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Posts Tagged ‘not

In February, I shared this resource on Twitter:

Even though there were good ideas there about educators leveraging on Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, the tweet not a complete endorsement.

Here are some considerations to prevent a blind plunge into those social media depths.

Why not Facebook?
Some people like to say that Facebook is a place to hang out with friends while Twitter is where you learn from relative strangers. Based on anecdotes, I also suspect that some people prefer to separate their personal social media platform from the professional learning one (if they even have the latter).

Facebook and Twitter seem to have different socially-mediated uses. If you receive an invite from someone on Facebook, you are obliged to take it. If you are followed on Twitter, you are not obliged to follow back (not nowadays anyway).

With Facebook, you cannot choose your family; with Twitter you can curate your “friends”. This might be why Twitter seems more closely associated with educator personal learning networks (PLNs) than Facebook.

There are many more reasons not to use Facebook. I will not go into how Facebook has abused user trust and helped spread fake news, but I share links to resources I have curated.

Why not LinkedIn?
It is not the go-to for youth. In a few past keynotes, I emphasised how LinkedIn was one of the least mobile of the big social platforms.

For example, a 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal illustrated comScore data:

LinkedIn is desktop-bound.

LinkedIn was very much a desktop-dominant tool. After being bought by Microsoft in 2016, the platform might be more mobile. However, it has not escaped the stigma of being an older worker’s tool.

This mobile vs desktop distinction is important. Mobile is already dominant and its mindset of use is different. Think about the obvious: On-the-go, small but contextual consumption, and interstitial learning.

Consider the less obvious too, i.e, learning from non-traditional experts like people younger than you and outside your professional interests. It is LinkedIn and not necessarily linked out. Having a mobile mindset enables the latter.

Why not Pinterest?
Ah, Pinterest, the platform that, according to this Pew study, rivals both LinkedIn and Twitter among adults, but has a heavy gender bias.

Pinterest might have had respectable numbers among adults, but interest has waned among teens. These are the same teens that will take their unpinned preferences and behaviours to adulthood.

The platform’s strength is photos, but while these might paint a thousand words, they are not necessarily accompanied by a thousand distilled, reflective, critical, or otherwise necessary actual words. The written word may be subjective, but pictures are even more open to interpretation.

So what then?
My reflection might seem like a put down of the three platforms. I did not write it with that intent.

I see it this way: If you are going to invest in a home or vehicle, you will want to know what is good and bad about it. While being encouraging and positive puts smiles on faces, I do not want you to be a grinning idiot (I mean that in the kindest way).

Be informed, stay informed. Then make up your own mind.

My own mind is continually using and evaluating tweeting and blogging for sharing and reflecting. Twitter is my short-form tool of choice while WordPress fills in the blanks with long-form space. I have been in Twitter since 2007 and this blog since 2008. I attribute my staying power to the affordances — technical, social, and pedagogical — of these social media platforms.

Yesterday I reflected on disaster-based technology integration. Today I focus on our context and what NOT to leverage on.
 

 
Singapore schools practice e-learning days where kids stay at home for lessons. Prior to this, schools send notifications to parents that explain how this helps us be prepared for the unexpected. In our context, this might mean a viral outbreak or the haze.

That type of rationale — e-learning is emergency learning — does us no favours. The viruses do not celebrate racial harmony in one day and the haze does not heed our kindness campaigns. That is my way of saying that WHEN such events occur and HOW LONG they will take is not easy to predict.

One e-learning day repeated a few times a year is not going to cut it. I know of schools that stagger e-learning content in batches to prevent server overload that one day. How prepared are we should we require constant access over a protracted period?

If there is model to look to, it is how Google ensures that YouTube is up 24×7. That sort of e-learning (entertainment-learning) is available all the time and any time.

When e-learning is relegated to a single day, the preparation to implement it is minimal both technologically and pedagogically. Content and platform access are outsourced to one of a few edtech vendors. There is practically no pedagogy beyond the blanket statement of encouraging students to be self-directed learners.

Being self-directed is important, but most e-learning days are not exemplars of that. Students are told exactly what to do, when, and how. They are following formulas, instructions, and recipes. They are not being independent.
 

 
What might self-direction look like? When learners have an authentic and complex problem they want to solve, they meet in a WhatsApp group they already have, watch a few relevant YouTube videos they look for, and discuss solutions.

Any parent with an e-learning notification letter can also tell you that e-learning days seem to coincide with days or the week right before vacation periods. Is the focus meaningful learning or administrative creativity? Does this mean that the e-learning is in excess, extra, or otherwise good-to-have but not essential?

Not many adults examine the quality of such “e-learning”. As a concerned educator and former head of a centre for e-learning, I offer some questions for both parents and teachers:

  • Bearing in mind what I just wrote, why do you have e-learning?
  • What does the e-learning material and experiences do the SAME as school?
  • What does the e-learning material and experiences do DIFFERENTLY from school?
  • What was worth the effort? What was effective and what was not? Why?
  • After answering the question above, why do you have e-learning (really)?

What might we take away when we compare our efforts with the disaster-driven technology for e-learning?

We should not be complacent when we have the time, space, and resources to do different and do better. But like the case study I summarised yesterday, we should leverage on what learners already do authentically, seamlessly, and without boundaries.

Born free. Became expensive.

No, I do not work for free.

No, I will not endorse your product or service.

No, you cannot expect handouts all the time.

I have been approached by various agencies over many channels to give free advice, to share professional connections, and to embed third party offerings like “infographics” into my blog.

To them I say: You do not work for free, so why are you expecting me to? Not convinced? Refer to the pick-my-brain section of my contact page.

While I share some of my thoughts and musings daily and openly in my blog, this does not mean that I offer all of my professional services and distilled wisdoms for free. These took time and failed efforts to build up and learn from.

I do not work for free.

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Experts from several fields weighed in on what it means to be “innovative”. According to a news article, this was part of forum organised by the NUS Business School.

I liked the response by Professor Michael Frese. He indicated that whether something was innovative or not needed to be judged in hindsight and that creativity often stems from a poverty of resources.

He also described how leaders were critical in implementing innovation. They had to combine contradictory processes: Open ones like risk-taking and failing, and closed ones like routines and deadlines.

I would be stumped to define innovation succinctly. I was schooled longer than I have educated myself. As a teacher I even helped schooling cement its place until I decided that it was better to be an educator.

I find it easier to describe what innovation in education (not schooling) is NOT than to say what it is.

Show and tell through the ages.

A while ago, I gave a keynote during which I shared how humans have relied on show-and-tell over the ages. Doing the same thing differently is not innovative despite the changes in technology. We can — and we have — conducted show-and-tell on cave walls, blackboards, overhead projectors, white boards, “interactive” white boards, and now, mobile screens.
 

If one is to be truly innovative, then one might focus on the learner and learning, and then consider how not to rely just on show-and-tell. It might be about showing learners where to look without telling them what to see.

 
Not preventing something is not the same as promoting, sanctioning, or allowing it. This might sound obvious when you say it, but this seems to escape people who seek change.

For example, take how many educational institutions adopt a standard learning management system (LMS). When a few instructors ask if they can not use it or operate outside of it, the reasonable response from higher-ups is that they are not prevented from doing this. However, these independent or alternative efforts are not supported either.

Since components are often tightly linked — content storage and delivery; online discussion; assignment checking, submission, and grading — operating outside an institutional LMS takes know-how, courage, and persistence. Instructors have legitimate concerns about what others think about their actions and if these impact student feedback on teaching and their appraisals.

But ask any instructor who has had legitimate reasons to move beyond institutional LMS if their students’ feedback or instructional appraisals have been bad. You will more likely than not find that when these educators put their learners’ interests before their own, neither feedback nor appraisals suffer.

So the issue of higher-ups or IT departments or current policies not supporting innovative educators is a non-issue. The main thing that prevents change is the mindset and determination of the educator.

Smart people can come up with dumb labels. The smart prefix has been used with phones, rooms, boards, vehicles, etc.

These devices are not smart. They do not (yet) create or intuit.

The devices might also bring out behaviours in people that are not smart. People walk around with phones without looking around. Teachers might expect the room and board work to engage. Drivers let vehicles make decisions that the latter cannot yet make.

Maybe the people who label things smart are not that smart after all.

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I recoiled when I saw this. It is the same reaction I have whenever I see such photos.

I call it like I see it: There is nothing more unnatural than putting on a show like this and having people gawk away.

This happens in some Singapore schools more often that we would like to admit, but we keeping doing this because we have visitors. I wonder if 1) the students feel like animals in a zoo, and 2) our visitors would rather see our cat belly.

The good thing about kids is that they learn to tune the adults out. The closer they are to being a teenager, the easier it is to do this.

The “good” thing about such photos is that I can use them as wrong examples of the audience effect.

Audience effect quote.

I normally share this quote and describe a Vanderbilt study to illustrate the audience effect. I use it to justify why it this is important for the learner-as-teacher dimension in flipped learning. Such an authentic audience effect is positive because it enables and drives learning.

The showcase-for-audience effect is insidious. It is driven by marketing and public relations. It takes time and effort, but does not help the learner and learning. Unless it is about putting on a show.


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