lovehate: The One Minute Lesson

In as much as I have trouble staying concise (especially when I get on a roll) the ability of a person or organization to convey a story or message in a short period of time is admirable. It is a skill that especially becomes necessary when acknowledging that learning skills are diversifying to include "snippet education".

I can't complain. Most of my knowledge of US History (being a Canadian) came from three minute Schoolhouse Rocks cartoons sandwiched in between the Superfriends and Laff-a-lympics. I suppose that's where I also got my basic knowledge of Parts of Speech, because Verb is What's Happenin'.

I do not think, however, that either extreme of learning can be sacrificed totally for the purposes of today's educators. The one-minute long Amnesty International video showing the different faces and horrors of war over the centuries is a fine example of making an impact in a short period of time. But, as much as we might like to believe this is learning in a minute, the process of comprehension and analysis takes us far beyond what could be termed "snippet education".

The descriptor "snippet", which I like to join to not only education, but journalism as well, doesn't really speak to a full education process in as much as an introduction of a concept. But that is really what the web is turning into, brief (sometimes very brief) introductions of concepts. The Twitter link referral often doesn't even introduce a concept so much as provide an advocacy gateway for the link itself. The greatest use of "snippet education" can be derived from elective learners, i.e. people who get to pick what they want to learn next. Quite frankly, if someone doesn't want to learn history or grammar or multiplication tables, even one minute is too long.

So while there is a constant push to integrate web2.0 and like technologies into modern education, there is often an inconsistency between the methodology and the pedagogy. The web has become the great repository of elective learning and, for that purpose, is unequaled in scope and accessibility. While education advocates have been clamoring for free education for years, the web can provide a great tool for self-instruction and free learning. The web and its like technologies are not, however, the be all end all of formalized education.

Multimedia can be great, but can also cloud a concept. As much as students are more likely to think an impactful snippet is cool or memorable, such an impact is shallow. The deep learning starts to arrive through discourse and discussion, which, on an individual level, could be facilitated by the web, but on a real life level is much better achieved through face-to-face interaction.

Someday all public schools will be able to afford the tools which will allow these methods to be meshed together seamlessly, but one or two computer labs doesn't cut it. Until then, a thousand shallow dents of knowledge is probably better than tabula rasa, but one or two deep wells of knowledge is probably preferred in the long run.

thinglets: All that's wrong about Tech Blogging

Straight out of the gate let me plead guilty - I have a soft spot in my heart for tech blogs and podcasts. I have, however, written several times on the ourobouros-like feeding of such blogs and podcasts on each other and often themselves. This humble blogger and podcaster feels that we've stretched the envelope a bit much when 390 words can be devoted to the headline: 

Deja vu all over again: Apple patent hints at tablet

Now I know that the writers at arstechnica and other like sites are prompted to pick up on even the smallest tidbit of minutae about the most arcane aspects of Apple, Microsoft or Google, but isn't a post where the optimistic highlight is "however, the company has indicated that it's at least contemplating how to best implement the idea, should the opportunity arise one day."

Let's deconstruct. 390 words that concludes, on the basis of a patent filing mind you, that Apple is "indicating that it's contemplating" a product that may be a possibility some day. I'm all for the "if/then" logic construct, but in this conclusion where's the "then"? I'm stuck with so many "ifs" in front of me that I feel like I'm at the "Obscure Films of Malcolm McDowell Festival."

The "news" of this story could be (and probably should be) started and finished with the headline. Everything else is supposition and subjectivity, which is fine, but doesn't inspire return visits. The article's tagline includes "Speculation about a Mac tablet refuses to die." Well of course it refuses to die, you keep bringing it up!

I don't mean to pick on this article or writer specifically because this post is symptomatic of a pattern that is creeping forward as more and more bloggers tend to be fighting for the same content. My thoughts, if you're going to go completely speculative and conditional anyway, knock one out of the park. How about:

"Apple was once again caught filing a patent for technology that could be used in a new tablet computer, but will more likely be used in building a spaceship capable of breaching the theoretical space/time continuum. If such a feat is accomplished, the Cupertino mindtrust could place Steve Jobs into the iStar and blast him backwards in time to the point where his current condition is/was not an issue. They would, however, have to ensure that should he interact with any Sleestacks along the way, his encounter would not result in any repercussion for the possibility of the development of the iPhone Clear which cannot be seen by the naked eye but does have cut/paste and Flash functionality."

mac tablet