As the summer holidays draw near in many parts of the world, parents shouldn’t be surprised if kids choose to fill their days with technology. After all, teens and tweens are now spending more hours on their devices – iPads, phones and computers – than they are asleep.
In the same way that some food is healthy and some has no nutritional benefits, some apps are low in mental fibre. Based on my own research into how students learn with technology, here’s a guide to getting rid of “junk” apps and ensuring your tweens and teens develop healthy tech habits both in term time and during the school holidays.
From passive to active
The key lies in shifting kids from using apps that make them passive content consumers to those where they are active content producers. Encouraging the use of activating apps can help children to develop a wide range of 21st century skills like collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Before I look at apps that will actively engage kids during school holidays, here are the “apps” you should immediately delete from their lives.
Once these “apps” are deleted, here’s a selection of apps that will not only engage your kids, but help them develop important skills. I’ve selected a few iOS, Android, and Web-based apps (accessible through a browser on any device). The full list is available here. I’ve grouped these according to the skills they will develop.
Curation: Curation apps help kids to develop key skills such as reading, categorising and organising.
Conversation: There’s a shift from learning through content consumption to learning through conversation around content in online spaces. Conversation-based apps provide opportunities to debate, discuss and enrich relationships.
Correction: Research shows that one of the most effective ways to learn is through mistakes. Technology allows us to easily experiment, make mistakes and learn through correction.
Creation: Creating content develops key skills such as logic, creative thinking and problem solving.
Chaos: Learning to make sense of too much information, missing information, and conflicting information is a skill children increasingly need to develop in our content-excessive world.
No matter which apps your kids choose, it’s important to keep track of their use. Research suggests that screen time should be limited, whether young users are consuming “junk” apps or learning while they swipe. OurPact is a great tool to automate this process. It allows parents to set usage schedules or turn off a device at any time.
Myth 2 – We need to use technology to make our teaching more efficient
We continue our myth series that explores dangerous education technology myths. You can read Myth 1 here. Each of these myths are commonly held beliefs that have huge implications on how we approach teaching with technology.
Like all myths, this myth also seems, on face value, to be both true and innocuous. However, this is exactly why the myth is so dangerous.
I often come across teachers and school management who extol the benefits of their edtech tools using words like - “Time is freed up”, “convenience”, “ease of handling”, “efficient way of collecting and storing information” and “immediate access”.
In fact, these are the same benefits you will find touted by LMS vendors. Take a look at the following list of features of the popular LMS, Blackboard. The vast majority of the features are around management and efficiencies.
These "features" point to an underlying perspective that many teachers and software vendors have about the goal of technology in the classroom - improving efficiency. In fact this same perspective also pervades students' perceptions. A research project just completed by one of my students, found that 92% of students listed technology providing “improved access to information” as a key reason for using it for learning.
And so it is no surprise that we readily believe the statement - We need to use technology to make our teaching more efficient. After all, who doesn't want to save time and make things more efficient?
Ditching Industrial Era Objectives
Efficiencies are great for business and industry, but is this what we are seeking when it comes to education? British educationist and author Sir Ken Robinson has famously called on schools to abandon the efficiency-driven, industrial paradigm and move to a new approach to education.
Increasingly we are seeing teachers advocating a new era in education that celebrates diversity, opportunities and innovation. However, most of us are simply using technology to reinforce the old industrial approaches rather than revolutionising the classroom.
Pursuing efficiencies to get students through more content, faster and with less effort, is the wrong objective. Our focus should be on effective rather than efficient teaching. Technology is not just about computerising existing processes – it is about rethinking ways to teach and learn.
The Danger of the Myth
By pursuing efficiency objectives we simply reinforce our old, outdated, industrial approaches to teaching. We are simply attempting to speed up and automate these old processes. This dangerous agenda is pushed by many vendors because it makes for a good sell. "We can make your job easier", "We can save you time", etc. However, education is more than this. It needs us to reinvent, redesign, and reimagine how we are teaching the modern generation.
Technology brings with it many exciting opportunities. The most successful modern businesses, who are driven by efficiency agendas, have also realised this. They've realised the need to move beyond simple efficiencies to reinventing how they do business. This has given rise to innovative businesses like Uber who have disrupted the transport industry, Twitter who have disrupted the news industry, and Whatsapp who have disrupted the communication industry.
It is only when we begin to let go of our outdated, industrial paradigms and see technology, not simply as a tool for improving efficiencies, but as a tool to open up new way of teaching and learning, that we will truly begin to realise the benefits of technology in the classroom. It's then that we will start to see the Uber Classrooms appear - and that will be very exciting.
A myth, according to the online dictionary is "a widely held but false belief or idea". Busting myths was made popular by the TV show "Myth Busters". However, myths continue to circulate and are readily accepted and believed, and we as teachers are not exempt.
In this EdTech Myth Busting series I will share with you some commonly believed myths that are not only false, but can, and have resulted in some costly failures when it comes to education technology.
Myth 1 – Training teachers how to use technology will result in better teaching
Do you believe this?
It seems quite reasonable, and I've heard it said many times that if we train teachers to use technology the result will be better teaching.
So, what's wrong with this belief?
It lies in the phrase "training teachers how to use technology". Training a teacher how to use technology is not the same as training a teacher how to teach with technology. At first glance, this may seem like a trivial difference, but it's a golf swing difference - where a seemingly small error on tee-off results in missing the green by far and having to search for your lost ball in a pond!
Training a teacher to use an iPad, or to use Google Docs, or to use a Smartboard does not mean they know how to teach with this technology. I could be trained how to use all the controls in a plane, but that does not mean I could fly the plane.
And herein lies the danger. All too often schools send teachers on courses that train them how to use technology, and assume this will result in effective teaching with technology. Believing this myth is part of the reason why we are seeing so many failed attempts at implementing technology in the classroom.
EdTech Success Formula
It is not simply knowing how to use technology that is important, in fact it is not even knowing how to teach with technology that we need - it is knowing how to teach effectively with technology.
If teachers are not shown how to apply an appropriate digital-age pedagogy to their teaching how can we expect our results to be anything better than hit-and-miss.
Great Teacher + Great Technology + Pedagogy = Great Teaching
Don't believe the myth that simply being trained to use technology will result in effective teaching with technology. We need our teachers to be trained in the use of a guiding pedagogy that will show them how to teach effectively with technology!
That's one myth busted. Look out for the next Edtech myth...and don't forget to share this with others, because it's up to us to stop the spread of this dangerous myth!
Learn how to teach using the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach - a pedagogy for the digital age. Get the book now and transform your classroom! What teachers are saying -
“genius”, “brilliant”, “inspiring”, “motivated”, “a first”, “doable”, “fascinating”, “thanks to infinity”, “mind shift of epic proportions”, “a renaissance for me”, “I have been doing it all wrong!”, “inspired to use technology”, “buzz of the school”, “absolutely blown away”
Bloodletting is an ancient practice where doctors would cut people to let blood out of them in the hope that this would lead to some type of cure. We may now laugh at this archaic treatment, but for centuries it was the approach that "modern" doctors thought worked. Imagine having a sore throat and the doctor says, "Don't worry, I will fix you in no time," as he reaches for the scalpel or a bowl of leaches! This is exactly what happened to George Washington...yes, THE George Washington, America's first president. On December 13, 1799 George woke up with a sore throat and was treated with bloodletting where doctors drained an estimated 5-7 pints (3-4 litres) of blood in less that 16 hours. Unsurprisingly he died a few days later!
What does this crazy approach to health care have to do with how you are teaching?
Well, according to Nobel laureate and Stanford professor Carl Wieman, how we teach today is the educational equivalent of this archaic, painful, and useless treatment. In an interview with NPR, Wieman discusses how the approach we are currently using for teaching is not only ineffective, it is detrimental to learning.
"You give people lectures, and [some students] go away and learn the stuff. But it wasn't that they learned it from lecture — they learned it from homework, from assignments. When we measure how little people learn from an actual lecture, it's just really small." (Carl Wieman)
Only 10% remember what is taught
For years Carl Wieman has been unsatisfied with the traditional "talk-and-chalk" or "sage-on-the-stage" approach, and has experimented with using active learning in his classroom. Prof. Wieman would give a lecture then a few minutes later he would test the students knowledge with a multiple choice test. The result?
Most of the time "only 10 percent would actually remember the answer. A lot of them are asleep, or lost, and I don't know whether they're getting anything out of it. If I'm standing up there talking at them, I have no clue what they're absorbing and not absorbing."
Active learning - The Solution
Seeing such poor results, Prof. Wieman dumped this ineffective, "bloodletting" and switched to using active learning approaches in his classroom. His students are now often found in small groups actively discussing the course content while he walks around the classroom helping guide their learning.
Now that his students are actively involved in the learning process, as opposed to being passive consumers, not only are they more engaged, but he is better able to see what they understand and what is causing them problems.
"I'm doing my best to understand what's going on in every one of those students' minds and challenge them and monitor how they're learning, If I'm just lecturing the whole time, what a terrible waste that would be. Half the material would be over their head, and half the material would be completely trivial to them." (Carl Wieman)
Research proven results
"I know you can double how much a student learns depending on what method the instructor is using." (Carl Wieman)
Listen to the interview with Cal Wieman below.
Why is everyone not using Active Learning?
With such compelling evidence, it seems strange that everyone is not using active learning techniques in their classrooms. Why is this?
Well, beyond the obvious, that some teachers might not want to change - because change is uncomfortable and invariably requires effort, there is another important reason. Dan Schwartz, who is the dean of Stanford's Graduate School of Education puts the problem of poor adoption of this effective approach down to a "mountain of goo".
"The literature on how to do this stuff is a giant mountain of goo...I can tell people they need to teach better. But if I don't give them things that are easy for them to implement, they won't do it." (Dan Schwartz)
From Goo to Good
There is no doubt that the research points to the fact that as teachers we should be using active learning approaches in our classrooms. Add to this the exciting opportunities that technology brings, and we should be seeing huge innovations in how we teach. The era of bloodletting is far behind us, yet somehow while medicine has advanced it seems in many ways teaching has not. However, without an "easy way...to implement" this as Dan Schwartz points out, moving from our old approach to a new more effective approach is going to be difficult for all but the very brave.
The Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach is an "easy way...to implement" active learning approaches with technology in the classroom. This research-backed approach focuses on pedagogy before technology and guides teachers in how to effectively use technology in the classroom in a new and innovative ways. Rather than simply tell teachers that active learning is powerful, or tell teachers that we should be using technology in new ways, the ACT approach SHOWS teachers how they can do this.
Based on 5 layers of increasing activity the ACT model is a digital pedagogy for the modern age that is transforming how schools are teaching around the world. To find out more about this amazing approach watch the video below or read more here.
Article source: NPR
We live in a world of massive video content - almost 5,000,000,000 videos are watched every single day, on YouTube alone, amounting to 900 million hours per month - that's 102,739 years worth of video/month. It's crazy! It's no wonder that we are having binge watching issues that we've talked about before. Video feeds our consumption addiction, and sadly is often used as the primary way in which we engage our students in the classroom. However, if video is such an enticing medium, can't we use it more effectively?
The first step is to understand your approach to teaching with technology. The ETA (Education Technology Assessment) model helps you identify the type of teaching you are engaged in when it comes to using technology in the classroom. There are two dimensions. The first is the content that can either be based around consumption or production, and the second is the learning approach which is either passive or active.
Why are we getting it wrong?
It's not the teacher nor the technology that is to blame when it comes to being effective in the classroom. All too often I come across reports saying how technology is bad for teaching and learning. This is akin to saying that a knife is bad for cooking because a chef cut his finger. It's all about technique...not just the tools. Even the most enthusiastic amateur chef with the best equipment still needs a recipe to produce great food. So too for teachers with technology. The recipe we need is a digital pedagogy. The problem is that until recently there was no digital pedagogy, quite simply because we just didn't understand how our modern generation learns with technology.
The @CTIVATED Classroom approach, the result of years of research, is a first of it's kind digital recipe (pedagogy) that is designed to guide teachers to be more effective with using technology in the classroom. The pedagogy shows teachers how they can shift their teaching from the less ineffective quadrants of the ETA model (PC/AC/PP) to the highly effective active-producer (AP) quadrant by teaching using the various layers from curation up to the higher layers of creation and chaos.
Harnessing our 900 million hour addiction
So, we have an addiction for video content, but passively consuming content is not the most effective way to learn. So rather than consuming video content how about engaging your students in actively producing video content. There are so many ways this can be done (and I cover many of these in our online course). Here's an example of two videos created by students that show how powerful this pedagogy can be.
Not only are students motivated as they become creative, but they have to carefully think through their content before creating the script. Additionally, the movie is an artefact that remains as a testimony to the students learning and also is a great tool for further conversation and even formative assessment. What a way to develop the "World's Best Students"!
The World's Best Teacher
One of the best parts about the @CTIVATED Classroom approach is that it does not only apply to your students. We are all students after all. And so there is no reason why you can't also be actively creating videos rather than simply consuming them. Not only can you have the "World's Best Students" you can become the "World's Best Teacher". Watch this video for some real inspiration of what is possible. #ENJOY being an @CTIVIST!
If you’re a student, teacher or parent, you might have noticed there is a massive push to use technology in the classroom these days. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t hear somebody talking about the digital curriculum, or computers in classrooms, or teaching coding in schools.
But this push for more technology often misses the mark when it comes to improving educational outcomes. Just adding more gadgets to the classroom won’t necessarily benefit students. Rather, we need fewer gimmicks and more focus on what actually works.
Good for learning?
Schools are being forced to embrace computers. Unlike their “digital immigrant” teachers, these students are “digital natives”, born into a world where technology is an integral part of everyday life. Almost every student has access to a multitude of computers, laptops and tablet devices. It would be crazy to assume an assignment would not be written on computer in this day and age.
Many schools now have a 1-to-1 computer policy, and many districts and states in the United States have mandated computers or iPads across the state for every student, including Los Angeles, the second largest school district in the country.
But the thing is, when they tried it in LA, it wasn’t the success they hoped for. That’s because the tablets weren’t used as much as they expected. Rather, it appeared there was a gap between the digital native’s love of technology and their use of it in the classroom.
This conflicted relationship with computers is also underscored by much of the literature on education. It is also highlighted in professional development and conferences such as EduTech.
This was the second time I attended EduTech. It’s always fun to look at the technology being demonstrated and think about how it might be used for learning. There is usually a theme to the conference as well. Last year it was all about 3D printers. This year it’s all about digital collaboration.
As I wandered around the conference, I got to play with lots of cool technology, including 3D printed gears, big touch screens that can be used for collaboration, automatic drawing robots and even a massive blow up tent with a projector pointed at the roof that AARNET uses to give a 180 degree view of the solar system.
For me as a technologist, it was all endlessly fascinating. And it’s tempting to think it could all contribute to improving education. But as I wandered around, I wondered how these gadgets would genuinely benefit teachers and students? Sure the digital touchscreen might be fun to use, but how much support do teachers get to actually put this into the classroom?
Teaching teachers to use tech
When I looked into it further, I found there are a lot of presentations on technology use, but not so many presentations on practical ways to integrate technology into the classroom that target individual teachers and their needs.
If these teachers are “digital immigrants”, then how are they going to know how the digital touchscreen or the blow-up tent can be best used in their classroom, with their curriculum and their students?
I’m not questioning the ability of teachers to develop good lessons; I’m questioning how they will be able to integrate technology into their class for maximum effect without a full understanding of the technology and what it is capable of?
Google seems to have noticed this and has developed a program called Computer Science for High Schools – CS4HS – to address this. Rather than targeting students directly, this program targets teachers, introducing them to innovative new technology and helping them think about how that technology might be used in the classroom.
The CS4HS is a terrific initiative, and it would be great to see more like it, but it’s ultimately supported by a technology company. When we are talking about technology in the classroom, we shouldn’t be putting the technology first.
Instead, we should be putting the pedagogy first, finding a problem and solving it with technology, rather than bolting technology onto a classroom and hoping it solves some problem.
But what we really need, more than anything else, is more educational technologists. This role combines a love of technology with an understanding of the classroom. So instead of demonstrating a new 3D printer, an educational technologist will talk to the teacher, identify a problem and then suggest a technology solution.
No more shoving technology into classrooms like they did in LA; rather we need an approach where pedagogy comes first and technology follows.Michael Cowling, CQUniversity Australia
Can you guess what is missing in this formula? Great Teacher + Great Technology = Great Teaching
According to research the missing element is a Great Pedagogy. Without an appropriate teaching approach (pedagogy) the best teacher with the best technology will be ineffective, at best. The problem is that until recently there hasn't been a digital pedagogy teachers could use. Teachers, in the true spirit of teachers, just roll up their sleeves and give technology a try. Yet, sadly this has led to many failed attempts. However, now for the first time there is an easy-to-implement, research-based digital pedagogy - The @CTIVATED Classroom approach.
This world-leading approach, which has been featured on TV and radio, and reported on in international newspapers and journals is making a huge impact on schools. And now you are invited to attend the first online MOOC for the @CTIVATED Classroom.
As an introduction to this ground-breaking pedagogy, we will be running a 3-week online MOOC course for teachers. The course will introduce you to the key elements of the @CTIVATED approach, and in addition give you free entry into the complete 100+ lesson @CTIVATED Classroom online course.
The course commences on the 27 June, and runs online for a period of 3-weeks. This is an ideal opportunity to get warmed up into this amazing approach to teaching with technology, plus get free access to the complete course which you can complete in your own time.
Besides and already discounted price for this course, there are some great early-bird offers for those who book quickly! So head on HERE TO FIND OUT MORE AND BOOK YOUR PLACE NOW.
Good News: If your school is a registered @CTIVATED Classroom school you can attend this MOOC for FREE. Simply select the "@CTIVATED School Teacher (FREE)" option on registration.
Computers began reaching the business world during the 1980s. Companies used them to automate many routine manual tasks. This led to what economist Robert Solow dubbed the Productivity Paradox. In 1987, he famously quipped: “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”
The problem Solow had identified was that while computers could automate manual processes, real productivity gains would only be experienced when technology was actively used to reinvent business processes.
The best businesses soon realised that computers were not just a tool to improve efficiencies but to redesign business processes. This sort of thinking has given rise to many modern innovative businesses like Twitter, Uber and Airbnb.
Now schools are falling into the same trap as businesses did 30 years ago. They are focusing on the wrong objective when it comes to using technology in their classrooms.
The wrong objective
I recently came across a newsletter written to headmasters of schools around South Africa. It began by posing a question:
On face value this seems like a good question to ask. But it contains two dangerous flaws. The first is that visible “improved…outcomes” is presented as the main reason for using technology. The second is assuming that the relationship is just between “technology” and “improved learning”.
The writer, from an organisation representing school leadership, went on to list the advantages of using educational technology, using phrases and words like, “Time is freed up”, “convenience”, “ease of handling”, “efficient way of collecting and storing information” and “immediate access”. These phrases point to the underlying perspective that many teachers have about the goal of technology in the classroom. It is seen as a means to improve classroom efficiency.
This perspective also pervades students' perceptions. A research project just completed by one of my Masters students, which we hope to publish soon, found that 92% of students listed technology providing “improved access to information” as a key reason for using it for learning.
Stuck in the industrial age
While businesses might be excused for initially adopting an efficiency objective when it comes to technology, schools cannot. This objective has already been shown to be ineffective for businesses. More importantly though, efficiencies – unlike for business – should not be the objective of successful teaching.
British educationist and author Sir Ken Robinson has famously called on schools to abandon the efficiency-driven, industrial paradigm.
Schools have lauded the rise of a new era in education that celebrates diversity, opportunities and innovation. However, most are actually using technology to reinforce these same industrial approaches rather than revolutionising the classroom.
Pursuing efficiencies to get students through more content, faster and with less effort, is the wrong objective. The focus should be on effective rather than efficient teaching. Technology is not just about computerising existing processes – it is about rethinking ways to teach and learn.
The missing pedagogy
The second flaw in the letter-writer’s question is the mistaken assumption that technology is the only factor that has an impact on learning. This makes the serious mistake of ignoring pedagogy, or ways of teaching.
There is a framework that sets out how this can be avoided. The TPACK model argues that there are three key elements for effective teaching with technology - Technology, Pedagogy And Content Knowledge. Teachers know their subject content and increasingly know how to use technology. However, without the “glue” of an appropriate pedagogy or method, technology can’t be effective in teaching content.
But many schools seem to assume that the technology vendors whose solutions they’ve implemented will be their teaching guides. It’s rather ironic to have teachers led by technologists! Other schools simply ignore teaching approaches, assuming by handing out iPads effective learning will spontaneously take place - leading to some spectacular failures.
The key to effective technology-based teaching is effective technology teaching approaches. Simply copy-pasting traditional approaches is ineffective. This is confirmed by research that I completed recently, which found that digital teaching methods must revolve around active learning approaches to bear fruit.
A digital pedagogy
Technology affords opportunities to move from traditional passive consumption learning to active approaches. These include curating content, engaging in conversation and developing content through iterative cycles of correction.
Such approaches form the basis of what I call the @CTIVATED Classroom model, which is designed to support those who are teaching with technology.
The letter I quoted from earlier concluded that, “Staff must be taught to use the technology.” Only part of this is correct: they must be taught how to teach with the technology. If this is ignored, educational technology will entrench the very approaches we were trying to change.
Craig Blewett, University of KwaZulu-Natal
Universities are a “thousand-year-old industry on the cusp of profound change”. That’s according to a study that explored Australia’s higher education landscape four years ago. One warning from the report rings true far beyond Australia and all the way around the world:
Warning shots are ringing out across the world. But how many academics are actually paying attention? In my experience as a lecturer at a South African university, we continue to placate the two denizens of academia – teaching and research – in the same way we always have. Teaching remains focused on instruction and content reproduction, while most research never makes it beyond journals.
If we continue to teach in outdated ways, we will increasingly lose touch with our students. Equally, if we continue to closet our findings in traditional journals, we may find our hard work increasingly eclipsed by research organisations that use new media to effectively share their findings.
Lots of attention is being given to new ways of teaching. The great news is that there are also exciting new publishing opportunities springing up.
The right to write
On May 12 2015 I published my first article with The Conversation Africa. One year and ten articles later, I’ve started to view my “right to write” in a totally different way. For more than 20 years as an academic, writing has been more of a duty than a need – let alone a right. Productivity units must be met. Papers must be written and published in approved journals. Even the joy of writing for conferences, which can generate spirited discussion, has been removed. Conference presentations don’t contribute much to one’s chance of promotion.
Of course there is great merit in writing for journals. These have been one of the primary stores of human knowledge, and their peer review process foregrounds credible research – most of the time. They teach academics how to write carefully argued pieces, and the best ones hold us to high standards of quality.
Pragmatically, they also pay. Individual academics and their institutions earn money for each article that’s published in certain accredited journals.
However, the money associated with such journals has created an entire industry that flies counter to a world where sharing knowledge is seen as the right thing to do. Journals are being accused of using the free services of academics to write and the free services of reviewers to edit. They then charge exorbitant prices so that the very same academics can’t even access their own content.
But traditional journals are no longer the be-all and end-all. At least, they shouldn’t be. Open-access journals, blogs, wikis, professional Facebook pages and YouTube channels offer academics a range of exciting, different ways to share their research. These spaces come with a range of benefits.
New media means new benefits
The first of these is the far quicker turnaround time. One of academics’ abiding frustrations with the current publishing process is how long it takes for articles to see the light of day. Research shows that it takes, on average, between nine and 18 months (and sometimes longer) from submission to publication. Writing for new media spaces means that research can be shared within hours or days, opening up the opportunity for discussion, debate and dissent far more quickly.
Your reach is far greater in new media spaces. Some studies estimate that the average journal article is read entirely by only ten people. Tools like Google Analytics can help academics to track their readership in new media spaces. Some sites, like The Conversation, have their own metrics systems – from this, I know that each of my articles is read on average 4,000 times.
Greater reach leads to far greater exposure. This can take the form of comments from academics around the world, invitations to collaborate, and TV and radio interviews. This takes academic research far beyond conferences and journals. I’ve discussed my work on different platforms, including international newspapers, and have been drawn into several local and international research collaborations. Isn’t that sort of work the point of publishing?
New media spaces can also be less intimidating for young, inexperienced academics than established journals are. Getting used to writing, finding your own voice and presenting your work on a public platform is all good practice for journal writing. Universities often offer programmes designed to help young academics develop and strengthen their writing, and these are useful tools as well.
Finally, new media spaces offer a valuable opportunity for feedback, conversation and even correction. They’re not about getting it perfect upfront – they’re about learning, arguing and altering. This encourages the kind of dialogue and idea sharing that any academic should value.
Stepping out of our academic closet
Change isn’t coming to academia – it’s here. And the one thing you don’t do in the path of an avalanche is stand still. The privilege of just talking about new teaching approaches and new publishing opportunities has passed. If academics don’t make bold moves to change how we use new platforms and technologies, we ourselves are at risk of becoming irrelevant.
I recently wrote an article that explored the impact of the current trend of binge watching on students' learning. The bottom line is that we are becoming a consumption obsessed society - a society that would far rather indulge in passive consumption that active production. The research by Common Sense Media found that 41% of a teens 9 hour tech day (yes, that's more than they sleep) is spent on passive consumption.
Now Netflix, a cultprit in this rising scourge, has revealed that there is a group of people who are not just binge watchers, but extreme bing watchers.
“There is a tiny minority of people who will just binge through the whole thing in the exact amount of time, from the second we launch it at midnight California time,” he said. “13 hours later, or exactly how many hours are in the show, they’ll finish.” (Netflix)
That's scary! These people are so consumption focused they will watch an entire series, minute for minute, without a break.
The impact of all of this is that we are increasingly becoming a content consuming generation. This is made worse by schools feeding this habit by encouraging passive engagement with technology, like watching videos, or playing games. That is not to say that these technologies can't be effective. However, if we are using technology in our classrooms simply to keep attention, we are doing little more than feeding a binge habit that will do little for developing key cognitive skills. Motivation without pedagogy is entertainment!
Technology offers amazing opportunities to engage students in learning - not through passive consumption, but through active engagement like conversation, curating, creating content etc. This is where the power of a digital learning approach lies.
Here's hoping we won't be seeing extreme binge watching schools soon!
Dr. Craig Blewett is the author and founder of the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach. He helps schools and universities around the world towards the effective use of educational technology.
Get Free Magazine