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Posts Tagged ‘viral

I discovered an unexpected source of ideas for flipped learning. It is a video of a teacher trolling his students after he banned them from flipping bottles.

Video source

At first glance, the teacher might come across as the embodiment of “do as I say, but not as I do”. After all, he did not want his students flipping bottles and did so himself.

Viewed through the lens of YouTube entertainment, the teacher was not only a master troll, he was also aware of memes and what connected with his learners. Even the groan-worthy references were gems.

Viewed through the lens of education, the video was a good example of practice, creative endeavour, and content creation.

The practice of bottle flipping required not just elbow grease, but also experimentation to determine the right amount of water. I have no doubt that there was much failure footage left out of the final video.

The teacher kept flipping bottles just like teachers might try flipping their classrooms. However, routine with both gets old quickly. Since the flipped classroom is still largely reliant on the teacher as driver, the teacher must design and lead interesting journeys. The teacher provided creative variations and levelled up the difficulty of bottle flipping. The same could be said about flipping classrooms.

The most important idea is that of having the agency to create content. This is one principle that distinguishes the flipped classroom from flipping learning. Learners must be empowered to create content so that they make their thinking visible, are teaching their peers, and acting on the feedback they receive. Only then does the flipped classroom transform to one that embraces flipped learning.

Bonus: This viral video also illustrated one strategy for creating videos for flipped learning. Every learner should show only what is critical. They do not need to create epic movies. They should be creating trailers that leave their peers wanting more.

If you live under a rock, watch this video first.

Video source

If you do not, you know that everyone and their grandmother watched it and had something to say about it.

This is what I saw and say from an educational technology perspective.

Technology integration
This was an example of technology integration, not just technology use. While the effort was just a recreation of a face-to-face interview, it would not have been possible without the video conferencing software.

One alternative would have been to find some other expert nearby. But the BBC either did not have one or know one.

Yet another alternative would have been to fly the expert over, but this would have been costly and probably would have lost its impact by air time.

Technology integration makes the edtech indispensable, not just good to have. It is necessary, transparent, and practically indistinguishable from the strategy.

Managing the environment
Good technology integration is just as much about managing the environment. In hindsight, most people might have wondered why he did not lock the door.

In a subsequent interview, the expert revealed that he normally locks the door. The day he forgot, his kids took advantage.

Video source

Technology integration looks effortless only if it is planned meticulously, rehearsed diligently, and when the environments are managed skillfully.

The environment might include the physical (e.g., lighting, temperature, noise), infrastructural (e.g., availability of tools, access to electrical points, reliability of wifi), social (e.g., individual space, group space, reflection space), pedagogical (e.g., instructional tools and platforms, strategies intertwined with the previous elements) and so much more. All must be considered, balanced, and managed in when contexts change.

Keep on keeping on
When novices try and fail, it is easy to give up due to the unwanted outcomes like embarrassment, poor participation, or negative feedback.

It is critical not to give up during and after something like this happens. The professor in the video soldiered on and he had the timely support and intervention from his wife.

He behaved professionally. He shared his burden with someone else. He reflected on the experience. He showed he was human.

No matter WHAT you teach, it is ultimately about WHO you are trying to teach it to. Making that human connection — in this case, it was family and kids — is what learners remember. Those are arguably more important lessons than what is in the official syllabus.

As I reflect today, I link a viral video of a road accident, a cockroach infestation in an apartment, and a forum letter about the public standard of English.

Video source
Late last week a local dashcam video went viral. It was of a female pedestrian being hit by a taxi while crossing the road even though the light was in her favour.

If you asked just five people what they thought, you would likely have got five different opinions. There are many comments at the original Facebook page.

Some people blame the pedestrian for not being more aware of her surroundings or say she should not have been looking at her phone while crossing. I agree that she could have been more careful, but that muddles the issue and dilutes the blame.

The issue is the carelessness of the driver; the blame is on the driver. The car approached from the left and rear of the woman. Even if she was not on the phone, she would have needed eyes on the sides of her head to have seen the car coming.

Complex situations rarely have clear answers. But if this was a court case, the law has clear standards. In this case, the standard was that the pedestrian had the right of way. As stupid as it is to not pay attention to the road while crossing it, it is not the time to focus on mobile walking.

Mobile walking is an issue and new standards must be negotiated to address it. But let us not muddle the issues or dilute the blame.


Video source
In more shocking and perhaps stomach-churning news, local papers were set alight to the news of an apartment infested with cockroaches due to the hoarding habit of an occupant.

The road accident happened in the blink of an eye, the infestation was, by one account, at least 16 years in the making.

In separate accounts, everyone except the couple staying at the “roach motel” claims to have tried to do something. These include the children of the couple (who moved out when they grew up); the neighbours (who have to deal with the problem on a daily basis and are stuck with the problem); and various authorities (who the rest look to but seem quite powerless).

Interestingly, it seemed to require a viral video of the infestation for authorities to take concerted action.

However you look at it, the overriding issue is public health and safety. That is the standard to consider first before neighborliness, being tolerant, or social intervention.

All that said, even with standards of public housing and soft social contracts in place, the infestation was allowed to happen. Everyone involved, even the poor neighbours, had some role in letting the infestation grow.

Let us not muddle the issue. The blame is shared.

In #edsg, there is a lively debate following this tweet.

A writer concerned with the standard of written and spoken English wrote this letter to the ST online forum [archive].

The plea is straightforward: Can something be done to arrest the slide in English as spoken and written here? The writer is not the first to bring this up and she will not be the last. This time round, the examples that were cited included public signs and the poor problem-definition of the viral Cheryl’s birthday math/logic problem.

The debate on #edsg is likely to confuse. Note that depending on how tweeps replied, some responses might not be captured in the thread.

The issues of language acquisition and evolution are complex to say the least. The issues are muddled and it is tempting to lay blame to single sources.

The blame is shared and we must be honest about the problem, accepting the blame, and collectively designing solutions.

The problem is very public. It is only viewed as a problem if there are standards and standard bearers. The writer was brave enough to stand up and be counted.

The problem is also one that developed over a long time, longer than the behaviours that caused the roach infestation. It is an insidious one: Not as immediate and shocking as the traffic accident, and even harder to detect than hoarding behind closed doors.

The problem could be more obvious. If it is not, a week of critically examining posters, brochures, or public notices will reveal the problem. Alternatively, a simple Google search of Cheryl’s birthday explanations and critical examination of those explanations will reveal how language is fused with logic. It will also show how those with a better command of the language are better at defining and solving the problem.

From a systemic perspective, it is important to peel away the symptoms (grammatically poor notices and bad explanations) and find the root problems.

While the home environment is a critical start for language acquisition and formation, it is not a pivot point that system managers can manipulate easily. However, they have greater control as to what happens in schools and para-education (tuition, libraries, museums, etc.). Kids spend much of their time in such environments and there are standards for instruction here.

As educators of a nation, teachers, private tutors, and para-educators might have to own up to feeling “uncool” to have and maintain standards of English. For example, teachers might say that if they speak proper English, they risk not connecting with their students.

Our educators must maintain standards of English. I do not mean this in a muddy-duddy way, but because it is the right thing to do. By “fuddy-duddy” I mean blindly or stubbornly following tradition. By “doing the right thing” I mean recognizing that language evolves but also realizing that clear communication must exist for the sake of transnational and transgenerational dialogue.

If we fail our kids, we let it happen, individually and collectively. There is no muddling of issues here: We are to blame.

Last week Sugata Mitra suggested this at a leadership conference in Singapore:

This is not new to thought leaders and those that follow them.

For example, in 2012 I tweeted a link on the Danish experiment on allowing Internet use during exams. Here are some other links I have been collecting in Diigo.

While there are many good reasons for allowing the use of the Internet for tests and exams, there is common approach among thought and action leaders. If Google can help answer questions, then we should also (only?) test 1) learners’ ability to search, analyze, evaluate, and synthesize, and 2) the unGoogleable.

I illustrate with two recent examples.

A Singapore Math question went viral locally and has gained traction elsewhere. It claims to be about logic and there is apparently more than one solution [1] [2].

I question the logic of such questions, but that is not what this reflection is about. The fact of the matter is that the solutions, the rationales, and their critiques can all be found online.

You do not need to know how to get the answer traditionally. You need only know how to search online for information and people, and decide which return is best. If that is not a 21st century competency, I do not know what is.

Next example. Last week, my wife, an English teacher, received a message containing an English problem supposedly pitched at the Primary 1 level.

It went something like this:

I am a word of five letters and people eat me. If you remove the first letter I become a form of energy. Remove the first two and I am needed to live. Scramble the last three and you can drink me. What word am I?

There are many other variations of this. There are also several reactions that kids and parents can have.

One is panic, as the messenger did. After he calmed down, he reached out to a teacher (my wife) but not his child’s teacher because the latter caused the panic in the first place.

Another reaction was to learn the “logic” of the artificial problem and use either thought finesse or brute force to crack it open.

As much as I might enjoy a puzzle, I do not appreciate fake ones, particularly ones given late at night and not meaningful to me. My reaction was to Google it.

I had barely typed “I am a word of…” and Google’s suggested search phrases appeared. And links. And answers. And variations. And discussions galore!

Is there a need to test? Certainly.

Is there a need to test what we can Google? I think not.

What does a test for the unGoogleable look like? It is difficult to say for sure, but it is NOT a just test.

As challenging as good tests are to create, they are relatively easy to grade because answers fit into as few categories as possible. Preferably two categories: Right and wrong. If you take into consideration different perspectives, answers, or talents, then tests become inadequate.

A look at what happens in online social spaces gives clues as to what assessing the unGoogleable might look like. There are discussion forums where the best answers float to the top by popular vote. There are blogs with explanations and reflections on such problems.

Expand this natural “testing” island to a broader universe and the possibilities are endless. Twitter debates, Facebook critiques, YouTube video challenges, Instagram or Pinterest collections, Vine impressions.

All these and more are already part of digital databases that capture our identities. The Googles of the world use it for research, marketing, and advertising. I say we tame, manage, and organize these data in an online portfolio to showcase what we learn. Then we might stumble on ways to assess the unGoogleable.

When I read Wheeler’s blog entry on our viral web, I couldn’t help but remember this cheesy line from a Stallone movie: You’re the disease, I’m the cure.

I’ll borrow two things Wheeler said:

we all have access to the power of social media, and with appropriate use, and with enough of us involved, we are all watchers – and we can all make a difference.

And at the end of his entry:

As more and more people connect with each other in different ways, across a multitude of platforms, through a bewildering array of devices, I think we are going to see some extraordinary things happening, socially, culturally and politically*.

You’ll have to read his blog entry for context and examples, i.e., how the abuse on a train and his photo of a personality went viral. But you might be able to relate to what he was trying to say even without clicking through: Even seemingly mundane things can go viral.

That is why those in the position of authority are afraid. Social media is difficult to control, but it can be managed to your advantage. In the context of education, I think that it is important to do this because you would be leveraging on what students and teachers have already started using. Then what might seem to be a disease is actually a cure.

*I could harp on how Wheeler did not mention “educationally” in his blog but I shan’t because someone said it better in a different context. @timstahmer tweeted:

Tweet away, troops: Pentagon won’t ban social media But in the name of security, schools continue to do just that.

And I’ll leave it at that.


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