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My Digital Footprint

John Seely Brown

The web has just begun to have an impact on our lives. As fascinated as we are with it today, we’re still seeing it in its early forms… My belief is that not only will the web be as fundamental to society as electrification but that it will be subject to many of the same diffusion and absorption dynamics as that earlier medium.

The Linking for Learning Blog


Screen time for children - finding balance

Managing the screentime of children and adolescents in a society saturated with digital devices is a concern for parents and carers endeavouring to do the right thing by their children.  The official guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics which recommend 2 hours per day were last revised in 2001, well before smart mobile devices.  The guidelines are under review, however, in the meantime they are being used to make judgements that don't fit with the reality.

Earlier this year, The Conversation reported on research reflecting the inadequacy of these screen time guidelines:

A recent online poll of 18,000 children by ABC children’s program Behind the News found that 56% of respondents exceed that two-hour daily limit.

survey of 2,620 Australian children aged eight to 16 years had similar results. The study showed that 45% of eight-year-olds to 80% of 16-year-olds exceed the recommended less than two hours per day limit.

Australian recommendations from the eSafety Commissioner use the Department of Health physical health and sedentary behaviour guidelines but the recommendation for 5-17 year olds of less than 2 hours per day is still unrealistic.

Options for parents therefore fall back on personal judgements.  Common Sense Media, (US based) recommends that parents make those judgements by identifying four main categories of screen time:

  • Passive consumption: watching TV, reading, and listening to music
  • Interactive consumption: playing games and browsing the Internet
  • Communication: video-chatting and using social media
  • ​Content creation: using devices to make digital art or music

The Australian Office of Children's eSafety Commissioner offers Managing Online Time which includes an excellent series of videos from child psychologists who speak directly to specific parental concerns.  For an Australian audience in particular, they are recommended.

Finally, this infographic makes a distinction between educational and recreational screen time and provides an overview for families to manage screen time quality and quantity for young people.  Family involvement and sharing of responsibility is the most recommended approach and, in the meantime, we look forward to an update of the guidelines that are used as benchmarks that influence media reporting of the issue.



Education, PISA & the state of play

Change is one of of the constants of the 21st century and a commitment to be observant of changes occurring in our daily lives and applying them to the classroom is a must for every educator.

In this video Use data to build better schools, Andreas Schliecher, OECD Education Directorate provides an explanation of the role of the PISA 2012 results which reported the educational competencies in reading, mathematics and science of 510,000, 15 year old students across 65 countries.  It proves clarification of many of the arguments surrounding the PISA testing and cuts through the rherotic to place a clear emphasis on why our education system has to change.

Change is not an option.

Dirk Van Damme in his post The global talent pool has taken on a dramatically different look states that by 2030, China will be home to 27% of the global pool of highly educated people, and India to another 23%. The United States would follow with only 8%. And of the emerging economies, Brazil and Indonesia would follow with 5% each. Together China and India would be home to half of the world’s highly educated youth.  Access to education worldwide is increasing and the traditional balances of an educated population are shifting. 

Andreas Schliecher's presentation The high cost of low educational performance is was recorded in 2010.  It provides an overview of the reasons for educational change and the trends that were apparent at that time.  In his article the The case for 21st century learning he stresses the need for educational innovation, saying

Education today is much more about ways of thinking which involve creative and critical approaches to problem-solving and decision-making. It is also about ways of working, including communication and collaboration, as well as the tools they require, such as the capacity to recognise and exploit the potential of new technologies, or indeed, to avert their risks. And last but not least, education is about the capacity to live in a multi-faceted world as an active and engaged citizen. These citizens influence what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, and it is this that shapes the role of educators.

He closes by saying "Success will go to those individuals and countries that are swift to adapt, slow to resist and open to change".  We really must look at education broadly with a worldwide perspective to see the real state of play in the world.   



Rethinking Learning by Mitch Resnick


Mitch Resnick (MIT Media Labs) explains the relationship between technology in the classroom and learning most succinctly in Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age.  He explains why we must rethink our approach to education to fit with the new possibilities of the digital age because too often we're not taking advantage of the possibilities.

  • We tend to use technology to deliver education to the learner which is not the most productive way of learning.
  • Technology has potential if used as the material to create and build things in the world - learning as the active construction of new knowledge.  Building on the theories of Piaget.  
  • Let learners explore new ideas themselves.
  • Sophisticated mathematical and engineering ideas typically studied in graduate courses can now be brought down into secondary level through students using technology to build and simulate ideas.
  • With technology you can build a quick prototype, try it out, see if it works.  
  • There's a constant spiral between ideas in your head and being able to try them out.  Technology expands the range of things we can design and therefore expands what we can learn.
  • The boundaries of where we can learn and with whom we learn are being broken down.  People with a variety of ages and abilities are learning with each other.  Peer-to-peer learning. 
  • Changing classroom practice and teaching methods won't happen without effort.
  • Schools put up lots of boundaries that inhibit the opportunities to learn - between disciplines, between age-groups, between inside and outside school.
  • The child must be in control of the technology.  If the child is not in control, the learning is not being enhanced to the extent that it could be.

Rethinking education.




Jobs of the Future - an Australian perspective

What is the research and ideas on the future of jobs from an Australian perspective?  We hear much about the US job market but although there are many similarities, there are also many differences impacting on the Australian situation which require consideration such as:

  • Population - 23million v 213million
  • Geographic location - semi isolation from northern hemisphere
  • Climate - on the whole temperate with extremes of heat rather than cold
  • Higher education system - more accessessible (although change is in the air)
  • Population distribution - concentrated around coastal cities, principally in the south east
  • Age - Australia is a very young country with general openness to new ideas
  • Natural resources - have been financially advantageous but are not infinite.

It's interesting therefore, to read the article Job survival in the age of robots and intelligent machines by David Tuffley on The Conversation in which he examines where we stand and the Australian Government's approach to future jobs.  The article is broken down into headings:

  • Could a robot do your job?
  • Thinking skills for future workers
  • Mastering the new media
  • Managing the information, and 
  • Virtual environments. 

From an educator's point of view, I'm particularly interested in the link through to futurist Thomas Frey's article 55 jobs of the future where he writes:

over the coming years will see a number of industries dismantled requiring a skilled workforce of talented people who can perform this task in the least disruptive way. Most of these industries have been built around aging facilities and infrastructure that will become unnecessary and unsustainable in the future.  


Education System Dismantlers - details here and here and here.

Whether you agree with it or not, the importance for me lies in the growth of awareness, of understanding the world in which we are living and performing a role in preparing young people for their possible futures.  I agree with David Tiffley and am reflecting on the thoughts raised to my role as a teacher librarian, as he concludes:

To position yourself favourably for the jobs of the future, become someone who can look at problems in unorthodox ways, seeing different angles and finding workable solutions.

Be a multi-disciplinary, insatiably curious person who knows how to use the tools to model ideas and create prototypes.

Possessed of an open mind and few fixed ideas about how things should be done, you nonetheless have a strong conscience and can operate outside of your comfort zone to achieve win-win outcomes. You are known for your integrity and resilience.

As always, the conversation published via comments is always worth noting.


Twitter for Educators: a basic introduction

This presentation is a basic introduction to using Twitter for professional educators.  Having been nominated as the top professional learning tool for the sixth year in succession through Jane Hart's survey, it's value in building networks and knowledge on a global basis cannot be ignored.