Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
I shudder when folks refer to me as an expert in something.
I would agree that I am an expert only if I am thought of as someone who has probably made the most mistakes in a particular area and lived to tell a tale. If I have some measure of success it is because I have failed many enough times to learn what not to do.
But I dislike the expert moniker most of the time.
To me it means that I have somehow arrived. This can create complacency. It can imply that I do not need to improve or learn any more. No one who does knowledge work can afford to do that.
I am not an expert and I refuse to be one.
A recent RSS feed featured a quotation supposedly by Niels Bohr about what it means to be an expert. I decided to verify the quote and found some others.
The quote in a Facebook posting was:
These Facebook postings tend to be the least trustworthy as there rarely are references.
Instead, my search led to:
This one was more commonly cited, but it was probably less quote-worthy than the first.
Another quote I discovered on expertise was one by Andrew McMahon who said:
An expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less, until eventually he knows everything about nothing.
No one seems to have made a quote graphic out of that one even though it creates more dissonance than Bohr’s. Perhaps people like believing that experts are reliable and know more than they do…
If Google Glass takes off, we might need PSAs like these.
Hmm, come to think of it, there should be PSAs for pervasive things like Twitter and Facebook upon signup. Like “How not to be a TWITter” or “Don’t judge a Facebook by its cover”.
There actually are a few online already. But they are not as funny or punny as the one above.
Of late, I have been thinking about the phrase “task force”.
There are pros and cons of being involved in task forces.
One big pro is that I get to meet new people. I like meeting new people and figuring out how they work. From them I can learn what to do and what NOT to do.
The biggest disadvantage of being part of these groups is that they are a distraction from my core tasks. But I remind myself that the pro compensates for the con.
“Task force” is also quite a funny term if you are as mentally twisted as I am.
I wonder who came up with “task force”. Is this a task forced on you? Are you “forcing” tasks on others as a result of shaping a plan or policy?
Ideally, you want to join a cause you believe in. Pragmatically, you are get appointed by virtue of position, responsibility, or circumstance. In any case, it is an opportunity to effect change for the better.
I found this video thanks to my RSS feed and a short blog entry by @mcleod. A young man shares his thoughts on education in the video.
He contrasted how schooling was like a fountain that reused water while education could be more like a stream where the water was fresh,and ever-changing.
I would add that fountains are pretty to look at but artificial. Stream may flow in a less controlled environment but they are more natural. We also condition our children to appreciate fountains instead of streams.
One reason I maintain this blog is to help me look back and see how or if my thoughts and actions have changed over time.
Recently I looked back at photos in archives I had on my phone and iPad. Once I had put them online I sifted through them to remove what I did not need anymore.
It was then that I rediscovered a concept that I had sketched for one of our apps, mAPT, as well as screenshots of beta versions of the app.
There was a year between beta testing and app store approval and distribution. There were months of design and development prior to that.
I still consider the app a proof-of-concept as there are still more features I would like to add and usage policies that we must overcome. But it is gratifying to see how far we have travelled.
It is a reminder to me that change does not have to be driven top-down. If you see a need (or can create a new need), you can fill it whether or not the system is ready for the change.
On Monday, I attended a seminar where we were encouraged to use pencils and paper.
I noticed that the pencils were labelled “suitable for computer”. I wondered what that meant.
How is a pencil “suitable” for a computer? Perhaps the makers meant “backup for” or ” distant precursor of”.
Perhaps they meant that you could still draw something more quickly and freely with a pencil and paper than on electronic versions of the same.
Or was this an artefact from the past trying to stay relevant by superficially labelling itself “suitable”?
I used that same pencil to outline what you could learn with a pencil, what you can learn alone and with people as mediated by computers, and how much more there is to learn.
That is one way a pencil is suitable for computers: To point out the broader possibilities if you operate outside the pencil box.
Last week I read a Channel News Asia article, More primary schools may see students using smartphones to learn.
Grandstanding claims aside, a quotation from a school leader made me do a double take. A school principal reportedly said:
Some of the cases we have encountered in school include students visiting the wrong website as well as you know, using it beyond what is required, you know, to access YouTube clips and things like that. And what the school is doing to mitigate all these ill-effects is we have a multi-pronged approach.
You can understand what the principal meant. On one hand, there are the intended and academic purposes for mobile phones and, on the other, the student-preferred or discovered uses of the same.
Administrators, policy-makers, parents, and teachers would prefer that students stick to the plan. But smartphones are not called a disruptive technology for nothing. They disrupt the notions of who has expertise, what information is valid, and how/when/where/why people learn.
But looking at the quotation more objectively, what is wrong with “using it beyond what is required”?
What is required might perhaps be to look up a concept or to collect data in class when directed by the teacher.
What goes beyond might be the learners watching on their own YouTube videos that illustrate the concept more clearly or entertainingly, or collecting data by way of audio or video interviews.
What the principal was probably referring to was the non-productive use of mobile phones like watching pointless YouTube clips or possibly sending hateful messages.
That the smartphones are going to be used productively and unproductively in terms of academic learning should be expected. What we should guard against is not the so-called unproductive use but the unproductive mindset that non-academic use is a waste of time.
If learners went beyond what is required, we should celebrate and take advantage of the extra teaching moments. We should not assume that students learn only when we teach.
Quite the contrary. They often learn despite our efforts to teach and because we do not teach. It is up to us to blend formal and informal learning opportunities and to leverage on the behaviours they prefer to indulge in.
Sir Ken Robinson’s most recent TED Talk was one of those talks that you could watch ten times and get ten different takeaways each time.
When I watched it the first time, I liked SKR’s analogy that teaching is like dieting.
The student in the video below had a less articulate (but more honest) critique about teaching not leading to learning.
His peers would probably agree that he “schooled” his teacher about the importance of meaningful learning over prepackaged, delivery-oriented teaching.
Whether teachers like it or not, we need more students who think like him. If we teach better, then they may not act like him.
I could probably watch this TED Talk of Rita Pierson and find a different inspiration each time.
I liked the part where she mentioned twice in succession that, despite less than ideal circumstances, teachers teach anyway.
She could have meant teaching anyway (whatever the circumstances), any way (whatever worked), or both. We need teachers that do both.