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Posts Tagged ‘social

Local social media lit up last week after a performer from Henry Park Primary School showed the middle finger on national TV.

The aftermath was no different. As expected, the boy was given a talking to and he was remorseful.

The Twitter reaction thread was easy enough to analyse. For simplicity, the reactions fell into three main camps: Tweets that lauded the boy as a “national hero”, people who blamed anyone or anything other than the child, and all other reactions, e.g., leave the child alone.

These are the types of responses that give Twitter and other social media platforms a bad name. This is a pity given how educators worldwide have embraced Twitter as a medium for connecting and unPD.

Such blasé and negative responses were common even before Trump’s tweets became the new normal. Why?

There is the usually cited reason of facelessness. Online there is no one to literally look in the eye and subsequently face judgement. This encourages the mild to become be bold, and the already bold to troll.

There is a brutal honesty to such tweets because social niceties are sacrificed in favour of raw reaction. What people might not realise is that being on social media requires even more social awareness and skills in a faceless environment.

If conversations like these were conducted in-person, we might label them moronic. Our faces and reactions serve as mirrors so that discussants can gauge their own behaviour. Perhaps, somewhat ironically, the lack of physical presence holds up a mirror bigger and clearer about our lack of social nous.

Yes, learning as social, not learning is social. There are times when each person learns alone and some believe that is when they learn best.

However, we probably learn better in social contexts. These are opportunities to get new information, negotiate it, internalise it as new knowledge or reshape schema, and make that learning visible.

Learning as a social endeavour is not new. Educational philosophers, researchers, and thought leaders have left an on-going legacy of social constructivism, social constructionism, and connectivism.

Connectivism is particularly relevant in the Internet-connected age. Knowledge does not just reside in the nodes (individuals) but also in the links (social connections). You are more knowledgeable if you have more connections, not more content. 

Learning as social is often described and applied in pedagogy (e.g., group work) and andragogy (e.g., exploring shared experiences) of young and adult learners respectively. How about much older learners?

I loved this MSN article on Singapore’s senior citizen Pokémon players.

These are the uncles and aunties who seem to have taken over the PoGo playground and gyms after impatient kids abandoned them.

I have met and interacted with my fair share of PoGo aunties and uncles. They are generally a gentle breed and fond of mentoring newbies — their peers or juniors — and offering unsolicited advice to strangers.

I recall an incident at a level 4 raid in which other players and I gathered at a heartland venue that coincidentally looked the circular PoGo gym. I was not successful with my raid and an uncle across from me offered a strategy after the fact. I had not heard this strategy before. But the next day, that same strategy was mentioned an expert on YouTube.

Old age and treachery will always overcome youthfulness and skill.

Now some might say that the uncle’s strategy was a result of this adage: Old age and treachery will always overcome youthfulness and skill. This might assume some individual sneakiness. It was not and is not.

The uncle was with his posse and they were chatting like any group of players do. They were learning as social. That is how they learnt best and shared what they knew. They learnt so fast that even a YouTuber had not shared that idea.

The strategy was shared socially and spread by word of mouth and type of social media. Do not underestimate learning as social.

In February, I shared this resource on Twitter:

Even though there were good ideas there about educators leveraging on Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, the tweet not a complete endorsement.

Here are some considerations to prevent a blind plunge into those social media depths.

Why not Facebook?
Some people like to say that Facebook is a place to hang out with friends while Twitter is where you learn from relative strangers. Based on anecdotes, I also suspect that some people prefer to separate their personal social media platform from the professional learning one (if they even have the latter).

Facebook and Twitter seem to have different socially-mediated uses. If you receive an invite from someone on Facebook, you are obliged to take it. If you are followed on Twitter, you are not obliged to follow back (not nowadays anyway).

With Facebook, you cannot choose your family; with Twitter you can curate your “friends”. This might be why Twitter seems more closely associated with educator personal learning networks (PLNs) than Facebook.

There are many more reasons not to use Facebook. I will not go into how Facebook has abused user trust and helped spread fake news, but I share links to resources I have curated.

Why not LinkedIn?
It is not the go-to for youth. In a few past keynotes, I emphasised how LinkedIn was one of the least mobile of the big social platforms.

For example, a 2014 article in the Wall Street Journal illustrated comScore data:

LinkedIn is desktop-bound.

LinkedIn was very much a desktop-dominant tool. After being bought by Microsoft in 2016, the platform might be more mobile. However, it has not escaped the stigma of being an older worker’s tool.

This mobile vs desktop distinction is important. Mobile is already dominant and its mindset of use is different. Think about the obvious: On-the-go, small but contextual consumption, and interstitial learning.

Consider the less obvious too, i.e, learning from non-traditional experts like people younger than you and outside your professional interests. It is LinkedIn and not necessarily linked out. Having a mobile mindset enables the latter.

Why not Pinterest?
Ah, Pinterest, the platform that, according to this Pew study, rivals both LinkedIn and Twitter among adults, but has a heavy gender bias.

Pinterest might have had respectable numbers among adults, but interest has waned among teens. These are the same teens that will take their unpinned preferences and behaviours to adulthood.

The platform’s strength is photos, but while these might paint a thousand words, they are not necessarily accompanied by a thousand distilled, reflective, critical, or otherwise necessary actual words. The written word may be subjective, but pictures are even more open to interpretation.

So what then?
My reflection might seem like a put down of the three platforms. I did not write it with that intent.

I see it this way: If you are going to invest in a home or vehicle, you will want to know what is good and bad about it. While being encouraging and positive puts smiles on faces, I do not want you to be a grinning idiot (I mean that in the kindest way).

Be informed, stay informed. Then make up your own mind.

My own mind is continually using and evaluating tweeting and blogging for sharing and reflecting. Twitter is my short-form tool of choice while WordPress fills in the blanks with long-form space. I have been in Twitter since 2007 and this blog since 2008. I attribute my staying power to the affordances — technical, social, and pedagogical — of these social media platforms.

Although I am no longer an academic, I see research opportunities everywhere. One set of untapped research is in Pokémon Go (PoGo).

I am not talking about the already done-to-death exercise studies or about the motivations to play and keep playing.

I am thinking about how sociologists might add to PoGo’s trend analysis. Number crunchers have already collected data on its meteoric rise and now its declining use. While these provide useful information to various stakeholders, I wonder if anyone has considered the impact of PoGo uncles and aunties.

I am not the first to observe how much older players have started playing PoGo. I tweeted this a while ago and someone just started a thread in the PoGoSG Facebook group about uncles and aunties at play.

A quick search on Twitter with keywords like “pokemon go” and “auntie” or “uncle” might surprise you.

The PoGo aunties and uncles are quite obvious here. So far I have noticed three main types: Solo aunties, uncles in pairs or small groups, and auntie-uncle couples. There are more types, of course, but these three are common enough to blip frequently on social radar.

But I would not be content with just describing the phenomenon. I would ask if they contribute to the “death” of PoGo just like how the older set adopted Facebook and how teens then migrated to Snapchat.

We should not underestimate the impact of uncles and aunties. After all, there must be a reason for this saying: Old age and treachery will always overcome youthfulness and skill.

The video below highlights some research that would not pass muster today.


Video source

Today we are guided by the principle of “do no harm”, or at least “do the least harm”.

I wonder if the same could be said about social experiments that are a result of non-researchers tinkering with systems and policies.

For example, how much social experimental harm has the PSLE caused?

Make no mistake: The PSLE has been a very successful as a social experiment. It has become the operating standard, it shapes expectations, and we cannot seem to think outside it.

However, we need to ask ourselves if the PSLE embedded in our collective psyche is a good thing. Simply mentioning it as harmful begs disbelief in some quarters and helplessness to do otherwise in others.

Just because something is successful does not make it helpful or harmless. Pandemic diseases spread with us as carriers and our technologies as enablers. Often we do not even know we are helping the disease spread until it is too late.

This doctor is highlighting some symptoms of PSLE. Are you feeling OK?

 
Play Pokémon Go safely and responsibly. That is the refrain that we have heard and will keep hearing because immersed and excited gamers think of little else while gaming.

A good game immerses and excites because it reaches into the parts of our brains that reward and pleasure.


Video source

The very simple and logical message to be safe and responsible is easy to follow while not gaming. It just as easily flies out the window while gaming because playing reactivates our child-like wonder and responses.

So what concrete action might we take to prevent accidents, injuries, or worse?
 

 
Pokémon Go is a mobile, location-aware game. Those are its core technical affordances. It also has an optional social affordance: You can play alone or with others.

Unless a solo player is very disciplined or self-aware, the player is likely to be immersed in the Pokémon Go pool. Watch any console, PC, or Pokémon Go gamer in the state of flow and you might recognise that same look and body language.

The in-person social aspect is often overlooked in Pokémon Go. By social I do not mean a group of people dashing across a road with no regard for safety. A mob is not that social.

I am referring to working together in groups and assigning one person to be like the designated driver on drinking night. However, this does not mean that the person cannot play. This person has a radar and warning role.

Alternatively, do what this community in Clementi did to take advantage of the interest in the game. It is not about safety in numbers. It is about learning with and from others.

I play Pokémon Go with my son. I remind him to look up when we are moving between Poké stops or to move to the side or somewhere safe when we are throwing Poké balls.

We also discuss options and strategies. He knows a lot more about the Pokémon world than I do thanks to other Pokémon games and YouTube videos. I read Pokémon Go articles on trends, tips, and education. We complement each other with our knowledge bases and wisdom pools.

From him I learnt that I should collect free Poké coins (defender bonus) when I assign a Pokémon to a gym. From me my son learnt that we should plan walking routes to maximise Poké stops.

Our gaming sessions are not just times to talk and bond. They are also opportunities for us to model behaviours for each other.

I refrain from saying “play Pokémon Go safely and responsibly”. The game itself is not dangerous; some human behaviours are. The behaviours are a natural result of our human programming.

The social element of Pokémon Go is an important way of rising above that instinct to play without consequence. In doing so, we might discover the value of interacting with the game, the environment, and with each other.

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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