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Posts Tagged ‘video

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I loved the story of how Zillige tiles are made and how they are combined to create the art that gives the region in Fez in Morocco its distinctive look. 

This was not just a process-behind-the-product look. It was an examination of the value system. At around the 9min 40sec mark, a Zellige tile master shared his perspective. Other than the dedication needed for his craft, he said that a practitioner is “not called a teacher because he always learner throughout his life”.

This was from a man who has been practising for 54 years. It takes humility and honesty to maintain that perspective. So I wonder: How many educators will steadfastly reject the job label of teacher?

I used to call labels like “millennials” unnecessary and embarrassing. The video below of comedian, Russell Howard, ranting about the media blaming millennials reminds me that such labels are also stupid.

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Why are such labels stupid? They rely on the wilful ignorance and lazy thinking of one group to put another group down so that the first group can feel good about itself.

The video reminded me of at least Build For Tomorrow podcast episodes. One reminded me that every generation finds something negative to say about the one that comes after it. The other taught me that the cohort effect pitted us against them while the period effect was about shared experiences.

Labelling a group of people and associating negative traits ignores your own group has individuals that are just as bad or worse. It also precludes how the other group has smart, fast, or influential individuals too. Ignoring that so that you feel good about yourself is just plain stupid.

I watched this CNA video clip about the noise levels in public spaces in Singapore and was taken aback by this claim.

CNA: Singapore's average outdoor sound level vs WHO's recommended noise level.

Since most news sources like CNA are not in the habit of linking their sources, I had to search for the WHO source.

I found a 2021 paper about the conservation efforts of a Polish forest that cited the 55 dB recommended noise level for recreational areas. The figure was stated on page 2 of that paper.

From that paper’s reference section I found the original 1999 paper by the World Health Organisation. A more recent paper in 2018 made it clear from the cover pages that it was about  “environmental noise guidelines for the European region”.

Reflecting on what I found:

  • I wish that news sources would cite and link to their sources.
  • The 1999 paper focused on recreational areas; the CNA video had a mixture of areas.
  • The 55 dB figure cited by CNA hid details, i.e., the 2018 paper provided ranges of safe noise levels from road traffic, railway, aircraft, wind turbine, and leisure.

But this is my biggest beef: The CNA video seemed to want to use numbers to cause alarm, i.e., our top 4 noisiest areas are almost 20 dB louder than the WHO recommended level. What exactly does that mean?

If you Google and rely on scientific returns like Science Direct, you might learn that 50 dB is a quiet conversation while 70 dB is a kopitiam at peak traffic.

A decibel (dB) scale is also not like a ruler. Twenty units is not simply 70 minus 50. Noise at 50 dB is about 1/4 (one-quarter) as loud as 70 dB.

Perhaps I am being too critical of CNA. Its job is to inform, not to educate. But I still wish that it would inform better. 

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I am already thinking about how I might start and end a workshop on the design of online learning. The workshop is months down the road.

I might use the portion of the clip above that features Gromit (of Wallace and Gromit fame) frantically laying train tracks as he needed them.

Why use this clip?

I sense that teachers do not plan as far ahead or with enough depth when they are tasked to conduct online lessons. Gromit’s tracks are like readymade resources prepared by someone else and their use is reactionary. This leads to failed or unpleasant experiences for both them and their students. 

For online learning to be effective, one design practice is to prepare well in advance. Such preparation is about preempting and preventing instead of reacting and firefighting. Roughly speaking, the preparation to implementation time might follow a 90:10 rule, i.e., 90% preparation, 10% implementation. 

Most teachers are probably not used to doing this. They might prefer to put their 90% into live instruction instead. However, doing this is an attempt to force a face-to-face practice into an online context.

The switch in environment necessitates change because the affordances and expectations are different. Not changing is like a human refusing to learn how to breathe under water with new tools and techniques. That person would likely drown. 

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I look forward to every Jolly video because they provide wholesome and genuinely funny content.

But I also stand by my principle to do the least harm. This means calling out entertainment videos that might mislead the easily misled or perpetuate ignorance.

This Jolly video featured their family friend, a reverend, to react to supposed “black magic”. Supposed because there was no black magic. The phenomena they featured were natural and had biological, chemical, and physical explanations.

The Jolly team stayed in their comfort zone of reacting as lay folk when they could have invited science educators to debunk and explain. Yes, they are not an education-focused channel, but they missed an opportunity to also inform their over 2+ million subscribers.

Instead, they chose to ask a man of faith to share his opinions. They have every right to do this, but this does not move people forward in their thinking. Far too many people already rely on uncritical opinion or uninformed feelings. That mindset mistakes crystallisation for chemical trails in the sky, denies climate change, and fights against public health measures. 

I get it. The video is supposed to be entertaining. But why can it not be both entertaining and educational? For me, this was a missed opportunity to do the least harm by countering old mindsets.

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If there is a better and more timely example of “let the children lead”, it might be this one.

The video features a Ukrainian girl seeking refuge in Poland because of the Russian invasion of her home country. She is already in school and her new best friend is Polish. They rely on Google Translate to speak with each other.

The technology does not merely enhance learning, it enables it. Teachers might learn from the example of these two girls on how to do the latter. Enabling with technology is student-centred, meaningful, and powerful.

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I get it. This is a video by a comedian so it is not supposed to be taken seriously. Also, anyone who starts with “I am not an expert in [insert-topic-here] but…” should not be taken seriously.

But enough people will take it seriously. The video is even sponsored by Cerebral, a company that claims to offer “expert help for your emotional health”, so this gives it an air of legitimacy.

The video reminds me why entertainment should never be conflated with education. It also reminds me that the adage “do no harm” is impossible. Even the best designs and skilful implementations of learning experiences lead to pitfalls.

The best we might strive for is to do the least harm. One way I do this is to call out harmful practices even if they come from people that I watch, admire, or follow online.

I do not envy processing the top 100 scientific papers to find out what I might learn from them. But I am glad someone did.

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As I have a background in biology, I was pleased to note that 39 of the top 100 papers were about biology lab techniques. There were also six on bioinformatics, four on phylogenetics, and seven that were medicine-related. 

But the numbers reflect citations and not zeitgeist. That is, they are a result of scientists doing the right thing by acknowledging the earlier work of others. These can be mundane if you had to make a YouTube video or write a press article.

The clickbait or current topics are not necessarily reflected in the top 100 papers. This is one more reason why I am a squeaky wheel not just going by the numbers. The quality behind the quantity and the narrative you tell with the numbers matter because that is what connects with people. 

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This clip from the series 9 finale of Taskmaster reminded me of a difference between persistence and resilience. Knowing and acting on this difference is important if educators are to help students nurture both. 

Spoilers for the video ahead.

Ed Gamble, who won this challenge, also beat the other contestants to the series prize. Even though the points and prize do not ultimately matter — it is a comedy game show — Gamble seemed to take his tasks seriously. So seriously that he exhibited great persistence and strategic resilience.

He persisted even though he had to repeat the tasks because he kept messing up. In the end, he was the only one to get points even though he was the slowest. The others were quicker, but failed to follow the rules. 

When the clip reverted to the studio, Gamble did not let the Taskmaster get away with awarding points based on “the spirit” of the challenge. His resilience came in the form of a spirited defence of doing what was right. 

For me, persistence might be a trait that no one else sees. You push yourself, but no one really knows why or how. Resilience can be qualified by externalising that persistence, e.g., a recorded account of an experience, a reflection of that experience, or in this case, a defence of an evaluation.

Resilience can be difficult to quantify and challenging to showcase. It is not comfortable. But educators need to embrace it if they are to push forward with the character education of their students.

Am I serious about emphasising the differences between persistence and resilience? Not really. I am making the point about how easy it is to create a niche in education and edtech sphere. Jump on buzzwords and spin!

Modern literacy should include BS detection.

Scams and falsehoods probably started the moment we became sentient, but they are easier to create and have greater reach now. So we all need to learn how to tell fact from fiction.

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We cannot always rely on videos like the one above nor will sites like Snopes have already evaluated what we find. So how might we help ourselves?

For images we have reverse image search with tools like TinEye or even variants of Google image search.

Video reverse search is a bit more involved and might rely on reverse image search engines like Berify.

The tools are not in short supply and they are easy to use. The challenge is mindset. Are we cautiously sceptical and do we bother to check what we find online?


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