Friday, November 10, 2006

Digital maybes at Melbourne University

A colleague drew my attention to a recent report out of Melbourne U in relation to the use of various digital media/technologies by MU students. Basically it points to some interesting patters, e.g. blog use for the first years and nothing like the digital embrace that is represented in some of the more romantic notions of the so-called gen-y folk. The other person of interest here - I am sure there are many more-- is Eszter Hargittai. She gave a presentation at Beyond Broadcast which broadly argued that students tend to have highly specialised IT-related skill sets but nothing that would allow you to say they are digital renaissance folk. Well worth a listen.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


This is not a particularly new idea but in the context of the developments of newish web-based developments to support teaching this notion is important to me for one reason. For much of the past 25 years, teachers have worked hard to shoe horn computing related technologies into classrooms. The old Cuban line: computers come to classrooms, computers win, more or less captures a lot of long debate about this issue. What is interesting about these new web technologies and under the influence of an old thinker, old in that I was taken by his stuff decades ago, George Lakoff, I have become more conscious of the metaphors I and others use to talk about the proliferation of ajax-based web products, is that they point to interesting disruptions to the way things are done. (It does matter whether we call it Web2, social software, participatory software, ajax-based software and so on. For now, I'm opting for new(ish) web-based software, acknowledging that blogs and wikis go back to the mid 1990's.)

What's the point of this long-winded preamble? One of the key features of this newish software is that it is being used to support quite radically rethought processes in a handful of instances I know of. In education, more often than not, we iwll go down the "let's apply it" route and more than likely the newish software will succumb like all previous attempts to "integrate" and "apply" these technologies into formal educational settings. All of which I am mildly excited by the emergence of the screencast.

To the technically adept I can hear the ho hums but this little idea is important because it does represent a modest re-engineering of educational practice, i.e. instead of working to fill the mandatory 40 minute or 1 hour lecture, a screeencast takes as long or as short as it takes.

Here is a collection of resources around screencasting.

Here is an example from mathematics: mathcasts

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Rethinking the virtual

I was at a small conference last week which was organized by the Faculty's research priority area: Educational futures & Innovation. Nick Burbules who is visiting for a few months spoke at the conference and there was an interesting and diverse bunch of folk from education and related fields.

The one point of interesting debate was the question of what Jaron Lanier calls "online fetish site for foolish collectivism", i.e. the rise of forms of knowledge online (e.g. Wikipedia) that are different from the usual, authoritative forms of knowledge.

To me, some of the reactions were a little silly. More or less along the lines of "how dare they". That is being a little glib but, to me, that was the gist of it. When these kinds of shifts occur, I think it is silly and dangerous to simply try and dismiss them via conventional appeals to authority. I mean, that is the very point. The "foolish collectivism" that Lanier refers to may be foolish but it is being used increasingly by large number of folk. Rather than bellowing at the phenomenon it may be worth taking a much closer look at what is going on in terms of knowledge. Here the work of David Weinberger is more nuanced and considered than the what I have read thus far from the neo-epistemologists.

This blog has been left ...inactive for way too long. Maybe some more scribbling might happen.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Just higher 1's 'n 0's

This little blog is a place/space (?) to scribble about my and other's musings in relation to the use of IT (I prefer CCTs for computing and communication technologies) in Higher Education. The black background seems apt for the ambience of this particular activity in its current phase of development.