RESPONDING TO THE CHALLENGES OF REDUCING CARBON EMISSIONS

RESPONDING TO THE CHALLENGES OF REDUCING CARBON EMISSIONS WHILE SUPPORTING DEVELOPMENT – my family’s journey in trying to become more carbon-neutral in my home in Rondebosch, Cape Town, South Africa

The context

We have lived in Cape Town for 20 years and our municipal bills including electricity and water have escalated over time. We have been concerned as well about the large water and electricity bills associated with our lawn and swimming pool and were determined to find a way to reduce our family and home carbon footprint. We wanted to grow fresh vegetables while reducing the size of our lawn and the cost of water because of swimming pool evaporation.

Description of the steps we took

We made a decision seven years ago to cut our electricity bill by installing one of the first solar panel systems in our neighborhood. Although this is not innovative and has been ongoing in Cape Town for many years, and the history of using solar energy can be traced back to the 7th century BC 1, I felt that the example of successful use of solar energy in our suburb Rondebosch in Cape Town might encourage others in our neighborhood to do likewise and therefore possibly having a greater impact than only our own family.

The Western Cape has the first airport in Africa (George) 2 which is solar powered and this will contribute to over 40% of the energy required to run the airport over time. Of course there are many large plants being built throughout South Africa, and the Northern Cape plant in Kalkbult 4 with its 156 kms. of solar panels went live in November, 2013. This plant will avoid annual greenhouse gas emissions of approx. 115 000 tons which might have been emitted by a fossil-fueled plant.

Regarding the Bruton family water usage, we installed a grey water system through the company, Water Rhapsody 3  and when Jeremy Taylor was first experimenting with ideas for his innovative systems. Though not entirely successful with the toilet system because of water staining, we have been able to reduce our water wastage, and all shower, bath and washing machine water is used twice. This has resulted in reduced water and electricity bills over time.

Problem of cost of fresh vegetables and wasted packaging

Because of the large price we were paying for fresh vegetables which often didn’t last, my husband and I have created container vegetable gardens using old cool-drink containers and homemade wooden boxes see figures 1 and 2 below. This has resulted in reduced grocery bills and a fresh supply of vegetables for family and friends over  the past six months – and a very rewarding hobby for both of us. The practice I feel has influenced those around us and, with the aid of a Facebook group – Veggie Gardeners Western Cape 5, I have been able to reduce problems associated with bug reduction using sprays made from natural ingredients 8 and has produced sustainable and seasonal crops for the past six months.

Figure 1

veggiegarden1

Figure 2

veggiegarden2

Innovation or gap?

While this may not seem to be an innovative gap or unique idea, we have been able to promote sustainable living within our family and have researched innovative ideas in the way we have used our solar panels, in our water recycling and in reducing our fresh vegetable bills. We have encouraging our family, friends and neighbors to do likewise. We have shared our ideas, successes and failures through the Facebook group 5. I have enjoyed giving large bunches of fresh greens including herbs and salad ingredients for the past two months with family and friends and have encouraged my cleaning lady and her family to make progress with their own vegetable garden.

Cape Town Municipality’s innovative home composting container roll-out 6 has also ensured that all our organic waste is recycled and used in the garden and we have very little waste through this and through recycling  by taking clean recyclables to the Oasis Recycling Association in Claremont.10

While these actions may not seem so innovative on a grand scale, they have resulted in changed behaviour patterns within our immediate friends and family circle and in my “digital” family. I have researched interesting ways of germinating seeds using toilet rolls7 and creating a natural home bug spray 8 on the tasty herbs like basil and cruciferous vegetables.

The swimming pool

We invested in a pool cover during the winter months and have saved time and money through saving on chemicals and water.This geobubble technology 9 assists  in reducing pump use, water evaporation, chemical consumption and debris contamination and of course, has saved us money over the past six months. This has meant more time for gardening for the Brutons!

REFERENCES

  1. The history of solar: https://www1.eere.energy.gov/solar/pdfs/solar_timeline.pdf
  2. First solar-powered airport in Africa: http://qz.com/626901/the-first-solar-powered-airport-in-africa-has-been-opened-in-south-africa/
  3. Water Rhapsody grey water systems: http://www.waterrhapsody.co.za/
  4. The Kalkbult solar power plant: http://www.southafrica.info/business/investing/solar-141113.htm#.V_isUuh97IU
  5. Veggie Gardeners western Cape Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1490188807943345/
  6. Cape Town Municipality’s free home compost bin initiative: https://www.capetown.gov.za/en/MediaReleases/Pages/Cityinviteshomeownerstoapplyforfreehomecompostingcontainer.aspx
  7. How to create toilet roll starter seed pods: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=925AcczVfag
  8. Natural bug spray: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c666sjSdSzs
  9. Power plastic pool covers: http://www.powerplastics.co.za/energyguard-geobubble/
  10.  The Oasis Association: http://www.oasisrecycling.co.za/Page.php

How I estimated the greenhouse gas emissions for my home and family between 2016 and 2020

CONTEXT

At present, my husband and I live alone in a suburb of Cape Town, although my grown children and their family visit often. Because of our post-retirement occupations (I am a teacher of computers, he is a consulting scientist and author), we are not using our cars as often as before retirement. Regarding air flights – neither of us travel extensively except when visiting family annually or going on holiday. My husband has traveled three times to the Eastern Cape, three times to Gauteng and once to Nelspruit in 2016.

Our electricity consumption is minimal and we have a solar heater and a grey water system to reduce water and electricity usage. We both shower and only use the bath occasionally. We recycle ALL our waste: the plastic, paper, bottles and packaging is cleaned and taken to the Recycling Depot in Lansdowne Road called Oasis.

Our vegetable and wet scraps are made into compost which assists us in growing vegetables for our table. We rarely travel by car for long trips. I go to Grahamstown once a year to the National Arts Festival. I have calculated my possible energy consumption in September, 2016 using the http://ecologicalfootprint.com/ ecological footprint calculator found on the Rhodes University environmental web site. I have also used the online calculator from the United Kingdom: http://www.carbonindependent.org/:  see Figures 3 and 4 below.

According to the first calculator, we are consuming 2.63 tonnes of CO2 annnually.(see Figure 1 and 2)

Figure 1 – Family Bruton’s carbon footprint

figure-1

Figure 2 – Explanation of Fig 1 (Family Bruton’s carbon footprint)

figure-2a

I then used another calculator: http://www.carbonindependent.org/ which is UK based, but which offered a more comprehensive model.

HOW I CREATED THIS MODEL

I used  this online tool: http://www.carbonindependent.org/index.html

This calculator covered a great deal of important calculations/ data including

  1. How many people in our household?
  2. How much electricity is being used in the home?
  3. How much gas is being used in the home?
  4. Is heating, oil, coal or wood being used?
  5. How many cars are being used, size and mileage?
  6. Food and regular eating of locally produced, also consumption of dairy and organic food and the km your food has travelled to reach you.
  7. Use of food packaging, compost and waste.
  8. Journeys by bus, train and air flights.

After using this calculator, our average annual Co2 Tonnes spend was 15.26 Tonnes

This is how the Bruton household compares with the rest of the world

Figure 3: Comparison of Bruton total CO2 Tonnes compared with the rest of the world as calculated by http://www.carbonindependent.org/index.html

figure-2

Here is a comparative summary by country compared with the Bruton household. I think that the above estimate is probably too high however as the average UK home has a large heating bill, which we don’t  have.

Figure 4: Print summary of carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions by Bruton household when compared to the world average, and countries China, USA, UK average, India and Tanzania.

figure-3

Comments on the comparative summary (figure 4 above)

Our emissions are quite low except where we are using air flight for conferences and holidays.

We could implement the following over the next 3 to 5 years (e.g. 2017 – 2020)

  • We could travel less frequently and would rather choose South African over international destinations for our holidays and conference attendance.
  • Increase our vegetable consumption to eating more of our own – this change is taking place with many new vegetable boxes filled with seedlings. When needed, we would support local vegetable growers and retailers which will promote sustainability therefore encouraging the relationship between human well-being and environmental health. This in turn promotes practices and actions which support the health of our biosphere.
  • We could reduce our household economy and emissions by using an even more economical car – and possibly consider getting a 100cc scooter for neighborhood shopping trips. My husband does occasionally do local errands on a bike.
  • We could consider better insulation of the house with double glazing, inside doors and lower footprint hearing options such as econo-heating panels instead of gas. These panels are reputed to save at least 50% on electricity costs when compared to other heating appliances.  
  • We could “off-set”*or pay someone else to reduce their CO2 emissions or absorb our CO2 emissions in some way. We could agree to plant an appropriate number of trees in a food forest or tree forest or contribute in another way which is becoming recognised in Cape Town: create and support a food garden or donate to a greening project such as Green Pop.  
  • We could agree to fund a project working on water sustainability, clearing up the environment, assisting in food production. A worthwhile township food growing initiative in Cape Town is Abalimi Bezekaya: http://abalimi.org.za. My husband is a fish scientist and is actively involved in fish research and we attend regular beach clean-ups in Blouberg.

 *Offset is the theory that instead of reducing the amount of CO2 that you generate, you pay for someone else to reduce their CO2 emissions or absorb CO2 in some way OR

  To pay for things that reduce carbon dioxide in order to reduce the damage caused by carbon dioxide that you produce.

  •  We do and will continue to harvest rainwater for watering the garden. This water is rich in minerals for effective vegetable production.
  • As mentioned elsewhere, we have two solar panels for heating washing up water, showers and baths.
  • We would continue to use the cold water and short cycle wash for our washing machine and will only use it when a full load has been accumulated.
  • We have considered keeping chickens in the garden to keep weeds and bugs down and provide free range eggs but they might eat the vegetables or be chased by the dogs.
  • I rarely print, and when I do, it is double-sided and I use paper which has been printed on already if there is a free side.
  • We keep our pool covered when not in use which reduces water and pool chemical usage – and saves time and labour.
  • We don’t buy firewood, compost or insecticides.
  • We have reduced the size of our lawn and use less water.
  • We plant mainly indigenous plants and heirloom vegetable seeds, which also require less water and are not genetically modified and allow for seed collection for future generations.
  • We often share lifts in our car with others.

VARIABLES IN FUTURE EMISSIONS

  1. My husband and I are both 70 years of age. We might have to drive less in later years because of eye-sight or other health issues.
  2. With grand-children arriving soon, there is the possibility that we will need to fetch them from school and their activities.
  3. We might “downsize” at some future date if one of us becomes less mobile but this is not a predictive variable as we are both fit and healthy. Should we “downsize” then we are likely to use less petrol, electricity and water.
  4. There is a possibility that the Cape Town Transport System and MyCiti bus system will improve in our area and be safe to travel in. We will then use less fuel.

REFERENCES

  • Millennium Development Goals, Republic of South Africa,

2013 http://www.statssa.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/MDG_October-2013.pdf

MOBIHEALTH Mobile Health Centre

MOBIHEALTH Mobile Health Centre

Bus 5

After reading the inspiring but so effective #ProjectHygiene blog, I decided to research a similar project. MobiHealth is a caravan or trailer which would assist pre-primary children in disadvantaged areas of Cape Town to understand the importance of aspects of their personal health and hygiene. They do not have easy access to flushing toilets and hand-basins and they do not receive proper instructions from their parents on how to wash properly. The link between hand washing and personal health has been widely researched, as in this example – UNICEF’s WASH programme. It is known that poor sanitation, water scarcity and poor water quality linked to poor hygiene are disastrous for infants and children as these factors are often the cause of mortality or serious illness.

Graphic acknowledgements Ruth Florska’s blog at http://alteredtapestry.blogspot.co.za/2011/03/doh-launches-health-fiesta-caravan.html 

Aspects that will be considered are

  1. Effective use of toilets with flushing facilities
  2. Effective use of hand basins and soap for hand washing
  3. Use of hand basins for tooth cleaning
  4. Explanation of the use of a shower with minimum water wastage.

How it will be implemented

Two models will be described:

Model A

This trailer would be pulled by a truck or 4X4 and would be parked for the morning at a pre-school, primary school or community health centre. Trained teachers or carefully screened healthcare nurses would guide a small group (5 – 6 children) through the display, encouraging discussion and interaction.

This relatively low cost trailer model will have static displays and video material. Games adapted from those as in “Joyful Learning” could be made and implemented, making cleanliness and healthy routines great fun. Big infographics would be incorporated with the interactive activities (e.g. doors that open and close; dolls that are placed correctly on toilets). All activities would be simple, cost-effective and non-digital. A toilet and basin similar to those used in ultramarathons and cycle races would be incorporated and each child would be given careful tuition by a health worker, teacher or nurse. The tippy taps idea could be considered if the economic viability was a serious problem where plastic bottles are used for handwashing.

In this model, each child will be given a pack containing towel, soap, toothpaste, nail brush, floss and a toothbrush which they would be able to take home.

Here are some examples of free resources available (infographics, games, cards) but I would choose to create a character and use a graphic artist to describe his/her routine.

  1. Handwashing
  2. Toilet signs
  3. Visual aids and reminders
  4. Visual schedule and routine
  5. Toilet pass cards

toilet passes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graphic acknowledgement – Twinkl Resources: http://www.twinkl.co.uk/resource/t-c-065-toilet-passes 

Model B

Model B would use a large caravan containing touch screens and interactive displays, working models, flushing toilets and water on tap. There would be television screens with cartoon characters or the character as described in Model A showing how easy it is to use these facilities. The children would watch a video of a child soaping herself in the shower and washing her hair while using as little water as possible. The basin and hand washing display would show a fun routine for efficient hand washing, perhaps with a jingle/ song to encourage effective soap, towel and nail brush use. Another basin would explain the steps for tooth brushing and flossing which they should follow using their own kit as described in Model A. They would watch the video, explore the interactive displays and then enter an area where they are gently and professionally supervised in the routines of handwashing, tooth brushing and toilet usage. This will be done professionally and privately and under very careful supervision. Understanding and naming of body parts would also be part of the process as suggested here through clear and simple infographics and with touch screens which provide audio when they touch the screen in the language programmed (English, Afrikaans, Xhosa).

AIMS FOR #MobiHealth

To encourage pre-school and primary school children to protect themselves because the time when they are in the bathroom alone can often make them rather vulnerable to ‘predators’ and to infections. They would be shown fun posters which encourage them to avoid going alone to toilets, not to trust strangers or “uncles/aunties” and to ensure that their parents or caregivers are aware of where they are.

One of the main problems that poor communities face is the lack of effective sanitation, running water and sewerage facilities. While these needs will be addressed in the future, younger, vulnerable children need to be educated and to understand aspects associated with:

  1. Exploitation and violation of their bodies
  2. Germs and diseases as a result of poor hygiene
  3. Opportunities to be provided with an opportunity to use a clean toilet, basin and shower and leave it clean when they have finished using it.
  4. Understanding the importance of personal privacy.

Homeless people and people in poor or temporary accommodation do not have access to clean facilities for sanitation and hand and body washing and their children lack the opportunity to learn how to use these facilities effectively.

Further resources and ideas

  1. The possibility exists to use Thundafund to fund my MobiHealth caravan
  2. I could use my existing social networks to donate ideas or plumbing items and other structures or create new ones using #MobiHealthCT
  3. The use of dolls, small model toilets and basins, and giant tooth brushes and tooth paste to promote and encourage play.
  4. An author friend Ginny Stone has written Sibo saves water. These and other appropriate reading resources for small children could be made available in a reading nook with a volunteer reading to them in the caravan or classroom during the “MobiHealth” visit and with the books possibly donated to the school thereafter.
  5. I could involve some of my graphic designer friends to assist me in designing engaging interactive posters.
  6. I would call on retired teacher and nursing friends to donate a morning or afternoon of their time to assist with the teaching. They would need training and this could be done by one of my nursing sister or doctor colleagues.
  7. I might involve one of my family members who have a web design and app business to design an interactive app or model which gives the children YES or NO choices so that they learn through online play what is acceptable and what is not while in the safe space of the caravan environment. There are apps on iOS platforms that encourage health and hygiene but are mostly for the autistic community.
  8. I would organise have a Facebook and WhatsApp group to advertise the idea and encourage the funding. The major funders would receive a photo album with illustrations of the MobiHealth in action or another significant item such as a 3-D printed model of the caravan or trailer or framed certificate.

 

REFERENCES

Please note that as this is not a scientific paper, I have not cited the references according to a particular style e.g. Harvard, APA.

  1. Poor oral health: https://novoed.com/mhealth/reports/50585
  2. UNICEF’s WASH programme: http://www.unicef.org/publications/files/CFS_WASH_E_web.pdf
  3. Joyful learning: http://www.wsp.org/Hygiene-Sanitation-Water-Toolkit/Resources/Readings/Joyful%20learning%20-%20FINAL%20DRAFT-%2021MAY04%20part1%201.pdf
  4.  http://www.wrc.org.za/Knowledge%20Hub%20Documents/Research%20Reports/1656-1-08.pdf
  5. Tippy Taps: http://www.cdc.gov/safewater/publications_pages/tippy-tap.pdf
  6. http://www.rntobsn.org/resources/school-nurses-guide-to-kids-health-and-safety/
  7.  Interventions to improve hand care compliance: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK133371/
  8.  Nutrition, water, hygiene and sanitation: http://www.options.co.uk/expertise/nutrition-water-sanitation-and-hygiene
  9. Hygiene challenges and resources in lower income countries: http://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/hygiene/ldc/hygiene_challenges.html

My experiences when interacting with online communities (FB, L.In, Google+)

As part of the digital portfolio we have been preparing as members of the 2015 P.G. Dip Students in Ed.Tech. we have been encouraged to join various Facebook, Linked In and Google + communities. This blog post describes some of my experiences  as a member of these groups and communities. As I have only recently become a member of some of them, there is not a great deal to describe with those.

Facebook Groups

I sent a request for membership to eLearning Education for Africa but have not received acceptance to this group yet.

I have been a member of Learning design and design learning for some time and enjoy the excellent posts provided by Lize Hitge, Jolande de Villiers-Morkel and others. I regularly add these resources to my Diigo bookmarking site and use them in other communities.

I have been a member of e/Merge Africa for some time. They provide excellent online seminars. Yesterday’s seminar was on Quality Assurance in OER/eLearning and can be viewed online here

I recently joined Facilitation, Learning and Technology.  This group”is focused on supporting facilitators who puts learners in control of their own learning by facilitating memorable learning experiences. (They) explore using educational technology for individualised learning: serving the needs of individual students within large groups of students. I shared this resource on learning design principles.

I am a member of the Facebook group called Journal for Learning for Development group (JL4D). My first post there was to share this resource: ways to introduce yourself in group work.

I joined the L & D Community of Practice SA group but have not found anything relevant to post to the group yet. They seem to focus on management systems and specialist items like flow theory.

I have also joined the group called Assessment and teaching 21st Century Skills which has over 23,000 members so should be interesting and active. I recommended this resource to one of their members:

I recommend http://kidlink.org/ as there are a number of excellent online projects – mostly for children however! Stellan Kinburg is based in Sweden: http://www.kidlink.org/drupal/node/295

I have also joined eLearning in Libraries (992 members) as I have a passion for books as resources, both eBooks and paper ones. I think professioal librarians are very hard working and under-rated.

I joined the UCT Post-Graduate studies in Education Group and have a post pending regarding peoples feelings on the use of digital badges.

I am also a member of eLearning Africa and eMerge African Digital Storytelling. Jolander de Villers-Morkel is active in the latter group and I really appreciate many of her posts. This Slide-share by Sharon Bowman on “Teaching adults anything” was excellent.

Linked In groups

I’ve joined most of these groups very recently and have been impressed with the variety of groups available through Linked In. Linked In provides best practice guides as there are so many groups to which one can belong.

The groups I belong to on the LI platform are

  • Edubloggers (through this blogging platform). I have been a member of this group for over five years and have found it to be valuable in creating a useful blogging platform. I posted my You Tube (being a digital scholar) item there but have not had any responses yet.
  • Twitter-using Educators. This group seems to have posts mainly from David Franklin so it doesn’t seem very community-driven.
  • ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). They have 57,778 members so I think it might be a useful  group in which to interact. I shared a comment on computer Studies for girls at a school I taught in.
  • iPad Learning: I shared a post on the use of “The Vault” – a secure password app – but haven’t had a response yet.
  • Tech in Edu (Technology in Education). This group has 34,222 members who post on a vast range of topics. I have made some comments on others’ posts.
  • E-Learning 2.0 – I have been a member of this group for many years but havent been as active in it recently as in the past. I am rather sorry that I didnt use this platform when needing information for some of my PG Dip. essays 🙂

I applied to join a few other groups but haven t been accepted yet. I think Linked In limits the number of groups to which you can have membership, which is rather a pity.

Google + groups/communities

Here is a digital representation of the communities in Google + where I have membership:

Google +

They include

I do find that these Google + groups offer quicker response time and there is an advantage in receiving an alert to your Gmail account when this happens. Because of the length of this post, I will not go into any further detail about the posts and comments I made in the Google groups linked above. Of the three options, I think I use Google + communities more than the others as they seem to offer practical and innovative ideas to teachers and educators. Posts are not diluted by formal business associations. My only gripe about Google + is that it can be rather slow to open on my laptop. It is quicker on the iPad.

I strongly recommend that anyone reading this blog post considers using some of these groups as they are invaluable in providing sounding boards or sharing ideas for comments. The groups I have belonged to for some time have a very responsive approach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflecting on being a digital scholar in the African context

As part of the digital scholarship badge I taught myself to use the free version of Screencast-O-Matic and then uploaded the Powerpoint I had created on the above topic – including narration. I apologise that the video is two minutes longer than the requirement.

I found the process quite daunting as I needed to complete it on a Sunday to avoid traffic noise and other disturbances. After at least 8 edits I finally completed the seven minute video and have published it on You Tube here. It is unfortunately a little blurry and rather halting unless the video has been spooled before viewing.

Digital scholarship can be defined as  the use of digital evidence, methods of inquiry, research, publication and preservation to achieve scholarly and research goals. It can encompass scholarly communication using social media and research on digital media (Wikipedia, 2015)

Globalisation can happen across so many platforms and the illustration below shows some of them.  I think that being a digital scholar in (South) Africa is very exciting as much of what we are studying and using is unique to the African context. It has been useful to compare academic papers we had to write this year with those on a similar topic in other continents such as the Australia, Asia and North and South America.

Globalisation across many platforms

Globalisation across many platforms

I particularly enjoyed writing, researching and discussing the OpenUCT initiative and  the ROER4D (Research on Open Educational Resources for Development) programme and UCT’s MOOCs. “ROER4D’s primary goals are to provide evidence-based research from a number of countries in South America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. The primary objective of the programme is to improve educational policy, practice, and research in developing countries by better understanding the use and impact of OER.” http://roer4d.org/

The University of Cape Town’s MOOCs are designed and implemented through the Centre for Innovation in Teaching and Learning (CILT). More can be found out about these free online courses here.

The slides for the above Screencast-O-Matic can be viewed or downloaded from Slideshare here as the You Tube slides are a little blurry.

References

Bellard, F. (2015). Fast Free screen recording. Screencast-O-Matic. Retrieved 30 November 2015, from http://screencast-o-matic.com/home

Bruton, C. (2015). what it means to be a digital scholar in Africa. Presentation, http://www.slideshare.net/carbru123/what-it-means-to-be-a-digital-scholar-in-africa.

Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching,. (2015). UCT MOOCs: Free Online Courses. Retrieved 30 November 2015, from http://www.cilt.uct.ac.za/cilt/moocs-uct

CILT (Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching),. (2015). Centre for Innovation in Learning and teaching. Retrieved 30 November 2015, from http://www.cilt.uct.ac.za/

Reflections on what it means to be a digital scholar in the African context (You Tube). (2015). Cape Town.

ROER4D,. (2015). Research on Open Educational resources for Development. Retrieved 29 November 2015, from http://roer4d.org/

Weller, M. (2011). The digital scholar. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Wikipedia,. (2015). Digital Scholarship. Retrieved 1 December 2015, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_scholarship

Critical Perspectives on Digital Scholarships in Educational Technology

As part of an initiative of the Centre for  Innovation in Learning and Teaching at the University of Cape Town’s digital scholarship portfolio, and Dr Nicola Pallitt,  I have completed a ten slide PowerPoint on digital scholarships in Educational Technology. The slides are available to view or download at this Slideshare site.

This initiative has encouraged me to look again at my online digital portfolio and how I interact with it.

I particularly enjoyed preparing the slide where I discuss  digital scholarship and how it allows for the intersect of interdisciplinary fields and concerns “public scholarship.

I note  that  scholars and researchers are sharing their knowledge on public platforms such as   Facebook, Twitter    and You Tube, making them much more accessible to the non-academic world and therefore, public engagement. fingers

Overlapped disciplines encourage a holistic approach e.g. ergonomics and computer technology;   political science and sociology.

The use of smart phones allows this data to more easily be obtained and offers individuals a “voice”.

Please note that I am working towards the acquisition of a digital scholar badge – perhaps one like this!

digschol

 

More can be found out about Mozilla open and digital badges here.

Image credit: https://credlyapp.s3.amazonaws.com/badges/f15ffb11adc1aeac97899d42c4f47415_13.png

 

 

 

 

 

Should we continue to ask critical questions?

Having read Selwyn’s chapter in “Critical perspectives on technology and education” – why it’s crucial to be critical, I realise how fortunate we have been in having Shenali Govender and others to assist us in being critical thinkers, readers and writers  and in learning throughout this PG Dip module about using technology to solve problems and not to cause them.

Yes, some of the research is likely to be “unglamorous, boring and unsexy” Loving, 2011, p63 in Selwyn (2014). Creating forms has been quite fun, but the unglamorous collection of data and analysis in a large project is likely to be tedious, repetitive and lacking excitement – but essential.

Prof Neil Selwyn of Monash University

Prof Neil Selwyn of Monash University

I look forward to learning how to effectively present findings and being critical of how institutions and organisations have taken a stance on their use of technology, often for the wrong reasons.

I do hope that my research and my collaboration with others through research into educational technology  will continue to be exciting and innovative and not “hokey hope” (Duncan-Andrade, 2009).

I would like to avoid the ‘harness(ing of) the power of technology’ but would like to use it quietly in the background so that its there but is not providing self-interest but offering opportunities for teachers to use IT with a critical lens, and both appropriately and effectively.

Bibliography

Bulfin, S, Johnston, N & Bigum, C 9eds) (2015). Critical perspectives on technology and education. New York, Palgrave MacMillan (2014)

 

 

Technological determinism & where I am situated

Day 3 – Wednesday 9/9/2015

Our reading tonight was M. Oliver’s article on Technological determinism ¹ also available here.

 “Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society’s technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. The term is believed to have been coined by Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929), an American sociologist and economist ².

Before I comment on the above paper and its dense perspectives, I would like to comment on why I believe that technology causes change and is essential for change to happen in teaching.

Comments on ways where technology has effected change:

  • Opportunities for teachers and students to learn new skills, new languages, offer opportunities they might not have previously been able to pursue. For example, one of the  Cape Town Science Centre robotics champions has now pursued a career unheard of in her previous life. This example is of  Nometemba Nontyo who was selected to work on the Mars programme in 2003 as a result of her efforts in the “Red Rover goes to Mars” Lego research competition. Her time working on the space programme has changed her life and made her a Maths and Science advocate in her Phillipi, Cape Town community and whenever she gives motivational talks. This all happened through her adoption of new technology and she is now pursuing an academic career overseas.
  • Through Virtual Reality programmes, students and professionals can acquire new skills such as improving brain power, learning to drive a car, finding out about an ecosystem or a method of conducting a surgery procedure when outside of a sophisticated hospital environment or learn new surgical skills.

I feel strongly however that computers should not replace books and have blogged and written in essays about the need for children to love reading books while off-screen during the course of this P.G. Dip. programme..

Unfortunately, while media technology might shape how we think as a society, as teachers and individuals, it also places a huge burden on teachers to have to continually upgrade their skills which they find very stressful (my personal opinion).. Also, the need to continually upgrade computer rooms is a heavy financial burden for schools with budget constraints. Another problem is the labelling of students through the kind of technology they can personally afford. If they don’t have a laptop or smartphone, they might feel disadvantaged or lack “status”!

The moment of singularity has also been widely published ³ when humans and computers knowledge and brain power will merge and then computers/ robots will become smarter than humans. This could happen as soon as 20xx.

Yonatan Popper is an artist living in Israel.

Yonatan Popper is an artist living in Israel.

I believe that technology is beginning to drive change. Some examples in the older generation that I have experienced:

  • Technophobic folk are required to learn how to bank electronically because cheque books are  being phased out.
  • They also feel left out of the loop because their children and grandchildren share so much on social media but not with them – so they need to find out about email, Facebook and digital photo resources and how to save and share them in an organised fashion.

Bibliography:

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_determinism

2. http://www.planetary.org/press-room/releases/2003/1106_International_Student_Team_Selected_to.html

3. http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2048299,00.html

Practical and theoretical interventions for change?

Reeves, Herrington & Oliver (2004) recommend a practical and theoretical intervention for change. Our class underwent many of these interventions yesterday through Shenali Govender’s workshop, which supplied us with so many opportunities to think critically about our research and questioning. The main aim was to create critical questions that we could use either during or after George Velitsianos’s presentation and the 30-minute discussion he had with us after lunch.

We also decided on an intervention to cope with the noise issues associated with the building site next to the Etilab, and will be moving to the Graca Michel residence tomorrow where things will be quieter and more critical thinking and listening will be sure to take place.

Yesterday (day 2, Tuesday 8th September 2015) was a fascinating day for me. It was an amazing privilege to have an opportunity to appreciate the gently-spoken George Veletsiaanos‘s lecture and then having him return to the Etilab for 30 minutes. He emphasised the fostering a context of care within this highly automated and delivered educational technology framework. The assumption that EdTech is a remedy to solve all educational problems is not true. They have “unfulfilled but promising potential” (Veletsianos, in press, 2016). His presentation is on Slideshare.

Shenali Govender encouraged us to think outside the box, the computer box and outside our comfort zone during her workshop. This slide from Shenali’s PowerPoint was useful to me and encouraged us all to think deeply and critically about questions we shared with George Velitsianos  and about ourselves as Africans in the global digital space:

“In the context of emerging difgital scholars in developing countries in sub-Saharan Africa, how can we embrace new technologies without losing our academic digital identities”?

 

Shenali

Nicola Pallitt provided us with many insights into looking deeper into our online presence and being a digital scholar following our overnight task yesterday. We had an opportunity to workshop the WhO, WHY and WHERE (Audience, Participation and Message – remembering that we should always begin with the purpose of an intervention.

Our noisy digital space needs to be careful monitored in order to ensure that our interactions there lead to being an effective and thoughtful digital scholar. We plan to work on this digital space between now and November as Nicola Pallitt has set us a number of online tasks in order to earn our emerging digital scholar badge to add to our blogs.