Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Alfabetizacion de cafe / Coffee literacy

Gabriel sent through a couple of pix of the coffee land today. If I am reading the flowers on the plants correctly it could be a very good crop this year. Last year's was a bit thin, although the coffee we did get was superb. A good crop this year would be very welcome. We now have all the machinery, from hands to husker, for producing the coffee from the branches to the bag, so a good crop would find us good and ready for it.

Meanwhile, the entry to the coffee land is also looking well, and brings on a massive nostalgia. Another month to go and we'll be walking around this beautiful place again. It certainly sustains during the periods between,

Saturday, May 17, 2008

And we're off!
The conference has started with a rousing welcome from Tina Jacobowitz, chair of our Department.

Dana's keynote opens with a discussion of the logo for our conference--a sunflower in close-up--and how technology itself is and should always be viewed as developing and growing. She then talks us through a brief history of personal computing in her own life--from an early Mac to playing Oregon Trail at school. She tells us about her first teaching job: working with urban middle school students in a balanced literacy program using 20 laptops. The laptops and internet connection were the result of another teacher's forward-thinking project; and this teacher was no longer at the school.... She reminds us how mobile phones looked in 1998--huge!--and how a small squirrel managed to get her classes offline for one week by chewing through one cable. Dana found herself suddenly having to learn how to fix the labs in her classroom, as well as deal with an onslaught of other teachers suddenly wanting to use her set of 20 laptops when the school's library was shut down for a long period. In this school, students were able to take these latops home with them overnight--where they engaged their parents in learning how to use a dial-up modem, how to word-process etc.

Dana then spoke about the changes she's witnessed over the past 10 years--including how theories have needed to change in order to better account for changing social and learning practices. she reminds us that the itnernet is not at all hierarchical, but is thoroughly networked and interconnected. Her next set of slides contrast wonderfully with her earlier ones as she shows pics of tiny mp3 players and an iPhone.

She draws on Friedman's claims regarding ta flat world to discuss the increasing extent to which we are connected and interconnected, and the ways in which new technolgies have and are shaping our world.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Learn 2.0: From Preschool to Beyond

Well, tomorrow's the big day--our conference. Dana has been amazing and pulled together a really cool program of sessions. If you in the Montclair, NJ (USA) area, drop in--it's all free (Dana even wrangled free parking for everyone, which I have *never* heard happen before now!).

The program is here.

And Dana and I will be live blogging--I'll be posting here on Everyday Literacies, and Dana will be blogging on Flaneuse.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Social Network Workshop: Choose a website

In groups access and read one or other of the following and discuss in your group

  • What, if anything, do the stories establish about causes and effects?

  • What do you think lies at the heart of the matter?

  • Where do you stand on young people using social network sites and why?

  • Where do you stand on students accessing social network sites at school and why?

  • Wednesday, May 07, 2008

    More lovely books for reviewing!

    Here's the latest lot of books that Dana Wilber and I have received for reviewing for publication in e-Learning. Email me (knobelm@mail.montclair.edu) with the title(s) you're interested reviewing, along with your snail mail postal details and you'll be good to go. Apologies in advance for the functional listing, but am kinda pressed for time right now.

    1. Meaningful Learning Using Technology. Eds. Elizabeth A. Ashburn & Robert E. Floden

    2. Partners in Literacy: Schools and Libraries Building Communities Through Technology by Sondra Cuban & Larry Cuban

    4. Reading the Media: Media Literacy in High School English by Renee Hobbs

    5. Technology and English studies: Innovative Professional Paths by James Inman and Beth Hewett

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    ComicCon NYC!

    The other weekend we had a ball attending ComicCon NYC. This Comic Convention is basically a mix of presenter panels and sessions, commercial and indie showcases of new products (e.g., new graphic novels, new manga, new anime, new designer vinyl toys), sales of collectible comics (of all kinds), movie shows, and lots of cosplay (people--even whole families--wearing superhero, Star Wars, or manga costumes).

    We had a fab time looking at different booths, and especially watching the crowd. One of the things we especially enjoyed was just the rich mix of people there--everyone imaginable! The highlight though, was getting to meet Brent Nolasco, a renown vinyl toy custom modder and artist. He was real-time modding Munny Dolls at the MyPlasticHeart stall--and showing some of his work, including a fab print (which we bought a copy of, too). He modded a Munny doll for us right then-and-there using a range of black markers, and drew a fantastic image as well, and was extremely approachable.

    We warmed up by getting involved in a bit of cosplay en route to the event.

    And ninja presence was as strong as ever.

    The future of making: the dialectic of DIY and Big manufacturing

    Once I had got past the hopeful delight prompted by Mutant Rob's contribution to today's issue of boingboing on a potential constitutional bombshell in the patents basement, I had a blast checking out the post on Mapping the future of making. This reports an interesting scenario mapping exercise undertaken by the non-profit Institute for the Future, and plots possible scenarios of how social networking among DIY types might interact with the logistics of big commodity manufacturing in the coming decade. Presented mainly as a dialectic between the social and the technological, it can also be read in terms of the dynamics between grassroots and corporate production and between tinkering and theory-driven production.

    It got me thinking to Daniel Bell's account of the 18th and 19th century “talented tinkerers”, who were behind many of the major “inventions” of the 19th century. This era was eclipsed during the 20th century with the blooming of theory-driven production, which might be seen as the operating logic between contemporary western universities helter-skeltering into the patents rush. Now we seem to be seeing a pretty significant comeback by DIY tinkerers in the context of networked communications. In part the networks foster and "spread” DIY activity and sharing at the level of production. At the same time, they foment global reach at the level of “consumption” and uptake, picking up on the “enterprise” motif.

    It also got me to wondering what might happen if educators used some artifacts like the Future of Making map as stimuli for envisaging some possible “uncurriculums” and “unpedagogies”. My hunch is that learners would get a whole lot closer to understanding the nature and role of theory and how to use it than they have any chance of doing in today's classrooms. They would also be exposed relentlessly to the need to engage in systems thinking. And they would learn that generating knowledge by “construction” is not an individual, privatised, in-the-head, deskbound process.

    BUT, could they write an essay under exam conditions about photosynthesis in plants?

    Probably, but I'd like to think they wouldn't.

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