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Posts Tagged ‘problems

Google provided lots of answers at the first day of I/O 2018.


Video source

Perhaps I missed something, but what were the questions? Who asked the questions and why were they asked? How exactly are we paying for the answers?

Don’t get me wrong — some of the answers and solutions are intriguing. But to be convinced, I need to know what the questions and problems were. Before you problem-solve, you need to problem-seek.

The best way to start change is to identify what needs changing in the first place. This seems so obvious as to sound redundant, but you have probably seen how blind change initiatives can be.

So if we are to desire change in schools, we must know what is wrong with them. Here are two videos that outline some critical issues.


Video source

The video above highlights how most schools:

  • Are based on outdated Industrial Age values.
  • Do not promote student autonomy.
  • Perpetuate inauthentic learning.
  • Do not accommodate student passions.
  • Provide little or no room for individualisation.
  • Rely on lecturing.


Video source

The video above uses social conflict theory to explore social inequalities that school reinforce or perpetuate. While the video focuses on schools embedded in US systems, the principles apply to any system that claims to be based on meritocracy.

Both videos shed light on what areas need urgent change.

Both videos are also not perfect — both equate education with schooling. They could have drawn distinctions between the two terms because both seemed to desire movement away from schooling and progress towards education.

Schooling is about enculturation. Education is about self-actualisation.

Last week I mentioned how I was “reading” an audio book for the first time using the OverDrive app.

On my iPad: OverDrive app and audio book in my account.

On my iPad: OverDrive app and audio book in my account.

I downloaded the free app on my iPad initially and later on my iPhone. Here are some thoughts so far about using the app.

On my iPhone: OverDrive app and audio book in my account.

On my iPhone: OverDrive app and e-book in my account.

The good thing about the app and the library service is that both are free. I do not have to pay a cent immediately out of pocket. It is nice to see some of my tax dollars at work.

Now for the bad.

My biggest bugbear is that the book I borrowed is either audio only or text only, not both. I thought that the enhanced version would be both text and audio-based, and this was why I initially installed OverDrive to my iPad. I thought I could listen to the book when my hands were busy and go back to actually reading when they were not. But I made the wrong assumption.

This also meant that I had to borrow the same title twice: The audio book and the text-based book. Each counts against my borrowing limit.

The app has a sync function but it does not seem be working*. It does not sync the downloads between devices. As a result, I have not been able to test if bookmarking in one device leads to a synchronised bookmark in another. One reason for this lack of syncing seems to be the fact that OverDrive keeps forgetting login information to my OverDrive and library accounts.

*Update 1: After manually forcing audio downloads to my iPhone, I have discovered that syncing occurs, but is imperfect. It was several paragraphs (about a minute of audio) off in one instance.

*Update 2: I cannot copy text from the book. This makes note-taking and quote-making an unnecessarily frustrating experience.

Perhaps my complaints are newbie issues. I have barely used the app for a week and am reluctant to use it due to its clunkiness. Perhaps I chose a title whose publisher was struggling with legacy mindsets and offered either-or instead of two-in-one.

Perhaps I have been spoilt by other apps like the default Podcast in iOS. This app that automatically downloads content and syncs it between my iPhone and iMac so that I can listen to podcasts in different contexts. I can start listening on the move on my iPhone, sit down at my iMac and continue where I last left it. This is so very Netflix.

Perhaps there is a design and usability lesson in all this. The new invariably learns from the old: The issues, limitations, hangups, etc. But the old remains old by stubbornly holding on to what is losing relevance. That is why it is called old.

I prefer using Edmodo and Google Sites to current learning management systems because the former are free, open, and flexible.

I like how Edmodo was (and still is) built on the premise that people learn by being able to socialize. When there is not enough time in class, you can continue online outside class. Better still, blend the experiences to take advantage of both worlds.

I use Edmodo every semester for at least one course, MLS125, an inservice teacher elective on managing ICT-mediated change.

The problem I face in Edmodo is that my “students” are teachers.

I choose not to require my participants to set up separate student accounts because I want them to hit the ground running as teachers. But I still cannot award these teachers badges like teachers can for their Edmodo students.

Teachers can get up to ten badges from Edmodo, but that is not within my control. I cannot model the gamified experience without compromising by requiring student accounts.

Why not require teachers to use student accounts then? First, having more than one account is confusing or inconvenient. Second, LMS typically give learners a student-only perspective and they adopt a more passive stance as a result. I want my participants to be clear on what they need to do and to take ownership of teaching and learning.

edmodo-peeve

Second peeve: My profile says that I have less than ten students in my courses over the last few years. That is true based on Edmodo’s definition of students. But I have introduced hundreds of pre and inservice teachers to Edmodo by getting them to sign up for it and use it in my courses and workshops.

The third peeve is that I cannot schedule posts more precisely. I am thankful that I can even schedule posts as this feature was not available before. But I would like the fine-grained scheduling (to the minute) of TweetDeck for Twitter instead of the coarse scheduling (by the hour) in Edmodo.

Fourth peeve: I would also like some richer editing. I am not asking for much. Paragraphing would help!

When I type a reply like this:

Two thoughts to tickle the neurons and create cognitive dissonance.

By the end of MLS125, I hope that most of you realize why you should not perpetuate “digital natives” and “technology is just a tool”.

For some clues, you might search my blog on how my own understanding of digital natives has changed. We can also discuss them in this space or in person. The benefit of this space is more permanency and space for reflection.

As for the other concept, I share a quote (attributed to Marshall McLuhan): “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”.

It appears like this:

Two thoughts to tickle the neurons and create cognitive dissonance.By the end of MLS125, I hope that most of you realize why you should not perpetuate “digital natives” and “technology is just a tool”.For some clues, you might search my blog on how my own understanding of digital natives has changed. We can also discuss them in this space or in person. The benefit of this space is more permanency and space for reflection.As for the other concept, I share a quote (attributed to Marshall McLuhan): “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us”.

See the difference?

The former is my attempt to model good online discourse with white space. Edmodo prevents this. In the previous version of Edmodo, I could insert two or three returns for really spaced out paragraphs, but now I cannot seem to do that. I can create distinct paragraphs in initial postings, but not in replies.

My complaints may seem small, but I think that individually and collectively they are important. If we shape a tool that does not reward, acknowledge, or organize as it could, then it shapes behaviour.

Could I compromise? I could, but I will not because that would mean a lowering of expectations and standards. That is not what an educator does.

I feel for Chris Dawson when he describes how he has to stretch every dollar for his school, particularly in these bad times. He laments: “just how do we get on the list for retooling to meet 21st Century needs?”

In contrast, schools in Singapore have lots of money to provide infrastructure and training. I wrote about this previously and I agree wholeheartedly that cheap netbooks, wireless networks, and 1:1 computing are the way to go.


Our schools have computer labs… which remain under or improperly utilised! Computers need to be a norm in classrooms. One way is for schools to invest in mobile labs like the one offered by Apple.

Why? If going to a computer lab remains a novelty, then technology is not mainstream and integrated sufficiently. If, on the other hand, the technology can be so commonly called upon to enable or support learning, it becomes natural and transparent. I think that Dawson articulated similar thoughts (but better than I have) in another blog entry.

So it looks like we have different factors leading to the same problem. Chris might have an infrastructure problem; Singapore schools have a mindset issue. Both prevent us from promoting learning for the 21st century.


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