The impact of smartphones

We have been talking about it for a while now: The impact of smartphones on our society and the next generation. The rise in car accidents which could be totally avoided. The zombie walk. The mobile phone twits who bang on anywhere and everywhere and allow their phones to ring whenever they want. We have observed the impact and we have reacted but we don’t seem to have resolved much. We love a narrative. We’ll all create a story about the impact of phones and the media will push a narrative which will have a far reach. We actually need to think this out properly and for ourselves. What is the right age for a child to have a smart phone? What are the impacts of smartphones on children? Should a teacher have smartphones in class? A teacher could have 30 students, thirty phones and then 30 devices. The phones could be giving access to parents which means another layer of social management in a classroom. Not sure any other job expects anyone to manage that many devices and that level of interpersonal communication complexity. The teacher then has emails and communication coming in from other staff, administration, professional organisations and parents on their laptop. Smartphones mean we can communicate very quickly with others when we feel like it.

The professional standards by aitsl for teachers require that teachers

4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically –
Demonstrate an understanding of the relevant issues and the strategies available to support the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.

What about others, though, who are also responsible for young people using smartphones? It’s not the phones which are the problem . There seem to be a lot of young people who don’t have a broad range of interests and who, for all of their connectivity , are disconnected socially. The Atlantic has published an article Has the smartphone destroyed a generation? which is a very interesting look at the impact of smartphones on the current generation. Jean M. Twenge has a book coming out : iGen: Why Today’s Super-Connected Kids Are Growing Up Less Rebellious, More Tolerant, Less Happy—and Completely Unprepared for Adulthood—and What That Means for the Rest of Us. . The article is based on that book and well worth the long read because it is written by someone who has been investigating this.

Sustainable living – CD repurposing

I have just made one of these drop spinners from a couple of old DVDs and it works like a charm. It is a good way to recycle, reuse, repurpose and create something which is functional. I find the CD drop spinner very easy to use because I can easily get the clockwise twirl with one hand as I hold the yarn with the other. It is all good thinking. You have to trouble shoot, look for bits which will make the drop spindle and find the fibre which works the best. You can start with cotton wool balls to get started. it teaches hand eye co ordination, develops peripheral skills and then you have to develop a rhythm. The CDs can be decorated to get a nice pattern as you twirl them. The video is evidence of life long learning and a commitment to a sustainable planet. I actually used the backs of teddy plastic eyes to hold the CDs in place and then some grommets to buffer the CDs. I also used some beads to weight the bottom of the stick. It’s a great maker learning project. There are written instructions on World in a spin.

Make the most of online tutorials

We live in a visual world. We have access to devices and the internet. Nobody needs to be stuck. We haven’t quite got to the stage where we are capitalising on the value of video tutorials . Some people are still text based and want text information. Most people have shifted to ingesting video information and it’s worth its weight in gold:

You can find out quickly how to do things
You can promote information to fill in learning gaps
You can highlight relevant information

Different age groups view technology differently at the moment. Older people would probably think it is not very sensible, secure or appropriate to be doing their banking with phones and tablets. It would seem too casual for them and not the way they have been brought up with the highly valued bank book, the important banking and financial meetings and the belief that financial dealings are a very serious business. Younger people would want the ease and convenience of device banking because they are time poor and have a different way of looking at it. Not everything should be done online because there is real value for all concerned to have genuine people contact with real conversations. Online videos , though, can smooth the way to getting people more comfortable with how they can do things differently. All businesses and organisations need their little video tutorials about how to make the most of their services or ideas. Video tutorials help people to know how to do things so they can participate. Trawling through FAQs can often leave people as baffled as they started unless they are well organised and presented. Even FAQs could have videos to help people navigate interfaces and thinking around content.

The how to create a website video by WordPress has had nearly a million views. It was well worth the making of the video and the comments attest to that. Backing up online content with video help is a good way to engage everyone as the aitsl site clearly demonstrates. Videos initiate a culture of participation and can shift thinking and practice. Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook all have video capability and so we can all share our thinking, ideas and knowledge in a very easy way to create those connected conversations which will move us all forward instead of dividing us. In truth, there is no generational gap. There is generational advantage which can be shared now across the internet. Every generation has its strengths and videos and images are an efficient way of making those connections.

Digital Eye Strain

Digital Eye Strain (DES) is a self inflicted condition we have brought upon ourselves because we use digital devices so frequently and our world requires that we do in order to work, play and organise our lives. Phones and tablets put out enough light to illuminate a dark room. That ought to remind us we need to take care of our eyes and we need to respond more pro actively to looking after them. It comes down to knowing what to do, taking action and reminding others to take action. Constantly staring at screens is creating problems for people so we need to be sensible and build in the health routines which will alleviate some of these problems. Vision Optique has some helpful inforgraphics to show us what some of the problems are and then some very helpful ideas to show us how to improve what we are doing so we avoid digital eyestrain. None of it is hard. Optometrytimes looks at how DES is affecting people and what can be done about it. Again there are some good visuals to help us.

What’s DevOps?

DevOps is a new , highly paid IT job but it’s a concept we all need to understand. It’s about smoothing the path between developers and users so that the software is better suited to the environment in which it works and the  people who use it can get the best out of it for what they want to do. In an economy it’s about making yourself the one who is seen, heard and used. ACADGILD explains it really well but then pushes its company. I have used the video by Sanjeev Sharma. He explains it really well and has a lot of experience in the field. The world has changed and the world is changing. We want to use technology in a way which suits us and we want it to be able to do what we want it to be able to do. Developers can come up with ideas and projects . Some of those now are launched as test/lite projects to gain valuable feedback for further development. We do not live in a static world. We now live in a world of communication, collaboration and constant improvement which is why the concept of DevOps has to be understood. Developers can create things but they may not suit the market, the audience or the environment. They may create software which is half way decent and then we need  input to get it to be the best software for the time and place. I sometimes contact developers because I can make suggestions as to how I think something can improve in its functionality or if the software works well on one device and has limitations on another. Software development is complex. Developers work hard and long hours. I don’t expect my changes to occur and I usually only offer suggestions if I am asked. TheAstronauts blog explains why developers are not really interested in your unsolicited ideas. The explanation hits home. The feedback loop is becoming part of most organisations and businesses now and needs to be a part of everything. I have given feedback and thought, well, that’s not going to help, because the feedback form is too limited or doesn’t actually allow you to pinpoint the problems or clearly make observations. That’s when I blog or tweet if I want to. If I think something needs to be changed I put it out there into the ether. It will be picked up. It will be read. It will be considered. People can only do what they do and we have to avoid swamping them. If I have used classroom software which doesn’t quite work in that situation I haven’t hesitated to contact someone who would be able to make the changes and have a conversation. Today that is essential. It is important to be pleasant, polite, concise and prepared to wait . Offering suggestions is part of the process now. I have been stunned by how quickly some things are changed for the better. I have been pleased to see how many sites now include that feedback loop. In the end we’ll all get good at this idea of DevOps. We are no longer a world of victims when it comes to development. We are now part of a collaborative process.

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