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Posts Tagged ‘instagram

One of my educational mantras is to focus on processes of learning, not just supposed products of learning. The processes are often more revealing and more important than the products alone.

Another way of looking at this call is to not just show what but also to show how. The Instagram video above illustrates this principle in a few seconds.

First we watch a videographer swinging a cameraphone to take two clips. Then we see what the combined clips looks like. The how (process) preceded the what (product). I can think of at least two takeaways:

  1. Some might point out that such transparency allows copycats to make their own versions. I do not see this as a problem as long as they also learn to credit their sources. It local laws are not in place, then learn how to use Creative Commons to label and attribute.
  2. Perhaps the idea to create such a video was original, or maybe the videographer learnt it elsewhere. The more important issue is that the process behind the product is more visible. If the point of a learning experience is to learn a new skill, it must be clearly and generously modelled first.

Such a culture and habit of sharing openly and freely does not necessarily make the sharer poorer. It builds the sharer’s reputation and we are all richer from the process.

…the Facebook algorithms. This includes its adopted children Instagram and WhatsApp.

Or starve them at least by not posting, sharing, liking, etc. 

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

It is not content that you are creating or propagating. It is data that you are creating. You and your behaviours are the data.

In the hands of responsible entities, such data might be handled with care. Facebook is irresponsible and greedy, and it craves user data. The recent tracking limitations in iOS 14.3 are useless if we do not limit ourselves.

Isn’t “How did they do that?” the most natural question to ask when you see something surprising or amazing? It is until you are immersed in traditional schooling.

By then, much of the focus is on end-products of work and/or learning. I separate the two because a product could be a result of much work and still be very little evidence of learning.

To get to the learning, teachers need to be able to evaluate the processes that led to the product. The Instagram post is a 15-second reminder on how to put the horse back in front of the cart.

Some folks might not like how long behind-the-scenes videos can be. So here is a quick process and product Instagram video.

Those who enjoy longer form videos might like the quirky animation and storytelling of TheOdd1sOut. In his latest video, the main man behind the channel, James, takes shots at uncritical thinkers.

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Anyone who has made videos will know how tedious the processes behind video-making can be. James opted to share his difficulty with saying “muggle public school”. 

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The painful and funny sequence might provide a small insights to non-videographers how much time and effort goes into voiceover work. I can relate because I used to make videos for the now defunct Cel-Ed channel.

On broader reflection, I wonder how many educators share their processes and failures more openly and reflectively. I know I do from time to time on this blog. These are not monetised or amusing, but I am certain that our collective efforts help other educators see that they are not alone.

The comic and video below is funny because they are true to teachers. In those truths come hidden lessons if we bother to look.
 


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No, I am not talking about learning how to mute everyone in Zoom or how to improvise camera stands for sharing written work.

The comic and video capture attempts to replicate classroom practices. When pushed online, we call these synchronous teaching and learning activities. Such activities are the focus of the comic and video because that is what most people seem to think teaching looks like online. This is only half the picture.

The hidden lesson is about designing for asynchronous and more inclusive learning. The design and facilitation of such learning are not obvious or glamorous. It is neither easy nor interesting to capture the process of combining educational psychology, content knowledge, pedagogical savvy, technical skills, learner empathy, and evaluation principles.

The design of asynchronous learning is about teaching that ensures learning without the constant and immediate presence of the teacher. This is NOT about taking the teacher out from the teaching-learning equation. It is about a shift in focus and effort — understanding the processes of learning and meeting the needs of learners asynchronously.

Inclusive education, be it online or offline, is about including the quieter learners so that they express themselves (there are other types of disadvantaged learners, but this group is easily overlooked). Reticent students are already reluctant to speak up in class. Instead of replicating such conditions online, we might design and facilitate experiences that focus on deeper, nuanced, or reflective thinking.

Is designing for asynchronous and more inclusive learning more difficult? Definitely. This is why teachers and educators who only know how to teach in classrooms, labs, and studios need new mind and skill sets if emergency remote teaching is to actually become meaningful and powerful online learning.

The good news is that teachers do not have to start from scratch. They might be able to transfer some skills and practices (e.g., active listening and wait time) to the design of online experiences. However, the same skills might have to be tweaked or revised to account for the lack of immediate social cues and a shared physical environment. Using the examples, active listening might be replaced by anticipatory scaffolds from the teacher and active reflection for the learner; wait time might be translated to longer or negotiated deadlines.

The bad news is that teachers might not see the point of adopting new mindsets and learning new skills. If the lockdown now and possibly ones in the future are relatively short and transient, why should they change? They might consider this: The applications online of psychology, pedagogy, technology, and evaluation can make them better teachers overall. If that is not relevant and continuous professional development, I do not know what is.

There were two major blips on my radar with respect to Instagram. As with most things, I made the observations through an educator’s lens.

Last month TechCrunch reported that Instagram photos were no longer limited to squares.

Last week CNET reported that Instagram now had more users than Twitter.
 

Instagram - 8 by BrentOzar, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License   by  BrentOzar 

 
Anecdotally, I have noted that Instagram seems to be the social media of choice among teenagers. (Actually, any social media platform that their parents are not on and invaded is good for them.) This TheNextWeb report says that Instagram is one of the big three among teens (the others being Facebook and Snapchat).

So it is natural for teachers to wonder how to take advantage of this trend. I recall an intrepid team sharing at e-Fiesta 2014 what they did at ITE.


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Anyone looking to take advantage of social media in education does not really have to look very far. It they are critically reflective and possess creative intuit, they can try it own their own, transfer ideas to lessons, and fail forward.

If not, they might find inspiration from one of my new favourite cartoons, Rick and Morty. (Warning: Visiting the links beyond this point is not for the faint-hearted, the ultra conservative, or anyone who cannot appreciate an unadulterated LOL.)

Rick and Morty is an animated series that is in its second season following a mind-blowing first. This Adult Swim link should provide information for the curious or overwhelm those that made the mistake to keep reading and clicking.


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The people behind the hit show also created a novel use of Instagram. They created a companion resource called the @RickandMortyRickstaverse. The video above illustrates how they take advantage of Instagram to create mini quests for fans of the show. In each quest, fans may be rewarded with spoilers, clues, or easter eggs.

My message to teachers and educators is not that they prepare resources like @RickandMortyRickstaverse (although there is nothing to stop them from doing it). That is not only a lot of work, it also does not change what teachers do, i.e., prepare content. If teachers create, it should be to model the process and expectations.

Instead, they might challenge their students to create, share, communicate, and critique with Instagram. After all, that is what people already do there. The entry barrier is extremely low.

The ITE folks were on the right track in getting their students to record instances, document change, and reflect on learning. Here are more ideas:

The main barrier lies with teachers. Will they allow it? Can they see the point of doing this? Will they operate inside the box or outside of it? If Instagram can step out of its square box policy, can teachers do the same?

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What do Kodak and Instagram have to do with schooling? Read on.

A Kodak moment used to be associated with a beautiful or meaningful event that one wished to immortalize on film. At the turn of the century, Kodak became synonymous with not changing quickly enough with the times.

To cite Godin in a recent blog entry:

Ubiquitous doesn’t mean forever, and popular isn’t permanent. Someone is going to fade, and someone is going to be next to take their place.

That someone else in Kodak’s context was digital photography. This NYT video paints a sad picture of a mountain of a company reduced to a pebble. (I cannot embed the video as WordPress.com-hosted blogs do not allow some HTML tags, but the video is worth your time.)
 

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The irony is that the first digital camera was invented in 1975 by a Kodak engineer, Steven Sasson (see Vimeo video above), but Kodak only started selling digital cameras in 2001 [1] [2].

Now consider this tweeted perspective:

The core thing both Kodak and Instagram have in common is photographs. I do not think that it is logical to compare the diversity of products, company timelines, available technologies, and other circumstances.

But the the tweet brings up at least two important points on what it takes to produce and how to act when change knocks on your door.

Kodak operated on the traditional industrial model. It had to in order to provide high quality photography film worldwide. Operating under such a model, Kodak needed large and common campuses to house their people.

Instagram works with ones and zeros, and it does so in a mobile and app driven space. Their people could fit in a large apartment or work offshore and independently in holes-in-the-wall.

Kodak is not quite dead yet, but its main campus is now occupied by other companies, one of which bottles food. They serve as a warning to those that do not stay relevant or do not spot the next wave and prepare for it. Kodak suffered the consequences of reducing staff a hundredfold (30,000 to 300 according to the NYT interview), going bankrupt, and needing to reinvent themselves.

Instagram, however, was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for US$1 billion. Instagram was just two years old when that happened. But both Facebook and Instagram took the opportunity when they saw it.

Which world and what circumstances are we preparing our kids for in our schools and at home? Kodak’s or Instagram’s?

Are we teaching our kids how to do more with less? Are we unleashing their energy or nurturing their creativity? Or are we holding them back?

Schools have changed. The rank and file tables and chairs remain as do papers and writing surfaces, but some teachers have responded by aligning their philosophies and pedagogies to the times.

But not enough. Not MUCH enough and not FAST enough. Innovative teachers and daring principals are still the exception instead of the norm. Very few systems have the moral courage and political will to take measures like augmenting subjects with authentic phenomena like Finland.

Kodak might have justified its dithering by saying that the timing was not right because the technology or their consumers were not ready. But Kodak had at least one visionary in their midst. If only they had listened more carefully. If only he had spoken more loudly. If only they had been braver.

If only foresight was as clear as hindsight.

If only they had taken their Kodak moment and Instagrammed it in Facebook.

We cannot predict the future for certain, but we can learn from the past. Better still, we can invent it.

We must decide our Kodak moment in education. When we look back at it, will it be a one of regret or one of joy? Decide now and do something positive about it.

Like Instagram, we do not have to wait to grow big or get permission to create. A few pockets of innovation will eventually be recognized and assimilated into the larger whole. This is the world we live in, so live it.

Several years ago, not many people thought one could make a living being a professional blogger.

A few years ago, we saw the rise of YouTubers. They can rake in millions of dollars a year.


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Now say hello to the professional Instagrammer.

You might be able to reinvent yourself today. Our kids can certainly invent their own professions or find their own niches.

In either case, school is not necessarily going to help you do these things. You will have to customize your own education.


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