Social convergence…

According to the press and most of the people I’ve spoken to iPhones seem to be the only smartphone worth getting at the moment. After a bit of searching I can across the HTC Hero smartphone – I accepted that it was no iPhone but did cost me a fraction of the price.

After a few days my opinion has changed. I actually think it appears to be better than the iPhone. One feature which I am very impressed with is the convergence of social networks within the operating system of the handset. For example the phone allows you to link contacts with their Facebook and Flickr profies showing information such as status updates and photo albums within a single contact card. It acts as a portal for digital participation. The video above shows this in a bit more detail… I didn’t expect to be impressed but I am – very!

Hacking popular culture…

I’ve always loved the way that media can be edited, remixed and reinvented with the use of digital technologies. I started doing it myself at a young age (see previous blog post). I noticed how Angela has recently blogged about remixing as a means of transformative story-telling (here). She uses the term hacking popular culture, which I think is a brilliant way to describe the process. (more…)

Dipping my toes into the photostream..

Illuminated castle with magic lights

After blogging about my silent use of Flickr a few weeks ago, and with a bit of encouragement from Emma and Julia, I have finally started to participate in the photo-sharing community. I don’t class myself as a good photographer but have been proud of a few of the shots I have managed to get looking half decent. I must try and dig out the good camera I bought a few years ago (I have a feeling I’ve left it in my classroom). I’ve also ordered a HTC Hero smart-phone (I resisted getting an iPhone), which I believe can upload straight onto Flickr too so I have no excuse when I’m out and about.

The above photograph is from Disney’s Fantillusion at Disneyland Paris, which I took in July 2007. I’m quite proud of it and I’m looking forward to taking more snaps of it when I return next year.

Creating Space for Critical Literacy

Brer Rabbit and Friends

A few months ago I wrote about using texts of popular culture as a means of exploring issues of racial prejudice within a critical literacy framework. I then said I would reveal more about a project I was planning based around the issue. With a hectic workload and conferences to attend, I completely forgot… so now that the project is actually over I am able to give more detailed account.

I really enjoy reading Jackie’s blog and remembered when she wrote about Disney’s track record of racial insensitivity and in particular a website she referenced which listed the most racist Disney characters. According to the site the second most racist character is Uncle Remus from the Song of the South. The film includes animated segments of stories of Brer Rabbit and friends as well as featuring aspects of life on a Southern USA plantation. Disney have never released the film on home video or DVD in the US in its entirety because they fear its portrayal of slavery, and some of its content, may be misconstrued. The character of Uncle Remus is a fictional storyteller created by Joel Chandler Harris who collected and published the stories after hearing them from slaves he met on his travels. The movie does clearly portray, maybe unintentionally, the racial segregation after the American Civil War. Does this make it racist? Is the portrayal of Uncle Remus racist? Does this prevent us from watching it or even talking about it (something Disney is currently doing)? Should space be created to talk about such issues, especially in the classroom? (more…)

Changing Horizons (.net)


Originally uploaded by snakebite

I never seem to be happy with anything that I make and feel the need to constantly refine it – mainly the websites that I develop. One thing that I have been strangely happy and content with is the name of this blog. I have never considered re-naming it. I think Changing Horizons really sums up the way in which we can never be certain of how the world (in particular literacy) will evolve and how we should respond. This obviously poses huge questions and conflicts for those working in education about how the curriculum should evolve and respond in turn. One of things I enjoy when I attend conferences is the discussion and debate about such issues. I hope this blog acts as a catalyst for further discussion and debate.

Since I like the name so much I have decided to buy a new domain name to host the blog as an independent site.  All previous permalinks from the old site will be automatically redirected here (that took a while to sort out). To access this site you can visit:

http://www.changinghorizons.net

Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot…

Circle, Circle, Dot, Dot… Now you have the Cootie Shot!

Anybody outside of the US ever heard of that phrase? I hadn’t until recently but it’s actually a huge part of North American children’s popular culture. It’s a ‘vaccine’ for the condition of Cooties, a fictional disease perceived to infect others, particularly members of the opposite sex through body contact, proximity or touching a person’s possessions (definition from Wikipedia). It’s probably best compared to the ‘lurgi’ in the United Kingdom.

I don’t know how to quite describe the Cooties thing. Children inventing a new disease to fit in with their play and construction of their worlds. If children are playing in their own worlds why not invent these real life factors too? They have even invented their own cure (the ritual above) and some children also sell cootie shots – talk about trying to take part in the global economy. From this single idea many other areas of literacy have begun to bleed in.

The video below shows a video produced to raise awareness of Cooties…

Interesting… but what if children made their video when they actually believed cooties was real? Children raising awareness of an issue that they perceive to be completely true. That would be very interesting indeed…

To HD or to not HD?

I’m debating whether or not to order Sky HD. I’ve blogged quite a bit on the HD front recently and how it’s starting to create a viewing revolution. Although I’ve got blu-ray and a lot of HD discs I feel I am missing out with HDTV. Maybe I should listen to Antony Hopkins advice in the above video? Actually I’m unsure if this is advice and question whether he’s got Sky HD (since he lives in the US) – but that’s a whole different advertising argument.

I find it strange that the person who uploaded the video above didn’t upload it in HD. While I’m busy making my decision here’s a HD video I used a few months ago in class – while teaching explanation texts and electricity (about how this whole show actually works).

This isn’t even full HD quality and it still looks amazing!

Futurelab

futurelab-logo-1

A few months ago I recieved an email asking if I would be interested in visiting Futurelab to discuss the use of digital literacies in the primary classroom.  For those of you who haven’t heard of Futurelab (you should have!) it’s an independent non-for-profit organisation interested in transforming how people learn through innovative practices mostly with digital technologies. They’ve developed a range of projects including the recent Beyond Current Horizons and Enquiring Minds projects – both of which are well worth a read.

Futurelab is a really cool place to be (that’s the best word to describe it I think). I was invited to discuss the Digital Pariticaption project with Cassie Hague and Sarah Payton. I had a brilliant day talking with Cassie and Sarah about digital literacies, critical literacies, then moving onto multiliteracies and its importance for the current educational context. It was great to speak with two likeminded people about issues that are really important to me. They were also excellent hosts and really made me feel welcome, especially with an amazing lunch. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about this project when data is collected and keeping in touch with Cassie and Sarah via Twitter.

If you haven’t read any of Futurelab’s work, you should…

http://www.futurelab.org.uk