Different Trains

February 27, 2013 at 10:53 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

[full screen viewing recommended]

Different Trains is all about the widening gap between the educational experience of the rich and poor – or these days between the rich and everyone else. There is a concern that MOOCs could be seen as a viable alternative to decent funding for education, and that elite universities will essentially go private while the rest go to the wall. In the video I explore the educational journeys taken by two young people just a few years in the future – in February 2026.

Kaz is studying online to gain the qualifications he needs to gain a contract job with an online insurance business, and this involves working his way through virtual reality business simulation games in which he needs to get a good score to progress to the next level. The system provides him with personalised feedback to help him, but each level costs – so this is education by instalments.

Lucy, on the other hand, has wealthy parents and is having the ‘Oxford experience’ at the University of Edinburgh – so lots of personal tutorials and the opportunity to build the network of contacts that lead to a top job. As always, it is not just what you know, but who you know…

Their story is told through the phone messages they send and receive. Kaz is on his way to a face-to-face job interview (having presumably passed the online interviews) while Lucy is returning from Milan where she was fitted with cybernetic eye lens that provide access to Vir (the name in the story for the digital information space). Invented jargon is used to make the language unfamiliar – so for example HiNet means wealthy (High Net Worth) but also encompasses class distinction from LoNets – and Lucy’s friends display some contempt for them. As for the hùndàn zhōngo lawyers… well, you can guess…

Technically, the entire thing was created using PowerPoint:mac 2011 and a collection of Flickr CC images. I used the animation timing to fine-tune the appearance of each message and was really pleased that it required very little fiddling to get it to match the wonderful music sevenhundredbeats by Duncan Beattie that I found on ccMixter. I recorded the video using an evaluation copy of Camtasia 2 for Mac. Overall effort was around 10 hours but quite a lot of that was spent searching for the right images and music.



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  1. I really enjoyed the presentation and how you displayed the story. Romance AND technology – interesting to see the two different lives coming together.

  2. Hi Michelle – the assignment brief was to produce a web artifact that explored issues covered in the Edinburgh #EDCMOOC – and I thought that the best way to do that was through a human story, and what could be better than boy meets girl? Two of my three peer reviewers didn’t get it though – it is quite alusive and I guess they were looking for something easier to understand. Hence the lastest version of the video concludes with a page of explanatory text to assist the bewildered.Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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