Bird’s Eye View Film Festival 2011

This is a very quick ‘placeholder’ post, which I’m writing hurriedly on the way back from the Bird’s Eye View Film Festival – fantastic event which is a celebration of women filmmakers, running from 8-17 March in venues across London. I was invited to talk about mobile phone filmmaking at the BFI Southbank – really enjoyed the session, lots of interesting people and great feedback… more to follow!

Media and Learning

I’ve spent the past few days at the superb Media and Learning Conference in Brussels, now at the airport feeling completely fired up after hearing about all sorts of exciting projects across Europe. Stand-out projects include Paul Bottleberghs Ambrosia’s Table and Jonathan Sanderson’s Planet SciCast (yay for short form!)… impressed by Jim Devine who’s really got a handle on the whole digital literacy/media literacy/competency/whatever debate, and also Nathalie Labourdette from the European Broadcasting Union who presented a pan European perspective on major broadcaster’s strategies in terms of audience participation through social media (and used a John Maeda quote, which made me very happy). Continue reading

ALT-C 2010: Personal highlights

A 4am start the morning after the ALT-C Gala Dinner isn’t what i’d have hoped for (on the way to another event), but on the plus side it does mean there’s some time for bleary-eyed train reflection on what has been a fantastic conference…

ALT-C montage

Where to begin? Well, I could start with Donald Clark’s provocative opening keynote, which certainly caused a bit of a stir. It must be disconcerting for a speaker to visit a conference hashtag (or ‘harshtag’) and realise that they haven’t been received quite so warmly as they may have hoped – brings to mind danah boyd’s heartwrenching post about her experiences at Web 2.0 expo, although i’m guessing the ALT-C crowd would empathise with danah, and bar the immediacy of the twitter back-channel (which wasn’t shown on the screen during the ALT-C keynote) the Web 2.0 expo/ALT-C audiences probably had different expectations and experiences of the speaker’s overall thesis. Luckily the other keynotes didn’t suffer the same fate, including our very own Salford Vice Chancellor Martin Hall, who really impressed the audience with his realistic and informed perspective on new technologies, the codification of knowledge and what this might mean for formal university education.

Continue reading

Social Media, Education, Industry – and Motivation

(NOTE: There’s a fair bit of context in this post, so the main points are in bold)

When the time came to deliver my new MSc module in Social Media (February 2010) I was feeling a touch apprehensive: firstly, the terminology – since writing the module spec for programme approval a few years ago, attitudes towards the term ’social media’ had changed. The term itself was being seen as increasingly meaningless, the seemingly inevitable downside of buzz-terminology. However, more importantly I was worried about the content, much of which would draw on sociocultural theory, digital literacy and the ’soft’ side of media production (meanwhile the students are working towards technical MScs…). As their other modules were pretty techie I did wonder if they’d object to something that was so epistemologically different and diverse. Continue reading

The PLE Conference

The PLE Conference (Barcelona, July 8+9 2010) is intended to produce a space for researchers and practitioners to exchange ideas, experience and research around the development and implementation of PLEs including the design of environments, sociological and educational issues and their effectiveness and desirability as (informal) learning spaces. Continue reading

Tidying up my digital identity

Earlier this week I was asked to present on a Digital Identity panel hosted by Oxford Brookes University, alongside Josie Fraser, George Roberts and Patsy Clarke. The panel session focused on ‘Protecting and reflecting yourself online, issues of responsibility, trust and control’ and the presentations were as follows:

  • Josie Fraser – The contemporary privacy debate; “friending” your students
  • Helen Keegan – The evolution of a personal professional identity
  • George Roberts – Conflated meanings at the institutional (and demonic) level
  • Patsy Clarke – publicly private and privately public

I was asked to discuss multiple identities and representations, exploring identity play and the interactive tensions between individual and community. Continue reading

Online Educa Berlin presentation

Here’s my PPT for today’s presentation at OEB09 – will write more later (just hopped onto somebody’s wifi to upload this, if I use it for more that 10 minutes they may shoot me)

Formal to Informal – Education to Industry: Easing the transition through social media


Mobile video and UGC – the Hugh Garry way

As we know, the rise of user-generated content and the ubiquity of mobile devices have had a massive effect on the way we produce and consume media. We’re just as likely to make our own shows by sitting around with friends sharing favourite YouTube clips as we are to watch catch-up TV on our laptops. Mobile viewing figures have increased markedly as a result of the iPhone; according to YouTube in the first week of the launch of the 3GS video uploads to YouTube increased 400%, and over a six month period uploads from mobile phones to YouTube increased 1,700%. This is just as much related to the ease of sharing video across social networks as it is to improvements in phone and web technologies.

Now I know stats are notoriously ‘malleable’, but according to the IAB, in 2008 271 million requests were made to watch a program through the BBC iPlayer, and yet only 2.5% of total video watched online is through the five main broadcasters (BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five and Sky). It’s easy to get lost in reports and stats when trying to find out about western viewing figures but taking all into account it’s probably fair to say that YouTube accounts for around 90% of all online video consumption. The majority of that viewing is based around short-form content (5 mins or less).

After noting the frenzy around the launch of the iPhone 3GS and thinking about our changing relationship with the ‘moving image’,  I started thinking about students studying video and whether we should also be looking at short-form, user-generated content alongside traditional film-making in order to foster an appreciation of a range of production values.

Our PSVT students are given a solid grounding in the technical, practical and theoretical aspects of video production and many go on to work in the industry. As is the norm in engineering-accredited courses, the focus is on high production values and top-end equipment. Being a lecturer in social technologies, I tend to focus on UGC and so this year the students have been working on mobile video projects – that is, videos shot entirely on mobile phones. The students are working in groups to create videos, taking advantage of the accessibility and mobility of consumer technology to film things that would be difficult to capture with industry-standard equipment. It’s an interesting exercise as it challenges the students to think differently, focusing on the editorial as opposed to the narrative, and also challenges their perceptions of what makes a good film. It’s also a great way for them to get to grips with mobile phone technology and get a deeper understanding of the inner-workings of the phone as a media production device. The students are using wikis to document their research and development – both in terms of project management and the practical side of mobile film making (technical specifications, filming techniques, editing processes), and the wikis are complemented by Flickr photo-stories to show the ‘making of…’, adding another layer of UGC to their productions.

We’ve been lucky enough to get Hugh Garry on board to give the students a masterclass in mobile film making. Hugh is Senior Interactive Producer at BBC Radio 1, winning several awards – including the Guardian Media Innovation Award – for ‘Shoot the Summer’, the first full-length film shot entirely on mobile phones. Hugh is an amazing speaker on top of being one of the most creative and innovative media producers in the industry. He’s been inspirational for the students as it can be quite tricky working across a range of production values/contexts, but he’s really helped them to take a deeper look and appreciate the value of UGC through demonstrations and anecdotes based on his experiences when producing Shoot the Summer.

All in all it’s a pretty exciting project, offering the students a different kind of challenge through further developing their technical skills and media literacies in a way which, until relatively recently, wouldn’t have been possible…

NEW BOOK: “Mentoring for 21st Century Skills – It’s all about the Learning”

The VITAE partnership have recently published the book “Mentoring for 21st Century Skills – It’s all about the Learning”. The project itself is based around the use of social technologies in VET (vocational education and training), and our aim has been to empower vocational teachers to mentor their students and colleagues to work competently in the digital world.  In the book, we present a collection of papers and articles which represent the varied backgrounds and interests of the authors, all of whom belong to the VITAE team who developed a variety of materials and approaches. While some articles are practical in their focus, describing the application of pedagogic models and the experiences of the participants; others are more theoretical, offering explorations of the approaches taken in developing the VITAE model.

The chapters are as follows:

Chapter 1: Teacher competence development – a European perspective
Chapter 2: The VITAE Approach
Chapter 3: Exploring Web 2.0 and Mentoring as Tools for Lifelong Learning
Chapter 4: Guided course development on the basis of an e-learning patterns template
Chapter 5: Fun and Games in professional development
Chapter 6: The VITAE e-portfolio – a catalyst for enhanced learning
Chapter 7: Community-based mentoring and innovating through Web 2.0
Chapter 8: Web 2.0 – Learning Culture and Organisational Change

Although there are print copies for sale, we’ve use CC licensing so if you want to download a copy of the book follow this link