Polly want a cracker !

We are surrounded by crackers and crackpots on the internet. Par for the course and parroting of information is something we have to work to avoid. We have to know how to think , not what to think. It’s why we cannot downplay and underestimate the role of academics and librarians in our society. We need them to be vocal so we are reminded that good research skills are vital in a connected world where a lot of the information is repeated ad nauseam in well-trained ornithological style. Information regurgitation. That isn’t learning and it’s not knowledge but it is hard to avoid. The video clip points out, too, that it can put young lives in danger. The internet can make claims and pronouncements and people can feel obliged to comply because they don’t know how not to. It’s not that social media or YouTube or other popular sites are bad and evil but you have to understand how these things operate. Newly created , conventional wisdom is nothing more than pulp fiction and has to be recognised as that. Merlot II has an Internet Detective tutorial which helps gives students critical thinking skills about the internet. The stated objectives of the tutorial are that students:

be aware that there is an issue of information quality on the Internet
have learned practical tips and hints for evaluating Internet resources (eg dissecting URLs)
have a list of quality criteria to apply to information found on the Internet
have practical experience of evaluating electronic journals, mailing lists, subject Web sites and organisational home pages

The difference nowadays between the information rich and the information poor is delineated by the quality of powers if discernment with regard to information.

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Innovation is done

Looking around the inside of one of Google’s data centres is fascinating and you can hear from the vice president of the Google data centres himself. As he says , innovation is not done, not by a long shot. We may eventually get to the stage where we have smaller, more efficient data centres but that will take time, planning , thinking and innovation. You can see from the tour that a lot of thinking has gone into place to create a centre like this. I use Google all the time. I have never really thought about it being a place which has to be maintained and had no concept of the enormity of it. I just use Google. The centre is run on hard work but thought has had to go in as to how to manage the sustainability of a place like that. I am wondering what the air quality is like inside this water cooled, air conditioned centre. As they move around on their little scooters then some thought has gone into physical activity. You could not sit all day as you worked somewhere like this. All this for my Google searches and Google apps. It’s not just what goes on our screens which is important. It is all the work and infrastructure behind it which allows you to understand just what we are achieving and then to understand what the vice president of Google data centres clearly understands. We are not done yet with the innovation for the brains of the internet. We need to grow and develop our own brains to keep moving forward.

Content review

content planningIt doesn’t matter who you are providing content for. It doesn’t matter if you are an educator, a business owner, a trainer , an entrepreneur, an organisation, society or individual, you have to create a process whereby you review the content you are producing. I have created two slides which show how I quickly assess my content. It has to be current. My content has to address the fact I have a number of visitors from all different countries, some of whom do not speak English. I have to make some sort of effort to ensure the limitations of electronic translators will not mar comprehension. It is also important to be aware that you can offer your content in different ways and that visual literacy is very important in a digital world. Sometimes you find old content you created which needs to be updated and made relevant because the core messages and information are still relevant. People want to know there is value in content. They want to be able to use it, add to it, grow it and move it forward.

content review If you want them to act on your content you need to explain why and give them reasons for doing so. Content also needs to be appropriate for the audience. Nothing more unsettling to find out you don’t belong where that content is and you don’t want anything more to do with it. The opposite is also true. You find yourself engaging with content and then find yourself asking – What was that all about? Why did I bother? There was nothing in it. There are what are known as puff pieces. Your content review then has to focus on relevancy and context. You need to create a framework to ensure others can see the relevance of your content. Some of that it is in your display. Some of it is the perspective you offer and the way in which you show the value of the content. People like to have takeaways. They are surrounded with information and stuff. If you don’t look at the creation, presentation and development of your content in a constructive way then you just become part of digital chatter.

4MAT learning

4MAT learning was developed by Bernice McCarthy in the 1980s and has never really gone away. There is an interesting  paper by Sandra Craven which she submitted in using class 4MAT research as a part of her Masters of Education degree. She concludes:

“Student communication and presentation skills using the 4MAT System showed marked improvement in that student application of the system included audience participation, involvement, and engagement. Furthermore, improved organizational and research skills produced presentations that not only entertained but informed. Although students did become aware of learning styles, to say that they understood their learning style, or were capable of truly honouring their own after only one experience, would be untrue. Only through repeated exposure brought about by the teacher during lessons will students reach this goal. The collaborative learning experience was much more successful than this educator anticipated. This was evidenced not only by student actions during the project, but carry over has been noted in the classroom generally. Furthermore, because of the intensity of the project, students appear to have bonded and are now treating each other with greater respect.”

Teachers have always striven since then to teach students according to their needs and develop materials which will connect with different sorts of learners. Differentiation became the key word and has stayed. Teachers are more than aware their classes are made up of so many sorts of people with different learning needs. When they then have to address curriculum requirements, standards, professional standards, deadlines, national testing and then the documentation around that and put that all into a digital context it is not surprising it becomes overwhelming at times. Teachers put the content value in but the picture can sometimes become muddied with the content  value out because of the complexity of classrooms these days. It doesn’t matter who is teaching what and at what level, 4MAT is a useful way to address content delivery to maximise the outcomes for learners no matter where they are and what they are using in terms of resources. We are all now engaged in lifelong learning. When you have no idea what you know, what you are supposed to know, what you are doing and what you are supposed to be doing then you need tools to clarify the picture so that you can make it realistic and know what is possible at the time.

The content model and the strategies you employ to deliver content which will make the path clear for learners. You have to develop a way of connecting with  learners at each point of the learning pathway. AbbyEagle explains  well how to use 4MAT learning :

“The ‘why’ learner needs to know why they need to learn the material.

The ‘what’ person wants lots of information and is looking for facts.

The ‘how’ person wants to know how things work?

The ‘what if’ person learns through a process of self discovery.”

Read more: http://www.abbyeagle.com/nlp-coaching-resources/4mat-system.php#ixzz4Zq1qNo7J

By focussing on those four areas and gathering your resources and delivery around them you have a better chance of being less lost in the array of demands from varying sectors of education. The sector requirements can be fitted in on the basis of clarifying what needs to be done, what needs to be developed and the value it will then provide and the learning goals being set.

Media Literacy

Don't bring me your problemsClassic classroom content override. I have now watched all the videos by Miguel Carrasco. I’ll write another post about that but meanwhile there is this one which came about because Miguel Carrasco was showing us how to get ideas for content and then popped onto someone’s Facebook page and there was the quote: “Don’t bring me your problems . Bring me two solutions.” . I was listening to Miguel Carrasco talking but my mind had gone off on a tangent because of that quote. It made me think of how I operated in a classroom with technology. It was standard practice for me to say to students:

“If you are having trouble, tell me what you have tried to do yourself and if you are still stuck, I’ll try and help you…or we’ll all try and help you. Have a go yourself first with your ideas. ”

When it came to research on anything I’d come into class with 20 minutes of teaching on good and helpful sites to get them started and on the right track and then we had the open invitation that if you had a good site too , you’d let me know and I’d put that into the list of resources on the LMS. Team effort on good research but as the teacher I shone the light on the path. Students also got into the habit of messaging me on the LMS to send me links at any time so I could add to those shared resources. Parents could enter that research arena because we blogged a lot of what we were doing. Based on their knowledge and experience they could come in with other information and links. It was always growing and pointing us in the right direction for good learning and reliable information.

Image: dreamstime

I  appliinformation supported the classroom tenet to myself. There were occasionally days where I had to walk in and say:

“I have tried to find some good examples of …. and I have looked here and I have looked there and the best I can do is this…”

I would go through my information and then we’d spend 10-15 minutes to see what the students could come up with that was better and then put that on the shared resources. Students had input into worthwhile content and reliable resources.

We learned from each other.

Dana Boyd has written a long and interesting article Did Media Literacy Backfire? It is worth the read because it looks at how we are bombarded with information and misinformation and how we may be trying to deal with that. On any given day everything is coming at us: news, fake news, distractions, red herrings, information and misinformation. We have to stay in control of that and we have to teach others how to stay in control of that. So we need to be coming at it from a solutions point of view and not a problems one. If we see it all as a problem we’ll collapse under the weight of what is headed in our direction. We need to step back and have a plan of how we deal with this and , in my book, networking and team effort wins.

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