My Month of October

In my work, I continued developing a scalable reporting solution, including planning out an implementation process. I also investigated some automated solutions associated with Google Sheets, including the creation of calendar events from a sheet, as well as developing a document from a database. I have managed to generate markdown code, the next step is to create a script to turn this into a Doc.

On the home front, our girls are enjoying the change of weather, spending endless hours outside on the trampoline and in the cubby house. I have lost count how many ‘concerts’ I have been the audience for featuring either Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off or Pharrell William’s Happy.

Personally, I have continued to explore different aspects of the #IndieWeb, including facepiles, posting comments from my own site and Micro.blogs. I also met up with Cameron Hocking for an interesting chat about conferences, communities and associations.

Here was my month in words:

  • My #IndieWeb Reflections – Meaning to elaborate on my thoughts on #IndieWeb for a while, Chris Aldrich’s post outlining a proposal for a book spurred me to finish jotting down my notes and reflections.
  • Sheets, Calendars, Events – Building on the APIs provided by Google Sheets and Google Calendar, I documented how to automate the addition and maintenance of multiple events.
  • Laying the Standards for a Blogging Renaissance – With the potential demise of social media, does this offer a possible rebirth of blogging communities and the standards they are built upon? Chris Aldrich wrote an insightful response as well.
  • Scripting an Automated Solution – A plan for an automated monthly newsletter produced from Google Sheets. The intention is to develop data in a way that it can be used in a number of ways.
  • Blogging the Digital Technologies Curriculum – Digital Technologies is more than just learning to code. This post re-imagines the curriculum around blogging and explores how it maybe better integrated. This post was also included in the Edublogs Newsletter.

I also passed 400 blog posts this month, which I actually totally overlooked at the time.


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

Learning and Teaching

“Twist Fate @mizuko ‏” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Twist Fate – The Connected Learning Alliance challenged teens to pick a classic story and create an alternate scenario through art or story where a famous hero is the villain or an infamous villain, the hero, with the finalists collated in a book. For further insight into the project, Sara Ryan and Antero Garcia provide a reflection on the some of the stories and the project.

When young people create and learn with others who share their interests and passions, and are able to share and be recognized for this, it is much more powerful than the kind of learning that young people do in most of their schooling. We call this kind of learning “connected learning” — learning that connects peer culture, personal interests, and recognition in the wider world.

There is No App For That – On the Team Human podcast, Douglas Rushkoff speaks with Richard Heinberg about the challenges of a renewable future. Both authors question the narrative of technological progress and wonder about other human possibilities. Heinberg’s ideas are documented in the manifesto, There’s No App for That. Kim Stanley Robinson provides another take on the future, arguing that we have reached a junction with no middle ground.

Technology has grown with us, side by side, since the dawn of human society. Each time that we’ve turned to it to solve a problem or make us more comfortable, we’ve been granted a solution. But it turns out that all of the gifts Technology has bestowed on us come with costs. And now we are facing some of our biggest challenges—climate change, overpopulation, and biodiversity loss. Naturally, we’ve turned to our longtime friend and ally, Technology, to get us out of this mess. But are we asking too much this time?

Critical Creativity for Grownups: Teachers Try Intention, the Book – Disemminating ideas from the book Intention, Amy Burvall describes some of the creative activities that she has used with teachers. These include #INTENTIONOREO where participants have to work within the contrants of an Oreo and #INTENTIONBRICK where participants explain something using random Lego pieces. Dan Ryder, co-author of Intention, also presented some of these ideas as a part of the recent EdTechTeam Virtual Conference. Burvall also recently gave a TED Talk on creativity which also provides a good introduction to her work. In regards to other ideas around professional development, Jackie Gerstein shares some of the strategies she uses with teachers, while Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano discusses the idea of a scavenger hunt to connect and learn.

This selection is by no means comprehensive – most workshops are 3-5 hours and we address at least 3 activities from each of the themes in the book: Creating with Words, Images, the Body, Social Media, Others, Sounds, and Stuff.

The Battle That Created Germany – David Crossland investigates new findings relating to the battle of Teutoburg Forest, between the Germanic tribes and the Romans. A decisive victory, it was a battle which stopped the Roman’s surge east of the Rhine. The article provdes an in-depth analysis of the battle and uncovers many of the complexities with retracing such events often overlooked in textbook accounts. It is interesting to think about the challenges associated with Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series and why he continually states that he is not a historian.

Archaeologists have made a fascinating discovery that could rewrite the history of a legendary battle between Germanic tribes and the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD.

Edtech

“We Are All Using APIs @APIEvangelist” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

We Are All Using APIs – Kin Lane explains how APIs are a part of our daily existence. Although we may not be able to do APIs, we need to be aware that they are there and what that might mean. This focus on the ethical as much as the technical relates to Maha Bali’s post about adding humanity back to computer science and Ben Williamson’s call to explore the social consequences associated with coding. Providing a different take on the ‘Hour of Code’, Gary Stager explains that the epistemological benefit of programming comes over time as we build fluency.

We are all using APIs. We are all being impacted by APIs existing, or not existing. We are being impacted by unsecured APIs (ie. Equifax). We are all being influenced, manipulated, and manipulated by bots who are using Twitter, Facebook, and other APIs to bombard us with information.

Simple Truth: Your Attention Has Been Hijacked. – Bill Ferriter reflects on the way smartphones have been designed to grab our attention. This continues with the discussion around technology engineers avoiding the use of social media, as well as Adam Greenfield’s autopsy of the smartphone on its tenth birthday. Doug Belshaw relates this all to the rise and recognition of ‘notification literacy’.

So what are the solutions?

Here are mine:

  1. You’ll never see me checking any social apps on my phone while we are together
  2. I’m uninstalling MOST social apps from my phone
  3. I’m going to nudge the people in my life — my peers, my relatives, my students — to take the same actions

100+ Ideas And Prompts For Student Blogging – Updated from an initial post from Ronnie Burt, this collaboration between Burt, Sue Waters and Kathleen Morris provides a long list of prompts to inspire teachers and students in regards to blogging. Along with the recent culmination of the #edublogsclub project and John Johnston’s reflection on the Glow Blogs e-Portfolio system, these posts offer a number of ideas to continue blogging in and out of the classroom.

Enthusiasm is typically high when student blogs are first set up. Students often can’t wait to unleash their creativity and publish for an authentic audience on their own online space.Sometimes when the initial excitement wears off, students start facing ‘bloggers’ block’ or get in a rut of writing the same style of post over and over (eg. ‘My favourite…’).With a little guidance and encouragement, you can ensure your students reach their full potential as a writer, while extending themselves by exploring various genres and mediums. This post aims to provide prompts to inspire you and your students for a whole year of blogging.

Where to Find Free Images for Students and Teachers – Kathleen Morris reflects on the use of images in the classroom. After unpacking a myriad of challenges, she suggests a solution: copyright free images. Supporting this, she compares a number of sites that provide access to free images and provides a number of printable resources to use in the classroom. Continuing the conversation around licences, Alan Levine encourages attribution, even when it is not required.

Over the past few years, there seems to be a rise in the availability of free images that are licensed under public domain or Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Public domain works can be used freely for any purpose. Their licenses have expired, or they are released with no restriction on their usage. CC0 is a Creative Commons license that allows copyright owners to release their works with no usage restrictions. There are now many sites to find CC0 and/or public domain images. Some of these sites can be very useful in the classroom, however, they’re not all created equal.

Your Data is Being Manipulated – In an extract from danah boyd’s keynote at the 2017 Strata Data Conference, she highlights some of the ways in which our lives are being distorted through data. Associated with this, boyd spoke at the Digital Media Lab Conference about the challenges of inadvertently learning the wrong things. She explains how the beliefs generated by online communities, such as 4Chan, shape our everyday understandings. It is interesting to consider this alongside Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Maths Destruction, which is currently the focus in Bryan Alexander’s book club.

The tech industry is no longer the passion play of a bunch of geeks trying to do cool shit in the world. It’s now the foundation of our democracy, economy, and information landscape. We no longer have the luxury of only thinking about the world we want to build. We must also strategically think about how others want to manipulate our systems to do harm and cause chaos.

The Couple Paid 200k a Year to Travel – Jessica Holland explores world of social media influencers and uncovers the reality associated with being the product. This is something that is also coming into education, with the branding of teachers who are then given resources to use in the classroom. Has it always been this way?

The number of social media influencers – people like the Stohlers with huge audiences and companies eager to piggyback on their success – is growing, and the industry is evolving rapidly. But only a tiny minority are able to make a living doing so.

Storytelling and Reflection

Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world @Tulip_education

“Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world @Tulip_education” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world – Marten Koomen explores where to now with Harvey Weinstein and the way women are treated in society. He suggests that we need a collective effort by government to develop legislation and policy. Along with Rebecca Solnit’s post on blaming women for men’s actions and Julian Stodd’s investigation of the wider cultural problem brought out in the #MeToo movement, they touch on a wider problem around gender and inequality. On the Gist podcast, Mike Pesca discusses the challenges associated with reporting such topics. Jenny Listman adds a reminder that such power is abused by regular people too.

Politics is more private and personal for women than for men. Matters related to reproduction, violence, abuse and childcare, tend to affect women more harshly than men. Pain is often suffered in private, in silence, and impenetrable to communities. Individual men are often not placed or equipped to help in sometimes complex matters, but society can.

Hurry Slowly: communication and trust are key to successful organisations – Doug Belshaw reviews a book/blog by Johnathan Nightingale exploring modern leadership. The two factors which stand out to him is communication and trust. This is something also correlated in the work of Paul Browning. Reading through Belshaw’s thoughts, I wonder if open planned office environments are bad for us?

The two things that make organisations awesome, whether they’re for-profit, non-profit, co-ops, or something else are: – Communication – Trust

Without these two, organisations have to have a lot of something else to get things done. That can be money, it can be time, or it can be talent. But the quickest and easiest route to success is paved with good internal and external communication strategies, and trust between stakeholders.

Critical Pedagogy – My number one from #uLearn17 – Richard Wells reflects on the closing keynote for the recent uLearn Conference in New Zealand. It was by Ann Milne and involved shining a critical eye over inherent inequalities within their education system. Having visited New Zealand earlier this year, I think that it is easy to get caught in the hype around the various improvements and innovation. It also left me thinking about the voices left silent in my own system.

Ann’s complaint is that New Zealand schools generally tinker with cultural issues and identity but do not do nearly enough to help address serious and ongoing societal inequities … Educators still have much work to do if we are to build authentic experiences for all individual learners to equip them to solve the problems previous ‘educated’ generations of have caused.

In Praise Of ‘And’…. – Kath Murdoch pushes back on the evidence that inquiry does not work, instead arguing that it is not a question or OR but AND. Along with David Price’s posts and Steve Collis’ TED Talk, they are a reminder that focusing on supposed ‘effective’ strategies sometimes requires more nuance, particularly when it comes to context. This is why I like the Modern Learning Canvas as a means of painting a richer picture of practice.

I am regularly amazed by what learners DO figure out for themselves (and how deeply satisfying that is for them) when given the right conditions, opportunity and challenge AND I have in my repertoire, the technique of timely, direct explanations or demonstrations when required.

What Problem Are We Trying to Solve? – Chris Wejr reflects on the many changes occurring in education and askes the question, what problem are they trying to solve? He focuses in particular on the danger of continually jumping on the latest shiny technological toy or application. This reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago about supporting the development of digital pedagogies which focused on starting with the intended outcomes. It is also interesting reading Wejr’s post next to Benjamin Doxtdator’s recent review of Most Like to Succeed.

Too often we are drawn in and sold on solutions to problems which we have not even defined. Effective sales people do this very well as you walk away with something new that you didn’t even know you needed! In schools, we have so much change right now. I love Brian’s idea of defining the problem first and then seeing if we can find potential solutions as I believe this will help us filter and manage the changes more effectively.

FOCUS ON … LIBRARIES

“What is the value of a library with no content? @daveowhite” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

A recent article on the ABC News spoke about he demise of the traditional library in schools. Here is a collection of resources I collated with Anthony Speranza exploring the future of libraries and makerspaces:


READ WRITE RESPOND #022

So that is October 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?

Cover image by JustLego101

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