L.

Learning without a school?

“You can have places where you can’t build a school. And even more commonly you can have places where you have schools but good teachers don’t want to or can not go there. What do you do about that? Because there are children everywhere. And that’s what I’m trying to address.”

After his groundbreaking Hole in the Wall Project, Sugata Mitra, came up with another great idea providing education to those who used to be excluded or could be reached only with great difficulties. He uses Skype video chat and has recruited hundreds of grannies in Newcastle — the UK Granny Cloud — to go online and help children in India with their education, based on the grandmother method – stand behind, admire, act fascinated and praise.

UK-India-BBC-Sugata-Mitra-Granny-Cloud

This a great example of how to bring together aging societies in developed countries with children in the devoloping world in need for quality education. A technology enabled win-win-situation. As Val Almond, a volunteer teacher in the project, puts it: “So many children in the world don’t have access to education. But through technology you can get through to the poorest of children.”

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F.

Facebook Killed the Private Life

Clay Shirky, who popularized the concept of cognitive surplus, the time freed from watching television which can be enormously productive, talks in an interview about the risks of social media and broadcasting yourself on the internet. Shirky provides the following example: “The employer says: ‘Anything that is accessible to me is also acceptable to me.'” While in the real world there is a notion of privacy in public spaces (e.g. listening in the neighbors’ conversation in a restaurant is considered wrong), this notion lacks in the semi-public semi-private sphere of social networks and the internet. Shirky concludes that unless we find a better solution than the existing one, we will “have robbed young people of something that they won’t even know they are missing, because they never leave the web of surveillance.”

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A.

An Evening with Werner Herzog


Werner Herzog is often considered as one the greatest figures of the New German Cinema, along with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Volker Schlöndorff, Wim Wenders and others. He is definitely one of my favorite filmmakers. His edgy, larger-than-life films fuse the epic with the intimate, redefining the scale and scope of filmmaking to include more than 60 works shot on every continent.

Last April, Herzog visited the UC Santa Barbara campus where he spent two hours in conversation about his film making and life with the author and essayist, Pico Iyer.

You may also have a look at Werner Herzog’s 1968 short film “Last Words”. It was shot and edited in only 2 days. The film tells a story of the last man to leave the abandoned island of Spinalonga, which had been used as a leper colony. The film’s narrative style is very unconventional, with most characters speaking their lines several times repeatedly in long takes. The man from the island has the most spoken lines of any character, as he repeatedly explains that he refuses to speak, even a single word.

These videos will help time pass before the Spring 2011 premiere of Herzog’s upcoming 3D film, Cave of Forgotten Dreams.

Thanks Film Studies For Free

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B.

Big Edutech in a little package

Siftables aims to enable people to interact with information and media in physical, natural ways that approach interactions with physical objects in our everyday lives.

David Merrill and Jeevan Kalanithi of Sifteo first came up with a prototype for game cubes when studying human-computer interaction at the MIT Media Lab. During their research they realized that the way humans typically interact with physical objects is by picking them up to examine and arrange them. So they decided to create a digital gaming platform that incorporates the physical experience of playing a boardgame. They called it “Siftables” and David demonstrated their invention in an inspiring TED Talk in 2009.

“Traditional game consoles have lost the tangible and interactive nature of classic tabletop games like Mahjong and dominoes, that bring people together,” said Jeevan Kalanithi, co-founder of Sifteo. “Players tell us that Sifteo cubes reduce „screen stare?, banish tired thumbs and give families and individuals a more „natural? way to have fun,” said Kalanithi.

In January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas Sifteo got a lot of coverage in the media and won some nifty awards. Early Access packs have been sold out within a few days. You can sign up here for updates on when more will be available: www.sifteo.com/early_access

In my opinion these cubes may be the next big thing in technology and education because they let your ideas flow outside the box (or the screen). Watch the video from 2:23 and you will immediately see the great potential for mathematics education packed in these small cubes.

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T.

Technological Antiques

Ever since Paul Virilio coined the term ‘dromology’ (the study of speed) in the late 1970s, searching for the meaning of ever speedier change has become a respectable path of scholarship. “Everywhere life seems to speeding up: we talk of fast food and speed dating. But what does the phenomenon of social acceleration really entail?”, Hartmut Rosa asks in a collection of essays called High Speed Society.

Last year, French journalist Jean-Christophe Laurence took an interesting approach. He showed primary school kids old technology like floppy discs, a 1st generation Game Boy, a mouse from the 1980s or a telephone with dial plate and filmed their reactions. In the end he asks: “Not even 30 years old… And already antiques?”

In my opinion, the fact that mankind renews its tools within less than a generation should affect the way we teach and learn in schools. It becomes more and more important to teach our kids how to cope with change. Watching these kids discovering the meaning of stuff unknown to them, comparing it to things they know and finally giving it a meaning made me happy. Kids are explorers, and if school doesn’t destroy their curiosity and even helps them to develop such skills, “technological antiques” won’t be a problem at all.

(via rferl.org)

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