Liked The Snake Oil Education Pandemic (maelstrom)

There is no mystical language required when we consider meaningful learning, just quality relationships between students, teachers, and parents. We should beware of educational jargon. Too often, it signifies the sleight of hand of the dubious magician, the false marketing of the edtech industry, or the unfortunate attraction to mumbo jumbo of those who should know better.

Liked If We Need To Be Right Before We Move (maelstrom)

Our vulnerability as a society has been exposed. The inclination to place each aspect of the learning process into the neat compartments of an age-old system can’t simply be returned to without a significant re-think. We have to view our current circumstance as an opportunity to reconsider where we have been with a greater capacity for agility, imagination, and resilience going forward. This may not be a one-off disruption. A new value proposition will emerge. It is clear that we need to take better care of the planet, ourselves, and each other. This requires change. The possibility that we might fail to reflect on these needs seems unimaginable right now. Let’s hope we do not lose this opportunity to complacency or fear.

Liked The Sacred Scripture of Curriculum (maelstrom)

Consider a traditional curriculum document. Almost all of these belong to another world and continue to be written today in the same fashion. There is little here in the ornate, self-indulgent language of the esoteric that is designed to help teachers do their jobs well. These sacred texts are rarely designed for the learner, yet there appears to be a subliminal effort put into ensuring that parents will be bewildered by an encounter.

Replied to School Culture and the Permission To Say No (maelstrom)

Those who marvel at or question the vacations teachers enjoy are unlikely to have experienced the energy drain that the profession involves. There are inevitably other professions that demand emoti…

This reminds me of a recent posts from Bianca Hewes and Chris Wejr. I think that we worry about saying no to additional requests for the students, but I also think it comes back to care for self.
Replied to The War On the Smartphone: Has Data Cherry-Picking Destroyed a Generation? by Mike Crowley (

The truth is that most issues that are associated with “problem technology use” have their roots elsewhere. Bullying existed before smartphones, as did pornography, screen addiction, and social isolation. While it is true that smartphones can exacerbate or facilitate these things, they can also have significant positive benefits for learning, social connection, and communication. We can’t teach students to balance their screen time with personal interaction by taking the choice away from them. It is difficult to pursue lessons in the pernicious reality of data privacy and surveillance capitalism without a real and critical engagement with these issues.

I am not so concern about ‘access’ to smartphones Mike, as I am about the opportunity for ethical technology. Although we can preach digital minimalism or rooting devices, why can’t there be a solution that actually supports users rights and privacy by default?
Bookmarked Hacking the ISTE18 Smart Badge, Part II by Doug Levin (

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.)

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 unpacking their use. He explains that with little effort they could be used by anybody to track somebody:

Downloading a free mobile app, as I did, an attacker could easily track a specific badge and be notified when it goes out of or comes into range. With little technical skill, an attacker could use it to approach someone outside of the convention center (at a bar or restaurant or tourist attraction) and by employing social engineering techniques attempt to gain their trust. I myself was able to identify that there were over a dozen ISTE conference participants on my train platform on Wednesday morning bound for Chicago O’Hare. When one ISTE participant entered my train car at a later stop, that was trivial to identify. While there were no other ISTE participants on my flight back to the DC area, I located two badges in the baggage claim area (likely packed in someone’s luggage or carry-on).

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. Mike Crowley wonders why in a post-GDPR world attendees are not asked for consent? If this is the future, then maybe Levin’s ‘must-have’ guide will be an important read for everyone.

Liked From Student Agency to Dating Agency: Hiring Teachers by Algorithm (maelstrom)

There is probably little doubt that the analysis of data will play an increasing role in teacher recruitment. I am sure that among the companies involved in the development of such platforms there are many good people with solid beliefs and values, individuals who will want to see these systems used in conjunction with personal connections, interviews, and relationships. In other words, in very humane ways, using the algorithm as a guide, not a decision-maker, and this is where biometric data may prove initially attractive. The question, of course, with all “data-driven” initiatives lies not so much with the intent or even the veracity of the data collected, but with how it is used. Data can too easily become the decision-making tool of lazy convenience and ends up being used in ways never intended. When I consider my teaching colleagues, I recoil at the prospect of viewing them as data points. Someone needs to shout stop.