The challenge of writing

5 11 2013

I have been doing a lot of reading lately about how to be a better writer.  My exploration has crossed many realms, including picking up tips on being more creative, how to be more effective (Covey) and how to be more productive as a writer. Much of the advice I have read discusses the importance of routine and habit as a writer – dedicating yourself to the task on a daily basis. This has always been a bit of a challenge for me as my writing practice ebbs and flows with my media art practice, my need to explore geographical locales, my job as a public servant, my commitments to a number of arts/community organisations, etc. I sometimes think I am juggling too many balls in the air!

What I did come across recently, via a friend was these great initiatives, designed to encourage aspiring writers:

National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo is an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place every November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30. Despite its name, it accepts entries from around the world. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people writing, no matter how bad the writing is, through the end of a first draft. The idea is that many people are scared to start writing because it won’t be any good, and if there’s a time to celebrate length, rather than quality, more people will write an entire first draft, which they can then proceed to edit if they wish.#NaNoWriMo

There is also National Blog Posting Month (“NaBloPoMo”) #NaBloPoMo.

Although it is a late start to the goal of writing a blog post every day in November, I can still catch up.

Over the next month, I will be focusing on sharing some of the latest thinking and writing about communications, PR and media. It is my challenge to be a better blogger – to keep readers informed of a wide range of topics and help ground my thinking and share some of the great resources I discover.

I hope you will enjoy!


Email newsletter available

2 06 2013

Over the weekend I put together a newsletter including some great articles that I found on The bytetime newlsletter covers many areas relevant to mediakult, including social media strategy, new tools, media art and the work of media artists.

For many people this is a more convenient way of keeping up-to date, which is why the newletter has been created.

This is the 1st edition

The plan is to publish one once a fortnight and they will be archived under news.

If you would like to register please let me know. Also, if you have received the newsletter in the first post and would like to unsubsxcribe, please contact me – apologies for the spam!

I hope you enjoy keeping up-to-date via this new channel.


MOOC: Massive Open Online Courses

12 05 2013

This morning I have learnt a new acronym: ‘MOOC’ – Massvie Open Online Courses. In previous blogs I have explored some of the free educational offerings online, particularly from the US. I found this article by Andrew McGettigan in The Guardian exploring this growing phenomenon. The article, titled Q. Will ‘Moocs’ be the scourge or saviour or higher education?, which underlines both the opportunities and the challenges of this growing educational format.

Another article by Claire Shaw focuses on the United Kingdom’s increasing investment in Moocs. FutureLearn is UK’s chance to ‘fight back’, says OU vice-chancellor

Nancy Groves provides a detailed discussion about online education in Online learning: pedagogy, technology and opening up higher education She rightly asserts that online education is not a new concept and states that:

Of course, the provision of off-campus higher education is not a recent development. The Open University has championed open and distance learning since 1969 – from its original correspondence courses and late-night TV broadcasts to the latest research and development conducted by its Institute of Educational Technology.

Returning to Gettigan’s article, a number of questions are put forward regarding the returns of investment for universities:

With no clear business models in place – and a reliance at this stage on volunteer labour – it is not clear how the returns on investment will materialise. Will Moocs be a new form of social media? Marketing tasters for established, paying courses? An alternative form of continuing education or outreach? An alternative to textbooks or course materials?

I must admit I wonder how universities can make money out of MOOCs. As a consumer I think it is great that I can study online for free, even getting a piece of paper for my efforts. As a long standing sessional (casual) academic I am concerned. Over the years, I have seen less and less opportunities for employment, particularly to transition to more permanent arrangements. I have also witnessed an erosion of working conditions for tenured and causal academic staff, which was a key motivator for me to jump from academia into government.

It is worth monitoring where MOOCs will go in the next few years and the impact on tertiary institutions. If people can access quality education for cheap or free then that is fantastic. If academics are working even longer for less remuneration then there is good reason to be concerned.

ISEA2013 workshop

26 04 2013

Just saw this great workshop as part of ISEA2013. So disappointed that I won’t be able to participate.

If you are interested in the connected themes of art, education,  technology and sustainability, try to get to this event.
I can vouch for the great energy and ideas of Nina Czegledy, Ian Clothier and Nigel Helyer and the other workshop leaders look fantastic too.

Here’s the blurb:


A workshop presented by ISEA2013 with Leonardo Education & Arts Forum (LEAF) in collaboration with ISEA2013 Education Workshop and in partnership with the MCA and the National Institute for Experimental Arts (NIEA) at COFA, UNSW.

Location: Creative Studios, the NCCL (National Centre for Creative Learning), Level 3
Museum of Contemporary Art
140 George St Sydney, NSW.
Date: 14 Jun Friday.
Time: 2-5pm

What is the role of art education in an age of ecological crisis and the globalisation of knowledge? This workshop positions transdisciplinary approach as the key to sustainable, meaningful solutions. It will address the development of an art and science cloud curriculum, based on cross-disciplinary initiatives in North America and Europe in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (STEAM) and Science, Engineering Art and Design education (SEAD).

About Leonardo Education & Arts Forum (LEAF)

The Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF) promotes the advancement of artistic research and academic scholarship at the intersections of art, science, and technology.

Workshop Structure:

1. Presentation by workshop leaders and theme moderators – 1 hour

2. Breakout discussions – 3 groups – 1 hour

The role of the art institution in developing sustainable cloud curriculum that address the STEAM/SEAD vision (globalisation of education).
The shift needed to take place in art education in order to explore the new realities of evolving reorganisation of practice, research and knowledge.
Current thinking on the role of education in the age of ecological crisis, and sustainability of art and science’s mobilisation of collective group learning methodologies.
3. Summary of groups and general discussion – 1 hour

Workshop Leaders:

Nina Czegledy
Paul Thomas

Theme Moderators:

Jane Prophet
Mike Philips
Andrea Polli
Ian Clothier
Nigel Helyer
Joanna Hoffmann

LEAF, a working group of Leonardo ® /ISAST

Free and open online learning

23 01 2013

As many of my readers are well aware, I have a love of the Internet as an open and accessible space – which is why I love open source software and web accessibility standards (WCAG).

More recently I have noticed a number of excellent resources for online learning  – for free! For example, the Open Education Database has a broad range of courses from universities from the United States, including Berkley, National University and The Art Institute Online.

Another great resource for free education online is Coursera, where I have recently enrolled in a course focused on Social Network Analysis.

Another example, especially for webbys is the  P2PU / MOzilla WebCraft project, where you can not only learn, but contribute as a tutor an educator.

It is really heartening to see that despite the tightening up of a lot of online resources (eg. music, news media), that open culture is growing and thriving.

I am keen to build a list of great examples on mediakult, so please let me know if you see good courses.