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Posts Tagged ‘technology

Technology is the toolset that wields that power. The title and the last sentence were what I took away from watching the video below.


Video source

Neil deGrasse Tyson has a way of using plain speak to explain science. In emphasising the importance of scientific literacy, he told a story about Christopher Columbus and opined the outcome of a theoretical alien visit.

He told a story of how Columbus fooled native Americans with his knowledge of a lunar eclipse. He also explained why intelligent life in the form of aliens, not just movie versions, would beat us flat if it came to that.

Knowledge becomes power when you have something that someone else does not. However, that power is empty until the knowledge is embodied in technology as a form of delivery.

If that principle holds true, then why are some teachers still withholding technology from (or using older technologies with) their students? Might they be trying to cling on to power as misguided practice?

This EdSurge article says that The Key to 21st Century Classrooms Isn’t Tech. It’s Evolved Teaching.

No, not quite.

“Evolved teaching” is important, but that could apply to any other issue, e.g., inclusiveness, individualisation, socioemotional learning, etc. Nonetheless, I agree that “evolved teaching” is necessary for meaningful, seamless, and powerful integration of technology.
 

 
However, there is no simple, reductionist answer to something as complex as designing and implementing a “21st century classroom”.

Just what is a 21C classroom?

Certainly not just the timeframe. There are classrooms that are years ahead and still far too many that are decades and even centuries behind. All these are in developed and developing countries.

Why is the phrase delimited by a “class” and a “room”?

Yes, lessons take place in a classroom, but learning extends outside of it. Follow learners over a period of time and you will realise just how much and how often learning — technology-enabled or not — happens outside the four walls.

The title reduces the issues to a single key and lock. There are many keys for many locks. The locks will keep changing shape and so must the keys we forge.

I also take issue with reducing the importance of technology and how it evolves. If there is no new and rapid development of technology, there is also no pressure to change.

What readers and writers of such articles need to focus on is evolved mindsets. Mindsets shape attitudes, attitudes shape behaviours. Behaviours like teaching, for instance.

Complex problems cannot be reduced to simple lock-and-key statements. They sound good as rhetoric, but they cannot and should not be given as advice or implemented as policy.

Despite the doubling of tweet length, this one (archived version) needs more context.

The sharing session might focus on WHAT the context is and HOW the supposed system auto-magically does this.

But I wonder if it will explore the WHY of doing this. Answering this question explores the ethics of incorporating such technology. This might include what data is collected and how algorithms run to make summary decisions.

Let us not forget where others have gone or are going before, i.e., how Facebook and Google are under the microscope for not being more careful with student data.

I reserved this read, Why We Must Embrace Benevolent Friction in Education Technology, for the new year.

A few concepts from the article jumped out at me, but the one that stood out was DRIP — Data Rich, Information Poor. What does this have to do with edtech?

DRIP is a criticism of edtech companies and providers that tout data analytics as a means of controlling, feeding, manipulating, or enabling learners. Data is just that, data. It is not organised information that might become internalised as knowledge and then externalised as intervention.

What edtech providers, particularly LMS and CMS companies, have yet to do is help their clients and partners make sense of the data. This is in part because programmer or provider speak is not the same as teacher and educator speak. There are relatively few people — like me — who can bridge that gap.

So what these providers do is reach out to administrators and policymakers because they all deal with numbers and data. They do so in a way that makes sense to them. It does not help that these discussions are not transparent and also make little sense to teachers and educators.
 

 
A while ago I heard about an interrogative torture technique that involved slowly dripping water onto a victim’s head. The slow drips quickly wear down psychological resistance and the interrogators get what they want.

That method does not transfer via DRIP in edtech. It will only drown clients and partners in meaningless data that does not actually help teachers or their learners.

After reading the article below, I appreciated how the app makers thought just outside the box to deal with those operating stubbornly inside it.

The creators of SnapType responded to how some teachers gave pen-and-paper homework to kids with special needs. The teachers did this even though the kids could not write due to their disabilities.

This teaching behaviour is a classic case of favouring equality over equity. Equality is treating all the kids the same regardless of ability or context. Equity is giving those that need a leg up more help so they can operate at more equal footing with their peers.

The app creators realised they needed to create a more equitable situation for kids with special needs. While the kids could not write, they could type.

Their solution was simple: Snap a photo of the homework and Type the answers. The completed homework could be submitted online to a shared platform or via email attachment.

The snap, type, and send strategy helps students with special needs in more ways than one. Not only are they able to complete their homework, they are also using enabling technologies.

The moral of this story does not end with the app or kids with special needs. Teachers in mainstream classrooms need to ask themselves if they are disabling able kids by not taking advantage of enabling technologies.

For kids that we label normal, technology is often limited to enhancing or supporting the learning.

For kids with special needs, technology enables the doing and learning they might not be capable of otherwise.
 

Video source

Now here is a thought: Why do we not think that all kids and all learners are special? We are. Why do we still believe that there is a normal or an average? Have we not heard of the end of average?

So if we are all special, shouldn’t technology be used to enable instead just enhance?

“Apple
Wikimedia Commons source

This CNET article claimed that Apple Face ID might practically replace Touch ID for verification. This is no surprise given how Face ID is effectively a 3D mapping and recognition system.

Even neutrals have suggested that it could have applications beyond the iPhone. Offhand I can think of how Face ID might be expanded to banking services and venue access.

As smart these moves could be, their potential and effectiveness is stymied by dumb people.

I am not referring to people who refuse to adopt such technology or who do not have access. These people might have legitimate reasons for saying no. For example, they might have valid security concerns or financial limitations.

I am thinking about people who have bought in to the idea, but do not implement them properly. Here are two examples, both of which involve point-of-sale payment.

I find Apple Pay to be fast and convenient where it is available. However, I have been to one fast food joint where the reader was at crotch level. This is fine with Touch ID — I could reach down with my thumb on my iPhone. However, assuming that scanning, authorisation, and payment must occur in quick sequence, I would have to bow or kneel to have my face read with Face ID.

At a popular coffee place, the reader was located near shoulder level on a countertop. The counter itself prioritised the display and sale of knick-knacks so you had to reach awkwardly high and over to pay electronically with Touch ID.

To make matters worse, the reader faced the ceiling instead being angled towards the customer. How might it read my face?

Both these two establishments could avoid placing readers at odd spaces and angles. They should provide better experiences by taking customer perspectives and use.

As I often do, I link these everyday experiences to teaching and learning with technology.

These odd implementations of cashless payments are like clumsy edtech use. Teachers and administrators might have bought in to the use of a particular technology, a suite of tools, or an entire system. All these are typically led by one or more vendors.

However, all parties often forget the learner and do not know how to design from the learning point of view. This sounds like such a fundamental principle, but it is one of the most ignored or poorly understood.

My almost 30 years of being an educator have helped me distill this principle down to this: Teaching is neat. Learning is messy. 

“Teaching

Experts forget what it it like to be a novice. Sellers forget what it is like to be buyers. Worse still, both might argue that it is not important to take the perspective of those they serve.

We may have aspirations to be a so-called Smart Nation. But this push is meaningless if we have willfully dumb people.


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