Presentations and Storytelling

Storytelling is a powerful element in today’s day and age. This does not always flow through to the art of lectures and presentations. As Alan Levine explains:

I find most courses, also academic presentations ignore the basic tenants of film and storytelling to lead strong, to hook people in, and to take them on a story shape of a journey where the end is not revealed at the startsource

What is human capital?

Human capital is the attempt to identify the investment within the human, as opposed to the more socially centred notions of capital perpetuated by Communism and other such economic systems. It was developed by Friedman in the 1960’s. However, it has not necessarily produced the legacy that was envisaged:

Friedman envisaged a society in which we’d all be wealthy, thriving entrepreneurs. What we got in reality was a pay cut, reduced holiday or sick leave, a chronic skills deficit, credit-card debt and endless hours of pointless work. If anything, the story of human capital theory in Western economies has been about divesting in people, not the opposite.

That’s because it was born within an extreme period in 20th-century history, when many believed that the fate of humanity was hanging in the balance. It should therefore be approached as such, a rather eccentric and largely unrealistic relic of the Cold War. Only in that highly unusual milieu could mavericks such as Hayek and Friedman ever be taken seriously and listened to.source

Google’s Intrusion into Schools

There has been a lot discussed in regards to the presence of commercial platforms in schools, the FANGS as Alex Hern might put it. This recently came to light with a post from Natasha Singer discussing Google’s intrusion into the classroom:

Google makes $30 per device by selling management services for the millions of Chromebooks that ship to schools. But by habituating students to its offerings at a young age, Google obtains something much more valuable. source

Unsurprisingly, this has sparked some debate, with Andrew Stillman arguing,

Google has captured market share from these incumbents through scrappy, user-centric product management practices that have produced tools that transform what’s possible in classrooms in a way that — used well — can result in markedly more powerful, iterative, feedback-rich, creative student experiences. source

Doug Levin adds the following to the discussion,

The choice by education leaders to obfuscate and excuse the trading away of our children’s communications and information (about their social lives, emotions, and behaviors) in exchange for discounted school technology is neither a good deal for schools nor the only way that schools can afford technology. It speaks to the success of technology company advocacy and marketing (including the overselling of the intelligence of their tools), as much as it speaks to a lack of imagination by education leaders. source

On a side note is Bill Fitzgerald’s discussion of Edmodo and Doubleclick’s COPPA-compliant flag, where somehow collecting data is compliant.

Identity and Transperancy

So much of today’s social media is about a one true identity. This is captured in The Circle with the discussion of the concept of TruYou:

Instead, he put all of it, all of every user’s needs and tools, into one pot and invented TruYou—one account, one identity, one password, one payment system, per person. There were no more passwords, no multiple identities. Your devices knew who you were, and your one identity—the TruYou, unbendable and unmaskable—was the person paying, signing up, responding, viewing and reviewing, seeing and being seen. You had to use your real name, and this was tied to your credit cards, your bank, and thus paying for anything was simple. One button for the rest of your life online. To use any of the Circle’s tools, and they were the best tools, the most dominant and ubiquitous and free, you had to do so as yourself, as your actual self, as your TruYou. The era of false identities, identity theft, multiple user names, complicated passwords and payment systems was over. Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal. Once you had a single account, it carried you through every corner of the web, every portal, every pay site, everything you wanted to do. TruYou changed the internet, in toto, within a year. Though some sites were resistant at first, and free-internet advocates shouted about the right to be anonymous online, the TruYou wave was tidal and crushed all meaningful opposition. It started with the commerce sites. Why would any non-porn site want anonymous users when they could know exactly who had come through the door? Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness. source

This comes back to something that danah boyd spoke about in It’s Complicated where it was bad faith to take a conversation seen on the open web out of context.

Doug Belshaw on Keybase

Education is Changing—It’s Time Assessment Caught Up

There is a lot of discussion about 21st century learning and/or capabilities. What is not always discussed is how assessment is transformed to adjust to this. Esther Care suggests that the focus should be skills in context:

 >Twenty-first century education is about skills—sets of processes. Our students need to be able to adapt to contexts, meet challenges, and solve problems that are as yet unknown. Our best chance at helping them succeed is to thus use assessment to support their learning about the sets of processes that they will bring to bear in those situations. Let’s focus on the skills, not the scores.://“>source

Your Browser, Your Annotations

Annotations allow users to apply a layer over the web. The question that needs to be asked is whether this is a good thing. Mike Caulfield adds his perspective:

it’s your browser, and you’re allowed to annotate anything you want with it. But the separate question is what should be encouraged by the design of our technology. People want to turn this into a legal debate, but it’s not. It’s a tools debate, and the main product of a builder of social tools is not the tool itself but the culture that it creates. So what sort of society do you want to create?

And this …

Annotation is incredibly promising. It’s also a chance to get this sort of social design right, and learn from the repeated mistakes of the past. I’m hoping those involved with it right now will reach out to those with a deep and personal knowledge of how these things go wrong and get ahead of the curve for once. source

[[Annotating a Copy of the Web]]

Loose Parts and Space

Learning environments involve so many variables. One of which is the feeling associated with such space, another is the phyiscal space. Countering the desks and rows, the theory of loose parts discusses the importance of change in the environment.

In educational circles, there is a theory that helps explain the compulsion; it’s called the theory of loose parts. Originally developed by architect Simon Nicholson in 1972, when he was puzzling over how to make playgrounds more engaging, the loose parts theory suggests that one needs random elements, changing environments, in order to think independently and cobble together one’s own vision of things. Nature is an infinite source of loose parts, whereas the office or the living room, being made by people, is limited. source

I wonder how this relates to concept of hot desks.

[[Open Office Stress]]

[[Taking a Walk to Restart the Mind]]

BYOD as a Facet of Differentiation

There is a lot said about technology in the schools. Whether it be debates around 1:1 or which device schools should go with. Another part of this discussion is associated with students having choice. This is often represented by the idea of Bring Your Own … Adding a different perspective to this discussion, Alan Thwaites suggests that this is best seen as an extension of differentiation:

BYOT is just another facet of differentiation. Sure adjustments are needed, but these are less challenging than you might think. There will be no chaos. For teachers, there will be less focus on the technology and more on learning. Like the sound system at a concert, the technology will be present as an enabler, but not the focus. source

This is something that is captured in the work of Mal Lee and Roger Brodie in their work around the Digital Evolution of School

Mobile Web

In a culture of BYOD, many see smartphones as a great equaliser. However, this raises a new set of problems as the experience on mobile is considerably different to siting at a keyboard. As Michael Caulfield explains:

How do we get kids to work on laptops, and stop reading on phones? How do we get them to learn the techniques of multi-tab investigations? Because this world where we’ve started reading everything on single-tabbed phone browsers, without workable copy and paste, without context menus, without keyboards? It’s going to make us very dumb compared to the people that came before us. And I think we need all the intelligence we can use right now. source

I wonder if this is another positive for Chromebooks in schools?

Facebook is NOT an RSS Reader

Facebook is a dominant space on the web, bringing people together in the one space. The problem with this is no-one knows exactly how it all works. Whereas an RSS feed will provide a summary, the Facebook feed is algorithmically curated. As Bryan Alexander explains:

Facebook is not an RSS reader.  Its front page displays updates from friends based on… we have little idea what reasons.  There’s software behind those display choices, a black box algorithm which picks or hides posts.  We can guess what works – my favorite theory is that the number of comments and likes are key – but ultimately cannot tell.  So I’ve missed posts from friends about weddings, deaths, international moves, major job changes, and who knows what else?  With RSS I can count on being able to see stuff.  I can also arrange feeds into whatever order I like, and into categorical folders.  Not so with Facebook. source

Critical look at Facebook Pages