Authentic Dissent

In a discussion of collaboration and group work, Jonah Lehrer highlights the power of disruption in pushing our thinking further. An example of this is the notion of authentic dissent where ideas are generated to purposely disrupt the thinking.

In a way, the power of dissent is the power of surprise. After hearing someone shout out an errant answer, we work to understand it, which causes us to reassess our initial assumptions and try out new perspectives. “Authentic dissent can be difficult, but it’s always invigorating,” Nemeth says. “It wakes us right up.” Criticism allows people to dig below the surface of the imagination and come up with collective ideas that aren’t predictable. And recognizing the importance of conflicting perspectives in a group raises the issue of what kinds of people will work together best source

Diversity and Perspective

Reflecting on a life within the technology industry, Ellen Ullman shares why diversity is so important:

We need to involve women and minorities and people who come from all social classes because they bring in new sets of values. The newcomers deepen the conversation. They carry in fresh sources of creativity. They enrich our understanding of the relationships between humans and the digital world. They ask new questions: What do we want from all this stuff? And who is included in this definition of “we”? source

This is something that Cathy Davidson touches on with her idea of collaboration by difference:

The whole point of collaboration by difference is that we cannot see our own gorillas. We need one another to help us, and we need a method that allows each of us to express our difference. If we don’t feel comfortable offering an alternative point of view, we don’t. And without such contribution, we continue to be limited or even endangered by our blind spots; we don’t heed the warning signals until it’s too late and an accident is inevitable.source

Julian Stodd suggests that authenticity comes when we are able to tap into the informal and often unheard voices within an organisation:

Stories of difference chart the fragmented truth of our organisation: they may not be pretty, but they help provide perspective. And you can go further, by encouraging response stories, providing further frames to engage in the dialogue, progressively less formal.source

[[Diversity and Resistence]]

Power of Stories

Discussing the social age, Julian Stodd uppacks the power of stories. For him, the question often relates to whom owns the story and how it flows.

Stories are the mechanism of transmission of cultural and tacit knowledge: they are units of information, heavily contextualised, highly magnetic, almost frictionless, and can be very, very, long lived. If i tell a story, i may own it, right up until the point that i share it, but at that time, it takes wings, and becomes real. Stories shared are stories relinquished: despite legal frameworks in which we retain ownership of the husk, the germ of truth that resides within a story is let loose through sharing. The essence of it, the ‘story’ itself, is more than simply © words, and trademarked phrases. Stories are meant to flow. source

Providing his own point of view, Kin Lane says that it would kill him not to be able to tell stories:

I need storytelling to do what I do. To work through ideas. It is how I learn from others.source

Coming at the question from the personal perspective, Aaron Hogan asks what stories define you:

Take a minute and ask yourself those questions: What is your story? Who are you listening to? How is that going?source

The Myth of the Nation-State

In his reflections on the city-state, Jamie Barlett explains that:

nation-states are nothing but agreed-upon myths: we give up certain freedoms in order to secure others. But if that transaction no longer works, and we stop agreeing on the myth, it ceases to have power over us. source

This is similar to the ideas of Benedict Anderson and the notion of ‘imagined communities’. It is also interesting to consider this idea in regards to Edward Said’s discussion of ‘coexistence with the preservation of difference’.

Strategies for Gathering Student Data with more Care

Amy Collier provides seven strategies for taking more care when working with data:

Audit student data repositories and policies associated with third-party providers. Document every “place” that student data goes and what the policies are for handling student data. What third parties have access to student data, why do they have access, and what can they do with the data? Who decides — and how are decisions made — about third-party access to student data? Do students get a say?Have a standard and well-known policy about how to handle external inquiries for student data and information. This is less about staff mishandling student data and more about the coercion and intimidation that could yield problematic results if there are no clear guidelines for staff to follow. Even if designated a digital sanctuary, a campus may be legally bound to release some student data, but it should have clear processes and requirements associated with those situations. Staff should understand how and when they can say no to inquiries about students, and campuses should investigate the legal limits of noncompliance with such inquiries.Provide an audit of data to students who want to know what data is kept on them, how the data is kept, where it is kept, and who else has access. That is, if students want to know about their data, the institution should be able to give them that information. Better yet, students should be allowed to download every bit of their data so that they can parse it themselves. Consider giving students a chance to rap the sanctuary knocker to signal their desire for more data protections.Have clear guidelines and regulations for how data is communicated and transmitted between offices. Campuses can better protect student data transmitted between the people and offices that should have access (e.g., by not transmitting data via e-mail). Campuses should have clear policies and guidelines about the protection of student data on mobile devices.Take seriously the data policies of third-party vendors. Don’t work with vendors whose contracts stipulate that they can use and share student data without the consent of students or the institution.9Closely examine and rethink student-tracking protocols. How necessary are learning dashboards? What are the risks of early-warning systems? How problematic are the acceptable use policies? How long does the institution need to keep data? Does it really need all of the data being collected?Give students technological agency in interacting with the institution. Implementing a Domain of One’s Own initiative, which puts students in the system administrator role for their domain, can be a way to give students more control and protection over their data. This may not be enough, however, since students could easily expose themselves to malicious and dangerous forces (e.g., hackers) through their own domains. A robust educational and mentoring program is also required. As a result, students can learn how to connect their data, via their domains, in ways that are safer and more manageable. source

Decentralised Networks

The web by its nature is decentralised, however platforms often try to centralise it. Paul Ford discusses the benefits of setting up your own server and the lessons one is able to learn through the process.

Then I look at Raspberry Pi Zeros with Wi-Fi built in and I keep thinking, what would it take to just have a little web server that was only for three or four people, at home? Instead of borrowing computer time from other people I could just buy a $10 computer the size of a stick of gum. Which next year could be a $7 computer, and eventually a $1 computer. It could run a Dropbox-alike, something like OwnCloud. It’s easy in theory but kind of a pain in practice.I’d need to know how to open ports on my home router.I’d need to be able to get the headless device onto WiFi.I’d need a place to plug it in, plugs are hard to come by.It needs to physically be somewhere.It would need a case.You need to buy an SD card with Linux on it.And on and on.The world doesn’t want us to run web servers at home. But I do. I really think we should run web servers from gumstick computers at home. source

This is a topic that Dave Winer also touches upon.

Participation within Assemblages

Ian Guest reflects on the nature of participation from the perspective of their place within an assemblage:

What about the epistemological contribution of the nonhumans I wondered? Leaving aside the potentially emotive discussion of animals in research for a moment, I’m not going to claim that nonhumans should be part of our ethical discussions; they’re not likely to care whether we call them subjects or participants. Actor-network theory troubles the dichotomous distinctions of subject and object or researcher and researched. If we think instead of the assemblage of which the research output is part, then the researcher/participant/interviewee, the media through which they interact, the data they generate, the reflections which are made and the texts which emerge, all influence one another. They are all entangled or interwoven, jointly responsible, more or less, in the production of the thesis, book or article. The output is not seen as the culmination of a linear sequence of events in which different actors participated at different times, but as an interwoven, performed assemblage. Named or not, all those who contributed to or collaborated in my research will be present in my thesis assemblage, intimately bound there by virtue of their ontological contribution. source

This reminds me of the research into lurkers and their role online.

Learning Walks

AITSL defines a learning walks as:

A group of teachers visiting multiple classrooms at their own school with the aim of fostering conversation about teaching and learning in order to develop a shared vision of high quality teaching that impacts on student learning>source

For Lyn Sharrett, learning walks offer a means of leaders collecting data that can then be used in conversation with teachers:

School leaders who do daily Learning Walks and Talks (Sharratt & Fullan, 2009, 2012; Sharratt & Harild, 2015, Sharratt & Planche, 2016 (In Press)) gather evidence of teachers’ intentional teaching and of students’ improvement when they ask students the five questions above. Students who can accurately describe their learning, and how to improve, close the achievement gap. After many walks, conversations with teachers ensue. Leaders ask authentic questions about why teachers make the decisions they make. Leaders also take action if teaching is not occurring at a competent or preferably high-impact level. Action must be taken if students are not progressing at an expected rate (Sharratt & Harild, 2015, Chapter 4). source

There are many models associated with the idea of learning walks. Jon Andrews talks about the learning walk being a way to connect with what is going on through the school:

for the first time in a while, I had the chance to walk a route through school with prospective parents, verbalise the life and culture of the school, celebrate the many valuable contributions people make, appreciate what we have, all because I was talking about places, spaces, resources etc. that we passed. I understand that the values and life of the school are encoded in the behaviour of people, built form, activities that occur and routines that play out. I genuinely had to enjoy the moment, but also pause to appreciate what was around me and acknowledge that I do not get out and about enough.source

Jason Borton shares how he implemented walkthroughts as a means of gathering collective data to then reflect upon as a staff:

Once the scoreboard was agreed upon we set about implementing a system of peer observation known as Educational Walkthroughs. The Walkthroughs are designed to gather information about the practices that are visible in classrooms and are described as our scoreboard statements. The analysis of the information collected is not intended to give individual feedback to teachers but to provide whole school information about strengths and weaknesses in the implementation of formative assessment strategies…
A high level of trust among staff is important to ensure the authenticity and success of the Walkthrough process. It is seen as a supportive way to ensure that we hold each other accountable for achieving our scoreboard. Having executive staff take classes and be observed means we are ‘walking the talk’ along with classroom teachers. This point is not to be underestimated as a critical aspect of our success.source

Amy Burvall uses learning walks to provide a remix to the traditional professional development session to start the year where teachers go walkabout and learn from each other:

What if we were able to visit other divisions and departments and do a little ethnography? What if teachers could give tours of their classrooms, sharing examples of student work, discussing the learning spaces and their pedagogy? What if we participated in some cool activity, just like we were students in their classes? What if the “host” teacher had some specific issues, problems, or questions they could crowdsource answers to? What if we were able to give formal feedback such as a Wow! How? Now… strategy? source

DET provides some aspects to consider when implementing learning walks:

Before undertaking a learning walk program, you should establish an agreed set of learning walk protocols and processes. You should consider three fundamental questions: Why are we doing this? Who will participate? What protocols will guide the program? A hastily introduced learning walk program has the potential to arouse frustration amongst staff. However, with careful planning and the input of all concerned, your learning walk can make a significant contribution to the professional knowledge and practices of your organisation and others.source

These considerations can be applied to any model.

Markets only care about the bits, not where they are from

The markets that are working the Internet out do not care if the bits on the network are from a school, a hospital, or you playing an online game and watching videos–it just wants to meter and throttle them. It may care just enough to understand where it can possible charge more because it is a matter of life or death, or it is your child’s education, so you are willing to pay more, but as far as actually equipping our world with quality Internet–it could care less. Cable providers and telco operators are in the profit making business, using the network that drives the Internet, even at the cost of the future–this is how short sighted markets are. Source

Technological Freedoms

Freedom to run software that I’ve paid for on any device I want without hardware dongles or persistent online verification schemes.
Freedom from the prying eyes of government and corporations.
Freedom to move my data from one application to another.
Freedom to move an application from one hosting provider to another.
Freedom from contracts that lock me in to expensive monthly or annual plans.
Freedom from terms and conditions that offer a binary “my way or the highway” decision.