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My Month of June

I have spent this month being something of a house husband. With my wife heading back to work, I put in for my long service leave to stay at home. I was also lucky enough that my new employer was willing for me have this time. It has definitely been a blessing to have the opportunity to spend so much time as our second daughter grows up. I watched her go from rolling, pulling herself with objects, pushing herself backwards and progressively maneuver around the room. I also got to experience morning drop-offs.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

  • A Blog for All Seasons: Different blogging platforms enable different possibilities. Here is an account of some examples that I have created over time.

  • REVIEW – Claim Your Domain: The focus is what it means to exist in a digital world and why we need to take more control of our presence. At the heart of this is the question of data.

  • Dr. Stager or; How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Scratch: When it comes to programming, there is a group of people who overlook Scratch as somehow being easy. This sadly misses so much. This is a bit of a reflection on a day I spent with Gary Stager making.

  • The Many Faces of Blogging: Some break blogging down into tasks or unpacking the response. However, we often overlook the purpose and intent behind them. This is some more preparation for my presentation at DigiCon16.

  • Planning with OneNote: OneNote allows users to collaborate without the conflicts created when using applications like Dropbox. Here is a post that shares how.

  • REVIEW – Anywhere Anytime Learning: Bruce Dixon and Susan Einhorn provide an extensive resource to support schools with the integration of technology in order to improve learning.

  • Letter from the Future: Borrowing from Doug Belshaw's letter to his past self, I have used this to wonder what I would change if I had my time again.


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

Field, tenor and mode – a literacy framework for all subjects – Alice Leung makes the claim for using the framework that focuses on field, tenor and mode to support a student's understanding of grammar and writing across every subject.

Literacy is a focus for every teacher, regardless of whether we are teaching primary school or high school, regardless of what subject we teach. Without strong literacy skills, our students cannot access the curriculum. Reading comprehension and writing are essential to succeed to every aspect of education.

Towards a repository of 'open' Open Badges around employability – Doug Belshaw reflects on badges and their connection with employability. He also links to a burgeoning repository that he and Bryan Mathers are developing on Github. Along with their introduction to open badges, this is a great place to start the badge revolution.

For something like employability or new literacies, having a reference badge system is a great way to get started quickly and easily doing the important work of building capacity. To that end, Bryan and I thought about setting up a GitHub repository that would include everything you need to start issuing a whole range of badges around employability. Our 'payment' (we'd probably do this through weareopen.coop) would be in the form of attribution and lead-generation for future work.
Starting a Patch from Scratch – The team behind the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program reflect on a collection of stories associated with getting started in regards to creating your own garden. To support this process, they have provided a resource with a range of tips and tricks to getting going with kitchen gardening in and out of school.  

We’ve also put together some free gardening resources to help you start your own patch from scratch. The pack includes tips on how to plan your garden, making a no-dig garden bed, how to plant seeds and seedlings, mulching,  planting charts and recipes for homemade pasta, pesto and a Salad of the Imagination.

Maker Camp Toy Making and Hacking – Jacqui Gerstein provides a series of instructions associated with making your own toys. A useful introduction into the world of making.

For the past two summers, I have gotten the marvelous opportunity to teach maker education camps to elementary level students, aged 5 to 12. Each week has a different theme and each theme meets for one week from 9:00 to 12:00 with a half hour break. Our first week’s theme was on Toy Making and Hacking.

Get a Jump Start on Your Next Web Site with This HTML Cheat Sheet – Alan Henry shares an infographic which provides a fantastic starting point when it comes to HTML.

Whether you’re learning HTML or you’re a practiced hand and need a refresher, this HTML cheat sheet gives you a quick reference for commonly used tags, what they do, how to use them, and examples of how they work.

Sentence Tree – An interesting resource that visualises the grammar construction of any sentence. 

Best of Education (Padlet) – A collection of Padlets associated with education. Not only does it provide a great collection of resources, it is also a great demonstration of what is possible with Padlet.

Edtech

Mathwashing: Facebook and the Zeitgeist of Data Worship – In an interview with Tyler Wood, Fred Benesen explains how and why data is far more subjective than we are often willing to recognise.

The term mathwashing should be more of a warning to fellow technologists: don’t overlook the inherent subjectivity of building things with data just because you’re using math. Algorithm and data driven products will always reflect the design choices of the humans who built them, and it’s irresponsible to assume otherwise. 

How Oracle’s Fanciful History of the Smartphone Failed at Trial – Joe Mullin provides a lengthy reflection on the Oracle vs. Google case. The implications for an open web are serious when we start arguing about the legality of code.

Oracle's argument looked less like a complaint about unfair competition and more like a complaint about the mere existence of competition, complete with Hollywood's trademark complaint about all things Internet-y: you can't compete with free.

How Mark Zuckerberg Led Facebook’s War to Crush Google Plus – Antonio Garcia Martinez provides a tell-all account of Facebook's response to the release of Google Plus. What stands out is the cult-like ethos that exists around some of these companies, one that goes beyond greed.

Facebook is full of true believers who really, really, really are not doing it for the money, and really, really will not stop until every man, woman, and child on earth is staring into a blue-bannered window with a Facebook logo. Which, if you think about it, is much scarier than simple greed. The greedy man can always be bought at some price, and his behavior is predictable. But the true zealot? He can’t be had at any price, and there’s no telling what his mad visions will have him and his followers do. 

Critical questions for big data in education – Ben Williamson continues on his journey down the data rabbit hole, unpacking a range of questions associated with big data.

Some of these questions clearly need more work, but make clear I think the need for more work to critically interrogate big data in education.

Be Careful What You Code For – danah boyd provides a different perspective on coding. Like Quinn Norton, she addresses the problem of poor code, suggesting that moving forward we need more checks and balances.

Technology can be amazingly empowering. But only when it is implemented in a responsible manner. Code doesn’t create magic. Without the right checks and balances, it can easily be misused.

Negotiating the Future – Sylvia Martinez questions smart technology, suggesting that there are some things that are beyond algorithms and machine learning. Some things that we really need to decide for ourselves.

The real dilemmas that will arise from self-driving cars and other “smart” machines will not be the rare life-or-death ones. They will be the smaller, every day, every millisecond decisions. They will be 99.9999% mundane and hardly noticeable — until they aren’t. Since all these machines will be networked, not only will they make decisions, they will communicate, and therefore negotiate with others.

Twitter’s Past, Present and Future — Less Public Square, More Private Rooms – Preston Towers discusses Twitter and what it represents to wider society. This in part reminds me of David Thornburg’s exploration of spaces.

The public square analogy has its greatest potential to work when Twitter is at its most active during events, such as during major tragedies, political events, TV shows, sporting events. It provides a chance for everyone to share a moment online, be in a virtual public square. But it’s still a square where private suites and rooms exist. And it’s during the down times, when the people are busy with their everyday lives, where this becomes exposed.

With a Chromebook I Don't Need a Macbook Anymore – Another reflection on using a Chromebook. I am not sure if they are the answer for everyone and everything, but definitely seem to be finding a place within the market. My only question is the understanding and control that is being sacrificed in using one, but how many people use sites like Github anyway?

The more I use a Chromebook (home brew), the more I realize that I actually don’t need a new Mac. There simply are no tasks or things I need one for. And please note that this is about my own personal user case. I am no developer, graphical designer, musical artist or professional video producer. I am a simple blogger/youtuber, and I use my devices accordingly.

How Robots Will Change the World – Simon Wilson provides a concise account of where things currently stand in regards to AI, robots and the future of jobs. This is a good introduction into the work of Martin Ford.

If we fail to start adapting, it means grim times ahead, and intense socio-political struggles over resources. As Stephen Hawking put it last year: “Everyone can enjoy a life of luxurious leisure if the machine-produced wealth is shared,  or most people can end up miserably poor if the machine owners successfully lobby against wealth redistribution.”

The self-fulfilling prophesy – Luciano Floridi explores how the technology that we use has the tendency to want to control us and take away our privacy. He suggests that more needs to be done to break the model if technology is truly to be transformational.

We should start regu­lating adver­tise­ment for the digital industry now that our infor­ma­tional iden­tity is under threat. An adver­tise­ment-free infos­phere would be a better place and put an end to the strange predica­ment whereby the tech­nolo­gies that can empower us so much to express ourselves are also the tech­nolo­gies that can mummify so effec­tively who we are and can be.

Tech Pedagogy: An Annotated Exploration – Kevin Hodgson provides an excellent summary of a series of posts from Terry Elliot investigating digital pedagogies. Also a great example of use of outliners with Diigo.

My friend, Terry, recently published an entire series of blog posts in which he introduces and explores various technology tools, from an angle of pedagogy. He wonders as much of “the why” as much as the “here it is,” and I like that.

Storytelling and Reflection

Brexit wins. An illusion dies – There have been many great commentaries and reflections on the Brexit debacle, from those including John Tomsett, Jose Picardo, Natalie Scott, Deborah Netolicky, Sue Crowley, Laura Hilliger, Doug Belshaw,  Martin Weller and Cory Doctorow. The best response I have read is from Paul Mason as he talks about the next step. Whereas many look for clauses and means of getting out of the decision, Mason unpacks the result and provides ten suggestions in moving forward with the decision.

The Brexit result makes a radical left government in Britain harder to get — because it’s likely Scotland will leave, and the UK will disintegrate, and the Blairites will go off and found some kind of tribute band to neoliberalism with the Libdems. But if you trace this event to its root cause, it is clear: neoliberalism is broken. 

Who Knows What's Best for Students? – Peter DeWitt unpacks some of the different voices who influence learning, from students, parents, teachers, leaders, consultants and researchers. In the end, he suggests that we need to work collaboratively.

Before you go to a consultant, try to tap into the power of the teachers, students and leaders in your school community first.

Coaching about Teaching Practice: Findings from Emerging Research – In an interview on the Growth Coaching International site, Alex Guedes reflects on his work investigating the effectiveness of coaching as a means of building capacity and improving learning.

Capacity is a complex blend of skills that allows a teacher to make hundreds of decisions daily in their role. Through the coaching conversations, the coaches help to conceptualise teaching practice, the coaching model helps teachers reflect on their work and the role of the coach helps them to gain feedback on their implementation of strategies in the classroom which further drive their professional practice to set new goals and strive for new highs.

Your GPS Is Making You Dumber, and What That Means for Teaching – Dan Meyer uses GPS as metaphor for learning and discusses the limits to step-by-step instructions. It has elicited   quite a response, with a range of comments on both sides of the divide.

So your GPS does an excellent job transporting you efficiently from one point to another, but a poor job helping you acquire the survey knowledge to understand the terrain and adapt to changes.

Why Silicon Valley is Embracing Universal Basic Income – Jathan Sadowski provides an interesting take on all the hype from Silicon Valley at the moment regards a 'universal basic income'. I think the most important point that he makes is that it should only be one step that is a part of a wider welfare solution.

It is cruel to call for regressive measures like dismantling welfare to establish UBI and then demand a piece for yourself – or else stigmatize the assistance. UBI can help give people more stability in their life, the workplace and society. But it should work in tandem with targeted aid motivated by equity over blind equality. The hungry should get a bigger slice of the pie.

Content is a Print Concept – Dave Cormier continues with his thinking around rhizomatic learning, this time questioning content.

I’m starting to believe, more and more, that given THE INTERNETS, content should be something that gets created BY a course not BEFORE it. Our current connectivity allows us to actually engage in discussions at scale… can that replace content? 

Lessons Learned from a Decade of Blogging – Bill Ferriter reflects on ten years blogging, why he started and why he continues. A great insight into the benefits of being a connected educator.

Long story short: The most important lesson that I've learned in a decade worth of writing here on the Radical is that blogging isn't about voice or audience or influence in our profession at all.  Instead, it's about reflection and making contributions and learning through thinking.

Gawker’s Bankruptcy Is How a Free Press Dies, One VC at a Time – Marcus Wohlsen explains how the saga between Peter Thiel and Gawker came about. He also unpacks some of the ramifications for the court case and subsequent bankruptcy of Gawker, as well as what this might mean for the future of journalism.

Now that Thiel has created a template for using money to bring an unruly press to heel, it’s likely to happen again. That presidential candidate (the one Thiel supports) has promised to “open up” libel laws to make suing the press easier. In the old days, billionaires might just buy their own outlets. But now, engaging the press not in argument but in a legal war of attrition is apparently no longer taboo.

The Revolution Won’t Necessarily Be Televised – Dan Haesler reviews ABC’s documentary Revolution School. Personally, I think that it may be better considered Renaissance School, a rebirthing of the past, rather than anything truly revolutionary.

I was left underwhelmed because there was very little in the show that could be seen as being revolutionary. Whilst it might have documented a wide-reaching change in conditions, attitudes or operations at Kambrya, the claim that Revolution School would “serve as a lesson for all schools in Australia,” might be seen as a tad patronising.

FOCUS ON … Getting Connected

Inspired by Richard Olsen, I decided to turn my post I wrote on Becoming a Connected Educator into an infographic:


READ WRITE RESPOND #006

So that is June for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear from you.

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