Blog Archives

What Twitterers are tweeting about

Some people flatly refuse to tweet because it’s boring.  Yes, it is boring to read “I’m going home now” or “having chicken for dinner”.  But a flick through the tweets of those I’m following reveals some interesting stuff indeed.  People really post about interesting things. Here’s a selection:

  • Interview with Mark Zuckerberg:  he’s big into integration, single sign-ons with Facebook at the centre of things.
  • 40 people who changed the internet: the list is predominantly male and American.  There is a grand total of 1 woman in the entire list.
  • Review of Kevin Kelly’s new book: the reviewer isn’t hugely positive but yet manages to create a curiosity about the book. It sounds like an in-depth philosophical view of the technology-driven world. Example: “technology is an emerging state of cosmic reality” – that calls for some pondering.
  • Social consumers and social marketing:  I started off my professional life in marketing (in the pre-internet world). It  didn’t last long. The whole thing felt like a combination of paper-pushing and how-to-get-suckers-to-part-with-their-money. Now, it’s all changed and internet-marketing is one of my more enjoyable subjects to engage in with students.  Social Currency is more than just a concept. Brands mean something to customers, and customers are in charge of the transaction
  • If third level education costs more, should third level education then be shorter in duration? – I don’t agree. But this is exactly what is being speculated on in the UK. College is as much about personal development as it is about learning the content of a particular domain.  I’ve always been fascinated by how students change and mature between their first year and their third year. I don’t  see the same gains being made in 2 years. In terms of the academic learning, I wonder if a 2-year degree is more about the dreaded, and ultimately wasted, “cramming” as it is about immersion in a subject to the extent that a deeper understanding is achieved, even if some domain facts become blurry with time.
  • If I were a rich woman would I live here? – in fairness, it’s a plush location close to all amenities, but think of the traffic and the pollution. I do like the floorplan and the reclining statue at the bottom of the bed. The bed in the bathroom (or the bath in the bedroom) I’m not so sure about.
  • John Seely Brown’s “The Power of Pull” – I’m ashamed to say I purchased this some time back and still not have got around to reading it.  There are simply too many good books screaming read-me-read-me.  The line “If I aint learning, it aint fun” caught my attention.
  • The top 10 social networking sites and forums: Surprise surprise, Facebook is way above and beyond the most popular. Why don’t I know more about Mocospace and Mylife?  Am I missing something?
  • The Times Higher Ed claim to have a preview of the Hunt report: and its unsurprisingly not pretty in places and rather intriguing in others: the general feeling seems to be that it lacks a sound academic base and anything build on sand tends to be blown apart quite easily. So far so uh-oh.

rEvolutionary Ideas cause a lengthy stir

On very rare occasions an idea or fact is unveiled that causes such an upset of the pre-existing status quo that it continues to have tongues wagging long after its originator has passed on. One such example is Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of The Species. It’s celebrating its 150 year publication anniversary.  It was 200 years ago this year that Darwin himself was born.

There are lots of things Darwin in the news at the moment. Channel 4 is running a series celebrating the genius of Charles Darwin. There seems to be a comment on the great man’s works in many notable media publications:  the Guardian, a blog about a new book celebrating the anniversary, an Irish site on the topic, and coverage from the prestigious Scientific American.

The one that really caught my attention, however, is on the silver screen.  The interestingly-titled Creation tells of the personal struggle Darwin had in the run up to the writing of the famous book. We are so used to hearing about the theories, but we hear little about the person. This movie changes all that. We see the person behind the work.  We see the human who battled with his own religious upbringing and his wife’s more entrenched religiosity. But more than that, it captured Darwin the parent, Darwin the father.

His bond with his beloved daughter Annie was to prove instrumental in his decision to write the book. Despite her tender years and pre-mature death (she died aged only 10 years), she understood what her father’s work was about.  She was able to reflect it back to him with the clarity and simplicity of a child’s thinking. In one particular scene, Darwin took his (at the time) 4 children out into nature, to observe a fox catching rabbit dinner.   One daughter is upset at this barbaric side of nature, but Annie intervenes with a comment that it has to happen like that, it keeps the balance. Astounding.

Creation is a beautifully filmed piece of work. The cinematography is stunning. The beautiful way we hear about the life and demise of Jenny-the-Orangutang who died prematurely in conjunction with Annie is ….  I defy anyone to watch that and not shed a tear.

Equally impressive is the website.  It’s on my list of “sites whose design reflect their content” examples for my e-business students.  It’s also my new home page, popping up on my screen each time I load Firefox. I’m a country gal who is now living in the city. Like many such people, I miss the sound effect of the countryside. If I close my eyes I might just kid myself into thinking I’m back in good old rural Ireland again.

Should students be worried about….

… this

Dumber than dumb

Dumber than dumb

On the plus side, the blurb (courtesy of Amazon) says the following –
“Don’t let the title fool you; this is an essential guide and resource for any aspiring teacher. Sue Cowley uses her experience and insight to provide a comprehensive and informative resource, packed with excellent advice and brilliant suggestions for making both teaching and learning effective. A must for any teacher’s bookshelf!” Peter Hadfield, Principal lecturer in Education, University of Bedfordshire
Peter is probably correct. This book is likely filled with practical and useful pointers.
However, one wonders if any self-respecting teacher would be caught dead with a copy?