Category Archives: HandheldLearning2008

Conference notes are up

October was a busy month: I attended three conferences. I took a fair amount of notes, which aren’t polished enough for blog posts, but definitely worth sharing. Read ’em at:

For fun here is a word cloud from the notes (thanks to Wordle).

Word cloud from my conference notes


Everything bad is good for you?

Next up at the Handheld Learning 2008 conference: Steven Johnson, cultural critic and author of Everything Bad is Good for You.

He spoke about three types of increasing complexity in popular culture experiences: content, participation and interface.

Of interest to me was what he said about LOST. The TV series LOST is very complicated: lots of characters, inter-related narratives, cryptic clues, etc. He argues that it’s one of the most complex series of all time. The TV creators of today are able to take this non-interactive medium and conceive it as an interactive one, because they can rely on collaboration between participatory viewers who discuss the show on the web.

People also say that the attention span of the youth is reducing in today’s popular culture world. Not so, says Johnson, as he compares the time it takes to read a book, play a game, watch a TV show and follow a blogger. The book, which apparently young people don’t read anymore because they only respond to quick interactions, actually demands the least amount of time when compared with other popular activities of youth. Interesting.

Becta: Next Generation Learning

The Handheld Learning 2008 conference, held in London, UK, kicked off this morning.

First up: Andrew Pinder, Chairman of Becta, which focuses on how to use technology to support teaching and learning in schools. It will launch a “surge” to address the lack of effective and productive use of technology in schools. Why? Because research proves that, when correctly used, technology does support educational attainment and raise grades. For young people, probably the only time they’re not using technology is when they’re in school. This is puzzling and demotivating for them, especially as they know that ICT literacy is required for 95% of jobs.

The forthcoming campaign — called Next Generation Learning — is aimed at teachers and parents, to demonstrate the benefits and necessity of using technology in education. They will also lobby government to ensure home access for all. Not PCs for all, but affordable access through any device with a screen. They are talking to the corporate sector to put together packages for low-income homes. They are interested in getting a good deal for the learner that results in educational outcomes.

In January ’09 Becta is hosting a meeting of Education Departments from around the world (SA is attending) in an effort get the sentiment of Next Generation Learning being implemented globally.