Internet of Things

We are pretty good at labelling things and then making them seem real. When the net first took off in the 90s we were using it how we wanted and we were saving to our computers or 1.44MB floppie disks. We had fun downloading programmes of our own choice to run on our computers. The desktop became the laptop became the tablet became the smartphone. We now have streaming and cloud services. Programmes became software became apps. Everything has a chip in it. We can do computer diagnostics on our cars and we have life saving monitoring equipment in hospitals. Every bit of a pregnancy and birth is monitored and tracked on a computer. Cars cannot get us easily from one place to another because of roadworks and infrastructure changes. The internet of things isn’t what they say it is but it is. It does exist and it can serve us well. We can have a smart home if we want one. We can sometimes navigate our way out of a difficult driving situation if we need to. We can connect with businesses and organisations in a helpful , effective way if necessary. We never have to live in ignorance or feel disconnected because we have internet access and we have technology tools which link us and help us to collaborate , share and grow ideas.

The problem appears to be that we are not driving it. We are being driven.  Our photos are hijacked helpfully to the cloud. Tabloid news is bingly bonging onto our devices whenever it wants to. Adverts will hang a device or a computer because they feel like it. Our privacy has been ignored and our capacity to develop our own way of being with our device has been overridden. We now have world class gamers which the gaming industry cannot keep up with. They can finish a new game and then be waiting several months for  a new game to come out. They are very good at what they do. They think at the speed of light and can process information and strategy at awesome speeds but the games are complex and take time to make. The gamers don’t want to be held in a holding pattern until something new arrives and virtual reality isn’t appealing to them much at the moment. We haven’t addressed that level of complexity. We created it but we can’t deal with it.

So many people are walking away from technology other than for essential services and contact because is has become TheirNet and no longer MyNet. The upsurge of board games is an interesting by product of that. Monopoly, Cluedo and Ludo , in particular, are enjoying new found success. People are dumping their smartphones because of all the notifications, interfering buttons and screens and lack of capacity to just do something. They are buying cheap phones which  call and message. Just like in the 90s when a phone did what you wanted. The ever growing minimalist movement is doing a lot to counterbalance and rationalise this internet of things because it isn’t what we were thinking. It exists but we need time to think about what we need and want. We need clarity but we also need our own personal space on the net which is ours and not theirs.

Any space can be a tech hub

tech hubI discovered all this because I could not upgrade my iPod and dock on Tuesday. I now have a little tech hub in my sewing room. I have a TV and was using my iPod for the music, apps and streaming radio as I sew. There were no iPods to buy and I was told docks would not be being replaced.

“Why don’t you just use your phone?”
“Because it’s my phone. I don’t want it tied up like that.”
“We stream everything through wifi these days. Just use an iPad mini. It’s runs your television as well, you know.”
” I wanted an iPod and a dock. I am now going to have to rethink this. I don’t want my wifi on all the time.”

Not to mention if the wifi goes down , you have had it. If you have wifi speakers, that’s it. Nothing like a brick wall to force you to rethink your life once you get over the hissy fit. I had an old mobile computer trolley out in the garage. I had a Samsung tablet. I had a Netbook. I had to be able to do something. I cleaned up the trolley and got in into position. I connected an older Telefunken speaker off my sound system which was rarely used to my Samsung tablet. Good sound! No problems with wifi. I set up the Netbook and then found it couldn’t access the wifi. I used a wifi adapter and it now has a perfect signal. Bit silly, but never mind , it works. I moved my TV from the shelf to the trolley and the phone from the table to the trolley. I then went out to get a surge guard power board with USB charging to complete my little hub. That was not easy either!! What is the matter with shops? I ended up getting a great Belkin one which is a tribute to functional design. It is solid, has classic lines and looks really cool. I have since shifted my Netbook to the keyboard shelf on the trolley so it shuts away when not in use. It is all so tidy! All so functional. I can listen to music, watch videos, DVDs , television, I can stream radio, keep up with Twitter or Facebook. I can look up patterns and sewing things online. I am fully functional! I blogged before how I created a little recording studio which packs into a drawer. I have proven you don’t need a big space to be able to operate in a big way. Work and study spaces no longer need to be whole offices, whole desks, a certain type of desk or venue. We can now connect and work anywhere.

Sit properly!

sittingImage:  Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety

I love occupational therapists. They say it so clearly. We are spending a lot of our day sitting with devices or walking along with our heads tilted down looking at devices. Not good. Change! The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety spells it out simply and well. The explanations are effective and that is what is important. I have actually seen students move their iPads under their desks and then rest their forehead on the desk to work with the iPad in their hands. They are always surprised when I ask them to please sit up and put the iPad at an angle on the desk. I am thinking they may just need different places to rest their iPad so that standing desks, small  desktop spaces and regular desks should all be part of a classroom. I got this information via The Ergonomic Times. We are using devices all the time now. We need to look after our bodies and  posture.

Shove them in a room

Learning hub

Shove them in a room and let them learn

Offer teachers a meeting and they will invariably spray grapefruit juice over you and say they have better things to do with their time and lessons to prepare. Give teachers training , though, and that training will go to work in a thousand ways. In my post about managing technology I explained how important it was to ensure teachers felt competent and the difference that makes in classroom practice and beyond. I also mentioned in that post that our office has naturally become an ICT learning hub just because it has a good mix of teachers in terms of experience, interests and culture. Recess time can be like that, too. I remember one recess where we were all discussing what we did with our iPads and the relative merits of the large iPad versus the mini one. It was  amazing how differently we all used our iPads. It was an informative, lively discussion. One of the strengths of teachers is they are gregarious by nature. They are always reluctant meeting attenders but put them in a room together and they will find things to talk about and they will discover new things for learning. That leads me to the belief that one of the effective ways of enabling teachers with technology is to shove them in a room for a designated amount of time and give them a technology topic. I’d say an hour at the least with an option to extend to 2 hours. Ask them to get their phones out and share what they do with them. Ask them to share the best thing they have done with technology. Shove them in a room with iPads and ensure some of them are good at this and let them discover what can be done. Let them explore whiteboard use and FLEXIBILITY. Let them share the best software they know or the best apps. The group has to have some who are good at something and then you just let teachers explore.They might spend the whole time on the one area but they would probably naturally extend it into other things. It’s called learning. This week in the office we have been looking at software and how we use it. We didn’t set a topic . It just happened that way. Once you share all that discovery back into your main group then it will be that much stronger and more competent. That same practice can then be translated into classroom technology practice. Teachers are good like that. They will learn something for themselves and then automatically convert it into viable, multi-faceted classroom delivery.

Josefine Grimm-Blenk

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