Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. Learning Technologists as ‘Digital Archaeologists’ & Online Classrooms as ‘Digital Temples’.

The University of Kent host monthly Digitally Enhanced Learning Webinars organised by Dr. Phil Anthony. The purpose of the webinars is to provide “…an opportunity to share examples amongst our colleagues when using digital technologies for teaching” (University of Kent, 2020).

The theme for March 2021 was pedagogy and practice when teaching online. For the SDAU project, we used Zoom to deliver the interactive sessions. I submitted a talk entitled ‘Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. A Transnational Online Pivot Adventure‘. The talk explored Technology Enhanced Transnational Learning (TETL). Using metaphors as way to understand what we do as Learning Technologists seemed to be a creative approach. Can an online classrooom be understood as a digital temple? Could a Learning technologist be a Digital Archaeologist? If this is the case, perhaps we would take digital field notes such as those discussed by Rapport (1991) or Remsen (1977). In the temple of doom itself in the film, the main character Indiana Jones faced a range of different challenges including spiders, bugs and traps. As Learning Technologists we also face a range of challenges that we must overcome. This seems like a universal metaphor.

Zoom, Doom & Gloom to Zoom, Boom & Bloom!

The fundamental question is the extent to which using metapors canhelp us? It is possible to observe that metaphors in learning technology were becoming widely used, for example the EdTech Metaphor Generator. One of the most compelling examples of using metaphors in learning technology was the article entitled VLEs: A Metaphorical History from Sharks to Limpets by Tom Farrelly, Eamon Costello and Enda Donlon. If the VLE was “dead“, then perhaps using metaphors can bring it back to life (The Ed Techie, 2007). Thinking about the VLE as a “digital car park” challenges us the use our imagination in different ways (Farrelly, Costello & Donlon, 2020).It is important to acknowledge that “Metaphor is pervasive in everyday life, not just in language but in thought and action. Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature” (Lakoff & Johnson, 1980: p3).

The Microsoft Teams Live Experience

What was interesting about the webinars was that Microsoft Teams Live was used due to the high numbers of attendees. There are some key differences between a normal Microsoft Teams meeting and a webinar for example uisng the Q&A feature and automatic muting. Lots of the presenters, including me, had not used Microsoft Teams Live before, so it was very helpful to participate in the test session before the live event.

Could ‘Zoom Capital’ be a thing?

One of the points I was keen to make is the importance of capturing the voices of Learning Technologists particularly in research contexts. This formed the basis of a techno-autobiographic or techno-autoethnographic approach in order to capture the reflections of a Learning Technologist. In a previous collaborative blog post, I had explored this approach with an academic here. Can we improve the future by exploring the past? Back to the future?

(Wheeler, 2021)

Imagination is crucial in Education. Metaphors can be part of the imaginative process.

Attending a webinar exploring the use of Zoom delivered by Autumn Caines, an Instructional Designer from University of Michigan (@Autumm) was really compelling and informed many of the ideas I shared during the talk. She talked about the importance of exploring power and digital hierarchies in Zoom, for example being a host ir a co-host and how it is possible to view different versions of meeting participants. Her article exploring the “Zoom Gaze” can be found here (Caines, 2020).

Perhaps the role of both the imagination and metaphor can be a platform to think and re-think what we do as Learning Technologists, particularly in transnational distance learning and online pivot contexts. It can be argued that there are two critical points about imagination. Firstly, that imagination is “…a powerful, meaningful prize of a capacity” and secondly that imagination can be lost (Morris, 2021). Finding creative opportunities as Learning Technologists becomes important. Check out the #CreativeHE group and the blog post about the February 2021 meetup.

Check out the hashtag #DigiEduWebinars to find out what people are saying about the webinars on Twitter. It is possible to submit an idea for a talk here. A video recording of the presentation is available here.

Bibliography

Caines, A (2020) The Zoom Gaze Video conferencing offers an illusory sense of unilateral control over conversations (Online) Available at: https://reallifemag.com/t [Accessed 3 March 2021]

Caines, A (2021) The Zoom Gaze w/Autumn Caines [Zoom] (Online)

#CreativeHE (n.d.) Creative HE Community (Online) Available at: https://creativehecommunity.wordpress.com/ [Accessed 5 March 2021]

Fhaidy (2018) Animation – Indiana Jones Cartoon Clip Art PNG in FAVPNG (Online) Available at: https://favpng.com/png_view/animation-indiana-jones-cartoon-clip-art-png/287wNsWu [Accessed 5 March 2021]

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, 1984. [film] Directed by Steven Spielberg. Available through Amazon Prime [Accessed 16 December 2020]

Indy in the classroom (2021) Indiana Jones Fonts (Online) Available at: http://www.indyintheclassroom.com/projects/fonts.asp [Accessed 5 March 2021]

Leschallas, W & McDonald, P (2020) Techno-autobiography & the Transnational Online Pivot: Exploring a Lecturer’s Experience of Teaching Online.Digitalrau.wordpress.com Digital Transformation Blog [blog] 12th Dec. Available at: https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2021/01/12/techno-autobiography-the-transnational-online-pivot-exploring-a-lecturers-experience-of-teaching-online/ [Accessed 3 March 2021]

Morris, S (2021) humanizing Digital Pedagogy: the Role of Imagination in Distance Teaching. https://www.seanmichaelmorris.com/. Digital Pedagogy Blog [blog] Available at:  https://www.seanmichaelmorris.com/humanizing-digital-pedagogy-the-role-of-imagination-in-distance-teaching/amp/ [Accessed 3 March 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) The Creative Empire Strikes Back. Exploring Creative Approaches to Building and Fostering Community with #CreativeHE. Digitalrau.wordpress.com Digital Transformation Blog [blog] Available at:  https://digitalrau.wordpress.com/2021/03/05/the-creative-empire-strikes-back-exploring-creative-approaches-to-building-and-fostering-community-with-creativehe/ [Accessed 3 March 2021]

McDonald, P (2021) Indiana Jones & the Temple of Zoom. A Transational Online Pivot Adventure, University of Kent Digitally Enhanced Webinars. Online. 5 March 2021.

Rapport, N. (1991). Writing Fieldnotes: The Conventionalities of Note-Taking and Taking Note in the Field. Anthropology Today, 7(1), (Online) Available at: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3032670?seq=1 [Accessed: 2 February 2021] 

Remsen, J, V. Jr (1977) On taking field notes [pdf] (Online) Available at: https://sora.unm.edu/sites/default/files/journals/nab/v031n05/p00946-p00953.pdf [Accessed: 2 February 2021]

The Ed Techie (2007) The VLE/LMS is Dead. https://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk. Educational Technology Blog. [blog] Available at: https://nogoodreason.typepad.co.uk/no_good_reason/2007/11/the-vlelms-is-d.html [Accessed 3 March 2021]

Wheeler, P [@Pennyjw]. (2021, 2 March) ONE OF MY PROBLEMS WITH THE PROLIFERATION OF INSTITUTIONS “RE-IMAGINING” THINGS IS THAT I’M NOT CONVINCED ANY IMAGINATION WENT INTO THE FIRST VERSION [Tweet]. Twitter. Available at:  https://twitter.com/pennyjw/status/1366864197611524103