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📰 Read Write Respond #029

Read Write Respond 029

My Month of May

This month I realised the limitations to using a priority matrix to organise my work. It was not capturing the different facets of my work, such as reporting, online portal, attendance and timetable. I am still organising my work around priorities, I have just taken to representing this in a spreadsheet, therefore allowing me to filter it in various ways. I still am not quite settled on this, but it will do for now

In regards to other aspects of work I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by Hilary Hollingsworth on ACER’s work on reporting. I have also been helping some schools with the implementation of various administrative applications focusing on interviews and excursions. The more I do the more I realise how much of what is ‘transformative’ is built upon a raft of invisible parts that build to make the complex systems, which we so easily take for granted.

On the family front, my girls have taken to belting out duets together, even in the middle of the shops. Although the youngest one cannot keep up with every word of every line, she gives it a go. In general, it is fascinating watching them learn together.

Personally, I have found myself spending more time bookmarking and collecting my thoughts, rather than crafting long forms. It was interesting to read Doug Belshaw reflect upon this with his own writing. I think that Ian O’Byrne captures this best when he explains the interrelated nature of the different spaces.


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


Here then are some of the thoughts and ideas that have also left me thinking:

Learning and Teaching

21 simple design elements

21 simple design elements that will make any School Assessment Task sheet accessible: Haley Tancredi, Jill Willis, Kelli McGraw and Linda Graham reflect on the assessment task sheet so common in the secondary classroom. Responding to the challenge of accessibility, they collect together a number of elements to support all students. This list is organised around visuals, clarity and directions.

Access can be made easier or more difficult depending on the way the assessment task is presented; both in terms of visual presentation and in terms of the language used. The number and type of procedures required can also differentially affect students’ successful completion of the task. This approach to analysis helped us to produce a list of recommended design elements that will be useful to teachers as they plan and write up their assessment tasks.

Civix Releases New Online Media Literacy Videos: Mike Caulfield shares a series of videos summarising his work on Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. Although it only touches on the basics, it still provides a useful introduction to the ‘Four Moves’ approach. Caulfield has also started a project associated with local newspapers that is worth checking out.

As I say — it’s the internet — you’re not stuck with that one story that comes to you. By going out and actively choosing a better story you will not only filter out false stories but also see the variety of ways an event is being covered.

When words won’t suffice: behavior as communication: Benjamin Doxtdator unpacks behaviour in the classroom. He touches on knowing your child, student choices and systemic inequalities. This is a useful post to read and critically reflect upon various practices and pedagogies. I think that it all starts with the language that we choose. Chris Friend also considers the influence of language in regards to learning management systems and assessment. In regards to behaviour, Riss Leung compares dog training with her classroom experiences.

Just as I try (and sometimes fail) to de-center myself when addressing student misbehavior, I try to de-center myself when I write. The vast majority of the students that I teach won’t be racially profiled in a behavior policy or by the police and that’s why I think it is especially important for me to seek out literature that reflects on those systemic injustices.

Learning for learning’s sake: Austin Kleon responds to the challenge associated with ‘learning for learning’s sake’. He suggests that we need to invest in hobbies and curiosity, just as much as we focus on ‘return on investment’. This reminds me of Amy Burvall’s point that “in order to connect dots, one must first have the dots”. Thinking about luck, Janice Kaplan discusses the importance of engaging with curiosity. Diane Kashen suggests we need more messy play.

Setting aside the importance of hobbies and the amateur spirit, what worries me the most is this faulty idea that you should only spend time learning about things if they have a definite “ROI.” Creative people are curious people, and part of being a creative person is allowing yourself the freedom to let your curiosity lead you down strange, divergent paths. You just cannot predict how what you learn will end up “paying off” later.Who’s to say what is and what isn’t professional development? (An audited calligraphy class winds up changing the design of computers, etc.)

Forget the checkout: what about the plastic clogging supermarket aisles?: Nicola Heath reports on the current plastic crisis in Australia. Although every state has agreed to ban single use bags, the real problem that needs to be addressed is in the aisles and aisles of pre-packaged food. Although the impact of plastics on our ocean has been well reported, it seems that there is a significant impact on our fresh water lakes too. Studies have found microplastics in drinking water, beer and honey. I wonder if the solution starts with school and education?

Some, like the Greens, argue manufacturers and retailers need to take more responsibility for the lifecycle of their packaging. “Product stewardship” and extended producer responsibility (EPR) requires manufacturers to factor the disposal of packaging into its design and production.

The Brick Wall: When I taught robotics I would show my students a video involving the use of a simple Lego kit in a science laboratory as a point of inspiration. The Brick Wall takes these possibilities to a whole new level, providing a collection of videos useful for thinking about what is possible in regards to programming, Lego and robotics. Some other series and collections that I have stumbled upon lately include the New York Times’ podcast Caliphate, which explores the world of ISIS, as well as Amy Burvall’s creativity vlogs as a part of the #LDvid30 project.

Edtech

Better Visions of Ourselves

Better visions of ourselves: Human futures, user data, & The Selfish Ledger: Ian O’Byrne reflects on the internal video produced by Google Project X focusing on speculative design the notion of a ledger that does not actually belong to the user, but managed by some grand AI. Although this was designed as a case of ‘what if’, it is a reminder of what could happen. It therefore provides a useful provocation, especially in light of Cambridge Analytica and GDPR. O’Byrne suggests that this is an opportunity to take ownership of our ledger, something in part captured by the #IndieWeb movement. Not sure what this means for our digitally proficient three year olds. Douglas Rushkoff makes the case for including less on the ledger, not more.

I think there is a reasoned response to technopanic. Perhaps a sense of techno agency is necessary. Now more than ever, faster than ever, technology is driving change. The future is an unknown, and that scares us. However, we can overcome these fears and utilize these new technologies to better equip ourselves and steer us in a positive direction.

How an Algorithmic World Can Be Undermined: danah boyd continues her investigation of algorithms and the way in which our data is being manipulated. She did this at re:publica 2018. This is very much a wicked problem with no clear answer. The Data & Society Research Institute have also published a primer on the topic. I wonder if it starts by being aware of the systemic nature of it all? Alternatively, Jamie Williams and Lena Gunn provide five questions to consider when using algorithms. Om Malik highlights the focus of algorithms focus on most over best. Jim Groom also presented at re:publica 2018 on Domain of One’s Own and Edupunk.

It’s not necessarily their [technologies] intentions but the structure and configuration that causes the pain

Truth in an age of truthiness: when bot-fueled PsyOps meet internet spam: Kris Shaffer continues his work in regards to bots, unpacking the way in which our attention is hijacked through attempts to influence and advertise. It is important to appreciate the mechanics behind these things for they are the same mechanics that those on social media engage with each and every day. One of the points that Shaffer (and Mike Caulfield) make is that whether something is true or not, continual viewing will make such ideas more familiar and strangely closer to the truth.

Harald D. Lasswell wrote that the function of propaganda is to reduce the material cost of power. On a social-media platform, that cost-reduction comes in many forms. By their very existence, the platforms already reduce both the labor and the capital required to access both information and an audience. Automated accounts further reduce the cost of power, for those who know how to game the algorithm and evade detection long enough to carry out a campaign.

Email Is Dangerous: Quinn Norton takes a dive into the mechanics of email. She continues to remind us how everything is broken, Norton gives a history of email and many of its inherent flaws. This comes on the back of the latest discovery of bugs associated with supposed encrypted email.

Email has changed since then, but not much. Most of what’s changed in the last 45 years is email clients—the software we use to access email. They’ve clumsily bolted on new functionality onto the old email, without fixing any of the underlying protocols to support that functionality.

Programming with Scratch – An educator guide: Anthony Speranza provides an introduction to Scratch. An often underrated application, Scratch provides an insight into some of the ways that the web works, particularly in regards to ‘blocks’. Sometimes it feels as if you are not really coding unless you are working with some form of language. The problem is that this is not how the world works. More often than not it is about building on the ideas (and snippets) of others. Look at WordPress’ move to Gutenberg. In addition to this, we interact with ‘blocks’ each and everyday in the applications and sites that we use. One only needs to use something like Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles to start realising that inherent complexity within the web. For more insight into Scratch, listen to Gary Stager on the Modern Learners podcast.

Scratch is a graphical programming language and online community where users can program and share interactive media such as stories, games and animations. Whilst it is targeted at 8 to 16 year olds, anyone of any age can write a program in Scratch.

The platform patrons: How Facebook and Google became two of the biggest funders of journalism in the world: Mathew Ingram reports on the increasing influence of platforms on the news industry. Google has been really pushing into journalism lately, with the further investment of News Lab and the Digital News Initiative, as well as the ability to subscribe using your Google account. This in part seems to be in response to Facebook’s problems. It is interesting considering this alongside discussions of the history of news and the long association with advertising.

Both Google and Facebook may argue—and may even believe—that they simply want to help increase the supply of quality journalism in the world. But the fact remains that they are not just disinterested observers. They are multibillion-dollar entities that compete directly with media companies for the attention of users, and for the wallets of every advertising company that used to help support the business model of journalism. Their funding and assistance can’t be disentangled from their conflicted interests, no matter how much they wish it could.

Storytelling and Reflection

Lanclos on Digital Capabilities

What We Talk About When We Talk About Digital Capabilities: In a keynote at the UCISA Digital Capabilities event at Warwick University, Donna Lanclos unpacks the effect of analytics and the problems of profiling when trying to identify improvements. A skills approach is an issue when decisions get made on your behalf based on the results of a preconceived checklist. Lanclos suggests that we need to go beyond the inherent judgments of contained within metaphors and deficit models, and instead start with context.

The history of Anthropology tells us that categorizing people is lesser than understanding them. Colonial practices were all about the describing and categorizing, and ultimately, controlling and exploiting. It was in service of empire, and anthropology facilitated that work. It shouldn’t any more, and it doesn’t have to now. You don’t need to compile a typology of students or staff. You need to engage with them.

Citizen of Apple, State of Lego: Julian Stodd explores the evolving idea of ‘citizenship’. Whereas it was defined by geography and culture in the past, Stodd wonders if in the future it will be subscription based. Rather than depending on the state and taxes to provide societies infrastructures, we now rely on the various multi-national platforms, such as Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google. This reminds me of the conversation that was had recently around being a citizen of the #IndieWeb. If states lose their sway, I wonder if this opens up other alternatives? This is something Aral Balkan touches upon. I wonder what this means for rituals or habits.

Imagine a future state, one of multiple citizenships, so i can be a Citizen of the UK, a Citizen of Apple, and a Citizen of Lego, not traversing physical borders to move from one to the other, but rather conceptual, or internalised ones. Each providing real utility, it’s own type of ‘space’, and each giving us it’s own component of culture. Perhaps in this model, ‘Culture’ becomes a meta entity that we each construct, through a combination of our geolocation within space, and our subscriptions online.

School is One Spoke in the Wheel of Learning & Why This is a Critical Insight for the Future of Education: Bernard Bull reflects on what people need to stay current in a job, shift to a similar job, develop skills that transfer to work environments, move into leadership within one’s field, or make a full career shift. To support this, he provides a series of questions to consider. I wonder where the second wave of MOOCs sits within all of this?

If we are looking at learning across the lifetime today, we need to think beyond the teacher/student and schooling constructs. Education is already larger than that. This is no different from recognizing that health and wellness is about so much more than a patient/doctor interaction. These professionals do and will continue to play a valuable role, but limiting many of our conversations about education to these formal contexts is inadequate for the challenges and opportunities of our age. In fact, it has always been inadequate. Formal education has a role to play today and in the future, but it is one of many spokes in the lifelong learning wheel.

The risks of treating ‘academic innovation’ as a discipline: Rolin Moe argues that we need to recognise the often negative history associated with ‘innovation’ in the way that we use it. If we don’t do this we risk the word being simply an emotive tool. This touches upon Audrey Watters message to respect history, rather than live in the ever present that so many try to perpetuate.

Negotiating the future we want with the history we have is vital in order to determine the best structure to support the development of an inventive network for creating research-backed, criticism-engaged and outside-the-box approaches to the future of education. The energy behind what we today call academic innovation needs to be put toward problematizing and unraveling the causes of the obstacles facing the practice of educating people of competence and character, rather than focusing on the promotion of near-future technologies and their effect on symptomatic issues.

12 tips for great speaking: Steve Wheeler provides some useful tips and reflections on the art of the keynote. They include use humour, minimal text, engage with your audience, don’t speak too quickly, repeat key points and only stick to three of them. In part, this reminds me of Presentation Zen and the idea of a minimalist slidedeck, while Emma Cottier also wrote an interesting post share a range of tips and tricks associated with Google Slides. Although not necessarily about ‘keynotes’, Andrew Denton recently shared some tips for a better conversation that I think relate to this conversation, including be respectful and empathise with the interviewee (or audience).

If you are lucky enough to be invited to address an audience of your peers at a conference, a lot will depend on what you say and the manner in which you say it. You want your speech to be memorable, inspiring and thought provoking. You’ll also need to be convincing if you want to put your arguments across effectively. So I’ll share some of the top tips I recommend for keynote speakers.

Burden of Proof: Malcolm Gladwell wonders how much ‘proof’ we need in order to do something about CTE, a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries. Gladwell’s focuses on Owen Thomas and his suicide in 2010. In regards to the question of breaking point, there was no reference of Aaron Hernandez, whose case involves murder and suicide. I wonder how long until this becomes a case in AFL?

Sometimes proof is just another word for letting people suffer.

Gonski review reveals another grand plan to overhaul education: but do we really need it?: Glenn Savage has written, recorded and been interviewed about the new Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. He raises a number of questions, including whether the new report addresses the question of inequality, is ‘personalised teaching’ worth the money and investment, is the educational sector exhausted by continual reform agendas and do the recommendations really address what is happening in the classroom? In other spaces, both Andrea Stringer and Deborah Netolicky have highlighted the potential in providing more time for teachers to collaborate. Greg Miller argues that we need to wrestle with how to assess the capabilities, rather than continue to work where the next silver bullet for literacy and numeracy is. Peter Hutton shares concerns about testing the capabilities. Gabrielle Stroud sees it as the industrial model of accountability rebadged, where a teacher’s relationship with their students is trumped by a test. Netolicky also raises concern about the lack of trust for teachers. Darcy Moore describes the whole affair as a never-ending rebuilding of The Windmill. Ann Caro rues the missed opportunity associated with equitable funding of education in Australia with this clear change in direction.

We need to (once again) question whether the contemporary reform fever does any more than treat symptoms while deeper structural conditions continue to ensure, as the original Gonski report put it, unacceptable links between young people’s socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of achievement. We need to be careful not to stray too far from where the first Gonski report started out. That is: addressing inequalities in Australian schooling through re-distributive funding.

t’s time to be honest with parents about NAPLAN: your child’s report is misleading, here’s how: It was that time of year again, when the whole nation stops for NAPLAN. There has been a range of posts shared. One that stood out was from Nicole Mockler She summarises Margaret Wu’s work around the limitations to NAPLAN in regards to statistical testing. Moving forward, Mockler suggests that NAPLAN should become a sample based test (like PISA) and is better suited as a tool for system wide analysis. To me, there is a strange balance, for on the one hand many agree that NAPLAN is flawed, yet again and again we return to it as a source of ‘truth’.

At the national level, however, the story is different. What NAPLAN is good for, and indeed what it was originally designed for, is to provide a national snapshot of student ability, and conducting comparisons between different groups (for example, students with a language background other than English and students from English-speaking backgrounds) on a national level.
This is important data to have. It tells us where support and resources are needed in particular. But we could collect the data we need this by using a rigorous sampling method, where a smaller number of children are tested (a sample) rather than having every student in every school sit tests every few years. This a move that would be a lot more cost effective, both financially and in terms of other costs to our education system.

FOCUS ON … GDPR

Searls on adtech

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). Adopted on 14 April 2016, it became enforceable on 25 May 2018. Here then is a collection of posts exploring what it all means. Although not exhaustive, it provides a starting point:

READ WRITE RESPOND #029

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? Otherwise, for those concerned about privacy and sharing thier email address, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📓 Neartopias

Reflecting on the extremes of utopian and dystopian imaginings, Mike Caulfield calls for another possibility, Neartopias:

Neartopias are not utopias. They have problems. They have to have problems because problems are what drive plots. And on another level problems are just interesting in a way that non-problems are not. They also aren’t post-scarcity Star Treks, or visions of a perfect 6030 A.D. They are “near”-utopias both in the sense that they lack perfection and in that they seem near-enough to be achievable.

Neartopias also have blindspots. Each neartopia pulls from cultural assumptions that will be eventually — like all things — be revealed as problematic. The Golden Age of sci-fi produced some neartopias, for instance, but had a relationship with technological progress and industry, for example, that was — well, let’s say underdeveloped.source

📓 Ideology

Ideology is often used as a criticism, however, as Greg Thompson explains, saying something is ‘ideological’ misses the point:

I read it, everything we believe is already ideological because we are necessarily social (for example, through language). Saying this, however, does not imply that any position held is necessarily right or wrong, rather that within the ontological and epistemological assumptions of any belief system ideology invariable precedes consciousness. For this reason, I don’t mind being called ideological (of course I am) or suggesting that others are ideological (of course they are).source

Bernard Bull adds his own take on ideology:

I’ve come across this countless times in education, with any number of stakeholders declaring that the problem with education is ideology. If only we focused on scientific and evidence-based practice, then education would be in great shape. Only that statement represents an ideologysource

French Marxist Louis Althusser argued in his paper Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses that there is no beyond or outside within which we can exist. Instead, we are always already interpellated, called into existence.

Thus ideology hails or interpellates individuals as subjects. As ideology is eternal, I must now suppress the temporal form in which I have presented the functioning of ideology, and say: ideology has always-already interpellated individuals as subjects, which amounts to making it clear that individuals are always-already interpellated by ideology as subjects, which necessarily leads us to one last proposition: individuals are always-already subjects. Hence individuals are ‘abstract’ with respect to the subjects which they always already are. This proposition might seem paradoxical. source

Adding to this, Althusser highlights that there is no point outside of ideology:

What thus seems to take place outside ideology (to be precise, in the street), in reality takes place in ideology. What really takes place in ideology seems therefore to take place outside it. That is why those who are in ideology believe themselves by definition outside ideology: one of the effects of ideology is the practical
denial of the ideological character of ideology by ideology: ideology never says, “I am ideological.” Source

Coming from a different perspective, Michael Foucault discusses the challenges of identity in Archaeology of Knowledge where he states:

Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same: leave it to our bureaucrats and our police to see that our papers are in order. At least spare us their morality when we write.

📓 Signals

In a reflection on engaging with the #IndieWeb, Ian O’Byrne unpacks the signals that we share online, both seen and unseen:

In a digital space, we also create and share signals. For most people, these signals are very distinct. They include tweets or posts that you share on social networks. They also include your reactions (likes, favorites, love, haha, wow, angry, sad).

Many more of your signals are unseen, or at least unseen to you. These signals include metadata, or “data about data” that tracks you as you move across the web. This metadata could be descriptive, structural, or administrative. A good way to think about this is the card catalog system in a library. You have the actual book, but then you also have information in a system about the title, abstract, author and keywords (descriptive). The card catalog system will also include information about how many pages and chapters are included in the table of contents (structural). The library will also save information about whether the book is checked out, who last checked it out, and where is it located on the stacks if it is still available (administrative).

Discussing the act of sharing online, Donelle Batty poses some questions to consider to help reflect on our own signals:

So are you in control of the story of you? Before you even start sharing life events, your opinion and the ever loved cat video, you need to consider the social spaces you are in, what settings (and personal boundaries) you are putting in place to determine who sees your content and thoughts. You see social media is a great tool for connecting with people. It is through connecting with others (be it random or deliberate) that we gain insights into peoples lives, insights that we may not have had access to before. When we gain an insight into someones life is it what we expect? Is it something that makes you feel uncomfortable or comfortable? Does it change the way you interact with them? Let’s now flip the question and ask what might the perception be of you by those who follow, friend or connect with you?

📰 Read Write Respond #028

My Month of April

At work, I have continued the development of a flexible reporting solution. A part of this has involved trying to streamline the user interface, as well as testing out various scenarios. I also went to the #EdTechTeam Summit in Canberra and presented on Ongoing Reporting.

On the family front, I have continued to feed my daughter’s pop sensibilities. (Cue 80’s synths.) She often believes she has heard a song on the radio, when in fact it was me playing it. Although, it has me doing a second take on some of the lyrics. Not young forever, especially when you listen to the radio.

Personally, I have been continuing my dive into ‘intention’, cleaning up some of my online accounts. I saved all my Evernote notes and closed the account, while I am in the process of cleaning up my Facebook site. I never knew it was so easy to delete old posts. I was also lucky enough to meet Amy Burvall in Canberra and attend a few of her sessions. Inspiring online, even more inspiring in person.

Amy Burvall and I at EdTechTeam Summit in Canberra

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


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

Learning and Teaching

Quote about reporting
Quote via Hilary Hollingsworth and Jonathan Heard ‘Does the Old School Report Have a Future?’
Image via “Albert Einstein” by Dunechaser https://flickr.com/photos/dunechaser/567753250 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Does the old school report have a future? – Hilary Hollingsworth and Jonathan Heard provide some background to student reporting in Australia. One of the challenges they highlight is the difference between progress and achievement. I have a long history with reporting, one challenge not addressed in this post are the constraints put in place by the platforms and providers of the reporting packages. It would seem that ongoing reporting provides more flexibility. My question is what the future holds for biannual and ongoing reporting, especially in light of ‘Gonski 2.0?

When considering the utility and purpose of student reports, it is important to distinguish what it is exactly that teachers are asked to report. The words ‘achievement’ and ‘progress’ are often used interchangeably in student reports and conflated to mean the same thing. Indeed they are highly related concepts; it is often through tracking one’s achievements that a sense of one’s progress can be measured. However, if achievement is taken only to mean the grades, scores or marks received on summative assessment tasks, then progress often appears only to mean whether the child’s standard of achievement (their grades) is improving, maintaining or declining. Where progress is understood differently – to mean ‘increasing “proficiency” reflected in more extensive knowledge, deeper understandings and higher-level skills within a domain of learning’ (Masters, 2017) – an emphasis only on reporting achievement on summative assessments would give very little sense of a child’s progress from where they began.

Establishing a Culture of Thinking – Cameron Paterson provides a useful introduction to Ron Ritchhart’s Cultures of Thinking and the notion of documentation. Along with Silvia Tolisano and Diane Kashin, I have written about Project Zero and the routines of thinking before. I was also left thinking about the power of documentation during a recent session with Amy Burvall, where we critiqued our creative thinking. However, Cameron’s post left me wondering the place of thinking and documentation outside of the classroom?

Some simple ways to begin practicing documentation include:

  • Sharing a short video clip of documentation at the start of class or a meeting by displaying a brief clip and then asking students their thoughts about it.
  • Taking a photo of an especially powerful learning moment to revisit with students by using the classroom walls to display the documentation.
  • Jotting down a provocative or insightful quote from a student to share with the class via speech bubbles on the walls.

Editing is Everything – Dani Veven creates alternative trailers for movies. Changing the scenes, lighting and audio, she demonstrates the power of editing. Her work is a useful resource for understanding the choice of what to include and exclude, as well as understanding the tropes associated with the different genres.

I create out-of-context trailers from YouTubers’ videos and movies.

Wild About Books – Kim Yeomans has started a new blog to share books for young readers. Along with Bianca Hewes’ Instagram account @JimmyReadsBooks, Pernille Ripp’s collections and Brad Gustafson’s Championship of Booktalks, these sites are useful when looking for new titles.

The Wild about books blog is a place for me to continue to share books I have enjoyed reading as well as letting you know about author or bookish events that make reading even more fun.

Edtech

Image via Tom Woodward
Quote via Tom Woodward ‘Social Media Jujutsu’
Image via “[114/365] Waterfall” by pasukaru76 https://flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/5285725875 is licensed under CC CC0

Social Media Jujutsu – Tom Woodward reflects on the stresses of social media and shares a number of tools for mitigating the harm. This includes add-ons which hide Twitter metrics and tools which adjust your language. He also touches on some strategies, such as commenting on sites more than social media. Depending on your platform, I would recommend exploring the #IndieWeb and activating webmentions. Something Ian O’Byrne has recently jumped into. Micro.blog also offers a simple #IndieWeb entry point to claiming the web, especially in regards to RSS.

Jujutsu is a martial art focused on using your opponent’s momentum against them– clever redirection of force rather than trying to meet it directly. This seems like it might be an option for some of today’s social media woes where people are trying to continue to take advantage of the good aspects of these tools/communities while opposing some of their attempts at manipulation. There are major alternatives like Brontosaurus Mastodon but many people aren’t going to make that jump. So consider this post more of a way you might mitigate harm while continuing using tools meant to bend your mind and warp your perceptions.

Curation Tools for Teachers and Students – Kasey Bell curates a collection of curation tools. I have collected together my thoughts on various tools before, however Bell’s list goes much further. I really like her point of using different tools for different purposes. I am however left wondering about the longevity of them all and their subsequent data. Take for example, the recent closure of Storify and TodaysMeet. At least in using things like Google Sheets or blogs there are clear options for how to archive the information. I think that just as there has been a push for RSS again, I feel there is a potential to revisit blogs and their many possibilities. For example, Chris Aldrich has documented his workflow, which includes the maintenance of a modern day commonplace book.

Depending on the purpose of your curation, there are certain tools that may fit your needs better than others. This list has it all! Whether you are curating professional learning resources, planning a lesson, or creating something to share, there’s a tool that can help you do it!

The webinar must die: a friendly proposal – Bryan Alexander reflects on webinars comparing the lecture style with the more interactive videoconference. He argues the lecture style must go and is better presented as an asynchronous experience on a platform like YouTube, allowing for engagement through the comments. Another possibility is to flip the lecture presentation therefore allowing the webinar to be a discussion of the various points.

Type I webinars are a mistake in 2018, and they need to die. We can leave them behind and take our presentations and conversations to other platforms, either Type II or by flipping the webinar. Or we can re-invent, re-use, and reboot Type I. In a time where discussions are more fraught and also more needed, we should do this now.

Tools come and go. Learning should not. And what’s a “free” edtech tool, anyway? – Lyn Hilt reflects on Padlet’s recent pivot to a paid subscription. She argues that if we stop and reflect on what we are doing in the classroom, there are often other options. Hilt also uses this as an opportunity to remind us what ‘free’ actually means, and it is not free as in beer either. We therefore need to address some of the ethical questions around data and privacy. A point highlighted by the revelations of the ever increasing Cambridge Analytica breach.

Do I need this tool? Why? How does it really support learning? What are the costs, both monetary and otherwise, of using this service? Do the rewards of use outweigh the risks? Is there a paid service I could explore that will meet my needs and better protect the privacy of my information and my students’ information? How can I inform parents/community members about our use of this tool and what mechanisms are in place for parents to opt their children out of using it? When this tool and/or its plan changes, how will we adjust? What will our plans be to make seamless transitions to other tools or strategies when the inevitable happens?

Why Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook – It is a little disconcerting when ever Facebook seems to do something positive for the ‘user’ in response to complaints. What is worse, Zeynep Tufekci highlights how some of the changes Facebook is promising now were promised years ago too. A reminder why the history of EdTech is so important. (As a side note To keep a track of Tufekci’s reporting, I recommend signing up to her newsletter.) In other Facebook news, Alex Hern explains how companies you have never interacted with are able to target you, Tim Wu argues that we need a trustworthy platform not driven by survelliance and advertising, while David Shanske and Chris Aldrich discuss some possibilities in Episode 1 of the #IndieWeb Podcast.

At a minimum, Facebook has long needed an ombudsman’s office with real teeth and power: an institution within the company that can act as a check on its worst impulses and to protect its users. And it needs a lot more employees whose task is to keep the platform healthier. But what would truly be disruptive and innovative would be for Facebook to alter its business model. Such a change could come from within, or it could be driven by regulations on data retention and opaque, surveillance-based targeting—regulations that would make such practices less profitable or even forbidden.

Storytelling and Reflection

Quote from Tim Winton
Image via “LEGO Collectible Minifigures Series 2 : Surfer” by wiredforlego https://flickr.com/photos/wiredforsound23/6870695330 is licensed under CC BY-SA

About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny – In an excerpt from a speech, Tim Winton says that it is men who need to step up and liberate boys from the culture of toxic masculinity that has come to mark Australian society. Along with Molly Ringwald’s reflections on the problematic art of John Hughes and Phil Cleary’s post on the misogynistic subculture of football, they represent a challenge for equity. It is also interesting reading these pieces alongside Kate O’Halloran’s article on the fear associated with women, exercise and sport.

What I’ve come to notice is that all these kids are rehearsing and projecting. Trying it on. Rehearsing their masculinity. Projecting their experimental versions of it. And wordlessly looking for cues the whole time. Not just from each other, but from older people around them, especially the men. Which can be heartbreaking to witness, to tell you the truth. Because the feedback they get is so damn unhelpful. If it’s well-meant it’s often feeble and half-hearted. Because good men don’t always stick their necks out and make an effort.

How to Find New Music You’ll Actually Like – Nick Douglas collects together a number of suggestions for finding new music. Whether it be best lists or review sites, there are a number of entry points provided. Some not mentioned include La Blogothèque’s, Take Away Shows and other live performances, as well as Deep Cuts guides and reviews.

Some people can dig up great music like magic, or have friends inside the industry who keep them updated. Some people are contented with their weekly Spotify Discover playlist. But if you need more ways to find music, here are 50 ideas, taken from Twitter users, my colleagues at Lifehacker’s publisher Gizmodo Media Group, and some of my own habits. Some are obvious, some bizarre, some embarrassing, but they’ve all helped people find their new favorite song, or even their favorite band.

The gardens where ideas grow – Austin Kleon discusses gardening as a metaphor for creativity, referencing artists such as Prince and Brian Eno. I have written about gardening in regards to learning before and the way in which a garden never stops growing, even if you stop caring for it. Michael Caulfield uses the metaphors of the garden and the stream to discuss the web, with the garden being rhizomatic in nature without a centralised structure, whereas the stream brings everything together. Amy Burvall considers the cycles that exist within the garden, suggesting that there is a time to grow and a time to flower. I am interested in investigating the different sorts of ideas and creativity within the garden. I wonder about the propagation of covering other artists? Is this borrowing second-rate? Where does this fit within the cycle? Or is it a reminder that we need dots to make new dots.

Many musicians who use recording technology as a compositional tool refer to their studios as gardens. It’s an interesting contrast to Motown, which was conceived as a factory, or Warhol’s studio, which was actually named The Factory.

I Read One Book 100 Times Over 10 Years… Here Are 100 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned – Ryan Holiday reflects on the impact of Marcus Aurelius’ Mediation in light of his new book, The Daily Stoic. One of the interesting points Holiday discusses is the influence of translation. This comes back to the work of Walter Benjamin and the Task of the Translator. Another idea discussed is the ability to explore a side of life that many assume is only possible through the use of drugs. He explains that this just takes effort. This reminds me of Jack Antonoff’s avoidance of drugs.

All the things that people do hallucinogens to explore, you can also do while sober as a judge. It just takes work.

Whose meeting is this? A simple checklist – Seth Godin provides a set of questions to consider. I wonder how many of the meetings I have been a part of (and led) would actually tick all these, especially the last. Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes’ discussed the challenge of keeping meaningful notes of meetings in the 100th episode of the Tide Podcast, while Jeff Bezos believes the answer is narrative memos.

There’s one person responsible.

The time allocated matches what’s needed, not what the calendar app says.

Everyone invited is someone who needs to be there, and no key party is missing.

There’s a default step forward if someone doesn’t come.

There’s no better way to move this forward than to have this meeting.

The desired outcome is clearly stated. The organizer has described what would have to happen for the meeting to be cancelled or to stop midway. “This is what I want to happen,” and if there’s a “yes,” we’re done.

All relevant information, including analysis, is available to all in plenty of time to be reviewed in advance.

FOCUS ON … Peter Hutton and Templestowe College

Quote via Peter Hutton ‘An Education Revolution’
Image via “DC Hero Minifigs – Wave 10: Teen Titans” by levork https://flickr.com/photos/levork/4509401065 is licensed under CC BY-SA

Here is a collection of posts, videos and podcasts featuring Peter Hutton and his EdRevolution. It is easy to talk about change, however Templestowe is a school that actually seems to be shaking things up. It is interesting thinking about these ideas alongside the release of ‘Gonski 2.0’:

  • Modern Learners Podcast #37 – Revolutionizing Education Through Student Empowerment – In a school struggling for enrollments, Peter Hutton spoke about how he started the change by asking students what they enjoy. Provided there is one or two electives that students look forward to, they often have a different outlook on the curriculum-required classes. Days at Templestowe are structured around three lots of 70 minute blocks with students choosing six classes. Interestingly, without the ability to self-regulate, disruptive students are not suited to Templestowe. This culture allows the school to hire students to actually run elements of the school. Hutton is not interested in measuring everything, instead he is concerned about happiness. The secret to this change is not rolling out the TC model, but in actively negotiating your own journey.
  • What if students controlled their own learning? – Peter Hutton’s TEDTalk in which he discusses the idea of students designing their own education. This often involves the ‘yes test’: Is there an issue with time or money? Does it negatively impact on someone else? It is organised around a five year learning plan. Hutton encourages students, parents and teachers to ‘take action’ and get involved on school councils or other such spaces.
  • Peter Hutton – In this interview on the Educhange Podcast, Peter Hutton discusses his own experience of education and why he became a teacher. He explains that there are aspects that are similar to tradition schools. Students still study English and Mathematics. However, everything is negotiable, but not everything is permissible. Hutton explains that there is a Section 82 in the Victorian planning outlines that allows for personalised learning plans. Some of the other policies include the ten minute policy and that everyone is equal. Rather than focusing on what the future of jobs might be, Templestowe is interested in confident students who can embrace any change. In regards to ‘success’, they have a 95% satisfaction from parents.
  • Breaking the ruler: Melbourne school lets students choose when to learn, what to study -Jeremy Story Carter provides a profile of some of the transformative work occuring at Templestowe College
  • Drum interview: Education is broken, here’s how we can fix it – Jessica Tapp summarises the key points Peter Hutton made in an interview on ABC’s _The Drum_.
  • ‘We don’t want this to be a dirty little secret’: The school ditching the ATAR – Henrietta Cook and Timna Jacks discuss the move at Templestowe to make ATAR ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt-out’. This is an interesting move as it disrupts the ability for people to compare outcomes, therefore changing the conversation.
  • Swinburne University is pioneering a ‘no stress’ route to uni for year 12 students – Tim Dodd reports on the pilot between Templestowe College and Swimburne University to allow students to gain entry without an ATAR.
  • The Victorian State Education System…from the inside out and the outside in – Peter Hutton reflects on his connection with the Victorian Department of Education.
  • An Education Revolution: Templestowe College Principal Peter Hutton – Colin Klupiec and Peter Hutton discuss the rise of Templestowe College as a part of the Learning Capacity podcast. Hutton argues that often we are our own blockers when it comes to change and innovation. In regards to learning, there are only different minds and the challenge then is metacognition. Hutton argues that teachers are leaving because they are disillusioned. The big game changer though is getting principals onboard.

READ WRITE RESPOND #028

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? Otherwise, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 eLearn Update (April 2018)

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Gmail

Calendar

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

  • Google Classroom: Spiral Review on the About Tab – Alice Keeler coded a spreadsheet that allows users to keep adding to a spiral review all school year and it automatically updates the exact same Google Slides. Every hour the Google Slides changes to show a different 5 spiral review questions.
  • Google Classroom: Short Term Goal Setting – Alice Keeler suggests creating a new assignment in Google Classroom titled something like “Short-Term Goal for this week” to monitor goals. Ask students to, in the Private Comments, state their goal for the week along with their actionable plan to reach that goal.
  • Submitting Photos to Google Classroom – Alice Keeler suggests sharing images in Classroom using Google Slides to improve the workflow.
  • Filter Gmail for Google Classroom – Alice Keeler highly recommends NOT turning off notifications from Google Classroom. Instead, manage the email notifications through filters.

Drawings

Geo Tools

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

Blogger

General

📓 Measuring NAPLAN Performance

In a message to parents, I came across the following explanation of NAPLAN:

The tests provide parents and schools with an understanding of how individual students are performing at the time of tests.

This is such a hard thing to communicate. It is easy to read ‘performing’ as some sort of exact since, such as Johnny got 33 out of 40 in the recent test on whatever. The problem though is that NAPLAN is not ‘exact’ either at the time or as a measurement of growth. This is highlighted by Richard Olsen in his look at the limitations:

In practice, NAPLAN relative growth is a so unreliable that I cannot believe that it is a suitable measure and I would personally discourage anyone from using it. The narrow range of questions that define average growth, compounded by the error inherent to NAPLAN’s testing method make it an extremely unreliable measure.

I think that Margaret Wu captures this best when she explains:

In summary, we would say that a NAPLAN test only provides an indicative level of the performance of a student: whether the student is struggling, on track, or performing above average. The NAPLAN tests do not provide fine grading of students by their performance levels because of the large uncertainties associated with the ability measures.