📰 Read Write Respond #034

My Month of October

I remember a few years ago participating in ATC21s project exploring collaborative problem solving. They defined it as follows:

It is easy to think of Collaborative Problem Solving (CPS) as a highfalutin euphemism for what is commonly known as group work. However, they are not the same. The major difference is that CPS focuses on the skills and attributes people bring, rather than the jobs people do. In a traditional classroom, group work usually involves splitting a task between members in order to do something more efficiently or simply to share responsibilities. These contributions are then usually assessed at the end of the outcome. With CPS, the focus is not so much about product, but what that process can bring to bear.

I think that the project I am currently engaged with is the first time I personally have truly engaged within a project involving so many moving parts that no matter how skilled you are it would not be possible to be over every aspect. This was brought to the fore this month when one of the pieces associated with development was temporarily offline. No matter what I did, all I could do was wait. I think that this is the real 21st century, one of complexity, communication and moving parts.

On the family front, my wife and I took our two girls to see Small Foot at Village Junior. In the days of digital downloads and dwindling numbers, it was a reminder that sometimes the opportunity is to be different. With various activities for children beforehand, a built in intermission and lower seating, it was a great experience. The film was also interesting. A fun loving deep philosophical romp. We were all winners.

Personally, I have been participating in the 9x9x25 challenge. What I have enjoyed most is finding new voices to converse with. I have also started reading Zeynep Tufekci’s Twitter and Tear Gas as a part of Bryan Alexander’s next book club. New music that has grabbed me this month has been St.Vincent’s reworking of Masseduction, the soundtrack for A Star is Born, Honey by Robyn and Kimbra’s reimagining of Primal Heart.

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

In addition to all this, here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking:

Learning and Teaching

Flip the System Australia: Jon Andrews discusses the work of some of the school leaders pushing back on the accountability agenda to respond to the questions and concersn of their own contexts. Along with posts from Deborah Netolicky and Cameron Paterson, the editors of Flip the System Australia provide an overview of the various pieces included in the book designed to provide an alternative voices within the educational debate. An interview from the ACEL Conference was also featured on the TER Podcast.

Suggesting that there is a clear scientific or evidence-based approach that can overcome Australia’s vast geographic separations, considerable inequality and conflicting system stances on the purpose of education, is troubling. That is not to say that evidence cannot tell us useful things. Creating a sense of how we can move to overcome these burdens, achieve purposeful outcomes for students and create the conditions to support effective teacher working, requires consensus. The book notes a desire for coalition and networked knowledge sharing to achieve these things, but also solidarity with solidity, a commitment to overcome political and ideological motivations that hinder progress. Clarity and coherence sit at the core of this. When we are divided on key matters, it can create opportunities for constructive debate, but debate must lead somewhere.

Getting personal: conferring with learners as they inquire: Kath Murdoch discusses the importance of conferring during the inquiry process. These conversations can contribute to formative assessment, getting to know students building trust, providing feedback and learning about learning. To support all this, Murdoch provides a list of tips and questions, such as providing multiple ideas if suggesting solutions or articulating what the child has taught you. I have found one of the biggest challenges with conferencing is to support students in owning this. In a different post, Tom Whitby discusses the power associated with communicating and conferring with parents and explains how this can influence our knowledge of students and the way they learn.

Critical to the success of our experience with personal inquiry is the role of the teacher in conferring with learners. Far from being a routine that allows learners to simply “go off on their own” , teachers are working the room as coaches, guides, observers and co-researchers. Scheduled and spontaneous conferences are the mainstay of the teachers’ role during iTime.

Video in Situ: John Stewart reflects on the way in which the La Blogothèque website / YouTube channel redefines the video experience, creating new and unique possibilities. He wonders if the same changes could be incorporated into the filming of educational videos for blended and online courses, in particular, the possibilities for capturing field work. I have written about the Take Away Shows before, discussing the possibility of redefining the whole pedagogical experience. The reference to capturing field work reminds me of an early Google Glass exercise capturing CERN.

There are a few programs playing with instructional video in really interesting ways. At OU, we have moved away from back-of-the-class lecture capture, producing instead sets of short videos where the instructor explains the key concepts. We have built a light screen so instructors can write like the would on a white board while looking into the camera and talking to the students. I think this takes us passed the poor substitution standard and into augmentation.

VFX Artist Reveals the True Scale of the Universe: The team at Corridor Crew, how big the universe would be if the Earth were shrunk down to the size of a tennis ball. There are sometimes questions about the limits of the next best thing to being there. However, this video visualises something that you would be unable to imagine otherwise. Another resource associated with the universe is Alice Leung’s use of Ozobots to represent the eclipse and the nitrogen cycle.


Silicon Valley’s Saudi Arabia Problem: Anand Giridharadas explores Saudi Arabia’s growing involvement with Silicon Valley. Through their investment in SoftBank, they have invested in a long list of startups including Wag, DoorDash, WeWork, Plenty, Cruise, Katerra, Nvidia and Slack. The question is at what cost? Silence? Support? With the recent disappearance of a Saudi Journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, these are compromises that need to be considered. Listen to the recent episode of the Have You Heard podcast for more on Anand Giridharadas’ work. Also read the work of Audrey Watters and Benjamin Doxtdator for more discussion on investment in Silicon Valley (and subsequently EdTech).

As Saudi Arabia establishes its new role as one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors, the risk grows that its investments will purchase silence. Companies that pride themselves on openness and freedom may find themselves unable to speak ill of one of their largest investors.

My URL Is: Eddie Hinkle has started a new fortnightly podcast interviewing different people within the IndieWeb community about their websites. Although the conversations can become rather technical, they do provide an insight into why people make some of the choices that they do. So far Hinkle has interviewed Aaron Parecki and Rosemary Orchard. In some ways this is similar to Uses This, a site dedicated to the workflows people use, David Hopkins’ curated book #EdTechRations and Alan Levine’s #WhyDomains project.

My Url Is features a new guest every two weeks to talk about how they got involved with the IndieWeb and what hopes, goals and aspirations they have for the community and for their website. The guests are a combination of those both new to the IndieWeb and those who have helped build it from the beginning.

Stupid Qubit – Quantum Computing for the Clueless/001: Jim Mortleman and Stuart Houghton begin their exploration of quantum computing. This is humorous look at such a dry and difficult concept. Along with the Crash Course Computer Science series</a>, these resources provide a different perspective to technology. Mortleman and Houghton are also open to questions.

In this episode, we answer all these questions and more with the help of top quantum physicists including Dr Jerry Chow of IBM, Professor John Martinis of Google and Professor Simon Benjamin of Oxford University.

Android: a 10-year visual history: The team at Verge look back on 10 years of the Android operating system. With a focus on the stock open sourced code it is interesting to consider what has been developed outside of this. It is also interesting to compare this with Mozilla’s efforts to enter the mobile market with Firefox OS.

After 10 years of being the world’s most dominant OS, we wanted to take a look back at how Andy Rubin’s brainchild has evolved into the industry titan that it is today. What’s changed? What has (sometimes stubbornly) stayed the same? What new updates came with every version? Because Android is an open sourced OS, different manufacturers have applied their own skins — i.e. Samsung’s TouchWiz, OnePlus’ OxygenOS — so we’re focusing on stock Android for this visual history. The Android we know today — with all its machine learning capabilities and digital voice assistant — wasn’t without its fair share of clunkiness before getting to where it is now. Its many innovations would inspire, borrow, or improve upon other features seen on its main rival, Apple’s iOS.

Friction-Free Racism: Chris Gilliard unpacks the inherent racism encoded into the operations of the surveillance state. See for example Spotify’s recent announcement to add genealogy data to their algorithm. As a part of this investigation, Gilliard provides a number of questions to consider when thinking about such data.

The end game of a surveillance society, from the perspective of those being watched, is to be subjected to whims of black-boxed code extended to the navigation of spaces, which are systematically stripped of important social and cultural clues. The personalized surveillance tech, meanwhile, will not make people less racist; it will make them more comfortable and protected in their racism.

Storytelling and Reflection

The Comforting Fictions of Dementia Care: This lengthy read provides an interesting insight into the life and times of those with dementia. It reflects on the changes in care, with the move away from drugs and creating the conditions to support memory. Associated with this is the problem of lying and memory. It is interesting to consider this alongside Clive Thompson’s book Smarter Than You Think, especially in regards to his discussion of memory and technology. This also reminds me of the episode ‘San Junipero’ from Season Three of Black Mirror.

Fifty years ago, it was common in nursing homes to use physical restraints to tie a resident to a chair or a bed, to prevent them from causing trouble or coming to harm. Then, in 1987, a federal law was passed that limited the use of physical restraints to situations where the safety of the resident or someone else was at stake—they were not to be used for punishment or for the convenience of the staff. The physical restraints were then often replaced by chemical ones, and residents were tranquillized with powerful antipsychotics such as Haldol. Many people thought the use of such drugs was a terrible thing, so they began searching for non-pharmaceutical alternatives to quelling troublesome behaviors, and psychological placebos such as fake bus stops proved to be quite effective. One patient who had been given Haldol every night to stop him from screaming was so calmed by Simulated Presence Therapy that he no longer had to be tranquillized at all.

Chilly Gonzales breaks down the essence of music: Whether it be his version of Daft Punk’s Too Long or contribution to Jamie Lidell’s work, I have always been fascinated with the work of Chilly Gonzales, long before I even knew who Chilly Gonzales was. This article from Cian Traynor provides an insight into the thoughts and actions behind the bravado. If you have not experienced the ‘genius’ before, I highly recommend his masterclasses, especially his breakdown of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off. Another interesting look at the history of music was provided by Vox’s look at the influence of the Fairlight CMI.

If you can steal without getting caught, then you’ve pulled off the perfect crime – which is what an artist is supposed to do. You’re not meant to come up with new things as an artist; no artist would say that’s what they do. It’s all about taking your influences and hopefully filtering them through a personal viewpoint. more marginalia here

Warm Data (Team Human): In a discussion with Douglas Rushkoff, Nora Bateson discusses the concept of ‘Warm Data’ and the interconnected nature of everything. For Bateson, it is the relationships which bring the data alive. This all stems from the notion of ‘warm ideas’, as idea that leads you into another idea of relations. In this circumstance it is about going beyond departments and instead focusing on context. I was left wondering where this might fit with Pasi Salsberg’s push for ‘small data’ in education.

The underlying premise of the IBI is to address and experiment with how we perceive. Our mandate is to look in other ways so that we might find other species of information and new patterns of connection not visible though current methodologies. We call this information “Warm Data”.(Mission Statement)

12 Modes of Failure: Julian Stodd attempts to identify different reasons failure may occur. This is list is a useful provocation when thinking about where something may have gone wrong and what the next iteration may be. On the flipside, Stodd wrote a second post exploring 12 modes of innovation. This is what Eric Ries would describe as opportunities to pivot and change.

Organisations fail for a broad range of reasons, but rarely for no reason at all. I found myself thinking about a taxonomy of failure: unless we deem failure to be the action of idiots and fools, we must be open to the idea that we too may fail. Paralysed or deceived by the same forces that have levelled so many other seemingly unassailable entities. So understanding modes of failure could prove to be a useful exercise in both innovation, and change: to provide the impetus to start, and the insight to succeed.

In light of the release of Bruno Latour’s book Down to Earth in English, Ava Kofman unpacks some of the legacies of his ideas and the impact that they have had on science today. I was initially introduced to Latour and Actor-Network Theory (ANT) through Ian Guest. Bruno Latour, the Post-Truth Philosopher, Mounts a Defense of Science – Along with the concept of assemblages and rhizomatic learning, Latour’s work interests me in regards to better appreciating the connected nature of things.

As soon as their propositions were turned into indisputable statements and peer-reviewed papers — what Latour called ready-made science — they claimed that such facts had always spoken for themselves. That is, only once the scientific community accepted something as true were the all-too-human processes behind it effectively erased or, as Latour put it, black-boxed.

FOCUS ON … Twitter

I have been thinking quite a bit about Twitter lately, however I have been unable to properly clarify my concerns. Having started a post a number of weeks ago, I cannot work out what my concerns are. I therefore decided in the interim to collect together all my pieces in one spot.







Technical Twitter

Toxic Twitter

Should We Tweet?


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? Otherwise, archives can be found here. Cover image via JustLego101.

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