Bookmarked Good theft vs. bad theft (

Despite the common saying, imitation is not flattery. It’s transformation that is flattery: taking what you’ve stolen and turning it into something new.

Austin Kleon returns to an idea that is central to his book Steal Like an Artist. Summarising TS Eliot, Kleon suggests that the secret is not imitation, but rather transformation. This reminds me of Harold Bloom’s idea of ‘anxiety’. I also love Kleon’s closing remarks:

If you met the artist you’re stealing from in a stalled elevator, would they shake your hand or punch you in the face?

Replied to A Digital Food Diary on My Own Website (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)

Food and Drink on my own website
I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but I’ve finally started making eat and drink posts. The display isn’t exactly what I want yet, but it’s getting there. For myself and those reading, I’ll try to continue tweaking on templates, but with the start of …

Is there a limit? Chris, I love how your site just keeps on developing. I am not sure if I am going to start adding such stories to my site, but it really gives me hope about a better web.
Replied to

Mariana, just wondering where you have stored your archived lists? I was notified of there deletion via ‘Broken Links’. I really liked your Storify on GIFs.

I am in fear if this is a start of a series of dominoes. My Tumblr posts are all POSSE’d, however I really need to think about my Flickr collection. Must admit it has really sparked me to reconsider a number of practices and processes, which is probably good.

Bookmarked What I would like to see in online learning in 2018: 1: a theory of classroom affordances (

Under what conditions and for what purposes is it better to learn in a face-to-face context rather than online? And when and how should they be used to complement each other when both are readily available?

Tony Bates suggests that there is research needed in regards to online learning, as well as a theory of learning. I am reminded of Richard Olsen’s post on link between research and theory. I wonder where this fits with Dron and Anderson’s Teaching Crowds and Ian Guest’s investigation into Twitter.
Replied to Pocket 2017 Year in Review (Chris Aldrich | BoffoSocko)

According to Pocket, I’m still in their top 5% of their readers/users despite the fact that I cut way back on using it this past year in strong deference to using other feed readers including one built into my website.
Apparently I read 678, 617 words in their app this year which according to the…

Apparently I am in the Top 1%. I must admit that I have come to use it more now that you can play posts. What I find intriguing is what they measure ‘reading’ as and how they decided that it was like reading 35 books. It actually made me wonder if there are many people actually using Pocket anymore?
Bookmarked ‘We must kill this cult of measuring everything that schools do’ (Tes)

The idea that the solution to the nefarious effects of constant high-stakes measurement is to bring in more high-stakes measurement – albeit of a different thing – is palpably insane. It is further evidence, if we needed any, that we have surrendered our profession to a cultish scientism whose mantra is measurement.

JT Dutaut wonders about a future where the solution to too much testing in education is more testing.
Bookmarked Founding a Startup, Just One More Time – Ben Werdmuller – Medium by Ben Werdmuller (Medium)

Knowing what I know now, from the founders I work with, my background in startups, and what I’ve learned from working at a values-based accelerator: if I was to do it all again, what choices would I make?

Ben Werdmuller reflects on his experiences with three different startups and provides a number of lessons he has learnt along the way. These include starting by getting your feet wet, working out how far you can go without going full-time, identifying who else might be needed for the journey, which ownership structure will work best, how you will build the solution and who will buy it.
Bookmarked Behaviour Management: A Bill Rogers Top 10 (teacherhead)

The series titles give a flavour of the Bill Rogers approach:

Positive Correction: the basic premise that teachers and schools should adopt a non-confrontational approach to discipline, based on positive teacher-student relationships, respect for the dignity and rights of individuals, choices about consequences of behaviour and encouragement for student self-discipline.
Prevention: planning for good behaviour; teaching the routines and the rules.
Consequences: have a clear structure that students understand and use to inform the choices they make.
Repair & Rebuild: the imperative to work hard to build and repair the damage that is done when things don’t work out.

Tom Sherrington breaks down Rogers main ideas, including positive language, take up time and partial agreement. This post offers a useful overview and an important provocation.
Bookmarked The Social-Media Star and the Suicide (The Atlantic)

There were no gatekeepers to stand in his way, and YouTube itself only acted after the video became news. In every step but the filming of the dead body, this is not the system breaking, but the system functioning as intended. And as with the recent discovery of widespread exploitation on “child-safe” parts of YouTube, it points to a dark tendency in today’s engagement-optimized web. As online platforms have pursued engagement to the detriment of everything else, they have come to favor content that dehumanizes us. Meanwhile, the same platforms dominate more and more of teen culture.

Robinson Meyer discusses the situation in which Logan Paul posted a corpse on YouTube. The post provides some wider context associated with the Paul brothers and the dehumanised web that they are a part of.
Bookmarked IndieWeb Press This bookmarklets for WordPress (

Most people don’t want to write HTML just to like or reply to something. WordPress’s Press This bookmarklets can already start a new post with a link to the page you’re currently viewing. This code adds IndieWeb microformats2 markup to that link. Combined the wordpress-webmention plugin, you can use this to respond to the current page with just two clicks.

Ryan, I have tinkered a little with the IndieWeb bookmarklets. However, I was wondering about using them to bookmark sites?

I have been using Dave Winer’s Radio3 platform/bookmarklet, but would rather a process which would allow me to store bookmarks on my blog and POSSE them. I was therefore wondering about creating a similar bookmarklet that generates ‘Bookmark’ post-kinds, as well as the possibility of posting from mobile?

Am I going down the wrong path, especially as WordPress tinkers with ‘Press This’?

Bookmarked 'Too much control': Pasi Sahlberg on what Finland can teach Australian schools by Michael McGowan (the Guardian)

“One way to think about it is maybe, you have all these good things – funding, your economy, good teachers – but you’re not improving. Maybe the problem is that things are tied up in a system that is not able to be flexible enough for teachers. Maybe there is not enough trust in Australia in good teachers.”

An article discussing Finnish education, the importance of play in the early years, the problems with NAPLAN and a focus on equity in Australian education.
Replied to Issue #119 of the TL;DR Newsletter – rethinking the simple bare necessities. by Ian O’Byrne (

Over the past week, you’ve most likely either developed your own resolutions for the new year…or heard many others sharing what they’ll change over the next 360 days.

Tim Ferriss suggests, and I agree, that these resolutions are mostly a waste of your time. I try to focus on building (or breaking habits) throughout the year as indicated in this episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast.

But, in thinking about the start of a new year, it is human nature to think about new beginnings. In light of that, I’ve been working on developing an annual review for myself as Tim discusses in this post.

I’ll post my review once I’ve completed it. I’m currently using this model to develop my assessment. Once I’ve developed my metrics, I’ll perform an 80/20 analysis of my effort and time during the year…and make the appropriate changes.

Interesting newsletter as always Ian. I was particularly taken by the discussion of reviewed.

In regards to your point about ‘yearly’ reviews, I added to my yearly review of newsletter posts to also include a personal reflection.

I still think that I need to develop this and that is why I chose ‘intent‘ as my one word this year (another alternative to new year resolutions)

I will have to look through the various links for more tips and get back to your discussion of routine and maintaining a positive mindset. The

Replied to METAMORPHOSIS and emerging from the chrysalis: #oneword2018 by Dr Deborah Netolicky (the édu flâneuse)

METAMORPHOSIS is also about letting go. It is about shedding old skins, old bodies, old habits, old values, old dreams. It is about considering what I want to take into my next decade, and what I’m willing to leave behind.

I love the way in which a single word can be used to tie a bunch of desperate parts together, even more so, your words over time really tell a story. I really struggled to think of a word this year. I related to some of the points that you made about change and really liked the idea of metamorphosis. I feel like it is something that we are always doing, but not necessarily aware of or willing to give the time to.

📓 #IndieWeb Page –

My name is Aaron Davis and am a K-12 technology coach from Melbourne, Australia. I am interested in how together we can work to make a better web.

I use Read Write Respond as a place to record longer posts and reflections, Read Write Collect to collect together disparate parts of the web in the one place and Read Write Wikity to organically grow ideas.

Longer Reflections

I have written a number of posts and reflections:


  • Improve my workflow associated with the collection and co-claiming of my online presence. This includes posting via Android.

  • Coordinate the different conversations and connections associated with my site in the one place, whether it be webmentions, syndicated links, facepiles and theaded conversations.

  • Explore different possibilities and potentials, especially those associated with third and fourth generation users. This includes the automation of some of the processes, such as generating older creations, as well as the options for hosted sites, such as Edublogs and

  • Better understand the technical side of the IndieWeb, such as H-Cards and WordPress plugin. This includes making better use of my child themes to make changes, such as a custom archive page.

  • Transfer data held in siloed spaces to my own space, including Facebook, Diigo and comments made with Disqus.

  • Improve the options I have to representing my posts, including monthly summaries and a following page.

Microcast #004 – Costly Convenience()

Imagine a technology world that’s more intrusive, more prone to failure, and more powerful.  We access the internet in ways that compromise our privacy, make us vulnerable to threats, and divide us from each other. Bryan Alexander

I was recently offered a voucher for free parking in the city, all I had to do was sign up. This led me to think about why we take up technology and at what cost.

I recorded a short reflection for a collaborative podcast put together by Benjamin Doxtdator on the topic of taking pause in 2018. The following people also provided contributions:

  • Ximena on being more aware of the growing inequality produced through research and digital technologies.
  • Kay Sidebottom on the microfacism that stop us from pausing at all.
  • David Webster – Who is profiting from supposed simple solutions
  • Phil Wood on sustainable timescapes.
  • Deborah Netolicky on data, metrics and the impact of interventions.
  • Jelmer Evers on the stories we are being told globally.
  • Alan Levine on the power of walking, while walking.

You can listen below:

Replied to

Thank you for the kind words Andrea.

In response to the supposed failure of the web, Alan Levine discusses the positive aspects at the human level:

The places I see are in the efforts of the people down at the human level, the individuals who get an itch to create, or to share something for others, the folks that create weird corners of the internet just because they get an itch. I see much less shit in those corners, it’s piled high in the middle of the room.

Your tweet I think really touched upon this, as it is another example of focusing on others and community. There are many voices within the village, however it feels as if some contributions are heralded more than others. I cannot believe the tireless work that you did in regards to #SatChatOC and now with #EduCoachOC. It was also great to meet earlier this year.

📰 Read Write Respond #024

My Month of December

One of the weird quirks of working in a central role within education is the measurement of time. Here in Australia, this is usually a time in the year when schools wind down and teachers clean up for the year. However, in project land, there is always something happening. Whether it be supporting schools with timetables, developing new modules or sorting out idiosynciouses with solutions, Christmas provided a welcome break.

On the family front, December is always a busy month, with three out of four people having birthdays within three days of each other. Other than that, there is the usual festive activities, such as breakup parties, musical concerts and Christmas lights.

Personally, I have started reading Ben Williamson’s new book Big Data in Education. A fascinating read so far, especially in relation to the Digital Technologies. Other than that, I have been doing a quite a bit of work on my new site building on the #indieweb ethos. A reminder of why a domain is more than just purchasing a custom URL.

Why Would You? an image by langwitches in response to my post

In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

@Dogtrax on Maps by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Learning and Teaching

Use Maps & Mapmaking in Your ELA Classroom – Kevin Hodgson discusses the power and potential of maps in extending comprehension and representing understanding. I have written before about visualisation before, however Hodgson’s post provides a range of ideas I had not considered.

What maps can bring to the writing classroom is a visual connector point, and maps provide an easy connector to the learning going on in the Social Studies classroom, too. While our maps are rooted in imagination, as all maps are, the maps they see in other classrooms give students insights into the interpretations of the larger world. Where you pin yourself depends on where you are situated.

10 low impact activities to do less of – or stop altogether – Tom Sherrington outlines a range of activities to reassess, such as subject report comments, detailed lesson plans and original teaching resources. In another post reflecting on moving forward, Eric Sheninger suggests letting go of the status quo, drive-by professional development and avoiding technology. Both of these posts are useful in asking the simple question ‘why would you?’

Teachers and leaders across the country do too many things that have unacceptably high ratios of time and effort relative to their impact and/or they are unjustifiable educationally. Sometimes I think that the debate about workload is tinkering around the edges when actually we need much more fundamental change. I also think that we need to get assessment and accountability machinery back into perspective, making them more organic and more human.

The World War Two Guide to Office Warfare – Bryan Lufkin discusses a guide developed by the CIA. The document is about doing little things that add up, such as discriminate against workers, complete tasks the long way and be non-cooperative. This is a fascinating historical document and makes one wonder what it might look like if it were written today? What would be different? Would there be anything the same?

The US urged citizens to become everyday saboteurs in World War Two – and the same tactics might just be found in your office.

20 ways to take care of yourself over the holidays – Jennifer Hogan provides a list of activities for teachers to take care of their wellbeing during the holiday period. This is something that needs to be considered during the term as well. I also wonder whether some of Hogan’s list might also be useful for students too?

The days leading up to the holiday break can be event-filled and stressful for educators. I want to encourage everyone to make time for self-care during the holiday break. We have to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others.

Predictions for Journalism 2018 – NiemanLab collects together the thoughts from a number of significant figures in journalism on the future of journalism in 2018. Although we need to be sceptical about predictions, the NiemanLab publication, along with posts from Bryan Alexander and Mike Caulfield, provide an interesting perspective of where things are at and might be going.

The best we can do is to listen to weak signals about emerging technologies in the present, to recognize patterns early, and to build out possible, plausible, and probable scenarios that describe implications. Amy Webb

“Storifried” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


Storify Bites the Dust. If You Have WordPress, You Don’t Need Another Third Party Clown Service – Alan Levine reflects on Storify’s announcement that it will be shutting down. He provides a number of options of what to do, including downloading the HTML content and stripping the links from it. This is a reminder why #IndieWeb and owning your content is so important

There are two kinds of people or organizations that create things for the web. One is looking to make money or fame and cares not what happens once they get either (or none and go back to flipping burgers). The other has an understanding and care for the history and future of the web, and makes every effort to make archived content live on, to not leave trails of dead links. Storify is Type 1.

Anatomy of Tracking Links in Computer Science PRnewswire – Miguel Guhlin provides a useful explanation for tracking links via email campaigns. After reading Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction, this is a useful post as to how universities and algorithms combine.

Those annoying emails and click-tracking links aside, you may find something of value from online graduate programs that are doing anything they can to get you to visit their site and get you to give them your money.

Fostering Democratic Dialogue with Digital Annotation – Nicole Mirra discusses the hope and potential of sites, such as, for generating discussion around texts and ideas. Although there are some who mourn the death of the comment, posts like this remind us that maybe comments have just changed. I am intrigued in the possibilities of the #IndieWeb in further organising the disparate parts.

What I found fascinating was the way that those who engaged with our piece grabbed hold of particular ideas and ran with them in ways we did not predict – it reminded me of the incompleteness of any single text and how texts could only reach their full potential as a sources of knowledge production when engagement continues beyond the page. Annotation made ideas that could have simply died in print live on and flourish collectively.

Some Fool Use – Austin Kleon discusses the need to embrace what may seem foolish when working with technology in order to create new possibilities. Talking about the potential of Lego, Tom Barrett discusses the challenge of ‘finding the edge of the page’. This was something that I tried to do with my QuickMakes session a few years ago.

Whether it’s Microsoft Excel or adding tape, pushing against constraints, finding out the limits of the tools, that’s what makes art interesting. It’s not that the tools don’t matter — it’s finding the appropriate tools, or, maybe even better, the inappropriate tools, and finding some fool use for them.

Coding Will Save You Hours Of Your Life – Alice Keeler provides an introduction to Google Apps Script. This is a useful starting point for creating your own solutions. I have collected some more resources on Sheets and Apps Script here.

We are teachers, we need to do repetitive tasks all the time due to the fact that we have more than one student. Knowing some basic coding can help you make light work out of repetitive tasks.

Bounded Systems: Affordances and Breakouts – Naomi Barnes discusses the boundaries and gates developed in online spaces. Associated with Greg Thompson discusses the need for a politics of technics. This is all epitomised by Facebook’s announcement of a messenger app for children. Although these are aspects which we need to support students in developing digital literacies, I think that there are better solutions than adding them to Facebook.

When we make private trouble public on social media, it is still a private space. It is owned by companies who are intent on keeping our political bodies private. For example, the #metoo campaign encourages women to speak out about incidents of sexual harassment as solidarity. However, unless women speak up outside of social media, the circle is still closed. But if they do speak outside social media, they risk losing jobs or initiating precarity and poverty. Social media is run by the same business plan that mobilised the gig economy as a virtue. Flexibility is the new white male. Being on board and in a team that doesn’t complain, is the new glass ceiling. The circle is rapidly closing.

“Just Innovate” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Storytelling and Reflection

Excuse Me While I “Just” Go Innovate – Pernille Ripp pushes back on continual call to just innovate, arguing that she innovates every day when she teachers, plans and contacts home. The problem is that these things do not count as innovative in many experts eyes. Bill Ferriter adds his own take on the reality of the classroom teacher, explaining that he does not check his emails during the day, that he is responsible for a range of people and that working with children is his number one priority. It is interesting to compare this with recent discussion between Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon on the Modern Learners podcast in regards to the failure of teachers to engage with learning how to learn, as well as Richardson’s call from a few years back that the system is broken. For more on Ripp’s work, read Jennifer Gonzalez’s profile.

It has been building for a while. This idea that teachers need to “just” innovate more. That we need to break the system, try a new idea every day. That we need to just do more. Just do it better. Just be more.

Design Thinking is Contagious and Rots Your BrainRichard Wells highlights a number of problems with schools, such as engaged learners and grades, suggesting that design thinking provides an answer for improving things. Lee Vinsel clearly does not agree, instead suggesting that Design Thinking belongs in a marketing department, rather than a classroom. makes the case for Design Thinking. Harold Jarche thinks we need sense-making. I wonder if the answer is a cocktail of ideas combined in the development of our own solutions?

Moran holds up the Swiffer — the sweeper-mop with disposable covers designed by an IDEO-clone design consultancy, Continuum — as a good example of what Design Thinking is all about. “It’s design as marketing,” he said. “It’s about looking for and exploiting a market niche. It’s not really about a new and better world. It’s about exquisitely calibrating a product to a market niche that is underexploited.” The Swiffer involves a slight change in old technologies, and it is wasteful. Others made this same connection between Design Thinking and marketing. One architect said that Design Thinking “really belongs in business schools, where they teach marketing and other forms of moral depravity.”

Simple strategies to help you transition better between work and home – Steve Brophy discusses developing deliberate habits to support the move from work to home. The key seems to be recognising these changes. Taking a different approach, Maria Popova talks about taking a “telescopic perspective” to identify the work our time asks of us.

If we think a spaceship docking at the International Space Station, there is so much care given to the transition from one to the other. One wrong move could spell death for many so there are no stones left unturned when it comes to safety protocol. Once the spaceship docks, it locks into the ISS and pressurises a compartment between the two. Once pressurised, the hatch at the spaceship will open and the astronauts will move into the transition space. They close the hatch behind them and then open the hatch at the ISS. The process is done with extreme care. Each space is vital and movement between each is careful and considered. What if we transitioned with the same precision?

How Schools Can Contribute to Much Needed Civil Discourse in Society – Bernard Bull discusses the need in education to model civil discourse amid truly diverse beliefs and values. In part, this touches on the challenge of civic reasoning that Mike Caulfield has been unpack. Judith Butler reminds us though of the limits of supposed free speech and knowing what that ‘bargain’ means.

Forget college report cards and standardized tests. How are we doing in helping people learn how to embrace civil discourse, nurturing intellectual virtues, being strong advocates for causes and convictions, but also showing a deep respect for the inherent value in others, as well as their rights? Math and language arts are valuable. STEM education and coding is pretty useful as well. However, if we are really interested in contributing to a better future for young people, we are wise to think about what we will contribute to the future of civil discourse.

The Contradictions of Good Teaching – Matt Barnum looks at the results of a recent study looking at the impact of teachers. Some of the findings were that teachers do have an impact, statistical models of measurement are often bias and there is a negative association between test scores and happiness standards. This takes me back to the question, “do great teachers make great schools?” For Deb Netolicky it is about the good enough teacher.

A new study that tries to quantify this phenomenon finds that on average, teachers who are good at raising test scores are worse at making kids happy in class.

CPD minefield! –The secrets to planning and preparing effective technology CPD – Jose Picardo provides a number of tips to supporting the implementation of professional development, including the suggestion to avoid one-size-fits-all, provide plenty of examples, emphasise the why and make sure you do not forget where the students and parents sit within the wider scheme of things. He also highlights a number of options, such as lunchtime sessions, briefings and teachmeets. I have discussed the idea of starting the learning early, the ingredients that make a good conference and the potential of coaching to support digital pedagogies. I think though that Picardo’s post reminds us is that the best approach is a always a mixed.

How human beings make and justify their decisions is a fascinating area of study. Psychologists have long warned about our proclivity to fall prey to irrational decision-making, logical fallacies, prejudice and bias, which often determine why new ideas are adopted. Psychology has shown that we instinctively place more importance on our own ideas than on those of others. It’s a well-documented psychological phenomenon called the Not Invented Here Bias. This bias suggests that your idea could be rejected by others simply because it is not their idea, and not on its actual merit.

Why Teachers are now Gardeners not Carpenters – Richard Wells provides a comparison between the educator as carpenter verses the educator as a gardener. I have written about trees before and the way in which they each grow in their own way, depending on a multiplicity of reasons. Interestingly, Yong Zhao suggests that gardeners are in fact dictators. In part, this is what Bernard Bull touches on when explaining that how we pick the produce impacts what produce we pick. What I find intriguing about gardens is that they do not stop growing if we stop caring for them, something that I learnt when my mother died.

Carpenters have to work in a controlled environment. Their job is to use their tools to shape each product to a predetermined design and function. The pressure is all on the carpenter to get each product right, money is spent on purchasing quality tools, products are compared to gage quality, and when the wood is not pliable, it is often discarded. Mistakes are to be avoided and taking risks is dangerous to say the least. The finished products are perfected to fulfil a specific job/specialism for life making it obsolete once future requirements change. The carpenter’s workshop is a perfect analogy for the needs of the 20th century and it’s classrooms. The Gardener’s life is messier but just as fulfilling. Compared with other life on earth, humans have a very long childhood. This is because we expect children to learn about and prepare for the world through play and experience. This long childhood lends itself to the gardener’s approach and should lean both parents and teachers to a role of planning and nurturing a nourishing and dynamic space where any number of variables might impact on progress but children learn to adapt and find their space in a ever-changing ecosystem. The gardener is a great analogy for a 21st century teacher.

“@AudreyWatters on Telling Stories” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

FOCUS ON EdTech Year in Review

Each year, Audrey Watters’ unpacks the stories we were told about education technology in 2017. In response to her post about robots, John Johnston stated that he did not know where to start quoting. I think that this can be said about all the posts, especially when they are supplemented by additional resources.


So that is December for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here.

Cover image via JustLego101.

Read The Circle by Dave Eggers
The Circle by Dave Eggers is a novel which tries to encapsulate life inside of a fictional company that is a mixture of Facebook and Google called The Circle. It is very much a novel for the current generation.

The book was recently adapted for film. I am not sure though whether it captures Eggers’ nuances associated with character.

Here are some quotes from the book which stuck out:

Instead, he put all of it, all of every user’s needs and tools, into one pot and invented TruYou—one account, one identity, one password, one payment system, per person. There were no more passwords, no multiple identities. Your devices knew who you were, and your one identity—the TruYou, unbendable and unmaskable—was the person paying, signing up, responding, viewing and reviewing, seeing and being seen. You had to use your real name, and this was tied to your credit cards, your bank, and thus paying for anything was simple. One button for the rest of your life online. To use any of the Circle’s tools, and they were the best tools, the most dominant and ubiquitous and free, you had to do so as yourself, as your actual self, as your TruYou. The era of false identities, identity theft, multiple user names, complicated passwords and payment systems was over. Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal. Once you had a single account, it carried you through every corner of the web, every portal, every pay site, everything you wanted to do. TruYou changed the internet, in toto, within a year. Though some sites were resistant at first, and free-internet advocates shouted about the right to be anonymous online, the TruYou wave was tidal and crushed all meaningful opposition. It started with the commerce sites. Why would any non-porn site want anonymous users when they could know exactly who had come through the door? Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness.

Production on the cameras, which were as yet unavailable to consumers, went into overdrive. The manufacturing plant, in China’s Guangdong province, added shifts and began construction on a second factory to quadruple their capacity. Every time a camera was installed and a new leader had gone transparent, there was another announcement from Stenton, another celebration, and the viewership grew. By the end of the fifth week, there were 16,188 elected officials, from Lincoln to Lahore, who had gone completely clear, and the waiting list was growing. The pressure on those who hadn’t gone transparent went from polite to oppressive. The question, from pundits and constituents, was obvious and loud: If you aren’t transparent, what are you hiding? Though some citizens and commentators objected on grounds of privacy, asserting that government, at virtually every level, had always needed to do some things in private for the sake of security and efficiency, the momentum crushed all such arguments and the progression continued. If you weren’t operating in the light of day, what were you doing in the shadows? And there was a wonderful thing that tended to happen, something that felt like poetic justice: every time someone started shouting about the supposed monopoly of the Circle, or the Circle’s unfair monetization of the personal data of its users, or some other paranoid and demonstrably false claim, soon enough it was revealed that that person was a criminal or deviant of the highest order. One was connected to a terror network in Iran. One was a buyer of child porn. Every time, it seemed, they would end up on the news, footage of investigators leaving their homes with computers, on which any number of unspeakable searches had been executed and where reams of illegal and inappropriate materials were stored. And it made sense. Who but a fringe character would try to impede the unimpeachable improvement of the world? Within weeks, the non-transparent officeholders were treated like pariahs. The clear ones wouldn’t meet with them if they wouldn’t go on camera, and thus these leaders were left out. Their constituents wondered what they were hiding, and their electoral doom was all but assured. In any coming election cycle, few would dare to run without declaring their transparency—and, it was assumed, this would immediately and permanently improve the quality of candidates. There would never again be a politician without immediate and thorough accountability, because their words and actions would be known and recorded and beyond debate. There would be no more back rooms, no more murky deal-making. There would be only clarity, only light.

Would you have behaved differently if you’d known about the SeeChange cameras at the marina?” “Yes.” Bailey nodded empathetically. “Okay. How?” “I wouldn’t have done what I did.” “And why not?” “Because I would have been caught.” Bailey tilted his head. “Is that all?” “Well, I wouldn’t want anyone seeing me do that. It wasn’t right. It’s embarrassing.” He put his cup on the table next to him and rested his hands on his lap, his palms in a gentle embrace. “So in general, would you say you behave differently when you know you’re being watched?” “Sure. Of course.”


“That’s the idea,” Jackie said. “Just as within the Circle we know our Participation Rank, for example, soon we’ll be able to know at any given moment where our sons or daughters stand against the rest of American students, and then against the world’s students.” “That sounds very helpful,” Mae said. “And would eliminate a lot of the doubt and stress out there.” “Well, think of what this would do for a parent’s understanding of their child’s chances for college admission. There are about twelve thousand spots for Ivy League freshmen every year. If your child is in the top twelve thousand nationally, then you can imagine they’d have a good chance at one of those spots.” “And it’ll be updated how often?” “Oh, daily. Once we get full participation from all schools and districts, we’ll be able to keep daily rankings, with every test, every pop quiz incorporated instantly. And of course these can be broken up between public and private, regional, and the rankings can be merged, weighted, and analyzed to see trends among various other factors—socioeconomic, race, ethnicity, everything.”

“And as you all know,” he said, turning to Mae, speaking to her watchers, “we here at the Circle have been talking about Completion a lot, and though even us Circlers don’t know yet just what Completion means, I have a feeling it’s something like this. Connecting services and programs that are just inches apart. We track kids for safety, we track kids for educational data. Now we’re just connecting these two threads, and when we do, we can finally know the whole child. It’s simple, and, dare I say, it’s complete.”

“For this experiment, Mae, and the Circle as a whole, to work, it has to be absolute. It has to be pure and complete. And I know this episode will be painful for a few days, but trust me, very soon nothing like this will be the least bit interesting to anyone. When everything is known, everything acceptable will be accepted. So for the time being, we need to be strong. You need to be a role model here. You need to stay the course.”

“You’re completely overthinking it. No one, I mean no one, will look at you funny because some ancient ancestor of yours had slaves from Ireland. I mean, it’s so insane, and so distant, that no one will possibly connect you to it. You know how people are. No one can remember anything like that anyway. And to hold you responsible? No chance.”

By the time you read this, I’ll be off the grid, and I expect that others will join me. In fact, I know others will join me. We’ll be living underground, and in the desert, in the woods. We’ll be like refugees, or hermits, some unfortunate but necessary combination of the two. Because this is what we are.

“The Rights of Humans in a Digital Age.” Mae scanned it, catching passages: “We must all have the right to anonymity.” “Not every human activity can be measured.” “The ceaseless pursuit of data to quantify the value of any endeavor is catastrophic to true understanding.” “The barrier between public and private must remain unbreachable.” At the end she found one line, written in red ink: “We must all have the right to disappear.”

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Here is a collection of notes from the book National Testing in Schools, An Australian assessment edited by Bob Lingard, Greg Thompson, Sam Sellar. Approaching the topic of testing from a number of points of view, this is a useful book in making sense of all things associated with NAPLAN. A particular highlight is Margaret Wu’s chapter which unpacks the mechanics associated with the NAPLAN test to show the possibilities and limitations.


Collection deals with NAPLAN in Australia, but our introductory and concluding chapters seek to situate the research reported here in a broader global context, aware of the circulation today of globalised education policy discourses and the significance of international testing as a complement to national testing such as NAPLAN.

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1 National testing from an Australian perspective

Unlike other national testing regimes such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the US or the Pan-Canadian Assessment Program (PCAP), NAPLAN is a census test, not a sample test.

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NAPLAN data are thus used for a variety of purposes, including governing school systems, accountability purposes, managing staff within systems and schools, and making educational decisions regarding curriculum and pedagogy in systems, schools and classrooms.

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Together, NAPLAN, MySchool and the raft of programs and contractual arrangements between governments and schools that reference testing data illustrate the pervasiveness of technocratic rationality in Australian schooling

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NAPLAN was established to improve teaching and learning outcomes, but one significant effect has been that much teaching is now aimed at improving NAPLAN scores.

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NAPLAN data were useful in providing a common language for communication between principals, teachers and parents about student progress and achievement.

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2 What national testing data can tell us

In summary, we would say that a NAPLAN test only provides an indicative level of the performance of a student: whether the student is struggling, on track, or performing above average. The NAPLAN tests do not provide fine grading of students by their performance levels because of the large uncertainties associated with the ability measures.

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If teachers do not change the way they teach, the school mean scores for a year level can vary within a range of 32 NAPLAN points for 90% of the time if we have the opportunity to repeatedly allocate random samples of potential students to this school. Compare this margin of error with the expected annual growth rates of 44 points at Year 3, 28 points at Year 5, and 21 points at Year 7; the fluctuation in school mean scores due to a particular cohort of students has a magnitude close to one year of growth. This means that for many schools with a year level size of 50 or fewer, the average school performance could change significantly from one calendar year to another.

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We need to always remember that using student assessment data to evaluate teachers is making an inference, since we have not directly measured teacher performance. The validity of making this inference needs to be checked in every case.

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One should never jump to conclusions of ineffective schools whenever NAPLAN results are low. NAPLAN results indicate where further investigations are warranted.

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As teacher effect accounts for only a small portion of the student achievement variance, individual teacher effect is likely to be swamped by the large variations in student abilities in a class. This is a reliability issue.

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In conclusion, national testing data can inform us about performances of large groups of students, but not tell us a great deal about individual students or schools. National testing data cannot provide teacher performance measures, so there should not be any link between student test results and teacher appraisal or pay. National testing data have the potential to inform teaching and learning, and to frame education policies. However, we need to ensure that evidence-based decision making is backed by sound data and valid inferences.

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3 The performative politics of NAPLAN and MySchool

Focusing on NAPLAN and MySchool as interesting objects – as actors in their own right, rather than as effects or products of neoliberal governance strategies – provides the opportunity to explore the technologies and mechanisms through which such objects serve to delegate trust, create new intimacies and reorganise relations.

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By providing access to much more detail about each school, it brought parents closer to knowing their child’s school. It also revealed to schools themselves information that they previously did not have about themselves and about other schools.

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Here I take NAPLAN and MySchool to be calculative objects – objects that resulted from policy decisions, to be sure, but which also became participants in the policy arena, actively rearranging the goals of schools, parents, teachers and policy makers and bringing to the forefront new issues and problems. I present four specific features or functions of interesting objects: creating new intimates, translating interests, displacing trust and creating informed publics.

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Not only did MySchool become a technology through which the government entered intimate spaces of schools, schools themselves entered intimate spaces of living rooms and kitchens through discussions between parents

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By involving parents in the job of keeping schools accountable and in continually improving their performance, parents and the government were cast as intimates – partners in the shared enterprise of school improvement.

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By inserting itself between parents and their child’s school, MySchool attempted to enrol parents as canny stakeholders, casting the schools as secretive actors who were reluctantly being forced to reveal information they would rather have kept to themselves

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NAPLAN and MySchool thus changed the original goals, motivations and plans of various actors

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NAPLAN and MySchool thus created relations of distrust and suspicion between schools and the government, as well as schools and the public. They displaced trust from local actors with immediate knowledge and delegated trust instead to distant and impersonal actors.

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NAPLAN and MySchool produce an abstract, impoverished and interested version of the very complex phenomenon of schooling in Australia. However, these interested observations of NAPLAN and MySchool are not merely providing useful, detailed accounts of Australian schooling; rather, they are actually changing the very nature of Australian schooling, so that it is beginning to more closely resemble the abstract version presented on the MySchool website. Rather than NAPLAN and MySchool reflecting an abstract version of Australian schooling, they are perhaps remaking Australian schooling in their image.

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4 Questioning the validity of the multiple uses of NAPLAN data

As Strathern (1997) states: ‘When a measure becomes a target it ceases to be a good measure’ (308).

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In the context of NAPLAN, while the tests may measure attainment in numeracy or literacy, it is questionable whether the information from these tests can be used validly for explaining how well the school has performed. Yet the aggregation of test scores across students to provide composite measures of educational effectiveness for teachers, schools, states or even the nation are commonly used in education for accountability purposes.

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5 Local experiences, global similarities: teacher perceptions of the impacts of national testing

What policymakers intend is always mediated by how policy ‘hits the ground’, or is enacted, by individuals in diverse, complex community and institutional settings.

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It must be stressed that NAPLAN is designed to change practice and behaviour through the emphasis on test-based accountabilities. However, not all change is desirable

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The most dangerous possibility of testing data is that it distorts and corrupts the very processes it intends to measure. As education policy makers seem intent on continuing to use test data to steer practice from a distance, it remains to be seen how this distortion can be prevented.

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6 NAPLAN and student wellbeing: teacher perceptions of the impact of NAPLAN on students

In the case of schools, the use of NAPLAN results as a blunt accountability instrument through their publication on the MySchool website has significantly increased the pressure on schools to treat NAPLAN results as more than just a snapshot of student achievement at a particular point in time

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First, rather than NAPLAN itself being the central issue of concern in this instance, it is the use of NAPLAN results in largely inappropriate ways that is likely to be generating serious negative consequences

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Second, these types of findings, and the likely reasons behind them, suggest a serious lack of knowledge amongst some policy makers, bureaucrats, principals, teachers and parents about the limitations of NAPLAN results (and indeed, any single test score)

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Overall, it seems evident that the NAPLAN program is generating stress-related responses amongst substantial numbers of students across Australia. While there is a need for further research to elucidate the reasons behind this, it is highly likely that the use of NAPLAN results in inappropriate ways is contributing to student stress through the messages sent to students in the words and actions of principals, teachers and parents. Blaming these groups is not the way forward – rather, the time has come to discuss the relevance of NAPLAN, whether the benefits are worth the substantial costs (including psychological), and if NAPLAN is to continue, what the appropriate, statistically defensible and reasonable use of student test results might look like.

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7 Literacy leadership and accountability practices: holding onto ethics in ways that count

The common agreement for literacy is a school-based policy, collaboratively developed between teachers and leaders, that prescribes what should be included in the daily uninterrupted literacy block. The block includes: guided reading, Jolly Phonics (Reception – Year 2), explicit teaching of comprehension strategies, daily reading practice (Choosing to Read), shared reading, handwriting, writing, spelling program, grammar and punctuation, as well as the locally mandated assessments to be undertaken over the year and the SMARTA (Specific/Student focused; Measurable; Achievable; Relevant; Time-lined; Agreed) targets for reading endorsed by the region. All teachers are given copies of the literacy agreement in their induction folders at the beginning of the school year and they were posted prominently on the notice board in the staff room.A locally generated text, the literacy agreement has come into existence as a result of very low NAPLAN results. It not only reflects the programs that teachers considered to be valuable, but the shaping force of NAPLAN. In this way, NAPLAN regulates the school’s common literacy agreement, constitutes the literacy problem and coordinates everyday classroom work in more or less obvious ways. For instance, the literacy component of NAPLAN includes a reading comprehension test, a writing test (genre writing), a spelling test and a grammar and punctuation test

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As we have seen, Sandford has engaged with the unavoidable accountability requirements associated with NAPLAN. We have shown the extent to which NAPLAN has evoked a narrow view of literacy as the practice of content-free skills and how this view is reproduced in the active and occurring text of the literacy agreement that shapes what happens in classrooms. Nevertheless, NAPLAN does not always dominate what can be said. The potential sedimentation of NAPLAN is unraveled and reworked, at least to some degree, in the literacy chats, a product of the school’s recognition of the teachers’ needs for professional mentoring conversations that take account of actual students and their learning trajectories. In these educative and dialogical spaces, the senior leader works with teachers to design pedagogical interventions for students whose progress in school literacy learning is cause for concern. However, it is not only a question of looking at data as an artefact of the student, as the excerpt of Carrie’s literacy chat indicates. In mediating translocal policies that might otherwise close down possibilities for engaging ethically with students, the senior leader offers teachers the possibility of creative and critical literacy pedagogies. Despite their value in turning teachers around to students’ knowledge and practices as resources for school literacy learning, such pedagogies are less and less visible in schools since the advent of NAPLAN.

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8 Contesting and capitalising on NAPLAN

… a warm-up session to ensure students were ready to learn;an ‘I do’ session in which the teacher demonstrated the specific task which was the focus of the lesson;a ‘we do’ session in which teachers worked with students as a whole class to co-construct a model response;a ‘you do’ activity involving students working independently;and a ‘ploughing back’ session in which students revised the lesson objectives and outcomes

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9 Understanding the politics of categories in reporting national test results

Strong average performance in numeracy by some LBOTE students is not simply ascribed to a cultural fixation on academic attainment but may be a reflection of numeracy skills attained through comprehensive educational backgrounds;this strong average performance clouds the heterogeneity of the LBOTE category;LBOTE classification encompasses a broad heterogeneous group of students, which in the absence of a measure of English language proficiency, is most evident when NAPLAN results are disaggregated according to visa status of LBOTE students. Visa, in turn, is informative about disadvantage related to prior educational opportunities because students of refugee background are performing far below those of other migration categories, particularly the skilled visa category;language proficiency levels and years of schooling are associated with NAPLAN outcomes; andstudents who are of refugee background, with reduced years of schooling, and in the early stages of acquiring English are most disadvantaged in NAPLAN test results, but are completely hidden in the LBOTE category.

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NAPLAN data need to be interpreted and understood within the context of language learning, whereas, in its current form, the breadth of LBOTE can only render a shallow interpretation, which dangerously ignores understandings about academic second language development.

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10 Students at risk and NAPLAN: the collateral damage

Evident in the above is how, over the years of NAPLAN administration, support for students with different needs – social and emotional, language background, learning difficulties – to participate in NAPLAN has narrowed to serve the priority of administrative consistency.

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NAPLAN data were reported to have little utility compared to information already obtained: [NAPLAN] does not provide us with any information about students that we don’t already know ourselves. We profile our students. And it just gives us another piece of information that we would otherwise have anyway.(Principal, independent PY–12 school)

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…teachers reported positive value from NAPLAN as confirming their own professional judgements

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16 The life of data: evolving national testing

Following Simons (2014), international and national tests can be seen to function as global/national positioning devices, evidence of a new spatial disposition and, in Australia, evidence of the emergence of a numbers-based national system of schooling. While these developments provide some evidence of a world polity approach that talks about the global diffusion of modernity and also the global dissemination of a particular version of science and social science, they also reflect the global impacts of an Anglo-American model of school reform based very much on test-based, top-down modes of educational accountability.

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There is a common perception that testing data are inert, lifeless objects that provide an unbiased and objective measure of educational process, practices and outcomes.

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However, we must be careful in making this claim that there is a life of data. In its most extreme form, this can lead to positing data as an agentive actor that makes decisions and behaves in certain ways. This is clearly not the case – data are expressions of human subjectivity, an expression of the values, sensibilities, processes that lead to their creation, and then the paths that the data lay down for individuals in terms of their choices, actions and acts of enunciation. Data are thus part of new spaces of subjectivity that are not contained within human bodies, but instead extend into information systems such as testing regimes, but also other data-driven applications such as social media or mobile phone usage. To understand the life of data, then, is to recognise that data produce possibilities and are invoked through the behaviours and values that result from the production of data. We cannot see data as external to the production of subjectivity, rather as Guattari (1992) argues, there is a little piece of human subjectivity in each data point: the technologies that we use to engage with data ‘are nothing more than hyperdeveloped and hyperconcentrated forms of certain aspects of human subjectivity’ (18).

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Data have a life, they are always and everywhere put to work, they are always and everywhere in motion. One demonstration of this principle was highlighted by Nichols and Berliner (2007). Their argument was that the higher the stakes attached to any single measure that is used to make important decisions about students, teachers and schools, the more liable it is that the initial measure becomes corrupted because the processes are distorted by the emphasis. This is called ‘Campbell’s Law’, which stipulates: …the more any quantitative social indicator is used in social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it was intended to measure.(Nichols & Berliner 2007: 27)For example, tests like NAPLAN, which are designed to measure student achievement in the constructs of basic literacy and numeracy skills, become corrupted when teachers devote excessive class time to preparing for the tests. In other words, the tests no longer measure constructs regarding literacy and numeracy, rather they begin to measure the construct of how well a teacher can prepare a class. Obviously this is a problem, if important decisions are being made about literacy and numeracy on data that do not measure what they purport to measure, such decisions may not drive the improvements that were intended.

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If data have lives, they are enacted through the space and time of data, and notions like consequential validity advanced by test developers themselves speak to this life

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The critical question then is ‘what ought to be the future orientation to data at all levels of schooling’? This is primarily a political question and it needs to trouble the thinking and work of politicians, policy makers, system leaders, principals, teachers, students, the broader community and also educational researchers. I

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Given this, we are not opposed to national testing, but we do believe that our assessments of national testing clearly point to areas where action must be taken to reduce its negative effects in Australia and elsewhere.

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