Liked Meet the Secret Algorithm That’s Keeping Students Out of College by Tom Simonite (Wired)

Determining whether IB’s system had flaws is challenging without knowing its formula or the inputs and outputs. Just because some humans don’t like the outputs of a data analysis doesn’t mean that it’s incorrect. But Suresh Venkatasubramanian, a professor at the University of Utah who studies the social consequences of automated decisionmaking, says it appears IB could have deployed its system more responsibly. “All this points to what happens when you try to install some sort of automated process without transparency,” he says. “The burden of proof should be on the system to justify its existence.”

Bookmarked Not Taking Bad Advice: a Pedagogical Model by Jesse StommelJesse Stommel

Best practices, which aim to standardize teaching and flatten the differences between students, are anathema to pedagogy.

In Jesse Stommel’s flipped keynote at Digital Pedagogy Lab 2020, he pushes back on the tendency to rely on various pre-existing pedagogical models.

In higher education, too many of us cling to other people’s models, because we have rarely been taught, encouraged, or given the support we need to create our own.

What matters most are the conversations as much as the product.a

 Models like Bloom’s are a distraction from the hard conversations we should be having about teaching and learning, and I don’t think that’s an accident.

This is what I like about the Modern Learning Canvas and the way in which it helps frames the conversation.

Listened History of Ideas (Talking Politics Podcast)

History Of Ideas is a new series of talks by David Runciman in which he explores some of the most important thinkers and prominent ideas lying behind modern politics – from Hobbes to Gandhi, from democracy to patriarchy, from revolution to lock down.

David also talks about the crises – revolutions, wars, depressions, pandemics – that generated these new ways of political thinking.

Replied to Next Level Beat Sequencer
Really enjoyed how you broke this down Eric. I grew up Fruity Loops and have only recently come to Garageband. I have actually been messing around with Ableton Live too lately. All has me thinking about something Clay Shirky wrote:

The thing I can least afford is to get things working so perfectly that I don’t notice what’s changing in the environment anymore.

Bookmarked How SDKs, hidden trackers in your phone, work by Sara Morrison (Wired)

It feels impossible to get anything done right now. Here’s how to keep your head above water—without falling into the busy trap.

Sarah Morrison digs into the way in which APIs and SDK kits provide the framework for tracking.

SDKs themselves are not trackers, but they are the means through which most tracking through mobile apps occurs. Simply put, an SDK is a package of tools that helps an app function in some way. Apple and Android offer operating system SDKs so developers can build their apps for their respective devices, and third parties offer SDKs that allow developers to add certain features to those apps quickly and with minimal effort.

If you do not want to engage with the inherent tracking, Morrison provides some possible strategies:

If you don’t want to simply trust that a location data firm, data broker, or ad company has your best privacy interests at heart, there are things you can do to prevent your information from getting out there. Apple and Android now give device owners the option to limit ad tracking, so you can do that if you haven’t already. You can also limit ad tracking on services like Facebook, Google, and Twitter. If an app asks for permission to use a device feature such as your location, only agree to it if it’s something you really need, and only turn location services on when you’re using them. And read the privacy policies on the apps you download to get the best possible sense of whether they’re sharing your data and whom they’re sharing it with, and opt out of sharing with data location companies where possible — X-Mode and Cuebiq both offer ways to do this directly. Most privacy experts believe it’s impossible to truly stop tracking on these devices and through their apps, but this should at least reduce it.

The future of tracking is still somewhat unknown. Although users may not want such infiltration, it is still a significant part in regards to the funding of platform capitalism.

Bookmarked How to Stay Productive When the World Is on Fire by Alan Henry (Wired)

It feels impossible to get anything done right now. Here’s how to keep your head above water—without falling into the busy trap.

Alan Henry provides some tips for surviving the current pandemic, such as taking deliberate breaks, setting clear boundaries, use technology to structure your time, and self compassion and care. My only concern is that such boundaries are not as easy to create when the circumstances are ad hoc, rather than intentional.

via Doug Belshaw

Bookmarked The Constant Risk of a Consolidated Internet by Ian Bogost (The Atlantic)

The internet was invented to anticipate the aftermath of nuclear war, which thankfully never happened. But the information war that its technological progeny ignited happens every day, even if you can’t log in to Twitter to see it.

Ian Bogost reflects on the recent Twitter hack to highlight how centralized the internet has become.

The fact that the Twitter hack wasn’t consequential further alienates the public from the risks of centralization in information infrastructure. Most Twitter users probably didn’t even notice the drama. As far as we know, the few who were hacked suffered limited ill effects. And the low-grade power users, like me, who were caught in the crossfire either got their account back and carried on as before or didn’t (yet) and amount to uncounted casualties of centralized communications.

The concern is about the implications associated with such platforms for manipulation.

Liked Educators: Being better together

Leadership is not a position, but behaviour, action, a way of being. Focusing on the practices of leading is something I explored in my recently-published chapter ‘Being, becoming and questioning the school leader:  An autoethnographic exploration of a woman in the middle’ in the edited book Theorising identity and subjectivity in educational leadership researchI wrote the following.

“A focus on leading over the leader allows the work of leading to be considered beyond the domain of autonomous individuals, focusing instead on ways of leading throughout organisations (Grice, 2018; Wilkinson & Kemmis, 2015). This enables a focus on the doing of leadership rather than on being a leader. … Considering leadership as practice rather than person encompasses the deliberate choices of anyone participating in the act of leading; it opens up leadership theorising beyond the individual or the principal to anyone behaving in leaderly ways.” (Netolicky, 2020, p.105)

Replied to Jack Antonoff on Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, and More by Spencer Kornhaber (The Atlantic)

The musician, who co-created some of the year’s standout records, from Taylor Swift and Lana Del Rey, is always asking, “How do you cut all the bullshit out?”

I am of the belief that if you placed Jack Antonoff in the room with a bunch of random instruments and an artist he would still manage to achieve something. It is easy to label Antonoff as having a sound, however the contrast in his work highlight his versatility. What stands out most with his work is his tendency to ask ‘what if’, as was capture with his work with Taylor Swift’s Lover:

What ended up happening was, it turned into this weird symphony of reverb. That comfort of this song being so perfect, it was like, “Okay, let’s fuck around.” What if I whack the snare with a brush? What if we only used the room sound? What if we record your entire vocal through a space echo? What if we had this bananas plucky string bridge?

Bookmarked What does ‘back to basics’ really mean? What ‘reforms’ are being signalled this time? (AARE)

What does Premier Berejiklian mean when she dubs the NSW curriculum review as “back to basics” reform?

Naomi Barnes reflects on the many iterations of ‘back to basics’ education and highlights the way in which this empty signifier means more than just reading, writing and arithmetic.
Bookmarked Late Night Isn’t Impressed with Trump’s Cognitive Dissonance by Trish Bendix

“It was impressive until they asked Trump what he ate for lunch that day and he said, ‘Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV,’” Jimmy Fallon joked after the president once again bragged about his cognitive test results.

I really enjoyed this summary of responses from Colbert and Fallon. However, my favourite response was the remix to Daft Punk’s Harder Faster Better Stronger:

Oh, and there is always Sarah Cooper:

Replied to Elderblog Sutra: 11 – angkorwatification

Applied to a blog, angkorwatification is a sort of textual equivalent of rewilding. You have a base layer of traditional blog posts that is essentially complete in the sense of having created, over time, an idea space with a clear identity, and a more or less deliberately conceived architecture to it. And you have a secondary organic growth layer that is patiently but relentlessly rewilding the first, inorganic one. That second layer also emerges from the mind of the blogger of course, but does so via surrender to brain entropy rather than via writerly intentions disciplining the flow of words. I’ve seen some other old sites undergo angkorwatification. Some seem to happily surrender to it like I am doing, others seem to fight it, like I won’t.

I really like this idea of ‘angkorwatification’ Venkatesh. I spent years carving out longer elaborations. However, in recent times, I have taken to engaging in ideas and curating my bit of the web. For me, this is another example of developing a blog and how our intent emerges in time.
Bookmarked Rediscovering the Small Web
Parimal Satyal explores the world of the small web. This starts with a history of the web and the creation of spaces using HTML and CSS, where you depended on linking between and to different sites to navigate around. This is in stark contrast to the commercial web that is organised around products and optimised search. For Satyal, the modern web of marketing loses much of the creativity of the early days.

As fun as it is to explore what’s out there, the best part is really to join in and make your own website. Not on closed platforms or on social media mediated by ad companies, but simply in your own little corner of the web. It’s the best way to see how simple and open the web really is.

You could easily put up those drawings you’ve been making, share your thoughts and ideas, or reviews of your favourite whiskys. Make a website to share your writing tips or your best recipes. Or a list of your favourite addresses in your city for travelers who might be visiting.

It is interesting to read this along side Eevee’s dive into the world of CSS, Charlie Owen’s call to return to the beauty and weirdness found in the early web and Kicks Condor’s discussion of what we left in the old web. I was also left thinking again about Tom Critchlow’s discussion of small b blogging. It would seem that Facebook recognises the lack of creativity associated with the modern web with its latest experiment. and creativity

via Alan Levine

Bookmarked What If Working From Home Goes on … Forever?

The coronavirus crisis is forcing white-collar America to reconsider nearly every aspect of office life. Some practices now seem to be wastes of time, happily discarded; others seem to be unexpectedly crucial, and impossible to replicate online. For workers wondering right now if they’re ever going back to the office, the most honest answer is this: Even if they do, the office might never be the same.

Clive Thompson breaks down a number of stories and challenges associated with the move to remote working. He explores how sales has moved online, with adjustments to the pitches, including a focus on lighting and virtual background. He unpacks the changes associated with balancing work and personal in the same space. A key part of this is the use of a range of productivity tools and adjustments to the way we work.

Like Estenson, they had, over weeks of experimentation, begun to recognize and adjust to the strengths and weaknesses of their various communications tools. Zoom meetings carried a whiff of formality, since they were preplanned — with a link to join sent around — so it felt like filing into a conference room: useful for talking business, but a bit stiff for batting around ideas between two people. So, for quick, one-to-one talks, they gravitated to a feature in Slack that enables video calls between two users. Someone who saw a colleague logged into Slack — signaled by a green dot beside the name — could instantly request a video chat. It was more like popping your head over a cubicle wall unannounced, to engage a colleague in an impromptu two-minute confab. Tracy Coats, the company’s director of partnerships, said she had become an ardent fan of this practice.

The reality is that remote work can present a certain paradox. You can feel removed from colleagues even while drowning in digital messages from them. Associated with this, many feel fatigue due to the preformative aspects of being a part of video conferences all day long.

Video chat also makes it harder to achieve “synchrony,” a sort of unconscious, balletic call-and-response that emerges when two people are in the same room. In this situation, we often mimic someone’s body posture without realizing it and scrutinize tiny bits of facial timing — noticing, say, when the other person is about to smile.

Another problem is that there is more effort required when online.

Research suggests that people find it harder to build cohesion and trust online. David Nguyen says his academic research found that “in a videoconferencing situation, trust is actually quite fragile.” Work by him and others in the field shows that people more readily form cooperative bonds when they are face to face, whereas in video “trust is diminished overall,” he says. “Trust grows a little slower than in face-to-face conditions.”

This is something that Mike Caulfield touches on in regards to the delivery of content.

It is interesting to consider this alongside Ben WIlliamson and Anna Hogan’s work in regards to the evolution of the global education industry during the pandemic.

Bookmarked India, Jio, and the Four Internets (Stratechery)

One of the more pernicious mistruths surrounding the debate about TikTok is that this will potentially lead to the splintering of the Internet; this completely erases the history of China’s Great Firewall, started 23 years ago, which effectively cut China off from most Western services. That the U.S. may finally respond in kind is a reflection of reality, not the creation of a new one.

What is new is the increased splintering in the non-China Internet: the U.S. model is still the default for most of the world, but the European Union and India are increasingly pursuing their own paths.

Ben Thompson continues his exploration of TikTok in his discussion of the ‘four internets’: China, Europe, Silicon Valley and India. In particular, he highlights the rise of Jio and the Indian internet.

It is increasingly impossible — or at least irresponsible — to evaluate the tech industry, in particular the largest players, without considering the geopolitical concerns at stake. With that in mind, I welcome Jio’s ambition. Not only is it unreasonable and disrespectful for the U.S. to expect India to be some sort of vassal state technologically speaking, it is actually a good thing to not only have a counterweight to China geographically, but also a counterweight amongst developing countries specifically. Jio is considering problem-spaces that U.S. tech companies are all too often ignorant of, which matters not simply for India but also for much of the rest of the world.

This is missing Washington DC’s commercial internet and the Moscow mule model from Kieron O’Hara’s list.

Bookmarked Big space by Katie Mack (AEON)

The cosmic horizon defining our observable universe is a hard limit. We can’t see beyond it, and unless our understanding of the structure of reality changes drastically, we can be confident we never will. The expansion of the cosmos is speeding up; anything beyond our horizon now will be carried away from us faster and faster, and its light will never be able to catch up. While we might never be able to say with certainty what lies beyond that border, what all the theories have in common is that our observable universe is part of a much, much larger space.

Whether that space contains a multiverse of bubbles, each with different physical laws; whether it’s part of an ever-growing cosmos of which we are only one part, in one cycle; or whether space extends outward in directions we can’t conceive, we currently just don’t know. But we’re seeking clues.

The patterns in the cosmic microwave background light, the distribution of galaxies, and even experiments testing gravity and the behaviour of particle physics are giving us insight into the fundamental structure of the Universe, and into its evolution in its earliest moments. We are getting closer and closer to being able to tell our whole cosmic story. We can already see, directly, the fire in which our universe was forged, the moments just after its beginning. With the clues we are gathering now, we might, someday, follow the story all the way to its end.

In an extract from Katie Mack’s book, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), she unpacks our understanding of the size and space of the universe and whether in fact there are multiverses at play.
Bookmarked Noir, Cop Shows, and the End of Police TV by Stephen Kearse (The Atlantic)

At the level of archetype, fiction has mined every species of cop: dirty, crooked, straight, renegade, superhero, consultant, dog, mall, Robo. Even at the level of genus, the numbers are stifling: vice, SWAT, major crimes, sexual crimes, precincts, homicide detectives, criminal profilers, ad infinitum. As the activist Rashad Robinson (who petitioned for Cops to be canceled back in 2013, when it was on Fox) recently told NPR, “the cop character is the most overdeveloped character on TV.” We’ve reached peak cop.

Stephen Kearse reflects on representation police on the screen and argues that we need more nuance provided by noir.

Ultimately, noir is a lodestar for decentering cop stories because it embraces fallibility. The schmucks, the washouts, the paranoiacs, and the losers of noir are captivating because they fail as often as they succeed. They are cunning and clumsy, inspiring and utterly full of shit. They are manic and perfectly cognizant, sometimes so insightful it drives them mad. Above all, noir stories bend cities and professions into odd shapes, imagining worlds where communities and individuals can solve problems without summoning lawless armed militias. There are fewer heroes in noir, but far more people. I choose option two.

Listened Innovation in Learning Design from Happy Steve

I recently had the pleasure of being invited onto the Atomi Brainwaves podcast on the topic of Innovation in Learning Design.

The timing is excellent because after 4 years of working with commercial organisations, I’m delighted to be bringing some of my focus back to schools and learning. The episode was recorded about 6 days into the COVID lockdown.

Steve Collis spoke on the Atomi Brainwaves podcast about her journey in regards to learning and innovation. Reflecting on his experiences, Collis talks about the importance of creating the culture of change at the top. For him, this came through messages, such as ‘do then think’ and ‘ready fire aim’. This was about doing small changes which could then be incorporated into the daily practice along the way. This is in contrast to spending months preparing change for the following year. (An example of such learning experiences was the decision one year to have the first two days to be without teachers.)

For Collis, the big challenge he faced was reimagining the human journey. A key to this was breaking the traditional approaches to education and differentiation – what John Goh calls our ‘default’ – where each lesson involves three different groups/levels that often succeed as teachers work so hard to make it work. The problem with this is that it treats learning as a linear process that runs to strict time and place.

To help make better sense of this change, Collis spoke about the Touchline Model to capture the current state of play and how we might change it. This involves unpacking three structures: physical structure, information structure and our shared social structure. Here is a summary from the Amicus website:

When working with Amicus’s People and Culture consultants the first thing that is achieved is a direction-setting module which covers our report and design-briefing document, we take into consideration all three touchlines in an integrated fashion. This means in practice that we unpack your aspirations for the move into practical implications for not just the physical space, but also the information space (e.g. your technology toolkit) and organisation space (e.g. routines, meetings, spatial protocols). The goal for any new workspace should be a capitalisation on what you can truly achieve. The office lease or motivation to move only rolls around every 5 years or so, so ensure your organisation makes the most of it.

He also talks about the model in his presentation at DEX 2019 conference.

Another important ingredient to change is the design for emergence. This is where teachers design deliberate constaints. Often the argument is made against ‘direct instruction’ and specific information, however the issue is not the instruction, but the fact that such instruction is not at the point of need. Collis spoke about the use of flipped instruction and providing students more choice and autonomy as to when they accessed this information. Therefore, such shared learning narratives often involved a number of choices or spaces. This often included a help desk which was run by both teachers and peers. Where such spaces differ to the open planned movements of the past is the place of technology to make such learning more doable. This includes both Google Docs and writable surfaces. With all of this, the question is always about finding the right balance. He discusses this further in his TED Talk.

Associated with leadership, Collis touched on the fact that it is easier to drive change when there is nothing to lose. For example, this is at the heart of Templestowe College’s success. It is also interesting to think about this in regards to Simon Breakspeare’s work with Agile Schools. However, Collis also touched on the risk of trauma about changing too much too fast. For me, the danger of coming up too fast is that we risk getting the bends. In this respect I guess leadership is also knowing when to pull the break. See for example Richard Wells decision to press pause on the move to reimagine learning in the school he is in.