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Posts Tagged ‘new

… and refuses to budge.

The tweet above exemplifies what can happen when new technologies like ChatGPT3 challenge established ways of doing things in schools.

Old refuses to change and only wants to rant or complain. If only they put in half the amount of effort to learn about the change, mitigate threats, and change for the better.

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Thanks to an invite to preview the new Tweetdeck, I had an opportunity to recreate most of my curated timelines. I reflected previously on how I could do this for all but my Favourites. 

I have since discovered something more progressive about the new Tweetdeck — it displays the text “ALT” over image thumbnails that come with ALT descriptions. ALT is an accessibility feature that allows a user to tag an image with a text-based description. 

For example, I provide text for screen captures of key parts of the articles that I read (see image above). 

This is a step forward in providing a more accessible Internet for those with visual impairments. The tools they use can detect and read ALT descriptions to them.

Photo by Steve Johnson on

I was invited to try the new Tweetdeck interface on macOS Chrome browser.

Prior to the invite, I had seven columns: Home (main timeline), notifications, DMs, timelines of two hashtags I follow, favourites, and my own tweets. After I said yes to the invite, Tweetdeck imported just two of those columns — the hashtagged timelines.

I had to recreate the missing columns. I was unable to recreate favourites because this is replaced with Twitter’s bookmarks. Since Twitter does not equate the two, I might have to bookmark my favourites one by one.

Despite that flaw, I like having the option to sispaly timelines by recency instead of by algorithmic recommendations. This means that timelines are arranged chronologically with the most recent tweets at the top. This was the default until Twitter decided it knew better than we did about what we wanted to see.

The chronological timelines also mean that I do not see what I do not want to see, i.e., recommendations, ads, etc. So far so good anyway.

Photo by Krizjohn Rosales on

I enjoy reading the reflections of Larry Cuban, former teacher, professor, and educator supreme.

His two-part series (so far) on Open Space Schools (part 1) (part 2) are critical examinations of what some might consider novel when they are not. In Cuban’s own words, he considers “how ‘new’ ideas, innovations, popular policies, and classroom practices have a history that often goes unnoted”.

In part 1, Cuban shared a “new” idea of an open classroom in the Kyrene district of Phoenix, Arizona. It was one where the walls of six classrooms were removed to create a shared space. He pointed out that this was based on an idea in the 1960s and 1970s in a few schools in the US that challenged the practice of age-based classrooms.

In part 2, Cuban predicted that there could be a “slow reverting to the familiar age-graded school and fading of team-teaching, collaboration, and ambitious teaching”. He cited a USD163 million experiment in the 1970s in a Washington, D.C., district that built 17 open space schools only to return to form.

A key difference between the two districts’ efforts was that the older effort was top-down while the recent one was teacher-led. The implication: This might lead to better buy-in and ownership of the change.

All that said, Cuban’s wisdom was condensed in the final paragraph of part 1:

Reforms never die. They often get incorporated into the on-going system of schooling and become the old wall paper that another generation of reformers discovers and strips away. Or reuses with new paste.

My takeaway is the reminder that it is important to study the recent history of educational change. This is not just so we avoid claiming something old as something new. There are invaluable lessons to draw from efforts past if we are humble enough to dig for them.

Twenty four. That is the number of classic Google Sites that I cannot transition to new Sites. These were created by someone else and shared with me, but I do not have administrative rights to update them.

My screenshot shows 22 such sites, but there are two more that are domain-locked and not included in my list.

According to this support article, as of January 2022 “when users try to visit a classic site, they won’t see the website content.” This is Google-speak for classic Google Sites are dead, so you have to use new Google Sites.

I wish my previous collaborators would update the classic Sites to new ones. Each site takes a few clicks and about one minute to complete the whole process. It would be a shame for all that shared knowledge to be hidden because people do not know or care.

Sharing takes effort. Sometimes it involves going against institutional policy. Sometimes it is a minor inconvenience. Converting classic Google Sites to the new version is the latter. Just do it.

Video source

When I watched this TED-Ed video last week, I thought about ways of thinking, i.e., old, new, and current.

Using the seasonal disappearance of birds as an example, one old theory was that birds transformed into other creatures.

A new theory was that the birds hibernated. While this was true of just a few birds, it did not apply to all.

Our now current knowledge is that those birds migrate seasonally. This is backed up by data and the phenomenon can be confirmed repeatedly and reliably with the aid of technology.

We have old, new, and current theories on how people learn and the virus that causes COVID-19. While those two examples seem incomparable, they share the facts that:

  • The old theories are almost comical because they rely on superficial observation.
  • The new theories have some support, but are not generalisable.
  • The current theories have broad support because they are tested rigorously by research and practice.

I have reflected on how we should not return to “normal” post COVID-19. Others have expressed the same thoughts in different and better ways than me.

Earlier this month, Lisa Lane introduced a recent reflection like this:

I hear people say things like “when things go back to normal” or “after the pandemic” or just “afterwards”.

That might have worked for something that lasted a few weeks. Or for a hurricane or fire that destroys your home, then you have to rebuild. We can’t do that yet — this is the classic slow-motion train wreck. And anyone who’s rebuilt, had tragedy strike, knows that nothing is ever the same again.

Because we cannot go backward. Trust me on this — I’m a historian. I know backward. We only go forward.

Returning to normal can be backward if you retain the ignorance and stupidity in the normal that was.

So what happens if we do move forward? Tim Stahmer tweeted this as a reaction to claims of the “new normal”.

The new normal can reek of empty rhetoric or policy speak, particularly when it is the old disguised as new.

So what really is daring, different, and desperately needed? I offer Alfie Kohn’s take on testing and grading.

He offered evidence for the normal failing the less privileged and better alternatives like pass/fail and ungrading, and no grading that served everyone.

If those ideas sound foreign, that is sadly normal. We need to move forward without the baggage of catchphrases and millstones of legacy. As Kohn put it, this is our “chance to turn a(n) epidemiological crisis into an educational opportunity”.

This is a follow up to my wish on Wednesday to replace my 2012 iMac with the recently released 2020 model.

Shortly after I shared my thoughts, I ordered the item online. The process to get the discounted iMac and pay by instalments was not as straightforward as simply getting one at full price and paying in one go.

Given the choice of calling a local number or ordering by online chat, I opted for the latter. I had used the phone ordering some years ago and it was too long and uncomfortable for my liking.

The online chat was smooth because I could copy and paste the URL that led to the exact model and specifications I wanted. That saved a lot of time that would have otherwise been used to get the order right.

The curious thing about ordering via chat was that the payment information and initial confirmation were still by phone. The phone call was the equivalent of inputting my credit card number and expiration details. The difference was that a bank partner handled this part of the transaction. This was still an uncomfortable process because I was taught never to give financial details over the phone!

That part was also out of Apple’s hands. If a bank partner did not have a centre to handle these calls, you could not use that bank’s credit cards to pay by instalments. Two of my credit cards normally qualify for this. However, one bank had stopped this service due to the coronavirus.

The final confirmation was via email. If I had paid full price and at one go, I would have received the same email. But since I wanted the education price, to pay by instalments, and get a free pair of AirPods, I jumped through these administrative hoops.

I ordered the iMac on Wednesday and received it and the AirPods by DHL on Thursday (yesterday). That was a quick turnaround!

If I had ordered normally, I could have chosen a specific delivery window. The hybrid ordering process I described above did not provide this option. However, the courier was considerate enough to give me a call before he stopped by.

I met the courier at my door in the afternoon and set up the new iMac with a Time Machine image of my old iMac. I drafted this blog entry a few hours later in the evening.

iMac 2020 overview.

I am pleased with how quickly the entire process of buying and setting up took. Now I only have to get RAM modules so that I can upgrade the iMac’s memory myself!

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I think that it is time for me to get a new iMac. My current one has been serving me since 2012. It is so old that Apple classifies it as “vintage”.

I had to repair my 2012 iMac twice in the last two years, so I am I not looking forward to another computer hospital visit this year. Better to reward myself with a new one.

Thankfully Apple announced the 2020 version of the iMac about a week ago. While it has lots of performance upgrades, I am looking forward to three seemingly minor changes — an all-SSD storage, user-replaceable RAM, and a better webcam.

The old iMacs had hybrid drives, i.e., an SSD with the operating system and a conventional drive for everything else. Since I rely largely on the cloud and external drives, the all-SSD move is not a problem for me.

The new larger version of the iMac also allows me to change and add more RAM on my own. While this is a mainstay of most PCs, Apple has locked its users out from most user-initiated upgrades. This exception will allow me to buy and install RAM without the Apple tax.

Finally, the new iMac will come with a high-definition webcam. Most of its laptops and other iMacs have subpar webcams that are embarrassing now that video conferencing is the norm.

Macs do not come cheap. I will be taking advantage of my educator’s discount, and since I am planning to get one now, I will get a free pair of AirPods as well. Combine that with a monthly installment plan and the new investment is a no-brainer.

Disclaimer: This was not a sponsored message.

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I had a happy first few days of the lunar new year, not least because I found this funny video courtesy of SGAG.

I fell ill on new year’s eve and am still recovering. Don’t worry, it is not Wuhan-related. My illness meant I had to avoid people like the plague.

I do not have problems with people proper. I simply dislike inane or meaningless interactions. So my illness was a bonus hongbao for my misanthropic tendencies.

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