One of my most popular images of the week on flickr is this one - a shot from a synchronised meditation animation taken as the sun sets in the background. Apart from the occasional rudeness and weirdness I must say it is very easy to be swept away with the aesthetics of everything that is beautiful - the poetry of motion, the divine imagery, the perfection of the body, the intellectual interactions with others. What does it mean for my offline life to live in an almost constant state of beauty and perfection in my Second Life?
Alan from CogDogBlog has had his Second Life photoset on flickr branded as NIPSA: Not in public site areas. So his photographs cannot be seen by the public. Why? Because they are deemed to be non-photos.
Now having done several photoshoots in Second Life, I can assure you all that the camera work required to capture the right shots is very much the same as a is required when I use my digital camera. I have to angle the camera about, zoom, find my focal point, wait for the right moment and then capture. (It took me about 15 minutes to capture this perfect sunset on my beachfront the other day). The camera in world might be a different sort of digital camera, but nevertheless I am not just doing a screen capture unless I want to delierately capture the interface for a particular purpose (like my shot of Nonna Hedges where I wanted to have her name included in the shot!).
But this controversy has raised the issue of: What really is a photograph? The shots I have been including in my blog over the past few weeks have reflected a visual record of my experiences on Second Life and are an important part of my ethnographic study of the world. I am sure that anybody reading this blog will have learnt more about it from seeing the photographs than reading my actual posts!!
I think that because I use my flickr site for “real” photos as well as these “non-photos” then I am not contravening their guidelines, but I will be extremely upset if they suddenly go invisible like Alans did!
I have just discovered flickr leech - a tool that brings up thumbnails of all the flickr images loaded with “interestingness” for any particular day. Here’s a screenshot of some of today’s thumbnails:
And through it I found these fabulous images (click to go to original):
I know this is obvious, but it seems to me that the flickr community have fostered this amazing educational ethos by accident. I doubt a large percentage of members ever went to art or photography classes, and they might never have studied books on photography. But the discussions about composition, technique, lighting and so on that happen as a consequence of people enjoying each other’s photos and wondering whether they can replicate the same effect is that everybody is learning so much!!
And I think it is so interesting that people make and share fun tools like this one - many members have this strong sense of community and are trying to make it better / more fun through innovations like this. Love it!!
USA Today has this article about the history of flickr.
I’ve just ordered Will Richardson’s book and hopefully will have a chance to use it in a series of workshops I’m planning to run with teachers in the latter part of the year. From Will’s blog, here are the details:
Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms.
Table of Contents:
1. The Read/Write Web
2. Weblogs: Pedagogy and Practice
3. Weblogs: Get Started!
4. Wikis: Easy Collaboration for All
5. RSS: The New Killer App for Educators
6. The Social Web: Learning Together
7. Fun With Flickr: Creating, Publishing, and Using Images Online
8. Podcasting and Screencasting: Multimedia Publishing for the Masses
9. What It all Means
Epilogue: The Classroom of the Read/Write Web
Just thinking metaphorically about life and art…
When I opened my email this morning I thought I had several secret admirers sending me Valentine’s Day greetings but alas, it was only spam. Nonetheless, Happy Valentine’s Day to everybody.
Today is the REME (Research in English and Multiliteracies Education) research seminar day and I am presenting THREE papers!!!! (Well, two proper papers and then some tips for post-grads about publishing).
I was reluctant at first to link my powerpoint presentations because I tend now to leave most of the text off the slides and speak to the images, so they don’t really stand alone so well, but for anybody who cares, here they are uploaded onto flickr:
Blogging as a Literacy Research Tool (starring two of my amazing research participants Tiana and Jandalf for about the 5th presentation I’ve done in a row! as well as DrJoolz, Michele and Guy in the “bloggers I networked with in Miami” section): this is the serious one for researchers, although there are some silly jokes in it which might not come across through the slides
From the post-PhD blues to publication bliss (note: bliss is an overstatement and somewhat tongue in cheek): this is for post-grads
Kahootz: Children as active designers of 3D animated simulations, games and narratives : this is for upper primary and early secondary school teachers
I have written papers for the Blogging and the Kahootz sessions but want to tweak them some more before uploading them.
Let’s hope the audience gives me some love after my disappointment over the fake Valentine’s messages!
Tim Lauer posts about a project with some grade 5 students who are studying Explorers of the world. I can’t say that the topic excites me personally but I absolutely loooooove the way the kids have used flickr and mapbuilder to digitise their project. All their drawings were uploaded to a flickr set, complete with a description of their respective explorers. Then there are maps of each explorer’s journey and a master map of them all. I’ve included some thumbnails below - click each one to go to the respective sites.
(all images and original work from students at Lewis Elementary School)
Can you imagine if a number of classes were joined together in projects and knowledge building like this? That’s the potential of Web 2.0. This is a great starting point and should help teachers imagine all sorts of new and exciting ways of incorporating technology into their teaching.
ooooohh I have been having fun with these flickr toys!
The Movie Posters:
The Motivational Poster:
and The Captioner:
Where was I when these new toys came out? Oh well, never too late to play :>
I wish I could have had a wireless laptop to live blog the conference because now that its over it feels rather odd doing a retrospective post. But as promised, here goes! Oh and a disclaimer: I was soo exhausted that I didn’t make as many sessions as I listed, and also, there was an unfortunate clash or two in the program which meant that I couldn’t listen to everybody I wanted to.
So, the first session I went to at the conference was Julia and Guy’s session about blogging:
Inside Out: academic blogging and new literacies, an autoethnography
Julia Davies and Guy Merchant
This was a fun session and I looooooved the aesthetics of the presentation, with gorgeous images and fun transitions. I was also cited, which was very flattering! I liked the way they moved quickly beyond the descriptive (how come so many conference presentations focussed on the descriptive only at the expense of theorisation and analysis???) and into the analysis of posts and comments, discussing theoretical issues and critiqueing notions of “affinity spaces” and “communities of practice” as far as they relate, and don’t relate, to the blogosphere. We had many casual conversations about blogs and identity and narrative after this presentation and I’ll be blogging more about those later! Anyway this was a great session and stimulated much discussion and thinking.
Next was our session:
Out of Bounds: Some social, psychological and pedagogical implications of new literacies for young people’s learning, lifeworlds and social futures.
Angela Thomas, Kevin Leander and Michele Knobel
I have already blogged about my talk, but the slides are here if you missed it.
Kevin Leander spoke about his study of girls in a girls school that had wireless technology. Essentially he critiqued the institutional use of technology and the low expectations of teachers when the students were able to work at a very sophisticated level.
Michele Knobel spoke about memes and ‘big L’ ‘little l’ L/literacies. It was a really fun talk too, but also stimulating as she spoke about counter-meming as a social critical literacy practice - and I liked the links to the work of Adbusters.com and the strategies for counter-meming outlined at memecentral.com/antidote.htm, and allyourbrand.org/why.htm - I need to look into these more at some time!
Our discussant was Cynthia Lewis:
Cynthia made some lovely remarks and raised questions about “what counts” as literacy as far as schooling is concerned. I thought Cynthis was very insightful!
Then we had Don Leu’s Presidential address:
New Literacies, Reading Research, and the Challenges of Change: a Deictic Perspective of our Research Worlds
I found Don Leu’s talk interesting but targetted to a) an audience who needed to be convinced about new literacies; and b) the American audience. So basically he said “new literacies are here to stay and we need to attend to them” and “Americans aren’t getting into new literacies as much as they should”. I thought he was very sweet and humble in acknowledging all of his colleagues and doctoral students in influencing his understandings about new literacies.
Wednesday evening was Julia’s birthday party as I already mentioned in my very quick post, and here is the birthday girl herself, looking gorgeous and glam:
Isn’t her necklace amazing!? Here’s a close-up:
and here’s some of her DIVINE birthday dessert:
I sat between Julia and Jennifer:
and across from the very animated Guy:
Also at the table were:
and several other people whose names I have embarrassingly forgotten (profuse apologies if you are one of them)!
Are we only up to Thursday!? On Thursday Julia and I snuck out at lunch time for a little shopping expedition, which she blogged about here.
Question: what is Julia doing here???
(Click here to find out!)
I also noticed Julia taking a photo of somebody taking a photo of somebody else so I thought I should take a photo of that and continue the chain:
Oh! And we also came across a guy that wrote our names on a single grain of rice! Now I didn’t really want one but purely because I’d seen one of the characters doing it from the digital fiction called The Strand, which I blogged about recently, I thought I had to have one! I think there is something to say there about feeling some sort of identification with a narrative or fictional character that you associate with it through its artefacts, but I am not sure what yet!
One of my favourite sessions was the afternoon session that followed our shopping expedition!
Social Constructions in New Literacy Environments
Chair(s) & Discussant(s): Charles K. Kinzer, Teachers College, Columbia University
With the rise of the concept of “new literacies,” literacy is increasingly acknowledged as including participation in broadly defined communities of practice. Concurrently, literacy has become influenced by new technologies, which incorporate their own social practices. The symposium examines the social literacies surrounding one of these electronic environments: video games.
1. Digital Literacies and Massively Multiplayer Online Games
Constance A. Steinkuehler, University of Wisconsin-Madison
2. Agency and Authority: Social Practices in Interactive Storytelling
Jessica Hammer, Teachers College, Columbia University
3. Playing the Digital Divide: Video-game-related literacy practices and SES
Gillian Andrews, Teachers College, Columbia University
Constance talked about her study of World of Warcraft. I enjoyed seeing the range of literacy practices involved and I liked the analysis of gaming practices as scientific habits of mind. I hadn’t actually heard the term “persistent virtual worlds” before to describe MMORPGs either, so that was interesting.
Jessica talked about agency in role-playing games. I thought Jessica’s talk was wonderfully theorised and enjoyed being taken in a different direction as far as role-playing and narrative construction is concerned. I think she focussed more on adult role-playing and more sophisticated narrative constructions, as the stuff I am looking at is much less pre-planned, so it’s given me lots of ideas! I liked the points she made about interactivity as giving the illusion of free will. It reminded me of when I was a teacher and used to trick kids into doing what I wanted by offering them choices and making the ideal choice so attractive that they had to select it!! (Ummm… I still do that with my undergrad students, but that is another story!)
Gillian (Gus) spoke about the types of games selected by different types of readers - she made some really useful links to Gee’s work and talked about self-as-avatar, which I would have loved to hear more about! (Who made these sessions limited to 20 minutes? Never enough time to take in everything!!)
I also went to Brian Street’s session:
Literacy Across Cultural Contexts: Implications for Pedagogy and Curriculum
Brian covered a lot of ground in this session (too much to remember!) but something he spoke about that was totally new to me was lowrider art as a literacy practice. He showed how this doodle-like art by young non-English speakers was used as a communicative literacy practice, and I’d like to find out more about this.
Thursday evening I collapsed in my room with exhaustion and tried to write some discussant comments for a session I was involved with the next day. It was very unfortunate for me as I missed out on a fun evening with Julia, Guy, Michele, Sarah, Dana, Rebecca and a heap of others *sniffle*.
So Friday morning was the session by Marion Fey:
Gender Issues in Post-Typographical Texts and Talk: Past, Present and Future
Chair: Barbara Guzzetti
Discussants: Donna Alvermann, Suzanne Wade and Angela Thomas
Marion traced her extensive research into issues about gender and technology. Suzanne made some wonderful theoretical links between her work and Marions, and mentioned Susan Herring’s work. I also mentioned Susan Herring, Lois Scheidt, and colleagues in my response. I talked about: debates about language and gender, performativity of gender in online spaces and collaboration and social software.
Next was another FABULOUS session by the team from Teacher’s College:
Conceptions of Narrative in Non-Traditional Environments
New environments are redefining literacy and literacy practices. However, while non-traditional environments incorporate visual elements in traditional print materials, they still may be categorised as either narrative or expository. This symposium looks at various non-traditional environments to explore the question of narrative construction and definition.
1. Considering Narrative in New Environments
Charles K Kinzer
2. Examining Narrative as Sequential “Sense” in Comics
3. Narrative Strategies in Improvisational Storytelling
Charles Kinzer spoke about Second Life - like most of the sessions I saw, I was left wanting more and with more questions than answers.
Jonathon spoke a lot about the role of transitions or break points in the narratives of comics (great stuff!),
and Jessica spoke about issues of narration, improvisation and collaboration in role-playing in general, as well as issues of continuity, consistency and coherence in narrative in particular.
Again, this team of researchers are really doing wonderful and innovative studies - I would loooove to work with them!!!
In fact, on Saturday morning I had a lovely meeting with Charles (Chuck) Kinzer:
and we talked about the possibility of some fun projects we can collaborate on!!
There were other lunches and dinners and coffees and drinks and the “New Literacies Bash” - in fact some of the most interesting and stimulating discussions were those that took place outside of the conference! I had a lovely talk with Guy over dinner on my last evening and we wondered “Are we like our blogs?” - which led to all sorts of fascinating thoughts about literacy, identity, narrative, projection, virtuality/reality and so on!
And, on my final day I had a minor crisis which I won’t go into here but I want to say a huge THANK YOU to Katina Zammit (my fellow Australian traveller) for being such an angel and rescuing me from a difficult situation!!
So, that was my overview of NRC - an interesting conference made fabulous because of the wonderful company - especially Julia, Guy and Michele!