Sadly a picture is no longer worth 1000 words


All Change Please! has recently had cause to learn a bit more about the forthcoming changes to A level examinations in Art & Design. Yes, that’s right, the ones that Michael, Mickey the Mixter Gove wants to make ‘more rigorous’. Anyway at a cost rumoured to be not that short of the amount Facebook recently paid for WhatsApp, vast amounts of tax payers’ money was allegedly spent on highly paid executive consultants, university professors and exam board directors in an attempt to develop higher A level specifications that would better prepare students for the higher demands of higher education. And after the usual round of excellent lunches, luxury hotels and personal visits from the dfSS to remind them that they didn’t want to end up unemployed, now did they?, they all simultaneously came up with and agreed on exciting new initiative that would do the job nicely. Yes, they decided that in future students taking Art & Design at A level would all be required to write a 1000+ word ‘continuous prose’ essay on something or other to do with Art & Design.

Now this does of course have one major advantage in terms of making the Art & Design teacher’s job a little bit easier. Because when a GCSE student asks “Please Miss, should I do A level Art & Design or take a BTEC in Art & Design next year?“, the answer suddenly becomes very simple and straight forward. If you get a A* to C grade in GCSE English then you should do A level, but if you don’t you would be better off doing a BTEC. No two-tier system here then…

However, All Change Please! thinks it only fair that this sort of approach is adopted in other subjects at the same time, and is most grateful to Tony Wheeler for coming up with the following set of proposals in which students will be required to:

  • dance their Science A level practical exam
  • mime a passage from Shakespeare in English Literature
  • make a conceptual installation representing WW1 reparations as part of A level History
  • improvise on a musical theme at Maths A level in order to resolve Pi to 6 decimal points

And that marks will be deducted for the inappropriate use of Fonts, excessive Underlining, poor choices of Colour, absence of letter Kerning and lack of use of Information Technology. Just as Spelling and Grammar are known by the acronym SPAG, this will of course also doubtless be referred to by its initial letters.

All Change Please! knows what it likes, and it’s certainly not a 1000+word essay…

Image credit: Wikimedia

The Joy of Trending

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Just in case you didn’t know already, All Change Please!‘s alter-ego curates two Flipboard magazines created especially for students of the Creative Arts, Design and Technology.  All Change Please! recently managed to catch up with itself and asked what they were all about.

First of all, can you explain what a Flipboard magazine is?
Flipboard is an app that works on a variety of tablets and smart phones, although the magazines can be viewed on any PC with a web browser connection. The app brings together images and articles from the web selected by the curator into what are known as magazines. The ‘pages’ can then be easily ‘flipped’ through. An image and the first few paragraphs of an article are shown, which gives just enough of an idea to know whether it’s something one wants to look at in more detail before opening the original source web page. The results look stunning on screen, and it’s a pleasure to use. And of course, it’s all completely free. There are a few advertising pages within the articles themselves, but they are not obtrusive or offensive. As you’d expect it is available worldwide, anytime, anyplace.

How easy is it to create a magazine?
Very simple. So easy that even a teacher could do it, let alone a student! Of course it would be great if teachers of Art, Craft Design & Technology started to create their own personalised magazines for their students that directly supported their courses. Students could then flip the pages they found particularly interesting into their own magazines. Even better, similar to the way students use sketch books as a reference journal to collect together things that interest them, they could create their own magazines and share them with each other. And perhaps their teachers could then flip the best finds to create a bespoke departmental Flipboard magazine.

So what’s special about AC:DC and All Things Design?
There are a lot of amazing images and fascinating articles on the web about everything to do with Art, Craft, Design and Technology. Some are very superficial and others are inappropriate for some reason, so the problem is finding the ones that are just right for students of the subject. The content of these two magazines is carefully chosen to be exactly right for students between the ages of about 14 to 18. AC:DC  Art, Craft Design & Communication is aimed more broadly at all areas of Art & Design, while All Things Design is more for those doing 3D Product design based courses. But a lot of the material is suitable for both. As well as delivering inspiring images and ideas, the diversity of the material will considerably widen students’ awareness of all the wide variety of creative arts and design activities that are currently going on, as well as the historical and cultural dimensions of Art and Design. It’s intended to be playful, surprising and ask questions and arouse curiosity. Both magazines are updated on a near daily basis, so there’s always something new to discover.

I’ve heard a rumour that you’ve recently been trending?
Yes, that’s correct, though only in a modest sort of way. Until a couple of weeks ago about 250 people had viewed All Things Design at least once. Then someone who had over 600 followers tweeted it, and the numbers suddenly started to shoot up. After 3 days it had become 500 readers, but then suddenly on the 4th day it became 2000 and by the 7th day it was 5000. It then continued to grow but at a slower rate, but a week later it had climbed to over 7000. It’s very exciting to watch something trending online and to see the numbers escalate so quickly – one of the new, must-have experiences of the 21st Century! Especially as from some of the comments it was clear that these readers were coming in from all over the world. But it is still important to keep it in perspective, given that there are some 100 million global users of Flipboard!

It’s been interesting to try and analyse exactly what happened from the limited data Flipboard makes available. But it seems that it was just one link that proved to be particularly popular:

Olympic Skier Wears Mariachi-Inspired Race Suit for Mexico

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So it was probably the combination of sport and fashion – a lethal cocktail of two extremely popular searches – that drove it onwards and upwards. Meanwhile as it started ‘trending’ a clever little algorithm buried deep on the Flipboard servers went into action and featured it on its ‘Flipboard Picks’ pages, so that then extended its exposure even further.

Surely every child should be learning about how things go viral on the internet. Or to put it another way, perhaps every child should be explaining to their teachers how things go viral on the internet?

And finally, why is there a photo of a large inflatable plastic duck on the cover of All Things Design?
I’m glad you asked me that! When I was an Industrial Design student we got fed up being asked to design high-end consumer goods that didn’t solve any problems that really needed solving. Someone suggested we might as well be designing yellow plastic ducks, so that’s what we did – we created a series of renderings, technical drawings and production models for what we called Yellow Plastic Duck Technology. If you look at some of my previous publications there’s often a photo somewhere of a yellow plastic duck – so it’s become somewhat of a personal signature!

So what are you waiting for? Click on the covers below to check the magazines out, and then make sure you subscribe! And if you are a teacher, pass the links on to your pupils before they pass them on to you!

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And finally… here’s some helpful advice to help you set up and maintain your on-line life more effectively – you are keeping up now, aren’t you?

The Gove Who Went Into The Old

1S-3430584863_fee28879df_bCheckpoint Govie. You are now entering the Private Sector.

It’s beginning to seem that Weird Uncle Govie has a bit of a thing about wars. Following his claims about the purpose of the First World War, he has now drawn reference to the Cold War and his grand plan to knock down the Berlin Wall, i.e., the divide between communist-led state and the capitalist-led private schools. When entering a school, Govie says, one should not be able to tell if it is state or privately funded. Until, that is, one counts the number of children in each classroom. And observes the state of repair of the school buildings, the lack of playing fields and the absence of boarding facilities, cadet force, a good rowing club, pupils wearing straw hats, etc.

2S-P1080383Anyone here happen to know which school this is?

Govie has, of course, completely misunderstood the situation. It’s not that we want our state schools to produce the sort of Gove-alike arrogant, self-opinionated, over-confident children that many private schools do – it’s that we want private schools to produce normal, well-adjusted children that will fit in with the rest of society and not assume they are automatically going to end up running the country.

And then there has been his own private war against Ofsted, in which in order to try and disguise his political agenda he rather foolishly suggested that a refreshing change of leadership every three or so years was a very good thing, which immediately resulted in teachers up and down the country frantically searching the internet to discover exactly how much longer than three years Gove had already been in post.

Not to mention his ‘tough on discipline’ announcement in which he described what happens in most schools anyway as if it didn’t, giving the impression that he alone, heroically and triumphantly, has sorted everything out for the thankful nation. What a pity he didn’t go on to talk about being tough on the causes of in-discipline which might have included the out-dated 19th century curriculum he expects children of the 21st century to follow.

All Change Please! would like to suggest that in reality Govie is not actually particularly interested in education. If he did, perhaps he might try to understand it a bit better.  What he’s really trying to do is to destroy the Teachers’ Unions, Thatcheresque-style. Meanwhile the bottom line is that he, like the rest of the Conservative Party, have votes to win at the next election, which is far from a foregone conclusion. So his real focus, with the help of the media, is essentially in sending out a message to the electorate that in this time of great uncertainly about our future prosperity, with the Conservatives we can safely return to the nostalgic world of the golden age of the 1950s where children not only knew what their ps and qs were, but minded them too*, and the country was a simpler, more certain and predictable place to live (even though of course in reality it wasn’t – but these days most people are too young to know that). It’s a strange world in which a return to the way things once were is now presented as being something new and innovative.

And finally, here’s the latest discovery from the priceless Michael ‘I’d rather you hadn’t seen this’ Gove archive:

* ‘Minding your Ps and Qs’. That’s an interesting phrase. I wonder where it originates from?

Top image credit: Flickr: mauro_ventura

Middle image credit: Tristram Shepard


200 posts that failed to change the world

5679642883_24a2e905e0_zJust checked. Yes, pretty much still the same as always.

When it was young, all All Change Please! wanted to do was to change the world. And as it grew into middle age it still wanted to change the world, although it had decided that changing education would probably be enough to be getting on with for now. And now, as it eases into retirement and becomes ever closer to being no more than a long forgotten series of ones and zeros drifting blissfully unaware in The Cloud, it still has vague hopes that someone, somewhere is still reading its rants and raves.

For today, believe it or not, All Change Please! is 200 posts old, and as it deftly removes its invisible cloak of modesty it can reveal that over the years its ramblings have had over 20,000 views, though how many viewers actually stopped to read and think is, of course, another matter.

Quickly picking up All Change Please!‘s well thumbed copy of ‘1001 Blog Posts You Must Write Before You Die‘ in an attempt to come up with a good way of making its celebratory post a bit longer, it glances through the introductory advice, which by a remarkable coincidence says that the great secret to getting more readers is to give a post a title with a number at the start. So observing the number of successful books that now seem to begin with a number, All Change Please! waits with keen anticipation in the hope that ‘200 posts that failed to change the world‘ will shortly start trending on Twitter.

At the same time though, All Change Please! can’t help lamenting the passing of the real book title, and is pondering setting up a ‘Real Book Title’ campaign. Just imagine, for example, if the marketing departments of the publishers of some of our greatest authors had managed to convince them otherwise we might now be reading:

  • 1,984 Things That Might Happen In The Future by George Orwell
  • 501 Expectations by Charles Dickens
  • 250 Grapes by John Steinbeck
  • 42 by Douglas Adams
  • 15th March by George Elliot
  • 007 by Ian Fleming

And here are a couple that obviously did get through:

  • 1001 (Arabian) Nights
  • 101 Dalmations by Dodie Smith

Meanwhile, as a result, perhaps not unexpectedly given All Change Please!’s years in educational publishing, it can proudly reveal that it has come up with yet another great idea for a book that is never likely to see the light of day. It’s cleverly and provocatively entitled ‘1001 Things You Don’t Need To Learn At School Anymore‘, and essentially it contains 1001 facts that can now easily be looked up on the internet when you actually need to know them. So for example, it’s no longer necessary for everyone to remember the names of the planets and the order in which they orbit the sun (just search for: names, planets, order).

But the real value of the book lies in something we really should be addressing, which is identifying the things children do now actually need to learn at school, which in the above example might be that the Earth is one of a number of planets that orbit the sun. The internet has created a new hierarchy of knowledge and understanding that ought to be changing everything we teach and learn in schools.

Or, to take another example, it’s not important for children to know that Michael Gove is the Secretary of State for Education. But what is essential is that they, and their parents, know that the irrelevant curriculum and out-dated assessment methods he is imposing are seriously damaging their futures.

But for now, All Change Please! just plans to keep taking its pills…

Projekt 365_200

Rest assured that All Change Please! will resume normal service later in the week when it will comment wisely on Gove’s latest series of pronouncements.