Scotland's games industry makes more cash for the UK than the film industry. My six-figure investments this year in the sector seem small-fry when held up against the seven-figure investments made by independent companies themselves in the hope theirs will be the next big hit. Dundee's Realtimeworlds has had to attract over $80m to produce its 2010 release, APB, above.
Yet, as Jack Arnott points out in his Guardian column, the daring and skill demonstrated in studios around the world is barely honoured in our annual plaudits. You rarely see end-of-year "best of" or "top ten" lists in your glossies that include video games:
For games, however, [these end-of-year lists] acquire some extra significance. The lists you may find dotted around national newspapers this Christmas reflect an increasing slice of cultural cache for a still emerging medium. For a lot of people, arts critics especially, video games are still very much a poor relation to their more well-established siblings.
Even in its own media-luvvy domain, games are still looked down upon by those who see the craft of film-writing or programme-shooting as more, well, 'noble'.
The same snootiness is still visible in education despite the work of dedicated, tax-payer funded units like the Consolarium and legions of empassioned expert teachers like Mark Wagner. Video games are on a joint-pegging with the television and the internet in children's media habits, yet tend to feature only on the last day of term for most youngsters. The potential to learn in the game, as well as learn from their production, is lost to all but the most culturally open and connected of educators who want to expand their students' understanding of gaming beyond simply picking up another coin.
As we hurl ourselves into the last days of learning this decade, we might not see top ten lists of computer games in our holiday special bumper magazines. It is with hope, though, that more educators will realise: videogames are not just for Christmas.
The partnership runs for an initial term of at least three years and the two parties will share advertising revenues on an agreed formula. The deal will create significant value for Channel 4 and its independent production partners, generating additional revenue to invest in creating high quality, original content.Channel 4's will have a branded presence on YouTube and will be able to sell advertising around its content on the site. The agreement also allows Channel 4 to sell advertising around some non-Channel 4 content on YouTube for the first time, expanding the amount of inventory available to its sales team and bringing its considerable expertise in advertising around full length TV content to the YouTube platform. It will help Channel 4 develop its advertising sales proposition in digital, including the use of YouTube’s demographic targeting tools to target advertising against Channel 4 content on YouTube.
The deal builds significantly on Channel 4 and YouTube’s existing partnership; Channel 4 was the first broadcaster to sell pre-roll advertisements on YouTube clips, and the first UK broadcaster (before iPlayer) to put all its programmes online for viewing on demand with 4oD.
I'm pleased to see that former colleagues in Learning and Teaching Scotland have managed to get their LTS iTunes U site opened, following our friends at the Open University. Scotland heads out as the first iTunes U provider of professional development material podcasts for those working with 3-18 year olds.
It's not been an easy journey. In 2005, on joining LTS to head up their Modern Languages work, I challenged the organisation to get podcasting (audio) the entire Scottish Learning Festival contents, and video as much as possible. Four years on we're still not able to access good quality recordings of everything, despite the costs of doing so being derisory and the long-tail interest being high - just take a look at the figures viewing what might be conceived as obscure education topics on the Slideshare site I created for the event.
We also had a challenge getting more audio and video material out in subsequent years through the now-defunkt Connected Live site, intended to be an evolution of the print magazine with media-rich addition to the limits of the atom presented by the magazine. Arguably, as with all social media projects in the large, it took two years for the culture to change sufficiently for blogging one's experiences to be seen as part and parcel of one's work, not a geeky pass-time. Mike Coulter along with Saint Andrew of Brown and others have continued to develop that culture slowly and successfully over the past year. We now have an education agency with elements that have moved the organisation from its glossy corporate sheen, to a more 'honest', approachable voice.
LTS's involvement with iTunes U is part of that evolution, and signifies a small victory for those of us who had been pushing for some more budget and effort to be spent on bite-sized professional development designed for small mobile screens, at a time when there was no YouTube or video podcast device.
The organisation's biggest challenge is to make sure it does not become the voice of the marketer or a self-referential poster-child for the politics of education, but a place where grassroots honesty and constructive reflection on our teaching and learning practice can be amplified.
"Are we observing a series of scientific experiments, the universe in flux, or a documentary of a fictional world?"
Plenty of other vids for scientists, geographers, writers over on the Vimeo site.
Update: Worth reading the comments underneath, reiiterating why finding knowledge on, say, magnetism is increasingly easy but gaining a foot in the door of learning about this might still require a talented teacher with an inspiring vid to kick things off.
One of the things I really do miss about traveling around the world and staying over in kind strangers' houses is the craic that you can have as you talk about the off-conference off-consultancy stuff: music, books, films...
Last summer in Boston, having presented the keynote at Building Learning Communities 08 (this year it's Mssrs Heppell, Weinberger and Benjamin Zander of TED fame), the conference host Alan November had my whole family around at his lovely house in Marblehead, MA, for a weekend of food, drink, fishing and music, along with the Davitts, Torres and Promethean's very own Sonny Magaña. A man of hidden talents, Sonny woo-ed us all with his tunes and charm. Take a peek at the above composition, in HD on YouTube. One memorable moment amongst many.
Having blogged some of the key points I picked up from Ken Robinson's The Element, you can hear some of them from the horse's mouth from the film quickly chucked up from last week's lecture at the RSA in London.
"Why should I learn Algebra...? I have no intention of ever going there." Billy Connolly had a point.
Schooling, despite the concentration on curriculum and assessment reform in recent years, largely still hasn't tackled the main issue: meaningless (to young people) pedagogy. It's not the fault of teachers, of course, but of those who "manage change" not managing to give enough time for teachers to think about what they would do differently from the last 400 years. One day extra a year for "the biggest innovation in curriculum in a generation" is to ridicule the enormity of the task in hand.
Cue The Alternative School (TAS), a non-profit initiative for those kids who don't 'get' regular schooling, and is arguably doing already what most schools strive for and don't quite attain across the board. Their new blog gives a flavour of some of the activity they have been up to, and their latest post features a superb film starring some of the young people involved in the programme. One to keep an eye on and learn from as things develop more in the open with their new blog.
Bunking Off - The Alternative School from Kirsty Anne Pugh on Vimeo.
One word at a time, Michael Birch, former co-founder of Bebo, has been working on a new project to change the way we look at defining words. Wordia allows you and a host of rather entertaining and famous people to take the HarperCollins definition of the word and attach its meaning to you in the form of a quick YouTube-powered video.
Delightfully simple, potentially powerful, Birch and his co-producers understand the importance of a good story to find and remember the meaning of something new. Amongst my faves has to be Quentin Blake's deeper understanding than most of illustration. Top class.
One of the challenges of 4iP is to create some projects that help us all get more direct democracy than current 'democratic' systems afford. Apparently we needn't try too hard: YouTube's doing it already.
The systems have been unable to change quickly enough (or at all) beyond the 'safe' model that encourages elites to represent us (as Billy Connolly has said: anyone who wants to be a politician should, as a consequence, never be allowed to become one). Social media means we don't have to continue down the path of this elite choosing which issues are important enough to take on; we can use the wisdom of the crowd to filter and prioritise issues, and even get around to sorting some of those out amongst themselves.
The new fascinating read from Demos on the "Video Republic" shows just how far YouTube and other video sites have gone in opening up alternative democratic routes for youngsters. And, true to form, there's a YouTube video explaining this, too.
John Connell picked the item up from this parish's online bookmarks and has speedily summarised the main issues, all of which touch on areas that still require development, though, or just cogniscence by those in positions of power to do something about it. Basically: there's more to be gained from us all, foot soldiers and political or decision-making elites, harnessing the power that online video has unleashed:
All of these could be met with "it's easier said than done"; it would be rather cool for 4iP to just do it rather than talking about it.
Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.
Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.
School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.