Author Archives: sirchriss

About sirchriss

Old, retired, happy Grandpa.

Visit to Beuna Vista Farm

Buena Vista Farm is a nice drive south, just on the far edge of Gerringong. We took a day there learning to cook. The reason for going was mostly to look at an amazing farm; 18 acres of coastal farm land. There are some cows and piggies with a view they probably have no idea is so spectacular. I wanted to have a look at how self sustaining farming is possible. They are a no waste, market gardening, kitchen gardening, natural cycling farm. I can see a whole different approach to semi retirement here.
It was a fantastic day. The farm is genuinely spectacular – their story and processes are amazing. Then on top, the cookery class was terrific. We baked sourdough bread, made butter and jam to put on it, some biscuits, crackers, pickles and more. The classes are so popular they are booked for months in advance and having joined in one, it’s easy to see why. It’s also good to see how there is increasing interest in sustainability and low impact healthy living.
It was morning tea time on arrival – check out that very tasty carrot cake. Lunch was all produce from the farm, including the chook. Yep, seriously yum. The chocolate torte was supposedly a healthy version (a perfectly valid reason to have two bits). This was followed up with coffee grown and roasted right there on the farm, or tea blended into an apothecary of flavour options. This morning, the sourdough bread we brought home was quite delicious and with home made butter – even better. Juli did a good job on making it.
The farm is about an hour and a half down the coast from us – a pleasant way to spend the day.

Time to retire the old mantras

“Education should drive the technology”
“You shouldn’t use technology just because it’s shiny and new”

Back in the old days we had the term Digital Natives. We now know this is no longer valid and it is generally an eschewed term. Back then though, it served a useful purpose. It gave us a common terminology in order to start discussing something that we had to discuss. It was, in its time, a really useful tool, a door opener, some common ground on which we could start our exploration of how technology and youth combined. Every new field must have its jargon, and this was the start of ours.

In the same way, the two terms I started out with were useful in their day. They are now just as much defunct and past their use by date as Digital Native. Although sadly I do hear them still bandied about by people who should know better.

Take the premise of the first statement. If we allow this to be true, following that tenet, we are sentencing (in the prisoner kind), funnelling, limiting, corralling, forcing, teachers to use technology only at level “S” on the SAMR scale. The best they could do is to “Substitute” their print based, chalk derived, activities for digital equivalents. Education and teaching practice is inhibiting the value and capacity of technology. Education driving technology use.

Take the premise of the second statement. Remove the blatantly emotive/denigrative “Shiny and New” and say it as, utilise the affordances that shiny and new offer, and shape education to that. It will present you with opportunities you didn’t have before, it opens up capabilities to do things differently and possibly better. New means exactly that, it wasn’t there before, it is an open door. This time we are sentencing (in the prisoner kind), funnelling, limiting, corralling, forcing, teachers to work at the “R” level. Redefining teaching and learning practices needs, requires, relies on, demands, shiny and new.

Utilising technology for technology’s sake, that is, making a use of shiny and new is a good thing, it is the way we are going to make change. It is something we should aspire to, not put down as a frivolous use of technology just because you can.

You know what, DO use it just because you can, DO use it just because it’s shiny and new, because if you have the skill to do it, you are the hope we have for breaking the stalemate of old world holding back new worlds that we haven’t begun to get enough value out of yet.

Just like Digital Native has had its day, so have these old statements. let’s consign both to the page in the history book that houses Digital Native, thank them for the excellent service they gave during their time, and come more up to date and start being an accelerator, not the brake.

Searchography

It turns out that in our current time of exceedingly powerful search engines (and there are many of them) the skill of searching is sadly neglected. Or worse, assumed to be so endemic as to need no formal training.

It’s importance is undeniable, and it’s poor use responsible for wasted time, and efficiency.
Admittedly, poor searching does take us down a path of serendipity – an increasingly important proposition in the age of big data and advertising that latches on to the most minimal of clicked interest and curiosity. But, that’s the topic of another post.

What is stranger is that it was important over a decade ago.  It’s time to resurrect this important component of formal documents (assignments, projects, other school work).

Searchography:
A list of search terms used to construct an assignment or project.
Mapping your search used in constructing a critical response to prescribed work.
Typically presented (or blogged) as an appendix to the document.

Format/Structure:
Search engine
Term
Qualifier

 Note:
A critical searchography traces the following moments, experiences or events of student research;
questioning / defining search strategies
search and encounter (entering the discourse)
reformulating the topic (focussing)
discovering (forming conclusions)

Purpose:
To validate student responses in assignments
To view (visible thinking) student thought processes and approaches to assignment answering
To allow teachers to scaffold their student’s skill development, knowledge development and generation of responses
To construct and develop a basic digital skill
Reduce the likelihood of plagiarism
Formalise the experience or performance of finding information
Like a bibliography it serves as a companion to the research paper, authenticating and tracking references
Critical searchography allows you a chance to worry less about the identity of the author of found material and more about the skill with which the student appropriates it, and how it affects their path of enquiry
Flows naturally into a bibliography
Displays patterns, paths and events of encounter

Bibliography:
Marsh, Bill. 2000 “Critical Searchography – Remodeling Research & Authorship.” 06 Apr. 2014 http://www.factoryschool.com/btheater/works/essays/comp/CS/searchog.html

Short-sighted, dark ages abrogation of responsibility.

SMH article – Quit Facebook or be expelled. http://goo.gl/58Ha6

A Queensland school Principal is threatening to expell students if she discovers they are under 13 with a Facebook account.

Blames cyberbullying as the reason; claims it is a legal issue – praises parents who stickybeak into their children’s lives (does the term helicopter parents pop into your head right now?)  Worse somehow manages to get ‘expert’ support and confirmation of her ground-breaking brave decision.

The only ground breaking here is caused by head firmly burying itself in sand.
It also goes to prove that no matter how ridiculous your claim – someone somewhere (often with Dr in front of their name) will be prepared to back you.

The cowardliness involved in hiding behind a public system’s ‘rules’ and totally denying the base problem is upsetting, particularly when it from someone supposedly in a leadership position charged with the education of young people. There is no such thing as cyberbullying – it is just bullying bullying with modern technology thrown in. Semantics? No, bullying has been around since Noah was a boy and the methods have kept pace. This is a social/pastoral issue and not dealing with it, by claiming technology is responsible is poor and shortsighted.

Additionally to run from your responsibility of teaching children how to deal with the world in which they live – rather than hanker back to old people’s time is woeful.

It’s sad that the parent body tolerate this and haven’t taken the Principal to task is only a measure of their like confusion.

Kids already live in an online world. This isn’t going away. We have the responsibility to make them good digital citizens for their own sake as well as society. Failing to teach them how to live in their world is as equally stupid as failing to teach them social manners and how to cross the road.

This totally inappropriate action by an ill-informed, poorly advised Principal should, be held up as an example of what NOT to do.

Where is the offer to teach children how to be good digital citizens? where is the pastoral support for those who bully, where is the offer to skill up those bullied with some resilience training, where is the acknowledgement that the world for children is different from that in which we old people grew up, where is the acknowledgement that positive on line persona is one of the most rapidly growing requirements that young people have?

Kids MUST have Facebook – they MUST have their own domain, they MUST have total control over any online repository/system that is associated with their identity. Their online persona will be a greater force and more important than anything old people will ever get to understand. In any doubt? try applying for a job and not getting Googled… See if resumes have more than a few years of lifespan left (if that). Failing to get this and failing to act on it is doing them a grave injustice and the false claims – weasel wording – abrogation of responsibility is something parents should be railing against.

 

It’s not so far away

Our on line digital footprint is something that will be increasingly important – OK, it already is. Both potentially detrimental and positive, depending on how we manage it. It’s already there, if you know it or don’t. So you might just as well be in charge.

To give ourselves the most reasonable and supportive chance to keep it positive we should maintain our own domain name. This way we have the most control over the nature of our virtual persona. This isn’t an expensive exercise and the world is still on the up-ramp.

Given that the pool of domain names which match regular names is limited, they will increasingly become a keenly sought after commodity. Even now the more desirable names are changing hands for multi millions of dollars. The trend will soon enough filter down to personal named domains. The auction for “jennifersmith.com” is sure to be a keenly fought and expensive proposition.

How soon then will we be naming our children based on the domain names we own rather than to remember past relatives and family traditions?

How soon before inheriting the family domain names becomes something to fight over at the reading of the will?

Fantasy proposition? Maybe not so much as you might think?