Category Archives: Personal

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TEDxYouth@Sydney videos up on the ted.com site!

I was delighted to notice that the lovely folk at TED have found a handful of the TEDxYouth@Sydney videos that we shot and linked to them from the ted.com site. It’s awesome to see our fantastic young speakers and performers up there, in the midst of all the other great TEDx content. Congratulations guys!

Check them out at http://tedxtalks.ted.com/search/?search=TEDxYouth%40Sydney

Welcome to WordPress

So, regular readers (yes, I jest) may notice some changes around the place. Over the past week I have been (somewhat tediously) moving my various personal blogs from TypePad into WordPress. This has been a long time coming as I have always been a TypePad fan. In the end, the need to create Exemplar content in WordPress just seemed to make it the obvious thing to do. At the same time, it seemed a good opportunity to integrate the various sparse blogs I have been maintaining into one reasonably healthy one.

Here then, in one easy-to-read volume (and categorised for your clicking pleasure) are…

  • brettrolfe.com (my personal stuff)
  • digitalstrategist.com (my professional stuff)
  • The Adventures of a Mild Mannered Ad Man in the Land of MTeach, Primary (a journal of my teaching degree)
  • various academic posts over the years, including papers I have written and chapters of the thesis-that-never-was
  • and the beginnings of ‘Evidence Based Dad’, a blog I really did think would have been wonderful, had I found the time

Thanks for reading. Stick around for more stuff to come!

The Difficulty with being a Generalist Dilettante

A while back, it suddenly occurred to me that it's been quite some time since I gave my CV a good thorough update. Not that I need to do so for any reason (relax guys, promise…), but it has becoming an increasingly confusing thing to try and do over the years. In some ways I envy people who have stayed with one role, one employer, or just one career – surely it makes one's existence so much easier to articulate.

For my own amusement more than anything, I sat down to try and write the most succinct resume I could. I'm sure I have forgotten things…

 

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY

Andersen Consulting (Accenture)

  • Consultant (Developer, Team Leader)
  • Senior Consultant (Business Analyst)

Harlequin Talent

  • Director (Partner)

APL Digital

  • Developer
  • Producer
  • Senior Producer
  • Executive Producer
  • Director of Special Projects

Beyond Interactive

  • Director of Strategy

Digital Strategist

  • Director (Owner)

OneDigital

  • Executive Producer
  • Director of Strategy
  • Creative Director

Naked Communications

  • Communications Director
  • Digital Evangelist
  • Brand Strategy Director
  • Director of Technology and Innovation

 

EDUCATION

  • Bachelor of Science (Computer Science & Psychology) – University of NSW
  • Master of Communication (Public Communication) – UTS
  • PhD (New Media & Cultural Studies) – University of NSW (discontinued)
  • Master of Teaching (Primary) – University of Sydney (in progress)

 

TEACHING

  • Tutor, UTS – Public Communications
  • Course Convenor, Center for Continuing Education – Email Marketing
  • Course Convenor, AdSchool – Digital Creative

 

OTHER ACTIVITIES

  • TEDxYouth@ Sydney Conference, Executive Producer
  • Primary Teachers' Network, Founding Committee Member

 

ACADEMIC PUBLICATIONS

  • 'Building an Electronic Repertoire of Contention', Social Movement Studies
  • 'On the Production of Creative Subjectivity', Proceedings of the 2nd international conference on Digital Interactive Media in Entertainment and Arts (DIMEA)
  • 'Digital Technologies of Connection :Modelling Individual and Societal Impact', Proceedings of the 2004 Annual Conference of The Australian Sociological Association (TASA)

 

I look forward to discovering what it looks like in another ten years!

Naked Director of Technology & Innovation (getting back to my /roots)

Well, it's been an awfully long time since I've posted here hasn't it?! And that's probably because I've been concentrating on other things – mostly brand strategy, studying teaching, or this little guy. And all that has been just swell. However, I'd be lying if I didn't admit there is still a geek firmly buried in my psyche who likes the opportunity to roll up his sleeves and get stuck into emerging tech.

It's that inner geek that was particularly excited to start transitioning into a new role here at Naked, as Director of Technology and Innovation. While we are still working through exactly what that looks like, I'm thrilled to be able to focus more energy on bringing innovation, emerging technology, and world-class geek-partners to Naked – and to letting the world know about the great work we are doing.

Watch this space!

Excuse the Ominous Silence

So it has been a while since my last post. A couple of reasons for this. Firstly, two of my subjects this session has resulted in me spending my Fridays variously hula hooping, learning a Hair routine, teaching people hockey, choreographing a piece of interpretive dance, grazing my knee playing Stuck in the Mud, and other distractions. While Dance and PE are vital parts of the curriculum I will readily admit that they haven't given me too much to discurse pretentiously on.

The second reason is that between uni, work and trying to organise TEDxYouth@Sydney, I haven't had much time – oddly enough! TEDxYouth is an amazing learning experience, a great introduction to getting my hands dirty in the education sector, as well as a crash course in not-for-profit event wrangling. But hopefully more on that later.

For the next few weeks I do have a little more time, as my full-time colleagues are on 'professional experience' at various schools (which I won't get to do until next year). In lieu of this I have to explore a little project of my own – and mine is about independent 'alternative/progressive' schools.

On the one hand I often wonder why there is not a wider spread of alternative schooling offers available. On the other hand, my very limited contact with independent schools seems to suggest that they are often created in ways that don't lend themself to rapid spreading. Schools seem to be the creation of small groups of parents and/or teachers, aiming to service specific communities.

To test this thought, and to give myself some more exposure to independent schools, I will be visiting a handful and speaking to people there about their 'origin narrative'. How did the school come about? Who was instrumental in creating it? What was their vision? What will happen if that goal is one day achieved?

I will be interested to see how much commonality and variance there is in the few schools I have the time to see. Currently I am definitely planning to speak to people at Reddam House, MLC Burwood, and Kinma. I am also considering getting in touch with a few others, time permitting.

Stupid Illiterate People

Yesterday I had the opportunity to deliver a workshop for a group of job-seekers being assisted with re-entry into the workforce. I had a little background on the group, and knew in particular that one of the participants was a middle aged man who was to all intents and purposes illiterate. This was an interesting challenge – there would be someone in the room who would assist when required, but I was conscious not to rely on written material as much as I usually do.

Point of the story is that despite believing myself to be a pretty open minded, non-judgmental type, I still found myself surprised when this guy turned out to be one of the more astute, thoughtful and collaborative participants in the workshop. Regardless of my best efforts, I has just assumed that illiterate would mean uneducated and less intelligent.

My saving grace was that after recent Study 1 lectures, I was very aware of the idea that my expectations could actually affect the behaviour of the participants. The feedback I had from one of the organisers was surprise at the level of engagement and performance (particularly from the gentleman with literacy issues). It was a pleasant surprise that the simple act of expecting exactly the level of participation I would expect from any other group apparently had such a significant effect.

A Little Bit of Background

Parts of this blog chronicles my exciting adventures as a part-time (or ‘reduced load’ as they seem to want to call it) student in the University of Sydney’s Master of Teaching program, within the primary schooling stream, aka USyd MTeach (Primary). The intention is primarily for it to encourage my to write critically about my readings and experiences – if anyone actually reads it, well that’s a nice bonus (and a big ‘hello’ to you!). You can spot entries related to my endeavours as they have all be categorised as ‘Master of Teaching’.

It has been interesting watching people’s reactions when I tell them I am studying to be a primary school teacher. In a way it is frustrating, as I sometimes would like to explain the big picture, and get their thoughts on things – but often I feel a little self-indulgent giving them the whole back story. But, this bing my blog, I thought I would include it in case it is of any interest. And the best way to do that seemed to be to include the short piece I had to write as part of the application process, explaining why I wanted to do the course, and what I felt I would bring to it…

My own schooling began when I was lucky enough to attend an unusual primary school in an idyllic valley in northern New South Wales. Orama Public was so small that each classroom was shared by several years, and the local community was actively involved with school activities. My parents were part of the thriving counter-culture movement in the area and saw themselves as a key part of my education, meaning that I learnt as much at home as I did at school.

This environment planted the seeds of a lifelong passion for learning that I continue to treasure today. I quickly discovered the great joy of facilitating learning and discovery in others. From high school peer support through to postgraduate tutoring and running professional development courses, I have always sought out opportunities to nurture the same passion for learning in others that I enjoy.

My personal affection for learning also manifests itself as an insatiable and infectious curiosity for the world. I am saddened by the number of adults who have decided that the world no longer holds any magic or mystery for them. All around us are opportunities for discovery, imagination and exploration. Children know this, and a vital part of education must be nurturing this curiosity in the hope that they will retain it, along with all the creativity, empathy and inspiration that it brings.

For many years it has been my ambition to provide young people today with some of the inspiration and support that I was lucky enough to receive. To that end, I would like to one day start a school. Many parents today struggle to find options that they feel relate to their ideas about education and the world. They see traditional schooling as built on a set of conventions driven by the needs of an outdated idea of society. More progressive alternatives such as Steiner and Montessori also seem increasingly out of touch with a rapidly changing world.

I believe that there is an opportunity to create a contemporary approach to early schooling that responds more adequately to today’s society; an approach that acknowledges recent advances in child psychology, and is grounded in more socially progressive attitudes toward gender, race, ecology, culture and economy. Such an approach may even draw on thinking from emerging fields such as new media theory and embedded cognition that are beginning to shape our understanding of the way we learn.

While the road to launching such a school may be long and full of unexpected discoveries, a thorough grounding in the theory and practice of teaching and education is a critical foundation. I believe the University of Sydney teaching course will help add theoretical rigour to my thinking, and extend my exposure to ideas in the field. It will also help me gain a stronger practical understanding of the real challenges of such a project, and provide the opportunity to build connections with others in the field that will be invaluable moving forward.

Fight the Power! A Letter to Sydney City Councilors

It's been an awfully long time since I have actually bothered to write to any form of governing body (must be the cynic in me. But thought I'd better pull my finger out when we found out about some unfortunate changes to plans to reforest the Orphan School Creek woodland behind our house. Such a pity to see such progressive environmental approaches to urban planning being derailed.

So it went something like this…

Dear (Councilors),

I am writing regarding current discussion of THE REDEVELOPMENT OF THE ORPHAN SCHOOL CREEK PUBLIC SPACE.

My wife and I are relatively new residents, having moved to Annandale last year. WE LIVE IN ONE OF THE HOUSES THAT BACKS DIRECTLY ONTO WHAT WAS THE DENSELY WOODED AREA OF THAT SPACE. Once of the biggest things that attracted us to the property was the way that the house had been architected to make use of the location through an extensive glass face onto the park. It provided both a sense of living within a natural habitat and a degree of privacy that made it a rare find in the inner city.

We were understandably disappointed when work began, and the forest behind our property was cut down. We did, however, console ourselves that with patience our wonderful natural vista would be returned – the superb native reforestation of the earlier stages of the Orphan School Creek project left us optimistic as to the result on our side of the creekbed.

You can imagine our concern, then, when we learned that changes to the plan were to result in dramatically choices to reforest the area. RATHER THAN AN OUTLOOK OF RARE NATURAL BEAUTY, WE WILL HAVE LOW-GROWTH SPECIES THAT LEAVE US COMPLETELY EXPOSED TO A CHILDREN'S PLAYGROUND, AN AD HOC SWITCH-BACK SKATE RAMP, AND THE MANY HUNDREDS OF BALCONIES THAT MAKE UP THE CITY QUARTER, directly across the park from us.

In short, the proposed changes to the reforestation will completely invalidate the innovative design of our wonderful new home within its intended natural habitat, and we believe WILL MOST LIKELY RESULT IN US MOVING AGAIN, LEAVING A PROPERTY SIGNIFICANTLY REDUCED IN AESTHETIC AND FINANCIAL VALUE.

Regards,
Brett Rolfe – 230 Hereford Street