Festival of Dangerous Ideas

I’m not sure how many dangerous ideas there will be (some?), but the Festival of Dangerous Ideas will be taking place around Scotland in June.

From the Festival web-site:

The Festival of Dangerous Ideas aims to re-establish the importance of dangerous ideas as agents of change in education – to shift the axis of what is possible!

It is for everyone who is passionate about education including college, university, school staff and students as well as those engaged in education throughout the creative communities.

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Badges, Badges, Badges

I have to admit I have some degree of cynicism regarding some of the badge schemes that are out there – I’m waiting to be convinced that something like the Mozilla OpenBadges can service as an effective form of certification – allowing users to effectively advertise their skills, knowledge and abilities with the badges or to be useful to employers when trying to choose employees or contractors. Compared to a portfolio of work, a reference or an accredited certification scheme, the advantages of badges is somewhat lost on me.

Where badges have long been successful is at motivation – particularly for children. Hence the badge schemes of boy scouts and girl guides. A nice current example is that the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles are planning a badge on Game Development. Which led me to wondering if there was something OpenBadges like more aimed at kids – with a good range of technology activities. I’m glad to say there is, and the activities look great and very varied…

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From Coffee & Power to High Fidelity

Philip Rosedale, Second Life founder, has a new project to build a new virtual world – High Fidelity. He has a team that also includes, as community manager, Jeska Dzwigalski, another Linden Lab veteran.

The goal is vague but ambitious – something about cloud/peer-to-peer, low latency and high scalability virtual worlds. There is a picture of some glasses and a circuit board.

We’re building a new virtual world enabling rich avatar interactions driven by sensor-equipped hardware, simulated and served by devices (phones, tablets and laptops/desktops) contributed by end-users.

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PostDoc Research Fellow – Serious Games

My colleague Thomas Connolly has a vacancy for a post-doc research fellow in serious games… advert and application details below….

University of the West of Scotland

Faculty of Science & Technology – School of Computing

Post-Doctoral Research Fellow (Computer Games/Serious Games)

£32,901 to £39,257 (Fixed Term for 2 Years)                                    Paisley Campus

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Meanwhile, In Second Life…

So yesterday I ran my first class in Second Life for a while. For student project work I’ve even rented some land there for a while (having previously managed two islands for the University).

Overall it was a good experience, and for my class it worked very well. There was a lecture and a building exercise and some experimentation with co-editing web-pages from within Second Life (this last a little flaky – in part the result of too many dynamic web-pages for the SL client to manage, in part because of too many client connections for Google Docs to reliably manage).

But returning to Second Life certainly made me think again about it, and the place of virtual worlds in education today…

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Gove vs The World

Update: Within about an hour of posting this I saw the news that Michael Gove has backed down on a major part of his proposed teaching reforms, the rapid introduction of the EBacc. Opposition from the deputy prime minister and Ofqual, and realisation that some of his reforms might break EU rules appear to have caused this. I guess I should add these to the Gove vs the World list below. ~ Daniel, 7/2/2013

Update: Gove’s U-turn is perhaps not all it seems. He is still pushing for quite aggressive and sweeping reforms. See “Gove vs The Exams Regulator” below. ~ Daniel, 8/2/2013

One of my Twitter contacts said this of Michael Gove: “He is spot on with his reforms. More teaching, less examining, listening to employers.”

To be honest, Gove really doesn’t appear to be much of a listener to me – to give him credit, the recent announcement of the inclusion of Computer Science in the EBacc shows that he is capable of listening. I suspect that lobbying by the high-tech industry – including personal pleas from Google’s chairman – made this possible. There is perhaps a small part of Gove that recognises that however much he worships the past, that the future is digital and perhaps Britain ought to be ready for it.

But this ‘listening’ to what people are saying to him doesn’t appear to come naturally to Gove. At least not when the people doing the saying aren’t leaders of the world’s biggest multinationals. And when people have the temerity to disagree with Gove, he frequently turns to insults and outrageous attacks to dismiss them. (And it seems that his advisors might be helping him out here, in ways that they perhaps shouldn’t)

There is a lot I would like to say in this post, but rather than try and ‘finish’ this post before I publish it, I’ll publish now and update over time…

Gove vs. The World – round one starts below…

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Tapped-In is closing

Tapped-In is probably the longest running, still active, virtual world for educators (If I’m wrong, let me know in the comments!), but it has announced that it will be closing on Friday 15th of March. So now is your last chance to see this world before it disappears… (unless, of course, a mysterious benefactor steps in with money to keep it running)

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Scratch 2 and Snap/BYOB 4

Scratch 2 is now in beta, here.

Great timing, as just after a whole load of teacher resources for Scratch get published (CAS RPi manual, and RSE packs), Scratch 2.0 gets announced with a range of very useful additions to the language. More on this – and another version of Scratch with procedures – below.

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