Saturday, 28 February 2009
The BBC4 series "The Genius of Photography" is a great example of how television can be the most wonderful resource for learning. The entire series is available on YouTube in convenient 10 minute sections. This website helpfully lists all the links with a brief description of the content of each episode. The opening programme also demonstrates how intimately art and science are bound together. Witness Abe Morrel's amazing camera obscura photographs. It seems to me that technology, in all its forms, is often the most important aspect of the school curriculum because it is able to link apparently disconnected disciplines. It is no surprise that one of the inventors of photography, Henry Fox Talbot, was an eminent scientist. He was frustrated by his inability to draw and began to wonder if there wasn't a better way of capturing the shapes of things on a flat surface. His experiments eventually became a new technology called photography. Literally, drawing with light.
If you haven't seen this series, I strongly recommend you watch the whole thing. You won't be disappointed.
Friday, 27 February 2009
"A company unveiled today what it says is the first helter-skelter to be built inside a UK office building. Tenants taking up space in the new Electric Works block in Sheffield are offering their staff a quirky shortcut from the top of the four-storey building to the ground floor. The 85ft (26m) long spiral slide cuts the journey from the third floor down to seven seconds. Toby Hyam, managing director at Creative Space Management, which runs the building, said: "Electric Works will be the first office building in the UK to have a permanent helter-skelter for the use of those who work there. "It will also be available for business visitors and for conference visitors, but it will not be open to the general public." Mr Hyam went on: "Companies and the individual people working here feel that the helter-skelter reflects their approach to work, where the division between work and play is blurred and where the risk, imagination and creativity that characterises their work is going to be reflected in their surroundings. "In the current economic conditions it is encouraging to see that there are digital businesses which are sufficiently confident to invest in new offices and facilities."The building, the second of five which will form Sheffield's new Digital Campus, opens next week. It is designed for companies employing up to 75 people in the creative and digital sectors and will provide workspace for up to 400 people. The helter-skelter was designed and built by Wiegandslide, the same German company which built the slides on display recently at the Tate Modern art gallery in London."
Wednesday, 25 February 2009
Sir Ken Robinson "The Element"
Monday, 23 February 2009
Notes from the Creative Tallis Action Research Group Meeting
23rd February 2009
Present: Jon, John, Soren, Danuta, Billy, Christie, Shreya, Matthew, Tom, Tom, Amber and Seb
1. Film of Shine Week 2008 shown to group. Discussion of the aims of Shine Week and the broader context of developing talent and creativity nationally
2. Reviewed discussion from last meeting about “Food for Thought” event. What is the event for?
a. To engage parents in thinking about creative learning – not just information but interaction
b. To encourage parents to think about the value of collaborative learning activities
c. To seek guidance and support from parents about how the school can improve
d. Launch our own version of the Creative Manifesto for Britain
e. Curate an event that inspires and provokes the audience
3. Who should be invited to the event?
• Parents and carers
• Primary school students and staff
• Teachers (from Tallis and beyond)
• School managers
• C P staff
Ideas for the event
• Each attendee receives a gift of a statement/question/answer to a question about creative learning. Chinese whispers, responses to the statement, responses to the responses
• Problem solving, exploring different learning styles – using a variety of skills/learning strategies, get participants to reflect on how people learn
• Ask participants to contribute manifesto points to reflect their interest in creative learning
• Present parents with a story about what we do already at Tallis and why we are interested in creating more opportunities to be creative
• Ask for a creativity wish list – ideas for the future
• Make a massive mind map on the floor about creative learning
• Play a party game – teach parents how to play a computer game reflect on skills, abilities and knowledge of young people, competition, challenge, flow, open source technology, design our own application for the Wii, new learning tools
• Puzzle, problem solving – relate to the manifesto, backwards thinking exercise, begin with something that we want to see happening in school in 2 years, work back from there
• Multi-media presentations - sound and visuals important
• Spread over two days to engage different audiences with a range of activities
Friday, 20 February 2009
You know that feeling when you are totally absorbed in something to the extent that you are no longer aware of time passing. Ken Robinson calls this being "in your element". Czikzentmihalyi (pronounced chick-sent-me-hi-yee) prefers the word "flow", a state you attain when the challenge you face is slightly greater than the skills you have at your disposal, requiring you to develop new skills. He believes this is a state of almost pure happiness and fulfilment. Check out the film above to find out why.
When do you feel "in flow"? What circumstances suit you best - working alone or with others, indoors or out, thinking, talking, making...? We are all creative in our own way and we all have the capacity to find "flow". Where do you look and how do you feel when you find it?
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
- Games may encourage and provide an outlet for creativity
- Games allow teens to try on roles and behaviours in a safe environment
- Games can provide practice in planning and anticipating consequences
- Games may help teens manage difficult emotions (coping with stress, anger)
- Games may promote involvement in sports/exercise (boys who played realistic sports games spent more hours per week on physical activity)
- Games can improve visual/spatial skills (especially valuable for girls)
- Games provide a focus for socialising (especially for boys)
- Games may provide a source of self-esteem and pride (especially for kids with ADHD and learning disabilities)
Monday, 16 February 2009
Harry Beck is quite rightly a design hero. His work in conceptualising the map of the London Underground network, disregarding geographical accuracy for legibility, has been an inspiration to many designers faced with the problem of representing complex information in a visually appealing way. The artist Simon Patterson has playfully subverted the relationship between the map and the information it contains in his work The Great Bear.
Japanese designers Information Architects have used this model to produce a map of the companies who dominated the internet in 2008. This is the third iteration of their design (the fourth is due out this month) and the most ambitious to date. As well as modeling their map on the Tokyo subway system, with companies like Apple occupying stations in upmarket areas of the city and Microsoft in the "cheaper" neighbourhoods, the designers have created two further layers of information concerning brand experience. This is how they describe the concept:
"We named the brand quality layer “Brand Experience.” It illustrates our perception of user experience and brand management of the main stations. We studied the usability, user value, and interface (simplicity, character, and feedback), and rated each site on a scale of eating at various types of Japanese restaurants.
We chose restaurants as the metaphor for brand experience because, from an interactive branding point of view, a visit to a website is like a visit to a restaurant in terms of service, feedback, content, pleasure, character, and memorability. And also because Tokyo has the highest density of good restaurants in the world."
It's interesting to see which companies do well in terms of their perceived brand experience, but what I love about this more than anything is the analogy between brand quality and food. I wonder of there is anything in this for us with regard to our thinking about the Food for Thought project?
On the subject of information design, I stumbled across the Visual Complexity site today. It aims to be "a unified resource space for anyone interested in the visualization of complex networks." Given the increasing significance of all kinds of networks as a feature of modern life, this site could well become an important resource. I followed the links to a couple of sites and the one that really grabbed me was Glocal. The Glocal Project is a collaborative, multifaceted artist-led project that examines the changing role of digital image making today. Its main aim is to examine the "new digital lives of images." I downloaded a couple of the software toolkits which proved to be a lot of fun. You can choose from the following simple applets which allow you to create a variety of photographic images based on historical precedents:
I'm particularly fond of the Motion Sequence applet! I was also keen on the Image Breeder which produces families of images based on a kind of genetic metaphor. You choose two images from a list of thumbnails and they "breed" to produce various offspring. I assume this is something to do with the way they are tagged. Fascinating stuff. Not only is this attitude to digital images really exciting but they've gone to the trouble of making the site extremely beautful too. Not just for the nerds.
Thursday, 12 February 2009
By the way, the above images are all taken from various photoblogs kept by students at Tallis. Cool.
It's hard to describe how good this site is so I strongly suggest that you head over and take a look. I've had a go at creating a profile, uploading some photographs (which I have made available using a Creative Commons license to anyone who is interested) and making a tune. If any of you manage to create a really good tune using the Audiotool application, post the link in the comments section.
Monday, 9 February 2009
Sunday, 8 February 2009
Created using the all new iMovie 09. The group took a normal video camera plus four PSPs equipped with a camera attachment which they used to create video diaries. As you can see, one person was considerably more prolific than the others! The Italian students arrive in Kidbrooke in a few weeks so we'll have a chance to return their wonderful hospitality.
Check out this online journal of the recent Italian Exchange to Bergamo created by Ms Totten using Scrapblog. The video will soon be available on TallisTube and there are further details about the trip, including a Google Maps itinerary on the MFL web pages.
The internet community is, for some people, easier to engage with and I think this is why schools should take new technologies seriously. If a new website is made that could be useful in a school then of course you have to be wary about who outside of the school may be accessing it but then anyone could walk through the school gates at the beginning of the day. There are risks with everything you do. For every one of my lessons the students all talk about work and send files to each other over MSN/MySpace and other websites because it's so efficient. The school should be promoting such websites not blocking them on the school server.
Saturday, 7 February 2009
Amber, the source of so many great ideas, showed me a site she's created for part of her A level Geography course using the web based service called Synthasite. This allows anyone to create a website, free of charge, in a matter of minutes (or hours in my case) using a range of templates which can then be modified. Your site can have multiple pages featuring, for example, a blog and picture gallery (which can link to your Flickr account). Management of your rapidly expanding site is really easy and the whole design experience is satisfyingly simple and quick. Previewing pages is easy, there's an integrated picture editor for your images and you can upload documents as part of the file storage feature.
Here's my Synthasite. It took about 3 hours to make and I'm so pleased with the results that I might actually maintain it (I really only made it to test the resource).
The ease with which sites like this can be made and maintained on the web for free means that all students could keep their own learning website, rather than just rely on the tools available within the school's VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). I'm not sure how many students in Year 7, for example, already have websites. I'm sure the number is higher than many teachers realise. What interests me about this is the way web site design encourages the creator to organise information in interesting and engaging ways that are simply not possible using paper and pen. Good websites are media rich and dynamic. The addition of a well-kept blog provides an ongoing, up-to-the-minute self-evaluation tool, encouraging reflection by the owner and peer-to-peer commentary. Some of the concerns expressed by teachers about the use of student websites revolve around issues of security, inappropriate content and assessment. How do you read and mark a set of websites? How do you protect young people from being approached by unsavoury characters online? These questons lie at the heart of a shift in the traditional power relationships between learners and teachers that have occurred partly as result of new technologies and the distribution of powerful self-publishing tools. Part of the answer lies in providing appropriate guidance for young people about looking after their online presence and trusting them to self-regulate their activities, something which Demos, in a recent study about young people's use of new technologies entitled Their Space, found to be largely happening anyway.
How many of you have a Flickr gallery, a MySpace page, a Facebook or other other kind of web presence? What do you use them for? Do you think keeping a learning web site about your experiences in school (and beyond) would be a good idea?
So, all you Year 10 students currently enjoying your work experience, why not create your own Synthasite about what you've learned? Create a gallery of images (taken on your phone if you don't have a camera), a blog reflecting on what you have enjoyed, been challenged by and what impact the experience has had on your attitude to education and employment and a set of links to useful web resources.
Don't forget to leave a comment with your website's new address so that we can all take a look.
Friday, 6 February 2009
I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor. A recent long-term study conducted in Scandinavia sought to discover which activities related to a healthy and happy later life. Three stood out: camping, dancing and singing.