‘I miss the ocean…’

“I never thought fish swimming in a glass bowl could be so emotional”

The title of this post and the above quote come from the video sharing website YouTube in response to the high definition video above that appeared on the site and has become ‘viral’ over the past week. My guess is that the video has become so popular because it really demonstrates the potential of HD broadcasting. Today BSkyB announced that subscribers to their HD service have doubled over the past year and that the service has moved ‘centre-stage’ to their business plan. It shows that HD is becoming more widespread and popular, especially since YouTube now allows uploads in HD – just like the video above.

As well as the sheer wonder of the sea-life in the video I also find the way the people in front of the tank behave and interact. Not least the toddler playing with the rope barrier and then noticing the diver in the aquarium. It’s great how video can capture such moments and the HD quality makes it feel like you are standing there too (you must make the video fullscreen when you’re watching).

The soundtrack really adds an extra depth (no pun intended) and stirs an emotional response. Therefore users of YouTube have responded to the video through the comment feature below the video. The comments range from appreciation of the video production to serious debates about conservation and saving the oceans. It’s brilliant how Web 2.0 can be used as a platform to explore issues such as this and really make the issues in themselves ‘viral’ and open up discussion in a shared and open manner to a mass audience. At the time of writing this there have been over 2000 comments written in response to the upload and it has been viewed over a million times…

Save the oceans.

Multiliteracies from MultiMartin

I have finally got around to uploading the paper I presented at the UKLA Conference earlier in the month. It was presented as part of a symposium about integrating digital worlds in the classroom with Lynda Graham, Angela Colvert and Jackie Marsh.

The paper explores some of the work that Orange Class has completed over the past year in relation to film making, animation as a critical practice and the use of Twitter as a means of evaluation and reflection. All of the examples are linked to the work of key literacy figures and call upon theories of multiliteracies, multimodality, critical literacy and popular culture.


Wiki Whirlpool

whirlpool, originally uploaded by Lake Li Sun.

I’ve just lost an hour of my life.
Why? Because I went to check something quickly on wikipedia (I can’t even remember what it was). After reading the initial article (not in the traditional manner of course) I clicked on a link within the article, which linked me to another article, and then another and another (you get the idea). I ended up reading stuff that had no relevance to what I initially intended to find out, although obviously interesting. Wiki’s are such a huge collaboration tool for collective intelligence and shared knowledge it’s literally impossible to find something that doesn’t interest you. It was actually quite hard to pull myself out of the wiki-whirlpool in the end and start to do something else.

I’ve never actually written a wiki article before, maybe I should. Or maybe I should try and plan a project around it next year?

Flickr Feelings

Panther beach fireworks , originally uploaded by snakebite2.

While I was at the UKLA Conference I went to listen to a symposium led by Julia Davies about the photo sharing community Flickr. It was fascinating to listen to Julia, Sigrid and David Barton talk about the different ways that people engage with the website. The gaming and play aspect is something that I’d never considered before, which led me to think about my own engagement with Flickr and what it means to me.

When I look at Flickr I always get slightly envious of the photography skills on show and could never hope to equal some of the shots that appear on the site. Besides that I mainly visit the site as a visitor and have only uploaded about 10 photos to date. I tend to enter the site and search for photos that help me to relax and take me to a place where I want to be. Flickr offers me escapism from the real world. I have a huge thing for sunsets and blue skies, especially on beaches, and if I find a photo showing a combination of these it makes me feel happy and relaxed. I can just imagine myself sat on the beach in the photo above with a cool summer’s breeze, watching the fireworks and listening to the sea. Bliss.

From Seriously Solitary to MMORPG

I’ve never been sure whether I’m a gamer or not. When I was younger I never completed games on the Sega Megadrive or PC because I preferred to build things. I didn’t like games that came to an end. I spent hours on Rollercoaster Tycoon which was one of my favourite pastimes and involved me creating hugely elaborate theme parks based on those that I’d visited in the real world. I don’t tick the boxes of a gamer who sits in front of a Playstation for hours to kill as many aliens as possible. I’ve been more of a maker in virtual worlds. I’d never realised this until I was interviewed by Lynda Graham about my digital history. She suggests that my life in virtual worlds is as a seriously solitary maker.

She has a point. I have an xbox and have not completed a game on it yet – I barely even get halfway. I spent my time making things (mainly websites). However over the past year I have been playing World of  Warcraft the MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) and have been hooked. So once again I question whether I am a gamer. World of Warcraft is more of a living breathing virtual world than a one-off game  as it cannot be paused and it cannot be completed. There is always something to do and the world is constantly evolving and expanding. It seems to be the middle ground of me engaging with virtual worlds and gaming.

World of Warcraft is rich in new literacy practices as there are so many other players online around the world at the same time. It also includes a small element of design as you create your own characters and purchase equipment for them (above is a picture of the latest character I have created). Maybe I am a lightweight gamer? Or maybe I should stop thinking about it and just enjoy the ride.

UKLA Conference

Greenwich University

Last week I spent four days in Greenwich while I attended the UKLA conference and focus day on writing. It was great to see so many people attending the conference and a chance to meet up with old friends is always welcome. I enjoyed catching up with Guy, Julia and Jackie as well as Lynda and Angela (who incidently has a new blog).  I also had another chance to get to know Angela Thomas and chat about the fantastic work she is doing in second life (which I must start to use more). I was in complete awe when when I got to meet Courtney Cazden (one of the inventors of multiliteracies) as well as the amazing Elaine Millard, who is genuinely one of the loveliest ladies I have ever met. It was great also to meet with Bill Lord who I’ve spoken to frequently on Twitter about educational issues and new technologies and his collegues at Birmingham City University. I also convinced David who I work with on the Multiliteracies Learning Initiative to attend the conference so it was great to see someone from the North East there too.

The symposium went very well and the room was packed. It was real honour to speak in front of so many distinguished members of the literacy community about the fantastic work that Orange Class has produced.  The keynotes and parallel sessions were very interesting and there seemed to be a lot about digital literacy coming through, which is encouraging. It does confuse me however at the lack of emphasis on multiliteracies as a means of transforming education and the curriculum. It covers so many different types of literacies in the world – cultural, social and professional to name a few but just doesn’t seem to be mentioned that much.

Also while in Greenwich I had the most amazing Jack Daniel’s flavoured steak at a tiny cuban bar and finally got to ride the Docklands Light Railway (on a hilarious journey with Julia and Kate). I’m looking forward to Winchester already!

The parting of the ways


Today was the last day of day of term… I don’t know how I feel. Everybody around me seems to be celebrating the end of the school year and the start of summer. I can’t.

I have had the most incredible year with my class, we have done so much, achieved so much and made so much progress. We’ve made films, learned about Japanese animations, made ‘qakamoly’ and shared our learning with people around the world throughh Twitter. I’ve tried to make their learning, exciting and relevant. I hope I succeeded.

We’ve had a lovely last day but now it’s all come to an end. I got some lovely messages from children and parents that I will keep forever. I wish them the best of luck for the future and I hope our paths cross again. It has been brilliant… it’s a shame it’s had to end.

The Busy Week

Those who have been working with me know that this has been the exceptionally busy week that I have been talking about for months now. With the normal end of term rush to finish everything I have also attended the launch of the fantastic Centre for the Study of New Literacies. I heard some brilliant keynote speakers there – Anne Haas Dyson, Julia Davies, Kate Pahl and Angela Thomas.

Last night I spoke in front of parents and children at a local authority event… it was the most challenging talk I have ever done. After initial nerves (and a lot of them) I am told that I calmed down and relaxed!

I’m now on the train to London’s Kings Cross en route to Greenwich for the UKLA International Conference. I’ve really been looking forward to meeting with friends at UKLA and hopefully making many more. For anyone who is at the conference I will be speaking as part of a symposium on Friday afternoon… hope to see you there!