Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holiday. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Social autopilot

Autopilot Engaged by Mike Miley, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by Mike Miley

Over the last 5 years or so my use of social media has enabled me to develop a diverse and wide network of contacts all over the world. It has also given me the chance to take part in many projects and    discussions that I would never otherwise have been involved in and has given me the opportunity to travel to interesting conferences as guest speaker. The benefits of sharing and networking are enormous but one downside is the fact that once you're on the treadmill it's mighty hard to get off, even for a short break. Anyone who blogs will have noticed that even a week of blog silence has an effect on readership. You have to keep posting, or at least it feels like that.

I sometimes prepare for a holiday by writing several blog posts and then letting Blogger publish them one by one at regular intervals. I've also tried asking a colleague to do some blog-sitting duty. However that doesn't cure a week or two of Twitter or Facebook silence. However there are now tools to cure even this "problem". If you want to look as if you're always online even when you're not you can try Buffer. You simply load up your Buffer account with messages, links and news that you want to post on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a combination of the three and Buffer will then send your postings at regular intervals while you work offline or go off hiking in the mountains. Just keep it topped up and it'll do the rest making your network think that you never log off.

Only one drawback as I far as I can see. Social media need interaction to be social and this solution sounds more like broadcasting than interaction. You need to be online to answer questions and discuss. But as a solution for that week when you're planning to cross the Sahara by camel ...

Friday, February 3, 2012

School's out

Education is weighed down by tradition. There are many features of school and university life that are only explained by "that's the way we've always done it." The persistence of the lecturing tradition is a case in point. It survives not because it promotes learning but because that's what we've always done and it's a very rational way of pretending to teach a lot of students at the same time. I'm not against tradition but some practices deserve to be re-examined at least once a century.


There's a good article in the The Telegraph today, School holidays are a pointless relic of the past. 100 years ago children needed long summer holidays to help with the farm work and they needed to leave school earlier in the afternoon to be able to help with housework. This is hardly relevant today and since schools finish earlier than working parents can get away from work we've created a whole new sector of child-minding and out of school clubs that looks after children during that gap (at a price of course).

"Today, working hours are largely based around the 9-5 model and it is almost unheard of for a working parent to be at home at the end of the school day, which is why we see such demand for our after-school provision. Parents would heartily support it becoming part of the formal daily structure in all schools; they don’t want to see their children hanging around on street corners, nor pay for childminders. Why, then, can’t we bring the school day in line with our working day? “Because it is unfair to teachers!” is the usual response, shouted very loudly by the unions. But is that really the case?"

The article argues that if the school year was more in line with the normal working year then teachers would have more time to provide a more rounded and less hectic curriculum. Do pupils really need 6-10 weeks summer holiday when parents only get half that amount at best. University students have 3 months of forced inactivity. Of course you can fill it wit temporary employment but many would far rather keep studying and completed their degrees quicker. Having been a teacher and a parent I can see both sides of the coin but the long summer break puts such a strain on so many families and many teenagers have trouble finding anything meaningful to do that it would be worth re-examining this tradition and maybe coming up with a radical solution more in line with the 21st century rather than the 19th.