Friday, June 01, 2007

Heppell talks to a Sick Dog

Well, actually, he was talking to the Scottish ICT Development Group - shortened to SICTDG and pronounced Sick Dog! :-)

Stephen Heppell
Stephen Heppell,
originally uploaded by DavidDMuir
I was pleased when I heard Professor Heppell was going to speak to us - he is always informative, challenging and ...eminently quotable. :-) I apologise in advance if my hero worship shines through. (I tell the students, in fact I tell anyone that will listen, that I have a t-shirt with Stephen Heppell on it. I don't know how many believe me, but I do... honest!)

I'll start with a quote:
“The only problem is, the pupils arrive in carpet slippers and their pockets are stuffed with Werther's Originals.”
There will be a special no-prize for the person who comes up with the context in which he made this statement!

He started with a brief mention of BBC Jam. He described its suspension as "An unmitigated disgrace." Hear, hear says I! If you don't know the background to the BBC Jam situation, there is an article at the Guardian which explains a little, and various people blogged about it at the time, see for example Ewan (in Why does toast always land with the Jam side down?). The good news is that Stephen is determined that the work done so far will not be lost. He thinks he will be able to put something together with a charity to host it and open source software to run it. I hope he manages to make it work.

He also talked about something he'd been doing in Singapore - innovative and interesting. He went on to say that the countries that were successful and innovative tended to be small, have stable governments and people happy with their national identity. (He said more than that, but these were the only ones I managed to type!) Essentially, he said that Scotland met most of these criteria and was well placed to do interesting things. Of course, he was talking to a group of Scottish educators, so he would say that, wouldn't he. :-) Still, he sounded plausible and I believed him. Wha's like us, eh?

Apparently, he is also involved in helping with the design of the media centre for the 2012 Olympics. He thinks that the media people hadn't realised that they no longer have a monopoly as the sole providers of information. Everyone with a cameraphone ...Internet connection ... is potentially a provider. People will be recording and sharing all sorts of stuff. How can the media centre help support this kind of citizen journalism? He talked about layers of information (is the Internet too flat?) where one person might take some pictures, someone else might annotate them, someone else could thread a pile of stuff together. Everyone as a broadcaster.

Time for another quote:
“There’s a lot of tosh being talked about Web 2.0 ...which you will recognise as Learning 1.0!” :-)
He was asked about Glow - how did he think we could make it work? He said it was designed to fill a perceived need, but for it to be successful, it would have to be agile. He then talked about the 10 year innovation cycle - something I've heard him on before. Essential idea is that something new comes along, early adopters pick it up and start doing really good stuff with it. A little later bigger players, seeing the early successes start trying to build stuff - they think it is about content and are usually wrong. Towards the end of the ten years people start worrying about standards and where its going next... And then the next innovation appears and the cycle restarts. The last innovation he identified (that we are in the middle to end stages of now) is all the Web 2.0 stuff. It's reached the stage where people think it is about content and so are paying silly money for things like YouTube. The next thing, he thinks, will be identity. He said that people can find your stuff on the Internet (your blogs, photo, podcasts, etc.) but they can't find you. I'm not sure what he means by that but it sounds interesting and I hope I'll have the chance to hear him again on that topic.

He said loads of other interesting things as well, but that'll do for this post. The last thing I want to add is to comment on how he did the presentation. The best thing about it was, it wasn’t a presentation! He had a pile of icons on his laptop – photos, videos, animations, graphics, web pages – and just pulled them up as he talked. It was a very fluid. The things he showed us supported what he was talking about but did not constrain him. Very different from the usual Powerpointless presentation. Excellent!

As ever, when I hear him speaking, I found my brain had to run just to keep up. Loads of things to think about and loads of ideas to chase up. What do you think? Can Scotland be innovative in its approach to education? How do we prepare our students for a world where everyone is a broadcaster? Can Glow be agile? What is the next big thing - identity or something else?

What do you think?

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Gordon McKinlay said...

It's a pity I wasn't there. It sounds as though it was a good day (for a change :-))

Anonymous said...

I work with teachers, some of whom don't know where the "on button" is on their computer and with others who struggle to send an email, never mind an email with an attachment....I do wonder if we're all ready to take up the oppotrunitiets GLOW would seem to offer......

David said...

Hello Gordon

"For a change"? I almost always find something interesting.

Hello Anonymous

If the early adopters go for Glow, and if it proves to be useful, hopefully even the, "Where's the on switch?" brigade will make use of it.

Bob Hill said...

I like the bit about Glow being agile. It is only a inanimate portal so can the administrators at national and local authority be agile?

Prof Stephen Heppell said...

"Essentially, he said that Scotland met most of these criteria and was well placed to do interesting things. Of course, he was talking to a group of Scottish educators, so he would say that, wouldn't he"

well, I'd only say it if it was true!! I'm too old for spin and too honest anyway. I'm in Singapore today (in Caribbean tomorrow! goodness..) at a conference on Future Learning and an architect chap from the USA did an opening keynote yesterday (I close today) in which he said nothing has changed in schools in the last 100 years and nothing will in the next 50. He is hugely wrong. He might be right in today's USA though and that is the point. The US is finding it hard to change and indeed i had an email from there today that said their schools seem to be in reverse. We should all worry if that is so.

If the archtect could have heard how rude the Aussies sitting behind me were being about him he would have paled. AUS is also small, agile, culturally confident, etc etc (you should have typed faster!!) and is producing some radical schools and approaches. I just think Scotland is very very well placed to make a significant contribution. More on this at SETT.

By the way - if that t shirt has little icons on it and is grey then it is VERY collectable! I have mine too.