New Literacies, Digital Media and Classroom Teaching Conference

I am convening a conference on September 3 and 4 which I am very excited about – click below for the conference flyer.

NewLiteraciesFlyerPDF

UPDATE: Here is a tv news spot about our conference:

and here is some assorted media coverage from the conference:

New Literacies conference media

Technology in Teaching: A Podcast with Chris Best and Angela Thomas

technology2

Hello there! Whilst in London, I spent an afternoon with Chris Best (a former student of mine who has been teaching there ever since he graduated, and who now produces a series of podcasts about technology in teaching). We did a podcast – quite informally – about what was happening in my world and why I was in London and the like. Here is a link to go to the podcast: I am “Episode 18″. Chris and I giggled a little as we were working out how to do the podcast, but we eventually settled down and discussed the state of our respective contexts and how our work needs to develop as teachers to account for new social and discursive practices of online communities.  Let me know if you have questions or comments!

Red / Wild – Art in SL by AM Radio

Which way up?

Again, thanks to Corwin, I visited a new art installation by AM Radio. The info details about the work include the following notecard:

AM Radio’s The Red and The Wild

IDIA is pleased to host artist AM Radio as the inaugural artist-in-residence at IDIA Labs – an exhibtion and installation sim for virtual installation art and performance.

THE INSTITUTE FOR DIGITAL INTERMEDIA ARTS is a hybrid art and design studio established as part of the Center for Media Design at Ball State University and funded the Lilly Endowment, Inc. The institute is an interdisciplinary research and design environment that explores the intersections between arts and technology. Students, faculty, staff and industry partners engage the discourse of emergent media design on projects employing virtual reality, visualization, simulation and human computer interface in this project-based immersive learning center.

http://idiarts.org

As always, AM Radio enjoys exploiting the SL space and creating art that is on the one hand familiar, yet on the other hand is very surreal. Here is another photo:

Am Radio's Red / Wild

Corwin has been teaching a virtual photography group and taught me how to make a wireframe view today, so here’s another photo from the installation, this time converted to wireframe -

AM Radio's The Red / WIld

Second Life offers so much potential for creativity, and I’m always learning and experiencing new examples of that. Thanks Corwin!

Macbeth Parties

 Macbeth Halloween Party

In two weeks we’ve had two parties and about 20 tours through Macbeth, and the average number of people who have visited per day is close to 2000, sometimes 5000 on a weekend.  Its lovely to have so many people visiting and talking to us about the sim.  Here are two shots which although not high resolution, show me in shocked states as I kind of met two Lindens who came to our Halloween party:

 Me and Sidewinder Linden

That is me and Sidewinder Linden

Anya Ixchel and Claudia Linden

and that is me and Claudia Linden!!

 

Anya Ixchel and Corwin Carillon

That is me with Nick Noakes (aka Corwin Carillon), and this is me with my green skin, courtesy of Ina Centaur (thanks, Ina!):

Anya in Green Skin

Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters: Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Second Life

UPDATE: Please see corrected times for the launch of Macbeth!  Also, we will be honoured with the lovely voice of Paisley Beebe entertaining us on the day. Hope to see lots of friends there :)

It is my pleasure to announce the grand launch and opening of our new Second Life sim, Macbeth (SLURL: here).

This is a project I have been working on since March. The project, Foul Whisperings, Strange Matters: Shakespeare’s Macbeth in Second Life is a collaboration designed by  Angela Thomas (virtual worlds content designer), Kerreen Ely-Harper (director) and Kate Richards (producer).

Funding was provided by Literature Board of The Australian Council for the Arts , and investor partner, the New Media Consortium (full credits)

The island is accompanied by a wiki and the page labelled island guide describes the island and some of our design choices. On the wiki we have also started a collection of teaching resources for the use of the sim and also for teaching Macbeth in general.

Please feel free to join the sim, the Macbeth group in world, and the Virtual Macbeth flickr group.  Contact me in Second Life if you want a private tour – Anya Ixchel.

Full press releases coming soon :)


Horizon.au

Next week I am off to the NMC’s Horizon.au advisory board meeting. I am doing my homework right now and finding some great articles about emerging technologies in the associated wiki – its public for viewing, so go have a look!

The press clippings are most interesting, with an assorted compilation of reports, articles, and media attention given to new media and education. I am in the process now of starring the clippings I think are significant from my teaching and research perspective. But its difficult not to just star them all.

e-Learning Forum

with thanks to Jo Kay for letting me use this image

I have prepared a whole lot of images to be flickering past in the background as I speak about Second Life – hopefully meaning will be made in some third space between my spoken text and the images :)
(thanks to Jo Kay and Alja for letting me use some of their great images!!).

In addition I may refer to Jo Kay and Sean Fitzgerald’s wiki on the Educational Uses of Second Life.

I also like the following very well constructed video, which provides a wonderful glimpse into different educational spaces and possibilities in SL:

Book Review of Youth Online

An otherwise bright light in a stressful semester – a very complimentary review of my book, Youth Online. The review is from the Education Review Journal and can be found here. Here is an excerpt:

Conclusion

This work is extremely important for educators in understanding the state of current students, and as a call for changes in the future educational process. This is an accessible work that explains the theories and their applications in a very clear way. Through Thomas’ case studies, it also offers a picture of the world of the modern and future student. This work is useful for those in academia, in teaching, or those looking to understand what it is that students do online. However, it only offers a glimpse. Thomas opens the reader’s eyes, but it is up to the reader to proceed down the rabbit hole.

Can the institution of education proceed in the traditional manner? Students spend most of their lives outside of school. What they are learning outside the institutional environment is not replicated inside it. Certainly students need to learn about mathematics, language, and science. But is the medium currently used the best, or is the world that Thomas is showing a better one to model for educators? This is something that Thomas calls for in Australia, and around the world. Online literacy will be important for success in the future. It is a travesty for schools not to integrate these areas of literacy into education

Thomas is not the only voice urging these ideas. Her work resonates with that of Gee, Hawisher, Selfe, and Steinkuehler. Some of this work focuses on videogames and how they can be used in education, but also on how videogames form an important part of learning literacy. Reading and writing are not enough – other literacies are important in education.

As Thomas has shown, students will spend the time learning them, and they can learn from each other as a community of experts. This work also attempts to understand identity creation of students in online environments, equally echoing the call from Gee. The problem with utilizing these works is not educating the students, but educating the educators.

Lovely words, my thanks to this reviewer!! :)

Guest Lecture on Second Life

An inspirational introduction to the potential of Second Life, from the NMC’s Symposium on Creativity:

Your avatar: the means for personal expression and identity exploration.

Robbie Dingo’s machinima, MASK:

Questions: what do you know about Second life already? What were some of the key ideas made in these two videos? What are the questions you think would make an interesting discussion?

Slides: A sociocultural overview of Second Life

Reflection:

a) What makes Second Life unique and of interest to so many different groups of people?

b) What do some of the stories and case studies tell us about the worth of a space such as Second Life in their lives?

c) What are some of the potentials for using Second Life in and across a range of contexts?

d) How might you now answer your own questions before viewing the slides? What is left unanswered?

Further References:

iVillage Fashion Show:

IP Precedent (the sex bed):

Mixed reality event (beer):

Persephone Milk

Question : What do you think of this man’s story?

Reflection:

  1. What are some of the key themes and issues related to life in virtual worlds?
  2. Some say that 80% of internet users will have a second life within the next few years – do you think this is probable? Do you own bit of future speculation :)
  3. What questions do you still have unanswered? (Take them to your tutorials!)

Look me up on Second Life – Anya Ixchel

Mr Pixel Goes to Washington

Tomorrow the CEO of the New Media Consortium, Dr Larry Johnson, will address congress in Washington in a Hearing on Online Virtual Worlds.  Larry’s address is entitled:

“Online Virtual Worlds: Applications and Avatars in a User-Generated Medium”

A pdf copy of his testimony can be located here.

Of particular interest is one of Larry’s key points:

The emerging landscape of virtual worlds represents as profound an opportunity, as profound a driver of changes in the way we think, learn, and work, as any other technology that has ever preceded it – and more so.

Larry makes some calls for action to the US congress which we in Australia would do well to take note – speaking to the need for programs and policies that would allow people, communities and institutions to take full advantage of the potential of virtual worlds.

Larry address also uses CommentPress, so if you want to comment on any aspect go and do so!

Youth Online, Grant Success, SATC Updates, HP movies, and a Sad Sad Situation

Happy Easter! (to find out what this image is – keep reading!)

The beginning of the working year has been crazy crazy crazy this year – I took on some additional administrative duties and they’re really time consuming!! So here is a little update of some great news, some catch-ups and some very sad news.

Last week I had my book launch (a joint book launch with Jon Marshall) and we were fortunate and honoured to have Colin Lankshear come over (down / up / across) and officially launch our books. He was just so generous in his praise of our books and in his expressed belief in the value of our work. I am just so fortunate that I know Colin and Michele and they have become central to my International network of New Literacies colleagues. Thanks again Colin!

The book launch was just lovely and I met some great new people who came along who were interested in my work – thanks for coming to those people!  It was a really thrilling feeling to be sitting in the “author’s chair” and at the “author’s table”.  Being referred to as “the author” gave me a real sense of having achieved something special. Is it OK now for me to write the word “author” under PROFESSION in all my official documents now?

In other really fantastic news, I am pleased to announce that my colleague Kerreen Ely-Harper and I were successful in an application to the Literature Board of the Australian Council for the Arts for a grant to fund our What If? Virtual Shakespeare project. Although it is official I haven’t seen the public announcement of the details yet so stay tuned.

Lots of other interesting things have been happening in the pop culture / fan culture scene, some of them being:

- the cast of Sex and the City have given more interviews about their upcoming movie, and SJP is seen here doing one of them:

- The final Harry Potter book is going to be turned into two separate movies

- Britney Spears released an AMV for her latest single, leaving fans of Britney going “What the..?” and fans of the AMV scene disgusted  (and she appeared on How I Met Your Mother, and is also opening her own dance studio, and…)

-  The Beckhams have had their heads stencilled in dark chocolate onto some white chocolate Easter eggs (yes, that’s what my post image shows!)

- Prada created a really unusual short animated fantasy movie to support an upcoming fashion line:

And now in some sad and disturbing news, the amazing Al Upton (whose work with primary school children and blogs I have applauded and pointed to for a long time now as exemplary) has been ordered to close his blog. The outpouring of support he has had from all over the world is reflected in the many comments following his announcement. I want to publicly add my support to Al and his inspiring work with the kids in his class. We’re lucky in Australia that we have certain freedoms to explore and experiment with new and innovative ideas. But we’re also sometimes dragged down by the culture of fear and moral panic about kids and the internet, and this is reflected in some of our policies. It’s so frustrating for those of us advocating the use of social networking tools and practices in the classroom when teachers turn back around to us and tell us that their schools have banned such practices. I really sympathise with Al and send him my best wishes. I think it is always the case that those of us trying to venture into new ground are testing and trialling and pushing boundaries, but we should take heart that the problems we must face and work through will hopefully help those who follow us. I know exactly what it is like to feel like your work is on the margins and not really valued, which is why when I saw the hundreds of comments to Al I felt comforted for him and for all of us in similar situations.

Book Launch at Gleebooks

Here are the details of my forthcoming book launch!  Its a joint launch with my friend Jon and we’ve been planning it for a while – all welcome!!

Friday, March 14, 2008 / 6.00 for 6.30pm Launch
Jonathan Marshall and Angela Thomas
Living on Cybermind / Youth Online: Identity and Literacy in the Digital Age
Published by: Peter Lang
To be launched by Professor Colin Lankshear

Venue: gleebooks, 49 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe
Cost: Free
RSVP: gleebooks – 9660 2333 or Request a place

Cybermind is an Internet mailing list, originally founded in 1994 to discuss the issues and problems of living online. It proved exceptionally fertile and is still going strong thirteen years later.

This book is an ethnographic investigation which follows Cybermind members in their daily lives on the List, and explores the ways they look at the world, argue, relate online life to offline life, use gender, and build community. Perhaps the most comprehensive history of an Internet group ever published, it includes detailed analyses using List members’ own words and commentary, and develops a unique theory of the relationship between culture, the problems of communication, and the ongoing processes of categorisation. Living on Cybermind illustrates how behaviour is affected by the organisation of communication, and how people deal with the paradoxes involved in resolving ambiguity and truth
in a situation in which presence is always on the verge of slipping away.

Jonathan Paul Marshall has an M.A. (Hons) and Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of Sydney. He has been an Australian Research Council Research Fellow at the Transforming Cultures Research Centre at the University of Technology, Sydney, working on a project on online gender.

Youth Online chronicles the stories of young people from several countries – the US, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and Holland – and their interactions in online communities over a seven-year period. It examines how young people construct their identities in various social contexts: social, fantasy, role-playing; and for various social purposes: leadership, learning, power, rebellion and romance. It explores the ways youth are deploying both visual and literary cues to
develop a full sense of presence online and to effectively communicate with their peers. Using methods of textual, visual, and socio-psychological analysis, this book illuminates the ways in which young people are making sense of their own identities and their place within broader communities.

Angela Thomas is Lecturer in English Education at the University of Sydney. She specializes in teaching new media literacies and is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on fan fiction, online role-playing, blogging, digital fiction, cyberculture, identity, and learning in virtual worlds, and is co-author of Children’s Literature and Computer-Based Teaching.

Ritchey Sealy Art Studio in SL

Ritchey Sealy Art in SL

The Ritchey Sealey art studio in Second Life (Ponden, 147, 212, 33) is really something special. It is a showcase of the real works of Ritchey, and features works using media such as oils, acrylics and charcoals. He has a stunning collection of modern abstract work in vibrant bold colours and geometric shapes – here is me below interacting with one of my favourite pieces:

Anya interacting with Ritchey Sealy Art in SL

But as well as that he has some amazing seascapes – and having grown up by the beach I am always moved by images of waves crashing against rocks. Here’s one of my favourites taken in the studio:

Ritchey Sealy Art in SL

Ritchey’s real art can be bought online here: http://ritcheysealy.photography.com.au/

I wonder if I could convince Ritchey to do a Filthy Fluno and commission a piece which incorporates my avatar a la image number two there. I wouldn’t mind the seascape either!!! I don’t usually look at art in SL with a view to purchasing the real versions, but since Ritchey lives in the same country as me, it is easier to imagine, or at least to dream, of dropping by his studio and picking up the ones I fell in love with in his SL studio.

ZeroG SkyDancers III – “Second Spring”

Yesterday I was treated to the third instalment of the ZeroG Skydancers in Second Life. Sponsored by the NMC and under the direction of “hyperformalist” DanCoyote Antonelli, it featured a spectacular interpretive dance piece with long flowing avatars telling a story about freedom, life, death, rebirth and redemption. The orchestral score was composed by SL musician ZeroOne Paz and was simply breathtaking. This was one of the most creative, artistic and unique performances I have ever attended in Second Life. I was also (as always) impressed with the amazing avatars sitting in the audience – each person there had a unique look and I managed to catch a few. Here are some shots from the show:

ZeroG Skydancers

ZeroG Skydancers

Anya and Dell @ ZeroG Skydancers

ZeroG Skydancers

Blued Food @ZeroG Skydancers

Sugar Seville @ ZeroG Skydancers

Gene vs. Pixel

Strong Blonde

What is it about avatars that make them so addictive, and such a pleasure for us to shape, to consume products for, to create so that they are evocative and edgy and sexy and seductive and aesthetically appealing? As we mold our post-modern bodies with a guilty pleasure, embracing the contrasts of fantasy over reality and disrupt the normal with the imagined? In Baudrillard’s terms, if the avatar is a referrent, a digitally generated image which is pure representation – why do our avatars reference the hypersexualised, the hyperreal, the glossy magazine models with perfect flawless shiny white skin? The coded information in my avatar is read… how?

Perversely, I read my avatar as being subversive. I see it as subverting the reality of an aging sagging body and experimenting with how I am treated, and how people communicate with me across my social spheres. It’s a gender experiment for me that I find fun, playful, and liberating on the one hand, yet difficult to come to terms with on the other hand because the reality is sometimes the post-modern Barbie gets a whole lot more attention that the real and flawed flesh and bones woman. Other times “she” is discriminated against because she is “too” something or another – too beautiful, too sexy, too intimidating, too fashionable.

I’ve been writing about avatars for 10 years now!!!! But still these issues intrigue me every time I speak at a conference and experience a whole range of complex questions from the audience about identity, sexuality, feminism, commodification, representation and hyperreality.

Now, shall I go blonde, or stick with brunette?

Anya

A Socio-Cultural Overview of Second Life

Links for Next Generation Dealmakers training

Machinima:

New Media Opportunities in the Online World of Second Life

iVillage Fashion Show

Bloggers, Journalists and Tabloids:

Second Style Fashionista

Fashion Victim

Linden Lifestyles

Second Life Herald

New World Notes

Reuters in Second Life

Metaversed

Virtually Blind

NMC Campus Observer

SLCN (Second Life Cable Network) TV

Out of World Shopping:

SL Exchange

Onrez Shopping 

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