Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My Three Days with Learning Team

My past three days with learning team was a full of excitement. As the title "Seeing the Sights with A Digital Eye" implies, the program was not just an ordinary campus tour, but provided a good opportunity for me to rethink how digital imaging and video technology could change the way we teach, learn, and communicate. I would like to think about its technological potential in three ways. So here they are.

#1 Capturing: seize the moment

By human nature, we are better at forgetting than at memorizing. For that reason, communication technologies have evolved with the development of recording devices, which helped us expand our memory.

Nowadays, there are so many digital capturing devices to help us overcome our crucial weakness. No more notetaking and even typing on your netbook. One shutter click makes your instant moment forever. Here's my own example. Rather than taking notes, I just captured it in the gallery.

Can you see how easy it is? Or can you imagine what if I had to record the same info on a stone tablet like this?

#2 Discovery: see what can't be seen with bare eyes

It might be true that seeing is believing, but sometimes human eyes misguide our belief. What we want to see is often too far, too tiny, or too instant. For instance, how often do a NFL umpire rely on instant replay, such as slow motion video, to ensure the correct call?

Dr. Pitard's research on 360-degree images of Mesopotamian cylinder seals gives us a valuable lesson about the potential of digital imaging. Assisted by specially designed cameras and digital imaging technology, he uncovers hidden facts about the seals which is hard to be examined with bare eyes.

Here is another example from the NCSA tour on the first day. The research team constructs 3-D moving images of air streams.

Like these examples, the second potential of digital imaging and video technology is that it can help us explore hard-to-see objects and discover new facts beyond our naked eyes.

#3 Something ahead: new ways of storytelling

The last but most important aspect of digital technology is the fact that it can revolutionarily change the way we view and express our world. Rather than simply duplicating the reality, many photographers and videographers have already used photo and video to create new meanings by incorporating their creative and artistic skills into their works.

As seen from the Krannert Art Museum, artists and technicians are already experimenting the potential of digital technology for being new cultural storytellers.

With the popularity and availability of hardware and software, we don't have to be professional experts or highly-skilled artists. Now we are running around with digital cameras or camcorders, and taking photos/videos, and circulate them to the public via phone messaging, YouTube, Facebook, blogs, etc. Several software packages allow us to have professional quality works whenever editing and manipulation of the images is required. In this way, these new technologies can make a shift in the way we communicate.

In sum, I had a good time with the learning team to think about these three aspects of technology while visiting a number of cool places on campus. So here I did capture the moment, explore the campus, and tell my story.

Thanks to Robert and Rick!

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