Sunday, February 24, 2013

Primary education

Digital media attract children because of the 'cool' factor. 
But, young children miss out on the touch and feel learning that contributes to the formation of their personalities in the early years.
The ideal situation then, in my view, is that young children are better off without the interference of digital media.

Read this paper titled, "Unplugged schools" by Dr Lowell Monke. assistant professor of Education at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio.
He says: "Unplugged schools would get children deeply involved with nature and community; they would give a prominent place to the expressive arts; they would determine tool use according to developmental readiness; they would study technology explicitly; they would give children time and space to look inward; and they would rely on assessments that are rigorous and multifaceted rather than reductionist and multiple choice"

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

"New media" and "The machine is using us" #EDCMOOC

New media: In this Argentinian short film, the visuals and the music are very eerie. It looks like doomsday with machines having taken over human beings and their surroundings. In Bendito Machine III one sees machines just entering human lives and beginning to influence them. Here they have completed their mission to rule the human world. In Bendito Machine, there are still some warm colours. Here it is all grey, symbolising the total lack of hope.

The machine is using us: As I watched this amazing video, I felt that I was watching the internet being born, growing up, becoming complex and complicated and really coming alive! I think the millions of human beings who worked on making this happen were left out of the story...the keyboard seems to work on its own, overpowering the human element. It is exhilarating but at the same time, scary. 

Monday, February 4, 2013

"A day made of glass 2": slick and utopian #EDCMOOC

My first reaction to "A day made of glass 2" was one of slight unease. But as I watched it, I began to like it. It is in a way, awe-inspiring like any other futuristic film. Everything looks so cool and everyone looks very happy, as in all advertising (irritating!). More than talking to each other, people communicate digitally. But, despite all the swiping, human life seems pretty much like it is now. Some indicators of this are the comic book at the foot of the child's bed, the children getting into the car all giggly, playing and enjoying the music in the car, their naughtiness and the father's indulgent look -- all these constitute happiness in our world.

In the school, the teacher looks content teaching the children, who seem very involved. Smart boards and smart tables are shown to be fantastic teaching aids. The children are shown learning about colour in a most enjoyable way. But then, children would learn about colour just as well (maybe better), if they are given boxes of paint and asked to finger paint. In fact, they would love it! Where is the fun of the touch and feel, getting hands dirty, washing them, getting the sink dirty, getting screamed at...but then, yes, the virtual colour palette and what they do with it tempts you to have a go at it!

The nature of communication in the world that is shown is mainly digital...people are swiping all the time, passing on information from tablet to tablet (this terminology would be an 'accent' according to Prensky...I wonder what they would be called then), tablet to wall, tablet to gadgets and so on.

There is a dominance of the utopian in this slick film. If the new technology can aid medical research and save people, then it is utopian. If the changed education system has resulted in enhancement of learning and teaching, it certainly is utopian. Thankfully, the human element is there too, as seen in the walk to the park, where the dinosaur is a projection, but surely, the finding of a Roosevelt elk footprint is real. The mother and children sitting together to watch the video and the bowl of popcorn are signs of happy times, as also the mother helping the child with homework (on a 'tablet) and then kissing her goodnight.    

And yes, in all this, one also learns about electro chromic glass, optical fibre glass, and the such, that Corning makes!

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Thursday": Nature's loss, human's gain? #EDCMOOC

Thursday: Mathias Hoegg's futuristic short film, "Thursday", with its motherboard-like landscape seemed nightmarish to me, especially because I am a nature lover. The little black bird has no trees to build a nest on, it has no grass or straw with which to build its nest, and alas, it has no food to give its young! Human beings are mechanical and are totally dependent on gadgets for their every movement. So much so, when the bird takes a small piece of red wire from a network for its nest,  it makes all systems come to a standstill, and human beings are left with nothing to do!

The film presents a dystopic view of technology, yet the humans in the film look happy (perhaps they don't know better), and interestingly, the bird and its chicks seem determined to survive against all odds. Nature's loss seems to be human's gain, but is it really so? The film shows straight lines, said to be invented by humans; and there are no curves as in nature. The star-gazing every Thursday seems to be their only tryst with the natural world, but they are also in awe of their own creations as they are seen simultaneously city-gazing.

It seems like it is the human beings who have 'agency' in this film, that is, their capacity to make the choice to embrace technology. For all practical purposes, they have conquered nature. However, when the film ends with the family of birds taking off vertically, you want to ask the question, "Have they, really"?

A stark, effective and thought-provoking film.