Friday, 21 June 2013

From Latitude to Latitude: a look at Dell's Latitude 10

Dell's Latitude 10 is as most hybrid's become: not a master as either a tablet or a desktop but a fine solution when wanting to have both in a single package.  I had three weeks with the Dell Latitude 10.  I moved my 6 year old Latitude XT to the side, plopped the dock down, and began kicking the tires. Here are my thoughts:

As a teaching tool
Having a tablet that sported Onenote was awesome.  Where my old fliptop Dell would sit at my desk, rarely carried anywhere, the Latitude came with me around the room. Handy if the connection to the projector failed, but
more importantly it became a teaching tool.

My notes on Onenote became my answer key as I walked around the room giving immediate feedback to the students.  I would write on my virtual paper at students' desks to demonstrate Math concepts.  It was engaging for the students and quick and easy for me.

The docking solution for teaching, however, could use some work in my opinion.  When docked to a digital projector, the tablet screen configured to the dimensions of my projector.  This made the image on the tablet even smaller and in turn harder to work with.

And further thought needs to be put into how teachers draw on the device.  When I teach hooked up to a digital projector, drawing on the screen is paramount.  My old Dell had a screen that flipped around and down to become a tablet to write on. On that old Dell: one instance I am laptopping, in another, I am tableting, writing with a stylus on the screen.

The Latitude 10 has seemed to take a step backwards. I either have to take the tablet off the dock and draw with it flat on the desk then put it back on the dock to project my changes or awkwardly draw on the screen while the tablet remains on the dock.  Neither option is preferred.

Possibly a full sized HDMI slot might allow me to connect the tablet directly to the digital projector.  Without using the dock, I could project my inking while the tablet is flat.  A better solution might be a wireless one: making a bluetooth/wifi connection to a separate AppleTV-like device that is plugged into the projector. Then I could project from anywhere. 

I can see now why Apple boasts about their hardware-software niche.  You can tell the Latitude has a slight struggle with its presentation.  Many times I would be swipe, see nothing happen and question: "Is it me; am I doing something wrong; or is it the machine stalling?"  More than once I had to go back to the old ctr-alt-delete to get things started again.  And it's not easy to do that if the dock, with the keyboard and mouse, is back at school.

Several times the connection with my digital projector had disengaged from the tablet when the tablet returned from sleep. Pulling out the HDMI cord from the projector and putting it back in and/or removing the tablet from the base helped reconnect them.  A bug I would hope would be worked out.  

I also used the Latitude to work on Report Cards.  While editing a large file in Word (over 10 MB), I noticed a quarter second lag. It was close to bad enough that I wanted to power up my desktop and work on that instead.  I muddled through but I reflected that a bit more power would avoid this.

More on Apps
The Windows Store does have a lot of what one might need.  Evernote is there but it is not slick.  It seems that I can't swipe but only use the mouse.  With Evernote, it is a right-click to get to the menu, not a swipe from the right.  Apple users have an "intuition" (taught to them by Apple) about how they think things should work. Apps created for the Windows 8 won't necessarily operate the same.  Microsoft may not put as much emphasis into the creating uniformity as Apple does.

No socrative app, Twitter app works well, simple recording software available, games, the Store seems to be building it's repertoire.

The Metro screen is great.  Live-ish updates were made for People, Twitter, book reader, and mail (though I was only able to get the mail app working with Gmail, and not Outlook) apps. 

Windows 8, like the Latitude, is a hybrid operating system: offering the Metro screen and the desktop. Navigating the two can get a little confusing.  For one, switching back to the Metro screen from the desktop to open an app on the desktop seems clunky but it's the Metro screen where I end up pinning things. 

Speakers are good.  The casing has a comfortable feel to it.  Screen is bright. Very light and portable.

All in all we are looking at a good solution that takes advantage of cloud/server storage.  I couldn't help but want a bit more power but I can see how this might be a handy solution for the day to day of teaching.  The lag when dealing with the large report card files is a deal breaker for me, though.  And I don't see report cards going anywhere any time soon. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Unmaking of a Bully

My friend adopted internationally.  Hearing the process that led up to that first meeting is exhausting in and of itself.  The interviews, the waiting, the accumulation of documents and dough, the waiting, the disappointments, the waiting, and then finally the 20 hour flight to the very foreign country.  It's like climbing Mount Everest.  And in the same way, the highest of heights is receiving that little one, yet the steps following are just as arduous, requiring just as much care and attention. 


In international adoption, attachment is huge.  Years become literally devoted to creating secure attachment.  The family tries not to go anywhere or have any guests for months.  The child is worn, cobeded, rocked, held, sung to. Limits are put on who can visit, who can feed, who can hold.  The caregivers become physically and emotionally fastened to the child.  And the child learns that when she has a need, the parent will be there to fill it.  Healthy attachment allows the child to trust, to form healthy relationships, and leads to the capacity to care for others.  Without healthy attachment, normal social, emotional, and psychological development can be stunted.  This opens the door to attachment disorder having negative effects on mood, behaviour and relationships.

Gordon Neufeld: "What makes a bully"

Gordon Neufeld who sees the world through attachment eyes addresses bullying in like fashion.  In an hour long session (seen above) called "What Makes a Bully", Neufeld tries to make sense of the bully from the inside out.  He uses a model that explains bullying in regards to instinct and emotion--a model that covers bullying in the vast variety of arenas it can take place.  He first names four prevailing attempts to understand bullying:

4 Prevailing Explanations
- Power thesis - bullying is from an inherent drive for power
- Learned behaviour thesis - bullying is learned and can be unlearned
- Empathy failure thesis - bullies have not been taught to care
- Entitlement thesis - bullies are spoiled

Finding flaw in all these theories, Neufeld looks at bullying with a different lens, the lens of attachment.  His theory: bullying is Alpha instincts gone awry.  He calls it the "Alpha Askew Thesis".  Put very simply (you'll have to watch the video to get the full picture), inherent in humans is the drive to be cared for (dependence) and to care for others (dominance).  Our caring for others includes an alpha instinct (to take control) coupled with a caring instinct (use that control to care for another) .  Individuals can be wounded in a way that devoids the caring instinct from the alpha instinct leaving a deep seated instinct to dominate those seen as weak..

For Neufeld, it is instinctual.  It is deep.  And it stems from an aberration of a healthy attachment reflex where we should be caring for the weak, not exploiting them.  Building them up, not pushing them down.  Fulfilling needs, not creating them.

As a teacher, I am always looking for insight into this phenomenon, a phenomenon that doesn't make any sense to the core of my being.  Bullying.  It's like a different language.  Most of us have to jump outside ourselves to make any sense of it.  We've been teaching against it like crazy.  Not a kid in BC would be unable to tell you four types of bullying.  They love reciting them.  And even with all the "what would you do" scenarios, pink shirt days, and cyber etiquette lessons, it seems as if we haven't made much of a dent.

So if we, even if only for a moment, can agree with Neufeld's idea, what does that mean for teachers?  What would we need to do? What would we need to change?  According to this theory, how can we unmake the bully?  Here are thoughts in waging the war on two fronts:

Relationship work
Every year we "adopt" a new crowd into our care as teachers.  Could our choices in what we do be guided with the attachment choices of the international adoptor?  I am not recommending strapping on the Ergo Carrier and taking our students for a ride.  But should "attachment activities" be the main endeavour in the first weeks of school?  Could students spend focused time with one teacher?  Could activities of trust and reliance be the forefront?

Alpha Instinct work
Then throughout the year, the activities we choose could evoke a caring component that can couple with the alpha component.  Programs such as Roots of Empathy (bringing a baby into class) , buddy reading, singing at the seniors home, and pen (blog) pals could all be strategically carried out.  We could plan our projects with this in mind: never should there be dominance without helping others.  And we could hit this home over and over and over again.

As always, I'm just spit-balling.  But seeing a framework for understanding bullying that tries to explain it in such far reaching and all encompassing terms leads to self-reflection.  And with a phenomenon that is so pervasive and that impacts so many, thought leaders need to spend time working this out and calling for change.  Either way, the question becomes: does what I do make bullies or unmake them?