My Month of June
I moved departments and subsequently desks. It is interesting how the space you work can influence you. It has provided me a totally different perspective on the project, as well as feel more at home as I was the only one in my old team bridging the gap between the learning, teaching and the central management system. In my new team everyone is involved in integrating with the system, it is therefore helpful in developing a more systemic view.
In regards to the family, our youngest continues to excel with swimming. It seems like the centre questions her age every second week, assuming that she is ready to move up. In part this is confidence, as well as having an older influence around.
The oldest one has turned into a walking karaoke machine, pumping out song after song. She has also continued to develop her own songs on keyboard, mashing up her practice tunes with her own hook lines. Only three chords away from being a star!
Personally, I have been reading James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age. I have also been listening to the latest offerings from Father John Misty, The Presets, Soulwax and Snow Patrol, as well as way too much Baby Shark.
In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:
- Being Analogue: Often we talk about ‘being digital’ but what does this imply in reverse? What might it mean in today’s day and age to be analogue?
Is Sharing Caring? – A Reflection on Comments and Social Media: What does it mean to be caring in online spaces and how is this related to sharing?
Technology, Transformation and a Complex System: A reflection on changing positions within a complex system.
Read Write Interview – Telling the Story of My Domain: Alan Levine recently put out a request for stories about domains as a part of the Ontario Extend project.
Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …
Learning and Teaching
Digital Portfolios and Content: Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano unpacks a number of questions and considerations associated with digital portfolios. This includes being open to authentic audiences, reimagining the idea of branding, creating a consistent habit and ethically using content. In a separate post, Diane Kashin reflects upon the interpretative nature of documentation. It can be so easy to discuss the use of technology to support the process, however this is often to no avail without pedagogy and a purpose.
Don’t create content for content sake. The content of your digital portfolio needs to be seen as an attempt in learning, evidence of learning, the process of learning, and/or growth in learning.
Lessons from the Screenplay: In this YouTube channel, Michael Tucker breaks down the art of film and scriptwriting. A useful resource for exploring various techniques associated with storytelling. Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Amazon also provide some other useful resources associated with films and storytelling.
With Lessons from the Screenplay, I make videos that analyse movie scripts to examine exactly how and why they are so good at telling their stories. Part educational series and part love letter to awesome films, Lessons from the Screenplay aims to be a fun way to learn more about your favourite films and help us all become better storytellers.
Using Picture Books With Older Students – A How-to Guide: Pernille Ripp provides a detailed guide to using picture books in any classroom. This includes choosing the right picture book, how to display them, their place in supporting fluency and how they can be used as introductory texts. This is all a part of knowing yourself as a reader. I too have used picture books in the past to support teaching comprehension.
Which book I choose to share depends on the lesson. I treat it much like a short story in what I want students to get out of it so it has to suit the very purpose we are trying to understand. I introduce the concept by sharing a story and then I ask my students to come as close as they can to the rocking chair in our corner. Once settled, whether on the floor, on balls or on chairs, I read it aloud. We stop and talk throughout as needed but not on every page, it should not take more than 10 minutes at most to get through an average size picture book. If it is a brand new concept I may just have students listen, while other times they might engage in a turn-and-talk. I have an easel right next to me and at times we write our thoughts on that. Sometimes we make an anchor chart, it really just depends on the purpose of the lesson. Often a picture book is used as one type of media on a topic and we can then branch into excerpts from text, video, or audio that relates to the topic.
Effort and Achievement Charts: Emily Fintelmen reflects on the co-construction of charts and culture in the classroom. This approach offers an opportunity to unpack various myths, such as whether a silent classroom constitutes a good classroom. Maria Popova provides a lengthier introduction to the concept of growth mindset, while I have written about effort and encouragement in the past.
Once we have determined what effort looks like, we map out what kind of achievement we would expect to get out of it using real scenarios.
Learning in and with Nature: The Pedagogy of Place: Diane Kashin discusses her interest in nature as a space to learn and play. She shares the story of collecting beach glass on the shores of Lake Huron. This reminds me of Alan Levine’s reflection on ‘106‘ and Amy Burvall’s focus on looking down. Kashin’s story of collecting that which was once rubbish reminds me of Shaun Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing. Kath Murdoch also shares a series of ideas and activities for noticing nature.
From the beach as place to the forest as place, what is important is the meaning making. Cumming and Nash (2015) discovered that not only do children develop a sense of place from their experiences learning in the forest, they also form an emotional attachment to place that contributes to place meaning. Place meaning can help to explain why people may be drawn to particular places. Place meaning helps to support the development of place identity, and to promote a sense of belonging. I am grateful for the opportunity this summer to experience the beach and the forest. It is my hope that children will be given the gifts of these places too.
Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control?: In an extract from James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, he discusses the evolution of the machine. This includes the place of the cloud, algorithmic interactions within the stock marker, the corruption of the internet of things and incomprehensibility of machine learning. It is one of a few posts from Bridle going around at the moment, including a reflection on technology whistleblowers and YouTube’s response to last years exposé. Some of these ideas remind me of some of the concerns raised in Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots and Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction.
Our technologies are extensions of ourselves, codified in machines and infrastructures, in frameworks of knowledge and action. Computers are not here to give us all the answers, but to allow us to put new questions, in new ways, to the universe.
GitHub Is Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion Undo Button: Paul Ford unpacks Microsoft’s purchase of Github. This includes an account of the history of both companies. Dave Winer shares a number of points to consider associated with the acquisition. Louis-Philippe Véronneau and Doug Belshaw suggest that it might be a good opportunity to move to other platforms, such as GitLab. I wonder what this might mean for Github in education? It is interesting to reread Ben Halpern’s predictions for Github from a few years ago. He thought it would be Google or Facebook, wrong. For those new to GitHub, read Jon Udell’s post from a few years ago.
GitHub represents a big Undo button for Microsoft, too. For many years, Microsoft officially hated open source software. The company was Steve Ballmer turning bright colors, sweating through his shirt, and screaming like a Visigoth. But after many years of ritual humiliation in the realms of search, mapping, and especially mobile, Microsoft apparently accepted that the 1990s were over. In came Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, who not only likes poetry and has a kind of Obama-esque air of imperturbable capability, but who also has the luxury of reclining Smaug-like atop the MSFT cash hoard and buying such things as LinkedIn Corp. Microsoft knows it’s burned a lot of villages with its hot, hot breath, which leads to veiled apologies in press releases. “I’m not asking for your trust,” wrote Nat Friedman, the new CEO of GitHub who’s an open source leader and Microsoft developer, on a GitHub-hosted web page when the deal was announced, “but I’m committed to earning it.”
How (and Why) Ed-Tech Companies Are Tracking Students’ Feelings: Benjamin Herold takes a dive into the rise of edtech to measure the ‘whole’ student, with a particular focus on wellbeing. Something that Martin E. P. Seligman has discussed about in regards to Facebook. Having recently been a part of demonstration of SEQTA, I understand Ben Williamson’s point that this “could have real consequences.” The concern is that not all consequences are good. Will Richardson shares his concern that we have forgotten about learning and the actual lives of the students. Providing his own take on the matter, Bernard Bull has started a seven-part series looking at the impact of AI on education, while Neil Selwyn asks the question, “who does the automated system tell the teacher to help first – the struggling girl who rarely attends school and is predicted to fail, or a high-flying ‘top of the class’ boy?” Selwyn also explains why teachers will never be replaced.
For years, there’s been a movement to personalize student learning based on each child’s academic strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Now, some experts believe such efforts shouldn’t be limited to determining how well individual kids spell or subtract. To be effective, the thinking goes, schools also need to know when students are distracted, whether they’re willing to embrace new challenges, and if they can control their impulses and empathize with the emotions of those around them. To describe this constellation of traits and abilities, education experts use a host of often-overlapping terms, such as social-emotional skills, non-cognitive abilities, character traits, and executive functions.
Hacking the ISTE18 Smart Badge: Doug Levin reflects on the introduction of ‘smart badges’ at ISTE. Really just a Bluetooth tracking device that then allowed vendors (and anyone for that matter) to collect data on attendees. Levin hacked a badge to unpack their use. He explains that with little effort they could be used by anybody to track somebody. Audrey Watters suggests that, “ISTE has helped here to normalize surveillance as part of the ed-tech experience. She suggests that it is only time that this results in abuse. Gary Stager concern is the “denaturing of educational computing’s powerful potential.” Mike Crowley wonders why in a post-GDPR world attendees are not asked for consent, while David Golumbia wonders if we really know what personal data is? If this is the future, then maybe Levin’s ‘must-have’ guide will be an important read for everyone.
There are three points about the risks of what ISTE deployed at their conference to know: (1) the ‘smart badge’ is a really effective locator beacon, transmitting signals that are trivial to intercept and read, (2) you can’t turn it off, and (3) most people I spoke to had no idea how it worked. (I freaked out more than a few people by telling them what their badge number was by reading it from my phone. Most of those incidents ended up with ‘smart badges’ being removed and destroyed.)
How to Fight Amazon: Robinson Meyer unpacks the story of Lina Khan and her investigation into Amazon and the antitrust movement. This stems from a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” Khan wrote in the Yale Law Review. Although Meyer focuses on Amazon, this has ramifications for all the platform monopolies. It is also increasingly having an influence on education. Mike Caulfield puts forward another response, arguing that rather than worrying about the Walmarts and Amazons, we should use the money saved to fund an organisation that supports your aims.
When a company has such power, Khan believes, it will almost inevitably wield that power far and wide, distorting not just the market itself, but the whole of American life. With sufficient power, companies can commission studies, rewrite regulations, bulldoze neighborhoods, and impoverish education and welfare systems by securing billions in sweetheart tax cuts. When a company comes to monopolize a market—when it grows so big that it can threaten other industries just by entering them—it ceases to be merely a company. It becomes an institution so powerful that it can rule over people like a government.
Storytelling and Reflection
Your ABC: Value, Investment and Return for the Community: In response to the recent call to sell the ABC, Michelle Guthrie presents a speech explaining the value of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in today’s world. I must be honest, I don’t listen to ABC radio as much as I used to, however I follow a number of podcasts, such as RN Future Tense, and often turn to their website as a first port of call for news. In a time when there is a lot of discussion about the ownership of core infrastructure, it seems strange to sell the ABC. I wonder if this is a reflection of the changes to the media landscape that my nostalgia is overlooking?
What price do you put on public trust in an independent, commercial-free news organisation at a time of fragmentation and disruption? As the Prime Minister himself noted at the Liberal Party council meeting, it is difficult to establish the facts in a disputed media landscape full of echo chambers and “fake news” outlets.
Are You Blithely Unaware of How Educational Research Impacts You?: Peter DeWitt reflects on the place of research within education. He makes a comparison with the Devil Wears Prada and the way we assume fashion changes and trends. I find this interesting as both fashion and research are often outside of the reach people and pedagogues. This is epitomised by the story of Aaron Swartz who died campaigning against research hidden by paywalls. Is it possible for all educators to feasibly have access to research or is this another example of have’s or have not’s?
There are teachers and leaders who believe that researchers have little to do with their classroom practice, but the reality is that what researchers do has a direct effect on everything that happens in the classroom. We may think that we work in silent protest to research but the reality is that it all trickles down into our little casual corner called our classrooms and schools. And we should stop being blithely unaware of it all.
How Informal Learning Gets Misunderstood (And Misinterpreted): David Price responds to the criticism that creativity is dependant on a cache of knowledge. Referring to his experiences with Musical Futures, Price explains that it is creativity and passion which lead to an interest in knowledge and theory, not vice versa. Something he also discusses in his book Open. This reminds me of a post from Amy Burvall who also discusses the importance of having dots to construct ideas. Interestingly, Brian Eno suggests that such ‘dots’ can grow out of shit. Reflecting on the growing trend to ban devices, Mal Lee and Roger Broadie suggest that banning will have no impact on students digital learning and will instead have a detrimental effect on agency within schools.
The inconvenient truth is that students don’t need ‘experts’ the way they used to. Knowledge is ubiquitous. Any teacher that thinks that they don’t need to change as a result of this truth is doing their students a disservice. Make no mistake: the real learning revolution has already happened, it just doesn’t involve those of us who teach. Because they real revolution is in the phenomenal growth in informal and social learning — as practised by the Beatles and, now, all of us.
Team Human: Don’t have to look like a refugee: Douglas Rushkoff reflects on the current crisis involving children been taken off their parents. He suggests that it is less about politics (or the Bible), and more about propaganda with the creation of dehumanising images of children in cages. Rushkoff’s answer is to focus on the intimacy of the sounds. Bill Fitzgerald wonders how much of this is spoken about at events such as ISTE? It can be easy to think, ‘that is America’, but Australia is no better. Whether it be the stolen generation or detention centres, Australia has had its own examples of abuse.
Forget the reality — that Mexicans are actually emigrating from the US back to Mexico: there’s a net decrease. That more immigrants come from China and India than the south. The only way to understand the Trump administration’s proposed wall is as a safety play for global warming. Instead of admitting there’s an environmental crisis underway and reducing carbon emissions, just accept the inevitable climate crisis, and barricade the nation from the inevitable flow of refugees from the south. Whatever we’re doing now is simply priming the American public for the inhumanity to come.
The 12-month turnaround: How the dumpers drove oBike out of town: I remember when I first saw an oBike in action, a guy rolled up to a train station and dumped it near the on ramp. In this article from The Age, Simone Fox Koob reflects on their rise and fall in Melbourne. The dockless bike share scheme is managed by a mobile app. After concerns were raised around Uber, I was sceptical of the data collected by the company. I feel the disruption may have gone too far and caused the creative revolt. It will be interesting to see how competitors respond and what – if any – changes they make.
FOCUS ON … Why Domains
Alan Levine put out a call for reflections on ‘why domains’. This touches on many of the ideas associated with Domain of One’s Own and the #IndieWeb. Although Levine has had a go at collecting together the various responses, I decided to create a list of my own.
- Interviewing CogDogBlog.com: Alan Levine provides the back story to ‘cog’ (interest in bikes), ‘dog’ (interest in dogs). He also unpacks the numerous hallways and secret chambers that make up CogDogBlog.
The Story of My Domain: Chris Aldrich explains the meaning behind ‘BoffoSocko’ and the ways he uses his site as a commonplace book. He also shares his belief in the #IndieWeb and the ability for everyone to self-publish.
Interviewing my Digital Domains: Ian O’Byrne shares his interest and focus on documenting his learning openly online. This exercise has evolved through many iterations. Associated with this, Chris Aldrich wrote a post build around the use of Hypothesis to capture and curate highlights and marginalia. A post which Ian annotated in response.
Interviewing My Domain: Tom Woodward provides the stories and choices associated with his domains. He suggests that the biggest challenge with maintaining your own domain is sustaining it over time.
Why Domain: John Stewart discusses the association between domains and being found on the web. Although you can write a book or publish an article, a domain allows us to be found on the web.
Interviewing Your Domain for @ontarioextend: Todd Conaway considers the power publishing to the web as a way of engaging with authentic audiences. He also shares his journey from Dreamweaver to WordPress.
Interviewing my Domain: Colin Madland shares the freedom and flexibility associated with having a domain. What comes through with Colin’s reflections is the crossover between purpose and process.
Interviewing my Domain: Sandy Brown Jensen shares her domain journey associated with DS106. For Sandy, a domain offers a way to talk back to the world
A Kingdom of One’s Own?: John Johnston discusses his journey AOL to his own site. This has come to include his blogs, various web experiments and custom shortcuts to other sites.
We’re All Richer – A #WhyDomain Post: Terry Greene argues that we are all richer in having each other. Associated with this, he suggests that it can be good to have a purpose, such as DS106 or Ontario Extend, to stay active.
“Why Domains” Responses For The Folks Of Ontario Extend: Tim Clarke explains that the motivation for his domain is to make it, host it, know how it works and how to build it. This subsequently allows for a kind of info-environmentalism.
READ WRITE RESPOND #030
So that is June for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.
Cover image via JustLego101.