A Graduate Architecture Critical Practice Studio on Learning Spaces

Back in March, an article was published in our UCalgary News describing a collaboration between one of our librarians and an instructor in SAPL (UCalgary’s School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape). The project involved students designing possible future library spaces, and they came up with some really interesting ideas. I immediately thought “hey - that’d be cool to try with a focus on learning spaces!” I reached out to folks in SAPL to see if they were interested, and got connected with Matthew Parker. Read More

Images used in this post:

Figure 8.8 from my dissertation. A framework for integrating HCI and SoTL concepts to describe course designs. In this case, replace HCI with 'video games' and 'SOTL' with 'understanding teaching and learning' (Norman, 2023). Some of my own initial modelling work in video game engines - top left was a mockup of interacting with 360˚ video in Unity, the others are mockups of learning spaces built in Unreal Engine 5.

On Online Teaching as a Text-based Adventure Game

My dissertation explored the connections between the design and analysis of video games and our design and understanding of teaching & learning. Much of that work was shaped by a conversation I had with one of my supervisors: Figure 1.2: One of the conversations that shaped the direction of this dissertation. AI-generated character portrayal provided by Stable Diffusion. I’d written a bit to explore the comparison between video games and online teaching, to see what it might look like if it was experienced as a Zork-like text-based adventure game. Read More

Images used in this post:

A comic, portraying a conversation between myself and a supervisor, about the nature of online learning becoming like a video game - and wondering if the video game was any good…

Building a Mastodon Chatbot With ChatGPT

I had a random thought, triggered perhaps by the tinnitus that is constantly eeeeeeee-ing in the background of everything. What if there was a Mastodon bot that just replied to every toot that mentioned it, with a string of eeeeeee’s of the same length as the message? The second semi-random thought was that I had no idea how to even start to build such a thing. The third obvious-in-2023 thought was that I’d bet ChatGPT could help with this somehow. Read More

Images used in this post:

screenshot of a prompt fed to ChatGPT: Build a Mastodon bot that replies to every message by converting the message into “eeeeee” of corresponding message length" screenshot of 2 toots, one asking @tinnitus “hey, tinnitus but. is this thing on?” and the other responding “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee” screenshot of the Mastodon profile for Tinnutus Bot

Presenting to the Association of University Architects

I’d intended to quickly write this post to reflect on the session, but it’s stayed in my drafts pile for a couple of weeks now so I’m going to share what I can remember. I’ll likely be misremembering some of the details of the session, but this should hit the highlights at least. Recently, I had the absolute pleasure to be invited to co-present at the 67th Annual Association of University Architects Conference, conveniently hosted this year in Calgary, and even more conveniently having one day’s sessions housed within the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. Read More

Images used in this post:

https://darcynorman.net/photos/2023/2023-06-20-presenting-at-AUA2023.jpg poster image for video Taken during the 2022 University of Calgary Conference on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching, hosted by the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. https://darcynorman.net/photos/2023/2023-02-16-new-artworking.jpg https://darcynorman.net/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/img_2564-960x720.jpg poster image for video https://darcynorman.net/images/2023/2023-06-20-AUA-presentation-whiteboard.webp

Easing Back Into This Thing We Used to Call the World Wide Web

I’ve been seeing a lot of energy online about bringing the old web back, or bringing the humanity back to the web, or just trying to make some art, dammit. So, here’s my part. This blog is my corner of the World Wide Web. Of the non-corporate, non-monetized, non-advertised, non-user-tracked, human-scale online experience. I haven’t been blogging, partially because I’ve been holding back due to Not Having Anything Profound to Share™. Read More

Displaying Hierarchical Lists of Files With Obsidian and Dataview

In Obsidian, I use a folder of notes called “Collections”. Inside Collections are various folders that act as buckets of info, in a quasi-Zettelkasten notes-as-personal-wikipedia kind of thing. My Collections currently include (in alphabetical order): Articles Committees Ideas Institutions Organizations People Profiles Topics Vendors Some of these have subfolders to organize notes into smaller buckets. For example, Topics is organized by folders for: General Tech Higher Education Information Technologies Learning Spaces Learning Technologies Misc Pedagogy Processes TI Projects UCalgary The folders change and I add to them and reorganize as needed. Read More

Images used in this post:

https://darcynorman.net/images/2023/2023-05-03-obsidian-graph-view.webp https://darcynorman.net/images/2023/ObsidianCanvasScreenshot.webp https://darcynorman.net/images/2023/obsidian-canvas-institutions-and-topics-screenshot.webp

How I use Obsidian to Manage My Note-taking Workflow

Rambling blog post alert: there isn’t a simple, straightforward way to tell the story of how I use Obsidian. This is going to be a bit of a winding post as I start to describe my setup and workflow. And there will be gaps because a) I don’t have time to write an omnibus description of this and b) you don’t want to read that anyway. I’ve been meaning to write this for awhile, but kept getting stuck by the scale of what was needed. Read More

Images used in this post:

my Obsidian folder structure Obsidian “map” canvas, with blocks for all of the types of information I need to keep handy obsidian graph view, showing nodes and connections to notes in my vault

On Video Games for Teaching and Learning

Grant Potter asked a question on Mastodon, about how video games are being used for teaching and learning. I’ve done some work on this for my dissertation, and wanted to repurpose bits from a few chapters in response to Grant’s question. I’ll be writing more about my dissertation work, but am still in “pause and recover” mode after finishing it… In the dissertation, I explored how the disciplines of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) intersect, using the specific ways in which we design, study, and evaluate video games as the point of integration. Read More

Images used in this post:

Science Theatres 140, as created by students at the University of Calgary Notre Dame cathedral, recreated in Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed Unity

Does This Android Dream of Electric Sheep?

I’m sick of ChatGPT posts, too. But I figured it was worth trying this out. I asked ChatGPT the Voight-Kampff test questions from Bladerunner. It answered some in interesting ways, but clearly failed the test overall. For now… Prompt 1: Someone gives you a calfskin wallet for your birthday. How do you react? Response: I would thank the person for the gift and express my appreciation for the thoughtfulness. Prompt 2: Your little boy shows you his butterfly collection, plus the killing jar. Read More

ChatGPT Designs a University Learning Space Design Evaluation Plan

I asked ChatGPT to describe the state of learning space research, and how to evaluate the design and use of learning spaces in a university context. I’ll provide my prompts and ChatGPT’s responses verbatim: Robot classroom observation, by Stable Diffusion Prompt: Describe the current state of research into the design and use of learning spaces in universities. Provide examples and references. Response There is a growing body of research on the design and use of learning spaces in universities. Read More

Images used in this post:

robot classroom observation