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Ordinarily I would not share a video like the one below. There is nothing wrong with it. It is just not something I would share as a functional extrovert.


Video source

But when I linked three things I experienced from as far back as my undergraduate days to an event just last week, the purpose of sharing such a video became clear.

When I first stepped into university, I had a conversation with what some might call a flamboyant professor. Our chat strayed and he described himself as functional extrovert. That phrase was about playing a role as the context needed and has stuck with me since.

A few years ago, I detected a movement of sorts among some teachers who seemed to be resisting workshops and school initiatives that were cooperative or collaborative in nature. One of the leading concerns was whether the trend of teachers needing to work together — whether within the school walls or wide outside of them — was detrimental to “introverted” teachers. Some of these teachers were probably resistant or stubborn; a few had genuine concerns.

Last week I met with a group of educators to discuss revisions to criteria we used for evaluating novice instructors and facilitators. One category of criteria bugged me because it was worded in a manner that valued frontal teaching. The frontal criteria are important at times for lectures and public speaking, but our processes focused on facilitation which required more connective competencies. The criteria seemed to punish those that were not charismatic or lacked the gift of the gab.

The line linking these three events was an implicit assumption on what it means to be an introvert. That assumption is accompanied by others like whether introversion was inferior, if this placed introverts at a disadvantage, and if an introvert’s traits are not rewarded or recognised in good teaching.

A more fundamental question is: What is introversion? That is where the video comes in. It answers this question by highlighting five myths about being introverted. Introverts:

  1. Can make good leaders
  2. Are not necessarily smarter than extroverts
  3. Do not always want to be alone
  4. Do not hate people
  5. Are not necessarily shy

When I was in Denmark a few years ago, my host asked me what I learnt from travelling overseas. I gave my standard reply: For the important things, we are more alike than different.

This is a particularly important lesson in today because of the social climate and our membership as world citizens. So I was pleased to find this video from a Danish broadcaster.


Video source

The video starts with people being put in boxes. We then discover that people move out of those categories into new ones based on different contexts we put them in and the questions we ask of them.

While it is human to take cognitive shortcuts by categorisation, it is far more important to question and challenge those categories. I would wager that by asking more questions and issuing more challenges to ourselves, we learn more about others. Then we might discover that we struggle with the same issues because we have the same differences.

When this principle is applied in schooling and education, we might question if single curricula and standard assessments are logical for different learners.

Last month I pondered on how I could use a YouTube video on Trump’s tweets to teach discourse analysis.

Earlier this week I chanced upon a video that might be used to illustrate how to report discourse analysis.


Video source

By relying on the expertise of a debate master, the creators of this video outlined how Kellyanne Conway deals with questions that get thrown her way and how she frustrates journalists.

Her strategies were to:

  1. Deflect by repeating keywords and going off on a tangent.
  2. Take advantage of the politeness of interviewers and their need to move on to other questions.
  3. Pass the buck when she did not have answers.
  4. Fabricate information.

These strategies were a result of basic analysis: Listening and watching videos of Conway, noting patterns, chunking patterns, and verifying patterns. That is a simplified version of a how-to of video content analysis.

What is valuable in this video is how the evidence was presented. The pattern was textbook: Present each main strategy, illustrate it once, illustrate it again, and explain it concisely to remove doubt.

As much as I would rather not have videos of Trump or Conway as fodder for learning these skills, they are a reminder that good things can emerge from bad if we know how to look. The content itself is emotionally charged and this can be leveraged on to create memorable lessons and to show novices how to be objective when it matters.

YouTube relies on algorithms to guess what videos you might be interested in and make recommendations.

While it is machine intelligent, it does not yet have human intuit, nuance, and idiosyncrasies.

All I need to do is search for or watch a YouTube video I do not look for regularly and it will appear in my “Recommended” list. For example, if I search for online timers for my workshop sites, YouTube will recommend other timers.


Video source

If I watch a clip of a talk show host that I normally do not follow, YouTube seems to think I have a new interest and will pepper my list with random clips of that person.

This happens so often that I have taken to visiting my YouTube history immediately after I watch anything out of the ordinary and deleting that item. If I do not, my carefully curated recommendations get contaminated.

Some might argue that the algorithms help me discover more and new content. I disagree. I can find that on my own as I rely on the recommendations of a loose, wide, and diverse social network to do this.

YouTube’s algorithms cannot yet distinguish between a one-time search or viewing and a regular pattern. It cannot determine context, intent, or purpose.

Until it does, I prefer to manage my timeline and recommendations and I will show others how to do the same. This is just one of the things from a long list of digital literacies and fluencies that all of us need to do in the age of YouTube.

If there is any doubt lingering from my critique of the STonline weather tweeter, let me remove it — I am not a fan because the tweeted content barely passes for humour.

But I am a fan of a recently released YouTube video by a Singapore entity.


Video source

The video was a bit late in coming and borrowed heavily from the original from the Netherlands.


Video source

Several other entities from countries in Europe chimed in with their own videos as did individuals and organisations from countries outside the continent. Here is a playlist of some of the better ones.

The German video provided some insights that the others did not. The initial grassroots effort was coordinated between a few European TV teams.


Video source

The starter pack have a website, everysecondcounts.eu to encourage other European countries to join in. (Update: The site now includes other continents.)

The humour of these videos and the website URL is at another level.

Each video often relies on the same formula (a narrator with a Trump-like voice), the same sweeping vista opening and strategic snapshots to drive points home quickly, and the closing remark “America First, [Name of Country] Second”.

Despite the formula, each country makes the introductory video their own. They make reference that are unique to their country, might take potshots at other countries, and troll Trump slyly or overtly.

The companion website URL alone is clever. It is a reference to timely responses (every bit of time matters) and getting involved (every country that might be “second” should stand up and be counted). It is activism that uses humour to make valid and powerful points.

Humour is a weapon. In the minds and hands of the skilled, it is powerful because it disarms before stabbing at the heart of the matter. If wielded by the less able, it hurts the message and the messenger.

I have not played Minecraft in a while. This is because my son has not played the game in that time. The game is beneath him as he is into various Steam games now.

Our Minecraft server resides in a Mac in the living room, but the software has not been updated. I checked and saw that the Java files sit in a folder dated January 2016 and the actual JAR file is from May 2015.

The Minecraft app on my mobile devices updates every blue moon, but I do not launch them. There is also still a bit of Minecraft paraphernalia in my son’s room, but it is covered with dust.


Video source

Then along came this recent video by Vox about the artistic merits of Minecraft post-Mojang and dura-Microsoft. I was almost tempted to restart the game to see what was new.

Almost. I was dismayed to find out that Microsoft had restricted how Minecraft maps were used by others [video segment] [announcement].


Video source

What was previously open for modification and innovation (just like the sandbox that was Minecraft) became walled and gated. A few partner companies of Microsoft survived, but my guess is that they are the exception rather than the rule.

Microsoft can (and did) do this because they bought Minecraft from Mojang. It had to make money like their Office suite. The education version of Minecraft relies on subscriptions.


Playlist

I still have rose-tinted memories of Minecraft. The edu-Minecraft videos I created a while ago remind me of the fun I had with my son as well as the breadth and depth of learning I experienced. The artefacts and memories are like a diploma that remind me of an achievement.

I have been fortunate to be approached to give advice about leveraging on Minecraft in education. But since these seemed to head down the same dark Pro Bono alley, I decided not to take them because I would have walked out poorer from being robbed of my living.

I heed the ominous warning from the video:

When you’re playing another person’s game, night could come at any time. And then it’s always survival mode.

Did you ever consider how beer could be used to spread the message of the importance of diversity? Now that would be drinking responsibly!


Video source

Molson, a Canadian beer brand, did just that.

The video also had a hotspot link to a making-of video to reveal ideas and processes behind the product. HAD. The link did not work when I tried it because it is either offline or private.

This is a shame because such videos provide insights into how great ideas are born and nurtured. They make design thinking real.

Thankfully there is a behind-the-scenes video of an earlier project that involved the scanning of passports. But it leaves you wanting more. More insights, not more beer.


Video source

All that said, such videos are not just educationally useful for illustrating process and product, they are critical as 2017 starts with so much attention on closing borders, clamping up, and shutting down progress.

The first video shows how different people can work together and then enjoy the fruits of their labour. The second shows a bit of the nitty-gritty to make that happen.


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