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SXSW Round-Up: Citizen Science and Digital Literacy

Hello there from Texas! I'm here representing UoM at the iconic mega-conference, South by South West (SXSW).

SXSW is really four conferences, and I'm at two of them. First, an education and ed-tech festival (SXSWEdu), followed by the enormous SXSW Interactive (I'm going to call it Geek Disneyland) that's served as the launchpad for many social startups including Twitter and Foursquare.

So far at SXSWEdu, what's really struck me is how well Melbourne is competing worldwide, both in social and in ed tech in general. Did you know that only a handful of Universities offer social media training that parallels ours - let alone paid internships?

Two topics in particular have had me thinking…

The National Science Teachers Association in the US is pushing ‘citizen science’ hard in a new curriculum. As Juliana Texley ( @julianatexley ) put it: it’s highly persuasive, as well as rewarding, to participate early in something bigger than yourself. Citizen science creates a memory that will last. I wonder how many university subjects worldwide do push students to make a small contribution to a major project with real world implications? Is it something we could achieve as a whole University community?

More discussion on the hashtag #nstasxsw. If you know of an existing project here in Melbourne, please leave a comment! We'd love to get more people involved through our social channels.

A strongly debated panel this morning on the topic of social media, asked, who takes responsibility for teaching digital citizenship? Dr. William Ward ( @dr4ward ) puts all his students through Hootsuite University. He says, why not, when it's used by so many businesses worldwide? Others disagreed, worrying about skills dating - or letting corporations into the curriculum. Nevertheless the issue stands and most schools and universities prepare students fairly poorly to work in a digital landscape - especially given that most of them will have to engage digitally as part of a 'not geeky' job.

What are the real ‘marketable skills’ in a digital education? Is it OK to teach Twitter or Hootsuite University? The conversation is at #socialedu. Please add your own thoughts there or in the comments!

Some more interesting new people to follow:

@GNewtonTanzer - spends much of his time working in his education business in China, and thus talking to high school students. Some valuable insights.

@jordosh - edtech writer, Tweets some great things including this lighthearted piece that I think all of us at a Uni can relate to: http://criticalhandgestures.tumblr.com/

For those who use Twitter and are interested in more detail than I'm covering here - I'm tweeting several sessions a day at @annie_shea.