By Janet Goulden, Cheshire Show, Knutsford, CC (by)

by Janet Goulden, Cheshire Show, Knutsford, CC (by)

This is not a post about e-learning or technology – but it does relate to my personal learning journey and stemmed from a variety of media – online and broadcast, as well as online and face to face conversations.

Some months ago SBS had a show about a food critic who moves to Tassie and becomes a farmer. Called Gourmet Farmer, the show was a wonderful view of Tassie and had some lovely food stories. There was one episode that has started me down a path I didn’t expect. In this episode, it was time for a pig who was purposely raised for it to go to slaughter. He led the pig out of the pen and it looked up at him with trust on its face (and yes, I know I’m anthropomorphising here, but pigs are said to be incredibly intelligent) and waddled up the truck to its death. I looked over at one of my cats reclining nearby and he had what looked like to me the exact expression that pig had. I sobbed for 10 minutes.

Babyback ribs

Babyback ribs by me

Last month, the Australian news magazine show Four Corners devoted a show to the live export trade Australia has with Indonesia.  I will admit to being too cowardly to watch it. But I heard about it on Triple J’s Hack, and the sound of fear and pain emanating from a mistreated animal was chilling beyond anything ever manufactured by a horror movie. It was guttural, primal, raw and just the thought of it makes me cry as I type this. It shocked so many that politicians put a suspension on trade and are pressing for Australian standards to be introduced.

But what are Australian standards? What’s the inside of an abattoir look like? Linda McCartney has been widely quoted as having said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, the whole world would be vegetarian.”  So I thought I’d try to find out.

I found a YouTube video series “From Farmgate to Your Plate” that had one story that was obviously meant to present a positive image.  The cattle are stunned, then I didn’t see what happened next but the next shot you see is them having their throats slashed. The stunning supposedly renders them unconscious.

I then sought out a video on Halal abattoirs. This Belgian Halal abattoir video made me ill. If you are familiar with Halal or Kosher abattoir practices and this video is not typical, please let me know. In the comments, someone claiming to be a veterinarian says that throat slashing, no matter how well done or how sharp the knife, causes pain to the animal.

Another abattoir video that is supposed to demonstrate a model pig slaughter facility looked cruel as hell to me. At 00:00:48, the worker is holding down a struggling pig with his foot as he puts a metal band around its hind foot and hoists it up for throat gouging.

Videos like this give me hope that there will be better lives for pigs in Australia but the training package only recommends REDUCING hitting, slapping, kicking and prodding of animals. Videos like this that show what is allowable under law make me shudder.

This Lateline story From Farm to Fork regarding food labelling also give me pause. Terms like free range, farm fresh and cage free regarding eggs are open to interpretation —  unlike ‘organic’ which is a standard.

I’ve got a lot of thinking to do yet, but some of my initial thoughts are:

  • I’m going to ask my butcher where he gets his meat and insist on free range
  • When I go out, if the restaurant can’t tell me if meat is cruelty free, I’ll eat fish or veggie
  • I am NOT going to eat pre-packaged food that can’t provide info on where meat content has come from

If you have ways you avoid meat products resulting from cruel treatment to animals, I’d really like to hear from you.

Dear Teachers

GWhiz Mobile Learning Assessment, Wesley Fryer, CC (by) (nc)

When you are putting together an online course, and you sayW3C accessibility guidelines are too hard to follow, what you’re really saying is it isn’t about your students, it’s about YOU.

W3C accessibility guidelines are not just about making the web accessible for people with screen readers: they are also about ensuring the web will be available on as many different devices as possible:

  • You cannot justify using fixed width tables for layout at a time where it is becoming evident learners are more likely to be accessing the web via a device other than a desktop.
  • You cannot justify using one huge image because it looks cool on a page even though it might be impossible to see the detail in it on small devices.
  • You cannot justify using flash with no alternatives for devices that cannot render it.

When you as a tech innovator say you are after what is easiest for teachers, you are taking students out of the spotlight.

  • It’s a mindset that results in online courses that consist of PDFs and quizzes – cuz THAT is EASY for teachers.
  • It’s a mindset that results in images being pirated and used incorrectly without proper attributions or permissions.
  • It’s a mindset that results in educators publicly asking for software to rip YouTube videos and getting help from others to do so.

Being an effective e-learning designer isn’t easy. But it can be streamlined. Your first course could be one that teaches how to create interoperable, cross-platform, mobile, accessible courses that could be easily shared. Now THAT would be empowering for your colleagues AND your students.