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Posts Tagged ‘new

I love the Pessimist Archive podcast. I hate that there are so few episodes. But I appreciate how much work it takes to create each one.

I have not been listening to the podcasts in the order they were made because I jumped on whatever interested me first. A standout phrase in episode 1 from host Jason Feifer was this: The best antidote to fear of the new is looking back at fear of the old.

So I made an image quote of it.

The best antidote to fear of the new is looking back at fear of the old. -- Jason Feifer

We cannot claim to be teachers or educators unless we have been, and continue to be, students first. What seems like new problems the students experience or bring into the classroom often has old roots.

We can deal with the symptoms or we can tackle the causes. The key to understanding our new fears is having a mind open enough to learn from history.

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To paraphrase a Biblical reference: You cannot put new wine in old wineskins. If you do not get that reference, you should also not get why people do this.

Old ideas applied to new technologies make both look ridiculous. And yet we keep repeating that mistake.

New technologies might make current processes better. But we should also be looking for what they enable, i.e., what we thought previously difficult or impossible to do.

Applied to schooling, edtech should be about enabling new possibilities, not entrenching old habits. If we ignore that approach, we risk looking as foolish as the VR soccer players.

I like using Google Sites. They are open almost by default and I can embed just about any tool for teaching and learning. This is true for the classic and current versions of Google Sites.

The ability to embed, say, a Padlet was not a given when the new version rolled out. Content and tools were restricted to the Google Classroom or Drive suites. Thankfully that has changed given how educators who wish to incorporate technology are brand agnostic*.

*I type this on a Mac for a reflection posted on WordPress about a tool Google bought and redeveloped.

However, there is still one change that the classic version of Google Sites had that the new version does not — page level permissions.

Google Sites access permission.

I can selectively share an entire site with a group or users or open it to all. This is a site-level permission setting. I still cannot specific page level permissions.

One enterprising user suggested a workaround — embedding user-specific Google Docs in a page, but this is not as good as providing fully fledged editing rights.

Mainstream schools are winding down for the end-of-year vacation and universities see this semester coming to a close. I am ramping up as I prepare a new course next semester.

I have lots of notes and resources, but they are linked by two principles that have guided my design and facilitation for almost two decades.

The danger of lectures is that they create the illusion of teaching for teachers, and the illusion of learning for learners.

The first is the focus on the learner and learning. Doug Thomas and John Seely Brown put it best in their book, A New Culture of Learning:

For most of the twentieth century our educational system has been built on the assumption that teaching is necessary for learning to occur. Accordingly, education has been seen as a process of transferring information from a higher authority (the teacher) down to the student. This model, however, just can’t keep up with the rapid rate of change in the twenty-first century. It’s time to shift our thinking from the old model of teaching to a new model of learning.

Teaching is neat. Learning is messy.

The other follows an issue summed up nicely in this tweet:

Closed access and administrative control are antithetical to learner exploration and empowerment. As difficult as being open and embracing uncertainty is, it is more rewarding in the long term.

I was glad to note that the conversion of old to new Google Sites is now automated.

I have been waiting a long time for this. It has been almost a year since I started using the new version after years of using the original Google Sites for courses, workshops, events, etc.

Last year, I had to manually create new versions of old Sites. Now I can automate the process.

New look
Converted (new) site

Old look
Old Google Site.

I have tried the conversion process in four old Sites and here are some observations:

  1. I had the option of retaining the original URL. This is useful for users who have bookmarked the URL and wish to return to the old site with the new look.
  2. Only a few old Sites were available for conversion. I have a very long list of Google Sites and only those going back to 2014 could be converted.
  3. The conversion was not seamless. One obvious wrinkle was how pages were rearranged in alphabetical order in the navigation bar. I had to manually rearrange them.

I hope that more of my old Sites become available for conversion before Google sunsets the old versions. It would also be helpful if the conversion tool is more intelligent in that it learns to retain the page order and navigation.

 
I have a lunar tic at this time of year. I have to resist the urge to point out we just marked the Lunar New Year (LNY), not the Chinese New Year (CNY).

Wishing someone a happy CNY is perfectly fine if you are celebrating in China.

If you are not in China, you are not thinking about the non-Chinese who also celebrate the LNY, e.g., some Thais, Vietnamese, Koreans, Japanese.

Some do not give a damn and others call this semantics. I call this being inclusive and taking a global perspective. It is about adopting a flexible mindset instead of clinging to a fixed one.

I avoided manually converting two old Google Sites to new ones in the hope that Google would offer an import-export or conversion tool. After all, the new Sites have been available for several months [early adopters announcement] [open for general use]. But such a tool does not yet exist.

Moving to a new Site requires a fair bit of work and is not a simple three-step process described in the help page.

The problem lies in the “copy and paste” step. If all I had was text, then I would have less of a problem. But since I have images, videos, and other embeds, I face an ordeal.

I need to have the images and videos in Google Photos, Google Drive, or YouTube first. Then I need to embed them again.

This could mean downloading these files from other sources and putting them in my Drive and folders. This might contravene usage guidelines of the original source and I have to find some other sources.

An even bigger problem is not being able to embed anything outside the Google tools ecosystem. For example, I like using Padlet and AnswerGarden. Both appear immediately and are usable on old Google Site pages thanks to scripting add-ons. However, in new Sites, my learners need to visit them in separate tabs or windows.

While I can create links to these resources that open in new windows or tabs, Sites is fanatical about warning me and my learners that we are going elsewhere. How very Facebook of Google to do this!

The experience from a learner’s point of view is potentially jarring because new instances and resources need to pop up or draw them away from the page. The experience is no longer as seamless, logical, or convenient.

All that said, the editing and creating interface is simpler and more modern. That is a good thing. However, the point of producing a Google Site is to share, teach, showcase, or otherwise let someone else interact with it.

It is not just my experience that needs to be good. Being learner-centred also means taking their experiences into account. I feel good about using the new Google Sites. I would like my learners to feel the same way too.


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