My Month of October

In my work, I continued developing a scalable reporting solution, including planning out an implementation process. I also investigated some automated solutions associated with Google Sheets, including the creation of calendar events from a sheet, as well as developing a document from a database. I have managed to generate markdown code, the next step is to create a script to turn this into a Doc.

On the home front, our girls are enjoying the change of weather, spending endless hours outside on the trampoline and in the cubby house. I have lost count how many ‘concerts’ I have been the audience for featuring either Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off or Pharrell William’s Happy.

Personally, I have continued to explore different aspects of the #IndieWeb, including facepiles, posting comments from my own site and Micro.blogs. I also met up with Cameron Hocking for an interesting chat about conferences, communities and associations.

Here was my month in words:

  • My #IndieWeb Reflections – Meaning to elaborate on my thoughts on #IndieWeb for a while, Chris Aldrich’s post outlining a proposal for a book spurred me to finish jotting down my notes and reflections.
  • Sheets, Calendars, Events – Building on the APIs provided by Google Sheets and Google Calendar, I documented how to automate the addition and maintenance of multiple events.
  • Laying the Standards for a Blogging Renaissance – With the potential demise of social media, does this offer a possible rebirth of blogging communities and the standards they are built upon? Chris Aldrich wrote an insightful response as well.
  • Scripting an Automated Solution – A plan for an automated monthly newsletter produced from Google Sheets. The intention is to develop data in a way that it can be used in a number of ways.
  • Blogging the Digital Technologies Curriculum – Digital Technologies is more than just learning to code. This post re-imagines the curriculum around blogging and explores how it maybe better integrated. This post was also included in the Edublogs Newsletter.

I also passed 400 blog posts this month, which I actually totally overlooked at the time.


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

Learning and Teaching

“Twist Fate @mizuko ‏” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Twist Fate – The Connected Learning Alliance challenged teens to pick a classic story and create an alternate scenario through art or story where a famous hero is the villain or an infamous villain, the hero, with the finalists collated in a book. For further insight into the project, Sara Ryan and Antero Garcia provide a reflection on the some of the stories and the project.

When young people create and learn with others who share their interests and passions, and are able to share and be recognized for this, it is much more powerful than the kind of learning that young people do in most of their schooling. We call this kind of learning “connected learning” — learning that connects peer culture, personal interests, and recognition in the wider world.

There is No App For That – On the Team Human podcast, Douglas Rushkoff speaks with Richard Heinberg about the challenges of a renewable future. Both authors question the narrative of technological progress and wonder about other human possibilities. Heinberg’s ideas are documented in the manifesto, There’s No App for That. Kim Stanley Robinson provides another take on the future, arguing that we have reached a junction with no middle ground.

Technology has grown with us, side by side, since the dawn of human society. Each time that we’ve turned to it to solve a problem or make us more comfortable, we’ve been granted a solution. But it turns out that all of the gifts Technology has bestowed on us come with costs. And now we are facing some of our biggest challenges—climate change, overpopulation, and biodiversity loss. Naturally, we’ve turned to our longtime friend and ally, Technology, to get us out of this mess. But are we asking too much this time?

Critical Creativity for Grownups: Teachers Try Intention, the Book – Disemminating ideas from the book Intention, Amy Burvall describes some of the creative activities that she has used with teachers. These include #INTENTIONOREO where participants have to work within the contrants of an Oreo and #INTENTIONBRICK where participants explain something using random Lego pieces. Dan Ryder, co-author of Intention, also presented some of these ideas as a part of the recent EdTechTeam Virtual Conference. Burvall also recently gave a TED Talk on creativity which also provides a good introduction to her work. In regards to other ideas around professional development, Jackie Gerstein shares some of the strategies she uses with teachers, while Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano discusses the idea of a scavenger hunt to connect and learn.

This selection is by no means comprehensive – most workshops are 3-5 hours and we address at least 3 activities from each of the themes in the book: Creating with Words, Images, the Body, Social Media, Others, Sounds, and Stuff.

The Battle That Created Germany – David Crossland investigates new findings relating to the battle of Teutoburg Forest, between the Germanic tribes and the Romans. A decisive victory, it was a battle which stopped the Roman’s surge east of the Rhine. The article provdes an in-depth analysis of the battle and uncovers many of the complexities with retracing such events often overlooked in textbook accounts. It is interesting to think about the challenges associated with Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series and why he continually states that he is not a historian.

Archaeologists have made a fascinating discovery that could rewrite the history of a legendary battle between Germanic tribes and the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD.

Edtech

“We Are All Using APIs @APIEvangelist” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

We Are All Using APIs – Kin Lane explains how APIs are a part of our daily existence. Although we may not be able to do APIs, we need to be aware that they are there and what that might mean. This focus on the ethical as much as the technical relates to Maha Bali’s post about adding humanity back to computer science and Ben Williamson’s call to explore the social consequences associated with coding. Providing a different take on the ‘Hour of Code’, Gary Stager explains that the epistemological benefit of programming comes over time as we build fluency.

We are all using APIs. We are all being impacted by APIs existing, or not existing. We are being impacted by unsecured APIs (ie. Equifax). We are all being influenced, manipulated, and manipulated by bots who are using Twitter, Facebook, and other APIs to bombard us with information.

Simple Truth: Your Attention Has Been Hijacked. – Bill Ferriter reflects on the way smartphones have been designed to grab our attention. This continues with the discussion around technology engineers avoiding the use of social media, as well as Adam Greenfield’s autopsy of the smartphone on its tenth birthday. Doug Belshaw relates this all to the rise and recognition of ‘notification literacy’.

So what are the solutions?

Here are mine:

  1. You’ll never see me checking any social apps on my phone while we are together
  2. I’m uninstalling MOST social apps from my phone
  3. I’m going to nudge the people in my life — my peers, my relatives, my students — to take the same actions

100+ Ideas And Prompts For Student Blogging – Updated from an initial post from Ronnie Burt, this collaboration between Burt, Sue Waters and Kathleen Morris provides a long list of prompts to inspire teachers and students in regards to blogging. Along with the recent culmination of the #edublogsclub project and John Johnston’s reflection on the Glow Blogs e-Portfolio system, these posts offer a number of ideas to continue blogging in and out of the classroom.

Enthusiasm is typically high when student blogs are first set up. Students often can’t wait to unleash their creativity and publish for an authentic audience on their own online space.Sometimes when the initial excitement wears off, students start facing ‘bloggers’ block’ or get in a rut of writing the same style of post over and over (eg. ‘My favourite…’).With a little guidance and encouragement, you can ensure your students reach their full potential as a writer, while extending themselves by exploring various genres and mediums. This post aims to provide prompts to inspire you and your students for a whole year of blogging.

Where to Find Free Images for Students and Teachers – Kathleen Morris reflects on the use of images in the classroom. After unpacking a myriad of challenges, she suggests a solution: copyright free images. Supporting this, she compares a number of sites that provide access to free images and provides a number of printable resources to use in the classroom. Continuing the conversation around licences, Alan Levine encourages attribution, even when it is not required.

Over the past few years, there seems to be a rise in the availability of free images that are licensed under public domain or Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Public domain works can be used freely for any purpose. Their licenses have expired, or they are released with no restriction on their usage. CC0 is a Creative Commons license that allows copyright owners to release their works with no usage restrictions. There are now many sites to find CC0 and/or public domain images. Some of these sites can be very useful in the classroom, however, they’re not all created equal.

Your Data is Being Manipulated – In an extract from danah boyd’s keynote at the 2017 Strata Data Conference, she highlights some of the ways in which our lives are being distorted through data. Associated with this, boyd spoke at the Digital Media Lab Conference about the challenges of inadvertently learning the wrong things. She explains how the beliefs generated by online communities, such as 4Chan, shape our everyday understandings. It is interesting to consider this alongside Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Maths Destruction, which is currently the focus in Bryan Alexander’s book club.

The tech industry is no longer the passion play of a bunch of geeks trying to do cool shit in the world. It’s now the foundation of our democracy, economy, and information landscape. We no longer have the luxury of only thinking about the world we want to build. We must also strategically think about how others want to manipulate our systems to do harm and cause chaos.

The Couple Paid 200k a Year to Travel – Jessica Holland explores world of social media influencers and uncovers the reality associated with being the product. This is something that is also coming into education, with the branding of teachers who are then given resources to use in the classroom. Has it always been this way?

The number of social media influencers – people like the Stohlers with huge audiences and companies eager to piggyback on their success – is growing, and the industry is evolving rapidly. But only a tiny minority are able to make a living doing so.

Storytelling and Reflection

Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world @Tulip_education

“Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world @Tulip_education” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world – Marten Koomen explores where to now with Harvey Weinstein and the way women are treated in society. He suggests that we need a collective effort by government to develop legislation and policy. Along with Rebecca Solnit’s post on blaming women for men’s actions and Julian Stodd’s investigation of the wider cultural problem brought out in the #MeToo movement, they touch on a wider problem around gender and inequality. On the Gist podcast, Mike Pesca discusses the challenges associated with reporting such topics. Jenny Listman adds a reminder that such power is abused by regular people too.

Politics is more private and personal for women than for men. Matters related to reproduction, violence, abuse and childcare, tend to affect women more harshly than men. Pain is often suffered in private, in silence, and impenetrable to communities. Individual men are often not placed or equipped to help in sometimes complex matters, but society can.

Hurry Slowly: communication and trust are key to successful organisations – Doug Belshaw reviews a book/blog by Johnathan Nightingale exploring modern leadership. The two factors which stand out to him is communication and trust. This is something also correlated in the work of Paul Browning. Reading through Belshaw’s thoughts, I wonder if open planned office environments are bad for us?

The two things that make organisations awesome, whether they’re for-profit, non-profit, co-ops, or something else are: – Communication – Trust

Without these two, organisations have to have a lot of something else to get things done. That can be money, it can be time, or it can be talent. But the quickest and easiest route to success is paved with good internal and external communication strategies, and trust between stakeholders.

Critical Pedagogy – My number one from #uLearn17 – Richard Wells reflects on the closing keynote for the recent uLearn Conference in New Zealand. It was by Ann Milne and involved shining a critical eye over inherent inequalities within their education system. Having visited New Zealand earlier this year, I think that it is easy to get caught in the hype around the various improvements and innovation. It also left me thinking about the voices left silent in my own system.

Ann’s complaint is that New Zealand schools generally tinker with cultural issues and identity but do not do nearly enough to help address serious and ongoing societal inequities … Educators still have much work to do if we are to build authentic experiences for all individual learners to equip them to solve the problems previous ‘educated’ generations of have caused.

In Praise Of ‘And’…. – Kath Murdoch pushes back on the evidence that inquiry does not work, instead arguing that it is not a question or OR but AND. Along with David Price’s posts and Steve Collis’ TED Talk, they are a reminder that focusing on supposed ‘effective’ strategies sometimes requires more nuance, particularly when it comes to context. This is why I like the Modern Learning Canvas as a means of painting a richer picture of practice.

I am regularly amazed by what learners DO figure out for themselves (and how deeply satisfying that is for them) when given the right conditions, opportunity and challenge AND I have in my repertoire, the technique of timely, direct explanations or demonstrations when required.

What Problem Are We Trying to Solve? – Chris Wejr reflects on the many changes occurring in education and askes the question, what problem are they trying to solve? He focuses in particular on the danger of continually jumping on the latest shiny technological toy or application. This reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago about supporting the development of digital pedagogies which focused on starting with the intended outcomes. It is also interesting reading Wejr’s post next to Benjamin Doxtdator’s recent review of Most Like to Succeed.

Too often we are drawn in and sold on solutions to problems which we have not even defined. Effective sales people do this very well as you walk away with something new that you didn’t even know you needed! In schools, we have so much change right now. I love Brian’s idea of defining the problem first and then seeing if we can find potential solutions as I believe this will help us filter and manage the changes more effectively.

FOCUS ON … LIBRARIES

“What is the value of a library with no content? @daveowhite” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

A recent article on the ABC News spoke about he demise of the traditional library in schools. Here is a collection of resources I collated with Anthony Speranza exploring the future of libraries and makerspaces:


READ WRITE RESPOND #022

So that is October 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?

Cover image by JustLego101

Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite and Hapara for September 2017.

Updates

Posts & Resources

DRIVE

CHROME & BOOKS

RESEARCH

DOCS

GMAIL

SLIDES

FORMS

SHEETS & SCRIPTS

SITES

  • 9 Google Sites Tips – Alice Keeler provides a number of tips to get going with the new Google Sites.

CLASSROOM

DRAWINGS

GEO GOOGLE

CONNECTING CLASSROOMS

  • Step inside of music – Alexander Chen discusses the new collaboration between Google and the Song Exploder podcast which allows viewers to interact with music but turns parts on and off.
  • Something’s coming … “West Side Story” on Google Arts & Culture – Google Arts & Culture is launching a new collection honoring “West Side Story,” bringing together artifacts and mementos from the making of the musical and movie, behind-the-scenes photographs, and a peek into the modern-day representation of the musical, this collection explores the history, artistic value and social relevance of “West Side Story.”
  • Teachers keep their lesson plans fresh with Expeditions – Per Karlsson provides a summary of some of the updates involving Expeditions, including incorporating aspects of Earth VR and running your own expeditions.

KEEP

YOUTUBE

BLOGGER

  • How to Make a Blogger Blog Private – Richard Byrne provides a quick guide to making a Blogger blog private.
  • A Blogger Privacy Setting You Might Want to Use – Richard Byrne discusses some privacy settings to consider when using Blogger, such as the request that your blog doesn’t appear in Blogger’s list of published blogs, restrict viewing to those who have been invited by email and turn on moderation for comments.

GENERAL

Image via JustLego101

My Month of September

In regards to work, I continued my deep dive into Synergetic. This included some more tinkering with options associated with generating a timetable, as well as refining the structural aspects of our reporting package. I also did some preliminary work around developing a dashboard as a live analysis of data captured in Google Sheets. I was also lucky enough to attended the #EduChange Conference, where I heard Peter Hutton discuss his new venture EdRevolution.

On the family front, I am reminded every day about the differences between siblings, especially as our youngest approaches her second birthday. It felt like one day she was our baby and then the next day she was a hurtling down on a flying fox. My wife and I were also lucky enough to get away for a night to celebrate our wedding anniversary, as well as take the kids away for a few days to Warrnambool.


“Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

In relation to my writing, here is my month in posts:

I have also been tinkering around with the #IndieWeb, trying to take more ownership of my online presence.


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

Learning and Teaching


“Asking the Right Question” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Asking the right questions – Alice Leung unpacks a range of question types and their place in the classroom, including no hands up and higher order. I have written about questions in the past, while Warren Berger’s book A More Beautiful Question is also an interesting provocation.

Strategic questioning is key to assessment for learning. While questioning is essential for students in all grade levels, teachers can take the opportunity of new syllabuses and school based assessment requirements for the HSC to re-think how they design and implement assessment for learning in Stage 6. However, questioning is often viewed as an intuitive skill, something that teachers “just do”. At a time when many teachers are creating new units of work and resources for the new Stage 6 syllabuses, it may be a good opportunity to look at strategic questioning and embed some quality questions and questioning techniques.

Engaging Students’ Parents in a Collaborative Digital Place – Robert Schuetz provides some ideas for engaging with parents. Going beyond social media, Schuetz shines a light on the potential of digital spaces, such as the LMS. Coming at the problem from the perspective of blogs, Kathleen Morris suggests engaging parents as virtual volunteers. I also explored this topic a few years ago. Definitely one of those wicked problems with no simple solution.

Suggesting nearly all parent involvement programs are too passive, Mapp says there are three things parents should know about their child’s school and school-related experiences. (2)

  1. Parents are the child’s first teacher. Parents need to know they are an essential aspect of their children’s development.
  2. Parents possess a deeper knowledge about their children. Educators are better able to differentiate and individualize instruction when armed with the background information parents can provide.
  3. Parents need to know they have access and support from their child’s teacher and school. Parents should have a direct line to the feedback that helps support their child’s learning and development.

Show a Pro – Emily Fintelman provides her thoughts and suggestions for engaging with professionals as a means of provocation. Some ideas include contacting the local council, videoing in a guest or drawing on the parent community for expertise. The reality is that developing connections, whether it be experts or co-collaborators, is hard work, as Lee Hewes highlights. Another useful resource associated with PBL and more authentic learning is Michael Niehoff’s exploration of
professional presentations.

Tips

  • Ask your students who they think they should talk to to learn more about their topic. Have them make suggestions about WHO might have the knowledge they need, and HOW they might get in touch with them.
  • Some people you ask (especially parents) might feel that they don’t have enough to share. It’s important to be clear on what information you would like them to talk about, what you want them to demonstrate, and what level of understanding the students will come with. This can make it easier for your guest to understand how their expertise can help your class.
  • In most cases, experts are experts in their field, not in teaching or public speaking. It can be very helpful to provide some information on how to run the session, or for you to run it and allow time for your guest to share, and manage question time for them.
  • If your expert is willing, get their contact details so that if students have a follow up question, you can get in touch to find out their answers.
  • Excursions and incursions can be very expensive. Finding experts in other ways is often extremely inexpensive and is most likely more tailored to what the learning needs of your students are.

Doodles Away: Starting the School Year with Sketchnoting – Kevin Hodgson discusses the use of sketchnoting to support active listening in the classroom. He shares some strategies, as well as challenges he still has ahead. I have discussed sketchnoting before in association with visualising and collected a number of resources there.

I realize I have some questions yet to tackle when it comes to using this sketchnoting concept with them:

  • How to help students already easily distracted to listen and doodle at the same time?
  • How to help them filter out what is important enough to be doodled and how to figure out what to leave out?
  • How to teach them the use of artistic lettering in order to use words as art in meaningful ways?
  • How do I demonstrate that sketchnoting has actually helped improve their writing and understanding of complex topics?
  • How to help them form a personalized systematic approach for the flow of their own sketchtnoting?

Lorde Remix Competition – Triple J have provided access to the stems to Lorde’s track ‘Homemade Dynamite’ from her recent album, Melodrama. I am less interested in the competition as I am in the opportunity to hear the song broken down into its parts. Lorde also reflects on her track, ‘Sober’, on the Song Exploder podcast. Another resource for digging deeper into the layers of songs is the recent collaboration between Google and Song Exploder, which provides a virtual space within which you can turn parts on and off. I also came upon PennSound, a collection of poetry recordings, both past and present.

Triple j Unearthed is teaming up with Lorde to give you the chance to remix her track ‘Homemade Dynamite’.

Take A Knee Padlet – A multimedia collection crowdsourced by educators and curated for middle year students interested in understanding the context associated with the Take A Knee movement. Not only is this a useful resource, but another great example of the way that Padlet can help facilitate collaboration. In a way, I think this is what Mike Caulfield envisaged for Wikity. Julian Stodd also provides a commentary on the current situation, focusing on the different forms of power at play, while Bill Ferriter discusses inadvertently second guessing students of colour.


Edtech


“RSS Still Beats FB” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Why RSS Still Beats Facebook and Twitter for Tracking News – David Nield provides an introduction to RSS and why it can be better than social media for consuming content. One of biggest benefits is that it is unfiltered by the stacks. Nield provides some strategies for working with RSS, such as IFTTT and feed readers. Alan Levine lifts the hood on RSS, explaining how it works and what OPML is, while Bryan Alexaner states why he recently decided to rededicate himself to RSS reading. In the end, it comes back to Doug Belshaw’s question of curating or being curated?

One of the main reasons RSS is so beloved of news gatherers is that it catches everything a site publishes — not just the articles that have proved popular with other users, not just the articles from today, not just the articles that happened to be tweeted out while you were actually staring at Twitter. Everything. In our age of information overload that might seem like a bad idea, but RSS also cuts out everything you don’t want to hear about. You’re in full control of what’s in your feed and what isn’t, so you don’t get friends and colleagues throwing links into your feeds that you’ve got no interest in reading.

Is The Inbox Zero Strategy All Hype? – Scott Friesen explains that Inbox Zero is more about the process of getting through the mail than getting to the magical ‘zero’ mark. He lists some applications to help with this. Another hack Cal Newport suggests is to have all mail delivered into a sort folder, while Lauren Brumfield recommends thinking about an application which allows you to easily manage a number of accounts in the one space. Along with Doug Belshaw’s 10 tips to email productivity, this collection of posts provides a useful point of reflection for those struggling with email anxiety.

So how can you become more effective with managing your email? – Consider using the concepts of Inbox Zero to speed up the way you process your messages. Remember, it’s not about keeping your inbox empty. It’s about getting through a large number of messages quickly and being able to identify the ones that deserve your attention. – Stop checking email so frequently! Did you know that the average professional spends 6.3 hours a day dealing with email? See if you can spend as little as 3 to 4 email sessions a day so you can focus on your most important work. Studies show that you will enjoy less stress as a result. – Use applications such as Boomerang, Trello, or Slack to keep your communication focused and on target. If you work with a team, make sure everyone knows how to use the communication tools within your project management system. You’ll save time and a lot of headaches for everybody.

Podcast Generator – Jim Groom unpacks the process of publishing a podcast on your own domain with Podcast Generator. This is the tool that Doug Belshaw uses for the Tide Podcast. One of the benefits of publishing a podcast yourself is that you control the content, something that John Johnston has been reflecting on of late with AudioBoo(m)’s decision to become a paid service. He has also shared the process that he went through in downloading the Edutalk recordings housed there.

After being asked by a friend about podcast options on Reclaim, I started playing with the podcasting tool Podcast Generator. I heard about it thanks to this thread by Tim Klapdor on the Reclaim Hosting Community Forums. It’s a really simple content management system designed specifically for podcasts. It provides a stripped down space to upload files and simple metadata like title, description, and categories. It also provides iTunes integration and an OG RSS feed.

Do Your Technology Investments Advance Your Priorities? – Bill Ferriter unpacks three steps for identifying technological investments. This involves defining core teaching and learning, identifying tools that can fit this need and then breaking costs down into ‘per-student’. I have written about technology integration before. One thing that I would add to Ferriter’s process is using something like the Modern Learning Canvas to develop a more comprehensive picture of practice.

schools and districts need to start putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to technology spending. In the words of Richard Elmore, for every new increment of performance that you demand from classroom teachers, you have an equal obligation to provide the time, the tools and the training necessary to meet those new expectations. That’s impossible when we aren’t making deliberate choices about the digital tools and services that we are purchasing.

Using Hitachi Data Systems to improve student life at Curtin University – James Gallaway documents the way in which Curtin University is using 1600 cameras around its campus to capture staff and students for attendance and security purposes. However, this is only seen as the beginning, with the intent being on actively collecting data with an openness to future innovation. Continuing with this theme, Emily Talmage discusses the move in education to focus on psychological data, something that Ben Williamson has been addressing in regard to platforms like ClassDojo. Privacy International provide a case study for how data and algorithms are being used against us. Mike Caulfield wonders if there needs to be a state tax on personal data that is stored about us. Martin Weller argues for a mixed diet of data consumption. Kin Lane and Audrey Waters discuss the way in which technology companies shape public discourse in Episode 66 of Contrafabulists podcasts.

Keeping track of Curtin University – 1600 cameras – 60,000 students – 4000 staff – 300,000sq m of floor space – Facial recognition software – Data and video analytics


Storytelling and Reflection


“Tackle Workload” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Tackle Workload. This bandwagon actually matters – Tom Sherrington discusses the problem of workload piled on the modern teacher. He highlights a number of elements to reconsider, such as report comments and pointless assessment. Considering the problem from the perspective of the teacher, Jamie Thom advocates becoming a minimalist and cutting back. Steve Brophy suggests looking after our own wellbeing by putting on your oxygen mask first. One thing that matters is our own development.

Some workload issues require a major culture shift; some simply need us to rebalance the trade-off between the benefits of autonomy and the benefits of working collaboratively within an agreed system; others need us to stop doing certain things altogether.

“Students as Creators” and the Theology of the Attention Economy – Mike Caulfield builds on the ideas of Benjamin Doxtdater in highlighting some of the problems associated with Connectivism and the narrative of ‘students as creators’. Not only does this feed the capitalist propensity towards product, but it also ignores all sense of privilege. Maha Bali explains that we need to support, rather than give agency.

I’ve come to think that, in today’s world, one of the most valuable lessons we can give to students is not “how to build their identity on the web,” but how to selectively obscure it. How to transcend it. How to personally track it. How to make a difference in the world while not being fully public. To teach students not just to avoid Google, but to use Google safely (or as safely as possible). To have them look at their information environments not as vehicles of just self-expression, but as ways to transcend their own prejudices. To read and listen much much more than we speak. And to see what is needed through the lens of privilege – teaching the beauty of deference to the students with self-confidence and social capital, while teaching marginalized students to find communities that can provide them with the self-confidence they need.

Suis-je flâneur? – Ian Guest reflects on the data his has gathered associated with Twitter and wonders if he is a ‘flâneur’, in that he both captures and actively creates in the spaces where he works. Also writing about research, Julia Lindsay shares the lesson that she has learned that the coding of data is very much an interpretative act. This all adds to the questions to consider when it comes to data.

The flâneur is more of a serendipitous explorer, receptive to whatever comes along. They are a combination of curious explorer (having no goal other than to experience city life), critical spectator (balanced analyst, seeing beauty, but aware of social inequities), and creative mind (an interpreter who renders the urban landscape legible).

The Seven Keys to Creative Collaboration – In the first of a series of posts unpacking creative collaboration, John Spencer highlights seven keys to success. These include ownership, dependability, trust, structure, shared vision, fun and candor. It is important to point out, as Gary Stager, not everything has to be collaborative.

When collaboration works well, there is a certain group flow experience, where you are totally “in the zone.” There’s this dance back and forth where you get lost in the work and you realize that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. In the process, you create something as a team that you would have never been able to produce on your own.

10 Atypical Tips for Having a Great School Year (For Teachers, Professors, and School Leaders) – Bernard Bull provides some tips for how to have a great year. Whether it be reading books by dead people, asking more questions than you give answers or quit one thing a month, these ideas designed to stretch your thinking and widen your perspective.

There is nothing magical about the items in this list, but they are guaranteed to stretch you, give you a new perspective, and add some freshness to the school year. Pick one or two, give them a try, and if you are willing,

The Education Paradoxes of Singapore – Pak Tee Ng shares the five paradoxes associated with the Singaporian education system. They are: timely change, timeless constants, compassionate meritocracy, centralized decentralization and teach less, learn more. It is interesting to compare this with the Finnish story. It would seem that the only constant is a commitment to change.

Singapore’s experience with educational change show that paradoxes can be powerful in driving positive change, provided people are united in a common purpose, and there is commitment and tenacity to see through meaningful and long-term education reform. Despite achieving what would appear to be great success in education, Singapore is choosing to ditch its past success formula for the sake of the future. It recognizes that every country or jurisdiction is different and each will have to find its own path. For a small country that has survived against the odds for five decades, it has the gumption to chart its own path and every intention to thrive for many decades to come.


FOCUS ON … Classroom Behaviour


“Breaking All the Rules” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

A struggling school in Norfolk, England has taken drastic measures to turn around results. This includes providing a bucket to vomit in instead of being allowed to leave classrooms. Click here for the original list of rules as they have since been amended. Here is a collection of posts reflecting on the question of classroom behaviour:


READ WRITE RESPOND #021

So that is September 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?


Cover image via JustLego101

My Month of June

What a month. I discovered that I was not doing the job I thought I was doing, subsequently I got a name change. Now I am an eLearn Subject Matter Expert. Wondering if such surprises are part and parcel of an agile world?

In regards to the family, if it wasn’t one daughter then it was the other this month. Our youngest had the flu for a week, then our eldest stood on glass and had a visit to emergency. All good now, was just a bit hectic for a while. Maybe that is life?

In relation to my writing, thinking and learning, here was my month in posts:

  • Art and Science of Teaching and Music – With the passing of Chris Cornell, I reflected on covering music compared with a faithful interpretation. This was associated with the idea of best practice
  • REVIEW: The Global Education Race – A review of Sam Sellar, Greg Thompson and David Rutkowski book, The Global Education Race, Taking the Measure of PISA and International Testing.
  • Reflections from #CoachEd2017 – A Reflection on the 5th National Coaching Conference for Educators held in Melbourne and the three ideas I was left with.
  • A Comprehensive Guide to YouTube – A dive into watching, curating and creating content with YouTube.
  • Developing Safer (Digital) Schools – A summary of a day spent with eSmart exploring safer schools. I also documented a number of my own resources collected over time.
  • Starting the Learning Before the Conference – I asked the question, rather than waiting for people to walk into the room, what if we seek feedback from participants before they arrive at professional development sessions?
  • The Risk of Hospitality – My response to the #Digciz discussion around hospitality, risk and vulnerability relating to online spaces. The post explored ideas of  context, imaginary lines, tribes and mapping.
  • Questions for Cal – After watching Cal Newport’s TED Talk on quitting social media, I was left reflecting on three questions: what is social media, what is work and how do I differentiate the changes in my mind?
  • Daily Habits – Having spoken about the process involved in learning and the tools I depend upon, I have never thought about the daily activities which help me as a learner.

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

Learning and Teaching

“Catch the Flipgrid Fever” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Catch the Flipgrid fever! 15+ ways to use Flipgrid in your class – Kayla Moura provides an introduction to Flipgrid, an application for visual feedback. To support this, she lists some potential uses, such as a debate, an exit ticket or a book report. In some ways it reminds me of Verso and the way that users can share and respond in a centrally managed space. The main difference is that Flipgrid is built around video. 

Flipgrid is a video response platform where educators can have online video discussions with students or other educators. Teachers can provide feedback to students AND better yet students can provide feedback to one another.

Teaching and Learning Research Summaries: A collection for easy access – Tom Sherrington collects together a range of research-based resources to provoke deeper thinking around learning and teaching. This should not be considered the essential list, but rather a place to start a conversation about research. A need that Linda Graham wrote about recently.

There are several superb summaries of educational research that have been compiled into easily accessible websites and articles in pdf format that can be read online and shared with staff. Although they are easy to find via an internet search, I am pulling them together into one place for easy access.

Self-Editing Tools for Student Writing in Google Docs – Eric Curts looks at four areas of self-editing tools students can use when writing in Google Docs. He discusses speech-to-text, text-to-speech, grammar checkers and thesaurus tools. This year I have dabbled with ProWritingAid, a paid Google Docs addon that allows you to gain feedback within Gsuite. I discovered this via Vicki Davis’ blog. Other than that, I like the Grammarly add-on too. Neither replace the need of the human to understand the decisions being made.

One of the best features of Google Docs is the ability to share your work with others so they can offer comments and suggestions. As awesome as that is, sometimes a student may not have another person available to provide feedback, and will need to do the editing on their own. Thankfully there are loads of useful tools that can help students to self-edit their writing, including text-to-speech, grammar checkers, dictionaries, and more. With these resources students can take ownership of the editing process to improve their writing. Even if they can also receive peer feedback, these tools can help student do a majority of the editing on their own.

Crash Course Computer Science – Crash Course recently started a new series unpacking the history of computers hosted by Carrie Anne Philbin from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Like the Contrafabulists podcast exploration of Underground Histories, Bret Victor’s History of Programming, John O’Brien’s paleofuture and Audrey Watters’ History of the Pedometer, Philbin’s explorations provides a context for the choices made associated with technology that many of us have come to take for granted today. This is not another ‘How to Code’ series.

In this series, we’re going to trace the origins of our modern computers, take a closer look at the ideas that gave us our current hardware and software, discuss how and why our smart devices just keep getting smarter, and even look towards the future! Computers fill a crucial role in the function of our society, and it’s our hope that over the course of this series you will gain a better understanding of how far computers have taken us and how far they may carry us into the future.

Instagram for Teachers – Tony Vincent explains how Instagram can be used in education. This post provides a range of examples and some considerations in regards to managing your account. Owned by Facebook, I am not sure where this all sits with Doug Belshaw’s assertion that friends don’t let other friends Facebook? As a platform, Instagram seems to be an alternative for some to a blog? 

Instagram isn’t just for posting photos of food. Instagram can actually be a powerful learning and communication tool for educators, so I’ve written this guide for teachers. I’d like to show the kinds of things teachers can see on Instagram. I’d also like to tell you about the ins and outs of Instagram, starting with the basics and ending with crafting awesome posts.

Going Public and Going Pro: The Power of Portfolios, Publishing & Personal Branding – Michael Niehoff makes the case for the public element associated PBL being fostered through a personal portfolio. In addition to having a ‘canonical url‘ as Jon Udell would put it, Niehoff discusses the need to continually create content and maintain our own brand. This is a topic that Ian O’Byrne, Bill Ferriter and Bob Schuetz have touched upon elsewhere.

Traditionally, most of us associate portfolios with artists, writers and designers. In school, we have had watered down versions for years where students were asked to put their work in a folder that may or may not have been shared. Well, we are in a new era. Forget AP scores, weighted GPA’s and SAT scores. We are now in a portfolio world and economy. Remember, in a “Gig Economy” where our students are going to have to continually contract work and pitch themselves to clients, our students need a lifetime portfolio where they digitally present and publish their work….and themselves.

Edtech

“A Sociology of the Smartphone” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

A Sociology of the Smartphone – Adam Greenfield shares a portion of his new book, Radical Technologies, unpacking smartphones. In this assemblage of parts he looks at what actually makes smartphones work, the changes they have brought to our habits and the impact on our environment. On this matter, Kin Lane documents the valuable bits in a smartphone that everyone wants, Doug Belshaw discusses email and notification literacy, Aral Balkan asks who owns the data, while Mike Caulfield rues the impact smartphones have had on research. Greenfield’s essay also serves as an example of how technology can construct a ‘templated self’. This is timely with the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. In another extract from Greenfield’s book, he reflects on the internet of things.

Whatever the terms of the bargain we entered into when we embraced it, this bargain now sets the conditions of the normal, the ordinary and the expected. Both we ourselves and the cultures we live in will be coming to terms with what this means for decades to come.

Twitter’s Misleading User Experience When Reporting Abuse – Bill Fitzgerald highlights the problem with the way that Twitter responds to abuse. Although to the person who has reported the issue the situation would seem resolved, the user is still present to the rest of the Twitter. This in part is a reminder that Twitter is a capitalistic advertising platform, something Audrey Watters and Kin Lane touch upon in a recent episode of Contrafabulists.

When Twitter automatically hides offensive content from the people who have reported it, they create the impression that they have done something, when they have done nothing. Design choices like this demonstrates Twitter’s apathy towards effectively addressing hate and abuse on their platform.

Coding for what? Lessons from computing in the curriculum – Speaking to a group of educators in Sweden, Ben Williamson focuses on the rise of computing in the curriculum. He traces some of its origins, as well as some of the cautionary tales and advice, especially the influence of private enterprise. This left me thinking about the Australian education system and the introduction of digital technologies. It too has largely been led by various investments, not-for-profit ventures and private providers. Although there has been a lot of talk about coding, there is little discussion about the critical side. Bill Fitzpatrick and Kris Shaffer’s explanation on how to spot a bot is a good start.

Technical know-how in how computers work has its uses here, of course. But also knowing about privacy and data protection, knowing how news circulates, understanding cyberattacks and hacking, knowing about bots, understanding how algorithms and automation are changing the future of work—and knowing that there are programmers and business plans and political agendas and interest groups behind all of this—well, this seems to me worth including in a meaningful computing education too.

Neither Locked Out Nor Locked In – Continuing on from the conversation about Domain of One’s Own, Martha Burtis goes beyond conformity in her explorations of a Domain of One’s Own in her keynote for #Domains17. One of the first steps is to find your own metaphor for the web. Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon provide a useful follow-up discussion on the Modern Learners podcast. There were some other great posts from Domains17, including Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris on the need for pedagogical approaches that help Domain of One’s Own make the LMS irrelevant, Meredith Fierro on the web as a shipping container, Tom Woodward on running a multisite like a boss, Adam Croom on starting a new conversation and Amy Collier on going beyond the notion of residency to describe ideas of kindred spirits.

How do we create a space within our schools (with all their political, technical, and institutional realities) that truly embodies a spirit of self-determination and agency for our students. How do we free our students from the shackles of corporate and commercial Web spaces without creating some new kind of shackle? And, how do web build a platform for the practical, valuable, discernible activities of building on the Web while also grappling to understand the Web on which we build in deep and discerning ways?

How to install Linux on a Chromebook (and why you should) – J.M. Porup explains how to use Crouton and Gallium OS to turn Chromebooks into Linux laptops. Both options offer the ability to dual-boot, but come at a cost, as working in developer mode has the potential to open users up to various vulnerabilities. Mark O’Meara discussed this a few years ago, however his approach was to boot from a USB. Running Linux is an interesting idea and something that Dai Barnes and Doug Belshaw have discussed quite a bit lately on the TIDE Podcast. 

Chromebooks are one of the most secure devices you can give a non-technical end user, and at a price point few can argue with, but that security comes with a privacy trade off: you have to trust Google, which is part of the NSA’s Prism programme, with your data in the cloud. Even those who put their faith in the company’s rusty “don’t be evil” mantra may find Chromebook functionality limiting—if you want more than Google services, Netflix, some other Web apps, and maybe the Android app store, then you’re out of luck. Geeky users willing to engage in some entry-level hackery, however, can install Linux on their Chromebook and unleash the Power of Torvalds™.

iOS Losing Steam To Chrome In The Classroom? Kahoot Releases First EdTrends Report – The team at Nibletz provide a summary of a new report from Kahoot looking at Edtech. What interests me about this is the ability for an application like Kahoot to grab such an insightful snapshot of habits and behaviours, but more interesting is what this says about Kahoot. It leaves me wondering if the application is in fact a front for something else? Just as Amazon started with books and Uber with transportation, is Kahoot starting with quizzes? Both this report and Snapchat’s addition of maps are reminders of the data which we hand over each and every minute. Kin Lane and Audrey Watters’ discuss this in light of monopolies on the Contrafabulist Podcast.

Kahoots own metrics have now reached 50 million monthly active users, 2M U.S. teachers, 25M U.S. students with over 20M public Kahoots. Kahoot is a game based learning platform that allows teachers to quickly and efficiently create interactive and fun, immersive game lessons for students.

What You Need to Know About “Acceptable Use Policies” – Ian O’Byrne discusses the role of an user policy and what makes them acceptable. For Tom Murray and Eric Sheninger, it is about being responsible and setting in place the appropriate behaviours. Coming from the perspective of terms and conditions, Bill Fitzgerald suggests searching for particular terms when investigating questions around consent, these include: third party, affiliations, change, update and modify. For the reality is not everyone has the time and resources to unpack applications like TurnItIn or ClassDojo. In the end, the challenge is first and foremostly to have deeper discussions about these topics, such as the one facilitated by the #digciz group.

Digital networks, websites, and services are a necessary component of the toolset required to build and utilize digital and media literacies. Appropriate policies, procedures, and guidelines are necessary to protect the developers and administrators of these texts and tools, as well as the users of these spaces. These documents often fail to provide users with the freedom needed to expand their skills, while still creating safe and appropriate boundaries for use of the Internet and all it has to offer. To prepare individuals to be digitally savvy, media literate citizens, there is a need for guideline guidelines, discussions, and agreed upon policies that emphasize successful practice and define the suitable use of the technology and tools being used.

Storytelling and Reflection

“Tweeting and blogging: Selfish, self-serving indulgences?” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Tweeting and blogging: Selfish, self-serving indulgences? – Responding to Clare Narayanan and her critique of the guru teachers who spend their time at Teachmeets and on Twitter, Deb Netolicky discusses finding balance between self care, family time and service to the profession. This is a reminder that being online is a choice with consequences. Something Claire Amos touches upon. Benjamin Doxtdater also suggests, maybe our primary focus should be on self-care and private journals. 

Many of those who tweet and blog, I would argue, do so because they are interested in learning from others, sharing their own perspectives and experiences, and engaging with educators from around the world.

4 Critical Questions To Ask When Attending Education Research Conferences – Charlotte Pezaro (and Marten Koomen) unpack four questions to ask when attending research conferences. Many of these questions go beyond ‘research’ conferences and can be applied to a lot of PL, such as who is paying and what is put forwards as working. In part, this touches on some of the points Dan Haesler made in his post on disclosure, as well as the rise of the thought leader in society (rather than the public intellectual as Gramsci described).

Have fun, participate in discussions, share your ideas, and challenge (respectfully) the ideas of others. But most importantly, ask the critical questions of who is speaking (and ask about who is not), question speakers about what they’re claiming and the basis for those claims, look at how the narrative of the conference portrays and constructs education in Australia. Try to uncover who’s paying and what they’re paying for. Ask lots of questions of speakers in workshops. If you get a chance, ask a few very direct questions of the organisers.

Ep 10: ILEs, VCE and the Flow state – Steve Brophy and Dean Pearman discuss the challenges of innovation, particularly in the senior years. They suggest that with the culture of results, students have become conditioned into memorising content. Greg Miller has written a lot about giving pride of place to soft skills and capabilities, while Bianca Hewes has explained how PBL is possible in the final years. There are many who say that the senior assessment will not change until University changes. CCourses provided a clear vision in this area.

Transitions was a public research conference exploring research behind the move from traditional classrooms to what are being called innovative learning environments (ILEs) This day included a catch up with our good old friend Terry Byers (@tezzabyers). An interesting insight from the conference led to Dean and I taking an intense look at VCE and questioning the validity of the current system

Conditions for Community – Julian Stodd reflects on the conditions required for communities to prosper. He touches on such attributes as social capital, rules, consequences, social leadership, trust, fluidity of role and shared values. As always, Stodd uses a visual as a means of representing this thinking. I think that the only thing missing, that I have touched upon elsewhere, is a compelling case for being there. Associated with online communities, Jenny Mackness recently published her PhD looking into MOOCs and online learning environments.

Community is more than simply ‘technology’, or ‘space’. 

4 keys that predict which education idea will be more than just a fad & Is “making” in education a fad or a lasting change? – In these two posts, Sylvia Martinez looks at the history of sticky ideas and makes a prediction about the place of makerspaces in the future. Building on the work of Schnieder, Martinez identifies four attributes that are important to the analysis: perceived significance, philosophical compatibility, occupational realism and transportability. This is an interesting read alongside Audrey Watters’ presentation on robots raising children at New Horizons Media.

Will making in education have a lasting effect on education, or will it become just another “new new thing” that is overtaken by some newer new thing? It certainly has the perceived significance. Both academic credentials and cultural trends are working in its favor. It has philosophical compatibility with many teachers and parents too. They see children starving in a desert of worksheets and tests and know there must be a better way. There may be more to worry about in other areas. In some cases it has transportability, especially when using simplified models like Design Thinking. The problem is that simplified models and canned lesson plans are a double-edged sword. As they helps teachers with operational realities, it removes agency from the teacher. Is it inevitable that creating a version of making in education that is widely acceptable will by its nature create unacceptable compromises?

Before and After Ok Computer – With the twentieth anniversary of Ok Computer, Charles Aaron provides an audio guide to the album’s 12 songs, plus what came before, and what came after. It is an interesting exercise to place the album in a context. I remember seeing Radiohead in concert a few years ago, one of the best concerts I have ever been to. In other anniversaries, it was recently the 50th anniversary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band too. 

“OK Computer” has a reputation as a sprawling dystopian reckoning, a commentary on the time’s relentlessly digitizing means of production by thrashing those very means. It’s an album of the proper sortstriving towards a narrative of sound and vision. If you wish, there are treatises to consult on this matter. Ultimately, the record serves as Radiohead’s sturdiest argument for itself as one of rock’s most thoughtful and sonically compelling bands, a claim that critics and fans have made consistently since its release 20 years ago.

FOCUS ON … Publishing Your Own Book

“An Unreasonable Man writes his Damn Book by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

In a recent blog post, Steve Brophy wrote about moving from dreaming of writing a book to having enough content to do so. The question though is what is the process. Here then are some of the posts and examples that I collected together on the subject:


READ WRITE RESPOND #018

So that is June 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?

Cover image: “My room” by justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/34954439821 is licensed under CC BY-SA

My Month of May

At work, I have been doing a bit of work around investigating and developing a learning hub. I also attended the 5th National Coaching in Education Conference, exploring the coaching approach.

On the home front, our youngest daughter is growing up way too fast (and way to cheeky). She has progressed from climbing stairs to climbing anything and everything to get what she wants.

Personally, I signed up for the Ed Tech Coaches Blogging Buddies program, where you join a group of five others in committing to both post and comment regularly. I am interested to see how it goes.

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

  • Exploring Facebook Pages – A guide to Facebook Pages, including critical questions and considerations.

  • Predicting Google Drawings 2.0 – I have been saying to quite a few people that there seems to be change afoot in regards to Google Drawings. This got me thinking about what I would actually want in a revised version.

  • My #EdTechRations – A cross between a review and a response to David Hopkins’ curated book on the technology you would not leave home without.

  • Picking a Portfolio Platform – A summary of some potential platforms for student portfolios.

  • Engaging with Algorithms – A look at the Explore tool and the way that it makes use of Google’s APIs. I wrote this before the I/O conference and that only confirmed many of my hunches.

  • Making an Online Learning Hub – An investigation into the way that a number of organisations structure their learning hubs and the tools they use.

  • Light and Shadow by Mark Colvin – a review of the late Mark Colvin’s memoir of life in journalism and as the son of a spy.

  • My Awesome Reading List – A documentation of the way in which I used Awesome Tables to create a more dynamic organisation of my reviews for my blog.

  • Taking Tech Beyond the Tool – A post unpacking Doug Belshaw’s essential elements of digital literacies as a framework for working through some of these idiosyncrasies of technology.

  • Creating Video Content – A review of some applications to use to create video content, with examples to support.

NOTE: An anonymous comment pointed out a glaring mistake in one of my posts this month. In my discussion of the new Google Sites, I wrongly stated that Google had bought out Wix. I laugh and cringe in reading this now. I swear I read something last year, but can find no evidence whatsoever. It also illustrates that fake news is not always devious, sometimes it is a mistake.


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

Learning and Teaching

This free course can teach you music programming basics in less than an hour – Quincy Larson discusses Ableton’s free interactive music course that runs right in your browser. Having taught music a few years ago, I found this as a much more engaging method of grappling with the different principles of music in an interactive way.

If you enjoy listening to music, but don’t know much about how it all works on a structural level, this course is for you. It will teach you some of the principles at work in popular songs like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Björk’s “Army of Me”.

The Cartography of Learning – Jose Picardo uses feedback to unpack research into feedback, such as providing regular dollops and developing a roadmap. This is something that I have reflected upon before elsewhere, while it is also interesting reading alongside Deborah Netolicky’s post about the benefits of formative assessment.

This article is an attempt to explore what makes feedback effective and therefore where schools should focus their policies, which should encourage teachers to view giving feedback as an integral part of teaching, not as an additional intervention.

Make Your Own Word Search in Google Sheets – Alice Keeler has created a script for generating a word search using Google Sheets. What interests me most about this is not the creation of the task, but the steps involved. From a Digital Technologies perspective, this is a great example of abstraction, breaking a problem down to its parts, and then thinking algorithmically in the creation of a solution.

The Google Sheets template I created allows you to copy and paste your own list of words onto the spreadsheet. Use the menu to “Create Puzzle.” Copy and paste your puzzle into Docs, Drawings, Slides or Sheets or you can simply print.

Interpreting, and Honoring, the Words of Others – Kevin Hodgson looks at Lumen5, a webapp which allows users to turn blog posts into videos. Integrating with free to use images and audio, it provides a creative way to demonstrate close reading.

By close reading posts of others (or close reading yourself, too), you can point to textual elements and then add images and music. The site then kicks out a video

Search for Syria – UNHCR has created a site in partnership with Google unpacking different elements of the Syrian war. A useful resource for looking into the crisis.

Edtech


“Benjamin Doxtdater ‘What should teachers understand about the snapchat back-channel?’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

What should teachers understand about the snapchat back-channel? – Benjamin Doxtdater questions the place of Snapchat and other such backchannels in the classroom. Sachin Maharaj goes a step further to calling for it to be actively banned. For Steve Brophy, this is about waterholes. This takes me back to the question about what sort of teacher you are: limiters, enablers and mentors. However, as Bill Fitzgerald’s investigation into Edmodo demonstrates, there is also an ethical side to be considered. This was also highlighted by Twitter’s changes to privacy.

Relegating Snapchat to a completely unsupervised space in schools makes no more sense than not supervising playgrounds, especially given the unprecedented power of social media to quickly spread images far and wide. Supervising the playground does not mean that I don’t allow kids the freedom to talk without me hearing every word, but somehow balancing the freedoms that kids need with obligations to care for them.

11 podcast episodes about the Internet – MJ Kelly from Mozilla curated a list of podcasts to dig deeper into the internet. These episodes touch on questions of privacy, investigations of ownership, developing an open web, trolling, password management, algorithms and archiving the net. Along with BTN’s guide to the internet and Kin Lane’s reflections on personal data, these resources provide a useful start for appreciating the complexities of the web.

The Internet hosts thousands of hours of podcasts, all ready for our on-demand listening pleasure. While podcasting might not save the world, it does contribute to a healthy, vibrant Internet. Anyone and everyone can make a show to express themselves, pursue ideas and teach others. Some shows do a remarkable job covering Internet Health issues like privacy, security, openness, inclusion and more. Here are eleven worth hearing, from heart-wrenching human stories to lofty academic conversations, all touching on the Internet’s past, present and future.

Let’s Not Start from Scratch: Some Early Research on ‘Coding’ – There is so much written about coding, whether it be CSFirst or various applications to use for students. Although these represent fine endeavours, Peter Skillen encourages people to go back to the beginning, the time before scratch, and review the lessons learned then, rather than make the same mistakes again. To support this he has summarised a number a findings and links to their elaborations. Along with the Daily Papert project, these texts offer a provocation for going further.

If the role of the computer is so slight that the rest can be kept constant, it will also be too slight for much to come of it

How Google Took Over the Classroom – Natasha Singer traces a history of GSuite and Google’s rise in regards to the classroom. She tells the tail of Jaime Casap and his ability to sell Google to schools. There is a lot of conjecture about why Google do what they do. Users? Advertising? Licences? Algorithms? My question is what is the alternative? Microsoft? Would that be any different? Seems that they are all in a race to master artificial intelligence, changing what is means to ‘Google it’. Audrey Watters wonders if this is the ‘new normal’ and questions the consequences, while Ben Williamson describes it as platform capitalism.

Google makes $30 per device by selling management services for the millions of Chromebooks that ship to schools. But by habituating students to its offerings at a young age, Google obtains something much more valuable.

55+ Most Wanted WordPress Tips, Tricks, and Hacks – The team at WordPress Beginner compile a list of advice associated with WordPress(.org). Along with the guide to getting going, there is something for every user, even if it is a deeper appreciation for the way that WordPress works. It is also a reminder of Kin Lane and Audrey Watters’ concern that WordPress involves too much and that the future of domains and so forth may be in applications, such as Jekyll.

Ever wondered what WordPress tips, tricks, and hacks most popular WordPress sites are using? In this article, we will share some of the most wanted WordPress tips, tricks, and hacks that will help you use WordPress like a pro.

Classdojo App Takes Mindfulness To Scale In Public Education – Ben Williamson continues his exploration of Class Dojo. This time he focuses on the effort to bring mindfulness into schools. The concern that he raises is whether teaching students to be resilient is the answer or whether we really need to address the deeper problem of the standardised, dataification of education. This is something that Graham Martin-Brown also touches on in a new project.

It is probably a step too far to suggest that ClassDojo may be the ideal educational technology for digital capitalism. However, it is clear that ClassDojo is acting as a psycho-policy platform and a channel for mindfulness and growth mindsets practices that is aimed at pathology-proofing children against anxious times through the imposition of positive feelings in the classroom. While taming ‘the Beast’ of his uncontrollable emotions of ‘anger, fear and anxiety’ through mindfulness meditation, ClassDojo’s Mojo mascot is both learning the lessons of positive psychology and acting as a relay of those lessons into the lives of millions of schoolchildren. Its model of pocket-based psycho-policy bypasses the kind of slow-paced bureaucracy so loathed in the fast-paced accelerationist culture of Silicon Valley, and imposes its preferred psychological techniques directly on the classroom at global scale.

Storytelling and Reflection


“@BaliMaha ‘No Me Without Us’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

No Me Without Us: Reflections After the UNIR #SelfOER #OpenTuesday Webinar – Reflecting on a recent call in regards to OER, Maha Bali discusses some of the challenges associated with the privilege around sharing. This is a continuation of a discussion around OER as a way of being.

I think about sustainability of openness if no model is in place to ensure it is financially sustainable, and I also think that for some of us, dissent and being on the cutting edge might also be a need, such that we will always be working on something in some way unorthodox and unfunded. And for some of us the need to share is a drive, difficult to stop. In the same way that we need to understand that for others, there is a need to NOT share, be it a personality thing or because they risk real harm or have experienced real harm from sharing in the past. But also to ask someone NOT to share when sharing is a way of being for them? It’s really hard.

The Over Promotion of Failure – Jackie Gerstein reflects on the focus on failure and wonders if it was all something that did not quite go to plan. Rather than celebrating what did not work, she has developed a set of questions to identify the successes and what could be done next time to improve. This reminds me of the strength-based approach, where the focus is on highlighting strengths in order to build confidence to go further.

I reframe the idea of failure, that oftentimes occur within open-ended, ill-defined projects, as things didn’t go as originally planned. It is just a part of the learning process. I explain to my learners that they will experience setbacks, mistakes, struggles. It is just a natural part of real world learning. Struggles, setbacks, and mistakes are not discussed as failure but as parts of a process that need improving. The focus becomes on what went right and on how learners can increase those aspects that were successful. The underlying learning principle becomes success breeds more success.

This Week In Webo-plasmosis – Using the example of a parasite shared between mice and cats, Michael Caulfield wonders if we have a webo-plasmosis that encourages us to mindlessly share personal details online that can then be mined by advertisers. He provides a partial list for users to identify if they have the parasite. Caulfield’s weekly newsletter is a good read for such topics.

  • Do you retweet headlines you agree with to help Facebook build a profile of you, while not reading the articles?

  • Do you take pictures of your food, helpfully labelling your dietary habits, consumption patterns, and common meal ingredients?

  • Have you become an email hoarder, never bulk deleting old email on fear “you might need it someday”, thereby preserving the vast library of documents Google needs to model your affinities, desires, and personal secrets?

  • When something happens to you of note, do you feel compelled to log it on the web?

  • Do you join Facebook groups that best express who you are?

  • Do you use Amazon Alexa’s much touted “Shopping List” feature to build a list of things you intend to buy locally, so that Amazon now has a list of things you buy locally?

  • Do you wince at the thought of taking old tweets offline, because of all the “old memories” stored in tweets you haven’t looked at for five years?

  • Do you authenticate into third-party services using Twitter, Facebook, and Google identity so that they can better track your online behavior?

  • Do you never use aliases or pseudonyms online, and are you convinced that this “transparency” somehow makes you a “more honest person”?

  • Do you find yourself posting lists of bands you’ve seen, or asking friends to share “one memory they have about you”?

Update: Opportunity Knocks Again, And Again, And Again – Jon Andrews provides an update of his analysis of Visible Learning. Bringing together the critiques from Snook et al, Simpson, Jones, Orange and Eacott, Andrews questions whether we can continue to ignore the issues anymore. This leaves me wondering about the alternatives? Is it returning to ideas around a ‘good education’? Is it about driving change from the ground on up? Responding to the criticism of Stephen Dinham, Adrian Camm suggests that pedagogical practice is about choosing the right strategy for the situation.

The seductive rhetoric of Hattie’s work can be found almost everywhere and certainly seems compelling. With questions being asked of the methodological credibility upon which all else gushes forth, shouldn’t we be questioning how much we buy into it? Surely we cannot ignore the noise, not necessarily because of its message, but because the noise is becoming a cacophony.

Building Staff Culture: The Importance of Trust – Chris Wejr looks back on his experiences as a principal and discusses some of the strategies that he has used to foster a culture of trust. Along with Paul Browning’s book, Eric Sheninger’s post and Ray McLean’s work with Leading Teams, Wejr’s post is a reminder of the importance of trust to education.

In order to create positive change in schools, there must be trust – not only between staff members but also between staff and the principal.  In my first position as a principal, I moved from being a vice-principal to a principal at the same school so people already knew me and had a better idea of what I stood for as an educator. There was a level of trust already there but this was not the case when I moved to a new school. When I arrived at my current school 3 years ago, I assumed that trust would be easy to build between the staff and me. I felt I was a decent guy with experience as a principal and there was no reason NOT to trust me… so building trust should happen rather quickly. I had plans to work on trust with me (as well as between staff) but I had no idea it would take as long as it did.  I have learned a ton in my 3+ years at James Hill, especially in the area of building trust. It is not something to be rushed and it takes a lot of effort and time to ensure that trusting relationships are solidified.

5 Ways Students Should Be Connected Beyond Technology – Peter DeWitt discusses connections and reminds us that it is more than just technology. He talks about connections to ourselves, peers, families, nature and society,  I think that this is important and something that I touched upon in my discussion of PLNs.

Our Smartphones provide us with a very important connection to our outside world. Many of us remember a time before the internet and social media. However, our students do not because they have grown up with it around them. As important as being connected and learning how to use Smartphones appropriately is important, so is putting them down and finding connections in other ways.

Transforming Tension And Disequilibrium Into Breakthrough Experiences – David Culberhouse discusses the challenges associated with the tensions of change. One of the biggest tensions being the maintenance of everyday practice, something that Dean Shareski touches on in a recent post. Eric Ries talks about sandboxing elements of change from the status quo, while John Kotter describes it as the dual operating system. This also reminds me of Raymond Williams’ discussion of Dominant, Residual And Emergent.

It is only through individual and organizational capacity that transformational breakthroughs are achieved, and we actually achieve the epiphany of change.  It is in our capacity-building efforts that the tension and disequilibrium wrought on by change is able to be redefined and repurposed for growth and autonomy, rather than politics, power struggles and dysfunctional structures and processes.  It is only in this shift, that change can emerge as a more productive  and transformational process for our individuals and organizations.

Out of the Darkness – Tom Sherrington reflects on the emotional challenges of failing an inspection. This reminds me of the suicides of Mark Thompson and Carol Woodward, both based on the pressures of leadership. Paul Browning suggests that if a headteacher does not look after themselves first and fore-mostly, they are useless to everyone. In an environment of increased accountability, how leaders are supported is so important.

If work makes you cry – that is stress! You need to get help…. I didn’t recognise it, so I didn’t.

FOCUS ON … Mark Colvin


“Mark Colvin’s Journalistic Credo” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

After battling 20 years with a rare disease while covering a crisis in Rwanda in 1995, distinguished journalist Mark Colvin passed away this month. Along with Tony Delroy, Colvin’s voice on the ABC is one of those things that I came to assume. Inspired by Austin Kleon who suggests reading reading obituaries to learn from those who have come before, here are a collection of thoughts and reflections to leave you inspired.


READ WRITE RESPOND #017

So that is May 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?

Cover image via JustLego101 https://www.flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06

My Month of April

At work, continuing to develop material to support schools as things ramp up. The modules that my colleagues and I have been working on are finally ready to be published, while we also presented together at Edtechteam GAFE Summit at Manor Lakes in Melbourne’s west.

Personally, I took some time off over Easter and with my family spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand. It is funny that it was a New Zealand artist who wrote “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you.” While we were there we copped the remains of Cyclone Debbie, while just missed on Cyclone Cook – touted as the worst storm this century – as it ended up staying on the coast. Other than that we spent our time in gumboots visiting Taupo, Rotorua, Auckland and Hobbiton. I found New Zealand one of those places where the longer you stay somewhere the more you find to explore. I also attended the Auckland Edtechteam Summit.

 
“Hobbit for a day, human for a lifetime #hobbiton” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

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

  • Read Write Wikity – Continuing to explore different ideas and opportunities associated with blogging, I collected together some reflections on setting up my own instance of Wikity.

  • Towards Collective Innovation – After sitting through a Q&A with Jaime Casap, I felt inspired to review my moonshot developed as a part of the Google Innovative Educator program. So here is my pivot to something greater.

  • New (Zealand) Experiences – A reflection on education in New Zealand. There were quite a few differences to Australia, particularly the position of Maori culture.

  • Did Someone Say … Hashtags – A personal unpacking of the way that I see and use hashtags. This stemmed in part from a series of conversations that I have been having with Ian Guest around Twitter and professional learning.

While I have created quite a few cards in my Wikity.


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

Learning and Teaching


“Journalism” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Why Journalism Might Actually Be the Class of the Future – John Spencer suggests that the true makerspaces are found in creating texts, an activity best captured by journalism. To support this, Spencer provides a range of practical suggestions to turn every student into a budding journalist. This reminds me of Michael Caulfield’s ideas about creating the web and connecting ideas. I wonder how it fits with the Digipo project and whether domain of one’s own is the greatest form of journalism?

I believe the best way to prepare students for the future is to empower them in the present. Journalism asks students to make sense out of their world as critical thinking citizens and then communicate their ideas to an authentic audience.

Stop Motion Animation with Google Slides – Eric Curts demonstrates how Google Slides can be used to make stop motion animation. With this he provides a number of use cases, as well as an outline how to turn the complete slideshow into a video. For more on GSuite, here is a summary for the month of April.

Many times we think of Slides as just a program for creating multimedia presentations. However, with just a few tricks you and your students can actually use Google Slides to make stop motion movies.

Ideas For How to Do Better Book Clubs in Middle School – Pernille Ripp reflects on the changes in her thinking around book clubs. She identifies a number of changes associated with choice and procedures. Not only a useful post in regards to teaching reading in the middle years, but also as a demonstration of a change in practice. This is something Emily Fintelman touches on in her post reflecting on best practice pedagogy.

While my method for integrating book clubs may seem loose at best, I have found incredible buy-in from the students.  They have been excited to read their books, they have been excited to share their thoughts, and the accountability that they feel toward one another is something I would not be able to produce through force.  Middle schoolers need a framework to grow within, they need our purposes to be authentic as much as possible, and they need to have a voice in how things function within our classroom.  Book clubs offer us a way to have these moments in reading that abound with deep reading conversations that I may not be able to have as a whole group, they allow even the quietest student to have a voice.  They allow students to feel validated in their thoughts and they allow them to share their knowledge with each other.  What have you done to create successful book clubs?

How To Train A Gcse Essay Writer – Alex Quigley provides a guide to essay writing. Rather than focusing on words like ‘evaluate and analyse’, Quigley outlines a range of strategies and strands to support the process of composition. Along with Joel Speranza’s reimagining of the common worksheet, these posts offer an alternative approach to seemingly standard practices.

Writing a good essay takes a host of knowledge and expertise. For English Literature then, we need to distill down that complexity into more manageable diagnostic assessments, so that our students can gradually develop from their novice status towards something like expertise. To use an analogy, writing a great essay is like the creation of a strong rope, with each sub-strand being woven together in unison. Each strand of the rope can represent the crucial knowledge required for essay writing success. If we are to teach great essays, then we need to define the strands that will be woven together to form the rope.

Three Questions – Dean Shareski explains that although you might not always be able to measure learning, you can document it. Currently digging into a lot of summative assessment, this recognition of data beyond basic numbers is important. To support this, Shareski uses three key questions.

What do I know now that I didn’t know before this course? Perhaps a list of 3-5 key understandings or ideas

What can I do now I couldn’t do before? Think more about skills, techniques, work habits, etc

Why does it matter? How will this make a difference in the future?

Design and Play – Our Podcast Workflow – Steve Brophy shares his workflow associated with recording the Design and Play Podcast. Along with suggestions from The Podcast, Doug Belshaw’s ‘how to’, Ian O’Byrne’s comprehensive series of posts, my reflections on adding other content to blogs and Eric Jensen’s reflections on student podcasts, these resources provide a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into podcasting. In addition to this, Dave Winer has written a few posts lately about the history and future of podcasting for those interested in the context associated with the technology.

When Dean and I started recording the Design and Play podcast, we had no clue where to start. I had been collating articles and workflows that people had shared but we were total amateurs. From my reading and my experience working with media, I knew that having great audio was the key (D’uh!) but how do you achieve that when you physically aren’t in the same room. I hope this post sheds a little light on the workflow that we have developed to make Design and Play come to life.

Google Earth Engine – Google Earth Engine is described as a planetary-scale platform for Earth science data & analysis. It is another one of those applications that allows for deep connections to the world in the classroom. Along with Jon Major intriguing post on the economics and ethics associated with solar panels, Earth Engine offers a wealth of resources to start talking about the environment.

Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities and makes it available for scientists, researchers, and developers to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth’s surface.

Edtech


“Technology” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Reconceptualising Online Spaces To Build Digital Capacity – In notes from a webinar Naomi Barnes presented, she explores the question of integrating digital technologies. Building on the work of Marshall McLuhan, she discusses the idea of dialectics. This reminds me of Belshaw’s eight elements of digital literacies. Along with Jonathan Wylie’s recent presentation on good technology integration, these posts offer some alternatives to the usual reference to the SAMR model as the solution to talking about technology.

… the most effective way to build staff capacity in digital technologies is to allow the technology to fade into the background and help people discover how the technology can enhance and augment what they are passionate about. No digital literacy program is going to be bought into unless it pushes some buttons that are not necessarily related to technology.

The Current State of Educational Blogging 2016 – Sue Waters unpacks the results to the 2016 survey into the current state of blogging in education. The key findings include the move away from tablets towards Chromebooks and the reality that 1:1 is still far from the dominant model.

We started the annual survey because we’re frequently asked for detailed information to help educators:

Convince school administrators to allow blogging.

Understand the benefits of blogging and how blogs are used with students.

Know more about which blogging platforms are commonly used by educators (and why).

Here’s what you told us in 2016!

Digital Literacy is about power – Doug Belshaw reflects on digital literacies and argues that they are centred in power. Along with his post on deconstructing literacies, He touches on a range of questions and considerations to support a deeper understanding of literacies.

It takes longer, is messier, and involves hard work, but coming up with a co-created approach of digital literacies (note the plural) is the only real way to get to sustainable and meaningful change. If your organisation is trying to do a digital literacy ‘to’ a group of people, it’s doing it wrong.

Hashtags as Roots of Resilience – Kevin Hodgson digs into hashtags. He uncovers some of the problems, as well as the benefits associated with making connections. Along with Ian Guest’s history of the hashtag and Clive Thompson’s exploration, they offer a deeper understanding of the web and the way it works.

Without hashtags, we might as well be yelling into deep space. With hashtags, we have the possibility to connect.

5 Ways To Use Apple Clips In The Classroom – Mark Anderson reviews Apple’s new app Clips. Like Adobe Spark and Google AutoDraw, it makes the process of creating easy. Some activities that he suggests include explaining a topic or giving feedback. With this in mind Naomi Barnes considers what is lost in seemingly dumbing down the making process.

It is easy to use and there can be considerable depth of challenge applied to tasks given to pupils to complete using the tool. By demonstrating knowledge, understanding, skills, evaluation, synthesis etc whilst using the tool creatively, I can see how this tool could impact upon learning and standards.

Storytelling and Reflection


“Collaboration” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Collaboration – Gary Stager considers all the hype surrounding Google Docs and it’s collaborative edge. In discussing his decades of experience, he suggests that writing is selfish and collaboration should not be forced, rather it needs to be natural. Along with Peter Skillen’s reflections on technology, these posts offer a useful provocation in thinking about modern learning.

Cooperation and collaboration are natural processes. Such skills are useful when the creative process benefits from interdependence. The best collaboration mirrors democracy when individual talents, knowledge, or experiences are contributed to produce something larger than the sum of its parts. Work with your friends. Work with people you trust. Work with people who have different skills or expertise. If that doesn’t produce the result you desire, you will find others to collaborate with. That is how you learn to collaborate. You may teach it, but the students will not stay taught.

Competencies vs. Skills – Eric Sheninger identifies the differences between competencies and skills. Often talk is about future skills when what we really need to be addressing are the competencies which encapsulate these skills. This is captured within the New Zealand curriculum, something clearly visualised by Richard Wells. Competencies are also important to consider in regards to developing Open Badges.

While skills are an important part of learning and career paths, they’re not rich or nuanced enough to guide students towards true mastery and success. Skills focus on the “what” in terms of the abilities a student needs to perform a specific task or activity. They don’t provide enough connection to the how. Competencies take this to the next level by translating skills into behaviors that demonstrate what has been learned and mastered in a competent fashion. In short, skills identify what the goal is to accomplish.

How Google Book Search Got Lost – Scott Rosenberg takes a look at Google Books, the original moonshot. As he traces the history associated with the project, he shows both how Google has changed and responded to various challenges. It is also interesting to note what might have been done differently. Cathy O’Halloran and I recently presented on the way in which Google connects cultures. It is fascinating as to what is available with nGram, but also where it might all go in the future. Something that Rosenberg also notes in closing.

Maybe, when some neural network of the future achieves self-awareness and find itself paralyzed by Kafka-esque existential doubts, it will find solace, as so many of us do, in finding exactly the right book to shatter its psychic ice. Or maybe, unlike us, it will be able to read all the books we’ve scanned — really read them, in a way that makes sense of them. What would it do then?

Mark Zuckerberg’s Makeover Is a Political Campaign Without the Politics – Nitasha Tiku unpacks Mark Zuckerberg’s move to meet the people by traveling to different states. Although many have interpreted this as politicking, Tiku suggests that it is about building social capital that helps keep Zuckerberg and Facebook’s options open, especially with the growing concern and criticism around platform culture.

Right now, Zuckerberg needs public goodwill to protect the idea that his product is a tool for connectivity and not misinformation, mass surveillance, or censorship. Add to that Facebook’s stranglehold on the media and the $18 billion online advertising market, and suddenly the term “antitrust regulation” sounds like more than just a quaint European custom. Lately, even the word “platform,” which once made it easy for tech companies to evade accountability, is starting to sound sinister. The New York Times recently argued that companies like Facebook, Google, and Uber are largely responsible for “rehabilitating the concept” of a monopoly in their endless drive to dominate.

Learning Styles And Bovver Boys – There has been a lot written about the potential of social media. However, there is just as much discussed around the limitations of such spaces and the ease with which we can confirm our biases. One aspect that has arisen over time is the place and power of tribes and with this some negative attributes, such as trolling. Thinking about these matters, Marten Koomen wonders about the place of care in such spaces. It is interesting to consider this discussion alongside Michael Caulfield’s investigation of technology designed to meet a demand in his new newsletter and whether spaces such as Twitter are designed to support or sabotage a culture of care?

Many educators approach education from an ethic of care and are particularly prone to bullying. As Noddings (2003) explains, a person who engages others from an ethic of care “is not seeking the answer but the involvement” (p. 176). Care is of primary importance in education. It is through an ethic of care that new insights and understandings become possible. When involvement is inauthentic and hostile, those engaging can experience toxicity and distress. Of course, those who approach life from an ethic of care still need to reason, but this reasoning needs to proceed with an empathy for different perspectives. It requires moral development (Gilligan, 1977; Kohlberg, 1971; Murphy & Gilligan, 1980).

Wakefulness and Digitally Engaged Publics – Ian O’Byrne reflects on the challenges of university professors to engage in the public discourse. I think that this has as much to do with teachers sharing their practice to reframe the perception of education. An example of this is the #hashtag180 challenge. Having said all this, Bon Stewart and Benjamin Doxtdator touch on some of the challenges in balancing identity and citizenship.

As digital technologies become more ubiquitous, we need to realize there is not much of a difference between the online and the “real spaces” around us in which we exist. In a post-Snowden world we understand that our data and digital footprint is public. We must contend with the potential that we are under constant surveillance from business, government, and other entities. Our online and offline interactions are woven together into a transmedia narrative that forms different parts of our identity. It follows us as we browse online and in our academic journals. As we explore and adapt to these new spaces and tools, the learning may be often messy. There is also the concern of how this positioning affects our perceived or presented identities. Despite these concerns and challenges, digitally literate academics are needed to infuse networked publics with reasoned and validated evidence and data.

Meeting The Challenges Of Teacher Professional Learning – Alice Leung discusses the process associated with professional learning. I think that this where we are at in education, finding balance between running sessions, but also providing follow-up to support the development of collective capacity. This is something that both Andrea Stringer and Cameron Paterson also touch on, the need to identify areas of action as follow up.

Teacher professional learning is a process, not an event

Cultural Forces That Define Leadership… – Edna Sackson provides a series of questions to help guide leaders in recognising the cultural forces within their context. Along with Joel Speranza’s list of wicked questions, these posts allow educators to dig deeper into their own practice.

How might a leader, in any context, ensure that he or she provides time, sets expectations, engages in interactions, uses language, models actions, creates an environment and ensures opportunities that empower the community to flourish?

FOCUS ON … A Domain of One’s Own


“Domain as Rent” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

In Maha Bali’s keynote for #OER17, she touches on a number of challenges associated with open education, including gender, access, colonialism and equity. As a part of this discussion, she brought up the challenges associated a Domain of One’s Own. Last year she wrote a post arguing that we do not own our domain, rather we rent it. Here is a collection of posts associated with domains and reclaiming the web to continue the conversation:


READ WRITE RESPOND #016

So that is April 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?

Image used in the cover: “Anzac Memorial” by justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/34337343715 is licensed under CC BY-SA

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


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?


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My Month of January

In response to my last newsletter, someone asked me whether my new job has allowed more opportunity to develop this newsletter. Although I spend more time commuting, I think the change has been the opportunity to engage with different elements of education every day. Doug Belshaw might say it has increased my serendipity surface. From my experience, it is not often in schools you grapple with overarching challenges. Instead, you are focused on a particular task and class.

In regards to January, I had time at home which involved fitting five weeks into two, as I only get four weeks a year with my new job. This meant trips to the beach, to the tip, to the cinema, to the zoo. Back at work, we are working on developing online modules to support teachers with technology.


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

"Inquiry into Inquiry" by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

7 Super Screencasting Activities for School – Eric Curts unpacks a range of activities associated with screencasting. Not only does he provide step-by-step instructions, but he also includes actual examples of each.

Screencasting tools are a popular option for use in schools. At their most basic they allow you to record a video of what is on your computer screen, along with your voice, and depending on the program perhaps your webcam as well. Some may go further to provide you with annotation tools to write on or highlight portions of the screen while recording.

What Should I Buy For My New Makerspace? – Laura Fleming describes her five-step framework designed to help with setting up a makerspace. Beyond having a clear vision, Fleming suggests focusing on mobility, exploration, student interests, empowerment and relevance. To document some of these choices, she has reflected on the  choices made within her own context.

Selecting the right products for your makerspace is critical. In addition to my framework, I started a Padlet, in which members of my PLN contributed their thoughts on selecting products for a makerspace. I encourage you to read their thoughts, and contribute your own for us to all learn and grow from.

Desktop Zero: How To Manage Unproductive Digital Clutter – Ben Gremillion provides a range of tips and tricks for decluttering your computer desktop. From my experience, we spend so much time in school organising things like lockers and folders, how often do we support students digitally? Although there is no right way, this post is useful in thinking about this problem.

Turns out it’s more than just finding files. Studies show that people with less cluttered work environments are happier and more productive. Desktop zero helped me in a future job as well, when I’d give frequent presentations to clients. With my desktop picture set to the company’s logo, a clutter-free desktop helped my audiences focus on what I was presenting (and hid my behind-the-scenes work to boot).

Sorry, But Speed Reading Won’t Help You Read More – In an excerpt from Language at the Speed of Sight: How We Read, Why So Many Can’t, and What Can Be Done About It, Mark Seidenberg shares the secret to becoming a better reader and that is … reading. Not an app or speed reading strategy, the key to becoming a better reader is improving our knowledge, language and comprehension. This discussion reminded me in part of Donalyn Miller’s The Book Whisperer.

Reading expands one’s knowledge of language and the world in ways that increase reading skill, making it easier and more enjoyable to read. Increases in reading skill make it easier to consume the texts that feed this learning machinery. It is not the eyes but what we know about language, print, and the world— knowledge that is easy to increase by reading—that determines reading skill. Where this expertise leads, the eyes will follow.

10 Tips For Designing Effective Social Learning – Julian Stodd provides a list of considerations associated with social learning. It is interesting to compare this with discussions around Communities of Practice. What I like about Stodd's elabotations is that he recognises that every context and situation is unique. I think this is sometimes overlooked.

Ultimately, every organisation needs to learn the co-creative behaviours, design methodology, and facilitating roles that will operate best within their own unique culture and technical infrastructure. Above all, focus on design, not technology or assessment. Engagement will come through great design.

Establishing a culture of inquiry through inquiry – Kath Murdoch encourages teachers to begin the year with questions that can then be the start of a short inquiry, rather than the usual regimented style. For Edna Sackson this involves starting with the child. Sometimes the challenge with inquiry, as Sam Sherratt points out, is having permission.

Most of us begin the year by designing tasks/activities that facilitate community building. We want to get to know our kids – and we want them to get to know and relate to each other. Again – rather than over-planning the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ of this – try inviting the students to design questions and investigations:

  • How can we build a great community in this classroom?
  • What do we need we find out about each other?  How could we go about this?
  • What do we need to know about each other in order to start to build a great community?
  • How might we design this learning space to help us do the best learning possible?
  • What do you need/want to know about me as your teacher?
  • What would you love to learn about/learn to do this year? How might we make that happen?
  • What should I (as your teacher) learn about you?
  • What are you wondering about yourself as a learner this year?
  • What are you most curious about when you think about the year ahead?

This approach is still highly intentional – our purposes are still to get the year off to a productive and positive start and to build routines. A more inquiry-based approach sees students as collaborators in the design of those routines and, as a result, engages them in a more rigorous, accountable and fascinating process of culture building.


Edtech

"‘Don’t Blame the Tools" by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Driven to Distraction – Emily Hehir highlights some of the challenges associated with technology in the classroom. She compares this situation to war. What stood out in her discussion was the notion that technology can make a difference. Although I recently discussed the impact of technology, I think it is important to highlight that it is always a part of a wider learning canvas.

Problematically, few teachers are trained in how to use technology in a manner that actually improves the outcomes previously achievable. Most schools have one or two "IT gurus" – teachers on staff whose personal interest has led to a process of classroom experiments with various apps and programs. All too often technology is a proxy for actual learning and is used as a reward, to simulate a task that could be done with a pen. At its worst, it just distracts.

Leave Your Laptops at the Door to My Classroom – Darren Rosenblum shares how he bans devices in his class. I feel that I have read this before a few years back via Clay Shirkey. What I think is missing within the conversation is what sort of teaching and learning is occurring? I do not mind the removal of student technology, but wonder if classes could be recorded even? Would this be a win win?

For all these reasons, starting with smaller classes, I banned laptops, and it improved the students’ engagement. With constant eye contact, I could see and feel when they understood me, and when they did not. Energized by the connection, we moved faster, further and deeper into the material. I broadened my rule to include one of my large upper-level courses. The pushback was real: A week before class, I posted the syllabus, which announced my policy. Two students wrote me to ask if I would reconsider, and dropped the class when I refused. But more important, after my class ends, many students continue to take notes by hand even when it’s not required.

The trials and tribulations of being a digital parent – Doug Belshaw shares his journey in choosing a device for his ten year old young son. It is interesting to compare this with Royan Lee's experiences choosing a phone for his teen daughter.

Parenting is hard, especially with your eldest child. You're making it up as you go along, especially in areas that no one has a lot of expertise, like the digital frontier. On the one hand, I don't like censorship and spying — which is why we're switching from BT to A&A for our broadband next week. On the other hand, there's an innocence to childhood that needs to be protected, especially when we're putting such powerful devices into such small hands.

Don’t Blame the Tools – Jose Picardo points out that blaming technology overlooks that the tool is only one part of the pedagogical canvas. I think things like SAMR can confuse the conversation. Instead, we need to start with a wider discussion of education.

What they fail to consider is that if technology is not the solution, it isn’t the problem either. The very word technology means “the science of craft”. Technology is nothing more and nothing less than the application of human knowledge to practical tasks. From this perspective, blaming technology for poor outcomes in schools is like a chef blaming his kitchen knife for having prepared a terrible meal.

If we forget to look out of the window – John Mikton reflects on 2016 and the need for more digital intelligence within the professional development in schools. He points out that the picture currently painted in schools is often in stark contrast to the reality of the world around us. Mikton also provides a number of links and resources for going further.

To be complacent is short-sighted in a school setting.  There is a tendency with school professional development to not explicitly address the digital reality that engulfs our lives as an essential part of our professional learning. Information and Media literacy are what frame our own democratic values: choice, perspective, empathy, resilience, and critical thinking. If we as educators are going to assign students critical thinking tasks and ask them to engage with media and information while juggling screen time in a complex digital landscape, we cannot be passive bystanders.

A lawyer rewrote Instagram’s terms of use ‘in plain English’ so kids would know their privacy rights – Amy Wang reports on the terms of services associated with Instagram. She also includes extracts from a lawyer, Jenny Afia, who rewrote the document in plain English. This reminds me of the site Terms of Service, Didn't Read designed to not only summarise Terms of Services, but also highlight aspects to consider.

You are responsible for any activity that occurs through your account and you agree you will not sell, transfer, license or assign your account, followers, username, or any account rights. With the exception of people or businesses that are expressly authorized to create accounts on behalf of their employers or clients, Instagram prohibits the creation of and you agree that you will not create an account for anyone other than yourself. You also represent that all information you provide or provided to Instagram upon registration and at all other times will be true, accurate, current and complete and you agree to update your information as necessary to maintain its truth and accuracy.

Busy as a … hashtag? – I have read posts about hashtags in the past from people such as Amy Burvall and Clive Thompson, but I have read nothing as thorough as what Ian Guest presents. Not only does he provide a history behind hashtags, but also a thorough list accounting for the different uses.

The hashtags which have drawn my attention during my research and from long before it, and the functions they have performed:

  • Curriculum areas – these hashtags assist those teachers who specialise in teaching particular areas of the curriculum like #asechat (Association for Science Education),  #GeographyTeacher or #engchat
  • Communities – groups of people who share a particular interest like the #mfltwitterati, #EduMatch or NZBTchat (New Zealand Beginning Teachers)
  • Geospatial – hashtags which help those in a particular region find one another and discuss local issues: #edchatie (teachers from Eire), #scotedchat (Scotland) and even individual school districts like #katyisdela (Katy Independent School District English Language Arts) which situates a particular curriculum area within a specific region.
  • Time-limited – these hashtags materialise for a particular time, often for the duration of an activity: #12daystwitter and #WeeklyBlogChallenge17
  • Celebration – hashtags promoting the efforts of others, like  our schools or pupils (#pedagoo), and sometimes the contributions of others (#ff).

Hello World – a new magazine for educators – Phillip Colligan provides the specs on a new magazine with news and tips by Raspberry Pi to be published three times a year. Alongside their Digital Making Curriculum, Raspberry Pi are providing number of resources to help teachers get going with technology in the classroom.

Hello World is available free, forever, for everyone online as a downloadable pdf.  The content is written to be internationally relevant, and includes features on the most interesting developments and best practices from around the world.

Google Sheets, Apps Script and Data Studio Resources: The Ultimate List for 2017 – Ben Collins curates a thorough list of resources associated with Google Sheets and Scripts. For GSuite, I think these are often underutilised.

Want tons of great Google Sheets, Apps Script and Data Studio resources in one place? Then you’ll love this list.  These are my go-to resources when I’m building spreadsheet applications for clients or developing content for this blog. I have hundreds of bookmarks on the subject but here I’ve whittled it down to just the very best.


Storytelling and Reflection

"‘Did Media Literacy Backfire?" by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Media, Technology, Politics – Data & Society: Points – In light of technology, fake news and democracy, a group of researchers led by danah boyd have applied their thinking to a range of issues with some attempt to make sense of the current state of being in the US (and the world at large).

To document some of our thinking, we are releasing six pieces that look at different issues that we think are important for trying to make sense of the relationship between technology and current political dynamics in the US.

  1. In Hacking the Attention Economy, danah boyd describes some of the tactics and strategies that people have taken to manipulate old and new media for fun, profit, and ideology. This essay explores decentralized coordination efforts, contemporary information campaigns, and cultural logics behind gaming the system.
  2. In What’s Propaganda Got To Do With It? Caroline Jack brings historical context to the use of the term “propaganda,” arguing that the resurgence of this label amid social anxieties over the new media landscape is reflective of deeper cultural and ideological divides.
  3. Did Media Literacy Backfire? by danah boyd examines how media literacy education efforts to encourage the public to be critical consumers of information may have contributed to widespread distrust in information intermediaries, complicating efforts to understand what is real and what is not.
  4. In Are There Limits to Online Free Speech, Alice Marwick explores how the tech industry’s obsession with “free speech” has been repurposed (and newly politicized) by networks whose actions are often seen as supporting of hate speech and harassment.
  5. Why America is Self-Segregating is danah boyd’s attempt to lay out some of the structural shifts that have taken place in the United States in the last twenty years that have magnified polarization and resulted in new types of de-diversification.
  6. In How do you deal with a problem like “fake news,” Robyn Caplan looks directly at the challenges that companies face when they seek to address the inaccurate and often problematic content that is spread widely on social media sites.

Diversity is Hard – Building upon danah boyd's post on Why America is Self-Segregating, Jenny Mackness celebrates the importance of difference and why it is so important in a highly connected world. This reminds me of the ideas presented in Cathy Davidson's book Now You See It and her notion of 'collaboration by difference'

Respect for differences and an understanding of diversity is a key ethical rule for complex systems and no amount of retreating into homogeneous groups will help us cope with living in an increasingly complex world.

The MoonshotEdu Podcast – Bernard Bull has started a new ‘weekly’ podcast with a bang, pushing out ten different episodes in quick succession, covering everything from dreaming big, grades, self-directed learning and credentialing.

The MoonshotEdu show is a weekly podcast dedicated to challenging the status quo in education, exploring educational innovation and entrepreneurship, and getting more deeply informed about the possibilities in education. It is a place to celebrate curiosity, human agency, and a love of learning.

All I Know Is What’s on the Internet – Rollin Moe explains that discussions around fake news overlooks the real problem at hand, the death of subversive responses and the death of democracy. For if there is no voice from the outside then there will be little difference or discussion from within.

For the past 40 years, society has demanded information literacy of students, but effectively extolled the virtues of citizens as mass content consumers. Schools and libraries are not conduits of a knowledge society, but appendages of a knowledge economy. Instead of teaching students critical thinking, they have stoked decontextualized curiosity. Rather than develop students’ wisdom and character, they have focused on making their students’ market value measurable through standardized testing.

In Consideration Of Continuous Improvement: Part I – David Culberhouse discusses how to push forward towards a ‘better’ tomorrow in schools. He suggests considering the AND of 3I’s that can support an environment of ‘continuous improvement’ in our organizations, they are: Innovation AND Improvement Science AND Implementation Science.

First and foremost, this idea of ‘better’ and ‘continuous improvement’ requires a decision, a decision to become uncomfortable, both as individuals and as organizations.  For stretching ourselves towards this concept of ‘continuous improvement’ is not always a comfortable situation, as it requires learning, unlearning, relearning, shifting, adapting, and changing.  A beta mindset.

3 Injustices in Education – David Truss asks three questions we should consider when designing learning opportunities in schools. This discussion is further elaborated within Corey Engstrom’s Teacher Tech Trails podcast.

As educators we too have to ask the right questions, and I hope that the 3 I’ve asked here are helpful to you:

“How can we design our learning opportunities so that at some point during the school day, students get to work on something they are passionate about?”

“What is getting in the way of our student(s) excelling?”

“Are we challenging students enough, so that they are maximizing their learning opportunities?”

Is Goal Setting Pointless? – Bill Ferriter questions the purpose of goals. He suggests that our focus should instead be on systems. This reminds me of a discussion in Vivian Robinson’s book Student-Centred Leadership in which she questions setting goals when the outcome may not be known or defined. This is always an important conversation, but even more so at the beginning of the year.

Goals are destinations. Systems are vehicles that keep you moving forward — and moving forward is essential to winning.  “When you focus on the practice (systems) instead of the performance (goals),” writes Clear,  “You can enjoy the present moment and improve at the same time.”

100 things that made my year – Austin Kleon looks back at the things that made his year. This is fantastic as it captures so many aspects of his life.

Discovering and researching unschooling. Roberto Greco’s fantastic Tumblr and Pinboard archives. The work of John Holt, his books How Children Learn and How Children Fail, his 55-year-old journal entry, his thoughts on the true meaning of intelligence and how babies are scientists. John Taylor Gatto’s Dumbing Us Down. Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner’s Teaching As A Subversive Activity. Lori Pickert’s twitter. DH Lawrence on how to educate a child: “Leave him alone.” Manifesto of the idle parent.

Teaching with, alongside, and for one another – Corrie Barclay reflects on the importance of trust and feedback in developing the capacity of teachers and improving schools. This reminds me of the work of Alma Harris around distributed leadership and disciplined collaboration, as well as the work of Paul Browning on trust.

If each and everyday we have a greater impact on on our students and settings due to the continual improvement we make individually and collectively, we will without a doubt see our students and education systems flourish

The Ugly Unethical Underside of Silicon Valley – Erin Griffith digs beneath the gloss to uncover the unethical side of silicon valley and start-up culture. Whether it be breaking the rules, promoting products that don't even exist or making up growth percentages, there is always a dark side to the hype. For more on Silicon Valley, read this post by Ben Werdmuller, the Anne Wiener’s recount, Cory Doctorow's novel The Makers or listen to this episode of Future Tense.

No industry is immune to fraud, and the hotter the business, the more hucksters flock to it. But Silicon Valley has always seen itself as the virtuous outlier, a place where altruistic nerds tolerate capitalism in order to make the world a better place. Suddenly the Valley looks as crooked and greedy as the rest of the business world. And the growing roster of scandal-tainted startups share a theme. Faking it, from marketing exaggerations to outright fraud, feels more prevalent than ever—so much so that it’s time to ask whether startup culture itself is becoming a problem.

The Setup – Laura Hilliger provides a snapshot of her setup. I was particularly interested in her use of Scrivener, something that Julian Stodd also mentioned recently. The idea of documenting your workflow is associated with a website usethis.com. One thing that stood out for me about the list of other people who have shared on the website is that it is largely a male crowd? Another similar collection can be found at Royan Lee's blog. He often interviews people about their setup.

Well if we’re going to talk about dreams, I’d wish for a new computing platform entirely. No more keyboards and mice. No more monitors and power cables. I don’t know what it is, exactly, but my dream setup transcends modern computing and let’s me use my body more. I’d like to snap my fingers, open a display at eye level and swoop and swipe and stuff. Tony Stark style.


 

FOCUS ON … Medium

I have written about Medium before in comparison to other blogging platforms. One of the things I warn people about is being caught out if the private company decides to pivot and change what it offers. See Posterous. News arrived at the start of January that Medium is in fact looking to make some major changes. Here then is a collection of responses to the news:

  • Venture Capital is Going to Murder Medium – David Heinemeier Hansson explains that the fuse was lit for Medium's demise a long time ago when they accepted large amounts of Venture Capital without any idea how they could repay it.
  • Medium’s Pivot – Dave Winer warns that If Medium were to fail a lot of history will go with it.
  • Online Publishing Should Look At Steem, Not Spotify, For Inspiration – Fred Wilson discusses the possibility of a blockchain-based solution, where people gain tokens for writing depending on the popularity of the piece and purchase credits for reading.
  • Why Medium Failed to Disrupt the Media – Leonid Bershidsky explains that Medium has arrived at the same place as traditional media companies in struggling to find an effective funding model. She suggests that it is another example of Silicon Valley arrogance in thinking those before are always broken and in need of a fix.
  • A New Model for Medium – Fredric Filloux remains confident that quality will monetize at some point and that there is an audience out there who are in favour of good, paid-for, quality contents.
  • We Shouldn’t Wait for Medium – Discussing the positives and negatives to WordPress and Medium, Dave Winer suggests that we need a better designed WordPress or an open source Medium.
  • Medium And The Importance Of Maintaining Your Own Domain – Kin Lane says that, “we should not stop playing with new services, and adopting those that add value to what we are trying to accomplish online, but we should always consider how deeply we want to depend on these companies, and know that their VC-fueled objectives might not always be alignment with our own.”
  • Medium, and The Reason You Can't Stand the News Anymore – Shaun Blanda discusses the contradiction at play in funding digital news agencies with advertising.
  • Is Medium good for us? – Dave Winer discusses the problem of survivability associated with Medium.

READ WRITE RESPOND #013

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

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p dir=”ltr”>Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

 


“Read Write Respond #012” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

December is always a busy time of the year. Let alone that it is Christmas, there are three birthdays in December in our household and with one of them being our one year old. There was bedlam for a while. In addition to this, schools usually wind up with reports, new timetables and everything else that comes with all of that. Having said that, this year has been different not being in a school. However, I still feel that the rush of a deadline has changed the pace of things, especially when you need to have things completed for next year and schools close down over the break.

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts. Although it is a little bit sparse, I did that thing where I wrote two posts that probably should have been ten:

  • Lessons Learned as a Parent Teacher – Rather than the usual reflection on all the lessons learned throughout the year, I focused on a particular element that stood out for me – the role of parent and teacher.
  • What or How – which would you choose? – A short musing on what matters most in regards to education.
  • Implementing Hapara – For the Hapara Certified Educator course that I have been involved with, participants were asked to develop an implementation plan. Inspired by Ben Williamson’s work on Class Dojo, I tried to provide something of a thick description as to what is possible.
  • A Comprehensive Guide to Open Badges – After being asked to explain Open Badges in a bit more detail, I compiled everything into a post, which outlined what open badges are, how they work and why they are useful in supporting learning and education.
  • Read Write Review – Voices from the Village (2016) – A reflection on a year of maintaining a monthly newsletter, with a collection of the posts that left me thinking and inspired throughout 2016.

During all the hullabaloo, here are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking and inspired …

Learning and Teaching

A problem solving routine for mathematics – Mark Liddell shares the development of the ‘ABCDE’  thinking routine to support problem solving in Mathematics. I find it an interesting exercise to develop a tool to support your own needs and context.

A routine can be thought of as any procedure, process, or pattern of action that is used repeatedly to manage and facilitate the accomplishment of specific goals or tasks.

How to Analyze a News Claim and Publish the Analysis on Digipo.io – Mike Caulfield provides a fact checking guide for countering fake news. It is a part of the Digital Polarization Initiative he has developed. Caulfield’s post is useful in regards to grappling with issues and has a lot to offer senior students. Another similar post is John Spencer’s discussion of what he describes as the five C’s of critical consumption.

On average a claim will take anywhere from an hour to half a day to debunk. In general, the more precise the claim is, the more work it is: e.g. “Trump supporter threatens decorated cop in hijab.” takes longer to research than “Trump supporter threatens cop in hijab”,  and that takes longer than “Person threatens cop in hijab”.  Each adjective and noun is another verification challenge. So when starting out if it feels a bit overwhelming, start with simpler claims.

5-Day Photo Challenge to Improve Your Skills This Winter Break – Maria Cervera offers a five step guide to improving photography skills over the holiday break. Spread across the days between Christmas and the New Year, her focus in on Framing, Rule of Thirds, Perspective, Lighting and Telling a Story. I think that this is a useful introduction into something we often take for granted.

Want to learn how to take better photos? Why wait for the new year to start on your goals? During the last week of December, take a few minutes each day to snap some pictures that will help you bring this production technique into your classroom in 2017!

The Secret Algorithm Behind Learning – Shane Parrish explains that if you truly understand something then you need to be able to explain it to an eight year old. This reminds me of a post from Greg Thompson discussing post-structuralism. Although I think that this is an ideal, I do not always think that it is possible.

The ultimate test of your knowledge is your capacity to convey it to another.

Computational Thinking and Learning for Little Ones – Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano documents her computational experience with her grand-daughter. The two activities that they did were Treasure Hunt in the House and Robot Coding. Although there are endless posts on coding out there, I like the way that this post links in with learning, especially in the Early Years.

Every grandmother dotes on her grandchildren. I am no exception. Over the past four years, I was able to witness my granddaughter Elena’s growth and in particular observe her learning. She has been an integral part of my work around #documenting4learning. There are many things educators can learn from observing learning habits of young children. I even would recommend high school teachers take a moment to visit a pre-school or Kindergarten class to immerse themselves in LOOKING for learning. The environment, the play, the communication will yield a much more visible “laboratory” for educators who are looking to see, hear and document a variety of learning than a traditional high school class, with 25 students sitting at their desks might.

The Power Of Spreadsheets – Chris Betcher shares an example of how he used Sheets to compare the offerings from various energy companies. This is a useful resource in regards to working with various formulas to compare and critique data.

What if you gave your students the basic skills of calculating numbers with a spreadsheet, and then a bunch of different rates from different competing companies and simply asked “Who is offering the best deal?”  This process usually raises lots and lots of questions, and will certainly make them better consumers, better at understanding data, and better users of spreadsheets.

Edtech

Expanding Chromebooks for all learners – As a part of the day long Google Edu on Air Conference which included speakers from around the world, Google announced some new options in regards to signing into a Chromebook. The additions relate to using pictures and smart badges, something that I first noticed with SeeSaw. I think that this will be a positive addition to Early Years.

As more students use Chromebooks, we’ve heard feedback from teachers that a challenge remained: even the mere act of logging in can waste too much precious learning time. So today we’re excited to announce that we’ve expanded Chromebook integrations to allow alternatives for logging in that are simple and fast.

Would You Give Google a Passing Grade on Its AI Project? – Responding to a recent article exploring Google’s role in regards to ‘fake news’, Mike Caulfield argues that maybe Google should invest some of their billions of dollars solving their algorithms.

Maybe Google should be spending less time funding smart thermostats and self-driving cars and launching wi-fi balloons, and more time funding programmers who can write algorithms that can use the massive amount of documentation on the Holocaust to determine that one of the definitive events of the last century did in fact “happen”.

Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2016 – Audrey Watters mammoth review may not be as concise or prophetic as say the Horizon Report, but the lay of the land provided is priceless. Even if it is focused primarily  on the US, many of the discussions have a wide ranging impact. Although a part of me would like to recommend that you dip into her discussion of open-washing or personalisation, I think that if you are going to put your leg in then you may as well get your whole body wet.

2016 is the seventh year in which I’ve reviewed the most important trends in the ed-tech industry from the previous twelve months. (You can look at the trends I identified from previous years here.)

  1. Wishful Thinking
  2. The Politics of Education Technology
  3. The Business of Education Technology
  4. “Free” and “Open”
  5. For-Profit Higher Education
  6. The “New Economy”
  7. Credentialing
  8. Data Insecurity
  9. Personalization
  10. Inequality

Arguing on Education Twitter: BINGO – In response to the rise of derision online, Deb Netolicky shares a bingo card for the coming (un)festive season. When people like Tom Whitby and Will Richardson ask why more people are not connecting online, I think that this is a big part of the challenge.

In anticipation of more enthusiastic debate and derision over the holiday period in the world of education Twitter, I’ve prepared this handy BINGO card for the festive season.

Digital literacy can be an insurgency – Bryan Alexander discusses the active nature of digital literacies, highlighting the problems with the idea of digital citizenship. Alexander suggests that  digital often counters our usual notion of democracy and civility, instead providing the tools to speak out. It is this lack of control that often puts people off. Interestingly, this proactive citizen is at the heart of what Gert Biesta describes as the democratic citizen. It is also represented in the documentary on Aaron Swartz.

This is one reason digital literacy has a hard time growing.  It represents the potential to empower students to challenge each other and instructors, as well as become insurgent outside of class, as with my student’s homoerotic paper.  Not all faculty find this a desirable or even tolerable thing.  How many teachers and professors spend time trying to maintain or expand their authority?  Conversely, how many were trained on how to teach an actually interactive class?  How many of are thrilled when students grow into their agency and act upon it?

Interface Innovation: From MashUps to McLuhan-esque Metacognition – Amy Burvall combines the idea of mashing different inventions together, with Marshall McLuhan’s notion of the tetrad.

I’ve long been fascinated by Marshall McLuhan and in particular his Tetrad of Media Effects from the posthumously published Laws of Media. I’ve sketched out some icons to help visualize the concepts.

Portfolio Work and Interweaving the Personal API – Tom Woodward continues his investigation into the power and potential of personal APIs. I am left wonder the place of APIs within the debate around coding and education.

I’ve been building a new portfolio site and I think some of this is kind of interesting even if it sounds boring. There are a few different goals in play. One challenge is to create a site that stays up to date with minimal work on my end. It’s a parallel of the small-pieces-loosely-joined mentality. I want tiny-actions-over-time (from the aforementioned small pieces) rather than widely-spaced-herculean efforts. I’m also trying to make sure that it fits in well with my current workflow and that I’m capturing the work I do elsewhere in ways that make sense.

Blogs: Do They Serve Any Real Purpose? – Tom Whitby considers the place of blogging today. This seems similar to the endless debate about the death of Twitter. Whitby makes some points about personal and institutional use. However, I think that it comes down to developing your personal purpose. It is also interesting considering in light of Bryan Alexander’s comments on insurgency and digital literacies.

There are many new things that are evolving in our world. We must keep up with the change in order to stay relevant. The best way may be to subscribe to blogs within the areas of our concerns. We can involve ourselves in the conversation by commenting respectfully on blogs for pros or cons. The ultimate mastery is to write a blog to share personal ideas and points of view to gauge how they stand to scrutiny. We can take critical analysis and adjust. We can only do all of this however if we first recognize the role of the blog and teach about it to our kids. Yes, we need the classics, but we also need relevant and real information, as well as the ability to discern it, if we are to survive and thrive.

 

Storytelling and Reflection

Writing and thinking about qualitative research: 2016 reflection – Naomi Barnes provides a reflection on her journey associated with qualitative research this year. I must admit that this is something that I have become far more aware of via the work of Ian Guest in regards to Twitter. Deborah Netolicky also wrote an interesting follow up.

Social Media has been a reductive force on qualitative research because often people only read the headline/tweet, share the link, make a comment on the headline/tweet and don’t read the blog. It is easy to share a table or a diagram, less easy to share a philosophical argument.

Communities: A Story In Social Leadership – In his continued work on Social Leadership, Julian Stodd reflects on the various communities that we are a part of. It is an interesting topic and important as we progressively move into a more connected world.

We belong to many different communities, some of which overlap. Some communities are visible to both us and the organisation that we work for, whilst others are hidden, deep in our social networks, out of sight of the organisation, although still very relevant and connected to us individually in our day-to-day.

#3strengths – Andrea Stringer argues that we need to spend more time on our strengths. I would add to that suggesting we need to change our mindset from improving to developing. I have since added my strengths to my Twitter profile as a step forward.

Education typically focuses on identifying shortcomings and challenges and what is needed to improve (NAPLAN, PISA). I suggest we often forget to balance working on areas for improvement with strengths.

PD is Sinking…Here Are 3 Ways to Save It – Brad Gustafson describes three strategies for further developing professional learning sessions: be responsive, get teachers talking and keep learning connected. Not sure if this is a silver bullet, but it does provide a good conversation starter.

It’s never too late to revive a meeting or PD. The practical tips below may sound surprisingly simple, and that’s because they are. I’m succinctly sharing three PD tid-bits combined with recent research on HOW professional learning works.

Prising Open the Housing of the Pedagogical Clock – Tom Barrett asks the question, is your class timetable the real school wide pedagogical statement? In the process, he unpacks the impact of such things as timetables and why simply changing things is not enough. This in part reminds me of David Zyniger’s findings associated with class sizes.

When we say personalised learning the ideal would be a valid timetable for all learners. In most cases though we attempt to find a balance between reliably moving humans around and offering a valid experience for everyone.

Hypothetical learning styles (modalities) – There has been a lot written about the problems associated with learning styles lately. See for example Mark Johnson’s satirical post or Stephen Dinham’s critique. This post from Charlotte Pezaro reframes the discussion around learning opportunities and asks us to instead consider the possibilities.

My argument against learning styles is an argument against limiting the learning experiences of our students. It does not mean that I expect that all students learn the same information in the same way all the time, and I definitely do not see this as a reason to move toward didactic pedagogies in which we expect that learners can just be told what they need to learn. I very much believe that no teaching or learning strategy has a guaranteed outcome in all cases all of the time (or even most cases, most of the time). Teachers must be experts in pedagogy, and know, understand, and be practised at a wide range of strategies and approaches to teaching and learning. A teacher is in the best position to decide, in negotiation with students and their families where appropriate and possible, what approaches and strategies will be best for any given learning objective.

Creating the time and space for self-directed, personalized, inquiry learning – David Truss provides an elaboration of self-determined learning that goes beyond simply offering students a ‘genius’ hour. It is better read as a  provocation about what if, than a structured guide that explains how to. Truss provides an interesting take on the challenges of timetabling.

Students get course credit for their self-directed inquiries and passion projects. By implementing so much time in a students’ schedule to DCL, teachers must redesign their program to create time and space for students to work independently. When teachers plan their teaching time with students it necessarily needs to shift to include assignments that connect to, facilitate and support learning happening during DCL time. By also explicitly teaching inquiry learning as a course (Foundations of Inquiry), we create space for students to work on projects of their choice, assessing competencies of core skills rather than on content they are learning, which can vary based on their passions and interests.

Time For These Seven Edu Funerals – Michael Niehoff makes the call on seven aspects that he feels needs to change in education moving forward. What I find interesting is that many of the elements seem to be more prominent to me within secondary schools?

Only in education, do we continue to try to breath life into things that may never have been successful – and most certainly are not now. These things are so embedded in the culture, frameworks, policies, practice and mindsets of our schools and educational organizations, that many educators just blindly accept them, implement them and perpetuate them…..all regardless of their lack of success. Indeed, there is often overwhelming data or evidence that these things are not only unsuccessful, but often counterproductive. So, let’s have the funeral. Let’s start the fire. Let’s bury these SEVEN forever.

Trump is a Media Virus – Douglas Rushkoff casts his eye over the recent presidential election explaining how Trump is a media virus. Until we understand this, we will not be able to cure it. Beppe Severgnini made a similar point in his comparison with Silvio Berlusconi. This all reminds me of Roland Barthes work with myths in the 50’s.

Even this article will be understood by many of Trump’s supporters as an attack, and by many detractors as an apologia. Yet understanding our response to Trump is the very best medicine we can take if we want to develop the ability to engage in the conversations his viral spread has proven need to take place.

This Simple Tweak in Goal-Setting Changed My Creative Output – As it comes to the end of the year, John Spencer reflects on his emphasis of process over product. As a caveat, he discusses short verses long term deadlines and how he balances process and product within this.

A year ago, I switched to process-oriented goals. Instead of saying, “I’m going to run 25 miles this week,” I’m said, “I’m setting aside 40 minutes five days a week to go running.” If I run slower, fine. If I run faster, okay. If something comes up and I can’t get it done, that’s fine. It’s not about mileage. It’s about routine. Instead of saying, “I’m going to make two videos per week,” I’m saying, “I want to spend about a half an hour a day working on sketchy videos.” I had almost an entire month where the video I attempted simply bombed. However, because I hadn’t focused on the product, I was able to take risks and learn from the mistakes. The process didn’t feel wasted.

In Which I Teach Like a Dirty Racist – Scott Millman unpacks what it means to ‘teach like a champion’ and questions the inherent inequality that seems to be built into such practices. Although such approaches may have a place in some situations, such as a beginning teacher, they should not be seen as the solution for every context.

If you watch video clips of teachers teaching like a champion, or more recently, of Michaela teachers putting the fun back into drill-and-fun, you’ll notice mostly white faces teaching mostly black and brown faces. It seems like “No Opt Out” and “No Excuses” are something we save for our poor children and our children of colour. I’ll take pains here to establish that I’m not accusing any of these folks (teachers or authors) of racism; I do worry, though, about how our unexamined good intentions might further entrench systemic inequality and racism in our communities.

FOCUS ON … PISA

With the release of the results from the recent PISA and TIMSS tests, there has been so much written about their purpose. It can be easy within such discussions to simply take a side. However, I hope that in collecting together some of the recent posts on the matter might help to form a more reasoned dialogue:

READ WRITE RESPOND #012

So that is December for me, how about you? I hope that you were able to spend some time slowing down and reflecting. 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?

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