com/term/mortar-board/10801/

OH MY MOOC

I decided to enrol in QUT’s MOOC: Big Data: from Data to Decisions, on the recommendation of one of my peers. I am not very good at computer speak, so found this 2 week course very hard going, but I passed after several attempts at the multi-choice tests. I don’t feel I have learnt much from it, because when I am learning something so alien to me, I learn much better with the human touch. Would I do a MOOC again? Probably, but one that expands on my current knowledge, rather than something completely new.

Quantifying Myself Reflection

Graph of steps
Graph of steps

I have been recording my steps ever since I got my new smart phone which came equipped with an app which records steps, activity, heart rate and blood glucose levels. When I was working in a very active job, I was doing 20000 plus steps a day, but following an accident earlier this year, my activity level has decreased drastically. However, as there is nothing to prevent me walking now, I have decided I need to get my fitness levels back up. I therefore decided in conjunction with this week’s play activity to challenge myself to increasing my activity and the distance walked. I also decided to measure my heart rate out of interest, but not my blood glucose level, as logic tells me my phone is not that smart, since in hospitals this still requires blood to record. By recording my steps and activity, I have a good indication of how my activity decreased following my accident and enforced absence from work, and consequently how it has increased as I have recovered. This has provided me with encouragement in building it up along with my fitness levels. Personally, I feel this is a positive aspect of the quantified self movement, as I need to be able to see proof of this progress. However, how would I feel if I was involved in an insurance claim and my insurers got hold of the information or if my employer had access to it? I don’t think it  would change my opinion, as I have nothing to hide. My tracker shows a plunge in activity immediately following the accident, followed by a gradual increase. It also only shows how far I am walking, which isn’t the complete picture, as it is a badly fractured arm which is preventing me working, which can’t be tracked by the app on my phone.  Tracking fitness levels is an excellent way for individuals to get the motivation needed to improve their health. These devices shouldn’t be used by insurance companies or employers as current technology does not give a holistic picture of an individual’s complete fitness and ability to complete tasks other than walking and running. Tracking my steps has also encouraged me to walk more. If I look at my steps recording in the afternoon and I feel I have not walked enough, I will often go for a walk in order to improve my activity for that day. The downside of this is that I feel I need to take my phone with me whenever I walk anywhere so that I can get credit for the steps I have walked. This increases my reliance on the phone, as it is always with me and there are times I would like to go on a walk and be completely free from technology. However on the whole, tracking my steps has not increased my activity, as I have always been active and walked rather than use transport. It is encouraging to have proof of how far I have walked on a daily basis. I don’t feel that tracking apps would make somebody who is inherently inactive become active, but merely serve as encouragement to those who are active.