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Posts Tagged ‘videos

While the video below is a short documentary on chicken rice, it is also an elaborate advertisement for the iPhone 13 Pro. But that should not stop us from learning something about maintaining portfolios.

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The collaborative project resulted in a product — a short documentary. The next video provides some insights into some of the processes behind that product.

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We only get slivers of sight into how the documentary was shot. We do not have any insights on the sound design and editing, the video post production, the logistics and coordination, etc. But this does not make the second video any less valuable. We still see what we would not otherwise see.

For me, this was a reminder to teachers and students that products are not the only evidence of learning. When learning is externalised in portfolios, they must not only contain products of learning but also processes of the same. The latter should be as complete as possible, i.e., showcase what was learnt, how it was learnt, the issues the learner faced, and how they overcame those issues.

The release of the GCE A-level results and the summary statistic (pass rate) reported by the press reminded me of two YouTube videos I watched.

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The first was a TED-Ed video from which my favourite line emerged: Normal doesn’t describe a single data point, but a pattern of diversity.

It made the point that some might mistake about normal distributions and means. An average as a descriptive statistic could mislead us into thinking that is what most people are like. This could not be further from the truth.

This reminded me of a chapter from Naked Statistics in which the author described how a group in Australia described the “average” woman and others tried to find such a person. She did not exist because we are so different.

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The other video was from Wired and featured a statistics professor. He answered several questions and one was about why polls are inaccurate.

He explained that polls did not pick participants at random and thus the results were not necessarily representative of a population. He also mentioned how some people respond to polls and some do not. Those that respond might have certain traits and the poll becomes self-selecting instead of representative.

These reminders are normal in statistics. At least, they should be because the science and mathematics of generating the results are no more important than the narrative that follows. The stories we tell are what connects with our audiences.

It is the first day of the Lunar New Year of the Tiger. In the run up to the new year, Apple typically features a creator’s video. This year’s video did not disappoint. 

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My takeaways are that a) the affordances and limitations of a tool (like the iPhone 13 Pro) are opportunities to be creative, b) the energy of the young is sometimes present in the old (re: the father in the story), and c) it often takes a village to do something of worth. 

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I also enjoyed the making-of video which provided insights on the processes behind the product. It is a pity that this video was so short. I would have loved to see what each cog in the machine did to contribute to the final product.

That said, such a short video is a model for a process e-portfolio. It creates opportunities for Q&A, discussion, unpacking, repacking, critique, etc.

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I only just discovered the fantastic YouTube videos of DIY Perks. The creator of these videos, Matt, combines science, art and design like very few can.

I particularly like how he recycles parts from old computers and devices to create beautiful working pieces of art.

His videos are mostly how processes lead to a final product. This is quite the opposite of what we see in schooling — the final product is obvious and, if current assessment is any indication, valued more than the strenuous processes behind it.

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Matt also provided even more insights into how he creates his videos. While this is also a process-behind-the-product approach, it also adds environmental context and tool use to the mix. These could be a tip for any educator who wishes to reflect on their work.

Sadly, these videos contrast with the black box that is teaching. Very few people want to see how educators prepare because such work is tedious and unglamorous. But I would bet that if more people gained such insights, they would appreciate educators much more.

Here is some cognitive dissonance about a fashionable green effort.

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What could be wrong with replanting trees after we take them away? Very little if we do it correctly and for the right reasons.

The BBC videos above and below provide nuanced thoughts on why greening efforts like replanting trees is not always a good idea.

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The second video reviews some reasons why replanting trees is not always a good idea:

  • It can take two or three decades before trees are effective carbon sinks
  • About a quarter of the trees planted die before they serve that purpose
  • Planting the wrong trees might do more harm that good (e.g., non-native trees; monocultures that supplant diversity)
  • Individuals and companies look good when they claim to plant trees to offset carbon emissions, and this gives them an excuse to keep polluting
  • It feels good to put in the effort to plant trees, but we could be putting our energies into more effective strategies 

This is not to say that we should not be planting more trees. But it is greenwashing if this is done incorrectly or for the wrong reasons. 

I remove my old biology glasses and put on my educator lens now. There are many edtech vendors and central planning units that push initiatives that look good on the surface. But dig to their roots and you might find the wrong reasons and questionable methods.

I am thinking of people that misrepresent game-based learning by focusing only on the behaviouristic mechanisms of gamification; flipping the classroom instead of flipping the learning; confusing structured online lessons with self-directed and independent learning.

I have a metric for detecting BS: If it looks easy, it is likely to be lazy. Anything worth doing takes much effort and time. If something claims to be quick and painless, it is unlikely to address mindsets before changing behaviours. I only ask that people rethink the easy options and put their efforts into what it worthwhile instead.

If I described a Swede who builds “crappy” robots, used to live on a boat, and had a speaking role in a Chinese sit-com, could you name her? Oh, and she survived brain surgery to remove a tumour.

Combine all that (and more) and you get Simone Giertz.

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The video above is a random one of many quirky builds by Simone. It is probably mild by comparison to the other builds she has done alone or collaboratively. The latter creations are quite impressive, e.g,. Truckla (a DIY Tesla truck), Business Mantis Shrimp (with WETA workshop).

If I had to choose a word to describe all her builds, I would use joyful. Some of her builds are functional, some are not. Some are decorative, others are destructive. But they all seem to bring great joy to Simone and her 2.5 million subscribers.

They all seem to be products of thinking that is creative and critical, divergent and convergent, artistic and scientific. It would be tempting to call Simone a model and spokesperson for STEAM. But that would just pigeon-hole her. She is a celebration of what it is like to be brainy.

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Simone’s braininess is not a direct result of schooling. In her TED talk, she shared how she was a straight-A student. Except in one case where she got upset after receiving a B in mathematics. She quit university in her first year.

So how did she succeed? She found an interest — building robots — that became a passion and then a career. She became an autodidact, i.e., she taught herself. She put herself out on YouTube and shared her enthusiasm. That in turn seemed to open doors for her.

This is not a formula that works for everybody. But it is a viable one that worked before the advent of formal schooling and continues to this day. And it is easier today because of shared and open platforms of information.

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John Green shared his thoughts on how consistently sharing his thoughts every Tuesday for several years provided him with structure and discipline.

I have been reflecting on my blog every day for years. Like Green, I find that the habit forces thought and feeds tracks just ahead of the train.

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Unlike Green, I do not have a large audience. Like him, I reflect in public because this creates good pressure and some accountability. 

I blog not for views, but to shape my views. This is the best way for me to learn and change. At least that has stayed consistent over the years.

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The comedic game show, Taskmaster, is chockablock with tasks like the one above. In this challenge, participants had to think of ways to Impressively Throw Something Into Something.

In the task below, contestants were challenged to Camouflage Yourself As Well As Possible.

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The only thing that seems to happen consistently is how each person comes up with a different way of doing the same thing.

Viewed through an educator’s lens, I might conclude that these are examples of achieving the same ends through different means. This is like having shared goals and objectives.

However, the similarity ends abruptly there. In most schooling, there are vain attempts to standardise the means in order to reach the same ends. Sameness is valued over differentness. 

While there is a place for sameness, that mindset stifles creativity, exploration, and risk-taking. Educators might consider focusing on learning outcomes instead. 

Consider intended learning outcomes. These are only superficially similar to shared objectives. Objectives focus on teacher behaviours and expectations. Outcomes focus on learner actions. If learning outcomes are aligned to a teacher’s objectives, then one might call them intended learning outcomes.

Then there are unintended learning outcomes. Some of these outcomes might be unanticipated and therefore unplanned, but this does not make them undesirable. For example, a group project might have curricular outcomes, but accidental outcomes might include close friendships or better communication skills.

Another set of unintended learning outcomes is those that the learner defines. These are like the Taskmaster contestants’ efforts. The Taskmaster gives them an objective and each person interprets the instructions, rules, and limits on their own. They seem to go off on tangents, but in doing so shape and attain their own outcomes.

I could be wrong, but I think that schools are generally the least comfortable with learner-defined outcomes. They value objectives that provide the illusion of standardisation and conformity.

The reality is that students need to grow out of rigidity and operate in higher education and a working world where tasks rely independence and agency. Unlike Taskmaster, these tasks are not just for laughs. The sooner we get learners to operate more autonomously, the better we prepare them for life.

I listened to the closing song that played at the end of season 2’s episode 8 of Ted Lasso. The song was familiar but I could not place its title or the band.

So I Googled “ted lasso episode 8 end song” (I only did a partial search because Google completed the rest of the search terms for me). The first return was this list.

After I played a snippet of the song from that list, I looked for Somewhere Only We Know on YouTube. 

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The video featured some creepy sprites in a forest that I did not care for. But thanks to YouTube’s algorithms, I dove deeper into the rabbit hole by watching this behind-the-scenes creation of a John Lewis advertisement. 

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This video used the same song as a backdrop to showcase some of the hard work that went into the beautiful storytelling in the ad.

I would normally highlight how the video was a good example of learning from the processes and not just focusing on the product. This time I point out how technology mediates learning. 

I had a question which was quickly answered with a search. Searching does not always guarantee valid and reliable results, but mine was a low level fact, so Google’s algorithms provided a spot-on return.

But another set of algorithms also offered me answers to questions I did not have. Going down a rabbit hole is an opportunity for exploratory and discovery-based learning. 

Most schools seem to have curricula or programmes that teach kids how to search. These are necessary given how search results depend on search strategies; current online information, disinformation, and misinformation; social media bubbles, etc.

But I wonder how schools are handling rabbit hole learning, if at all. I know of adults who consider kids doing deep dives on their favourite game or celebrity a waste of time. I do not know if teachers are taking advantage of natural curiosity and tempering it with a combination of discipline and smarts.

It is Singapore’s 56th birthday today. Other than singing our national anthem, we also sing theme songs.

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The video above is our official theme song for 2021. But we have unsanctioned efforts elsewhere.

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Last year, a 900-person online choir sang the evergreen Home. It was particularly relevant when we were in full pandemic lockdown. It is still relevant in the age of Zoom.

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But my favourite offering is this 2018 synthesis by local a cappella group, MICapella. It is a joyful piece that time-travelled from our independence to today.

I prefer the unofficial efforts because they are authentic. They are works of passion and collaboration from folks on the ground. 


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