Archive for the ‘Digital Divide’ Category
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.
In Leeds visiting Sam today the shops were already crammed with Christmas stuff .. the book shops selling the usual Christmas books – a strange genre of books – aimed at people who don’t like reading. These unwanted gifts will presumably have all made their way into charity shops across the country by June. (So if you do actually WANT one, I would wait till then). I think I will look out for Gok’s book as I am a bit of a sucker for this kind of stuff but don’t want to pay proper money for it.
Aaanyway, just thinking about this idea of selling things to people who don’t really want them … this is what the new SimplicITy pcs seem to be about. The Guardian gives it a bit of a thumbs down really, thinking the market it is directed at won’t look at it, and those who like IT won’t be interested either (like those Christmas books.)
This is technology for technophobes .. for those who now feel they have missed the boat. It’s for the people who saw technology coming, said “No thanks” and then looked again and realised they were on a little island all alone while everyone else’s faces were lit by the light of a screen.
Marketed specifically to ‘older people’ the software is set out in a simple way with the desktop offering clear choices without any of the ususal secret language of computers. The BBC has a nice video of a woman, aged 80, talking positively about it here:
Interesting for me is that she is attracted to the SOCIAL affordances first and foremost …the ability to keep in better contact with her brother in Canada; to be able to participate in social happenings online with her two American friends- as well as to look at fashion online – to give her an idea of what to look for before going shopping. She has an idea about how the Internet can enrich her life and affect her relationships with others.The Internet has matured and is a different beast to the one she first rejected years ago and I think it is great that this software is able to give her a direct route into what she wants from the net.
I think it is sad that some people (as with this lovely person) feel they have been a bit bad somehow in not participating earlier. I hope we do not move to a position where we see those who are not ‘in with ‘ technology as deficit, in the same way as some use terms like ‘illiterate’ about others. What I like about this software is it is helping people to join in in they choose – unlike those rubbish christmas gift books which are something very weird indeed.
Like this cyber school.
Accipio Learning is the UK’s leading provider of live, online teaching to secondary school students who are unable to attend mainstream schools. Accipio delivers its services through live, interactive lessons allowing pupils to communicate with teachers and peers in a safe and secure virtual learning environment.
I would be very interested to see exactly how interactive the lessons are. Wonder if it old school stuff just put online… or is it truly exciting??? Would love a tour.
And as regards other old stuff mnade to seem new …
div>Radio 4’s Today programme ran a piece about online Scrabble.
Apparently you can get an application to play Scrabble through Facebook now – and I ought to have a go. Apparently it is incredibly popular on facebook.
To me, this is quite fascinating as it is surely an old wine in new bottles type of scenario – which has been much criticised as an outmoded approach to technology (usualy used by schools). It is the notion of doing ‘old style literacy activities’ but using technolgy. Examples might be asking kids to type up their good work on a wordprocessor as a reward; having the kids do reading comprehension on a computer.This idea of using technology as a tool that could be performes judt as well using pen and paper or which does not take advantage of the affordances of new technolgies.
On the Today programme, (at 8.20 here) there was a traditional guy (henceforth ‘Tradman‘) talking about how terrible the idea of online Scrabble is and that ’social intercourse’ was a forgotten skill and that people are suffering because they stare at their computer screens all the time (etc.) He recounted how pleasant it is to play face to face ‘with a glass of wine’ and seemed to speak as if he and his friends’ activities (of doing just that) were in some way under threat. Strange.
The defender, and developer of the online Facebook application (henceforth faceman) said that the game was good to play online as these days people often do not have time to meet face to face.
Tradman said that people could cheat if they play online as they could look stuff up; faceman said that people would not cheat if they were playing friends and that if they did do so, they would only be cheating themselves.
Oh dear oh dear, what a puerile discussion. And doesn’t poshman know that you can cheat in face to face games (I do).
The game is DIFFERENT online. And why one earth should face to face ‘intercourse’ suffer because people also interact online?? This discussion is really old hat and DRAGS ME DOWN.
Here’s a poppy to cheer you up.
As if we really needed further signs that technology is overtaking our lives … one of the most traditional stores in the UK, Marks and Spencer, recently featured this suit with HIDDEN ipod pouch on its website. (You completely MUST click on the link and see the close up views … my friend told me that instore, this suit is held in the ‘gimp’ section. Oh dear.)
(I am worried they will take off the image – tantalising though it is.)
The secrecy of the little thing means that you can hide the fact that you are listening to 2pac of Misteeq as you make your way across the city to the next hi powered meeting. But discretion is all a charade of course; minimalist is stylish and it is obligatory to arrive with earphones IN, but to hurriedly remove them. The great thing is that in fact you can either be listening to a podcast of The Archers, to good ol’ Melvyn on ‘In our Time’ or even Vegan Freaks.
In the meantime I am delighted to announce that I too am giving the iPod another chance. After my long lasting railings and wailing about the demise of my first one way back in 2004 (after only using once) I took my courage in both hands and accepted a gift from TT…
Actually I love it. I am just putting fast music on it as it will be my companion as I attempt to shift the lard from my body down at the gym. It can clip onto my great big trousers which I hope will get baggier and baggier.
So wearable technology for the naughty juror – subverting the image of the benign, pure, innocent , veiled and oppressed female; for the business man who wants to pretend to hide his funky identity under his suit … and then there’s me at the gym. Listening to music liked by the ‘woman of a certain age’ down the gym trying to stave off middle age. (Alongside rows of other wobbly ladies on a Sunday morning.)
Well. Technology does help blend the boundaries of our lives in many different ways. The ‘digital divide does exist, but it is certainly not a clear cut line through society and as participation widens and uses become more complex, theorists need to stop trying to put forward simple arguments about the impact on society and the self.
So this is a series filmed by three Iraqi twenty somethings in Baghdad. The films have been edited and produced by a US based company – targetting their films at a young US based audience. Distributed on the Internet it is a part of the new generation of citizenship type journalism that is now really proliferating as more and more people are gaining access to technology. Here is one of the men opening his new camera.
The Iraquis all speak English with an American accent. I assume they were selected out of the many who applied to be involved in the films, partly because of their excellent English and partly for their accents – which no doubt would give them a ‘just like us’ appeal for the target US audience. But at times the American accent seems ironic in the face of the sometimes anti-American comments the participants make.
Suffice to say, that not many Iraquis are really gonna be able to watch this stuff since few have computers, fewer have the Internet, and less still have Broadband, – and even then it takes hours to watch a two minute snippet (apparently.)
Distributed across more than one site, the primary home for these short episodes seems to be the blog, but each film is hosted by YouTube and it is really interesting to see the comments ther, under each episode. Some of them are unbelievably cynical . Many are very anti Muslim or anti Iraq comments. Many are empathetic to the Iraqui situation.
I was interested in how a comment on one of the films a comment refers to how YouTube keeps re-setting the number of comments:
timsmedia (2 hours ago)
the view count and comments on this vid have been reset AGAIN!!!!! obviously youtube are under orders not to let this video get too popular as its a nuisance to the American military-industrial complex.
At the time of copying this comment and writing this post there were only 23 comments and just over a thousand views. The last time I looked (last week) there had indeed been over two hundred comments and over 4,000 views.
The 36th out of the 38 films shows the dentist Saif’s fiancee leaving Baghdad. Despite being a qualified dentist, he has not been given his cerrtificate in order to prevent him leaving. He considers giving up his career to save his sanity.
Having moaned in my last post about the number of emails I get, this morning I was unable to open any of my emails due to a “hardware problem” at work.
I had no idea how to start work without it. I was totally incapacitated. All my work was online – hidden away as attachments to emails. Maybe I will never moan again about having so many emails… no don’t think so.
When it did get going, I found I had been sent a link to this wonderful creation on Youtube:
An interesting take on the mash up where classic paintings of women have been digitised and allowed to dissolve one into another. I guess it reflects similarities and differences about women across the ages.
I receive increasing numbers of emails which contain links to YouTube and it is certainly a site which has become a household name. It is embedded into everyday life in a manner which no longer is associated with exotic or advanced ICT practices. Perhaps this is an example of ‘blackboxing’; a term associated with Black Box Theory – which I was introduced to by Mary P and Jennifer Rowsell.
In the meantime, I suppose I need to be more circumspect when I use terms like ‘everyday life’ … whose ‘everyday life’ do I mean? Nesta Futurelab has a report about Digital Divides which they say are increasing. Some people’s everyday lives allow them no access to technology at all.
It is arguably the role of policy makers and education practitioners to to provide opportunities for everyone to access new technologies and use them in ways that are relevant to their lives.
The futurelab is in Bristol, so while we are down there (here?) let me show you some streetart from there:
This is from the StokesCroft area and even though this art is on the street, it has a frame around it as if hanging in somebody’s house. Nice juxtaposition here taking style from one space and putting it in another. The work has been created by local people trying to re-claim the area and do it up in the way they want. It is as if they are saying’ this is our home’. It is a kind of streeet art mashup of genres. (It is not just in technology that grass roots level creativity plays with boundaries and moves things around to express new ideas.)
It was so great to do all that wonderful networking – so good to see people again and chat on about our work. As usual I went away thinking it would have been better to have a two day event so that I couldghave longer conversations and see more presentations. Sign of a good event.
Kevin Leander had some great data from the classroom – talking about stuff kids are doing that is so much more creative and exciting than what is going on in the official ‘lesson’. While the official ‘curricum is in prgress, kids are multi tasking and dealing in far more sophisticated texts and inmteractivity than is being offered via pedagogy.
There was all sorts of wonderful stuff being reported; it all left me with the feeling that I want to research more closely with young people and their textmaking, focussing a bit more on where the needs are. I want to concentrate a bit less on the digital geniuses and find out what MOST kids are doing and consider where education goes from here to get everyone involved. I want to think about the ways in which educational provision can enhance experiences beyond the classroom and look at what aspects of informal learning practices are appropriate for classroom spaces and to think about how classrooms can broaden, deepen and strengthen what is happening out there in pockets of the wider community.