A History of Film Making in Canada (NFB Education)

An interactive history. Here is a new addition to the National Film Board Education website. It is an amazing collection of historical documentaries showing how the National Film Board provided a place for film to expand.

Evelyn Lambart, the early film maker who worked with Norman McLaren was especially interesting to me. She did this with a severe hearing impairment. Fascinating.

For anyone wanting to know more about how Norman McLaren did so much great work in developing the world of film then this is also a rich resource for you. Many who were influenced by Norman are featured in this history (e.g., Grant Munroe). 

When I look at these many documentaries it helps me to better create film for today's classrooms. The imagery is stunning and the history is astounding. Check it out. Click here.

This is highly suitable for classroom work.

7 Digital Deadly Sins - Explore the Interactive Film

The National Film Board and The Guardian have collaborated on an interactive film. This type of film is interactive and positively genuine in response to the participant viewer.

7 Digital Deadly Sins is an interactive film. Click here.

You might worry about this film as content for your classes since this film has not necessarily been made with classrooms in mind even though it is associated with the education website of NFB. We all know that some digital issues are taboo in schools. Educators who are digitally naive may need to be more aware of these issues.

Your classroom context may be one that reacts differently to these issues. You need to know that context is everything and that rules for content are different for your classroom. Be sensitive to that or you fall into the digital deadly sins categories. Be aware of school policy and school district policies for classroom content and interactions.

The film is an example of multiple literacies working explicitly together.

Speed Reading and Changing the Concept through Apps

For the past three years, Spritz has been working on software apps that allow people to read text like speed readers, only naturally. That is, the text itself shifts in front of your central focus instead of your eyes having to seccade from side to side of the text.

I had imagined this software, myself, several years ago but it was difficult (no impossible) convincing others to join the team to create this type of software.  I tried to pull together a team to create this type of software. Many whom I approached had determined that speed reading was not "real" reading and others were convinced that we should not allow the machine to do the "work" of reading, or even assist in this way. Truth is, nearly all the people that try speed reading eventually give it up.

It is not what I had envisioned but now someone else has made this type of software. Try it yourself. See http://www.spritzinc.com/the-science/
Other types will emerge, I am sure. There are problems reimagining the texts that go with this type of reading. As with any type of speed reading done in the past, there are those that will resist the speed of it all but I do believe that in the next 5 years we will see a total change in the way we think of text, and the human speed of reading will shift.
Spritz is an "out there" experiment in changing reading. As more and more ideas enter the reading sphere through apps, there is bound to be something that ubiquitously changes what we do. Further to viewing these new experiments it is equally important to read the critiques. Here is a valuable critique of Spritz http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/03/19/comment-spritz-and-other-speed-reading-apps-prose-and-cons

Another wonderful software for speed reading is Spreeder. Try it at http://www.spreeder.com/ and find yourself improving over time. Consider the difficulty of the material as you read because unfamiliar words may cause you to stop and think. This is not a bad thing but just a part of the processes involved in reading. Why read slowly when you can read more easily and comprehend better as you read quickly? That is the basic lesson I learned from this software. 

Does history shape current digital literacy or do we currently have the power to shape our new histories or digital literacy? This is a bit of a chicken and egg question but worth thinking about in terms of our power over the inventions of tomorrow.
Today I am beginning this post and will add to it later as I shape my new year's ideas for digital literacy. I have found that it is critically important to start with a vision of historical perspectives and this message on learning is useful. Happy New Year to all!

Coding Message is Finally Making "Headlines"

The coding message I've been trying to get out there since my own experience with it in 1979 is finally out there. I have always seen digital literacy as the new literacy (aka New Literacy Studies, NLS, 1996) including the reading and writing of the computer code.

As a literacy researcher, I have used a variety of research techniques to demonstrate this phenomenon but the best way has always been, learn by doing. Before I was a researcher at university, I taught in schools for 23 years. In one of those schools I started a computer club and the elementary students that joined the computer club all learned to code. That was in 1993. Now, exactly 20 years later I see that those students are more literate than others. Why? ... because they know how to read and write. Yes, that is what I meant. How to read and write. Literacy has changed. Today it is more of a digital/physical world.

Why Virtue Connected to the Virtual World is Important

As we come together globally with online relearning and reforming our collective ideas, memes, concepts, and creation of the future, I would like to remind everyone of how important the notion of virtue is in this forming mix of global identity. More on this later ... as I develop this post. In the meantime listen to this story on how a teen has used the power of the internet for a virtuous cause.

Yes, we are using the machine and we are training the machine to develop on its own. As new experiments in robots emerge, we all see a brave new world emerging where we will need to find our individual places in the source of virtue. I've often thought that the source of virtue is our thinking about the mirror of godliness but perhaps we need to go back and re-read some of Isaac Asimov's work and think about our emerging technologically connected world. How are we shaping it? What can we learn from watching how the machine is evolving versus how we are evolving in the midst of the machine evolution. When we look at how robots can now be programmed to have some sort of self awareness, we can think about our own self awareness.

CLOUDON and DROPBOX: Excellent Choices for My iPAD

One of my tech resistance factors was resisting the move up to iPad 2 or 3. I've still got the first iPad and I bought it the day it came out. With my other gadgets and toys I've just not had the need to move up or on. Back when I first bought the iPad it looked like just another tablet and I'd been using tablets for a long time. I slowly relegated it to the bottom of the most frequently used tech toys.

However, that was before my experience of ubiquitous wifi. When I went to Ireland last year I took the iPad with me for some reason and when I went on tours I suddenly found myself using the iPad to record and write. It worked more conveniently than my netbook as I went on storytelling and history walks. All my "Notes" were sent automatically to iCloud and the little trouble I had with the tablet keyboard was soon overcome when I used a stylus in my right hand. The stylus also made drawing very easy. Now I didn't have to worry about carrying paper pads or storing multiple coloured pens in my purse.

From there the convenience continued when I downloaded and used CloudOn with DropBox. CloudOn is Word for iPad. All my files automatically move to my computers and I no longer have to worry about hitting save or where I will find enough storage to keep up with my generation of text and photos. This combination, I can highly recommend. The conveniences and automaticity that I've become used to in both Mac and PC creation environments comes together for me with CloudOn and DropBox. The apps are free for Android and iPad. I suggest you give them a try. You can also download CloudOn for mobile devices at https://itunes.apple.com/app/cloudon/id474025452.

If you are interested in more uses of the iPad then download a free app Student Guide to iPads
at https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/student-guide-to-ipads-ios/id570579620?mt=11

Beginner's Guide to Transliteracy

This new guide is very interesting. It pulls together information on most appropriate and useful transliteracy notions sponsored by libraries, education, and the humanities. http://librariesandtransliteracy.wordpress.com/beginners-guide-to-transliteracy/

I recommend the guide as a reference to thinking about transliteracy. What it provides for me is a view of how others view transliteracy. I am of the opinion that it is viewed differently by each of us so when one finds a collective that has managed to pull together notions they can agree upon, then you have another view of what transliteracy means from a collective point of view. 

Time to Define Digital Literacy

Along the way to Digital City (my term) in the past 20 years, I've noticed that little attention has been paid to defining digital literacy for the broader public view. The time appears to have arrived. A small search for digital literacy definitions shows an overwhelming current movement to prepare a definition to which all can relate. Here is an example http://connect.ala.org/node/140464 .  On this site IOTP states that:

Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information requiring both cognitive and technical skills.

Outside of some sentence construction issues this appears to work fairly well for IOTP members. Stephen Abram comments on IOTP's definition at http://stephenslighthouse.com/2012/04/08/the-definition-of-digital-literacy/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-definition-of-digital-literacy .

It seems to me that we still haven't got the definition yet. 

Consume Create Connect

A very interesting Prezi presentation is available (linked below) and it provides an engaging look at the aspects of digital literacy that converge when one thinks with online text. I see digital discourse as this now; we think with the text whether reading or writing it.

This particular Prezi makes me feel this idea and I use the Prezi itself as a teaching tool to help my audience feel the aesthetic response of reading and writing online as I describe the act of skimming through the texts while at the same time imagining creation of my next text and where I will connect.

The act of digital literacy is a transliteracy state of thinking. Use your full screen and see how you feel as you watch this http://prezi.com/vwcrtljq9jj0/digital-literacy/

Technology is a Shared Social Decision and Perhaps Solution

Back in the 90s we were using tablets and touch screen laptops. Things were really taking off and it seemed like technology was the solution to many barriers. Then the barriers to technology started to appear. Some educators disengaged technology because of lack of access and distrust. Technology integration was a challenging and sometimes uphill battle. It seems to me in retrospect that it was that we were always pushing the technology rather than sharing the pushing with our students and public.
This video reminded me of the social-networking aspect of technology integration required for it to be ubiquitous. . . . (update one year later|) and now that the video is no longer available I am even more convinced of the aspect of sharing.

Does Knowing About Algorithms Provide the Clues to Understanding Life?

As described in previous posts, culture and literacy are inextricably linked.This can be extended to mathematics.
In this TED Talk, Kevin Slavin describes how knowing about algorithms, the mathematics used in the construction of and engagement with social networks, shines light on our understanding of many everyday literacy events.

Embodiment of Technology + Learning to Write

The question on my mind has often been, "How will we next learn how to type?" The new Swype provides an idea that Qwerty may not continue to be the norm, just as pen and paper is not the only embodiment of technology for getting text written during learning-to-write classes in elementary school. Check this out.

Indeed, gesture technology is soon to be the new norm. But what is best for this new culture of learning? http://www.icwe.net/oeb_special/news206.php

Now that you see swyping can be faster than typing, you might want to transfer your own skills through using this app. http://www.nuance.com/landing-pages/products/swype/  for Android. Download from Google Play.

Network Literacy - Is it important?

Take a look at Network Literacy videos on Howard Rheingold's site. I think you will agree that it is important to know how networks are put together and how they shape social engagement. Literacy is socially constructed and since it is a mirror of face-to-face engagement through the medium of social networks, it is vital that we understand how engagement works. If we only have an inkling of this, then it is worthwhile.
Anyway, try this minicourse through video. Afterward, I am sure you will re-think the scope of your definition of literacy.

Top 10 Solutions for Ed Tech Web 2.0

There are a lot of great solutions for engaging students in Web 2.0 but a few of them have just worked better for me than anything else. My top ten choices are: Adobe Connect - adobe.com/products/acrobatconnectpro; Elluminate - elluminate.com; Google Docs - docs.google.com; Ning - ning.com; SchoolFusion - schoolfusion.com; SlideRocket - sliderocket.com; Twitter - twitter.com; TypeWith.me - typewith.me; Ustream - ustream.tv; and WebEx - webex.com. The best part of all of these solutions is that they are in constant upgrade, so even I don't stop learning. Google docs has been particularly flexible so beginners have very few problems that cannot be solved. However, I would caution you that some school labs filter some of the Google docs and students did have some trouble seeing others works when they moved labs or changed machines from home to school. That appears to be changing as teaching labs adapt; and more students become street-wise with social networks.
I've found it particularly engaging when we use a few of these networks in small groups so students can compare the experience. Happy webbing!

E-Book Sales Outstrip Hardbacks in 2010

The most arresting news in publishing this week is that Amazon.com in the US, sold more e-books than hardbacks. Apparently 143 digital books for every 100 hardbacks were sold in the last three months. No wonder this happened with the release of and use of the iPad and everyone looking for practical purposes for their investment. More than that, e-books have finally been noticed by the general public. Up to now, e-books were a mystery to most people because they did not know how to access them except through their usual laptops and desktops. Nothing seemed different from the basic website. The general public did not have the feeling of holding an iPad, Kindle, or Sony E-Reader because they had not experienced them through the media. Holding the media, the apparent appeal of paperbacks had not been realized in the e-readers.

Noticing is the key to the change in sales. Only last year, I was talking to a group of teachers about the Kindle and many of them did not know what they looked like. Questions such as: Do they display colour? Are you able to download any book? Isn't this just the same as a netbook?, and How much does an e-book cost? were being asked. Everyone was curious because the media buzz had finally reached everyone. Then came the purchase of the hardware followed by the software, the e-book.

I am fond of a quote from William Gibson, an American sci-fi author: "The future is here, it just hasn't been widely distributed yet." Up to now, I've not been ready to get excited about all this e-book hype. After all, a bit more than 15 years ago I, too, was excited about e-readers. They fizzled out because the support structures were not around to publicly embrace them into the culture of literacy. However, the current availability of e-books, attention in the public eye, and the counterculture to paper (perception of being green) have finally, I think, made a paradigm shift in literacy culture. Wide distribution is here.

It is all something to watch when it comes to investing our literacy dollars in education.

Mediated Teaching

I teach in the area of literacy in the content areas. As a result, I often become more focused in some of these content areas than I am focused on the thinking-about-literacy portion of our studies.
For example, rapid mental calculation has become one of the interesting concepts that has caused me to rethink the learning of mathematics. Plus, when I teach a class in literacy and then can rapidly calculate numbers, the mathematics students suddenly connect that I also have some ability in their area.
YouTube has been wonderful for mediating this practice, both saving me time in making connections for the students and helping me to be faster at mental calculation, the type that is done right in my head with no paper. Also linked to YouTube is another great site http://www.glad2teach.co.uk/fast_maths_calculation_tricks.htm
Try it and have fun in mathematics.

I, Avatar Book Review

I, Avatar: The Culture and Consequences of Having a Second Life (TestPrep (New Riders')) I, Avatar: The Culture and Consequences of Having a Second Life by Mark Stephen Meadows

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
In view of my current research this book was important. The consequences are very true to my own experience and that of my social network both in the real and virtual worlds.

View all my reviews.

Wiki Writing: Learning About Roles

Lately my teacher candidates have demonstrated their ability to write effectively online. We have been creating e-books using wiki software. This has resulted in some very interesting collaborative work. After the initial adjustment to working this way, a team approach developed where one candidate wrote and the other edited. They took turns doing this and the resulting collaborative writing event proved successful for two basic reasons: (1) "public" writing challenged everyone to think about presentation, and (2) editing could never be relegated to only the one who does it best. How was this done? One teacher candidate explained: "We signed the documents we wrote by saying we were the author or we were the editor. The exchanging of authority as we approached each chapter helped me understand how it feels to be in both of those roles. Teachers need to learn to be editors that understand the struggles of the author (their students) and the editor. This experience in writing was a great insight for me since I've never edited before and I had not seen myself as an editor. Teachers are editors."

Some Tools to Consider

I'd like to offer a few suggestions for making life easier when it comes to working online. The first is Mindscape. This tool really makes our meetings easier because now we can edit together and keep track of how everyone is thinking visually about the organization. Another tool is Wikimedia. This has simply helped us write. It is a better way of thinking about the text that we generate because it's on 24/7 and our group is spread throughout the world. A third tool is Google Translator. This tool helps keep our multilingual group in touch. Sometimes is it not good enough to translate for someone since everyone in the group is bilingual or multilingual and a human translator is always available. When the moment strikes and you don't want to stop the flow of an idea, Google Translator can keep the flow going but allow one person to look for clarification without taking the group on a translation conversation, thus taking away from the ideas that we should be focused on. A fourth tool or app that is simply great for our group has been ANGEL. We substituted WebCT/Blackboard for ANGEL just recently and the flexibility in course casting has been outstanding. Finally, my fifth tool/application for the month is to recommend that TeacherTube is very helpful in keeping us safe from the wild world of the Internet. We avoid some of the huge traffic generated through YouTube when we have newcomers logging on. Plus, our younger students can engage in our video production without us worrying about them seeing unfavorable sites on the sidebar when we want them to focus on the learning at hand. That's it for today. Hope you enjoy these ideas.

PS: You might  find some exciting new ideas for digital storytelling or video poetry at one of my other blogs http://efolklore.blogspot.com/