Franky Jetstar

Media saturates the world have the luxury of living in. The media is a fantasy where images of hope are crafted as deliberately as those of violence – and almost all of it is designed to entertain and sell. So we choose to pay attention to layers of media which once were deaf, and only now learning what happens when we shout back. Yesterday, my father in law died in Tasmania. My wife had booked a flight next week, as things were looking increasingly grim. Sadly he died yesterday. Amid the tears, we tried to book the next flight to Tasmania, calling Jetstar Reservations to explain the situation.

No. Is the simple answer. No you can’t change, and even if you hav insurance you have to pay is now, and we will assess your claim later. And the flight is $400 more than the other one – do you have a credit card.

The is the media at work, used to telling, demanding and controlling. Jetstar’s face is one of competitive prices and ‘welcome aboard’ is it not in the media?

Clearly, despite the PR and polished promotions, this is a fantasy. One which it seems real humans are forced to participate. Anyone remember this at the gate recently? Mostly its someone in a rain-coat with a shortwave radio glaring at passengers, daring them to ask “so how come we’re an hour over departure and you’ve said nothing”.

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I posted our disgust on Facebook, and a friend pasted it into Jetstar’s fan page. It got a response. I am not sure how to elevate past’ quite concerning’ to ‘caring’.

“Thanks for getting in touch with us about this, it’s quite concerning to hear. We have a compassionate policy in place to assist passengers in these circumstances, but without knowing any further details, and without discussing this with a passenger or contact on the booking, its difficult for me to provide any further insight into this. I would encourage you to ask your friend to get in touch with our Reservations Team on 131 538 or alternatively, with us here and we’ll be able to look into this further for him. Thanks- Angela”

So after re-organising school (my son was on a bus coming home from camp at Coffs) – numerous people helping, my wife got to the airport on time. Of course she called ahead and used the website – but remember, I’m saying this is all fantasy.

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This is media today. We don’t need to stay quiet and listen to the messages. And there are no agenderless media messages. Here Jetstar still don’t care or understand their Reservations Team are the issue – and simply repeat their demand in order to placate a negative media piece on their page.

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In a compasionate world “Angela” would be a real person, who’d offer the cordial expressions of empathy. So I posted a reply on the media they are keen to use to promote their image as there is no other way to deal with an organisation which acts in this way – or thinks that social media is something to be triaged. It is something to take seriously. It isn’t an extension to your business model, it is a replacement.

Don’t replace it with media. You can get back to me here if you like Angela perhaps we can have a corporate happy ending photo? Call me. Okay.

What emerges from under the bed

Games and what emerges from the games are not the same thing. This seems an essential message in teacher education getting excited at the idea of game based learning. However its not as simple as deciding on a game to play as it requires making sense of how games work, specifically in balancing mastery and boredom.

Professional Development in technology generally assumes an operational integration of technology-tools  into the existing system, which in itself is entirely focused on assessable, known and stable outcomes measured though essays and exams.

Deciding on a technological tool is determined by individual and organisational belief of  how well it will ‘fit’ or ‘integrate’ into known, stable practice which is ruled by constant grades and scores. Abandoning existing technologies also means abandoning methods, which in turn declares them less useful. Education hates this idea – as it constantly draws on seers of the past to interpret the future.

Generally speaking the function of technology currently is productivity. A typed up essay that suits the small amount of time markers actually spend reading it is preferable. A hand written exam is preferable when ticking off declarative knowledge, the NAPLAN allows governments to regulate and assign funding. Technology is by an large system-focused or dismissed. We find it incredibly hard to assess the soft skills, which is evident in the lack of them appearing in the National Curriculum beyond motherhood statements.

Outside of fractious formal educational, technology spawns networks of external sites and forums that support guilds, databases, and wikis, or the technological infrastructure that support solving diverse problems has become an intensely liberating factor in mass social development – which involves not only consuming, but producing and modifying knowledge in numerous form factors online. This work – and teaching about this work – takes place almost entirely in downtime and is perhaps is the exploit needed for those who never stood on the school stage as the celebrated academic elite, or never got that job because the qualification demand was high (despite the pay being low).

As a colleague suggested – everyone wants to pay a nickel for a dollar song – meaning formal education is used to call the shots in life. And yet the most innovation, the most opportunity for those yet to receive an education lies in mobile, mass access to the Internet.

Here is a game you can play with teachers as future-ologists.

Imagine two teams playing a video game online. Both have the objective of building a defensible fortress from the game control enemies. The game-world has limited resources to use in constructing this, and limited time before the first wave of bad-guys seeks to eliminate players. What happens next?

Educators will come up with scenarios based partly on their understanding of the problem and their assumption of what you asking in context. The way they will explain it will be to vocalise or to write something down – and use language that they assume you share a common understanding of.

If we set this problem to educators, they will usually want to know more information, and claim they can’t set about solving it as it has too many variables and too little information. Ask the same problem of children and you’ll probably get the same answer. What becomes interesting is if one team is children and the other adults, even more interesting if you separate them into gender.

This is the recipe that has been served up on reality television for over a decade. It’s what keeps people watching MasterChef, The Amazing Race and Survivor. It’s the same formula that broke gaming out of the arcade era into games like Tombraider.

If we set this as a text-based question in a blog or wiki – what can we learn? How helpful would it be to delve into past-research in order to try and make links between lab-rats and gamers?

What emerges from playing this game – in a game world – is useful. It can spawn a host of explorations and discussions in which those who are situated inside the game-world can explain broader, applied theory of how to solve more complex problems. They have shared experience, shared meaning and shared identity.

When people ask “which game should I use to teach grade 4 science” I can only answer that the question is floored unless you want to use a Taylorist ‘computer as a tutor’ instructional, education game. What would be better is to ask “what scientific phenomenon can we explore in a game-world”. To me that is the point of game-play – to explore scenarios that cannot otherwise occur.

This is one of the key reasons I dislike the idea of ‘gamification’ — the idea that people will declare new enthusiasm or be more work-life innovative, simply because they collect tokens or badges in a game.

What emerges from game-play in teacher education are raw materials. The building blocks of web pedagogy and social development strategies. And I’ve I’ve said before – building a personal learning network is game-play – it’s what happens next.

Changing minds, changing tools

I’ve been using WordPress for a good number of years. Before that I used a now ‘dead’ service.

All up I’ve been ‘blogging’ for about a decade – but didn’t really call it that for five or six years until Judy set me straight. In fact in the first half of the naughties, I wasn’t in education — and in the future, who knows …

Times obviously change, and I seem to spend more time ‘encountering’ things than I once did and spend a great deal of time reaping information from networks, that often I just flick back to the network. Judy’s written about her changing use of media — so once again, I’m late to the party.

I’ve been looking for something to suit. I use Posterous, but mostly it’s a digital-dumpster for me. I fire things from Twitter and Facebook to it that I might (and don’t always) want to go back to. I use a few gadgets on Twitter to fire RT links to Diigo and Delicious, which is more like a teenager’s bedroom floor. In productivity, I’m a massive user of Evernote which is a collection of cave-wall scratchings of ideas and half-finished notes. When I want to get more serious I use Mendeley and Open Office – simply because it’s really easy to store, organise and obligingly cite research in an attempt to support my suppositions.

The new kid on the block is Amplify. I’m told people have to join to comment – but I’m finding it a great light weight way to actually write a weblog of thoughts, ideas and encounters. I like that I can harvest from it, so fire posts to secret-gardens that I have intention of sharing – but use as a sort of archive – just in case Amplify disappears. That is a bit like never backing up your hard drive to me, having lost much of what I was thinking in the early part of 2000s, I’m conscious of the fragility of Web2.0ism.

I’ve added a link over to the right – and guess it will probably contain more unfinished thoughts and observations than the trusty WordPress blog which I’ll continue to write – but perhaps less frequently.

I find it – and so I imagine others do – really hard to put borders around writing. I totally get that may über blogs are positioning pieces or revenue generators — and are written in that way. I don’t think I’m there yet, and still enjoy writing things down, that later I revisit and have another subconscious argument with myself. I may have caught myself trying to do/be something I’m not that good at recently, so the voices in my head are telling me to try something new.

What makes a virtual world happy?

An implicit assumption of the objective indicators approach to ‘social indicators’ is that one’s health, physical environment, quality of housing and other material circumstances are valid indicators of the quality of life. We are assuming that quality of life here relates to the single ‘real’ identity alone. As cyborgs – which you probably are with your iphones, augmented reality apps and mmorpg toons – I wonder how we begin to look at cyber-social indicators.

How do we work out if the metaverse is happy? How can we tell if an avatar is feeling a bit low – apart from their mana or health bar?  What are the social indicators needed to measure the social-media landscape, and what questions would provide more insight than of ‘how many users have xyz’ blah.

Do RTs make you happy? If we all get our RT quota, does it make us less or more snarky. Why do we change our avatar appearance … does the metaverse make use actually feel better.

If so, would kids feel happier at school if they brought their avatars?

A fresh approach to Higher Ed Course Design

There are times when you hear someone talk and you think, bloody hell! – that is going to change everything. Now it seems you only need to read 140 characters, and get the same reaction.

Howard Rheingold posted a link to his ‘social media’ wiki on Twitter.

It’s not the fact it is a wiki and not a course in Moodle, WebCT or Black Board that is impressive though.  HR has built a very sophisticated information architecture that is simple to get around (a massive step forward in itself) and packed it with language that leaves students in little doubt as to the how exciting, challenging and rewarding the course will be.

It’s not there to ‘inform’ in the way most online courses do. It’s not some kind of digital point of reference (though it does that superbly) either. It’s language advocates adoption, adaption and infusion of technology, as a transformational experience that will deliver life long benefits. In just a few pages – HR clarifies, engages and sets up his course as being something you just want to sink your teeth into.

For example: students will have practiced mindful self-observation of the ways they use their own attention. Increased facility at inquiry and collaboration are other meta-skills diligent students should expect to gain: the methodology of collaborative inquiry used in this course is expected to generalize beyond the classroom.

Another significant element of the site is the ‘How To’. He’s immediately set out his expectations, guidelines and criteria for success. He talks clearly about how that success will come about using a range of ‘un-passive’ technologies … but then immediately scaffolds them out of ‘entry’ level uses of technology with a self help guide on how to blog, make a wiki page etc.,

He’s not treating the method of evidencing learning as a separate ‘training manual’. The learning method for evidence is using the tools themselves.

This is the best and most influential ‘course design’ example I’ve seen – but I’m not surprised – as HR is just inspirational.