Learning, Digital & Education from Oliver Quinlan.
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This week: Extinction, digital natives and parents & tech

It's been a very cold week here in England, I've never seen snow on the ground in London before, and it's been here for a few days now. It always causes such problems when it happens here, yet it feels like it's rare enough for us never to invest in getting properly prepared with dealing with it. A few year ago I spent some time in Finland with work and it was really interesting to see how a country that has enough of these conditions to invest in dealing with them properly operates. I'll never forget my amazement when walking along a completely iced over street to see a car driving down it stop and parallel part into a space that was basically a sheet of ice. When you are set up to cope with it this weather is really beautiful. I really enjoyed cycling to work on Monday along the snowy river Lea and canals, with snow gently floating down all around me. Unfortunately it seems that we are getting this weather due to some serious issues with weather in the Arctic - worth knowing more about.

As this newsletter goes out I'll be heading to Southend for their festival of technology, which is also celebrating the big birthday of the Raspberry Pi. There's probably still time to head out to one of the many events taking place today near you. If you're interested you can find out more here.

The terrifying phenomenon that is pushing species towards extinction

This is a fascinating article about complexity, in the context of 'tipping points' in environments causing huge and unpredictable repercussions. It's an important reminder that despite the huge achievements in science and technology over recent times, there is still a huge amount we don't understand about the natural world, or at least are only able to understand in retrospect and not predict beforehand.

The 'Digital Natives' shibboleth

"Phrase 'digital natives' has pretty much become a shibboleth amongst edtech & digital inclusion communities. Using it signals the speaker doesn't really know much about technology. Or people."

Says Josie Fraser. I'd agree. The phrase 'Digital Natives' is more interesting these days to track our attitudes to these issues, as part of the history it's had an important impact. But anyone who uses uncritically, without 'scare quotes' or to actually support something they say clearly hasn't thought or read very much about this area. Whenever I hear someone do this, I start thinking about how I get the conversation to a productive place given that they don't really know what they are talking about... In that sense, it's a very useful test!

Majority of parents shun technical education, research suggests

There's a lot of discourse about what qualifications employers want, what young people are interested in and how to influence them to make certain choices, but much less about parents. Parents are still such a huge influence in the choices young people make, even if on the face of it we might see young people as culturally rejecting what their parents think. This isn't just about the time the choices are made, I'd argue it starts from as soon as parents start talking with their children about ambitions and jobs, and how they role model their own attitudes towards working life. Cross generational cultural influences like this take a really long time to shift and develop.
... and finally...
  • The Raspberry Pi Foundation are looking for an Evaluation Analyst to support the gathering and analysis of data across the organisation.
  • I'm reading inventor of Scratch Mitch Resnick's book 'Lifelong Kindergarten' at the moment. Only part way through but it's very interesting and worth a look. I'll share more thoughts on it when I've finished it.
Thanks for reading.
Until next week,


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