Tag Archives: opinions

Guggenheim 2.0

The Guggenheim Museum in NY has a great little online event going which encourages interaction and collective thought around some of its collection. 

Catherine Opie is an American artist specialising in issues around documentary photography.

For this exhibition, Catherine Opie has selected images from the Guggenheim Museum’s photography collection and organized them into three sections: Self-Portraits, Landscapes, and Portraits. Visitors can write responses to the questions Opie poses about them and read other people’s responses.

Here are some more details from the Guggenheim Museum website:

September 26, 2008–January 7, 2009
While celebrated for her role behind the camera, Catherine Opie remains acutely aware of the voices of her subjects, and the diverse readings all images engender. Exploring this circuit of interpretation, Opie has selected images from the Guggenheim Museum’s photography collection to present alongside questions about the works’ themes and meanings, inviting museum visitors to respond with stories of their own.

People can participate online by writing about a photograph or reading other people’s comments.

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I clicked on one of the portraits.

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 These are the questions asked about the portraits:

What do you think makes a portrait interesting?

  • How do the titles of these photographs make you think differently about the people they portray?
  • Some of these images are made spontaneously while others are carefully staged by the artist. How does this difference in approach affect your response?

Here is one of the responses:

An interesting portrait to me is one that represents people honestly. Not only is it usually aesthetically pleasing, but it also is educational and interesting. In Keita’s photo of 3 women, she presents them in their usual daily clothing, telling the viewer something about their environment and status, and then the juxtaposition of the car brings to mind a completely different world or environment. The two together represent a very real albeit somewhat staged composition that’s intriguing and interesting.

I was excited to find this, and I’d like to keep up with the many innovative programs and ideas coming out of cultural institutions such as museums. The idea of  an artist selecting images from the collection is a creative way to bring out to more people what would normally remain within the walls of the museum, and perhaps not be accessed by as many otherwise. The addition of the questions and options to comment is added value,  inviting interaction and the sharing of opinions. I also like the fact that, whereas people would normally just look at the photos at an exhibition, maybe read a little about them, in this case the public is invited to express their impressions and opinions.

I was a little disappointed that only one or two responses were accessible, unless I’m missing something. I was looking forward to a real discussion and debate around the photos.

Nevertheless, an inspiring concept. This would be an excellent way to initiate discussion and reflection in the art classroom.

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Filed under 21st century learning, art, creativity, Web 2.0

Bring Show and Tell into the 21st century

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Does Show and Tell sound old fashioned to you?  Think again…

Remember Show and Tell in primary school? In my primary years (a long time ago), Show and Tell was possibly the only time that the teacher stepped aside and encouraged students to take centre stage to share sundry news items and paraphernalia. Think about what’s happening – a variety show led by students themselves. You can say or show almost anything – news (world news, local news, trivial or important news, news about your dog or about your uncle), opinions, and the freedom to bring in ANYTHING you like – stick insect in a jar, your dad’s gallstones, the latest in technology (for me, that was my talking Bugs Bunny), strange money, photos of a trip to exotic lands, a special book, something you have made, a science experiment (remember growing your own crystals) – wonderful, wonderful things. I imagine Show and Tell still happens in primary schools.

But why stop at primary school? How often does a student get free reign and the attention of the whole class? When else does the student audience get to see such a great show. By secondary school – correct me if I’m wrong – everything fits into neat little curricular boxes. Very full boxes. No room for randomness, for the unexpected, for student-directed sharing; no procession of ever-changing wonders, no exchange of opinions on student-directed topics.

And another thing. The time limits for each Show and Tell slot allow for a quick succession of small, tasty morsels. If you’re not interested in one thing, the next offering could be more to your liking.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Doesn’t this remind you a little of Twitter? The short, quick exchange of goodies just discovered, great links, photos worth sharing, questions offered to the group? Is blogging or microblogging our new version of Show and Tell? A reclaiming of our natural desire to share and learn with each other? Our instinctive knowledge that learning happens from and with others, and not just from the teacher?

What do you think?

What are your best Show and Tell memories?

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Filed under Education, flickr, Web 2.0

Blogging about blogging; and before you know it, I’m thinking about PLP

What do young people think about blogging? Let’s have a look; here’s what one 18 year old has to say. This one happens to be my son, but I don’t think that prevents him from representing his generation:

‘People no longer are just able to blog, but blogging is increasingly becoming accepted as a legitimate medium of information; albeit quite different to others. At the cost of the credibility associated with major news services and other more traditional ways of getting our information, a whole new world is opened up- of personal opinion, a perspective into the lives and experiences of others and original creativity. When subjective experience and opinion is sought over objective fact, blogging becomes a medium very difficult to beat.’

Here’s the recognition of the value of the input, not of academics or editors, but of people like any other people, all contributing to whatever kind of information is important to them. Here’s a preference for what people have to say about something, for collective advice by people who care about their interests.

Technical applications are seen as enabling more direct ways of communicating, showing, connecting.

‘Photographers can take photos of their home city or holidays and post them on Flickr, along with geotags (so that people may see exactly where the photos were taken); performing artists can upload audio or video recordings of themselves on services such as Youtube to increase their exposure; political commentators can by series of hyperlinks to other blogs and news services critically analyse current affairs and provide explanations, arguments and challenges to what is reported in traditional established media. All of these forms of expression can be directly embedded into blogs, providing an individual with a space in which to express themselves- in the case of writers, musicians, etc…, to publish their work for free (or close to it)!’

All in all, there’s a noticeable excitement about the possibilities and the connectedness; about the possibilities for the individual’s self-expression. But could you imagine a similar passion from a young person if asked to talk about the possibilities in school education? What do you think? Are students encouraged to become involved in socialnetworking for learning? Are they encouraged to use Web2.0 applications to present their ideas and opinions? What do you think?

With this in mind, I’m thinking ahead to my school’s involvement with the Powerful Learning Practice program, and looking forward to making a difference to the mindset and teaching habits of teachers (including my own). Jenny Luca posts about PLP from the Learning 2.008 Edubloggercon conference in Shanghai:

‘Why do I feel alright about where we are? Because we are at least being proactive and have ourselves involved in Powerful Learning Practice . We are going to be immersing our staff in a learning community, and community is going to be what drives change. It’s not a discussion about the latest Macbook Pro that is important. It is a discussion about the connective relationships our students can form and learn from that is going to be the tipping point for many of our schools.’

‘Connective relationships’ – this is what it’s about. Information becomes meaningful through our relationships with people. Learning becomes meaningful through connective relationships.

If you’d like to read more of the authentic, passionate literacy that springs from real interest and involvement, read the rest of this new blog.

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Filed under Education, flickr, Web 2.0

Coveting covers

The Book Cover Appreciation gallery is for hardcore bookcover lovers. You can get into really heavy discussion about the details of the book cover. Clicking on the cover takes you to the comment page. The blog is updated several times a week.

Here’s an example of a comment about an Animal Farm book cover:
Although I have often conflicted about Shepard’s work and his source materials which could be debated as dubious. The propaganda style works especially since these are anti-socialist/communist novels. The Obey logo I find quite funny on the covers, how many designers have the balls or be allowed to put there personal logo on a book cover, the mark of an iconoclast

Can you get passionate about a book cover?

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Filed under art, Children's books

#17 Library 2.0


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Originally uploaded by David Warlick

I haven’t slept well for the last few nights. I’ll tell you why. I haven’t been able to let go of a significant stuff-up in a job interview for the position of teacher librarian in a secondary school. It still astounds me that, when asked how I would engage students in reading if money were no object, I completely forgot to resource the collection! No mention of buying books! My library would somehow engage young readers bypassing a collection altogether.

I blame my present conversion to all things Web 2.0. Seriously, it’s almost as if a vibrant collection of resources is taken for granted. But, to be fair, when I analyse my giant faux pas, I would have to say that we all know, and have known for some time, that school libraries need a fantastic variety of all things readable, countless copies of every author, genre and style. But it’s not enough! One of the other questions that challenged me during the interview (an excellent question) was ‘how we get to know adolescents’ at our school. I think this is one of the most important questions, because if we don’t think about how we are going to understand young people in our schools, then we’re buying books for ourselves, then our programs are for a mismatched audience, our money is spent in vain.

During the course of this Web 2.0 journey, we’ve had a taste of the world that our students more authentically inhabit than we do, a world we have to force our way into perhaps, so as to have an insight into the question ‘how do we engage young people in reading?’ After crawling into Facebook and MySpace, feeling our way through Flickr photosharing, and other Web 2.0 applications, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that we’re living in a new information landscape, one where interacting and sharing understandings, views and knowledge is the purpose behind everything we do. David Warlick noted a graduate student’s comments about school in his blog,

“There’s not really an avenue at school for me to share, or publish my own stuff, or especially get feedback from people all over — That’s really the only reason I rush home to do MySpace so much.”

I think the reason I omitted to talk about the provision of books and concentrated on Web 2.0 applications, is that, like Will Richardson, I see this generation as a read/write generation. It’s not just about reading – it’s about reading and sharing opinions and ideas about what we’ve read with our friends.  If we provide books, then we should provide the opportunity for socialnetworking amongst students. Teachers should not be the sole audience. Young people care about what other young people think. This is what Library 2.0 is about – innovation, people and community building.

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Filed under Education, Web 2.0