Another dot in the blogosphere?

At around this time last year, I reflected on how I integrate Padlet into my classes, modules, or workshops. I summarise my Padlet strategies in a Padlet note below.

Padlet strategies.

The academic semester at one university I work with has resumed and I met my first classes last week.

As I reset each Padlet for reuse with a new group, I was reminded of how I used the same tool in five different ways in the very first session:

  1. As an icebreaker (self-introductions)
  2. For data collection (perceptions on learning)
  3. For Shared notes/Open note-taking (guided video-viewing)
  4. To enable think-pair-share (combining personal experience with concepts in readings)
  5. As an exit ticket (reflecting on takeaways)

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding. There may be just one pudding base, but it is up to the person preparing the pudding to make things different, appealing, and healthy.

…looks something like this.

Video source

This is how I might challenge learners new to connectivism to uncover facets of it.

I wonder if Siemens and Downes would object.

It must have been a slow news day for a newspaper to report that a diseased Angsana tree will be cut down tomorrow.

I am all for preservation if it makes sense, but not if it is based on unreasonable nostalgia.

Here is what should makes sense: The Angsana

  • was introduced to Singapore more than 40 years ago
  • is a non-native species
  • has branches that are prone to breaking off

The tree in question is outside a school that moved to its premises in 2010. The school co-opted the tree as a feature in its city campus.

However, the tree now has a hollow and diseased trunk. The authorities tried incorporating safety cables, but potential danger the tree presents is not worth the risk. This us why it will be cut down.

To its credit, the school took the opportunity to organise an event yesterday for students to commemorate the tree before it becomes a stump.

Nostalgia is like grammar. It makes the past perfect and the present tense.

Taking a step back, it should be obvious that logic overruled nostalgia in the case of the Angsana.

If teachers in any school take a step back, might they let nostalgia rule over logic, research, or change? I am talking about the nostalgia that overlooks the harm and romanticises the good; everything new is bad while all things old are good.

Saying that a thing or a practice “was always just there” or “always done that way” is not good reason enough to keep it. The rats and roaches hiding in your school walls were always there and they were normally ignored.

Now I am not referring to the traditional practices that might still be relevant or even powerful. I am referring to the pesky practices that you cannot see or do not question because they are insidious. Things like extrinsic rewards, mindless homework, subject silos, the test above all else, the irrational fear of technology, etc.

If those cease to be relevant, are ineffective, or are otherwise harmful, why keep them in the name of nostalgia?

I have no doubt that someone will watch this video by Nintendo and label it an example of the maker movement.

Video source

It is not. Needing to assemble something does not make the process of making.

Following instructions to arrive at a model answer or artefact is using a recipe. There was no creative customising or critical hacking. There was no self-direction or agency. There was little, if any, problem-seeking, planning, or problem-solving.

I was one of many owners affected by the iPhone slowdown due to drained batteries. I wondered how to get a new battery with the minimum of fuss.

I could have visited a reputable phone repair shop and the battery alone would cost about SGD65. The price was accurate as of Nov 2017 and I know this because I replaced my son’s iPhone battery then.

However, Apple now offers a SGD38 battery replacement. I took advantage of this official but cheaper option and I share my experience below.

made an appointment online using my iCloud credentials. The batteries are limited so the appointments are critical to avoid disappointment. Once online, I got to select the date, time, and battery service provider. Note:

  • As there was a high demand for replacement batteries, I was only able to fix an appointment a week later.
  • The appointment calendar only spans a week. If there are no slots left that week, you will have to try the next day for another day’s slots to open up.
  • It is probably best to select a battery service provider closest to your home or work place. This will cut down on travel time and cost.

After I booked the appointment online, I received an onscreen and email confirmation. Both contained the Case ID number.

iPhone battery service reservation.

To prepare my phone for servicing, I had to:

  1. Deactivate Find My iPhone.
  2. Sign out of iCloud services completely.
  3. Reset the iPhone completely (Settings -> General -> Reset All Settings).
  4. Remove any and all non-out-of-the-box Apple add-ons, e.g., phone case.

Addendum: Remove the phone’s SIM card before you hand it over. I did not have to do this as the phone I serviced was a spare one and did not have its own SIM card.

I brought the iPhone to the service provider at the appointment time. My provider had a self-service queue system which required me to type in the last six digits of my Case ID number.

I had a morning appointment on a week day, so there were very few people about. I waited for about a minute and was called to the counter.

The service representative did a diagnosis of the phone to confirm the almost dead battery. I did this previously with the help of this app (the iPhone’s battery had dropped to 17% of its original charging capacity).

Battery capacity.

There was the usual form filling on an iPad, and in the case of my provider, the unusual signing of the form three times — one for personal information, one for the service, and one for terms and conditions.

The diagnosis and administrative work took just under 15 minutes.

The official battery replacement time was two hours. I left my contact number to be notified when the phone was ready for collection.

I received email notification that my phone was ready for collection about 1h 15min after I left the service centre. Strangely enough, the SMS notification arrived almost 15 minutes after the email.

I returned to the service centre, collected the phone, and made payment of SGD38 with my credit card. There was no extra service fee for my out-of-warranty iPhone because of Apple’s provision.

According to the terms and conditions, I have 90 days to see if the new battery works properly. So far so good.

One final recommendation: Do not make a fuss with a service representative if you do not do your homework. One older gent at the service centre raised his voice. He was at another counter before me and still there after I left. No amount of shouting and complaining is going to make repair faster.

The process getting my iPhone battery replaced was quite painless because I did my homework: Make an appointment online and prepare the phone. I also said good day and thank you.

I tweet-shared this opinion piece yesterday because I thought it was timely and well-written for lay folk.

I agree with almost all of it. Almost.

The authors’ example of 21st century edtech pseudoscience was DVDs on the Mozart Effect and Baby Einstein. I get the valid arguments against the DVDs — their benefits were for older learners, temporary, or scientifically proven to be ineffective. But how are DVDs “21st century”? What person in current “early childhood” knows what a DVD is?

They also make this statement:

Raising a successful child in today’s world does not require special technology, toys or other products because we know that the brain is a social organ thriving on basic human communication and daily social experiences – conversations, stories, gestures, demonstrations, walks, hide-and-seek, doing things together, holding the lift door for a neighbour, helping granny with her grocery bag, exchanging words of encouragement.

I agree that there is no need for special technology. But this does not mean NO technology. The everyday and mundane technology include their parents’ phones and eventually their own. Kids need to be taught how and when use them meaningfully, powerfully, and responsibly. We must embrace such tools rather than reject them under a blanket statement.

There was a bruh-ha-ha in April last year when the Ministry of Education (MOE), Singapore, announced the merger of some junior colleges (JCs).

Just when the dust settled, the press huffed and puffed to brew up a storm in a teacup. The latter article reported negative responses to the move to combine the names of the combined JCs.

Apparently people on social media — the painted villain in every other press article — thought that the naming was pointless, a waste of time, or just lame.

All this fuss was over the renaming of JCs like Anderson and Serangoon to Anderson Serangoon. Perhaps a scholar in the family planning unit offered the idea of hyphenated surnames. To sound original, a scholar from the MOE said they should leave out the hyphens.

There were high-fives all round and the two scholars are now on the fast track to be deputy director, or if they keep generating gems, junior ministers.

That is what played in my head. Now back to the news.

So might this be a case of making news where none exist? Perhaps.

I am glad that some people, particularly the alumni of the affected JCs, are upset. It means that they care. The labels mean something because of the shared history and experiences they had when they were students or teachers there.

Those words carry value and mean something to those people. I will have to remember this when I remind people that pedagogical and edtech terms that seem alike are different. Terms like the flipped classroom and flipped learning; choice and agency; “self-directed” learning and actual self-directed learning; schooling and education.

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