Bookmarked Cursive Handwriting and Other Education Myths (Nautilus)
The grip that cursive has on teaching is sustained by folklore and prejudice.
This is a deep dive into the benefits of cursive handwriting. This is another one of those ‘the way it has always been done’ stories. It is useful to read this along side Bernard Bull’s post and the Future Tense podcast which explores handwriting in general.
Bookmarked The GIF as an increasingly important visual communication tool (Radio National)
The GIF, this little looped video, is often misunderstood as a component of modern communication.
Antony Funnell leads a discussion into the place of GIFs in modern communication. This includes contributions from:

  • Gretchen McCulloch – Montreal-based Internet linguist – on the role of visual information.
  • David McIntosh – CEO and co-founder, Tenor (formerly Riffsy) – on the possibility of a Gif keyboard

  • Dr Tim Highfield – Research Fellow, Digital Media Research Centre, QUT – on the curtural dimensions.

  • Cheney Brew – Trove Digital Communications Officer, National Library of Australia on the GIF IT UP competition

I have written about GIFs before, even created a collection of GIFs for my colleagues on leaving my old organisation. However, this podcast provides some of the background to them.

Bookmarked An American Chromebook Crisis: new report shows sad trends of how students are using the devices by Andy Losik (andylosik.blogspot.com.au)
When the technological investment in five million learners is being primarily spent playing games with questionable educational benefit, taking low level assessments, and watching YouTube then we have an edtech crisis on our hands. We can have "certified this" and "distinguished that" honors in our email signatures and be "ambassadors" for a thousand apps and sites but this report shows us the grim reality of how devices are really being used.
Andy Losik provides a summary of the Go Guardian 2018 Benchmark Report: An analysis of emerging trends in Chromebook usage. He highlights his concern about what time is being spent on:

A huge amount of Chromebook use is being spent on educationally questionable video games, low level assessments, and YouTube

I think that this all highlights another point, the influence of outside influences on education. Whether it be Go Guardian, Kahoot! or Texthelp, every company is now a data company – a point Genevieve Bell makes. The concern is whose data? I wonder where such collections will sit with the changes associated with GDPR.

N.B. Don’t tell Stager!

Bookmarked Some Small Ideas to Help Students Self-Select Books Better by Pernille Ripp (pernillesripp.com)
I was asked this morning on Twitter how we move students beyond wanting hand-picked recommendations every time they book shop. How do they move beyond needing someone, typically, the adult or trusted reading role model to help them find the next book to read?
Pernille Ripp lists the things that she does to move students from hand-picked books:

  • We build our libraries, both whole school and classroom libraries.
  • We carefully craft our book displays.
  • We have a to-be-read list.
  • We book talk books almost every day.
  • We do lessons on how to book shop.
  • We just say no.
  • We dive into their reading identity.
  • We read every single day in class.

This continues on from an earlier post discussing reading programs

Bookmarked Disengaged by Design: The Neoconservative War on Youth by Benjamin Doxtdator (Long View on Education)
My broad argument is that no, students are not disengaged because schools are stuck in the past, but because schools are caught in the present strong current of policies that constantly re-shape and re-design schools – and life more broadly – to civically and politically disengage youth. To wage a war on them.
This is the text of a talk that Benjamin Doxtdator gave at #BrewEdWake on Saturday Jan 20, 2018 on the educational policies designed to disengage youth. This ‘war’ is in response to what students might offer:

Peterson is an example of what I have in mind when I talk about the ‘war on youth’, a phrase which comes from Henry Giroux. In the neoconservative attack, youth are triply marginalised because it is claimed:

  • they don’t know anything
  • they are ‘fragile snowflakes’ and ‘play victim’

  • they are dangerous to free speech (read: dangerous to the identity politics of wealthy white men)

These attacks are always racist and sexist, directed against people who are poor and the most marginalised and vulnerable. 

Doxtdator also wonders where the hope is:

It’s difficult to see radical possibilities of hope for youth in either of the main reform movements: the neoconservatives see youth as dangerous, but the neoliberal ‘future proof’ movement also tells a story about the value of youth that too often “forecloses hope” (Henry Giroux).

This is the story that is not told when we talk about students being ‘entrepreneurs’ and creating the future.

Bookmarked HEWN, No. 251 (TinyLetter)
Amazon’s the sleeper to watch. It’s the one I think is increasingly shaping how we think about learning and how we think about work – and central to both in the American ideology, of course – how we think about consumption. The company has made a few gestures at “the education space.” It’s acquired math worksheet company. It’s launched Amazon Inspire – what it calls “an open collaboration service” (or more accurately, a site where educators can find and download and probably some day buy digital lessons and resources). Amazon also remains the go-to site for purchasing textbooks online. And ed-tech evangelists, as they’re wont to do, continue to write silly things about Alexa and the future of the “voice-activated classroom”
Bookmarked Turnitin User Agreement: I disagree by Hans de Zwart (blog.hansdezwart.nl)
I have better things to do than read the whole text (~ 5.100 words) but I did read enough to know that I couldn’t agree with this User Agreement. Instead I decided to write this blog post explaining what I find so disagreeable.
Hans de Zwart writes a Turn It In user agreement that he would be will to sign:

My work can only be used by Turnitin to check for plagiarism.
As I see no reason for it being my responsibility to help Turnitin get better at doing their job (by giving them the ability to recognise when somebody plagiarizes my work), I want Turnitin to delete my work as soon as the check has been done.
If Turnitin relies on third parties to do the plagiarism check, then I would need a limitative list of these parties and the assurance that the above two conditions will also count for them.

For more on Turn It In, read this post by Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel.

Bookmarked Stop Looking at My Bad Leg: Introduction to my new book: Reach for Greatness (Education in the Age of Globalization)
Current understandings of human nature and human learning suggest that human beings are differently talented (Gardner, 1983, 2006) and have different desires and interests (Reiss, 2000, 2004). Thanks to the diversity in the environment in which they are born, humans also have different experiences that interact with their natural talents and interests to give each person a unique, jagged profile of abilities and desires, stronger in some areas and weaker in others (Ridley, 2003; Rose, 2016). In other words, everyone has a handsome leg and, at the same time, a deformed leg.
This is the introduction to Yong Zhao’s new book Reach for Greatness: Personalizable Education for All. It continues some of the ideas Rose discussed in his book, The End of Average. However, on first glance it seems to overlook other aspects to education, such as society.

One quote that caught my attention was the association between experiences and greatness:

experiences have costs and risks. Every experience requires time, and some require money and extra effort. Thus, adults want every activity their children experience to be positive, to lead to some desirable outcome. They don’t want their children to waste their time, energy, or money, or worse, to have experiences that may have a negative impact. Responsible adults naturally have a tendency to prescribe experiences for children. The result is that many children are allowed to have only experiences deemed to be beneficial and safe by adults.

I think that this is where the difference between individual and society stands out, in that you cannot have people achieving their own sense of greatness if the access to experiences is not equitable. This was not something discussed in a recent debate on the ABC around private vs. public education.

I am also intrigued by the link with Wagner’s work too, and am interested in its association with the wider discourse around personalization and how this differs from ‘personalised’ learning.

Bookmarked The punk rock internet – how DIY ​​rebels ​are working to ​replace the tech giants by John Harris (the Guardian)
Around the world, a handful of visionaries are plotting an alternative ​online ​future​.​ ​Is it really possible to remake the internet in a way that’s egalitarian, decentralised and free of snooping​?​
John Harris speaks with a number of people about alternatives to today’s dependence on super nodes and silos. Aral Balkan and Laura Kalbag talk about their concept of a indienet where users control their data:

Using the blueprint of Heartbeat, they want to create a new kind of internet they call the indienet – in which people control their data, are not tracked and each own an equal space online. This would be a radical alternative to what we have now: giant “supernodes” that have made a few men in northern California unimaginable amounts of money thanks to the ocean of lucrative personal information billions of people hand over in exchange for their services.

While David Irvine discusses the idea of a distributed SAFE network built on blockchain technology:

The acronym SAFE stands for “Safe Access for Everyone”. In this model, rather than being stored on distant servers, people’s data – files, documents, social-media interactions – will be broken into fragments, encrypted and scattered around other people’s computers and smartphones, meaning that hacking and data theft will become impossible. Thanks to a system of self-authentication in which a Safe user’s encrypted information would only be put back together and unlocked on their own devices, there will be no centrally held passwords.

No one will leave data trails, so there will be nothing for big online companies to harvest. The financial lubricant, Irvine says, will be a cryptocurrency called Safecoin: users will pay to store data on the network, and also be rewarded for storing other people’s (encrypted) information on their devices. Software developers, meanwhile, will be rewarded with Safecoin according to the popularity of their apps. There is a community of around 7,000 interested people already working on services that will work on the Safe network, including alternatives to platforms such as Facebook and YouTube.

It is interesting to consider these ideas alongside that of the #IndieWeb community. I think both are aspiring to create a demonstrably better web. It will be interesting to see where all of this goes.