Thursday, February 24, 2011

Firewall frustration

Talking with one of the teachers we hope to involve in the learning futures project, the old topic of firewalls came up. She described the imposition of a blanket firewall as an action worthy of a police state. Even quite reputable educational sites are blocked, along with YouTube etc. Googling, as you do, I wondered who else had recently been writing about school firewalls, but what appeared in my rather crude initial search was pages and pages of firewall hacks and dodges such as this one. In other words there seems to be more interest in subverting systems than challenging those who operate them! I suppose in the long run widespread adoption of such practices would undermine the justification for having firewalls in the first place. Perhaps this is an instance of a new digital politics in which sneaking round firewalls, dodging copyright restrictions, freeing-up information and networked action are coming to the fore.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Coming soon!

I always think a good breakfast sets me up for a day of writing, and having just signed a couple of contracts I'll be needing all the help I can get. Last year's ESRC seminar series is coming to fruition with an edited book for Routledge called 'Virtual Literacies' and I'm involved in a couple of joint ventures producing handbook chapters one on digital texts in the classroom and the other on early digital literacy. Apart from that we have some exciting collaborations between the two Sheffield universities which may well result in some publication. Some colleagues have also been successful in setting up a BAAL seminar series on language and deficit; I'll be doing a keynote at that with the snazzy title 'The Trashmaster: Popular Culture, Bad Language and Writing Online.' So although the policy context is looking rather grim there seems to be plenty to be getting on with. I'll need a good breakfast, but maybe I'll skip the Krave.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bolton boys blog

Well, good: blogging is catching on! But I was left rather bemused by this article that showed how introducing children to blogging had revolutionised writing practices in Bolton (taught them to write properly). In the current climate of increasingly myopic curricular vision when something like this becomes national news you just have to celebrate it. Maybe my eyes have been dimmed by too many digital innovations, but the whole idea that blogging solves the so-called gender and writing conundrum is a bit underwhelming. Oh I'm glad enough they're blogging (by the way, is that a 21st century skill?) but 5,000 word stories for their blogs? I ask you! I'm still working on that one myself. Scores are going up too. That must be good? Call me a cynic, you can do that, but I was genuinely pleased to read that 'they exchange blogs with places as far apart as Canada and Australia'. Yes they're really far apart, that's global. I know there are other countries, too, but it's good to hear that Bolton is connected. So that's little me in the picture above on the left, before I got glasses. OK so I might be squinting but at least I was legally blonde. And now I'm resolved to improve my writing with more blogging; I'll have to work hard!