Yannis Varoufakis

I heard Varoufakis on the radio this morning. Then put on this TED talk of his and sat watching it with my daughter. “When someone is insolvent will you give them a huge loan” he asks. This is exactly what EU did to Greece with the collusion of the Greek’s politicians. He then goes on to ask – if you are saddled with a loan that is huge and that you cannot hope to pay it off -what is the solution? The people giving you the loan write off half the loan (Germany post war) or you tie the repayment to the growth of the GDP (Australian student loans). He is brilliant and I nominate him as a person to follow, listen to and read-up on.

“One of the great ironies of the eurogroup is that there is no macroeconomic discussion. It’s all rules-based, as if the rules are God-given and as if the rules can go against the rules of macroeconomics.

“I insisted on talking macroeconomics.”


Then if you like the Voldemort allusions – if you are of such a persuasion.

Anyone else think could make a living as Voldemort’s double, if the finance minister gig goes phut?

Posters of Hope and other such

Re Shepard Fairey – he designed the Obama Poster. Today Michael (who I sat next to at dinner a couple of years ago, plus who is the father of RJ Nina Las Vegas) was featured in the Age – for his poster in Sydney. He has made an Abbott poster.

The large majority of people reading this post have seen this image before. This iconic image of Barack Obama, adorned on posters, stickers, clothing and more, was created by Los Angeles-based, contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey. This image has become a pop cultural phenomenon and an important symbol in the political landscape of 2008 and beyond. How did this image spread virally so quickly? Who was involved in making that happen? More

The Obama poster and all the others.

Life in Compost

This is a saturday post that connects to projects in the garden. It also connects to a joy in making, watering, seeing plants grow and engaging with sustainability (albeit in a desultory fashion – but thats okay). We have been composting food scraps for two years and today it was the day to remove the compost bin enclosure and reveal the compost. Of the three bins, the top of one was still fresh, another had a few plants growing (a pumpkin and some money-plants). The base was rife with earthworms. When you see earthworms in compost you feel thats healthy compost. If you like to see images of compost there are some good ones below. This post bean its life as a desire to share images of compost with my project collaborators from the past (O P Singh and Ashish Jain). Then an acknowledgement of the fact that I am still carrying on some form of the recycling work. At a small scale, alone. Which matters too. Below is the image of the compost – covered with older compost. The dark wet part contains many earth worms which have swiftly burrowed in (you would think they are slow – but you should have seen these chaps – they have been honoured with the title of this blog post). The kadahi is for scaling. Is that all the compost you got from a years worth of discarded food scraps? IMG_3870 IMG_3869 IMG_3866

The plants that came out of the compost. Now in another veggie box. IMG_3871

I also took images of the summer bounty in our backyard. These tomatoes (from a plant that Chris Ryan gave us) are delicious. Importantly the plan seems to be doing well even without a huge amount of water. IMG_3882 IMG_3881

The mint plant was plucked, a few years ago, from a pavement where it grew happily. It has grown into a bush. In summer it looks like this – a bit flowery and a bit spotty. In winter the mint puts out big leaves and looks more robust. It behaves like a weed and has captured a tract of the backyard for itself. IMG_3883

The lawn before the mower arrives can throw up these yellow beauties. Also a weed, but these will go into a tiny vase in the house.


IMG_3886 IMG_3887

The Bamboo chimes took some getting used to. Melbourne can throw up some mighty storms and it took some time to work out an ideal location for these noisy fellows. Under the pergola they are sheltered from the worst of the wind and can keep putting out their gruff grunts every so often. IMG_3888 IMG_3889  IMG_3878 IMG_3877

The figs are almost ready. I have to gear up to make jam again next week. I am thinking tuesday night may be a good time to do this. The parrots live on this tree and feast very randomly on the fruits. So many fruits pecked and only a few fully eaten. I imagine there is a possibility there will be two harvests of figs this year. IMG_3864

Dilli is lovely, though a wee bit dusty

The dusty Delhi air is now a problem. When we lived there we blamed the loo, and the cold that trapped the dust. Wonder how much to Delhi’s dust is natural and how much is man made?

Delhi’s dust/pollution rises in winter – Diwali to Holi – as per the graph. Living there we knew this. So its a dusty city next to Rajasthan. What about Delhi versus Jaipur/Agra/Ahmedabad/Nagpur?

Of course it needs fixing – by watering Rajasthan? – but would be good to get more nuanced reporting too.

Or am I being romantic?

And this image: Gurgaon?

Indeed, there has not been a single 30-day period in Beijing over the past two years during which the average PM2.5 level was as bad as it was in December and January in Delhi.

Worse yet, the numbers tell only half the story because Delhi’s PM2.5 particles are far more dangerous than those from many other locales because of the widespread burning of garbage, coal and diesel fuel that results in high quantities of toxins such as sulfur, dioxins and other carcinogenic compounds, said Dr. Sarath Guttikunda, director of Urban Emissions, an independent research group based in Delhi.

“Delhi’s air is just incredibly toxic,” said Dr. Guttikunda, who recently moved to Goa to protect his two young children from Delhi’s air. “People in Delhi are increasingly aware that the air is bad, but they have no idea just how catastrophically bad it really is.”

via Delhi Wakes Up to an Air Pollution Problem It Cannot Ignore – NYTimes.com.

Spinach and Ricotta Rolls

I woke this morning at 6 AM. Brewed fair trade coffee, made some oats, fed the cats, woke my son – and then headed off to the local bakery. At the bakery I bought a fresh ciabatta roll, and some ricotta cheese.

Back home I mixed some frozen spinach with a portion of the ricotta. Wrapped it in puff-pastry and put it in the over for 20 minutes. As I sit posting to this blog, I have a fresh mug of coffee next to me, my son is doing his home work, the cats have gone back to bed, and the rolls are cooling down.

Just an ordinary morning.

Spinach and Ricotta rolls
Spinach and Ricotta rolls

How To Create a Personal Learning Environment to Stay Relevant

I have been looking at the terminology that describes what I do in the classroom with my students. Here are some of the things students will do in a typical course I teach:

  1. Get a twitter account, use tweet deck to follow different hashtags (#) as a way of doing research.
  2. Set up a wordpress blog, and post text, sketches and images to the blog.
  3. Join the class Facebook group and contribute (from the mobile).
  4. Use Tumbler to do research and post thoughts, images, drawings.
  5. Use Instagram, pinterest to do visual research/ visual ethnography.
  6. Use Delicious, citeulike, netnewswire to undertake textual research.
  7. Use RSS and StumbleUpon to read online journals/ diaries to do user research (Digital Enthnography).

Its ten years since I started using blogs and online tools as part of my design teaching. In recent years I have been using the smartphone/ with notifications as a component of the learning process.

NOW – In design studio projects the central learning happens through a process of visualisation and pin up reviews. So in class presentations and conversations are crucial. Within the discourse of/ terminology of PLE I am now referring to the class encounter as ESSENTIAL LEARNING. The learning that happens outside of class – through social media and digital ethnography – is OPTIONAL LEARNING. Though I wouldn’t do it so intensively if it were really Optional. Which means I need a new term for what PLE refers to as Optional-Learning. If you have a suggestion – for an alternative term – post me a suggestion in the comments section.

How To Create a Personal Learning Environment to Stay Relevant in 2013 | Online Learning Insights

“Our understanding of learning has expanded at a rate that has far outpaced our conceptions of teaching. A growing appreciation for the porous boundaries between the classroom and life experience…has created not only promising changes but also disruptive moments in teaching.” EDUCAUSE Review, 2012

This quote from Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education (Bass, 2012), gives a good a reason as any for educators to develop a Personal learning Environment [PLE]; a space where we can keep up with the experimental modes of learning, instruction, changing pedagogy and instructional methods that surfaced in 2012. In a previous post I introduced the concept of PLEs and touched on why educators may want to consider developing a PLE for 2013. In this post I’ll outline how educators can develop their own PLE, where to start, and I’ll provide specific action steps, and what tools to use. First though, I’ll share three convincing reasons why we should get serious about PLEs—why they aren’t just for students.

Three Reasons Why Educators Need a PLE

Education is in a phase of disruption (not news to anyone)—and it’s not just a blip or a bump, but is what Harvard professor and author Clayton Christenson describes as disruptive innovation. This concept describes what is happening in higher education now. We can see disruption in the new forms of course delivery  (i.e. Udacity, Cousera), teaching methods (i.e. flipped classrooms), and new learning models (i.e. competency based learning). These experimental forms of teaching (MOOCs) and assessing (peer review, assessment centers) are changing how educators teach, and impact the student/instructor relationship. Below are three [convincing] reasons why educators should consider creating a PLE:

  1. We need to disrupt ourselves: The model of higher education is at a turning point. PLEs provide a framework for us to expand our knowledge in our areas of expertise, and in teaching and instructional methods that are and will be appropriate and relevant for the digital era.
  2. The Instructor’s role has changed. The learner is moving to the center of the learning and teaching model, and relies upon a variety of sources for learning. PLEs will help instructors not only stay relevant in his or her field, but will provide an opportunity to learn how to use tools that will enhance instructional methods and adapt to the changing paradigm.
  3. Access to the Internet has changed how we teach and learn—forever. New tools devices, and applications are changing our culture and society. Education is not immune. We need to adapt and respond—PLEs will help us to do so appropriately by responding from a position of knowledge and understanding.

via How To Create a Personal Learning Environment to Stay Relevant in 2013 | Online Learning Insights.

Useful Links



Also: http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/paper/personal-learning-environments

While emphasizing the active role of a learner, the PLE approach implies thatlearning is not located in a specific time and place, but is an ongoing, ubiquitous and multi-episodic process. As PLEs allow the collocation of diverse learning activities, tools, and resources, contexts permeate and learning becomes connected. In this sense, PLEs challenge some dominant paradigms in education and in the traditional understanding of borders, be it in view of learning places, educational roles or institutional policies.

The Future of College? – The Atlantic


This a great article on the concept of education and its mediation in the contemporary period through technology. Its of course for the brilliant – but nonetheless a model worth keeping in mind.

The paradox of undergraduate education in the United States is that it is the envy of the world, but also tremendously beleaguered. In that way it resembles the U.S. health-care sector. Both carry price tags that shock the conscience of citizens of other developed countries. They’re both tied up inextricably with government, through student loans and federal research funding or through Medicare. But if you can afford the Mayo Clinic, the United States is the best place in the world to get sick. And if you get a scholarship to Stanford, you should take it, and turn down offers from even the best universities in Europe, Australia, or Japan. (Most likely, though, you won’t get that scholarship. The average U.S. college graduate in 2014 carried $33,000 of debt.)

via The Future of College? – The Atlantic.