Liked Open Letter to School District 61 on the use of Google Apps For Education (GAFE) – Brad Payne (bradpayne.ca)
Parental consent, while legally sufficient, is an insufficient mechanism to protect the privacy of children and the confidentiality of student records because: It assumes parents have adequate digital literacy to make informed choices about their children’s privacy. It assumes school district immunity despite obligations under Section 79.1.b of the B.C. School Act. It assumes Google has incentive to adequately inform parents about the risks of data retention, profiling and automated decision making. It assumes computational statistical inferences derived from machine learning algorithms doesn’t threaten the privacy of children. I offer five recommendations: Strengthen the conditions for consent to be given. Expand the definition of digital literacy and offer learning opportunities for parents and teachers. Make it as easy to withdraw consent as it is to give consent. Create meaningful alternatives for students of parents who opt out. Phase out and discontinue use of GAFE in the classroom.
This is an interesting read from Brad Payne. It comes back to Douglas Rushkoff’s argument that social media should never be used in schools. It has me thinking about the ways that data associated with private Facebook groups could be scraped surreptitiously.
Bookmarked The Building Blocks of Interpretability by Chris Olah (Google Brain Team)
There is a rich design space for interacting with enumerative algorithms, and we believe an equally rich space exists for interacting with neural networks. We have a lot of work left ahead of us to build powerful and trusthworthy interfaces for interpretability. But, if we succeed, interpretability promises to be a powerful tool in enabling meaningful human oversight and in building fair, safe, and aligned AI systems (Crossposted on the Google Open Source Blog) In 2015, our early attempts to visualize how neural networks understand images led to psychedelic images. Soon after, we open sourced our code as De...
Is it just me, or is this new article exploring how feature visualization can combine together with other interpretability techniques to understand aspects of how networks make decisions a case of creating a solution and then working out how or why it works? Seems reactive or maybe I just don’t get it.

📰 eLearn Update (February 2018)

Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite and Hapara for February 2018.

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Docs

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

Drawings

Geo Tools

YouTube

Photos

  • Capture more of your favorite moments with Google Clips – Google announces the release of Clips, a new type of camera that captures the moments that happen in between posed pictures by using on-device machine learning to look for great facial expressions from the people—and pets—in your life. It turns these into short clips without you having to use video editing software.

General

Bookmarked The Case Against Google by Charles Duhigg (nytimes.com)
Antitrust has never been just about costs and benefits or fairness. It’s never been about whether we love the monopolist. People loved Standard Oil a century ago, and Microsoft in the 1990s, just as they love Google today. Rather, antitrust has always been about progress. Antitrust prosecutions are part of how technology grows. Antitrust laws ultimately aren’t about justice, as if success were something to be condemned; instead, they are a tool that society uses to help start-ups build on a monopolist’s breakthroughs without, in the process, being crushed by the monopolist. And then, if those start-ups prosper and make discoveries of their own, they eventually become monopolies themselves, and the cycle starts anew. If Microsoft had crushed Google two decades ago, no one would have noticed. Today we would happily be using Bing, unaware that a better alternative once existed. Instead, we’re lucky a quixotic antitrust lawsuit helped to stop that from happening. We’re lucky that antitrust lawyers unintentionally guaranteed that Google would thrive.
Charles Duhigg takes a look at the history of Anti-Trust laws and the breaking up of monopolies. From oil to IBM, he explains why it is important for this large companies to be broken up. Not because of the consumer, but rather for the sack of developnent and innovation.

He uses the case of the vertical search site, Foundem.com, to demonstrate the way in which Google kills competition by removing them from searches.

In 2006, Google instituted a shift in its search algorithm, known as the Big Daddy update, which penalized websites with large numbers of subpages but few inbound links. A few years later, another shift, known as Panda, penalized sites that copied text from other websites. When adjustments like these occurred, Google explained to users, they were aimed at combating “individuals or systems seeking to ‘game’ our systems in order to appear higher in search results — using low-quality ‘content farms,’ hidden text and other deceptive practices.”

Left unsaid was that Google itself generates millions of new subpages without inbound links each day, a fresh page each time someone performs a search. And each of those subpages is filled with text copied from other sites. By programming its search engine to ignore other sites doing the same thing that Google was doing, critics say, the company had made it nearly impossible for competing vertical-search engines, like Foundem, to show up high in Google’s results.

Rather than living off their innovation, Adam and Shivaun Raff have spent the last twelve years campaigning against Google. Supported by Gary Reback, they took their case to European Commission in Brussels.

Reback had told Adam and Shivaun that it was important for them to keep up their fight, no matter the setbacks, and as evidence he pointed to the Microsoft trial. Anyone who said that the 1990s prosecution of Microsoft didn’t accomplish anything — that it was companies like Google, rather than government lawyers, that humbled Microsoft — didn’t know what they were talking about, Reback said. In fact, he argued, the opposite was true: The antitrust attacks on Microsoft made all the difference. Condemning Microsoft as a monopoly is why Google exists today, he said.

If such changes and challenges is dependent on individuals such as the Raff’s standing up, it makes you wondering how many just throw it all in. Cory Doctorow captures this scenario in his novel, The Makers.

Bookmarked An American Chromebook Crisis: new report shows sad trends of how students are using the devices (andylosik.blogspot.com.au)
When the technological investment in five million learners is being primarily spent playing games with questionable educational benefit, taking low level assessments, and watching YouTube then we have an edtech crisis on our hands. We can have "certified this" and "distinguished that" honors in our email signatures and be "ambassadors" for a thousand apps and sites but this report shows us the grim reality of how devices are really being used.
Andy Losik provides a summary of the Go Guardian 2018 Benchmark Report: An analysis of emerging trends in Chromebook usage. He highlights his concern about what time is being spent on:

A huge amount of Chromebook use is being spent on educationally questionable video games, low level assessments, and YouTube

I think that this all highlights another point, the influence of outside influences on education. Whether it be Go Guardian, Kahoot! or Texthelp, every company is now a data company – a point Genevieve Bell makes. The concern is whose data? I wonder where such collections will sit with the changes associated with GDPR.

N.B. Don’t tell Stager!

📰 eLearn Updates (January 2018)

Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite and Hapara for January 2018.

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Gmail

Calendar

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Classroom

Drawings

Geo Tools

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

Photos

  • When It Comes to Gorillas, Google Photos Remains Blind – Tom Simonite explains that Google’s caution around images of gorillas illustrates a shortcoming of existing machine-learning technology. With enough data and computing power, software can be trained to categorize images or transcribe speech to a high level of accuracy. But it can’t easily go beyond the experience of that training. And even the very best algorithms lack the ability to use common sense, or abstract concepts, to refine their interpretation of the world as humans do.
  • Go-to Google Photos tips for 2018 – Daisy Lui provides some tips associated with Google Photos, including the ability to share, remove clutter and organise using labels.

General

Bookmarked Looking beyond code to make the future work for everyone (Google)
Moving beyond code and intensive degrees to these constant, lightweight and ubiquitous forms of education will take resources and experimentation. But that effort should help close today’s skills gaps, while making sure future skills gaps don’t open. That’s part of the reason Google has invested $1 billion over five years to help find new approaches to connect people to opportunities at work and help small and medium businesses everywhere grow in the digital economy. We should make sure that the next generation of jobs are good jobs, in every sense. Rather than thinking of education as the opening act, we need to make sure it’s a constant, natural and simple act across life—with lightweight, flexible courses, skills and programs available to everyone.
Sundar Pichai talks about supporting on-going education. In part this is about education, but it is also about digital literacies. I was particularly taken by the statement about creating jobs for the future:

We should make sure that the next generation of jobs are good jobs, in every sense.

I am not sure what good jobs exactly refers to or are. Good for whom and for what?

📰 eLearn Updates (December 2017)

This is a look at the resources and updates associated with G Suite for December

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

  • The Web Is Abundant. Find Another Source – Mike Caulfield explains how in a world with 100s of possible sources, so much of what you do is less about finding coverage than about limiting it through filters. This is why searching Google’s curated news site, rather than running a general search, is so simple , but powerful.
  • Year in Search: The moments that defined 2017 in Australia – From from slime to sport, covfefe to cryptocurrency and hurricanes to hot cross buns – Google highlights the eclectic searches done by Australians in 2017.
  • How Climate Change Deniers Rise to the Top in Google Searches – Hiroko Tabuchi explains how climate denialist ads are an example of contrarian groups can use the internet’s largerst automated advertising systems to their advantage, game the system to find a mass platform for false or misleading claims.

Docs

Gmail

Calendar

  • Update Google Calendar resources using the Calendar Resource APIs – Google introduced the new Calendar experience on the web, including the ability to add more structured data about your buildings and resources. We’re now making it easier to add and edit that information with updates to the existing Calendar Resources API, as well as adding two new APIs: Buildings and Features.

Slides

Forms

  • EDU in 90: Quizzes in Google Forms – Drea Alphonso and Tim Anderson explore the basics for quiz creation in Google Forms, including set up, question types, and grading.

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

Drawings

Geo Tools

  • A crabtivating journey: Street View joins a crab migration of millions on Christmas Island – Street View is venturing to Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory in the Indian Ocean, to join more than 45 million local residents for their annual trip from the forests to seas. Christmas Island’s famous, endemic red crabs have begun their once-a-year migration.
  • Google Maps’s Moat – Justin O’Beirne discusses the addition of ‘Areas of Interests’ to Google Maps and explains that the challenge for Apple is that these AOIs aren’t collected—they’re created. And Apple appears to be missing the ingredients to create AOIs at the same quality, coverage, and scale as Google.

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

Blogger

  • A Glossary of Blogging Vocabulary – Richard Byrne provides a vocabulary for unpacking blogs. Although not explicitly about Blogger, it still provides a useful reference.

Hapara

  • The Evolution of Monitoring – Hapara has compiled a resource bringing together a number of educators to reflect upon their experiences of monitoring.

General

Read The Circle (en.wikipedia.org)
The Circle by Dave Eggers is a novel which tries to encapsulate life inside of a fictional company that is a mixture of Facebook and Google called The Circle. It is very much a novel for the current generation.

The book was recently adapted for film. I am not sure though whether it captures Eggers’ nuances associated with character.

Here are some quotes from the book which stuck out:

Instead, he put all of it, all of every user’s needs and tools, into one pot and invented TruYou—one account, one identity, one password, one payment system, per person. There were no more passwords, no multiple identities. Your devices knew who you were, and your one identity—the TruYou, unbendable and unmaskable—was the person paying, signing up, responding, viewing and reviewing, seeing and being seen. You had to use your real name, and this was tied to your credit cards, your bank, and thus paying for anything was simple. One button for the rest of your life online. To use any of the Circle’s tools, and they were the best tools, the most dominant and ubiquitous and free, you had to do so as yourself, as your actual self, as your TruYou. The era of false identities, identity theft, multiple user names, complicated passwords and payment systems was over. Anytime you wanted to see anything, use anything, comment on anything or buy anything, it was one button, one account, everything tied together and trackable and simple, all of it operable via mobile or laptop, tablet or retinal. Once you had a single account, it carried you through every corner of the web, every portal, every pay site, everything you wanted to do. TruYou changed the internet, in toto, within a year. Though some sites were resistant at first, and free-internet advocates shouted about the right to be anonymous online, the TruYou wave was tidal and crushed all meaningful opposition. It started with the commerce sites. Why would any non-porn site want anonymous users when they could know exactly who had come through the door? Overnight, all comment boards became civil, all posters held accountable. The trolls, who had more or less overtaken the internet, were driven back into the darkness.

Production on the cameras, which were as yet unavailable to consumers, went into overdrive. The manufacturing plant, in China’s Guangdong province, added shifts and began construction on a second factory to quadruple their capacity. Every time a camera was installed and a new leader had gone transparent, there was another announcement from Stenton, another celebration, and the viewership grew. By the end of the fifth week, there were 16,188 elected officials, from Lincoln to Lahore, who had gone completely clear, and the waiting list was growing. The pressure on those who hadn’t gone transparent went from polite to oppressive. The question, from pundits and constituents, was obvious and loud: If you aren’t transparent, what are you hiding? Though some citizens and commentators objected on grounds of privacy, asserting that government, at virtually every level, had always needed to do some things in private for the sake of security and efficiency, the momentum crushed all such arguments and the progression continued. If you weren’t operating in the light of day, what were you doing in the shadows? And there was a wonderful thing that tended to happen, something that felt like poetic justice: every time someone started shouting about the supposed monopoly of the Circle, or the Circle’s unfair monetization of the personal data of its users, or some other paranoid and demonstrably false claim, soon enough it was revealed that that person was a criminal or deviant of the highest order. One was connected to a terror network in Iran. One was a buyer of child porn. Every time, it seemed, they would end up on the news, footage of investigators leaving their homes with computers, on which any number of unspeakable searches had been executed and where reams of illegal and inappropriate materials were stored. And it made sense. Who but a fringe character would try to impede the unimpeachable improvement of the world? Within weeks, the non-transparent officeholders were treated like pariahs. The clear ones wouldn’t meet with them if they wouldn’t go on camera, and thus these leaders were left out. Their constituents wondered what they were hiding, and their electoral doom was all but assured. In any coming election cycle, few would dare to run without declaring their transparency—and, it was assumed, this would immediately and permanently improve the quality of candidates. There would never again be a politician without immediate and thorough accountability, because their words and actions would be known and recorded and beyond debate. There would be no more back rooms, no more murky deal-making. There would be only clarity, only light.

Would you have behaved differently if you’d known about the SeeChange cameras at the marina?” “Yes.” Bailey nodded empathetically. “Okay. How?” “I wouldn’t have done what I did.” “And why not?” “Because I would have been caught.” Bailey tilted his head. “Is that all?” “Well, I wouldn’t want anyone seeing me do that. It wasn’t right. It’s embarrassing.” He put his cup on the table next to him and rested his hands on his lap, his palms in a gentle embrace. “So in general, would you say you behave differently when you know you’re being watched?” “Sure. Of course.”

SECRETS ARE LIES SHARING IS CARING PRIVACY IS THEFT

“That’s the idea,” Jackie said. “Just as within the Circle we know our Participation Rank, for example, soon we’ll be able to know at any given moment where our sons or daughters stand against the rest of American students, and then against the world’s students.” “That sounds very helpful,” Mae said. “And would eliminate a lot of the doubt and stress out there.” “Well, think of what this would do for a parent’s understanding of their child’s chances for college admission. There are about twelve thousand spots for Ivy League freshmen every year. If your child is in the top twelve thousand nationally, then you can imagine they’d have a good chance at one of those spots.” “And it’ll be updated how often?” “Oh, daily. Once we get full participation from all schools and districts, we’ll be able to keep daily rankings, with every test, every pop quiz incorporated instantly. And of course these can be broken up between public and private, regional, and the rankings can be merged, weighted, and analyzed to see trends among various other factors—socioeconomic, race, ethnicity, everything.”

“And as you all know,” he said, turning to Mae, speaking to her watchers, “we here at the Circle have been talking about Completion a lot, and though even us Circlers don’t know yet just what Completion means, I have a feeling it’s something like this. Connecting services and programs that are just inches apart. We track kids for safety, we track kids for educational data. Now we’re just connecting these two threads, and when we do, we can finally know the whole child. It’s simple, and, dare I say, it’s complete.”

“For this experiment, Mae, and the Circle as a whole, to work, it has to be absolute. It has to be pure and complete. And I know this episode will be painful for a few days, but trust me, very soon nothing like this will be the least bit interesting to anyone. When everything is known, everything acceptable will be accepted. So for the time being, we need to be strong. You need to be a role model here. You need to stay the course.”

“You’re completely overthinking it. No one, I mean no one, will look at you funny because some ancient ancestor of yours had slaves from Ireland. I mean, it’s so insane, and so distant, that no one will possibly connect you to it. You know how people are. No one can remember anything like that anyway. And to hold you responsible? No chance.”

By the time you read this, I’ll be off the grid, and I expect that others will join me. In fact, I know others will join me. We’ll be living underground, and in the desert, in the woods. We’ll be like refugees, or hermits, some unfortunate but necessary combination of the two. Because this is what we are.

“The Rights of Humans in a Digital Age.” Mae scanned it, catching passages: “We must all have the right to anonymity.” “Not every human activity can be measured.” “The ceaseless pursuit of data to quantify the value of any endeavor is catastrophic to true understanding.” “The barrier between public and private must remain unbreachable.” At the end she found one line, written in red ink: “We must all have the right to disappear.”