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Posts Tagged ‘use

Today I reflect on how an article about spraying disinfectant on streets mirrors a negative edtech practice.

The short answer to the question above is no. A more detailed answer is in the article linked in the tweet.

The spraying is largely a show of action with little, if any, effect. The same could be said of most instances of enacted policy. These result in empty shows that engage or impress people in the short term, but do not empower in the long term.

I focus on schooling and education. We still reach for the low-hanging fruit of edtech that is showy for teachers and not necessarily meaningful for learners. Take, for example, “interactive” white boards, clickers for responding to PowerPoint presentations, and “interesting” YouTube videos.

There is nothing inherently wrong with the tools except that they are created for the teacher and teaching. These are the first line of tools that a teacher can showcase if she is observed by visitors, peers, or superiors.

But the more powerful tools are mundane and insidious. They are used every day by learners outside the classroom. We might include Instagram and TikTok in this category. Attempts to formally integrate these into the curriculum, particularly attempts that go through the motions, might result in rejection or ridicule.

This is one reason why using educational technology is easy and integrating it is difficult. This is why professional development tends to focus on use by improving skillsets instead of also working on integration by changing mindsets.

I have avoided reading and reviewing this opinion piece Analytics can help universities better support students’ learning. When I scanned the content earlier this month, my edtech Spidey sense got triggered. Why?
 

 
Take the oft cited reason for leveraging on the data: They “provide information for faculty members to formulate intervention strategies to support individual students in their learning.”

Nowhere in the op piece was there mention of students giving permission for their data to be used that way. Students are paying for an education and a diploma; they are not paying to be data-mined.

I am not against enhancing better study or enabling individualisation of learning. I am against the unethical or unsanctioned use of student data.

Consider the unfair use of student-generated data. Modern universities rely on learning management systems (LMS) for blended and online learning. These LMS are likely to integrate plagiarism checking add-ons like Turnitin. When students submit their work, Turnitin gets an ever-increasing and improving database. It also charges its partner universities hefty subscription fees for the service.

Now take a step back: Students pay university fees while helping a university partner and the university partner makes money off student-generated data. What do students get back in return?

Students do not necessarily learn how to be more responsible academic writers. They might actually learn to game the system. Is that worth their data?

Back to the article. It highlighted two risks:

First, an overly aggressive use of such techniques can be overbearing for students. Second, there is a danger of adverse predictions/expectations leading to self-fulfilling prophecies.

These are real risks, but they sidestep the more fundamental issues of data permissions and fair use. What is done to protect students when they are not even aware of how and when their data is used?

This is not about having a more stringent version of our PDPA* — perhaps an act that disallows any agency from sharing our data with third parties without our express consent.

It is about not telling students that their data is used for behavioural pattern recognition and to benefit a third party. While not on the scale of what Cambridge Analytica did to manipulate political elections, the principle is the same — unsanctioned and potentially unethical use of a population’s data.

*I wonder why polytechnics are included in the list of agencies (last updated 18 March 2013) responsible for personal data protection but universities are not.

I cringed, I screen capped, I posted.

It is easy to judge a newspaper for thinking that dated references are still relevant.

What is not as easy to capture is how some teachers still try to incorporate technology for coolness sake. Their learners cringing is the least of their problems.

The harm is in the technology being used to engage instead of empower; it enhances teaching but does not enable powerful and meaningful learning.

This new video provides an old lesson. The lesson is not just on journalism or politics, but also on using technology.


Video source

The more obvious lesson on technology is learning enough about it and practising with it before using it. These will help you work out the kinks or to anticipate issues that might arise.

The less obvious lesson is designing for meaningful integration, not superficial flash. Technology use might impress immediately, but technology integration makes impact over the long run.

When technology is integrated, it happens so often and so naturally as to be mundane. The technology becomes transparent and it only obvious when it stops working or is missing. This happens when technology is not an enhancer, but an enabler.

… or do as I do?

That was my reaction when I read this article in STonline about a local school restricting mobile gaming from 7am to 2pm.

Before I explain my reaction, I should point out that the newspaper article was a report of a report. There could be information loss from translation and there definitely was selective reporting of another report. That said, I have to work only with the information at hand.

Draconian measures by HCI on mobile gaming.

The crux of the matter is this: Students cannot use their own devices for mobile games right before school starts and during breaks.

Sometimes it is logical for students to be held to different standards. Other times it is not. For example, there are dress codes for students’ uniforms and their general appearances that teachers are not subject to.

Some would argue that the adults have matured to the point of understanding socially accepted standards of decency so that they know how to dress professionally.

If you believe that, you have not sampled enough adults. That is why we have dress codes everywhere, even at a beach.

So if standards and codes of conduct are the norm, what is wrong with a partial ban on mobile gaming?

Consider this: How would you like to be told that you cannot check your Facebook feed on your commute to work because you need to psyche yourself up for work?

Or how you like to be told that you cannot nap, gossip, or surf down rabbit holes during your lunch break?

Yes, both the students and teachers are at school and schools are walled gardens separate from the real world. So what happened to bringing the real world in?

Some teachers I know do not draw that line. I know adults who are just as guilty of walking distractedly or being overly engaged with their phones. What gives these adults the right to say “do as I say and not as I do?”

As for the adults who say “do as I say because I do not do what you do”, I ask: Just how real world is that? How (dis)connected are you?

This reflection has been brought to you by the medieval workshop of Draconian Measures.

“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.

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.


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