Censorship

A few years ago during the early stages of the MoLeNET programme, when many projects were contemplating their first widespread installation of WiFi, I came across quite a few naysayers. In the case of WiFi installations, most naysayers were techies! For my purposes a techie is someone who maintains an institution’s IT services and/or web presence. Their role is essentially support – not front line.

I therefore had to arrange a meeting where those same naysayers were presented with WiFi information, advice and guidance from another (but this time pedagogically enlightened and well renowned) techie. He did his best, and managed to convince most of the audience of the benefits for WiFi as well as how to make it as safe as necessary/possible. We’d been faced with worries (really!) such as – “what if someone hacks our WiFi and uses it to undertake a terrorist attack – how will I explain that to my Principal?” – so given that attitude, the ultimate success of all MoLeNET WiFi installations came as a great relief.

I mention this only because techies are quite often responsible for decisions about web access which affect the entire institution. See https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/10/ipds/ and https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/12/ipd-2/. I recently came across another mindless piece of Web 2.0 censorship. It would be crass of me to mention the institution or how I found out the details. However, I do think that it’s important that the matter is discussed.

A practitioner had asked for Dropbox to be unblocked by the techie helpdesk so he/she could access their stored files. The lecturer’s older files are on a series of unlabelled USB sticks, but Dropbox is now being used for ease of access and better file management.  Having asked to have it unblocked in the workplace, the request was denied thus:

Unfortunately dropbox.com is banned due to concerns over storage of the information and security issues. This ban was implemented at the start of term in line with the new web access policy, therefore we are unable to allow it for any users without a review of the policy.

First of all – who writes web access policies and why are they so restrictive? Are teachers or learners ever (EVER) consulted? Or, as I suspect (but have no proof of) are they bought blindly ‘off the shelf’?  Dropbox is a fabulous way of storing files of all type, unlike YouTube which is video only – and not banned at this institution. Neither is Facebook by the way! Unlike YouTube or Facebook, a Dropbox can only be accessed by its registered user – although that person may choose share specific files or folders. See http://www.moletv.org.uk/watch.aspx?v=B5GG2 and http://www.moletv.org.uk/watch.aspx?v=XQCEB for examples of an F.E. College using Dropbox for the benefit of its learners.

However, I must still challenge the institutional ruling on the grounds of its content:

  • storage of information‘ – does this mean that they will also ban USB sticks and users from saving ANY emails records
  • security issues‘ – what does this mean? Can employees still send emails to people outside the institution? Are they allowed to use institutionally franked mail when sending ‘stuff’ to non-institutional friends or colleagues?
  • review of the policy‘ – how often does it happen? who carries out the review? how do they (he/she) reach their decision?

And so on. As we get ever closer to colleges and universities realising that they could save money by using the cloud for storage, sharing, collaboration and communication, will the current policies need review. Urgent review.

Academic learning

There seems to be an awful lot of talk about academic learning these days. What does it mean? and for whom is academic learning important?

Michael Gove spoke yesterday and suggested that many young people are being denied the opportunity to excel in academic skills and that the curriculum should therefore change to put that right. Furthermore, he was lambasted by a caller on Radio 5, about his rigid view of educational reform.

This government, with Gove as Education Secretary, seem to value academic excellence above all else.

But what does academic mean? I get the sense that it means being in the top ten of any world-wide comparison of educational league tables. But that doesn’t address the needs of our country today or, by extension the needs of our learners.

What kind of degree does the butcher, the baker, the plumber, the HGV driver, the electrician, the shopkeeper, the gardener, the taxi driver, the hairdresser (etc.) need? What kind of academic excellence does the guy you call out on Christmas Eve to mend the frozen pipes need to respond to your call? In the main – none at all. Don’t misunderstand me, many of these tradesmen and women will undertake academic courses to better perform their business, but in the main, the courses they will seek out – but not easily find these days – are those that advance their skills; their vocational skills!

Why are vocational skills so undervalued? I know that I’d rather have someone come to fix my pipes who knows how to effect the repair and make it (and me) safe than someone who comes along and tells me where the copper is mined, at what temperature it melts, how the pipe is extruded and why solder is better than rubber at sealing pipes. We need to value vocational excellence as much as academic skills – neither should be paramount.

My wife teaches foundation degree to early years workers. In the main these students are adults managing early years settings. They are NOT stupid. However, the academic rigour imposed by the authenticating university leads them to believe that they are. The foundation degree is the only qualification available to them that offers progression: But progression towards what? If they were to undertake a course that developed their skills in the management and safety of their setting they would be delighted and would devour the course – but given the need to ‘write in an academic way’, something they have never done before is demoralising.

We shouldn’t forget that many learners choose a vocational route because that is what interests them and it is what they become good at. Many others choose such a route because academia is simply beyond them. Educational institutions, despite laws made to change this, simply cannot cope with dyslexics, or similarly capable adults who cannot ‘do’ academic.



 

Posted elsewhere – 2

I recently posted (elsewhere) the first of two blogs about the process of barium enemas. If you’re interested, this is the second and final link – http://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/barium-enema-part-2/.

If not, watch this space for more of my usual fayre.

Are you watching #SugSnip on Twitter?

See https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2011/01/03/twitter-sugsnip/ for more.

Posted elsewhere – 1

I have recently posted part one of a two part blog about the process of having a barium enema. If you are interested, please visit: http://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2011/01/09/barium-enema-%E2%80%93-part-1/, if not – no worries. However, if you are over fifty and have heard of the process (but not had one), it might be worth a read.

Otherwise, watch this space for more of my usual blog content. 🙂

Twitter #SugSnip

I’ve recently set myself the challenge of sending a snippet of information to Twitter every day for a year. I started on January 1st (1/1/11) so I suppose it’s a sort of resolution? #SugSnip

The idea of doing this occurred to me back in 2009 and I did in fact make a start at that time. However, due to the pressures of work (I was really busy at that time – unlike now where I don’t know where the next job is coming from) and the fact that I’d not appreciated the groundwork required for such an undertaking, it soon fizzled out. The preparation of checked, reviewed, interesting, useful (to some), possibly thought provoking, pertinent and varied snippets of information within the limitations of a ‘Tweet’ was a challenge I’d initially underestimated.

However, I did think that the idea was a sound one for use in education and that modelling the idea would be a useful way of evaluating its impact.

I’d been speaking with someone about the idea and it occurred to us that the slow drip feed of subject-specific material to learners might help them with their retention of knowledge. Of course, it might not be Twitter that was employed to effect the drip feed as regular posts to a Moodle forum, to a Facebook ‘wall’ or even SMS texts could do the work too. Nevertheless, I decided that I would use Twitter and that I would be governed by its 140-character rule. What’s more, using a hash tag would help with the future tracking of snippets.

I’m still not sure how the #SugSnips will pan out theme-wise: So far [3rd January 2011] I’ve posted three, all of which are food related, so maybe I will try to keep Monday to Friday snips along a related theme with sport snips on Saturdays and religious snips on Sunday. I quite like the idea of random snips too, so remain undecided about how they will unfold. Perhaps if I review progress over coming months, this will have become clearer?

I have about a hundred snips ready and waiting to go right now and will add to them when time and opportunity presents itself. All #SugSnips have been vetted inasmuch as I’ve checked more than one place that such a thing [subject of snip] exists, is true and is verifiable by others. The link I provide (I provide a URL with every snip) is taken at random from amongst the sites I’ve checked. Where space allows (remember I only have 140 characters including spaces), I will post a further URL to add veracity.

So far, I have snips listed under the headings of youth; food; drink; history; entertainment; computer/web 2.0; education; religion and words. These may well re-form as time passes and the boundaries are bound to fade but they help me to keep control of my findings.

Because I have a modest amount of followers on Twitter, I may provoke some response, which may in turn result in some kind of worthwhile outcome. One of the food snips has already caused some discussion, for which I’m grateful.

In the meantime I’m enjoying the research and learning lots of stuff myself – much of it interesting but not yet of much use. But as we often hear: One man’s meat is another man’s poison http://www.answers.com/topic/one-man-s-meat-is-another-man-s-poison

Eduvel’s 2010 in review

Healthy blog!The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

 

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow. >>

Crunchy numbers

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 5,500 times in 2010. That’s about 13 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 72 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 133 posts. There were 11 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 3mb. That’s about a picture per month. There were also many of David’s Flickr pictures seen – but these are not counted in the stats.

Featured imageThe busiest day of the year was June 9th with 111 views. The most popular post that day was Building VLEs.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were friendfeed.com, twitter.com, village-e-learning.co.uk, morrighan13.wordpress.com, and digg.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for theories of learning, arcs model, el buli, monet painting, and european hierarchy.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Building VLEs June 2010
16 comments

2

iPhone 3GS Accessibility January 2010
4 comments

3

Action Plans November 2009

4

A bit about David May 2009
3 comments

5

iPad in Tulsa August 2010
6 comments

 

This is all pretty much as it came to me from WordPress itself  although I’ve edited the layout and added a couple of things. Happy New Year.