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Welcome to my Wiki of curricular curiosities - here are all the things I think should be in the curriculum but aren't - YET!
This wiki is a result of having had the time to gather plenty of free resources on the web but not being able to share my expertise with others especially younger children. It will be ongoing for most of 2011/12.
Most of what I do is involved with finding and using resources in education and business that will be commonplace in a couple of years but that are not mainstream at present. This is my own personal braindump of things I have found on the web over the years related to 3D modelling, design, virtual worlds, gaming, coding, music, mashups. Anything that will inspire and trigger and interest, a curiosity and a gateway to deeper learning.
Like a grammar or lexicon that is slowly evolving, the skills, knowledge, application and uses of these resources is still "emergent" and will give hours of enjoyment and intellectual engagement for anyone who delves into even the most rudimentary aspect of learning in this area. This area, by its very nature, is fast moving, highly dynamic with new developments happening week on week - this wiki will reflect that activity. Anyone who would like to contribute to any of the areas please do email me, or better still, DM me on Twitter >
for a faster response - or just join the wiki and start adding resources.
I find this a fascinating landscape because I am intrigued by how people build media and the stories they tell - for me the whole area of Virtual Worlds, Online Media and Gaming is like an enormous
Airfix exploded view
of cultural activity. I like to see how people make things and combine them creatively. Unfortunately although the UK is one of the leaders in Games and Gaming construction in the world,
not much of those skills are on the curriculum in schools
. This wiki aims to plug that gap and look at the more fun aspects of modelling software and examine some of the allied areas of computer programming and art and design.
Nearly all the programs and tutorials on this wiki are free and/or open source but very few educationalists in the UK will use them.
Why, they are free; pupils can take work between home and school - it levels the playing field?
Well I think it is a combination of factors.
Exam boards, in England especially, are not agile enough to adapt to dynamic changes of software that is constantly evolving and they do not have the expertise to adapt their methods and curricula to the use of multi-format software and rapidly evolving ideas. They are happy to go along with the software pushed by the bigger cartels; and schools, on the whole, buy into the whole process.That way lies intellectual atrophy and the deadening of curiosity and creativity, The two qualities we need to survive in the fast moving post-modern world we inhabit.
We are also seeing more of a move to certain exam boards insisting on specific types of educational media and software for their courses - creating a monopoly of proprietary learning materials, outdated and not fit for purpose - a kind of monopolistic vertical market depending on the ignorance of the clients to keep buying into proprietorial and increasingly regulated resources - schools don't have the time or inclination to challenge this incremental decline - it becomes a creeping, back door homogenization masquerading as "standards" and does nobody any good. This is where the curriculum and exams part company with learning and I think that is a dangerous path to tread. It devalues intellectual endeavour and limits our horizons when it comes to learning.
So this is a pointer to what could be if people started to look around and make more choices.
Sure this will be of use to those families are self-straters and can drum up the expertise but I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that we need people with this expertise in schools and they should be experimenting and training and exploring with younger people that is why I have set up
Social Media for Schools
to act as a bridging organisation to help some of this come to fruition in the long run.
Why a Wiki?
A wiki is a perfect resource for this as it can be researched, built, updated and shared collaboratively. Those old-fashioned gatekeepers of knowledge would have you believe that knowledge is fixed in stone were seriously misguided.
That you need experts and editors to sift and refine the knowledge set down to achieve "mastery", is, to a certain extent, still true but the rate of change and level of expertise in any one given field thees days demands that we update and collaborate our knowledge acquisition and creation on almost a daily basis in this fast moving modern world. A Wiki is a perfect medium for that process. "Textbooks" just don't cut it any more in rapidly moving fields that require multimodal and diverse ways of learning.
My vision of an engaged and active learner is someone who has the curiosity to discover and use information above and beyond any curricular restraints or exams - they do it for the pure love of finding out.
Knowledge acquisition and knowledge creation have been going on since the dawn of time. I believe we have lost that curiosity in education - that drive to experiment and find out is being lost - so this is my first attempt to get back that enthusiasm for what is missing both in the curriculum and people's hearts and minds and to open out avenues of possibilities in the area of ICT, Design, Maths, Sciences, Arts and Humanities.
It is quite possible to create a whole design course, virtual world - even a film making or science course using free 3D graphics programs on the web as a starting point. In fact younger people are doing just this, informally, outside the school system on a day to day basis; their teahers are just not aware of it. If only we could co-opt the curiosity and expertise to build a new golden age of learning? It's not such a pipe dream surely?
Although quite a high level of ICT technical skills are needed to manipulate 3D graphics and by extension, their applications in other programs in the classroom, I think younger children are well up to the challenge; far more so than some of their teachers. Anyone who is a interested parent has seen their children co-construct and help each other in self-tutoring, self-helping self-constructing collaborative informal learning networks. That engagement is out there and highly acitve if you look for it. I think we set our sights too low in the area of ICT in schools - young people love to be engaged and challenged and they are brilliant at helping each other.
I am of the belief that there are an increasing number of resources out there to help people create 3D graphics simply and quickly; a lot of multimodel teaching opportunities with video and walkthrough tutorials for beginners. Many younger peopl are now quite capable of navigating these if given enough encouragement and motivation to do so. And I think the benefits are many but I'm not setting any exam or making any academic claims - I'm simply writing a wiki and if people find it useful - great - if not, at least I've made an attempt at a start in this area because I haven't seen any equivalent drawing together all these elements in one place so far...
This wiki is my gift to all the teachers, parents, educators, young people and children out there who are still curious and want to engage in exciting but complex ICT and computing skills that are definitely very transferable to those in the 'real world' - please use this resource to get pupils making their own media.
There is a very active educational community on the web always willing to help newcomers on forums and blogs. Sometimes you have to do a lot of searching, though, to find such good practice. I have been lucky in my role with
Open Source Schools
in the UK to find and film some of these practitioners and where possible I've included links to relevant resources built by them.
I have listed some of the key sources and some video exemplars for new users, where possible, in each section if the IPR and licensing allows embedding.
Remember this area is growing in popularity year on year - when I first did the research on this resource for the BBC (never published - it was too detailed) it was a fairly arcane and of specialised interest.
Now pupils are able to create their own animated films, costume design, whole virtual worlds using free programs on their computers (and lately Mobile/ Cell phones) relatively easily.
This Wiki is a gift to those who dare still to dream in education - it isn't for the inchworms, the inspectors, the dry as dust joy killers - it is for you to use freely and with
a basis for creating your own worlds. It is just another entry point into learning and that surely cannot be a bad thing.
Have fun and above all enjoy the journey...it never ends.
Leon Cych Jan 2011
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