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Posts Tagged ‘mask

Teachers and educators can learn from press briefings.

Press Q&As are important for both politicians and the press. Amongst other things, they allow politicians to explain policy and journalists to clarify.

But politicians must communicate as best they can first. Take this important press briefing to remind us about using better masks as a pandemic control measure.

Video source

The general public needed to be reminded or educated on why cloth and single layer masks were insufficient. But I wondered why the ministers and experts did not provide examples of better masks.

These examples could be images or actual samples of such masks. The visuals or physical artefacts would illustrate and reinforce the verbal message of what “better masks” meant. See what this newspaper did the next day.

As an educator, I am not about to cite the bunk myth of what we remember aurally vs visually. That pseudoscience “theory” was a misused version of Dales Cone of Experience.

However, there is support for providing multiple stimuli for cognitive encoding. This is why teachers are taught to provide more than one medium and method when teaching a new concept to students.

Rising above, it is easier to stick to what one is comfortable with, e.g., just speaking and expecting people to listen. The problem is that your audience or learners do not see what you see in your mind’s eye. With just a bit more effort, e.g., bringing a few different mask samples, you get your point across more efficiently and effectively. Don’t just tell, show and tell.

Video source 

Video source 

The easy thing to do with videos like these is to show them to students who complain about going to school and telling them how grateful they should be.

The more difficult thing to do is to draw out meaningful questions, generate discussion, and educate our students on empathy and action. 

The opinion piece below highlighted a loophole in our bid to return to normalcy during our battle with COVID-19. I could not help but see a parallel with what we call home-based learning.

The article highlighted how people will be physically distanced and required to wear a mask in cinema halls. However, since audiences are allowed to eat and drink, they can remove said mask. Therein lies the loophole through which policies fail.

Whether at cinemas or at eateries, it makes sense to allow people to remove their masks in order to eat or drink. But the problem is people following the rules without knowing or caring why.

They take advantage of the loophole to not wear a mask. Consider what already happens at reopened eateries: People stay longer than they should and talk to each other without masks on (often very loudly).

While folks in a cinema hall will not talk as much, they are in an enclosed space. Being in the dark might embolden some to leave their masks off. If reprimanded, they might use the consumption of food and drink as excuses.

This goes against collective and public safety because the point of wearing a mask is to prevent projectiles from leaving one’s mouth. If people do not know why they must wear a mask and why this matters, no amount of policy setting and policing will do any good.

How might this apply to teaching and learning, particularly as they are conducted online?

There was an initial urgency due to sudden policy changes, i.e., close schools and conduct home-based learning (actually emergency remote teaching). Teachers resorted to recreating classrooms when online. Any instructional designer or online facilitator worth their salt would have told them this was not a good idea.

But they did that anyway by telling students what to do, how to do it, and when to do things by. There was a time-table in school so the instinct was to simply move it online.

I liken this practice to assuming that we can transfer building practices on Earth directly to the Space Station. Some ideas will work, others will not. Teachers who have not taken online-only courses or taught online before will not anticipate what does not work.

Students at home do not face the same social contexts and pressures they do in school. For example, a teacher cannot use simple physical proximity to discretely prevent misbehaviour. The face-to-face mode relies much on social cues and extrinsic motivations.

Agency is giving learners the opportunities to make decisions. Empowerment is enabling them to take meaningful and self-driven action.

Online learning needs to be designed with agency and empowerment. This needs to be taught to learners young and old. More importantly, they need to be taught why they need to operate differently and why they should care.

Such a model of instruction and learning is built on the foundation of more independent learning. Such design is less teach-by-pushing and more pull-to-learning. This requires teachers to tap into the intrinsic motivations of learners and their individual needs.

It is easier to stick with disseminating policies, policing students, and operating by don’t-ask-why-just-do-it. But just like mask-wearing, students will find loopholes (see the tweet for an example) if they do not learn to change. And they learn to do this only if we first change the way we teach.

Would’ve preferred something more funky by macbiff, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  by  macbiff 

The shortage of N95 masks during the current haze reminded me about the difference between being prepared vs being ready.

CeL purchased these masks several months before the haze not because we projected how bad the haze would be. We were reacting to a disease outbreak in the office at that time.

Back then we bought the masks in bulk at low cost. There was no real demand for them.

Fast forward to today and we now each have a mask and a backup. The pharmacies island-wide have no stock of these items.

We are not patting ourselves on the back for being ready. We did not anticipate the haze being so bad and the demand for the masks being so high.

But we were prepared because we reacted to something else and because we took preventive action just in case. It is paying off now.

I see similarities in planning with and for educational technology. There is only so much you can predict because this field has rapidly moving targets. But if you sense the environment closely you might just pick tools and strategies that last long or have transferable value.


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