Bricks and mortar with window, Spitalfields, London E1, August 2013
How can the CRTC do a better job?
As I argued in the previous two posts, the CMR doesn’t have a life of its own; it reflects the CRTC’s larger priorities. The big one here is research and evidence-based policymaking. A close second is the Commission’s still awkward fashion of trying to reach out to the little people – i.e. anybody besides the inner circle. Here are my suggestions for how it can do what it apparently wants to do, only better:
1 – Stop wasting money on online consultations. Redeploy it for real consumer research. Online consultations aren’t just a waste of money; they can also be highly misleading. One reason for their being unrepresentative is that online “surveys” of the public can’t reach Canadians who aren’t online to begin with. Unfortunately, the Commission isn’t going to find any new money for research, not as long as it sticks to the current Expenditure Profile. As shown in the graph below, the Commission’s spending is pretty much flat from 2009 to 2016, especially if these figures were converted to constant dollars…
Last time, I took the Commission to task for trying to build excitement over the level of cellphone penetration in Canada in their consultation video. Why? Because the only metric that really counts in 2012 is the takeup of smartphones: smartphones do data, feature phones don’t. Let’s consider penetration in a more meaningful context.
Penetration. Data released by the OECD in December 2011 says Canada is 24th out of the 34 member countries in terrestrial mobile wireless broadband subscriptions, as indicated in this chart (OECD broadband portal, spreadsheet 1d):
OECD: wireless broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants
Notice this dataset covers mobile devices like laptops using a dongle for Internet access. As it has done elsewhere with wireline broadband, the Commission has cherry-picked a more inclusive number (cellphones in general), rather than a more meaningful number (data-capable mobile devices). And that’s not the only way the Commission is glossing over problems… Continue reading →
“Experts expect more efficient collaborative environments and new grading schemes; they worry about massive online courses, and the shift away from on-campus life”
Update: Stop reading – here’s the audio version of this post (about 6.5 min).
At the end of July, Pew Internet and research partner Elon University released another of their reports from the 2012 Internet Futures survey – this one covering the impact of the Internet on higher education. Once again, the report is divided between the two groups that form organically around the questions: the change-for-the-better gang vs the don’t-hold-your-breath pessimists. (For an overview of the methodology, see what I posted last October after the 2012 survey was fielded; to get straight to the July pdf, go here).
As a participant in the last two surveys, I’ve taken a close interest in this exercise about the future of the Internet and its anticipated impact on the future of life as we know it. There’s a further motive at work here, and that would be spending time every week in a university classroom. With summer school just finished, it’s time to think again about exactly what we’re all doing in our classrooms, and just what role digital technologies should play, if any, in improving how students learn. Continue reading →
In addition to being a big-time digital animator, Mr Bae teaches. And what he says about the students who turn up in his classes is pretty strong vindication for the unkind words I’ve had to say about Millennials and the malarkey about their being “digital natives”…
“When kids come into my class they divide into three groups,” he says. There are the pure geeks who love technology. There are those trying to understand. And then there is the biggest group: “Those who couldn’t care less.”
Remember, these kids have signed up for highly technical instruction on computer applications used for animation. Even with my cynical attitude, I’d have guessed that a group like this would not have prompted comments like the following from Mr Bae:
“The kids I have, and that is roughly two dozen of the brightest young digital artists a semester, often have no idea what Microsoft Word is. They can’t tell a Mac from a PC. And forget Excel,” he says. He struggles to get his students to use basic computing etiquette.
“[I]t is not too late to recognize the craziness that technology can promote and discover new ways to stay sane in a world that encourages – and even promotes – insanity.” –Larry D. Rosen, iDisorder, p.6
“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” –Albert Einstein
As I noted in my previous comments on the Pew/Elon survey, the votes on Millennial “rewiring” were split (the survey Web page and report download are here). While plenty of participants felt like me (negative), plenty of others took opposing views. If you read through the survey comments, you’ll find allusions to research proving that multitasking is going to screw up young minds. You’ll also find allusions to research proving that multitasking is not going to screw up young minds.
My interest in this subject began as anything but research-oriented. It was a gut reaction to students in class being mentally absent for 3 hours while they texted their hearts out. And more generally to the countless dweebs who’ve taken over our public spaces, crashing into people, holding up lines and ignoring every shade of politesse because they might get a text message. Especially the ones people get while driving off a cliff. Continue reading →