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Posts Tagged ‘silo

I cannot decide if the development of an app for consent forms illustrates what working in a silo or operating in parallel looks like.

Were the developers not aware that other apps that do the same (and more) already exist? Or were they trying to beat the competition?

In either case, it seems to be backed officially by the MOE, so it is likely to see widespread among parents of Primary school children.

In either case, this is also not my idea of a good schooling app — it serves an administrative use and is in the hands of adults. It is not one for learning and nor is it in the hands of the students.

If there is a silver lining to the dark cloud I have painted it is this: We seem to have gone past the stage where people complain about not having access to mobile phones to use such apps.

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This WaPo video featured people who shared why and how the future holds hope.

One of the lines that stood out to me was from an activist who said that we should not work in silos nor in parallel. In other words, we should not work in isolation nor should we be wasting replicated effort. We need to communicate and collaborate more effectively.

“Not in silos nor in parallel” might just be a theme of mine in 2019.

In 2009, I asked my student teachers if they would “friend” their students in Facebook (see this VoiceThread).

Those that said they would recommended maintaining at least two separate accounts: One for personal use and another for professional use. If we can silo your identities, manage multiple profiles fastidiously, and put up with inconveniences, we might try doing this.

The theory seems sound and some might even cite this as a good practice. But we might eventually realize that we are lying to ourselves and setting unrealistic examples.

Why do some teachers still recommend split social media personalities in the first place?

A. A teacher or an educator is subject to higher standards than most. This is a fair expectation given that they deal with children or are in positions of influence and authority.

B. To this day, most educational institutes have strict social media usage policies and might even have codes of conduct to regulate behaviour. This is not fair given that the assumption is employees cannot be trusted and/or will do something wrong.

Combine A and B and you C why having different social media profiles in the same platform (e.g,. two Facebook accounts) seems to make sense. The professional (and often dry, humourless) account is used for work or official purposes.

This lie can easily catch up with us. Try juggling more than one account and we will invariably post something by mistake to the wrong account. We are human after all.

We are not only flawed, we are also complex. One person is many things to different people. For example, a person may be someone else’s parent, child, mentor, mentee, boss, employee, leader, follower, friend, enemy, etc. We can choose what to project and what to protect.

We can choose to be personal and professional, particularly with a platform like Twitter. Educators who flock to Twitter and persist with it learn how to balance their personal and professional personalities there. This tends to happen because they are learning in the company of mostly strangers.

On the other hand, a platform like Facebook favours the curation and collection of family and friends. Teachers avoid using Facebook for teaching or mentoring because they are there to chill out in the company of people they might know well.

(Credit to @hsiao_yun for mentioning something along the lines of: Twitter is learning in the company of strangers. Facebook is relaxing in the company of friends.)

Teachers would rather create another Facebook profile or use a platform like Edmodo for teaching and mentoring. It segments life nicely. Too nicely.

When teachers do this, they often do not transfer what is good about social media platforms. They might focus on worksheets or providing content or demanding answers to questions. They already do this in class, so they transfer what they are comfortable doing to the social media space. They forget to teach and learn by being social.

They forget how people do not need to be asked or forced to share. People already want to share, especially if there is something interesting or controversial.

Relying on split personas reinforces the behaviour of being one person in one place and being another in a second place. If we do this, we might forget that skills in one place can transfer to another, particularly in social media platforms for learning. We might also not learn how to be personal and professional at the same time.

Silos for storing large amounts of grains separately are wonderful things. Operational and schooling silos are not.

During a recent National Day Rally, our Prime Minister mentioned how three agencies could ignore a common problem simply because they operated in their own silos.

Imagine if fallen debris, a misguided vehicle, or some infrastructure fell on all three areas. Which agency should respond and to what extent?

I recall situations in the past where people wanted something done with birds vulturing leftover food at hawker centre tables. Who you gonna call? You might have had better luck with the Ghostbusters because the animal control agency would aim their sights at a park or hygiene agency while the latter would wave a latexed finger right back.

Neither agency was the right choice in the example above because it started with lazy people not putting away their dishes in the first place. But that is not the point.

The point is that thinking and operating in silos is counterproductive. Our PM’s solution was a supra agency that focused on service, not separate responsibility.

That makes operational sense. Now how about we extend that idea to schooling?

Our kids are taught separate subjects partly because we are no longer Renaissance people raising Renaissance kids. There seems to be way too much information for just one person to know and then pass on to someone else.

But that premise is flawed because everyone does not NEED to know everything, no one CAN know everything, and most importantly, that model of schooling was invented for the Industrial Age. The same age where compartmentalized efficiency was king and brought prosperity, and pushed us to new heights.

While we still need some industrial processes as a foundation (and thus some basic schooling too), we live in a world where problems do not fall neatly into one silo. Practically any problem worth solving has aspects that might be social, political, ethical, economical, geographical, technological, whatever-cal.

To prepare kids for the problems that they need to solve, we should not be teaching them to solve problems in academic silos. When presented with a fallen palm tree that cuts across three jurisdictions, there is not always a clear answer provided by someone else like a supra agency.

Instead kids must construct their own solutions and they must do so by making connections. If they were taught in a siloed way, then they must learn how to cut across silos. If they already benefit from a more cross-disciplinary approach, then they must learn how to make connections with others as possible nodes to solutions.

This is just another way of saying it is not just WHAT you know, but also WHO you know.



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