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Facebook in Education: Special Issue of Digital Culture & Education


I’m pleased to announced that the special themed issue of Digital Culture and Education on Facebook in Education, edited by Mike Kent and I, has been released. The issue features an introductory article by Mike and I, ‘Facebook in Education: Lessons Learnt’ in which we may have some opinions about whether the hype around MOOCs and disruptive online education ignores the very long history of learning online (hint: it does). As something of a corrective to that hype, this issue explores different aspects of the complicated relationship between Facebook as a platform and learning and teaching in higher education.

This issue features ‘“Face to face” Learning from others in Facebook Groups‘ by Eleanor Sandry, ‘Exploiting fluencies: Educational expropriation of social networking site consumer training‘ by Lucinda Rush and D.E. Wittkower, ‘Learning or Liking: Educational architecture and the efficacy of attention‘ by Leanne McRae, and ‘Separating Work and Play: Privacy, Anonymity and the Politics of Interactive Pedagogy in Deploying Facebook in Learning and Teaching’ by Rob Cover.

Also, watch this space in about a month for the related and slightly larger related work in the same area.

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National Teaching Award!

Australian Award for University Teaching

At an amazing ceremony and dinner at the National Gallery in Canberra tonight I was surprised, flattered and delighted to receive an Australian Award for University Teaching in the Humanities and Arts. This is a huge honour, and I’m extremely grateful to have my approaches to learning and teaching acknowledged in this manner. That said, I’m incredibly conscious that no one teaches in a vacuum, and in Internet Communications I am but one cog in a very complex and well-maintained machine, so this award is at least as much testimony to all of our team at Curtin University as it is to me.

Most importantly, though, I wanted to publicly thank the students who offered their thoughts and feedback about my teaching. We live in an era where students get asked to fill in an awfully large number of feedback forms, surveys and evaluations, so adding even one more thing to that pile is a big ask. So, THANK YOU to all of my students, current and past, whose kind words led to this award.

I’d also like to think that this award is a reminder that despite the huge media attention being paid to MOOCs and so forth, quality online education has been available and refined over more than a decade, and our Internet Communications program is one such example. I truly hope that as this next generation of online learning matures, close attention will be paid to successful examples already available! Successful learning and teaching is, after all, built on understanding the successes and failures of the past.

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CFP: An Education In Facebook?

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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Facebook, Student Engagement, and the ‘Uni Coffee Shop’ Group

Here are the final slides and audio from Internet Research 13 in MediaCityUK, Salford. My last paper ‘Facebook, Student Engagement, and the ‘Uni Coffee Shop’ Group’ was presented as part of a panel about Facebook and Higher Education which also featured work by my collegues Mike Kent, Kate Raynes-Golide and Clare Lloyd.

The abstract:

While the curriculum, lecturers and tutors teaching Internet Communications via Open Universities Australia (OUA) have been engaging with students for several years using Twitter (see Leaver, 2012), in the past Facebook had been largely left alone since this was viewed as a more casual space where students might interact with each other, but not with teaching staff. However, in the last two years, more and more students have created groups to use Facebook as a discussion space about their units, often attracting a significant proportion of students from that unit. While these groups are important, of even more interest is the establishment of the group called the ‘Uni Coffee Shop’. Unlike the unit-specific groups, the Coffee Shop group, established by two Internet Communications students but open to anyone studying online via OUA, affords group support, social connectivity and a persistent online space for conversation which does not disappear or grow stagnant when students complete a specific unit.

This paper will outline an investigation into the effectiveness of the Uni Coffee Shop group as a student-created space for engagement and informal learning. Three modes of inquiry were used: a textual analysis of the common topics of discussion in the group over several months; a quantitative survey of members of the Coffee Shop group; and several follow-up qualitative interviews with Coffee Shop group members, including the two students who administer the group.  In addition, the paper includes the perspectives of teaching staff who have been invited to join the group by students and who, at times, answer specific questions and engage with students in a less formal manner. In detailing the results of these mechanisms, this paper will argue that fostering student-run spaces of engagement using Facebook can be a very effective means to create spaces of engagement and informal learning (Krause & Coates, 2008; Greenhow & Robelia, 2009); the support students give each other can persist over the length of an entire degree; and teaching staff engaging with students in their space, often on their terms, can create a better rapport and a stronger sense of connectivity over the length of a student’s entire degree (and potentially beyond). A student-run Facebook group also provide a space where teaching staff and students can interact using the affordances of Facebook without staff having to explicitly ‘friend’ students (something many staff are reluctant to do for a range of reasons).

Greenhow, C., & Robelia, B. (2009). Informal learning and identity formation in online social networks. Learning, Media and Technology, 34(2), 119 – 140.

Krause, K., & Coates, H. (2008). Students’ engagement in first‐year university. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 33(5), 493-505. doi:10.1080/02602930701698892

Leaver, T. (2012). Twittering informal learning and student engagement in first-year units. In A. Herrington, J. Schrape, & K. Singh (Eds.), Engaging students with learning technologies (pp. 97–110). Perth, Australia: Curtin University. Retrieved from http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au/R?func=dbin-jump-full&local_base=gen01-era02&object_id=187303

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Understanding Creative Commons for Education

Late last year I was interviewed about online teaching by the team UNSW’s COFA team for their Learning to Teach Online project which aims to build a rich library of resources for teachers working online in various forms.  You can find my talking head peppered throughout a number of their video episodes, but the main one, and one I’m really pleased to see up, is all about Understanding Creative Commons for education. I’ve embedded the video below, but you can also get a printable resources hand-out over and the Learning to Teaching Online page.

Incidentally, it’s worth mentioning that this video is about both how teachers and use Creative Commons licenses, but also, and quite importantly, about how students can use CC licenses when producing their own worth, be that text, photos, video or other combinations of media. If you’re an educator interested in this area, you might also enjoy the short paper I wrote a few years ago called ‘The Creative Commons: An Overview for Educators’.

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Wikipedia: What’s in it for Teachers?

[This article was originally published in Screen Education, 53, Autumn 2009, pp. 38-42. It is reproduced here with permission.]

Love it or hate it, everyone has heard of the Wikipedia. Explore most topical subjects on popular search engines like Google and the relevant Wikipedia entry will almost always be in the first few items returned. And far from a flash in the pan, on January 15 2010, the Wikipedia celebrated its ninth birthday, now encompassing more than 10 million articles spanning over 250 different languages. Yet, for teachers and academics the Wikipedia can be a constant source of concern as students increasingly start (and, in the worst cases, end) research on a new topic with a quick peruse of the Wikipedia entry. The biggest concern comes from the core premise of the Wikipedia: it’s an online encyclopaedia that can, literally, be edited by anyone. Yet for all of the fashionable talk of crowdsourcing, collective intelligence and the wisdom of the crowds, most educators prefer their students to be using sources which have more authority and reputation behind them. But is that concern warranted, and given that the Wikipedia is slowly finding a home in classrooms across Australia, what do teachers really need to know about the Wikipedia?

How the Wikipedia Works

From the outset, it is useful to remember that the Wikipedia is just one example, albeit the most well-known, of a website which uses wiki software. A wiki, by definition, is type of software which powers websites and allows anyone to edit and contribute. The wiki software that provides the architecture for the Wikipedia is called MediaWiki and is freely downloadable and reusable (see MediaWiki.org) although that requires server-space and a reasonable level of technical skill. If you’re interested in trying out a wiki, or using a free wiki in teaching, pbworks.com is a good place to start, providing basic wiki functionality for free (and more comprehensive tools for teaching for a fee).

The Wikipedia itself was launched in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, taking its name from the combination of the words wiki and encyclopaedia. The aim of the Wikipedia is fairly simple: to produce and continually improve an online encyclopaedia that is free for anyone to use and, most importantly, can be edited by anyone. After a slow start, the Wikipedia today features over 3.3 million articles in English, with articles in hundreds of languages and it is one of the most popular reference works in the world.

Since the range of articles in the Wikipedia is largely dependant on the interest of contributors (referred to as Wikipedians), the coverage is often uneven; popular culture, recent historical events, and technical issues tend to be very well represented while less topical or more geographically-specific material can be sparse. For example, the Wikipedia entry for the current run of the popular BBC series Top Gear is more than five times longer and has more than three times the references compared to the article for Australian novelist Tim Winton. More to the point, since Wikipedia entries tend to grow over time though the contributions of many editors, newer entries are often less reliable, while those which have been edited and critiqued by a range of Wikipedians tend to be more reliable. The question of reliability, though, given the huge range of people who might contribute to, or ostensibly damage, an article, remains the most divisive issue for lovers and haters of the Wikipedia.

The Reliability Question

While the idea that anyone can edit the Wikipedia causes many people to scoff at the idea of it having any credibility whatsoever, this presumption has actually been tested far less often than it should be. In 2004, Alex Halavais, an assistant professor at Quinnipiac University, looked in to the question of the Wikipedia’s credibility and was surprised to find almost no research on the issue whatsoever. After an online discussion, he decided to test out the speed at which the numerous editors of the Wikipedia would actually be able to fix mistakes. Halavais created a pseudonym and a Wikipedia profile as ‘Dr al-Halawi’ and made 13 deliberate errors, some obvious and some obscure. He predicted that within two weeks many of these errors would remain undetected. However, within several hours, all of the deliberate errors were identified by other Wikipedians and those errors were removed.

Writing in his blog (alex.halavais.net), Halavais noted that he was genuinely impressed by the speed and effectiveness with which the Wikipedia entries were corrected. While he conceded that his experiment didn’t ‘prove’ that the Wikipedia was reliable for everything, he did highlight the time and effort many people put into the Wikipedia, and that editors often also see themselves as guardians of particular articles, even obscure ones.

It’s worth explaining that one of the functions all registered Wikipedia users have access to is something called a Watchlist. Whenever an article on a user’s watchlist is edited by someone else, the watchlist user is sent a message and, upon notification, many Wikipedians will immediately examine the new material. In the cases of obvious vandalism or error, these errors are often ‘rolled back’ within minutes (that is, the Wikipedia entry is returned to the previous version before the errors were made). For more popular articles, Wikipedians with watchlists can be extremely effective, but even the more obscure articles often end up with one or two watchers, ensuring that obvious errors tend not to last that long. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule, especially for entries which not of ongoing interest to the Wikipedians who originally created them.

In December 2005, a more substantial and widely reported study was undertaken by the leading scientific journal Nature. Articles from the Wikipedia and the Encyclopaedia Britannica on the same topics were collected and then sent for blind-review to experts on those topics; the experts were not told which articles were from which source. While there were a few substantial errors in either, on average Wikipedia entries tended to have roughly 4 inaccuracies, while the same entries from the Encyclopaedia Britannica had approximately 3 errors. The results suggested that neither Wikipedia nor Britannica was flawless, but that the reliability gap between the two was fairly small. Indeed, given the seemingly haphazard manner in which Wikipedia entries and created and refined, the Nature study has been hailed by many commentators as evidence of impressive collective intelligence of Wikipedians, and of Wikipedia’s success and credibility.

The Nature examination also highlighted the biggest difference between the two sources: while errors in Britannica would have to wait until the next hardcopy edition was created, Wikipedia entries could be fixed instantly. Indeed, it is the speed at which the Wikipedia entries can appear and develop which is often mentioned as its greatest strength. And while neither the experiments of Halavais or Nature suggest Wikipedia is perfect, it appears almost as reliable as its well-respected hardcopy competitors.

The Neutrality Question

One of the core principles of the Wikipedia is that articles should be factual and be written using a Neutral Point of View (or NPOV). This policy ensures, for example, that any claims made without the appropriate sources or references can be easily identified and removed. However, given the breadth of material covered and the number of editors, the ideal of objectivity or neutrality is a difficult one to maintain. The entry on global warming, for example, has a long history of changes and arguments between editors which has, at times, led to certain Wikipedians being blocked from editing the entry. Similarly, while the Wikipedia could easily be used as a promotional tool or for self-aggrandisement, autobiography and obvious conflicts of interest are highly discouraged. The only exception to these guidelines is the right to correct obvious factual errors.

In 2007 the Howard government was wrapped up in its own scandal when a new website launched (unaffiliated with the Wikipedia) called the WikiScanner. The Wikiscanner highlights how many changes to the Wikipedia come from any particular internet address. Journalists and others quickly pounced on this tool and found that staff in Prime Minster Howard’s department had been actively editing unfavourable entries, including those about the 2001 Children Overboard Affair and the biography of Peter Costello. The Wikiscanner also revealed thousands of changes originating from computers in Australia’s Defence Department, although this practice was quickly clamped down on, with official Defence Department rules now preventing changes being made (while at work, at least). While many of the changes were either predictable (like inserting the word allegedly into reports about the Children Overboard Affair) or inconsequential, the fact that the Howard government or the Defence Department would bother to edit the Wikipedia is a clear indication of the wide impact the Wikipedia has had across Australia and the wider world.

In 2005 one of the most biggest controversies to hit the Wikipedia erupted when well-respected US journalist and political figure John Seigenthaler had it brought to his attention that the Wikipedia entry about him falsely accused Seigenthaler of being linked to the assassinations of John F Kennedy and Robert Kennedy. At issue was not just the false information, which was removed fairly quickly after the hoax entry was exposed, but the fact that the erroneous entry had last for 4 months before someone noticed the problem. Seigenthaler’s reputation and the obviously false accusations were something of a blow to the Wikipedia, and the issue of Wikipedia’s reliability again became a hot topic in the media. In response to the Seigenthaler incident, the Wikipedia introduced new safeguards which meant some entries were protected from editing, while others could only be edited by trusted Wikipedians who had proven their reliability with a history of useful contributions. This is illustrated, for example, in that immediately before and during the inauguration of Barack Obama, the entries both for Obama and George W Bush were in ‘semi-protected’ mode. This mode means only Wikipedians who’ve made non-controversial edits to more than 10 articles over a period of time and have thus earned a level of trust, can edit these biographies. The biographical entries for many current and recent political figures are in semi-protected mode, as this prevents anonymous users, first-time users and automated scripts from altering and vandalising content. While these restrictions alter the ‘anyone can edit’ philosophy behind the Wikipedia, the changes do offer a higher level of credibility and reliability, especially surrounding hot topics and public figures, trying to maintain the ideal of neutrality.

Using Wikipedia in the Classroom

So with the caveats about credibility and neutrality in mind, what place can the Wikipedia have in the classroom? More to the point, given that many of our students are using it whether endorsed by their teachers or not, how can we try and ensure that, at the very least, students approach the Wikipedia with a critical eye?

In trying to understand the Wikipedia, the most obvious approach is to try and design a project in which students edit or create a Wikipedia page. Such a project ensures that students get first-hand experience of everything from logging in, to creating content and then working with whatever alterations or contributions come from the broader Wikipedian community. The success or failure of such a project will often hinge on carefully considering the topic to create or explore. For example, editing the biography of John Howard might be interesting, but students are likely to come up against a fairly detailed existing entry and there will probably be quite a few vested Wikipedians watching over this entry; this, in turn, might see contributions from the classroom quickly overturned. However, one of the least well-documented areas of in the Wikipedia is often local history. So a project, for example, which involved students researching their local suburb’s history, or the history of a significant community landmark or event, is far more likely to be of value both as a project and to the Wikipedia itself. Wikipedia’s policy of ensuring material is referenced would require students to do decent research, while creating a local historical entry could add both to their understanding of local history and their understanding of the Wikipedia. Wikipedians themselves suggest that one of the best ways for teachers to introduce the Wikipedia is for the whole class to use a single username and password. This allows teachers to moderate and, if needs be, to remove student contributions. If you’re considering trying out using the Wikipedia as a classroom activity, it’s worth taking a look at the Wikipedia’s guide for teachers, at: http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Schools/Teachers%27_Guide.

Another possibility, rather than creating entries, is to study the Wikipedia as both a cultural and social entity. Making such a study of real value are some of the greatest assets of the Wikipedia, which are not the entries themselves, but the editorial histories which are linked to each and every Wikipedia entry. Every article has an associated Discussion and History page (accessed via tabs at the top of each entry). The Discussion page (often just called Talk) is the place where Wikipedians can propose, discuss, argue and critique changes and suggested changes to articles. These pages can sometimes be banal, but often they reveal a great deal about the way people think about particular topics; these discussions can also serve as a compass in measuring what the debates are surrounding certain topics or subjects. Similarly, the History page shows the detail of each and every change made to an entry since it was first created, including any instances where the entry was ‘rolled back’ to a previous version after a contribution that was not judged worthy by other users. Again, this depth of editorial knowledge can reveal a great deal about how certain topics are explored and the way entries have evolved. Beyond individual entries and their histories, studying the Wikipedia as an entity is made far more interesting by examining the Wikimedia Foundation, who run the Wikipedia; in a community of peers, they the ones who still hold unrivalled power in over the online encyclopaedia. Jimmy Wales, the remaining founder of the Wikipedia, is also a colourful and at times controversial character in his own right. It is worth noting that as part of the Global Village elective in this year’s English syllabus for the NSW HSC the Wikipedia itself is suggested as an object of study and amongst the suggested pages are those which discuss the Wikimedia Foundation, not just individual entries.

The final suggested classroom activity is for students to undertake a detailed analysis of an individual Wikipedia entry, often one which is on a currently controversial or topical issue. If, as the Nature investigation revealed, most Wikipedia entries have some errors, what might those errors be? If students were starting from scratch on a particular topic, how would they approach their research? Is this approach reflected in the Wikipedia entry, or do their plans already reveal deficiencies in the information available? What impact does the Wikipedia’s neutrality policy have on what information is and isn’t part of that particular entry? And how accurately, or meaningfully, does the Wikipedia entry reflect the history or impact of that subject today? In comparing the Wikipedia entries with other sources, not only are students likely to discover the strengths and weaknesses of the Wikipedia, but they’re also likely to develop broader insight into the way information is presented in different sources, both online and in more traditional forms. This critical literacy may, in fact, be of far more value than any single investigation of the Wikipedia whatsoever as it may help teach students one of the most important lessons: that all sources should be approached critically, regardless of their supposed origins. Errors are always possible, and if an investigation into the Wikipedia can highlight the subjective nature of all information, that insight will serve students far beyond the immediate project they’re undertaking.

The appropriateness of the Wikipedia as a classroom tool or project will always depend on the specificities of that teaching environment, but given the widespread impact of the Wikipedia, it seems better to study it and highlight its strengths and weaknesses rather than ignore it altogether. Another way to get a firmer grip on the Wikipedia is to seek out a the recently published How Wikipedia Works: And How You Can Be a Part of It by Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, and Ben Yates (No Starch Press, 2008) which was written by three long-time Wikipedians and gives a wealth of insight into the inner workings of the Wikipedia, as well as best practice for new users and educators seeking to use the Wikipedia for the first time. However, the single most important thing to remind students is that despite being online, the Wikipedia aspires to being an excellent encyclopaedia; simply citing an encyclopaedia without further research has never led to good marks and that’s unlikely to change any time soon, be it an online encyclopaedia or otherwise. Every Wikipedia entry cites its sources, following these is where real research can often begin.

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A Very CC Year …

As the Creative Commons movement celebrates a birthday this week, I thought I’d take the opportunity to reflect on my year in CC terms, as well as showing off some very impressive CC-licensed work by my honours students.  It has already been a pretty big year in Creative Commons terms for me and the students I teach; in the first semester my Digital Media class experimented with Creative Commons licenses on a lot of their output, including many of their Student News reports and almost all of their outstanding Digital Media Projects; I’ve also enjoyed being part of an education panel at the Building an Australasian Commons conference in July, as well as presenting on my talk ‘Building Open Education Resources from the Bottom Up’ at the Open Education Resources Free Seminar in Brisbane in September.

As the year’s drawing to a close, I’m delighted to highlight one last effort, this time from the honours students in my iGeneration: Digital Communication and Participatory Culture course.  The course, as in past years, has been a collaborative effort between the students and myself; I’ve provided the framing narrative and opening and closing weeks, while the students, in consultation, have written the central seminars in the course.  Moreover, all course content from the seminars to the curriculum, from the students’ audio podcasts to their amazing remix videos, has been released under a Creative Commons license as both an exemplar of their fine work and an Open Educational Resource which, hopefully, will be something other teachers, students and creative citizens can draw upon for their own purposes. Moreover, given that I first ran iGeneration in 2005, this year’s students already built upon the work of that first cohort, learning from their peers and, hopefully, sharing so future peers can build on this work, too.

I also thought I’d take this opportunity to showcase some of the specific media projects created this year.  The first is a really impressive podcast by Kiri Falls which looked at the Babelswarm art installation in Second Life


[Full Sources & Exegesis] [CC BY NC SA]
Kiri’s final project for the unit, this time a remix video, takes quite literally the idea that creativity builds upon the past, with this enjoyable video which mashes together a plenitude of videos and photographs …

[Full Sources & Exegesis] [CC BY NC SA]

The second remix project I wanted to showcase is by Alex Pond; Alex has created a short but very poignant  video which takes issue with the monolith that is copyright law, but celebrates the freedoms which are shared via the Creative Commons …

[Full Sources & Exegesis] [CC BY NC SA]

The final remix I wanted to highlight is a bit different.  This one, by Chris Ardley, includes art and music from creators who’ve explicitly given Chris permission to re-use their work and share it under a CC license.  This animation, created in Flash, explores remix more metaphorically, and tells a tale of worldly creation …

[Full Sources & Exegesis] [CC BY NC SA]

I think all of these projects are quite impressive, and I was delighted at how seriously this year’s students took the idea of remix and how many of them embraced everything that the Creative Commons has to offer, as well as giving back something of their own.  I’ve also finally written iGeneration up as an educational example in the CC Case Studies Wiki, something I’ve been meaning to do for a while!

So, Happy 6th Birthday to the Creative Commons! In the next six years, I hope you’ll consider sharing work under a CC license if you haven’t already; a shared culture can help us all be a lot more creative.  I know my students have benefitted from the generosity of the Creative Commons, and have, in turn, added a few quite impressive ideas and artefacts back into the creative stream.

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Annotated Digital Culture Links: December 9th 2008

Links for December 9th 2008:

  • Australia’s census going CC BY [Creative Commons] – “In a small, easy to miss post, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has made a very exciting announcement. They’re going CC – and under an Attribution-only license, no less. From the ABS website…
  • Texting Turnbull catches the Twitter bug [The Age] – “As the Opposition’s popularity slips back to where it was under Brendan Nelson’s leadership, Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull is bringing digital intervention to the fore. The digits in question are his thumbs. Having witnessed the power of the web in the US presidential election campaign, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Mr Turnbull are engaged in a high-tech arms race to win the hearts and minds of switched-on Australians. While some politicians including US President-elect Barack Obama are content with older model BlackBerry handsets, Mr Turnbull owns one of the latest releases, the BlackBerry Bold. And he showed off the speed of his thumbs as he settled once and for all the question of whether he writes his own Twitter updates. “I love technology,” he told online journalists in Sydney as he added another “tweet” via Twitter as they watched.” To his credit, more personal than a lot of Kevin07 stuff: http://twitter.com/turnbullmalcolm
  • Virtual world for Muslims debuts [BBC NEWS | Technology] – “A trial version of the first virtual world aimed at the Muslim community has been launched. Called Muxlim Pal, it allows Muslims to look after a cartoon avatar that inhabits the virtual world. Based loosely on other virtual worlds such as The Sims, Muxlim Pal lets members customise the look of their avatar and its private room. Aimed at Muslims in Western nations, Muxlim Pal’s creators hope it will also foster understanding among non-Muslims. “We are not a religious site, we are a site that is focused on the lifestyle,” said Mohamed El-Fatatry, founder of Muxlim.com – the parent site of Muxlim Pal.”
  • Facebook scandal shames students [The Age] – “A Facebook network of senior students from two of Sydney’s most elite private schools have offended the Jewish community with anti-Semitic slurs. Students from The Scots College in Bellevue Hill created a Facebook site called Jew Parking Appreciation Group which describes “Jew parking” as an art which often occurs at “Bellevue (Jew) Hill”. The site, which has 51 members, contains a link to The Scots Year 12 Boys, 2008, and The Scots College networks, and is administered by Scots students. It is connected to another network created and officiated by Scots College students with postings that include “support Holocaust denial” and a link to another internet address called “F— Israel and Their Holocaust Bullshit”.” (Racist rubbish, but also another example of supposedly ‘digital natives’ misunderstanding how much of their juvenile digital behaviour will be visible and recorded forever online.)
  • Jean Burgess, Joshua Green – YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture [Polity Press] – “YouTube is one of the most well-known and widely discussed sites of participatory media in the contemporary online environment, and it is the first genuinely mass-popular platform for user-created video. In this timely and comprehensive introduction to how YouTube is being used and why it matters, Burgess and Green discuss the ways that it relates to wider transformations in culture, society and the economy.” (Potential textbook material for the Digital Media unit.)
  • Learn at Any Time – The Open University [Podcasts] – The Open University podcasts website is a very well made example of university-based podcasts that DO NOT rely on hosting via Apple’s iTunes platform.
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New Media Literacies

Check out this articulate, straight-forward and succinct little video highlighting the key skills which are part of digital literacy (or, as the producers prefer, new media literacies):


[Via Howard Rheingold @ Smartmobs]

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An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube

Michael Wesch, an anthropologist focused on digital culture and YouTube (famous for the the videos The Machine is Us/Ing Us and A Vision of Students Today) has released (on YouTube) an excellent presentation he gave about YouTube’s history and cultural impact called An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube:

While much of the story Wesch presents will be familiar, this 55 minute package is an excellent overview and will no doubt prove an excellent resource for getting students thinking about the place of YouTube in digital culture. Beside which, it features a whole bunch of old favourites which should make it enjoyable viewing for almost everyone. (If a 55 minute YouTube clip is a bit much, Wesch has posted a timeline for the video in his blog, so pick up the story wherever you’re most interested.)

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