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Posts Tagged ‘change

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This video is not the first resource to outline how air and water pollution have dropped since the implementation of COVID-19 measures like home-based learning, work from home, and travel restrictions.

The interviewees in the video emphasised that the pandemic was not a good way to check our harm on the environment. But they also wondered how we might change our collective behaviours when we resume normalcy.

Might we learn to manage with less? Might employers and employees opt to telecommute more? Might schools and education institutes learn the value of going online?

The answers to these and other related questions present opportunities for us to show what we have learnt and to change our ways. So will we?

I share perspectives from two authors, one from higher education and another who focused on K-12 schooling.

In his Inside Higher Ed piece, John Warner (appropriate surname) warned us:

… all this is happening midyear against the backdrop of a global pandemic.

The idea that we are running any kind of systematic experiment is, to use a nonscientific term, bonkers. We are in a period of emergency distance instruction, not online learning.

Warner suggested that we take the opportunity to reflect on and to reshape our values. We might start this process by asking ourselves WHO we teach and WHY we teach in certain ways.

In his two-part series [1] [2], Larry Cuban suggested that in the immediate aftermath of COVID-19, parents of school children would most likely appreciate the “custodial function of schools”. I agree. In Singapore, we like school so much that we send our kids to school after school, i.e., tuition.

Cuban also posited that the efficiency of e-learning might tempt a cash-strapped or downsizing systems to consider e-learning over face-to-face classes. However, he expected such initiatives to “remain peripheral to the core work of teachers meeting their students daily”. In other words, let the “e” in e-learning go back to being emergency or extra.

Cuban was not optimistic that an intense period of e-learning would move the needle on changing the duration of school days, terms, or semesters. People who argue that competency-based learning should supercede time-based instruction will keep shouting themselves hoarse because a) school hours are childcare hours, and b) maintaining e-learning systems is expensive.

What do I think?

I think that if the duration of our response to pandemic extended to critical examination periods, we will be forced to rely on project work, cumulative continual assessments, and daily work.

Exams might be disrupted and even cancelled, but they are likely to return because we focus on what is easy to measure (short-term retention, grades) instead of what is difficult to pursue (long term learning, portfolios).

In short, I expect most people to heave a collective sigh of relief and revert to old habits. But I hold out hope that enough of us will change the rules that little bit more so that we are that little bit better.

History repeats itself. We just have to be still and reflective enough to notice. For example:

But to actually change, we need to have the courage and persistence to take action.

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.

What could be cuter than a teddy bear? Not much.

Yet there was an anti-teddy bear movement. The most recent Pessimists Archive podcast provides all the details.

In hindsight, such a fear seems unreasonable and even impossible. But back then, it was fuelled by irrational fear and the need to maintain the status quo.

There is still much fear of educational technologies current, cutting edge, and future. The fears are based on the same unwillingness to see possibilities, mitigate risks, and embrace change.

So while edtech evangelists might feel the burden to be unbearable now, this too shall pass. I say we grin and bear with it.

Video source

Watching this video about the original Macintosh and other old computers brought back memories. When I was in secondary school, I joined a brand new computer club that had a few Apple I computers and IBMs.

We had lessons on BASIC and optionally on COBOL. We learnt from recipes the teacher in charge wrote on a blackboard and we wrote them down in note books.

As each of us had very little time with the shared computers, we wrote our simple programmes on paper in advance and tried to foresee what might happen. When we had actual access, we typed in what we wrote and tried to troubleshoot as fast as we could.

This was one of the first few times I felt empowered to create something, test it, and learn safely from failing. I caught the bug and needed my own Apple I.

But these computers were expensive and I bugged my father for one. Long story short — we could not afford an original so we bought one of the many clones.

I dove into simple programming at every waking moment. I enjoyed being able to start the Apple computer with my own programme running from a floppy diskette.

But my joy was interrupted by a demand from my father. He dumped a pile of unmarked papers in front of me and asked if the computer could grade them.

I was flabbergasted then and the memory troubles me now. Computers, particularly those without any of the peripherals and AI we have now, could not grade homework almost 40 years ago. Despite the advances in computing power and ability, they are still stumped by human nuance.

I was also stumped by wilful human ignorance as well. Older and sometimes well-meaningful folk (like administrators and policymakers) tend to observe technology from a distance. Without an immersive experience and use, they cannot see possibilities or limitations.

Technology makes change seem inevitable. But human change, not so much.

Just as soon as the harried assessment phase of the semester of one institution was over, I had to contend with the administrative and preparatory work with another institution.

So occupied was I that I left this little gem languishing as a draft in my Notes app — the “evils” of the telegraph.

The tweet, newspaper clipping, and podcast comes courtesy of the Pessimists Archive.

In the 1800s, the telegraph was a new technology and along with it came fear, mistrust, and disinformation. Back then, people wondered about:

  • Speed vs truth
  • Ease vs security
  • Convenience vs privacy

Today, people wonder the same about social media. The more things change, the more they remain the same. This happens because we do not learn from critical analyses of history.

See the world as it is… and defy it. -- Satya Nadella, Microsoft CEO

I got the quote above from this interview.

Taken out of context, the words of Satya Nadella, the Microsoft CEO, might sound like a call for chaos.

Change might resonate or disrupt. But it rarely starts with getting permission first. It often starts with defiance to norms that feel wrong or could be elevated.

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