Wednesday, April 30, 2008

School 2.0

Down under
Jackie’s inaugral lecture was a real celebration of her achievements. I look forward to picking up the paper: Emergent Literacy 2.0, and will link to it from here. I was left wondering when digital or new literacy gets rehabilitated with mainstream literacy. If we accept that there is diachronic and synchronic variation in literacy/ies then we should be able to accommodate the full range of mark making procedures from scratches, to pen strokes, spraycan graffiti and onscreen writing. We might also be able to account for the affordances of these different writing media, their power and status, their legitimacy as well as their intertexts. And then we could describe them all as literacy practices etc etc. So far, so good. But, like the original emergent literacy concept, the emergent literacy 2.0 concept must be partly defined in opposition to ideas of 1.0. So, until dominant perceptions of literacy, and particularly schooled literacy, including of course early literacy, begin to broaden out new literacies, digital literacy and Emergent Literacy 2.0 are necessary ideas to hold. Maybe it’s also possible, as some have begun to suggest, that there is a bigger picture, that could be sketched out under the heading of School 2.0 .

Sunday, April 27, 2008

On the same page

Church door
Teaching a group who are all on wireless laptops is a strange affair. Yesterday I was trying to explain some ideas on a powerpoint which my group all had access too. Of course they could control the rate of their own progress through the slideshow, and I had a somewhat slippery control over the process of my commentary. I confess that I really wanted everyone on the same page (yes I know I’m a control freak) and that brought the didactic urge to the fore, even though it was embedded in a sequence of teaching that included exploratory group discussion, reflection, paired work as well as online activity. Coming home I was reflecting on the power of that idea of being on the same page, a phrase from the age and perhaps the pedagogy of print. I imagined that it derived from an era of scriptural authority or what deCerteau refers to as the scriptual economy of written language, and indeed this source refers to a hymnal. What would be a more contemporary reference point for the digital age? Starting from the same link, working in the same affinity space - or, do we in fact need to spend more time on the same page?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Doing different things

Strange house...
I examined a thesis the other week in which the candidate (who was looking at innovations in e-learning) made the distinction between doing things differently and doing different things. I find this a very helpful way of looking at new technology. In a sense it’s value free. As I see it, that means that sometimes we do the same (old) thing, but we end up using new kit, new software or whatever. Like phoning my mum on my mobile rather than on the landline. It doesn’t change much, she still can’t hear what I’m saying, and I for my part need to be extremely patient! But then blogging really means doing different things - and as I’m still learning, using blogs educationally is another thing altogether.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I was talking to Richard about the Kris Gutierrez paper in RRQ that describes teatro do oprimido (Boal’s theatre of the oppressed). He made a connection with Tressell’s fictional account of the pandorama in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Of course, the workers' cinema that Bert White’s Pandorama envisaged is a fictional account, but I suppose new media could provide a platform for popular mobilisation. Here’s a description from the book: The `Pandorama' consisted of a stage-front made of painted cardboardand fixed on the front of a wooden box about three feet long by two feet six inches high, and about one foot deep from back to front. The`Show' was a lot of pictures cut out of illustrated weekly papers and pasted together, end to end, so as to form a long strip or ribbon. The show itself, illustrated exploitation, unemployment and police violence. More reflections on this topic can be found over on Blogtrax.

Monday, April 21, 2008


we electric
At last week’s NAAE conference I introduced the Glogster’s glogs as an example of a new Web 2.0 development. Now the term glog is rather misleading, because it can actually be used to refer either to a games blog or a geo blog (a sort of mobile video blog). But that aside, I asked whether a Glogster glog was most like a poster, an online shrine, a scrapbook or a new textual form? But also because we were exposed to the three Cs (cultural, critical and creative), not to be out done, I thought I’d have me some Ps, five of them: personalisation, publication, presentation, peer-to-peer and popular - these being characteristics of Web 2.0 apps. I must say I rather like these, and may develop the idea. After all, there’s nothing like a list to get you started!

Sunday, April 20, 2008


I read an interesting review by Doug Black on Coolhunting of a book called "Letter by Letter", by designer/calligrapher/artist Laurent Pflughaupt. The book looks at alphabetic letters as standalone objects, and sounded from the review like a more interesting read than David Sacks’ book “The Alphabet”. After an inspiring radio interview with Raymond Tallis, I think I’m going to order a copy of “The Kingdom of Infinite Space: A Fantastical Journey Around Your Head” which deals with topics like kissing and spitting and why thoughts can’t really be said to be in your head…. And on the related topic of kingdoms (segue) I’m putting in an order for Lisa Jardine’s “Going Dutch” which looks at that erased link of the forgotten invasion, or Glorious Revolution, and why we’re more Dutch than we think we are!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


drinks tray graffito
The Daft Punk song Technologic captures the spirit of what Colin and Michele call the new ethos stuff in digital production: plug it, play it, burn it, rip it (full lyrics here) and the rest, seems to describe these new practices. Today I was in Manchester doing a keynote at the NAAE conference and it occurred to me to restate that, whilst I stick to my definition of digital literacy as primarily being about writing, I see that it only plays a part in larger texts; texts in which meaning is dependent upon the orchestration of multimedia semiotics. Anyway, in the end, I forgot to say that, so this acts rather like a postscript.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Space and time (again)

space city
A short while back I promised Sarah I'd do a favourite three list of sources on time, space and new technology. So here’s how it goes. First I have to have Giddens, because he writes so lucidly about the changing nature of place, space and time in late modernity. For me he sets out the broad context in which specific technoliteracy practices are played out. Secondly, I really enjoy Jay Lemke on this topic - probably Across the Scales of Time: Artifacts, Activities, and Meanings in Ecosocial Systems is what I’d go for (there’s a version here). Third is Kevin Leander – I don’t enjoy the theoretical stuff as much as the case study commentary (so, I’d nominate ‘You won’t be needing your laptops today’ which is in Knobel and Lankshear’s New Literacy Sampler). I’d have Lefebvre in, but although I like some of it I can’t make it all work for me. And then, out of the one’s that didn’t make it, there is Barry Wellman. His idea of the movement from the glocal to the networked individual is really based upon changing spaces and time, but I don’t think the theme is really foregounded in his work. Well anyway that’s how I’m thinking about things at this moment in time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Vertical space

I scaled these stairs yesterday afternoon to put the finishing touches to a book chapter on blogging. Somehow, whilst doing this, I realised how much more there is to explore in this particular territory. It’s that familiar tension between taking in the broad sweep of things (the Web 2.0 book will do that) and focusing in on specific new literacy practices. From now on my attention will be on working up the virtual world material for publication…and on that note I’m looking forward to this day conference on virtual worlds in May which looks very interesting. Meanwhile, back at home, renovation work carries on apace with work on all the sash windows and dust everywhere!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Your place from space

I’ve been getting pretty addicted to using Google Maps on my handheld just to see where I am in satellite view (kind of sad, but kind of true). When I’m at home I can zoom in and see a couple of cars parked up outside, but they’re always the same two cars and neither of them is mine. I reckon the satellite data must be a couple of years old at least. Google Street View gives a more detailed view and there are concerns about the level of intrusion (surveillance) that results as this article reports. Meanwhile Jackie draws our attention to the concept of geo-schooling. Here’s Adam Greenfield’s piece on location-based and context-aware education that she refers to.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nested spaces

new lits (side view)

I borrowed the idea of nested social/communicative spaces from David Barton who talks about nested and chained literacy events. It seemed to me that the idea captured the sense of being simultaneously here and elsewhere, occupying two different interactive spaces at the same time. It strikes me that this is rather different from liminal activity in that the latter is often seen as a disorientating, indeterminate sort of space. Nested spaces are pretty much mainstream, and I suggest that although they are a good way of describing technological-mediated communication they also provide a reasonable account for more traditional forms of partial immersion (book-reading; movie-viewing and so on) where one isn’t exactly in the zone but accessing an alternative reality. Sarah points to Ito and Okabe’s study of Japanese Youth and mobile messaging (here) and the new technosocial spaces that are documented. Some of these seem to me to be examples of nested events. I’m not sure that they are necessarily new - just more pervasive and more persistent.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Virtual bimbo

Well there are virtual spaces and there are virtual spaces. Some are exciting, others rather trivial and then there’s the noxious Miss Bimbo. So, first you Find your own cool place to live; then you Find a fun job to pay for your needs and all the clothes a Bimbo could possibly want. It gets worse...... as you Shop for the latest fashions and become the trendsetting bimbo in town. You can then become a socialite and skyrocket to the top of fame and popularity, and date that famous hottie you've had your eye on and show the Bimbo world the social starlet you are. But wait....... you can (and I quote) Even resort to meds or plastic surgery. Stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo. Needless to say, this has created a bit of furore. Here’s a report on the watchdog investigation.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Back to Bauman

Thinking about nested spaces and the networked individual made me go back to Bauman's observations about mobiles (in Liquid Love): cell phones signal materially and symbolically, the ultimate liberation from place....the advent of virtual proximity renders human connections simultaneously more frequent and more shallow....telling someone what station they had just left and what station would be next. ..Bauman uses the ideas of being always connected and virtual proximity to argue for the loss of intimacy. I reckon he misses the point. The networked individual has a more fluid sense of location and maybe this is why the communicative space requires updates on geolocation. So participants can imagine where they are. We often see the same behaviour in conversations across time zones. Having already calculated when the best time to call is we'll invariably catch ourselves saying: What time is it there?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Inhabiting the interstitial

bathroom wall
Are we learning to live in the interstices, between here and nearly hear, between now and soon? Thinking in this post about how email appears to insist on a quick response made me recall Stephen Heppell’s piece about inbetweenies. He talks here about time that is nearly now, soon but not later, using the example of txting. I think that email is also in this category. But the inbetween is also about space. As Bauman has observed, with our use of mobile technology we take others with us and we share their space whilst inhabiting a different one. In a way, then, we are here and not here. Virtual world gameplay is a bit like this too. We are here, at our keyboard, embodied; but also, at the same time, we are someone else, somewhere else. Heppell stretches the inbetween concept into other areas looking first at the ownership of the social space, the online spaces that exist inbetween social interaction, and then at the inbetween space between consumption and production. Both of the latter are useful observations, but they have been articulated elsewhere. I found the inbetween time idea more stimulating and that lead to thinking about spaces within spaces (nested spaces).

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Byron Review!


The Byron Review’s Final Report has just been released (27th March) and the full text can be downloaded here. The report recognizes the experience and curiosity of children and young people around new media and yet still avoids demonizing the technology. But at the same time it acknowledges the widespread concerns about appropriate material and draws attention to the role of education. In the Executive Summary, the public swimming pool metaphor is used to good effect. It goes like this: Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe – this isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.