Finding the Edges of your Page

Tom Barrett explores various examples of constraints and the creative possibilities that it provides. This is not to be confused with restraint, those aspects impose self-control. Constraints come in many different forms, including space and design.

Not to be confused with restraint which is much more about self-control, constraint is about finding the edges of the page before you begin, it is about knowing what limits you have in terms of resources. It is about must haves and must nots. And to be honest not something I previously worried too much about, but now I see constraint in lots of work that I do and inevitably seek them out if they are not so explicit. source

Creativity and Digital Technology

Naomi Barnes discusses on the supposed freedoms provided by the web. Discussing the work of Gardner and Davis, it is suggested that the app generation brings with it its own creative constructs.

Digital apps and worlds, have boundaries (or scaffolds) – no matter how vast, no matter how much the creator allows manipulation of story lines and sharing of ideas. There are limitations because a finite number of people created the experience and those creators have finite imaginations, limited further by the capabilities of digital tools. There are limitations imposed by the re-creators themselves through language and the homogeny of the sites they settle on and continue to return to. It might not feel finite…but it is.Source


[[Platform Society]]
[[Templated Self]]

Technology Ownership

A panel of experts discuss what it means to own things in the digital age in this episode of Future Tense:

More and more of the objects we use in our daily lives include software, from cars to communication devices to toys. In the digital world you never really own that software, you’re simply given a licence to use it. So what does that mean for our notion of “ownership” Source

The Gender Trope

Marten Koomen reflects on the recent sacking of Mark Latham by Sky News as uses it as an opportunity to review the continued gender divide across society. Even though they are just as capable and competent, Koomen highlights the absence of voice at the table.

The ABC’s Insiders exemplifies some broader dynamics.  It shows that journalism is one field where women are as competent as men, yet still lack voice in shaping the social sphere and the debates. This seems not isolated to journalism, as women are often promoted in other fields based on their functional efficiency then ignored in conversations that shape their workplace and society. In this case, Irigaray’s products of exchange as “Mother, virgin, prostitute” could be expanded to include “highly functional robot”.Source

This reminds me of Kate O’Halloran’s reflections on the place of gay players within the AFLW.

Technology Makes Learning More Doable

It is often argued that technology is about redefinition and substitution. However, Bill Ferriter makes the case that technology simply makes things more doable and easier for everyone.

Technology lowers barriers, making the kinds of higher order learning experiences that matter infinitely more doable than they were in previous decades. source

This is contrast to those like Papert and Stager who make the case that [[technology is never neutral]].

📰 Read Write Respond #015

Image used in the cover via justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/21935581091 is licensed under CC BY-SA” data-id=”1436733

My Month of March

On the work front, I have been doing quite a bit of learning and inquiry around data literacy. In addition to this, I have been continuing to develop material to support online learning for Google Sheets and Hapara. On the side, I have been toying around with different forms of automation using Sheets, as well as developing materials for the EdTechSummit at Manor Lakes next month.

On a personal front, I finally got around to setting up my awesome blogroll that Tom Woodward created for me. I also set up my own Wikity. In regards to my family, we have been preparing for our trip to New Zealand next month. One of the perks to not automatically having school holidays off.

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


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

Learning and Teaching


“PBL vs VL” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

The skill, will, and thrill of Project Based Learning – Bianca Hewes reflects on here experiences with Visible Learning and Project Based Learning. She highlights the similarities, such as a focus on stages and structure. The post finishes with a call to work together to strive for a better education for all. It is interesting reading this alongside the David Price’s recent analyses and a useful introduction to Project Based Learning.

This isn’t a research article (I’m a teacher, not an academic), it’s a reflective post where I’ve tried to put down the thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain for the last week. I just think that in education we shouldn’t be making enemies, we shouldn’t need to take sides… we’re all in this field because we love young people, we care about their future success, and we are passionate about teaching and learning. It would be so super awesome to work together, and be positive, for better outcomes for the people that matter – the kids – and not for our own personal agendas of gains. Anyway, if you don’t like PBL, that’s cool (well, no, not really, you’re missing out, haha), but make sure you know what it is you’re critiquing before you start to bag it – cos it might just be that we’re arguing for the same thing.

Can We Please Stop Grading Independent Reading? – Pernille Ripp explains why assessing independent reading can be problematic. She makes the case for skill based assessment, rather than a count of books. Along with the Paula Schwanenflugel and Nancy Flanagan Knapp’s investigation into reading levels, these posts offer a useful provocation to reflect on reading instruction in the classroom.

So when we look to grade a child on how they are as a reader we need to make sure that the assessments we provide actually provide us with the answers we need.  Not an arbitrary number that again rewards those who already have established solid reading habits and punish those that are still developing.  And if you are asked to grade independent reading, ask questions; what is it you are trying to measure and is it really providing you with a true answer?  Are you measuring habits or skills?  Are the grades accurate?  If not, why not?  And if not, then what? 

The Questioning ‘Collection’ – Alex Quigley reflects on questioning and the different approaches that he has taken in the past. With his collection on feedback, these posts are a useful resources to progressively work through.

As a teacher of nearly 15 years, I have attempted annual to crack the code for asking great questions. I am working on it. Happily, I have written a lot of blogs to capture, distill and codify my thinking into practical strategies for classroom talk and questioning

How are we traveling? Reflecting on the ‘story so far’ – Kath Murdoch provides a check-in for teachers to reflect on how they we traveling. It is interesting reading this alongside Brad Gustafson’s call for us to challenge assumptions and Tony Sinanis’ suggestions on areas for educational reform.

As the days shorten (at least on our side of the world) let’s take stock and reflect on the story so far. Here are some questions to help you reflect on your culture-building efforts – and perhaps to help you consider new goals to work on. Suffice to say – none of us can manage to get all of these things happening beautifully all at once!  This is an ‘aspirational’ check list- I hope it provides the basis for some affirmation as well as for some challenge.

#ProjectDreamtime: connecting with Arnhem Land and learning about culture – Lee Hewes documents a Project-Based Learning unit focusing on bringing stories of the Dreamtime into the digital age. What stands out in Hewes’ account is the place of technology to make collaborative learning ‘more doable’. This includes a class website, Skype to connect with a remote indigenous community and a YouTube channel to celebrate and extend the learning.

So over the last couple of weeks of the summer holidays, I designed the project outline for the project, which is guided by the driving question, ‘How could new technologies be used to tell traditional stories?’, and set about trying to connect with some schools from remote Indigenous communities. In fact, I emailed probably around 50 schools from remote NSW, QLD and the NT, trying to establish connections. I finally managed to secure a connection with an awesome school from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, which I’ll write a little more about later. I also contacted the AECG and organised for a visitor to come to our school with some Aboriginal artefacts and to introduce the students to Indigenous culture. 

Black-Out Poetry with Google Docs – Eric Curts​​ provides a guide to creating blackout poetry with Google Docs. Curts work often leaves me amazed at the range of possibilities associated with GSuite. If new to his work, it is worth listening to his interview on the Check This Out podcast. 

Black-out poetry can be a fun and educational activity for students. For those that have trouble coming up with a poem, this activity can be helpful since the students already have all the words for the poem and just need to choose the ones they want to keep. 

A Change Sprint – workshopping new ideas in a hurry – Dave Cormier brings together​ his thinking around collectively building ideas in the form of a digitally connected sprint. 

A Change Sprint is focused on a central question posed by the member who calls or convenes the Spring to action. Each question, so far, has changed at least slightly in the course of each of the Sprints – the question can be iterative but it guides the discussion. A participant will convene a Sprint because they want help with an idea, a problem, a challenge…and are looking for a particular kind of outcome. They might want a model. They could need something said in a particular way, or need an idea workshopped before it goes out into the wild. Before beginning, each convenor has to create a simple project charter that explains the necessary background in a simple, organized way. The charter allows people to get up to speed in a hurry, and provides a location for discussion around broader contextual issues. We have a google template that has been working well for us. It’s been really important to us that the sprints are as efficient as possible. We put the time limit on a sprint at 5 days, but any can end if the initial target is met and the convenor’s challenge addressed.

Edtech


“On Twitter” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Dear Twitter. It’s not me, it’s you – David Hopkins reflects on some of the changes that have occurred lately within Twitter, both socially and technically. There seems to be a lot of talk around Twitter of late, whether it be around alternatives, possible changes or how it is being unbundled. 

So, here’s what I need from Twitter, in this new world – I don’t want my Twitter timeline/stream to be controlled by algorithms, but I do want more control (note: I want the control, not for it to be done for me) over the kind of tweets that fill my timeline. If the 1,300 or so people I follow on Twitter want to share and discuss current affairs and Brexit and the like, then I am happy for them and don’t want to stop them, or unfollow them either. I just want some way to filter those out, until I want to read them. Twitter is acting against the rise (and rise) of trolls and the nasty side of the internet (some say too late). 

Here we B.Y.GO again… 😉 – Corrie Barclay provides his thoughts and reflections on going BYO*. He touches on such things as having a plan and documentation in place (much of which he posted in a follow up post). What interests me about such discussions are the nuances associated with each situation. I am also intrigued by the different approaches to action research and reflection associated with such programs. 

What I am personally pleased with it that my beliefs towards integrating a successful BYO program have not changed all that much from roughly 9 years ago. What was needed to be in place then, still needs to be in place now. I have over the years read and seen quite a lot in this space and at the end of the day, you do not need ‘21 successful tips towards BYOD‘, or, ‘BYOD, 45,721 points for successful integration‘, or anything in between. Here I have shared my key tips, points, notes, ‘things’, whatever you would like to call them, that have assisted and driven myself towards leading and implementing BYOD frameworks. As usual, comments welcome. 

Why EdTech Initiatives Fail (…and a support to help!) – Tom Murray on why #EdTech initiatives fail when there is a disconnect between vision and features. The focus on vision is also touched on by Lawrence DeMaeyer in an interview with Will Richardson. 

Every product has baked in assumptions regarding how students will learn best and how a tool will be utilized in a particular school. Yet we know that to effectively select technology, one must understand whether their vision for teaching and learning aligns with the assumptions baked into the products being selected. When there is a mismatch, implementations will fail. 

Endorsement 2.0: Taking Open Badges and E-Credentials to the Next Level – Daniel Hickey and Nate Otto discuss the affordances of the new endorsement feature that is a part of the Open Badges 2.0 release. I came upon this post via the Open Badges newsletter. 

A set of endorsement features are about to make Open Badges more credible, searchable, and trackable. These features will allow individuals or organizations who issue badges to add endorsements by other parties to add to their credibility and trustworthiness across different communities. As with LinkedIn, it will take time and investment for these new features to become widely embraced by various stakeholders. But unlike LinkedIn’s endorsements, Open Badges will allow multiple institutions to experiment with this feature. 

On Next Generation Digital Learning Environments – Jim Groom​ discusses the Next Generation Digital Learning Environments. It would seem that there are a number of challenges to be grappled with, including the challenge of organising personal spaces and managing our personal data online. In an associated post, Benjamin Doxtdater wonders if the problem with edtech is the lack of pedagogical imagination from the companies creating the products. 

What the ELI white paper misses is that this system needs to be approached from a new perspective that humanizes the exchange of data and makes those negotiations everywhere apparent and transparent—that’s not going to happen through a federation of corporate software companies that are mining your personal data for their own profit—and if that’s the case why can’t you say no? —or even decide the terms and get a piece of the action? 

Sideways Dictionary – This site helps explain various edtech terms through the use of analogies. 

Sideways dictionary — it’s like a dictionary, but using analogies instead of definitions. Use it as a tool for finding and sharing helpful analogies to explain technology. Because if everyone understands technology better, we can make technology work better for everyone.

Storytelling and Reflection

“Clash of Ideas @dculberhouse” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Clash Of Ideas: The Tension Of Innovation – David Culberhouse outlines the importance of tension to foster innovation. Coming back to the ‘learning well’, he highlights the importance of difference and the way in which heavily managed environments undermine this. 

The most creative and innovative organizations don’t just accept ideas, they engage ideas. They wrestle and fight with ideas, not because they don’t think they are good, but because they want to make them even better.  They learn to not hold any idea too close to the chest, understanding that any idea can be built upon and improved. They approach the idea process with an attitude of positive “plussing” which allows ideas to expand and evolve. 

The Power of Explaining to Others – Mike Caulfield explains why the future of education is through explaining rather than creating. Along with his manifesto and guide to web literacy, Caulfield outlines something of a solution to the challenges of fake news. For Dave Winer, it is all about taking back the power over news from Silicon Valley. 

What happens in peer instruction? You give students daily opportunities to realize they understand a fraction of what they think they do, and you get amazing learning gains. People wonder why I got obsessed with federated wiki. I got obsessed for a number of reasons, but as I discussed in The Garden and the Stream, one of the primary ones was this: a daily process of trying to explain and connect incoming ideas rather than rating them and arguing them changes your brain in helpful ways. Federated wiki takes us down a path of explanation and connection. Traditional social media takes us down a path of argument and retrenchment. 

Finding Motivation – Bec Spink reflects on the motivation that comes through conversations with peers. Along with John Goh’s thoughts on learning alongside other leaders, these posts are a great reminder as to why having a PLN is so important. 

A few key things have occurred in the past year for me, that now on reflection have made me realise that that ferocious person I was after to give me that little kick was never going to be found on a stage. In fact, as it turns out, it’s not even one person. It’s the conversations. The light bulb moments. The pure excitement and looks on children’s faces and those of their teachers I see every day. It’s my continued dedication to always wanting more, to being more, to making change. It’s watching things I’ve worked hard at succeed. It’s learning from the things that didn’t. It’s surrounding myself with like minded people. It’s my mentors. Sometimes it’s the littlest moments, all you have to do is notice them 

Open as a Need? #oer17 – Maha Bali continues to openly reflect on what it is to be open in preparation for her keynote at #OER17. In this post she talks about the needs associated with being open and sharing to the world. Although this is not something that is always available to everyone, the place it serves for some is important to recognise. Also of importance is Bali’s point that it may not be for everyone and may in fact be deeply personal. This reminded me of Benjamin Doxtdator’s point about the risks associated with blogging and the point that it may not be for everyone. 

My personal “need” for open is not universal. I have a social need that’s fulfilled by open/online. I need to have people who think in certain ways to be part of my life to talk to them about certain things. I also have a need to learn from open/online that’s different from what I can (and do) learn offline. But it could have been another way, you know? There’s a lot of ego and humility in blogging and openness in general. Of course when your work gets read and shared it helps boost the ego. It becomes more or less important depending on lots of things. Each post becomes less important if you post a heck of a lot (like me) but sometimes getting noticed by particular people matters. And it also involves a lot of humility because some of us share half-formed thoughts, seek help, share vulnerability, admit pain or failure or confusion. Or frustration. In ways sometimes doing it f2f doesn’t help. 

The silent tragedy of NAPLAN, students reported in misleading bands – Marten Koomen looks into the problems of NAPLAN, especially in putting it out there through the MySchools website as an outright measurement for success. Along with Stewart Riddle’s look at the MySchools website, Bronwyn Hinz on PISA, Deborah Netolicky’s reflection on the new Evidence for Learning Toolkit and Dan Haesler’s questions about evidence, these posts offer insight into the world of data and assessment. 

Teachers are being held accountable to dubious statistics. For example, the American Educational Research Association (2015) strongly cautions against the use of value-added-models. Yet Australia reports student progress without reservation or qualification on the My School website (myschool.edu.au). This is not in the interest of students, teachers, or schools. In whose interest this reporting is occurring remains opaque. 

Worthiness – According to Who? – Jon Andrews reflects on the problems associated with conducting empirical research into humans and education. Instead, he suggests we need to start with questions and inquiry to develop the unknown. Along with AJ Juiliani’s thoughts on learning, Michael Niehoff’s questions about teaching for readiness, Andrea Stringer’s exploration of coaching and Peter DeWitt’s wondering about whether some people are uncoachable, these posts are a reminder of the divide between the overall goals of education and the way schools are managed and organised. 

Knowing the challenges complex human interactions pose to scientific study and research, why might it be that politicians and the sections of the profession are seemingly enticed by evidence-based practices and interventions? Perhaps we could consider them a bridge across the chasm that divides theory and practice, with the messiness of life and relationships in the ravine? Perhaps in the eyes of some, what education is meant to be has suffered a slow and steady erosion for too long. They cannot stand idle and observe wave after wave of fads, directionless leadership and a lack of vision. Seeing education as rudderless, misinformed and a waste of money is enough to rile anyone.

The Future of Work: 3 Mega-Trends – Graham Martin-Brown explores some of the trends associated with the future of work, including AI and universal income. This continues the conversation that is pushed by others, such as Douglas Rushkoff, Martin Ford and Doug Belshaw. It is also interesting to compare this with a post from Oxford University last year on the second topic. In the end, these are only trends and a part of the intent of the post is to highlight that the future is ours to define. 

Now I don’t for a moment pretend that I have this all figured out, I like to think of myself as more of a compass than a map, but I believe that we have entered a period of massive global disruption where the status quo as we know it is going change. We can either let someone else choose our destiny or we can exert our agency and be part of a positive change to design the new status quo for the society that we want tomorrow. 

Why Foucault’s work on power is more important than ever – Colin Koopman provides some background into Foucault’s work associated with power and explains why it is still important today (and tomorrow). It is interesting reading, alongside Greg Thompson’s reflection on numbers and measurement in a data driven age. 

Disciplinary training is not sovereign violence. But it is power. Classically, power took the form of force or coercion and was considered to be at its purest in acts of physical violence. Discipline acts otherwise. It gets a hold of us differently. It does not seize our bodies to destroy them, as Leviathan always threatened to do. Discipline rather trains them, drills them and (to use Foucault’s favoured word) ‘normalises’ them. All of this amounts to, Foucault saw, a distinctly subtle and relentless form of power. To refuse to recognise such disciplining as a form of power is a denial of how human life has come to be shaped and lived. If the only form of power we are willing to recognise is sovereign violence, we are in a poor position to understand the stakes of power today. If we are unable to see power in its other forms, we become impotent to resist all the other ways in which power brings itself to bear in forming us. 

Imaginaries and materialities of education data science – In a speech for the Nordic Educational Research Association conference, Ben Williamson brings together much of his work around the collection and privatisation of big data being imagined around the possibilities afforded by the Internet of Things. Data science and analytics have progressively moved to the heart of education, with every teacher seemingly required to be versed around the topic of data literacy. The concern that Williamson and Watters raise is the notion of education as becoming an institution of cognitive control. In response to a recent Future Tense episode looking at the potential of ‘living’ digitally beyond our death, I was left wondering if there is anything missed in such a big data correlation? 

One of the key things I want to stress here is that the field of education data science is imagining and seeking to materialize a ‘big data infrastructure’ for automated, algorithmic and anticipatory knowledge production, practical intervention and policy influence in education.

FOCUS ON … PODCASTS

I spend a lot of time commuting to work or to schools. In addition to reading, I listen to podcasts. Here then are some of the channels that fill my feed:

  • Today in Digital Education – Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes meander their way through digital education and everything else.

  • Teachers Education Review – Led by Cameron Malcher, this fortnightly podcast incorporates news and features associated with Australian education.

  • 2 Regular Teachers – Rick Kayler-Thomson and Adam Lavars explore the world of regular teachers.

  • The Contrafabulists – Formerly Tech Gypsies, Audrey Watters and Kin Lane dissect the latest technology myth-making with an eye to connecting the present with the past.

  • Design & Play – Steve Brophy and Dean Pearman talk education, technology, innovation, pedagogy, design and creativity.

  • Wonderland – Steve Johnson discusses some of the ideas from his book of the same name.

  • Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwell revisits the past to uncover some of the different stories that have been overlooked.

  • Team Human – Douglas Rushkoff explores the human intervention in the economic, technological, and social programs that determine how we live, work, and interact

  • The MoonshotEdu Show – Bernard Bull pushes against the status quo, exploring aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • Song Exploder – Musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made

  • Modern Learners – Associated with the wider Modern Learners brand, this podcast involves Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon discussing various.elements of change on education.

  • Hardcore History – Dan Carlin digs into some of history’s great narratives.

  • Chips with Everything – Previously the Guardian Tech Weekly, this podcast involves looking into a wide range of edtech issues.


READ WRITE RESPOND #015

So that is March 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? I actually ticked over to 100 subscribers last month.

Image used in the cover via justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/21935581091 is licensed under CC BY-SA

📓 Technology is never neutral

Technology always has a focus, whether it be student, teacher or system. One of the interesting things to consider is when different perspectives compete within the one software package.

Technology is never neutral. An incredibly clever teacher might be able to pull a technology a little bit between the vertices in the triangle, but that doesn’t change the equation. Educators need to decide upon whom they wish to bestow agency. I’m in Papert’s corner. It is best for learners and enjoys the greatest return on investment.source

Doug Belshaw adds a different take on this, suggesting that it either supports or pushes against the status quo:

There’s no such thing as a neutral system, so every time you design a new technology-based system, you’re designing to reinforce or subvert existing power structures.source

He uses the example of Open Badges to illustrate this.

Using the example of trowels used for masonry, Virginia Eubanks explains that the affordances impact the user’s experience:


Technology makes learning more doable

Fourth Revolution Regulations

Gary Coleman discusses some of the challenges associated with the Fourth Revolution around regulations:

With so many regulatory questions surfacing as new business models are launched using exponential technologies, some business owners are taking a proactive role. For instance, technology companies are working with the EU to reshape privacy rules that impact their data mining business models. The drone industry has been successful in moving EU rules to a risk-based system – that is, allowing for waivers on a case-by-case basis versus waiting for a new set of regulations to be written for each scenario.

How can we regulate the digital revolution?

Uncoachable?

Peter DeWitt reflects on the question, are some teachers uncoachable?

The truth is that at some point it is no longer the coaches job to work with a teacher if that teacher doesn’t want to work with the coach. At some point it is the job of the administrator to chime in and work with the teacher. Coaches are not supposed to be evaluators. The other day a very astute coach told me they feel like they are the sheriff without a gun.

Are Some Coaches Uncoachable?

What stands out is the difference between having a coach, which is about growth and development, and being a leader, which is making sure due process is followed.

Edtech’s inability to imagine the future

Benjamin Doxtdater reflects on the current state of EdTech and wonders if instead of teachers being scared that technology companies just aren’t ready for the future:

Perhaps it’s Edtech, not teachers, that lags far behind in its narrow discussion of technology. Rather than leading the way forward, Edtech is stuck in the past and irrelevant, especially to those of us who care about the intersection of technology and power.

On Edtech’s inability to imagine the future

Unbundling Education

Like its close cousin Disruption, unbundling has been a favourite philosophy of the silicon valley start up. It has often been applied to education (even, erm, by me). This piece for example boldly states “The bundle of knowledge and certification that have long-defined higher education is coming apart”. The idea has some merit – if education moves online, do we need all the services: content production, examination, accreditation, support, etc to come from one provider?

Martin Weller on Critically examining unbundling

Writing a Newsletter

There are many different presentation platforms. One that has come to the surface of late is the newsletter:

A newsletter can be a powerful tool as you not only make sense of your thinking, but also share this work with others. I believe that the process of reflection is involved as you create and publish a newsletter. I often have colleagues suggest that an RSS or Twitter feed, or subscriptions to their website is the same thing as a regular newsletter. IMHO, it is not the same thing. A good newsletter serves a specific purpose, and includes synthesis and reflection for you or your audience. You are actively curating content online

Ian O’Byrne on Three questions to consider as you develop an awesome newsletter

Trust matters!

Seth Godin highlights what matters most, trust. Too often we try and cheat this or avoid it, but without trust all else fails.

The real asset you’re building is trust.source

Julian Stodd argues that trust is something cultivated like a garden:

You cannot demand trust, but you may be able to create the conditions where it can emerge, and grow. We know from the Landscape of Trust research that ‘trust’ is held in relationships more so than contracts, so it’s perhaps in the way we forge, and validate, and maintain, those relationships that we are best placed to take action.

It is a little like gardening: you tend to the soil, and the seeds germinate. You do not directly make them germinate. If the conditions are right, they will grow.source

Education and Democracy

For him democracy is not a normal situation, i.e., it is not a way in which the police order exists, but rather occurs in the interruption of the order in the name of equality—which is why he says that democracy is sporadic. Furthermore, democratization for Rancière is not something that is done to others; it is something that people can only do themselves. Rancière connects this to the question of emancipation

Gert Biesta Good Education in an Age of Measurement p.125

Twitter as an idea, not just a platform

On one level, big social platforms borrowing features from one another has a long history in software development. Facebook alone took the “like” from Tumblr, the “check in” from Foursquare, “trending” from Twitter, and the “story” from Snapchat. But on another level, the recent moves to integrate real-time public posts show the internet not copying Twitter so much as they are absorbing it. Twitter is being unbundled before our eyes, and the implications are fascinating. source

I Stopped Blogging by Phillip Cooke

Just as there are many reasons why people blog, there are also many reasons why people do not. This is a useful reflection on the challenges with blogging.

So why haven’t I blogged?
 
Possible reasons include:
“I’m always too busy”, but that is just a copout. I was busy when I was blogging previously, but am I underestimating the impact of an increased work stress and absorption
Many of my current ideas and arguments are too new and immature to bring to an audience. But blogging I find helps to fast track these ideas.
I require a high level of energy reserve and confidence to hang an idea out to be critiqued, to take on criticism or just use feedback to modify and adjust my idea or thinking
Writing doesn’t come easily to me. I’ve always had ideas (I’m a good dreamer), but struggle to quickly put these into a clear written argument (I wasn’t an English person). So moving an idea to writing takes me time to both finish the dreaming and then to write, edit and rewrite. source

🤔 What if a computer could sit our test for us?

I was listening to a recent episode of RN Future Tense talk about developing a digital construct of ourselves that would exist long after we die. The idea of this virtual self is so that people could ask our opinion long after we die. This is something captured in a few ways in the Black Mirrors series. However, what I was left wondering is whether such virtual selves, based on understanding of the way we think, could sit a standardised tests, such as NAPLAN etc, for us?

📰 Read Write Respond #014

My Month of February

I thought when I stopped managing reports and timetables a few years ago that it would be a once in a lifetime. However, I have again gone down the rabbit hole this month getting my head around the features and affordances associated with a new administration package. I must admit that I find it interesting to compare different applications and the workflows that they create. Often leaves me wondering about which decisions are intentional and which are incidental.

On the home front, my youngest decided that it was time to start climbing the ladder for the trampoline in the backyard. After a couple of failures, she now flies up. It is fascinating seeing her learn things. It is also interesting to compare with our eldest. A living reminder that we are all different.

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


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

Learning and Teaching

“Classroom Themes” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Why I Hate Classroom Themes – Emily Fintelman reflects on classroom themes and wonders what impact they are really having on learning. She suggests that our focus should be on how spaces are structured and strategies that can be used to give students more voice.

Take steps in setting up your room that will directly facilitate student learning, for example:

  • ensure there is a mix of individual reflection areas and table banks for group work
  • ensure an attractive, easy-to-access, visible display of a variety of texts for students to browse and choose from
  • put resources and equipment (like stationary or games) within reach of the students that use it, rather than locking it away in a cupboard (to only be bestowed with the teacher’s permission).

My Digital Portfolio Project Planning and More on My Digital Portfolio Project  – Bill Ferriter elaborates on his portfolio pilot that he recently started. Along with Kevin Hodgson’s post from last year, Ferriter’s provides a great resource for anyone wanting a place to start in regards to the how and why.

According to George Couros, Learning Portfolios are all about giving students chances to collect evidence of their own growth and progress as learners over time. They aren’t about spotlighting perfection. They are about promoting reflection. Showcase Portfolios, on the other hand, are designed to give students spaces to spotlight their very best work. Both types of portfolios have value to learners — but both serve very different purposes.

A Socratic Seminar for Elementary Learners – Jackie Gerstein provides an introduction to Socratic Seminar through the use of Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches.

The Benefits of Socratic Seminars are:

  • Offer opportunities for student voice
  • Embrace the power of open-ended questions
  • Often mimic how intellectual discourse occurs in real life
  • Support providing evidence-based arguments
  • Build active listening skills
  • Reinforce close reading
  • Approach real world solutions as having multiple perspectives
  • Hone critical thinking skills
  • Build oral communication skills
  • Emphasize the importance of critical reflection
  • Help to develop conflict resolution skills

The Challenge of Non-Disposable Assignments – Alan Levine discusses the concept of the ‘non-disposable assignments’ and the potential of collaborative collections where anyone can add an idea to the repository. Reflecting on his work with both ds106 and #CCQuests, Levine shares his insights gained along the way, including aspects to consider.

I am not claiming at all I know best how to create non-disposable / renewable assignments. I think I have a good hunch for thinking about them. My thinking includes:

  • Relevance… Are they working with content, ideas in their area of interest or work? Does it fit for them as much as for the assignment?
  • Are they creating, making, constructing something that is public?
  • Does it clearly have potential for helping someone beyond the person making it?
  • Does it not feel like a rote exercise?

Make a Student-Centred Classroom (Part One and Part Two) – In a series of posts, Richard Wells responds to various questions and concerns associated with developing a student-centred classroom. They include providing access to various strategies, knowing what tools are available and remembering the place of the educator to assist not answer.  Along with Tom Whitby’s post on the Ikea effect on education, Jon Andrew’s value of theory and Brad Gustafson’s call to start with students, these posts provide an interesting provocation about what is required in regards to education today.

In 2016, I did a lot of posting and presenting on student-centred learning. I had great feedback and some supportive conversations about the obvious commonsense behind the approach. I’ve posted a number of guides and posters to help people understand the necessary components. But when the conversation on theory finishes, the first two questions are always: “So, what do I actually do?” & “Where do I start?”

Edtech

“Against Expressive Social Media” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Against Expressive Social Media – Mike Caulfield makes the case to break with our dependence on the social media generated dopamine hits to develop the type of critical collaboration needed for the future. Reflecting on his own history of the web, Caulfield suggests that we need new ways of working that challenge our collective thinking, not just confirm our biases. Along with Audrey Watters’ post on edtech in the time of Trump, these posts ask many questions to address for a different imagining of educational technology and a democratic society. It also provides a useful background to the intent beyond such tools and technology as Hypothes.is, Wikity and Smallest Federated Wiki.

In my more pessimistic moments, I come to think that the thing that poor Vannevar Bush didn’t get, and that Doug Engelbart didn’t get, and that Alan Kay didn’t get is people really like the buzz of getting beliefs confirmed. And they like the buzz of getting angry at people that are too stupid to get what they already know. Confirming beliefs makes you feel smart and arguing with people makes you feel smarter than someone else. Both allow you to snack on dopamine throughout the day,  and if you ever need a full meal you can always jump on Reddit.

Rethinking “Edtech” – David Kernohan gives an overview of the history of edtech. This post touches on everything from learning theories, investments and innovation to create a picture of practice for a deeper discussion. It is a useful starting point for those interested in going further in regards to appreciating the place educational technology today.

I was asked to offer some perspective on the wider idea of edtech – what follows covers investment management, theories of learning, education reform politics, innovation theory and around 80 years of history. Some may be surprised at the scope – I would argue that it is not enough to understand how, to truly make an intelligent decision we need to at least consider why.

What’s on the Horizon (Still, Again, Always) for Ed-Tech – With the release of the latest Horizon Report, Audrey Watters continues the conversation she started last year around predicting the future. Looking back over fourteen years of reports, Watters identifies a range of abnormalities, including the ahistorical nature of trends and the failure to address funding and inherent politics embedded within technology.

Education technology in the Horizon Report is almost entirely stripped of politics, a political move in and of itself. No doubt, I am asking the Horizon Report to do something and to be something that it hasn’t done, that it hasn’t been. But at some point (I hope), instead of a fixation on new technologies purportedly “on the horizon,” ed-tech will need to turn to the political reality here and now.

5 Ws: Trajectory of EdTech Love – Amy Burvall unpacks the process associated with integrating technology. She highlights such attributes as starting with why, providing possible workflows, sharing examples of success and exploring different approaches to professional development. This reminds me of a post I wrote a few years back, as well as a podcast during which other ideas were shared.

In discussing how to get teachers (or anyone in any organization for that matter) not only interested in but embracing technology integration it occurred to me there might be a trajectory of sorts. What must you start with to get the “buy-in”? How do you progress from there? How might one show the possibilities so that folks can start thinking in this language rather than merely translating.

Expanding the Conversation About Teachers and Blogging – Benjamin Doxtdator questions George Couros’ call for more people to stop overthinking and ‘just blog’. Doxtdator suggests that maybe our focus should be on self-care and personal journals, rather than blogging. For me blogs are often spoken about as some sort of fixed entity with only one type. It is important to make clear to ourselves why, before we just do it.

Original and critical thought is rarely well-received, and women are harassed in comments sections and on Twitter, especially women of color.

Don’t Get Pwned: A Guide to Safer Logins – Richard Barnes provides a range of strategies to better secure our online information. Along with Royan Lee’s graphics associated with the Privacy Paradox, Doug Belshaw’s battles with hackers and Kevin Mitnick guide to going invisible, these posts remind us of the complexities associated with being online.

tl;dr:
Use random passwords, and use a different password for every site
Use a password manager to make creating and remembering passwords easier
Make your answers to security questions just as strong as your passwords
Use “two-factor authentication” wherever you can
Pay attention to the browser’s security signals, and be suspicious

Google, Lawsuits, and the Importance of Good Documentation – Bill Fitzgerald looks into the terms of service(s) associated with GSuite and makes a range of suggestions on how Google could improve on some of the inherent ambiguity. Along with Jenny Luca’s post on moving to the cloud, this is an important post for all administrators to read to appreciate the nuances connected with rights and permissions.

Google has been working in the educational space for years, and they have put a lot of thought into their products. However, real questions still exist about how these products work, and about how data collected from kids in these products is handled. Google has created copious documentation, but – ironically – that is part of the problem, as the sheer volume of what they have created contains contradictions and repetitions with slight degrees of variance that impede understanding. Based on seeing both Google’s terms evolve over the years and from seeing terms in multiple other products, these issues actually feel pretty normal. This doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be addressed, but I don’t see malice in any of these shortcomings. However, the concern is real, for Google and other EdTech companies: if your product supports learning today, it shouldn’t support redlining and profiling tomorrow.

Beginner guide to APIs with Google Sheets & Apps Script – Ben Collins provides a step-by-step introduction to connecting APIs to Google Sheets. This is a great starting point, including a range of examples to work with. What is particularly useful is that Collins thoroughly describes the thinking behind each step. Martin Hawksey also posted a short introduction to Google Script Apps Smashing.

You’ve probably heard the term API before. Maybe you’ve heard how tech companies use them when they pipe data between their applications. Or how companies build complex systems from many smaller micro-services linked by APIs, rather than as single, monolithic programs nowadays. API stands for “Application Program Interface”, and the term commonly refers to web URLs that can be used to access raw data. Basically, the API is an interface that provides raw data for the public to use (although many require some form of authentication). As third-party software developers, we can access an organization’s API and use their data within our own applications. The good news is that there are plenty of simple APIs out there, which we can cut our teeth on. We can connect a Google Sheet to an API and bring data back from that API (e.g. iTunes) into our Google Sheet. It’s fun and really satisfying if you’re new to this world.

Storytelling and Reflection

“Changing Times” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Will the AFLW herald changing times for gay players in the men’s game? – Kate O’Halloran reflects on first openly gay AFL players and wonders whether this will bring about a change in the men’s game. I have been left wondering what other impacts that the women’s competition might have on AFL and women’s sport in Australia in general. All of the sudden women are not only playing prime time, but also getting involved off the field in areas such as commentary as experts. In a sport that has seemingly pushed women to the margins, I am left wondering what impact AFLW will have on such jocular institutions as The Footy Show? As a father of two daughters it leaves me with hope.

 

Will these AFLW players’ bravery have any impact on the culture of the men’s game? I retain some hope the AFL’s new lovechild will force the hand of the old guard when it comes to the shadow of homophobia that still lingers as a blight on this wonderful game

Against the Clock: How Technology Has Changed Our Experience of Time – In an interview to discuss Alan Burdick’s new book Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation, Burdick and Douglas Rushkoff discuss the different ways in which technology has progressively colonised human time. They talk about the different concepts of time, such as space time, clock time and bodily time. They also reflect on how things were different in the past and some of the particular challenges that we are faced with in order to regain a sense of self from our Google Calendars.

The Greeks have two words for time: “chronos”, which is like time on the clock, and “chiros”, which is more like readiness, human time. You crash the car at 4:27, but when do you tell dad that you crashed the car? I always say, “After he’s had his drink, before he’s opened the bills.” That’s chiros, human time, the way we experience time, versus real time or number time. For me, it became important in the digital age, as our style of clock time changed, what does that do to our understanding of real time? You looked at the same relationship in a different way.

When Good Intentions Backfire – Building off of a series of essays on topics affecting the public sphere, danah boyd responds to some of the criticism she received. Both justifying her intentions and providing the next step, boyd suggests that we need more people with a hacker mindset.

My goal in writing these essays is not because I know the solutions to some of the most complex problems that we face — I don’t — but because I think that we need to start thinking about these puzzles sideways, upside down, and from non-Euclidean spaces. In short, I keep thinking that we need more well-intended folks to start thinking like hackers.

Digital Literacy and Anti-Authoritarian Politics – Bryan Alexander brings together a range of perspectives on the news and media literacies, including various step-by-step guides and supposed algorithmic solutions. Along with Mike Caulfield’s new book on reading the media and Helen Bentham’s reflection on democratic digital literacies, these posts offer some insight about where to next for educators might grapple with the challenges of fake news and digital democracy.

I can see incentives and professional reasons for hewing to either pole. Institutions and professions often function as gatekeepers, after all. At the same time each of these fields also has an ethos of empowering their students/users/patrons. Some of these institutions are closely tied up to authorities, such as active churches or states, while others see themselves as independent spaces. Each has taken up a related range of positions on previous digital issues, such as web sites, open education resources, and social media.

Educating Australia – Why Our Schools Aren’t Improving – Tom Bentley and Glenn Savage reflect on the fact that Australian education has gone backwards in the last ten years. The solution they suggest is working collaboratively with a focus on evidence. This poses so many questions and it is interesting reading it next to Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon’s whitepaper.

We also need to move beyond a fascination with divisions between governments in Australia’s federal system. We must focus instead on harnessing the potential of networks and collaborations across systems. That is why a coherent reform “narrative” that genuinely reflects evidence about the nature of effective learning and teaching matters so much. Ultimately, the future success of Australian school-age education hinges on whether powerful ideas can be realised in practice, across tens of thousands of classrooms and communities. If we want reforms to be effective, their design must be grounded in wide-ranging dialogue about the nature of the problems and evidence about what will help to solve them.

A new phonics test for Australian six year olds is a BAD idea – Robyn Ewing adds her perspective to the debate about a Year 1 mandatory phonics test in Australia. She raises a few concerns, including the connection between poverty and literacy, as well as the impact of sounds on the actual act of reading.

Early childhood contexts and the first years of schooling should be centred on engaging in creative play with language including poetry, songs and rhymes, developing children’s confidence in talking about and responding to story, building a rich vocabulary and developing an understanding and love of literature.

Experts within the Classroom – Andrea Stringer discusses the place and purpose of standards and textbooks in education. Rather than going to the extreme of banning the textbook, she argues that they need to allow for more differentiation, as well as foster teacher autonomy. For in the end, it is teachers empowered to make choices where the magic occurs.

Much magic happens when teachers apply their knowledge and skills in the moment. That moment when students’ curiosity is captured, when they’re eagerly engaged and when their love for learning is evident. Teachers make decisions each day in their classroom but it is time to have more influence and control over decisions made regarding education. We need to recognise and acknowledge that the ‘Experts are within the classroom!”

If You Want to Be Innovative, Innovate – In this short post, Tim Kastelle explains that the magic to being innovative is innovating and scaling up those things that work. My latest minimal viable product is a monthly GSuite newsletter to support teachers within the organisation I work who get lost in the social stream.

Here are some things that don’t work:

  • Buying the magic innovation software.
  • Bringing someone (like me) in to give an “inspirational talk” on innovation (which is why I don’t do these anymore). A one-day workshop doesn’t work either.
  • Buying a smaller, innovative company to kick-start internal innovation.
  • Building a corporate accelerator that brings in startups to do innovative stuff that’s related to your core business.
  • Outsourcing new product development, customer development, or any of the work that connects what you want to sell to the problem that people need solved.
  • Ultimately, all of these end up being innovation theatre.

The Five Stages of Tribal Innovation – Elaborating on the work of Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright, AJ Juiliani discusses the five levels of tribal leadership. This seems similar to Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation. What is useful about the post is that it provides practical suggestions for all members and how to move up the various stages.

Part of the reason a culture of innovation is so critical in our schools today is that working towards developing new ideas that work brings us back to Stage 5. Innovation doesn’t have a finish line. Neither does culture. Both are organic, fluid, and often unpredictable. Tribes drive the move from pockets to a full culture in ways that one leader cannot.

FOCUS ON … GROUPS

A lot of my current job involves working with groups of teachers. Here then is a collection of resources associated with facilitating sessions:

READ WRITE RESPOND #014

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?