Sunday, December 31, 2006

Reasons to be...

Optimistic: youthful creativity; inventive uses of new technology; increased networking across national boundaries; a growing awareness of environmental issues that reaches beyond political parties…there must be more…

Pessimistic: the unwelcome assumption that we in the UK are ‘reluctant global citizens’ (what is actually meant is that we love to be global if it involves profit, travel and consumer benefit but we are still a bunch of racists); the idea that the execution of a political figure is a ‘milestone in democracy’ rather than a manifestation of barbaric interventionism.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Haliyana Khalid and Alan Dix at Lancaster University have developed this idea of photolurking to describe that addictive habit of looking through the pictorial ephemera of strangers’ lives which seems to go along with the more upfront social networking made possible by Flickr. It seems to add another dimension to the way in which we position ourselves in relation to others. I found this in the rather light-hearted exploration of ‘modern maladies’ in this article. Some of these maladies and the new coinages are quoted below:
Blog streaking - revealing secrets or personal information online, which for everybody's sake would be best kept private;
Crackberry - the curse of the modern executive, not being able to stop checking your BlackBerry even at you grandmother's funeral;
Cyberchondria - a headache and a particular rash at the same time? Extensive online research tells you it must be cancer;
Egosurfing - when "just checking" gets out of control;Infornography- you're beyond being a healthy "infovore": acquiring and sharing information has become an addiction for you;
You Tube narcissism - not even your closest family want to see hours of your holiday videos;
Google-stalking - snooping online on old friends, colleagues or first dates;
MySpace impersonation - many of us pretend to be someone we're not when we are online, but some will pretend to be a well-known figure;
Powerpointlessness - one too many flashy slides;
Photolurking - flicking through a photo album of someone you've never met;
Wikipediholism - excessive devotion to a certain online collaborative encyclopedia.'

Friday, December 22, 2006

Seasonal mist

Misty Peaks
If you lost that all important 25 item alphanumeric product key on Microsoft stuff, Produkey is the software you need. It seems just like cheating Bill Gates, but seeing as someone probably paid him in the first place I reckon it doesn’t count. Anyway, I used it and for the next ten minutes felt like a big time hacker. Yesterday, whilst mist hung over Derbyshire, Dr Joolz and I signed a contract and made plans for the next piece of work. Watch this space!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Over there

Petitioners continue to fight the stranglehold of No Child Left Behind legislation in the US. Interestingly, they pitch their resistance at the waste of resources and the misguided nature of reform rather than accountability measures, themselves. Susan Ohanian (a backer of the petition) got a standing ovation at NCTE in November - but will the petition draw the support it needs? Clearly, not from all quarters...

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Web as resource

One of the beauties of the web is the way it can provide good resources for niche interests. The Resource Centre for Cyberculture Studies is a case in point. So, for example, this page provides a good archive of reviewed books – there’s some favourites (Kress, Sunden, Werry, are all here) as well as some less familiar authors. The reviews are decent and I love the idea of author response. This is definitely a valuable resource.

Monday, December 18, 2006


Colleagues have been busy on a number of projects at work this term. This resource to promote ICT in the early years is looking good, and has some useful case studies. We’ve also been working hard on our CPD pages…they’re still not complete, but they’re looking interesting – there’s some video material still to come, and a fair bit of polishing up. In this (as with the virtual world) I’m beginning to realize the time-consuming nature of developing ‘content’!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Unlocking the social

grounded tri-circle
Hannah tells me she has 185 friends on MySpace. She knows about 20 of those in Real Life; but they all count as friends which is interesting... There were just 3 of us in the virtual world today (all of us adult planners), where I'm pleased to say we now have a stone circle, a graveyard, housing of all kinds (including a Big Brother village), Roman ruins, and a medieval castle. With only 3 schools currently visiting, things have been quite controlled - quite teacher controlled - but after the holiday break the world will be more densely populated and I'm predicting that synchronous interaction across school sites will become more common place. Kids may have friends online, the world will become an arena for social-learning and the teachers' roles may have to adapt accordingly. Actually, I can't wait!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Brave new world

‘With the threat of Alien Invasion growing ever closer and the distinct possibility that "they" are already here, it's about time we had a device to detect the humans from the human-oids.’ The Biohazard wrist scanner probes the immediate vicinity for Alien DNA and displays the results so that you can assess the threat level. Or is it simply a watch from Tokyoflash? ...and while we’re on Flash, here’s a new and free flash-based site streaming a playlist of music which visualises the content in terms of mood and genre. Finally Zudeo is a new place to share video - it’s better quality than YouTube, but can it capture some of the market share?

Monday, December 11, 2006

Pass the ink (I'm feeling low)

I read here about an independent school in Edinburgh that is championing the dying art of penmanship. They argue that ‘The pens improve the quality of work because they force the children to take care, and better work improves self-esteem.’ Of course, and quills are even better. Still it looks a nice place there…a safe sort of place. Meanwhile, I’ve been reading more on teacher identities. Cate Watson writes on ‘Narratives of practice and the construction of identity in teaching.’ She argues that ‘A traditional notion of identity is of something essential about ourselves, a fixed and stable core of ‘self’. More recently, however, identity has been seen as an ongoing and performative process in which individuals draw on diverse resources to construct selves. This process is seen as emerging in and through narratives of practice.’ Her paper looks at the development of teachers’ professional identities.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Digital learning

new bedroom 2
In ‘Confronting the challenges of participatory culture in the 21st Century’, Henry Jenkins sets an agenda for media education which includes something called ‘media literacy’. On page 19, he briefly explores this idea – his idea of textual literacy embraces visual, digital and audiovisual media, but he stresses the importance of written language in new online participatory environments. I’m heartened to read someone else arguing the case! He’s also suggesting a set of new skills – his list is: play, performance, simulation, appropriation, multi-tasking, distributive cognition, collective intelligence, judgement, transmedia navigation, networking, negotiation. I’m still mulling over this list, wondering to what extent they can be reduced to skills. Anyway this is the Digital Learning paper.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Work stuff
Here’s Sarah Lohnes on ‘blogging’ in the college classroom. It’s an engaging piece, and one that gives a good critique of the ‘authenticity’ question. I suppose that’s what I’d become a bit hung up on. It’s quite simple, there are different purposes in the sort of blogging we do in educational contexts - and a result a different genre (or is it a sub-genre?). Anyway that was the sort of thing I was trying to get at ‘here!’

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Moving image

I’m not a big fan of Philip K. Dick, but 'A Scanner Darkly' makes a brilliant movie. By using ‘rotoscope’ animation they’ve made real characters and settings look like a graphic novel - and that works really well and fits the story line. You can get a sense of what that’s like by visiting the Warner Brothers site. And whilst on this theme, here’s a couple of useful sources for moving image work. You can get a range of movie trailers here and some great black and white documentary clips here.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


teaching space
I've been a critic of the limited nature of the sort of pseudo-blogs you can run in VLEs. They're not the real thing. Well this term we've been experimenting using them on a course on reflective practice as an attempt to build up a community that reaches beyond the limited face-to-face interaction of the Masters classroom. I've been rethinking my views. These black-box blogs provide some security, allow for plenty of interaction and actually seem to work better than discussion forums. Perhaps this is because they provide a sense of personal space, and an invitation to visit. That's quite a bit more than what's suggested in the classroom set up in the picture, with its pulpit/lectern and its collection of boards to display and oppress with words. The blogs help us build a small temporary community - it's working - and so I'm rethinking my position. OK so you can't get feeds, find who's updating or customise your blogspace but they serve a function.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Stranger than fiction

New bedroom
Today is my blog’s 3rd anniversary. I’m not celebrating as such, but it was good to see this, which suggests that my celebrity status is growing (I hope my royalties grow accordingly):

Picture Books for The Literacy Hour (ISBN: 1853466271)
Merchant, Guy; Thomas, Huw
(Bolton, ., United Kingdom)
Price: £ 458.16
[Convert Currency]
Quantity: 1
Shipping within United Kingdom:
£ 2.95
[Rates & Speeds]

We went to see ‘Stranger than Fiction’ last night. Well it’s OK - like an attempt to make a film out of a post-modern novel – which doesn’t quite work I was reminded of the Paul Auster story where his character gets incarcerated in an underground chamber with no means of escape. There were also some echoes of ‘Groundhog Day’ – and I wondered whether there’s a need to retell the story of the post-modern American subject in search of agency and ethical sensibility.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Dance Dance

Gus Andrews writes an interesting piece on Dance Dance Revolution , which she describes as a ‘large-motor, rhythm-based video game’. She uses Actor-Network Theory to make sense of dance game machines , and of a specific discussion thread on There’s also an interesting mapping of the networks and distribution of discussion contributors. Her outline runs: ‘This paper traces successful and unsuccessful attempts to control the meanings of the game, specifically with reference to what dancing means in this context, as the game moves between various interested parties - game developers, players, Internet forum participants, and other media producers. Who decides how DDR players dance, and at what times? Are the decisions about play made in the development meeting, the arcade, competitions, online, or around the home console? Globally, how do some regions or groups emerge as experts or leaders in play style?’ You can find the paper (here) in the journal Fibreculture.