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Posts Tagged ‘serendipitous

In a few months time, I have the privilege of resurrecting a short course on inclusive education with ICT.

As I always have my radar on, my feeds produced two resources I might be able to use.

The first is a news article that might reinforce a more progressive view on special needs and inclusive education. But it is locked behind a paywall and all my learners might not have this newspaper subscription.

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The second is a YouTube video that might not have an obvious link to my course. What does a 16-year-old environmental activist and Nobel prize nominee have to do with inclusive education?

After watching the video I found out that Greta Thunberg has Asperger Syndrome. Hers is an example of how everyday technology (e.g., social media) enables identity and passion.

The availability of the video over the news article also illustrates the reach and accessibility of some learning resources over others. Some providers shoot themselves in the foot and disable themselves.

Yesterday I started Niantic’s second Pokémon Go Community Day (PGCD) on a high, experienced a low, but ended on another high.

PGCD is a monthly event that encourages players to explore the outdoors to find special Pokémon and rewards. February’s Pokémon was Dratini that could “evolve” to Dragonites with the draco meteor charge move.

There were other bonuses: Every catch was rewarded with three times as much stardust, and if you struck the lottery, you might catch the shiny variant of Dratini.

In Singapore, the event was scheduled to start at 11am and end at 2pm yesterday. I made my way to a park and activated a Lucky Egg and Star Piece to boost the XP and stardust gains.

First of five shiny Dratini caught on Community Day (24 Feb 2018).

My day started with a high when my second catch — and first Dratini — was a shiny. Things were looking up, but things started going downhill from that point.

At first, I noticed that the multiplier effect of the star piece I activated was not working. Each first stage Pokémon normally nets 100 stardust once captured. This was boosted to 300 stardust for the event.

As star pieces have a 1.5 multiplier effect, each catch should have been worth 450 stardust. However, the amount of stardust remained at 300 even with the star piece.

I provided video evidence to Niantic that this was happening. BTW, star pieces are items that I had to purchase, and this game error meant that I was wasting my money and effort.

Soon other players and I noticed more trouble within an hour of play. The game lagged, we kept getting error messages, and we could not catch or manage our Pokémon. Eventually the game logged me out and I could not get back in despite trying several times.

Just as well. I had to stop for lunch.

After lunch, the performance of the game improved. Other players and I could log in and we could play normally. Niantic extended the event by another three hours to compensate.

I moved from the park to a nearby mall that had a row of Poké stops. The density of stops meant that Dratini sometimes spawned faster than I could catch them.

This increased my chances of catching a shiny Dratini so much so that I eventually caught a total of five. One of the five was a strong Dratini that I evolved to a Dragonite.

I thought that I had already hit mini lotteries.

Then about 15 minutes before the event was to end, I heard someone say that there was a perfect IV Dratini nearby. A small group of us rushed over to where it was.

Along the way, I did a quick search to confirm the rumour and I realised that I knew that area well. When the group peeled off in the wrong direction, I told them to follow me.

I found the perfect IV Dratini first and beckoned the group over. I had to do this as some from the group opted to follow someone else in the wrong direction.

We caught the perfect IV Dratini just five minutes before the event ended. I hope everyone there remembered to “evolve” their catches immediately to get a perfect IV Dragonite with the draco meteor charge move.

What was the serendipitous learning?

First, seeing for myself that the rumoured shiny Dratini was true by encountering it in the wild.

Second, I had to quickly create videos to send to Niantic to clearly describe a problem and provide indisputable evidence of a problem.

Three, bumping into other players open enough to share critical information, sharing new information on the run, and getting rewarded for cooperating.

The last was a good example of serendipitous cooperation. The group had information about the Dratini that I did not. I knew where exactly to go to catch it, but they did not. If we did not share what we knew, we would not have caught and evolved it on time.

Ah, serendipity.

I do not get to use Zite as much as I would like to because my RSS and Twitter feeds give me enough to read all day. But whenever I do, I always discover a nugget or two.

One such nugget was the blog of Glenda Watson Hyatt. Glenda has cerebral palsy but writes, presents and interacts with the rest of the world with the help of her left thumb. The blog is named powerfully and appropriately, Do It Myself Blog.

I found Glenda’s blog via the iPad section in Zite. She had written an entry about a three-year-old girl named Caleigh who was denied her use of her iPad as an assistive device when she started schooling.

This made Glenda mad because she understood the value of the iPad not just as an assistive device but an enabling one. She blogged about how Caleigh’s special needs teachers seemed to dismiss the effectiveness of the iPad as a communication device. Glenda contrasted this with her own use of the iPad:

Because of my iPad, I was able to communicate with the hotel front desk that my supposed wheelchair accessible room was not accessible. I was able to order a double cheeseburger and an iced mocha from McDonald’s. I was able to carry on conversations with people I had just met. I was able to answer questions after delivering my PowerPoint presentation.

The iPad alone is not the enabler. The apps installed in the device along with the creativity of the people who design and use the apps are.

So just as Glenda appealed in her blog entry, Teachers, Don’t Take Away the Kid’s Voice, I appeal to educators, administrators and policy makers: Don’t take away our kids’ learning opportunities.

Being honest is how you behave when you with others; practising integrity is how you behave when you are alone. I can’t remember where I read that and I’m paraphrasing what I remember, but I think I’ve got the gist of it.

I had a chance to discuss the nuances of honesty and integrity with my son as we made our way to his school today.

We spotted a car that was parked illegally. The driver justified his or her actions by opening the bonnet of the car to indicate engine failure. That’s honest enough, right? No, not if that you know that there is a coffee shop nearby and the same car seems to “breakdown” at that same spot regularly.

I told my son that the driver was dishonest, but I changed my mind because it really was a matter of integrity. So I tried to explain with examples.

I reminded him how a canteen stall operator at his school was dishonest on at least one occasion by not giving my son the correct change and on another occasion overcharging him by making him pay twice for an item. That matter has been dealt with, but it was a painful lesson in life that he will remember because he was a victim of dishonesty.

On the flipside, I told him that “honesty is the best policy” was only a guideline and not a rule in life. If my wife ever asked her boys if her butt looked big, we would have to a) run away, b) change the topic, c) be diplomatic, or d) lie through our teeth. My son said that D is not an option because he thought that all of us had nice butts. Looks like he already knows how to use option C.

As for integrity, I reminded him of how he had to set a timer to regulate the amount of gaming time he enjoys. He does this without us having to remind or monitor him. He has to be honest with himself. He has to practice integrity.

After I dropped him off at school, I reflected on what I tried to teach my son. I had relied on serendipitous and contextual learning. The illegally parked car was a chance event and it served as the initial context. The meaningful contexts were my son’s own experiences.

As I head into the last week of my teaching semester, I resolve to design more serendipity (purposeful accidents) and meaningful contexts in courses to come.

It might not seem obvious who these two were or what they were doing.

As they were waiting with me at the NIE library bus stop last week, I presume they were student teachers. They spotted a very unusual insect and were trying to photograph it with an iPhone.

As I stood there with one of my colleagues from the CeL, I remarked how this was a perfect opportunity for mobile learning.

Perhaps all these two wanted to do was record the beauty of the insect. Perhaps they wanted to be able to identify it by showing the photos to someone.

Perhaps they wanted to upload the photos to Facebook via their iPhone app and ask someone to identify it. If they knew about Google Goggles, they might have tried that instead.

This was an informal learning opportunity and one that was meaningful to the two investigators. As educators we might try recreating such opportunities in formal education, but they are not likely to be as authentic.

Returning to our two investigators, let’s imagine that they not only had something like Google Goggles. Let’s say that had an app that knew where they were and that helped narrow down the identification of the insect. The same app could allow them to share what they had captured, what they wanted to know and what they learnt. Then others who had the same the app could respond in kind; some in real time, some over time.

There are already apps that do these things separately but most are not designed with education in mind. Despite that, an innovative few are forging ahead and trying how far they can push FourSquare or Facebook or Edmodo.

But I think we at the CeL can design and develop mobile apps to promote mobile learning that is self-directed or even collaborative. We can try to make serendipity more serendipitous.

(For the record, I think the two student teachers saw a stalk-eyed fly).

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