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Posts Tagged ‘walk

The thread that runs through my rant yesterday and today is how people talk smart talk but walk dumb.

Several weeks ago, I had an unpleasant dining experience. It gave me food for thought on why technology-led change in school flows slower than molasses.

I revisited an eatery that made some changes. One such change was a subtle one. There were QR code stickers on the tables which linked patrons to an online menu and ordering system.

The process was straightforward: Scan, select, order, pay, wait.

While waiting for our food to be served, I dealt with a technical issue on my son’s phone. It took a while to deal with because the problem was quite serious. I spent almost 20 minutes trying to troubleshoot the problem. I know this because my food order did not arrive and I checked to see why.

Online order.

I walked to the counter staff and asked if there was a problem with my order. They replied that I not ordered because I was “just sitting there as if I was waiting for someone”. Forgive me for doing what customers do, i.e., order and wait.

They also said that they tended to rely on online orders at lunch when things got busy. Apparently I was supposed to know this. Forgive me for not being a mind-reader.

A staff member then reluctantly pulled out a previously hidden iPad and saw the order. Almost as soon as she tapped on her screen did a confirmation appear on my screen. Forgive me for not reminding you to check your ordering system.

I am sorry. I apologise for the portion of the human race that holds the rest back because they cannot overcome their inertia and bias. They do what is good and comfortable for them instead of focusing on others.

I am not sorry. I make it a point to create dissonance. I tell and show people — teachers in particular — why and how to teach better with technology. The process is sometimes painful and difficult, but we do this because we focus on our learners.

Most of us would not put up with shoddy service at an eatery. I cannot put up with schooling that pretends to be education. I see through the lip service and push or pull people along if necessary. If this makes them feel uncomfortable, then so be it. Better to be honest than a hypocrite.

Last week I received email from GeBIZ to complete a survey (PDF file) and then either email the file or fax it.

Gebiz email requesting for survey returns.

The message and instructions begged these questions:

Perhaps someone conspired to rile GeBIZ users up so much that they would provide feedback to demand for more efficient and effective practices.

An online version of the form is both more efficient and effective.

  • Its submission is immediate as is a confirmation of receipt.
  • There is no need for people to compile data from two different sources into one.
  • The data can be automatically collated and analysed without first being inputted manually from the emailed PDFs or faxes, thereby reducing human error.

If this is what happens to a survey, I dare not imagine how other processes might be compromised.

As an educator, I cannot help but wonder what messages actions like these send to the larger system. Are these indicators of push-backs on progress?

I do not think that my concern is unwarranted. While mainstream school teachers are not quite affected Internet restrictions, there are already restrictions on services like Dropbox and mobile services.

If plans are only as good as their implementation, why does “smart talk, dumb walk” persist?

Policies crafted by leaders shape the work environment and culture. If higher-ups associate the Internet, social media, or anything “e” as dangerous or wasting time, they will enact policies that reinforce such hang-ups and nurture a culture based on fear.

Consider this scenario. Imagine I propose that school personnel decide on whether they spend money only on a textbook collection or Chromebooks. The books do not raise an eyebrow, but the response to Chromebooks is “Yes, but…”.

As different as schools are now compared to a generation ago, values and practices today are arguably still entrenched in the past. Ask teachers if they integrate technology and it is still common to hear phrases like “technology to enhance”, “the basics are more important”, “we don’t want the kids to be distracted”, or “the exams are handwritten”.

Technology should not just enhance, it should enable learning. The basics have changed and are more complex and kids need to be empowered. Very little outside of conventional exams and schools is handwritten. Even GeBIZ asked for email replies.

Despite the smart talk and inspiring rhetoric, what actually makes a difference is the walk. It easy to say you want innovation in schools. It is more difficult to create conditions for change.

This is a rant.

Educational vendors and leaders may know how to talk, but they often struggle to walk a plan or policy down the road.
 

 
Over the last few months, I have met several people who fall in these categories. They hear about “educational innovation” and “disruption” and talk about MOOCs, whole school approaches, or other flavourful processes and products.

Their knowledge of such changes in the educational landscape tends to be superficial. They use buzzwords and that is all they remain in terms of implementation because they do not connect cognitively and emotionally with teachers or educators.

If the implementation does no harm to teachers and learners, I would be fine with it. But when they bring in experts and “experts” at high financial cost, with low contextual awareness, and zero follow up, I object.

I liken such moves to hit-and-run road accidents. The difference is that implementations like conferences, seminars, and workshops are purposeful.

I wonder why some schooling outfits will throw money at someone overseas to buy acronyms like AfL, DI, DT, LS, TfU, and UbD when there is perfectly good (or even better) self help or local expertise. WTF?

The problem used to be that vendors did not speak the language of schools and educational institutions. Now they do some basic research, latch on to buzzwords, and target policymakers and administrators.

The policymakers and administrators may or may not have been teachers before. Those that were teachers may not have been good ones or they actually prefer not to teach. They are not averse to building ivory towers and learn to play the policy and administration game well.

Plans built on poor pedagogical foundations and a lack of ownership are very expensive. They waste money, time, and effort. They demoralize and disillusion. They create change apathy in the long run.

This might sound harsh. But informed and reflective leaders, middle managers, and teachers will probably nod their heads in agreement.

I would rather they remove their heads from the clouds and learn to shake their heads at people who do not bother about context or pedagogy.

Today CeL is organizing e-Fiesta 2013 with the tagline “Say Open Sesame to Open Learning”. All of us will be way too busy to think straight.

Fortunately, I found this video and am scheduling this entry to be posted around the time we conduct the unconference segment of e-Fiesta.


Video source

The video is about how one photographer, John Butterill, started virtual photo walks to benefit folks who could not go on photo trips, particularly those who were bedridden or in hospital. He attached his smartphone to a camera, and with the help of Google Hangouts, video-conferenced with others.

I like how the video ends: Sharing your view. That’s a plus.

That is Google’s marketing tagline. But it is also relevant to promoting open learning processes and products. We must want to share our views with others openly.

Doing so is a plus to those who receive. The issue is convincing the givers to share more openly and freely. They will ask why and what-do-I-gain.

Thanks to the open Web, I can share a resource like this that provides answers to those questions. There are many other reasons and resources, of course.

One only has to search. You will find because someone has opted to share openly.


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