Archive for October, 2007

The Crisis of Success in Design/Innovation

Thursday, October 25th, 2007

The Crisis of Success in Design/Innovation.: “I’d like to speak tonight about a crisis—a crisis in design. Of course, design has had many crises. There was the crisis of acceptance. Business just wouldn’t give respect to design. There was the crisis of money. Designers were paid miserably for their work. Then there was the bubble crisis. Tech collapsed and work disappeared.

Today, we have a another crisis—the Crisis of Success. Everywhere in every sphere, people are asking the question, Can Design Help? Why is the answer to so many problems today design?”

(Worth reading in full.)

How to be a student 1: The art of listening to a lecture

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

From The Guardian, 16 October 2007. Click the image for a larger version.

Diplomas to become ‘the qualification of choice’

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2007

From the BBC:

Diplomas could become the ‘qualification of choice’, says the Schools Secretary Ed Balls, raising the prospect they will replace A-levels.
Mr Balls has announced new diplomas in academic subject areas – science, languages and the humanities – for 14-19 year olds in England.


Diplomas, a new type of qualification intended to bridge the divide between academic and vocational learning, are to be initially introduced from next year, in a limited range of vocational subjects.


‘If diplomas are successfully introduced and are delivering the mix that employers and universities value, they could become the qualification of choice for young people,’ said Mr Balls.


The success of diplomas will depend on how they are recognised by employers and universities – and Universities UK stressed that the new qualifications will need to ‘genuinely provide an appropriate progression route on to higher education’.

A statement from the Russell Group, representing leading universities, also cautioned that ‘we are concerned to ensure that the diploma sufficiently equips candidates with the skills and knowledge they need to flourish on our courses’.

There have already been 14 diploma qualifications announced, with the first five – construction and the built environment, creative and media, engineering, information technology and society, health and development – beginning in autumn 2008.

All of the diploma qualifications will include a basic skills element, in English, maths and information technology.

I had a small role to play in the development of the creative and media diploma, being part of the working party that put it together, writing a report on access to HE that (I hope) was influential, and making a suggestion about the way the curriculum was illustrated in one report that, I gather, helped quite a lot of people make sense of it. (It’s a small thing, sure, but probably the most useful thing I did!)

When I started on the project I had my doubts about the idea of a diploma that set in stone from the age of 14 that someone would ‘be a designer’ – or an actor, a film director, an editor, a radio engineer etc. But when I saw the curriculum I was pleasantly surprised. Unless it’s changed since then, it wouldn’t mean kids dropping English and History to do art and design (and as I’ve said before, I think we need more people on design courses who took those subjects instead of art) but would instead mean a much better arts-based curriculum all round.

My big worry remains, however: if your school decides it’s going to offer the construction diploma but not the creative and media one, does that mean your chances of entering the latter sector are worsened? It’s a bit like schools that ‘specialise’ in things like IT or (god help us) sport. I can just imagine how happy I would have been as a child if my school had specialised in sport…

So I’m with the Russell Group on this – the qualifications have to be proven before they’re taken seriously. In my report to the working group I predicted it would take a lot for art colleges to overcome their usual prejudices for students from the right Foundation Courses and ‘feeder colleges’, and suggested ways to do it. I hope they took my advice.

Sustainable design resources

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Ecolect is a new and interesting site dedicated to sustainability. It contains lots of news and resources that should be useful to anyone (and why isn’t everyone?) interested in sustainable design.

Mac OS X Leopard Server looks like a potential VLE winner

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Apple announced the release of Leopard, the new version of the Mac OS, this week.
What hasn’t got so much attention is ‘Leopard Server’ which has two features that make it particularly appealing as an educational tool.

The first is ‘iCal server’ (above) which seems a simple way to handle room and equipment bookings in a transparent way – anyone with iCal or a standards-based calendar program could see when that data projector was being used, for example, and by whom.

But here’s the potential killer: a Wiki server.
Most wikis suffer because they look awful and are really tricky to edit, but Apple’s solution looks like it has great WYSIWYG editing tools. The potential for collaborative research sites, student writing/research and VLEs is massive – I can see this being much better than systems like Blackboard, for example.

Worth checking out if you’re into that sort of stuff.

Harry Potter = Star Wars?

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

Click the image for a larger version

A Vision of Students Today

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

BBC gives mixed signals on Mac compatibility

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

Two bits of interesting news today from the BBC. Firstly, BBC content will be available free of charge from some wireless hotspots in the UK. And secondly, thanks to a deal with Adobe, it looks like Mac and Linux users will be able to use the iPlayer to download programmes, something that only XP users have been able to do.


But Mr Highfield [the BBC’s director of Future Media and Technology] said the BBC had not committed to offering the iPlayer to Mac and Linux users who want to download and keep content on their machines for a limited period.

He said: “We need to get the streaming service up and look at the ratio of consumption between the services and then we need to look long and hard at whether we build a download service for Mac and Linux

“It comes down to cost per person and reach at the end of the day.”

Erm, no. It comes down to equality of access for a service that is funded by a license fee. Something that is enshrined in the BBC’s charter.
I pay the same £10 charge every month for the BBC as an XP user. Saying it comes down to cost per person is like saying Sony TV users are a different breed from Samsung TV users. The BBC (and Highfield specifically) have changed their tune on this before – telling reporters that they couldn’t offer Mac users a download service because of Apple’s ‘restrictive’ DRM system while plumping to use Microsoft’s platform-specific and therefore even more restrictive system.

Why has the BBC got someone so obviously ignorant about IT matters as the head of ‘Future Media and Technology’?

Talk to your daughter before the fashion industry does

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

Here’s an interesting campaign from Dove, though as David Airey points out, Dove are owned by Unilever who also sell SlimFast slimming aids…

He also mentions that

Unilever’s subsidiary based in India, Hindustan Lever Limited (HLL), markets Fair & Lovely Skin Cream and Lotion, the largest selling skin care product in India. Fair & Lovely is being promoted as a ‘fairness face cream’ that will lighten your dark skin. Through their advertisements, Hindustan Lever spreads the message that a light skin is better than a dark skin.

No, this ad is not a joke:

Perhaps you had the same response to that that I did, but as David points out, is it any worse to want to lighten your skin than to darken it through tanning products and treatments? That’s a tough one and I don’t know enough about the cultural issues to venture an educated opinion. Is skin lightening an attempt to beat racism (and therefore a result of racism) or simply a cosmetic desire?

Teaching kids financial responsibility with Barbie

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

Seriously – does anyone think this is a good idea? “I love shopping with a credit card – you never run out of money!”