Replied to On Feeds by john john (

Following a link from Brad I saw the lovely Making Websites Should Be Easy and then the handy What is a feed? (a.k.a. RSS) | About Feeds. Add a link to the last to my sidebar.

John, I really like your idea of including something like Matt Webb’s ‘What is a Feed’ link on my site as reference for wayward visitors who have stumbled off the highway. I like the idea of a newsletter as a feed, rather than another email.
Replied to I Told You So by Audrey WattersAudrey Watters (Second Breakfast)

As I argued in my book Teaching Machines the entire history of education technology, from the first decades of the twentieth century, has been bound up in this quest to automate education. And much of the early history of artificial intelligence too, ever since folks cleverly rebranded it from “cybernetics,” was deeply intertwined with the building of various chatbots and robot tutors. So if you’re out there today trying to convince people that AI in education is something brand new, you’re either a liar or a fool – or maybe both.

I Told You So
by Audrey Watters

The discussion around my edtech job has been how AI can help cutdown on the repetitive and mundane, of doing things like cleaning up duplicate data produced through previous attempts to automate things. I sometimes wonder if such errors occur because when faced with the investment in capacity and how people work, we just double down on more automation?

Replied to by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (

Writing code at a hotel. Wondering if I’ve gone a bit overboard on the mobile setup. Portable monitor, mini PC, keyboard and trackball.

I remember during lockdown when people were sharing their home setups, such as this from Ian O’Byrne. I am however really intrigued by your mobile setup David. Personally, in the new normal of working in and out of the office, I often find myself living off my laptop, but am interested in adding pieces to my kit that are light and flexible. Am intrigued to see how you pack it all up and how heavy it weighs?
Replied to Your Blog Should Have an About Page by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

What to put on that /about page? Just your professional history, making it more like a boring résumé, hoping the blog will help you land a job? Your hobbies and coordinates? Your martial status? A complete summary of the technical tools wielded and endless prowess showcased when building your custom blog engine? A list of social media links where people can also find you? How many years you’ve been uploading words onto a server? A selection of the most popular articles you’ve written so far? A lovely photo of you in a suit presenting something at an important conference?

Your Blog Should Have an About Page by Wouter Groeneveld

Wouter, I have long wondered what should go in my ‘about’ page and how to approach the challenge of telling my story. Sometimes I wonder if I have a story to tell? If so, is it that unique or even important? Groeneveld talks about selling your brand, does everyone have a ‘brand’? I have explored different ways of telling before. This has included Amy Burvall’s #3ofMe project, unofficial CV, my connected story, the story of my domain and Story of Connection. I feel I have always grappled with the balance between my identity associated with work, family, professional and personal interests.
I have been many things in my life. An English teacher. An ICT specialist. An EdTech coach. A primary teacher. An administrator. A student. A functional consultant. A functional specialist. This makes me many things to many people, let alone to myself. I fear that this means that if people come to my blog that they are disappointed as they will always meet with a different identity to the one they expected as it is not a space that can necessarily be everything to everyone. Maybe Adrian Camm’s idea of a ‘user manual‘ is useful?

Replied to Message in a bottle by David TrussDavid Truss (

Write a note, put it in a bottle, cork it, and throw it into the ocean. The tides move the bottle from one shore to another and the message is picked up randomly by a stranger who isn’t expecting the message. An audience of one. Today, the internet lets us toss our message into a […]

Today, the internet lets us toss our message into a cyber ocean. As I write this, I have an idea of some of the people who will see it, but I also know that it has the potential to be picked up by some random person somewhere far away, opened up and read at random, without me ever knowing where my post, my message in a bottle, landed.

David Truss

Hi David, I was wading through my ocean of RSS and this post popped up. Personally, when I publish on the web, I am always left with the thought that it could be read, not that it will be read. This possibility forces me to be clear and concise with what I write. This is something that Clive Thompson once wrote about regarding the power of blogging:

Having an audience can clarify thinking. It’s easy to win an argument inside your head. But when you face a real audience, you have to be truly convincing.

Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter by Clive Thompson

Reflecting on research into education, he argues that their is power in explaining your thoughts.

Children who didn’t explain their thinking performed worst. The ones who recorded their explanations did better.

Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter by Clive Thompson

Interestingly, in reflecting upon Pluralistic and his memex method, Cory Doctorow discusses the importance of doing it first and foremost for yourself.

First and foremost, I do it for me. The memex I’ve created by thinking about and then describing every interesting thing I’ve encountered is hugely important for how I understand the world. It’s the raw material of every novel, article, story and speech I write.

20 years a blogger by Cory Doctorow

Thinking of blogging like this makes me wonder about the ‘message in a bottle’ metaphor. Maybe there is an alternative history to ‘messages in a bottle’, but all the tales that I read about them was that they related to people trying to escape their little island. I am not sure that is why I write? I am happy if someone passing finds my message and wishes to trade ideas, something you commented on ten years ago:

“As connected learners we are not just curating ideas and resources, we are creating relationships, some are just ‘weak ties’ but others are very meaning, rich and strong. I don’t just read Dean, I hear his voice, I connect to previous things he has said, and I pause just a little longer if he says something I disagree with.” David Truss in response to Learning in a Connected World

It Takes a Village … by Aaron Davis

But I am not sure I wanted to be rescued? I wonder if Doctorow’s dandelion metaphor is more apt?

Dandelions produce two thousand seeds every spring, and when a good, stiff breeze comes around, those seeds are blown into the air, going every which way. The dandelion’s strategy is to maximize the number of blind chances it has for continuing its genetic line—not to carefully plot every germination. It works: every summer, every crack in every sidewalk has a dandelion growing out of it.

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free by Cory Doctorow

Replied to Loosening the Shackles: Empowering Growth and Innovation (

After the demanding requirements of finishing my doctoral thesis, the mere thought of delving into another scholarly endeavour feels drainin…

School leaders must be empowered to take the reins and drive meaningful change in the realm of PL. They need the autonomy to design PL experiences that are tailored to the unique needs and context of their school community. This may involve fostering a culture of collaboration, leveraging technology to facilitate ongoing learning, or creating opportunities for job-embedded coaching and mentorship. Furthermore, school leaders require the support and resources necessary to bring their vision for PL to life. This may entail investing in PL opportunities for staff, providing time and space for collaborative enquiry and reflection, or partnering with external organisations to access expertise and resources. The success of any educational initiative hinges on the commitment and vision of its leaders. By empowering school leaders and leadership teams with the autonomy, time, and support needed to reimagine school-embedded PL, we can unlock the full potential of our educators.

Source: Loosening the Shackles: Empowering Growth and Innovation by Andrea Stringer

I read this piece a few weeks ago Andrea and it has really stayed with me.

Firstly, I feel I can relate to your point about once having a window into school via social media and blogs. However, my lack of investment in social media and the changes in that space have left me feeling far less connected. Sometimes I feel like a species caught on the wrong side of continental drift.

On your second point about leaders adapting PL to the needs and context of their school, I recently read Joel Selwood’s autobiography and he discussed the way in which he needed to transition how he lead to accommodate the needs of different group of players:

I was finding it difficult managing the transition from being part of a tough and tight premiership-winning group to needing to teach an emerging group often struggling to find what was right for them. Connecting with people inside and outside the club required more of my energy, and the standards I set for myself were not always met by others.

Although my relationships with teammates were strong enough to avoid animosity, I began to sense I needed to adapt, or my message would stop resonating. What underpinned success for me was not necessarily the same as what drove others, and I was beginning to have conversations with people inside the club about how I could be a better leader.
[Brian Cook] wanted me to develop what he labelled ‘influential skills’ on top of my ‘lead by example’ policy. He could see the young players on our list requiring more of everyone’s time.

Source: All In by Joel Selwood

Although this seems logical when you think about it, I had not considered the fact that the conditions that foster success at one point in time may not foster the same success at another point in time. I guess this comes back to your point about identity and change over time. What was intriguing was the team that he had around him to support this change, whether it be trusted teammates, ex-captain Cameron Ling, club CEO Brian Cook and psychologist Anna Box. Throughout the book, I was continually reminded that it success in any field really does take a village, I just wonder if we always provide the resources to build such a village? Instead, it can be easier to provide the answer or automate a solution, rather than invest in autonomy and self-determination.

Replied to TB872: Overview of different traditions in social learning systems by Doug Belshaw (

A table summarising the approach of different thinkers and traditions.

Thank you for sharing this overview of different traditions in social learning systems Doug. I have dipped in and out of your learning, but more often find myself saving them for later, only for later to never quite come around. This table has me thinking about Richard Olsen’s Modern Learning Canvas and the various questions around learnings role and pedagogical beliefs.
Replied to The Old Disturbance by ReverendReverend (

Great narrative allows for that intimate relation with the reader, and while it was hard to manage at times, I was also strangely comforted by this frank confession from a fictional character in depressed, post-war England.

Antonella calls it bibliotherapy, and I think she got that term from Schopenhauer’s notes on aging with dignity, so I think I’m in pretty good company all around. It feels good to be back on the blog.

Source: The Old Disturbance | bavatuesdays

Glad to hear you are finding your way through it all Jim. I thought I had never heard of ‘bibliotherapy’ before, only to realise I had saved an article from The New Yorker a few years ago about the topic:

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.”

Source: Can Reading Make You Happier? by Ceridwen Dovey

And a post from Kin Lane on the benefits of reading:

Reading a book is the answer for a lot of what troubles me. When I’ve had to much screen time–read a book! When I’m tired from work and want to turn on the TV–read a book. When I’m frustrated with the current state of things in this country–read a book. When I can’t shut down the voices in my head because I’m spinning out about something–read a book.

Source: Reading a Book is The Answer by Kin Lane

Personally, I have felt myself being consumed by the dots and really doubled down on books (and audiobooks). I find it useful to get out of my own head sometimes.

Also, on other dots, I have turned to vinyl, and listening to albums in their entirety, in party inspired by your Vinylcasts.

Replied to epilepticrabbit ( (

13 people recently unsubscribed from my newsletter, including @dajb who definitely did NOT unsubscribe. He’s been resubscribed. What to do about the other 12? They were likely similarly forced unsubscribes but idk and maybe not. Sigh. Technology.

I cannot remember the last edition I received, I think that I have been unsubscribed too. Looking at your archive, I do not remember receiving the last two editions :/
Replied to My Reading Practices for Book Club Selections by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (

As part of my reading process, particularly for book club related reading, I’ve lately settled on what seems to be a particularly productive method of reading for my needs.

Thank for sharing your process for reading as a part of a book club Chris.

Your first step of flicking through some reviews and the contents reminded me of a piece from The Marginalian about Bill Cosby’s strategies for reading faster, in which he talks about previewing first:

Previewing is especially useful for getting a general idea of heavy reading like long magazine or newspaper articles, business reports, and nonfiction books.

Source: How to Read Faster: Bill Cosby’s Three Proven Strategies by Maria Popova

I am interested in your us of audiobooks. I must admit, I have really turned to audiobooks as I felt I was never going to get quality reading time to sit quietly with a book. Just wondering, when listening, do you have to be giving your whole attention, or do you listen while doing other things? For example, I have heard Cory Doctorow explain how he ‘reads’ while swimming. Personally, I like listening in my lunch breaks while pounding the city streets, but I often wonder if there is something lost in doing two things at once, especially if I have a thought and want to make a note. Really, that is my biggest challenge, actually doing something with what I read.

Replied to Are Great Teachers Born or Made? A cheat code for education (

I am convinced that a huge amount of the enthusiasm for AI in education (and for teaching machines historically) is simply the wish for a cheat code, a wish to press ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA, enter god mode, and escape our current condition where it’s hard to understand how to select, train, and support the people most essential to the education of our children. I’m suggesting that if you’re serious about this work, you can’t cheat code your way around teachers. If your work doesn’t account for teachers—the way they work, the way they move through a class, the tools they use, the way they think about their students, their aspirations for their work, the outcomes for which they’re accountable, the vastness of their experiences prior to teaching—you will make a meaningful impact on student learning only by accident. One possibility is that great teachers are born but that good teachers can be made.

Source: Are Great Teachers Born or Made? by Dan Meyer

Dan, I really like your point about artificial intelligence and a dream of a ‘cheat code’. This feels like an extension of ‘Uberification of education‘. I am also reminded of my discussions of greatness over building capacity.

Replied to Publish Your Work by Wouter GroeneveldWouter Groeneveld (

I don’t create or publish in the hopes of influencing others. I create things because I have an urge to create. But it sure is great to help others along the way, however small my contribution might be. I don’t care about being found online and I am certainly not actively pushing my stuff down others’ throats (Kleon’s rule #7: Don’t turn into human spam). I love reading about the creation process of others. I love sharing my creation process. It’s almost second nature: it feels like a wasted opportunity to do something good in this world if I didn’t.

Source: Publish Your Work by Wouter Groeneveld

Wouter, your argument about the wasted opportunity missed by not sharing ideas in public reminds me of Clive Thompson’s piece from Wired from a few years ago.

Just as we now live in public, so do we think in public. And that is accelerating the creation of new ideas and the advancement of global knowledge.

Source: Why Even the Worst Bloggers Are Making Us Smarter – How successful networks nurture good ideas by Clive Thompson

I personally find the benefit of working through solutions and often find myself refining things as a part of the process.

Replied to Start Up No.2158: Senate yells at tech leaders, want an ‘everything reader’?, US zaps infected routers, Vision Pro?, and more (The Overspill: when there’s more that I want to say)

I’ve heard Doctorow speak, and he’s incredibly persuasive: he has that rare talent of making everything he says sound like it’s completely obvious, and each successive piece of logic as inexorable as Lego pieces joining. Also: I’ve no idea how he produces so much, day after day, and finds time to sleep and eat.

Source: Start Up No.2158: Senate yells at tech leaders, want an ‘everything reader’?, US zaps infected routers, Vision Pro?, and more by @charlesarthur

I often wonder the same thing Charles. I struggle to keep up with all of Cory’s work, let alone to consider the amount of time and effort that must go into it. I think he clearly must have well honed habits. Just wonder if there is any downtime in his life?

Replied to Pluralistic: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides (16 Jan 2024) by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (

If I found myself at loose ends, trying to find a project to devote the rest of my life to, I’d be pitching funders on building a national, open access portal to build an educational commons.

Source: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides by Cory Doctorow

Although it was not necessarily ‘national’ or ‘open access’, one of the things that was attempted by the Ultranet was an educational commons. The challenge I found with this was around mindset. Even though staff were paid by the government, many teachers saw resources created as their own, not something to be added to a collective repository.

I kind of get the feeling that this maybe what Bonfire is trying to achieve. I have not given it enough time to know though.

Replied to One Year into ChatGPT: Resources & Possible Directions for Educators in 2024 by Maha Bali (

This post is about AI and getting ready for the new semester knowing what we now know, roughly one year into ChatGPT taking over our classrooms and media feeds.

Source: One Year into ChatGPT: Resources & Possible Directions for Educators in 2024 by Maha Bali

Maha, I really like how you have summarised the four clear options:

  • Make AI use impossible
  • Discourage AI use by redesigning assessments to forms AI would not perform well
  • Allow AI use within boundaries
  • Allow indiscriminate AI use
Replied to The Unfulfilled Promises of Tech in Education: Can AI Succeed? (The Construction Zone)

Will this be it? Will we see radical changes in our educational systems? Is there something that makes it different this time?

Peter, I feel like I have tried critiquing you before and I am not sure how much hope there is even left:

can you really find wisdom in one-line? The answer is probably no, but you can definitely find hope. Hope for a different world, hope for a different way of doing things, hope for a more critical viewer. And sometimes that hope is all that we have.

Source: Can You Really Find Wisdom in One-line? by Aaron Davis

I still like Bill Ferriter’s argument, that technology makes higher order learning ‘more doable’:

Technology lowers barriers, making the kinds of higher order learning experiences that matter infinitely more doable than they were in previous decades.

Source: Do We REALLY Need to Do New Things in New Ways?
by Bill Ferriter

However, I guess like all technology, it can also make lower order learning ‘more doable’ too.

As always, food for thought I guess.

Replied to Whose ethics? Whose AI? (
Helen Beetham follows up here keynote to the Association for Learning Technologies (ALT) winter summit on AI and ethics, unpacking a few questions that were raised. The two points that stood out to me were that rather than teaching ‘prompt engineering‘, we need to update search skills in a part-AI world:

What I think we probably should do, working with our colleagues in libraries and study skills centres, is to update our support for search skills. Help students to understand what the algorithms are hiding as well as what they are revealing, how to search when you know what you are looking for as well as when you don’t, the business models as well as the algorithms of search, and how search online is being systematically degraded both by commercial interests and by these new synthetic capabilities. We may conclude that students are better off learning how to use the walled gardens of content that academic libraries and subscriptions provide – which ties in with my arguments about building our own ecosystems. That will also equip them for search ‘in the wild’.

Source: Whose Ethics? Whose AI? by Helen Beetham

And that rather than inviting cynicism regarding the use of various tools to write essays, opportunities need to be found to talk to students about what agency they have to shape their own futures.

“Stephen Downes” in ~ Stephen’s Web ~ Whose ethics? Whose AI? ()

Replied to The digital wall by David TrussDavid Truss (

What is it about the internet that gives people permission to be awful and mean to others? I follow an astrophysicist on social media. She’s brilliant, and makes great content. She also posted a rant about all the misogynistic comments she gets from men commenting on her rather than her content. I’m not sharing any more details because it looks like she took the video down.

Source: The Digital Wall by David Truss

David, I have long wondered about the problem of on and offline. As an educator, are there any strategies or approaches that you have put in place to encourage empathy online, as well as an understanding of the impact of such practices? I recently did a short course on cyber security and awareness, my feeling is that such comments risk forming an informal character reference in a world beyond forgetting.

I think the future of hacking and cyber attacks is the linking of different datasets that we openly share online through data brokers to provide an insight and awareness of individuals that will open up new possibilities.

Source: Cyber Security & Awareness – Primary Years (CSER MOOC) by Aaron Davis

Ironically, looking back through my blog I actually came across a previous post and comment on your blog relating to the difference between our online and offline persona.

I can see that we are not our online personas. They are different than us. Yet they can say a lot about… but they don’t always say what we think they say.

Source: Our Online Persona by David Truss

Replied to epilepticrabbit ( (

Idk I guess I just need to go back to MailPoet. It’s going to suck for @dajb and whomever else gets auto-unsubscribed randomly, but I spent almost 3 hours looking at alternatives and my newsletter on my site seems like the best thing to do.

Laura, I received the first Mailpoet newsletter if that means anything. Really appreciated your point about tech principles:

I have inconvenienced myself with my tech principles for decades at this point. It takes days for my local bookshops to send me books because I try very hard to not use Amazon. I am not a part of several family and friend What’sApp groups because I loathe anything Facebook is or touches. I have, for decades, tried to live up to my values, fought for the open web and made technology choices that align with who I am and what I believe in.

Source: %5BFBT%5D%20on%20MailPoet%20and%20Moving by Laura Hilliger

Replied to by john john (

Montage of coverts of 7 books in a strip: Demon Copperhead Hungry Ghosts The Apparition Phase The Secret History The Seven Moons Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow You Have a Friend in 10A
According to my Books page, I read 43 books last year, three less than the year before year. A list of 5 star books (weight by my enjoyment, pretty vague) using the lovely display posts plugin. Read Demon CopperheadRead: Hungry GhostsRead: You Have a Friend in 10ARead: The Apparition PhaseRead: The Secret HistoryRead: The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

Happy new year John. Is Display Posts a combination of ShortCode and code snippets added to your theme or just ShortCode? Also, is you books page created using Display Posts too?