Another dot in the blogosphere?

I did not mean to eavesdrop on a group of undergraduates last week. These were students that many still call “digital natives”.

I had my noise-cancelling headphones on, but I could still hear them even though they were a few tables away from me. They were discussing their professor and the work he gave them.

They seemed confused by their assignment. I quickly took note of some of the things they said:

  • What is “multimedia”?
  • I have no idea what that means!
  • I do not know what to do!
  • I do not know where to start!

So much for being “digital natives”.

Those statements might add to the argument against blindly believing that kids magically know how to use the technology they grow up with.

If you are a teacher, making assumptions that students are somehow natively digital says more about you than about them. You might not be:

  • listening to and observing them as closely as you should
  • aware of the critiques and the research about such “natives”
  • aware how this belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
  • staying relevant with current trends and tools

Watch and learn more about your students. Empathise with their circumstances and challenges. Strive to be a model of why and how to learn.

Video source

While there were many points of interest in the second part of Crash Course’s history of media literacy, one thing that stuck out for me was this statement:

If Martin Luther and Guttenberg worried that we didn’t have enough media around, in the 20th century, we start to worry if people have too much.

It was the narrator’s way of saying how times have changed. Back then the worry was that not enough people had enough information. Now the worry seems to an information explosion.

This part of the series seems to set up the rest of the series, i.e., the rationales for why we need media literacy and all its variants.

I had an e-xhausting week conducting e-valuations of future faculty.

The work week ended with a lovely “25 years of edtech” review by Martin Weller that focused on e-learning. A paragraph that struck me was:

By 1999 elearning was knocking on the door, if not already part of, the mainstream. In a typical academic fashion we argued what we meant by it, and it was obligatory for one person at every conference to say in a rather self-satisfied manner “there’s already an e in learning”.

The people that might still point out there there is still no need for the first “e” in e-learning are missing the point. Some of e-learning then and now focused on teaching (and poor teaching at that).

The “e” in e-learning should not be merely enhancing teaching or e-doing without actually learning. E-learning is not for keeping students bus-ee.

The “e” in e-learning should focus on learning — it should be enabling and empowering students to learn optimally, meaningfully, authentically, and perhaps in ways they might not have imagined before.

To design this type of e-learning, the approaches should be just-for-mE and just-in-timE. The foci are the learners and an inductive mode of learning.

Anyone who needs to process scientific, medical, or social science research that involve correlations needs to watch the video below.

Video source

As the video highlights, the number of drownings can be correlated to the release of Nicholas Cage movies, but this does not mean one causes the other.

Journalists who like reporting whether certain foods are good or bad for you need this video.

People who read what these uninformed journalists write need to watch this video.

Anyone who might have heard someone else declare, “Correlation is not causation!” needs to watch this video.

Watch this video!

An article by the the New York Times revealed How the Parkland Students Got So Good at Social Media.

Thankfully the NYT did not mention “digital native”. There is nothing natively digital or digitally native about kids who grow up with technology. They are merely adopting what is available and seems useful.

I am tempted to call such learners digital savvy-ges. The digital savvy-ges described in the article:

  • Switched to more relevant tools or platforms
  • Learnt how to use them on the run
  • Toned and hone their voices
  • Learnt to be responsible with their tools and voices

We can all be digital savvy-ges if we follow this shortlist.

An issue that some Singaporeans keep revisiting is whether schools should start later so that children get enough sleep.

Just over a week ago, I reflected on how adults maintain the status quo (early starts) by focusing on what is NOT best for kids.

Yesterday, another adult wrote to a local rag to add more kerosene to the flame.

The writer’s rationale is that waking very early is good for kids because it instills discipline.

He is missing the point. The issue is not about discipline because there are many other ways to develop it — chores, exercise, self and time management strategies, for example.

The issue is that kids need to get enough sleep. Now this could mean that kids need to sleep early enough the night before and wake up late enough the day of school.

The current realities are that some kids here get so much homework and/or are subject to so much “enrichment” that they do not sleep early enough. If they live far away from school or take arranged transport, they cannot sleep in to compensate.

Insisting that discipline is a result of kids waking up early when their bodies are not sufficiently rested is 1) deflecting the issue, and 2) pretends to be about kids. Instead of using this flimsy excuse, proponents of this should read the research and impact of insufficient sleep and look into other ways of developing discipline.

The short answer: Get the person to explain and defend the basics.

The long answer is a short story.

I had dinner with a group of people some weeks back and one person decided to bring up bitcoin and blockchain. In one breath, the person said he could not explain bitcoin, but advised everyone to not invest in it. In another, he confidently claimed that blockchain was the future and to pursue that.

My question was: How can a person laud blockchain but not know that bitcoin is based on it? How can you not be able to explain something but tell others to take your word not to invest in it?

I did not actually ask the question because I recognise bait. That person’s statements were a barefaced attempt to be challenged so that he could spout more ignorant rhetoric.

Video source

If you need a good explanation on blockchain, watch the YouTube video above. An expert explains the concept at five different levels.

A charlatan can neither explain basic concepts nor defend it with current information and research.

The same approach should also be applied to vendors claiming to provide schools and educational institutions with edtech panaceas. Can they explain what their product is based on using first principles? Can they do this with different stakeholders? What research have they conducted or do they cite?

The end of my long answer is the same of the short answer: Get the person to explain and defend the basics.

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