Tired of being tired

2020 November 6 Friday 18:58

That little half-term break already seems distant! Even though the btec company have announced that there is to be no changes to assessment of their qualifications, there is still un-ease about the practicalities (pun intended) of completion of practical activities of assignments in a timely manner, in accordance with appropriate "social distance" protocols. It's simply more administrative work (and Pearson love to generate laborious procedures). This time of year is always the time for an increase in classes after the realisation that gce a sciences are more difficult than envisaged. This year's intake is not helped by the fictious teacher assessment grades but that is another story.

In preparation for "on-line teach/learn" potential, a recent 'blog post', proved to be an interesting read, but with a couple disappointing aspects. Do students really need to become more mature, expert before self-regulation is achieved as a necessary skill for effective online learning? The inability of students to perform sustained concentration doesn't appear true: if they can concentrate with easy social media browsing, they can do the same for scientific content. It is about will-power. Similarly, do you really need a web camera for "interaction" between a teacher and student? No, otherwise on this basis disabled people such as visually impaired students could not learn.

Demise of active computer usage

2020 November 21 Saturday 13:32

It has been noticeable in recent years how students addicted to passive consumption of media content appear to be very weak at the ability to create (technical) content. More is known how to apply "filters" to photographs on a mobile phone, than to format a document. This is most evident with btec compared to gce a because of the "vocational emphasis" of the course which requires regular production of reports for assignments etc.; students have had to be introduced to concept of creation of a document with structure (headings, images with captions, citation style). More on that later. Too many consider the secondary source if a search engine query results to be acceptable citation.

If a student wants to take a photograph of a drawing on the room whiteboard made by the teacher, or a diagram shown during a presentation, that could be a useful benefit of mobile phone technology to aid a student to learn. However, how many students take a photo, sit back and leave the classroom, with no intention to look again at said photo to augment their notes (in accordance with the samr model), to believe the photograph per se is comprehension?

Agnostic technology teaching, an impossible task

Since big business is busy in education for pursuit of future customers, together with the ignorance of most teachers about open source software, students are constrained. As far as chemistry is concerned, none of the amgaf (Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Facebook, if unaware!) monopolists are interested to provide tools for students to write chemical symbols, equations, maths formulae, etc.. with any degree of quality. Microsoft Word is worst at this; now they provide an "on-line" with different functionality from the "desk-top program" (yes, that's right, no "app-itisation" here!), making it tedious to teach students how to apply structure to their documents. How many institutes have abandoned content in "virtual learning environments" such as 'Moodle' to use the latest viedo conference platforms, with half-built functionality? Meanwhile, open source tools such as LibreOffice, LyX, LaTeX are unable to be taught to students because of poor integration with education infrastructure. It's depressing, frustrating...

Remote teach reticence

2020 November 29 Sunday 17:59

Clothes to be prepared, lunch to be considered, content to think about; a typical Sunday afternoon and/or evening for the teacher. A lazy day doing nothing, casual reading of various blogs, news feeds via the atom/rss reader. It seems that there's advice about remote teaching of secondary school children, higher education students, but nothing found as yet about those trying to achieve those important gce a(s) level 3 type qualifications.

This age group are not quite as "reliant" (upon direct instruction) as those just a year or so younger studying for gcses, nor yet as self-reliant as those undergraduates in higher education. Experience so far has shown that the "p-16" group are a little more difficult to cater for. Whilst one or two may have benefitted from being able to study with more independence at home (e.g. away from other disruptive students in a class, or away from negative effects of bullying), the majority of this age group have so far shown a disappointment in commitment to "catch-up" with lost content. Maybe the weeks ahead in advance of "mock" exams will prompt greater urgency.

Distraction by the ucas ponzi scheme

2020 November 30 Monday 22:18

'Tis that time of year for fictional reads of gce a students' statements/aspirations to apply for university debt receipts degree courses. Ever since the supine poodle that was the Bliar [sic] government made the declaration that: "...a target of 50 per cent of young adults going into higher education..." would be a laudable aim (what were the plans for the other half???), this dream has become a demand, an expectation by those involved. The ponzi scheme begins with the monopolist that is ucas, which sells student data and ends in median salaries for "chemical scientists" at £ 32 000 (uk ons, csv data of occupations' salaries) with education debt now at £ 40 000 in England. Meanwhile, there are "mock" exams to prepare for...