Thursday, August 30, 2007

203 Assignments

Message no. 203[Branch from no. 197] Posted by Thomas Culhane (1311520071) on Friday, February 2, 2007 9:12pm Subject: Re: assignments

Thanks for asking Michelle -- as you can see there is now a discussion area for the relational chapter summaries of every chapter.

Class please note: Since we are in what UCLA Urban Planning professor Ed Soja (who was one of my teachers) famously calls "THIRDSPACE" , there is no reason to be linear about this. Each of you has a different attention span, a different agenda, a different way of understanding the world, a diferent environment and a different psychology of behavior. So why limit yourselves?

As a class we are going through the text book in a left to right linear fashion. But you are in the land of hypertext and nonlinear information processing. Take advantage of it!

Perhaps you find chapter 12's section on Residential Environments particularly fascinating and you can't wait to post your ideas until the 13th week of class. OK! Post them now, while they are fresh. The class may not catch up with you and respond to your insights for a couple of months, but hey ... better to post now and have it in the computers memory than to forget what you were all excited about, right?

Think about it: In a real flesh and blood class, skipping ahead of what the professor is covering or discussion would be considered out of place and even rude. If we were all talking about the "experimental method" and "confounds" and you started talking about "person-environment congruence", people would be like "what in the...? "

But here in hyperland, you can go with your enthusiasms, be spontaneous, spout it all out, get it off your chest.... whatever. And it will be safely stored in the right place until we all get there!

For me it makes no difference. Or let me say, it makes all the difference! I encourage it! I've read the whole book, so I'LL know what you are so jazzed up about, even if nobody else does. And you may want to read the book out of sequence.

Just know that by the end of the course you need to have created a personal relational chapter summary for ALL the chapters (with at least three good quotes and three links to outside reading) and that guarentees you the minimum grade of C) and that if you want feedback on your ideas from the rest of the class (and a real entertaining and meaningful discussion) it is good to "be on the same page" with the majority of your crewmates following the itinerary set by the captain.

BUT!!! You are always welcome to grab a rowboat (or a zodiac inflatable raft with an outboard motor, if you allow the metaphor) and cruise over to other unexplored islands of ideas and explore them before the rest of us get there and report on your findings. In other words, don't let the pace or direction of the ship slow you down or get in your way!

So, as you can see, there is now a place to post your relational summaries (and any other ideas you have) for every chapter of the book.

A tip for success in academic life: Books don't always have to be read in the order the writer intended just as you don't any longer have to listen to a record album in the way the musicians intended. You can do your own mix, be your own text book D.J. Sometimes it IS important to go chapter by chapter, just as it is important to listen to Beatle albums and Pink Floyd and Electric Light Orchestra albums from the 1970's in order, because the artists make the songs SEGUE from one to another in a meaningful and intentional way.

You will find this to be true if you listen to the record album I coproduced with Byron DeLear (called , appropriately "EUTOPIA" -- you can download the whole album for free here: Eutopia, the Album and learn more about it here Global Peace Solution . (where you can also see a television interview we did about working to improve the environment of Israelis and Palestinians in our work there).

In our album, while each song can be listened to separately and out of order, the whole album makes much more sense when listened to from start to finish. This is also true of the record album I did with BT (Brian Transeau) called "ESCM" (Electronic Sky Church Music). To get the full impact and message, one is better of starting from the top. However, one can still listen out of order. With a textbook I tend to read the whole thing in order once then go back and cherry pick the chapters I like, mining them for ideas. But there are other times when, because I am pressed for time, I read things out of order. If you find yourself in that situation, I encourage you to read the things you enjoy most first, then go back and read the stuff you don't care so much about.

At the end of the day you are only going to retain what interests you anyway, and you will NEVER be able to read everything that is assigned to you in college. Rather than skip the stuff that is most meaningful to you because you don't have time to get to it, read what turns you on most. If you begin to feel lost THEN go back and see where you may have missed a key idea or concept from an earlier chapter. If you are pacing yourself correctly and your study habits are good, then I suggest you start from the beginning and work your way through step by step, but still don't be afraid to jump ahead from time to time.


I am one of those video game players who LOVES the FAQ's and Cheat Codes and will go ahead in the game to get a feel for what is coming up, get a good cognitive map in my head of what the entire landscape is like and the challenges and dangers I will face, and then come back and start from scratch again to work my way through in a linear fashion.

For this reason I LOVE Guitar Hero II, because it lets you practice all the songs in slow motion, safely, before getting into competition. Guitar Hero I didn't let you do that, and I am stuck on Ozzie Osborne's "Bark at the Moon" (in the Professional Level) and unable to unlock the other songs. I have no cognitive map of the complex second guitar solo so I get intimidated and crash and burn. I feel that any video game that doesn't let you have "invincibility" so you can work through the levels without getting thrown out is a badly designed game.

I similarly think that any course that doesn't let you safely work through the assignments and content and textbook at your own invincible pace is a badly designed course. We want this course to be as fun and challenging as a well designed video game.

Thus, I repeat: Work through the book in your way, at your pace, and post as you feel inspired. Perhaps you will come back to Chapter I three weeks from now with a new idea, and want to post a new thought. Be my guest!! We will hopefully all come back to these different discussion threads over and over again!

Hope that makes sense, and liberates you to learn to your fullest capacity!!

Now get postin'!!! :)

No comments: