Maslow v Internet

I’ve just returned from a short break in Spain and for five of the six days that I was away from home I was without Internet access. Many of you might think that that was a relaxing situation to be in, but I can assure you that for me, it wasn’t.

It’s surprising how much you (I) can miss the Internet.

Earlier this year, Sharon and I bought a 10% share in a one bedroom apartment on the Costa Del Sol – it didn’t cost too much and we get to visit almost as much as we like, which probably won’t be more than once a year. We wanted something (somewhere) that would almost certainly be warmer than it is here at any given time. I realised that the need for warmth is a basic need and can be found supporting all of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs.

That started me thinking …

Without me realising, the Internet has become something that fulfills my Belongingness and Love (social) needs, as well as my Esteem needs; both of which Maslow recognises as higher requirements en route to self-actualisation. Only whilst eating our lunch in a pub in Gibraltar – where WiFi was available, were we able to check emails, Twitter and Facebook. In our apartment complex and in all of the cafe’s and restaurants we visited in Spain, we were not!

How then were we able to:
a) check when and who Spain were playing in the European cup (and thus avoid the crowds in certain bars)?
b)
check emails (after all I’m still self-employed and need to reply as quickly and as often as required to correspondences)?
c) check Twitter and Facebook to keep up with family and friends?
d)
provide the answer to simple arguments (where DO you find out the name of such and such an actor)?

I do all of that without thinking at home on my iPhone, my iPad, my laptop etc. when I’m out and about I have WiFi ‘cloud’ access, 3’s MiFi access and a variety of other logins that permit me to access the Internet freely and easily – so when it’s not available, it comes as a shock.

Not having access to the Internet ‘on tap’ really did come as a surprise.

Now we’re home, I managed to catch up a little on Sunday but then on Monday BT seemed to be having a problem in our area, as we have had no Internet and no landline for two days! I’ve no idea why or what’s happening so it’s lucky that I still have some data left on my MiFi this month but with guests staying with us – all of whom are Internet-savvy, who knows how long that will last!

Footnote

The apartment complex committee’s chairman has agreed that we can boost our signal in the apartment (!) with the installation of a box that sounds like it will give limited ethernet access to laptops – but which will still not give WiFi access to the variety of other devices we have become used to using. They only have a 3gig connection for around 200 apartments!

Previous notes on Maslow

Maslow:

I’m quite interested in the way we might revisit Maslow, with an eye on the social and economic changes that are happening around us. I think there’s a real need now to recognise how the (especially) lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy are changing. Young learners now have technological needs that the original paper preceded. As Dan Bevarly (@dbevarly) says: “You can’t engage if you can’t connect”. I am working on this, but as with everything else (and work etc), it’s a slow process.

From my 2009 post: https://eduvel.wordpress.com/2010/02/21/experiential-learning/

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Toolbox

I’ve just completed two more days out on the road for JISC TechDis.

It has been great to get out and meet people again this week: in Leeds on Wednesday and Taunton on Thursday. At both venues, it was good to meet old friends and colleagues and to make new acquaintances.

One of the things I’ve missed about my most recent work (2012) being mainly office based has been the lack of face-to-face human contact. There are various points of view regarding the fitness for purpose and value of online learning/collaboration and I have to say that I have argued for many of its positive aspects in the past, yet I believe that online activities can only be truly effective if there is some planned human contact as part of the process.

Being out and about and meeting people again has been great for me, I thrive on it.

I wrote last week about the new TechDis ‘Voices’ and this week I will touch upon the new ‘Toolbox’ facility. Perhaps later, when I have finished with the RSC summer fairs, I will reflect more on online distance learning and communications.

“[Toolbox] is a collection of resources which give useful hints and tips on technologies that can help individuals work smarter, quicker and more efficiently. JISC TechDis has a history of providing simple easy-to-use resources for tutors and lecturers. Here we have shifted our focus and Toolbox is aimed directly at the end users – the learners themselves.http://www.jisctechdis.ac.uk/techdis/news/detail/2012/ND2012Launch

As the above quote suggests, the Toolbox resources are aimed at learners rather than at teachers (although teachers are learners too!) When I was asked to create one small section of the site, it was suggested that I put myself in the shoes of someone who had never opened a computer before and to try and explain to that person how they might ‘Get started with Windows (7)’. That was an enlightening exercise, I can tell you because I’d never used Windows 7 at the time. I had stopped using Windows Vista in some despair and had become a Mac enthusiast. That ‘distance’ made it much easier for me to imagine the virginal adult user and hopefully, the resources I made are as acceptable and usable as those created by my fellow authors.

The Toolbox page is divided into ‘drawers’. Following the Toolbox semiotic, each drawer contains a different type of tool:

  • Using Technology: features subjects like Working in Windows, Microsoft Office, Working in Mac OSX and many more.
  • Planning and Organisation: featuring; managing your messages, finding information (amongst others).
  • Communicating: Presenting yourself, Reading tools, Writing tools (and so on).
  • Teamworking: Team planning, Team communication, Collaboration etc.
  • Different needs: Vision, Hearing, Mobility to name just a few subjects in this section.

You may well recognise some of the different voices featured in each section (drawer) – and hopefully, you will recommend this site to colleagues and friends who may find something useful amongst the many resources to be found there. Let us know what you think.

Jess and Jack

Last week I found myself in Glasgow hosting a stand on behalf of JISC TechDis at the RSC Scotland ‘Here Be Dragons‘ summer fair.

It was good to get back out on the road again and to meet friends old and new. It’s been a while since I was in Scotland to work, and therefore great to catch up with members of the RSC Scotland team.

This was the first of five RSC summer fairs I will be attending this month.

TechDis have recently launched two major new tools, which are aimed at improving the online lives of a significant range of people, not just learners. Although ‘Voices‘ can only be accessed by post 16 learners in England, ‘Toolbox‘ can be accessed via an open site. Other new tools, similarly sponsored by BIS are also planned for release in 2013 and it was my role to discuss all of these initiatives with callers at the stand.

I will concentrate this blog post on Voices.

The TechDis voices are two high-quality, youthful and modern voices (Jack and Jess) that can be used with text-to-speech (TTS) tools. Across England, staff and learners in higher education institutions and further education colleges as well as the skills, adult and lifelong learning sectors will have access to these voices.From:

Many of us will have heard the robotic voices installed on our computers and shied away from using them ourselves, but many computer users can and do benefit from text-to-speech facilities. Jack and Jess have been developed to make listening to computer generated speech that little bit easier. Go to Control Panel > Ease of Access > Ease of Access Center (in Win 7) and ‘click’ Start Narrator to hear the robotic Microsoft Mary. Previous versions of Windows and other operating systems present similarly dire voices.

Now go and download the new TechDis voices to hear what good quality voices CAN sound like.

Jack and Jess are available for both Windows and Mac machines. They work with the computers own facilities as well as freely available text-to-speech software like Balabolka and DSpeech, both of which have featured on either AccessApps or MyStudyBar.

If you’d like to know more, visit the TechDis site, or pop along and see me in Leeds [13th June], Taunton [14th June], London [27th June] and Sunderland (I think) on 3rd July. You’ll find more details on the respective JISC RSC web sites.