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Posts Tagged ‘tiktok

What amazed me after reading the linked article was not that the instructor cancelled the final exam after a student met a challenge. It is that he had the option to even do this.

Creating and conducting exams is one thing. Mandating and scheduling them is another. The former is the domain of teachers and educators while the latter is an administrator’s.

Anyone who has been in “higher education” long enough knows that it is sometimes a misnomer. It is about administrative policies dictating pedagogical logic. It is a wonder that the instructor had the autonomy or permission to cancel a final exam!

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This Wired piece about Teachers on TikTok was thought-provoking. It had a US-centric perspective when it said:

Many teachers use TikTok to encourage important conversations about their profession and crowdfund for their classrooms, but the value of other videos is less apparent. Meanwhile, the popularity of classroom videos means some educators copy other teachers’ practices on the app, mistakenly assuming they aren’t breaking any rules. 

I dare say that not many (or any) teachers here would have “conversations about their profession” on TikTok if they valued their continued employment. Being among the best-compensated and well-supported in the world for their work, our teachers would not have to “crowdfund for their classrooms” either.

But I think that the challenges of adopting any technology platform become lessons in themselves for teachers and educators everywhere.

For example, the unnamed teacher who was brave enough to share her story might give some pause for thought. I was struck by how she felt that TikTok was the main way for her to build rapport and respect.

Viewing this cynically, I might point out that her context has larger issues to contend with if she needed TikTok to get attention. They sometimes do (e.g., fundraising) because they need to help themselves.

Viewing this more objectively, that teacher is operating by a principle I advocate: To teach them, you must reach them.

There is a more important takeaway: Student privacy. When teachers include the work of their students or even the students themselves in their TikToks, they risk ire, abuse, and unknown consequences of a fleeting moment. What seems fun and harmless now can have far-reaching results like stalking or bullying. 

The shared problem that teachers on TikTok have is that there are no explicitly clear rules for them to follow. The existing rules might be so vague or so conservative that they are not helpful. Why? The rules were written for another time, context, or circumstance. Like most things even in the safer realm of edtech, they cannot address new TikTok expectations and behaviours.

So I offer five questions shaped by edtech wisdoms:

  1. Who is this practice for?
  2. Why are you doing it?
  3. No, really. Why?
  4. What harm are you doing?
  5. What is the least harm you can do?

The first question is fundamental — it is about who benefits from TikTok-ing. If the students do not benefit clearly and directly, do not TikTok.

If you need to TikTok for attention, views, or money, leave teaching. You are likely in the wrong profession. Critically ask yourself why you need TikTok. Go beyond superficial responses and the answers that the press or armchair experts might give. Convince yourself and your critics with pedagogical rationale that stands the test of time, reflective practice, or critical research.

Then recognise that every good intention harms in some way. This is like how green measures still have carbon footprints. The issue is recognising that no intervention is ideal and that you need to manage the most good out of it.

Photo by Ivan Samkov on

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Yeolo compiled a selection irresponsible acts recorded on TikTok. They are part of a trend called “devious licks” where people vandalise or steal school property. In Singapore, this extended to public property. 

I am not blaming the social platform because they 1) are just the medium, and 2) have apparently taken steps to block such videos. As with many acts of mimicked idiocy, I lay the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the people who start and perpetuate them. 

Blaming TikTok for such acts is like saying roads and cars cause road accidents. You need the paths and vehicles for accidents to happen, but it is people that cause accidents, e.g., poor maintenance of roads, choosing to drive after drinking, ignoring car defects. 

If there is a silver lining, it might be a reminder about one principle of social media: The tools we use amplify the message and reflect who we are. We determine how they are used. To shift the blame is to avoid responsibility.

Some education heroes critique and share on TikTok.

Dr Inna Kanevsky is my anti-LSM hero. LSM is my short form for learning styles myth.

In her very short video, she highlighted how teachers perpetuate the myth of learning styles despite what researchers have found.

In the Google Doc she provided, she shared the media and peer-reviewed research that has debunked this persistent but pointless myth.

If your attitude is to ask what the harm is in designing lessons for different “styles”, then you are part of the problem — distracting the efforts of teachers and promoting uncritical thinking and uninformed practice.

I love how Dr Inna Kanevsky does not hold back when responding to trolls and crackpots on TikTok.

In this latest salvo, she shot down the perception of one such troll on the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) and the MBTI in general. 

A critic might ask what the harm is in taking the test. My response: It is all fun and games until it is not. If companies still use it to hire, advance, or even fire, its use has serious consequences.

The creators of the MBTI were charlatans. The agencies that flog it are multi-million dollar business based on pseudoscience. To paraphrase a comment to Dr K’s tweet: You might as well rely on astrology to sort students and workers.

So what is the harm on using tools like MBTI? You sort people with a tool that is neither valid nor reliable. Its continued use also breeds uncritical and lazy thinking.

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This video illustrates two teaching principles that I am a squeaky wheel about.

Focus on ability, not disability
When teaching learners with special needs, it is easy to focus on what they cannot do instead of what they can.

While such learners will need knowledge and skills to fit into larger society, e.g,. taking public transport or working to support themselves, they are no less people than “normals” are.

It might be easier to pigeon-hole Jeff and his condition to, say, a simple service job with repetitive tasks. This video illustrates how he has developed his strengths and passions to be an artist, TikToker, and online seller.

Process and product
It is easier to focus on products of learning than on processes of the same. But this video illustrates how important and impressive the processes are behind the products that Jeff makes.

It also reveals the support that he gets and illustrates the roles that others play in the education of the so-called disabled.

Video source

Trolling is not a good thing in general. But there are exceptions.

Professor of Psychology, Inna Kanevsky, uses her TikTok channel to savagely debunk misinformation propagated by armchair psychologists.

I am being too kind. If you view the TikToks she critiques, it is not misinformation that she battles but bullshit instead. Those TikTokers are not armchair psychologists. They are mercenaries and charlatans preying on the ignorant.

Thank goodness for Professor Kanevsky. We need more champions like her to fight the good fight.

This was a sweet and thoughtful thing for the students to do for their professor. The students surprised him with “thank you” signs.

It is also not something that will likely be suggested as an educational use of TikTok.

This tweet reminded me of a teaching axiom and an unmet possibility.

The axiom: How well a course or class goes is a function of the makeup of the students. A motivated and good-natured group will make the effort to learn and ease teaching to no end. A few rotten apples will spoil the whole barrel.

The possibility: Instead of subjecting both the students and instructor to the ignobility of a traditional end of course evaluation, might both simply point to the video tribute as evidence?



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