🗒️ Ideas

James Somers discusses the notion of ‘Collaborative Circles’ and ideas focusing on the work on coders Jeff Dean and Sanjay Ghemawat:

After years of sharing their working lives, duos sometimes develop a private language, the way twins do. They imitate each other’s clothing and habits. A sense of humor osmoses from one to the other. Apportioning credit between them becomes impossible. But partnerships of this intensity are unusual in software development. Although developers sometimes talk about “pair programming”—two programmers sharing a single computer, one “driving” and the other “navigating”—they usually conceive of such partnerships in terms of redundancy, as though the pair were co-pilots on the same flight. Jeff and Sanjay, by contrast, sometimes seem to be two halves of a single mind. Some of their best-known papers have as many as a dozen co-authors. Still, Bill Coughran, one of their managers, recalled, “They were so prolific and so effective working as a pair that we often built teams around them.”source

📰 Read Write Respond #035

My Month of November

It is always odd coming to the end of the year, but not being in a school. We have continued to grapple with scalability, reviewing workflows to identify gains. I have also spoken to a few schools about what they are doing next year.

It feels like every month is eventful. Makes me wonder if in part this is a mindset? Ms 2 graduated in swimming and will skip the next class. This means I will no longer need to get in the water. Ms 7 had her yearly keyboard recital. It is always fascinating watching her learn her pieces and develop confidence over time. Practice makes perfect? Lastly, we had some issues with our roof, which involved water getting into the house.

Personally, I think this is the first month in a long time where I have not written any long form posts. I have started a few drafts and written some lengthy comments on other posts, but never really found the time and energy to finish gathering my thoughts on anything.

In regards to music, I have been listening to the new album from Muse, as well as the VAST compilation, featuring a range of Australian artists. In addition to this, I have found myself listening to a lot of old St. Vincent.


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking. Based on some feedback, I have tried something different for this edition …

Education

Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/reflections-on-the-smart-phone/10472876
Image via “Dialling” by Oblong https://flickr.com/photos/oblongpictures/5685283018 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA | Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone

Making change in education – champions are for charlatans: Dave Cormier reflects upon the change approach of “working with the ‘willing’ first” and wonders if this is wrong approach. Rather than sustainable change, focusing on the guaranteed +1 is both unethical and creates a super star culture. Something I have touch d upon in the past. Cormier instead argues that the focus needs to be on long term change, with a plan to solve an actual problem. Associated with this, it is important to make space for such change, what Tom Barrett describes as innovation compression. This is also something that I have discussed in regards to my concern about ‘great teachers’. Rather than the right teacher, I would argue that we need to focus on the right culture and environment. Cormier also addresses this in regards to the complex versus the complicated.

ePortfolios: Competing Concepts: Tom Woodward addresses a number of considerations associated with ePortfolios, including strategy, audience, ownership and privacy. Woodward provides a lot of nuance throughout his discussion and provides a number of examples to support this. It is a worthy addition to the discussion of ongoing reporting and ways to blog. Woodward also reflected on the skills required for living online.

Twenty things I wish I’d known when I started my PhD: Lucy Taylor provides some suggestions of things to consider when starting a PhD, such as identifying a work/life balanace, set yourself goals early, write down everything and backup your work. This reminds me of posts from Gayle Munro and Deborah Netolicky sharing some of their experiences.

The plastic backlash: what’s behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference?: Stephen Buranyi unpacks the worldwide rage against plastic.  This is a part of the wider discussion of global warming. Whether it be in the drinking water or the ocean tip, rubbish has become an important conversation.

QandA:‘what works’ in ed with Bob Lingard, Jessica Gerrard, Adrian Piccoli, Rob Randall,Glenn Savage (chair): Glenn Savage chairs a conversation with a varied group of voices discussing impact of evidence, Think Tanks and NAPLAN on education.

Technology

Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone https://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/futuretense/reflections-on-the-smart-phone/10472876
Image via “Dialling” by Oblong https://flickr.com/photos/oblongpictures/5685283018 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA | Quote via Future Tense’s Reflections on the Smart Phone

Reflections on the smart phone: Antony Funnell speaks with Professor Genevieve Bell, Ariel Bogle, Distinguished Professor Larissa Hjorth and Emma Bennison about the history and affordances of the smart phone. They discuss the walled garden created by apps, the way devices inform our humanness, the cross-cultural appropriation of new technologies, support for accessibility and the surveillance built in. I have been thinking a lot about smart phones lately, especially while reading James Bridle’s New Dark Age and Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies. The conversation that I think is interesting is whether there is a future beyond the templated self produced by a handful of social silos.

Checking Out Online Shopping (IRL Podcast): Manoush Zomorodi investigates the big data associated with shopping online and off. This reminds me a comment by Ben Williamson in regards to Class Dojo that ‘sensitive’ data is often about how as much as what is captured.

Secrets of the Edu-Twitter Influencers: This is a reflection from a number of educational ‘thought leaders‘. What stood out was the intent of self-promotion that many started their journey with. One thing that I found interesting was how much time different people spend. It makes me think that being a ‘thought leader’ is something that needs to be maintained.

Why people troll others online: Ian O’Byrne discusses some of the reasons why people troll online and how to respond to them. For a deeper look at the types of trolls, read Molly Hill’s post.

Avoiding the Lock-in Effect in WordPress: Antonio Villegas discusses much-dreaded lock-in effect that can occur with WordPress when utilising a particular feature provided by a plugin.

Avoiding the Lock-in Effect in WordPress: In this extract from The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age (Columbia Global Reports), Tim Wu explains how today’s monopolies were able to avoid regulation. He give the particular example of Facebook and Instagram:

Storytelling and Reflection

Quote via When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home by Alana Semuels https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/11/los-angeles-elon-musk-tunnels-under-neighborhood/575725/
Image via “Lego Subway” by Friscocali https://flickr.com/photos/friscocali/6906585459 is licensed under CC BY-NC | Quote via When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home by Alana Semuels

When Elon Musk Tunnels Under Your Home: Alana Semuels explores the intricacies associated with Elon Musk’s boring project in Los Angeles. She highlights the many ways in which innovation is able to bypass the rules and regulations that hamper the development of public infrastructure. For me this is highlighted by fifty year plan associated with transport in Melbourne. I agree with Semuels’ that it would be better to see such time and money spent supporting the state, rather than endlessly trying to circumvent it.

Should we really all fly less?: Diego Arguedas Ortiz discusses a recent study unpacking the individual actions that can help lead to climate change. Some of these actions include taking public transport, invest in renewable energies, eat less meat and stop flying. If this is too much then Arguedas Ortiz provides a list of actions to offset your activities. On the flipside, Martin Lukacs argues that individual action is a con and that what is really needed is collective action.

Zambia may serve as a crystal ball for countries looking to deal with Beijing: Siobhan Heanue reports on China’s growing influence in Zambia. This is part of the Belt and Road Initiative. Even more interesting than Chinese ownership (do they own the third world?) was the ownership of business for 20 years. This investment, both private and state, is nothing new and is a part of a long-term strategy. It would be fascinating to see a breakdown of Chinese investment and ownership from around the world.

‘A wall built to keep people out’: the cruel, bureaucratic maze of children’s services: Jake Anderson recounts the journey associated with gaining support for their daughter, who has ASD. One of the things that stood out was the blur between private and public connected with the privatization of government contracts.

Dropping Acid: Shuja Haider talks about the sounds and methods associated with Acid House music. Along with the TR808 and the Line 6 DL4, this article documents the place of the TB303 on modern music.

Focus on #CPDin140

I have been following Ian Guest’s research into the potentials associated with Twitter in regards to teacher professional development for a few years. Having submitted his thesis, Guest has been openly unpacking his work in a series of posts in preparation for his viva. Here is a summary of those posts:

  • Thesis submitted. Next steps: Ian Guest outlines what is next now that his thesis has been submitted, including developing responses to possible questions
  • Thesis Abstract: Ian Guest provides a summary of his research, as well as an explanation of why he moved away from the traditional contents page.
  • Foreword: Ian Guest provides a forward to provide preliminary explanation of terms like flâneur.
  • Chapter 1: Introduction: Ian Guest breaks down the different parts of his research.
  • Chapter 2: Hinterlands: Ian Guest provides a summary of the supporting and sustaining literatures which informs his research.
  • Chapter 3: Sensibilities: Ian Guest explains his choice of flânography and how this sits with the Actor Network Theory.
  • Chapter 4: Assembling methods #1: Ian Guest explains how he took on three methods of research – participant observation, semi-structured interviews, blog post analysis and interviews – but these were supplemented with additional methods which emerged during the study.
  • Chapter 4: Assembling Methods #2: Ian Guest addresses questions of ethics, data management and analysis associated with his research.
  • Introducing the Gatherings: Ian Guest explains that in presenting his work as ‘gatherings’, he has assembled a variety of actors and data, and through sociomaterial description, to produce ‘an adequate account.’
  • Thesis submitted. Next steps: Ian Guest uses EduTweetOz as a catalyst for an examination of the parts associated with Twitter.
  • Chapter 6: Gathering: Assembling actors, maintaining relationships: Ian Guest explores the sense of hygge found by many connected educators.
  • Chapter 7: Gathering: It’s personal…: Ian Guest discusses some of the benefits and drawbacks to learning with Twitter he found through his research.
  • Chapter 8: Retracing my steps: Ian Guest explains how professional development on Twitter is an ongoing process of assemblage in which actors like teachers and tweets, hashtags and hygge, communities and crib sheets, are bundled together, form, reform and break associations.
  • Ethics revisited: Ian Guest revisits the question of ethics when researching in online environments in light of some of the challenges faced.
  • Chapter 9: Concluding: Ian Guest discusses some of the implications and limitations, including four contributions to knowledge.
  • Why did you undertake this study?: Ian Guest discusses the three nudges that led to his research.
  • Can you summarise your findings in a few sentences?: Ian Guest summarises his research by providing answer to three key questions: How are professional learning practices of teachers on Twitter manifest, How does the Twitter social media platform support the professional learning practices of teachers, and How does professional learning practice extend beyond Twitter into the wider social media ecosystem and the ‘real’ world?
  • Where did you make ‘the cut?’: Ian Guest discusses some of his choices and constraints associated with the field, the collection of data and the writing process.
  • “Flânography? Isn’t it just an ethnography?”: Ian Guest documents some of the differences and similarities between flânography and ethnography, including impact on immersion, mobility and visibility.
  • In your flânography, how should we conceive the ‘field?’: Ian Guest discusses the notion of field and how it is performed through the act of research.
  • Which theoretical framings did you consider and why did you settle on ANT?: Ian Guest reflects on the various methods he explored, including communities of practice, connectivism and rhizomatic learning, and why he ended up choosing actor network theory.

READ WRITE RESPOND #035

So that is November for me, how about you? As always, happy to hear.

Also, I am interested if anyone has any feedback on the style and structure of this newsletter. I would love to know if there are things that people like or if there are things that you would change?

Bryan Mathers Image

Cover image via JustLego101.

📓 Gatherings

Ian Guest outlines the methodological approach associated with CPDin140. He describes this as ‘gatherings’:

I call these chapters ‘Gatherings,’ drawing on the work of a number of authors, but predominantly Law (2004a: 160), for whom Gathering is:

[…] a metaphor like that of bundling in the broader definition of method assemblage. It connotes the process of bringing together, relating, picking, meeting, building up, or flowing together. It is used to find a way of talking about relations without locating these with respect to the normative logics implied in (in)coherence or (in)consistency.

Or put more concisely, Gatherings are ‘Forms of craftings. Processes of weaving.’ In an earlier post, I discussed assemblage, not as a noun, a settled and fixed entity, but an ongoing active process of entanglement. So too with the Gatherings I offer. Whereas Law proposed Gatherings as method assemblage, I offer Gatherings crafted and bundled from data, and to some extent, the literatures. They are of course obliged to be fixed at least temporarily within this thesis; ‘a local and momentary gathering or accomplishment, rather than something that stays in place’ (Law, 2004a, p.129).
Some might see this wilful avoidance of arranging findings into neatly defined packages as abrogating one’s responsibilities as researcher. One reason I present my analysis as Gatherings is that it is consistent with flânography, and how teachers experience Twitter professional development (TPD) which is often messy, not laid out as structured, planned CPD sessions might be. Although this presents challenges for analysis, the techniques of ‘plugging in’ and ‘reading data through data’ described in the previous post become important strategies. Insights which consider the implications of the data and speculate on possible consequences are woven through the Gatherings, but drawn together at the end of each.

In presenting the Gatherings, I have assembled a variety of actors and data, and through sociomaterial description, followed Decuypere and Simons (2016) in producing ‘an adequate account.’

[…] it is an account (not a neutral rendering of facts) that is aimed at being adequate (that is, that makes a description of the actors gathered in such a way that these actors can ‘speak for themselves’, instead of being ‘spoken about’).

To that end, the Gatherings in the thesis are rich with data in the form of tweets, quotes from blog posts and quotes from interviews. (In the following blog posts however, in keeping with the previous posts, I’ll be summarising rather than presenting the data in full). In Interviewing the nonhumans, I outlined five of Adams’ and Thompson’s (2016) heuristics; one of these was ‘gathering anecdotes.’ Gatherings as the means to present those anecdotes seems coherent therefore. The heuristics not only ‘help researchers attend to the role of thingly gatherings of research practices’ (Thompson & Adams, 2013) but in my case, encouraged me to produce thingly Gatherings. As such, my thingly Gatherings are ‘important actors, complicit in co-creating the happenings of the world’ (Thompson, 2016) and are of course, partial accounts of those happenings.

📓 Seams vs. Stitches

In an article discussing the state of Macbooks and iPads, Baldur Bjarnason discusses the difference between seams and stitches when it comes to design:

Seamlessness isn’t pretty; it’s opaque and obscures the underlying structures of the tool you are making.

A stitch or a seam isn’t ugly; it’s an affordance that exposes the design, construction, and make of what you’ve made in a way that lends itself to learning.

Beauty and uniformity are two entirely independent characteristics. Seamlessness can look ugly and stitches can be pretty.

Good design can only be seamless when it has just one job to do. Add more jobs and seamlessness becomes a hindrance.source

📰 Read Write Respond #034

My Month of October

I remember a few years ago participating in ATC21s project exploring collaborative problem solving. They defined it as follows:

It is easy to think of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) as a highfalutin euphemism for what is commonly known as group work. However, they are not the same. The major difference is that CPS focuses on the skills and attributes people bring, rather than the jobs people do. In a traditional classroom, group work usually involves splitting a task between members in order to do something more efficiently or simply to share responsibilities. These contributions are then usually assessed at the end of the outcome. With CPS, the focus is not so much about product, but what that process can bring to bear.

I think that the project I am currently engaged with is the first time I personally have truly engaged within a project involving so many moving parts that no matter how skilled you are it would not be possible to be over every aspect. This was brought to the fore this month when one of the pieces associated with development was temporarily offline. No matter what I did, all I could do was wait. I think that this is the real 21st century, one of complexity, communication and moving parts.

On the family front, my wife and I took our two girls to see Small Foot at Village Junior. In the days of digital downloads and dwindling numbers, it was a reminder that sometimes the opportunity is to be different. With various activities for children beforehand, a built in intermission and lower seating, it was a great experience. The film was also interesting. A fun loving deep philosophical romp. We were all winners.

Personally, I have been participating in the 9x9x25 challenge. What I have enjoyed most is finding new voices to converse with. I have also started reading Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas as a part of Bryan Alexander’s next book club. New music that has grabbed me this month has been St.Vincent’s reworking of Masseduction, the soundtrack for A Star is Born, Honey by Robyn and Kimbra’s reimagining of Primal Heart.

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

In addition to all this, here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking:


Learning and Teaching

Flip the System Australia: Jon Andrews discusses the work of some of the school leaders pushing back on the accountability agenda to respond to the questions and concersn of their own contexts. Along with posts from Deborah Netolicky and Cameron Paterson, the editors of Flip the System Australia provide an overview of the various pieces included in the book designed to provide an alternative voices within the educational debate. An interview from the ACEL Conference was also featured on the TER Podcast.

Suggesting that there is a clear scientific or evidence-based approach that can overcome Australia’s vast geographic separations, considerable inequality and conflicting system stances on the purpose of education, is troubling. That is not to say that evidence cannot tell us useful things. Creating a sense of how we can move to overcome these burdens, achieve purposeful outcomes for students and create the conditions to support effective teacher working, requires consensus. The book notes a desire for coalition and networked knowledge sharing to achieve these things, but also solidarity with solidity, a commitment to overcome political and ideological motivations that hinder progress. Clarity and coherence sit at the core of this. When we are divided on key matters, it can create opportunities for constructive debate, but debate must lead somewhere.

Getting personal: conferring with learners as they inquire: Kath Murdoch discusses the importance of conferring during the inquiry process. These conversations can contribute to formative assessment, getting to know students building trust, providing feedback and learning about learning. To support all this, Murdoch provides a list of tips and questions, such as providing multiple ideas if suggesting solutions or articulating what the child has taught you. I have found one of the biggest challenges with conferencing is to support students in owning this. In a different post, Tom Whitby discusses the power associated with communicating and conferring with parents and explains how this can influence our knowledge of students and the way they learn.

Critical to the success of our experience with personal inquiry is the role of the teacher in conferring with learners. Far from being a routine that allows learners to simply “go off on their own” , teachers are working the room as coaches, guides, observers and co-researchers. Scheduled and spontaneous conferences are the mainstay of the teachers’ role during iTime.

Video in Situ: John Stewart reflects on the way in which the La Blogothèque website / YouTube channel redefines the video experience, creating new and unique possibilities. He wonders if the same changes could be incorporated into the filming of educational videos for blended and online courses, in particular, the possibilities for capturing field work. I have written about the Take Away Shows before, discussing the possibility of redefining the whole pedagogical experience. The reference to capturing field work reminds me of an early Google Glass exercise capturing CERN.

There are a few programs playing with instructional video in really interesting ways. At OU, we have moved away from back-of-the-class lecture capture, producing instead sets of short videos where the instructor explains the key concepts. We have built a light screen so instructors can write like the would on a white board while looking into the camera and talking to the students. I think this takes us passed the poor substitution standard and into augmentation.

VFX Artist Reveals the True Scale of the Universe: The team at Corridor Crew, how big the universe would be if the Earth were shrunk down to the size of a tennis ball. There are sometimes questions about the limits of the next best thing to being there. However, this video visualises something that you would be unable to imagine otherwise. Another resource associated with the universe is Alice Leung’s use of Ozobots to represent the eclipse and the nitrogen cycle.

Edtech

Silicon Valley’s Saudi Arabia Problem: Anand Giridharadas explores Saudi Arabia’s growing involvement with Silicon Valley. Through their investment in SoftBank, they have invested in a long list of startups including Wag, DoorDash, WeWork, Plenty, Cruise, Katerra, Nvidia and Slack. The question is at what cost? Silence? Support? With the recent disappearance of a Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, these are compromises that need to be considered. Listen to the recent episode of the Have You Heard podcast for more on Anand Giridharadas’ work. Also read the work of Audrey Watters and Benjamin Doxtdator for more discussion on investment in Silicon Valley (and subsequently EdTech).

As Saudi Arabia establishes its new role as one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors, the risk grows that its investments will purchase silence. Companies that pride themselves on openness and freedom may find themselves unable to speak ill of one of their largest investors.

My URL Is: Eddie Hinkle has started a new fortnightly podcast interviewing different people within the IndieWeb community about their websites. Although the conversations can become rather technical, they do provide an insight into why people make some of the choices that they do. So far Hinkle has interviewed Aaron Parecki and Rosemary Orchard. In some ways this is similar to Uses This, a site dedicated to the workflows people use, David Hopkins’ curated book #EdTechRations and Alan Levine’s #WhyDomains project.

My Url Is features a new guest every two weeks to talk about how they got involved with the IndieWeb and what hopes, goals and aspirations they have for the community and for their website. The guests are a combination of those both new to the IndieWeb and those who have helped build it from the beginning.

Stupid Qubit – Quantum Computing for the Clueless/001: Jim Mortleman and Stuart Houghton begin their exploration of quantum computing. This is humorous look at such a dry and difficult concept. Along with the Crash Course Computer Science series</a>, these resources provide a different perspective to technology. Mortleman and Houghton are also open to questions.

In this episode, we answer all these questions and more with the help of top quantum physicists including Dr Jerry Chow of IBM, Professor John Martinis of Google and Professor Simon Benjamin of Oxford University.

Android: a 10-year visual history: The team at Verge look back on 10 years of the Android operating system. With a focus on the stock open sourced code it is interesting to consider what has been developed outside of this. It is also interesting to compare this with Mozilla’s efforts to enter the mobile market with Firefox OS.

After 10 years of being the world’s most dominant OS, we wanted to take a look back at how Andy Rubin’s brainchild has evolved into the industry titan that it is today. What’s changed? What has (sometimes stubbornly) stayed the same? What new updates came with every version? Because Android is an open sourced OS, different manufacturers have applied their own skins — i.e. Samsung’s TouchWiz, OnePlus’ OxygenOS — so we’re focusing on stock Android for this visual history. The Android we know today — with all its machine learning capabilities and digital voice assistant — wasn’t without its fair share of clunkiness before getting to where it is now. Its many innovations would inspire, borrow, or improve upon other features seen on its main rival, Apple’s iOS.

Friction-Free Racism: Chris Gilliard unpacks the inherent racism encoded into the operations of the surveillance state. See for example Spotify’s recent announcement to add genealogy data to their algorithm. As a part of this investigation, Gilliard provides a number of questions to consider when thinking about such data.

The end game of a surveillance society, from the perspective of those being watched, is to be subjected to whims of black-boxed code extended to the navigation of spaces, which are systematically stripped of important social and cultural clues. The personalized surveillance tech, meanwhile, will not make people less racist; it will make them more comfortable and protected in their racism.

Storytelling and Reflection

The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care: This lengthy read provides an interesting insight into the life and times of those with dementia. It reflects on the changes in care, with the move away from drugs and creating the conditions to support memory. Associated with this is the problem of lying and memory. It is interesting to consider this alongside Clive Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think, especially in regards to his discussion of memory and technology. This also reminds me of the episode ‘San Junipero’ from Season Three of Black Mirror.

Fifty years ago, it was common in nursing homes to use physical restraints to tie a resident to a chair or a bed, to prevent them from causing trouble or coming to harm. Then, in 1987, a federal law was passed that limited the use of physical restraints to situations where the safety of the resident or someone else was at stake—they were not to be used for punishment or for the convenience of the staff. The physical restraints were then often replaced by chemical ones, and residents were tranquillized with powerful antipsychotics such as Haldol. Many people thought the use of such drugs was a terrible thing, so they began searching for non-pharmaceutical alternatives to quelling troublesome behaviors, and psychological placebos such as fake bus stops proved to be quite effective. One patient who had been given Haldol every night to stop him from screaming was so calmed by Simulated Presence Therapy that he no longer had to be tranquillized at all.

Chilly Gonzales breaks down the essence of music: Whether it be his version of Daft Punk’s Too Long or contribution to Jamie Lidell’s work, I have always been fascinated with the work of Chilly Gonzales, long before I even knew who Chilly Gonzales was. This article from Cian Traynor provides an insight into the thoughts and actions behind the bravado. If you have not experienced the ‘genius’ before, I highly recommend his masterclasses, especially his breakdown of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. Another interesting look at the history of music was provided by Vox’s look at the influence of the Fairlight CMI.

If you can steal without getting caught, then you’ve pulled off the perfect crime – which is what an artist is supposed to do. You’re not meant to come up with new things as an artist; no artist would say that’s what they do. It’s all about taking your influences and hopefully filtering them through a personal viewpoint. more marginalia here

Warm Data (Team Human): In a discussion with Douglas Rushkoff, Nora Bateson discusses the concept of ‘Warm Data’ and the interconnected nature of everything. For Bateson, it is the relationships which bring the data alive. This all stems from the notion of ‘warm ideas’, as idea that leads you into another idea of relations. In this circumstance it is about going beyond departments and instead focusing on context. I was left wondering where this might fit with Pasi Salsberg’s push for ‘small data’ in education.

The underlying premise of the IBI is to address and experiment with how we perceive. Our mandate is to look in other ways so that we might find other species of information and new patterns of connection not visible though current methodologies. We call this information “Warm Data”.(Mission Statement)

12 Modes of Failure: Julian Stodd attempts to identify different reasons failure may occur. This is list is a useful provocation when thinking about where something may have gone wrong and what the next iteration may be. On the flipside, Stodd wrote a second post exploring 12 modes of innovation. This is what Eric Ries would describe as opportunities to pivot and change.

Organisations fail for a broad range of reasons, but rarely for no reason at all. I found myself thinking about a taxonomy of failure: unless we deem failure to be the action of idiots and fools, we must be open to the idea that we too may fail. Paralysed or deceived by the same forces that have levelled so many other seemingly unassailable entities. So understanding modes of failure could prove to be a useful exercise in both innovation, and change: to provide the impetus to start, and the insight to succeed.

In light of the release of Bruno Latour’s book Down to Earth in English, Ava Kofman unpacks some of the legacies of his ideas and the impact that they have had on science today. I was initially introduced to Latour and Actor-Network Theory (ANT) through Ian Guest. Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science – Along with the concept of assemblages and rhizomatic learning, Latour’s work interests me in regards to better appreciating the connected nature of things.

As soon as their propositions were turned into indisputable statements and peer-reviewed papers — what Latour called ready-made science — they claimed that such facts had always spoken for themselves. That is, only once the scientific community accepted something as true were the all-too-human processes behind it effectively erased or, as Latour put it, black-boxed.

FOCUS ON … Twitter

I have been thinking quite a bit about Twitter lately, however I have been unable to properly clarify my concerns. Having started a post a number of weeks ago, I cannot work out what my concerns are. I therefore decided in the interim to collect together all my pieces in one spot.


Guides

Overviews

EduTwitter

Add-ons

Reflections

General

Technical Twitter

Toxic Twitter

Should We Tweet?

READ WRITE RESPOND #034

So that is October for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear. Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here. Cover image via JustLego101.

📓 Neo-Liberalism

In a discussion of NBC’s The Good Place, Robin James provides a definition of ‘neo-liberalism’:

Michael’s big moral surveillance apparatus is a correction, or perhaps update, of Sartre: hell isn’t other people, it’s neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is the practice of transforming everything, even traditionally non-economic phenomena like friendship or learning, into deregulated, financialized markets. Financialized markets are ones built on investment rather than commodity exchange; deregulated markets nominally allow for any and all behavior, but tightly control background conditions so that only a limited range of behavior is possible. Privatizing formerly public things such as infrastructure or schools or prisons is a common method of transforming things into markets. Setting up the season 1 neighborhood so that the quartet of dead people torture each other, Michael is a technocrat  who effectively privatizes hell by contracting the work of abuse out to independent, uncompensated laborers. (After all, his whole approach is to disrupt eternal damnation by superficially flipping the good/bad script…It’s Uber, but for hell.)

📰 Read Write Respond #033

My Month of September (and August)

There are times when the mind says go and the body says no. Last month was one of those times. The whole family was struck down. This meant skipping the August newsletter. I am subsequently late getting this month out as we have just returned from a week away with the family in Fiji to celebrate ten years of marriage.

On the work front, I have been spending time speaking with different schools about reporting. It is always good to test out the solution. However, it always raises further questions, which I have been progressively working through.

In regards to my learning, I was lucky enough to attend the Google Innovator Energizer, exploring the cultures of change. I also presented at K-12 Digital Classroom Practice Conference 2018 on blogging and ongoing reporting.

In other areas, I have been listening to Dreams, Emma Louise, Darren Middleton and Troye Sivan. I also managed to get the IndieWeb Reader working. I have used Granary to add in my Twitter feed as a means of responding from my own site. It still is not perfect, but definitely shows a potential for a future where we all own our own data.

Warwick Resort, Coral Coast, Fiji

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

Reporting on Reporting – Innovation, People and the Process of Change

Thoughts on Presentations and Professional Development

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

Learning and Teaching

Twenty Two Projects to Challenge, Inspire and Engage Your Students: Bianca Hewes collects together a number of her project outlines that she has created with Canva. As with Kath Murdoch’s inquiry journeys, Hewes provides some great provocations. Although some of them could easily be translated, their strength lies in thinking differently. In addition, I too like Canva and use it to create the covers for this newsletter. For a different take, check out Benjamin Doxtdator’s investigation of the history of PBL.

These project outlines are all based on my PBL model, which is explained in my two books Are Humans Wild At Heart? and Why Do We Tell Stories? Both of these are published through Hawker Brownlow Education and are full of projects for English teachers to run with their students. Please, please if you use these projects OR if you use my model of PBL (discover, create, share), it would mean SOOO much to me if you credited my work. Many of the Praxis projects below were co-created with my very creative colleagues James Blanch and Kate Munro. Please respect our hard work by being thoughtful in your acknowledgement of your sources.

Teaching Boys: Deborah Netolicky reflects on her experience of teaching boys. She highlights three aspects: boys need a safe and trusting environment with high support and high challenge, boys respond to engaging curriculum content and boys benefit from regular, tangible feedback, a mixture of role-models, as well as hope and persistence. As I think about my own experiences teaching and parenting, I am left wondering why these approaches do not apply for girls too? Another interesting read on the topic is Adam Boxer’s question of boys and competition.

Schools and teachers can play a part in what kinds of behaviours and successes are normalised and rewarded within the school environment. Those working in schools can ask themselves questions about how gender is normalised. Are boys encouraged to be alpha competitors or are quieter achievement and ways of being also noticed and rewarded? Is the catchphrase ‘boys will be boys’ or ‘he was just joking’ used to dismiss put-downs of others or the objectification of women? Is strength and success measured by sporting prowess and outward expressions of courage or by a range of possible successes in multiple arenas? What does ‘courage’ mean to the school community? Are multiple ways of ‘being a man’ celebrated and held up as exemplars?

The Game of Quotes: Heather Marshall adapts the game Bring Your Own Book for the classroom. This involves a series of prompts to help think differently about what you are reading. Marshall also discusses creating your own prompts. This activity reminds me of the Hot Seat activity, where students are challenged to think more deeply about the text. I really like the idea of the Game of Quotes as a revision activity.

I created a presentation in Google slides with a couple of prompts. I used animations so that the students wouldn’t see the prompt until it was time, and silent reading instantly became a fun game! The room was filled with laughing, and page turning, and whispers of “I want to read that!” When was the last time a reading log or an online quiz caused a stir of echoes in the classroom?

The “Always Check” Approach to Online Literacy: Mike Caulfield continues his work on fact checking arguing that we need to develop the habit of doing a check every time we engage with a new link. He makes the comparison with checking your rear view mirrors when driving. Caulfield focuses on two steps: what is the site and is this new report correct/true. In a world where abundance is only a click away, maybe we are at a point where it is time to reassess what that actually means.

Now imagine a world where checking your mirrors before switching lanes was rare, three standard-deviations-out behavior. What would the roads look like?

Toolographies — the new essential ingredient of student research?: Matt Esterman proposes extending the idea of a bibliography to include the tools used. This is an interesting idea in the evolving place of research and libraries.

Perhaps we need to have students include a toolography, a list — perhaps annotated — of the tools they used to source, to organise and to present their information.

Responding to Challenging Behaviours with Elizabeth Saunders: Cameron Malcher speaks with Elizabeth Saunders about her work on challenging behaviour in the classroom. This comes back to the right to learn and be safe. What this looks like differs based on classroom and context. Saunders points out that this often comes back to differentiation and other proctive measures, rather than having students removed and isolated. It is interesting to listen to this interview alongside those from Katherine Birbalsingh and Paul Dix.

Elizabeth Saunders discusses the issue of students with challenging behaviours and how to respond to and engage with such students in order to overcome obstacles and maintain focus on learning in the classroom.

Edtech

“Seeing New Worlds” danah boyd on Team Human: In a conversation between danah boyd and Doug Rushkoff, she explains that at the heart of our current problems with media, facts and trust is capitalism. By design, capitalism gives you what you want. The problem though is that capitalism and democracy are no longer constrained within nation states as they may have been in the past. There is neither the opportunity for ‘nationalistic paternalism’ to moderate wants nor a means of managing different groups. Media in a multi-national environment has become confusing. We are now in a world of networks and social graphs. All media companies are in the business for amplification, the problem has therefore become what is amplified, which as so many have pointed out is often at the extremes. danah boyd says that we need an intervention, but to achieve that we firstly need t appreciate all the micro-decisions that got us to here. How do we deal with these well intended decisions when they have negative implications? One of the challenges is filling the data voids, rather than blocking various search terms we need to develop the content that maybe missing. For those who may not have kept up with boyd’s work since It’s Complicated, this is a really good introduction.

If we don’t support young people in building out a strategically rich graph, they will reinforce the worst segments of our society.

Leave No Dark Corner: Matthew Carney provides an insight into the digital dictatorship that China is exerting over its citizens through the use of “social credit”. This is a part of the wider global push of surveillance to use facial recognition in schools, universities and shopping centres. Yu Hua provides a different perspective on China’s rise, looking at the changes in generations. Foreign Correspondence also reported on the topic.

Social credit will be affected by more than just internet browsing and shopping decisions. Who your friends and family are will affect your score. If your best friend or your dad says something negative about the government, you’ll lose points too. Who you date and ultimately partner with will also affect social credit.

Are All Voices Equal?: Dean Shareski reflects on the place of voice in education. Whether it be students in the classroom or educators online, he argues that there are times when some voices are more important than others. This continues the argument that Thomas Guskey recently made about merely searching the web. I wonder where this leaves participatory culture, comments and blogging? Is it a reminder that such acts are first and fore-mostly selfish? Nick Jackson argues that it all depends on context.

I’m grateful for the advent of the web and social media by providing me with a voice. I’ve been able to publish many ideas over that last 12 years that previously would have only lived in my head. Through that publishing, I’ve been able to think through some things and had the benefit of others to add their thoughts as well. However, as much as this has democratized knowledge, it has also diluted the importance of expertise. The barriers of the previous publishing world lacked the ability to include all voices but it did help identify expertise. As adults and educators, I think we have to work harder to identify the smart people and allow their ideas to be heard over the din of social media. Expertise is not found in followers but on the quality and evidence of ideas that have proven the test of time.

Big Tech’s problem is Big, not Tech: Cory Doctorow provides a snapshot of the world of Big Tech we are in. He asks the question, why would we ask people to code if as it is becoming so it is illegal to do so? Doctorow puts forward the plea that human dignity and flourishing are bound up in the ability to act rather than be acted upon. If technology monopolies lock us away, this is clearly restricted. For more on Big Tech, read how Facebook is tackling moderation or how Google is controlling Android.

In this keynote address, author and advocate, Cory Doctorow, argues that Big Tech is a problem, but the problem isn’t “Tech,” it’s “BIG.” Giants get to bend policy to suit their ends, they get to strangle potential competitors in their infancy, they are the only game in town, so they can put the squeeze on users and suppliers alike.

The New York Times Fired My Doppelgänger: Quinn Norton discusses the complexities of online identity and the associated context collapse. She shares her experience of being hired and fired by the New York Times after a Twitter account was created that retweeted the past out of context. This is a fascinating insight into the world we are now in when, right or wrong, the past never sleeps.

Don’t internet angry. If you’re angry, internet later.

Your DNA Is Not Your Culture: Sarah Zhang discusses Spotify’s move to team up with AncestryDNA to provide richer results. To me, the strength of Spotify is big data, whether it be in choice or collections. Through the use of algorithms this data can uncover some interesting and sometimes novel patterns, but the move to inject ancestory into the mix surely is stretching it too far?

It’s a nice message. But it elides history. Mixed ancestry does not necessarily mean a harmonious coexistence, past or future. African Americans have, on average, 24 percent European ancestry. To take a genetic-ancestry test is to confront a legacy of rape and slavery—perhaps to even recognize one’s own existence as the direct result of it. There is a way to use genetics and genealogy to uncover injustices and properly account for them. The 23andMe-sponsored podcast Spit, for instance, has featured some nuanced conversations about race. But it’s not through feel-good ads that paper over the past.

Storytelling and Reflection

Virginia Trioli on being a difficult woman in a difficult world: In a speech at the Women In Media Conference, Virginia Trioli reflects on the challenges of being a women in the media. She shares a number of anecdotes that remind us that even with the #metoo movement, that we still have some way to go in regards to gender equality. Some of the advice Trioli recommends are to learn from your mistakes, own who you are and regularly take stock of where you are at. These lessons are useful for anybody (man or woman.) This post and Emma Watkin’s story are also reminders that so often there is more at play that goes unrecognised.

Much like the principles of building muscle mass — the way your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibres after a workout by forming strong, new protein strands — your mistakes do not you weaken you, they build you up. They solidify you. They give you emotional and mental muscle. Or at least they should. Because you have to own your mistakes. You have to claim them and allow that destruction/reconstruction process to take place. It’s incredibly empowering.

Our Daily Bread | Eat This Podcast: Jeremy Cherfas explores how an ordinary grass became the main source of sustenance for most of the people alive on Earth. Through this month long series, Cherfas assembles a narrative combining history, biology, definition, technology, sociology, politics, religion and innovation. Some of the questions I was left wondering were the place of Indigenous Australians in this story. Maybe these ideas and more will be unpacked in a longer book version of the series?

A history of wheat and bread in very short episodes

5 thoughts on self-help: Austin Kleon shares a handful of thoughts about the self-help genre. This includes being skeptical of the genre, the association with individualism, often such books are accidents and advice is autobiographical. This reminds me in part of the idea of bibliotherapy.

The joy and luck, for me, of writing my books, is that I’ve stumbled my way into a form (specifically: the illustrated gift book) that is not only commercial and popular, but also allows me to be as weird and as visual as I want to be. (I really do think of the books as fancy zines.) If they are shelved in self-help, so be it!

Hope Stands Tall: Kate O’Halloran breaks down the incident which involved Moana Hope walking off the stage during a panel discussing women’s football. The problem, as O’Halloran explains, relates to control and power of bodies. For me, I have concern about the expectations placed on AFLW. Like many forms of change and innovation, people often want their cake and to eat it too. It would seem that there is an expectation of parity on the field when I doubt there is parity off the field. O’Halloran wonders if the answer is breaking free from the AFL’s shackles?

It should go without saying that men who participate in Australian rules football (or rugby league, or any other sport for that matter) also put their own bodies at such risk. Those choices, however, are not questioned in the same way women’s are, because men are seen as having autonomy over their bodies and their decisions, while women’s bodies – in the minds of dinosaurs like Malthouse at least – are still subject to men’s control.

Reclaiming Educational Reform: Benjamin Doxtdator continues his critique of Ted Dintersmith. Picking up where he finished last time, he explains that Dintersmith and Tony Wagner are not the alternative to the personalized education movement that we may be hoping for. I always feel conflicted by such conversations wondering if I am trying to have my cake and eat it too?

You might think I’m overly critical of Ted Dintersmith, who probably really cares about education and the future of young people. When you watch Bill Gates tour High Tech High which he invested in years before it featured in Dintersmith and Wagner’s film, you get the sense that he probably really cares about young people, too. But we must not base policy on personality. Hoping that Dintersmith may be the anti-Gates we’ve been waiting for confines us such a superficial analysis of personality. When billionaires like Dintersmith get behind efforts led by private schools to reshape admissions to colleges, we need to put these education reform agendas through a rigorous, historical analysis. Maybe you will enjoy Dintersmith’s book for the tour he takes you on of schools across the U.S., but you’ll need to look elsewhere to understand what’s really at stake in the movement to ‘disrupt’ ‘obsolete’ schools.

Why Did America Give Up on Mass Transit? (Don’t Blame Cars): Jonathan English reflects on the demise of public transport in America. Although it can be easy to blame cars, the real issue is the lack of investment. Build it and they will come. It would be interesting to take a similar look at transport in Australia.

Service drives demand. When riders started to switch to the car in the early postwar years, American transit systems almost universally cut service to restore their financial viability. But this drove more people away, producing a vicious cycle until just about everybody who could drive, drove. In the fastest-growing areas, little or no transit was provided at all, because it was deemed to be not economically viable. Therefore, new suburbs had to be entirely auto-oriented. As poverty suburbanizes, and as more jobs are located in suburban areas, the inaccessibility of transit on a regional scale is becoming a crisis.

FOCUS ON the Modern Learning Canvas

Modern Learning Canvas - Instructional Model

The Modern Learning Canvas has been developed to support schools and teachers to design and implement innovative, evidence based learning and teaching. Influenced by the Business Model Canvas, it is designed to paint a picture of context. Here then are a collection of resources and examples associated with the Modern Learning Canvas and Richard Olsen’s Inquiry Oriented Innovation process:

📑 20 Tech Tips in the Mathematics Classroom

Aimee Shackleton:

20 Tech Tips in the Mathematics Classroom – Teacher Information, Robots and iPad Apps

Desmos – online graphing calculating system www.desmos.com

Desmos provides a range of questions and challenges associated with graphing (see Dan Meyer for more http://blog.mrmeyer.com/)

Graphing Stories – handouts, videos and stories associated with graphs www.graphingstories.com

Which One Doesn’t Belong – find a reason why each one does not belong wodb.ca/index.html

It is not about the answer, but about the discussion. The next step to Which One Doesn’t Belong is getting students to make their own

Maths Tweet Blogosphere exploremtbos.wordpress.com & https://twitter.com/ExploreMTBoS

What Can You Do With That? #WCYDWT https://blog.mrmeyer.com/2010/teaching-wcydwt-introduction/

Visual Patterns http://visualpatterns.org

Between 2 Numbers – If this then what www.between2numbers.com

Three Act Maths by Dan Meyer https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1jXSt_CoDzyDFeJimZxnhgwOVsWkTQEsfqouLWNNC6Z4/pub?output=html

101 Questions – pose questions based on a provocation www.101qs.com

Youcubed – a collect of tasks that could be used as starters www.youcubed.org

WolframAlpha – a space to ask computational questions www.wolframalpha.com

EquatIO https://www.texthelp.com/en-au/products/equatio/

📰 Read Write Respond #031

Read Write Respond Newsletter 031

My Month of July

LinkedIn recently reminded me that it has been two years in my current position. I was shocked, time has flown. As I touched on recently, it has been a whirlwind of an experience as is the nature I imagine of working within a transformational project. The biggest lesson learnt is that in a lean environment (or at least an attempt at a lean environment) you sometimes get stuck doing what needs to be done, rather than what you may prefer to be doing, which in my case is working with teachers and schools. I am currently working on refining a scale-able implementation process associated with student reporting.

At home, the common cold came back, again. I swear we had overcome it for this season, but no. Also, new term and new song for my daughter’s school. So I think I am up to 20+ listens of Try Everything from Zootopia. Another great growth mindset anthem. Might also say something about the algorithms at play.

I am learning through practice that the easiest way to learn something is to watch and copy somebody else. Scary how quickly our youngest picks everything up. Understanding Mal Lee and Roger Broadie’s point about the young being digitally proficient by the age of three.

I attended DigiCon18. Although I went to some interesting sessions and sparktalks, what was great were the conversations in-between. This included discussing the Ultranet with Rachel Crellin, the pedagogy associated to ongoing reporting with Chris Harte, connected learning with Jenny Ashby, parenting and partnerships with Lucas Johnson, implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum with Darrel Branson, purpose and leadership with Riss Leung and direct instruction with Richard Olsen.

In other areas, I have been listening to Amy Shark, Florence and the Machine, DJ Shadow, The National and Guy Pearce. I started reading Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies. I also updated my site, moving back to ZenPress and adding in a new series of header images developed by JustLego101.

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

REVIEW: New Dark Age – Technology and the End of the Future

My Life in Black and White

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

Learning and Teaching

Bill Cohen on Authentic Learning

Teaching Game Design with Bill Cohen (TER Podcast): Cameron Malcher interviews Bill Cohen about game-design through play-based learning. Cohen goes beyond the usual coding and computer-aided approaches to focusing on ‘low-tech’ games. This included engaging with board games and outdoor games. This play-based approach focuses on developing clear metalanguage, feedback for mastery and working with an iterative design process. This reminds me in part of Amy Burvall’s notion of ‘rigorous whimsy‘ and BreakoutEDU. Some resources Cohen shared include Boardgame Geek and Lady Blackbird, while in a seperate post, Clare Rafferty shared a list of games associated with History. For a different take on games, in a recent episode of the IRL Podcast, Veronica Belmont and Ashley Carman take a look at gamification in everyday life. Some examples of this include notifications on smartphones, likes and retweets on Twitter or the endorsements on Linkedin.

If there is one thing that I have learnt as a teacher is that nothing leaches out fun more than dropping a layer of education over the top of it – Bill Cohen

Encountering harmful discourses in the classroom: Ian O’Byrne discusses the challenges of engaging in harmful discourses. He provides some ways to responding, as well as a number of ways to be proactive. This touches on what danah boyd describes as the weaponisation of worldviews.

Howard C. Stevenson from Penn’s Graduate School of Education indicates three steps to address these harmful discourses as they enter your classroom.

  • Start with you – Process your own feelings, and address your own vulnerabilities before entering the classroom. Develop a support system with your colleagues.
    Practice – Classroom reactions usually happen in a split second. Prepare yourself for these instances by role-playing with colleagues in your building, or online with your PLN.
  • After an incident – Resist the urge to condemn the action or content. First try to understand the motivation if is disseminated through your classroom or building. Allow the school’s code of conduct to address instances where students actively spread this information. Strongly explain to students that these harmful discourses and the messages being spread about individuals and groups are not accepted. You will not accept the silencing of voices.
  • Keep talking – After these events, the best course of action is to keep talking. Difficult discussions will often ensue, but children and adults alike need to be able to process their feelings and reactions. This is an opportunity to shut down and be silent, or engage and promote change.

How well do we ‘face up to’ racism?: Anna Del Conte provides some take-aways from a course on racism. Some of the activities included what racism is, a timeline of diversity in Australia and listening to stories. Another resource I am reminded of is Dan Haesler’s interview with Stan Grant. In part this stemmed from Grant’s speech addressing racism.

Multiculturalism is not an outcome but a process. Racism may not be deliberate BUT anti-racism is always deliberate.

Can Reading Make You Happier?: Ceridewn Dovey takes a look at bibliotherapy and the act of reading as a cure. Some argue that readers are more empathetic, while others suggest that it provides pleasure, whatever the particular outcome maybe, reading has shown to provide many health benefits. As Kin Lane suggests, when in doubt, read a book. Zat Rana suggests that this reading is not about being right or wrong, but rather about being open new ideas and lessons.

So even if you don’t agree that reading fiction makes us treat others better, it is a way of treating ourselves better. Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines,” the author Jeanette Winterson has written. “What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.”

Historic Tale Construction Kit – Bayeux: This site allows users to recreate the Bayeux Tapestry. Clearly this is a great resource for history students, but it is also an interesting approach to storytelling.

Two German students originally wrote the Historic Tale Construction Kit, with Flash. Sadly, their work isn’t available anymore, only remembered. This new application is a tribute, but also an attempt to revive the old medieval meme, with code and availability that won’t get lost.

Edtech

Background Image via JustJego101

Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet: Chris Aldrich provides an introduction to webmentions. This includes unpacking the specification, the notion of mentions, the idea of kinds and way in which sites are potentially able to connect two-ways. This continues Aldrich’s efforts to document the IndieWeb, which has included a thorough overview of the IndieWeb, the future of feed readers and reimagining academic research. This introduction is different to Aaron Parecki’s guide to sending your first webmentions or breakdown of the oAuth standard.

Breaking down the walls between the internet’s many social silos, Webmentions offer a new level of freedom for web interactions.

Twenty Years of Edtech: Martin Weller looks back at twenty years of EdTech, highlighting the various moments that have stood out across the journey. This brings together many of the pieces that he has written for his 25 years of EdTech series that he has written to celebrate 25 years of ALT. As he points out in his introduction, we are not very good at looking back. This post then offers an opportunity to stop and do so in a structured manner. Another interesting take on history is Ben Francis’ post on the Firefox OS.

What has changed, what remains the same, and what general patterns can be discerned from the past twenty years in the fast-changing field of edtech?

Learning To Code By Writing Code Poems: Murat Kemaldar discusses the connections between coding and poetry. He re-imagines the various rules and constructs in a more human form. This continues a conversation started between Darrel Branson, Tony Richards and Ian Guest on Episode 234 of the Ed Tech Team Podcast about whether everyone should learn poetry and coding. This is also something Royan Lee shares.

In all languages, there is probably a word for love. You kinda know what it means, but not really, because it is so subjective. But still, there is a word for it. But in JavaScript, there is no “love,” until you say there is. It can be whatever you want it to be.

18 best practices for working with data in Google Sheets: Ben Collins provides a guide for working with data in Google Sheets. Some of the useful steps that stood out were documenting the steps you take, adding an index column for sorting and referencing, creating named ranges for your datasets and telling the story of one row to check the data. This is all in preparation for his new course on data analysis. Another tip I picked up from Jay Atwood has been to import data, if moving from Excel to Sheets, rather than simply copying and pasting.

This article describes 18 best practices for working with data in Google Sheets, including examples and screenshots to illustrate each concept in action.

Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags: Cory Doctorow provides a commentary on the current state of affairs involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Rather than blame the citizens of the web, he argues that the fault exists with the mechanics in the garage and the corruption that they have engaged with. The question that seems to remain is if this is so and we still want our car fixed, where do we go? Doctorow has also recorded a reading of the article.

It’s fashionable to treat the dysfunctions of social media as the result of the naivete of early technologists, who failed to foresee these outcomes. The truth is that the ability to build Facebook-like services is relatively common. What was rare was the moral recklessness necessary to go through with it.

How the Blog Broke the Web: Amy Hoy reflects on the early days of publishing on the web, where people would handcraft pages and connect them using a contents page. This was superseded by Moveable Type and the chronological blog, subsequently killing off the non-diariest. I was not really engaged in the web back then so it is hard to comment as Jeremey Keith, Duncan Stephen and Kicks Condor have, but it does remind me of the current debates around blogging. I think that all these spaces are forever changing and developing. Sometimes this is based on wholesale changes, but usually people have their own particular reason. Maybe some people will drop off with Gutenberg, but then again sometimes these things have their day.

Movable Type didn’t just kill off blog customization. It (and its competitors) actively killed other forms of web production.

Are We Listening?: Jose Picardo argues that the question about whether we should have more or less technology in schools misses the point. What matters is how it is used. For example, those who argue for more knowledge often fail to put the effort into actually understanding how technology is used in education. This comes back to the importance of why and having a framework to guide you. For a different perspective on technology in the classroom, read David Perry’s thread.

The very teachers who read William and nod vigorously about the need to know stuff before you can understand or do stuff in the context of curriculum are unable to draw parallels between their dismissal of digital technology and their own lack of knowledge about it. Rather than finding virtuosity and pride in learning about how what technology works best and in what context—so as to be able to discern the best tool for particular tasks—we seem happy to eschew whole new toolkits on the dodgy grounds of ignorance and misconception.

Storytelling and Reflection

Throwing Ideas Under the Bus

Throwing Our Own Ideas Under the Bus: Ross Cooper discusses the idea of putting your worst foot forward taken from Adam Grant’s book Originals. This involves trusting the idea at hand and starting with reasons why it might fail. Cooper suggests that this can be useful as it disarms the audience, critique involves effort, helps to build trust and leaves audience with a more favourable assessment. He also looks at this alongside Simon Sinek’s concept of ‘start with why’, highlighting the reason why and the challenges that might be faced. I wonder if the challenge in focusing on the why and why not is about finding balance? This reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion of Generous Orthodoxy.

As an elementary school principal, here’s the approach I’ve been taking with change: “Here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we’re doing it, and here are some of the ways I will support you!” Now I’ll be toying around with the idea of also proactively addressing the elephants in the room. Furthermore, we should allow for teachers and staff to respectfully and honestly discuss these obstacles, as opposed to us trying to sweep them under the rug. After all, flaws will be talked about in one way or another, and critical conversation that gives everyone a voice is preferred to potential venting in the faculty room.

The future will be dockless: could a city really run on ‘floating transport’?: Alex Hern discusses the rise of floating transport, something that I touched on recently with the demise of oBike in Melbourne. Hern captures a number of stories from around the world of hope for efficiency, but also issues associated with shared spaces. I am taken by Hern’s closing remarks concerning reliability over flexibility. This leaves me thinking that sometimes what is required is community and sometimes that involves patience. What is the cost to the public/private transport industry when everyone relies on private personal transport models like Bird or Uber?

Ultimately, floating transport is going to have to learn another lesson that conventional transportation bodies have taken to heart: flexible may be fun, but cities run on reliable.

i am sorry: Pernille Ripe reflects on life as a connected educator. She discusses the stress, anxieties and perceived responsibilities that come with being an educelebrity. Although we often talk about the technicalities associated with being (digitally) literate, what is sometimes overlooked are the social consequences. This is something that Austin Kleon also recently reflected upon.

So it is time for me to step back a bit. To do less work publicly, to share less, to not be so immediately available. To be just Pernille, the person who doesn’t have all of the answers necessarily. That only creates something because she cannot help it. That gives all of her when she is in a public space, but then steps back when she is private.

Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms: Natasha Singer discusses Facebook’s continual push for facial recognition. She traces some of the history associated with Facebook’s push into this area, including various roadblocks such as GDPR. She also looks at some of the patent applications. This made me wonder how many patents actually come to fruition and how many are a form of indirect marketing? Elsewhere, Doug Levin explains why facial recognition has no place in schools, especially the way Curtin University is using it.

Cameras near checkout counters could capture shoppers’ faces, match them with their social networking profiles and then send purchase confirmation messages to their phones.

The anti-cottonwool schools where kids stare down risk in favour of nature play: This article from the ABC discusses a couple of schools in Western Australia that have reduced the rules on outdoor play. This reminds me of Narissa Leung’s use of old bricks and Adrian Camm’s use of odd material to engage with play.

Mr Smith said whereas students would previously come to the office complaining of injury, they are now too busy to make a fuss. “Students are becoming more resilient and getting on with it.” The school has just three rules — no stacking milk creates, no walking on the large wooden spools and no tying rope to yourself.

The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Erika Christakis discusses the challenges of parenting in a digital age. This all comes down to distractions and as I have touched on before, this is not always digital. I really like danah boyd’s strategy for dealing with this, that is to say why you are using a device. This openness offers a useful point of reflection. I think that the conclusion to this article says it all though, “put down your damned phone.”

Parents should give themselves permission to back off from the suffocating pressure to be all things to all people. Put your kid in a playpen, already! Ditch that soccer-game appearance if you feel like it. Your kid will be fine. But when you are with your child, put down your damned phone.

FOCUS ON … SPACE

Murdoch on Noticing

I was recently challenged on the place of space in regards to learning. I recorded a microcast on the topic, but I haven’t had the chance to put all my thoughts together. In the interim, I have collected together a number of posts on the topic. If you have any others to add to the mix, I would love to read them.

  • Imagining Different Learning Spaces: Jon Corripo provided his suggestions for redesigning a classroom space which again sparked my imagination.
  • Flexible Seating: What’s the Point?: Chris Wejr reflects on his experiences in reviewing flexible learning spaces. This includes the reasons to re-design, as well as a series of thoughts associated with the process of re-imagining.
  • Why I Hate Classroom Themes: Emily Fintelman reflects on classroom themes and wonders what impact they are really having on learning. She suggests that our focus should be on how spaces are structured and strategies that can be used to give students more voice.
  • Flexible Classrooms: Research Is Scarce, But Promising: What is interesting about this report is that rather than discussing furniture in isolation, it is considered as a part of a wider conversation about learning and environment. The impact of flexible spaces though can be almost incidental at times, as is with the case of Maths. This speaks of agency as much as it does of the chairs in the classroom.
  • Adding the Learning Back to Space: A reflection on an outdoor learning space and the potential of technology to increase learning and engagement.
  • Benefits of Flexible Learning Spaces #1 Teaching in Teams: Stephen Rowe explains that teachers working in teams is a significant benefit that arises from teaching in an open learning space.
  • Designing Learning Spaces – putting the cart before the horse: June Wall and Jonathon Mascorella define learning environments as a set of physical and digital locations, context and cultures in which students learn.
  • Learning Space Design Inspiration: Steve Brophy collects together a number of ideas and inspirations associated with learning spaces.
  • Beanbags in Space: Matt Esterman suggests that what most teachers want is a more shiny version of what they have, because they are not trained as designers (usually) and are so often hemmed in by the expectations of current reality.
  • Inquiry, noticing and the changing seasons… A tribute to the late Frank Ryan: Kath Murdoch reflects on the potential of the environment associated with inquiry.
  • Coalescent Spaces: Dave White considers the impact of digital technologies on the creation of coalescent learning spaces.
  • Seeing Spaces: Bret Victor reimagines the makerspace built around tinkering and argues that it is in ‘seeing’ that we are able to make this a science.
  • Communities, Networks and Connected Learning with Google: Technology enables us to easily develop digital communities and networks inside and outside of the classroom. The reality though is that connected learning is as much about creating spaces for learning and building on that.

READ WRITE RESPOND #031

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

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Cover image via JustLego101.