Stephan recording the talk in Sydney

Stephan recording the talk in Sydney

Geoff and I gave another talk about EduPOV today, this time at Western Institute of TAFE in Orange. I think today’s talk went better than the one at Sydney Institute. Geoff spent more time explaining and demonstrating EduPOV gear before I launched into my usual rant about the importance of social media to education.

The talk at Sydney Institute was a bit disjointed I thought, because we had 3 distinctly different groups who came for 3 very different reasons. We had trades people who wanted to see the EduPOV gear, we had educational developers keen to talk about the wider implications, and we had first Australians interested in both the application and the implications in terms of the indigenous context.

The talk today in Orange seemed to be much more coherent and presenter lead, and so in this regard I felt satisfied that I played my expected part. After Geoff demoed the gear, it was up to me to put the concept of Point Of View into a historic, educational and social context for consideration. Again a recording was made, but I think I can recall the nub of it.

I basically said that Point Of View (POV) is about more than the cameras and that the modern internet is all about POV. I pointed out that we have actually had this micro camera technology for quite some time, but it took the modern internet to appreciate the value in it. So it is social media with all its evident influences on audience reception in television, radio, cinema and all, that has made the space for Geoff to present a product called EduPOV. Teachers are more ready to consider themselves and their students as the producers of their own educational media.

The modern Internet is all about points of view, and wearable micro cameras like EduPOV gear is simply one tool and medium for presenting a POV in quite a literal way. It is thanks to the success of social media services and people’s willingness to use those services to share their points of view, that we have access to a vast array of primary resources that can be made infinately useful in educational settings. My proposal then was that the educational point of view and contribution to all this available resource, is to identify what is quality in it all, and to make that identification of quality available for all to consider. The educational point of view therefore, is one of quality.

This is not to be confused with material quality such as the image or sound quality, that aesthetic perspective has been altered by social media as well and we are all more capable of accepting a wider range of aesthetic qualities now. The quality I am referring to is that of the content. It is an educational practitioner’s role (I argue) to engage with social media, to look beyond the surface layers of services like Youtube and get beneath it, to create accounts and subscribe to new content feeds, to favorite and comment and connect, and to realise the deeper layers of what is available in social media collections, and to help identify quality information and resources and help it to emerge and rise above other content. Further, if by chance that teacher notices something missing, or something in need of correction, to see that need as an opportunity for them to create the additional or corrective media and add it back into the social media so that it can play its role in that wider collective context. Its “teachable moment”.

So a teacher (or content expert’s) point of view has an important role to play in the folksonomic organisation of the modern internet. But sadly, due to censorship, restrictive copyright, over zealous network security, prejudice, ignorance, connection issues and general inabilities, the educational point of view is the missing element in the social media scape, leaving us all to ‘fend for ourselves’ in the appreciation and organisation of primary content.

There was some heated and challenging discussion around the points in that argument, with the usual split in the room between those who were excited by the thoughts and those who were deeply threatened, or flat out rejected the thought. I fueled that with my controversial ways of putting things of course, but I guess that’s to be expected by now.

I am beginning to let go of the idea that the education sector will ever make an impact on the development of social media for education and that either something else will fill that opportunity, or that darker elements such marketing and shallow entertainment will take advantage of the illiteracy and ignorance that the education sector permitted to exist. This is no reflection on the people at Orange by the way. Its just that after 5 years of doing this, I can’t see anywhere near the level of change in the educational mindset, and the wider society to that measure, that I thought should have taken place by now. Others more senior and more experienced than I assure me that a significant change is happening, but that the education sector can only respond when those changes are prevalent throughout society, rather than be the one to make the change or prepare a society for the change. And that is a fact that I am beginning to see the fairness of.