Friday, 30 November 2007

Byron Review

UKLA has submitted its response to the Byron review on 'Children and New Technology', which you can access here. Let's hope the review leads to appropriate educational policy and an investment in teachers' professional development which will enable them to engage effectively in the use of the Internet in classrooms. If you haven't seen it already, look at Their Space for some useful reflections on this issue. Also useful is this list of useful Web 2.0 tools for schools (scroll down to comments for additional links).

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Moving image education

The BFI conference on Friday was very successful and there were some wonderful presentations by teachers who had been involved in the BFI 'Lead Practitioners' Project on Moving Image Education. This was a project in which schools developed units of work based on films, most of them using the excellent resources produced by the BFI. I will be posting details of how you can access the full evaluation report shortly. In the meantime, for those teachers I met on Friday who were interested in our online MA in New Literacies course, in which we explore the use of film in classrooms in addition to lots of other exciting new literacy practices, further details can be found here.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

School blogs

I am speaking at the BFI 'Reading on Screen' conference for teachers tomorrow and although my main aim is to report on the evaluation of the very successful BFI 'Lead Practioners Project', I do want to highlight the potential that blogs have for disseminating children's film productions and facilitating their peers' critical comments on the films. I was contacted a few weeks ago by
Margaret Vass, who is a Primary 7 class teacher at Carronshore Primary School, Falkirk. She told me about the excellent blog she has set up for the children in her class - I really like the children's 'WeeMees' and love the Voki posting developed by on, Carronshore Primary 7!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Pink technologies

This is Sakura, the first robot designed to appeal directly to girls. Drawing from anime (Sakura is also the name of a popular anime character) the robot has typical anime features, such as large eyes. She also has, as the adverts are keen to stress, the ability to do a number of alarmingly unadventurous things:

'She can give you compliments and knows exactly what to say. Sakura also loves to give you your fortune, answer yes or no questions and can tell you fun facts, jokes and even fashion tips...the Sakura Robot is a girl's best friend, will keep her secrets, talks, dances and plays music.'

Soon there may be a robot that will apply one's nail varnish, I guess. It would have to be pink nail varnish, of course.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Nano kids

OK, just one more babies and iphones post and then I'll move on! If your baby really loves your iphone, then you will be thrilled to learn that you can get a range of related babywear for 'your little nano' at iPopWear. If I knew where the YouTube baby below lived, I could send him one. His parents have posted a second video showing how he can now also turn the iphone on and use the zoom feature:

Friday, 9 November 2007


Today is the launch of the iphone in the UK, a pretty exciting event for those of us who are Apple fans. I have always liked the interfaces of Apple products because they facilitate work with young children - imovie is a good example of that. Perhaps not surprisingly for those of us used to observing young children with technologies, it would seem that the use of the iphone touch screen is also rather intuitive for babies, as this YouTube post indicates:

Monday, 5 November 2007

Digital media literacy

Unfortunately, I can't make the 'Digital media literacy' summit at Channel 4 on Thursday, but it looks like it will be an interesting event. I hope someone from the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) attends. I would have liked to have drawn participants' attention to some of the digital media literacy that is going on in schools e.g. the brilliant Web 2.0 work that Peter Winter has been doing for a few years now on blogging and podcasting at Monteney Primary School in Sheffield, or the fantastic work of Lynn Scott in the Foundation Stage at Childwall Valley Primary School in Liverpool, which she has undertaken as part of the BFI Training Scheme for Lead Practitioners on Moving Image Education. Eve Bearne and I have been evaluating that scheme and we are just completing the final evaluation, which I will post on this blog once it is complete. There has been some wonderful work undertaken in schools as part of the project, which has helped to move the media literacy agenda along in the local authorities that have taken part in it - so the DCSF do need to be involved in conversations about media literacy, or this work won't get taken forward in schools in the way that it needs to be.

Sunday, 4 November 2007

First-hand experience?

There are some interesting chapters in the Educase e-book 'Educating the Net Generation.' I enjoyed the chapter 'Planning for neomillenial learning styles', despite not knowing what 'neomillenial' means and being rather sceptical about the whole notion of 'learning styles'. Although the chapter is focused on the implications for higher education, there are important issues to note in relation to early childhood education. For example, the author of the chapter, Chris Dede, suggests that 'Mediated immersion creates distributed learning communities, which have different strengths and limits than location-bound learning communities confined to classroom settings and centered on the teacher and archival materials'. Education in the early years has focused almost exclusively on the off-line bounded setting and there needs to be consideration of the potential role that mediated online environments can have. This creates an interesting tension in relation to one of the cornerstones of early years education, the value of 'first hand experience'. I was once told by an early years/ literacy consultant (who will remain nameless!) that my work with young children using laptops to create animated films was not good early years practice because it wasn't 'first-hand experience'. I would like to contest the notion that first-hand experiences in the off-line world should be privileged in early years education; this position needs re-thinking in the digital age. Of course, children often experience online what are in fact representations of the off-line world, so in that sense they are second, not first-hand, but this does not mean that those experiences are intrinsically of less value to children's social, emotional, cognitive and linguistic development, nor does it mean that they are less 'real' experiences, in my view.