Thanks to Jim Wynn for pointing me to the cartoon.
Thanks to Jim Wynn for pointing me to the cartoon.
From Anna Batchelder on Dot.Learnt:
Location: Inner city, USA
People: Sharon (remedial reading specialist), Jeremy (5th grade student, always absent, “bully,” F-student)
Scenario: After months of not coming to reading class, Jeremy shows up on a quiz day (“Darn it!” he thinks). Aware of this, Sharon gives him a sparkly “special” pencil to complete the assessment. Jeremy takes the quiz. Sharon tells Jeremy to keep the pencil and that she hopes to see him the next day.
That night, Sharon erases all of Jeremy’s incorrect answers and inserts the correct responses. The next day Jeremy shows up with his pencil. Sharon hands him his quiz. A+. “Yes!” shouts Jeremy, proud of his first A.
Jeremy comes to school the next day, and the next and the next… He starts working harder in reading class. His grades improve without Sharon’s “fixing”. He starts attending other classes and improving his behavior as well.
What just happened? Do you agree with Sharon’s tactics?
I have no problem with this. Do you?
[in case anyone outside the USA is unclear, a ‘quiz’ in this context is the American term for a class test]
What do you mean, you don’t know what a yoctometer is?
If the end of the twentieth century saw the democratisation of knowledge, then the role of the twenty-first century teacher is quite simple – to preside over the democratisation of learning.
Bill read the book after catching a great post from Dave Terron, who goes through the book in some detail.
They hate that you undermine their carefully crafted messages and turn them into jokes. They hate that you are forming new methods of entertainment that they don’t understand. They hate that you can organise yourselves without them knowing about it. They hate that power has been democratised. They hate that you get at content for free. They hate it, hate it, hate it. So when the opportunity arises to stamp on one of you snivelling social media types, they grasp it with both hands.
Martin Weller, with pinpoint accuracy, hits the nail firmly on the head with regard to the utterly ludicrous and quite outrageous decision to uphold the conviction of Paul Chambers for his Twitter joke. Chambers was stupid, but he is not a criminal.
Like Martin, I do not believe in conspiracy theories — those who do are the kinds of people who in the past might have written letters in green ink. Today, it’s just as easy to spot the ‘green ink’ blog posts when you come across them. But his notion of a conspiracy of sentiment is compelling.
This is what happens when a bureaucracy and a power structure loses its sense of proportion and its collective sense of humour!
In the real world, good teachers rip up the punch card and get on with their job: engaging young minds in the wonders of culture. And they do this by exemplifying as individuals the critical intellectual spirit we hope the next generation will adopt. Those who follow teaching scripts handed down from on high can never be good teachers, as they are in fact pseudo-intellects, fakers and impostors, who are acting out, rather than embodying, cultural engagement. Students can easily spot a hypocrite.
Stephen Abram has the perfect solution for all those who persist in fetishising the book and who therefore spurn the attractions of the e-book: he suggests that we add that wonderful smell of old books to e-book readers. What would it consist of?
- Glue: The smell of drying and rotting toxic glue from many eras. We’ll have to find a safer alternative for the scented version.
- Dust: The layers of dust accumulated in any library that fly about. The principal component of dust being sloughed off human skin should be easy to acquire cheap and it can be advertised as ‘natural’.
- Mould: Libraries are loaded with mould in our books and carpets. Again, this is natural and should be easy to acquire.
- Ink: Recent changes to printers’ ink has removed much of the lead and most are now vegetable based. We would need to find some mix that allows for the scent of the modern and the old ink that combines in your average library. Maybe library book smells are different for the generations too.
- Dryness: And wrap all of this scent up in a dry air environment that allows for the scent to hang alluringly in the air that has been robbed of humidity by the paper in the books.
I like it!
From different quarters, we have heard the suggestion that our colleges must be new-modeled; that they are not adapted to the spirit and wants of the age; that they will soon be deserted unless they are better accommodated to the business character of the nation.
As Ron writes:
Sound familiar? Have our schools ever been able to meet the needs of the age? I doubt it. More often than not education and learning are sources of dispute, mediators in the culture wars or progenitors of conflict. These are not bad characteristics, it is just that learning, for better or worse is not about information, schools or responding to what teachers suggest or talk about. The social space of schools is much like social media, places of conversation where the unintended outcome is often far more important than any of the artifice used to frame conversations in a specific way.
Ron has started a series of posts under the title Learning in the 21st Century — at the time of writing, he has posted the first two of the series. In the second piece, he writes:
Schools should be the places where we encourage complex thinking and doing, creating and collaborating. Instead, we rush to both prove the value of education and its outcomes. In the process, we have created straightjackets that limit invention, innovation and crucially the human imagination from flourishing and thereby actually decrease the opportunities for change and impact.
Ron is always worth reading, both for what he says and how he says it, so head for his blog right now!
Word-clouds aren’t revolutionary. They are elements of communicative capitalism, elements that reinforce the collapse of meaning and argument and thus hinder argument and opposition.
The word-cloud might transmit the intensity, it might incite a feeling or a response, but it doesn’t invite the interrogation of that response or what induced it. It offers representation without understanding: issues are out there. A word-cloud is like a Möbius-strip where meta-data become noise: “she said a lot about politics and technology.” Whatever.
I agree with her, up to a point.
I do need to think about what ‘communicative capitalism’ might be. I’m also not so sure that something so simple as a word-cloud actually hinders argument and opposition: it may simply not help, which is quite different. In an educational context, for instance, I would doubt that many teachers would choose to use a word-cloud as an alternative to the text itself.
Blog Theory is proving to be an enjoyable and worthwhile read, despite an occasional opacity in language, and I hope to come back to some of the more substantive arguments put forward by Jodi Dean (currently Professor of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in NY State).
George Siemens posits a number of questions, ones that keep getting asked, but all of which it is by now quite pointless attempting to answer. I am completely with George on this. In every single country I visit, someone, at some point in a conversation about the role of technology in education, will ask the question (which has a number of variants):
Is online learning more or less effective than learning in a classroom?
George’s response is spot on:
Who cares.…Society answered the need to use technology through its broad adoption of the web/internet/online medium.
In other words, and as I try to tell anyone who asks the question, it is a simple fact that society is impementing, and will continue to implement, digital and networking technologies in education; the only difference to be found from country to country, from university to university, from school to school, is in the quality, range, inventiveness and ambition of what is being implemented. No amount of fruitless research will change the fact that technology is fast becoming embedded in education. Anyone surprised by this should really lift their eyes and look around them at what is happening to the whole planet: digital and networking technologies are now a simple and inescapable reality of life across the globe. Why on earth would education not be part of this shift?
The vast range of variables in the complex processes that make up teaching and learning mean that we will simply never be able to work out for certain which variables have precisely what effect on the effectiveness of education. Ultimately, technology is a reality in education today, and we must therefore make the best use of it we can.
Go read the rest of George’s pointless questions.
George comes at these irrelevant questions from a number of assertions that he now holds as self-evident truths in education. They are:
- Learners should be in control of their own learning. Autonomy is key. Educators can initiate, curate, and guide. But meaningful learning requires learner-driven activity
- Learners need to experience confusion and chaos in the learning process. Clarifying this chaos is the heart of learning.
- Openness of content and interaction increases the prospect of the random connections that drive innovation
- Learning requires time, depth of focus, critical thinking, and reflection. Ingesting new information requires time for digestion. Too many people digitally gorge without digestion time.
- Learning is network formation. Knowledge is distributed.
- Creation is vital. Learners have to create artifacts to share with others and to aid in re-centering exploration beyond the artifacts the educator has provided.
- Making sense of complexity requires social and technological systems. We do the former better than the latter.
Whether you agree with any or all of these seven statements doesn’t matter: they would serve as a very rich basis for a workshop for educators, or more likely, a series of workshops. More importantly, they would serve as a very sound basis for practice in the classroom or the lecture hall.
Well said, George.