Monday, 31 August 2009

Bye, bye blog (for now)

This is a sad post for me, but I have decided to suspend my blogging activity for now. That is because I am to take on the role of Head of School of Education tomorrow for three years and whilst I consider myself to be quite good at multi-tasking, I am not that good. If I get time to do any online social networking at all in the near future, I intend to focus my attention on the School of Education Twitter stream (here) and our virtual School of Education on Infolit Island in Second Life. I will keep my own Twitter account just to keep in touch with what everyone is doing and hope to tweet occasionally. I do intend to start using blogger again whenever I feel that I have capacity to do so and hope that people who have visited this blog in the past will do so again. In the meantime, many thanks to those of you who have taken the time to visit and sometimes comment, I hope you have found things of interest here. I have certainly really enjoyed maintaining the blog and have become quite fond of it, so much so that I felt the need to write this little farewell! So it is not so much 'goodbye' as 'au revoir'...

Saturday, 22 August 2009


It is somewhat ironic to be behind the times with respect to the 'Beyond Current Horizons project', but I didn't realise that the paper that I wrote with Victoria Carrington for the 'Knowledge, creativity and communication' strand of this project, 'Forms of literacy' was available online yet - I came across it when I was looking for something else. It was a fun paper to write - we were given the brief to think about how literacy might change in the next 10 - 20 years. These kinds of futurology activities are notoriously innacurate but can raise points for reflection about the way in which elements of the present context may or may not shape the future. That's what I found of most interest in the Beyond Current Horizon project and I recommend reading Carey Jewitt's succinct overview of the trends outlined in the papers in the 'Knowledge, creativity and communication' strand.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

UKLA conference

Just returned from the UKLA conference at Greenwich, which was excellent. Many highlights, including Lynda Graham’s symposium with Martin Waller and Angela Colvert sharing their excellent classroom practice in relation to digital literacies, and Angela Thomas’s keynote on Macbeth in Second Life. Also fabulous was Alex Kendall’s presentation on the work she has been doing with Julian McDougall on young men’s practices using Grand Theft Auto IV – they have developed the concept of ‘baroque showman’ to describe the hyper-masculine performativity which goes on in the game. You can find a paper on this work here – absolutely brilliant stuff. There was so much else I couldn’t get to as I was involved in lots of sessions myself as presenter or discussant, and this level of choice served to highlight to me how important the conference is for showcasing current work in relation to digital literacy. The perfect place, therefore, to launch Victoria Carrington’s and Muriel Robinson’s exciting new book. And just when I thought the weekend couldn't get better, I wandered into Greenwich market and found these gorgeous handmade all in all, a very successful conference. See you next year in Winchester?

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Mobile prejudice

In all of the Michael Jackson hoo-hah, you may have missed the news that half of British children aged 5-9 apparently own a mobile phone. This is now a prime market for new hardware and so we see the advent of the Firefly phone, aimed at young kids. I liked Tim Dowling's tongue-in-cheek piece in the Guardian on this subject. There are numerous questions raised about the role of mobile technologies in young children's lives in these developments, not least the social construction of early childhood as a space for ever-increasing monitoring and surveillance by adults. But what I find most disconcerting about the Firefly is the way it embodies heteronormative assumptions about children's lives. Thus, the phone's simple keypad has, as the manufacturers state on their website, 'dedicated keys for Mom and Dad'. Not sure what you do with one of these buttons if you only live with either your mother or father. Maybe if you have lesbian parents, one would have to agree to wear the pants in this case? Sigh...I am going to email this webpage to the company that makes the phone, but I doubt it will take any notice. So I for one will be advocating a boycott of this particular device until further notice...

Monday, 15 June 2009

Join the UGC revolution

Another day, another social networking site for tweenies. ITwixie (tag line 'join the revolution') is aimed at girls and is certainly less saccharine than some sites that have been developed. However, if you had any doubt about the demographic profile of its key users, then you just have to look at the videos here. These girls have gardens bigger than our local park. Never mind, at least users can upload user-generated content. At last these web site producers are getting the message that this is what many kids want. Even Disney has now launched 'U Rock 2', a site that users can upload videos in which they lip synch or dance to songs - a little like the site Bedroom TV, that I have blogged about previously, except U Rock 2 is specifically targeted at children. There is no doubt Disney know all about trends and when will we see a Disney version of 'Twitter' that lets kids follow their favourite bands, pop singers and even U Rock 2 stars?

Monday, 8 June 2009

California dreaming...

Well, all very well that the Terminator wants to move Californian schools from using textbooks to online texts, but it would appear that the motive is more about saving money than any desire to take schools into the digital age - where is the investment in laptops and mobile technologies for schools in your state, Governor Schwarzenegger?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

TV is bad for kids...yawn...

Oh dear. Yet another study which has tried to 'prove' that television has a detrimental effect on young children's development. At least this BBC report looks at the issue from a variety of angles. Is it just me, or are the findings of a study which indicates that there is less talk in the home when the television is on less than surprising? This does not mean that parents don't interact with their children at other times, nor does it mean that the children are unreceptive to the language they are hearing from the television. I tried to find a reference to the study on the webpage of the researcher, Dimitri Christakis, to see if the study did correlate amount of time the television was on with children's productive language competence, but it only lists his media appearances under the heading 'In the news'. Interesting...