Monday, 26 October 2015

Response to videos

"Watch Michael Wesch's video 'The machine is Us/ing Us'. Despite being from 2007, this is a good video, which provides a good overview of the key impact of the Internet and its origins.
Watch the 'Social Media Revolution' video which shows the importance of social media in today's world. 
Consider the following questions: 
  • What has been the impact of the emergence of the Internet over the last twenty years?
  • Are any of the statistics in the Social Media Revolution video surprising to you?
  • How has your own use of technologies changed in the last five years or so?
  • What do you think are likely to be key technologies that will be important in Education in the next few years?"
Both videos initially caused me to react with a certain degree of cynicism. Having suffered through "Shift Happens" at so many poor presentations over the years (not through any fault of the video, more from the expectation that it could justify all kinds of (sometimes contradictory) arguments without too much critical response) I found myself bristling a little.

After watching them more than once I decided that actually "The Machine is Us" is really quite inspirational - and yes, prescient, but I never got past the Fatboy Slim soundtrack to "Social Media Revolution" and the sense that I was being pitched to rather than being informed.

What has been the impact of the emergence of the Internet over the last twenty years?

That is a broad question to answer in a few hundred words without dropping into platitudes. The impact of the emergence of the internet is clearly significant in many areas of life, but the extent varies massively from sector to sector. 

Within some areas it has already had a transformative effect (eg the travel industry). I can remember having to drive to a travel agent in my lunch hour at work to book an overpriced air travel ticket from a choice of one at the agency down the road not so long ago, now that whole industry is completely different at every level (except that moment the plane takes off).

In others (eg secondary schools) the effect is notable but the observer might say only superficial.

Lack of access to the internet is something that would cause huge issues for any UK school in 2015 (but would have been barely noted in 2000) although the fundamentals of how the organisation goes about its core business remains more or less the same. Just as the moment of taking off in a plane is more or less the same as twenty years ago, so is the reality of most students sitting down for a lesson.

But while the school timetable could be said to be only “mildly enhanced” by the internet, most business processes that surround that activity have been completely redesigned and there are examples within the education landscape of much deeper and more transformational change that the internet makes possible. 

Are any of the statistics in the Social Media Revolution video surprising to you?

The stats like the ones shown in the video are always impressive when you first look at them (indeed it’s almost a cliché to quote numbers in this way as people selling social media products try to scare the life out of people with money in old markets, this is very much an exercise in persuasion - "surrender and join us!").

How has your own use of technologies changed in the last five years or so?

More and more of what I do now is based on mobile or cloud technology. I’ve gone from using several devices, mostly owned by my employer and not always what I would be most effective with, to a few that I choose to use myself – my employment provides the login, the backend, the system, the information but I bring the device.

In particular I find myself sharing and working live on documents as part of bigger projects much more and working alone on a piece of work as an individual, honing it down and finally issuing “the good version” hardly ever. Work has become more collaborative, more asynchronous, more iterative and less about the final version.

What do you think are likely to be key technologies that will be important in Education in the next few years

I think a lot of technologies heavily invested into in education need to be critically reviewed. The large interactive screen at the front of the classroom represents a huge investment to provision and maintain, far larger than the cost of good connectivity for a school for example. To justify its use requires not just a real investment in ongoing training, but also a commitment to a particular model of teaching and learning for the lifetime of the system.

I believe the key technologies are the ones that will allow teachers and students to work on whatever device they choose to (owned by them or by their school) and share on whatever medium they need on demand (big wall screen, 3D printer, photocopier, their friend’s screen).  Importantly they need to be agile and discardable - in the sense that the best tool to use now is not a career-long commitment, it is something that I may well be able to move on from within only a few years.

Things like online collaborative spaces – like Google Apps for example (or Blackboard) are high return for low cash investment. That brings with it new challenges for education - managing identity, movement of their intellectual property from platform to platform, repurposing and redesigning material for new uses - and the flux of constant change.

2 comments:

  1. Hey Guy,

    You're correct about the impact of the Internet on the travel industry. In addition to the changes regarding booking flights, online customer reviews also affect our choice of hotel. For instance last week my family visited a 13 sq mi island and prior to our visit we read the customer reviews and selected the hotel with the highest rating (it cost more, however, once on the island we were very happy with our decision).

    In terms of key technologies is a big wall screen the same as the screen used to project images?

    Kind regards,


    Nicole

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes I think so - in the schools I work with we have a real mix of
    * projector onto the wall/ whiteboard
    * projector onto an interactive whiteboard
    * LED TV screen
    * LED touch sensitive screen.

    Personally my ideal is a non-touch LED screen (because they are bright and sharp, have sound incorporated) and some kind of tablet/ screen casting system so I can pull whatever I have their up onto the wall as needed - or from the screen of one of the class.

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