Another dot in the blogosphere?

Reflecting on #Bett2015 (Part 2)

Posted on: January 27, 2015

Like most people who attended the Bett 2015 conference in the UK, I looked forward to Sir Ken Robinson’s (SKR) talk on Friday, 23 Jan. 

Even though he rehashed much of what he said before about unleashing the creativity of kids, I was not disappointed. His charisma and humour are hard to beat. 

Using the #bettarena hashtag, I ‘live’ tweeted what I thought were interesting points. Here is something I drafted during the talk and forgot to tweet until later.

SKR made a withering comment on social media with the photo. It seemed to say: You can this behaviour social? However, he seemed to do this in the overall context that we cannot always predict the way people will use technology. 

I am reminded a quote by Marshall McLuhan: We shape our tools and then our tools shape us. 

That is how technology and creative endeavors are intertwined. If we allow educators and learners to explore possibilities, we will find problems and we might create new problems, but we will also solve them. 

During the Q and A session, SKR was asked about how the affordances of things like Google Glass affected privacy. The example the facilitator brought up was what might happen at men’s urinals. SKR replied that such a privacy issue pre-dated Glass.

Men could compare and contrast with or without Glass. The problem was not new nor was it due to the introduction of technology. Most lay folk, teachers, and school leaders need to realize that and I was glad that SKR was the mouthpiece for this message.

However, I was rather disappointed that SKR chose to support Prensky’s “digital natives” (DN) even though it has been largely debunked by thought leaders in education almost four years ago [example]. I am guessing SKR did so because Prensky’s concept was aligned to his own ideas about the innate potential of kids.

The DN model is unnecessarily divisive (them and us), defeatist (e.g., it is difficult to learn how to use technology because I am an immigrant), and innaccurate (e.g., adults might be more native to Facebook than kids are).

I throw my support behind David White’s digital resident-visitor continuum. It is far more relevant than Prensky’s dichotomy. But a continuum is harder to understand than an either-or dichotomy.

Good communicators understand that simple ideas float and hook fast. Then they reel their audiences in with little struggle because there is little cognitive dissonance.

It is tempting to fish like this and I tried that in my own talk by sharing the simplest wrongs about flipping. But it did not sit quite right with me in the end because I like creating lots of dissonance and questions.

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