Thinking about MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses. India is the second largest consumer of MOOCs after the US. In February, ANU joined edX (founded in May 2012 by MIT & Harvard), the only Australian university so far. Courses start in 2014 (Astrophysics by Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt and Engaging India by McComas Taylor). Schmidt also believes ANUx could help high school students who may not have had access to highly qualified teachers in some subject areas, due to shortages.

The US Dept of Education meta-analysis of 46 studies in online learning (mostly in higher education), showed that the most powerful learning outcomes resulted from blended learning – a combination of face-to-face with online learning.

Public good or playing markets? The real reason for MOOCs – Prof. Thomas Clarke, UTS.
Interesting article. Enrolment figures are highly speculative, with high reported drop-out rates (up to 90%). Are they committed to providing mass education as a public good or are they more interested in global domination of education markets? Will they start out free and end up with advertisements and fees? Even with the availability of MOOCs,  “universities are gradually morphing into mass online campuses in their own right, though maintaining the wonder of face to face encounters, and retaining a role for the most flexible, interactive, intelligent and responsive pedagogic technology of all – the teacher in the classroom”. Nice quote.

What college students really think about online courses
A US study of college students shows that students want to be involved in the online learning conversation – blended learning models are valued rather than everything being online. They want courses that match their learning style and technology integration that improves learning.

Why we should never return to the 3 Rs – Stewart Riddle, USQ.
Some politicians are calling for more didactic teaching methods and the traditional curriculum. But – “the 3 Rs will not help young people to use computers efficiently, search the internet and access electronic texts for information and then have effective tools to analyse, critique and synthesise that information…..(one for the TLs!). On the question of prizing knowledge over skills, one only has to consider the information processing power of the humble smart phone sitting in our pockets or bags, which contains the capacity to access more information than we could ever hope to store in our memory by rote learning, to see the pointlessness in such a cause”.

The iPhone killed my creativity – Brian Hall.
Yes it’s true! With smartphones we are never bored, sitting around with nothing to do. And our creativity suffers – we need to be bored to allow our minds to drift & wander, to have the time and space to think about things. Using all the fun stuff on our smartphones is also lowering impulse buys at the checkout!

The Webby Awards

“Hailed as the ‘Internet’s highest honor’ by The New York Times, The Webby Awards is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. Awards are given to Websites, Interactive Advertising & Media, Online Film & Video, Mobile & Apps, and Social.  This year’s Webby Awards received more than 11,000 entries from over 65 countries. The shortlist has now been announced.

Winners will be announced on 22 May in New York where they will deliver five-word speeches in the tradition of past victors like Al Gore (“Please don’t recount this vote.”), Jimmy Fallon (“Thank God Conan got promoted”) and Anna Wintour (“Sometimes, Geeks Can Be Chic”).

While Academy members like Arianna Huffington, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and musician David Bowie select the Webby winners, people can also vote in The Webby People’s Voice Awards. Many of this year’s nominees reflect the ever-growing role social experiences play in helping consumers discover new content, videos, communities and brands. Others succeed by confirming the significant effect of mobile and tablet devices”.

Info and nominees:

Nominees for Best Education and Discovery

·         TED

·         National Geographic Education

·         NASA Curiosity Mars Rover

·         Medium

·         New York Public Library

The Gallery & Archive is an interesting snapshot of how the web has changed since 1996 – good for graphic design, IT, sociology, media…



Indie Book Awards and film news

Indie Awards 2013

Last week the winner of the Indie Book of the Year Award was announced: The light between oceans by M.L. Stedman. Other category winners:

Looking forward to reading the YA winner – Sea hearts by Margo Lanagan, an amazing writer.


I like this website. It always has interesting info. Just noticed I am currently reading #4 in the Indie Top 10 Bestsellers – Gone girl by Gillian Flynn. It is awesome! An unputdownable, intriguing psychological thriller that I blame for too many late nights!! It was highly recommended to me and I can pass that recommendation on. It’s her 3rd novel…will definitely be reading the others! We have purchased a copy for our library – it is fine for senior students, no more gruesome or explicit than the Girl with the dragon tattoo (which is studied as a text here).

Yay….a film adaptation! “American actress Reese Witherspoon’s film production company and 20th Century Fox own the screen rights to Gone Girl for which they paid $1.5 million US dollars. The novel’s author Gillian Flynn has been engaged to write the screenplay. Witherspoon was drawn to the script because of its strong female character and its use of multiple perspectives and non-linear structure. She will produce, but not star, in the film”.

The book thief

The film of the acclaimed novel by Marcus Zusak, that spent 230 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, has begun shooting in Germany. Director: Brian Percival (Downton Abbey). Stars Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson as the foster parents of Liesel, the book thief. I thought Rush would have been perfect as Death, the narrator!

The secret garden

A new adaptation of the novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett is being developed – to be set in southern USA at the turn of the century. Guillermo del Toro will be producer but not director.

Doctor Who: 50th anniversary 3D special

Screens in Nov 2013. An extended episode written by Steven Moffatt – Matt Smith describes it as “epic” and “hilarious”! And maybe something to do with paintings. The new series of Doctor Who begins 31 March ABC1 – River Song will appear, there will be more answers about the Doctor’s future & the truth about the identity of his new companion Clara.

Kickstarter and Veronica Mars

Another example of the power of social media: the crowdfunding website Kickstarter has raised enough funds for a film version of the Veronica Mars cult TV series. More than 30 000 fans pledged $2 million in one day (now over $3.8 million), the biggest film campaign ever on Kickstarter – which funds films, dance, comics, art, design, fashion, technology, music…,0,5476074.story

Australian crowdfunding site – some interesting creative projects:

Or maybe you prefer Brad Pitt and zombies….

Possibly the biggest zombie movie ever. Based on the bestselling novel World War Z: an oral history of the zombie war by Max Brooks (son of Mel). Directed by Marc Forster (The kite runner; Stranger than fiction; Quantum of solace). A United Nations employee traverses the world in a race against time to stop the zombie pandemic that threatens to decimate humanity. Brad plays the UN guy , not a zombie.

Fun stuff

You might have seen this short video doing the rounds recently…..iPads vs paper. Long live paper!