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Posts Tagged ‘perspectives

I found this selection of perspectives from teachers who used edtech in their classrooms interesting.

Not eye-opening because these were pretty well-informed and critical views of teachers who had been around the block and who seemed to care for their learners.

They were interesting because of the deep insights and persistent misconceptions. An example of the former:

…one thing about technology that can’t be said enough is that it is NOT neutral. I so often hear “it’s just a tool” arguments, but it is more than that–especially digital technologies. These have embedded in them the views, values, and (often) misconceptions of the developers. If a school adopts a platform or LMS, it is also bringing on board those things…

An example of the latter:

It would be interesting to have two classrooms of the same subject at the same grade level, one high tech, one old-school and feed those students into the same classroom the next year. Ask that next year teacher if there is a measurable difference between the groups.

Such a design might have been common two or three decades ago, but it is unethical to do this nowadays. Technology “treatments” are not like SARS-CoV-2 vaccine placebos vs treatments.

The vaccines are tested because they are the one big factor that is supposed to make a difference. Edtech is not the one big thing that is supposed to raise test scores (that teacher mentioned AP test results in an earlier part of his quote). There are many co-factors that influence test scores so they become confounding variables in a treatment vs control design.

The first example was from a teacher who seemed to have a more systemic view of how things work. We need more teachers who learn and apply that perspective. These teachers will be less frustrated when they fail with edtech and more appreciative when they succeed.

… and damned if you don’t. That was one of my reactions when I watched this video.

Video source

The video featured volunteers trying to help during the US government service shutdown. But they were stopped by an authority figure because current policies do not allow them to chip in when the chips are down for federal employees.

Therein lies a reminder for change agents in schooling and education. You know that something should be done now and you take it upon yourself (and perhaps a small team) to enact the change. But policies and those that police them will stand in your way.

This reminded me of a series of workshops that I designed and conducted for an education institute. I had recommended that policy makers and administrators also attend the sessions.

My contact enabled this and it was a joy to facilitate. The police makers and administrators were not on the frontline and could not see what progressive pedagogy looked like. At the same time, instructors on the ground could not understand the rationales formed in towers overhead.

The workshops became shared spaces and experiences for these folk to co-learn and to exchange their perspectives. I wish more organisations would enable such designs.

Returning to the Seven Terraces in Georgetown, Penang, was like revisiting a friend’s home. A very rich friend’s very large home.

Like my first visit 2.5 years ago, I never got to meet this friend, but I met many of his staff. They were warm, professional, and polite. In both stays, my family and I got extensions at no extra cost thanks to late flights and accommodating front desk folk.

There were also some not-so-subtle changes to the decor. One was this art piece that featured an elephant-giraffe.

This was not there in November 2015. I took this photo of my wife and son in the same spot then.

Like any good art, the piece sparked thought. For me, it was how easy it is to take sides — either extreme with clear views or somewhere in between with a jumbled ones.

While some might point out that only the extremes offer defined views, I prefer to focus on changing one’s perspective by walking back and forth. Doing that takes effort.

The effort was minimal in the case of the art piece. It might not be so easy when trying to see something from someone else’s vantage point. But making the effort is important in both cases.

I had a conversation with an administrator who remarked that there seemed to be fewer fail cases this semester. I agreed with her assessment.

She wondered if the learners were getting better at picking up the clues we were leaving behind. I wondered if our standards for assessment and evaluation might have slipped.

I shared my perspective partly in jest. There is some truth in humour, and the latter is often used to soften the blow of the former.

The issue is not whether we were actually getting fewer fail cases. The issue is how we seek answers to the why question — why was this happening? There are easy and convenient answers, and there are the queasy and difficult ones. We need to get at all of them.

I am very selective of who I follow on Twitter. One account I follow is @ProblemaStudent.

This account seems to be half bot, half human. Some tweets seem scheduled and repeat based on odd patterns. But there are gems like the ones above.

The tweets are honest, and if you do not actually listen to your learners, you might imagine they would say things like these.

Which begs the question: Do you listen to your learners about how they learn?

Every day I get a feed about how an organisation is adopting some form of Web 2.0. But it was surprising for me to read about the CIA and the US Army being so open to them.

Singapore has its own headlines on Web 2.0 too. A while ago Digital Life had a series on how various companies here used different forms of Web 2.0 to increase productivity, change work culture and practices, and so on. Those articles were presented in a positive but FYI kind of way.

Lately, there seems to be a negative tone to the headlines. Don’t believe me? Then take a look at a June 3, 2009 headline in the Straits Times:

Many firms 'forced to allow Web 2.0 surfing'

The same article in the online version of ST read:

When Web 2.0 attacks

Not selling enough newspapers, ST?

Sensationalism is not the way to go unless it wants to walk down the tabloid path of The New Paper. I’m certain that the ST is facing the same pressures of news publishers in other parts of the world, but stooping low is not a way to distinguish itself.

But I think that it has already begun its slippery descent. After all, the same publishing company gave birth to Stomp. The denizens that used to congregate and in-breed in Stomp seem to have wandered into ST Forum. A cursory glance at the responses to most readers’ letters will reveal a village idiot or three.


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