This week we heard three interesting presentations and engaged in some good discussion – good job by all! I will touch on a few points from each in this week’s blog post.
Kaiser Report (revisited):
Reading the full report and hearing Lana’s take on it revealed much more than simply the amount of time kids spend on media. I will comment on a few items. One item of interest is that TV viewing is not decreasing as we often hear; it is just that kids are not watching it ‘live’. I understand this, since I do the same. I usually record the shows I want to watch so I can skip the ads (a benefit of technology as far as I am concerned!) and watch on my schedule. Another positive finding was that reading and physical activity has not dropped, although more physical activity would be of benefit when we hear so much about obesity problems. While reading books has not decreased, much media use requires reading as well – although a different type of reading, so do kids read more in total? The amount of multitasking is understandable as well. Most, it seems, involves listening to music or TV and doing something else. Listening to music is something I think many people do while engaging in other activities, I don’t see that aspect as anything new. Finally we see the move to cell phones – mobility, as the Horizon Report pointed out, is the new wave.
The role of parents is important in terms of media consumption. Parents who put some controls on media use have children who use media less, and have better grades. While parents have influence, many do not regulate media use of their children. As was mentioned in class, it could be because they do not understand the media themselves, a symptom of a generational divide. One troubling trend is that more devices are located in kid’s bedrooms. For years, parents have been advised to keep computers in ‘public’ areas of their homes and to discuss computer (media) use with their children, yet this message does not seem to be having an impact. This trend again points to the importance of modeling and teaching ethical and appropriate use of technology in schools. The report writers are careful to not make any cause and effect pronouncements, a good thing. Do kids who are getting lower marks and ‘getting into trouble’ do so because of technology use, or are all three symptoms of some other problem? The results of this study provide some insight and are interesting, yet, like any statistical study, the results must be carefully weighed. For example, in the media diary, students mark off when they use a media type for 15 minutes in any half hour – does this mean that 15 or 16 minute use appears as 30 minutes in the results? The study does prompt thought and more questions.
Thwarted Innovation: This article contradicts many recent studies that show huge growth in online courses, especially in post-secondary, but in secondary as well (examples: Sloan Consortium & Canadian Council on Learning). However, as we know, changes in educational technology have been taking place rapidly. Today (Friday) I attended a talk at the U of W by a researcher from the University of Central Florida. This university has about 53, 000 students – third largest in the US and online/blended learning is very popular. Another ‘muddy area’ is the definition of eLearning as Roman pointed out (ah, definitions again!). To many it means online learning, but according to the Canadian Council on Learning, it refers to any use of digital technology for learning, be it face-to-face or online. One conclusion the article’s authors reached was that online learning would not increase until the pedagogy changed. This is born out in many research studies, including the one I was involved with. There is agreement that teaching online is NOT the same as face to face. One of the problems with online learning, especially in the early days (and perhaps in secondary schools here in Manitoba) is that teachers try to move their face to face course online, which is generally not successful.
The aspects that stick out very clearly in this report were described clearly by Roland. The language is similar to many other reports from the US (but not peculiar to the US), the influence of business is abundantly clear. It seems that the only reason schools exist are to prepare good little workers. I have discussed this in other blog posts, so that is all I will say about that. The other thing about the report that comes across clearly is the attitude. It seems that the only thing that can spur change or convince people to buy into any idea is to rely on emotion, in particular, fear and pride. I love watching the Daily Show and Colbert Report because they point out how ridiculous this is; yet news networks and both ends of the political spectrum use fear so often. I often wonder how much could get accomplished if people would actually sit down, discuss rationally and try to understand one another. In many of these polarities, the differences are not as great as they seem.
(BTW here is Canada’s version of 21st Century Learning)
Well, this is already too long, I know I don't have to comment on each presentation, but I can't help myself! If you read all of this, I thank you and applaud your perseverance!
Late addition: just came across this segment of Bill Maher - relates to a recent firing of all teachers in a school in the US & one of the topics of the Kaiser Report: Parents!
Yet another late addition: story today on CBC: Survey says Canadians like PC more than TV.