Bookmarked Education in the (Dis)Information Age - Hybrid Pedagogy by Kris Shaffer (Hybrid Pedagogy)
It's time we brought back the hyperlink and learned how to really use it. It’s time we used information abundance to our advantage. And it’s time we disentangled our communications from platforms tuned for the spread of disinformation. The health of our democracies just might depend on it.
Kris Shaffer reflects on the abundance of information on the web. He suggests that the hyperlink maybe ‘our most potent weapon’ against disinformation:

The oldest and simplest of internet technologies, the hyperlink and the “new” kind of text it affords — hypertext — is the foundational language of the internet, HyperText Markup Language (HTML). Hypertext connects all the disparate pieces of the web together. And it’s Sci-Fi name isn’t an accident. It’s hyperdrive for the internet, bending information space so that any user can travel galaxy-scale information distances with a small movement of a finger. The hyperlink still remains one of the most powerful elements of the web. In fact, I’d argue that the hyperlink is our most potent weapon in the fight against disinformation.

This potential though is being challenged by platforms that keep users trapped within. This is something that Chris Aldrich touched upon in a recent post about Facebook:

The note post type has long since fallen by the wayside and I rarely, if ever, come across people using it anymore in the wild despite the fact that it’s a richer experience than traditional status updates. I suspect the Facebook black box algorithm doesn’t encourage its use. I might posit that it’s not encouraged as unlike most Facebook functionality, hyperlinks in notes on desktop browsers physically take one out of the Facebook experience and into new windows!

A part of the focus on hyperlinks is an emphasis on organising around canonical links. As Doug Belshaw explains:

Unless it contains sensitive information, publish your work to a public URL that can be referenced by others. This allows ideas to build upon one another in a ‘slow hunch’ fashion. Likewise, with documents and other digital artefacts, publish and then share rather than deal with version control issues by sending the document itself.

Another approach is a federated system, such as Mike Caulfield’s Wikity theme.

Bookmarked Communities or networks? – Matthew Esterman – Medium by Matthew Esterman (Medium)
The most useful network or community is the one you can build with your immediate team and colleagues in your school. They’re in the context and in the ‘know’. They’re accountable with you and they know the support structures — especially if it’s them — and can act on them. If you don’t feel you’re getting that support, find a mentor outside the context and learn to build relationships within. We need to be an active participant in those networks we choose to belong.
Matt Esterman reflects on the place of associations. Beyond reviewing our assumed attendances to such communities, Esterman recommends forming local networks. I have tried this in the past. The challenge I found with ‘local’ is catching up and being proactive.
Bookmarked Why We Forget Most of the Books We Read (The Atlantic)
To me, it doesn’t seem like narcissism to remember life’s seasons by the art that filled them—the spring of romance novels, the winter of true crime. But it’s true enough that if you consume culture in the hopes of building a mental library that can be referred to at any time, you’re likely to be disappointed. Books, shows, movies, and songs aren’t files we upload to our brains—they’re part of the tapestry of life, woven in with everything else. From a distance, it may become harder to see a single thread clearly, but it’s still in there.
Julie Beck discusses reading and suggests that unless we do something with it within 24-hours then it often disappears. Associated with this, she recommends reading more slowly if we are to take them in. This builds on Ryan Halliday’s point to do something with what you read. I am also left wondering about the connections with digital literacies to support this.
Bookmarked PISA-shock: how we are sold the idea our PISA rankings are shocking and the damage it is doing to schooling in Australia by an author (EduResearch Matters)
The PISA-shock type media coverage has huge policy effects. Governments make decisions that have lasting fallout on our education systems as a result of this coverage. However the deep inequities of performance based on socio-economic background that show up in detailed PISA results and the differences between the jurisdictional schooling systems is where the media should be shining the spotlight. This is where the real story of what is happening in school education in Australia can be uncovered. This is where policy makers should be searching for policy changing data.
Aspa Baroutsis and Bob Lingard provide a summary of their analysis of the PISA reporting in the media and the subsequent ‘shock’ that it induced. This provides a good starting point in understanding some of the challenges assocaited with PISA. For extended response, read Sam Sellar, Greg Thompson and David Rutkowski’s book, The Global Education Race, Taking the Measure of PISA and International Testing.
Bookmarked The Dark Arts of Our Agents of Change (Modern Learners)
When we talk about school change, we usually refer to changeleaders, but by far the largest number of change influencers are the global tribe of curious, somewhat subversive teachers who are committed to school being a better place for their students. They are our agents of change.
Bruce Dixon reflects on the role of teachers as change agents. He identifies four tactics used:

  • Focus on learning, not on change.
  • Focus on the ‘why’ not the ‘how.’
  • See change as a journey, not a blueprint.
  • Share ideas by taking down walls not building fences.
  • Know the importance of  ‘winning the war,’ not fighting battles.

This reminds me in part of Will Richardson’s keynote for TL21C a few years ago. There Will argued for 10% at a time.

Bookmarked Fake news has a long history. Beware the state being keeper of ‘the truth’ | Kenan Malik by Kenan Malik (the Guardian)
Tempting as it is to legislate against manipulated ‘facts’, it both misguided and dangerous
It would seem that many states are trying to clamp down on the problem of ‘fake News’. Kenan Malik explains that not only is this not a new problem, but the solution does not involve the state, rather it involves trust:

There is another change, too. In the past, those with power manipulated facts so as to present lies as truth. Today, lies are often accepted as truth because the very notion of truth is fragmenting. “Truth” often has little more meaning than: “This is what I believe” or: “This is what I think should be true”. On issues from Brexit to same-sex marriage, all sides cling to their view as the truth, refusing to engage with “alternate” views. As Donald Trump has so ably demonstrated, the cry of “fake news” has become a way of dismissing inconvenient truths. And from China to the Philippines, repressive regimes use the charge of “fake news” to impose censorship and crush dissent.

This is why Mike Caulfield’s work is so important. Rather than pushing solutions onto citizens, we need to build the capacity of people to dig further.

Bookmarked Facebook has a Big Tobacco Problem (mondaynote.com)
Facebook’s problems are more than a temporary bad PR issue. Its behavior contributes to a growing negative view of the entire tech industry.
Frederic Filloux compares the current situation with Facebook to the collapse of the tobacco industry in the 90’s. The first comparison is the denial of intent:

Facebook never sought to be the vector of in-depth knowledge for its users, or a mind-opener to a holistic view of the world. Quite the opposite. It encouraged everyone (news publishers for instance) to produce and distribute the shallowest possible content, loaded with cheap emotion, to stimulate sharing. It fostered the development of cognitive Petri dishes in which people are guarded against any adverse opinion or viewpoint, locking users in an endless feedback loop that has become harmful to democracy. Facebook knew precisely what it was building: a novel social system based on raw impulse, designed to feed an advertising monster that even took advantage of racism and social selectiveness

The other comparison is with Facebooks intrusion into the third world:

As in the 1990’s, when Big Tobacco felt its home market dwindling, the companies decided to stimulate smoking in the Third World. Facebook’s tactics are reminiscence of that. Today, it subsidizes connectivity in the developing world, offering attractive deals to telecoms in Asia and Africa, in exchange for making FB the main gateway to the internet. In India, Facebook went a bit too far with Free Basic, an ill-fated attempt to corner the internet by providing a free or nearly free data plan. Having some experience with Western colonialism, the Indian government rejected the deal.

More information to add to the discussion regarding sharecropping and Facebook.

Bookmarked The cost of reporting while female (Columbia Journalism Review)
Over the course of nearly 200 years, female journalists have been under threat because of their gender, race, beat, views, and coverage.
Anne Helen Petersen documents a number of examples where women have been threatened while working as journalists. This includes a series of historical cases. This reminded me of Lindy West’s confrontation of troll and why he chose to do what he did. I am always left wondering what the answer is, sometimes fearing that such thinking creates more problems than solutions. Maybe there is something in Sherri Spelic’s suggestion to ‘think small’:

Sometimes it pays off to think small. Think next door, down the hall, at the next meeting. Act large in small spaces. Notice who’s speaking and who isn’t. Practice not knowing and being curious. Be kind. Welcome warmly and mean it.

via Audrey Watters newsletter

Bookmarked The offloading ape: the human is the beast that automates – Antone Martinho-Truswell | Aeon Essays (Aeon)
It’s not tools, culture or communication that make humans unique but our knack for offloading dirty work onto machines
Antone Martinho-Truswell looks into the differences between humans and animals, suggesting that what stands us apart is cognitive and physical automation.

There are two ways to give tools independence from a human, I’d suggest. For anything we want to accomplish, we must produce both the physical forces necessary to effect the action, and also guide it with some level of mental control. Some actions (eg, needlepoint) require very fine-grained mental control, while others (eg, hauling a cart) require very little mental effort but enormous amounts of physical energy. Some of our goals are even entirely mental, such as remembering a birthday. It follows that there are two kinds of automation: those that are energetically independent, requiring human guidance but not much human muscle power (eg, driving a car), and those that are also independent of human mental input (eg, the self-driving car). Both are examples of offloading our labour, physical or mental, and both are far older than one might first suppose.

Although it can be misconstrued as making us stupid, the intent of automation is complexity:

The goal of automation and exportation is not shiftless inaction, but complexity. As a species, we have built cities and crafted stories, developed cultures and formulated laws, probed the recesses of science, and are attempting to explore the stars. This is not because our brain itself is uniquely superior – its evolutionary and functional similarity to other intelligent species is striking – but because our unique trait is to supplement our bodies and brains with layer upon layer of external assistance.

My question is whether some automation today is actually intended to be stupid or too convenient as a means of control. This touches on Douglas Rushkoff’s warning ‘program or be programmed. I therefore wonder what the balance is between automation and manually completing various tasks in order to create more complexity.

Bookmarked Different Approaches To Using Student Blogs And Digital Portfolios by Kathleen Morris (The Edublogger)
I have observed differences in how student blogs work in a variety of areas. There appears to be a spectrum in at least six key areas
Kathleen Morris provides a series of steps to follow when setting up blogs in the classroom. She also created a graphic to capture this:

Having said this, she is also mindful that every school has its own context and exists at a different point on the continuum of six aspects: duration, privacy, content, reflection, quality and control.