Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What's small, white and sitting on my desk...

... my little spangly Eee PC!! Well, from turning it on to being on the web... 5 mins tops. Installing FirstClass... about a minute. Dead, dead simple and v.impressed so far. Not least with how quiet it is or how easy to use the little keyboard is (though I am glad I went for the 1000 rather than anything smaller as I don't think I could've coped with the diddyness of those keyboards)

Anyhoo - off to do more playing, but for something which is user-friendly and utterly non-techie (if you want it to be)... this is pretty damned good!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

State of the Blogosphere 2008 - blog fact-central

Technorati: State of the Blogosphere 2008: "Welcome to Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, which will be released in five consecutive daily segments. Since 2004, our annual study has unearthed and analyzed the trends and themes of blogging, but for the 2008 study, we resolved to go beyond the numbers of the Technorati Index to deliver even deeper insights into the blogging mind. For the first time, we surveyed bloggers directly about the role of blogging in their lives, the tools, time, and resources used to produce their blogs, and how blogging has impacted them personally, professionally, and financially. Our bloggers were generous with their thoughts and insights. Thanks to all of the bloggers who took the time to respond to our survey."
I'm sure I'm the last person to note the appearance of this... but if for any reason anyone was slower than me, then the State of the Blogosphere is awash with factorial goodness about what's going on with blogging. Interesting to see that if you're looking at a blog, the writer will most likely be male (especially if you're looking at a European one - 73%) and a college graduate (ranging from 67 - 74% of bloggers). No real comment to make on that other than it's something that will be stored away in my brain and used for a bit of thinking until I can connect the dots to come up with something coherent about it all. (some days I really shouldn't just type what I think, huh?!)

All interesting stuff if you like that kinda thing! Me, I'll be bookmarking it for future use.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Embracing the inner geek

So... I took the plunge. I've ordered myself an Asus eee pc ... and even resisted the urge to go for the safety of Windows, instead going with Linux. 'Tis a whole new geeky world out there. I'm tired of my whiny, over-heating, Vista laptop. I'm fed up of it conking out. I'm fed up of the dead battery. And most of all... my 2 yr old picked most of the keys off my old laptop so it's not looking too happy all in all! I don't care that I'm not using Microsoft Office - I happily switch between umpteen things from Open Office to web-based apps to Microsoft. It's what it does that I'm after, not the corporate safety net.

Maybe this'll be a whole lot better than mobile computing = lugging a widescreen laptop around and trying to find somewhere to plug it in before the battery dies and the OS blue screens. Here's the possibility of real mobile computing!

Will report back when it arrives!

(PS Even resisted the urge to buy a pink one. I'm not shallow, oh no siree bob. *massive grin*)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

School ties and the system

Tim Dowling: How to be a school tie rebel without getting it in the neck ... | Education | The Guardian: "Pupils at the Arthur Terry school in Sutton Coldfield have had their school ties banned and replaced with clip-on models. The ban is an attempt to stamp out the sort of personalised styling that results in either a morale-sapping loose and/or asymmetric knot, or the downright insubordinate shortened tie with extra-fat fastening. The school's headteacher claims that discipline and even attendance have improved since the clip-ons were issued."

I wonder if at any point they thought that just doing away with a stupid, pointless symbol would be better than trying to rectify the 'issues' which came from something meaningless they'd imposed in the first place? It's a tie. Just a tie. A flippy, floppy bit of fabric. I love the claim that discipline and attendance have improved because of clip-ons. Show me the research. Show me the actual research that proves a causal relationship rather than a simple correlation which could be explained by any number of factors.

You remove every other bit of a child's identity by shoving them into a uniform... and then claim that you're educating the 'individual' when you work your hardest to stamp out any element of personalization. Another thing to enter my list of things that drive me mad about the education system in this country.

Private, public... bland?

Digital Natives » In the News: When Private Identities Go Public: "How many teenagers are comfortable with their parents or teachers or even a random stranger friending them on MySpace or Facebook or Twitter? Our digital identities are constructed for our peers – be it our real life friends or a specific online community. We strive to present ourselves as unique and opinionated to our peers. A bland profile is as good as no profile at all. Genuine interactions with friends are uncensored by concerns of political correctness, sanitizing these interactions online in fact changes the function of social networking tools. Just as we carry ourselves differently at a job interview than when hanging out with friends, our digital identities are tuned to a specific purpose. The distinction, of course, being that what is posted online can potentially be accessible, per Clive Thompson, by everyone. Those who have been thrust into the spotlight, like Levi Johnson and Caroline Giuliani, have learned this the hard way."

This is a useful one to return to - the sanitised online self. It's something I know I've mused about in the past. How much of you stays 'you' when you put it online? When you can't be selective about who you allow into your life (through the wonder of the interweb) then how real can you afford to be? I'm aware I very rarely mention anything at all about my personal life on my blog. That's a conscious decision on my part. Better to say not very much at all when you're using a blog than to say too much and mop up the pieces for ever. For all those people who moan about their jobs... their relationships... their lives. What if the people you were talking about read what you wrote? What if what you were saying wasn't expressed in a constructive way but in the sort of ramble which everyone needs to get out of their heads from time to time? How best to live with the consequences of that? Or are we all turning into self-sanitizers until we figure this connectivity business out properly?

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Educational Benefits Of Social Networking Sites Uncovered

Another 'worth a read' article:

Educational Benefits Of Social Networking Sites Uncovered: "The study found that, of the students observed, 94 percent used the Internet, 82 percent go online at home and 77 percent had a profile on a social networking site. When asked what they learn from using social networking sites, the students listed technology skills as the top lesson, followed by creativity, being open to new or diverse views and communication skills."

Interesting piece of research from the University of Minnesota on the positive aspects of use of social networking sites. They've come in for a fair bit of flak over the last year or so... but the fact that people are motivated enough to participate, create, share, think and learn together in this informal way has got to be more than something you can write off as 'flavour of the month'. Worth bookmarking and tracking down the original research if you're trying to make a case for more personalised learning systems.

Information Overload: Blogs As Content Navigators, Information Filters, Trusted Niche Guides - Robin Good's Latest News

Information Overload: Blogs As Content Navigators, Information Filters, Trusted Niche Guides - Robin Good's Latest News: "Information Overload: Blogs As Content Navigators, Information Filters, Trusted Niche Guides"

Interesting read.... not least because I've been absolutely snowed under the last couple of weeks and haven't even had a chance to browse through the goodness served up by Google Reader while I've been floundering. "Blogs as content navigators, information filters and trusted niche guides... if you've got time!"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Can Social Media bridge the gap?

The people at ReadWriteWeb seem to think so...

Five Ways to Use Social Media to Reach People Who Don't Use Social Media - ReadWriteWeb: "Sometimes it feels like social media is just not relevant to the people you're trying to reach. That's a common dilemma, but we believe it doesn't have to be that way. In this post we discuss five strategies for using social media to reach people who don't use social media, and we've listed specific tools you can use to do it."

Like this little article... have stashed it under 'could be useful for the future'. Doesn't address the issue of the so-called digital divide or other issues of disenfranchisement... but... you gotta love their optimism at the end and it's worth a read!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Creepy Treehouses and ill-formed thoughts

Are Institutional Portals and VLEs Really “Creepy Treehouses”? « UK Web Focus: "I first came across the term “creepy treehouse” during Ewan McIntosh’s plenary talk on “Unleashing the Tribe” at the IWMW 2008 event. Alan Cann mentioned it again in a recent comment on one of my blog posts, suggesting, I think, that the University of Bristol’s MyBristol portal is an example of a ‘creep treehouse” which we should avoid building."
Useful article from Brian Kelly on creepy treehouses and VLEs...

Have been mulling this over a lot myself lately but haven't got anything coherent to say about it yet other than I do think that there is relevance for the term in describing some of the developments which are happening in eLearning / blended learning in the UK. There is something unsettling about the OU's 'MyStuff' for example. Would they really have called it "MyStuff" without there having been a "MySpace" first? Anyway... ill-formed thoughts 'r' me at the moment about it all... I think there's a mismatch between the intention of educational institutions to deliver services which resonate with students, and the perception of those services by the end users - the students. More thinking required...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The generalisations that prevail

Virtual Learning » Is online socialisation necessary?: "Of course the World has changed hugely since 2000 and most of us are much more comfortable now with online socialising, developing varying degrees of addiction to email, Facebook or Twitter."

WARNING!!! Sweeping generalisation alert!!! "most of us are much more comfortable" - are we?? Can we just step back from that position of assumption for a minute and ask why it is that there is a significant percentage of the population not connected. A whole load who have zero awareness of Twitter. A grand total of 100 million users of Facebook in a global population of several billion.

If you start from a position of assumed competence and assumed literacy then you start from a position of neglect of students as individuals, each of whom have varying needs and expectations of what they hope to get from their learning experience.


Thanks to Nigel Gibson for flagging this one. Interesting article, even if it got my rant button pushed!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Day without Google? Not today, ta everso

Just Let Me Check One Last Thing . . .: "each time I fled Google's grasp over the course of this assignment, the blue 'G' found a way to surprise me around corners, grinning like some horrible fanged maw."
A lovely little article on Rob Dubbin's day without Google in the Washington Post. I did this last year... and... it's weird a) how reliant you are on one company for all things internetty and b) how much you come over all 'duh' and can't think your way round using it when it's not there! I couldn't use my search engine of choice, couldn't blog, couldn't look at my e-mail, couldn't take notes online, couldn't check my news feeds, my calendar etc. Now, I know there are perfectly good alternatives out there, but I'm lazy. I like Google. I like its stripped down simplicity. I like the way it puts everything in one place for me to use. Okay, so I also know that there's a bit of me that knows I'm a sell out by relying on it so much... but... y'know what? I don't care. I like Google and this year, I don't want to do a day without Google. Nice little article, but I don't want to repeat the experience of being non-Googled. I'm happily enslaved, ta everso.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Things that depress me in the education system...

Top exam board asks schools to destroy book containing knife poem | Education | The Guardian: "Britain's biggest exam board has been accused of censorship after it removed a poem containing references to knife crime from the GCSE syllabus.

Officials at the AQA board said their request that schools destroy the anthology containing the Carol Ann Duffy poem Education for Leisure had been triggered by concerns in two schools about references to knives. A spokeswoman confirmed the decision had been made in the context of the current spate of knife-related murders."
... exam boards dictating what is or isn't acceptable to teach our children and the lack of awareness of what constitutes culture to say that a poem of this calibre should be removed because of references to knives.

So, here's the poem in full:

Education for Leisure

Today I am going to kill something. Anything.

I have had enough of being ignored and today

I am going to play God. It is an ordinary day,

a sort of grey with boredom stirring in the streets

I squash a fly against the window with my thumb.

We did that at school. Shakespeare. It was in

another language and now the fly is in another language.

I breathe out talent on the glass to write my name.

I am a genius. I could be anything at all, with half

the chance. But today I am going to change the world.

Something's world. The cat avoids me. The cat

knows I am a genius, and has hidden itself.

I pour the goldfish down the bog. I pull the chain.

I see that it is good. The budgie is panicking.

Once a fortnight, I walk the two miles into town

For signing on. They don't appreciate my autograph.

There is nothing left to kill. I dial the radio

and tell the man he's talking to a superstar.

He cuts me off. I get our bread-knife and go out.

The pavements glitter suddenly. I touch your arm.

Carol Ann Duffy

It's a wonderful piece of writing as far as I'm concerned. Darkly, bleakly, sinister. Evocative. Powerful. Loaded with seething emotion. Even if you don't like it, to pull your skirts up from round your ankles and shriek that it's somehow contributing to teenage knife crime is beyond ludicrous. Are we are so weak as a society that we can't cope with teenagers reading it??? Or analysing it? Or turning it into something of lasting worth in their lives? Jeez. The only thing that's acceptable is literature from long dead 'greats' who are at a sufficient distance from our lives that we can breathe a fearful sigh of relief that their base behaviour won't contaminate our precariously balanced social order. Could someone kick the exam board and check that there is still life in it?

The most recent complaint was made by Lutterworth grammar school's exams invigilator, Pat Schofield, who welcomed the board's decision and said: "I think it is absolutely horrendous - what sort of message is that to give to kids who are reading it as part of their GCSE syllabus?"

Get a grip. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is criminal. Let's pacify the nation and let them watch Big Brother 24/7. Heaven forbid they should read anything which has any greater meaning than you might find in an outlet of McDonalds.

Truly, dismally, pathetic.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Writing risks - slander not libel?

Online comments are more like slander than libel, says judge :: Shane Richmond: "Defamatory comments on internet “bulletin boards” are more likely to be slanderous than libelous, a High Court judge ruled last month. The judgment came just as I was going on holiday, which is my excuse for missing it until now, but it raises interesting questions for comments on newspaper sites.

First, though, the judgment itself. In a libel case concerning comments posted on an investor’s bulletin board, Mr Justice Eady said that such comments are “contributions to a casual conversation (the analogy sometimes being drawn with people chatting in a bar) which people simply note before moving on; they are often uninhibited, casual and ill thought out.”

This, Mr Justice Eady said, makes them “much more akin to slanders (this cause of action being nowadays relatively rare) than to the usual, more permanent kind of communications found in libel actions.”

However, he emphasised that he was not saying “that blogging cannot ever form the basis of a legitimate libel claim”."
Worth noting from The Telegraph - kind of murky waters generally... but it's interesting to see that a different mindset is being attributed to comments published on the internet to other forms of written libel.


Monday, September 1, 2008

My del.icio.us...

Links for 2008-08-30 [del.icio.us]

Posted: 31 Aug 2008 12:00 AM CDT

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...