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Posts Tagged ‘not

 
I would rather use any platform other than an institutional LMS. Over the years, I have reflected on why. Most recently I mentioned a paradigm shift in edtech.

But here are some simple and pragmatic reasons why I prefer to operate outside an LMS.

Reliability: Platforms likes Google Sites have near-perfect uptime. It would take a catastrophic failure for them to be unavailable over a long stretch of time. They operate over redundant servers so that the end user does not ever see “scheduled maintenance” notices.

Transferability: It is a chore to export courses from one semester to another. Even as LMS providers make this process easier, the fact remains that course resources are not available indefinitely and importing them to a new section can result in accidents. This happens most often when an LMS “upgrades”.

Indefinite access: Nothing lasts forever, but open platforms that stand the test of time have it in their interest to keep users and customers. I have resources from over a decade ago that are still online and occasionally still referred to. How do I know? I get email notifications when this happens.

Mobile responsiveness: Most LMS providers are not mobile responsive. Instead they create feature poor apps for things like notifications, announcements, polling, and attendance-taking. But when I create a course site in Google Sites, content is automatically adjusted for smaller mobile devices.

Flexibility: I can use and embed just about any other edtech tool in an open platform. I do not have to rely on LMS API or be be held back by backward IT policy. The edtech world changes quickly and features come and go, but this also means I learn to be flexible instead of simply relying on LMS inertia or repetitive practice semester over semester.

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I cringed, I screen capped, I posted.

It is easy to judge a newspaper for thinking that dated references are still relevant.

What is not as easy to capture is how some teachers still try to incorporate technology for coolness sake. Their learners cringing is the least of their problems.

The harm is in the technology being used to engage instead of empower; it enhances teaching but does not enable powerful and meaningful learning.

I am not one for conspiracy theories, but a casual observer might say I am living one — the items I need for work have synchronised breakdowns.

Holes appeared in my favourite shoes, my laptop backpack is starting to fall apart, my Macbook periodically freezes and shuts down, and my iPad battery is bloated. All this in a space of about a week or two.

Truth be told, I only noticed the holes and wear on my shoes and bag when they became obvious. They did not appear overnight when seemingly signalled by my iPad and Macbook.

If I think about it, my shoes have lasted a few years, and even though I do not wear them every day, I walk in them more. When I visit new campuses or work environments, I make the effort to explore and my shoes get a work out.

I carry a fair bit in my laptop bag because I want to be prepared for any instructional eventuality. This means I carry a small house on my back. I have worn through my share of bags, so this is not unusual.

My iPad started losing battery capacity several weeks ago, but I ignored this and kept charging it up instead of getting a battery replacement. This probably stressed the battery.

Apple SSD programme.

My laptop, on the other hand, was working fine until I brought it in when I received a notification from Apple for a free servicing for an SSD issue. I had not previously experienced “data loss and failure of the drive”. But the freezing and shutting down started happening after the servicing.

So there is no conspiracy. But there is a going to be a larger-than-usual credit card bill as I pay to get the items repaired or replaced.

It seems to be a point of pride for some Pokémon Go (PoGo) players to highlight how little money, if any at all, that they put into the game. That is what I gather from anecdotal interactions with other players and from Facebook group posts.

If they wish to play that way and grind a maximum of 50 coins a day, they are entitled to do so. What they are not entitled to do is getting those coins by spoofing, sniping, and shaving.

What these players are also not entitled to do is putting others down for paying to play. Closet PoGo players do not reveal they pay to play in order to avoid the condescending question, “Pay for what?”

PoGo shop.

I pay to play to the tune of just SGD 1 a day. I enjoy the game and wish to support the company and the people it employs. I benefit from the ecosystem it has created in the form of YouTubers and other social leaders.

I do not think that it is helpful to expect a company to provide an app, a service, and an entire ecosystem for free. Doing this entrenches a mean and closed mindset.

I challenge the notion that the best things in life are free. They are not, not even the intangibles. Take family time for instance. Think about how much time and effort it takes to carve it out or set it aside.

Born free. Became expensive.

Free or freemium apps get cashflows eventually. They could offer micro-transactions that fool users or sell user data without the users’ knowledge. When the latter happens, we become the product, not the customer.

Thinking or wishing that you can get away with “free” has its price — continued ignorance, unrealistic expectations, and futile actions. We might be born free of burden, but we become expensive very quickly. The lesson at birth is something we should not forget.

An issue that some Singaporeans keep revisiting is whether schools should start later so that children get enough sleep.
 

 
Just over a week ago, I reflected on how adults maintain the status quo (early starts) by focusing on what is NOT best for kids.

Yesterday, another adult wrote to a local rag to add more kerosene to the flame.

The writer’s rationale is that waking very early is good for kids because it instills discipline.

He is missing the point. The issue is not about discipline because there are many other ways to develop it — chores, exercise, self and time management strategies, for example.

The issue is that kids need to get enough sleep. Now this could mean that kids need to sleep early enough the night before and wake up late enough the day of school.

The current realities are that some kids here get so much homework and/or are subject to so much “enrichment” that they do not sleep early enough. If they live far away from school or take arranged transport, they cannot sleep in to compensate.

Insisting that discipline is a result of kids waking up early when their bodies are not sufficiently rested is 1) deflecting the issue, and 2) pretends to be about kids. Instead of using this flimsy excuse, proponents of this should read the research and impact of insufficient sleep and look into other ways of developing discipline.

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.


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