Top of mind, tip of tongue

21 02 2014

I really enjoyed reading Jonah Berger’s Contagious – Why things catch on. An analysis of the mechanics of virality ..viralness?.. which he breaks down into the S.T.E.P.P.S. framework and illustrates with a range of examples from social change initiatives to corporate contexts.

One that is really exercising my mind is “Public” – can people see others benefiting from thies experience/idea/product. For me this ties directly to the PBL concepts of real world/public audience, and also to notions of porosity around learning environments, discussed by my hero, James Paul Gee in regard to Passionate Affinity Spaces and many others in the literacy research area.

Social Currency: Does talking about it make people look good?

Triggers: context: grow the habitat in which people are reminded of it – top of mind, tip of tongue

Emotion: Kindle the fire by engaging people’s feelings

Public: Make the private public: can people see others using the product? create behavioural residue

Practical Value: Useful information others will like to disseminate

Stories: Embed product in broader “shareworthy” narrative


all the time in the world…

20 02 2014



Time is tight ladies and gentlemen, as if you didn’t already know. But creating a time for creativity is just as important as creating the space for it…
As David Byrne once sang “Time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us
Time isn’t holding us, time doesn’t hold you back
Time isn’t holding us, time isn’t after us
Time isn’t holding us…
Letting the days go by, letting the days go by, letting the days go by, once in a lifetime ”
This video makes me reflect on the pressure I feel to compress quality learning experiences in to small time packets driven by external schedules, when really I want people to be able to get lost in what they are doing and thinking about…

me me me…

4 08 2013

scan of article from SMH: Aug 3, 2013

I was interviewed by the Herald about my job at Powerhouse Museum.

When meeting professional visitors at the Museum I sometimes say things like “I came here for a 1 year contract 19 years ago… I didn’t mean to stay here all this time…” or “Actually, I’m not really a museum person”.
I always ask them to tell me about if they’ve visited before, and when that was. The typical answers haven’t changed much over the years. And these answers can be hard to hear. Last came here on a school excursion (~20 years ago). Used to come here all the time when I was a kid (family members).

We (I) must do better at providing more compelling reasons.

There are two main dimensions in which I reckon this will happen.
First – as bone fide learning sites.
I hold dear the belief/hope that as school slowly deconstructs, Museum’s as 3rd spaces will come into their own for young people and their mentors.
Second – as a place for people. Less cultural palace and more cultural community centre.
More relaxed about the Museum space as place to feel “at home”.
Another outcome for me of being interviewed about my work, was the opportunity to briefly pause and reflect.
I enjoyed the experience, and, having been re-assured by others that the story came across ok, relieved.

my itec_2013 rant (that never was)

12 07 2013

This was to be my presentation at the ITEC_2013 conference this week held at Sydney Opera House , although in the way that things sometimes go, the preso didn’t quite work out as planned. Still, I enjoyed collecting my thoughts.

Peter at ITEC

(photo: Stephen Bancroft)

Notes: What is the museum about? or perhaps rather… Who is the museum about?

One challenge is how to wean ourselves off our addiction to sharing our expertise.

Visible Learning. Hattie. What actually make a positive impacts on achievement? (amongst other things) Teachers seen in role of learners, learners seen in role of teachers.

Make just one change: Teach students to ask their own questions. Education can be transformed if students, rather than teachers, assume responsibility for posing questions.

Is our school safe? Why can’t I have a dinosaur as a pet? What makes a good sneaker? Can robots write poetry? Are laws fair? Does free speech mean you can say anything? How does discrimination impact me? What are the ingredients for a successful business? Why do people migrate from one place to another? What impression did Impressionism leave? Is our drinking water safe? What makes a good proof? How do wars start? Are we alone in the universe?

Human ingenuity. Applied Art & Science.
Thomas Edison. There are no rules here, we’re trying to accomplish something.

STEaM. Gee.
Imagine what a society would be like that said it liked science, but disdained it in the name of greed, and thought humanities and ethics were a waste of taxpayer money. You do not have to imagine that society. You live in it.

Cheng. Papert & Turkle.
Here we address sources of exclusion determined not by rules that keep women out, but by ways of thinking that make them reluctant to join in.

Transforming the classroom.
Gee “school today is, for many young people, still a necessary but no longer sufficient, condition for success in society.”

Fear of the future, leads organisational culture to believe many things about the present….So much effort is made towards establishing what is in decline [that organisations lack] even the barest insight into the future – which by and large they avoid or simply dismiss.The best technology ever invented is a head-sized box of sand. Dean Groom’s blog.
Passionate Affinity Spaces. Gee.
Internet or “real life” sites where people organize their own active participation and production around a shared endeavor, interest, or passion and shared goals, norms and values.
In passionate affinity spaces age does not matter. Time does not matter. What matters is
interest, passion, practice, mastery, talk, shared experiences, feedback, mentoring, production
and not just consumption. Leadership is porous, on some days a person leads or mentors and on other days he or she follows or gets mentored. People construct tutorials and learning for each other and they discuss, negotiate and set high standards. They pick up 21st century skills—skills like the ability to design and innovate, to collaborate, and to deal with complexity, technical information, and new technologies—in the context of clear actions and clear goals fueled by interest or passion.

Pedagogy of Collegiality. Chávez and Soep. Co-learners, co-conspirators.
Public institutions not only providing the basic access to technology tools and skills training but also filling a gap in the broader ecology of social, cultural, and technical resources to enable participation in the more informal and social dimensions of networked public life.

3rd spaces. Elaine. Nina. (Sir) Nicholas.
Museums, like schools, will have to reassess their content driven offerings if they wish to add deliberate opportunities for “critical thinking and problem solving, collaboration, communication and creativity and innovation”. While museums may think that their current classes can be used to fulfill these alternative curriculum requirements, these types of classes require new roles for the teacher as experimental examples from the Getty and the Gardner have shown.

The primary attraction of a third place is the patrons, not the décor, the hosts, or the activities provided by management. The primary activity in third places is conversation among patrons.
The stewards of third places are regular patrons, not staff. Third places are defined by their accessibility.

Finding the thinking playing space in the credibility gap between contemporary pedagogies, PBL, on-line labs, social informal learning and (the status quo), the closed (my) classroom, transmission, standardised teaching and testing, etc etc.

NBN Mars Lab
How is the planet Mars relevant to the question “Are we alone in the universe”?
A place for inspirations, interactions, experiments and for sharing explorations.

Using playful cleverness to achieve a goal.

[if you’re still here you can keep scrolling down for even more stuff…]
Berger, R. (2003). An Ethic of Excellence: Building a culture of craftsmanship with students. Portsmouth, NH: Heinmann: Working towards excellence with critique & feedback
The example of Austin’s Butterfly.

Cheng, M., (2011) The Nancy Fairfax Churchill Fellowship to study strategies used to most effectively engage female schoolgirls in science, engineering and technology – USA, Jamaica, Germany, UK.

Gee, J.P. (2013). The Anti-education Era: Creating smarter students through digital learning. New York: Palgrave/Macmillan

Gee, J.P. (2013). Blog post. Humans learn from experience.

Gee, J.P. (2013). Blog post. Stem steams me. “Imagine what a society would be like that said it liked science, but disdained it in the name of greed, and thought humanities and ethics were a waste of taxpayer money. You do not have to imagine that society. You live in it.”

Gurian, E. H. (2006). Expanding the Known.
3rd spaces.

IdeasLab. (2011). Understanding Virtual Pedagogies for Collective Knowledge Construction.

Ito, M., Baumer, S., Bittani, M., Boyd, D., Cody, R., et al. (2010). Hanging out, messing around, and geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Mitra, S. (2013). Self Organised Learning Environments refers to the adaptation of a school space to facilitate Enquiry Based Learning. A teacher encourages their class to work as a community to answer questions using computers with internet access.

Nielson, M. (2012). Chapter 7: “Democratizing Science.” In Reinventing discovery: The new era of networked science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

Rothstein, D., and Santana, L. (2011). Make Just One Change: Teach Students to Ask Their Own Questions. Harvard Education Press.

Serota, N.,(2009) Museums and young people: Where are we now? in Bellamy, K., and Oppenheim, C. (eds) Learning to Live: Museums, young people and education. Institute for Public Policy Research and National Museum Directors’ Conference. UK.

Stager, G., & Martinez, S., Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering and Engineering in the Classroom.‎

Greg Whitby’s (CEO Catholic Education, Parramatta Diocese) blog – Bluyonder

Tait Coles’ (Punk-inspired British public high school science teacher) blog – Totally Wired 77

Turkle, S and Papert, S., (1990) Epistemological Pluralism and the Revaluation of the Concrete.

Nina Simons’ blog.

Dean Groom’s blog.

Marita Cheng’s blog.


thinkspaceAR link

ThinkspaceAR displays 3D Minecraft objects in Augmented Reality.
Explore and manipulate awesome objects, created by young experts participating in creative digital media workshops.
ThinkspaceAR is FREE.

How to use ThinkspaceAR.
Point camera at a custom graphic target to reveal the 3D object.
Touch screen to discover secret dimensions and special FX.
Touch the on-screen red button to take a photo of you with the virtual object.

At the Powerhouse Museum.
Point the camera at one of the custom graphic targets to reveal the hidden object.
Touch the screen to discover secret dimensions and special FX.

To re-create the gallery experience at your place.
Print out the custom graphic targets.
Post them up on walls and tables.
Big targets make it easy to view and explore the AR objects.

About ThinkspaceAR.
ThinkspaceAR was coded by James Oliver with input from the Museum’s Thinkspace and Web teams.
Original artwork in graphic targets by James Oliver and Chelsea Carter.
All sounds licenced creative commons_0.

SOLO taxonomy

2 03 2013

I first heard about this SOLO taxonomy idea through Tait Coles, @totallywired77

Many teachers are looking at SOLO as a more useful rubric than the better known Blooms

It’s explained here in this slideshare


The issue is not accessing potentially useful content, rather how to program them into meaningful learning experiences

23 02 2013

35 educational video sites

Clay Shirky on the Napster effect happening to Higher Ed right now: MOOCS

22 02 2013

The most widely told story about college focuses obsessively on elite schools and answers a crazy mix of questions: How will we teach complex thinking and skills? How will we turn adolescents into well-rounded members of the middle class? Who will certify that education is taking place? How will we instill reverence for Virgil? Who will subsidize the professor’s work?

MOOCs simply ignore a lot of those questions. The possibility MOOCs hold out isn’t replacement; anything that could replace the traditional college experience would have to work like one, and the institutions best at working like a college are already colleges. The possibility MOOCs hold out is that the educational parts of education can be unbundled. MOOCs expand the audience for education to people ill-served or completely shut out from the current systemhigher ed VS napster?