It can sometimes be hard to see the possibility of blogging and the web. For me it is about continually joining the dots and making the connections. As Amy Burvall highlights,

In order to connect dots, one must first have the dots

That is the power of Webmentions. My little callout to say, “Hey, interesting idea(s)”. Sharing is where it starts.

📰 eLearn Update (March 2018)

Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite and Hapara for March 2018.


Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

Geo Tools

  • Google Maps learns 39 new languages – Google are making Google Maps even more useful by adding 39 new languages—spoken by an estimated 1.25 billion people worldwide: Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bosnian, Burmese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, Georgian, Hebrew, Icelandic, Indonesian, Kazakh, Khmer, Kyrgyz, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Mongolian, Norwegian, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Zulu.

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

General

📰 Read Write Respond #026

My Month of February

Wow, it’s March already. At work, I have been supporting schools getting attendance and reporting up and running. I was also lucky enough to attend another session of a collective looking at ongoing reporting. As far as possible, I feel it is important to have a wider perspective as to how all the parts are working together as a system.

On the family front, our eldest has started the year well. We were unsure how she would respond to a teacher whose every step involves Star Wars. Prizes. Class pet. Table ‘systems’. I have therefore answered endless questions about characters and various storylines. Why is Anakin also Darth Vader? Who is the nicest character? Why does Yoda die? If Yoda is the leader, why does he live alone on Dagobah? Why does Kylo Ren have to be bad, because if he wasn’t so bad I think I would like him more. This is taking classroom themes to a whole new level!

For my focus on ‘intent’, I have been writing less longer posts, instead focusing on my exploration of microcasts. This included a response to Tom Barrett on blogging initiatives and a reflection on #engageMOOC. I lurked in the MOOC, spending more time reflecting on the readings, rather than actively responding. In part, because I am not sure I have much to add. I also continued developing my ‘collect’ blog, bringing together various responses and reviews.


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

  • Know Thy Limit – A Reflection on Myths and Solutions – This post is a reflection on the wolves introduced into Yellowstone National Park and the problems associated with focusing on supposed simple solutions
  • Googling Libraries – A collection of ways Google G Suite for Education can be used in the library, including the creation of digital spaces, supporting research, organising thinking and making connections beyond the classroom.

  • Toca Boca and Digital Toys – Toca Boca is a suite of applications that provides spaces within which to explore and play.


Here then are some things that have also left me thinking this month …

Learning and Teaching

Mulling Time – Emily Fintelman reflects on the need to find time to mull over things. To do this, she suggests scheduling time, finding a challenge partner and recording your thoughts. Coming from the perspective of comprehension, Julie Beck argues that unless we do something with what we have read within 24-hours then we often forget it. She recommends slow reading to provide time to take things in. This builds on Ryan Halliday’s point to do something with what you read. I am left wondering about the place of digital literacies to support all of this.

To mull, we need to think deeply, and at length. This can be difficult if we don’t set aside time or make a plan for it. Perhaps your school or organisation isn’t able to provide you with this extra time to mull but it is integral you find a way to process what you have experienced. With schools doing so much, we need to avoid going ‘an inch deep and a mile wide’. We need to make space to think deeply and at length.

Assessing students as they read, research, & respond in Hypothesis – Ian O’Byrne explains why Hypothes.is is different to usual social bookmarking sites. He also provides a demonstration for how he uses it teaching his university courses. I think that Jon Udell’s demonstration of Hypothes.is with Wikipedia is a good example of a use case, while Kris Shaffer has created a WordPress plugin that allows users to curate annotations in their blogs. I have written in the past about Hypothes.is as a modern form of commenting, I just get frustrated that there is no form of notification or webmentions associated with the platform. Another potential annotation tool associated with WordPress is Fragmentions and the ability to save segments of the text. Interestingly, Diigo includes many of the features too.

An annotation service like Hypothesis allows you to highlight, save, and (possibly) share individual lines from a text. This allows for saving this content across a page, and across multiple pages for themes. Used in discussion, this allows for collaborative reading exercises, or group annotations. This also allows for conducting research while you write and annotate. Since Hypothesis will import PDFs, you can annotate in the tool, it will give you a digital trail of breadcrumbs as you’re reading online to see what you found to be important. After you are finished reading and researching, you can go back and see what texts you’ve read, and the important elements from these pieces. Furthermore, if you effectively tag your annotations, you can look for larger themes across your readings.

Comments For Kids Still Count: Teaching And Promoting Quality Commenting – Kathleen Morris wonders about the changes to blog comments over time. Thinking about the classroom, she provides some tips, including setting guidelines, being consistent, using explicit lessons and involve parents. A recent innovation that I think has potential for supporting comments is Micro.blog. As a platform, it allows users to share a feed from their blog in a central space and converse there.

While we can’t control what goes on in the larger blogging community too much, we have much more control over our classroom blogging programs. The comment section is an excellent place to connect, learn, and grow. Who wouldn’t want to tap into that?

Problem Finding – Based on the methods of Design Kit, Tom Barrett breaks the process of framing a problem into eight steps: describe the problem, list the stakeholders, re-frame the problem as a ‘How Might We’ statement,
describe the impact you are attempting to have, who needs your help the most, what the possible solutions are, describe the constraints associated with your idea and rewrite the original HMW question. I remember when I ran Genius Hour, I used how might we questions with students, however I struggled with a process supporting students in developing these. I think Barrett’s steps would have helped with that.

The framing and re-framing process forces us to loop back into the process of defining the problem a little longer. It slows us a little and checks our enthusiasm to rush ahead and ensures we have carefully crafted our problem statement and it is an accurate reflection of a worthwhile issue.

Edtech

The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change – Om Malik explains why Facebook will not be changing, as it is not in its DNA to do so. This is epitomised by recent spamming of two-factor authentication users and the skimming of VPN data only adds to this. Even with the personal adjustments to the feed in response to issues with fake news and manipulation, this is akin to the spin by the tobacco industry to hide the effect of smoking. On a side note, Douglas Rushkoff made the case in a recent episode of Team Human that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Use blogs or a space you manage yourself and your story – something that I have touched upon in the past – but to feed the ad algorithms as a way of ‘connecting’ is the wrong approach according to Rushkoff.

Facebook is about making money by keeping us addicted to Facebook. It always has been — and that’s why all of our angst and headlines are not going to change a damn thing.

The Case Against Google – Charles Duhigg takes a look at the history of Anti-Trust laws and the breaking up of monopolies. From oil to IBM, he explains why it is important for large companies to be broken up. Not for the consumer, but rather for the sake of development and innovation. He uses the case of the vertical search site, Foundem.com, to demonstrate the way in which Google kills competition by removing them from searches. Rather than living off their innovation, Adam and Shivaun Raff have spent the last twelve years campaigning against Google. Supported by Gary Reback, they took their case to European Commission in Brussels. If such changes and challenges are dependent on individuals like the Raff’s standing up, it makes you wondering how many just throw it all in? Cory Doctorow captures this scenario in his novel, The Makers.

Antitrust has never been just about costs and benefits or fairness. It’s never been about whether we love the monopolist. People loved Standard Oil a century ago, and Microsoft in the 1990s, just as they love Google today. Rather, antitrust has always been about progress. Antitrust prosecutions are part of how technology grows. Antitrust laws ultimately aren’t about justice, as if success were something to be condemned; instead, they are a tool that society uses to help start-ups build on a monopolist’s breakthroughs without, in the process, being crushed by the monopolist. And then, if those start-ups prosper and make discoveries of their own, they eventually become monopolies themselves, and the cycle starts anew. If Microsoft had crushed Google two decades ago, no one would have noticed. Today we would happily be using Bing, unaware that a better alternative once existed. Instead, we’re lucky a quixotic antitrust lawsuit helped to stop that from happening. We’re lucky that antitrust lawyers unintentionally guaranteed that Google would thrive.

Small b Blogging – Tom Critchlow provides a case for network blogging where your focus is on a particular audience. For me, I often have at least one person in mind when writing, whether it be a reply to another idea or something to share. This approach however seems to stand in contrast to the suggestion that blogging is first and foremostly personal.

Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”. And remember that you are your own audience! Small b blogging is writing things that you link back to and reference time and time again. Ideas that can evolve and grow as your thinking and audience grows.

The Tyranny of Convenience – Tim Wu plots a convenient history, with the first revolution being of the household (Oven, Vacuum etc) and then the personal (Walkman, Facebook etc). He argues that the irony of this individualisation is the creation of ‘templated selfs’. Wu argues that struggling and working things out is about identity. I recently reflected on the impact of convenience on learning. I am wondering how this relates to mental and physical automation?

All the personal tasks in our lives are being made easier. But at what cost?

Many More Webs Bite The Dust – Alan Levine added to his list of web sites that have shut down. Only a day after publishing, another site was added, Wikispaces.

Three years after publishing the first version of Another Web Bites The Dust (35 corpses), it was time to update, and add 24 more dead web sites to the video.

Storytelling and Reflection

Building Staff Culture: The Importance of Gratitude – Chris Wejr reflects on his efforts to be more grateful and embed opportunities for his staff to do the same. He provides a list of possible activities to use. I have written about improving staff morale in the past. Wejr’s list provides some new ideas to explore.

I am retraining my brain to see the positives (which I used to be so good at). Looking for the positives does not mean we ignore the challenges… but embracing the good things in life sure give us more energy to deal with the ‘not-so-good’ things when they happen!

China’s Dystopian Tech Could Be ContagiousAdam Greenfield discusses China’s move to measure ‘social credit’. He explains that there is nothing within the context that would stop the trend spreading globally. This is a position supported by Bruce Sterling. One of the consequences that Greenfield shares is the stifling impact such changes would have on urban environments. I am reminded of Steven Johnson’s discussion of where good ideas come from. This is one of many measures that states are using to gain control.

As private enterprise takes an increasingly prominent role in the creation and management of ostensibly public urban space, as neo-authoritarianism spreads unchecked, and as pervasive technology weaves itself ever more intimately into all the sites and relations of contemporary life, all of the material conditions are right for Chinese-style social credit to spread on other ground. Consider what Sidewalk Labs’ neighborhood-scale intervention in Toronto implies—or the start-up Citymapper’s experiments with privatized mass transit in London, or even Tinder’s control over access to the pool of potential romantic partners in cities around the world—and it’s easy to imagine a network of commercial partners commanding all the choke points of urban life. The freedoms that were once figured as a matter of “the right to the city” would become contingent on algorithmically determined certification of good conduct.

The Cost of Reporting while Female – Anne Helen Petersen documents a number of examples where women have been threatened while working in journalism. This includes a series of historical cases. This reminded me of Lindy West’s confrontation of troll and why he chose to do what he did. I am always left wondering what the answer is, sometimes fearing that such thinking creates more problems than solutions. Maybe there is something in Sherri Spelic’s suggestion to ‘think small’.

Over the course of nearly 200 years, female journalists have been under threat because of their gender, race, beat, views, and coverage.

CM 097: Sam Walker on Creating Outstanding Teams – In an interview with Gayle Allen, Sam Walker argues that successful ‘captains’ are not what we usually think. In his research, he identified seven key behaviours: they are relentless, aggressive, willing to do thankless jobs, shy away from the limelight, excel at quiet communication, are difficult to manage and have excellent resilience and emotional control. Moving forward, he suggests dropping your preconceptions about leadership, looking for those who deflect praise onto others and are focused on team goals, even if this is critical of current practices. This has many correlations with the work of Leading Teams.

Sam Walker lays out his findings in his latest book, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World’s Greatest Teams. Initially, he expected to find a magical combination of factors such as exceptional skill, brilliant coaching and remarkable strategy. Instead, he discovered something completely different: the 16 teams with the longest winning streaks across 37 elite sports succeeded because of a single player — the captain of the team. These captains were not only not the best player, but also possessed all or most of seven characteristics rarely associated with great leaders.

FOCUS ON … Polarisation

There was a short pop-up MOOC, Engagement in a Time of Polarisation,running over the last few weeks. When it was announced, I had every inclination to participate, yet it just has not happened. There are a range of reasons, some of which are captured in my short microcast. However, I have been engrossed in the various texts shared throughout. I have therefore collected some of them here:

  • Antigonish 2.0: A Way for Higher Ed to Help Save the Web – This is Bonnie Stewart’s call to action. She outlines a way to develop the local and global literacies needed to foster functional democratic participation. This model involves three layers: a distributed international network, institutional capacity-building and local study clubs. This post is supported by the opening webinar in which a range of guests explore the question of enagagement.
  • Recognition Is Futile: Why Checklist Approaches to Information Literacy Fail and What To Do About It – Mike Caulfield provides context to his work with web literacy, four moves and the need for info-environmentalism. This post was supported by a webinar, in which he elaborated on a number of points, including why web literacy is different and how we can better understand Google search.
  • Power, Polarization, and Tech – Chris Gillard explains that polarisation is always about power. It is a means of garnering engagement and attention. In many respects, social media and silicon valley promotes polarisation for its own good. This is best understood by considering who is protected by these spaces. This is often a reflection on the inequality within these organisations.
  • It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech – Zeynep Tufekei explains that just because we can all create a social media account in seconds this supposed ‘democracy’ is a phantom public. Although it may seem that we can all ‘connect the world’, each of the platforms is controlled by algorithms designed to keep the prosumer engaged and advertised. This is something that Tufekei also discusses in her TEDTalk. The change needed is systemic.
  • Education in the (Dis)Information Age – Kris Shaffer reflects on the abundance of information on the web. He suggests that the hyperlink maybe ‘our most potent weapon’ against disinformation.
  • The Problem with Facts – Tim Harford explains that the solution for fake news is not simply more facts, rather we need to foster a culture of curiousity.
  • Inclusion Again – Sherri Spelic discusses staying quite or taking a small step in an effort to include others.
  • The Digital Poorhouse – Virginia Eubanks compares the restrictive nature of the poorhouses of the nineteenth century with the digital spaces of today. In conclusion, she says that we need to work together to solve this crisis.
  • Why we need to understand misinformation through visuals – Hannah Guy discusses the impact of images on misinformation. This is not just about fake photographs, but graphics and memes too.
  • Why Less News on Facebook Is Good News for Everyone – Will Oremus reports on Facebook’s flip to prioritise the personal over corporation. This move isn’t to repair the damage done to democracy, but rather to limit the damage done to its users.
  • That Doesn’t Mean Dumbing It Down – Anne Helen Petersen explains how to work with and in journalism to extend the reach of academic ideas.
  • Academic Outrage: When The Culture Wars Go Digital – Tressie McMillan Cottom discusses the challenges of being critical in online spaces. She suggests learning how to organise before getting out there to organise.

READ WRITE RESPOND #026

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

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here and information relating to the images can be found on Flickr.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📓 Technology is a System

Responding to yet another school shooting, Audrey Watters pushes back on those who argue that guns are not ‘ed-tech’. Instead she argues that what we define as ‘technology’ is the problem. She provides a quote from Ursula Franklin’s 1989 CBC Massey Lectures that captures this thinking:

Technology is not the sum of the artefacts, of the wheels and gears, of the rails and electronic transmitters. Technology is a system. It entails far more than its individual material components. Technology involves organization, procedures, symbols, new words, equations, and, most of all, a mindset.

Watters explains that this includes many elements within schools and should not be merely reduced to ‘computers’. In a second post, she explains that:

“Hardening schools” is an education technology endeavor, whether or not we take seriously anyone’s suggestions about giving teachers guns. For now, “hardening schools” explicitly calls for hardware like those items listed by Governor Scott: metal detectors and bulletproof windows, as well as surveillance cameras and various sensors that can detect gunfire. It also implies software – social media monitoring and predictive analytics tools, for example, that claim they can identify students “at risk” of violence or political extremism.

Coming at this problem from a different perspective, Genevieve Bell responded to questions of data and ‘neutrality’ in the Q&A associated with her Boyer Lectures. Given the example of the supposed innocence of a train timetable, she explained how Amazon use variables such as timetables to continually adjust the price of goods.

Confident – the connecting of the dots and capitalising on different possibilities.

Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

In this microcast, I reflect on automating technology and wonder if there is a limit to how far we should go.

Further reading:


Write everyday for 28 minutes for 28 days. #28daysofwriting
via Tom Barrett

Tom Barrett has started up #28daysofwriting again. This is my reflection on the idea of a habit and a sustainable blogging practice.

Further reading:

📰 Read Write Respond #025

A lego busker out the front of 711
Background image via JustLego101.com
Made with Canva

My Month of January

I have been back at work for few weeks now. No extended summer holidays in my current role. My work this month has involved reviewing our reporting solution in light of recent changes, as well as supporting schools with their start of the year setup.

With the move from ten weeks of holidays to four, I have learnt to appreciate every minute. Whether it be going away for a few days to explore Bendigo or building endless flat pack furniture, my time was occupied. Looking back at my few weeks at home, we managed to get so much done, even in the insipid hot and humid weather.

Personally, I have spent the month head down in the world of the #IndieWeb. In particular, I have continued to craft my second space: collect.readwriterespond.com. This effort to better control my existence on the web fits with my focus of ‘intent’ this year. I sometimes find myself using the word deliberate, but it all feels far too adhoc for that. With all this in mind, I contributed to a collective podcast that Benjamin Doxtdator put together. I also got to catch up with Richard Olsen for lunch, which was nice as well.


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


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

Learning and Teaching

Quote from My Favourite Inquiry Journeys of 2017
Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/33263856@N02/5157195892
Quote via Kath Murdoch ‘My Favourite Inquiry Journeys of 2017’

My Favourite Inquiry Journeys of 2017…. – Kath Murdoch stops and reflects on twelve projects she has helped with in 2017. In summary, she pulls out some of the key aspects that went across all the different inquiries, such as authenticity, integrative, involves experts, learning is shared and emergent. This post is not necessarily a list of driving questions and/or units to roll out, but rather a source of ideas and inspiration. Along with her post on ten practices of an inquiry teacher and AJ Juliani’s reflection on choice-based learning, they provide some guidance going into the new year.

Using an inquiry based approach to teaching and learning is multi-faceted. At its heart, inquiry is a stance – it’s about how we talk to kids and how we think about learning. It is also about how we plan and the contexts we both recognise and create in which powerful inquiry can thrive. These contexts can be highly personal (one child’s investigation into their passion) and they can also be shared contexts that bring learners together under a common question. These shared inquiries form a powerful ‘backbone’ of the primary classroom.

Google Maps Moat – Justin O’Beirne discusses the addition of ‘areas of interests’ to Google Maps. He wonders if others, such as Apple, can possibly keep up? The challenge is that these AOIs are not collected — rather they are created. Added to this, Apple appears to be missing the ingredients to develop their own AOIs to the same quality, coverage, and scale as Google. Google is in fact making data out of data. For a different take on Google 3D imagery, watch this video from the Nat and Friends.

Google’s buildings are byproducts of its Satellite/Aerial imagery. And some of Google’s places are byproducts of its Street View imagery. So this makes AOIs a byproduct of byproducts. Google is creating data out of data.

Four Moves – Mike Caulfield has released a new site containing a series of activities to support the development of web literacy and fact checking. It focuses on the four moves: check for previous work, go upstream to the source, read laterally and circle back.

The Four Moves blog is based on research conducted by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, which found that students lack knowledge of basic web techniques for verification and source assessment, which puts them at the mercy of misinformation. Instructions are written for students using the Chrome browser due to the popularity of that platform in schools and among students. However, the features we are using are in general not browser-specific; faculty and students using different browsers should translate actions where appropriate by looking at your own browser’s documentation.

Explainer: the evidence for the Tasmanian genocide – Kristyn Harman provides some background to the extermination of indigenous people in Tasmania. Along with the map of genocide, resources like these are central to a call to change Australia Day. In another post on remembering, Louise Raw highlights why Winston Churchill was and is not the saviour of democracy he is sometimes portrayed as.

Whereas the master narrative framed this state of affairs as proof of a benign government caring for unfortunate victims of circumstance, the colony’s archives reveal that Aboriginal people were removed from their ancient homelands by means fair and foul. This was the intent of the government, revealed by its actions and instructions and obfuscations. In the language of the day the Aboriginal Tasmanians had been deliberately, knowingly and wilfully extirpated. Today we could call it genocide.

How To Digest Books Above Your “Level” And Increase Your Intelligence – Ryan Halliday says to read above your level you need to ‘read to lead’. This involves ignoring the facts and storyline to focus on the key messages. Reading all of the introductions, prefaces and translators notes as they often provide context to the book. Make notes in books and write out quotes, physically. Apply what you learn. I am not sure I completely agree with everything Halliday suggests, but it does provide a useful provocation to think about the art of reading. For some just reading is what matters.

In short, you know the books where the words blur together and you can’t understand what’s happening? Those are the books a leader needs to read. Reading to lead or learn requires that you treat your brain like the muscle that it is–lifting the subjects with the most tension and weight.

Edtech

Quote from Panicked about Kids Addiction to Tech?
Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/kwl/4555399660
Quote via danah boyd ‘Panicked about Kids Addiction to Tech?’

Panicked about Kids Addiction to Tech? – danah boyd suggests that there is a lot of hype associated with kids addiction. Some of the problems may be associated with parents themselves. In response, she provides two activities for parents: verbalize what you’re doing with your phone and create a household contract. Mitchel Resnick’s provides a different perspective, suggesting time on task is not the problem, it is rather what is done with that time, for Cory Doctorow it is all an arms race focused on control, while Audrey Watters paints her own complicated picture of addiction. Each of these pieces add to a wider dialogue around moderation and other such technical answers currently being suggested as soutions to our digital overload.

Many people have unhealthy habits and dynamics in their life. Some are rooted in physical addiction. Others are habitual or psychological crutches. But across that spectrum, most people are aware of when something that they’re doing isn’t healthy. They may not be able to stop. Or they may not want to stop. Untangling that is part of the challenge. When you feel as though your child has an unhealthy relationship with technology (or anything else in their life), you need to start by asking if they see this the same way you do. When parents feel as though what their child is doing is unhealthy for them, but the child does not, the intervention has to be quite different than when the child is also concerned about the issue.

Arguing with the Digital Natives guy in four vexations – David White reflects on a debate with Marc Prensky in which they discussed the future of our digital world. White shares four vexations from the conversation, but the one that stands out to me is his concern about ideas associated with ‘effective and successful’ being separated from a discussion of equality. This links with Alvin Chang’s post looking at school borders and segregation, a topic also discussed on the Have You Heard podcast. It is also interesting to think about this alongside Simon Longstaff’s discussion about the technology and the design of a more ethical future.

My concern is that we rush to ‘make the world a better place’ without reflecting on who we might be doing that for and why. Action without reflection (or thinking) is of little value

The human solution to Facebook’s machine-produced problems also won’t work – Responding to Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious pledge to fix the statistical behaviour-modification machine that is Facebook, Doc Searls explains why Zuckerberg will fail. He suggests that changing facebook is like turning a cruise ship into an aircraft carrier, Searls argues that what has been gained though is a realisation that we all live in the digital world now. It is for this reason that it is important to support children with their online presence and making sense of social media. Alternatively, Dave Winer believes that Zuckerberg’s year will be complete once he lets Facebook rejoin the open web. We can only dream.

The best thing for Zuck to do is get the hell out, let it finish failing, and start over with something new and better, based on what he and others have learned from the experience. (Which tends to be the best teacher. And hell, he’s still young.) It should help him—and all of us—to know that all companies fail; they just fail faster in Silicon Valley.

EdTech Factotum #12 – Clint Lalonde reflects on blockchain. Rather than focusing on whether or not everyone should embrace it, he instead suggests that it is something that we need to be aware of. This is a similar point that Audrey Watters made during Episode 74 of the Contrafabulists podcasts, that it is not necessarily about which technology to choose, but asking why and how things actually work. For more on the blockchain, watch this attempt to explain it to a five year old, read Alex Hern’s analysis of Bitcoin or reflect on Leda Glyptis’ unpopular opinions.

Asking why is important and does often get lost in the rush to something new and shiny. But let’s keep asking how as well. In my mind, these are companion questions because, even though you or I may never use blockchain in our day-to-day life, there is a very good chance that it will be used on our behalf in the future. And there is already more than enough unknown technologies running our life right now.

Should Your Class Or Student Blogs Be Public Or Private? – Kathleen Morris unpacks the benefits of both private and public blogs. She provides a number of arguments with clear points evidence to clarify her points of view. This is particularly pertinent to schools and educators at the start of the school year. Personally, when I supported classroom blogs they were closed as I was not comfortable everyone who needed to be fully aware of the consequences was. I think though that Kin Lane’s advice on APIs can also be applied, that is, approach everything as if it is public even if it is not. On blogging in general, Chris Aldrich wrote a reply on the potential of blogging as a commonplace book, while Jim Groom suggests that it is an investment in your soul.

A dilemma that faces many educators new blogging is the question of whether they should be publishing their students’ information and work online. They might wonder if their class or student blogs should be public for anyone to see, or private for a limited audience (or no one) to view.

IRL Podcast – Bot or Not – This episode of In Real Life is dedicated to bots. Along with Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith’s investigation into the influence of Twitter bots, Kris Shaffer and Bill Fitzgerald’s guide on how to spot a bot, Kin Lane’s reflections on the waves of bots and Nicholas Confessore’s exposé into the follower factory, these resources provide a useful starting point for understanding bots and there implication on society today.

From politics to poetry, bots are playing an increasingly visible role in culture. Veronica Belmont investigates the rise of social media bots with Lauren Kunze and Jenn Schiffer. Butter.ai’s Jack Hirsch talks about what happens when your profile is stolen by a political bot. Lisa-Maria Neudert measures how bots influence politics. Ben Nimmo teaches us how to spot and take down bot armies. And Tim Hwang explores how bots can connect us in surprising, and meaningful, new ways.

Storytelling and Reflection

Quote via Social Media Has Hijacked Our Brains and Threatens Global Democracy
Image via https://pixabay.com/en/crowd-lego-staff-choice-selector-1699137/
Quote via David Golumbia ‘Social Media Has Hijacked Our Brains and Threatens Global Democracy’

Social Media Has Hijacked Our Brains and Threatens Global Democracy – David Golumbia discusses some of the changes to democracy associated with social media. He argues that we have lost the ability to think slowly, therefore making us more susceptible to irrational decisions. This touches on some of Peter Skillen’s points from a few years ago. Along with Zeynep Tufekei’s concern about free speech and Jordan Erica Webber’s look into micro-targetting, these posts paint a grim view of the future.

Those who celebrated the Facebook revolution and the Twitter revolution were celebrating the replacement of (relatively) calm reflection with the politics of reactivity and passion. This domination of System 2 by System 1 thinking is the real social media “revolution.” The question that remains is whether democracies have both the will, and the means to bring considered thought back to politics, or, whether digital technology has made politics impossible.

Facial recognition’s ominous rise: are we going too far too fast? – This is a strange article documenting the rise of NEC. In it, Ben Grubb provides a range of examples, including Crown Casino tracking VIPs and Westfield estimating age, gender and mood. On the one hand, it can be read as being positive – which you would assume as the author’s expenses to iEXPO2017 were paid for by NEC – in that we can now do all these things with technology, but at the same time it asks the question as to whether we ought to? It reminds me in part of the post discussing Hitachi’s use of cameras to improve student life at Curtin University. My question is probably, “why would you?”, as Tony Longstaff warns can does not equal ought.

Already facial-recognition technology is being used at Crown Casino in Melbourne to identify VIPs and banned guests. Australian state and federal policing agencies are also deploying it, with South Australia Police using it to identify criminals and to search for missing persons.

The best thing ever written about “work-life balance” – Austin Kleon discusses work-life balance. Reflecting on Jocelyn K. Glei’s supercut on the subject, Kleon notes the difference in responses between men and women. For men it is often about creating the write conditions, while for women it is making do with whatever spare moments there are. For the late Ursula K. Le Guin it is not about spare time, but rather occupied time.

You can have it all, just not all at once – Kenneth Koch

The Line 6 DL4 Is Quietly the Most Important Guitar Pedal of the Last 20 Years – Dale Eisinger takes a look at the influence of technology on music, in particular the looping pedal. From Radiohead to Battles, Eisinger lists band after band influenced by the features and constraints of the humble pedal. There is a long history of technology influencing music. An example is the BBC documentary Synth Britannia which describes the influence of synthesiers on bands like Depeche Mode and New Order. It is also interesting to think about the DL4 as a ‘non-human’ actor and unpack what this might mean, especially for the modern busker.

As technology democratized around the turn of the century, digital audio workstations like Pro Tools revolutionized the home studio, and ultimately changed the course of music with their boundless potential. A less commonly discussed breakthrough of the era involved musicians’ outboard gear, such as guitar pedals, which moved from analog to now-inexpensive digital architectures. Chief among the hardware that benefited from this shift were delay pedals, a class of effect pedal that gives an echo or repeating effect to a sound. Delays were generally expensive, since they required either actual tape loops or expensive memory within their makeup. Digital technology changed that, introducing with it the kind of lower-priced loop pedals that encouraged experimental strains of ’00s indie rockers to recreate with live instruments a similar effect as sampling. There was one pedal in particular that emerged as a favorite: the Line 6 DL4 delay modeler.

The Victorian State Education System…from the inside out and the outside in – Former principal of Templestowe College, Peter Hutton, reflects on his connection with the Victorian Department of Education. It is a real insight into a part of education that many teachers never really experience. It will be interesting to see where his ‘EdRevolution’ goes and grows.

Unless there are parental complaints, if the school’s numbers are stable or growing and your data is tracking ok, essentially DET allow you to innovate and do as you please. I have loved this level of professional autonomy and dare I say trust shown by DET in its’ Principals. Not really the ogre that people sometimes suspect. In fact many senior staff have provided me with encouragement and professional support during the more innovative years at TC.

FOCUS ON … Digital Hygiene

Quote via Take the time to review and reinforce your digital hygiene
Quote via Ian O’Byrne ‘Take the time to review and reinforce your digital hygiene’
Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/5978434781

There are so many posts out there which support users with reviewing their digital presence online. See for example Boost your digital fitness with a data cleanse and Digital Trace Audit: A #clmooc New Year’s ‘Unmake’ Cycle. Ian O’Byrne though has spread his out across the whole month. Unsure which link to include, I have instead provided a summary of all the posts here. I think that the statistics are clear, we could all do more.

READ WRITE RESPOND #025

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

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 eLearn Updates (January 2018)

Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite and Hapara for January 2018.

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Gmail

Calendar

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Classroom

Drawings

Geo Tools

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

Photos

  • When It Comes to Gorillas, Google Photos Remains Blind – Tom Simonite explains that Google’s caution around images of gorillas illustrates a shortcoming of existing machine-learning technology. With enough data and computing power, software can be trained to categorize images or transcribe speech to a high level of accuracy. But it can’t easily go beyond the experience of that training. And even the very best algorithms lack the ability to use common sense, or abstract concepts, to refine their interpretation of the world as humans do.
  • Go-to Google Photos tips for 2018 – Daisy Lui provides some tips associated with Google Photos, including the ability to share, remove clutter and organise using labels.

General