All About Change: Raising Modern Learners

Raising Modern Learners (RML) News is a new go-to place if you believe in real educational change and want to stay informed, be part of the conversation and help educate your school community about issues in contemporary education. Raising Modern Learners was created early this year by two giants in the field of educational technology, Will Richardson (US) and Bruce Dixon (Australia). They were concerned that current school reforms largely missed the point when it comes to the changes necessary to meet students’ needs for success in modern society. They wanted to find a way to inform and shift conversations away from how to tweak traditional curriculum and get people talking about new literacies, skills, and dispositions.

We’re dedicated to helping parents (and educators) stay abreast of these changes in timely, thought-provoking, concise, and interactive ways, and to help them find ways to advocate for more modern, student-centred change in their schools that reflects the needs of [our]time.

The latest article entitled If High School Wasn’t Compulsory, Who Would Go? examines disengagement issues in school and has some intelligent conversation already clocked up in the comments. News articles come out fortnightly and can be accessed via the website or you can download the free iTunes app for either iPhone or iPad.

Image Credit: (c. 1935), Elton Fox instructing a student at the Fox-Morgan School of Commercial and Fine Art [photograph], State Library of Victoria Pictures Collection.

Archiving digital resources for our cultural heritage

The British Library announced some time ago that they have expanded their legal deposit collection to include UK websites, ebooks, and posts from social networking tools such as Facebook and Twitter.

Ever since the 17th Century, the British Library has been archiving every published book in the UK, with Australia, New Zealand, and the USA following suit. Legal deposit has been widely practised around the world with the intention of capturing social history and thus providing future generations with information about our past.

Previously, legal deposit was made up of published monographs – works that had been carefully drafted and edited but now, with the advent of micro blogging and Facebook, different kinds of publishing are being considered for collection. Although it can seem like a mish mash of spontaneous thoughts and ramblings sometimes, social media provides an important insight into our society. But does it represent how we really feel? Have we lost the art of reflection?

Nevertheless, our chatter can be a good thing because it documents everyday details often overlooked by historians. History books usually concentrate on the broad view, sometimes missing personal narratives. Now future generations will be able to access the minutiae of our lives down to the words we use.  They’ll be fascinated by what we had for breakfast, or feel appalled by the way some of us are in denial of global warming.

One way we can begin to imagine what it might be like for people to study our Facebook posts one day is to read the diary of May Stewart – a Melbourne teenager from 1906. May Stewart did a lot of mashing (flirting) and smooging (kissing), had tea at Coles (Coles supermarket apparently had a tea house back then), she went to the races and ‘had a splendid’ (had a wonderful time). This valuable diary describes how an average teenager from North Fitzroy spent her days, and the document now lives at the State Library of Victoria for everyone to enjoy.

As cultural institutions begin to collect social media, this new dimension of legal deposit will provide us with much to celebrate.

Scanner turns books into touch screen devices

As e-books, e-readers and tablets become more prevalent, it’s been fashionable to argue that technology will spell the end of the traditional printed book. Just as the printing press changed the way books were made, and digital distribution has lead to physical copies of music being less popular, it is easy to think that the printed book will slowly fade away. But a recent prototype by Fujitsu Laboratories suggests that maybe the printed page and technology can coexist.

The video below demonstrates an early prototype of a gesture driven book scanner. Images can be overlaid on the page with a projector and a camera tracks the user’s finger and hand gestures. Users can select text and images and other media can be laid over the page.

It’s an interesting demonstration of the possibilities that come from combining books with technology. Hopefully developments like this mean that readers will still be able to experience the lovely feeling that comes from opening up a book, whilst also being able to make use of the convenience of digital technologies.

Image credit: Screengrab from Touchscreen interface for seamless data transfer between the real and virtual worlds, Diginfonews

Will 3D printing change the world?

PBS Off Book is a documentary series exploring the intersection of technology and art. A recent video touched on the implications of 3D printing technology.

It’s a brief yet thought-provoking piece about the use of 3D printing in medicine, education and design. It also looks at the potentially disruptive influence that 3D printing could have on traditional manufacturing, and explores issues of intellectual property and design.

You can watch the 3D printing video below and see all of the fabulous Off Book videos at the PBS YouTube channel.


Image credit: Screengrab taken from PBS Off Book, Will 3D printing change the world?

Interview series explores the impact of technology

Ryerson University in Toronto is running a web series called rdigitalife. The series is hosted by Ramona Pringle, a member of Ryerson’s New Media faculty and explores a range of topics related to the impact of technology on our lives. The recently published topic of Community is particularly interesting and includes interviews with people such as Clay Shirky, Sherry Turkle and games journalist Leigh Alexander. Here is an introduction to the Community topic.

You can view the full interviews for this topic and also explore the other published topics of Environment and Robot evolution from the rdigitalife page. Other topics such as Storytelling, Culture and Identity will be explored in future interviews.

The Curator’s code

Back when the internet was largely a static collection of web pages, many web sites consisted merely of lists of links to other pages. At one stage it seemed that the internet was just an infinite loop of links between pages with little new content being created. This trend was unsustainable, and the efficiency of search engines (which are in many ways just automatically updated link pages), seemed to remove the need for these curated links pages.

The popularity of blogging and the incredible flood of content that came with it led to a new need, with services such as Twitter allowing people to filter information and share links that might not be so easily discoverable with search engines. In the past couple of years we have seen the rise of the ‘curator’ and an increase in the popularity of tools that allow people to collate links.

This raises the issue of how to not only correctly reference the original source, but also how to give attribution to the intermediary who shared the source. If a person you follow on Twitter shares a great link, do you need to provide attribution to them if you then share that link somewhere else? What happens if the sharing chain is even longer than that?

In an effort to address the issue, Maria Popova set out to establish the Curator’s code, which outlines the use of two terms (and specially created symbols) that Popova hopes will clarify attribution issues. ‘Via’  can be used to indicate a direct link, while a ‘hat tip’ signifies an indirect link, inspiration or a story lead.

After Popova explained the process of creating the code a good deal of debate developed, not just about proper attribution but also about the impact of curation on content creators. Marco Arment, the creator of Instapaper, dismissed the code as unecessary, and raised the point that attributing the sharer of a resource is not that important. In his post I’m not a curator he claims that people who share resources should “just consider good story links as a free resource that we all pull from and that doesn’t belong to anyone.”

Others made the distinction between services like Twitter or which actually drive traffic to the original site, compared to some curated websites that have been accused of essentially repackaging another site’s content and stealing advertising revenue. Respected journalist David Carr addressed this point when discussing the Curator’s code at SXSW.

Are ‘curators’ providing a useful service or merely building their own reputations using the work of others? How important is it to provide attribution to the work of people who filter and share information online? After the debate began, Popova set out to clarify some of her beliefs about the importance of curation and attribution. She describes curation as ‘a drive to find the interesting, meaningful, and relevant amidst the vast maze of overabundant information’  and labelled this skill as ‘an increasingly valuable form of creative and intellectual labour.”

Closing the book on the printed encyclopaedia


The New York Times has reported the the Encyclopaedia Britannica will no longer produce a printed edition as content will now only be available digitally. The decision ends a 244 year tradition and signals a significant shift by the encyclopaedia’s Chicago publisher.

While many have predicted that the rise of easily updatable websites like Wikipedia would see the end of the printed encyclopaedia, this might not mean the end of the printed book as others are touting. The encyclopaedia may well have been the form of printed book most threatened by the increasing reliance on digital content. The relatively slow process of editing and publishing means that many entries can be out of date before the volume hits the shelves.

Is this need for constantly updated information- with an emphasis placed on the speed of updating rather than rigour- a worrying trend? Surely it just further emphasises the importance of being able to critically analyse a source for reliability and accuracy. Maybe it will lead to an even savvier generation of readers who constantly question the reliability of information and evaluate their sources.

Perhaps the greater concern for many (apart from any door-to-door encyclopaedia sellers still out there) may be that we may no longer have printed copies that document the prevailing knowledge of our time. Older encyclopaedias like the Nuremberg Chronicle provide an insight into the accepted beliefs of a time period, or at least the accepted beliefs of the writers and editors. Surely this move to digital content raises even more issues surrounding digital archiving and preservation. Maybe people will be visiting libraries and museums in a hundred years to pore over archived copies of Wikipedia.

Should we be concerned about this shift to digital, or is it time to accept that the printed encyclopaedia can’t compete with the wealth of constantly updated content available?


Ten meta-trends from the Horizon Project

The New Media Consortium (NMC) is an international community of experts on technology in education who produce an annual report known as The Horizon Report.

Horizon reports highlight key trends in technology and education for the year to come, with an emphasis on innovation and adoption of new devices into schools and higher education.

In commemoration of the tenth year of the project, the NMC will issue a report highlighting key meta-trends in technology and education. The top ten trends have been released:

  1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative.
  2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to.
  3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network — and already is at its edges.
  4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media.
  5. Openness — concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information — is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world.
  6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society.
  7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success.
  8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy.
  9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities and training.
  10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing.



Over the past couple of days the #pencilchat has been trending on Twitter with educators using the allegory to comment on technology use in schools.

Discussing the ‘dangers’ of  pencils, how they’re just a passing fad and more, people humorously voiced concerns about the challenges of using technology (and pencils) in schools.

Good education has a great article, Why #Pencilchat May Be the Most Clever Education Allegory Ever, about how the tag discussion began and evolved.

Photo by Nalini Prasanna

Photo by Nalini Prasanna

Bright Ideas subscriptions

I will very tentatively push the ‘Publish’ button on Bright Ideas today, as I know many of you have received far too many notification emails when a post goes live.

The clever people at Edublogs have been working away and trying to fix it, so hopefully all is well now.

Apologies for the radio silence over the last few days while we looked into this error.
Thank you for your patience.