[international literacy]

"The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) is an international comparative study of the reading literacy of young students. PIRLS studies the reading achievement and reading behaviors and attitudes of fourth-grade students in the United States and students in the equivalent of fourth grade in other participating countries.

PIRLS was first administered in 2001and included 35 countries, and was administered again in 2006 to students in 40 countries. PIRLS 2006 results will be released on November 28, 2007. The next PIRLS is scheduled for 2011. PIRLS is coordinated by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)."

Have a look at the comparison overview:

Apparently the drop in literacy (but this is just word-literacy) has been blamed on gaming.

The Sun (ever so reliable source) says "computers keep kids away from books." Perhaps...but maybe they're still reading online...

Image from Neil Long.

But, have a look at one of the reading samples the 4th-graders were given:

Image from the
The Reading Literacy of U.S. Fourth-Grade Students in an International Context Report.

Would this kind of story encourage attention from today's 4th grade students? Plus, literacy here is defined solely as

"the ability to understand and use those written language forms required by society and/or valued by the individual. Young readers can construct meaning from a variety of texts. They read to learn, to participate in communities of readers in school and everyday life, and for enjoyment. (Mullis et al. 2006)"

And with this definition they believe they can measure (see p.2)

• processes of comprehension;
• purposes of reading; and
• reading behaviors and attitudes.

They do say they're focusing on "print" literacy but I wonder whether this method really does give accurate results for *today's* readers. I suppose I'm wondering about the accuracy especially because in the comparison of literacy levels between countries, the report considers "Canada" but only reports on two provinces, Ontario and Quebec.

I think Cynthia L. Selfe and Gail E. Hawisher's
most recent book is in the right direction, tapping into new literacies.


[bah: facebook]

[android: google goes robotic]


"The Open Handset Alliance, a group of more than 30 technology and mobile companies, is developing Android: the first complete, open, and free mobile platform."

Cool apps that surprise and delight mobile users, built by developers like you, will be a huge part of the Android vision. To support you in your efforts, Google has launched the Android Developer Challenge, which will provide $10 million in awards -- no strings attached -- for great mobile apps built on the Android platform.

How It Works
The award money will be distributed equally between two Android Developer Challenges:

Android Developer Challenge I: We will accept submissions from January 2 through March 3, 2008
Android Developer Challenge II: This part will launch after the first handsets built on the platform become available in the second half of 2008

In the Android Developer Challenge I, the 50 most promising entries received by March 3 will each receive a $25,000 award to fund further development. Those selected will then be eligible for even greater recognition via ten $275,000 awards and ten $100,000 awards.

Build Your Favorite Mobile Application
We welcome all types of applications but are looking to reward innovative, useful apps that make use of Android's capabilities to deliver a better mobile experience. Here are some suggested areas of focus to get you started:

Social networking
Media consumption, management, editing, or sharing, e.g., photos
Productivity and collaboration such as email, IM, calendar, etc.
News and information
Rethinking of traditional user interfaces
Use of mash-up functionality
Use of location-based services
Humanitarian benefits
Applications in service of global economic development
Whatever you're excited about!

How cool is this idea?

Christeene Micona wonders: "the big question is - is the so-called Google Phone still to come, or will Android just assimilate existing hardware manufacturers?

Read about Dick Wall's first "useful" application created for Android.

Read wizardbt's view that "Android gives more power developers to create new services as it provides an extensive API to manage different aspects of the mobile's capabilities. This is a serious limitation in today's J2ME-enabled phones, and as a consequence you have to deal with different and sometimes erratic implementations of the same API. J2ME was built as a restricted subset of the main J2SE classes with "portability" in mind, however we cannot say that this was accomplished flawlessly."


[social networking]

How great is it to meet someone interesting on the train? Well, it has happened before but today I met Andy Law of CyberSports a gaming company and we spent the whole trip talking about social networking (I've told him about CreativeCoffee Club and NLab) and he's interested in getting his company onto Facebook and shared with me some fascinating info. about their about-to-be released MMOG (though the site was down when I last checked it...perhaps too much traffic).

"What if you could play football online with thousands of other people in 3 to 11-aside squads, controlling a single player from the footballer’s perspective?

Eventually, hard work and persistence may lead to you turning professional and earn you money with which you could buy the best that life can offer. Lead the life of a football superstar in a utopian world."


Happy Birthday to Megan!!

It's our niece's birthday today!!

Myspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter GraphicsMyspace Glitter Graphics, MySpace Graphics, Glitter Graphics

Megan and Sam's First EVER Trip to London 019

Have the bestest birthday ever Meg!!


[blogging is good for students]

I've always thought blogging was a good way to help students develop digital literacy (and *normal* literacy) skills and so agrees Diane Penrod.

Karen Levy's blog:

"What kinds of literacies does blogging enhance?

Well, stronger skills in visual literacy [and] media literacy, for starters. Changes in reading and writing—not just the texting phenomenon, but fluency rates, information sorting, and evaluating happen, too.

Are there other benefits of blogging?

Having students learn how to build a blog teaches them necessary design and conceptual abilities that can transfer to art, photography, graphic design, writing, and other contemporary information-manipulation strategies. Blog building also helps students understand how technology works from the ground up.

What differences have you found between boys and girls, and even ethnic groups?

Boys really respond to blogging. It’s a writing [format] that they become excited about because it’s hands-on, and they can see something that has a definite “beyond school” value. Girls tend to like blogging when it’s more journal-based.

The Pew Internet studies I draw upon in the book found that the “digital divide” we were worried about in the late 1990s is not between ethnicities as we first thought. The Pew studies indicate that several racial and ethnic groups sometimes blog more than Caucasian students. The biggest problem still is economic—it’s expensive for many families to have computers and Internet access.

How are blogs being used to promote collaborative learning and critical thinking?

Blogs are really all about collaborative learning. When students post responses or questions, others feel comfortable in responding and offering assistance or ideas.

When instructors or librarians design innovative lessons that encourage students to delve into the material, then post that information on a blog, critical thinking can happen. Students are able to provide links to other sites that the class can examine and evaluate in terms of the quality of information provided, as well as [understand] how they might use such data in their own assignment."

I'm personally not sure about the gendering of blogging though. In my pedagogical experience both female and male students tended (and here I generalise) to like blogging (if they did in fact blog as this was rare) as a way of keeping in touch and up-to-date with what their friends were doing.


[strategies for stronger readers]

According to Mary Rogers Rose, strong readers demonstrate the following strategies:

"Before reading, effective readers:

  • Set clear goals for reading.

  • Actively pursue meaning and activate prior knowledge.
  • Preview the text.
  • Make predictions.
  • Generate questions to be answered.

    During reading, effective readers:

  • Pay close attention to text structure.
  • Read texts selectively based on purpose(s) for reading.
  • Construct and revise meaning.
  • Determine whether the text and information are meeting goals.
  • Integrate prior knowledge with information and ideas from text(s).
  • Think about and question the text’s and author’s information and ideas.
  • Monitor and revise understanding of the text.
  • Determine the meaning of unfamiliar words and concepts using a variety of strategies.
  • Reconcile inconsistencies or gaps in information and ideas as necessary.

    After reading effective readers:

  • Evaluate text quality and value.
  • Respond to text mainly through questioning, additional reading, or discussion.
  • Reflect upon texts during reading, during pauses in reading, and after reading.
  • Consider comprehension and learning to be satisfying and productive experiences."

I wonder how we can work these strategies into a reading of a new media fiction such as Inanimate Alice?

[guiding readers: new book]

A forthcoming book from the International Reading Association that includes aspects of digital literacy.

Guiding Readers Through Text: Strategy Guides for New Times (second edition)
Karen D. Wood, Diane Lapp, James Flood, and D. Bruce Taylor.

guiding readers through text book cover

"Strategy guides support students during reading, helping them attend to significant information, process and think about content, and engage in meaningful discussions throughout the reading experience. Reflecting what is considered “text” in today’s multimedia world, these guides take students beyond traditional textbooks and into multiple sources of information, bridging print and digital literacies. The book’s question sets, statements, engaging activities, and experiences will build and deepen students’ understanding of topics across all subject areas.

In each chapter, the authors provide procedural descriptions and examples of each guide, as well as “Tips for Diverse Learners.” An appendix of reproducible strategy guides is also included."

Check out the Table of Contents:

About the Authors



Part I: Using Strategy Guides in K–12 Classrooms

Chapter 1
Introduction: From Study Guides of the Past to Strategy Guides of the Present and Future

Chapter 2
Getting Started With Strategy Guides

Part II: Collaborative Guides

Chapter 3
Collaborative Listening–Viewing Guide

Chapter 4
Interactive Reading Guide

Chapter 5
Reciprocal Teaching Discussion Guide

Part III: Thinking Guides

Chapter 6
Critical Profiler Guide

Chapter 7
Inquiry Guide

Chapter 8
Learning-From-Text Guide

Chapter 9
Multiple-Source Research Guide

Chapter 10
Point-of-View Guide

Part IV: Statement Guides

Chapter 11
Anticipation Guide

Chapter 12
Extended Anticipation Guide

Chapter 13
Reaction Review Guide

Part V: Manipulative Guides

Chapter 14
Foldable Guide

Chapter 15
Origami Guide

Part VI: Text Structure Guides

Chapter 16
Analogical Strategy Guide

Chapter 17
Concept Guide

Chapter 18
Pattern Guide

Part VII: Process-of-Reading Guides

Chapter 19

Chapter 20
Process Guide

Chapter 21
Reading Road Map

Chapter 22
Textbook Activity Guide

Part VIII: Transferring to Independent Learning

Chapter 23
Student-Developed Guide



Interested? Buy the book here.


[how to do a proper ppt]

Reading Digital Digressions by Richard Parent I came across this great presentation on (wait for it...) how to do great ppt presentations:



[rosi braidotti lecture: b/w the longer and the not yet]


"The embodied structure of the subject is a key-term in feminist struggle. It is to be understood as neither a biologically nor sociologically fixed category, but,rather as a point of overlapping between the physical, the symbolic and the material social conditions. The body is an inter-face, a threshold, a field of intersecting material and symbolic forces, it is a surface where multiple codes (race, sex, class, age, etc.) are inscribed; it's a cultural construction that capitalizes on energies of a heterogeneous, discontinuous and affective or unconscious nature. This vision of the body contains sexuality as a process and as a constitutive element. Embodiment provides a common but at best very complex ground on which to postulate the feminist project. On the luna-park that marks the website of this conference, the body would definitely be on the roller-coaster.

Being embodied means being in and of sexualized matter. This sexual fibre is intrinsically and multiply connected to social and political relations; it is anything but an individualistic entity. Sexuality is simultaneously the most intimate and the most external, socially-driven, power-drenched practice of the self. As a social and symbolic, material and semiotic institution, sexuality in singled out by feminism as the primary location of power, in a complex manner which encompasses both macro and micro relations. Sexual difference - the sexualized bi-polarity, is another word for power in both the negative or repressive (potestas) and the positive or empowering (potentia) meaning of the term.


The sort of `figurations' of alternative subjectivity, which feminism has invented, like the womanist/ the lesbian/ the cyborg/ the inappropriate(d) other/ the nomadic feminist etc. etc differ from classical `metaphors' in calling into play a sense of accountability for one's locations. They express materially embedded cartographies and as such are self-reflexive and not parasitic upon a process of metaphorization of `others'. They provide, on the critical level, materially embedded and embodied accounts of one's power-relations.

Feminist theory is about multiple and potentially contradictory locations and differences, among women but also within each woman. To account for them, locations are approached as geo-political, but also as time-zones, related to memory. Feminism is not about restoring another dominant memory, but rather about installing a counter-memory, or an embedded and embodied genealogy. Feminist thinking takes place between the no longer and the not yet, in the in-between zone between wilful , conscious political practice and the not-necessarily conscious yearning for transformation and change. I see feminist theory as the activity aimed at articulating the questions of individual gendered identity with issues related to political subjectivity, the production of knowledge, diversity, and epistemological legitimation."

Or listen to the lecture here.


Braidotti gave this lecture at the 4th European Feminist Research Conference which took place September 28 and October 1, 2000 in Bologna.

An interesting question and response (in Italian) - Braidotti proposes that women in humanities and sciences develop an alliance through new technologies:

Il lavoro delle donne nei new media e nelle nuove tecnologie può portare a cambiamenti di metodo e di contenuti?

Rosi Braidotti propone un'alleanza tra donne umaniste
e donne scienzate.

ascolta [
ascolta 56k ascolta ADSL ]


[where's feminism now?]

Ok. So I suppose I should begin by acknowledging what a long way the U.S. has come. I mean, a woman and a non-white guy (omg) are in the running for president. However, watching the debate on CNN this morning just highlighted that we *still* need to be aware of gender bias. Perhaps Edwards and Obama didn't mean to divert the debate from important issues like abortion, immigration, education, health care, Iraq, same-sex marriages to personal attacks causing Clinton to respond (she must have practised after the Oct. 30th *debate*)

"I've just been personally attacked again. I don't mind taking hits on my record on issues, but when somebody starts throwing mud at least we can hope it's accurate and not right out of the Republican playbook."

Though Clinton didn't want voters to see gender as the issue: "She added they were not attacking her because she was a woman but because she was ahead. It was a good line, even if sounded well-rehearsed, aimed at women."

Hrm...after that reponse the debate seemed to refocus on presidential issues and I was feeling optimistic. That wasn't to be long-lived as during question time an audience member, a young woman, decided to invoke her right to query the system. She looked straight at Clinton and asked whether pearls or diamonds were her favourite. What?! That seems such an odd question and I wonder whether it was a plant to remind the voting public that at the end of the day Clinton is *just* a woman and should be relegated to the private sphere where concerns over which accouterment to employ reign supreme (or at least parallel with getting dinner ready).

I didn't catch the remainder of the question session so not sure if the male candidates were asked whether they preferred boxers or briefs...


[creativity conversations at the ioct: bruce mason and peter shillingsburg]

"The creative process: views from practice and analysis."
Bruce Mason (New media advocate)
Peter Shillingsburg (Textual scholar)


"New knowledge is the result of a rational extension of the boundaries of established knowledge through acts of innovative combination, controlled violation of conventions, and recognition of the potentitals of the unexpected, including accidents."
(from Stephen Brown paraphrasing Margaret Boden)

For an innovation to be distinguished from chaos it must not exceed our tolerance for the unexplained thus will be a failed attempt. So there comes the notion that there is a discipline that underlies creativity - a controlled violation (recognising the potential of the accidental).

Art that can be labelled as significant or great usually has two characteristics:
command of langauge
does something not done before

"The old dog barked backward without getting up.
I can remember when he was a pup."
(Robert Frost)

The first sentence has 22 stop sounds (so takes much longer to read than the second sentence). The second line only has 4 hard stop sounds and none is juxtaposed to the other. It has 8 liquids which run on smoothly without interruptions. In this case creativity is the skillful placement.

But what of *serendipity*?


"Having drunk a pint of beer at luncheon ... I would go for a walk of two or three hours. As I went along, thinking of nothing in particular, only looking at things around me and following the progress of the seasons, there would flow into my mind, with sudden and unaccountable emotion, sometimes a line or two of verse, sometimes a whole stanza at once, accompanied, not preceded, by a vague notion of the poem which they were destined to form part of. Then there would usually be a lull of an hour or so then perhaps the spring would bubble up again. I say bubble up, because, so far as I could make out, the source of the suggestions thus proffered to the brain was an abyss ... the pit of the stomach."

Tree Bellicose Graph
"Jaun supine team tree bellicose livid tug adder inner past her honor heel slide. Day word deep tree Bellicose Graph. Dare wuzzy Girt Bag Bellicose Graph, dare wuzzy Muddles Eyes Bellicose Graph, enter wuzzy Ladle Beady Bellicose Graph. Bees hide dare past her render Russian reaver. Juan moaning, dado seeded acrostic past her tweet digress honor udder sight. Bat furs day head topaz oeqvre breech Honda witch dare livid day bag hoary bull trowel."



Can a group be creative? (think of a million penguins)

In blogosphere there seems to be a consensus that a million penguins was a failure. BUT when wikis fail it is because no one writes anything or it is riddled with spam.

Stats in 5 weeks of a million penguins

  • 1500 contributors
  • over 11,000 edits
  • 75,000 visitors to the site
  • 280,000+ page views

So, maybe it failed because crowds cannot write well.

Or, maybe it was because there were no rules, everything was left up to the users. There was nothing saying what writers couldn't do.

But we have plenty of evidence of crowds writing. Aarne-Thompson 333

type - AT 0333 the wolf or other monster devous human beings until all of them are rescued alive from his belly
1)wolf's feast
2) rescue

motifs - 1) Wolf poses as "grandmother" and kills child, What makes your ears so big? Animal swallows man (not fatally)
2)Victims rescued from swallower's belly.

So this might be related to a digital tradition:

Wiki transmission
what about edit histories as transmission?
what kinds of wiki edits succeed and what fail?

Traces of Digital Authors

Oral culture leaves relatively few snapshots of texts
Digital culture leaves billions
Gibson's blog shows his latest novel Spook country coming together

but a reader of Gibson's new novel noticed that it sounded familiar...it was from Gibson's blog:

"So I can tell you now that Spook Country came together for Gibson in October 2004. That month is a record of all the little shocks and perceptions and historical forces and traumas - in seriously minute detail - that at some point stewed together in Gibson's brain into what became Spook Country.

According to the early plot outline which Amazon.com has up on the book's page (quoting the blog), he started writing his novel in June 05. That's the boiling time for the novel, I guess. Gibson has several times called writing a novel at the same time as the blog "boiling water with the lid off", meaning it's something he has to stop doing in order to generate enough energy to write the novel. Looking at these links, I'm not so sure. I think instead the blog has become a record of, and an integral part of, the idea-generating stage of writing his novels. Maybe he couldn't write the book itself, but the ideas certainly came about at these exact times."

Bruce's note that you need to work within constraints so tried to create a tardis in second life but SL doesn't allow something to be different (spatially) on the inside and outside. So, a workaround was allowing one to teleport to somewhere else (bigger) from within the tardis.

Peter: Henry James and embedded clauses and deferred, Falkner and long sentences, relative duration of time to live life and then talk about it (Shandy!). So telling good stories, creation, is verbal so you need a good command of language. We build our worlds and transport ourselves with words (Coleridge).

[ioct public lecture: oort-cloud.org and social publishing]

Blurb from the ioct blog:

A lecture by Paul B. Hartzog and Richard Adler, at the IOCT, 3pm, Wed 14th November, 2007.
This lecture is free and open to the public.

The frequency and intensity of global communications is increasing, ushered in by collaborative technologies that make possible innovative forms of collective action. As a result, in many ways the structures of industrial modernity face a challenge from emerging peer-to-peer coordinated alternatives. These new alternatives are poised to transform “culture industries” like film, music, publishing, and others.

One recent force is “social publishing” which offers both new practices and new theoretical tools for thinking about the future of publishing. Oort-cloud, an online commons for writers, has embraced social publishing and “Open Lit” in an effort to explore this exciting terrain. A look at Oort-Cloud (http://www.oort-cloud.org) will illustrate the potential of such cooperative enterprises, and provide insight into how how network culture is created.
Important: how to find things of quality (see O'Donnell) Social Publishing (article published in sept. 2006) by Paul
"authors create and distribute their work, and reader, individually and collectively, including fans as well as editors and peers, review, comment, rank, and tag, everything."
What's happening online - there is a creator and there is someone looking to be involved with a creation Authors - create and distribute their work and on the other side we have readers (individually and collectively) - this embodies what Paul and Rick see as the *ideal state*. "OpenLit" is beyond social tagging creative commons is the *lubrication* for this system of openlit. cycle of openlit:
Write - share - read - response
Why has oort cloud settled on science fiction? have a community, willing to take on something new, already have an online presence, have an *open-minded* community, and history of exchange between readers and writers

Current project - Star Trek Rick: "the more you hear feedback the more likely you are able to improve."

Paul: what does this give you? "living with stories" as a consequence of the ubiquity you have the opetion not "select, then publish;" but "publish, then select." (Michel Bauwens).

Paul: his way of participating is as a "good reader."
Links in to project gutenburg's call for distributed proof-readers. So challenges of quality and access - the traditional model would have us believe "select, then publish" but it is *perfectly feasibile* to invert this process (see Michel Bauwens).

Question: Bruce - what is the financial model for making this work?
Paul: tends to ask questions from the view of equity and participatory culture - so, what might be happening to *large* structures as a result of technological advancement. In his experience, participation is not often because of option for monetary gain (in fact they rejected having google ads on their site in effort to monetize). Decided that monetizing the site would turn away the people who should be participating. Rick: fan fiction communities already have great problems with sense of ownership, the community is what oort cloud is all about

Paul: the reason you give things away is to generate more interest. Think of istock photos.

Rick: think of radiohead example - $3mill for something that was made available for free. 38% people donated. But, donation model worked well for Radiohead because already had a fan base. So, to overcome the idea of obscurity is to get known through something like oort cloud (to establish a name for yourself, get a group of fans). Thus, oortcloud becomes a place where you can build a reputation.

Human-Machine Reconfigurations: Plans and Situated Actions by Lucy Suchman - her book is an artifact to conversation as the latest release includes her original book with added chapters:
"This edition includes an annotated version of the original text, plus six new chapters looking at relevant developments since the mid 1980s both in computing and in social studies of technology. The focus is on humanlike machines and new forms of human-computer interaction on one hand, and recent theorising regarding humans, machines and relations between them on the other."
What kinds of patterns of behaviour have been developing? Paul: Serialisation was a big thing - the community was able to pick up and read the signals, determine for themselves which evolutionary paths they would take Rick: oort cloud has never had a flame war (!!!) it's been a "very cordial group." There has been strong criticism and rigorous checking but all have remained polite.