📓 Notes from Canberra EdTechTeam Summit

Rushton Hurley Keynote

Rushton Hurley:

“We do not spend enough time on the pedagogical implications of ‘fun’ and ‘cool'”

“Don’t worry if it doesn’t work, it happens all the time. Have a go at something different.”

“Our job is to inspire our students … having fun is an important part of that.”

“How often do we have in our heads exactly what we mean?”

“You could be that teacher that gives a student hope for the future”

“The only person to who you ever need compare yourself is the you who you were yesterday” #edtechteam

Discussing the Five Day Teacher Challenge http://rushtonh.com/category/the-5-day-teacher-challenge/ and getting better #edtechteam

“Can you go the whole day without asking the question: do you know the right answer or raising your voice once” #edtechteam

Next Vista For Learning provides a library of free videos made by and for teachers and students everywhere www.nextvista.org/ #edtechteam

“How do we make learning effective and memorable … will it be remembered in 20-years time?” #edtechteam

“Creativity is a muscle that we exercise” -> is blogging and reflection a muscle too?

Critical Creativity

Amy Burvall:

Notes associated with ‘Critical Creativity: Creating with Words, Images and Sounds’ https://sites.google.com/view/amyburvallettcanberrasummit/home/critical-creativity-workshops #edtechteam

“Through making we have meaning” #edtechteam

“Rigorous Whimsy is purposeful play” CC @mythsysizer

Jenga Poetry -> this reminds me of @ddonahoo and Lego Poetry https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/a-colourful-case-of-writers-blocks-20110527-1f7ul.html

Four Fun and Powerful Activities for Starting Class

Rushton Hurley:

Choose an obscure image and make connections with learning. -> @kathleen_morris has a great resource to support finding images

“Best people to create questions are the students. Create a question and four answers. Get them to explain why they made the choices that they did”

Q & A with Suan Yeo

Suan:

Google have developed a solution with managed devices to run NAPLAN on Chromebook through a locked-down browser app

Showing the Jamboard app via iOS and Android. Beyond that, users can still view. -> Reminds me a lot of Explain Everything

Amy Burvall Keynote

amyburvall:

“We are surrounded by poetry on all sides” -> you just need to see it #edtechteam

“If you share your work with a wider audience, you never know who you might effect”

A collection of history videos for music lovers https://www.youtube.com/user/historyteachers/videos

On the IKEA effect. The accomplishment of putting a little bit of effort to achieve something.

Never say, “I’m just a teacher” Everyone is an artist!

Creativity is connecting dots https://amysmooc.wordpress.com/2017/08/06/rawthought-on-ditching-the-dangerous-dichotomy-between-content-knowledge-and-creativity/

“For if you know it you can change it”

“If they build it they will get it”

“Imagination is the root of empathy”

The best app on your phone is your camera. -> Gary Stager has written about this http://stager.tv/blog/?p=2791

“The most famous remix is the alphabet”

“We need to make our disciplines dance together”

“Get to the ‘ness’ of something”

“Creativity thrives on time, trust and tools”

Sometimes we need to get up, get out and go walkabout https://amysmooc.wordpress.com/2014/08/16/pd-walkabout-a-tourist-in-ones-own-land/

Site Maintenance

Simon Ashby:

The power and potential of Google Sites http://bit.ly/newsitesNZ #edtechteam

Sites can now be found through Google Drive -> here is a link to all the new Google Sites on one page https://sites.google.com/new?usp=jotspot_si

Sites provide the flexibility of adjusting the privacy of spaces https://gsuiteupdates.googleblog.com/2018/01/publish-google-sites-to-specific-audience.html

“Sites now allows you to embed” -> one potential workaround for ‘conversations’ is to use Padlet https://www.teachercast.net/blog/how-to-add-a-blog-or-comments-box-in-new-googlesites-using-padlet/

Share your computer’s screen from one Chrome browser to another https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/google-cast-for-education/bnmgbcehmiinmmlmepibeeflglhbhlea

SheetsGeek

Jay Atwood:

Coding is for Losers https://sites.google.com/edtechteam.com/jay/coding-is-for-losers-computational-thinking-with-sheets HT @LosersHQ

If you click ‘create new rule’ when doing conditional formatting before pressing ‘done’ then it will copy all the ingredients of the previous rules #sheetsgeek

Whenever you are working with a formula, it can be good to work from inside out #edtechteam #SheetsGeek

Two YouTube playlists associated with Google Sheets: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL2Nrs6rglVNEtgl2YcPy-dVIGad0Luehn&disable_polymer=true and https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL6B2lA5Vd2A78PPIzDrTtAvZq6HiG0kU7

One of the key concepts when working with a database, if you ever want to change the data then always go back to the source

📓 Problematic Art

Discussing Molly Ringwald’s essay on the Breakfast Club, Cory Doctorow reflects on the importance of problematic art:

Without “problematic,” then imperfect art is “bad” and you have to choose between cherishing the ways in which it improved your life and jettisoning the art and its effects on you. That all-or-nothing framework makes acknowledging imperfections needlessly expensive and thus unpopular.

But with “problematic,” we can have it both ways: “This art, whose flaws I acknowledge and wish to see improved upon, made me happy and improved my life and my understanding of the world.” That statement doesn’t give a pass to the flaws in art, it doesn’t make a virtue out of the work’s hurtful or ugly imperfections — rather, it opens a space to talk about (and thus address) the flaws without having to deny your pleasures, influences and loves.

📓 First Gutenberg Experience

I decided to finally install the Gutenberg plugin. I have read a few posts (Jeff Everhart and John Johnston) and realised that I probably should have a look.

My first impression was that it felt like the WordPress.com editor. I can see the appeal of blocks, it works for the new Google Sites and Weebly, but fear that it is overkill for what I do? I also noticed that Post Kinds disappeared.

Interestingly, in the screen providing a summary of all the posts, there is an option for starting a new post in the Gutenberg editor or the classic editor. Maybe this choice is an eye to the future, just wonder if there is a means of making ‘classic’ as default?


Some other reflections:

📰 eLearn Update (March 2018)

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


Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

Geo Tools

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

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

General

📰 Read Write Respond #027

Background image via JustLego101

My Month of March

At work we took another step with the reporting solution that we have been working on. This involved setting up two schools. There was a bit of a rush to have all the testing and documentation completed beforehand. However, the relative smoothness made it all worthwhile.

In regards to the family, our eldest daughter was playing a game on the iPad recently and I said that maybe one day she might code her own such game. She said she could, but she had already decided that she was going to be a performer. I feel challenged everyday by my role as a parent. Do I step in and suggest that maybe she does not sound as good as Sia as she belts out her rendition of Chandelier or do I just support her in dreaming big? At the moment, it is the later. Our youngest on the other hand must have found my copy of A More Beautiful Question as she has taken to asking the Five Whys about absolutely everything. I answer and answer again. My wife says that I will lose, but I don’t see it like that. It is about the conversation, right?

On a personal level, I find myself diving deeper into reflections these days, especially with my second blog providing a means of ongoing engagement. One of the side-effects has been my lack of engagement in spaces like Twitter. I still write extended responses when challenged, but I do not trawl through conversations or conference hashtags as much as I used to. I am left wondering what am I missing in my move more and more to RSS and curated feeds?

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

Image via “Stormtroopers Training: Theory” by Pedro Vezini is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via Kath Murdoch ‘‘12 ‘Lesson Hacks’ to Nurture Inquiry’’

12 ‘Lesson Hacks’ to Nurture Inquiry – Kath Murdoch provides a number of simple changes to consider in every classroom. They include letting students try first before providing instruction, turning learning intentions into questions, co-constructing success criterias, standing up rather than sitting down and changING your position in the classroom. Steve Mouldey also shared some thoughts on supporting learners with being more engaged and active within the learning, while Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern shared ideas for how to create dynamic learning environments on the Ask the Tech Coach Podcast.

Inquiry classrooms (and inquiry teachers) are constructed day by day, session by session. Being conscious of the choreography of our teaching and the degree to which it amplifies or diminishes inquiry is a powerful way to build culture over time. These ‘hacks’ are simple but by making one change, we can gain insights to which we have been previously blind.

The Library of the Future – Deborah Netolicky reflects on her recent investigation into libraries. This include the history of libraries, as well as how they and those who work within them are defined. Her review of the literature found that libraries are: neutral and democratising; participatory and connected locally and globally; centred around learning, literacy, research, and knowledge; and, facilitators of interdisciplinarity. I have written about the future of libraries before, however Netolicky’s deep dive takes it a step further.

School libraries have been called instructional media centres, media centres, information centres, information commons, iCentres, learning labs, learning commons, digital libraries, and cybraries (Farmer, 2017). These terms are in some ways faddish and transitory. ‘Library’, however, has a deep and long tradition associated with it, although the spaces and tools of libraries change over time. Librarians in schools have also had many names, such as teacher librarian, library teacher, library media specialist, library media teacher, cybrarian, information navigator, information specialist, information professional, informationist, and information scientist (Farmer, 2017; Lankes, 2011). Lankes (2011) argues that the terms ‘library’ and ‘librarian’ are entwined with the concept of knowledge and learning. I have said before that those claiming disruption should embrace interrogation of their ideas. Does ‘library’ need to be disrupted, in what ways, and why (or why not)?

My Learning – It has been fascinating following Greg Miller’s thinking in regards to the construct of learning. There are many assumptions that go unquestioned in schools, I am finding that as I discuss reporting with more people. This move towards self-directed learning reminds me of the work going on at Geelong College and Templestowe College. My wonder is how we manage to marry these changes with various expectations, such as timetables.

As students progress through Years 8, 9 & 10 in the coming years, there will increasingly be more and more time for students to self direct their Personalised Curriculum. This may include, but is not limited to: Acceleration of core curriculum subjects leading to early commencement of HSC in one or two subjects. If required, intervention strategies for those students who do not meet minimum national benchmark standards for literacy and numeracy. Early commencement of VET (Vocational and Educational Training) subjects either at school or through TAFE. Participation in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), completion of digital badge courses or informal internships with local industry experts and ‘start ups’. Self-directed electives and collaborative projects as a result of students working with teachers with the following provocation: Knowing my Strengths, Motivations and Interests (SIM), how can I use my identified talents and affirmed capabilities to ensure a better world?

How to Write an Edu-book – Alex Quigley discusses his six steps to writing a book. In addition to the reflections from Mary Myatt, Tom Sherrington and Ryan Holiday, they offer a useful insight into the writing process. It is interesting to compare these with the process often taught in schools. Students often get straight into writing without being given initial planning time.

I wanted to share my own edu-bookery. It is important to state that for me, regular blogging and writing separate to a book is an excellent mental work-bench for writing a book, offering me the discipline needed to write habitually and at length. Still, my book writing process is really quite specific and I have fell upon a helpful habit in writing my latest book.

Assessing Assessment for Digital Making – Oliver Quinlan discusses the challenges associated with Black and Wiliam’s work on feedback and digital technologies. In the absence of defined criteria, he suggests using comparative judgement where feedback is gained by comparing with a similar object.

Comparative Judgement is a field relatively new to education practice that offers huge potential for this problem. It’s based on well established research that humans are relatively poor at making objective judgements about individual objects, but very good at making comparisons. Play a musical note to most people and ask them what it is and they will struggle. Play them two notes and ask them which is higher and they are likely to be successful. Repeat this several times, with a clever algorithm to keep track and present them with the right combinations and you can come up with a ranking. These rankings have been shown to be very reliable, even more so if you involve several people as ‘judges’.

Edtech

A comment made in the Q & A after boyd's keynote
Image via “Lego on Facebook” by amarois is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via danah boyd

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? – danah boyd discusses concerns about the weaponising of media literacy through denalism and says that there is a need for cognitive strengthening. Benjamin Doxtdator raises the concern that focusing on the individual. Instead he suggests considering the technical infrastructure. Maha Bali argues that we need aspects of both. In a response to the various criticisms, boyd admits that she is not completely sold on the solution, but we need to start somewhere.

One of the things that is funny is that these technologies get designed for a very particular idea of what they could be used for and then they twist in different ways.

Typing Tips: The How and Why of Teaching Students Keyboarding Skills – Kathleen Morris reflects on the place of typing in schools. She collects together a number of sites used to teach typing. It feels like we spend so much time debating handwriting sometimes that we forget about typing. Airelle Pardes suggests that the lack of a keyboard (and therefore typing) is one of the major reasons for the demise of the iPad in education. The discussion of typing also reminds me of a post from Catherine Gatt from a few years ago associated with assessing typing.

There are so many great games and online tools designed for younger students. Once students begin recognising the alphabet, I think they can begin learning to type. This can complement your teaching of traditional writing and literacy.

On the Need for Phone Free Classrooms – Pernille Ripp shares why her class will become phone free. A part of this problem is that the compulsive behaviour of social media and smart phones is by design. Douglas Rushkoff’s argues that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Mike Niehoff’s concern is what happens in the future when people have not learnt independance and moderation?

I know that I have pushed the use of phones in our classrooms before on this blog, how I have written about using them purposefully, but I will no longer subscribe to the notion that when kids use their phones it is only because they are bored. It is too easy to say that if teachers just created relevant and engaging lessons then no child would use their phones improperly in our rooms. That’s not it, all of us with devices have had our attention spans rewired to constantly seek stimulus. To instantly seek something other than what we are doing. To constantly seek something different even if what we are doing is actually interesting. And not because what we seek out is so much better, look at most people’s Snapchat streaks and you will see irrelevant images of tables and floors and half faces simply to keep a streak alive. It is not that our students are leaving our teaching behind at all times because they are bored, it is more because many of us, adults and children alike, have lost the ability to focus on anything for a longer period of time.

PressED – A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter – This online conference involves 45 presenters across 12 hours posting 10 to 20 tweets each at a scheduled time. Although many have also shared posts corresponding with their presentations (Alan Levine, Tom Woodward, Jim Groom and John Johnston), you can also go back through the tweets. One of the things that stands out is the use of the different addordances, such as graphics and GIFs.

I’ve been to conferences that used a hashtag, but this is my first conference that is a hashtag (Jim Groom)

Dear IndieWeb, it may be time to start considering the user, not just the technical spec – Eli Mellen wonders if the answer to extending the #IndieWeb is in considering the user. I think that this is part of the challenge. Mark Pospesel discusses about reducing friction, while Cory Doctorow suggests that we need to reconsider which technologies we use. Whatever the particulars, it will take a collective response to move the #IndieWeb from the hipster-web to a “demonstratably better web

Whereas “[e]ach generation is expected to lower barriers for adoption successively for the next generation” I wonder if it is maybe time to update some of the tooling from generation 1 and 2 to be more compatible with generations 3 and 4?

Why the PDF Is Secretly the World’s Most Important File Format – Along with David Brock’s investigation into Powerpoint, this article is important in reminding us of two things, that things have not always been the way that they are and the way we got to now. Maybe we should demand better? Or maybe we need to spend more time reflecting on the past.

The story of the invention of the PDF may not have a legal battle at the center of it or a hook like a Suzanne Vega song to push its story forward, but it does have this scandal. And love it or hate it, Manafort’s awkward use of a tool used by basically everyone really highlights how prevalent the PDF really is.

Storytelling and Reflection

Image via “Happy Little Trees” by nolnet is licensed under CC BY-NC
Quote via Austin Kleon ‘How to Keep Going’ https://collect.readwriterespond.com/austin-kleon-bond-2018/

How to Keep Going – Austin Kleon reflects on the life of an artist and outlines ten things to consider in order to keep on going. Some of his suggestions include treating everyday like Groundhog day, building a bliss station and going for a walk to scar of the demons. Some other tips for staying focused include Jenny Mackness’ reflection that the last step does not matter, Jeff Haden’s suggestions that planning for a holiday is more beneficial than the holiday or Seth Godin’s reminder that the goal is change, not credit.

Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I actually feel better when I accept the fact that there’s a good chance it’s not going to get easier. Then I can focus on this question: “How to keep going?” Whether you’ve burned out, just starting out, starting over, or even if you’ve had success beyond your wildest dreams, that question always remains: “How do you keep going?”

Excellent teachers in an age of fads – Mark Esner suggests that many teachers will often make anything work to a degree. What is really needed is time for teachers to study how students learn, as well as time to reflect on their processes together. John Spencer describes this as a food truck mindset. Some similar approaches designed to support teachers with structures, rather than solutions, include Modern Learning Canvas, Agile Leadership and Disciplined Collaboration.

Many things that get labelled as “fads” might work for an individual teacher (although many things might work better) but they only become fads when divorced from their original meaning and then are spread around and are imposed on other teachers. Teachers, being brilliant, are able to make these things work as best they can, or at least to minimise harm, but they still have an opportunity cost. Worst still they add to our workload and drive teachers out of teaching.

Metrics, Thy Name is Vanity – Harold Jarche reflects on turning Google Analytics off. He instead suggests that the metric that matters (for him) is how many books he sells and how many people sign up to his courses. He gives the example of a course that had hundreds of likes and reposts, yet only one person actually registered. This has me thinking about which metric matters to me and the way in which I engage with others. Maybe Doug Belshaw is right in creating a committed group of supporters?

About a year ago I deleted Google Analytics from this website. I no longer know where visitors come from, what they find interesting, or what they click on. This has liberated my thinking and I believe has made my writing a bit better. I always wrote for myself but I would regularly peak at my statistics. Was my viewership going up? What did people read? How did they get there? What search terms were people using? — Who cares? There are a lot of numbers that ‘social media experts’ will tell you to maximize. But there are few that make any difference.

TER #109 – How large-scale tests affect school management with Marten Koomen – 04 March 2018 – In this interview, Marten Koomen addresses the question of how Victoria went from a state that was a leader in content knowledge and democratic values to the launch of a content-free platform driven by the terror of performativity? (My attempt at notes here.) This continues a conversation started last year. For me, this touches on Audrey Watter’s point about technology as a system.

We are all part collectivist, individualists neoliberals and skeptics, so to identify in one corner is disingenuous.

The male glance: how we fail to take women’s stories seriously – podcast – Lili Loofbourow rewrites the wrong that has male art is epic, universal, and profoundly meaningful, while Women’s creations as domestic, emotional and trivial. This critique has ramifications far beyond fiction.

Consider this a rational corrective to centuries of dismissive shrugs, then: look for the gorilla. Do what we already automatically do with male art: assume there is something worthy and interesting hiding there. If you find it, admire it. And outline it, so that others will see it too. Once you point it out, we’ll never miss it again. And we will be better for seeing as obvious and inevitable something that previously – absent the instructions – we simply couldn’t perceive.

FOCUS ON … Cambridge Analytica

A quote from Paul Ford on the toxic data spill
Image via “CIMG5200” by Phil LaCombe is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via Paul Ford https://collect.readwriterespond.com/how-to-fix-facebooks-data-breach/

This month saw the revelation of the ways in which Cambridge Analytica used and abused data scraped from Facebook to nudge voters in the 2016 election. It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new era. In part this reminds me of the changes in the way people saw things after Snowden. Thinking about Doug Belshaw’s web timeline, maybe this will mark a new era of informed consent. Here then is a collection of responses to the current crisis.

Background

Responses

Alternative Solutions


READ WRITE RESPOND #027

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? Otherwise, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📓 The Producers: Jack Antonoff

I have long been interested in the role of the producer in regards to influencing music and culture. Whether it be Mark Ronson, The Neptunes, Timbaland and Stuart Price. Here then is a collection of notes on Jack Antonoff:

Tiny Desk Concert

Bleachers performed on NPR Tiny Desk Concert. This stripped back concert includes a number of reimaginings, such as including Don’t Take the Money with Radio Gaga.

Making of Don’t Take the Money

Jack Antonoff reflects on the making of “Don’t Take the Money”. He provides an insight into the challenge of getting out the sound inside your head with the tools and skills at your disposal. Condensed into eight minutes, this overlooks the reality that such creations can take a considerable amount of time to develop.

Bleachers & PS22

A performance of “I Wanna Get Better” featuring Antonoff and the PS22 choir.

PK in the Morning Interview

Jack Antonoff‏ reflects on the making of “Look What You Made Me Do”. Hearing the song on the radio for the first time, he provides a commentary sharing the thinking to some of the sounds and choices. He also reflects on the life of an artist, including the following:

“You know a song is done when you run to back it up with the hard drive”

“Music is meant to be a mini-documentary of that moment”

“Start young, because then you have longer before you have that conversation”

“You can’t learn it so just get out there and do it”

Beats 1

Jack Antonoff and Zane Lowe on Beats 1 discuss the Bleachers album Gone Now. Interesting quotes:

“No one hates anyone enough to go out there and buy a ticket to heckle them at the show, therefore when I am on tour I feel like I am with my people” (3:00)

“Writing is the most powerless process … you wait, you sit and you pray” (5:00)

“I want to work with people because they think that they are geniuses, not because I want make the albums that they have already made” (8:00)

“It took my whole career to find out that it is all an accident … Fun was a big accident” (9:00)

“The success you get, the more people are listening, the more you need to take care of them” (25:00)

Entertainment Weekly

Step Into Jack Antonoff’s Pop Laboratory, Where He Makes The Music Happen

“It’s sad and sounds like a party at the same time”

Bill Nye

Jack Antonoff talks with Bill Nye about rollercoastering. Nye explains the dopamine rush associated with going on a rollercoaster. They also talk about what is means to exist.

Larry King Now

Jack Antonoff on “Larry King Now”

“I was born in 84′, I became conscious in the early 90’s” (9:00)

“1+1 = 1 Million” Antonoff on writing with others

WTF Podcast

A conversation between Jack Antonoff and Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast

“If I got a TV the first thing that I would do is throw away the manual and then spend seven years working out how to turn it on” (127)

“I don’t want to get to involved in the computer stuff … I don’t want to get away from what the song is” (127)

WRBU

In an interview on WRBU, Jack Antonoff deconstructs the confusing logic of The Little Mermaid and why when you are playing in an arena you want to create an intimate experience, as well as vice versa.

When you play in a small venue you want to give people the arena experience and when you play an arena you want to give people the small venue experience

Drugs spin certain wheels in your head that are already spinning

📰 eLearn Update (February 2018)

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

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Docs

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

Drawings

Geo Tools

YouTube

Photos

  • Capture more of your favorite moments with Google Clips – Google announces the release of Clips, a new type of camera that captures the moments that happen in between posed pictures by using on-device machine learning to look for great facial expressions from the people—and pets—in your life. It turns these into short clips without you having to use video editing software.

General

📰 Read Write Respond #026

My Month of February

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

Learning and Teaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edtech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storytelling and Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOCUS ON … Polarisation

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

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

READ WRITE RESPOND #026

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

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

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Cover image via JustLego101.

🎧 On Foreign Aid (Future Tense)

Eleven Chinese warships reportedly sailed into the East Indian Ocean this month, amid a constitutional crisis and state of emergency in the Maldives. In part, this is claimed to be in connection with aid.

As Future Tense captured in the first of a two part series, China is an emerging player when it comes to overseas aid. The problem with this is that much of it is not actually ‘aid’ money. As Brad Park explains:

China actually provides a lot of state financing that is more commercially oriented and is provided market terms or close to market terms. And so much of the money in fact that is going to Russia is not aid in the strict sense of the term, they are loans offered on close to market rates, and China is offering those loans in part because it’s one of the world’s largest net creditors, it’s sitting on very large reserves, it wants to earn an attractive financial return on its capital, and so it has an aggressive overseas lending programs. So China wants those loans to be repaid with interest.

This is also a part of China’s growing international expansion.

In part two, Samantha Custer, Abhijit Banerjee and Stephen Howes discuss the sustainable development goals developed by the United Nations. These provides the policy and guidance for how aid should be spent.

📓 Demagoguery

Reflecting on the state of democracy, Branko Milanovic looks back at the work of those like Max Weber and the concept of demagoguery:

These old-school writers were also very astute about the political science of demagoguery, which Weber defined as manipulation of the electorate through proffering of unrealistic promises. He thought the rise of demagogues was specific to Western political culture; it was a potentially dangerous side effect of democracy. Demagoguery appeared, according to Weber, first in the Mediterranean city-states and then spread to Western parliamentary systems through the role of party leaders.source

Wikipedia defines a demagogue as:

A leader in a democracy who gains popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the common people, whipping up the passions of the crowd and shutting down reasoned deliberation Demagogues overturn established customs of political conduct, or promise or threaten to do so.source