100 posts categorized "Media Literacy"

November 29, 2011

Finding the right problems to solve: Gladwell on the Norden bombsight

In his latest TED Talk, Malcolm Gladwell tells The Strange Tale of the Norden Bombsight, where the US Government spent billions on a technology that didn't solve the real problems of the people using it (bombers had huge accuracy with the machine but this was rendered useless by clouds), and was used for solving problems that didn't exist, too (perfect sighting on a nuclear bomb is not an essential).

Basically, we see governments and institutions continually inventing sights that can finding the pear barrel 20,000 feet below, even though we don't need it. We continually seek solutions to the wrong problems, at great expense, and build things we, and the users of the things, don't need. And finally, we have developed a strong capacity for building success around the wrong metrics to justify our bold, but wrong, decisions. 

Sound familiar?

What would happen if, instead of creating this generation of problem solvers, people who can solve imaginery theoretical pseudo problems really well, we helped carve out a generation of curious continual learners who want to find the next great genuine problem that needs solving?

November 08, 2011

QUIZ: What are all the plot devices in Plot Device?

I'm running a workshop on digital storytelling this next two days at Taipei European School, Taiwan, and Tom introduced me to Plot Device, the ultimate vid featuring, I think, every plot device you could ever come across in a film clip.

So, here's my challenge. Can my audience of occasionally faithful readers help decipher each and every one of the plot devices in this clip? Answers in the comments, below (and try to write the time of the device beforehand: e.g. 06:09 Sci-fi, Independence-Day-like invasion with flared video.

October 30, 2011

Tweeting for Teachers: Improving CPD through social media [Pearson & NoTosh report]

Tweeting for Teachers

It's six months since Tom Barrett came on board with me on Ship NoTosh, and in that time we've done a hugely varied amount of work, much of it under wraps due to the nature of our clients, and some of it high profile.

In the latter camp, we were delighted last week to launch Tweeting for Teachers, a report (that covers a lot more than Twitter) showing policymakers and school leaders some simple recommendations that will help more teachers than ever uncover the potential for turbo-boosting their own professional development through the use of social media and offline unconference events, such as TeachMeet and its younger cousin EdCamp. From the NoTosh blog:

Tweeting for Teachers – key recommendations

School leaders should:

  1. learn about and engage with the social platforms that their teachers, parents and pupils are using every day;
  2. use a social media tool as part of their communications with the school community;
  3. validate and support their staff in using social media tools for ongoing professional development;
  4. turn online activity into offline actions, in order to harness the benefits of face to-face interaction alongside those of online interaction;
  5. implement robust systems for evaluating the impact of CPD on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes.

National and local policymakers should:

  1. publish guidelines and support for teachers and leaders to help them use social media in schools;
  2. consider how they will begin to unfilter social media sites for use in schools;
  3. recognise and celebrate self-directed professional learning by teachers using online tools, and the role of social media in this learning;
  4. create a common online space where the whole education community can find each other;
  5. ensure that all Initial Teacher Training courses demonstrate a strong focus on the use of social media tools for ongoing professional development.

NoTosh undertook a significant piece of working in bringing together case studies of teachers and heads who are effectively using social media to take control of their own professional development, and making these accessible through film as well as integration to the report.

The report is one seeking feedback for constant improvement – starting with the 500 tweets during the one hour launch event – and films will continue to be shot and uploaded to the report over the next weeks and months.

 

We also undertook case studies of how businesses are using social media for professional development, and what education could learn from this. Finally, we developed recommendations for how teachers, heads and policymakers could further exploit the potential of social media to help teachers develop in a cost-effective way.

  

There are plenty more videos that I may well find the time to go through on the blog, but you can dive in yourself over on Vimeo now and come back over the next few weeks as more education and business video case studies are added. You can read the report on the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning site, and read more about our role in building it on the NoTosh blog.

October 09, 2011

Has the iPhone generation lost its sense of wonder?

Catriona's first Skype

Over the past week I've twice heard twenty-somethings ponder whether kids growing up today—kids who were practically born with iPhones in hand—will still have the capacity for wonder.

Yesterday as a present for his first day of second grade I brought home an erasable gel pen for my iPhone savvy six year old. After a brief demonstration, he spontaneously hugged me, "I've been waiting for this pen my entire life!"

I think the kids are alright.

Lovely post from Heading East, via Bobulate, which reminds me of the wonder Catriona had the first time she used Skype (and felt comfortable with it by about 90 seconds into the call), the desire she has to get on the iPad every day, but the total delight she gets when the craft kit comes out of its box on a rainy day (which, being Edinburgh in the autumn, is rather often).

June 19, 2011

"If you want it to stick, you need a pic"

Jeremy Clarkson in the Sunday Times (UK) a few weeks ago touched on the supremacy of shaky mobile phone footage in deciding the pecking order of what we, generally, consider important and what we care less about (below). In this tree-falls-down-nobody-sees-it philosophy, have we become dependent on the loudest, clearest, best presented stories to make our decisions, at the expense of more valuable but less tangible ones we need to chew over for longer?

For me, this move towards talking about what we hear about loudest and clearest, rather than talking about the hard stuff that does not come in this "chicken nugget" form of information bundle, is absolutely reflected in the world of education discourse, particularly around discussions on what learning is for.

The echo chambers of the blogosphere, the political classes, the civil servants, parents... they - we - are all as guilty as each other for paying too much attention to the loudest, not necessarily the most vital, discussions for our children's future.

It's too easy to believe that you are collaborating and gaining some kind of otherness just because you've ticked the "collaboration box" of using Skype, a wiki, a blog, whatever medium you wish. Gary Stager picks this up nicely in this Will Richardson post. Will despairs at a teacher's 'inability' to grasp the value of a change to his methods, particularly the perceived value of collaboration to achieve the same goals that the teacher was gaining within his four classroom walls. Rightly, Gary calls into question whether collaboration is really all that worthwhile, all of the time. The answer is: most times not. Small active mixed ability and mixed interest teams, coming up quickly with their own ideas, is often just as effective (if not more so) than a more drawn out collaborative process through technology with teams from around the world, but where those teams consist of people who share the same values, aptitudes and interests as the home crew.

All too often, though, the accents of those with whom we are collaborating, in the broadest sense of the word 'accent', are merely reflections of the views with which we are most comfortable. In this way, we fall for the trap Jeremy Clarkson outlines in his column: "It used to be said if it bleeds, it leads. Now, though, if you want it to stick, you need a pic."

Jeremy Clarkson on camera phones

March 29, 2011

Data Reveals Stories: Part Five | Maps

This is one of a six-part series on how to harness data to reveal stories. It represents notes and follow-on links. If you want to take part in an exciting workshop to get your hands on real life data sets, create your own visualisations and learn how to share them, you can join me in Boston at Building Learning Communities for my pre-conference workshop this summer, or ask for it as one of our masterclass sessions. Many of the examples cited are from the information visualiser's Bible, Information is Beautiful: buy the book (in the UK | in the USA) or visit the blog.

Map overlays
Countries are not all given equal status in the learning we do/did at school. Map overlays show this.
Examples:
Take several of the world's richest and most prominent countries and see how many you can fit into an outline of Africa:

Africa and the rest

Take four of the world's four richest economies and see how many you can fit inside the richest of all: the United States. (Information is Beautiful, pp.61, 142-3, 202)

Everyone thinks their own country is bigger than it really is. The Brits are as guilty as anyone else. Just listen to the oohs and ahs at these proportionate maps, courtesy of Sheffield-based Alisdair Rae:

UK in Africa

The BBC's How Big Really helps people understand the scale of issues around environmental disasters, the war on terror, disease and other global issues, but showing their extent atop the town or city where that person lives:

BBC Dimensions


Real maps, abstract stories
Take a map whose coloration or name markings tell a different story. The master of this was CS Lewis with the maps for the Chronicles of Narnia:

Narnia

Other examples:
Interactive Diabetes map of America
Flight pattern maps from The Endless City
A world of number ones - every country has to be great at something:

Number one for something

Proportionate Maps
A wonderful collection of maps from the University of Sheffield, UK, show the world map through different lenses to explore global issues. For example, population density as a map is amongst other concepts on WorldMapper:

Population Map



Mind maps / Organised Mind Maps
Favoured by the Guardian for its coverage of large, complex economy issues, these give a lot of information and show how it relates:

Guardian organised mind maps

Data Reveals Stories: Part Two | Words

This is one of a six-part series on how to harness data to reveal stories. It represents notes and follow-on links. If you want to take part in an exciting workshop to get your hands on real life data sets, create your own visualisations and learn how to share them, you can join me in Boston at Building Learning Communities for my pre-conference workshop this summer, or ask for it as one of our masterclass sessions. Many of the examples cited are from the information visualiser's Bible, Information is Beautiful: buy the book (in the UK | in the USA) or visit the blog.

Mountains out of a molehill
Annotated graphing

Take a graph that would otherwise be a boring squiggle and present us with startling or surprising information as annotated text.

Examples:
Breakups, as monitored through Facebook Status Updates of "… just ended a relationship"
Mountains out of Molehills - column inches presented as a molehill graph.

Contrast image and (in words) story
Images can be used to make us smile, while words portray the deep, shocking truth.
Example:
Murderous dictators by facial hair (Information is Beautiful, p.172)

Calligram of the Great Firewall of China
Calligram

Write a text that takes the shape of the thing you are describing, adding proportionality or geography to add another level of meaning.
Example:
The Great Chinese Firewall as shown through websites that are blocked from coming into China and searches that are forbidden within it, in the form of a verbal map.

Proportionate Words
The data cliché of Wordle stops being a cliché when it makes a point.
Try Tagcrowd if you want to delimit the words and have a more accurate representation of the words that matter (i.e. by automatically getting rid of pronouns, articles etc).
Example:
Compare political bias in newspapers by TagCrowding the same story across tabloids, right and leftist papers.
Copy and paste speeches by politicians who speak about the same issues, and see what really interests them: Obama's vision for education:

Tagcrowd - Obama Education

versus that of English Education Secretary, Michael Gove:

Tagcrowd - Gove Education

 

March 25, 2011

Content is not king

Cory Doctorow

Listening to a presentation in Belfast from m'old colleague Andrew Brown from LTS, he reminds me of this quote from blogger, storyteller and, yes, content-creator Cory Doctorow, pictured:

Content isn't king. If I sent you to a desert island and gave you the choice of taking your friends or your movies, you'd choose your friends -- if you chose the movies, we'd call you a sociopath. Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.

One of the key points I've been driving in the past year has been the importance of schools providing places for conversations and exploration to take place, perhaps through a design thinking-based pedagogy and process. Such a process takes the onus off the teacher to be the one preparing resources for children, effectively doing the learning for the youngster. Instead, it forces interaction around content, rather than content to be consumed or 'learnt', to take centre stage.

Pic from Joi

March 04, 2011

Juliette Heppell: Technology's last stand in learning: cell phones, consoles & Facebook

In a four-part video series for GETideas I travelled the world in 24 hours and asked four educators I admire what their "two stars and a wish" for learning would be for 2011. I'll blog the films here over the next week.

Juliette Heppell, a high school teacher from the West End of London, UK, is seeing so much that is right with learning and technology, but the last crucial step is taking technology to where our students already hang out - to cell phones and social networks:

"Social networking in our school has been vital in engaging students in seeing the connection between learning in school and learning at home.

"Persuading teachers to use Skype in the classroom has resulted in some interesting projects, although the first stage involved teaching them how to use it at home as a form of professional development.

"We need to use what the students have already much more: it might be skills, or it might be equipment that they can bring into the classroom. Handhelds, consoles, mobile phones, research skills, enquiry skills… We're getting there, but we're not quite there yet."

Juliette's site features in this popular post from last month: "Please, Miss, Can I Friend You On Facebook?".

November 09, 2010

Do I Have Your Attention?

This is one of my favourite moments in the film, The Social Network, that has been remixed as a beautifully produced piece of Prezi, filmed, and set against the dialogue from the film. It's let down by an apostrophe that doesn't belong and a lack of dictionary or spellcheck use, infuriating since the rest of it is rather clever.

Update: a corrected version and the backstory published now on this blog.

While we're thinking about attention, how often do schools and teachers assume the attention of youngsters, of parents, of our colleagues? My gut feel: nearly all the time.

  • We assume that learners want to learn because they chose subjects.
  • We assume that learners will want to learn because we like the way we do something.
  • We assume parents care about their child's education.
  • We assume that our colleagues want to learn how to do their jobs better/differently.
  • We assume that adults know how to learn on their own.
  • We assume that chuldren don't know how to learn on their own.
  • ...

We need to work consistently at gaining attention, retaining attention and turning that attention into value, much in the same way as a tech startup like Facebook would do (check out Dave McClure's busy but genius presentation on attention and metrics if you want to delve more into how). I'm fairly convinced that somewhere in these tech startup metrics are the assessment tools for the new forms of learning that are emerging, but fighting against assessment structures of old that don't fit anymore.

And in using new metrics to measure success, we can engage in new learning with more confidence, new learning that is almost certainly more likely to get the attention of those around us.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is a teacher, speaker and investor, regarded as one of Europe’s foremost experts in digital media for public services.

His company, NoTosh Limited, invests in tech startups and film on behalf of public and private investors, works with those companies to build their creative businesses, and takes the lessons learnt from the way these people work back into schools and universities across the world.

Ewan’s education keynotes & MasterClasses

Module Masterclass

Do you worry that your school or district could better harness its people, digital technology or physical space? Do you want some actionable inspiration, a mentor for a learning journey with your staff?

In a keynote or masterclass we can give them concrete ideas based on experience, enthusiasm fired by a vision of what can be, and backup before and after to make it happen for them.

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