Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Homework - love it or hate it

Homework: 'schoolwork that a student is required to do at home'. Makes it sounds so easy. Doesn't capture the emotional stress, missed sleep, arguments, tears, uncertainty, frustration (and that's just what parents experience). Homework is, and should be, the topic of hot debate these days.

If you're interested in the issues surrounding homework, you might want to read The case against homework: how homework is hurting our children and what we can do about it
or have a look at

Another well-known homework themed book is Alfie Kohn's The Homework Myth. Stirred more responses on the Amazon page than i have ever seen.

Even if you're a huge fan of homework, there are some interesting issues flagged.

See also Cory Doctorow's comments on boingboing

Thursday, May 24, 2007

8 myths about video games debunked

Next time you're at dinner and because you foolishly listed computer/video games amongst your interests you are being asked all those questions about the decline of civilization, youth alienation, violence, blah blah, it may be useful to have read Henry Jenkins' response to 8 myths about video games.

His comments were part of a PBS focus on the "video game revolution".

They should provide some useful armour.

Picture of Henry Jenkins from his MIT staff site.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The decisive moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century.
His 1952 book "The Decisive Moment" changed the face of photography as it captured the instant, the 'decisive moment' where event, organization of forms and photographer (and via him/her, technology) intersect.

Simon Cherpitol has kindly put the entire book online here for us to admire and learn from. The images are exquisite and many are haunting.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Net filtering

A report in the BBC News outlines the growing volume of state-led censorship of the internet. Since 2002 the number of states actively filtering access to the internet has grown from a couple to at least 25.

There’s a lot being written about the potential of the internet for the growth of citizen journalism and the dissemination of information across national and international boundaries. The OpenNetInitiative has accumulated data for government level censorship around categories such as political, social and security. Not all censorship is bad. However, as the report notes “In a growing number of states around the world, internet filtering has huge implications for how connected citizens will be to the events unfolding around them, to their own cultures, and to other cultures and shared knowledge around the world”.

To view the summary of Australia’s internet restrictions, click here.

The first virtual war?

In 2000, Estonia declared internet access a fundamental human right of its citizens. Free wireless abounds, citizens have digital identity cards and do much of their banking and other activities online.

It is also the site of what has been described as the world's first virtual war. Since April, Estonia's computer networks have experienced waves of sustained attack causing servers to crash and bringing many services to a stand still.

In an era where we are putting more and more of our public service information online and creating civic access pathways that pivot on internet access, 'denial of service' and other attacks move from annoying to dangerous. If I couldn't access my online banking or get into my email, life would get pretty ugly pretty fast.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

How to work better

A4 photocopy of Peter Fischli and David Weiss's
How to work better (1991), as photographed by the author in his studio
Photograph: Ryan Gander © the artists

Ruby pseudo wants a word

We're always trying to write about kids and what's going on with them. What kinds of digital technologies do they use in their daily lives? What are they thinking? What aren't they thinking? Is Prensky right? Are they 'digital natives'? I can't count how many times i've lain awake at night worrying about all this...

Ruby Pseudo just goes and asks them! Here's her amazing blog. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


If you're interested in creating interactive stories, videos or art, this might be the software for you. Developed at MIT's Media Lab, Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create cool stuff without having to have a preexisting grasp of programming language.

Download it here for free and have fun.

There's a video tutorial so easy to follow that i made an animated movie while i watched.

nmc 2007 Summer Conference

The 2007 nmc summer conference is coming up soon - June 6 - 9 in Indianapolis:

"The NMC Summer Conference is a one-of-a-kind event, attracting an audience of highly skilled campus professionals who are very knowledgeable about and interested in the integration of emerging technologies into teaching, learning, and creative expression".

Very exciting to see Scott Pagano on the programme!

His official biography:

As filmmaker, motion designer, and spatial reconstructionist, Scott Pagano creates moving image content utilizing shards of architecture, disfunction, and futurism. With influences ranging from minimal painting to cinema, his work offers a re-envisioned perspective on the graphic stratas that saturate our visual perception. His meticulously constructed abstract artworks push the boundaries of audio-visual composition and process using a dynamic mix of cinematographic and synthetic imagery.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Citizenship education - literacy

A couple of weekends ago I went to the 2007 Citized International Conference on Citizenship Education held at The Centre for Research and Teaching in Civics at the University of Sydney. Loads in interesting people, including Dr. Libby Tudball from Monash University brought together around the theme of citenship eduation. Audrey Osler gave a really interesting and, for some, challenging presentation on cosmopolitan citizenship. Sir Bernard Crick, credited with the construction of the UK's humanist citizenship curriculum, gave a spirited account of the development of the curriculum.

Listening and watching the range of presentations brought it home to me how important a discussion of literacy, texts and textual practices is for any concept of an active and participatory citizenry.

You are here

A lot of us are thinking through issues of narratives of the self in local and global sites. This book by Katharine Harmon has been helping me think through these issues from a fresh perspective. It is a beautiful book, both visually and in what it allows me to think about.

Another 'you are here' project is here. It uses surveillance cameras to track pathways through a public space. This one is "You are Here, 2004", created from "Six networked firewire video cameras, flat-panel display, PC computer, custom software".

It's on again!

The United Kingdom Literacy Association's (UKLA) Annual International Conference is looming once again - 6th to 8th July 2007. This year it is being held in Swansea. In a time when we are increasingly aware of the pace of change and the almost timeless nature of the challenges we face as educators, the theme of 'reflexivity, renewal and regeneration' is timely.

The UKLA's SIG around Digital Literacies is hosting a PGR student symposium foregrounding cutting edge work in the field by new academics. More information on this to come.

Brian26's flickr site for this and more photos of Swansea.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

It's been a while

It's been a while since I've blogged.

While not blogging, I have moved continents and universities - from the UK to Australia; from University of Plymouth to University of South Australia.

More to come...