Thursday, August 06, 2015

Rewriting the Mark 4 Zephyr

When my father finally realised he would never again be hooking his prized 1971 Mark 4 Zephyr car to the family caravan he started staring down the reality that it was time to do something about the car.

He wanted me to have it. But that had to be stared down too. Much and all as I would love to have had the car, the brute fact was that the Zephyr was a right hand drive vehicle domiciled in New Zealand, and I was domiciled in Mexico, where steering wheels are firmly on the left. It was a no brainer. The car would be staying close to home.

Happily, Tom had shown interest in it. That made me happy, because while Tom was not a mechanic he had been interested for years in restoring vehicles and had made a very nice job of some old bicycles. He has some mechanically proficient friends, so it looked like a good option for Tom to take the Mark 4, get it back on the road, and eventually get it back to its former glory.

The tricky part was always going to be getting my father to actually let go of the car -- psychically, emotionally and physically (although I figured that if he could let go physically for long enough to get the car to some other place, the other “lettings go” would follow in due course).

When I was in New Zealand visiting, a couple of trips back, we confirmed with Tom and talked it through with Dad. And much sooner that I could ever have anticipated there was a car carrier truck at the gate. Dad passed the test of letting the car go physically with flying colours and was soon happy that Tom and friends were making a start on getting it back on the road.

That was a couple of years ago.

Then, two or three days ago, a decidedly understated Facebook post sprang the rewritten Mark 4 Zephyr back into life. It had a warrant of fitness, was registered for road use, and it looked great. It always steered like a tank, very heavy in the steering. No power steering in those days, and I wouldn't fancy the chances of taking on a power steering mod on that car. But for all I know …..

Anyway, here it is. Massive congratulations to Tom and his pals on getting the car back on the road. I remember how it felt when I finally got my 1950 BSA 500 single (a plunger framed B33) on the road. There was no other feeling like it other, perhaps, than firing it up and taking that first ride. And I am sure Tom will have felt beyond exhilarated to have the car on the road. I’m thrilled, and I wish Tom tens of thousands of happy miles of motoring. A fantastic job well done, and a cause for much pride on the parts of all involved.

Ride on, old Zephyr, ride on.

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Futuuri Summer Seminar on Future Language Education

It's been a long time between posts, indicative of how busy we have been this year just keeping heads above water.

Late last year we received very kind invitations to provide keynote presentations and give a workshop at the "Futuuri" Seminar on Future Language Education in Jyvaskyla, Finland. The event was held on 3-5 June 2015, in the heart of the beautiful Finnish Lake District. At this time of the year it is light 24 hours a day, which added an interesting complication to the change in times zones between our respective homes at the time and the conference venue. Jet lag has always been a challenge, but there is something a bit special to looking out the window at midnight and finding it bright enough to make one think one's body clock is on the right time after all.

While Michele doubtless has plenty more conference presentations left in her tank, Colin has been hankering after giving all this stuff away for quite some time now. Accordingly, our initial thoughts were to decline, but we are now very happy we did not. As it happens, we had been working on chapters for various handbooks edited by colleagues in Britain and Hong Kong, and were interested in following some of the themes behind what is possible within the templated handbook format. We informed the conference organisers that if they thought these themes would suit their purposes we would be happy to participate. It turned out that the themes were appropriate for the event and so we worked up further ideas on the themes of researching new literacies from a social languages perspective and on creativity and language. These became our keynote presentations.

The two talks can be found here

The seminar, which takes a full-on conference format, is held annually and includes presentations in English and Finnish pitched at educators specialising in mother tonge, second language and foreign language education. It addresses all levels of learning, from early education to tertiary and adult education. We found the other presentations we attended -- in English, our Finnish being limited to essential words like those for lunch, beer, and thank you -- most interesting and informative. Our experiences in Finland have long convinced us that the country has been doing some very good things for the formation of its citizens. We have met fabulous people and had nothing but wildly positive experiences there. Getting a chance to mingle with a good range of Finnish educators was something we welcomed and enjoyed.

There were excellent events planned for the evenings. While the dinner cruise of the lake was fabulous, at least one of us was beyond delighted to clap his eyes on the first National Steel Guitar he has seen in a long time at the pub event on the second evening. There is something quite delicious about being entertained by high quality Nashville-style country music in the heart of Finland just a short distance below the Arctic Circle. There is an absolutely outstanding warp to that, one we enjoyed to the hilt.

We also found good time to get out and about, and have blogged some photos at our joypix site.

For one of us it will be the final ever keynote. It was a very happy way to go out, and we are truly grateful to all those on the conference committee for giving us the opportunity to enjoy such a happy and interesting time.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Another new book in our series, this one by Trevor Owens: "Designing Online Communities"

Trevor Owen's new book, Designing Online Communities: How Designers, Developers, Community Managers, and Software Structure Discourse and Knowledge Production on the Web, is now out and a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in working with or researching online communities.

From the back cover:
Discussion on the Web is mediated through layers of software and protocols. As scholars increasingly study communication and learning on the Internet, it is essential to consider how site administrators, programmers, and designers create interfaces and enable functionality. The managers, administrators, and designers of online communities can turn to more than 20 years of technical books for guidance on how to design online communities towards particular objectives. Through analysis of this "how to" literature, Designing Online Communities explores the discourse of design and configuration that partially structures online communities and later social networks. Tracking the history of notions of community in these books suggests the emergence of a logic of permission and control. Online community defies many conventional notions of community. Participants are increasingly treated as "users", or even as commodities themselves to be used. Through consideration of the particular tactics of these administrators, this book suggests how researchers should approach the study and analysis of the records of online communication. 
Advance praise for Designing Online Communities can be found here.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New book in our series: Matt Farber's "Gamify Your Classroom"

Matthew Farber's Gamify Your Classroom: A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning” is now out! This book is  wonderful mix of theory, practical advice for pedagogy and insightful interviews with biggies in the new media and gaming fields. From the back cover:
This book is a field guide on how to implement game-based learning and «gamification» techniques to the everyday teaching. It is a survey of best practices aggregated from interviews with experts in the field, including: James Paul Gee (Author, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy); Henry Jenkins (Provost Professor at University of Southern California); Katie Salen (Founder, Institute of Play); Bernie DeKoven (Author, A Playful Path); Richard Bartle (Bartle’s Player Type Theory); Kurt Squire (Games + Learning + Society Center); Jessica Millstone (Joan Ganz Cooney Center), Dan White (Filament Games); Erin Hoffman (GlassLab games); Jesse Schell (Schell Games/Professor at Carnegie Mellon); Tracy Fullerton (University of Southern California Game Innovation Lab); Alan Gershenfeld (E-Line Media); Noah Falstein (Chief Game Designer, Google); Valerie Shute (Professor at Florida State University); Lee Sheldon (Author, The Multiplayer Classroom); Robert J. Torres (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Asi Burak (President, Games for Change); Toby Rowland (MangaHigh); Jocelyn Leavitt (Hopscotch); Krishna Vedati (Tynker); and researchers at BrainPOP and designers from Electric Funstuff (Mission U.S. games). Each chapter concludes with practical lesson plan ideas, games to play (both digital and tabletop), and links to research further. Much of the book draws on the author’s experiences implementing games with his middle school students. Regardless of your teaching discipline or grade level, whether you are a pre-service teacher or veteran educator, this book will engage and reinvigorate the way you teach and how your students learn.
Here's Matt himself talking about his book.

This is a must-have book for any new literacies or new media scholar!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Latest book in our series: "Learning Through Digital Game Design & Building in a Participatory Culture"

Loads of Congrats to Qing Li for her book, Learning Through Digital Game Design & Building in a Participatory Culture: An Enactivist Approach!  We're so pleased to have this latest addition to our series!

From the back cover:
This book discusses topics concerning digital game-based learning focusing on learning-by-game-building and Web 2.0. Grounded in the new theoretical perspective of enactivism, this book shows how such an approach can help students gain deep understanding of subjects such as mathematics and history, as well as undergraduate or graduate students’ learning of pedagogy and also adult driver’s learning of road safety rules. Written for undergraduate students in teacher education, experienced teachers, and graduate students, this book is an ideal text for courses related to technology integration and digital game-based learning. It is also beneficial for researchers, educators, parents, school administrators, game designers, and anyone who is interested in new ways of learning and digital games.
Contents include:
Foreword (By Jmes Paul Gee)
Chapter 1: Enactivism: A Framework for Understanding Cognition and Beyond
Chapter 2: Key Elements
Chapter 3: Enactivist Learning World
Chapter 4: Core Principles
Chapter 5: Enactivist Learning World and Culture
Chapter 6: Important Aspects
Chapter 7: Enactivist Learning World and Value
Chapter 8: Vital Domains and Basic Tools
Chapter 9: Learning by Game Building in the Twenty-first Century.

Qing Li (PhD in educational technology from University of Toronto) is a full professor in the Department of Educational Technology at Towson University and was co-director of its UTeach Program. She has published widely on educational technology and cyberbullying. Her most recent book (co-edited with Donna Cross & Peter K. Smith) is Cyberbullying in the Global Playground: Research from International Perspectives.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Looking for a job in Inclusive Elementary Education at a very cool university? We're looking for candidates!

Read on for more details--I'm on the search committee, so feel free to email me ( to chat about details of the position, or about our department or uni ( And do feel free to pass the job announcement along to anyone you think will be interested.

Subject to Available Funding

TITLE/RANK Open Rank – Inclusive Elementary Education 

DEPARTMENT Early Childhood, Elementary and Literacy Education 

DESCRIPTION Tenure-track position in Inclusive Elementary Education in a vibrant teacher education program serving diverse communities. Appointment includes teaching a range of undergraduate and graduate courses for preservice and inservice elementary teachers with an emphasis on preparing candidates for certification as Teachers of Students with Disabilities (TSD), mentoring/supervising teacher candidates in the field, building strong partnerships with schools and communities, and contributing to the vision and growth of the department. May also include coordinating programs in inclusive education/TSD certification. Faculty members are expected to be active scholars; develop a significant body of research with a solid record of refereed publications; advise students; engage in curriculum development, including online courses; contribute to accreditation processes; participate in department, college, and university committees; and teach both on and off campus. 

QUALIFICATIONS Required: Earned doctorate in Elementary Education, Disability Studies in Education, Special Education, Curriculum and Teaching, or related field. Strong preparation and/or experience in elementary inclusive education. Successful teaching at the elementary level or equivalent, and a well-defined research agenda and evidence of scholarly activities. Preferred: Theoretical expertise in Disability Studies in intersection with other critical theoretical frameworks; practical expertise and experience in special education, literacy education, universal design for learning, urban education, teaching English language learners, educational and assistive technologies, and/or assessment methods. Experience with doctoral-level teaching and advising. Experience using digital technologies to enhance teaching and learning, including teaching online. The department and the College of Education and Human Services are committed to student and faculty diversity and value the educational benefits that derive from such diversity. We are seeking candidates who demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively in and with socially, culturally, and economically diverse communities; have a commitment to education for social justice, democratic and inclusive practice, and critical thinking; and are interested in addressing issues of inclusive education in research, teaching, teacher education, and curriculum development. 

SALARY RANGE Salary is dependent upon qualifications. 

STARTING DATE September 1, 2015 

SEND Send to the email address below an application letter, resume, and three letters of 
(include V number) reference to: 

Search Chair, ECELE 
Montclair State University 

Note: Please send the application letter and resume in one pdf file if possible. 
APPLY BY Review begins immediately and continues until position is filled. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Third new book in our series! "English Teaching and New Literacies Pedagogy"

It's raining riches all down around us at the moment in terms of new books coming out in our "New Literacies" series. Len Unsworth and Angela Thomas have put together a wonderful collection of chapters in their edited volume, English Teaching and New Literacies Pedagogy. Both Len and Angela have an international track record in researching, thinking about and theorizing English/literacy education and digital media and they've brought together authors who write about a wide, innovative range of new media and how they can be taken up in classrooms.

From the back cover:
[This collection] is about the fusion of media and narrative, and explores theoretical and practical dimensions of young people’s engagement with contemporary forms of text. It showcases a range of critical interpretative approaches for integrating multimedia narratives into English teaching contexts, including animated films such as Shaun Tan’s The Lost Thing, digital novels such as Inanimate Alice and 5 Haitis, and a virtual treatment of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. English teachers across grade levels will recognize the valuing of literature and will appreciate the practical pedagogy and fostering of creativity as students are encouraged to explore new forms of narrative. In the context of developing expertise in knowing how multimodal texts work, students can apply that knowledge in their own authoring of digital multimedia narratives.
Contents include:

The collection as a whole emphasizes authoring/producing by means of new media and how teachers can engage with new literacies meaningfully in school contexts. 

Another lovely new book in our series: "Community-Based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects"

Heather Pleasants and Dana Salter have included an engaging and insightful set of accounts from a wide range of community-based project workers--authors who often don't find a voice in academic spaces but whose work is hugely important everywhere--in their edited collection, Community-Based Multiliteracies and Digital Media Projects. As the back cover blurb explains:

Within community-based digital literacies work, a fundamental question remains unanswered: Where are the stories and reflections of the researchers, scholars, and community workers themselves? We have learned much about contexts, discourses, and the multimodal nature of meaning making in literacy and digital media experiences. However, we have learned very little about those who initiate, facilitate, and direct these community-based multiliteracies and digital media projects. In Community-Based Multiliteracies & Digital Media Projects: Questioning Assumptions and Exploring Realities, contributors discuss exemplary work in the field of community-based digital literacies, while providing an insightful and critical perspective on how we begin to write ourselves into the stories of our work. In doing so, the book makes a powerful contribution to digital literacies praxis and pedagogy - within and outside of community-based contexts.
A particular strength of the various chapters in this collection is that the authors do not shy away from talking about things that went awry or didn't work out so well (and reasons why), along with what did work.  There are so many practical insights for non-profit community groups in this book that will help to smooth project development and implementation, as well as theoretical insights that help us to think more clearly about what it means to be part of/work with communities.

Contents incude:

And reviews are already streaming in for this collection and include comments such as:

"What I so appreciate about this important volume is that the authors take up as central the kinds of conversations that too often only happen off the record. Fearlessly, they explore the messiness of research on digital media literacies. They ask what to do when things don’t go as planned, when deeply personal stories go public, when intentions bump up against realities within the politics of ‘doing good.’ We all need to think deeply about these issues together, and to speak of them out loud and on the record. We need methods to embed reflection and critical analysis of process into multiliteracies research, which is precisely the mandate this collection delivers on, with clarity and courage." (Dr. Elisabeth Soep, Senior Producer and Research Director, Youth Radio)

"By playing at the intersection of the digital literacy and community context, the editors and their co-authors move beyond traditional conversations about the pedagogical and programmatic mechanics of utilizing digital media to the criti-cal examination of digital literacies in specific contexts and the associated chal-lenges that accompany this work. As a STEAM educator and community advocate, I believe that through their work, Heather M. Pleasants and Dana E. Salter have created an invaluable space to interrogate some of the key questions facing those hoping to empower educators and students to utilize digital media to change and improve their world." (Dr. Brian Williams, Director, Alonzo A. Crim Center for Urban Educational Excellence, and Assistant Professor, Early Childhood Education, Georgia State University)

"This is a beautifully conceptualized collection. The editors have invited experienced, self-reflective, community-based practitioners to ‘write themselves into the story’ of their work and the result is a nuanced conversation about the intricacies, ambiguities, challenges, and the inspiration of collaborating across boundaries to create media that matter. The insights shared and questions explored are invaluably generative. They help us think critically about the ethics, integrity, and purposes of our labor. They remind us that reflection into process is not for the footnotes; rather, it is central to the story of social justice work." (Darcy Alexandra, visual anthropologist, writer, educator, and documentary practitioner, Centre for Transcultural Research and Media Practice, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland)

New book in our series: "Youth Community Inquiry: New Media for Community and Personal Growth"

We're so happy to announce the publication of Chip Bruce, Ann Bishop and Nama Budhathoki's edited collection: Youth Community Inquiry: New Media for Community and Personal Growth. The editors are serious about presenting work that truly engages youth in using a wide range of digital media (GPS tech, to video production, podcasts, internet radio, using online databases and archives etc.) as they engage directly in communities. As the back cover blurb explains:
Youth Community Inquiry offers a detailed look at how young people use new media to help their communities thrive. Chapters address questions about learning, digital technology, and community engagement through the theory of community inquiry. The settings range from a small farming town, to a mostly immigrant community, to inner-city Chicago, and include youth from ages eight to 20. Going beyond works on social media in a narrow sense, the projects in these settings involve the use of varied technologies, such as GPS/GIS mapping tools, video production, use of archives and databases, podcasts, and Internet radio. The development of inquiry-based activities serves as a record of the diverse experiences and a guide to future projects. The book concludes with an overview of a curriculum that readers may adapt for their own settings.
Edited by three internationally renown scholars whose body of work in community inquiry has long shaped and informed this important field, the book's contents include:

At a time when the term "community" is bandied about to refer to almost any kind of gathering of people, Youth Community Inquiry really puts teeth into what it means to be part of--and to contribute to--an ethical discourse and practice of democratic collectivity. 

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