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Posts Tagged ‘Seth Godin

In the middle of 2018, I picked up Singapore’s Ambassador-at-Large, Tommy Koh’s summary of the four “industrial” revolutions. I have taken the liberty of relabelling them in a way that makes sense to me:

  1. Agrarian (animal domestication and farming)
  2. Industrial (engines, electricity, factories)
  3. Digital (semi-conductors, personal computing, the Internet)
  4. Integrative-connective (IoT, autonomous vehicles, AI)

I bring this up not to suggest new labels, but to connect it with Seth Godin’s thoughts on the four computing cycles:

  1. Increasing the efficiency of arithmetic and storage
  2. Reducing transactional distances
  3. Connecting events and people
  4. Making predictions

If you squint, the frameworks-of-fours might follow a pattern of increasing complexity and human actualisation. Take the fourth stage as an example.

We are now at the cusp of autonomous vehicles that need to predict what lies ahead in terms of traffic, weather, and emergent events. What I found interesting in Koh’s 2018 piece and Godin’s 2019 blog post was how people are and need to be more involved.

A common headline or clickbait tweet reads something like “Technology will take your job!”. This seems to be the go-to fear mongering method of the press and press wannabes. It is far easier to crunch numbers (or make them up) and tell people how they will lose their jobs.

But if you read more nuanced and informed pieces like Koh’s and Godin’s, you might note how human connection and communication are both the goal and method of the fourth age.

We will shape the technologies to help us more meaningfully, deeply, and profoundly. This means that the technologies are more humanising, not the opposite. This also means that we need better humans, not worse ones.

For me this means embracing technology as early and as wisely as possible, not later.

To leave a better planet for our kids, we need to leave better kids for our planet.

Today I tie together an edtech staple, SAMR, and Seth Godin’s recent blog post, Better and Different.

SAMR is a model that has been useful for educators to think about what they are doing when teaching with technology — substituting, augmenting, modifying, or redefining.

The model is not perfect (no model is) and it has its fair share of critics and brickbats. A simple Google search will reveal what they are.

However, this does not mean that SAMR is not important or useful. The model might somewhat arbitrarily define SA as possibly enhancing teaching with technology while MR might push this to transforming teaching.

It might help to step outside the walled garden that is the classroom to see why MR and transformation are critical elements of the SAMR model. Godin made this point plainly:

There’s still plenty of room for digital innovations to impact our world. But they won’t simply be a replacement for what we have now. They only earn widespread engagement when they’re much better than the status quo they replace.

And the only way they can be better is when they’re different.

Or to put the same thing a different way:

Doing things differently does not always mean doing things better. But doing things better always means doing things differently. -- Hank McKinnell (Former CEO of Pfizer)

[image source, used under CC licence]

Blasting PowerPoint is not new. Seth Godin blogged about how PowerPoint bullets can kill and it was an entertaining read, as was the original NYTimes article which got Godin rolling.

The original “PowerPoint kills” context was its use in the US military. PowerPoint was described as a tool that “stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making” and “can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control”. Some more choice quotes:

it ties up junior officers — referred to as PowerPoint Rangers — in the daily preparation of slides, be it for a Joint Staff meeting in Washington or for a platoon leader’s pre-mission combat briefing in a remote pocket of Afghanistan… Last year when a military Web site, Company Command, asked an Army platoon leader in Iraq, Lt. Sam Nuxoll, how he spent most of his time, he responded, “Making PowerPoint slides.” When pressed, he said he was serious.

But PowerPoint was not without its charms.

Senior officers say the program does come in handy when the goal is not imparting information, as in briefings for reporters. The news media sessions often last 25 minutes, with 5 minutes left at the end for questions from anyone still awake. Those types of PowerPoint presentations, Dr. Hammes said, are known as “hypnotizing chickens.”

I’ve blogged about what I think of PowerPoint before and I’ve shared my philosophy of presentations [1] [2].

PowerPoint tends to be used in a frontal, delivery-oriented way. Worse still, it is linear and bulleted by design. But teaching and learning are not always sequential. We should not to let the medium restrict a message. In the context of education, I’d add that the medium should not restrict multi-way communication and learning.


Slideshare source

I am not saying that PowerPoint presentations cannot be effective. Many of the ones at Slideshare are testament to how good they can be (see the one above for practical tips and the one below as an example of visual design). The best ones often speak for themselves and the reason they do that is because their creators don’t restrict themselves to what PowerPoint does. It’s another example of how social and pedagogical affordances trump technical ones.


Slideshare source

The phrase above has been attributed to Gina Trapani in the context of social productivity.

It’s arguably also the context for Seth Godin’s free e-book, What Matters Now.

The short book is essentially a mash-up of the thoughts of over 70 thinkers of our time. You can also read the book in the Slideshare embedded above.

Different people blog for different reasons.

I started blogging in March 2004, a few months before the birth of my son, as a record of what it was like to grow up. That’s right, I blogged as my son and I still do. I also maintain other blogs as the real me and each blog represents a different aspect of who I am. This blog is me as a teacher educator.

So why do others blog? Why should they be blogging? Seth Godin and Tom Peters offered their perspectives on the second question.


Video source

From the short video I picked out some values of edublogging:

  • practising metacognition (thinking deeply about what you say)
  • developing disciplined personal expression
  • being part of an ongoing conversation (whether you or others are even aware that one exists)
  • changing the way you look at things

I couldn’t agree more.

Why do I blog? I blog because I am. I blog because of who I am becoming and who I want to be. I blog because it reminds me that I am always learning.


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