Category Archives: The Culture of Tools

Old lobster almost boiled

Learning on the Beach 2011

The second annual Learning on the Beach unconference #lob11 has just scattered – I am blown away, boiled, invigorated and inundated – and that was just the weather. We were a self-select group of ‘old lobsters’ like me @richardmillwood and some fresh faces like @squiggle7 – the value of this mix in challenging the norms of indoor education was enormous.

Activities included:

  • a scene setter on flat-lining and free-learning from John Davitt
  • collaborative presentations by teams of participants on themes (and genre) as diverse as Irish History (sing-song), The Salt Marsh (tragedy) and Tides (rap)
  • a tour of the beach with Seán and Matthew to understand the nurturing approach to the ‘machair’ or sand dunes found on the west coast of Ireland and particularly in Mulranny, where we were staying
  • the Explainer Olympics – a chance to hone with a sharp stick in the sand our skills in capturing a concept
  • a Ceilidh to let it rip -thanks to Jim and Ann, @angedav @JamiePortman @mlovatt1 @magsamond @johndavitt
  • Postcards from the Edge, scribed on the beach – to let us shout about our findings
  • thoughts to challenge suppliers – what do we need to support learning outdoors in the design of equipment and infrastructure? Peter at @westnet_ie made it possible for us to connect from the beaches around Mulranny so that we could benefit from our vast array of gadgetry to support our inquiry including TouchaTag an RFID technology, but there were many issues addressed regarding weatherproofing, robustness, daylight viewing and power supply that would enhance outdoor activity anywhere
  • hot tub, sauna, steam room, cold plunge and swimming pool – four facilities that were welcome 😉
  • the sharing of Guinness, Google, kindness, camera-derie, Twitter, time, humour and happiness ( to say nothing of black and white pudding, fresh air and fine rain)

There are not enough wild sea-horses to hold me back from attending #lob12  – I already miss the lobsters: @squiggle7 @magsamond @JamiePortman @mlovatt1 @andyjb @dughall @VickiMcC @johnmayo @johndavitt @angedav @katherinedavitt @timrylands @sarahneild @susanbanister

Can we reverse the decline in schools’ computing, especially with girls?

You are invited you to participate in the fifth in a series of annual lectures to address the issues surrounding manufacturing, technology and education.

  • Can computing be viewed as a form of manufacturing in the knowledge economy?
  • Why is it in such decline in schools, especially amongst girls?

In 2005 there were 7242 students sitting A Level computing exams, 815 of these were female. By 2014 that is predicted to drop to around 1500 and all of them will be male, based on figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ).

Dr Stan Owers’ thesis claimed that the human species evolved in symbiosis with technology since the stone age.
What part has computing in such evolution?

The evening will begin with a focused presentation by our guest speaker, Kate Sim, followed by a brief response from Professor Stephen Heppell, leaving ample time for discussion.

For further background information, please visit:

http://www.core-ed.org.uk/tools/lecture-2009.html and?

http://www.core-ed.org.uk/tools/questions.html

If you are unable to attend, please feel free to nominate colleagues.

Guilt upon accusation

New Zealand's new Copyright Law presumes 'Guilt Upon Accusation' and will Cut Off Internet Connections without a trial. Join the black out protest against it!
There are some major proposed changes in NZ law that will have an impact on education.
The proposed Section 92 of the NZ Copyright Amendment Act assumes Guilt Upon Accusation and forces the termination of internet connections and websites without evidence, without a fair trial, and without punishment for any false accusations of copyright infringement. An organisation called the Creative Freedom Foundation has been set up to specifically represent artists voices on these issues.
Check out their website: http://www.creativefreedom.org.nz , sign up and help NZ MPs make an informed decision about S92!

Engineering Diplomas get boost

Jamie Tuplin, Stan Owers, Mick Waters and Pete Williamson

Jamie Tuplin, Stan Owers, Mick Waters and Pete Williamson – presenters at the Owers Lecture 2008

The Guardian reports “Oxbridge to accept engineering diploma” – welcome news to learners and their teachers pioneering the Engineering Diploma in Barking & Dagenham schools. This timely announcement comes a week after another stimulating and informative Owers Lecture presented by Jamie Tuplin and Pete Williamson, and an excellent commentary in response from Mick Waters, Director of Curriculum at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority. This fourth Owers lecture, organised by Core Education UK, was once again held at Oracle UK‘s offices in Moorgate, London on November 12th, thanks to Oracle’s ever-supportive Chris Binns who is champion for Oracle’s altruistic ventures Think.Com and ThinkQuest in the UK.

Jamie Tuplin, who leads the diploma developments Barking & Dagenham Local Authority and Pete Williamson, Head of Design Technology at the Warren School (and Learning Line Lead for Engineering for the authority), reported their experiences & issues of Engineering Diploma implementation in the first three months.

The question put to the audience was ‘Can Diplomas Cure the ‘English Disease’?’ and Mick Waters’ response, designed to provoke further debate, was to outline several diseases, all of which needed attention! In the end we had to stop, but discussion was strong and all participants were hungry for more.

New Learning ’08 – Connecting the Future to the Past

New Learning '08

This conference is taking place on Wednesday with about 50 folk – I know many others would have liked to come, but this is only a start and there’ll be more. For those unable to be there, there will be plenty of reporting to come, and you can download the conference pack and archive leaflet right here.

More importantly, if you have a story to contribute about your experiences with educational computing over the last four decades, contribute it in the stories section of the National Archive of Educational Computing website and if you want to do more, fill in the form in the support section.

The Owers Lecture 2007


Participants at the Owers Lecture 2007

When Stan Owers became Dr Stan Owers, this lecture was initiated.

It was to be held annually to address the issues surrounding manufacturing industry and education. This third in the series was a really challenging event with Jeff Roche, a 2nd year undergraduate giving us a frank review of his learning trajectory so far. Raj Rajagopal, IET trustee and long experienced in the world of manufacturing added his global perspective, pointing out that where the design and manufacture goes, the research and development follow.

A vibrant discussion ensued and a real sense of action required to improve the awareness amongst school students of how industry works.

See also

The Importance of Computing as a Specialist Subject in Schools

Naace All-Members Autumn Conference 2007

Shared a platform with Gillian Lovegrove on this topic at the Naace All-Members Conference at Cisco in Feltham. I enjoyed the relatively easy task of listing some of the arguments for computing’s contribution to the wealth of human knowledge:

  1. computing > arithmetic – it is also the engine room of the social network / Web 2.0
  2. ubiquity of knowledge management – all disciplines’ approach to knowledge is infected with computing
  3. creativity and problem solving – it provides extraordinary potential for creative and problem solving activity by making the abstract concrete
  4. concept of the human mind – ideas of the mind have interchanged with concepts of the computer throughout history
  5. historical contribution – the interrelationship with war, economy, culture and democracy
  6. tool culture drives evolution (genetic and social) – tools have been symbiotic with humanity’s evolution since the stone age and the computer is the most sophisticated and diverse tool invented

After Gillian’s points about the problems facing the subject of computing, it was most challenging to hear one member of the audience ask the question: “Could it be our fault?”. It will be interesting to see how this discussion develops in the future.

Royal College of Art Show

RCA show - design products

Platform 8:

“The Chinese Government has recently commissioned the building of more than 1600 new design colleges, with a view to ending the division between the design of an object and its production.”

This was a very small part of an astonishing show in a large tent in Hyde Park, over the road from the Royal College of Art. The students on the MA Product Design had been organised into six ‘platforms’, focii led by their tutors. The words quoted above, from the Platform 8 poster they were giving away, are fascinating in the context of Stan Ower’s work around the culture of tools and gives me food for thought as I prepare for the next Owers Lecture.