Last week’s Digitising Early Childhood conference here in Perth was a fantastic event which brought together so many engaging and provocative scholars in a supportive and policy/action-orientated environment (which I suppose I should call ‘engagement and impact’-orientated in Australia right now). For a pretty well document overview of the conference itself, you can see the quite substantial tweets collected via the #digikids17 hashtag on Twitter, which I’d really encourage you to look over. My head is still buzzing, so instead to trying to synthesise everyone else’s amazing work, I’m just going to quickly point to the material that arose my three different talks in case anyone wishes to delve further.

First up, here are the slides for my keynote ‘Turning Babies into Big Data—And How to Stop It’:

TL_KeynoteIf you’d like to hear the talk that goes with the slides, there’s an audio recording you can download here. (I think these were filmed, so if a link becomes available at some point, I’ll update and post it here.)  There was a great response to my talk, which was humbling and gratifying at the same time. There was also quite a lot of press interest, too, so here’s the best pieces that are available online (and may prove a more accessible overview of some of the issues I explored):

While our argument is still being polished, the slides for this version of Crystal Abidin and my paper From YouTube to TV, and back again: Viral video child stars and media flows in the era of social media are also available:

This paper began as a discussion after our piece about Daddy O Five in The Conversation and where the complicated questions about children in media first became prominent. Crystal wasn’t able to be there in person, but did a fantastic Snapchat-recorded 5-minute intro, while I brought home the rest of the argument live. Crystal has a great background page on her website, linking this to her previous work in the area. There was also press interest in this talk, and the best piece to listen to (and hear Crystal and I in dialogue, even though this was recorded at different times, on different continents!):

Finally, as part of the Higher Degree by Research and Early Career Researcher Day which ended the conference, I presented a slightly updated version of my workshop ‘Developing a scholarly web presence & using social media for research networking’:

Overall, it was a very busy, but very rewarding conference, with new friends made, brilliant new scholarship to digest, and surely some exciting new collaborations begun!

Keynotes

[Photo of the Digitising Early Childhood Conference Keynote Speakers]

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Along with my colleagues Mike Kent and Clare Lloyd we’re working on an edited collection about the joys, perils and uses of Facebook in higher education (of any sort). Here’s the CFP (call for papers) if you’re interested. Please feel free to distribute this post wide and far if you’d be so kind!

An Education in Facebook?
Higher Education and the World’s Largest Social Network

Editors: Dr Mike Kent, Dr Tama Leaver and Dr Clare Lloyd, Internet Studies, Curtin University

Abstract Submission Deadline 18 January 2013

Full Chapters Due 31 May 2013

We are soliciting chapter proposals for an edited collection entitled An Education in Facebook? This edited collection will focus on the relationship between Facebook and Higher Education. Facebook first emerged in 2004 as a social network for students studying at universities in the United States. It soon grew beyond North America, and beyond the confines of student networking. Having evolved initially as a student social space the platform continues to play a prominent role in the lives of many students and staff at higher education institutions.

The collection will explore the use of Facebook the higher education environment as both a social space, and also its growing use as part of teaching and learning processes, both formally and informally. From students creating informal social groups around a course of study or particular unit, and dedicated online study groups, to the use of Facebook as a formal venue for teaching, we are seeking chapters that explore these and related areas.

Is there an appropriate place for Facebook in formal higher education? What are the tensions between private and professional spaces online for students and teachers and what are the potential dangers of unintentional overlap? What are appropriate roles and responsibilities for staff, students and institutions in relation to the social network? What are the dangers of moving important aspects of the higher education learning environment to an external company that exploits social interaction for profit? How is the shift to online learning in many institutions complemented or challenged by mobile uses of social networks, including app use on smartphones and tablets? This book will explore these and other topics interrogating the contemporary role of Facebook in Higher Education.

Some suggested topics (which are by no means exhaustive):

  • · Facebook and/as/or Learning Management Systems?
  • · Facebook as support network (for online and overseas learners, for example)
  • · Teacher-led Facebook uses as in/formal learning
  • · Student-led Facebook uses as in/formal learning
  • · Case studies of Facebook implementation in formal learning
  • · Informal versus formal learning online
  • · Social networks and the flipped classroom
  • · Context collapse
  • · Privacy issues in social network use
  • · Copyright issues in social network use
  • · Mobile learning
  • · The Facebook App in education
  • · Roles and boundaries in networked learning
  • · Facebook as a backchannel (either positive or disruptive)
  • · The politics of ‘friending’ in staff and student relations
  • · Examples of innovative Facebook integration in higher education
  • · Whether Facebook has a place in formal education
  • · MOOCs and Facebook
  • · Comparative uses of Facebook and other online networks (eg Twitter)

Submission procedure:

Potential authors are invited to submit chapter abstract of no more than 500 words, including a title, 4 to 6 keywords, and a brief bio, by email to both Dr Mike Kent <m.kent@curtin.edu.au> and Dr Tama Leaver <t.leaver@curtin.edu.au> by 18 January 2013. (Please indicate in your proposal if you wish to use any visual material, and how you have or will gain copyright clearance for visual material.) Authors will receive a response by February 15, 2013, with those provisionally accepted due as chapters of no more than 6000 words (including references) by 31 May 2013.

About the editors:

The three editors are from the Department of Internet Studies at Curtin University. Dr Mike Kent’s research focus is on people with disabilities and their use of, and access to, information technology and the Internet. He recently co-authored the monograph Disability and New Media (Routledge, 2011). His other area a research interest is in higher education and particularly online education. Dr Tama Leaver researches online identities, digital media distribution and networked learning. He previously spent several years as a lecturer in Higher Education Development, and is currently also a Research Fellow in Curtin’s Centre for Culture and Technology. His recent book is Artificial Culture: Identity, Technology and Bodies (Routledge, 2012), and he is currently co-authoring a monograph entitled Web Presence: Staying Noticed in a Networked World. Dr Clare Lloyd specialises in mobile communication and mobile media. Her recent publications include the co-authored papers ‘Consuming apps: the Australian woman’s slow appetite for apps’ (2012); and ‘Fun and useful apps: female identity construction and social connectedness using the mobile phone’ apps’ (2012).

The CFP is also available as a PDF.

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Insight #3: If ePortfolios and other forms of electronic presence are going to be (or are) a core part of the way graduates ‘sell’ themselves to employers, then identity management needs to be taught at all levels of education.  Identity management includes those aspects of identity which we intend employers to see, and those we don’t want seen.  If a basic search online for someone’s full name reveals drunken party pictures on Flickr or YouTube clips of bullying antics in their youth, then that is just as likely to be viewed by employers as the intended ePortfolios or other material.  Identity management clearly is something of a challenge, especially as many educators aren’t fully aware of how much students can put online (or how to temper that), but the Internet never forgets and we need students to be able to understand that for all sorts of reasons, and future employability is clearly one of them.

Insight #4:The unconference model only works when all the participants have a strong sense of what they are intending to pull apart or critique in advance.  If half of a conference is populated by people trying to get a basic understanding of something – in this case Web 2.0 – then the unconference model of primarily relying on informed participants leading all the conference sessions themselves, directed by their conversations and thinking, to the exclusion of traditional papers or presentations, is doomed to disappoint a lot of people attending that form of conference.  (This, incidentally, is not a personal gripe, but a clearly articulated sense from a number of my fellow conference delegates).

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I’m at the Learning Futures Symposium today and tomorrow.  I’m not blogging summaries of sessions because, to be fair, that’s often quite dull.  However, I thought I’d take the opportunity to take the conference discussions to springboard some observations or thoughts that occurred during these interactions…

Insight #1: There is a reasonable amount of critical distance in terms of the ‘digital natives/digital immigrants’ rhetoric, but the same critical perspective doesn’t stretch to critiquing the idea of ‘web 2.0’.  Whereas ideas which supposedly encompass an entire generation are easy enough to pull apart, many educators seem wary of software and claims made about software as they acutely feel that this is one of the few areas in which students know more about this area than they do.  I suspect that if the same educators were dipping their toes in a little more they’d realise something commonsensical which seems to have entirely escaped these kind of conversations: that while there are many types of web 2.0 software, there are generic skills to be found in using these tools and platforms.  The reason that people can move from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook so easily, for example, is that at a basic level there is a lot of similarity between the way these platforms operate and the skills needed to use them.  Sure, the rate of new names of software can be overwhelming, but if we remember that a large section of the skills learnt using one social software platform are viable for the next, super-duper, upcoming must-have web 2.0 tool are transferable, that makes taking the time to learn and teach them a whole lot more important and palatable.  And social software platforms are just one example; skills in blogging, using wikis and many other forms of ‘web 2.0’ tools are similarly transferable and, at some level, generic.  Perhaps we should be focusing more on what those skills are.

Insight #2: Often the people in the driving position for educational policy aren’t confident to make decisions about ICT – nor should they be!

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