Yesterday I started sharing how one might assess the unGoogleable.
Today I share another idea. Since it is the weekend, it is time for something light yet serious. Seriously cool and for serious consideration.
It is not about what you claim you can do. It is not just how well you perform on tests.
It is about what you can actually do. It is about how you can combine knowledge and skills that schools still offer in separate silos and make your own sense of them.
It is about making your own connections and putting your own take on things.
It is about pursuing your passions and working on what you are good at so that you become better. It is about sharing what is special and creative about you to the world around you.
It is about leveraging on current and emerging technologies to tell your parents, teachers, and employers what you are learning and what you can do.
It is about showing the unGoogleable and letting others decide what your wares are worth.
The moderator at this week’s #asiaED slow chat posted this question:
I had to respond with:
I had to because MLEs are not confined to the classroom.
Kids and adults alike learn while they are in the loo, travelling on public transport, or waiting in a queue. They study or even have remedial tuition at McDonald’s and Starbucks.
One way to rethink the design of classrooms is to make them look more like home or cafes.
In 2009, my former workplace, the National Institute of Education, Singapore, took the initiative to convert all the tutorial rooms on the ground floor to “collaborative classrooms”. There were almost 70 of such rooms and several other special rooms on other floors.
I shared a few photos of these places with this message: MLEs can be designed to look like where the learners are already at. If learners are already comfortable in cafes and their living rooms, simulate that.
I also tried to warn that MLEs should not just be about transforming the physical space.
A redesigned classroom can be most impressive to visitors or administrators. But what good is that if teachers teach the same way and students do not learn any differently (e.g., not at all, only in isolation, sans Internet)?
The previous director of NIE provided some anecdotal evidence at a talk about two years ago. As he walked around campus, he could peek through the windows of our collaborative classrooms. He wondered out loud why tutors and professors still seemed to be standing in front. (Background: We had started a professional development programme on using such rooms effectively, but 1) it took time to reach almost 400 instructors), and 2) only the usual suspects and the already converted tended to show up.)
It is easy to paint walls, buy new furniture, and change layouts. These also cost a fair bit of money.
It is more difficult to change teacher mindsets and behaviour. But I rarely see such MLE change initiatives include rigorous professional development. The cost of not doing this is even higher, not because it is expensive but because you spend money to make changes to the outside (the classrooms) without tending to the insides (instructor beliefs and mindsets).
When there is superficial or no pedagogical change, the cost is high because it does little to benefit learners. This can happen when vendors sell only furniture and classroom layouts without considering professional development or student inputs.
Kids only seem to have “short attention spans” when adults give them work that they do not want to do. Such work is boring or not meaningful.
These are probably the same adults who observe the same kids being able to focus on video games or stay engaged in YouTube videos they are watching or creating. Except now the kids are “addicted”.
It is the adults who need to take a critical look at themselves. It does not take long, but it can be painful to admit and change.
That is why I am keeping this entry short. For the adult who cannot pay attention or chooses not to.
Plus Cathy Davidson has already written more articulately what I also know:
we measure our kids’ deficits by our glowing and often inflated idea of how much better “we” (our entire generation, of course) were. This is not really a discussion about the biology of attention; it is about the sociology of change.
It is not a long read and well worth your attention.
Today I share some tweets that begin a story on whether academic papers are read and I end the story with questions on teaching practice.
Last week I shared this STonline article.
It received quite a lot of attention judging from the Twitter conversations I had with people I had never met before.
One short conversation with one academic focused on an important aspect that the article brought up. If university faculty are appraised in ways that do not promote more open sharing or public discourse, then little will change.
For example, if more appraisal points are not awarded for getting grants that require data and publications to be more openly shared [example], faculty will maintain the status quo.
Several others focused on people not reading the articles they cite or not reading deeply enough.
It led me to tweet about the need to read pragmatically.
Given the disproportionately large volume of readings compared to the time for academic writing, it is pragmatic for academics to read selectively.
For the layperson and other academics reading outside their specializations, selective reading becomes the default method because they do not have the same depth of knowledge.
I used my Twitter dashboard statistics to see if these academics walked the talk. Big assumption: People pause to read and click on what they are interested in. Since this was about academic papers not being read and since the people who responded (Twitter engagements) were academics, I am making an assumption that most were academics.
As of Mon, 13 Apr, 4pm Singapore time, my tweet had received 1,546 casual views and 99 engagements.
Almost a third of the engagements (32) were clicks on the screenshot, presumably to read the snippet more carefully. Only 11% (9 clicks) of the engagements were to open the actual article.
There is no guarantee that those who opened the article actually read it or read it all the way through. Whether they read it is partly a function of their persistence and whether the article was behind a paywall. If they read the article in its entirety, there is no guarantee that they understood it or got what was intended.
This is not an attack on academics. As a former academic, I understand what the stresses are and I also know how fragile egos can be.
This is a statement about how teachers handle readings. Teachers might assign readings as homework or use readings to flip their classrooms. Such efforts are likely to suffer from the same low returns and similar problems as the example I described above.
Instead of providing closed answers, I ask open questions.
- Are the readings you want your learners to consume available to them unconditionally?
- Why do you want your learners to read something before class? Do they understand why they need to read before class?
- What scaffolds are you providing or what prior knowledge have you activated prior to the reading?
- Must they read everything or is it enough that they read just enough?
- What provisions have you made for those that cannot do the readings, do not wish to read, or do not benefit optimally from readings?
- What assumptions are you making when requiring only readings?
On an almost daily basis, I get notified by Twitter that something I wrote or a tweet I shared is part of someone else’s curated e-paper. For example, I get paper.li tweets like “The [name] Daily is out! Stories via @ashley…”.
These tweets become spammy when others listed with me retweet or favourite the tweet and I get notified repeatedly. The notifications are easy enough to ignore, but some of the malpractices of digital curation is not.
An owner of something like a paper.li space defines content by including Twitter handles and hashtags, amongst other parameters. The tool harvests information daily and spits out pretty decent-looking papers based on algorithms.
The original authors or creators of content are assured that they can opt out or stand to gain increased traffic.
Let me address the first issue short and sweet: How about first being asked if we would like to opt in? Even if I share content openly, what happened to “Please may I use…” and “Thank you for sharing…”?
On to the next issue. Does algorithmically-determined curation really benefit the original creator with more traffic or credit? I think not, particularly if the 1) collection is not focused in terms of topic and audience, and 2) attribution goes to someone else.
I share and create mostly educational technology ideas. But I have seen my tweets and content shared under categories like art, sports, and science in the right sorts of education-flavoured papers. My content has also been included in totally unrelated papers.
In an attention economy, a “curated” paper is likely to only attract specific target audiences with specific needs. If my tweets and blog entries are categorized by basic algorithms that do not factor context and nuance, then they will not be read.
I share my own resources by amplifying them on Twitter or might be the first to tweet something. However, auto curation tools may not be smart enough to detect that. I have seen my content attributed to someone else in platforms like paper.li.
Auto curating platforms like paper.li also remove comments in favour of links to content. This can lead to a misrepresentation of who I am or what I stand for. For example, I might tweet a resource with a comment about it being a negative example. However, paper.li will share the headline and URL while removing my comment and thus the context in which it was shared.
I ask those that think they are curating to learn how to curate with Diigo or with scoop.it. For example, here is what I curate on flipped learning.
Digital curation, like museum curation, takes work. You must want to tell a story or provide a custom set of resources for those who request it. For example, when people in my PLN ask for resources, I would create bit.ly bundles for them (unfortunately these are being “sunsetted” soon).
If you wish to call yourself a digital curator, I ask that you also create your own content and share it openly. Imagine if no one created any; what would there be to curate? I also warn that auto curation breeds laziness, especially if you do not manage by manually taking control from time to time or monitoring for accuracy and quality.
I invested the last week in revisiting reflections on flipped learning (flipping). Here is why I did it.
Here are the links in case you missed them.
- Sunday: Flipping is a means to ends (not an end in itself)
- Monday: Making right the first wrong of flipping (not merely doing the same thing differently)
- Tuesday: Making right the second wrong of flipping (not reinventing bad homework)
- Wednesday: Making right the third wrong of flipping (not extending curriculum time at the expense of the learner’s time)
- Thursday: Revisiting why we should flip who creates content
- Friday: Revisiting why we should flip who teaches
- Saturday: Rising above and flipping for change
I had initially planned on six reflections, but I decided to rise above. Yesterday I reflected on the differences between flipped learning and flipping a classroom as well as being a flipping change agent.