Another dot in the blogosphere?

More and more modern workers do not need to point out that they are “good with computers”.

For that matter, they also need to be good with the tiny but ubiquitous and powerful computers in their pockets — mobile phones.

“Good” does not just mean “able to use” or “competent”. Good means savvy, fluent, and adaptable. This is a growing expectation.

Given the importance of being “good with computers”, are teachers at this state and able to model and teach kids how to be better with computers?

It might seem strange to remind teachers about the “e” in e-portfolios. Some resort to scanning or otherwise digitising analogue artefacts and putting them online on behalf of their learners.

Doing this denies students the learning opportunities and processes that revolve around creating digital artefacts and knowing how best to share them online.

Put the digital back in e-portfolios!

The headlines highlighted in this tweet are why we need:

  • science and experts.
  • to be information and media literate.
  • to follow entities outside our bubbles.

Forbes and NASA have experts that are good at what they do. Both provided commentary on a shared observation. Only one was actually informative — NASA.

If we were information and media literate — collectively digitally literate — we would be skeptical of Forbes’ report and know how to investigate the issue. We would then find NASA’s version of the event and we would be able to evaluate what we find.

Operating outside our bubbles allows us to see what others see. Operate in the Forbes or entertainment bubble and we see only mystery or ignorance. Operate in the scientific bubble and we see more factual information.

That said, I follow You Had One Job on Twitter because it is funny. It is also provocative in that it helps me make critical connections. So while being digitally literate and sourcing expertise are important, it helps to first operate outside one’s bubble.

I was pleasantly surprised on Wednesday to receive an email invitation to get an early bird plan with Singapore’s latest telco.

I had all but forgotten about MyRepublic’s bid to be a telco. Another entity, TPG, even beat it to be Singapore’s fourth telco. I left my contact information to be part of a MyRepublic trial about two years ago and that seed just bore “promo codes” fruit.

At the moment, the new telco has just two plans at bracket extremes:

MyRepublic's two initial plans.

I presume that when they launch, the blanks in between will be filled with plans Dos, Tres, Cuatro, etc.

The cheap Uno plan caught my eye and raised an eyebrow. What was “boundless data”? Apparently this is throttled data access for low-bandwidth tasks after I exceed my quota. MyRepublic promises that I will still be able to “surf the web, check email, use Google Maps, chat, make WhatsApp calls — even stream music”. I will have to see if that is actually true.

Before I signed up, I read the online information and FAQs. What I could not find information on was:

  • Did it charge for “extras” like caller ID?
  • Would I be able to port an existing mobile number over?
  • How long would the process of signing up and getting the SIM in my phone take exactly?

The only way to get answers was to use a promo code to get to the sign up pages.

After I selected a plan, the next page was a confirmation of my selection plus options for data add-ons.

One of MyRepublic's sign up pages.

I then provided personal and contact information. I had to upload scans of my NRIC to confirm my identify.

Finally I was given the option to port a post-paid mobile number over or to select a new one. I also found out at this stage that caller ID was included.

I completed the online sign-up last night and have scheduled a delivery in about 2.5 weeks. It is a shame that MyRepublic does not have SIM stores or kiosks like it has for its broadband service. If it did, I might sign up and get a SIM in 2.5 hours instead of weeks.

That said, the confirmation process was automated and quick. It took all of a minute after I submitted the online form to receive an email confirmation.

Observation: What incumbent telcos charge for as frills, e.g., caller ID, are given as defaults by the new telco. MyRepublic also seems to recognise that always-on data is the norm, not the exception. I also look forward to using an app to manage the mobile plan.

Note: I have not been approached or paid by MyRepublic to write this. I plan on trying the new service out for a low cost of $8 and will use it largely for gaming and messaging data. The real test of the service is yet to come!

The Harvard Business Review (HBR) declared that Learning is a Learned Behavior. It is not wrong, but it is not completely right either.

We do need to learn how to learn. This is because we might forget how we learnt before, are taught in school to “learn” a certain way, and we need to adapt to new circumstances.

But the HBR makes a vague declaration that “learners are made, not born” and prefaces that phrase with a “growing body of research”. That research seems focused on adult learning and casually ignores child cognitive development studies. If you dive into the latter, you might learn that we are born as learning machines and we get more sophisticated as we grow.

The author has the right to focus on adult learning, but should make that clear at the onset. Learning is not only learnt, it is also innate.

Ignoring the latter capacity in children and adults is to offer an incomplete and inaccurate picture. This, in turn, leads to an interventionist bias, i.e., what must I do to you because you cannot help yourself?

If we realise that the capacity to learn is also innate, we take an observer’s perspective, i.e., how you do already learn and what can we do to help you do more?

Therein lies a “secret”: Educators know that they cannot think of themselves only as planners of lessons and vessels of content. They must also be designers of learning environments and opportunities.

This excellent YouTube series on media literacy ends with the episode below.

Video source

The episode focuses on what lies ahead. As it does so, it builds on what was stable, remains stable now, and will be stable in the future.

The future of being media literate is being skeptical. This does not mean that we cannot enjoy watch we hear, read, or watch.

It does mean that we do not take the easy way out. Being skeptical means being aware of our own bias and identifying the bias in media. It means establishing context and being critical “going in” instead of just reacting when “going out”.

The op piece in this tweet was an impassioned call to step up our efforts in inclusive schooling and education.

I take no issue with that call because we can only be better people for it.

I did notice, however, that you could substitute every instance of “inclusive education” or “special needs education” with almost any contentious issue in schooling — say technology integration — and the op piece would still make sense. Take this segment, for example:

… we still have a long way to go in embracing inclusion technology fully.

One of the key factors for inclusive technology integration in education is adaptation. The present landscape of special needs technology integration in education in Singapore is lacking in a customisable curriculum to meet the diverse needs of children with special needs.

I did not change the last two words (special needs) in my selection because every child is special in their own way. Technology can help express their uniqueness and latent abilities.

Reading the whole article more critically, you might discover that it says everything and nothing at the same time. Everything because it covers the issues broadly; nothing because it merely skims the surface. This is why we can play the word substitution game.

Viewed more broadly, the write-up might sound like a politician’s or policymaker’s script for a speech. It is a call to action, but it is so generic that is becomes impotent.

Word substitution is my way of determine the depth of thought of the written or spoken word. If one issue in schooling or education cannot be distinguished from another with the help of word substitution, its rallying call is but a whisper.

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