Reservations about the return
2021 March 3 Wednesday 22:28
After many weeks of pseudo-lockdown (London traffic has remained un-changed!), unsure about the best route to "normal" lessons next week. The disparity in progress has been widened by disparity in attitude. How to balance the needs of those that maintained, or in some cases improved, their attitudes to learn whilst peers chose to bail out of education?
It will be an intrigue to see how students adapt to the
discpline boredom of a classroom without distractions such as music to listen and films to watch whilst "live, remote lessons" are in operation.
A list of notable computer software tools that were useful during remote lessons: 'whiteboard.fi', 'framadate' (polls for quick (anonymous option) review of students' interim comprehension); RSC screen experiments; 'portableapps' (software to install without interruption and/or prevention by it personnel).
2021 March 13 Saturday 17:03
Unsurprising general consensus this week was of relief from both teachers and students to classroom re-open for all students. Take note, vulture capitalist ed-tech evangelists. It is of continued disappointment that despite the availability of information, modern technology, insufficient quantities of weak students have taken opportunities to narrow the attainment gap. It has been a more tricky balance of preparation for a lesson with a wider variance in progress between those that continued to study during campus closure and those this wouldn't/could't.
There is also the pending problem of "trusting the teachers" to give non-corrupt, equitable, robust assessment of students' competence during this academic year. Belatedly, some commentators have realised the trap that has been set, ultimately for politicians' self-protection.
Webmention: digital minimalism
Reply: Iesha Small
"Mater artium necessitas". When relatively poor, one has to be self-sufficient. Upon graduation, no computer at home, only information resource was the local library which thankfully was a brief walk away. Sad in some ways to look back, but the realisation now is that only the book,supplanted by the computer, has been a(n inanimate) true friend. Relevance to digital minimalism??? First computer purchased was second-hand, with no software and no money nor idea how to make this beige box useful (reason bought was to be able to write a CV without using extant employer's equipment!). Asked a local computer club group and the recommendation was to try a "gnu/linux distribution". Many years later, so much was learnt about computers by this fateful decision and manifest in one way such that: "gnu/linux is digital minimalism" de facto.
With the unix philosophy do one thing, well, digital minimalism to citc is manifest as:
- Use freedom software (referred by others often as open source, free software, etc..);
- Buy hardware second-hand, less new, or discontinued stock, but it must function with freedom software;
Minimise use of a mobile phone, ideally without camera (from Ian Tomlinson to George Floyd, such surveillance technology is not going to save you). Extant phone was a free pay-as-you-go. Common
appsprograms used: telephony (to wait for it: speak/listen to people!!!); sms; k9 (e-mail); music player (ftp from computer to phone, no internet streams to avoid bandwidth cost); vudroid (pdf reader for books, train timetables, etc.); rss reader (travel, weather); riot/element (matrix communication client);
- Avoid all proprietary surveillance capitalism social media platforms (search for Diaspora, Hubzilla, Mastodon, Funkwhale, Peertube; all part of the "fediverse"!)
On this day...
2021 March 20 Saturday 12:24
To reminisce a time before "remote education", now want to focus more on some positive aspects for future personal development. The extra plan requirements for online lessons was useful to force a reassessment of the purpose of each learn task and the intended benefit to the students. Since technology allows for students to learn more independently, the intention in the future is to use independent study (formerly known as "home-work", but could now be completed conceivably in the local library, cafe or other internet-access location!) with more technology content such as critical review of video (e.g. pose questions that encourage video to be viewed more actively) and provide opportunities to learn non-curriculum skills such as software tools proficiency. The latter will be a subvertive way to introduce my favourite freedom software tools. :)
Efficient use of hardware
One useful benefit of a computer with relatively low capacity is that a habit is encouraged (or maybe mandated! :) ) to make regular reserve copies of data. Much information is kept and stored within e-mail but e-mail accounts may consume a lot of memory due to attachments that people send, gratuituous inclusion of images, html, etc.. To recover memory space, have decided to use the e-mail client ('claws-mail') to export messages from the mail server via imap to a archive file, then use 'alpine' to view. Could also use other e-mail clients, but it is nice to use 'alpine' as an archive reader:
localhost...$ alpine -f /path/absolute/to/localarchive.mbox
Once mail archive files are created, they can be stored on removable storage media. Have also noticed how much quicker it is to read the messages within the archive.
A spring in the step
2021 March 31 Wednesday 18:48
Two days of lovely spring weather; a public holiday is due and therefore some ... weather is imminent. With negligible government leadership, it will be so fascinating to watch how teacher assessment grades this year will develop. Some exam boards have yet to publish and distribute their "additional assessment materials" which are supposedly due today. Meanwhile, the time available to review said materials, plan preparation of students and then organise timetables to arrange the exams, is becoming more and more un-realistic. Some students have been unable to attend campus (personal and/or related illness, isolation, etc.) whilst some have been slow to adjust to the reality of commuting to campus (remote lessons were so much more convenient: log-in, ignore teacher tasks, wait for register, sign-out!). It is difficult to see how grades will be credible in the eyes of non-educationalists (i.e. the real world of private sector employers).
btec students, ignored as second class citizens, also have reduced opportunities to improve assignments simply because of a reduction in time available, with the added complication of arrangement of practical activities with "social distance" considerations in a laboratory.
Thankfully, an Easter holiday begins after tomorrow: hooray! :)