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Always remember:

The value of time, the success of perseverance, the worth of character, the power of kindness, the influence of example, and the obligation of duty.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

1st Pearson Annual Summit. October 6th, 2012



Living in a Switched-on world: Teaching and Learning in Hyper-connected Times

by Nick Perkins

Mr. Perkins started explaining connectivity using two videos from the Lean Team Flying Machine to see how the idea of connectivity had changed from 1945 ( to  2007 ( Hyper-connectivity is a synonym of interaction and now it is not only parts of the human body that are connected one to another but electronic devices are connected to expand interaction.

Mr. Perkins mentioned how in the past we all used our memory to store information we considered important personally and professionally speaking (home phone number, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) Nowadays, there are few people who remember all this because they rely in the memory of electronic devices. Hyperxonnectivity provides extended cognition because it amplifies our own capabilities so we are no longer trapped by ignorance.
Some questions that may arise are: Does this mean that people have lost the power of their minds to store and retrieve information? Do we know less now than before? He replied that "The Internet has become a primary form of external or transactive memory where information is stored collectively outside ourselves."
Regarding education, he mentioned that students now have access to powerful sources of information that is neglected if we ask them to turn their mobiles off.
Some activities we can do to exploit the use of these devices are:
I-phones or mobile phones with videocameras can be used to record classes and upload them on Facebook (if the class has a Facebook) or in You Tube. Hence, if a student is absent s/he can catch up with the lesson without having to ask the teacher or another student.
Video-recording devices can be used to lighten up tasks and homework. For example, the typical topic of What you do on weekends? is transformed into a new experience by asking students to record a video on what they do and show it to their peers in a group discussion. The same may happen with a topic such as My home where students have more possibilities to develop their thinking skills and creativity. He showed the example of a student who recorded the description of her house as if it were through the eyes of her dog.
Text messages and Facebook can also be used to send homework or for real communication. He believes students and teachers should communicate using these networks since it is more unlikely that students fail to do the tasks as when they have to write texts on paper.
From his point of view, students should have the freedom to use these internet networks and the devices that make connectivity possible at all times since they will allow real communication even at simple levels. Students can send poems, songs, photos, anything that makes them use the target language.

He even commented on a situation where one student during an evaluation sent a text-message with the request to answer one question from the exam. In spite of the majority of the audience who would not reply the message, he is in favour of providing the information since in real life when we need it, we look for sources to acquire it and these sources are books, other people or the Internet. According to this, in my opinion, to go along with this hyperconnectivity what is needed to change is the way we evaluate students considering that the ability to retrieve from memory pieces of information is no longer evidence of knowledge but the real evaluation may be how to make use of this information.
To avoid the main disadvantage that is that students may use the internet in class to chat or check their mail or Facebook and not do the task, Mr. Perkins suggests the use of "technology islands": provide some time: four minutes for example, for students to use their devices for their own purpose. However, if during class time someone tries to use the devices for personal reasons, all the class is discounted minutes of the "technology island". As a consequence, next time any other student tries to do the same, the rest of the class will exert pressure on him/her not to lose their "island time" and the incident will not occur again.

Since more and more teachers are using electronic devices and the Internet, I believe we may need to change some paradigms about teaching, learning and evaluating to be coherent with the new tools and trends in education.

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