Ed-Tech for Architecture and Allied Arts

considering technology in a design school

Entering Fall 2014

It has been quite a while since I have posted here, but I am going to get this site up and running as this school year gets started. There are several areas of interest on which I will be posting, so stay tuned.


App.net or ADN or App dot Net: what is it?

What is App.net? 

From the developers:

App.net is your passport to great applications. Use your App.net account to access a network of amazing social apps. Talk to friends with group messaging apps, share pictures and documents with file storage apps, and tell stories with microblogging apps—all while controlling your own data. Find apps you love and explore the possibilities: your account is your passport.

For software developers, App.net provides infrastructure to build social applications. Want to see what you can build on top of the App.net platform? Check out our API spec.

App.net launched in August of 2012. It’s owned and operated by Mixed Media Labs, founded by CEO Dalton Caldwell and CTO Bryan Berg.

App.net is a social network with a few new twists and turns. It is most commonly compared to Twitter, and in many respects it is very much like Twitter. It is a social network that allows you to have 256 characters, instead of Twitter’s 140. Perhaps the most important aspect is the open API for application developers who wish to create applications for this platform. Some of the applications that have already been created can be found here: https://directory.app.net/

The one catch with this is that one needs to pay to receive all of the features that it has to offer. Currently it is $36.00 per year, although there is a limited “free” version, as well. The free version only allows one to follow 40 people, however. If you would like an invitation, please email me below.

If you have any other questions, please contact me at ssharp@uoregon.edu. Thanks!

Exporting your AAA Blog and Importing into UO Blogs

AAA Blogs will be going away. AAA Blogs is no longer being updated and is currently hosted on an older server and there are no plans to keep hosting WordPress based sites, especially since we have the system that was started about a year ago, known as UO Blogs.

The migration process is not that difficult, but please keep in mind that some of the plugins that have been available on AAA Blogs will not be available on UO Blogs. See the instructions below to get started:


One of the important things to remember in this process is that you must create the new site first, including adding in the users and their roles to the new site BEFORE importing the older data. You cannot use the add user feature on the import screen when doing the import process.

To create a new site on UO Blogs, see this guide:


Some other things to consider are the following:

Plugins: Does the UO Blog system have the plugins that you’re used to having? If so, great – just enable them and you’re good to go. If not, look around UO Blogs to see if there are comparable ones available. If still not then some re-design will be necessary. A list of currently available plugins on UO Blogs is available here:


If you have questions, please feel free to contact me as you work through this process. Thank you!

See Like an Artist

Inge Druckrey: Teaching to See from Edward Tufte on Vimeo.

Invisible Design Within Education?

This morning I had a post come across my info stream by designer Frank Chimero titled, “The Cloud is Heavy and Design isn’t Invisble.” Quite a nice post in and of itself. It is a responsive post to another post by Timo Arnall‘s “No to NoUI” post.

The idea of design as becoming “invisible,” or that we experience the items in our lives in an invisible fashion or such that we don’t notice the design is what these posts are about. Thesis: Invisible design is not something to which we should strive as designers. Arnall outlines his arguments against this trend, in particular as touchscreens (and our infatuation with them) become more ubiquitous and therefore more problematic. Touchscreens as a cultural phenomena is striking to me as well.

I’ll leave it up to you to read the posts (and I encourage you to do so), but there are a couple of quotes from Frank that I’d like to share and explain a perspective that I am considering this morning. The first quote is where he states, “A metaphor can clarify or obscure. The most dangerous ones do both.” I like this. As a technologist and educator it truly speaks to the dynamic that is taking place around our language and thought process when it comes to technologies and education. Chimero goes on to discuss the idea around the term “The Cloud,” and how that is a complicated metaphor that both implies a simple solution without clearing away the “fog” to see the complexities behind it: servers, power, costs. In essence “The Cloud” is a misrepresentation to the reality. There are many times where I find myself having to explain this to people who have a desire to use “The Cloud,” insinuating a low-cost solution and/or a solution to a problem when perhaps a different solution would fit the situation better. 

The other quote from Frank that I especially like is,”Design doesn’t need to be showy to prove its value, but it shouldn’t be invisible, either. Designers mistake invisibility for elegance and simplicity for clarity at their peril. The best design speaks not only so it can be understood, but also in a way it can be admired by those that use it. What if you were inspired by the things that you used, simply because they were impressive in a way that was evident to you? And why is it bad to try to build things like that? I don’t think it is.”

This speaks to me from the perspective of an educator and how we “design” instruction. In many ways as I reflect on how courses are designed, how teaching and learning are created for the recipients, it seems as if we are trying to break out of an older paradigm (or some of us are and some disciplines are, perhaps). It’s hard to generalize on this, as well, as context really matters when it comes to instructional design and educational design. Still that does not mean that we should also have invisible design in instruction. Whether the instructor or the learner, to know and understand the design of the process can, I think, only bring more clarity and confidence to those involved, both teacher and learner. Feel free to comment below, if you wish. If not, I hope that the posts are thought provoking. 

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