A Sane Voice in the Noise

Someone seems to have understood it!

When the laptop goes to the head – Views – livemint.com: “What we want from advanced technology is that it should enhance educational productivity. But just as often, if these studies are any indication, they enhance procrastination and delay. In this way, technology is no panacea and can actually be a distraction. A student’s character is what really counts.

And that’s what should worry us about the techno-boosterism. It distracts us from the real obstacles to educational achievement.

(Emphasis, mine)

This is one sane voice in the $35 noise.

The most interesting questions being asked about the $35 tablet are the ones that are the most difficult to find. So far, I’ve found only one pertinent question, to which I added a few of my own thoughts.

It amuses me to an extent that all the arguments, counter-arguments for this low-cost device are only about how this device will come to market, about how the government is making a PR exercise of it all, and how impractical it is. What’s more interesting is, no one from the education field is questioning the educational raison d’être for the device.

We seem to be in a hurry to build the hardware with no concern for the software.

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Technology & Teachers

“The technology is simple, open source and so available for anyone who wants to make and sell it, which ensures that it is priced low. He says it will not make ‘one laptop per child’ outdated or irrelevant. A child can take it home. This complements it by introducing group learning, he says. Where does that leave the teacher? In the background.”

It’s the “In the background.” that I take exception to. The word background in this context is a bit vague and may mean many things. Especially if you are a teacher. There is enough scepticism from teachers (that it replaces them) about the use of technology in classroom.

Technology in education does not put the teacher in the background – it put’s them in better control to manage a class better.

Via Sreelatha Menon: The teaching table

An Asynchronous Evolution

This is an issue that has bothered me for long.

Language in the Digital Age: “Text messaging, blogging, emailing, twittering, etc. in many cases force us to use less words. What does this do to the way we interpret what is being said?
Since a desired intent can not come across because of word limitations, the meaning is therefore altered. I think many problems arise from this which are probably more substantial than what is recognized. Entire thought patterns are disrupted by misinterpretations. Our processing of other information has drastically changed. Our intake of information from the vastness of the World Wide Web differs greatly from the way in which we obtain information by reading a book.”(Via Hanna Wiszniewska.)

After you read this article, make it a point to read the source – an article in NY Times. In this article, Anand Giridharadas, wonders

Blogs, though they seek to bring out the writer in us, are notable for how little stress they put on the actual writing. How many literary greats has the rise of the blogosphere produced?

because

E-mail, meanwhile, has become a linguistic wasteland — even among language lovers. Cellphone keypads make us promise to “call u back after the mtg.” Twitter coaxes us to misspell to meet the 140-character maximum.

There is one argument against the argument that favours the use of good language — evolution. (and this point is well presented in the NY times article) However, the true problem of the decline of language is not so much in the cultural and social implications of the decline as much as in the technical problem that it presents – the loss of meaning due to the absence of context. Meaning has always been bound to context in some form or the other. Context has enriched meaning and provided a basis to build on. It diminishes vocabulary, forcing a loss of nuances, that a rich vocabulary otherwise provides.

We have somehow been forced to multi-task, even with the tasks that we do not really need to do. We are forced to follow everything in this world, although this may not be really relevant to what we need to know. Attention spans decrease, available time is limited, and entire conversations are the proverbial “bullet-riddled PowerPoint presentation”, Giridharadas mentions in the article.

He concludes the article with:

Language may suffer in the coming age simply because we have so many people, near and far, to address, so little time in which to do so, and diminishing patience for rules that slow the headlong rush into linguistic limbo.

However, the dreaded limbo is a factor, to my mind, of the lack of synchronisation of the evolution of language and the human mind.

eLGG: Connected

A friend asked me to look-up eLGG. And just the first hour has been an interesting one. It is often called the ‘myspace’ of eLearning, I think it has a possibility much wider than that.

Like most things related to eLearning, that is another wait and watch scenario. With less than a ten-thousand members, I guess it is still nascent (which brings up the question, how many people in this world, really, excluding students, would be connected to the education space? Whatever your number, that is the potential for eLGG)

“Elgg is all about a learner-centred, learner-controlled space in which you choose the connections, the resources and the communities you want to participate in,” says David Tosh, one of its creators. Read the entire article here

Now, include the learners. A possibility of a very strong, serious learning space. This is my page on eLGG – I still have to find a way to to make the page accesible if you aren’t logged in. But then, if you have an interest in education, why not join and find out?

PS: According to the logo, it should be eLGG, however, everyone refers to it as Elgg. And I still have to find what it means. I know we can make a few guesses…

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