Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘book

As I start another teaching semester, I draw inspiration from someone whose blog I added to my RSS feed a long time ago.

In a recent post, Lisa Lane shared how she helped her students keep the cost of higher education down by offering a free textbook.

She lamented how policies stood in the way of progressive change. She could not tap an Open Educational Resources (OER) fund as compensation because the grant was for those adopting OERs, not for those creating them.

Furthermore, the grants were for those who could prove cost-savings over the previous semester. Lane relied on the free model the previous semester, so she could not justify how free was better than free.

Such policies punish progressive faculty who move ahead of policies written by those who do not teach or have forgotten how to.

But there is a silver lining. Lane’s students valued the gifts of free books that they were treated gingerly. Some were good enough to be used another semester. She inadvertently developed a method to sustain the good will.

I take inspiration from the fact that Lane shares her trials, tribulations, and triumphs. I know full well how moving ahead quickly means taking difficult paths that few initially follow. But I take comfort in that more eventually will.

Here is an anecdote to add to our story to be a Smart Nation. It reveals how far we are from the starting line.

Early last week, I returned a library book via the book drop kiosk on my way to work in the morning. It beeped and the “Returned” indicator flashed to confirm the transaction.

About an hour later, I received email that the book was still due. Did I imagine returning the book or did the kiosk not register my return?

The next day, I received email that confirmed that I had returned the book the previous day. Apparently, it takes a day to register transactions and send notifications. Even telegrams worked faster!
 

 
What is the point of replacing inefficient human processes with equally inefficient but automated processes? If we are going to claim to be a Smart Nation, we need to identify the stupid processes that prevent us from starting on that journey.

I say we start by getting rid of the people who cannot empathise with the people they are supposed to be helping. Here is a tip: If someone is going to fire them, do it in person. It might take a while for an automated response to get to them.

I have not had to buy or borrow a dead-tree book for a long time.

I have been given courtesy copies of books I contributed to. Late last year I received a hardcover copy of a textbook for the Masters course I facilitate because no one asked for the e-version.

About a week ago, I discovered Naked Statistics at a cafe. I thought I found the e-book at our national library, but discovered that it was only a summary. Thankfully the book, in hardcover no less, was available at my local library.

E-book summary of Naked Statistics.

The last time I borrowed an actual library book was almost ten years ago; I only borrow e-books if I need to.

I was aware that I could use an app to borrow actual books without joining the queue at a self-checkout kiosk. So I downloaded the app, logged in to my library account, and scanned the barcode to borrow the book. Eager to devour the book, I read the first two chapters before leaving the library.

NLB mobile app in Apple App Store.

I had to pass through a series of scanners on my way out of the library. The first one beeped like I had kidnapped a member of the royal family. There seemed to be a delayed response between borrowing the book via the app and registering that it was actually borrowed.

The app has a low rating in the app store. None of the reviews that I read mentioned the lag between borrowing and registering. Most mentioned app lagginess and legacy issues.

I asked a librarian if I should be concerned about alarms going off as I made my way through more scanners. She brushed off the issue by saying that the scanners were too sensitive. Did I hurt their feelings by not borrowing enough paper-based books?

Two more questions. Might the lagginess might lie in how the app communicates with a central database? Could the legacy issue be old mindsets on how libraries operate?

Yesterday I reflected on how a field trip was a lost opportunity for modelling and teaching critical thinking.

Today I reflect on how I used a holiday book report to teach my son about metacognition.

In simple terms, metacognition is thinking about thinking. When a person steps back from a task or problem to consider alternatives, the strategising is a form of metacognition. When learners rise above a lesson and ask themselves what they actually learnt, that reflection is another form of metacognition.
 

 
When my son was given a book report to complete during the June school vacation, he started reading his book without considering what the instructions and his options were. This is what many students do: When told to do something, the dutiful take the straight path without question.

I asked him if he had been taught how to analyse questions or if he had been taught study skills. He replied that he had not.

I am giving the benefit of the doubt to his teachers since kids often do not see the point of such things when they are told. This is often because they do not get to practice those skills in a meaningful context.

My son’s book report was an excellent context and it was very well designed. He and his classmates could choose from a list of books instead of being forced to read just one book. They were also given several options to submit their report.

The options were varied, e.g., draw a comic to illustrate a key chapter, craft an alternative ending for the book, write a poem as a response, etc. In all options, students had to rationalise and justify their choices.

I was impressed with the design of the task because the teacher had incorporated learner choice into the report. I highlight choice and not learning “style” because the latter is a myth.
 

 
My son was about a quarter way through his book before he considered his options. When he decided on one, I asked him why he chose it and he struggled to articulate his reasons. In doing so, he had missed at least two opportunities to exercise metacognition.

When he did not read the instructions and options first, he failed to plan for his journey. That is like plunging into an actual journey without planning, research, money, schedules, or destinations.

The book report options were varied enough so that he could take advantage of his strengths or address weaknesses. He selected an option because it appealed to him. While that seems reasonable on the surface, powerful learning is about knowing when to leverage on what one is good at or face up to what one struggles with.
 

 
Our discussion on metacognition will not be the only one we have. This form of learning is a long process of self-discovery and awareness, and I will be there as a guide.

I reflected on the interaction I had with my son about cognition and metacognition.

Metacognition is arguably more important than cognition, particularly of the lower level sort, e.g., factual recall. It is easy to Google for information or find a solution in YouTube. It is not as easy, but certainly more important, to be able to decide if what you find is valid and reliable.

Facts will come and go. Students who face tests and exams are smart enough to adapt and rely on GIGO — garbage in, garbage out — as a strategy.

However, this form of schooling and assessments conditions them into that sort of pragmatic but lazy thinking. The more important types of thinking lie in metacognition. They need to be able to analyse, evaluate, reflect, and strategise. They need to focus on the long tail, not just the short game.

Warning: If you are an old-school academic or have aspirations to be one, or if you have an irrational love for books, read no further. Your feelings may get hurt or your ego might take a hit.

If you do not appreciate irony or do not have a modicum of humour, do not scroll down. Your frown will not turn upside down.

I tweeted this last month. I elaborated on the tweet.

The book (as in printed on dead trees) arrived by mail (as in snail).

Book cover.

Do I appreciate getting a copy of the book three years after I left the organisation? Definitely.

Do I also appreciate the irony that the topic was plastered on a dead medium and took so long to produce? Even more so.

Had I completely forgotten about it? Of course. Three years might be on par for writing, editing, and publishing a book. It is also long enough for some content to be out of date.

The book might be titled “Teacher Education in the 21st Century”, but it is cocooned in a decidedly 15th century process.

The need to publish in this form and manner is also a university relic because people with doctorates living in ivory towers are still outdone by people with eyes for opportunity and tongues of silver.

The book has a hardcover that makes a hollow sound when you knock on it. It is the same hollow sound your audience hears when your message is empty because it does not quite connect with the times.

Lest I be accused of biting the hand that feeds me, I remind my curious readers that I bit off the leash in 2014. It does not take me three years to share even older information. I can do it in three minutes. Or less.

Tags:

Notice from Springer.

I did not expect this email notification. It was from a publisher of a book I contributed to before I left NIE in 2014.

I tweeted this yesterday.

If memory serves me right, I submitted my share in 2013. Someone I wrote with retired and left the institute in 2014. I presume someone else had to take over what we wrote if there were edits.

If you look carefully at the screen capture, you might note the title of the book: Teacher Education in the 21st Century.

I was shaking my head (SMH in the tweet) because the publishing process took so long that whatever I wrote is probably irrelevant.

I cannot even remember what I wrote for the book. After all, it was more than three years ago.
 

 
The delicious irony made my toes laugh.

I can share a tweet instantly or ruminate on my blog drafts over a day or a week before publishing my thoughts publicly. The speed and ownership of publishing are critical to “the 21st century”.

However, sharing what we did in teacher education took years to write, vet, and publish. By the time ink was smeared on dead trees, the information was already dead or dying.

Being literate and fluent in the 21st century also means that what you share or publish does not have to be perfect. It is about being comfortable with discomfort. It is about being able to manage flux and make sense of streams of consciousness.

Books do have a place, but not on the shelf labelled “Timely Information”. They might be suitable for the shelf “Timeless Dogma”. We need more of the former in the 21st century because this is a time like no other in the past.

After reflecting on that, my toes have stopped laughing. I am SMH again.

I have never actually “read” an entire book by audio. I am not sure why, but I am going to start on my first one today.

I have listened to bits and chapters because they were either samples or someone was playing something during a road trip. But I have never decided to read a book, or rather, have it read to me, despite all the audible.com offers in YouTube videos or podcasts.

I listen to podcasts of people I enjoy. I watch some of these people on YouTube. But I do not buy any of their books because they do not write about education.

Even though audio books have been around for a while, I wondered why I did not take the plunge. Perhaps I have not been read to since I was a child. Perhaps who reads it might make a difference. Perhaps I already read so much via my RSS and Twitter feeds that I might not have the bandwidth to read any more.
 

 
So why try an audio book only now? I find myself with a bit more spare time because I have “closed accounts” for the year. I would also like to learn how to use a new app. In particular, I want to know how easy it will be to find and use juicy quotes from what I “read”.

What will I be reading? Todd Rose’s The End of Average.

How am I reading it? With the Overdrive app, the default of many public libraries.

Shh, don’t bug me. I’m reading.

Tags: ,

http://edublogawards.com/files/2012/11/finalistlifetime-1lds82x.png
http://edublogawards.com/2010awards/best-elearning-corporate-education-edublog-2010/

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code


Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets

Archives

Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: