Friday, 28 March 2008

Eleven GOOD Reasons not to ban social networking sites

I went to Lewisham yesterday and talked to Primary ICT co-ordinators about New Literacies, Social networking and the future ... I had enjoyed the weekend preparing for it ... putting together a list of sites and examples of wikis, blogs, and so on. The conference participants were really welcoming, enthusiastic and fab. I really enjoyed talking with them.

I gave examples of:

  1. - photosharing;
  2. Bubbleshare; - photosharing where you can add speechbubbles etc
  3. Voicethreads; - photosharing and you can add sound and text;
  4. Evoca; - podcasting;
  5. 21 Classes blogging software;
  6. Blogger - blogging software;
  7. You Tube - video sharing;
  8. Making the News - podcasting and more;
  9. Radiowaves - podcasting and more;

Well all seemed OK and at the break people talked to me about how they were going to try some of these ideas. Am excited at the thought that a few said they were interested in doing the online MA in New Literacies at Sheffield.

Then came the presentation from Kent Local Authority who talked about how they had totally banned all social-networking sites in every school in their region. (And Lest we forget ... Kent still has grammar schools and wotnot). They had distributed more than 100 thousand leaflets to parents which includes information on discouraging use of chat-rooms and social networking sites. The leaflets promoted the use of pcs for educational purposes only and suggested also that young people should not ever use computers unsupervised. Here is an example poster.
I feel OK about most of this but am unhappy about only going to websites that the teacher has set out or to never use chat is not really responsible in my view. We have to teach students how to independently research in a safe way.

This is the policy document.... here. Again a lot of good stuff but some areas where I think that they have used a hammer to crack a nut and I do hate the idea of banning things. (We once burnt books you know.)

This is all on the same day that the much awaited report from Dr Tanya Byron brought some similar approaches - with children constructed as totally manipulable, passive, uneducable dupes. The Guardian reports:

Byron, who shot to fame with the BBC series Little Angels, was asked by the prime minister, Gordon Brown, last year to complete the study. She will say the pace of the online revolution has left parents as "the internet immigrants" and children as "the internet natives", often causing worries for parents struggling to stay in touch with technology.

There is a funny thing going on here, with on the one hand children as expert in technology, but unable to make any kind of moral choice. Also I am not keen on the terms native or immigrant; they have negative connotations at the best of times and undermine the complexity of what it might mean to be competent. Education is what is needed for everyone, including parents. We need to run classes for them too. Classes where their kids show them things and we show them things and we all learn from each other. I definitely think we need digital literacy researchers involved in future research in this area, not just psychologists who see children in quite strange ways sometimes!! (Dr Tanya is the one who suggests that to teach kids to behave you can sit them on their own in a room - I am just not into this kind of punishment malarky I have always believed in talking to kids in a reasonable way at every stage.)

So without spending my whole day on this blog rant I want to identify reasons why I think Social networking sites should NOT be banned from schools:

  1. Social Networking is here to stay. People will use them even if they are banned in school. Children therefore need to be taught how to use them safely.
  2. Students use social networking out of school, - so do many parents and this number will increase. We will (continue to) alienate learners if we ban what they value.
  3. Some children do not have access to the Internet out of school. Schools are places where we should try to balance out inequalities and provide equal access. Children (and adults) increasingly use the sites to continue social activities begun elsewhere (and vice versa).
  4. Students can be shown the value of citizenship journalism and the need for other voices than those officially constructed by mainstream media. This is an important social literacy practice for citizenship education.
  5. In a classroom context students can be shown how to enjoy, control and be wary of the power (their own and that of others) in online text production and consumption.
  6. If teachers use SNW sites in school, they can talk with students an ongoing basis, without using scare tactics, about how to stay safe online.
  7. Students can be taught to read online texts critically and discern 'hidden messages' - for we know that some insidious sites, such as Nazi sites, KKK sites appear innocuous at first. If we ban all sites like this, they will only read them unsupervised.
  8. The nature of literacy is changing; to ignore social networking sites is to exclude a whole area of literacy practice from the educational domain - thus making the school curriculum a dinosaur. Multimodal texts are easy to produce using social networking software.
  9. There are excellent educational benefits in using social networking software - even when it is not used to actually network with others - such as using Voicethreads and embedding work into a blog.
  10. Social networking software is changing all the time and thus brings constant fresh and exciting FREE material into the curriculum.
  11. Children are motivated by using such software - especially boys.
Let's hear from the kids: Top Ten Reasons to Use Blogs in the classroom

There is a need to treat kids as responsible people and to show them things carefully. Not ban things as you will never be able to keep it all out. So you need to teach them to protect themselves and to ENJOY what there is online and not pretend that the Internet and pcs are only there fore boring educational sensible things.

And that's all I've got to say about that really. Apart from that the slideshow for the conference is here:

Monday, 24 March 2008

Swoon (again)

Here's swoon talking at MOMA about her work:

and part Two:

I am currently drafting an article called:

Location Location Location: Changing places, modes and meanings of streetart as digital image

Briefly it's about the use of online spaces to promote and share streetart and the ways in which the online space impacts on meanings of the art and how this then is brought back to the street.... that is to say, that I have seen how streetartists use Flickr to promote their work; to talk about their work; to show their work. They influence each other online; they see how flickr people respond to their work and and how they love to photograph it. And this can impact on what artists do next - and they certainly participate in photographing and 'collecting' the art in Flickr spaces. This whole process creates an interesting and dynamic archive online where images are replicated, arranged, labelled, organised and tagged. The art work becomes part of multiple narratives and acts differently for different people, meaning different things.

Themes in the article will be:

  • Different modes and moving texts from one place to another
  • Re-articulation of materiality
  • Meanings change
  • Presentations of identity
  • Transforming spaces
  • Interaction of items with environment and interaction of people with the art (or not)
  • Changing over time
  • Mash-ups
  • Replications and memes
I will submit it to Visual Communication and hope for the best.

swoon and man with bag

And, I forgot to mention, I found out about the Swoon videos, because another street artist, anaperu told me about it in a comment on this picture here. So there we are. More evidence, my dear Watson.


Have been looking at the new 21 classes blogging software. Looks like a great new package for the teacher who wants to use blogs but is nervous about keeping control of things. Looks easy to use and privacy settings are changeable very easily.

Here is what I have just set up.

Jackie told me about Voicethreads a way to combine sound with images - and again user-friendly software set up with schools in mind. Here's my space.

You can embed what you do on voicethreads, into your blog or website:

(I know it's a bit rubbish but I rushed this!)

Next up .... we all know the frustration of our pcs and software going wrong. Check this out.

And for easter ... there's this link. Enjoy!!

Friday, 14 March 2008

Literacy for Lifelong Learning Conference

I have had a fantastic time over the last few days at the Literacy for Lifelong Learning Conference here in Jamaica - The University of West Indies Education Department. .

When I get my photos and my head sorted out a bit more about the experience of being here, I will post more about the trip, but for now, here is the slideshow which I used for the keynote presentation. (Click on the orange and blue shareware icon to go to the shareware site and see the show on full screen)

I will add more links into this post when I get home so that conference delegates can access the paper I have written relating to the keynote presentation. and also the powerpoint I used and and resources I referred to in my workshop.

But in the meantime .....I also mentioned the book in my workshop by Marsh and Millard - see here.

And Kress's book here.

Exciting, accessible and intelligent is Lankshear and Knobel's book on New Lteracies .... as well as their book The New Literacy Sampler ... which is also available online to read here.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

The World of Dolly Parton sleeveface

So is this a new literacy practice I wonder?
You get an album with a big face on; hold it to your head ... and you're a popstar!!

It's a group on Flickr and a blog.
It must be a meme.

As after the sleeveface blog ... there have been loads spring up. Check it out on Google.

If you don't know how to do it ....go on You Tube. Or look here >>>>>>

so are you gonna have a go?


Sunday, 2 March 2008

Plug for Gamma and Street Art and New York City

It made me laugh to see on Flickr that Elbowtoe has done a wheatpaste of Gamma Blog.

This was shot by Rebecca aka RFuller RD

Anyway, this is the spitting image of Gamma in my opinion and being so reminded of him, I nipped across to his blog, only to find he has left this fab video for us to see - featuring streetartists from NYC.

OPEN AIR from knox on Vimeo.

People often talk about Sheffield as being 'like a village'. Well somehow when I am on Flickr, the whole world seems like a village.

Does that mean I am a Geek?