the place called home

By robynjay On February 27th, 2017

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly a year since we left Sydney, friends, careers, familiar spaces and packed our precious belongings in pouring rain to head north to Qld. It’s been exciting, blissful, stressful, relaxing, frightening.

Each day is an adventure and it’s time to start capturing that. So here we go. New characters; same loves. New challenges; same focus.

We’ll see where the next year leads.

 

[CC FlickR image by tanakawho]

in absentia

By robynjay On January 5th, 2012

I’ve been pondering Harriet’s post If you’re not present, you’re absent over at her Technology Twitter blog.

In the post she describes a period of creative reinvention – a ‘rich and a valuable time, productive and exciting, if challenging and complex’ ; one in which she shut off from her networks for personal reflection.
She says:

The creative process is wonderful – at the end.  In the middle I found it complex and contradictory.  My  online networks felt too public a place to expose such fragile thinking.  Do online spaces in their ephemeral nature provide pressure to present finished thought?  Is it really ok to be fragmented and indecisive?’

Perhaps with the exception of Twitter (which still can be archived and curated), I don’t think online spaces ARE ephemeral. That’s the problem. These are not fleeting remarks; they are there for good. They can expose mistakes, foolishness, naivety and raw emotions.

The public transparent nature of contributing online, which ever media it might be, scares most people. There’s a big difference between scribbling in a journal and posting to a blog. There’s a big difference in confiding semi-formulated ideas with a person you trust, or with yourself, and sharing them with the world or even an extended network. Gauging what to share online, when and with who is in itself a digital literacy skill I think. It will vary from person to person according to the issue, thickness of skin, and personal space needs but I’d certainly respect anyone’s right to withdraw at a time when intense personal reflection and introspection is needed.

Perhaps what we can share is metacognitive. Not the details as such, but an understanding of the strategies and processes. We DO need to encourage wacky creative thoughts, lateral thinking, risk-taking, and change. The final product often fails to illustrate the rich, turbulent and harried nature of the creative process but it is often after the process is complete and a result is evident that the significant moments along the way become evident. We do not, for example, see the working sketches of great artists before the final work is published.

From a personal perspective, whether I’m formulating creative projects or pondering life directions, I do most of it in private. When the change or project is substantial it will become all consuming. Shutting down to enable focused attention is a coping strategy and one to be acknowledged.

Best wishes with your new directions Harriet. I look forward to seeing the outcomes of your deliberations when and if you are ready to share them 🙂

[CC FlickR image by Invisible Lens]

i’m done with being owned

By robynjay On January 10th, 2011

Another academic year looms and info days are swarming with fresh faced enthusiastic new students. I feel like Mr Bean in the department store perfumery skit, holding my nose and warning them not to enter! I’m feeling quite disheartened with higher ed. Would I pay $30k + for a degree? NO – yet its a hurdle imposed en route to career. As consumers we need to start demanding value for money but instead we meekly accept the tripe.

I’ve been re-reading my FLL paper from 2003. 7 years is a long time and I blush at it’s naivety but there are important connections there I want to revisit. What I found then was that the most successful, innovative and engaging programs were happening in small community-based media, youth projects and community development areas. I suspect its still the case.

I grieve to hear stories of educators being told that research is top priority and that teaching should/must be compromised if necessary. Academics are told to walk into lectures unprepared if necessary, young innovators are told that their careers will go nowhere unless they stop focusing on learning and instead churn out papers and bring in dollars. It’s all about status and income; a factory line of knowledge. Good teachers who toe the line end up working 14 hour days; doing 2 jobs as researcher AND educator, and as a result get sick and burn out.

I’ve been feeling like the past two years were wasted but a flow of messages are giving me heart that I have made some difference. But I’m sick of battling from within the constraining shackles of being an employee; there’s only so much that can be pushed uphill. I’m hoping to skirt around the edges for a bit and find some new avenues to engage and affect change. For a start I’m heading on down to the Transmedia conference at ACMI in Melbourne and we’ll see if openings appear.

cartoon from gapingvoid

[ CC cartoon by gapingvoid ]

cup half full

By robynjay On December 8th, 2010

This post is in response to Alex Hayes’ request for comments regarding his post over on Posterous. It’s an important debate that needs to be spread more widely so I’m repeating here in the hope it will gain some broader readership.

Alex, I’m speaking frankly and openly here as a critical friend, and hopefully to drive the debate forward . Thankfully I did have a posterous account as I would otherwise not have commented at all via the twitter and facebook login options – a tad ironic under the circumstances I think. I guess what concerns me most about your post and current state of mind is the ‘cup half empty’ lens. IMHO it’s about sensible high level policy, being informed, having the required literacy skills, and having and exercising choice.

As a company promoting a particular technology it naturally IS job to provide full and detailed information about what that technology can and cannot do, and the known inherent risks. As such, with educational clientele,  it would be pointless to offer any technology that was at odds with core educational principles (ie wellbeing of learners). It is, therefore, good to alert those customers and to facilitate debate.

People are buying POV cameras because they make the videoing that they’ve been doing since 8mm days more convenient. What has potential (as opposed to being a threat) are advancements in bandwidth that allow that content to be sent handled electronically. How it’s sent and where it’s stored and the systems that that content interacts with OF COURSE must be considered and evaluated. I don’t doubt that technologies exist that have the potential to capture more than a ‘rich media clip that shows a skill’ but to paint this as something ‘sinister’ and impending sounds a little paranoid. Risks and potential misuse exists with almost ANY technology; gaming is a good example.

Of course there are negatives around broadcasting your location and exposing your activities and habits etc. We all must be informed, learners must have choice, educators have a duty of care. Again it comes back to contemporary and ever-evolving literacy skills. All choices must be made intelligently but I don’t believe that that choice will not remain.

Educational institutions, armed with that information and skilled/professional staff then choose products and methodologies to meet the needs of their learners and contexts.

To say that geolocation is one of the most influential forces in the VET sector is just a tad over ambitious at this point in time but indeed it has POTENTIAL.

It’s easy when something is a passion or focus to think that the world should also have the same urgent interest. Unfortunately there are also students for whom traditional (safe) text-based modes of communication has failed, trainers who stand and lecture at poor unsuspecting students, kids who live in such poor circumstances that they cannot attend to learning. We all have our interests and passions and together that builds the diverse and rich professional community of which we are a part. Multimodal L&T and the use of multimedia in education are truly WONDERFUL things. A scare campaign is not what is needed.

I agree that the majority of adults are very poor at critical reflection generally however if there is ‘little open discourse about the implications for pedagogy that this technology is set to unleash’ it is probably because a) people are too busy dealing with more pressing matters, b) there is little balanced information to debate at present and c) there is no evidence that this IS or will in the near future be an actual legitimate concern for people.

‘Insidious modes of digital employee compliance’ is a separate and wider issue. We must be aware and able to opt-in and out even if OUT means leaving an organisation. But to be honest it concerns me little that the employer of Mike and John the landscape gardeners are aware that they spent 2 hours relaxing in the shade under the trees of my local park instead of getting on with their list of jobs including my new garden.

So having said all that we DO need to be informed and I’ll look forward to any further information you provide us and we DO need to focus on the implications of what we implement for learners but we must do so with a positive mindset lest we go sit in a cave and scratch on the walls with sticks.

And as for Latitude, most of us turned that off months ago as a pain in the arse.

CC FlickR image by paloooza

half the sky

By robynjay On January 20th, 2010


cc licensed flickr photo shared by MC-Leprosy

‘Women hold up half the sky’
– Chinese Proverb

If you only read one book in 2010 please make it ‘Half the Sky‘ by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

They say…

“We wrote a book devoted to women in the developing world because if you want to fight poverty and extremism, you need to educate and empower women and bring them into the economy. ” “Half the Sky lays out an agenda for the world’s women and three major abuses: sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence including honor killings and mass rape; maternal mortality, which needlessly claims one woman a minute. We know there are many worthy causes competing for attention in the world. We focus on this one because this kind of oppression feels transcendent – and so does the opportunity. Outsiders can truly make a difference.”

This is a devastatingly sad and hard hitting book that will open your eyes to the plight of women and girls around the world.

Follow Nicholas:

in Facebook
on twitter
via the ‘On the ground’ blog
and buy the book on Amazon

calling for a moratorium

By robynjay On January 15th, 2010

My last post highlighted the current Edge project exploring how the internet is changing the way we think.

One of the contributors is Sherry Turkle, psychologist from MIT who studies the culture of the internet.

In her post she refers to Erik Erikson who argued that adolescents need ‘an experience of “moratorium,” a time and space for relatively consequence-free experimentation. They need to fall in and out of love with people and ideas’.  She herself argues that while ‘the Internet provides such spaces and is thus a rich ground for working through identity’, it has become clear that ‘the idea of the moratorium space does not easily mesh with a life that generates its own electronic shadow. Over time, many find a way to ignore or deny the shadow. For teenagers, the need for a moratorium space is so compelling that they will recreate it as fiction. And indeed, leaving an electronic trace can come to seem so natural that the shadow seems to disappear. We want to forget that we have become the instruments of our own surveillance.’

Very interesting.

Certainly I agree that ‘in democracy, …  everyone has something to hide, a zone of private action and reflection, a zone that needs to be protected.’ So how is this privacy ensured?

We are still in a space where employers are lauded for finding their employees out. Recruiters dig up all they can on prospective employees. Naive employees find themselves sacked. But when are we going to draw the line and allow individuals some rights.

A good first step is to make these practices transparent. If used in recruitment, individuals must be told. If used to monitor staff, they should be made aware of this potential and have the freedom to act accordingly.

[CC FlickR image: publik16]