Clyde Street

Learning, Teaching, Performing

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River Water and Observation

Cate Kennedy has a new collection of poems.

I heard Cate talk with Ramona Koval about The Taste of River Water.

She read two of her poems during the interview on The Book Show.

Both seemed to me to be wonderful guides for those who observe and analyse performance.

The first was Thinking the room empty and the second was 8 x 10 colour enlargements S16.50.

I read Cate’s poems after finishing Stanley Fish’s How to Write A Sentence And How To Read One and delighted in Cate’s craft.

I liked too the introductory quote she used from Kristin Henry:

Here, there is no edge for cutting, and no garde for avanting, there is only the same old story, fresh as resurrection.

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Morning Mist

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I have a very vivid memory of first hearing the word ‘scholarship’.

I was sitting on the floor in a morning assembly at the Buckley CP school on my last day as an infant (in 1959).

The head of the Infant School was saying goodbye as my class moved to the Junior School. She wished us well and was enthusiastic about the possibility that we might have a scholarship to the Grammar School.

I remember being very concerned about this. I had never been on a boat of any kind and the thought of leaving home at 11 to go sailing was unthinkable. Back in 1959 I was convinced that a scholarship was a large sailing boat akin to a galleon.

It must have been a very powerful experience for me as I have a synesthesia relationship with the word ‘scholarship’ to the present day.

Fortunately the word brings out admiration in me these days!

Last week I was in awe of the scholarship displayed by Diarmaid MacCulloch, Professor of the History of the Church at the University of Oxford. Diarmaid was a guest of Ramona Koval on Radio National’s Book Show.  The topic under discussion was 400 Years of the King James Bible.

I think the podcast of the interview is a wonderful resource for anyone seeking the characteristics and demonstration of scholarship.

I am keen to explore the links between scholarship and teaching and am interested in the ideas of two of Diarmaid’s colleagues from Oxford, Keith Trigwell and Suzanne Shale (2004) who propose:

a practice-oriented model that favours a notion of scholarship as activity; is concerned with the articulation of pedagogic resonance; assumes a learning partnership, rather than an instructional relationship, with learners; and privileges the work of knowledge creation with students.

I like all four components of this model and see them as particularly relevant at a time when higher education is transforming its practice.

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Ship Garthsnaid

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Wireless Experience

I have been thinking about wireless systems this week.

At the weekend I was in Tasmania using a wireless Internet connection that gave me access to email in a remote part of the state. There was latency and drop out but I was miles from anywhere delighted to have any connectivity!

On Monday I refereed a journal article on ubiquitous computing and later in the day was involved in a discussion with colleagues about ICT support for open learning spaces.

On Tuesday I followed up a link to Anthony Lincoln’s (2011) paper FYI: TMI: Toward a holistic social theory of information overload and a lead to Anders Olof Larsson and Stefan Hrastinski’s (2011) paper Blogs and blogging: Current trends and future directions.

Whenever I write or say the word ‘wireless’ I am taken back to my early childhood and the description of the radio as a wireless.

Radio National has stimulated my thoughts this week. The catalyst for writing was a recording of Bill Davidow’s discussion of Internet overload. The impetus was a most delightful interview with Annie Proulx about Bird Cloud.

Ramona Koval interviewed Annie Proulx at the Perth Writers’ Festival. It was a busy event for Ramona. She was involved in a discussion with Phillip Adams about about “some of literature’s most fascinating minds” and contemplated why “we want to hear from the writers we love and what it is that compels us to find out more about their lives and ideas.” Phillip spoke about this experience on his own Radio National program, Late Night Live.

So the week has been a wonderful convergence around different forms of wireless, our connections to information and experiences. If you do have an opportunity I recommend that you listen to:

You might find it interesting to listen to a recording of Bill Davidow’s discussion of. Internet overload and read Anthony Lincoln’s (2011) paper.

If you had time you might like to listen to a piece by Laura Tingle that brings together lots of connections, wireless and other, in her discussion of Martin Parkinson.

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In a Dark Wood and Out Again: Freedom

I have missed listening to Radio National’s Book Show of late. I seem to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time for over a month.

If today’s program is a guide then I have missed an enormous amount of good stuff!

Jonathan Franzen was the guest and in a repeat of an interview from November 2010 he discussed his work, including his new novel Freedom, with Ramona Koval. My attention was grabbed in his first response when asked about his championing of Paula Fox‘s work:

You know, you enter a dark wood at a certain point in your life and things start falling apart; your life is not what you expected it to be. And if you encounter a book that really speaks to where you are at that moment, it’s a life-changing encounter, and that happened to me with Desperate Characters. I just thought, ‘Why have I not heard of this book?’ I have not read a better novel written by an American since 1945. It was an incredible book, and it was out of print, so I started vacuuming up all these sort of second-hand copies, and wrote about my experience. And people paid attention to that and now of course she’s back in print; she has a new book coming out this fall.

Amongst other gems in the interview was a passing mention to Jonathan’s Ten Rules for Writing shared with The Guardian:

  1. The reader is a friend, not an adversary, not a spectator.
  2. Fiction that isn’t an author’s personal adventure into the frightening or the unknown isn’t worth writing for anything but money.
  3. Never use the word “then” as a ­conjunction – we have “and” for this purpose. Substituting “then” is the lazy or tone-deaf writer’s non-solution to the problem of too many “ands” on the page.
  4. Write in the third person unless a ­really distinctive first-person voice ­offers itself irresistibly.
  5. When information becomes free and universally accessible, voluminous research for a novel is devalued along with it.
  6. The most purely autobiographical ­fiction requires pure invention. Nobody ever wrote a more auto­biographical story than “The Meta­morphosis”.
  7. You see more sitting still than chasing after.
  8. It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.
  9. Interesting verbs are seldom very interesting.
  10. You have to love before you can be relentless.

I was very interested in his discussion of observation too:

I’m not one of those writers who walks around with a little notebook and is kind of sitting in cafes studying people and taking detailed notes. I chastise myself for being too much of an amateur to do that, or not having the discipline. I did notice, I got a new glasses’ prescription a couple of weeks ago and I got these progressives, which are very good for reading and also seeing for distance, but one thing they don’t have—it’s a very narrow little part of the lens that you actually use, so much of the lens is just blurry. And I’ve noticed that I just, I can’t stand walking down a sidewalk anymore. Because I realise that all the time my eyes are kind of looking sideways at people, and I can’t do that because now they’re all blurry and you can’t… What the optician tells you is, ‘Oh you just have to turn your head and look at them,’ and I say, ‘Precisely not! I want to see them without their seeing that I’m looking at them and that requires these kind of sidelong glances.’ And I realised as soon as I put these glasses on, I must be doing that constantly when I’m walking down the sidewalk.

It was a wonderful way to spend thirty-five minutes on a road journey. Fortunately in the light of Number 8 on Jonathan’s ten writing tips I am writing a report of his interview rather than a fictional account.

Photo Credit

Visual Representation of a Reading List


Edging to Open Learning in Open Spaces

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Ballarat to discuss Edgeless Challenges and Opportunities. I have been thinking a great deal about learning spaces and the function (rather than the form) of the university of late. In part these thoughts have been stimulated by the University of Canberra’s development of teaching and learning commons.

This week I have been overwhelmed by the number of connections I am finding in relation to open learning and sharing. Some of these connections include:

many universities have an educational technology department that is focused on PD. Research institutes devoted to understanding the intersection of education, technology, systemic reform, and pedagogy are less rare. Several years ago, Phil Long (CEIT) and I discussed the need for a collaborative network of research labs/academies/institutes that were focused on researching learning technologies, not solely on driving institutional adoption. Perhaps it’s time to revisit that idea.

  • Discovering A.K.M. Maksud’s 2006 paper The Nomadic Bede Community And Their Mobile School Program after listening to an interview with Irene Khan. Boat schools bring a different perspective on edgeless learning opportunities and mobile learners. (Sharing this paper with a colleague brought me Simon Shum and Alexandra Okada’s paper Knowledge Cartography for Open Sensemaking Communities (2008) from the Journal of Interactive Media in Education and from another colleague Kenn Fisher’s discussion of Mode 3 Learning: The Campus as Thirdspace.)

  • Finding Cisco’s paper (June 2010) on Hyperconnectivity through a Diigo link. Hyperconnectivity is defined as:

active multitasking on one hand, and passive networking on the other. Passive networking consists largely of background streaming and downloading. Ambient video (nannycams, petcams, home security cams, and other persistent video streams) is an element of passive networking that opens up the possibility for the number of video minutes crossing the network to greatly exceed the number of video minutes actually watched by consumers.

  • In the past year, the Cisco paper notes that:

it has become clear that visual networking applications are often used concurrently with other applications and sometimes even other visual networking applications, as the visual network becomes a persistent backdrop that remains “on” while the user multitasks or is engaged elsewhere. This trend accompanies what is sometimes called the widgetization of Internet and TV, as network traffic expands beyond the borders of the browser window and the confines of the PC.

Traditional approaches to community regeneration which define communities in solely geographic terms have severe limitations. They often failed to deliver on key social capital improvements such as improving trust between residents or fostering a greater sense of belonging.

In this report we argue for a new approach to community regeneration, based on an understanding of the importance of social networks, such an approach has the potential to bring about significant improvements in efforts to combat isolation and to support the development of resilient and empowered communities.

  • Noting in Harold Jarche’s post Innovation through network learning that he now takes for granted his “network learning processes, using social bookmarking; blogging and tweeting, and these habits make collaboration much easier”. He observes that:

However, these habits and practices have taken several years to develop and may not come easily to many workers. One difficult aspect of adopting network learning in an organization is that it’s personal. If not, it doesn’t work. Everybody has to develop their own methods, though there are frameworks and ideas that can help.

All this before I started exploring the treasure trove that arrives in my in box each day from Stephen Downes! Early on in the week I noted Stephen’s comment on Education and the Social Web: “A theory of connections can’t be just about forming connections; it has to be about the organization, shape and design of networks of connection, patterns of connectivity. And to me, this means that we need to design learning systems to meet personal, not political, social or commercial, objectives.” Later in the week in a discussion of two MOOC posts, Stephen suggests that: “It’s about attitude and approach. If you’re looking for someone to tell you how it works, you will find a MOOC confusing and frustrating. But if you take responsibility for your own learning, you will find any connection in a MOOC either an opportunity to teach or an opportunity to learn. No instructions necessary.”

This week has underscored for me the rich possibilities that can occur in shared spaces. My thoughts keep returning to Dharavi and the opportunities for personal wayfinding in shared spaces that afford a collective, connected experience too. I am very hopeful that the University of Canberra’s Commons ideas can stimulate innovative use of place, space and time and lead to an exciting edgy practice.

Photo Credits

Kaptai Lake

Hole in Wall

Moodle on the Move


A day after posting this I received a link to a delightful flash mob video. I wondered if open learning spaces might stimulate this kind of event.

Other Links

2nd Annual Learning Commons Development and Design Forum, 30-31 March 2011, Brisbane.

  • Learning Commons strategy and organisational structures
  • Planning and design
  • Case studies and best practices
  • Digital information and technologies
  • Online resources

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Thinking About Words

Last Wednesday staff from Sport Studies at the University of Canberra met the poet Harry Laing at the Old Cheese Factory at Reidsdale to develop our writing skills as part of the Faculty of Health‘s 2010 Writing Week. I have been thinking about the workshop a good deal since then.

On one of my journeys into the University of Canberra I caught a Book Show discussion of Paul Celan.The program note included the quote “There is nothing in the world for which a poet will give up writing, not even when he is a Jew and the language of his poems is German.” Ramona Koval discussed with Charlotte Ryland the limits and possibilities of language in relation to Celan’s poetic project.

The interview was prompted by the publication of Charlotte’s book Paul Celan’s Encounters with Surrealism: Trauma, Translation and Shared Poetic Space. The Legenda summary of the book is:

Paul Celan (1920-1970), one of the most important and challenging poets in post-war Europe, was also a prolific and highly idiosyncratic translator. His post-Holocaust writing is inextricably linked to the specific experiences that have shaped contemporary European and American identity, and at the same time has its roots in literary, philosophical and scientific traditions that range across continents and centuries – surrealism being a key example. Celan’s early works emerge from a fruitful period for surrealism, and they bear the marks of that style, not least because of the deep affinity he felt with the need to extend the boundaries of expression. In this comparative and intertextual study, Charlotte Ryland shows that this interaction continued throughout Celan’s lifetime, largely through translation of French surrealist poems, and that Celan’s great oeuvre can thus be understood fully only in the light of its interaction with surrealist texts and artworks, which finally gives rise to a wholly new poetics of translation.

I like the idea of a ‘poetics of translation’ and its resonance with developing ideas. I ought to track down the book to learn more about Paul Celan and Charlotte’s account of poetics. This may take me to Jacques Derrida too!

It is surprising where a misty day in Reidsdale can lead you.

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Narrative Engines and Personal Identity

I receive a daily RSS feed from the Scholarly Kitchen. Today I read Kent Anderson’s post The “Me at the Centre” Expectation.

Kent concludes his discussion about the personalisation of web experiences with the observation that:

the Web is both mobile and omnipresent in some ways, but the way it’s being deployed is about each user. It’s the antithesis of broadcast, yet it requires broadcast. And the “filter failure” we’re worrying about requires traditional filters, but then gets filtered further.

His post was prompted by Nick Bilton‘s book I Live in the Future & Here’s How It Works. Kent links to this post by Nick Bilton in which Nick points out that  “Now you are the starting point. Now the digital world follows you, not the other way around.”

A few days earlier on one of my drives to Canberra I had been listening to Ramona Koval‘s discussions with William Boyd about his new book Ordinary Thunderstorms and the use of a narrative engine to discuss personal identity.(Transcript of the interview.) William points out that the idea for the book is the the hunter and the hunted. He adds that:

it’s a very powerful narrative engine for any novel, and I happily cherry-pick genres for narrative engines as I require them. In this case I was mainly interested in what happens when you lose everything. It’s not so much about Adam escaping, he has to escape, it’s about the process that this involves, that he sheds everything that makes him a modern citizen; mobile phone, credit cards, passport, home, job, reputation et cetera. He runs, but instead of running away north, south, east or west, he goes down, he hides himself in the lowest reaches of society, and in so doing has to lose his identity. And that’s what really intrigued me about this story.

During the course of the interview, William notes that:

It’s extraordinary to me that the population of the missing in England is some 200,000 people. We just don’t know where they are, we can’t find them …  So 600 people a week just walk away from their homes, their families, their jobs, and disappear, 200,000 people, that’s a big provincial city. Where is this population? They’re like ghosts wandering the streets, you occasionally see them as you walk about London huddled in doorways or passed out on park benches, but there is a great population of the missing in this city and it just shows you that you can, even in the 21st century, disappear off the radar completely.

Without forcing the link too much I do think there is an interesting juxtaposition between Nick Bilton’s and William Boyd’s books. In pursuing this idea I came across David Ventura and David Brogan’s (2002) paper on Digital Storytelling. They explore a heuristic for interactive narrative development that aims to deliver a compelling story. Their narrative engine enables users to choose branching of stories whilst constraining these choices to make the story feasible.

Whilst William Boyd uses the craft of authorship, David Ventura and David Brogan explore an optimised constraints-based system. I take Nick Bilson’s point to be that the user-centredness of narrative is embedded on our everyday lives and will be so increasingly. It is an opportunity to move on our digital practice as Luis Suarez and Kevin Jones have argued recently “adoption has to do with context not age”.

Adoption and non-adoption, personalised and personal learning, social connectedness and social isolation are important issues for me in my work. I think volition and intrinsic motivation are keys to engagement and hope that advocacy and support can encourage participation in a digital world. I recognise that there are lots of people, as William Boyd points out through the character of Adam, that do not wish to engage.

For my part I am fascinated by the ubiquitous opportunities many of us have. My next step … I am off to re-read Bryan Rieger’s Rethinking the Mobile Web (another RSS feast from the Scholarly Kitchen).

Photo Credits

Istanbul Market

Phone Walk