My Month of November
At work I have been exploring different means of facilitation and knowledge transfer. There are some things in life that are easier to explain than others. I am finding that reporting packages and timetables are always obvious.
Another lesson learned are the dangers associated with leaving things in reach of children. Our youngest decided she wanted some of my freshly brewed coffee and up with burns to her foot and arm. Thankfully, not her face. This has lead to regular visits to the doctor to have her wounds assessed and rebandaged.
On the personal front, I dived into the IndieWeb to try and figure out why I was not getting comments on my site. Not exactly sure what I changed to fix things, but everything seems to be back to normal again. I was also lucky enough to meet up with Alan Levine twice. It is great connecting online and even better being able to connect in person.
In regards to my writing, here was my November in posts:
- Building Solutions Beyond the Code – A reflection on going beyond coding when thinking solutions and the Digital Technologies curriculum.
- Learning Technologies – Often discussions around technologies and transformation focus on tools. Another question to consider is the way technologies entangled with learning.
- Building Digital Workflows – Technology is always adapting and evolving, here are a few of the recent changes to my digital workflows.
- Ongoing Reporting with GSuite – It can be easy to look at an application and provide one answer, the problem with this is that it does not cover all contexts. Here is a collection of ideas associated with GSuite and ongoing reporting and assessment.
- Automating the Summary of Data – My first iteration using Query and Sheets to automate a solution for turning a collection of data into a regular newsletter.
- Zen and the Art of Blog Maintenance. – This is a reflection on my recent challenges associated with maintaining a blog and an explanation of why I persist in doing it.
Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …
Learning and Teaching
How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA
How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war – Pankaj Mishra pushes back on the myth that World War I was largely a white European affair, instead suggesting that it was the moment when violent imperial legacies returned home. Along with Nafeez Ahmed’s reflection on Thanksgiving, these critiques remind us of the many forgotten voices during memorial days and national celebrations. Interestingly, TripleJ have decided to move the Hottest 100 Count from Australia Day, ‘a very apprehensive day’ for the Indigenous people of Australia. This is all a part of what Quinn Norton describes as ‘speaking truth’ against racism.
Today, as racism and xenophobia return to the centre of western politics, it is time to remember that the background to the first world war was decades of racist imperialism whose consequences still endure. It is something that is not remembered much, if at all, on Remembrance Day.
Challenge Creator & the Desmos Classroom – Dan Meyer introduces a new feature of his Desmos platform designed to support Mathematics students with problem solving. Students can now submit their own challenges for others to complete. This is also something that Conrad Wolfram touches on in his interview with Bruce Dixon, while Gary Stager suggests caring less about compliance and focusing more on authenticity.
Previously in our activities, students would only complete challenges we created and answer questions we asked. With Challenge Creator, they create challenges for each other and ask each other questions.
Ice Apocalypse – Eric Holthaus explains how rapid collapse of Antarctic glaciers could flood coastal cities by the end of this century. Although there is nothing guarenteed, the challenge is what we are doing about such changes. Jonathan Franzen reflects on the endless political promises that have failed to reach fruition.
Three feet of sea-level rise would be bad, leading to more frequent flooding of U.S. cities such as New Orleans, Houston, New York, and Miami. Pacific Island nations, like the Marshall Islands, would lose most of their territory. Unfortunately, it now seems like three feet is possible only under the rosiest of scenarios.
At six feet, though, around 12 million people in the United States would be displaced, and the world’s most vulnerable megacities, like Shanghai, Mumbai, and Ho Chi Minh City, could be wiped off the map.
At 11 feet, land currently inhabited by hundreds of millions of people worldwide would wind up underwater. South Florida would be largely uninhabitable; floods on the scale of Hurricane Sandy would strike twice a month in New York and New Jersey, as the tug of the moon alone would be enough to send tidewaters into homes and buildings.
A Few Questions to Re-Discover your Essentials – Pernille Ripp reflects on what matters in the classroom. She provides a number of prompts to help reassess and realign our focus. In a similar post, Kath Murdoch shares ten practices for inquiry teachers.
To help you re-discover or discover your essential, you can ask yourself:
- When you set up your classroom, how did you envision your classroom would be?
- What type of learning experiences did you want students to have?
- What is the one thing you want to ensure students experience on a regular basis?
- What is the one area of practice that will make the biggest difference to all of your students?
- What are you spending the most time on right now?
- What do you need to stop doing to give your students more time for something else?
- What do you need to start doing more of?
And finally; are you doing what you said you would
Learning Machines – Ben Williamson takes a dive into machine learning. He breaks his discussion down into three key areas: algorithms, hypernudges and personalised learning. Associated with this, Williamson also wrote about wearable brainwave training. Approaching this from the perspective of automating education, Naomi Barnes provides her own thoughts and reflections.
The machine behaviourism of autodidactic algorithm systems, public hypernudge pedagogies and personalized learning have become three of the most significant educational developments of recent years. All are challenging to educational research in related ways.
10 Fascinating Things We Learned When We Asked The World ‘How Connected Are You?’ – Jen Caltrider provides a summary of the results relating to a recent Mozilla survey investigating how connected people are. It provides a useful point of reflection, as well the opportunity to go further using the raw survey data.
Nearly 190,000 people around the world responded. People from the tiny islands of Tuvalu to the huge landmass of China and everywhere in between. (Mozilla released the survey in six languages: English, Spanish, German, Italian, French, and Portuguese.) What we learned is fascinating. Like: People in India are more likely to own a smart appliance, whereas people in Argentina are more likely to own a smart TV. And: People everywhere are worried that a more connected future will jeopardize their privacy.
Bingeworthy – Dave Winer has created another application. This time a means of sharing ratings associated with television series worth watching. I find it fascinating as much for watching the growth of the site on Winer’s blog. For more on Winer , the Internet History podcast featured an extensive interview reflecting on the various parts that he has played in regards to the web.
Bingeworthy is a website where you can rate programs on their binge-worthyness. We rank the programs based on what people think of them, and if there’s enough participation, we will also recommend them, based on your and other peoples’ ratings.
No, Facebook isn’t spying on you. At least not with the microphone – Alex Hern looks into the allogations that Facebook is forever watching and listening. He says that this is not necessarily true and instead shines a light on the store of knowledge that Facebook has, as is demonstrated by the recommendations for ‘people you may know’. Kashmir unpacks this in his investigation of Facebook’s shadow profiles, the information that is garnered about you inadvertently from other users. These platforms must be scraping more than our contacts though to work out our location, even when we try to keep it from them.
For a real picture of the extent of Facebook’s knowledge, the best place to turn is the section where it applies its vast banks of data in service of its own aims: the “people you may know” suggestions. That section has outed sex workers, psychiatrists and family secrets, all using as much data as possible to find every single connection in your life and show you that they’re on Facebook. People you may know is also subject to its own, lesser, conspiracy theory: many who have been connected with people they would rather remain invisible to blame location tracking, a feature the company swears it doesn’t use for this purpose. Then there’s the possibility that Facebook shows you people who have been searching for you.
Keeping My Thoughts Out Of Peoples Timeline And In My Domain – Kin Lane discusses being more mindful about social media. Instead of endlessly feeding the stream, Lane has taken to developing his ideas offline before sharing them with the world. In there own way, Migual Guhlin and Kathleen Morris talk about their own blogging journeys.
I’m learning to write down my thoughts. Let them simmer, and mature. I’m learning to stay out of people’s timeline, and publish all of my thoughts to my blog. Then I will share to my timeline.
A Case made for Static HTML over WordPress akin to Mashing Potatoes with a 1998 Ford F-150 – Alan Levine provides a response to the critiques often made of WordPress, such as speed, bloat and security. In an another post, WPBeginners document the changes to the user interface of WordPress. It is so important to recognise that platforms and applications evolve over time. This breaks the marasma of the ‘eternal present’ that is often perpetuated with technology.
There’s a lot to be said for simple static sites. I’m doing more and more of them, and there are some really slick things one can do. I will do that as a first approach. Going without the overhead of database and server setup is key. But it hardly makes for a valid comparison for a static site of fixed pages to compare it to WordPress and all the things it can do and manage. If you are going to mash potatoes, go for the masher, not the pickup truck.
Storytelling and Reflection
Bias Thwarts Innovation – Harold Jarsche explains why gender equity is so important when fostering a culture of innovation as it provides more dots to connect. This is a clarification of an initial post Jarsche wrote about our networked future. I have touched on the importance of gender equity before. Julian Stodd also wrote a useful post that breaks innovation down into six ‘thoughts’.
Innovation requires diversity. Innovation is not so much about having ideas as it is about making connections. You cannot connect the dots if you are only paying attention to half of them. Innovation is a network activity and creating structural holes through gender bias only weakens the network. Innovation is not brilliant flashes of individual insight but collective learning through social networks. Leadership is helping the network make better decisions, so managers should help to weave more diverse networks.
Reframing the ‘Progressive’ vs. ‘Traditionalist’ Debate in Education – Doug Belshaw discusses a model developed by Michael Stephen Schiro for representing perspectives on education. It involves two axis: knowledge and reality. This then provides four quadrants: Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, Learner Centered, and Social Reconstructivist. Along with Richard Olsen’s post on learning and Gert Biesta’s book on the purpose of education, these pieces provide a useful starting point for exploring pedagogical beliefs.
The four curriculum ideologies identified by Schiro are: Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, Learner Centered, and Social Reconstructivist. He sees defining these as a way of answering the following questions:
- What do educators conceive their professional aims to be?
- For what kind of clients or ideals do educators believe they work?
- Where do educators’ vested interests lie?
- Do educators see themselves as responsible to a client whose vested interests are other than their own?
47% of jobs will be automated… oh yeah…10 reasons why they won’t…. – Donald Clark takes a second look at the coming threat of automation. After highlighting some of the errors in the original report where the commonly shared statistic is taken from, Clark unpacks ten flaws. Approaching the problem for the point of evidence, Benjamin Doxtdator collates a number of resources on the topic. For me this touches on an important point which David Culberhouse points out, that the future is far from certain.
AI is an ‘idiot savant’, very smart on specific tasks but very stupid and prone to massive error when it goes beyond its narrow domain.
Learning in the time of AI – Mark Scott provides a transcript to his speech for the Education for a Changing World Symposium, an event designed to explore the future of education. This systems thinking reminds me of St. Paul’s work in developing an education worth having. In regards to the symposium, Bianca Hewes’ debriefed on Day 1 and Day 2, while the discussion papers can be found here.
I often feel our best are not waiting for education systems or curriculum authorities to tell them what do. And they know a back-to-basics approach to education makes as little sense as Elon Musk basing his Tesla blueprints on the Model T Ford. We learn from all that has gone before but know we will need different thinking, new approaches, bold innovation and agile design to make the changes we need to find solutions.
Seeking high performance? Frame your day with clarity – Steve Brophy discusses approaching everyday with intention and presence. To support this, he provides a series of questions to frame each day. Talking about a similar topic, Ian O’Byrne discusses focusing on the things that you control in order to expand your circle of influence.
four areas to frame every day:
- Self – How do you want to describe your ideal self?
- Skills – What skills do you want to develop and demonstrate?
- Social – How do you want to behave socially?
- Service – What service do you want to provide?
In other words, how I do want to act, grow, interact and give every day?
FOCUS ON … Big Data
I was really keen to be a part of Bryan Alexander’s latest book club looking at Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction. Sadly I failed on two fronts. Firstly, I got behind with my reading and secondly, I had no idea how to respond the provocations that Alexander provided. So here are a collection of some of my thoughts associated with ‘big data’ in all its guises:
- ‘Measuring What Doesn’t Matter’ in Flip the System – Dick Van Der Wateren and Audrey Amrein-Beardsley explain some of the ways that value-added modelling is flawed and provide some alternatives to go in its place.
What National Testing Data can Tell Us: In Margaret Wu’s chapter in National Testing in Schools: An Australian Assessment, she unpacks the mechanics associated with the NAPLAN test to show possibilities and limitations.
Understanding The Limitations Of NAPLAN – Richard Olsen breaks down the data to highlight the unreliability associated with NAPLAN. He also provides a tool to visualise the data beyond the cold hard scores.
- The Global Education Race – Sam Sellar, Greg Thompson and David Rutkowski call for a critical engagement with testing that aims to help improve the quality of data generated about education systems and support the use of data in valid ways that may improve educational outcomes for all students.
Counting What Counts – This collection of essays offers many different means of measuring attributes, such as diversity, personality traits, motivation, creativity, entrepreneurship, global competences and social networks, with each critiqued in regards to their strengths and weaknesses as to what they offer.
- The End of Average: Todd Rose examines the history associated with averages and puts forward an alternative.
Divided by Design: Race, Neighborhoods, Wealth and Schools – A conversation with Richard Rothstein on the Have You Heard podcast.
Teach Like They’re Data – Benjamin Doxtdater looks beyond what the hype around personalisation feed by big data and challenges us to reclaim platforms as something we offer to people so we can better hear their voices, instead of something we can purchase to feed students into.
On the Educational Numerati & Picking the Wrong Measures in Education – Bernard Bull reflects on some of the problems with big data in education.
- The Radicalization of Utopian Dreams – danah boyd encourages people to reflect on how solutions maybe corrupted and abused, rather than just focusing on the ideals.
The Importance of Student Privacy in Big Data – Jade Davis talks about the need for frugal innovation so as to do due dilligence and respect student data.
Critical Questions for Big Data in Education – Ben Williamson collates a number of questions associated with big data. Williamson also has published a book on the topic, Big Data in Education: The digital future of learning, policy and practice.
- Quantum states of Society – Eylan Ezekiel talks about his fears associated with big data and alienating difference.
- Questions for Data: Some more questions to consider when exploring data.
READ WRITE RESPOND #023
So that is November for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.
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Cover image via JustLego101.