A wide range of imaging from the summer of 2020 into the autumn stretches out beneath you. On-bike photos usually taken with a Ricoh ThetaV firing automatically and attached to the bike with a tripod. Close-up/macros usually done with a Canon T6i DSLR with a macro lens. Drone shots taken with a DJI Phantom4Pro drone. Other shots taken with a OnePlus5 smartphone when I had no other choice (the best camera is the one you have with you). Most are touched up in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom depending on where I am and how much time I’ve go for post processing. Some of them are very post processing heavy verging on digital illustration rather than photography.
The stop motion video was hundreds of photos taken with the 360 camera on bike and then composited into a stop-motion film in Premier Pro. It’s a tricky process you can learn more about here if curious. The SMART Adventures videos are using a waterproof/shockproof action camera from Ricoh.
Responsibility & Liability
I’m going to try and not sound like a grumpy old man in talking about this.
I had a chat with a friend the other week who is teaching in a private school in the GTA. He had an interesting observation around how students do (and mostly don’t) accept responsibility for their actions. He argued that the libelous nature of the adult world has placed everyone in the position of not being able to own up to honest errors. Rather than being able to apologize and move on, we must instead deny any wrong doing, even when it becomes absurd.
A clear example of this happened in class the other week. Three students were filming, and in the process of setting up the green screen studio they found Nerf guns and began fooling around with them. This resulted in the camera they set up on the tripod getting knocked over and broken; a $400 new camera. The response? “It’s not our fault, we didn’t mean to break it.” These two ideas are tied together in a student’s mind. You can’t be held responsible for your actions if your actions weren’t intentionally about breaking the camera. I tried to explain that it wasn’t ill-intent that led to the camera, it was incompetence, and they are responsible for their incompetence, especially when they willfully engaged in it.
This caused a great deal of confusion. Students don’t feel responsible for their actions unless they are willfully vindictive, and even then, they won’t admit to wrong doing because they never see adults doing it for fear of liability. Because of this poisoned moral environment, students also don’t understand what an accident is and how they can still be complicit in it without ill intent. Fooling around with Nerf guns is not why you were in the studio; your choice to do this led to grievous damage, for which you are responsible.
Slogging through the muddy moral world of our schools can get tiresome quickly. Incompetence cannot be considered a factor in student performance any more. I have a number of students with weeks of absences and we are only just at the half way mark of the semester. Many students will finish this semester in our school with over a month of absences, and they will still be expected to earn a credit. In many cases these absences involve family holidays during classes. Parental competence must also never be called into question either. When those students are in class, they tend to do nothing anyway, but once again, the pressure is on the teacher to ‘find a way’ to ignore incompetence, even if it is simply willful neglect, and pass students. Our idea of success has become one of pass-rates rather than teaching humans how to be responsible people.
What Manners Do For You
In the past week I’ve had a series of senior students walking into the media arts lab and asking to use equipment during class – while the students in the class needed to use it. Whenever possible I try to accommodate these requests; media arts fluency leads to greater technological fluency.
I became less willing to accommodate these requests when the students involved ignored directions, started using student computers without permission and interrupted class to demand more equipment or space. Offering open access to expensive equipment and resources is a nice thing to do, demanding it without so much as a please or thank you won’t get you very far.
This sense of belligerence isn’t unique to this generation of digital natives, though their constant split attention between the world around them and the insinuated cyber-world they also inhabit doesn’t help. Teens have always been known for socially awkward, often rude, behavior; it’s a fun part of their stereotype. The ironic thing is that in my experience this is human nature, not just a teen one. People in general tend toward rudeness, a mannered response is usually a pleasant surprise.
The post modern view of courtesy or manners is one of an anachronistic, inefficient time waster. Just look at our modern success stories (Zuckerberg, Jobs, Gates, Eminem) for an idea of how we value individualized competitiveness, intellectual superiority and financial success as mutually exclusive from polite, collaborative interaction; we love despotism and see the rudeness inherent in it as a strength.
What politeness does is make explicit what is happening between people. When you inconvenience someone by putting your own needs first, you can say things like “excuse me” or “sorry to bother you, but…”, and everyone involved knows that you are aware of the interruption you have caused. When you thank someone for their efforts, you’re acknowledging how they put your interests before their own. Courtesies are focused on verbalizing the necessity of supporting each other in a collaborative manner.
We throw all that out when we start to mix the nasty habits developed around liability law with how we interact with each other. For fear of financial penalty, those students couldn’t simply say the truth: “we’re sorry, we should have known better than to screw around under those circumstances.” They don’t enjoy the release of pent up guilt that comes with apologizing honestly for an unintended outcome. They also haven’t verbalized wrong action and have missed out on the meta-cognitive reinforcement that happens when you describe what you’ve done in honest terms. They carry all that negativity forward.
I was watching soccer yesterday and an obvious handball occurred inside the goalie crease. In my perfect world the offender it happened to would go to the ref and opposing player and say, “yes, it hit my arm. It was a sudden, hard shot and I couldn’t have gotten my arm out of the way in time anyway.” The shooter would then be given the penalty shot and he would have kicked it wide on purpose. Instead, the player stood there stony faced, and said nothing as he knew the rules of the game had been broken, but could not afford the liability of admitting truth.
We do this in our games, our businesses are founded on this concept of non-admittance of wrong doing, and our governments don’t know how to operate any other way. It’s no wonder that we should do it in our schools if we’re going to get our students ready for the adult world waiting for them.
The moral order of operations we need to train our students in to prepare for adulthood:
- It’s best to say nothing than admit wrong doing or incompetence.
- It’s best to lie than to admit wrong doing or incompetence.
- It’s best to accept punishment but still admit to no wrong doing, or incompetence.
- Ignore courtesies, they are a sign of dependence and weakness.
Having a son a lot like myself, I’m watching in dismay as the school system does to him what it tried to do to me. A quiet, shy boy who likes to do his own thing, my son gets very anxious in group situations and tends to shut down, go off into his own head. I suspect that when this happens his teachers think that nothing is happening, that he’s just standing there blank, but I know this isn’t the case, because I do the same thing.
The source(s) of this post (and a good example of the richness of thinking you can get out of an online PLN):
@MzMollyTL’s Digital Footprint discussion from ECOO last year that stirred up the new teachers in my AQ.
@melaniemcbride’s comment on the sweatshop mentality of the always on teacher:
@dougpete’s blog on edublogging:
…which led to some interesting questions about online presence:
Phew! That is a lot of build up! Here I go…
DIGITAL FOOTPRINT 2.0
I think we’re ready for an evolution in what our expectations are around this. Diana’s original presentation suggested that teachers need to familiarize themselves with online media, and that is still true. However, since that presentation there have been political upheavals supported by social media, underground poltical movements powered by social media, and I’m currently watching the ‘Twitter Olympics’: the first really social media powered Olympic games. Even the forth estate is grudgingly trying to manage the tidal wave of social media. Merely familiarizing yourself isn’t going to cut it anymore. Ignoring it will make you irrelevant to your students with astonishing speed.
Social media is becoming mainstream and there are increasing expectations that people know how to use it. Only in extremely staid, conservative situations (educational administration) is social media being shunned. Even the very conservative family reunion I attended recently wanted to start making use of social media to keep in touch, and these were people who play banjos. Social media is becoming ubiquitous, even unhooking the Ontario government’s ability to manipulate media into justifying its agenda. This is a powerful force, not something to be trifled with or poked at tentatively. If you’re going to do it, do it honestly, and be yourself. You’ll find the ability to expand your interests online empowering if you don’t try and game it.
The social networks we see spring up like mushrooms in the rain are being prompted by the miniaturization of computer hardware. Smartphones are increasingly common, and since 2010, the vast majority of ‘phone’ use has been in data, not voice. We use our mobile computers as interconnected computers, not as phones. Our students do it, we do it, even boomers are doing it. Like the telegraph, then the telephone after it, this is a revolution in how we communicate with each other, and almost everyone is carrying around the means in their pockets.
Our classrooms have more processing power in the pockets of students than desktop labs did ten years ago. Their ability to communicate is unparalleled in history, and disregards geography like no other telecommunications system before it. Just hoping that everyone considers doing something with their online presence is no longer enough, and ignoring or banning the hardware that is causing this is turning a blind eye to a profound shift in social communications. Schools that ban smartphones should be banning other new inventions, like electricity, telephones, televisions… which very quickly starts to look backward.
GENUINE ONLINE PRESENCE
Being online offers you an opportunity to be anonymous, but this requires a great deal of work on your part. The nature of the internet means you’re always leaving digital bread crumbs about how and where you’re communicating from. Anti-web types will use this as an excuse to harp on privacy issues, but when have we ever been able to communicate privately? Gossip has always been and always will, and what you say has always followed you, it just follows you in an amplified manner now. Social media allows you to broadcast gossip. If you were a gossip before, you’re a digitally enhanced gossip now. It’s never been more important to be the best person you are in public; there is a record now, and I’ve seen students constantly bitten by this as their Facebook updates land them in the VP’s office.
|Trying to be someone else is exhausting!|
The genuine self as an online presence offers an opportunity to meet others beyond your geographic situation that share your interests. You quickly find yourself a part of an online community that reflects your predilections and offers you a sense of collaborative discourse that might be missing in your workplace, or your immediate geography. If you’re genuine in expressing your interests, you’ll create a genuinely satisfying social media ecosystem. If you fabricate yourself, or limit yourself to specific identities (your teacher self comes to mind here), you won’t be exploring the actual usefulness of this new medium.
The other advantage of being genuine online is that you attract meaningful dialogue. If you’re one dimensional, you tend to attract n00bs, marketing interests and bots (who are also one dimensional). If you’re genuine and human in your presentation of self, you’ll attract a richer class of connection, one that offers powerful insights regardless of where you are in relation to each other on the planet. You’re harnessing the true potential of social media when you are multi-dimensional and human in your approach to it.
Developing a digital footprint is no longer about simply participating, or creating a cardboard cutout of your professional self, it’s about honestly expressing your own views in a genuine manner. The myriad of apps and means of communicating in a social network allow you to express yourself in simple (twitter), complex (blog) or focused interests (Google+, Facebook) ways. Knowing how to use the tools effectively is key.
If you’re fabricating a professional appearance, well, that’s just work, and doing it all summer, 24/7 is not going to do you any real good. Ultimately, you’re doing an awful lot of work and not exploring this new medium effectively, probably because you’re scared of it.
School Leadership 2.0
Several school administrators made comments in Doug’s blog about the need for restraint. In a leadership role, you’re not free to fly off the handle whenever you have an opinion. You always need to consider the working relationship you have to foster. Having said that, George’s comment about social media being a useful tool in fostering a team based on real knowledge of each other suggests that social media can be a means of allowing people who might not otherwise to know each other better.
The tendency has been for management (union, board, ministry, and any other ed-based management you can suggest) to shy away from social media. They fear the de-centralization of power, and see it as a threat to their dominance. It’s nice to know some administrators are fighting this tendency, but I’ve heard of many more who don’t hire the best candidates because their online presence creates unease, and in worst cases not considering hiring a teacher at all because they are familiar with the social web that most students spend their lives in. Why they think that hiring belligerent, intentionally irrelevant teachers is a good idea is beyond me.
What I love about social media is that it is democratizing information. No longer do we have to succumb to the broadcast media’s idea of what is true. Twitter told me about Bin Laden hours before broadcast media would, or could. As a social media-ist, I’m responsible for vetting my own information feed, and broadcasting my own truth. As both a leader, and a professional, this means not being a jackass, but being a meaningful social mediaist requires this from the get go. If you’re going to do social media well, being a gossip, spreading untruths, will eventually turn the crowd on you. Generating drama and controlling spin doesn’t work very well in a democratized information medium; the truth just bypasses you.
Social media is an opportunity to build a more ideal information medium, one without favoritism or fabrication, one that does not favor the status quo in order to maintain it; the crowdsourced truth is dangerously unmanageable… and free from spin.
As a member of that tribe I try not to let invective and one-up-man-ship dictate my actions, I try to be collaboratively engaging. This isn’t contrary to any professional or leadership role I may have; in fact, it should enhance those roles. When you broadcast your actions, it behooves you to it well.
CONCLUSION: THE REVOLUTION IS HAPPENING, REGARDLESS
The social media revolution has harnessed mobile electronics and the internet to produce a democratized media frenzy. Old-school, forth estate media is floundering, trying to manage their loss of broadcasting monopoly, but still seeing it as an immanent threat. Other power structures are also frustrated by this decentralization of voice. Where once a hierarchy could dictate the message, now social media swirls around these old-school broadcasting roadblocks.
Unions are watching members broadcast their opinions directly, without being able to dictate a unified response. Governments and corporations are finding that the dictatorial control they once had over traditional media is weakening, because traditional media matters less. As social media responses bypass traditional censorship, we once again see the many assert their power.
There is no doubt that these changes will force a fundamental shift in how we work with each other. This kind of radical, data driven transparency gives control freaks a nervous breakdown, but in the end, I can’t believe that freeing the signal from the self-involved interests of the powerful isn’t better for everyone; that it will result in fairer, transparent, more effective organizations.
As educators, we have to try and get a grip on this ourselves, and then be ready to try and (usefully) assist our students in effectively navigating this exciting, historical change. It’s no longer enough to pay some attention to what your digital footprint is. It’s no longer enough to do the minimum necessary. If we’re going to teach future generations how to survive in the rough sea of democratized data we’ve made for them, we need to adapt and master the waves ourselves.
A relevant educator is recognizing the radical nature of these changes and is doing their best to create a genuine online persona, one that accurately reflects the public persona they demonstrate in their physical life. What’s private isn’t at issue here, but our public selves are changing, and it doesn’t do anyone any good to try and game social media by making cardboard cutouts of themselves online.
Some things to consider:
Dancing in the Datasphere: a philosophical look at where we are going
The Singularity: an inside look at what Silicon Valley believes is coming
Don’t kid yourself, you’re living in the middle of a revolution!
Older photos taken with the long gone Fujifilm 9100s superzoom camera, the up until early 2017 Olympus Pen mini-SLR and most recent photos with the latest Canon T6i (I have no preference for cameras. A good photographer can take a good picture with just about any camera, especially any higher quality SLR. Any underwater shots were taken with an ancient but still working Fujifilm waterproof point and shoot.
|Algonquin Park moose.|
|Garter snake in the Haliburton woods.|
|Freezing the wings on a hummingbird.|
|Bass in Bass Lake near Bobcaygeon, ON.|
|Flowerpot Island boat trips off the tip of the Bruce Peninsula near Tobermory, ON.|
|Summer time camp fire on Bass Lake.|
|A Canadian childhood.|
|The ferry in Tobermory.|
|Belted kingfisher over Bass Lake, ON.|
This is one of my favorite bits of digital technology: A Casio Pathfinder wrist watch. What’s so cool about a watch you ask? They’re SOOO 20th Century!
Well this one is also an altimeter, barometer, compass and thermometer. It’s also a stop watch, alarm clock and just plain old watch.
But none of that is what makes it cool.
What makes this piece of tech one of my favorites is that it isn’t tethered to anything; it’s one of the few pieces of digital technology that I own that is entirely self-contained, and that’s somewhere that I want all my hardware to go.
This watch is fantastically accurate, but what makes it even better is that it picks up a signal and keeps itself atomically accurate. It’s a watch that never has to be set.
It’s also a watch that never has to be wound or have the battery replaced. The face is also a solar panel that recovers enough charge out of even a well lit room to recharge itself.
On top of all that, it’s virtually indestructible. It’s encased in a rugged body that can withstand a car driving over it, it’s freeze proof to well below zero, waterproof to diving depths and probably bullet proof as well.
|Fragile energy vampire!|
What I’ve got here is a tough, self-reliant piece of technology that always works no matter where I am. When I look at my choices for computers, tablets or even smartphones, I’m looking at fragile, energy vampires that are lucky to work a day in regular use without the need to draw from a socket.
Faster is nice, but I’m also looking for tough and self contained. Until I can lay in the bath with my e-reader or turn to my phone without seeing red low battery warning lights, the digital tech isn’t nearly as tough and self contained as I need it to be.
The edtech question to ask is should we be putting fragile tech into the slippery hands of teens and children? The repair/replacement rate of these fragile little digital flowers are going to be much higher than they are in the steadier hands of adults.
Until digital tech is as tough as the analog it’s replacing, it’s an edgy proposition to push it as the main focus in instructional tools.
In the meantime, Casio keeps evolving the tough tech. Soon enough I’ll have a watch PC that will communicate wirelessly with peripherals and power itself (hope hope).
Casio is also heading into something other than watches! If there’s a phone, perhaps a gshock tablet can’t be far behind! That’d take on those slippery student fingers, and look tough while doing it!
360° motorcycle photos taken with a Ricoh Theta attached to the windshield with an octopus mount (see how to take photos like these here). They were cleaned up in Adobe Lightroom. Various digital edits to abstract the images done in Paperartist and touched up in Lightroom.
Photos first: the Theta photos came out dark, but Lightroom was able to make them look HDR with a click of the auto setting:
You can see the shutter struggling to catch enough light there…
I then took the Lightroom edits and ran them through PaperArtist beforre touching them up again. So the workflow here is photo in the Theta, download to desktop, edit in Lightroom, upload to phone for PaperArtist edit, download back to desktop for final lightroom touch up.
The sunset the next night was another stunner, but I was on the deck with the Oneplus5 smartphone for these ones…