Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Points of View, we experimented with deconstructing the notion of 'the event', partly because we found it hard to define any clear boundaries between different instances of meaning-making in the material we were dealing with, and our multiple readings of the data, the stacking stories we developed, highlighted increasing levels of complexity, rather than coalescing around a single version of what was happening in classroom virtual world play. We struggled to find a word for what we were observing - maybe occurrences or action sequences might work - otherwise just call it the project! Part of the problem with the idea of 'events', which we haven't so far articulated, is the way in which they tend to associate too easily with 'activities' or 'routines' in the world of literacy education. And one thing that is clear about the virtual worlds work is the way in which it challenges just those sorts of boundaries, planned learning sequences, activities, objectives and all the rest. In our AERA presentation, we deepened our baroque reading of the data, using this to critique simple, reductive models of literacy in classrooms. Cathy introduced the notion of a baroque pedagogy, an exuberant expression of free roaming gameplay, one that is hard to describe, hard to understand, but thoroughly absorbing for participants. But we also used baroque techniques to illuminate the heterogeneity of meaning-making in classrooms, and that, I think, will be at the heart of the next paper that we're working on.
Sunday, April 13, 2014
Norris's work on modal aggregates is a powerful way of conceptualising the iPad data that I've recently been writing about. Although her argument that multimodal perspectives destabilise the primacy of language in social interaction is not exactly new, the focus on action, as a unit of analysis, helps to highlight the shifting dominance of modes - how, in her words, modal hierarchies fluctuate. In the sorts of multiparty interactions that occur between children, adults and iPads, we can see how deictic gestures, at times dominant, give way to spoken language, onscreen visual movements, object-handling and so on. Accepting that overall meanings are always greater than the sum of these modal parts, this perspective helps to incorporate materiality and embodiment into the analysis in useful ways. There are some limitations, though. The analytical work that Norris (2012) engages in places humans as social actors at the centre of the interaction, thus following in the footsteps of earlier sociolinguistic approaches, but in doing this objects are cast as rather mute associates. For example, in Norris's data, a painting is moved (object-handling mode), pointed at (deictic gestural mode), and then talked about. But when scripted material objects - like iPads - are so deeply woven into activity, I think we need a broader perspective, one which shows how things (such as technologies) can generate, initiate, or participate in action. Perhaps it would help to focus on developing accounts of action sequences with different trajectories - the vibrating alert from a mobile phone that heralds an incoming text message, prompting some email checking, a phone call and so on, for example. Thinking about fluctuating hierarchies in modal aggregates might well be a useful way of approaching and understanding the emerging patterns of communication associated with new technologies. This could then lead to a more sophisticated account of how objects participate in social interaction, bringing what we read in Latour to bear upon our discussions of multimodality and discourse analysis.
Monday, March 31, 2014
Digital Technologies for School Collaboration, explores some of these themes and recognizes that although programmes that provide opportunities for transnational collaboration between schools have a respectable history, the potential expansion of these opportunities through new technology has yet to be evaluated in a principled way. Gouseti's book does just that. Based on a case studies of teachers' and students' experiences of the European eTwinning programme she provides a detailed analysis of the promises and pitfalls of web-based school collaboration. But the book is much more than that, providing an excellent overview and critique of the rhetoric associated with web 2.0 and 'participatory culture.' This is a book that is well-informed, well-argued and scholarly throughout, offering practical guidance on how to develop school collaboration through new media.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Sunday, February 09, 2014
Julia and I have written for this collection (now available). The chapter draws on the work of the DefT project.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Nighty Night'). It's his favourite because it's an engaging app, and just right for 2-3 year olds. In the story, it's night time and most of the village is in darkness - apart, that is, from the farmhouse, which is still blazing with light. The reader is invited to 'go' to each light in the farmhouse, say goodnight to the animals found there and turn off the light. Once the light is turned off, there's no going back. Sure, you can return to the barn, the dog's kennel and so on, but they've gone to sleep and there's nothing at all you can do about it. It's a simple scenario, that helps with prediction, naming animals, and the simple and repetitive night time rituals of saying goodnight and turning off the light. So in this way it does what good picture books tend to do, in supporting language, helping children to make predictions and making connections to firsthand experience. What might the app add then? Well first off, even though, it's made for sharing, the child can look at it independently and still hear the story being told - a small gain admittedly, but nonetheless a difference from a print book. Then there is the important fact that it is user-driven. This happens in two ways: firstly, the animals and insects won't go to sleep unless you switch off (tap) the light and secondly, the order in which this is done is entirely up to the reader - so it's not unilinear, the child dictates the reading path. Because this is an app for young children, these features are simple and easy to see, but imagine if they were scaled-up and you begin to glimpse the future of digital fiction. Rather like a videogame, you are in 'Nighty Night' because you change the story environment as you go along. And then, of course, there's the upgrade I started with. I really enjoyed the surprise Dylan felt when he suddenly discovered that, overnight, more animals had moved into the farmhouse! The potential for a story that has add-ons is quite something. Of course, the same business model as in-game purchases is lurking behind the scenes - but I want to keep that in proportion. The app plus add-ons, is cheaper than most good quality picture books for this age-group.
Sunday, January 19, 2014
here, if you haven't caught the story - and this isn't about smartphones, we're talking basic models, here. What a wonderful illustration of the ways in which social groups take up the affordances of mobile technology and make it work for them to fulfil their needs. In fact, I can see myself doing the Kenya thing rather than carrying around make-up (or cufflinks, apparently).