Web Television: the Lizzie Bennett Diaries

So many more young people today are spending their free time watching youtubes rather than watching TV. There are countless youtube channels with a vast array of things to watch, get addicted to and waste time on (From DIY, to stunts, to trailers, how-to’s, home video sharing, viral clips, booktubers, gamers, etc — whole communities of people engaged in the participatory culture of youtubing). I am only familiar with a teeny tiny small pocket and I wanted to highlight a channel that I intend to share with young people who love Jane Austin, adaptions, or just really good, addictive TV series.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries Image Credit

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is an Emmy award-winning American drama web series adapted from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Web series are scripted videos that are released in episodes (often called webisodes) over the internet — to watch on mobile devices (or your PC). Increasing in popularity, The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is a much loved addition to a growing genre. You can see a list of Web TV Series here on wikipedia.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is told entirely in the form of vlogs. (Lizzie being a vlogger) — and is the first attempt at modernising Pride and Prejudice with an internet based retelling of the story. In addition to Lizzie’s vlogging, there are spin-offs from the series from other characters (bringing different perspectives). The series won awards for:

It has a fantastic website (where you can watch the entire series), buy merchandise and pretty much find out anything you need to know. I love that the episodes are only a few minutes long — easy to digest. It’s creative and fresh and innovative and funny, completely grin-worthy stuff. Although, be warned, it’s seriously addictive and you may find yourself glued to your device for a few hours…

Kids on mobile devices ~ an infographic look

Kid tech, according to Apple Infographic Image source

It is no major surprise that kids in western civilisation have embraced tablet technology as part of their lives. What I am surprised by is that HALF of first-time iPod/iPad users are under the age of 5. Ease of use and entertainment would be a big part in this. Apps are designed to be easy, a touch screen requires basic fine motor skills. So many apps are educational, it’s an exploding market. Kids want one, my own kids like to fling out statements such as ‘everybody has one’ (To which I reply: ‘everybody except you,’ haha — although it is not, of course, literally everybody, it just feels that way…).

I taught in a Special Education unit and the iPad was a fantastic skill for students who did not have the fine motor skills to hold a pen (nor ever will have) yet they could trace their fingertip along a line on the touch screen, which prompted a reaction and reward.

There is no doubt these devices will be amazing tools. I still have qualms, though, for my own kids in this digital generation. I haven’t bought them devices. I am wary of the addiction and reliance and I so want them to enjoy their childhoods outdoors, being creative and not needing to be plugged in all the time. I, myself, do not have a ‘smart’ mobile phone (it just makes calls and sends texts). I want to consciously be in the moment I am in, not wondering what is happening with my friends lives on social media. I have an obsessive personality and I am holding out as long as possible 🙂

With how far mobile technology has come to being an integral part of our daily lives I often wonder what it will look like for the next generation, and the generation after that? I think it is pretty amazing, that we are living in such exciting times (I remember thinking Get Smart’s shoe phone was incredible, lol). I also think I have responsibility to use the devices in such a way that they add quality of life, and not become something that detracts from it.

Teaching in the (technologically advanced) future…

Is it the end of chalk and talk? TEACHING CHEMISTRY by starmanseries (flickr image CC BY-NC 2.0)

As part of my Youth, Popular Culture and Texts unit of work I’ve been exploring how this new era of Web 2.0 and technology revolution impacts on teaching and learning. What better place to look than to check out what fellow teachers are out there doing? I’d like to introduce you to Mr Barlow…

Mr Barlow is Melbourne-based high school science teacher and eLearning leader. He has had overwhelming success with integrating emerging technologies into his classrooms. I first heard of him while cruising in the libraries journal database, searching for articles with ‘intrinsic motivation’, ‘self-efficacy’ and ‘web 2.0’ (all three of these search terms go so nicely together :)). After reading a 2008 article of his I thought I should check out his blog (I was curious to see if it was still alive and if it was thriving – I know blogger burnout is a real thing and maintaining a blog long term is no easy feat).

Mr Barlows podcast
Image credit

I was gobsmacked to find his blog is flourishing with nearly 2 million hits (this after very humble, tentative beginnings). Mr Barlow not only uses blogging as part of his pedagogy but has increased his teaching repertoire to include:

  • An active podcast channel
  • An interactive electronic book (complete with over 50 integrated videos) available on itunes for his grade 6 science students
  • And his senior biology students are some of the first in the world to have iOS apps designed specifically for their course.

His blog includes resources for teachers, online learning for students and links to papers and presentations.

I definitely recommend reading some of his papers – one I enjoyed was The End of ‘Chalk and Talk.’ Mr Barlow compares his classroom/teaching results as he moves away from the traditional teaching style of ‘chalk and talk’ instead integrating podcasting and student-directed activities (Spoiler: the students got better marks and they also considered him a better teacher).

One thing that stood out to me was how Barlow found it discombobulating to relinquish the traditional teaching method (discombobulating = me, paraphrasing :)). He reports that it felt different, letting go of the teacher being the centre of attention and the focus of the lesson. That his role changed. Even to the extent of feeling like he was not doing his job properly – being less active in the classroom and relinquishing control to the students.

I love the idea of integrated technologies in the classroom. Research overwhelming shows that incorporating emerging technologies into teaching pedagogy produces greater results and fosters a rich, motivating learning environment. What teacher does not want that for their students?

However, what does that mean my job as a teacher will look like? It will not look like what my teacher’s job was back in the 80’s and 90’s when I was a student in school. It won’t even look like my early years of teaching in the 2000’s. It’s an exciting era for teaching and I feel like I am only on the cusp of exploring how new technologies can transform Australian schools. I’m excited for what it means for my own kids learning and also as I seek to adapt my own classroom pedagogy. (I also pray for a small handful of tech savvy kids in each of my classes, haha – this new generation of kids are brilliantly adept and often make manipulating technology seem effortless — they’re a godsend as I negotiate my way through tricky waters).

Barlow, T., 2012, The end of ‘Chalk and Talk’Teaching Science, Volume 58, Number 1, p.54-57.

iTunes books – Year Nine – Science Gamified by Mr Barlow
Image credit

iMovie — bringing creativity and digital technology into the classroom

iMovie by uka0310 (flickr image CC BY-NC 2.0)

I loved reading Bruce Derby’s ‘Creativity in my Pocket: No ‘I’ Puns Here’ journal article. There are so many complex issues involved with integrating emerging technologies into the curriculum that it can be easy to feel swamped and out of depth. Derby simplifies everything down – mobile learning devices do not need to compete with traditional learning but rather augment it.

An iPod is a little easier to manage…
man with video camera by woodleywonderworks
(flickr image CC BY-NC 2.0)

I love the idea of using iMovie in classrooms. When I was in grade 11 my friends and I made a movie clip to go with a favourite song for our photography class. I remember the ridiculous fun we had – roaming about the school shooting in multiple locations and getting all arty with angles and acting and goofing around. Even more so, I still remember the hours and weeks spent editing and mucking about with bulky and time-consuming (expensive) technology, spending our lunchtimes and free periods in the lab to get things done in time. We fudged our way through it, our teacher constantly on hand to help with the complex technology. It’s astounding how far this technology revolution has come (understatement of the year). My own kids were making and editing movies (complete with synchronised sound tracks and special effects) when they were in first grade – for fun, at home, with no formal training.

I believe school should be a place where students (and teachers, too!) have fun. Where students are motivated and their creative potential is explored and expanded. The beauty of mobile devices, and apps such as iMovie, is that you can cover all the same curriculum content, achieve the same outcomes and indicators, and use these new technologies to present the learning in a way that enhances enthusiasm and enjoyment. How fun is making a movie with your friends? And then enjoying a lesson watching and learning from peers’ movies (even teachers love these relaxing and bonding lessons)? How much more does making a movie ignite creative processes as opposed to aurally presenting information in front of the class – it really is a fab tool for unleashing that creative possibilities.

“There is nothing revolutionary here… The only thing that has changed is the application of newer technology to established tasks, expanding the possibilities for the creating of the final product. Most importantly, this technology is incredibly simple to use.” (Derby, 2011, P.99)

Special shout out to iOS developers and how they really have simplified technology. Seriously, even my grandmother can use this stuff 🙂

Bonus: It was 1996 (year 11) — we made our own video clip to go along to Tracy Bonham’s Mother Mother. Oh, the angst of those teen years. Good times. Tracy Bonham’s original clip below 🙂

Derby, B. (2011). Creativity in my pocket: No ‘I’ puns here. English in Australia 46(3).

Mid-morning Procrastination Break

Pippin has the right idea
image credit

Currently: gorgeous spring day on the Sunny Coast… I am spending it indoors, trying to wrangle assignment one for CLN647 into an intelligible essay.

My talent for procrastination has led me here, creating my first ever wordpress blog for CLN647. I’ve previously only used Blogger as a platform and I’m feeling a little disorientated. Excited to learn wordpress though, there are so many evangelists out there for it and I’ve been curious about it for a while…

🙂 Naomi