Digital Literacies

Researching New Literacies, Learning and Everyday Life

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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

Facework, Hair work, Cut & Paste

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I am looking forward to having my haircut next week … by one of the hairdressers involved in my research project. It will be quite interesting and different – having your haircut is an intimate thing. You have your hair and head rubbed, and combed and pruned, and crimped and it is all very PROXIMAL. I don’t think I have read any articles before which involve having your haircut by one of the research participants.

So that’s cool.

I am thinking about a number of things in the project …. about the way in which the young women immerse themselves not just in a lot of work where they groom themselves in particular ways to fit a very definite hetero-normative style; they also do the same for other women in a serving type capacity. There are lots of photos in their Facebooks which show them posing in ways that have a postural intertextuality – imitative of styles like Beyonce poses; Kylie stuff even; Britney Spears I can see in the styling. But also they have photos of themselves in prom dresses and sitting in stretch limos. These are all images that can be indexed in global ways. Yet there is also something very LOCAL in the photos … the homey ones show them in English pubs; with very English looking boys who have rottweilers on leads; who are in pubs and clubs that have a very local feel. There seems to be a continuum in their lives that they move across and through and this is all displayed in Facebooks in ways that do not acknowledge the different worlds they operate in.

Often their chat online os very girlish; they talk about their Mums and Dads and they present as daughters, as hairdressers and also as sexual beings. They also adopt language that is quite male at times – positioning women in often sexualised and even brutal ways.

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November 11th, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Facework on Facebook … at Oxford

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I am looking forward to going to Oxford today to give a seminar and to meeting people from the Education Department – and this will be my first time as a visitor to the University.

Thanks to sisyphus007

The presentation is based on a paper I gave at Manchester and have re-written for Computers and Education. .

Slides available on slideshare and draft paper on scrib’d.

Written by DrJoolz

November 9th, 2011 at 10:47 am

Ethics and photography

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The OCA (Open College of the Arts) has a most wonderful blog with so many videos that are short, moving and good to look at. This one , without trying to, makes some excellent useful points about ethics and photography.

The Dad Project from Open College of the Arts on Vimeo.

I will definitely be using this when I teach my Image Based Research session to the MA Educational Research students this year.

Written by DrJoolz

August 31st, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Posted in Education, Film, academia

Online Social Not-Working

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It is really hard to concentrate in the summer. Somehow the more time you have, the longer it takes to do anything. I find myself drifting into Facebook; re-checking emails and … not working on my to do list.

I am supposed to be working on a re-draft of an article about teenagers’ uses of Facebook for Computers and Education … where the two reviewers are asking for different things – contradicting each others’ requests. All very frustrating and all reinforcing what we know … that even with peer-reviews, things are subjective. Writing in academia is pressurised … we are all so aware of the REF . It’s not just about quality it is about Impact and being able to demonstrate that once you have published, that your work is relevant to others.

Writing about Facebook for academic peer-reviewed journals seems to be the antithesis of what Facebook is about. One of the great things about FB is the way it embraces spontaneity; its write-now, publish-now affordance, and the immediate feedback that goes with it.
I like the way online social networking texts are at once ephemeral and permanent. Permanent because the texts stay online … but ephemeral because readers write things intended for the moment – and so they usually won’t get read more than a few days after being written.

So FB distracts me from writing about FB – I am after the immediate gratification it gives me, rather than the three months later, get your writing deconstructed by someone you don’t know.

I am tempted to look for another distraction and to write a book proposal. Cup of Jasmine tea?

Jasmine tea

Written by DrJoolz

August 17th, 2011 at 9:03 am

Challenging the Binaries

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Kate Pahl and I are talking about the Centre for the Study of New Literacies conference for next year. The theme will be

Challenging the Binaries

It is going to be asking people to think about the oppositions we sometimes set up when looking at New Literacies Research. Examples are Home/School; Formal/Informal; Digital Native/ Digital Immigrant; Academic/non-academic; New/Old; Online/Offline; Multimodal/monomodal; Virtual/Real.

These binaries are often useful but more often we need to be aware that these are not hard and fast separate domains – and perhaps new technologies are helping us to challenge these boundaries more and more.  Anyway that will be our theme – and preliminary dates are 29th and 30th June – but yet to be confirmed.The Call for Papers will be coming before too long.

call for papers

Written by DrJoolz

August 16th, 2011 at 3:52 pm


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Day One of the DuckRabbit training, run by Benjamin, went so well today. The object was to learn how to approach the production of professional looking sound and vision narratives – using digital images and audio.

I was hoping to get ideas about using digital narratives with young people who find it difficult to express themselves through writing. I was thinking that I could work with teachers and develop a project that would be fun but also provide a way for learners to express their ideas multimodally. This looks like something that has real potential. Check out some of the Duckrabbit exemplar slideshows here.

However it also made me realise how, in academia, we are so staid in the way we present our work and how we don’t tap into the potential of multimedia digital presentations enough. Today we learned how to get across a much more complex message in a shorter period of time by using multiple modes of communication – using multiple sound tracks alongside images, making them work together in providing a complicated narrative. I think that using something like this in academic conferences, folllowed by discussion would be really exciting. (Academics at conferences are always stressed out by not having enough time to present complex ideas).

We are planning already, an exhibition of presentational work at the conference for The Centre of the Study of New Literacies in July, so I may try this idea there. It will be about Flickr and Streetart and the way in which streetartists are influenced by Flickr. I am doing a paper on this at the multimodalities conference at The Institute of Education and the idea would be to do a presentation that would work with that too. This is the Multimodality abstract.

TT Photographing streetart

*And why is it called Duckrabbit?? See here.

Written by DrJoolz

April 14th, 2010 at 10:03 pm

My Illustrated Life

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It seems to be taking ages to get the year off to a start. The snow is still slowing everythng down and so I hardly feel I am off the starting blocks. In January there always remain a few post-Christmas traces…. not just the extra weight on my scales… but also stuff like unfinished chocolates:

Apres Huit Heures

and bits of tinsel still stuck between the carpet tufts. Beautiful as it sometimes is, the snow has been making it hard to get about. It seems quiet everywhere.

Crookes Valley Park

As I have been mentioning the last few weeks, I have been getting into Flickr again and been thinking about good shots to take and enjoying looking at things others are taking. I really love Sophies’ Photos and was interested in how this particular image draws on the book by Annette Kuhn – something I have used in an article I wrote for Discourse. What I have started to become interested in now, is images which show traces of what has been; which show a history. You have to be like an archeologist and look for clues – look at the layers of meaning, at the traces of what is there. This idea relates in some way to palimpsest; there is a good definition(illustrated) in the Palimpsest Flickr group here. Palimpsest might be this kind of thing:

Removed until further notice

this paring away of text is something that appeals to me and reminds me of the research process which involves tracings and the discernment of patterns – making sense from little things you gather. I am looking forward to February when I will FINALLY have the space to write my article on Streetart and spaces and how narratives can travel across time and space – often aided by online technologies. I talked about this kind of thing in Toronto – July 2008; details here.

Make your mind up time

And then I will focus on Facebook, where I will be researching how multimodal narratives travel across spaces via multiple, dispersed authors. Yes. That is what I will be doing soon.

Davies, J. (2007) ‘Display; Identity and the Everyday: Self-presentation through online image sharing’. In Discourse: studies in the cultural politics of education. Vol. 28, No. 4, December 2007, pp. 549_564.

Written by DrJoolz

January 12th, 2010 at 11:00 pm

A New Literacy Event

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Today I had a go at playing Supple!! Thanks to PJC my life will never be the same again. It’s a bit like the Sims – but sexier. So that’s the game for me, obviously.


Check out the demo.

Thinking about events and practices, what might I be involved in here .. blogging as a literacy practice and prior to this I was involved in playing video games as a practice. The literacy event I was involved in was playing ‘Supple’ at my office computer and then writing this particular post – which involved embedding a video from YouTube. Usually it is pretty easy to embed a video from YouTube but today I had to fiidle around and work out how to make the code work… maybe I am a digital native as I keep on going till I resolve a problem lilke this.

Maybe one day I will be as good as this baby using the iphone:


Amazing how this little baby is learning to manipulate text at the same time as he is learning to speak. Is this baby involved in a literacy event I wonder? As Barton and Hamilton also note is commonplace, there is a lot of talk going on around the literacy event, and this is certainly a social event we see here.

In terms of practices there is a whole load of nurturing stuff going on there (the practice of parenting and ‘being in a family’) and a sharing of a global global phenomenon from the broader context.

Written by DrJoolz

November 20th, 2007 at 7:44 am


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I have been playing with a free down load of the software ‘Camtasia’.

I have been making rough and ready amateurish videos for the online MA in New Literacies.

I have to say the videos are less Hollywood than they are YouTube. You can see through the cracks of production – very much so.

But that is what web 2.0 is all about isn’t it?

Mind you I must admit I have not yet worked out how to put them in a YouTube friendly format … so an example of Camtasia is here:

Written by DrJoolz

October 11th, 2007 at 5:43 pm