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Posts Tagged ‘technology

I had a few reactions to this tweet.

I see what it is getting at, but left critically unchecked, it can do more harm than good.

I disagree with the tweeted thought both at face value and after digging deeper. Learning technology is:

  • learning about technology
  • learning from the technology
  • learning with the technology
  • not just about the pedagogy

Compared with the other items on my list, learning about technology is the lowest order skillset teachers need. But it could also be the most important mindset barrier to breach because without it the rest are not likely to happen.

Learning from the technology is what teachers new to technology might expect. The technology use is relatively superficial and either augments or replaces what the teacher can already deliver. Vendors love delivering on delivering and teachers might appreciate being partly relieved of a burden. But this is still a low-hanging fruit because it does not shift the focus from teaching content to learning how to find and process it.

Learning with the technology is where change starts to happen. It is:

  • uncertain but authentic
  • less teacher or school-controlled but more student or  co-managed
  • not just about content but also about context

Such technologies include social media, augmented reality, and mobile games. They are not created by education companies but are co-opted by teachers and students to reach and teach, and to learn not only just-in-case, but also just-in-time.

Learning with technology necessitates a paradigm shift in mindsets. Technology is not just used, it is integrated. It becomes so essential as to become transparent because it just-works and it is practically impossible to learn when it is not present. Such technology is viewed less as a tool to be used sporadically and more like an instrument to be embraced constantly.

Learning with technology is not just about pedagogy, although that is important. The pedagogies, like problem, case, team, or game-based learning are mediated by technology. But pedagogy is not the only driver: There is the nature of content and the context of its use.

There is another reason why pedagogy cannot be the sole driver. Pedagogy tend to face backwards and changes very slowly; technology faces forward and changes very quickly. One of the slowest and least effective pedagogies is didactic teaching. A didactic-focused pedagogy can make technology improve or optimise what a teacher does, but it does not necessarily focus on learning nor guarantees it.

If you do not help yourself, someone will sense an opportunity, offer their help, and charge you for it. That is what I thought when I read this tweet and the embedded article.

You can help yourself. You should help yourself.

There is so much information and so many resources you can get for free or for a low fee. Much lower than a provider would bilk and milk from you over an extended period.

But you say that it takes time to learn? I say make the time.

Then you say it is too difficult? I say everything is difficult the first time round.

You say you would rather just pay someone else to do it and then not worry about the issue? I say it does not work like that.

Web filtering is not just about tools and protocols. It is about setting expectations and parenting. It is about discussing and rationalising.

Now be just as savvy when it comes to learning how to be a better person or worker. You can help yourself. You should help yourself.

If you are going to pay someone else to help you, first make sure that this is about something you absolutely cannot do yourself. Then make sure that the other party can actually help.

My hunt for an elusive video brought me to the Singapore Ministry of Education’s Facebook page.

While I did not find what I was looking for, I found a series of images. They served as a helpful reminder of what teachers should stock up on to prepare for the new year.

What MOE teachers will use in 2017...

It was also a stark reminder of the mindset and expectations of teachers. The technologies are not current. If they were, there would be reminders to change passwords, renew VPN plans, update software, check digital archives, etc.

The call to arms was: You will be needing these and more to make a lasting impact on that one student. I get that message and stand behind it because it is a call to individualise, difficult as that will be.

I hope that teachers read this as reaching out to more than just that one student because all students are that one student. However, this task is impossible with the traditional tools and methods because they are largely about centralisation, standardisation, and control.

The newer tools are about decentralisation, individualisation, and self-regulation. This will only happen if school leaders and teachers change their mindsets and expectations about which tools to focus on and how to use them.

 
The old saying about technology integration was that the pedagogical horse should lead the technological cart, and not the other way around. It is about what to prioritise.

The problem with this analogy is that each can function on its own. The horse can move or be ridden independently of the cart. The cart does not need the horse (it could be decoration, just like interactive white boards).
 

 
The saying has been updated. Now some like to say that technology integration is like a driver (pedagogy) in a car (technology). This seems more current and apt unless you realise some people who say this still insist pedagogy should always lead technology.

What is the person alone? What is the car alone? Alone neither gets anywhere. They need to be integrated without one being promoted over the other in order to go on a journey and arrive at a destination.

If you use this analogy, then you must also acknowledge that technology and pedagogy go together. One is not more important than the other.

The small things matter. So do the little actions. Technology can amplify both.

The local press almost gleefully reported how a Singaporean teenager might have played her part in helping Trump win the US elections.

Hrithie Menon charged S$140 and took two hours to create a Prezi presentation that was “shared across various colleges and university campuses in the US aimed at capturing young people’s votes”.

Trump might describe her an example of a foreigner “stealing” jobs from the US.

I would describe her not as a “digital native” — that was the paper’s overused and poorly understood phrase.

Instead, I would describe her simply as efficiently and effectively using the tools available to her, just as her parents did before her, and their parents before them. The difference now is the reach and impact of the technology she had access to.

The paper listed some of her other tools: Adobe After Effects, VideoScribe, and Instagram. Though different, all the tools have one thing in common — they are tools of creation, not consumption.

While many vendors and schools still push for tools of consumption because they can be controlled and limited, learners of all ages who are unfettered outside of school have found tools of creation on their own.

For example, they learn from YouTube and they create and share on the same. When they do, they extend their reach. The audience is not automatic. The creators learn to amplify their voice, like Hrithie did when she advertised her services online.

The tools are free, the learning is meaningful, and the learner takes ownership. These are just three of many things that those behind the walls of school should learn.

There is a saying that hindsight is 20/20. People who say this mean that things look clearer once you get past them. It is easy to look back and see what you have accomplished.

It is also easy to paint a picture rosier than actually was. Our memories are more fickle than we would like to admit. One of my favourite sayings is: Nostalgia is like grammar. It makes the past perfect and the present tense.

Nostalgia is like grammar. It makes the past perfect and the present tense.

Like it or not, we forget more than remember [Decay Theory]. We Instagram-filter our memories as we snapshot them [Interference Theory].


Video source

So when ISTE2016 made this declaration, I clap and I caution.

Let us celebrate successes, but not congratulate ourselves prematurely. Things may have changed, but they are not representative of every context, even in the so-called first world.

For example, participants at ISTE were having wifi issues.

We know of teachers who are still behind or trying to get over the “how to use tech” barrier. If you conducted a study, I would wager that a significant portion of “professional development” gets stuck at technology awareness and basic training.

Singapore embarked on the ICT Masterplan 4 this year, but teachers still complain about access and connectivity. They are not just talking about technology (poor signal, blocked resources), but also about policy and practice.

I mention these not to play down the achievements of any system attempting and embracing change. It takes guts, persistence, and time for change to happen and there will always be laggards and brickbats.

But let us not give naysayers fuel for their fire.

I say we admit we have failings, address them, and learn from them. I say we not whitewash underlying problems. I say we challenge rhetoric with reality.

April is Autism Acceptance Month and this is Apple’s effort to create awareness.


Video source

I urge Apple haters to ignore their technology brand bias & focus on the message: Technology enables.

Various elements of communication like text-to-voice can be replicated on most computing platforms. This provides our seemingly less-abled brethren some equity.

If you think about it, we all have special needs as learners and technology enables learning for all of us.

We have far too many things to remember and our phones do that for us and remind us. 

We are spatially-challenged and those same phones tell us where to go.

We have many things to think about and we can offload calculations and permutations (what computing devices do best) while we intuit and make decisions (what humans do better, for now).

Technology enables. But only in the hands of all learners. If teachers cannot see that, they must first unlearn how they were taught, relearn what it feels like to learn, and learn how to transfer everyday use of technology to the classroom.


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