Posts Tagged ‘facebook’
I joined the Pokémon Go Singapore Facebook group a while ago because the Pokémon tracker apps and sites (e.g., SGPokéMap) kept being shut down by Niantic. Learning from enthusiastic and informed players seemed to be the next best thing.
So far I find that experience to only be partly true.
Like any Facebook experience, there is the terrible language, i.e., poor grammar, insults, rudeness, vague references. I feel sorry for visitors to our country who visit our shores seeking advice on where to best hunt for Pokémon only to face a social wall of confusion and disappointment.
Thankfully the space is largely self-policing. Infractions like grammar are sometimes caught, but not nearly enough. This is like a web catching a fly but letting a swarm of locusts through.
There are also helpful people in the Facebook group, but I can count on one hand the folks who are truly giving and magnanimous.
Returning to the flip side, there are the:
- uninformed who do not bother to search before asking
- trolls who seek innocent or ignorant victims
- marketers who post irrelevant or misleading clickbait
- over-sharers who provide more information that you need to read
- culturally-insensitive who assume everyone else understands them
There are many other character types, almost a numerous as the number of Generation 1 Pokémon. I am almost tempted to conduct informal research on these types and analyse the content of postings.
The folks behind SGPokéMap maintain a Twitter presence that is far less social, but way more helpful. Now that the map is back up — for now anyway — a bot tweets updates on the rare Pokémon, which areas they spawn in, links to Google Maps that pinpoint their locations, and roughly how long they will be there.
Here is one example:
The mappers also provided instructions for creating a Twitter-linked IFTTT applet to get updates only for specific rare Pokémon from areas of your choosing. The instructions are not quite up-to-date, but the gist of what to do is there.
What does this have to do with education? I connect this with something I tweeted recently:
Twitter Bingo is a fun way to get teachers who are new to Twitter to try new things. It is also an extrinsically-driven activity — complete the tasks in a row or column or diagonal to get a reward.
However, this is not why educators who continue tweeting tweet. They are driven by intrinsic factors — to share, connect, encourage, etc. Bingo might be an engaging start for Twitter professional development. It is also a quick end if the teacher does not see how Twitter is personally relevant and meaningful.
The Facebook group and IFTTT applet helped me fill in information gaps so that my Pokémon hunting is more efficient and effective. Teachers who learn to use Twitter should not just be given the mechanics. They need to find or make meaning from using Twitter.
Today I reflect on three seemingly disparate topics. However, all have a theme of not compromising on standards. They are standards of English, decency, and learning.
I spotted this sign at a Fairprice grocery store. It urged patrons to think of the environment.
You cannot use less plastic bags, but you can use less plastic the way you can use less water. The water and plastic are uncountable. Plastic bags are countable so you should use fewer of them.
Actually you should try not to use any plastic bags by carrying your own recyclable bags. If you do that, the sign reads another way: Do you part for the environment. Useless plastic bags!
If standards of basic rules of English have not slipped, we would see fewer of such signs (countable property) and I would be less of an old fart (uncountable property).
Speaking of which, a fellow old fart (OF) responded to a Facebook troll who had terribly warped priorities when commenting on the kids who lost their lives during the Sabah earthquake.
The troll focused on the fact that the deceased could not take their Primary School Leaving Examinations (PSLE) later this year. When OF called the troll to task, the latter became indignant.
OF discovered that the troll was a student in a local school, and while not all kids act this way, OF wondered in subsequent comments how the standards of human decency seemed to have slipped.
I baulk at the fact that some teachers wait for official Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) materials to be prepared and distributed instead of using everyday examples like these. They are far more timely, relevant, and impactful.
To reiterate what I mentioned yesterday about bad advice for teachers, how are adults to realize what kids are writing and thinking if they do not follow them on social media? You need to be on the ground to see what is good and bad about it.
Parents and teachers should not be reacting in a way so that there is less social media use because that is unrealistic. When someone cannot write or speak well, you do not tell them to write or speak less; you tell them to practice more (after you coach them and provide feedback).
The third use-less/useless example comes from this Wired article about the change in Twitter leadership.
The author contrasted Twitter’s previously “unruly, algorithm-free platform” with Facebook’s. This was not a negative statement about Twitter because stalwarts value the power of human curation and serendipity.
However, those new to Twitter might view the platform as useless and choose to use less and less of it until they stop altogether. They do not stay long enough to discover its value.
The slipping standard here is learning to persist. I can see why school systems like the ones in the USA are including “grit” in their missions or using the term in policy documents.
But is grit the central issue?
What if the adults do not have a complete picture and are creating policies and curricula that are as flawed as the “use less” sign?
What if they should actually be spending more time on social media not just to monitor their kids and students but also to connect with other adults so that they learn the medium and the message deeply?
One key answer to these questions is about the ability of adults to keep on learning. We should not be holding kids and students to one standard (it is your job to study what I tell you) and holding ourselves to another (I have stopped learning or I have learnt enough).
Do this and you put yourself on the slippery slope of sliding standards. When standards slip, they are not always as obvious as badly-composed signs or insensitively-written Facebook postings. The refusal to learn can be insidious and lead to a lack of positive role models for kids and students to emulate.
A tweeted question to #edsg prompted this reflection.
This question has been asked since Facebook appeared on our collective radars. Such a question is not unusual because adventurous educators always seem to ask it of any new technology.
I recall tackling this question with preservice teachers almost nine years ago. Back then the responses included 1) leveraging on the popularity of Facebook, 2) wanting to keep one’s different lives separate, and 3) maintaining different profiles for different purposes.
Quite a bit has changed since then and some things have not.
What has not is that most people do not like having multiple accounts because it takes effort. Just try asking a group of learners to create another account on a platform they are already in or a new one on a platform they are not familiar with. A few might react like you are demanding their first born child.
What has changed is the popularity of Facebook among the younger set. Facebook is where their parents and even their grandparents hang out, so it is less cool. Facebook is not yet a teen or young adult wasteland. A quick Google search on Facebook usage statistics will reveal that (examples   ) . But there have been migrations to Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter.
Another thing that might have changed is the need to “separate lives”. Teachers might assume that their students have the same mindset or concerns as they do, but learner notions of privacy could be different. That is not the same as saying that kids are not concerned about privacy. They are and about different aspects of privacy.
But back to the question.
The tweeted question is a reflection of dated thinking. Such thinking is based on at least two wobbly foundations: 1) false dichotomies, and 2) limited learning opportunities.
Dichotomies (two-way categorizations) occur because of the human need to classify complex phenomena. Male or female. Good or bad. Married or not. Your side or my side. But giving in to this need to simplify ignores the grey nuances that are more representative of life and learning.
A problem with categorical thinking is that people feel that they must separate where they live, love, or learn. We might be conditioned to think this way because schools put academic subjects in separate silos, students in separate classes, and lessons that happen at one pace and place.
Whether a teacher, school leader, or policy maker thinks Facebook is GOOD or NOT for e-learning is not important. That is an attempt at categorizing the platform as suitable or not.
What is important is how students and teachers have already started using it as a learning tool or not. For example, students might use Facebook as an informal communication platform for homework help. Teachers might use it for persona-based lessons (e.g., Fakebook). Edmodo created the Facebook equivalent in education to leverage on social learning.
Learning does not just happen in the classroom or when the teacher says start. It can happen at any time and in any place as long as the learner has access and a question that needs answering.
Asking if Facebook (or any other tool for that matter) is suitable for teaching and learning is too late and the wrong question to ask. It has already been used by learners and educators who do not ask for permission, and in ways that might not be expected of the creators of the tool.