Souls, glitches or just plain evil intent.
I had a conversation the other day with other DeFT team members about whether technological gadgets have souls. Don’t be silly they said. They are just pieces of metal stuck together, or objects. Does a chair have a soul- or this bottle?
The conversation stemmed from an experience I had had recently with our cutting edge technology. I had taken an ipod to one of our schools to experiment with a QR code reader. QRs are central to this teacher’s project. I had downloaded a QR app onto the contraption. This was a marathon in itself because the name and password I entered refused to be recognised until I threatened the machine with expulsion through a glass window. When it finally downloaded, the QR reader worked perfectly- probably because the devise was still reeling from the strict talking to. It swung its little red line over our DeFT QR code, and with a cute little beep revealed our blog website. Fine, I said, you’ll do.
But on the way to Halfway it changed its mind. Unaware of this, I met Guy and Rob, and proudly presented ipod with app ready to go. But it would not work. These two highly technical people spent quite a long time trying to persuade it to cooperate, holding it expectantly over a selection of QR codes- but to no avail. In the end I had to bring it back in disgrace. I will talk to Anna about it, I said firmly. On the way back it must have heard, because back at base camp it worked perfectly again.
Now if I had been on my own with that thing- the ipod- I would have thought it was me. Something in the way I touched it was wrong: un-technological. However because I had witnesses and fellow victims, I can only deduce that the contraption was in a bad mood, and did not want to play.
Ah said Richard. It was probably because it was a shiny QR code.
These positivist non believers always look for a practical cause.
Workshop participants exploring mobile technologies
Last week three members of the DeFT team visited Limburg Catholic University College in Hasselt to deliver a presentation on our project. The [ED+ict] research team lead by Valère Awouters are working on digital practices in education, and were interested in how our team is addressing questions concerning introducing elements of digital education to schools. Workshop participants came from a wide range of backgrounds- some worked with Valère, preparing resources to support educational needs across the world, others came from a commercial background, looking to support in-service needs, and others came from the social services background. There were also teachers and parents of young children who were interested in how we are introducing digital technology in our schools. Richard introduced the presentation, giving an outline of the DeFT project, and Anna talked about the open educational resources element of the project. Nicky was interested to find out peoples’ perceptions of digital literacy, and we presented the group with a task to capture their understanding of the term with a word, phrase or picture. The group was very good natured, and played along, using the brushes app on iPads, iPods, and emailed these to Richard, who was playing ‘Wizard of Oz’ behind the scenes, collecting impressions and putting them on a screen for us to discuss later. It was interesting that these first thoughts encapsulated most of the issues that were raised in the focus group by our PGCE students who were haunted by the spectre of the digital native and despite being only in their early twenties, felt alienated from their pupils a few years younger than themselves. We discussed with the workshop participants the advantages digital tools can afford, and some of the drawbacks. Overall, it was a very productive and inspiring visit and we are looking forward to some further collaboration with the ED+ict team; there are some interesting potential projects that might emerge from our conversations during the three days we spent in sunny Belgium.