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Posts Tagged ‘youtube

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I loved the story of how Zillige tiles are made and how they are combined to create the art that gives the region in Fez in Morocco its distinctive look. 

This was not just a process-behind-the-product look. It was an examination of the value system. At around the 9min 40sec mark, a Zellige tile master shared his perspective. Other than the dedication needed for his craft, he said that a practitioner is “not called a teacher because he always learner throughout his life”.

This was from a man who has been practising for 54 years. It takes humility and honesty to maintain that perspective. So I wonder: How many educators will steadfastly reject the job label of teacher?

I used to call labels like “millennials” unnecessary and embarrassing. The video below of comedian, Russell Howard, ranting about the media blaming millennials reminds me that such labels are also stupid.

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Why are such labels stupid? They rely on the wilful ignorance and lazy thinking of one group to put another group down so that the first group can feel good about itself.

The video reminded me of at least Build For Tomorrow podcast episodes. One reminded me that every generation finds something negative to say about the one that comes after it. The other taught me that the cohort effect pitted us against them while the period effect was about shared experiences.

Labelling a group of people and associating negative traits ignores your own group has individuals that are just as bad or worse. It also precludes how the other group has smart, fast, or influential individuals too. Ignoring that so that you feel good about yourself is just plain stupid.

I watched this CNA video clip about the noise levels in public spaces in Singapore and was taken aback by this claim.

CNA: Singapore's average outdoor sound level vs WHO's recommended noise level.

Since most news sources like CNA are not in the habit of linking their sources, I had to search for the WHO source.

I found a 2021 paper about the conservation efforts of a Polish forest that cited the 55 dB recommended noise level for recreational areas. The figure was stated on page 2 of that paper.

From that paper’s reference section I found the original 1999 paper by the World Health Organisation. A more recent paper in 2018 made it clear from the cover pages that it was about  “environmental noise guidelines for the European region”.

Reflecting on what I found:

  • I wish that news sources would cite and link to their sources.
  • The 1999 paper focused on recreational areas; the CNA video had a mixture of areas.
  • The 55 dB figure cited by CNA hid details, i.e., the 2018 paper provided ranges of safe noise levels from road traffic, railway, aircraft, wind turbine, and leisure.

But this is my biggest beef: The CNA video seemed to want to use numbers to cause alarm, i.e., our top 4 noisiest areas are almost 20 dB louder than the WHO recommended level. What exactly does that mean?

If you Google and rely on scientific returns like Science Direct, you might learn that 50 dB is a quiet conversation while 70 dB is a kopitiam at peak traffic.

A decibel (dB) scale is also not like a ruler. Twenty units is not simply 70 minus 50. Noise at 50 dB is about 1/4 (one-quarter) as loud as 70 dB.

Perhaps I am being too critical of CNA. Its job is to inform, not to educate. But I still wish that it would inform better. 

I loathe most YouTube ads because they tend to be irrelevant and irritating. The ones I hate most are financial “gurus” who name drop and claim know how best to invest my money.

So I have stopped using the YouTube app on mobile devices because I cannot stop the ads there unless I buy a YouTube subscription. Instead, I rely on the mobile Safari browser and plug-ins.

One plug-in that blocks practically all inline ads is AdBlock Pro. When pre-roll ads appear, they flicker rapidly for a split second, but I do not hear anything or see anything beyond a frame or two. Then the video I want to watch plays.

But I do not mind playing ads that are less annoying, e.g., apps for learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, correcting your writing. YouTube needs to make some money after all. For that I have an extension from PIA (Private Internet Access) that allows some ads through.

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated to mention AdBlock Pro or PIA. I am sharing these tools should they be helpful to someone else who wishes to manage their ad views on YouTube.

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.

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I am already thinking about how I might start and end a workshop on the design of online learning. The workshop is months down the road.

I might use the portion of the clip above that features Gromit (of Wallace and Gromit fame) frantically laying train tracks as he needed them.

Why use this clip?

I sense that teachers do not plan as far ahead or with enough depth when they are tasked to conduct online lessons. Gromit’s tracks are like readymade resources prepared by someone else and their use is reactionary. This leads to failed or unpleasant experiences for both them and their students. 

For online learning to be effective, one design practice is to prepare well in advance. Such preparation is about preempting and preventing instead of reacting and firefighting. Roughly speaking, the preparation to implementation time might follow a 90:10 rule, i.e., 90% preparation, 10% implementation. 

Most teachers are probably not used to doing this. They might prefer to put their 90% into live instruction instead. However, doing this is an attempt to force a face-to-face practice into an online context.

The switch in environment necessitates change because the affordances and expectations are different. Not changing is like a human refusing to learn how to breathe under water with new tools and techniques. That person would likely drown. 

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I look forward to every Jolly video because they provide wholesome and genuinely funny content.

But I also stand by my principle to do the least harm. This means calling out entertainment videos that might mislead the easily misled or perpetuate ignorance.

This Jolly video featured their family friend, a reverend, to react to supposed “black magic”. Supposed because there was no black magic. The phenomena they featured were natural and had biological, chemical, and physical explanations.

The Jolly team stayed in their comfort zone of reacting as lay folk when they could have invited science educators to debunk and explain. Yes, they are not an education-focused channel, but they missed an opportunity to also inform their over 2+ million subscribers.

Instead, they chose to ask a man of faith to share his opinions. They have every right to do this, but this does not move people forward in their thinking. Far too many people already rely on uncritical opinion or uninformed feelings. That mindset mistakes crystallisation for chemical trails in the sky, denies climate change, and fights against public health measures. 

I get it. The video is supposed to be entertaining. But why can it not be both entertaining and educational? For me, this was a missed opportunity to do the least harm by countering old mindsets.

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If there is a better and more timely example of “let the children lead”, it might be this one.

The video features a Ukrainian girl seeking refuge in Poland because of the Russian invasion of her home country. She is already in school and her new best friend is Polish. They rely on Google Translate to speak with each other.

The technology does not merely enhance learning, it enables it. Teachers might learn from the example of these two girls on how to do the latter. Enabling with technology is student-centred, meaningful, and powerful.

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I get it. This is a video by a comedian so it is not supposed to be taken seriously. Also, anyone who starts with “I am not an expert in [insert-topic-here] but…” should not be taken seriously.

But enough people will take it seriously. The video is even sponsored by Cerebral, a company that claims to offer “expert help for your emotional health”, so this gives it an air of legitimacy.

The video reminds me why entertainment should never be conflated with education. It also reminds me that the adage “do no harm” is impossible. Even the best designs and skilful implementations of learning experiences lead to pitfalls.

The best we might strive for is to do the least harm. One way I do this is to call out harmful practices even if they come from people that I watch, admire, or follow online.

I do not envy processing the top 100 scientific papers to find out what I might learn from them. But I am glad someone did.

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As I have a background in biology, I was pleased to note that 39 of the top 100 papers were about biology lab techniques. There were also six on bioinformatics, four on phylogenetics, and seven that were medicine-related. 

But the numbers reflect citations and not zeitgeist. That is, they are a result of scientists doing the right thing by acknowledging the earlier work of others. These can be mundane if you had to make a YouTube video or write a press article.

The clickbait or current topics are not necessarily reflected in the top 100 papers. This is one more reason why I am a squeaky wheel not just going by the numbers. The quality behind the quantity and the narrative you tell with the numbers matter because that is what connects with people. 


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