Monday, December 9th, 2013 | trends | Comments Off
It was recently announced that the word of the year 2013 is selfie.
What is a selfie? It is defined by the Oxford Dictionary Online as:
… a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.
We’ve all seen people taking selfies. A picture is needed to complete a profile for a social medium or blog or other online engagement, and the easiest way to do so is to turn your cell phone around and snap.
The word selfie was first used in 2002 in an Australian online forum, and has steadily gained popularity until it was so widely used (both the word and the action) that it became word of the year in 2013.
It is wonderful how language evolves – new words are born every day and ubiquitous technology is accelerating the process. Now that it’s the word of the year, teachers will have to accept selfie when a learner uses it in an essay.
I wonder when LOL and b4 will gain the same acceptance.
“What a bold statement,” you may say, “particularly in view of the current proliferation of tablets and other mobile devices.”
Well, consider history.
In 1922 Thomas Edison reportedly said:
I believe that the motion picture is destined to revolutionize [transform] our education system and that in a few years it will supplant the use of textbooks … The education of the future, as I see it, will be conducted through the medium of the motion picture where it should be possible to obtain 100 percent efficiency.
Did this expectation come true? In spite of the fact that some teachers used motion pictures with great success in their schools, we know that this medium did not manage to transform the education system. What went wrong?
Edison based his prediction on a number of assumptions about this potentially powerful tool:
Content: He assumed that sufficient relevant content will be available in film format to cover all learning areas for all grades.
Affordable and available equipment: He assumed that motion picture equipment will be affordable and will be made available to every classroom.
Technology stability: He assumed that the motion picture will not be replaced by other technologies in the short to medium term, and will continue to be the first choice technology for entertainment and education of the masses.
Classroom integration: He assumed that all teachers will become skilled in using motion pictures as a substitute for textbooks and will change their teaching practices accordingly.
We now know that none of these assumptions proved to be true. Yet, in later years, the same assumptions were made with regards to radio, TV, PCs, laptops, interactive whiteboards … and are now being made about tablets. Let’s look at these assumptions again:
Content: In contrast with the erroneous assumption about content availability when the 1922 motion picture prediction was made, we can safely assume today that sufficient digital content is available as ebooks, educational software and even open education resources. But now we are making another assumption: learners (and their teachers) will know how to find their way through the plethora of available content; the current under-utilization of such resources proves that this assumption is wrong. This is clearly a case where more is not better, and the mere availability of content in no way guarantees that it will be used.
Affordable and available equipment: This is a more risky assumption; tablets are less costly than its PC and laptop predecessors, but how much will it cost – and how long will it take – to provide every child in the country with a tablet? For education to be transformed, more than a sporadic presence of technology is required; every teacher and child needs access to technology for it to have a significant effect.
Technology stability: Technologies have replaced each other rather rapidly over the years and the rate of change is accelerating; we can’t assume that the tablet as we know it today will be the device of choice in a year or two from now. In fact, based on the history of technology, we can safely assume that it won’t!
Classroom integration: This is the most dangerous assumption of them all; it can almost be stated as a fact that it will take years – many, many years – to train and educate all our teachers to become comfortable in using technology for teaching and learning.
The flawed assumptions made in 1922 about a particular manifestation of technology are still being made today. And we’ve only discussed four of them.
Until these suppositions become realities we can’t expect the tablet, or any other technology device, to revolutionize education. A mere change in tools does not bring about transformation.
The full potential of technology can only be achieved if it is part of a complete rethink of education structures and practices.
Tablets will not transform education … unless we empower our teachers to become skilful users of technology!
Tuesday, July 9th, 2013 | technology, trends | Comments Off
Some time ago I posted an article on a phenomenon I called The conference scam. I received many messages through Twitter and LinkedIn of people who agreed with the sentiments I expressed about conferences dealing with technology in education. It should be noted, however, that not all conferences fall into this category.
Last week I went to a conference for teachers in Bloemfontein, organized by SchoolNet. What a delightful and worthwhile experience that was! It was attended by over five hundred teachers and the presentations were done mostly by teachers who shared their experience … this was clearly not a money-making event, but one that truly helped teachers to hone their skills.
Over the next few weeks, two more conferences will be held that may be worthwhile to attend.
The Education Technology Summit 2013 is scheduled for 23-24 July 2013 and takes place in Midrand, Johannesburg.
Blended Learning: Perfecting the Blend is the theme of the The e-Learning Update – 2013 conference that will take place 6-8 August 2013 at the Emperor’s Palace in Johannesburg.
Have a look at the programmes of these two conferences and decide if either one, or both, will be beneficial to you.
Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 | trends | Comments Off
MOOC is the new buzzword in education – particularly in the higher education lexicon.
What is a MOOC? It is an acronym for a Massively Open Online Course. Let’s unravel the meaning of this phrase in reverse order:
It is a course, since it is courseware prepared by universities (or other education institutions) for accredited programmes of study.
It is online, since anyone with an internet connection can access it.
It is open, since you don’t have to pay for it. Well, most of the time a MOOC is free; sometimes you are only charged for assessment and/or accreditation.
It is massive(ly),since internet access makes the course available to anyone, anywhere on the planet. The student body is no longer restricted by location or accommodation. In theory, hundreds of thousands, even millions of people can enrol for a particular course.
One may wonder on what technology platform MOOCs will be made available. This is not altogether clear at this stage; the idea of free, open, online courses is appealing to many but the definition of the technology engine is still in its development phase.
The movement towards MOOCs seems like an attractive option for the beleaguered education system in South Africa, but time will only tell how useful it will be. Poor internet connectivity, a lack of access to technology devices and low levels of understanding of e-learning are some of the barriers that we have to overcome to make MOOCs viable alternatives to class-bound courses.
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