Will You Succeed? by GetEducated (2013).  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Will You Succeed? by GetEducated (2013). CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

After reading The Diary of Anne Frank, I became determined to write in a diary every night. I lasted perhaps six months on a regular basis, with entries drying up completely after a year. When I first heard about blogging, I  started one in earnest, determined to chronicle my daily adventures for the world to marvel at…I barely lasted a month. When I moved out of home at 18, Blogger (now blogspot, a part of Google) was en vouge – my attempt to write a ‘He Died With A Felafel In His Hand’ style house-sharing blog failed miserably. Personally, blogging has never been a success.  I have never kept one for my own learinng purposes and while I have never used one in my teaching practice, I have used different forms of journals/diaries for many different purposes. Restrictions regarding access (both students access at home and school/state policies which block websites) have thus far prevented me from being able to create a teaching and learning experience in which I think blogs would be successful. Keeping an edublog for CLN647 has give me first hand experience of the many benefits of incorporating it into learning, providing a new experience which I can draw on in my own teaching practice. Additionally, my reflection on popular culture for education each week has helped me to understand that using these resources has educational potential beyond the limited scope that I had previously assumed.

Blogging- It is not about the Tools...It's about the Skills by Langwitches (2010). CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Blogging- It is not about the Tools…It’s about the Skills by Langwitches (2010). CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

How students interact with their world, including popular culture is changing. Digital natives (as some may call the students of today) are living in a participatory world, and yet Crook (2012, p.65) cited that education is seen as not preparing students for that world, despite a wealth of research which reports high levels of interaction between youth and participatory technologies such as web2.0 and social media (Crook, 2012, p. 66, Beach, 2008, p. 777, Prensky, 2001,p.). Indeed, 21st Century skills are almost a necessity for employment in what is increasingly becoming a ‘knowledge economy’ (Crook, 2012, p.65, Houghton & Sheehan, 2000, p.11).

Previously I had always thought of blogging (and even to an extent, microblogging via sites like Twitter)  in terms of the  potential developing the ‘digital literacies’ (also called multimodal literacies and multiliteracies)that  are essential for reading, interpreting, creating and communication with a multimodal world (O’Sullivan, 2012, p.191). However I have come to see their potential as participatory cultures, places where users can not only connect to other with similar interests and share creations, but also to build a collective intelligence (which I see as another interpretation of collaborative learning) (Jenkins, 2006). In my own blogging experience I thoroughly enjoyed reading the ‘Related Content’ suggestions. Reading them I found both new angles on topics that I had previously not considered and posts which aligned with my own thoughts. I had connected to other people, learned from them, without them even being aware. Eloquently put by O’Sullivan (2012, p.193), blogs allow for self-reflection, experimentation, self-expression and communication, globally and without restrictions on time and place.  Looking back on the blog I can see the shifts in my attitude and knowledge, changes in my thinking preserved chronologically and I believe the educational potential for this, a tool which is a dynamic creation and representation of changes in the authors thoughts/feelings(O’Sullivan, 2012 p.193) – which has the potential to replace KWL (Know, Want to learn, Learned) as a method of tracking learning.

KWL Chart created using Microsoft Word Template

KWL Chart created using Microsoft Word Template

By reflecting on the use of popular culture texts – whether it is popular shows like The Simpsons, games, social media or popular teen novels, there are two key points that I have really drawn from this unit – that everything has potential to teach the students something (for example, I discussed how the show Buffy the Vampire Slayer is now a topic of academic research). The idea that ‘everything bad is good for you’ as elaborated on in his book by Johnson (2005) is not new to me, having encountered (and devoured and spruiked) the book before this class, however I never had any experience or knowledge of my own (outside of technology) to connect to this theory. In addition to the reflections I made on Johnsons book regarding the educational possibilities of popular/participatory cultures (which I discussed in length in my first assignment), I have come to think that by using pop culture resources and creating an environment where the student is the ‘expert’ (Beach, 2008, p.797) can have benefits not only because the students are interested, but also because it aligns with the shifts that technology (a constant yet ever changing medium of popular culture) is bringing to education – towards a learner-centric learning environment (Laurillard, 2009, p.15).

Idiot Teacher (Willy Wonka) by Hanger1983 (2006, October 11). 

Quote: Of course you don’t know! You don’t know because only I know. If you knew and I didn’t know, then you’d be teaching me instead of me teaching you–and for a student to be teaching his teacher is presumptuous and rude. Do I make myself clear?

For the use of popular culture to be effective, teachers need to carefully consider what they are using, why they are using it, how it is being used and who they are using it with. The medium needs to suit the message, and should be chosen with the context in mind. While Twitter may not be great to teach about scientific method, it could be very successful for lessons involving political debate or streaming news  and it’s credibility. The Hunger Games may not be useful in teaching about Indigenous culture or representations of ‘the other’ but it holds potential for both representations of gender and dystopian societies. When reading and reflecting on article by Ben Williamson (2009) who gave an example of Guitar Hero in the classroom and its application in many curriculum areas, I understood that I was perhaps being too narrow minded in my incorporation of popular culture. No, pop culture should not be used ‘just because’, but its time to look outside the box in regards to how it can be used.

I have also come to understand something that I was doing in my teaching without realising it – and that is using popular culture to help students make meaning of or understand what they are being taught. Video games, television, music and other popular culture texts can provide the missing knowledge that helps students understand concepts, ideas and content in the classroom (Beach, 2008, p.785).  An example of this is  my theory for the use of The Simpsons in teaching. The most successful example I have is using the episode Das Bus to help students understand Lord Of The Flies. The episode is a mash up of several texts but at its core demonstrates characters, major plot points and themes of Golding’s canonical work.

Simpsons tv icon by  Sakurambo/Keyser Söze (2007) CC BY-SA 3.0

 Sakurambo/Keyser Söze (2007) CC BY-SA 3.0

So my experience with blogging as part of CLN647 has served to show me how blogging in the classroom can be done effectively. Additionally, by providing a space for me to reflect on the unit I have found a shift in my own perspectives  from believing that we need to reappropriate resources to educational purposes, to understanding the educational possibilities of teens personal/social use of popular culture.

Week 13 Part B: The Dreaded Attribution

I am not a fan of copyright or attribution. I understand it fully in terms of legality and ownership of ones work, but it has made designing my blog difficult. I have used Deviant Art images, fully attributed, but what do I do when there is no Creative Commons licence identified? I’ve resorted to making my own images as well, using image generators or available flickr images and adding text onto them. I was previously under the assumption that there was a level of freedom/protection for educational purposes. I am well aware of the dangers of downloading youtube – the urban legend that rippled through my teaching circles was that the teacher had to pay $10,000 per video downloaded. It’s not something I practice but pretty scary.

So I thought it may be apt to summarise Cushla Kapitzkes article on Creative Commons. I am aware I have already done a week 13 blog post, but that was from a much earlier reading in the course that is directly linked to my interests and field of study. So here is Week 13 Part B, summarising a reading from the Week 12/13 reading list on the CLN semester outline.

Summarising/responding to the following article in regards to my own blog work:

Kapitzke, C. (2009). Rethinking copyrights for the library through creative commons licensing. Library Trends,58(1), 95-108. Retreived from the QUT CMD Database.


The article begins by discussing the double sided coin of todays libraries – being creative and innovative and yet being restricted by copyright law. Kapitzke explains that the article will look at the differences between laws of copyright and the reality of what librarians need to be innovative in a ‘knowledge economy’. The current state of copyright is described – something is copyrighted the moment it is created, for the life of its creator and seventy years after the death. Permission or payment is required for their use. For example the song ‘Happy Birthday to You’ has reportedly earned $50 million in royalties however there are now some arguments that the song is in the public domain and should be free to use. Read more here. The article describes some absurd situations that have arisen from these laws, including the copyrighting of words. There is discussion of how privacy and copyright could face a snowball effect and an anecdote of a universities dire warning of jail time for music misuse. Of course in a world where everything is digital and editable, copyright is becoming meaningless.

Kapitze offers some ideas for ways to approach copyright in libraries. The first is education. Part of this is recognising that text production and usage is changing, and Kapitzke (page 103) cites Bruns (2007) “produsage (“production” + “usage”), where traditional distinctions between producers and users no longer apply.” Another part of this is awareness and support for what Kapitzke calls alternate copyright frameworks such as the Free Software Foundation and Creative Commons. The article discusses the rise of Creative Commons – which helps users to apply the level of copyright they desire on what they have created, from all rights reserved to share alike.

Kapitzke ends the article talking about a critic of contemporary copyright law, Sida Vaidhyanathan and the idea that corporate interests are winning the war on free expression and participation .


By lumaxart (LuMaxArt Gold Guys With Creative Commons Symbol) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ( or CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By lumaxart (LuMaxArt Gold Guys With Creative Commons Symbol) [CC-BY-SA-2.0or CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Key Quotes:

My aim is to provide a theoretical lens for a critical reading of the actions of governments and the self as school library professionals in the ongoing work of creating learning spaces that are relevant, socially engaged, and productive. (page 96)

Clearly, commercial piracy of cultural materials is wrong and should be prohibited, but regulatory environments that prosecute young people sources as part of their meaning-making universe are socially dangerous. (page 102/3)

Two major challenges face school library media centers within a policy context of No Child Left Behind. The first is relevance in the face of rapid social and educational change, particularly change in the literacy practices of young people (see Kapitzke & Bruce, 2005). The second is the need to resist the temptation to return to the compliant, safe spaces of conformist copyright education practices. (page 106)


I found this a very heavy article. I feel as though the author could have been delivering this speech at an anti-copyright rally, and personally it feels fiercely anti-government. That being said, it seems to make perfect sense. Here we are, in the digital age, in a time of transformation, when the entire world is at our finger tips and creativity is so heavily praised and yet we have our hands tied behind our backs. I understand why there is such a furore over pirating music. If pirates were stealing physical copies from shops there would be no argument in their favour. If I printed out a picture and put it in my diary, no-one would bat an eyelid. Taking a picture off the internet and putting it in a blog (which could be argued is just a digital diary) could be illegal if the picture isn’t fair use or I don’t correctly attribute it. It’s a tricky world that’s hard to navigate.  CD’s are fast becoming relics of  the ‘old school’ society, as are DVDs and television shows watched on an actual television at their scheduled time. When we enter the non corporeal realm, it seems the rules change.

While the recommendations that Creative Commons is a cure for the copyright blues is noble, it’s not entirely feasible. Yes, the library of works which can be used or moderated is large, it isn’t nearly enough that creativity isnt stifled. I know in my search for Dr Seuss quotes for this blog, Creative Commons was barely useful. I had to widen my searches and sift through pages of irrelevant results to find things that were still far from what I was looking for. I ended up using pictures from websites who just have pages and pages of quotes for people to use – at one point I think I even used part of a free Facebook template!

So while there are alternative copyright frameworks, I think what is really needed is an overhaul of copyright laws to suit the current environment of text production, use and modification.


 Related articles

Bonus Content! Think and Wonder – Wonder and Think

WONDER_Seuss_R29_02 by Justin Ahrens

WONDER_Seuss_R29_02 by Justin Ahrens


So here is my theory – there is nothing that you cannot learn from the Simpsons. I have used it so many times in the classroom and thought about how it can be used even more times. In the timeline of this assignment blog I do not have time to put my theory to the test wherein I would compare Simpsons episodes to topics/themes in the English National Curriculum (perhaps there is potential for a research project though?). In lieu of that, I have compiled some relevant links for anyone interested in The Simpsons in the classroom.

Relevant Links

A resource for Social Studies teachers that offers lists of relevant episodes and some teaching tools and lessons plans around six categories – US History,World History,Politics/Government,Sociology,Economics and Psychology. This is an American resource.

A paper by Jan Doyle (1999) on the use of The Simpsons to teach Satire (a common theme that emerges when looking into Simpsons and education). With the hundreds of Simpsons episodes that have aired since 1999, it is a bit of a dated resource.

A free lesson plan on Satire and the Simpsons. The objectives listed are

  • identify the four techniques of satire in a satirical work.
  • explain how the four techniques of satire contribute to the comment or criticism being made by a satirical work.
  • analyze a satirical work to determine the comment or criticism being made about the subject it is ridiculing.
  • use visual literacy skills to analyze, interpret, and explain non-print media.

The lesson involves analysis of the title and opening sequence, characters and an entire episode, with extension activities.

An ebook on The Simpsons and Philosophy. Great chapters like Thus Spake Bart On Neitzche and the Virtues of Being Bad (Mark Conrad) and The Simpsons, Hyper-Irony and the Meaning of Life (Dale E Snow and James J Snow).

Another lesson plan, this time on literature representations of the Simpsons. This website has links to other great Simpsons and Education resources.

I found this link on the previous website, and just had to add it to this list. It is a forum which listed Simpsons episodes with links to literature. While I think their list is good, I am sure that it represents only a small portion of literature which features on the show either explicitly or implicitly.

N.B. While I would LOVE to have some The Simpsons images to accompany this post, it is near impossible to find some that are CC safe. If you have time for it though, here is a youtube video that shows every ‘ Chalkboard gag’ on the show (although I am unsure what date it is up to, I am assuming it is some time around the start of 2012, when the video was posted. 

Week 13 – Children Want The Same Things We Want…

Modified from Dr. Seuss Art by Denise Krebs CC BY 2.0

Modified from Dr. Seuss Art by Denise Krebs CC BY 2.0

My Response to

Williamson, Ben (2009). Computer games, schools and young people: a report for educators on using games for learning. Futurelab, UK.

Before Reading

All I have read so far is the contents list and the first paragraph. Instantly I am thinking about my attempts at the end of 2012 to use an educational game with my grade 8 English class. It was the end of the last semester of the year and, between topics, we were focusing heavily on spelling and grammar for several weeks.  The school had signed up for a trial of an online grammar game which had a medieval spin on it. I was the only teacher using it to see if it was worthwhile paying for the following year. The plan was to play it as a class once a week. The plan went quickly out the window and we dedicated a week to getting used to the game and playing it. Of course, by the end of that week, the students were all at different levels so gaming as a class became individual gaming. In the end I did not recommend it to the Head of English – putting aside the many flaws of the game, it just didnt have enough pull or offer enough rewards to be useful in school. I did say however that it had potential in a literacy development program for students with low literacy. At times in my career I have used online educational games with students but never as a primary learning tool – usually only to revisit/review/check for comprehension etc.That is not to say I do not support gaming for learning. I’m a geek, an IT teacher, a gaming nerd – you don’t spend all your time playing/teaching/learning about games if you think they are useless, even if they are fun. Research (Papastergiou, 2009, Annetta, Minogue, Holmes & Chen, 2009, Yang, 2012, Watson, Mong & Harris, 2011, Brom, Preuss & Klement, 2011) shows that games in the classroom can positively affect students engagement and motivation although no significant increases in academic achievement has been noted in the studies I have seen.

Interesting Information

Do Educational Video Games Actually Work? by Staff Writers at Online College Courses

Do Educational Video Games Actually Work? by Staff Writers at Online College Courses


Before reading and reflecting I will say now that it is hard for me to look at it through any other lens that that of someone who is passionate about ICT in education. I will do my best not to tech-geek-out.

Report Background

I decided to look into the background of the report, as after reading the following it seemed it came from a Government initiative (possibly similar to the ICT Revolution and QLD’s Smart Classrooms framework) 

“This report was written by Futurelab and commissioned by Becta as part of a research and development programme aimed at supporting the delivery of the Harnessing Technology Strategy”

Harnessing Technology Strategy from the UK Department of Education and Skills

Our strategy therefore focuses on what the technology can do for informing and advising citizens, for supporting children, young people, and adult learners in their encounters with the system, and for transforming the experience of learning.

While Reading

I came across a reference to the Byron Review (page 2, para 2) which I have never heard of before so looked up. It also looks at how parenting, policy and our culture need to improve e-safety. What does this have to do with gaming in the classroom – at a content  level, not much, but as a teacher/educator/librarian, student security should always be a part of our practice and knowing about initiatives such as this and even reading through some of the recommendations can only improve our knowledge and understanding of a very complex issue. Its also an issue that is especially prevalent when considering using games if they involve any online aspect.

“A little under half of all teachers think that playing computer games can lead to young people developing antisocial behaviours.” (page 2).  I am surprised by how high this number is. I would think it was an antiquated assumption that to game means sitting at home alone. Even single player games like The Sims have massive online communities (a forum, Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Youtube, Tumblr, Instagram) – in one section of one of the ways to participate in the official community, there are over one hundred and sixty thousand TOPICS and over two million POSTS. Not very anti-social if you ask me! But I digress, this is not about fandoms or participatory cultures!

sims snip


After Reading

 While the report is what I would call exhaustive and thorough, I do not see a whole lot of new information. Yes, some of it is interesting, such as teacher attitudes and beliefs on the value of games, and the example of Guitar Hero being used could certainly open the eyes of people who had never though of reappropriation of non-educational games, but the overall message that I get from the report – that games can be useful in education if used in the right context with the teacher in the right frame of mind – is not new or paradigm altering. It is a common recommendation in studies regarding technology/web2.0/popular culture and its use in education.

I would say the most interesting part of this paper, and that which I would probably cite in conversations about ICT is the creative uses mentioned it (Guitar Hero, Wii) and has led me to the frame of mind that perhaps teacher attitude (and dare I say it, creativity) are determinants in the success of games in the classroom.

The Frontier of Classroom Technology  by Liz Myer

The Frontier of Classroom Technology by Liz Myer

Week 12 – These Things Are Fun and Fun Is Good


Dr.-Seuss-Wagon-Sign by AttaGirl

Television when I was a kid was vastly different to television today. For a start, there was a lot less reality television. I remember the very first Bachelor, when the shock twist was actually a shock twist! I remember the first Big Brother (actually, I remember more the marketing campaign that came before it – a big eye started appearing on signage everywhere and it was this huge mystery for ages). Most of the shows that I remember from my childhood fit into two categories – 1) watching with the entire family, every week and 2) after school kids shows.

After School Kids Shows

Round The Twist – Did you ever, ever feel like this? Have strange things happened, are you going around the twist? Is there a person who grew up in the 90s who doesnt love this nonsensical, overacted, shining example of after school programming?

Genie From Down Under – An ABC gem. It had both English and Australian stereotypes. It had Mark Mitchell, a well known actor to people of my age from Round the Twist and Lift Off.

Daria : Oh I thought I was so cool watching Daria.

Art Attack: It’s one guy, doing projects, but it was enough to captivate me and my younger brothers every time it was on.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers – still around today, I believe, but in a much different form.

Family Shows

Full House – A veritable fountain of quotes. “How rude” and “you got it dude”.

Home Improvement – My father and I still do the Tim the Toolman Taylor grunt when we think something is cool.

Sliders: I remember the episode when they actually got home and didnt realise it. They decided it wasnt home because one of the characters front gate didnt squeak, so they left…Then someone came out of the house and spoke to the neighbour about having finally fixed the squeaky gate! My mum couldnt believe it. Also good for some classic Jerry OConnell

The Nanny: It’s so hard to rewatch the Nanny (although it seems to be doing quite well in syndication based on how often it is on). Her voice was so navel, the characters were so two-dimensional…but that will they or wont they was enough to make us tune in every single week. Even when they got together, it stuck around for a little longer, although, like so many before and after it, their marriage was the kiss of death!

In a category of its own…

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

I could not make a list of shows from my childhood without Buffy. I still watch it and love it. The spin-off, Angel, was less successful but still good.  Interestingly I found the most annoying character was the titular Vampire Slayer.  While its brilliance waned at times, at its core this was a good dark comedy that had just enough teen angst and some real lookers in the cast. Good acting too. There is an episode where Buffys mother dies and one character – a 1200 year old demon who has recently turned human – who cannot understand why the mum cant just get back in the body and live… I bawled. I still get sad every time I see it. I remember excitedly rushing to my mum once and telling her “Angel is still alive! He isn’t dead!” with a kind of glee that in a few short years would embarrass me beyond belief. I also maintain that the season 6 finale is the best finale of any season of any show…ever (take that, Seinfeld!).

Screencape of the Slayage website

Screencap of the Slayage website

I recently discovered the academic side of Buffy. Buffy Studies. There is even an online journal: Slayage. Slayage is the Journal of the Whedon Studies Association and while the primary focus is Buffy, it also includes other shows from the ‘Whedonverse’: Angel, Firefly (and the movie, Serenity) and Dollhouse (the last two of which are television shows which were cancelled far, far too soon – do you hear me, FOX?).  According to Wikipedia, Buffy Studies include topics such as

-Gender Studies

-Pop Culture Studies

-Media Studies

-Family Studies


Looking through the archvies of Slayage, it appears that quite a few other topics are popular, including Language studies (Buffy is well known for having a unique slang), in depth character studies, quite a few works on monsters, and sexuality (specifically homosexuality). Just a reminder – this is a teenagers television show. That stopped airing in 2003 (oh my goodness, has it really been ten years?!) . It has its own academic journal and a yearly conference.

When researching academic articles about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I found one interesting one by Jarvis (2005) about attitudes to learning in the show. The author watched the entire series for the purpose of seeing what learning attitudes is present and interestingly, found that Buffy is pro-learning, specifically, pro lifelong learning. The findings of this article are as follows:

Self-directed and socially purposeful education gets better treatment in BtVS. The narrative progresses the characters inexorably towards increased knowledge. Learning is literally life — without it they die.

For a television show about monsters and ghoulies, that’s a pretty positive message for viewers. While the message is not explicit, there is still the potential to be learned passively.

So as far as education goes, perhaps using pop culture in the classroom isn’t as bad as some may think. Could learning about gender roles from Buffy really be that worse than learning them from Pride and Prejudice (although we may need to update Buffy to Katniss).

Which brings me to another point for another post – is there nothing the Simpsons cannot teach us?

Week 11 – Fantasy is a Necessary Ingredient in Living


I Like Nonsense by QuotesNSmiles

Kids these days..My Pop Culture pinterest logo

I am going to preface this by saying I am not a Pinterest fan. The website feels messy and pinning things just feels pointless. I’ve yet to come across a student using pinterest in teaching and for obvious reasons have never used it in lessons. That being said, its obviously a massively popular part of the online world.  I based my pins on my experiences with teens (which mostly come from teaching last year so I may be behind the ball) and also just browsing the net and seeing whats popular .

pinterest board




Week 10 – Complicated Questions and Simple Answers

simple answers

Dr-Seuss-Simple-Picture-Quote by QuotesnSmiles

Time to interview a young person! I had three teenage volunteers who answered my questions via email. Two were male (O, 19 years, J, 16 years) and one was female (G, 16 years). Given that I am a high school teacher, I was very fortunate to have older teens respond.

The questions are….

  1. Age and Gender:
  2. How often do you read books?
  3. Do you enjoy reading? Why/why not?
  4. Do you have a favourite author?
  5. Do you have a favourite book? If yes, explain why it is your favourite.
  6. Do you think you have learned anything from reading?
  7. How often do you watch movies (at home or in the cinema)?
  8. What is your favourite genre (type) of movie?
  9. What are your top three favourite movies?
  10. Who is your favourite movie star?
  11. Do you think you have learned anything from watching movies?
  12. How many hours a day do you think you watch television?
  13. Do you have a favourite television show? If yes, please explain why it is your favourite.
  14. Do you think you have learned anything from watching television shows?
  15. Do you have a favourite show, movie or book character? If yes, please explain why he/she is your favourite.
  16. Would you rather read the book or see the movie?
  17. Do you decide what to read or watch because it is popular or because you want to?
  18. Which would you prefer to do – read a book, watch a movie, watch television or surf the internet?
  19. Do you have any social media accounts (facebook, twitter, etc)? If yes, what do you mainly use them for?
  20. How do you feel when teachers try to use popular culture and the internet in school?




Books did not seem to be something that any three of the teens spent much time reading. The oldest of the three, O (19 years old) seemed most interested in books although in his case they are audio books, saying that audio books are easier to carry around with you. Both boys (O and J) recognised that you can learn from books as well as being entertained.


All three teens watch movies semi-regularly to regularly, which is perhaps not much of a surprise to some. From the responses, it seemed that the teens are more likely to watch a movie at home than going to the actual cinema, although the reason for this is unknown. Maybe with the rise of streaming movies/downloads, cinemas are becoming obsolete? Interestingly, O and G identified movies that make them think and are not purely entertainment/escapism such as The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (G) and psychological thrillers (O).


J likes things with explosions and fast cars like Top Gear and Mythbusters, which, interestingly, could both be put in a documentary-esque genre. G doesn’t think she learns anything from television (if only she knew what watching Winners and Losers and Home and Away is doing for her cognition, following plot threads, multiple narratives, increasing her emotional intelligence and, especially in Home and Away, mapping social networks).

Personally, I believe that television is becoming an outdated medium (slowly). O’s response supports this in when asked about his television habits: “Hardly ever, though I do watch a lot of YouTube if that counts? Also I download any shows that I watch so I don’t have ads and can watch it in my own time.”. The internet is offering the content that teens want minus the negatives of television, so its only a matter of time before either television drastically changes or viewers swap to the web, where they can watch what they want at any time minus ads.

On a positive note, O identified very strongly that he enjoys family-oriented messages from television and his favourite character is one who is always looking out for his family.

The Internet

Unsurprisingly, all three teenagers identified that they use social media for keeping in contact with friends.  I did not really expect anything else considering the stigma that exists around it as far as education is concerned. J did say he used it to keep up to date with interests.

All three teens seemed almost ambivalent about the use of popular culture in the classroom – “don’t mind”, “indifferent” and “happy”, with O stipulating that if they use it right, he likes it.

What am I taking away from this?

The internet isn’t the be-all-end-all when it comes to teenagers and popular culture. I had expected the teenagers to place more focus on the internet however only the older of the three (O, 19) did. Television, books and movies still get a look in and teens can eve recognise some of the benefits beyond entertainment.  I found it interesting that all three said they read/watch things because they want to, not just because something is popular (faith in teenagers restored!).

Week 9 – Think Left and Think Right

think left think right

Frase Dr Seuss 02 by *Chocolatita

The most defining moment of my professional career was at a second hand bookshop. I found a bright pink book called ‘Everything Bad Is Good For You’…. Being tech based, I have always thought that there is more benefit to social media and technology than people thought – but I had never considered that the negatives people constantly argue could be, well, not negative. I devoured the book, and have re-read it several times since, thrown it in my bag for long trips and read it in snippets, and even kept it at work to pull out when the tech argument reared its head (which it often did). I have always liked resistant readings, looking at things from different perspectives and that I guess that added to why I liked this book.

I think it is a good skill to possess to be able to look at something and find its worth. I think its equally valuable to be able to find educational purposes for things which are not, by their nature, educational.

I think its brilliant that we could be learning without knowing it, getting smarter while we sit on our backsides. One part of the book that particularly struck me was the social relationships in television shows. We follow these complex webs of who likes/dates/sleeps with/hates/betrays/etc who and we dont think twice. I watch Community (hilarious, watch it if you don’t already. Chevy Chase is a genius. If you dont want to watch Community, watch Fletch. Or Caddyshack. Or old Saturday Night Live. Or the best of all – National Lampoons Christmas Vacation). They included a character relationships web with one of their DVDs. I’ve attached a pic of it, and as you can see, even for this half hour comedy, theres a lot to the web. If someone can keep track of all that, surely its helping 1) their social intelligence 2) cognition/comprehension.

Relationships 101

So I decided to see if I could find a similar relationship map for popular teenage shows. I found one created by Online Dating University (doesn’t that sound credible!). A lot to follow but not too confusing. Then I found a fan made one and it took social networks to a whole new level. See both below.

Fan Glee Chart

Look at that complex mess of connections and tell me kids aren’t learning from TV shows, no matter how cheesy!




dr seuss brains in your head

Dr. Seuss Quote. You have brains in your head…by Willis, M.


Jenkins, H., Clinton, K., Purushotma, R., Robinson, A., & WEigel, M. (2006). Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation . Retrieved from ERIC database (ED536086).

Key Quote:

Participatory culture is emerging as the culture absorbs and responds to the explosion of new media technologies that make it possible for average consumers to archive, annotate, appropriate, and recirculate media content in powerful new ways. 

This article by Jenkins (2006) concerns the direction of education in a digital age. I certainly hope that there is no-one who tries to deny the omnipresence of digital media in modern First World countries. In studying ICT, sometimes I wonder if there are any journal articles or research papers that don’t start with some form of “Digital technologies are becoming a part of all aspects of our lives, including education”. Jenkins article Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century, is about digital media with an emphasis on participatory cultures -a culture in which members create and share content with other (usually supportive) users.   I have read, re-read and read again how teenagers use digital media and how teachers use it, how using it in the classroom can benefits students, but the notion of participatory cultures is one I had never seen before reading any of Jenkins’ work.  Jenkins (2006) very eloquently identifies participation over interactivity “Interactivity (H. Jenkins, 2006a) is a property of the technology, while participation is a property of culture.”  Jenkins writes about the skills that students need to partake in participatory cultures and benefit from them, and how schools can help to develop these digital literacies.

Here is a visual representation of some of the websites at which students can join a participatory culture. Each of these websites has the potential to act a microcosm of the internet, complete with communities that have a specific focus – such as the One Direction fans on Twitter, a Twilight group on Facebook or a Big Brother tumblr users.


I have come across the notion of digital literacies before and feel strongly that it is something that needs to become a focus in schools, not just because everyone uses computers, but because almost every workplace does and these skills will also certainly come into use for those students who are university bound. Before lovers of the printed or spoken word revolt, the paper talks about the importance of traditional literacies such as reading and writing and how they must be developed before students can even partake in participatory cultures.

Youth must expand their required competencies, not push aside old skills to make room for the new.

The new media skills that Jenkins discussed are

  • Play –  the capacity to experiment with one’s surroundings as a form of problem solving
  • Simulation — the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real world processes
  • Performance — the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improvisation and discovery
  • Appropriation — the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content
  • Multi-tasking — the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus onto salient details on an ad hoc basis
  • Distributed Cognition — the ability to interact meaningfully with tools that expand our mental capacities
  • Collective Intelligence — the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common goal
  • Judgment — the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources
  • Transmedia Navigation — the ability to deal with the flow of stories and information across multiple modalities
  • Networking — the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information
  • Negotiation — the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping and following alternative sets of norms

Personally, I think that there are many parallels between these new media skills and skills that are already taught in the classroom. I have taught Negotiation is ‘Different Perspectives’,  Networking and Judgment as ‘Research Skills’, and used group work to encourage Collective Intelligence (aka ‘Collaborative Learning’), so while some of the underlying skills may not be totally new, they are new in regards to the use of technology and the participatory culture aspect. A wonderful feature of this paper is the ‘What Might Be Done’ section at the end of the discussion of each individual skill. Examples and suggestions for educators are offered.

The article ends with a worrying thought about a possible divide between the digital haves and the digital have-nots, and a challenge for educators….

What can we dothrough schools, afterschool programs, and the home to give our youngest children a head startand allow our more mature youth the chance to develop and grow as effective participants andethical communicators? This is the challenge that faces education at all levels at the dawn of anew era of participatory culture.