bloody Education bloody Technology

Hey! It’s the inter-sessional break! You know, that period of about 5 weeks which looks like you are going to get so much done while you’re not teaching, only to find that administration will fill every waking moment! People outside of academia always think those big gaps in the contact weeks mean a blissful slumber for half the year – try it some time bubba, just try it.

general-motors-crash-test-dummies

I’ve already mentioned we’re switching to new degree – the first lot of test subjects have now been through the grinder. You ever seen one of those shows where they strap test dummies into planes and then crash them into the desert? Yeah, like that. The results are not public information, but I can tell you that blissful slumber is not part of it. I’m happy that some of my intuitions have turned out to be valid, although I’m still going to tweak damn near everything now I have seen it in action.

Anyway, as I’ve already moaned, the powers that be want us to move a lot of skills teaching off the agenda. Just make up some links to YouTube, yada yada. I keep saying that most of the teaching is really bad and we need to get some kind of structure up. You say things like that and you get the job of doing it. Because I have nothing to do all day right?

OK so where do you put all this learning? The university has a division called TELT which handles the tech stuff in teaching. Problem is that TELT spends most of its time trying to get a handle on the problem.

The TELT Evaluation Framework, developed in 2009 through to 2011, is designed to undergo iterative cyclical refinement and ongoing development, based on the results of the sub-layer evaluations themselves and an ever-changing staff, student and application landscape in which it is applied.

Therefore, readers are reminded that the nature, validity and applicability of the reviewed literature, the proposed processes, the suggested composition of the survey instruments, and the construction of the sub-layers are all likely to change in the future and undergo refinement and improvement in order to adapt to the evolving social, technological and institutional milieu.

You got that? Good. Build a house on that. I have built several, all of which have collapsed. But you gotta undergo iterative cyclical refinement and so this year I am starting up a Wiki. These have been around long enough that they probably are going be around for at least a few more years. The best thing is that if I write something in there some other staff member is bound to disagree and join up just to edit it. Which means they might write some other article that somebody else hates and they join too.

As well as articles I need to develop some kind of tablet kind of thing. Now I keep hearing that every single student in the universe has a tablet. That my own experience is the opposite is probably something about the application landscape sub-layers, so go ahead. Problem here is that lots of tools make excellent teaching modules, but in Flash. Flash is perfect for what I want to do but doesn’t work on one brand of tablet. The tools for that one brand of tablet are locked out from use on any other kind.

Then there’s HTML5. Since 2010 we’ve been waiting for some kind of standard. It doesn’t exist. Promises get made, conferences are held, people write books, no standard that runs across platforms. HTML5 has done more to sell magazines and blogs than it has created any viable media. It’s been coming so long that it’s just breathing heavy. Just something that got all the dweebs excited before they ran off and bought Googly Glasses.

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…that promised so much, and in the end gave so little.

In the tools I’m testing I keep finding long lists of things not supported in HTML5 – video, sound, words longer than five letters, more than one kind of ugly button with a drop shadow. Bottom line is HTML5 remains a very unattractive format for anyone that wants to get solid work done. I would rather use Flash, which in reality works perfectly fine on the laptops my students actually carry.

Not saying I’ve closed my mind, but I’d like to get started. After all, there’s now one less week of this ‘break’ left.