Archive for January, 2014

BETT, Better, Best?

The BETT show rolled around again this week and it was the first time in a couple of years that I have made it up there. Naturally I expected some things to have changed, more emphasis on gaming for learning and a focus on apps with any luck. As it transpired there was far less of this than I had hoped for. The number of exhibitors seems to have shrunk quite profoundly during the time I’ve been away and I was comfortably done with all I wanted to see before 2pm. There were far less in the way of small providers and niche content producers, no parliament stand for example. Of the major players Apple were conspicuous by their absence, Google seemed to be offering little new and Microsoft seemed to be offering little full stop. The major publishers had been updating their product lines with some moves into online but nothing that seemed to be game changing or ground breaking. All in all it felt like the world of online education is rather standing still and waiting for the early adopters to get the budget and seniority to push things forward. Perhaps this is a reflection of the Education Secretary’s focus on anything but the future.


The death of journalism and some very poor jokes

In the deadtime between Christmas and New Year The Guardian published a fairly fluffy story on scientist’s favourite jokes. Without any seeming hierarchy they asked a number of scientists which jokes about their discipline tickled them and posted fifteen or so. Some were good, some poor and they mostly split into simple plays on words that had little to do with science and ones that actually required some understanding of the discipline. I’ve thought about this article, which can be seen here, an awful lot over the subsequent weeks. Partly this has come from mentioning it to colleagues but also through my interest in independent schools marketing it strikes me as the kind of quick and easy win that could be tweeted out every day or appear on the homepage and, for a minimum of effort, bring in lots of interest and credit. From a TOK point of view it shows another interesting way in which knowledge works. Perhaps most interestingly though it seems to me to presage the slow death of journalism. As I said the jokes in the article are OK but they are followed by over 600 jokes in the comments section many of which are infinitely funnier and smarter. The wisdom of crowds is often cited as one way the internet is making us all smarter, the wit of crowds also seems to be worth keeping tabs on. For what it’s worth, my favourite is this one,

A labourer walks into a bar and goes to order. The scientist in front of him says to the barman: “I’ve had a tough day, can I have a glass of H20 please?” The barman hands him his drink and the scientist happily sips away. Not wanting to seem stupid, the labourer says to the barman: “Yeah, can I have a glass of H20 too please?” His funeral’s tomorrow.

History Porn

I’ve blogged about reddit before, specifically the wonderful which is replete with interesting conversations and sound advice, so much so that I will often point my upper sixth coursework or IB Extended Essay students there to get an understanding of historical debate. But there is much more to reddit than just geeky historian texts, there’s also geeky historian pictures. Most notably on the unfortunately name which is awash with incredible images that make ideal starters or can liven up a powerpoint. This picture of soldiers from nine different countries sent to help put down the Boxer Rebellion is a case in point.


Through the Language Glass – Guy Deutscher

As I get deeper into teaching TOK in curriculum time I’m finding myself more and more drawn to books that try and engage with the subject and this one is fabulous for looking at language. Drawing on tribal languages and the idea of placement in time and space, differences in interpretations of colour from Gladstonian work on Homer and the problem with translating poems about trees into languages that lack genders there is a wealth of materi


al to get through. The colour obsession is a bit much after a while and I would have liked some more material on how pictorial languages affect the thinkers of the language user but this is the kind of book that gives huge scope for discussion and debate in class and lots of eminently photocopiable material!


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