I moved departments and subsequently desks. It is interesting how the space you work can influence you. It has provided me a totally different perspective on the project, as well as feel more at home as I was the only one in my old team bridging the gap between the learning, teaching and the central management system. In my new team everyone is involved in integrating with the system, it is therefore helpful in developing a more systemic view.
In regards to the family, our youngest continues to excel with swimming. It seems like the centre questions her age every second week, assuming that she is ready to move up. In part this is confidence, as well as having an older influence around.
The oldest one has turned into a walking karaoke machine, pumping out song after song. She has also continued to develop her own songs on keyboard, mashing up her practice tunes with her own hook lines. Only three chords away from being a star!
Personally, I have been reading James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age. I have also been listening to the latest offerings from Father John Misty, The Presets, Soulwax and Snow Patrol, as well as way too much Baby Shark.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
Being Analogue: Often we talk about ‘being digital’ but what does this imply in reverse? What might it mean in today’s day and age to be analogue?
Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …
Learning and Teaching
Digital Portfolios and Content: Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano unpacks a number of questions and considerations associated with digital portfolios. This includes being open to authentic audiences, reimagining the idea of branding, creating a consistent habit and ethically using content. In a separate post, Diane Kashin reflects upon the interpretative nature of documentation. It can be so easy to discuss the use of technology to support the process, however this is often to no avail without pedagogy and a purpose.
Don’t create content for content sake. The content of your digital portfolio needs to be seen as an attempt in learning, evidence of learning, the process of learning, and/or growth in learning.
With Lessons from the Screenplay, I make videos that analyse movie scripts to examine exactly how and why they are so good at telling their stories. Part educational series and part love letter to awesome films, Lessons from the Screenplay aims to be a fun way to learn more about your favourite films and help us all become better storytellers.
Which book I choose to share depends on the lesson. I treat it much like a short story in what I want students to get out of it so it has to suit the very purpose we are trying to understand. I introduce the concept by sharing a story and then I ask my students to come as close as they can to the rocking chair in our corner. Once settled, whether on the floor, on balls or on chairs, I read it aloud. We stop and talk throughout as needed but not on every page, it should not take more than 10 minutes at most to get through an average size picture book. If it is a brand new concept I may just have students listen, while other times they might engage in a turn-and-talk. I have an easel right next to me and at times we write our thoughts on that. Sometimes we make an anchor chart, it really just depends on the purpose of the lesson. Often a picture book is used as one type of media on a topic and we can then branch into excerpts from text, video, or audio that relates to the topic.
Effort and Achievement Charts: Emily Fintelmen reflects on the co-construction of charts and culture in the classroom. This approach offers an opportunity to unpack various myths, such as whether a silent classroom constitutes a good classroom. Maria Popova provides a lengthier introduction to the concept of growth mindset, while I have written about effort and encouragement in the past.
Once we have determined what effort looks like, we map out what kind of achievement we would expect to get out of it using real scenarios.
From the beach as place to the forest as place, what is important is the meaning making. Cumming and Nash (2015) discovered that not only do children develop a sense of place from their experiences learning in the forest, they also form an emotional attachment to place that contributes to place meaning. Place meaning can help to explain why people may be drawn to particular places. Place meaning helps to support the development of place identity, and to promote a sense of belonging. I am grateful for the opportunity this summer to experience the beach and the forest. It is my hope that children will be given the gifts of these places too.
Our technologies are extensions of ourselves, codified in machines and infrastructures, in frameworks of knowledge and action. Computers are not here to give us all the answers, but to allow us to put new questions, in new ways, to the universe.
GitHub represents a big Undo button for Microsoft, too. For many years, Microsoft officially hated open source software. The company was Steve Ballmer turning bright colors, sweating through his shirt, and screaming like a Visigoth. But after many years of ritual humiliation in the realms of search, mapping, and especially mobile, Microsoft apparently accepted that the 1990s were over. In came Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, who not only likes poetry and has a kind of Obama-esque air of imperturbable capability, but who also has the luxury of reclining Smaug-like atop the MSFT cash hoard and buying such things as LinkedIn Corp. Microsoft knows it’s burned a lot of villages with its hot, hot breath, which leads to veiled apologies in press releases. “I’m not asking for your trust,” wrote Nat Friedman, the new CEO of GitHub who’s an open source leader and Microsoft developer, on a GitHub-hosted web page when the deal was announced, “but I’m committed to earning it.”
How (and Why) Ed-Tech Companies Are Tracking Students’ Feelings: Benjamin Herold takes a dive into the rise of edtech to measure the ‘whole’ student, with a particular focus on wellbeing. Something that Martin E. P. Seligman has discussed about in regards to Facebook. Having recently been a part of demonstration of SEQTA, I understand Ben Williamson’s point that this “could have real consequences.” The concern is that not all consequences are good. Will Richardson shares his concern that we have forgotten about learning and the actual lives of the students. Providing his own take on the matter, Bernard Bull has started a seven-part series looking at the impact of AI on education, while Neil Selwyn asks the question, “who does the automated system tell the teacher to help first – the struggling girl who rarely attends school and is predicted to fail, or a high-flying ‘top of the class’ boy?” Selwyn also explains why teachers will never be replaced.
For years, there’s been a movement to personalize student learning based on each child’s academic strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Now, some experts believe such efforts shouldn’t be limited to determining how well individual kids spell or subtract. To be effective, the thinking goes, schools also need to know when students are distracted, whether they’re willing to embrace new challenges, and if they can control their impulses and empathize with the emotions of those around them. To describe this constellation of traits and abilities, education experts use a host of often-overlapping terms, such as social-emotional skills, non-cognitive abilities, character traits, and executive functions.
Hacking the ISTE18 Smart Badge: Doug Levin reflects on the introduction of ‘smart badges’ at ISTE. Really just a Bluetooth tracking device that then allowed vendors (and anyone for that matter) to collect data on attendees. Levin hacked a badge to unpack their use. He explains that with little effort they could be used by anybody to track somebody. Audrey Watters suggests that, “ISTE has helped here to normalize surveillance as part of the ed-tech experience. She suggests that it is only time that this results in abuse. Gary Stager concern is the “denaturing of educational computing’s powerful potential.” Mike Crowley wonders why in a post-GDPR world attendees are not asked for consent, while David Golumbia wonders if we really know what personal data is? If this is the future, then maybe Levin’s ‘must-have’ guide will be an important read for everyone.
There are three points about the risks of what ISTE deployed at their conference to know: (1) the ‘smart badge’ is a really effective locator beacon, transmitting signals that are trivial to intercept and read, (2) you can’t turn it off, and (3) most people I spoke to had no idea how it worked. (I freaked out more than a few people by telling them what their badge number was by reading it from my phone. Most of those incidents ended up with ‘smart badges’ being removed and destroyed.)
How to Fight Amazon: Robinson Meyer unpacks the story of Lina Khan and her investigation into Amazon and the antitrust movement. This stems from a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” Khan wrote in the Yale Law Review. Although Meyer focuses on Amazon, this has ramifications for all the platform monopolies. It is also increasingly having an influence on education. Mike Caulfield puts forward another response, arguing that rather than worrying about the Walmarts and Amazons, we should use the money saved to fund an organisation that supports your aims.
When a company has such power, Khan believes, it will almost inevitably wield that power far and wide, distorting not just the market itself, but the whole of American life. With sufficient power, companies can commission studies, rewrite regulations, bulldoze neighborhoods, and impoverish education and welfare systems by securing billions in sweetheart tax cuts. When a company comes to monopolize a market—when it grows so big that it can threaten other industries just by entering them—it ceases to be merely a company. It becomes an institution so powerful that it can rule over people like a government.
Storytelling and Reflection
Your ABC: Value, Investment and Return for the Community: In response to the recent call to sell the ABC, Michelle Guthrie presents a speech explaining the value of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in today’s world. I must be honest, I don’t listen to ABC radio as much as I used to, however I follow a number of podcasts, such as RN Future Tense, and often turn to their website as a first port of call for news. In a time when there is a lot of discussion about the ownership of core infrastructure, it seems strange to sell the ABC. I wonder if this is a reflection of the changes to the media landscape that my nostalgia is overlooking?
What price do you put on public trust in an independent, commercial-free news organisation at a time of fragmentation and disruption? As the Prime Minister himself noted at the Liberal Party council meeting, it is difficult to establish the facts in a disputed media landscape full of echo chambers and “fake news” outlets.
Are You Blithely Unaware of How Educational Research Impacts You?: Peter DeWitt reflects on the place of research within education. He makes a comparison with the Devil Wears Prada and the way we assume fashion changes and trends. I find this interesting as both fashion and research are often outside of the reach people and pedagogues. This is epitomised by the story of Aaron Swartz who died campaigning against research hidden by paywalls. Is it possible for all educators to feasibly have access to research or is this another example of have’s or have not’s?
There are teachers and leaders who believe that researchers have little to do with their classroom practice, but the reality is that what researchers do has a direct effect on everything that happens in the classroom. We may think that we work in silent protest to research but the reality is that it all trickles down into our little casual corner called our classrooms and schools. And we should stop being blithely unaware of it all.
How Informal Learning Gets Misunderstood (And Misinterpreted): David Price responds to the criticism that creativity is dependant on a cache of knowledge. Referring to his experiences with Musical Futures, Price explains that it is creativity and passion which lead to an interest in knowledge and theory, not vice versa. Something he also discusses in his book Open. This reminds me of a post from Amy Burvall who also discusses the importance of having dots to construct ideas. Interestingly, Brian Eno suggests that such ‘dots’ can grow out of shit. Reflecting on the growing trend to ban devices, Mal Lee and Roger Broadie suggest that banning will have no impact on students digital learning and will instead have a detrimental effect on agency within schools.
The inconvenient truth is that students don’t need ‘experts’ the way they used to. Knowledge is ubiquitous. Any teacher that thinks that they don’t need to change as a result of this truth is doing their students a disservice. Make no mistake: the real learning revolution has already happened, it just doesn’t involve those of us who teach. Because they real revolution is in the phenomenal growth in informal and social learning — as practised by the Beatles and, now, all of us.
Team Human: Don’t have to look like a refugee: Douglas Rushkoff reflects on the current crisis involving children been taken off their parents. He suggests that it is less about politics (or the Bible), and more about propaganda with the creation of dehumanising images of children in cages. Rushkoff’s answer is to focus on the intimacy of the sounds. Bill Fitzgerald wonders how much of this is spoken about at events such as ISTE? It can be easy to think, ‘that is America’, but Australia is no better. Whether it be the stolen generation or detention centres, Australia has had its own examples of abuse.
Forget the reality — that Mexicans are actually emigrating from the US back to Mexico: there’s a net decrease. That more immigrants come from China and India than the south. The only way to understand the Trump administration’s proposed wall is as a safety play for global warming. Instead of admitting there’s an environmental crisis underway and reducing carbon emissions, just accept the inevitable climate crisis, and barricade the nation from the inevitable flow of refugees from the south. Whatever we’re doing now is simply priming the American public for the inhumanity to come.
The 12-month turnaround: How the dumpers drove oBike out of town: I remember when I first saw an oBike in action, a guy rolled up to a train station and dumped it near the on ramp. In this article from The Age, Simone Fox Koob reflects on their rise and fall in Melbourne. The dockless bike share scheme is managed by a mobile app. After concerns were raised around Uber, I was sceptical of the data collected by the company. I feel the disruption may have gone too far and caused the creative revolt. It will be interesting to see how competitors respond and what – if any – changes they make.
Interviewing CogDogBlog.com: Alan Levine provides the back story to ‘cog’ (interest in bikes), ‘dog’ (interest in dogs). He also unpacks the numerous hallways and secret chambers that make up CogDogBlog.
The Story of My Domain: Chris Aldrich explains the meaning behind ‘BoffoSocko’ and the ways he uses his site as a commonplace book. He also shares his belief in the #IndieWeb and the ability for everyone to self-publish.
Interviewing my Digital Domains: Ian O’Byrne shares his interest and focus on documenting his learning openly online. This exercise has evolved through many iterations. Associated with this, Chris Aldrich wrote a post build around the use of Hypothesis to capture and curate highlights and marginalia. A post which Ian annotated in response.
Interviewing My Domain: Tom Woodward provides the stories and choices associated with his domains. He suggests that the biggest challenge with maintaining your own domain is sustaining it over time.
Why Domain: John Stewart discusses the association between domains and being found on the web. Although you can write a book or publish an article, a domain allows us to be found on the web.
Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite for May 2018.
Introducing Google Maps Platform – Google are simplifying their18 individual APIs into three core products—Maps, Routes and Places, to make it easier for develops to find, explore and add new features to your apps and sites.
Introducing Google AI – Google will reorganise their focus on research to focus on AI. These channels will continue to showcase the breadth of Google research, innovation and publications, in addition to a lot more new and exciting content to come.
SUBJECT: Write emails faster with Smart Compose in Gmail – From your greeting to your closing (and common phrases in between), Smart Compose suggests complete sentences in your emails so that you can draft them with ease. Because it operates in the background, you can write an email like you normally would, and Smart Compose will offer suggestions as you type. When you see a suggestion that you like, click the “tab” button to use it.
Now students can create their own VR tours – Tour Creator enables students, teachers, and anyone with a story to tell, to make a VR tour using imagery from Google Street View or their own 360 photos, as well as publish them to Poly, Google’s library of 3D content.
6 ways Quizzes in Google Forms are getting smarter – Google has released six new features based on valuable feedback from teachers and designed to help educators continue using Quizzes in Google Forms in creative ways. A lot of this revolves around the use of AI.
Export all your G Suite data in one step – In line with GDPR requirements, Google are introducing data export for admins, a new feature to make it even easier to export and download a copy of an organisations data securely.
Automatic Photography with Google Clips – Google demonstrate how they combine the objective, semantic content of photographs with subjective human preferences to build the AI behind Google Clips.
Gmail will now remind you to respond – The new Gmail will now “nudge” users to reply to emails they may have missed and to follow up on emails for which they haven’t received a response.
Gmail will now remind you to respond – The new Gmail will now “nudge” users to reply to emails they may have missed and to follow up on emails for which they haven’t received a response.
It’s spring cleaning time for Blogger – In preparation for some coming updates, Google are making some changes to Blogger, including more flexibility in sharing with Google+, the removal of the ‘Next Blog’ button and removal of third party gadgets.
Making Admin Quarantine easier, quicker, and safer – In response to feedback, Google are making it easier to see why emails have been quarantined directly in the Admin Quarantine interface. This information will make it quicker to review emails and easier to identify the right action.
Introducing YouTube Premium – YouTube Red is becoming YouTube Premium and will include the addition of YouTube Music, which allows for the features associated with YouTube Red in a standalone music app.
Evolving Chrome’s security indicators – Since Google will soon start marking all HTTP pages as “not secure”, they will take step further towards removing Chrome’s positive security indicators so that the default unmarked state is secure.
YouTube Music, a new music streaming service, is coming soon to Australia. – YouTube Music is a new music streaming service made for music: official songs, albums, thousands of playlists and artist radio plus YouTube’s tremendous catalog of remixes, live performances, covers and music videos that you can’t find anywhere else – all simply organised and personalised. For the first time, all the ways music moves you can be found in one place.
Expanding Braille support in Google Sheets – As part of Google’s ongoing effort to make their products more accessible, they are expanding support for Sheets on Windows computers via the latest versions of the JAWS and NVDA screen readers.
Admin preview for Google Sites automatic conversion tool – Google is introducing a tool that makes it fast and easy to move a site created in classic Sites to the new Google Sites interface. This will be available to admins from May 22nd, and will start to become available to end users who own eligible sites on June 19th.
Built-in protections and controls for Team Drives – Google have added the ability for users* to modify the settings for any Team Drive to specify whether the files in that Team Drive can be: Shared with users who are not in their domain; Shared with users who are not members of the Team Drive or Downloaded, copied; or printed by commenters and viewers.
A Google Maps and Earth Activity for Art Classes – Richard Byrne demonstrates the potential for Google Earth to support learners in developing a deeper understanding of the context associated with art by mapping where a piece is housed, where it was created, where the artist lived, and the places that inspired the artist.
Welcome to the Google Extended Universe – Paris Martineau reports on Google’s host of new plans and products, most of which appear to be designed to work in tandem, silently sharing your data, habits, and preferences from one app to another.
Did Google Duplex just pass the Turing Test? – Lance Ulanoff explains that eventually, we’ll have our Duplex voices call each other, handling pleasantries and making plans, which Google Assistant can then drop in our Google Calendar.
Google Report Reveals State of K-12 Computer Science Education – Authored by Paulo Blikstein, assistant professor of education and (by courtesy) computer science at Stanford, the report — Pre-College Computer Science Education: A Survey of the Field — was commissioned by Google to shine a light on where CS education stands today and where it needs to go.
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:
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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:
Facebook and Google targeted as first GDPR complaints filed: Alex Hern reports on Noyb’s test of the new regulations. The case being tested is whether the processing of data for targeted advertising can be argued to be necessary for the fulfilment of a contract to provide services such as social networking or instant messaging.
Comments on ClassDojo controversy: Ben Williamson addresses a number of questions leveled at Class Dojo, especially in light of the current concern around data. One of the points that he makes that really stuck out was the notion of ‘sensitive data’. Often this is defined by privacy, however as Williamson explains the collection of data over time actually has the potential to turn the seemingly arbitrary into sensitive data.
I am a data factory (and so are you): Nicholas Carr reflects on the metaphors that we use and demonstrates some of the flaws, particularly when they are used against us inadvertently. Although not explicitly about GDPR, it has ramifications for the way we talk about it.
READ WRITE RESPOND #029
So that is May for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.
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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 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 ideology
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.