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Posts Tagged ‘lag

Almost a week ago, I wrote about my plan to embed audio scaffolds for an asynchronous online portion of my class.

Embedded audio in Google Slides.

I created four sections that relied on this simple strategy to provide what an oldish-school distance educator might call telepresence or social presence.

To test its feasibility, I did two main things.

First, I wanted to simulate the use of a wireless hotspot where bandwidth might be an issue. So I visited my resources from two Wireless@SGx hotspots — one was at a library and the other a fast food joint. The audio loaded after a two or three second wait. This was acceptable.

Second, I visited the same resources on a phone. While Google Sites does a great job with responsive web design, I was not sure if the audio in embedded Google Slides would work seamlessly. I discovered that

  • desktop and mobile browsers do not play the embedded audio by default depending on the user’s security settings
  • users need to manually play the audio on mobiles despite my design to let it play by automatically
  • the default slide selection does not work as expected

The last point needs explaining. Sometimes I use the same slide deck across different pages, e.g., slide 1 for web page 1 and slide 2 onwards for web page 2. I set slide 2 to load and play audio automatically in web page 2. However, while this works on a desktop, it does not always work on a mobile browser.

My conclusion: Advise my learners to use a laptop or desktop computer. The experience is optimised for the larger screen and a less shackled web browser.

We are in the middle of the teaching practicum period and I am reflecting on what some teacher educators refer to as the “theory-practice nexus”.

More specifically, I am reflecting on the expectations placed on new teachers and the time it actually takes to bridge the gap of where teachers are now and what is desired of them years down the road.

Any field of professional practice will likely struggle with theory-practice nexus. Preparation for jobs tend to be more theoretical, and while there are attempts to make the study period more realistic or contextual, it is still not the real thing. Much of the learning must continue on the job. It is not realistic to expect new graduates or hires to be completely ready.

I had two recent conversations that made me reflect on the seriousness of the gap between what teachers are ready to do and what they must do.

One conversation was with a visiting scholar from a well-established teacher education programme in the USA. She revealed how a particular curricular change took 10 years to formulate and get buy-in, and is only in the pilot phase of implementation now.

Teachers in that programme were trying to hit moving targets. Neither the ready-now and ready-later state were clear, so the teachers did know not where to stand much less walk.

Another conversation I had was with a senior teacher who told me that he was only now realizing what some of his NIE training was for. There was more than a decade of dormant theory waiting to be called to action.

So one is a problem of developing stable prescribed curriculum while the other is developing a mindset of career-long learning.

Both might have a common core problem: An over emphasis on preservice education and an underemphasis on subsequent professional development. The solution is to find a more logical balance.

Lava orgy by keppet, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  keppet 

But that assumes that a stable curriculum is possible. It is not because we live in an age where information and knowledge is about as stable as rock on molten lava.

The deeper problem is an over reliance on experts and old methods of preparation. These do not necessarily promote the negotiation of meaning, the protracted process of learning, and the development of professional, independent, and reflective individuals.

For example, as much as we have evolved, we are still reliant on lectures and textbooks. These are built on the foundation that there is “expertise” and “stable information”. Today, there are exceptions to every rule. Tomorrow, there will be even more.

It is not enough to tell new teachers to learn what they can now and save it for later. We must develop in them the capacity and the desperation for them to want to learn more because they have not learnt enough.

They must expect this and they must behave professionally to get information to bridge the gaps they detect on their own. This could mean situations where they realize that current norms and assessment systems are lacking and that they must figure out alternatives that meet the needs of their learners.


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