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Posts Tagged ‘substitution

… is not always the greatest form of flattery.
 

 
When newer technologies emerge, the most common response seems to be to use them in old ways. Case in point, this tweet:

The tweet bemoaned the simple substitution of one medium (paper) for another (e-paper) while keeping the method the same. There was little value, if any, in recreating paper.

This is one reason why I share the utility of Puentedura’s SAMR even though it is imperfect and not as well discussed as Koehler and Mishra’s TPACK. It provides a framework for educators to evaluate plans prior to implementing educational technology.

Perhaps if more people knew about SAMR we might have fewer poor implementations of educational technology. Then again, perhaps not. It is one thing to overcome ignorance, it is another to battle stubbornness.

These two tweets have something in common — they highlight relics of the past shrouded in the cloak of modernity.

Both mention current technologies. The first critiques the thinking around content delivery while the second focuses on content submission. Both hint at the change in medium and not a corresponding or upward change in method.

The tweets reminded me of an event I attended recently. I had to download a mobile app that generated a QR code which was used to take my attendance. Sounds progressive, right?

I wondered how it worked. When I found out, I was disappointed. The QR code was just my full name and the attendance taker checked this manually against a printed list.

This took longer than me stating my name and showing my identification card. This was even longer for folks who did not download the app — they had to do that first, sign in on the app (if they could remember their log in details), and then learn how to find their QR code.

Then there were some who did not bother and the attendance taker just asked them for their names. So why go through the motions of using the app and QR code when stating your name was enough?

Again, there was a change in medium (QR code) but not in the method (taking attendance). The technology was overkill for something so simple.

If, on the other hand, the QR code was tied to individual verification and the event being more selective about its participants, this might have made for sense. The method would not just have been about attendance, it would have been about selection and verification.

So this is my long-standing critique technology implementation, particularly in schools and educational institutions: Superficial changes or administrative procedures seem to come first. This is not meaningful and powerful integration of technology. For that to happen, we must put the learners and learning first.

The op piece in this tweet was an impassioned call to step up our efforts in inclusive schooling and education.

I take no issue with that call because we can only be better people for it.

I did notice, however, that you could substitute every instance of “inclusive education” or “special needs education” with almost any contentious issue in schooling — say technology integration — and the op piece would still make sense. Take this segment, for example:

… we still have a long way to go in embracing inclusion technology fully.

One of the key factors for inclusive technology integration in education is adaptation. The present landscape of special needs technology integration in education in Singapore is lacking in a customisable curriculum to meet the diverse needs of children with special needs.

I did not change the last two words (special needs) in my selection because every child is special in their own way. Technology can help express their uniqueness and latent abilities.

Reading the whole article more critically, you might discover that it says everything and nothing at the same time. Everything because it covers the issues broadly; nothing because it merely skims the surface. This is why we can play the word substitution game.

Viewed more broadly, the write-up might sound like a politician’s or policymaker’s script for a speech. It is a call to action, but it is so generic that is becomes impotent.

Word substitution is my way of determine the depth of thought of the written or spoken word. If one issue in schooling or education cannot be distinguished from another with the help of word substitution, its rallying call is but a whisper.


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