Don’t let parents use mobile phones!

I’m inceasingly of the opinion that the biggest single reason Social Media in the classroom hasn’t resounded with many teachers is that it’s a terrible substitute for the publics. Additionally, it has been introduced and depicted duplicitously in popular culture (rather than research). Regadless of what its ‘potential’ becomes eventually, the last two or three years have ignored its under-developed nature in favour of it’s immediate usefulness to cash-in on books, private-cartel-courses and glorification by a few who now enjoy a fame remiscent of fan-conventions. In their influence zone they are powerful agents, but in public they are unknown.

I think that ticks them off – the reality that most teachers, parents and kids go about thier lives in the publics – and by doing so, they encounter many things which various groups see as important enough to protest about AND take action. The argument that some other country has a better education system is facile, unless you also account for the built environment, weather, culture and geography. Social media tends to try and steam-roller this wonderful landscape we live in into unending flatness.

For example, many cities around the world are trying to remove the car in favour of biking. Biking has huge social, health and economic benefits. It radically changes the agenda of those who are influencing society. Bikes are way more disruptive than your iPony7 and just about everyone can ride one cheaply. No longer do people need to drive to mega-malls. listening the advertising  on the radio directing them, they instead re-claim public space as they mill about meeting other humans and frequenting smaller shops. It changes the culture. Social Meida becomes important to find information useful to interacting with the public – in public. For me, getting more people into public space using mobile devices – and probably bikes – creates a modern day Penny University – one where we don’t need anyone on a stage telling us what to think. We avoid Googlisation of everything and return serendipity to our lives. It ends the moral panic and for me, disrupts what has become a rather shallow self-serving dialogue – controlled by a few who rarely accept this is a valid hypothesis of what EdTech has become of late.

This is what people love to do. Intragram users are prolific in sharing their lives, not information. It’s great to see glimpses, and for 99% of the time, it’s about public life. Going outside with technology is the killer experience. No one cares about a technological feature, they only care about the experience. This is what Apple has been selling for the last decade. Before people pay attention to the detail, they want to buy into an experience.

A headline such as “makes you feel like a kid again” is compelling where as “5 things you didn’t know about iOS82” is a dire prospect. Yet that is largly what happens at conferences – either a rant to make you feel bad or boring dissection of a tool. This of course means that parents who get out with their kids – and know about technology – are super. They can teach their kids in ways that is impossible in rigid classrooms. And they do – million of them. So before we worry that teachers ‘must get with the idea’ else kids will fail – first accept that parents who can afford to have and share technology with kids are going to be somewhat stunning teachers. They know their kids and the local public in ways that matter most – and they can get to it easily.

Geo-cashing, photography, using YouTube to figure out how to fix a bike you pulled out a stream is an experience. I swear that a social-bike-ride around the inner-city making geo-caches and photo-stories would be a billion times better for most teachers. Sitting in another room, watching another powerpoint will achieve nothing for them – but if you’re making money or staying in power that way …

In fine anarchistic voice we sing “take back the streets” because there’s a street outside every classroom with people in them.


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