Future blast from the past

12 09 2010

via Here’s Why

Take in some futurology from the past in these videos – A combination of industry propaganda and promotions from the early 20th Century.

“Frontiers of the Future” (A Screen Editorial With Lowell Thomas) (1937) Archive.org

“To New Horizons” (1940) Archive.org

“Century 21 Calling” (1964) Archive.org

“Connected Earth” (1969) Youtube

Can you see some modern day inventions, perhaps in a slightly different form? And how about those inventions that never eventuated – was it because they were impractical, or an industry related reason, or perhaps they still might-someday-be?

What things did these futurologists never take into account? Perhaps the inverse growth relationship between the size of a TV screen and the size of a mobile handset…





Game: I wanna play forever

30 06 2010
Kids hard at learning.Image: sean dreilinger (Creative Commons)

Play-based learning is used in the Early Years to provide children with an intuitive learning environment suited to activities that little kids do best – playing around with stuff.

This tends to be phased out around the end of year 3, as we move into constructive activities and even, ‘oh noes’, direct instruction. This is something one the children I look after lamented now he is in a year 3/4 class at his new school, “We never play anymore”. Boo hoo, little Johnny, boo hoo. You don’t think I don’t not want to not play games too, yeah?

With gaming returning to an acceptable past time for adults – just listen to Kevin Butler¹ at this year’s E3 – shouldn’t this be reflected in our schools and curriculum? Many of the kids I taught respond to questions like “What’s your hobby?” or “What do you do in your spare time?” with some form of console or another. Many child care centres, and even libraries, these days have consoles available for visitors to use. And if you want to get into economics, I’m sure you can go and find your own figures on just how much this industry is worth.

Games in the classroom do present some problems, mostly to do with moral panic. Firstly just about “games” in general – with some of the students I’ve worked with not allowed to complete teacher-set homework on Mathletics at home because carers won’t let them². Others more serious and understandable moral panics about inadequate classification, excess violence, and depictions of sexual and criminal activities. The ethics and other social issues surround video gaming culture and industry is probably enough to design a unit (or three) all on your own – but what I am interested at the moment is what recreational video games are out there that could provide the stimulus material for an entire trans-disciplinary unit on there own.

As this Dueling Analogs strip illustrates games today are becoming more and more complex – not only in gameplay and graphics – but in background stories, character development, dialogue, and even the style or genre of storytelling themselves (also known as interactive fiction). These components should make it easier to take a single game and safely stretch it into multiple learning areas.

Below the fold are just some ideas:

Read the rest of this entry »





Surely a ball of string is cheaper

27 05 2010

I’ve seen some videos circling about the place of children using the iPad but this is just silly.

Actually, you know what I would like to see: those talking/language proficient non-human apes getting a spin on this device. That might actually be some productive. (Not the only one who thought about this apparently).





Sixth Sense: The world is your touchscreen

21 04 2010

Here is the TED video I snuck in at the end of the previous post. It is just way too amazing to miss.Pranav Mistry from India explains the amazing potential of the “Sixth Sense” interactive media device. No psychics involved, I promise.

more about “Pranav Mistry: The thrilling potentia…“, posted with vodpod





A world without paper cuts

20 04 2010

Reading with an iPod You're doing it wrong

It could well soon be the world we live in.

A world without electrical shocks and stomach burns may be another story for another day.

I will admit to a love/hate relationship with paper over the last 25 years. For the pursuit of drawings, doodles, story writing, schoolwork, reports, certificates, laboratory notes, my thesis, and, yes, I’ll even admit pen and paper roleplaying games, countless forests have been sacrificed , and in my shame I have been loathe to just throw them away. At my mother’s there still remains a suitcase filled with 3 years worth of undergraduate biomed notes and study guides that I have yet to throw away, because ‘I went to all that trouble’ and ‘maybe it will be of use one day’.

I blame my mother for not buying me a computer and exposing me to digital media. These days I have been making progress in keeping my teacher-in-the-making resources more digitally based (powerpoints, activity pdfs, and lists of links) – but I still have a growing colony of paper sheets that I have had to recently sanction a humanitarian cull of over the Easter weekend. The new heater screen and my ipod touch will try and keep my digital honour intact. Read the rest of this entry »





I am not your friend

13 11 2009

One of the best farewells that was written on my end-of-prac card was “you r now mi friend”. I had told this student earlier that day when he was not cooperating that today was the last day he had to make me his friend.

But is it okay to be friends with students? Particularly where everyone’s friends are now, Facebook.

During my last week, Education Queensland updated their code of conduct for employees to clearly stipulate that teachers “must not use internet social networks such as Face Book, My Space or YouTube to contact or access present students enrolled in any school or institute” and “If you use internet social networks in your personal time you must ensure that the content is appropriate and private, and that you restrict access to specific people who are not students” (Section 2.2.2 (b) Interactions with Students).

Teachers (along with probably everybody else) have been needing to be increasingly careful about what sort of material they make available online (for example). Thankfully a lot of social media websites have been updating features to make it easier to control how you are viewed online. At the start of previous school year Facebook blogged specifically to teachers about the benefits of making friends lists to control what is viewable by “students” (or non-teachers may like to create a similar group for “Uncles, Aunts and Grandparents”).

The private education sector in Queensland has yet to install a blanket ban on social media interactions with students (and last I heard they were not intending to go that far, but were considering available options). While I understand where EQ is coming from on this, it is a bit disappointing that there appears no room for leeway or principal-appointed exemptions (which are included on clauses regarding camera usage and other points). This means a whole range of Web 2.0 based activities and learning environments (Second Life, class blogging) are excluded from Queensland state school classrooms at all age levels (and I think it may also apply to TAFE classes too).

The Queensland Curriculum embraces technology on most levels, to me it just seems disappointing that it is not being flexible on this one. Perhaps their strategy is to ban it while they work out a more appropriate strategy to monitor student-teacher interactions on the world-wide-web.





Women need to apply more to achieve representation in MSTE

3 06 2009

Women just aren’t applying enough to get senior faculty and tenure track positions in maths, science, technology and engineering (MSTE). Perhaps I should rephrase, the report suggests that underrepresentation may be a result of women not applying for positions in the first place. Ha! not nearly as mysoginistic as you thought.

The congressionally mandated study, Gender Differences at Critical Transitions in the Careers of Science, Engineering and Mathematics Faculty, concluded that women are hired in similar proportions to that they are interviewed. For example in maths, women made up 20% of applicants, 28% of intervewees and 32% of job offers. That doesn’t seem to smell of discrimination against women in science technology, does it?

Th problem is that first figure is low. More than 20% of doctorates in math are awarded to women. So why aren’t women applying for the jobs?

The press release I read doesn’t identify any particular reason for this difference. It notes “most institutional strategies to try to increase the proportion of women in the applicant pool … did not show significant effectiveness [except] Having a female chair of the search committee and a high number of women on the committee were associated with a higher number of women in the applicant pool”. Suggesting lack of prominent role models might be factor. The comitte rests on the ubiquitous phrase “[more] Research is needed to investigate why more women are not applying for these jobs”.








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