Liked To work for society, data scientists need a hippocratic oath with teeth by Tom Upchurch (WIRED UK)

The first question is, are the algorithms that we deploy going to improve the human processes that they are replacing? Far too often we have algorithms that are thrown in with the assumptions that they’re going to work perfectly, because after all they’re algorithms, but they actually end up working much worse than the system that they’re replacing. For example in Australia they implemented an algorithm that sent a bunch of ridiculously threatening letters to people saying that they had defrauded the Australian Government. That’s a great example where they actually just never tested it to make sure it worked.

The second question is to ask, for whom is the algorithm failing? We need to be asking, “Does it fail more often for women than for men? Does it fail more often for minorities than for whites? Does it fail more often for old people than for young people?” Every single class should get a question and an answer. The big example I have for this one is the facial recognition software that the MIT Media Lab found worked muchbetter for white men than black women. That is a no-brainer test that every single facial recognition software company should have done and it’s embarrassing that they didn’t do it.

The third category of question is simply, is this working for society? Are we tracking the mistakes of the system? Are we inputting these mistakes back into the algorithm so that it’ll work better? Is it causing some other third unintended consequence? Is it destroying democracy? Is it making people worse off?

📓 Ideology

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 ideologysource

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.

Liked How Much SHOULD a Public School Teacher Make? by Bill Ferriter (The Tempered Radical)

Long story short:  I’m a realist.  Teachers are never going to make a fortune.  It’s not fiscally responsible — and the fact of the matter is that we HAVE to be fiscally responsible.  

But let’s quit pretending that teachers who are using their voices to draw attention to the sad state of funding in our public schools and to the impact those funding choices are having on kids are bad people trying to fleece America.

Replied to 👓 The Web We Need to Give Students | BRIGHT Magazine by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)

Read The Web We Need to Give Students by Audrey Watters (BRIGHT Magazine) “Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web.”

I must admit, I hadn’t read that post before. However, I did enjoy her book on the importance of domains though. I think that there are many cross overs between a Domain of One’s Own and the #IndieWeb.
Bookmarked The Quest for the Possible: Overcoming Dubious Practices that Limit (Technology Rich Inquiry Based Research)

When the wall of old habits and customs is broken down the quest for the possible can begin.

Diane Kashin’s description of what is ‘possible’ seems in contrast to the picture of education offered by Andrew Laming and planning for learning once a term.
Bookmarked The Indieweb privacy challenge (Webmentions, silo backfeeds, and the GDPR) // Sebastian Greger by   (sebastiangreger.net)

Originally intended to showcase a privacy-centred implementation of emerging social web technologies – with the aim to present a solution not initially motivated by legal requirements, but as an example of privacy-aware interaction design – my “social backfeed” design process unveiled intricate challenges for Indieweb sites, both for privacy in general and legal compliance in particular.

As someone involved in K-12 education, I always wonder where the #IndieWeb might sit. This analysis of webmentions and privacy from Sebastian Gregor poses so many questions and things to consider. I was particularly intrigued about the questions of dragging in ‘likes and favourites’ which might be used and interpreted in different ways.

From an ethical design perspective, however, I still have a stomach ache thinking of publishing the name and image of unknowing Twitter users on an unrelated website, presenting a “like” potentially intended as a bookmark of a short tweet as a “like” for a long essay on some blog site they have never visited. Here, too, some kind of transparency/consent mechanism would be required; and while I am sorry to not have a ready solution to offer, the idea of simply warning about a backfeed in a sticky post on top of a timeline is not really something I consider sufficient. Likely, the solution for the silo backfeeds would have to come after a solution for Webmentions in general has been developed.

Just thinking about my own use, I usually use the ‘Like’ post-kind to recognise posts that I find interesting, but do not have anything to add (that would be a bookmark.) This does not mean I ‘like’ the post or agree with everything written. This is where confusion can occur.

I think this is one of those posts that I will come back to as my knowledge of webmentions and the #IndieWeb continues to grow and evolve.

Liked Andrew Laming: this is what I really meant about teachers' pay (The Sydney Morning Herald)

If the school year is grinding teachers down mentally to the point where long holidays are required, then the solution is to address what is causing the problems in school term time.

First we must offer teachers the chance to go home like the rest of us and switch off. Second, the bulk of lesson planning needs to shift out of term time, even if teachers are on-site over school holidays. That is when the pupil-free days should occur.

Third, I want principals to change culture tomorrow and be given a slice of the Gonski resources to fund the extra hours that definitively improve student outcomes.

Fourth, we need an explicit focus on the children that do not gain a year of learning in a calendar year, and not dump the responsibility solely on classroom teachers who are forced to pass the parcel.

Finally, states and territories must replace annual incremental pay rises with a genuine teacher-designed merit-based model rewarding sub-specialisation and further education.

Replied to Treading on Dreams: The Art of the #lookdown by Amy Burvall (AmusED)

Recently on a trip to Vancouver, Canada and Australia I decided to make a point of archiving some of the magnificent surfaces beneath my boots, and entitled the series #thesebootsaremadeforwalking.

It is fascinating to think about this idea Amy, having been in the middle of a conversation when you spotted your unicorn:

Amy's Canberra Unicorn

I had a similar experience with Alan Levine when I met up with him in Melbourne:


“Pick Your Lift” by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0

Having followed both of your work for some time, it was intriguing to see it all unfold serendipitously in real time.

In part I guess this falls under the wider notion of transparency, yet is somehow different. It is the context that often sits outside of the page (or post). Rather than worrying about which ‘tool’ the artist uses, it provides an insight into the life of the artist.

When I think about my own habits, I feel I am curious when it comes to the digital world, but could be more open to the physical world. For example, I recently discovered an initiative via Ian O’Byrne where trees in Melbourne are assigned an email address. To be fair, I love to go walking, but am often to busy in thought to notice the thriving world around me, let alone at my feet. This initiative at least helped call that out.

I found this the best thing about your sessions in Canberra. It is almost as if they provide ‘permission’ to somehow let go and be curious.

Maybe like Adrian Camm’s ‘permission to innovate’:

Permission to Innovate (Adrian Camm)


Permission to Innovate

Maybe you could give out literal permission to be curious cards?

Liked How your workplace is killing you by Jeff Pfeffer (bbc.com)

The evidence is unequivocal: job-related anxiety is a growing health crisis with repercussions for your mental and physical well-being.

People need to choose their employer not just for salary and promotion opportunities but on the basis of whether the job will be good for their psychological and physical health. Business leaders should measure the health of their workforce, not just profits.

Bookmarked Comments on ClassDojo controversy (code acts in education)

The educational app ClassDojo has been the target of articles in several British newspapers. The Times reported on data privacy risks raised by the offshoring of UK student data to the US company–a story The Daily Mail re-reported. The Guardian then focused on ClassDojo promoting competition in classrooms. All three pieces have generated a stream of public comments. At the current time, there are 56 comments on the Mail piece, 78 at The Times, and 162 on The Guardian. I’ve been researching and writing about ClassDojo for a couple of years, on and off, and was asked some questions by The Times and The Guardian. So the content of the articles and the comments and tweets about them raise issues and questions worth their own commentary–a response to key points of controversy that also speak to wider issues  with the current expansion of educational technology across public education, policy and practice. ClassDojo has also now released its own response and reaffirmation of its privacy policy.

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.

ClassDojo has been dealing with privacy concerns since its inception, and it has well-rehearsed responses. Its reply to The Times was: ‘No part of our mission requires the collection of sensitive information, so we don’t collect any. … We don’t ask for or receive any other information [such as] gender, no email, no phone number, no home address.’ But this possibly misses the point. The ‘sensitive information’ contained in ClassDojo is the behavioural record built up from teachers tapping reward points into the app.

Williamson does however close with a warning, that with GDPR coming in, ‘data danger’ is quickly becoming its own genre:

The risks of ‘data-danger’ for children reported in the articles about ClassDojo doubtless need to be viewed through the wider lens of media interest in social media data misuses following the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal. This presents opportunities and challenges. It’s an opportunity to raise awareness and perhaps prompt efforts to tighten up student privacy and data protection, where necessary, as GDPR comes into force. ClassDojo’s response to the controversy raised by the press confirmed it was working on GDPR compliance and would update its privacy policy accordingly. Certainly 2018 is shaping up as a year of public awareness about uses and misuses of personal data. It’s a challenge too, though, as media coverage tends to stir up overblown fears that risk obscuring the reality, and that may then easily be dismissed as paranoid conspiracy theorizing. It’s important to approach ed-tech apps like ClassDojo–and all the rest–cautiously and critically, but to be careful not to get swept up in media-enhanced public outrage.

Listened The value of rituals in a digital world from Radio National

Are rituals still needed in a world mediated through digital devices?

Alexandra Samuel made the argument that ‘digital rituals’ are associated with the notions of reflection and community.

I think there’s two pieces. I think there’s the reflection and formulation of intention, what do I want from this experience, what does it mean. You know, a lot of rituals will include some element of solitary reflection as part of that process, and I think that is hugely valuable when it comes to thinking about our digital lives. But then the other piece is really almost the mirror image of that. Yes, there’s a piece of ritual that is about solitary reflection, but then there’s another piece that’s really about community recognition and understanding that you are now taking your place in a community or changing your relationship to the community or the community is now offering you a different form of participation or membership, and that notion, that when you join a community or when you change your relationship to the community, that you need to have some kind of mutual negotiation of what that means, that I think is a big part of what’s missing and it really has to do with giving us a chance to say, you know, hey, your Facebook login or your Instagram account or your new blog are not just about you, you are taking a place in a larger community that has a stake in how you use of this access.

This made me wonder if approaching the web following the #IndieWeb principles is somehow ritualistic. Rather than merely commenting or sharing, I now make the effort post content on my own site and syndicate from there.

My only question is whether this is the way it is simply because the technology is yet to develop and as it currently is, the #IndieWeb involves a little bit more effort and investment? Or will the community nature of it sustain the reflective nature?

Also posted on IndieNews

Bookmarked A Point of Contact by Glen Cochrane (A Point of Contact)

I live in Canada, currently in Calgary. I have also lived in Central and Eastern Canada, and in Asia.

I don’t blog a lot, and this frequency suits me. I do go through phases depending on the season and depending on time commitments.

Generally, this blog is about (but not limited to) education and technology.

I came upon Cochrane’s blog via his response to my discussion on literacies and fluency. It reads like an #IndieWeb blog in structure, with the structured responses and notes, just without the post kinds and webmentions.
Bookmarked Here’s what is going wrong with ‘evidence-based’ policies and practices in schools in Australia by James Ladwig (EduResearch Matters)

So on a general level, the case for evidence-based practice has a definite value. But let’s not over-extend this general appeal, because we also have plenty of experience of seeing good research turn into zealous advocacy with dubious intent and consequence. The current over-extensions of the empirical appeal have led paradigmatic warriors to push the authority of their work well beyond its actual capacity to inform educational practice. Here, let me name two forms of this over-extension.

James Ladwig unpacks evidence-based approaches. In response to ‘synthetic reviews’, he suggests:

Simply ask ‘effect on what?’ and you have a clear idea of just how limited such meta-analyses actually are.

While in regards to RCT’s, he states:

By definition, RCTs cannot tell us what the effect of an innovation will be simply because that innovation has to already be in place to do an RCT at all. And to be firm on the methodology, we don’t need just one RCT per innovation, but several – so that meta-analyses can be conducted based on replication studies.

Another issue is that Research shows what has happened, not what will happen. This is not to say no to evidence, but a call to be sensible about what we think that we can learn from it.

What it can do is provide a solid basis of knowledge for teachers to know and use in their own professional judgements about what is the best thing to do with their students on any given day. It might help convince schools and teachers to give up on historical practices and debates we are pretty confident won’t work. But what will work depends entirely on the innovation, professional judgement and, as Paul Brock once put it, nous of all educators.

This touches on Mark Esner’s argument that great teacher will make anything work to a degree. Also, Deborah Netolicky’s observations about evidence.

Replied to #WhyITeach by John Wigg (Mr Wigg)

I teach because I love being a child’s advocate and helping him/her realize his/her own potential.

I remember deciding that I wanted to be a teacher when I left school and although I became a teacher, my reasoning for why I wanted to teach considerably changed. I started out with an interest in History and in hindsight, probably subject knowledge and skills, yet when I finished my studies I was more interested in creating the conditions for others to wonder.

I think I teach (or am involved in education) to support others in reaching their potential, but also in engaging in interests. I remember being told once that the word essay is best understood as ‘your say’. I have never actually found a reference for this, but the lesson stuck.

Syndicated at Read Write Collect

Replied to Have we moved on from the Cambridge Analytica scandal? by Donelle Batty (My Thoughts…)

This week has been fascinating, it appears that things have begun to recover after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which then led to the #deletefacebook movement. This movement seemed to have a small, but noticeable impact for a moment on the pages that I support.

Although it is easy to ‘delete Facebook’, doing so without a replacement fails to recognise its place – positive or negative – in our life and society. I remember when I used to live in the Victorian country side being amazed by the amount of Weeping Willows growing along the open channels that carried water between the various properties. An introduced species, they actually sapped up a lot of the water. I once asked the Outdoor Education teacher I was working alongside why they did not just remove them. He explained that to simply remove them actually causes even more damage through erosion. What is needed was to plant something next to the tree that would be able to take its place and fill the same purpose. Delete Facebook was therefore never going to work without there being a replacement in its place.

The Luddbrarian suggests that what makes the current campaign different is that the data breaches allowed Trump to win. This overlooks the problem at the base of such automated solutions.

Facebook offers people an easy way to stay in touch with friends, Facebook offers people an easy way to stay on top of the news, Facebook makes it easy for people to share photos, Facebook makes it easy to plan events (and to say whether or not you’re going to the event), Facebook makes it easy to promote your new creative project, and so forth. In order to obtain these “goods” on offer from Facebook a user must deal with the “bads” of Facebook – but that is why the bribe exists and how it operates. The offer of the good is used so that people overlook the bad.

What we need is to widen our technological imagination and consider how Facebook could be better. For me, the #IndieWeb is a part of that.

Liked Facebook must be restructured. The FTC should take these 9 steps now | Barry Lynn and Matt Stoller by Barry Lynn;Matt Stoller (the Guardian)

If the next set of FTC commissioners truly are serious about making Facebook serve the interests of the American public, here is a set of actions they should begin to take on day one. Every one of these action has a strong foundation in US law and practice:

1) Impose strict privacy rules on Facebook, perhaps using Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation as a guide.

2) Spin off Facebook’s ad network. This will eliminate, in one swoop, most of the incentive that Facebook now has to amass data and to interfere and discriminate in the provision of information and news.

3) Reverse the approvals for Facebook purchases of WhatsApp and Instagram, and re-establish these as competing social networks.

4) Prohibit all future acquisitions by Facebook for at least five years.

5) Establish a system to ensure the transparency of all political communications on Facebook, similar to other major communication networks in the United States.

6) Require Facebook to adopt open and transparent standards, similar to conditions the FTC imposed on AOL Messenger in the AOL-Time Warner merger settlement in 2001.

7) Establish whether Facebook violated the 2011 consent decree and, if so, seek court sanctions.

8) Threaten to bring further legal action against Facebook unless top executives immediately agree to work with the FTC to restructure their corporation to ensure the safety and stability of our government and economy.

9) Establish whether top executives enabled, encouraged, or oversaw violations of the 2011 consent decree and, if so, pursue personal fines against them.