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Posts Tagged ‘old

 
This opinion piece suggested that teachers and educators had to play new roles in the COVID-19 era, specifically, health promoters, ICT champions, and social workers.

If you read the piece with an outsider’s perspective, the writer’s arguments and examples seem sound. But they are not airtight.

Any current mainstream school teacher can tell you that they already had those roles pre-COVID. It is just that the roles were not as obvious or that one role in particular — ICT champion — was easy to mostly ignore. All this means that the roles are not new. They might be renewed or more obvious to parents now, but they are not novel.

But focusing on the roles of teachers does the opinion piece a disservice. I blame part of the headline (Teachers now have new jobs) and the relegation of the more important message to the last third of the article. The COVID era has exposed our efforts in creating equitable schooling and education, and it has forced us to question if students are “truly digital natives”.

The same news site has articles highlighting how many students had to be given or lent devices and data dongles [example]. The struggles of learning from home, even with adequate technology, also indicates how being “digitally native” is a misnomer. Being savvy does not guarantee that students know how to learn or why they need to learn something.

If the article was to stay true to the remainder of its headline that “Schools will never be normal again after COVID-19”, it could have also avoided uncritical tropes and media-speak, e.g., catering to learning styles. Learning styles have been [debunked].

We do not need things to return to normal again if that means not crrically questioning sacred cow practices. I say we cull old and diseased bovines like busy work as homework, early starts that favour bus driver schedules, and high stakes exams.

 
Maybe it is age catching up on me, but I still feel drained from facilitating a four-hour class yesterday.

Maybe I am more used to three-hour modules or workshops. That seems to be the norm and I have forgotten what is it like to play in overtime.

Maybe I should factor in travel time. Depending on where the class is, it takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half each way on public transport. Surely that hustle and bustle has an impact.

Maybe it is because I make it a point to arrive at least an hour before class to rearrange the physical environment of the classroom, check the lighting, and test all audio-video systems.

Maybe it is simply the accumulation of preparatory work and the sheer energy of facilitating over just didactic teaching that consumes my energy.

Maybe I should not overthink it — I am just getting old.

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.

As I start 2019, I am reminded of advice a veteran teacher gave me when I was a novice: Begin as you see yourself continuing. It was her way of telling me to pace myself.

Begin as you see yourself continuing.

It was also another way of saying sort out your priorities and set your path right early on. A veteran teacher has the benefit of hindsight — it is much harder to change later than sooner.

Harder, but not impossible. Early on, my guiding principles were simple; they could be boiled down to single words. Learner. Changer. Troublemaker.

I am relying on old beginnings to keep me energised for consulting opportunities I have lined up for 2019. I am beginning as I see myself continuing.

I started making image quotes with Google Presentations in May 2015. I called that early series quotable quotes.

My current tool of choice is pablo.buffer.com and I now CC attribute the images more precisely.

This week I am revisiting some of the older image quotes and updating them. The first update is one of my favourites:

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

My original image quotable quote was:
We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

I created this image quote in 2015 after reading a variant of the words attributed to George Bernard Shaw.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

But with every axiom comes exceptions.


Video source

According to the research cited in this video, age is a factor at the highest levels of video gaming.

However, this does not invalidate the principle that we do not have to outgrow curiosity, a sense of fun, or risk-taking. Older gamers also learn to metagame — they devise strategies to compensate for split second slowness.

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.

This semester I am doing something I did not think I would have to do. I am advising my adult learners on what to do when they show up for their performative evaluations.

Amongst other things, I am telling them to:

  1. Come prepared
  2. Arrive early
  3. Be properly attired

These sound so basic that you might think they need not be said. But “golden rules” do not get their shine without polish.

What is socially acceptable or expected does not always come naturally. These behaviours need to be taught and modelled.

The three rules that I mentioned are not just for creating a good impression, they also reveal the mindset and attitudes of my learners. If they practice them, they show me and others that they can see themselves from another person’s perspective. They respect the time and effort everyone makes to participate at an event.

Those three rules are not limited to their performative evaluations. They also transfer to other contexts, e.g., interviews, meetings, classes.

I do not have to defend these rules. But I am concerned that I have to be so explicit about them at this late stage of my learners’ development. My interactions with some of them tell me that their previous teachers and mentors might not have insisted and persisted with these values.

It is that or I am becoming an old fart. Is curmudgeon.com available?
 

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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