17 posts categorized "Social Networking"

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.

September 24, 2010

Technology's impact on learning: Pecha Kucha

In 6 minutes 40, the 20 ideas I think will affect educators in a big way in the next couple of years. This appears as part of New Zealand Core Education's EDTalks:

20. QR Codes and other smart mobile means of making the real world expand into the virtual world will become commonplace in the pockets of our students. With Layar you could craft a living history of your school transposed onto existing real-world buildings viewed through a smartphone camera.
19. We will gain a better understanding the hype curve, and what types of behaviour with technology can be spotted along it.
18. This gives us a chance to shorten that lead time to get to the learning quicker
17. Anything 'touch' changes the game, not necessarily because of the device itself but because of the way it affects the design of everything else around us, especially websites.
16. More will leave the desktop and go online, whether it's MIT's Scratch heading online next year thanks to the MacArthur funding we awarded earlier this year, or
15. Making real life products that students can feel, touch and use will be where the best learning takes place. Students will stop "doing" stuff at school and will more likely "make" stuff at school.
14. We'll think about how we build more interaction into our virtual spaces but also our physical spaces.
13. Think how engagement of the senses can do something as simple as encourage people to walk up the stairs rather than take the escalator.
12. The last 30% of our planet will get online in the next year as more of the world, south of the equator, gets powered up and online. This will mean an explosion in connections.
11. These connections will nearly all come from Africa and South America initially - most African countries are at the birth of their internet journey.
10. When we start collaborating with all these new partners at scale, we'll find that the ultrafast broadband of which our schools are so proud will become, rather quickly, slow-feeling.
9. This is especially true thanks to our changing TV habits. We'll be watching more television online than we do on the television, which will contribute to this higher demand for bandwidth.
8. We'll actually watch less television, but all of it online. Television choices will start to be made for us, using algorythmns to work out what we might want to watch based on our friends' and our previous selections.
7. We'll also stop just watching the television, and start interacting even more around it, online more than with the people in the same room as us. Maybe education will have a second chance at getting television use for learning right.
6. Understanding open data will become more important than social media has been in the apst five years.
5. This means, in the next two years, we might actually find ourselves with a teaching population that is more illiterate than the youngsters they are teaching, as this basic skill of understanding complex data is mastered by young people quicker.
4. There will be less money for spending in education, and innovation will start to appear as a result.
3. Open Source technologies will increasingly make us question why we spend so much on corporations' pay-for technology when so much else is available for free from passionate communities of practice.
2. The innovation will start to appear not from big industry making big things that do things for people, but from 'small' people in their bedrooms and startups making things that empower people to do stuff for themselves, and that includes learning.
1. And the people we're empowering will come at all ages, all cultures. The lead time for people to understand how they can become collaborators, makers and doers has decreased from the years and months of the industrial age to hours and minutes for new generations. Just see it in the way my daughter reacted to Skype over four minutes, from horror to fear to curiosity to comfort.

September 02, 2010

Quotabl.es - finally our quotations history gets the home it deserves

Quotabl.es Quote
My good chums at Mint and Channel 4's Adam Gee have come up with a beauty of a service, finally providing a beautiful, slick home for the world's best quotations. It's a brilliant resource for any student of history, English language, Classics, science, or PowerPoint 101.

Never again will I have to suffer inaccurate citing in keynote presentations, or dinner parties where people quaff fine wine while stealing great one-liners with the catch-all "I don't know where this comes from, but...".

Quotabl.es Quotabl.es is born.

Says Mr Gee on his blog this morning:

Ever tried looking for a quotation online (of the literary as opposed to the insurance variety)? Wasn’t much fun was it? Not that easy to find what you want. And just how accurate was it? And why does it look like the site was made by a geek with no design skills in his stinky bedroom?

But you love great quotes don’t you? On your Facebook profile. In that presentation. You know, those ones you keep in that file – the one on your old computer. They’re everywhere – on the tube, in that advert, on that building, in that caff.

So why don’t we get the quotation sites we deserve and desire? Although there are several in the Alexa top 5000 most are labours of love, evolutions, accretions of amateur solutions stuck one on top of another like the proverbial sticking plaster.

It's even more close to my heart since this brazen little startup is based out of Glasgow and, I feel, it's providing an education service. Where can you see yourself using this? What do you want the team to do for you this coming year? What toys do you want them to offer you this Christmas? Don't spend too long answering here - jump over and have a play now. Or, as Spike Milligan would have said:

“Well we can’t stand around here doing nothing, people will think we’re workmen.”

March 21, 2010

Piano Improv with Chatroulette


In a break for our normal service (and any chance of getting real work done this Sunday morning) I bring you Piano Improv on Chatroulette. There's a wee bit of naughty language but, contrary to most of my own Chatroulette experiences, no rude body parts. You will laugh, maybe even be amazed by a guy with some talent and free time on his hands. I'm not going to suggest that music classrooms around the world start using Chatroulette for edyoocashun, but we can giggle a little at the curricular move that might have been...

Update: After a particularly productive morning I've discovered that the talented guy with piano and some time either is Ben from Ben Folds Five, or a good lookalike. The real Ben Folds has since responded to the User Generated inspiration and thus reinvented U2's penchant for the ritual phone call to Presidents and Prime Minsters: he now Chatroulettes with random members of the public during his 2000-seater concerts, creating witty and nsfw songs for them. Brilliant. And that means I've discovered the party piece we'll force Derek Robertson to do at Games-Based Learning in a fortnight.

March 14, 2010

Two reasons for "teaching Facebook" in school

Kimberley Swann
Will outlines a conversation with a superintendent, one of whose parents wanted her child pulled from a classroom where, frankly, some brilliant learning and teaching practice was taking place. The reason?

“Our students don’t need to be a part of a classroom experiment with all this technology stuff. They need to have a real teacher with real textbooks and real tests.”

My immediate thought is that "the real teacher" with "real textbooks" (not up-to-date student-curated wiki ones) that she refers to is increasingly a "fake education", one that does not prepare youngsters for the reality of life when they leave school at 18 years old, or a 4pm.

My killer example has to be that, in learning how to publish responsibly to a textbook wiki with a worldwide audience this teacher's students will not be making the same mistake as Kimberley Swann, pictured above, whose story shows a complete lack of understanding in how the real world actually works, or 'Lindsay', whose Facebook lifestream sums up her media illiteracy in one snap:

Facebook Misuse
If Lindsay or Kimberley had been taught by a real "real teacher", maybe they'd have not only had a conversation at some point about how one uses social networks for both play and work, as part of your public face, they may also have had, subject to the filtering policies in their schools, some hands-on practical sessions in privacy settings and the art of communication on the net.

January 25, 2010

TapTale: Bringing literacy to a (iPhone) screen near you

Child and iPhone
TapTale is a new iPhone and iPod Touch app designed as a prototype to help learners build confidence in their creative writing. The Times Education Supplement talks this week about the app, one of the newly launched products whose development I led as Commissioner at Channel 4's Innovation for the Public Fund, working with Derek Robertson at LTS and the clever chaps at Six To Start.


The proposition was a simple one: experiment to see what the iPhone and iPod Touch could add to the reading and writing experience. Making it was a genuine challenge for us, for Learning and Teaching Scotland and the award-winning developers SixToStart, whose work on Penguin's WeTellStories made them the best choice to give this groundbreaker a chance:

“Readers have to work out what they have to do in the story to progress,” says Adrian Hon, who created the application and co-founded Six to Start with his brother Dan. “The story might say something like ‘the witch went up to the door and knocked three times’. The player would then have to tap on the phone three times in order to advance. Or they might read that the house fell to the right and they have to tilt the phone to the right to read about what happens next.”

The goal is to encourage young people to write their own stories and include their own “gestures”.

Once a tale has been created, users can upload them to the TapTale website, where other registered users can download and read them. Registered users can also provide feedback on any tale via the website, by slotting pre-written statements into a form.

Naomi Alderman The app helps students get started by modeling what it expected, with none other than an award-winning writer to get the creative wheels greased. In 2006, Naomi Alderman won the Orange Award for New Writers, and she now offers a growing selection of exclusive taptale stories, written just for the screen space and gestural potential of the iPhone. They're also available to read on the Taptale website.

She's also offered up a selection of free-to-view writing challenges for educators wanting to use the app in their classrooms, or assign challenges for homework on the iPod Touch or iPhone.

Brian Clark, working with LTS on trialling the project, describes how it might be used in practice this term:

TapTale’s primary goal is to promote literacy through the reading and writing of tales using the tap, tilt, shake and swipe functions of Apples touch screen devices.

When creating a tale, pupils are asked to write chapters using the touchscreen keyboard on the device. In order to progress from chapter to chapter, the reader must use one of the tap, swipe, tilt or shake sequences. It is up to the author of the tale to decide what action must be taken for the reader to see the next chapter.

Once a tale has been created, users can upload them via the device to the taptale website. This allows other registered user to download and read their tales directly on the device. Registered users can provide feedback on any tale via the website using a ‘fridge magnet’ style form. Anyone can read the tales created directly from the site, but of course the tapping and tilting functions are not possible in this view.

Taptale Feedback System 2 Fridge-magnet peer-assessment

My favourite part of this exercise may not even be the iPhone app itself. Rather, the online peer-assessment community we've developed is, I think, a first (though I'm happily corrected). I wanted to see a fridge-magnet approach to student feedback, something that would allow structured feedback to take place but not just in a "tick-box" fashion. I think I also wanted to hark back stylistically to the days of scholastic readers that I had when I was aged four in primary school, learning how to read for the first time. The result is quite a delightful way of helping students - and the general public who stop off by their writings - to learn new ways to provide "two stars and a wish" type feedback to each other anonymously, while maintaining the integrity and safety of a learning site used by young people.

The system prompts you to use one of the many critiques that Derek and I thrashed out over a boring train trip or two, to accept it, before pushing up the next set of options. Go and have a play on one of Naomi's stories and you'll see how challenging some of the vocabulary is yet how easy the interface is: struggleware if ever there was any.


Criticism of the iPhone for learning

As development work began in the early days of summer 2009, we hit criticism straightaway: "kids don't have iPhones, schools barely allow mobile phones, and in the current straightened times we shouldn't be investing in the most expensive-per-inch handheld technologies around". It was the same criticism hurled back in 2004 when I was making podcasts with and for the students in my secondary school. Fittingly, it is my old education district, East Lothian, that is the first to put itself forward to try out these devices and see what, indeed, they might add to the learning process.

We're ready for a resounding tumbleweed to be heard on the question of any educational advances here - no-one's done this before, and we just don't know what it has to offer that paper and pen don't. Likewise, I'd be curious to see what the tactile approach to story reading and writing brings to those kids who have less motivation to read, who have trouble structuring their stories. I also think the online writing community platform we've developed offers a creative, supportive environment that, in brilliant classrooms may well exist, but which is hard to achieve well all the time in every classroom with the timetable constraints we all face.

One final really interesting point is that one of the first criticisms of the app from a student has been: "it doesn't allow me to add pictures to my story". Interesting, and perhaps valid in a world where apps are laden with features, features, features.

Taptale is relatively simple. It's about making writing and reading as simple as possible, while forcing the hand of the writer into doing certain things: providing constructive feedback, reading for inspiration before writing, thinking about timing and story structure through the gestures.

Above all, though, it's about the written word, not the graphic, the design or the picture.

If anything, the lack of features is what makes this app special, what's going to make it work well. Children will, lo and behold, have to think about how to describe what's in their mind's eye, not just photograph it with the cellphone camera or Google it, right-click it, save it and insert it. Stripping all that away is, if anything, at least one educational advance we'll have made.

TapTale iTunes Graphic Taptale stories are free to view on the website throughout the pilot. The app is free in the UK from the iTunes store.

Pic from Anthony

January 15, 2010

And who are you again? Augmented Reality helps you 'see' a person's social networks

This is mind-bending stuff from the clever Swedes at TAT, and I want one now. Point your mobile phone at the person speaking at the lectern, the cute person in the bar or that potential recruit and see, hovering around their head, all their social networks, tastes in music and books, and dodgy photos from last night. In a schools context this could be seen as lethal.

But there are some amazing potential side effects - what would yours be?

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

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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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