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Posts Tagged ‘readiness

Would’ve preferred something more funky by macbiff, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  macbiff 

 
The shortage of N95 masks during the current haze reminded me about the difference between being prepared vs being ready.

CeL purchased these masks several months before the haze not because we projected how bad the haze would be. We were reacting to a disease outbreak in the office at that time.

Back then we bought the masks in bulk at low cost. There was no real demand for them.

Fast forward to today and we now each have a mask and a backup. The pharmacies island-wide have no stock of these items.

We are not patting ourselves on the back for being ready. We did not anticipate the haze being so bad and the demand for the masks being so high.

But we were prepared because we reacted to something else and because we took preventive action just in case. It is paying off now.

I see similarities in planning with and for educational technology. There is only so much you can predict because this field has rapidly moving targets. But if you sense the environment closely you might just pick tools and strategies that last long or have transferable value.

All in One Basket by ronWLS, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic License  by  ronWLS 

 
Any forward-thinking organization will want to know if it is future-ready. If it does, I think it is putting its eggs in the wrong basket.

To be ready for the future is to imply that you have thought of every contingency and are ready for whatever comes. The only thing certain about the future is that it is uncertain. You cannot possibly be completely ready.

But you can be prepared.

To be prepared is to not necessarily have all the ideal infrastructure, policies, or people in place. Instead, what you have is ready to change, adapt, and adopt.

Readiness is a theoretical construct. Preparedness is a practical mindset.

The Super Bowl is something not many folks in our part of the world will be familiar with or care about.

Suffice to say that the ads that air during this event are probably the only ones people actually anticipate.

One thing that was not anticipated was a 30-minute blackout during the game.

According to this CNET article, Oreo took advantage of the blackout by running this Twitter-based ad which “caught fire, and… had been retweeted 13,734 times” at the writing of the article.

I think that this is a lesson on being ready to spring into action in order to turn a problem into an opportunity.

That is something I try to do. That is also something I am preparing CeL to do.

Google’s Eric Schmidt remarked that people were not ready for a technological revolution [1] and [2]. It’s not difficult to see why. Even though I see examples every day, my trip to the USA offered more examples with regards to the airline industry.

We’ve been able to check in and print out our boarding passes from home for a while now. The rationale for doing this is that it helps the airlines save of time and money.

But even though I had checked in and printed my boarding pass, I had a bag to check in. Instead of just taking my bag and checking my credientials, the airline representative took away the boarding passes I had prepared and gave me the usual ones even though none of the details had changed.

Then when I clearing Immgrations at San Francisco airport, an immigration officer insisted that I had to show him my e-ticket for my departure. Just as I got my iPhone out, he berated me for not having a printout because he claimed that retrieving an electronic version took too long. This from a person who was getting digital copies of my digits and taking a digital photo of my face while processing my new e-passport.

In half the time it might have taken you to read the paragraph above, I could have had shown PDF copies of my e-ticket on my iPhone or iPad. I could have lectured him on this after he lectured me on the merits of a hardcopy, but I wanted to be on my way and did not relish being “interviewed” later.

So when will the general public or even just key members of our public be more accepting and competent with what will become such basic technology? I’m not holding my breath.

But I will continue playing peek-a-boo with them and see how many play in return…

[source, MOE source, click on the above for larger archived copy]

Dr Cheah Horn Mun, the director of ETD of the MOE, responded to a contributor to the Straits Time forum who asked, “What’s the update on digital learning?”

Horn Mun was a colleague of mine in NIE before taking the post in the MOE. I wonder if he (or one of his people) will read my blog entry as I have a critique on his response. I have nothing against him, of course, as he is a really nice guy and I think I know where he is coming from. I realize that he has to represent an organization, so his personal views may be clouded. It is the content of his reply that I critique, not the person.

I am glad that he informed the public about financial assistance schemes for bridging the technology divide [see text blocked in green]. I am also glad that he mentioned the cyberwellness efforts in schools. We in NIE have introduced this concept in our ICT course a semester ago and made it part of a graded assignment so that new teachers are aware of the concept.

In trying to provide a succinct reply, it was not possible for Horn Mun to list all the schools and all their ICT and “digital learning” efforts. But I was left wondering why the usual suspects keep appearing. Are there no other schools worthy of mention?

Why don’t stakeholders (parents in particular) know what is happening in schools with regards to ICT integration? Why do they have to wait for limited and selective coverage by the press? Every school should be proudly publishing its efforts in its Web 1.0 school site, or better still, taking advantage of Web 2.0 to regularly update the school’s blog, Twitter or Facebook account.

Perhaps most schools have little to say. Why? In my opinion, they are not, as the director of ETD wrote [see text blocked in orange], “well resourced with the computing infrastructure and digital resources to harness ICT for learning”. It might appear so administratively on paper and on VIP visits to schools, but the reality is that most schools do not yet have early 21st century tools in place because of industrial age hangovers.

Yes, a few schools have 1:1 computing programmes and campus wide wireless networks. The majority do not. A few more schools have IWBs and “special” rooms. But these tools and venues are of little use (and little used) if pedagogy does not change with the times.

How do I know? I have friends and former trainees who are school principals, heads of departments or teachers. I follow teachers on Twitter, Facebook or their blogs. As a supervisor, consultant and teacher educator, I visit schools regularly and make it a point to ask about their ICT infrastructure and actually see the rooms. I do school-based research and collect uncensored information from teachers about their schools. Finally, I was a teacher before I was a teacher educator, so I know how most teachers think and react.

Teachers will complain that the infrastructure is not in place. They are right but it will never be in place because technology changes so rapidly. Instead, they could use what the students already have or think of ways to work with businesses and the community to get what they need.

Teachers complain of a lack of time despite efforts to reduce curriculum time for more innovative instruction. The integration of ICT does make lesson planning and implementation more complex, but it does not have to be overly elaborate or time-consuming.

One thing I model for my teacher trainees is how to facilitate ICT embedded activities that are only 5-15 minutes long. Think about how you might conduct a 5-minute brainstorming session using a collaboratively generated online mindmap. Think about 10-minute learning stations that students visit and where they search for information, solve mini problems (that are part of a larger problem) and reflect on them… all using iPod Touches and a wireless router. Think about a concept that no one, including the teacher, is sure about and everyone uses their iPhones or netbooks to instantly get information from the Web and then have a class discussion to clarify that concept.

What schools should invest in are technologies that will support pedagogies and strategies that last. Pedagogies that build upon experiential learning, problem-based learning, case-based learning or game-based learning. Digital learning then becomes learning that is enabled, not just enhanced, by critical, powerful and meaningful forms of technology.

So what exactly do schools need? Wireless Internet access anywhere in school and mobile computing devices like iPod Touches, variants of the Nintendo DS, Sony PSPs, smartphones or netbooks. Do schools have these in place? Most do not. Do some students already have some of these kid-friendly devices? Yes, they do and half the need is potentially fulfilled. Are most schools taking advantage of this? No, they are not. They need to put technology in the hands and minds of the learners. After all, we are in their service and preparing them for their futures, not our past.

So it there digital learning in schools? From my point of view as a teacher educator, a researcher and a concerned parent, I’d say certainly not enough.


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