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Posts Tagged ‘broadband

I found out on Friday that I had been paying more than I had to for my fibre broadband service.

I had been on a two-year contract for a $39.90 per month plan. The contract expired in February 2019 and the plan is now worth $29.90 per month. That’s right, I was paying $10 more per month for 17 months. But I am now paying less for the same plan.

Should I have kept track of the status of the contract? I normally do, but there were no online records when I checked my account for documents as far back as three years.

Should the service provider have sent a reminder that my contract was over? I expect so, but I only received promotional SMS from them (the first one after the contract expired was on 2 August 2019). This is not the same as saying that the contract is over.

It takes two hands to clap. I am holding my hand up to admit I should have checked. That same hand set up a reminder in my online calendar to warn me when the new contract will expire. Perhaps I should have just used that hand to wave goodbye.

My cat by Anguskirk, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License   by  Anguskirk 

I was a very unhappy broadband customer for the last six days. But I did NOT do something I would normally do and that saved me some embarrassment.

When my Internet connection became intermittent earlier this week, I opted not to call the customer help line. Previous experience reminded me how long that would take and how much longer the response would be after being handed from one party after another.

Instead, I tweeted my information to the ISPs customer care. They said they would get back to me by phone but I did not hear from them. That bought me time to investigate.

When the intermittent connection finally became no connection, I was ready to go on a calling rampage. But something stopped me.

All the usual remedy actions (recycling the power to the boxes in proper time and sequence) did not seem to work. My Internet connection kept dropping, but my home phone (connected to the same box) worked fine.

I disconnected the router and reconnected directly to a desktop. After a few restarts, I had a stable connection to that desktop. I realized that the router was in its death throes.

If I had called the customer care folks and screamed down the line, I would have ended up with egg on my face. Sure, they did not respond as promised. Sure, 99 out of a 100 times this has happened before the fault lay in a factor or incident at their end. This one time my router had failed.

The moral of the story: Take the time, observe closely, get information, connect the dots, solve your own problem.

Yesterday a writer at Ars Technica asked How wide is the world’s digital divide, anyway? More specifically, the writer was wondering about the penetration rates of broadband in various countries. In a survey of 127 countries:

only 10 countries are above 80 percent—mostly small places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Denmark, and South Korea. Together, the ten countries in this bracket account for only two percent of the world population.

Access to broadband in other countries is much, much lower. Eighty eight other countries were not included in the study because they had no home broadband penetration.

Does that make me proud to be Singaporean? No, it actually depresses me as a world citizen. It depresses me further when I think about how little we do in Singapore education with the much that we have.

The day before the Ars Technica article was published, the World Bank highlighted how broadband access and mobile technologies were key to economic growth. Their report claimed that:

for every 10 percentage-point increase in high-speed Internet connections there is an increase in economic growth of 1.3 percentage points.

Assuming that the World Bank methods for arriving at this conclusion were sound, this should make any politician or government official jump into action. At least, one would think so. After all, if you have to grab someone, you should do so where they will take notice: In the balls. Eye balls that is. Oh, and the wallet area too.

(On a side note, the second article also mentioned in passing that greater broadband access would “promote social inclusion”. I guess we might have to wait for someone to write about what Web 2.0 denizens already understand.)

What matters to me obviously is technology in education. I champion mobile and Web 2.0 technologies because I think that they are key tools for promoting more relevant forms of teaching and learning. They can shift the power of learning to students because they get information for themselves, learn from anyone from any part of the world, and ultimately learn to think for themselves. Learning takes place any place, any time and in any way.

So when opportunities arise, I urge the school personnel that I meet to set up wireless access and to buy netbooks for students instead of refreshing the computers in labs. When I meet industry representatives who tout netbooks or mobile Internet access, I try to convince them to collaborate with schools.

But I swim against the current. I see companies and schools (and, unfortunately, some of my colleagues) pushing things like Interactive White Boards (IWBs) and outdated Learning Management Systems (LMS). IWBs keep technology largely in the hands of teachers and promote teacher-centric pedagogy. LMS are more often about control than about creativity, communication, collaboration and critical thinking. Both IWBs and LMS are money spinners for the companies that sell them, but they are outdated technologies as far as progressive education is concerned.

Not only should teachers be putting relevant and relatively-cheap-yet-powerful technologies in the hands of students, they should be practising more student-centred pedagogies. They should be modelling and imparting 21st century skills and values instead of beating the 19th century education horse to death.

But if they must use IWBs, then how might they use them regularly and meaningfully so that students learn real world collaboration skills? If LMS are heavily invested in schools, then how might they be integrated into everyday curriculum so that students learn to create and critique instead of learning merely to copy, and conform?

Don’t get me wrong. There is a place and time for didactic forms of teaching. But that place should not be everywhere and all the time and it certainly should not be the pedestal where it still rests. Just because you are talking does not mean that students are listening and learning!

Teachers should stop shifting the blame on why they don’t rely more on student-centred, technology-mediated pedagogies to a lack of time or a tight curriculum or the exam system. If they keep their students’ needs and futures in mind, all these obstacles become insignificant. Schools in Singapore have the money, the motivation and the means to make this happen. Are we going to let inertia and old mindsets hold us back?


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