January 2013

Lego calendar

Together with Martin Oliver from the Institute of Education, I was speaking at Bett 2013 this week on “Open Learnscapes: strategy and global collaboration”. The agenda/details are available via the BETT website. At Bett I also had the chance to find out about what LEGO is doing in education in relation to teaching children programming and engineering skills.

December 2012

Seb Schmoller speaking at Online Educa Berlin 2012

Over the past week I enjoyed attending Online Educa Berlin #oeb12, and exhibiting for ALT as part of the conference exhibition. One session, LearninG Futures: Over the Horizon, I enjoyed particularly. The session had four speakers: Seb Schmoller, Kayvon Beykpour, Michael Trucano and Ayesha Khanna, and each of them presented their take on the future of learning. During the session we focused on foundamental issues and global developments, why and how things can go wrong and looking into the future of learning and technology. A really inspiring event at the end of the year.

June and July 2012

In this rainy summer I have not blogged very much partly because things have been busy and partly because I was on holiday. So this brief update covers both June and July.
One of the things that I have been catching up with is the UNESCO World OER Congress releasing the 2012 Paris OER Declaration which calls for governments to openly licence those educational materials which are publicly funded. I find the Creative Commons Licences website a valuable resource in learning more about and determining which licence to use for what. The website also has a tool which helps you choose the appropriate licence for those of us who are uncertain which is easy to use and clear to understand. But besides catching up with technology and education related developments, I have also been enjoying the multitude of sport happening this summer and following the England Cricket team’s wins alongside Wimbledon. This Monday the Olympic torch will be travelling through Oxford and I look forward to seeing it arrive together with my colleagues. Let’s hope the weather cooperates.

May 2012

Over the past few weeks I have been exploring established and new Open Educational Resources including some new textbooks and courses. The Expeditions and Discoveries Open Collection at Harvard Library for example has been a fascinating source of maps, accounts and contextual materials telling the stories of journeys and their findings. Although only selected materials are available online, the details of botanical, anthropological and geological findings are inspirational and give insight into nearly four centuries of exploration. Having originally signed up for Stanford’s Human Computer Interaction class, I have also been considering other MOOCs and there is a lot of choice, particularly for those of us interested in technology. One of the ones that has caught my eye on Class Central is about Internet History, Technology and Security. This brings me to events and activities closer to home, at the Oxford Internet Institute which has a number of events coming up. Also, although not yet in the open domain, reading about being connected, I would suggest From A to B and back again by Andy Warhol (1977), which was originally published before the internet as we know it now, before social networking, but was way ahead of its time.

April 2012

With the Easter break behind us and the weather improving again it looks like spring is now properly underway and there are a lot of different things going on. 
Virtual museum visits
I have been enjoying walking around art galleries I’ve never visited in person trying out the Google Art Project. It made me think about the way in which art is experienced and how the impact of having a fixed view point might change the way in which 3D artworks are understood. It would be fascinating to see this kind of work extended to include public and landscape art, possibly with walks around large sculptures or installations curated by different parties including the artists and the local community. These kinds of artworks would also require their context to be included in the record be that architectural, historical and so forth and I am curious whether one day we will take a virtual walk through the Forum in Rome or stand next to the Angel of the North. Similarly, the question of scale and how it can be represented, becomes much more important in this context, as the quality of the digital images is so high that tiny and huge works can look very similar at first glance. 
Tortoises and the internet
Besides looking at art, I’ve also been reading with interest about the fl├óneur in a technological context (interesting article in the NYTimes), which draws on the ideas of Walter Benjamin to examine how changes to the way in which the internet and our usage of it works influence the way in which we experience it and by extension parts of our world. One of the key characteristics of a fl├óneur in the more traditional context was the slow pace at which he (and I believe it was predominantly a male gaze or step that was being portrayed) experienced the city, the arcades – the hurrying people. This slow pace could be set by a pet tortoise on a leash. No doubt a somewhat eccentric accessory for a Parisian boulevard, but effective. That made me think: where is the tortoise on the web? What is the virtual metaphor that sets the pace of discovery? 
So, here is a tortoise inspired book recommendation: Momo by Michael Ende (1973) a wonderful book which is all about hurrying, loosing time and how a tortoise might help to get it back. 

March 2012

North sea beach

As it’s March already and this site has had a rather long break over the past few weeks, here’s a bit of an update: there was a very interesting ALT webinar with Diana Laurillard and Stephen Downes, the recording of which is now available. The most recent edition of the ALT Newsletters which features an article about The Self Organised Learning Environment (SOLE) School Support Pack by Sugata Mitra has also been published together with an announcement about my appointment as ALT’s new Chief Executive – which I am very much looking forward to. I’ve also been learning how to set up and make the best use of a Google Apps domain and have been involved in various activities for JISC’s Developing Digital Literacies programme. On a non-technology-related note, I have been experimenting with making Florentines (with mixed, if delicious results) and making a plan for what to grow in the veg patch for the new season.