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Posts Tagged ‘reflection

I received my second Pfizer-BioNTec shot on Friday. While seated in the waiting area, I was reminded of two three gaps.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

First, our schooling and education needs to teach learners of all ages a form of public speaking. This is not the sage-on-the-stage speaking but the speak-at-considerate-volume when in a shared space.

Photo by jonas mohamadi on Pexels.com

Second, some people are going to ignore these lessons because they are selfish. So makers of noise-cancelling headphones could update their devices to specifically be voice-cancelling.

Third, and written after I initially had just two thoughts, the WordPress mobile app needs to provide automatic attributions to images by Pexels. When I drafted this reflection on the app, the images above were included sans credit. I had to re-add the images on the desktop application for the attributions to appear.

Just sayin’.

Some folks might not like how long behind-the-scenes videos can be. So here is a quick process and product Instagram video.

Those who enjoy longer form videos might like the quirky animation and storytelling of TheOdd1sOut. In his latest video, the main man behind the channel, James, takes shots at uncritical thinkers.

Video source

Anyone who has made videos will know how tedious the processes behind video-making can be. James opted to share his difficulty with saying “muggle public school”. 

Video source

The painful and funny sequence might provide a small insights to non-videographers how much time and effort goes into voiceover work. I can relate because I used to make videos for the now defunct Cel-Ed channel.

On broader reflection, I wonder how many educators share their processes and failures more openly and reflectively. I know I do from time to time on this blog. These are not monetised or amusing, but I am certain that our collective efforts help other educators see that they are not alone.

I started listening to the Obsessed With… podcasts from BBC Sounds when they started following up with Line of Duty episodes. Why? I like gaining insights into the thought processes behind television products.

I listened to an old episode in the series which focused on Killing Eve. In the interview of Fiona Shaw, the hosts and guest reflected on why people disliked lockdown during the current pandemic.

They avoided superficial answers, i.e., how we are social animals. We can still socialise albeit differently, and we know we will eventually come out of lockdown.

Instead, they concluded that lockdown forced people to spend time with themselves. The question that each person had to ask themselves was: Do you like what you see?

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Can you face yourself without the distraction of work or taking care of someone else? What do you see in that mirror? Are you happy with or disturbed by that reflection?

I know why I liked the quiet that came with our lockdown last year. I had been preparing for it since 2014 when I left full-time work to be an independent consultant. That move forced me to examine my priorities and to look both in the mirror and the crystal ball. I took comfort in what I saw then and what I see now.

After months of allowing a simple editing interface, WordPress forced its new editor on its mobile app and the Web. I am disappointed because I cannot rely on my favourite search of CC-licensed images, ImageCodr, as easily as before.

ImageCodr searches Flickr photos that have been labelled with any of the CC-licenses and provides HTML that can be copied and pasted into other websites. This used to work with the simple editor in WordPress.

Now I get this error message — This block contains unexpected or invalid content — when I try to embed HTML generated by ImageCodr. This happens if I add a new block -> embed -> choose embed as HTML.

Thankfully I can avoid this by a) ignoring the message (it still seems to embed), b) selecting custom HTML instead, or c) using some other external image source.

The last option is Pexel and Google Photos. I experimented with the Pexel source yesterday. I used images in shared folders in my Google Photos to embed all the screenshots above.

All this is a matter of getting used to the changes. However, I also think that the embedding is slower and less direct. It also feels like I am operating remotely on a patient — I cannot actually see and feel the HTML that this reflection is built on.

Be the best that you can be. That is what we urge our kids, right? But as they grow up, they learn through social interaction, societal pressure, and schooling that “best” is a result of competition.

Now competition itself is not bad. It can bring out the best in us. But it can also bring out the worst. One bad consequence is the focus on what others think or say.

Getting feedback by listening to or observing others is not a bad way to learn, but there can also be demoralising talk and bad models of behaviour. So the sooner a child learns to self-evaluate by critical and objective reflection, the sooner they gain confidence in their own abilities.

When compared to others, they might not be the best. But they learn to gauge what their current best is, look forward to improving, and celebrate both.

Fear Factor: e-Learning Edition 4

I challenged my audience in 2013 with a series of slides led by the one above. My intent then was to provide a fourth element in a loose but critical scaffold for thinking about MOOCs.

Back then, I asked them if adopting platforms like Coursera would serve their underserved (they evidence then was that it would not). I challenged them to ask difficult questions like: What might the consequences be if they did not rely on evidence-based planning and approaches?

Today I position this questioning element in the context of emergency remote teaching. How do we respond to the fear of asking and getting answers to the following questions?

  • What mistakes did we make and what did we learn from them?
  • Why were we not better prepared? How might we be better prepared?
  • How do we level up our collective capacity towards seamless learning?

The last question might be informed with this useful framework from Scott McLeod.

The other questions require a brutal and honest look at ourselves. Will we remember enough and be brave enough to do that when we are on the other side of the COVID-19 curve?

I am going to make a claim without backing it up. I am leaving my thoughts online for anyone to agree or disagree with, to learn from or to challenge.

My claim? There is far too much teaching that relies on reaction and not enough that focuses on reflection.

What do I mean? We still place much value in the presentation of information. This is not wrong and it can be impressive in the hands of a skilled and/or charismatic speaker.

But the presentation of information is not the same as the processing of information to turn it into knowledge. Doing that takes effort on the part of the learner, not the teacher. The learner needs to struggle, negotiate, and above all, reflect.

Take this recent faux pas by journalists being purveyors of information.

The math was way off. Each citizen would not receive US$1 million. If the thought experiment played out, each person would receive US$1 and some change.

The reliance on sensation and reaction did not afford time for reflection. This sort of time is asynchronous and practised on platforms like this one.

There is certainly time for the pizazz of presentations. But this should be balanced by reflection. Do not take my word for it, consider the wisdom of Dewey:

We do not learn from experiences. We learn from reflecting on experiences. -- John Dewey

I am in the eighth month of a year-long free trial offered by the telco TPG. (Note: This entry was neither sanctioned nor sponsored by TPG.)

In my first reflection, I was disappointed by the lack of signal in below ground areas, i.e., some MRT stations and mall basement levels. My TPG SIM phone would indicate “no signal” while my StarHub SIM phone worked fine.

Last month a study conducted by mobile analytics firm, OpenSignal, revealed that TPG Telecom had slower speeds and poorer signals than Singtel, StarHub, and M1.

The telco responded. This month I discovered that TPG’s reach had improved. I frequent a basement level grocery store about once a week and was able to get a usable signal there.

My reflection is not about what an organisation might do in the face of competition or how they should respond to bad news. It is about rolling out change.

One principle of change is:

Doing things differently does not always mean doing things better. But doing things better always means doing things differently. -- Hank McKinnell

TPG made waves when it first announced that it would provide free two-year plans for seniors and then also offered a year-long free trial to all others. The first move does social good; the second helps capture a user base. The moves are examples of doing better by being different.

However, mobile calls are still only available on voice over LTE (VoLTE) enabled devices. This limits voice calls to some phones by Huawei, Oppo, and Samsung.

According to TPG’s general manager, Apple has “refused to add the telco’s settings to its carrier settings.” This excludes upwards of 40% of the mobile phone users. Doing things differently does not mean this results in doing things better.

We might find many other examples of this change principle in action if we bother to look. But will we bother to learn? Or will we needlessly make the same mistakes?

Trying to incorporate studio-like sessions into traditional structures is challenging, but the evaluative equivalent is worse.

I had to work with and against the expectation of essay-as-evidence. Outside of exam papers, the semestral take home essay is the most common form of assessment in higher education. Even exams have essays.

The next most common form of assessment might be projects, but this is not always possible because these are even more difficult to grade. The further one moves from paper-based assessments, the more difficult it might seem to quantify.

And that is what evidence of learning in most institutes of higher education looks like — graded assessments. Not evaluations, just grades.

I work against assessments and move towards evaluations by designing and implementing mixed experiences. I work within the system of essays but 1) make them challenging, and 2) embrace praxis.

Praxis is theory put into practice and theory-informed practice. So my evaluations of learning are based not just on what my learners claim to do, they are also based on what they can actually do. I get them to perform by sharing, teaching, critiquing, and reflecting.
 

 
Reflection is particularly important. In my latest design of one Masters level challenge, I asked learners to look back, look around, and look forward at theri writing and their practice. This was challenging not just because of the three prongs but because most students do not seem to reflect deeply and regularly.

But my students rise to such challenges and impress me with their writing and performance.

I am now near the end of providing feedback and grading a written component that incorporated the three prongs. This has been a challenge for me since each student’s work has required me to take between two to three hours to evaluate. This means I process no more than two students’ work each day.

I shall be working over the weekend to tie up loose ends. This means giving all their work a second look and completing an administrative checklist.

Why bother? Because I care about putting evaluation over assessment, measuring studio-based learning with praxis, and nurturing critical reflection.

Outside the humour, grossness, and gross humour, this Wong Fu extra on shower thoughts has a lesson for those of us in education.


Video source

What are shower thoughts? These are deep realisation, clear-mindedness, or being able to connect the dots. The story of Archimedes’ “eureka moment” while having a bath might be considered a shower thought, or in his case, a bath thought.

The lesson for educators is that learning does not always happen in the classroom. More often than not, learning happens outside of it and in unexpected ways. Sometimes the learning happens in context, while other times it happens when the mind is relaxed to so that it creates its own a-ha moments.

This is not an invitation to create more homework. Homework is often just busy and stressful work. It is not introspective or spontaneous or based on retreat. Instead, we might create “shower thought” moments in class by designing for play, relaxation, or reflection.


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