My Month of August
Another month has flown on by. In regards to work, I have continued to explore reporting, this included being lucky enough to attend a collective looking at ongoing reporting. Biannual reporting is such an intriguing area and seems to be a barometer of innovation and change. I was also lucky enough to run a session on flipped learning using flipped learning focusing on Global2. It seems that creating an environment that provides time, support and autonomy can work.
On the family front, the coughs and sneezes associated with the long winter have continued on. Apparently warnings have also gone out that this Spring will be bad for hay fever …
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
- Getting Critical about Collaboration – A critical reflection on some critical considerations associated with online collaboration.
- Obstacles Associated with Blogging – Kathleen Morris recently put out a poll investigating the obstacles associated with blogging, here are some of the challenges as I see them
Here are some of the ideas that have left me thinking …
Learning and Teaching
“‘Using Visitors and Residents to visualise digital practices’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA
Using ‘Visitors and Residents’ to visualise digital practices – David White and Alison Le Cornu have published a paper continuing their exploration of digital belonging and the problems with age-based categorisations. One interesting point made was the blur that has come to the fore between organisations and individuals. It is interesting to consider this model next to White’s work in regards to lurkers, as well as the ability to ‘return the tools’ without inadvertently leaving some sort of trace.
While it is tempting to work as if we were operating with two dichotomies, Visitor and Resident, and personal and professional, such an approach would overlook the ubiquity of the Web and the fact that many people now do what we have loosely called ‘professional’ activities at home, and indeed, may also do what we have termed ‘personal’ Web-based activities at work or during formal learning sessions. The key point here is that the digital amplifies the ability to shift context beyond the constraints of our immediate, physical architectural environment (Fisher, 2009; Wittkower, 2016). In the same way, people can appear to be operating in one mode of engagement when in reality they’re doing something entirely different. They might appear to be participating in a class activity using a social media app, for example — a typically Resident approach — while in reality they’re filling in a job application online on a secure site: a predominantly Visitor approach. This is significant because it indicates a type of blurring, where the physical architectural environment no longer imposes the same degree of ‘authority’ as it once did in terms of behaviour or modes of engagement. In other words, the Web makes it possible to undertake activities that once could only be done in specific physical places.
Feedback, It’s Emotional – Deborah Netolicky weaves together some insights into the emotional nature of feedback, supporting her thoughts with an array of evidence. I have written about feedback before, however Netolicky’s work highlights the personal nature of it all.
It is through seeing our work through the eyes of others, and by being open to criticism, that we can figure out how to push our work forward, improve it incrementally, take it in a new direction, or defend it more vigorously.
Are We Eager For Change? – Grant Lichtman provides a number of short activities to start the conversation around change. For Matt Esterman, the challenge is setting in place a series of digestible chunks to facilitate rapid evolution. Maybe this is encompassed by the idea of agile sprints?
What if the school leader is alone in understanding the “why”, or if other community stakeholders, particularly large groups of the faculty, do not see the need to change what they have done in the past? How do we get this conversation started in ways that nurture the possibility of change?
Build Labeling Games with Quizlet Diagrams – Tony Vincent unpacks the recent changes to Quizlet which allows users to add interactive diagrams. These can be used as an activity or an interactive resource. This new feature provides an additional interactive layer to an image. Vincent sees potential in students creating their own diagrams to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.
It’s true: with Quizlet Diagrams, a teacher has the ability to create study aids for their students. However, I think students learn better by creating the diagrams themselves.
Young and eSafe – Developed by the eSafety Commision, Young and Safe provides advice by young people, for young people. This includes a five part video series, stories of young people’s experiences and expert advice from people in the know.
Young & eSafe is an initiative of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. The eSafety Office works to keep Australians safer online by providing resources, programs and services which promote positive online behaviour.
What Do You Want to Know about Blogging? – Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano responds to number of questions about blogging, such as how to start out in the classroom, setup precautions, develop a habit and extend your thinking beyond the simple view of blogging. Kathleen Morris’ post on why every educator should blog, Marina Rodriguez’ tips for student blogging and Doug Belshaw’s guide how to write a blog post add to this discussion.
I have found that the more pressure I put on myself to blog, the more stressed I get and the less I write. Blogging is a pleasure for me that becomes a burden, when I give myself deadlines. Another technique that seems to work for me is that I create lots and lots of drafts. I start with titles and save them as drafts, then continue to add to these drafts, as I find little time here and a little time there. Then suddenly, I realize that one of the drafts is ready to publish
Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – Jean Twenge explores some of the statistics around the use of smartphones and social media by teens. It would be easy to say take phones off teens. Joshua Kim suggests that every big technological leap seems to engender a new set of worries and things often work out fine, while Alexander Samuel argues that it is parents, not teens, that we should be worried. Another approach maybe exploring the impact of notifications. Overall, Katie Davis, Emily Weinstein and Howard Gardner warn against simplistic narratives.
Social-networking sites like Facebook promise to connect us to friends. But the portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation. Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements “A lot of times I feel lonely,” “I often feel left out of things,” and “I often wish I had more good friends.” Teens’ feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.
How ready is your school for digital age learning? Building School Capacity – Christine Haynes shares D-LIFE, a framework designed to support schools with the implementation of technology. It revolves around ten categories: leadership, infrastructure, services, implementation, policies, quality, resources, environment, learning and community.
D-LIFE provides a framework to evaluate current levels of implementation, and determine areas where school growth is required. D-LIFE can also be used to guide leaders to ask the questions of other stakeholders, like technicians, parents, and faculty to ensure educational goals remain the priority of technical initiatives.
Decentralize It! – Paul Ford discusses the benefits of setting up your own server and the lessons one is able to learn through the process. This is a topic that Dave Winer also touches upon. Coming from the perspective of a domain of one’s own, this feels like a continuation of the narrative. Mike Caulfield adds a word of caution that if such choices are driven by a sense of activism that it is how tools are used, rather than what tools, which matters.
I look at Raspberry Pi Zeros with Wi-Fi built in and I keep thinking, what would it take to just have a little web server that was only for three or four people, at home? Instead of borrowing computer time from other people I could just buy a $10 computer the size of a stick of gum. Which next year could be a $7 computer, and eventually a $1 computer. It could run a Dropbox-alike, something like OwnCloud. It’s easy in theory but kind of a pain in practice.I’d need to know how to open ports on my home router.I’d need to be able to get the headless device onto WiFi.I’d need a place to plug it in, plugs are hard to come by.It needs to physically be somewhere.It would need a case.You need to buy an SD card with Linux on it.And on and on.The world doesn’t want us to run web servers at home. But I do. I really think we should run web servers from gumstick computers at home.
Social Media isn’t for Learning – Benjamin Doxtdator considers a number of challenges and concerns around using social media for learning. Whether it be the extractive nature of platforms or the inherent discrimination built in, Doxtdator questions the use of such platforms as Facebook and Twitter as a means of engaging with the open web. On top of this, he wonders how receptive we are when students do not respond the way we might like or expect, something Bryan Alexander also talks about. Personally, I wonder if an answer is to support through the use of managed spaces that offer a sense of control. I also think that whatever solution is adopted, it is an imperative to apply a critical lense, rather than solely focus on the ease of use.
For social media to make a real difference in schools, rather than end up on the heap of ed tech that has failed to live up to its revolutionary potential, we have to be willing to accept the real risks: that students might challenge us with their voices and say things we disagree with, and that not all students navigate the digital world with the same mix of privileges and vulnerabilities.
Storytelling and Reflection
#rawthought: On Ditching the (Dangerous) Dichotomy Between Content Knowledge and Creativity – Amy Burvall explains that the key to joining the dots is having dots to join in the first place. Reflecting on the dichotomy between creativity and critical thinking, Burvall illustrates arts dependency on knowledge and skills. The challenge is supporting students in making this learning experience stick. Deb Netolicky also discusses some of these points in here discussion of ‘21st Century Learning’, while Bill Ferriter questions what comes first.
Virtually every piece of media we are confronted with (from pop songs to poetry, from TV shows to classic texts), makes assumptions that the audience knows certain references. It’s our jobs as teachers and parents to help the young people in our care to gather their knowledge “dots”, find a place for them in the recesses of their memory, and grow agile in making connections between them.
Teach History – Audrey Watters argues that instead of teaching love, we need to teach that the past is not past, but rather still very much a part of the present. To understand what happened in Charlottesville you need to know something about the histories and legacies that they are built upon. Associated with this, Grant Lichtman argues that educating students about the situation needs to be a priority in every classroom. Anna Kamenetz collates a number of resources to support people, while Xian Franzinger Barrett outlines seven ways teachers can respond. Sam Dastiyari also warns that this is not just a problem unique to the USA.
We have to fundamentally alter how we teach history – and that means teaching about hate, not just love. It means teaching about American evils, not just American exceptionalism. It means teaching about resistance too, not just oppression. And it means rethinking all the practices tied up in our educational institutions – systemic and interpersonal practices that perpetuate this weekend’s violence.
How thinking of myself as a ‘Human API’ helped me get over my ego – Doug Belshaw uses the idea of an API to appreciate the interactions that are a part of being a consultant. As Belshaw explains, an API does not complain unless provided invalid input, it provides an expected output for a given input, are (usually) well documented, are inclusive and don’t discriminate between users. Not only is this useful in appreciating various choices and decisions, it also provides a concrete way of explaining APIs. I also wonder how such thinking fits with the idea of assemblages?
Thinking about life in Human API terms can be liberating. It forces you to think about what you’re willing to accept as an input, what you’re providing as an output, and what overall puzzle you’re helping solve. I think it’s a great metaphor and it’s one I’ll be using more often.
There Will be Blood – GDPR and EdTech – Eylan Ezekiel discusses the changes to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. This includes the right to access data, to have questions answered, the right to have data erased and the right to object to personal data being used to build a profile. The fear that it is too late, as companies like Amazon and Google explore the potential of automation and the data that comes with that, while John Grubar highlights another example of how our data is surreptitiously siphoned off by websites and applications. From an educational point of view, Ben Williamson demonstrates how platforms, like Class Dojo, influence the way data is collected in the classroom, which has a flow-on effect on the development of policy. Coming from the perspective of practice, Amy Collier provides seven strategies for treating data with more care, while Emily Talmage worries that data is destroying schools.
If Data is the new ‘Oil’ – then the GDPR is an attempt to bring regulation on the wild oil rush that has been going on across many sectors, before those industries take too much control over the geology of our privacy.
FOCUS ON … NAPLAN
It is that time again, when the NAPLAN results are released and the media goes gaga about the state of education. Here is a collection of some more reasoned responses:
- NAPLAN is ten years old – so how is the nation faring? – Glenn Savage looks back on ten years of NAPLAN and casts an eye ahead.
- Want better NAPLAN results? Try adding another PE class to the timetable – Dick Telford discusses the metabolic influence of exercise on learning arguing that we need more physical education, rather than literacy and numeracy classes.
- Learning to write should not be hijacked by NAPLAN: New research shows what is really going on – Annette Woods, Aspa Baroutsis, Lisa Kervin and Barbara Comber suggest that the focus needs to be in providing students with relational situations within which they can practice and that this is an activity which involves many individuals.
- NAPLAN and the HSC: Don’t leave the strugglers with nothing – Andrew Martin reported that most year 9 students in NSW will need to successfully re-sit at least one literacy or numeracy test to be eligible.
- The dark side of NAPLAN: it’s not just a benign ‘snapshot’ – Don Carter reports on some of the negative consequences associated with NAPLAN, in particular replacing the rich curriculum with a restricted view of learning and education.
- EXPLAINED: What parents should be using NAPLAN results for – Stewart Riddle argues that there is nothing in NAPLAN that a parent could not find out from a student’s teacher
- Paul Browning Interview on 4BC – Paul Browning responds to an article he wrote for the Courier Mail, arguing that an education worth having inspires creativity, NAPLAN does not necessarily measure this and should not be the prime focus.
For a further discussion of NAPLAN, I recommend National Testing in Schools, An Australian assessment edited by Bob Lingard, Greg Thompson and Sam Sellar. It provides a historical context, as well as unpacks many of the effects associated with the program, including media responses, pressures on schools, impact on various educators and the experience of students.
READ WRITE RESPOND #020
So that is August 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?