Another dot in the blogosphere?

I take a leaf out of the chapter of “if you see something, say something” to point out a fallacy perpetuated by a local McDonald’s.

Misrepresented and outdated food pyramid at a local McDonalds.

I spotted this food pyramid at the eatery. The red arrows point to a misrepresentation — the two servings of vegetables has a broader base but a smaller number than the three servings of the smaller base of proteins above it.

Another possible misrepresentation is the yellow box at the apex of the food pyramid. While other authorities might include these in their food pyramids, our Health Promotion Board does not represent it as one of the four food groups.

Healthy Plate replaced the food pyramid in 2014.

But all this is moot when you consider how the healthy plate replaced the food pyramid in 2014. Apparently we are too dense to interpret a pyramid. Perhaps we have too much junk in our systems and greedily consume misrepresentations like the one at McDonald’s.

The fast food joint is not the best place to maintain a healthy diet. It is certainly not a place to learn about a food pyramid. This is my point: We do not have to look far and wide for authentic examples to use for the modelling and teaching of critical thinking.

Do leading questions (like the one below) already provide answers?

Leading question.

If so, what is the purpose of such questions? Why not make strong statements instead?

Why ask questions when you do not need to? Why not ask better questions?

Some journalists ask leading questions, but does that mean that you have to? Since you have more bandwidth and seek to generate discussion, why not stop asking leading questions?

I have a one-word response to this Chronicle article — amen!

I also have a longer response.

I wish there was “teaching online” when I started teaching 30 years ago. Back then I was a military instructor and then a classroom teacher. Trainers and teachers were gauged largely by how much they knew, how well they explained, and how likeable they were.

I barely knew a thing about pedagogy or educational psychology. It was only after I left and pursued higher degrees that I realised that I had to become an educator.

My studies gave me labels for what I might have practiced blindly before, and highlighted gaps in what I knew. But it was only when I was a distance and online educator while I pursued a Masters in Educational Technology and then a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology that I learnt to put everything into practice.

So, yes, online teaching throws you deeper than into the deep end. But it also forces you to rethink what you know and do. It can make you a better teacher. Better still, it might transform you into an educator as you learn how to be a learner first.

It is practically an oxymoron to describe most “IT departments” as “empathetic”.

If you are part of a large corporation or civil service, you will likely be required to change your password regularly using outdated and non-sensical rules. But I can live with that.

What I cannot stand is a system that makes me change my password, but does not apply the change across the entire system. In one educational institute I work with, the password change gives me access to a portal, but not to my email.

In theory, I should still be able to receive and send email from my account with my previous password. In practice, I can do neither because the email accepts neither the old or new password.

When this first happened to me last semester, I asked to speak with actual people in the IT department, I only got canned email responses that did not ask me what the issue was. The IT folks hid behind email, give answers devoid of context, and closed the case without my acknowledgment.

Apparently, it was far more important to look like they had done something — enforced policy, sent auto-responses, recorded cases — than to have shown a modicum of empathy.

I work with more than one institution. Earlier this semester, I reflected on how an IT group removed some instructors’ LMS accounts and data without letting the affected users know.

This same group also has a policy of tagging student names with their schools or departments. This means they get sorted by those tags by default. But when I need to access their online assignments and enter grades, I need the students sorted by their registered surnames. An “A” name can appear at the end of a list because it is prefixed with a “Z” department.

To get around this, I copy and paste all my students appended names to a spreadsheet and manually remove the prefixes. Then I sort them based on what makes sense to an educator instead of a database manager.

All that said, I do not really blame the foot soldiers in IT departments. They have a lot to deal with and many work thanklessly. They also might not know any other way of doing things. So I blame their managers or leaders for not teaching them better.

Do I forgive them because they know not what they do? No, I rant so that they might hear, listen, and empathise.

It is easy to watch this video and walk away assuming that taking handwritten notes is better than typing them.


Video source

If you do, you probably did not watch the video all the way though or pay attention to what matters in note-taking.

The important message of research on note-taking it this: It’s not WHAT you use, it’s HOW you use it.

It does not matter if you prefer to take notes by handwriting or by typing. It is how you attempt to quickly process what you see and hear before you record it. It is about your ability to analyse and summarise.

…comes great consideration.

That is my take on the oft-quoted and misused “With great power comes great responsibility.”


Video source

Very few people are granted great power. But just about everyone enjoys great convenience, e.g., public libraries, thanks to tax payer money and/or generous benefactors.

The problem is how poorly behaved we can sometimes be. Some people do not care for how others suffer as a result of their inconsiderate behaviours. Behaviours like talking in quiet spaces, reserving public spaces with personal belongings, and even performing personal grooming tasks.

Perhaps I have seen my unfair share of such behaviours because I use these informal works spaces for actual work. Perhaps we really are a third world people living in a first world.

I listened to Trevor Noah’s interview of Malala Yousafzai [Apple podcast] when she appeared on his talk show. I was taken by Malala’s observation that we often hear about refugees but not hear from them.

This nuanced distinction separated a dry news report from a compelling story. It focused less on numbers or statistics and more on human impact.
 

 
I often rail against policy makers making poorly-informed decisions, LMS being designed for administration or IT implementation instead of education, and tests measuring short-term gains over long-term impact. All have the about-from distinction.

Policy makers hear about some innovation, but they might not learn about its history or context. LMS providers tell administrators and IT folks about the latest features and cost-savings. Test companies tout the validity and reliability of their questions.

How many hear from their implementers, users, or learners? How many bother to listen? Take this latest Twitter thread, for example.

Bit by bit the stakeholders who are ignored take action. In this case, an LMS company has lost one more customer. It might have heard about the unhappiness from its users, but I doubt that it actually heard from them.

Hearing about is easy — the LMS company can collect the data it has collected about its users. It knows what features are used or not, and if they are used, to what extent.

But hearing from instructors and students is difficult. It means actually conducting interviews and focus groups. It means having lunch with informal but influential leaders. It means taking them seriously.

Hearing from these stakeholders also means learning from them and then making changes that make design and pedagogical sense, not just infrastructural and financial cents.

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