Bookmarked The offloading ape: the human is the beast that automates – Antone Martinho-Truswell | Aeon Essays (Aeon)
It’s not tools, culture or communication that make humans unique but our knack for offloading dirty work onto machines
Antone Martinho-Truswell looks into the differences between humans and animals, suggesting that what stands us apart is cognitive and physical automation.

There are two ways to give tools independence from a human, I’d suggest. For anything we want to accomplish, we must produce both the physical forces necessary to effect the action, and also guide it with some level of mental control. Some actions (eg, needlepoint) require very fine-grained mental control, while others (eg, hauling a cart) require very little mental effort but enormous amounts of physical energy. Some of our goals are even entirely mental, such as remembering a birthday. It follows that there are two kinds of automation: those that are energetically independent, requiring human guidance but not much human muscle power (eg, driving a car), and those that are also independent of human mental input (eg, the self-driving car). Both are examples of offloading our labour, physical or mental, and both are far older than one might first suppose.

Although it can be misconstrued as making us stupid, the intent of automation is complexity:

The goal of automation and exportation is not shiftless inaction, but complexity. As a species, we have built cities and crafted stories, developed cultures and formulated laws, probed the recesses of science, and are attempting to explore the stars. This is not because our brain itself is uniquely superior – its evolutionary and functional similarity to other intelligent species is striking – but because our unique trait is to supplement our bodies and brains with layer upon layer of external assistance.

My question is whether some automation today is actually intended to be stupid or too convenient as a means of control. This touches on Douglas Rushkoff’s warning ‘program or be programmed. I therefore wonder what the balance is between automation and manually completing various tasks in order to create more complexity.

Liked The Back to Basics Conundrum in Early Learning: Reflecting on the Past to Move us Forward (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)
I invited participants to create a story based on their stick and stone creations, using Tier 2 words and other literary techniques. This is a complex way of looking at a basic part of every early childhood educator’s practice – reading to children and supporting emerging writers.
Bookmarked Different Approaches To Using Student Blogs And Digital Portfolios by Kathleen Morris (The Edublogger)
I have observed differences in how student blogs work in a variety of areas. There appears to be a spectrum in at least six key areas
Kathleen Morris provides a series of steps to follow when setting up blogs in the classroom. She also created a graphic to capture this:

Having said this, she is also mindful that every school has its own context and exists at a different point on the continuum of six aspects: duration, privacy, content, reflection, quality and control.

Bookmarked Managing Classroom and Student Blogs (freetech4teachers.com)
One of the questions that I am frequently asked about blogging and have included in my webinar on the topic is “do you recommend that I have just one blog or should all of my students have their own blogs?” There is not a clear cut answer to this question because the answer depends upon how you envision using blogs in your teaching practice.
Richard Byrnes reflects on his experience of blogging in the classroom. He addresses the question whether to have a single blog or several blogs, basically it depends on how you intend on using them:

If your use of blogging is going to be limited to just distributing information about your class(es) to students and their parents, one blog is all that you need. Even if you teach multiple courses, one blog is sufficient if you’re only using it to distribute information. Simply label each new blog post with the name or section of the course for whom the information is intended. From a management standpoint it is far easier to label each blog post on one blog than it is to maintain a different blog for each course that you teach. That is a lesson that took me one semester to learn.

In regards to students, for a single class Byrnes recommends a group approach:

The solution that I recommend is to create a group blog for each class that you teach. Create the blog using whichever platform you like then make each student an author on the blog. To track who wrote what on the blog make sure that the author’s name (first names only or use pen names with young students). Alternatively, you can have students label or tag posts with their names or pen names to sort out who wrote what. As the creator and owner of the group blog you will be able to see who wrote what from your administrative panel, but that doesn’t help parents who want to check the blog to see what their children have been sharing.

While if you have 25+ students in a class then use something like Feedly to manage blogs. My question about this approach is that it assumes that the blogs are private. If you use Campus Press (Global2) then there are other built-in options.

Although I have blogged about my own experiences and Kathleen Morris wrote an extensive post capturing an array of possibilities, I think that it is always useful to stop and consider other perspectives.

Bookmarked Problem Finding by Tom Barrett (The Curious Creative)
I have adapted some of the Design Kit steps below and have a HMW Framing template
Based on the methods of Design Kit, Tom Barrett breaks the process of framing a problem into eight steps:

  1. Describe the problem or issue
  2. List the stakeholders
  3. Re-frame the issue as a How Might We statement
  4. Describe the impact you are attempting to have.
  5. Why needs your help the most?
  6. What are some possible solutions to your problem?
  7. Describe the context and constraints you have to your future ideas.
  8. Re-write a different version of your original HMW statement.

Here is an image I made based on the How Might We format:

I remember when I ran Genius Hour, I used HMW, however I struggled with supporting students in developing these. I think that Barrett’s steps helps with that.

Liked Federal Judge Says Embedding a Tweet Can Be Copyright Infringement (Electronic Frontier Foundation)
Rejecting years of settled precedent, a federal court in New York has ruled [PDF] that you could infringe copyright simply by embedding a tweet in a web page. Even worse, the logic of the ruling applies to all in-line linking, not just embedding tweets. If adopted by other courts, this legally and technically misguided decision would threaten millions of ordinary Internet users with infringement liability.
Bookmarked Quincy Jones on the Secret Michael Jackson and the Problem With Modern Pop (Vulture)
Music legend Quincy Jones on who he thinks killed JFK, the secret Michael Jackson, his relationship with the Trumps, and the problem with modern pop.
In this interview, Quincy Jones touches on a number of points, including Michael Jackson the Beatles and Marlon Brando. However, what stood out to my was his take on modern pop:

Do you hear the spirit of jazz in pop today?
No. People gave it up to chase money. When you go after Cîroc vodka and Phat Farm and all that shit, God walks out of the room. I have never in my life made music for money or fame. Not even Thriller. No way. God walks out of the room when you’re thinking about money. You could spend a million dollars on a piano part and it won’t make you a million dollars back. That’s just not how it works.

Is there innovation happening in modern pop music?
Hell no. It’s just loops, beats, rhymes and hooks. What is there for me to learn from that? There ain’t no fucking songs. The song is the power; the singer is the messenger. The greatest singer in the world cannot save a bad song. I learned that 50 years ago, and it’s the single greatest lesson I ever learned as a producer. If you don’t have a great song, it doesn’t matter what else you put around it.

Bookmarked Many More Webs Bite The Dust (CogDogBlog)
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.
Alan Levine adds to his lists of web sites that have been shut down. Attached to this is a video montage:

Only a day later and another site has already been added, Wikispaces.

Liked Screen Time by Tom Woodward (bionicteaching.com)
Screen time isn’t a single thing. It’s an insane range of things. There’s lots of screen time that is of Twinkie quality but there are many other options. If I read a book on a device is it screen time or is that reading? If I’m coding for an hour? Editing video? Video chat with my parents? When we reduce things to this extent we end up doing things that ignore the actual problem.