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Posts Tagged ‘videos

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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The central figure in the video above, Maxx, has dyslexia. According to the interview and video description he was “five weeks away from his final examinations when he experienced memory loss”.

He did not do well in the high-stakes exams and made his way into what many here would consider the lower rung of education. But you would be fooled into believing that given how articulate and confident is was.

I am confident he learnt not from schooling, but despite it. Schooling and the social pressures here typically emphasise academic excellence. Little, if anything, is said about character and mindsets. Why? Exams do not measure such things.

It should not take a learner who has dyslexia and memory loss to tell us that non-academic  processes and outcomes like perseverance are more important all the time.

Maxx also highlighted how his dyslexia did not hold him back. He considered that to be an essential part of him. He reminded me that we need to focus on enabling behaviours instead of disabling with labels.

That reminder is timely given how I will soon be facilitating modules on ICT for SPED. The next two videos give be pause for thought.

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The Lost Voice Guy has cerebral palsy which left him unable to speak. So he uses a speech synthesiser to talk. 

In his closing joke for the Britain’s Got Talent judges, he questioned the use of the “special” label, i.e., special needs, special school. I had a good laugh and it got me thinking about how use ridiculous labels.

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Francesca Martinez also has cerebral palsy and described herself as “wobbly” in this TEDx talk. In the comedy routine above, she said: “Who wants a normal life? I want an amazing life!”

The shift in SPED to focus on abilities instead of disabilities has started, but like most things in schooling and education, is moving at a glacial pace. We might learn from Maxx, the Lost Voice Guy, and Francesca how to break expectations. 

I do not expect to change everyone’s mind when I facilitate my modules. But I do expect to push and pull a few educators forward in the right direction. 

The lockdowns that were a response to the current pandemic seem to have helped some people reinvent themselves.

Nigel Ng is a Malaysian comedian who is based in the UK. Under lockdown he resorted to podcasting and inventing a persona called Uncle Roger. The latter move now has a near rabid following and mechanise.

Timeless takeaway: Problems can be opportunities for positive  change.

A musician with the YouTube moniker, The Kiffness, first appeared on my radar when he performed song parodies during lockdown [playlist]. But his most popular videos to date are non-conventional collaborations with people all over the world [playlist].

Here are two of my current favourites.

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Takeaway: Such creativity is possible only when original resources are not only shared openly and freely, but also allowed to be reused and remixed.

Teachers and educators might learn from these examples. The forced move out of class and the push online is an opportunity to rethink what it means to teach. 

Some of the resources that they used to quickly create learning materials were generously shared by others online. They should return the favour by doing the same. You never know who might need it or how they might transform it for the better.

I am constantly on the lookout for resources that are relevant to courses that I facilitate. 

One series of modules on ICT for Inclusion is a few months away, but I already have more new resources than I can share in the short time that I have with my students. So I embed just some of them here.

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The first two videos highlight the ways that various technologies enable differently-abled folk to live their lives. I like that they are local examples and will connect with my learners.

The third video is of a well-known YouTuber. He is not a local lad, of course, but he represents a faction of people who do not consider their “disabilities” to be disabilities. It reinforces my message that we need to focus on what students with special needs can do or might do, instead of what they cannot.

I am also reminding myself that I have a reflection on the myth that is learning styles. I curated several resources and linked them one to another after I kept hearing more and more pre- and in-service teachers tout this falsehood.

Rising above, what I have done illustrates the difference between merely bookmarking or collecting resources, and actually curating them. It is easy to collect and just as easy to forget that these resources exist. It is more difficult but far more meaningful to see how they fit together to teach a lesson or two.

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The easy thing to do with videos like these is to show them to students who complain about going to school and telling them how grateful they should be.

The more difficult thing to do is to draw out meaningful questions, generate discussion, and educate our students on empathy and action. 


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