Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘share

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The video above is about how mistrust for the SARS-CoV2 vaccine grows. I highlight a late segment with an educator’s point of view.

A paediatric group created its own communications department to educate its stakeholders and to counter misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. It did this because lives and reputations were at stake.

Educators need to adopt a similar mindset as well. It is not enough to just keep our heads down and toil away. We need to speak up against bad ideas, policies, or practices. We need to share our ideas and resources openly and freely.

In our case, lives and reputations are also at stake, but seemingly not as urgently and not as obviously. Educators deal primarily with infodemics not epidemics. If we do not fight against bad ideas like learning styles, ill-informed policies like online proctored exams, or practices like e-doing instead of e-learning, then we passively enable them.

The epidemic lockdowns raised our collective profiles and reputations. Instead of returning to a normal of unseen educator work, we need to rise up and share. We do this to maintain or raise our reputations as knowledge workers. We do this to beat back the infodemic.

One of the first viral TikToks and memes of 2021 must be the revival of the sea shanty. This is thanks to the Wellerman effort of Nathan Evans.


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The video above is an example of the quick and distributed collaboration between people who have not met before. The reach and success of the video (and other videos it spawned) led to radio and TV interviews for Evans, and an offer to make a proper music video.


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Superficially, one might draw inspiration from these events to take opportunities as they come your way. Dive a bit deeper and you might explore how to make opportunities instead of waiting for a chance encounter.

But the type of making that I am thinking about is not the commercial or mercenary sort. That might be associated with YouTube channels and Instagram feeds that need their media to go “viral” as often as possible. This could lead to formulaic thinking, taking shortcuts, and going with what is trendy.

This is not what we do in education. At least, it should not because we do not look for short term gains. One difference of sharing in the educational Twitterverse and blogosphere is sharing ideas and resources openly and generously.

One of my own shared resources is from 2016, Remaking the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Its pingbacks help me trace its use to various agencies. I am most glad when I see that institutes of higher education overseas use the explanation and job aid I provided to fuel the professional development of lecturers and professors.

It would be nice to be invited and paid to conduct the professional development sessions myself, but this is not possible in the era of COVID-19, not in-person at least. Nor do I expect a Zoom session since the resource is provided with a CC license: CC-BY-NC-SA. But it would be nice if I was invited!

Sharing ideas and resources openly can be infectious in a good way. If only more people were taught how to do this properly and responsibly.

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An ex-colleague shared that she was sharing her research at a Zoom webinar. So I asked the organiser if outsiders were allowed to attend.

It turned out that the session was open to the public. It did not hurt to ask.

It did not hurt to share either. A simple tweet with a hashtag was all it took to pique my curiosity.

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Fear Factor: e-Learning Edition Part 2

When I shared this idea at a conference in 2013, it was a call to be avoid being totally or blindly reliant on vendor-provided learning management systems (LMS). Right now the principle applies to emergency remote teaching: Do not be reliant on just one platform for video conferencing, e.g., Zoom. Why not? This is my Diigo archive for Zoom-related woes and alternatives.

Today, I would position this thought a bit differently. The closed system would not just be the LMS (which learners lose access to sooner than later), it would be about the closed professional development system.

Progressive schools see the value of mentoring new teachers and continuously developing the professional capacity of all teachers. They do so with events like internal sharing sessions and vendor-conducted workshops. If timely and relevant, these benefit the teachers in that school’s ecosystem.

However, some schools operate as closed systems, i.e., they do not share what they learn openly and regularly so that others outside their school may also learn. If other schools behave the same way, that school does not benefit from the mistakes, lessons, and ideas of the other schools.

It can be difficult to open up tightly closed systems. It might not be worth the trouble to do so given the many other things that teachers already need to do. Fortunately, there is an approximately decade-old solution — social media.

Teachers all over the world have shared their dos and their don’ts in blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. They do this even though school conditions and contexts differ. Why? Teachers and teaching remain constant at their core — how to improve teaching so that students learn better.

If you need evidence, you need only trawl the last month’s edu-Twitter streams. Teachers all over the world freely and openly have shared their ideas on how to design and conduct emergency remote teaching, offered tips on synchronous and asynchronous lessons, outlined stay-at-home plans, and more.

There is still a fear that being so open is risky. But sharing your ideas with other teachers is not a zero-sum game. Giving ten ideas does not mean you lose those ten. In all likelihood you will receive the gratitude of other teachers, suggestions on how to improve your own ideas, and raise your reputational capital.

I say this to administrators, policymakers, or teachers who have Fear 2: You risk nurturing teachers who are risk-averse if you do not encourage them to share openly and responsibly. These teachers then cannot model similar behaviours for their students.

We do not share enough in schooling and education.

Some people only wait for conferences and special events to share. Their classrooms and knowledge vaults are not open to the genuinely and critically curious. They do not care to share.

While “sharing is caring” used to be — and perhaps still is — misappropriated to pirating materials, it should be the mantra of the modern and connected educator.

We should care enough to create and share, not just collect and curate what others do. What we create need not be original. We stand on the shoulders of giants after all.
 

 
Such caring by sharing is not a one-way street. The beneficiaries of such sharing must take enough care and ask permission to make edits or changes. Better still, both sharer and recipient should learn about the different Creative Commons licenses that grant permissions in advance.

If asked, sharers should care enough accommodate requests for the sake of helping others learn. In return, they could ask the people they help to share alike, attribute, and communicate the history of what is shared.

Generous sharing is not blind or naive. It can be strategic, but it starts first from a place of care.

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One of the initiatives I led when I was a faculty member was using open learning tools and resources.

While administrators of academic institutions lock information down with the help of publishers, I countered with open publishing. While instructors concerned themselves with strict copyright and intellectual property rights, I pushed open source and Creative Commons resources.
 

 
I still model this mindset and behaviour by using ImageCodr to embed and attribute CC-licensed images almost every day in this blog. I create and share resources for my talks, workshops, and classes with open and non-expiring tools.

I am not always aware of the reach of these resources because they do not have trackers. However, sometimes I find out via my blog that they are making an impact.

Recently two of my blog reflections received an unusual number of hits. One was Remaking the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy while the other was Dumbfounded (Part 2). Using the WordPress dashboard, I could link the hits to visitors from Cambodia and Egypt respectively.

I was curious as to why, but did not have any answers because the dashboard results were not fine-grained enough.

Thankfully, an educator from Cambodia contacted me to ask for editing rights to my revision of Bloom’s Verb Wheel. She wanted to convert the words to Khmer. As I use that resource actively, I said I could provide a copy as long as the subsequent resources were shared under similar CC licenses.

But I have no idea why so many Egyptians were interested in my critique of a poorly conceived, badly written, and irresponsibly broadcasted programme on Channel News Asia.

The bottomline is this: Those of us in education should share as openly as we can. The people I reached would not have been helped if the resources were not available to them via a quick Google search. We have a responsibility that extends beyond our classrooms and borders.
 

I hesitate to highlight keynotes I do for edtech companies. They are often looking for an endorsement by an expert for a product or platform.

I do not always have first-hand experience of what they want to sell to audiences nor do I agree with what it is, how it works, and why it was designed that way. So most of the time I say no.

Every now and then I say yes if there is an opportunity for me to create dissonance and spark change. In December 2016, I delivered a keynote in the Philippines to do just that.

Visual design: Conclusion

Today I am resharing that keynote along with four key processes associated with it: Visual design, interaction design, technical outcomes, and rise above reflection.

Why did I hesitate in sharing?

The hesitation was creating an entry in my Presentations page. I did not want to come across as endorsing products; I only endorse contextual, meaningful, and powerful change.

I had openly shared my thoughts during the preparation, on the day of the keynote, and shortly after. The presentation itself was and is still freely available online under a Creative Commons license (CC-BY-NC-SA).

My hesitation lies mostly with the limited impact of keynotes. I have been on a limited keynote circuit for several years now, but I still do not believe in them fully. That said, words do matter, and when timed just right, might seed change or push it along.

 
When I was a boy, I had to wind my wristwatch and use a key to coil a spring in household clocks. Today it seems like the only way to get wound up by a watch is when its battery runs flat.

You can either bring the watch to a shop to get the battery changed, or you can attempt it yourself. When I first watched how someone else did it and how much the battery and service cost, I decided that I would do it myself in future.

Back then it looked like a specialised or skilled task. It is not any more. There are numerous websites and YouTube videos that show you how to open up the watch yourself and swop the battery. Many of these resources are brand or model specific.

I change my wife’s and my watch batteries once a year or every two years, so I sometimes forget my self-taught lessons.
 

 
A recent reminder was how rare some batteries are.

I had to find an equivalent for a battery for a dress watch because the exact brand and type was not available in hardware stores here. So I searched online, found the equivalent types, and made price comparisons. I saved anywhere between five to ten times the cost by DIY compared to going to a shop.

The result of this exercise was a renewed appreciation for how easy it is to be a self-directed learner nowadays. All this is because we have accessible platforms and creators who share openly.

The timely reminders are that we need to create conditions for this sort of learning and nurture learners who not only know how to consume helpful content, but also how to give back by creating and sharing.

After reading this article on Microsoft pushing Minecraft into classrooms, I was not taken by the efforts of the technology giant. While they might have an education arm, they do not have an education heart.

Instead I liked Mimi Ito’s description of the game.

Specific educational features of Minecraft — shared virtual world, construction tools, hackability— are not new, but what’s really new is the fact that it has been put together in a package that is embraced at a massive scale by kids, parents, and educators.

The ability to build freely, share what you build, and hack so that you have better tools, effects, visuals, etc., are probably why Minecraft caught on so rapidly. This led to why Microsoft bought it and why schools might embrace it more widely.

The emphasis is on might.

Some progressive individuals already have, e.g., the Minecraft Teacher. This was way before Microsoft jumped on and bought the whole bandwagon as well as the trail and the world it was travelling on.

School leaders and teachers no problem with building. I will resist the urge to describe Minecraft as digital LEGO. Instead I will point out that schools might include Minecraft under the trendy umbrella of making and maker spaces.

Schools might not be so open with sharing. Trump might not have his wall, but schools have long maintained walled gardens to protect their classroom bubbles.

School are definitely not keen on hacking even though it is legal and encouraged in Minecraft. There is a whole ecosystem of customising the game to suit your needs. There are entire servers based on modifications of the Minecraft core that provide different experiences, e.g., even more limited space and resources, Hunger Games-like survival, simple emulations of other games.

That said, schools might reluctantly embrace Minecraft hacking under the trendy identity of coding. Ah, much better.

So I provide my answer to this quote tweet. MinecraftEdu should not be shaped to the classroom because that would be stepping back in time. Case in point (from the same article):

So far, though, not every feature of Education Edition is being met with whoops of joy. For example, Microsoft chose to include in the game virtual chalkboards — a decidedly old-fashioned tool plunked down into a 21st-century game.

Minecraft has the literal and figurative building blocks to go forward, up, deep, and wide more rapidly than schooling can. This movement will be lead by learners from age 4 to 40, and by innovative teachers.

Every now and then I get requests to be interviewed, to write an article, or to have something I wrote be part of someone else’s site.

I say no almost all the time and I explain why based on the context of the request. But there is one reason that is common to all requests: I do not want to be manipulated into pushing someone else’s agenda.

Everyone has an agenda, even if they say they do not. Having an agenda is fine if you are honest about it and if you have your heart in the right place.

Quotes taken from what I say or write might get decontextualised. An opinion piece that I write might get edited until its original message gets diluted or warped.

These are probably why some politicians who are interviewed by the press also post their speeches or thoughts on platforms like Facebook. Better to hear from the horse’s mouth.
 

 
The sad thing is that not all do this. Instead of allowing people to thinking critically and make their own decisions based on source material, the sources and the press conspire to leave it up to the press to publish selectively.

What is our excuse in the realms of schooling and education?

Is the source material unavailable?

Is the source material available, but not accessible?

Is the source material available and accessible, but not understandable?

If we say yes to any of these questions, why is this the case and what are we doing about it?

In the wider world, people can take control of the information they generate. They create, share, and discuss, largely on social media.

If the goal of schooling and education is to prepare kids for the wider world, then why are we not allowing and insisting that students create, share, and discuss more openly?


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