Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘device

The tweet below would like you know that kids (also) read books while adults (also) read from screens.

This is news if you live under a rock or choose not to observe people around you.

The tweet also claims that “the tides have turned”, meaning that adults are doing what kids do and vice versa. No, the tides have not. They ebb and flow, and you see what you see depending where and when you are.

It is not unusual for adults to use their mobile devices as much as, or more than kids. If you live in the modern world, your daily commute on public transport will confirm this. There is also research to back this up.

Kids are still made to complete books lists as part of school or homework, regardless of whether such reading is meaningful or not. They are held to the standards of the past and prepared for their teacher’s history instead of their own futures.

Kids also still go to libraries to borrow books. They do so because they have inculcated good reading habits and do so for pleasure.

So back to the tweet: An anecdote is not data; a snapshot is not representative. It is meant to be funny, but it sends the wrong message. The tides have not turned. Instead they ebb and flow, and dynamic change is what matters.

I shake my head in disbelief sometimes when I think about how inflexible some schools or teachers can be.

I know of some schools who have more liberal mobile device policies. As part of a consulting gig, I visited a primary school whose policy was to allow all students, even the youngest ones, to bring smartphones to school as long as the devices were kept in lockers.

Other schools have Amish-like policies on smartphones. I am very familiar with one that disallows cassettes, CD players, walkmans, VCDs, and pagers amongst other devices (see portion of handbook below).

handbook_rule

Even the Amish might remark that they do not use these devices not because they are against them but because they might have to rob a museum to get them!

The first type of school is more progressive in that it recognizes the modern demands of their stakeholders. Both parents are likely to be working and their child might have to find their own way home on arranged or public transport. Phones are critical for such daily updates.

That same school does not yet allow the use of the phones for lessons. However, they will have will not have to fight the battles of resistance among teachers, low buy-in among parents, or early “exploratory” use among students when the time comes for them to make that decision.

The second school will have a tougher time pulling itself out of the educational dark ages.

A rigid, backward, or disconnected policy also has a way of affecting the mindset of teachers. It can breed group think, inflexibility, and a fear of risk-taking.

My wife reminded me of something we experienced in the middle of the year. My son had answered a comprehension question on a passage about Elizabeth Choy being tortured during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore [1][2].

The correct answer to a question was that she was given “electric shocks”. My son did not get the full marks because he answered that she had been “electrocuted”. His teacher did not give him the full marks because he did not write down exactly what was in the passage.

This incensed my wife, an English teacher, who discussed it with my son’s teacher. My wife also asked her colleagues in school for their comments. Everyone except my son’s teacher agreed that getting an electric shock was the same as being electrocuted.

To be fair, there could have been more to the argument. Perhaps there was some comprehension skill that was tested that my son did not perform.

But perhaps the equivalent of copying and pasting was more important than interpretation and exercising vocabulary. Perhaps schooling was more important than education.

And perhaps these are examples of how teachers and schools risk losing relevance. The rest of the world sees the point of change and moves on, but teachers and schools do not.


Video source

This week I share why I like the Asus Pocket Router.

The device is deceptively small and looks like a thumb drive. This USB dongle is an ethernet adaptor, wifi adaptor, and an Internet signal sharing device all rolled into one.

Asus has not sponsored the device or prompted this blog entry. It has proven its utility when I have to travel or give talks at institutes other than my own, so I thought I should share the joy.

I read this opinion in the ST forum a few times to make sure I was not missing anything or misinterpreting it.

Dr William Wan, General Secretary of the Singapore Kindness Movement, attributed the use of mobile phones to people being inconsiderate on public transport.

One might react emotionally by asking when minding one’s own business is being inconsiderate. But the fact of the matter is that not being aware of the people around you can be impolite depending on the context.

That said, why put the blame on the medium? Yes, the e-books, games, videos, and other mobile content are very engaging (a few folks have even tried participating in #edsg chats while on public transport!), but the mobile media are not the only factor.

If you blame that medium then I would also point out that reading paperbacks, playing cards, listening to a Walkman (way back then!), or just chatting intently are just as absorbing. The traditional newspaper is a magnificent wall to place between the reader and someone who needs the space or a seat.

You can take the devices out of the hands of users and they will still be rude or inconsiderate. They can pretend to sleep, take more room than they need, or talk very loudly. (Coincidentally, as I quietly type this draft of my iPhone, a group of four university students does not care if the whole bus can hear their incessant blather.)

If you are going to address a problem, get at its roots. Attacking the symptoms will get you nowhere and you risk alienating the very people you are trying to reach.

So what is the root of the problem? In this case, I agree with Dr Wan that it is the lack of a combination of good upbringing and schooling on the use of mobile devices in public places or face-to-face social contexts.


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: