Digital Literacies

Researching New Literacies, Learning and Everyday Life

Archive for May, 2015

Traditional Game Play and the Digital

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A friend on my Facebook filmed herself involved in a strange ritual involving a plastic cup and some clapping. I watched it several times and then posted a comment to ask what it was all about.

It turned out, in order to understand, that I should have had my volume playing while I was watching, but also I needed to know the cultural back story. The song my friend was singing was related to a film, Pitch Perfect.
In the film they sing what has become known as ‘The Cup Song’.

It appears that this song is quite a trend – or I assume – was a trend. The film was made in 2012. Looking on YouTube there are loads of examples of girls doing the song – to different levels of expertise of course. This is my personal favourite:

The singing is superb. But it’s in the kitchen so has the charm of the amateur – something I love about YouTube.

And here is a tutorial (also in a kitchen):

(Maybe kitchens are a theme – the cup song maybe requires it. Sorry but I will not watch the whole film just to check).

Again, there are loads of these tutorials. Which I assume it is better to watch on slow and repeatedly. It seems the girls are all looking at each other’s videos; choosing to make one’s own is about social participation, joining in the action, parallel play on a global scale. There is a sense of this game playing involving participants across the life span. I think it’s wonderful!

It reminded me of my school days, when the girls would pass on songs and clapping routines in the playground. I used to love doing them. I especially loved doing them in big groups all together, singing really loudly. For some reason our teachers sometimes shook their heads at the dances that might go with our songs. Maybe they were a bit precocious – I remember one song referring to Dinah Dors!. (You can imagine the actions!)

But I love that this tradition goes on, partly with the aid of digital technology. It’s all been written about already by Jackie Marsh and Julia Bishop.
I think this playing online shows people interacting with those they already know – making films together – as well as with people they don’t know – the invisible audience and commenters. When I was a kid we performed sometimes for our teachers, sometimes parents. We taught the songs to each other – but mainly we just liked singing and clapping together. It was quite a physical way of showing friendship.

Play, media and commercial culture from the 1950s to the present day

Written by DrJoolz

May 25th, 2015 at 9:23 pm

Learning Futures

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I have been thinking about the ‘Away Day’ I am attending tomorrow where we are thinking about the Faculty of Social Sciences Learning and Teaching Policy for the next 5 years. In particular I will be thinking about the technology aspect as this is part of my job and I have a responsibility to develop ‘Technology Enhanced Learning’.
I have taken part in this kind of event many times in my career and it always feels hard to project for the future. I think our best bet is to realise we cannot project for the future and that we need to have a policy which allows for this flexibility.

In essence this is what David Puttnam argues in his talk captured on video here about ‘The Future of Learning’.

I agree that what we have to do is invest in developing individuals to work in teams, to collaborate, to have agility. And that competence based learning is not what we need any more. This is also argued by Sugata Mitra in this film:

He despairs of those who insist that kids learn their times tables, saying that the system of education the Victorians developed was one in which all the kids had to learn the same as each other. This obviously allows us to compare kids all the time and this is what we seem obsessed with. But like James Paul Gee, (in this book) Mitra and Puttnam are arguing that we need to develop individual skills and help people think and work together. We should have different roles from each other in project based learning that we collaborate on.

Puttnam makes the point that classrooms these days look very similar to what they looked like 50 or even 100 years ago. This, he points out, is different to the progress we see in the operating theatres of today’s hospitals, compared to 100 years ago. I am less worried about this; I am happy that many classrooms are still keen to encourage interactivity that is not always mediated by technology (and actually my GP’s surgery is still very similar to one we may have seen in 1915). Sometimes we have to think about the kinds of interactivity that is right for the job we have in mind.

We are all still a bit alienated by things working on a grand scale and are inclined to hang onto technologies that let us talk to small groups of people, or privately to our best friends. The important thing is that technology allows us to make choices. We can select which one we need for the job we want to do. We are pretty good at this in our social lives but less good at work. We select whether to use Snapchat, Instagram, Flickr or email to communicate with each other. But in our classrooms, it seems to be one PowerPoint after another – that we mediate for our class or share in our Learning Management Systems. This is ‘polished performances of old practices’.

Puttnam talks about how teachers use lesson plan sharing sites and shows how in 2012 over 2 million plans were downloaded from one webiste alone; and that one teacher in her history of being on the site had seen her work downloaded over 1 million times. This kind of self generated activity is fascinating – and points to how we prefer to interact in ways that are not overseen by massive corporations and let us develop in ways we choose.

Mitra talks about how important it is that we teach the skills of reading comprehension; search and retrieval of resources; and critical literacy skills. This third point her refers to as teaching about belief and ‘armour against doctrine’.

For me, the pointers I take from this is that we need to teach students to:

Use technologies to find, evaluate and share knowledge; to collaborate and participate in research about knowledge; to collaborate in the creation of new knowledge. this I think, also means moving away from the traditional ways of presenting knowledge, and that we should allow them to choose the right technology to mediate what they have learned. I would also like to see us using technology in ways that does not simply replicate old practices but allows us to do new things. We need to realise that we have to move beyond the word processor.

Written by DrJoolz

May 20th, 2015 at 3:58 pm

Social Media to Big Media

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This last week has been an emotional roller coaster. From tiny acorns great oaks do grow. (And other cliches).

After a disappointing result in the UK election, where the right wing Tory party for the UK got voted in by a majority, a lot of us here were gutted, especially as the Tories were voted in on a mandate that supports the ‘ordinary working person’. Many of us have seen this as a vote against the non working people – including the elderly, sick, infirm … etc. It is not great being ill or disabled to such a degree that you cannot work; work is about access to the world, participation in interesting and exciting things. It allows you to meet people, to socialise and of course, earn money. If you cannot do this your choices are limited. No one chooses this for themselves. Obvious to me. But I live with this reality through my daughter so I see it daily; but she and millions of others remain hidden behind closed doors from the rest of the world.

After the election my daughter posted on Facebook about her disappointment and was astonished to see how quickly her post received literally hundreds of shares by people she odes not know.

The following day Rosa was asked by The Guardian to write an article for their ‘Comment’ series. After a bit of angst about how to approach this task, she produced a great article that to date has in excess of 9,500 shares. It’s here.

She has now been approached by other newspapers and by disability organisations who are asking her for quotes and comments that they can use too.

So – out of bad, can come good. The Tories gave her the push to shout her head off.
Rosa has lived a difficult and isolated life since her illness, aged 11, stopped her from attending school and she has been virtually housebound ever since. The internet has been her umbilical cord to the word and she has friends across the globe. She is networked and respected. But this latest event has given her the recognition that gives her the confidence and assurance she needed. She has a voice that people want to hear. The Internet did this for her.

The Internet is enabling. Rosa has read loads, spent hours, days, months and years interacting online; doing MOOCs; joining forums; listening to podcasts; reading reading reading. She is not addicted to the Internet. She would rather be out there, face to face, physically present. But this is the next best, and Rosa rocks.

Written by DrJoolz

May 15th, 2015 at 4:02 pm