Sunday, 20 April 2008

YouTube reflections

I know that I have mentioned the fabulous course designed by Julia Davies before, our MA in New Literacies. It is such a treat for me to be able to teach on this course, I am learning such a lot. For example, I now realise what a useful space YouTube is for students on the course to share their reflections on their ongoing work. Misti conducted research on young children's multiliteracy practices in the home and in the YouTube video below she reflects on how this small-scale study went.

So interesting! And so useful for all the course participants to be able to access Misti's reflections in this way. I am encouraging Misti to think about where she can disseminate her fascinating work in print, so watch this space and I will keep you updated.

Monday, 14 April 2008

Bedtime reading

Apparently less than half of fathers regularly read bedtime stories to their children, according to a recent National Year of Reading Survey. I wondered what other types of reading dads did with children, but the summary of the report didn't say. Of course reading a child a story just before he or she goes to sleep can be a magical moment, but I do not understand why many still privilege this reading activity above all others when 25 years ago now Shirley Brice Heath showed clearly and convincingly that not all cultural groups undertake this practice and that there are other pathways to a literate life. As Neil Mercer and Joan Swann suggested in 1996 in their book 'Learning English': 'children's interactions with print may be rich and varied even when story-reading happens infrequently' (p100). So I wish the NYR survey had asked dads what other kinds of reading they did with their children....

Monday, 7 April 2008


I am travelling to a seminar in Leeds tomorrow and will be very grateful for the use of my ‘TomTom’ to get me there. GPS technology is so powerful and in the latest volume of the BECTA series ‘Emerging Technologies for Learning’, I was interested in the chapter written by Alen Greenfield at NYU in which he suggests that ‘location-based’ ‘context-aware’ applications have enormous potential for education and concludes that:

What is at stake is nothing less than a reappraisal of what we mean when we say ‘education’. Rather than something abstract and detached from the context which lends resonance and interest, certain kinds of knowledge can be re-imagined as a property of place itself, as something more akin to genius loci than to anything we’d recognise as a ‘lesson’. Certainly, the teaching of disciplines as diverse as economics, history, physics, and anatomy will be transformed by objects, transactions and places endowed with the ability to speak themselves – an ability inherent in almost all schemes for the deployment of ubiquitous informatics now being contemplated (pp56-7).

I love the idea of objects that are able to speak themselves and feel that this has enormous potential for all areas of education, but I can envisage the impact for early years education most of all – it would certainly enrich standard early years practices such as environmental print walks.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Social networking

Following close on the heels of the Byron Review report, Ofcom have published a report today on the use of social networking sites such as Bebo, Facebook and MySpace. I haven’t had time to read it but on a first skim-through, I noted their categorisation of the non-use of these kinds of social network sites. They suggest that there are three categories of/ reasons for non-participation – (i) people concerned about online safety, (ii) the technically inexperienced or (iii) intellectual rejecters who think they are a waste of time. I think there is a fourth category/ reason they have omitted here – people, like myself, who think social networks are of interest and can serve useful functions, but who have decided that they do not wish to use them because their own networking needs are met in other ways and spaces such as Facebook are just surplus to needs. I know I am not alone – Guy discusses this on his blog. Maybe they didn’t talk to people who strategically choose not to participate in such spaces. Not being interested in them personally doesn’t mean to say that I think they are of little value to educationalists, however and here Julia offers a number of reasons for using social networking sites in schools. Let's hope voices such as Julia's get listened to in the flurry of moral panics that appear to be proliferating around children and social networking.