📰 Read Write Respond #025

A lego busker out the front of 711
Background image via JustLego101.com
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My Month of January

I have been back at work for few weeks now. No extended summer holidays in my current role. My work this month has involved reviewing our reporting solution in light of recent changes, as well as supporting schools with their start of the year setup.

With the move from ten weeks of holidays to four, I have learnt to appreciate every minute. Whether it be going away for a few days to explore Bendigo or building endless flat pack furniture, my time was occupied. Looking back at my few weeks at home, we managed to get so much done, even in the insipid hot and humid weather.

Personally, I have spent the month head down in the world of the #IndieWeb. In particular, I have continued to craft my second space: collect.readwriterespond.com. This effort to better control my existence on the web fits with my focus of ‘intent’ this year. I sometimes find myself using the word deliberate, but it all feels far too adhoc for that. With all this in mind, I contributed to a collective podcast that Benjamin Doxtdator put together. I also got to catch up with Richard Olsen for lunch, which was nice as well.


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


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking this month …

Learning and Teaching

Quote from My Favourite Inquiry Journeys of 2017
Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/33263856@N02/5157195892
Quote via Kath Murdoch ‘My Favourite Inquiry Journeys of 2017’

My Favourite Inquiry Journeys of 2017…. – Kath Murdoch stops and reflects on twelve projects she has helped with in 2017. In summary, she pulls out some of the key aspects that went across all the different inquiries, such as authenticity, integrative, involves experts, learning is shared and emergent. This post is not necessarily a list of driving questions and/or units to roll out, but rather a source of ideas and inspiration. Along with her post on ten practices of an inquiry teacher and AJ Juliani’s reflection on choice-based learning, they provide some guidance going into the new year.

Using an inquiry based approach to teaching and learning is multi-faceted. At its heart, inquiry is a stance – it’s about how we talk to kids and how we think about learning. It is also about how we plan and the contexts we both recognise and create in which powerful inquiry can thrive. These contexts can be highly personal (one child’s investigation into their passion) and they can also be shared contexts that bring learners together under a common question. These shared inquiries form a powerful ‘backbone’ of the primary classroom.

Google Maps Moat – Justin O’Beirne discusses the addition of ‘areas of interests’ to Google Maps. He wonders if others, such as Apple, can possibly keep up? The challenge is that these AOIs are not collected — rather they are created. Added to this, Apple appears to be missing the ingredients to develop their own AOIs to the same quality, coverage, and scale as Google. Google is in fact making data out of data. For a different take on Google 3D imagery, watch this video from the Nat and Friends.

Google’s buildings are byproducts of its Satellite/Aerial imagery. And some of Google’s places are byproducts of its Street View imagery. So this makes AOIs a byproduct of byproducts. Google is creating data out of data.

Four Moves – Mike Caulfield has released a new site containing a series of activities to support the development of web literacy and fact checking. It focuses on the four moves: check for previous work, go upstream to the source, read laterally and circle back.

The Four Moves blog is based on research conducted by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, which found that students lack knowledge of basic web techniques for verification and source assessment, which puts them at the mercy of misinformation. Instructions are written for students using the Chrome browser due to the popularity of that platform in schools and among students. However, the features we are using are in general not browser-specific; faculty and students using different browsers should translate actions where appropriate by looking at your own browser’s documentation.

Explainer: the evidence for the Tasmanian genocide – Kristyn Harman provides some background to the extermination of indigenous people in Tasmania. Along with the map of genocide, resources like these are central to a call to change Australia Day. In another post on remembering, Louise Raw highlights why Winston Churchill was and is not the saviour of democracy he is sometimes portrayed as.

Whereas the master narrative framed this state of affairs as proof of a benign government caring for unfortunate victims of circumstance, the colony’s archives reveal that Aboriginal people were removed from their ancient homelands by means fair and foul. This was the intent of the government, revealed by its actions and instructions and obfuscations. In the language of the day the Aboriginal Tasmanians had been deliberately, knowingly and wilfully extirpated. Today we could call it genocide.

How To Digest Books Above Your “Level” And Increase Your Intelligence – Ryan Halliday says to read above your level you need to ‘read to lead’. This involves ignoring the facts and storyline to focus on the key messages. Reading all of the introductions, prefaces and translators notes as they often provide context to the book. Make notes in books and write out quotes, physically. Apply what you learn. I am not sure I completely agree with everything Halliday suggests, but it does provide a useful provocation to think about the art of reading. For some just reading is what matters.

In short, you know the books where the words blur together and you can’t understand what’s happening? Those are the books a leader needs to read. Reading to lead or learn requires that you treat your brain like the muscle that it is–lifting the subjects with the most tension and weight.

Edtech

Quote from Panicked about Kids Addiction to Tech?
Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/kwl/4555399660
Quote via danah boyd ‘Panicked about Kids Addiction to Tech?’

Panicked about Kids Addiction to Tech? – danah boyd suggests that there is a lot of hype associated with kids addiction. Some of the problems may be associated with parents themselves. In response, she provides two activities for parents: verbalize what you’re doing with your phone and create a household contract. Mitchel Resnick’s provides a different perspective, suggesting time on task is not the problem, it is rather what is done with that time, for Cory Doctorow it is all an arms race focused on control, while Audrey Watters paints her own complicated picture of addiction. Each of these pieces add to a wider dialogue around moderation and other such technical answers currently being suggested as soutions to our digital overload.

Many people have unhealthy habits and dynamics in their life. Some are rooted in physical addiction. Others are habitual or psychological crutches. But across that spectrum, most people are aware of when something that they’re doing isn’t healthy. They may not be able to stop. Or they may not want to stop. Untangling that is part of the challenge. When you feel as though your child has an unhealthy relationship with technology (or anything else in their life), you need to start by asking if they see this the same way you do. When parents feel as though what their child is doing is unhealthy for them, but the child does not, the intervention has to be quite different than when the child is also concerned about the issue.

Arguing with the Digital Natives guy in four vexations – David White reflects on a debate with Marc Prensky in which they discussed the future of our digital world. White shares four vexations from the conversation, but the one that stands out to me is his concern about ideas associated with ‘effective and successful’ being separated from a discussion of equality. This links with Alvin Chang’s post looking at school borders and segregation, a topic also discussed on the Have You Heard podcast. It is also interesting to think about this alongside Simon Longstaff’s discussion about the technology and the design of a more ethical future.

My concern is that we rush to ‘make the world a better place’ without reflecting on who we might be doing that for and why. Action without reflection (or thinking) is of little value

The human solution to Facebook’s machine-produced problems also won’t work – Responding to Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious pledge to fix the statistical behaviour-modification machine that is Facebook, Doc Searls explains why Zuckerberg will fail. He suggests that changing facebook is like turning a cruise ship into an aircraft carrier, Searls argues that what has been gained though is a realisation that we all live in the digital world now. It is for this reason that it is important to support children with their online presence and making sense of social media. Alternatively, Dave Winer believes that Zuckerberg’s year will be complete once he lets Facebook rejoin the open web. We can only dream.

The best thing for Zuck to do is get the hell out, let it finish failing, and start over with something new and better, based on what he and others have learned from the experience. (Which tends to be the best teacher. And hell, he’s still young.) It should help him—and all of us—to know that all companies fail; they just fail faster in Silicon Valley.

EdTech Factotum #12 – Clint Lalonde reflects on blockchain. Rather than focusing on whether or not everyone should embrace it, he instead suggests that it is something that we need to be aware of. This is a similar point that Audrey Watters made during Episode 74 of the Contrafabulists podcasts, that it is not necessarily about which technology to choose, but asking why and how things actually work. For more on the blockchain, watch this attempt to explain it to a five year old, read Alex Hern’s analysis of Bitcoin or reflect on Leda Glyptis’ unpopular opinions.

Asking why is important and does often get lost in the rush to something new and shiny. But let’s keep asking how as well. In my mind, these are companion questions because, even though you or I may never use blockchain in our day-to-day life, there is a very good chance that it will be used on our behalf in the future. And there is already more than enough unknown technologies running our life right now.

Should Your Class Or Student Blogs Be Public Or Private? – Kathleen Morris unpacks the benefits of both private and public blogs. She provides a number of arguments with clear points evidence to clarify her points of view. This is particularly pertinent to schools and educators at the start of the school year. Personally, when I supported classroom blogs they were closed as I was not comfortable everyone who needed to be fully aware of the consequences was. I think though that Kin Lane’s advice on APIs can also be applied, that is, approach everything as if it is public even if it is not. On blogging in general, Chris Aldrich wrote a reply on the potential of blogging as a commonplace book, while Jim Groom suggests that it is an investment in your soul.

A dilemma that faces many educators new blogging is the question of whether they should be publishing their students’ information and work online. They might wonder if their class or student blogs should be public for anyone to see, or private for a limited audience (or no one) to view.

IRL Podcast – Bot or Not – This episode of In Real Life is dedicated to bots. Along with Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith’s investigation into the influence of Twitter bots, Kris Shaffer and Bill Fitzgerald’s guide on how to spot a bot, Kin Lane’s reflections on the waves of bots and Nicholas Confessore’s exposé into the follower factory, these resources provide a useful starting point for understanding bots and there implication on society today.

From politics to poetry, bots are playing an increasingly visible role in culture. Veronica Belmont investigates the rise of social media bots with Lauren Kunze and Jenn Schiffer. Butter.ai’s Jack Hirsch talks about what happens when your profile is stolen by a political bot. Lisa-Maria Neudert measures how bots influence politics. Ben Nimmo teaches us how to spot and take down bot armies. And Tim Hwang explores how bots can connect us in surprising, and meaningful, new ways.

Storytelling and Reflection

Quote via Social Media Has Hijacked Our Brains and Threatens Global Democracy
Image via https://pixabay.com/en/crowd-lego-staff-choice-selector-1699137/
Quote via David Golumbia ‘Social Media Has Hijacked Our Brains and Threatens Global Democracy’

Social Media Has Hijacked Our Brains and Threatens Global Democracy – David Golumbia discusses some of the changes to democracy associated with social media. He argues that we have lost the ability to think slowly, therefore making us more susceptible to irrational decisions. This touches on some of Peter Skillen’s points from a few years ago. Along with Zeynep Tufekei’s concern about free speech and Jordan Erica Webber’s look into micro-targetting, these posts paint a grim view of the future.

Those who celebrated the Facebook revolution and the Twitter revolution were celebrating the replacement of (relatively) calm reflection with the politics of reactivity and passion. This domination of System 2 by System 1 thinking is the real social media “revolution.” The question that remains is whether democracies have both the will, and the means to bring considered thought back to politics, or, whether digital technology has made politics impossible.

Facial recognition’s ominous rise: are we going too far too fast? – This is a strange article documenting the rise of NEC. In it, Ben Grubb provides a range of examples, including Crown Casino tracking VIPs and Westfield estimating age, gender and mood. On the one hand, it can be read as being positive – which you would assume as the author’s expenses to iEXPO2017 were paid for by NEC – in that we can now do all these things with technology, but at the same time it asks the question as to whether we ought to? It reminds me in part of the post discussing Hitachi’s use of cameras to improve student life at Curtin University. My question is probably, “why would you?”, as Tony Longstaff warns can does not equal ought.

Already facial-recognition technology is being used at Crown Casino in Melbourne to identify VIPs and banned guests. Australian state and federal policing agencies are also deploying it, with South Australia Police using it to identify criminals and to search for missing persons.

The best thing ever written about “work-life balance” – Austin Kleon discusses work-life balance. Reflecting on Jocelyn K. Glei’s supercut on the subject, Kleon notes the difference in responses between men and women. For men it is often about creating the write conditions, while for women it is making do with whatever spare moments there are. For the late Ursula K. Le Guin it is not about spare time, but rather occupied time.

You can have it all, just not all at once – Kenneth Koch

The Line 6 DL4 Is Quietly the Most Important Guitar Pedal of the Last 20 Years – Dale Eisinger takes a look at the influence of technology on music, in particular the looping pedal. From Radiohead to Battles, Eisinger lists band after band influenced by the features and constraints of the humble pedal. There is a long history of technology influencing music. An example is the BBC documentary Synth Britannia which describes the influence of synthesiers on bands like Depeche Mode and New Order. It is also interesting to think about the DL4 as a ‘non-human’ actor and unpack what this might mean, especially for the modern busker.

As technology democratized around the turn of the century, digital audio workstations like Pro Tools revolutionized the home studio, and ultimately changed the course of music with their boundless potential. A less commonly discussed breakthrough of the era involved musicians’ outboard gear, such as guitar pedals, which moved from analog to now-inexpensive digital architectures. Chief among the hardware that benefited from this shift were delay pedals, a class of effect pedal that gives an echo or repeating effect to a sound. Delays were generally expensive, since they required either actual tape loops or expensive memory within their makeup. Digital technology changed that, introducing with it the kind of lower-priced loop pedals that encouraged experimental strains of ’00s indie rockers to recreate with live instruments a similar effect as sampling. There was one pedal in particular that emerged as a favorite: the Line 6 DL4 delay modeler.

The Victorian State Education System…from the inside out and the outside in – Former principal of Templestowe College, Peter Hutton, reflects on his connection with the Victorian Department of Education. It is a real insight into a part of education that many teachers never really experience. It will be interesting to see where his ‘EdRevolution’ goes and grows.

Unless there are parental complaints, if the school’s numbers are stable or growing and your data is tracking ok, essentially DET allow you to innovate and do as you please. I have loved this level of professional autonomy and dare I say trust shown by DET in its’ Principals. Not really the ogre that people sometimes suspect. In fact many senior staff have provided me with encouragement and professional support during the more innovative years at TC.

FOCUS ON … Digital Hygiene

Quote via Take the time to review and reinforce your digital hygiene
Quote via Ian O’Byrne ‘Take the time to review and reinforce your digital hygiene’
Image via https://www.flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/5978434781

There are so many posts out there which support users with reviewing their digital presence online. See for example Boost your digital fitness with a data cleanse and Digital Trace Audit: A #clmooc New Year’s ‘Unmake’ Cycle. Ian O’Byrne though has spread his out across the whole month. Unsure which link to include, I have instead provided a summary of all the posts here. I think that the statistics are clear, we could all do more.

READ WRITE RESPOND #025

So that is MONTH 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.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 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

📰 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 Write Respond #024

My Month of December

One of the weird quirks of working in a central role within education is the measurement of time. Here in Australia, this is usually a time in the year when schools wind down and teachers clean up for the year. However, in project land, there is always something happening. Whether it be supporting schools with timetables, developing new modules or sorting out idiosynciouses with solutions, Christmas provided a welcome break.

On the family front, December is always a busy month, with three out of four people having birthdays within three days of each other. Other than that, there is the usual festive activities, such as breakup parties, musical concerts and Christmas lights.

Personally, I have started reading Ben Williamson’s new book Big Data in Education. A fascinating read so far, especially in relation to the Digital Technologies. Other than that, I have been doing a quite a bit of work on my new site collect.readwriterespond.com building on the #indieweb ethos. A reminder of why a domain is more than just purchasing a custom URL.


Why Would You? an image by langwitches in response to my post

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


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …


@Dogtrax on Maps by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


Learning and Teaching

Use Maps & Mapmaking in Your ELA Classroom – Kevin Hodgson discusses the power and potential of maps in extending comprehension and representing understanding. I have written before about visualisation before, however Hodgson’s post provides a range of ideas I had not considered.

What maps can bring to the writing classroom is a visual connector point, and maps provide an easy connector to the learning going on in the Social Studies classroom, too. While our maps are rooted in imagination, as all maps are, the maps they see in other classrooms give students insights into the interpretations of the larger world. Where you pin yourself depends on where you are situated.

10 low impact activities to do less of – or stop altogether – Tom Sherrington outlines a range of activities to reassess, such as subject report comments, detailed lesson plans and original teaching resources. In another post reflecting on moving forward, Eric Sheninger suggests letting go of the status quo, drive-by professional development and avoiding technology. Both of these posts are useful in asking the simple question ‘why would you?’

Teachers and leaders across the country do too many things that have unacceptably high ratios of time and effort relative to their impact and/or they are unjustifiable educationally. Sometimes I think that the debate about workload is tinkering around the edges when actually we need much more fundamental change. I also think that we need to get assessment and accountability machinery back into perspective, making them more organic and more human.

The World War Two Guide to Office Warfare – Bryan Lufkin discusses a guide developed by the CIA. The document is about doing little things that add up, such as discriminate against workers, complete tasks the long way and be non-cooperative. This is a fascinating historical document and makes one wonder what it might look like if it were written today? What would be different? Would there be anything the same?

The US urged citizens to become everyday saboteurs in World War Two – and the same tactics might just be found in your office.

20 ways to take care of yourself over the holidays – Jennifer Hogan provides a list of activities for teachers to take care of their wellbeing during the holiday period. This is something that needs to be considered during the term as well. I also wonder whether some of Hogan’s list might also be useful for students too?

The days leading up to the holiday break can be event-filled and stressful for educators. I want to encourage everyone to make time for self-care during the holiday break. We have to take care of ourselves so that we can take care of others.

Predictions for Journalism 2018 – NiemanLab collects together the thoughts from a number of significant figures in journalism on the future of journalism in 2018. Although we need to be sceptical about predictions, the NiemanLab publication, along with posts from Bryan Alexander and Mike Caulfield, provide an interesting perspective of where things are at and might be going.

The best we can do is to listen to weak signals about emerging technologies in the present, to recognize patterns early, and to build out possible, plausible, and probable scenarios that describe implications. Amy Webb



“Storifried” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


Edtech

Storify Bites the Dust. If You Have WordPress, You Don’t Need Another Third Party Clown Service – Alan Levine reflects on Storify’s announcement that it will be shutting down. He provides a number of options of what to do, including downloading the HTML content and stripping the links from it. This is a reminder why #IndieWeb and owning your content is so important

There are two kinds of people or organizations that create things for the web. One is looking to make money or fame and cares not what happens once they get either (or none and go back to flipping burgers). The other has an understanding and care for the history and future of the web, and makes every effort to make archived content live on, to not leave trails of dead links. Storify is Type 1.

Anatomy of Tracking Links in Computer Science PRnewswire – Miguel Guhlin provides a useful explanation for tracking links via email campaigns. After reading Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction, this is a useful post as to how universities and algorithms combine.

Those annoying emails and click-tracking links aside, you may find something of value from online graduate programs that are doing anything they can to get you to visit their site and get you to give them your money.

Fostering Democratic Dialogue with Digital Annotation – Nicole Mirra discusses the hope and potential of sites, such as Hypothes.is, for generating discussion around texts and ideas. Although there are some who mourn the death of the comment, posts like this remind us that maybe comments have just changed. I am intrigued in the possibilities of the #IndieWeb in further organising the disparate parts.

What I found fascinating was the way that those who engaged with our piece grabbed hold of particular ideas and ran with them in ways we did not predict – it reminded me of the incompleteness of any single text and how texts could only reach their full potential as a sources of knowledge production when engagement continues beyond the page. Annotation made ideas that could have simply died in print live on and flourish collectively.

Some Fool Use – Austin Kleon discusses the need to embrace what may seem foolish when working with technology in order to create new possibilities. Talking about the potential of Lego, Tom Barrett discusses the challenge of ‘finding the edge of the page’. This was something that I tried to do with my QuickMakes session a few years ago.

Whether it’s Microsoft Excel or adding tape, pushing against constraints, finding out the limits of the tools, that’s what makes art interesting. It’s not that the tools don’t matter — it’s finding the appropriate tools, or, maybe even better, the inappropriate tools, and finding some fool use for them.

Coding Will Save You Hours Of Your Life – Alice Keeler provides an introduction to Google Apps Script. This is a useful starting point for creating your own solutions. I have collected some more resources on Sheets and Apps Script here.

We are teachers, we need to do repetitive tasks all the time due to the fact that we have more than one student. Knowing some basic coding can help you make light work out of repetitive tasks.

Bounded Systems: Affordances and Breakouts – Naomi Barnes discusses the boundaries and gates developed in online spaces. Associated with Greg Thompson discusses the need for a politics of technics. This is all epitomised by Facebook’s announcement of a messenger app for children. Although these are aspects which we need to support students in developing digital literacies, I think that there are better solutions than adding them to Facebook.

When we make private trouble public on social media, it is still a private space. It is owned by companies who are intent on keeping our political bodies private. For example, the #metoo campaign encourages women to speak out about incidents of sexual harassment as solidarity. However, unless women speak up outside of social media, the circle is still closed. But if they do speak outside social media, they risk losing jobs or initiating precarity and poverty. Social media is run by the same business plan that mobilised the gig economy as a virtue. Flexibility is the new white male. Being on board and in a team that doesn’t complain, is the new glass ceiling. The circle is rapidly closing.



“Just Innovate” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


Storytelling and Reflection

Excuse Me While I “Just” Go Innovate – Pernille Ripp pushes back on continual call to just innovate, arguing that she innovates every day when she teachers, plans and contacts home. The problem is that these things do not count as innovative in many experts eyes. Bill Ferriter adds his own take on the reality of the classroom teacher, explaining that he does not check his emails during the day, that he is responsible for a range of people and that working with children is his number one priority. It is interesting to compare this with recent discussion between Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon on the Modern Learners podcast in regards to the failure of teachers to engage with learning how to learn, as well as Richardson’s call from a few years back that the system is broken. For more on Ripp’s work, read Jennifer Gonzalez’s profile.

It has been building for a while. This idea that teachers need to “just” innovate more. That we need to break the system, try a new idea every day. That we need to just do more. Just do it better. Just be more.

Design Thinking is Contagious and Rots Your BrainRichard Wells highlights a number of problems with schools, such as engaged learners and grades, suggesting that design thinking provides an answer for improving things. Lee Vinsel clearly does not agree, instead suggesting that Design Thinking belongs in a marketing department, rather than a classroom. makes the case for Design Thinking. Harold Jarche thinks we need sense-making. I wonder if the answer is a cocktail of ideas combined in the development of our own solutions?

Moran holds up the Swiffer — the sweeper-mop with disposable covers designed by an IDEO-clone design consultancy, Continuum — as a good example of what Design Thinking is all about. “It’s design as marketing,” he said. “It’s about looking for and exploiting a market niche. It’s not really about a new and better world. It’s about exquisitely calibrating a product to a market niche that is underexploited.” The Swiffer involves a slight change in old technologies, and it is wasteful. Others made this same connection between Design Thinking and marketing. One architect said that Design Thinking “really belongs in business schools, where they teach marketing and other forms of moral depravity.”

Simple strategies to help you transition better between work and home – Steve Brophy discusses developing deliberate habits to support the move from work to home. The key seems to be recognising these changes. Taking a different approach, Maria Popova talks about taking a “telescopic perspective” to identify the work our time asks of us.

If we think a spaceship docking at the International Space Station, there is so much care given to the transition from one to the other. One wrong move could spell death for many so there are no stones left unturned when it comes to safety protocol. Once the spaceship docks, it locks into the ISS and pressurises a compartment between the two. Once pressurised, the hatch at the spaceship will open and the astronauts will move into the transition space. They close the hatch behind them and then open the hatch at the ISS. The process is done with extreme care. Each space is vital and movement between each is careful and considered. What if we transitioned with the same precision?

How Schools Can Contribute to Much Needed Civil Discourse in Society – Bernard Bull discusses the need in education to model civil discourse amid truly diverse beliefs and values. In part, this touches on the challenge of civic reasoning that Mike Caulfield has been unpack. Judith Butler reminds us though of the limits of supposed free speech and knowing what that ‘bargain’ means.

Forget college report cards and standardized tests. How are we doing in helping people learn how to embrace civil discourse, nurturing intellectual virtues, being strong advocates for causes and convictions, but also showing a deep respect for the inherent value in others, as well as their rights? Math and language arts are valuable. STEM education and coding is pretty useful as well. However, if we are really interested in contributing to a better future for young people, we are wise to think about what we will contribute to the future of civil discourse.

The Contradictions of Good Teaching – Matt Barnum looks at the results of a recent study looking at the impact of teachers. Some of the findings were that teachers do have an impact, statistical models of measurement are often bias and there is a negative association between test scores and happiness standards. This takes me back to the question, “do great teachers make great schools?” For Deb Netolicky it is about the good enough teacher.

A new study that tries to quantify this phenomenon finds that on average, teachers who are good at raising test scores are worse at making kids happy in class.

CPD minefield! –The secrets to planning and preparing effective technology CPD – Jose Picardo provides a number of tips to supporting the implementation of professional development, including the suggestion to avoid one-size-fits-all, provide plenty of examples, emphasise the why and make sure you do not forget where the students and parents sit within the wider scheme of things. He also highlights a number of options, such as lunchtime sessions, briefings and teachmeets. I have discussed the idea of starting the learning early, the ingredients that make a good conference and the potential of coaching to support digital pedagogies. I think though that Picardo’s post reminds us is that the best approach is a always a mixed.

How human beings make and justify their decisions is a fascinating area of study. Psychologists have long warned about our proclivity to fall prey to irrational decision-making, logical fallacies, prejudice and bias, which often determine why new ideas are adopted. Psychology has shown that we instinctively place more importance on our own ideas than on those of others. It’s a well-documented psychological phenomenon called the Not Invented Here Bias. This bias suggests that your idea could be rejected by others simply because it is not their idea, and not on its actual merit.

Why Teachers are now Gardeners not Carpenters – Richard Wells provides a comparison between the educator as carpenter verses the educator as a gardener. I have written about trees before and the way in which they each grow in their own way, depending on a multiplicity of reasons. Interestingly, Yong Zhao suggests that gardeners are in fact dictators. In part, this is what Bernard Bull touches on when explaining that how we pick the produce impacts what produce we pick. What I find intriguing about gardens is that they do not stop growing if we stop caring for them, something that I learnt when my mother died.

Carpenters have to work in a controlled environment. Their job is to use their tools to shape each product to a predetermined design and function. The pressure is all on the carpenter to get each product right, money is spent on purchasing quality tools, products are compared to gage quality, and when the wood is not pliable, it is often discarded. Mistakes are to be avoided and taking risks is dangerous to say the least. The finished products are perfected to fulfil a specific job/specialism for life making it obsolete once future requirements change. The carpenter’s workshop is a perfect analogy for the needs of the 20th century and it’s classrooms. The Gardener’s life is messier but just as fulfilling. Compared with other life on earth, humans have a very long childhood. This is because we expect children to learn about and prepare for the world through play and experience. This long childhood lends itself to the gardener’s approach and should lean both parents and teachers to a role of planning and nurturing a nourishing and dynamic space where any number of variables might impact on progress but children learn to adapt and find their space in a ever-changing ecosystem. The gardener is a great analogy for a 21st century teacher.



“@AudreyWatters on Telling Stories” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


FOCUS ON EdTech Year in Review

Each year, Audrey Watters’ unpacks the stories we were told about education technology in 2017. In response to her post about robots, John Johnston stated that he did not know where to start quoting. I think that this can be said about all the posts, especially when they are supplemented by additional resources.


READ WRITE RESPOND #024

So that is December 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.

Read Write Respond #023

023

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.


Aaron Balancing by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0

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

Edtech


Learning Machines by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

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 by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

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:

  1. Self – How do you want to describe your ideal self?
  2. Skills – What skills do you want to develop and demonstrate?
  3. Social – How do you want to behave socially?
  4. 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


Math Destruction by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

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:

READ WRITE RESPOND #023

So that is November 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?

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

eLearn Updates (November 2017)

Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite and Hapara for November 2017.

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Gmail

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Classroom

Drawings

Geo Tools

YouTube

General

Read Write Respond #022

My Month of October

In my work, I continued developing a scalable reporting solution, including planning out an implementation process. I also investigated some automated solutions associated with Google Sheets, including the creation of calendar events from a sheet, as well as developing a document from a database. I have managed to generate markdown code, the next step is to create a script to turn this into a Doc.

On the home front, our girls are enjoying the change of weather, spending endless hours outside on the trampoline and in the cubby house. I have lost count how many ‘concerts’ I have been the audience for featuring either Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off or Pharrell William’s Happy.

Personally, I have continued to explore different aspects of the #IndieWeb, including facepiles, posting comments from my own site and Micro.blogs. I also met up with Cameron Hocking for an interesting chat about conferences, communities and associations.

Here was my month in words:

  • My #IndieWeb Reflections – Meaning to elaborate on my thoughts on #IndieWeb for a while, Chris Aldrich’s post outlining a proposal for a book spurred me to finish jotting down my notes and reflections.
  • Sheets, Calendars, Events – Building on the APIs provided by Google Sheets and Google Calendar, I documented how to automate the addition and maintenance of multiple events.
  • Laying the Standards for a Blogging Renaissance – With the potential demise of social media, does this offer a possible rebirth of blogging communities and the standards they are built upon? Chris Aldrich wrote an insightful response as well.
  • Scripting an Automated Solution – A plan for an automated monthly newsletter produced from Google Sheets. The intention is to develop data in a way that it can be used in a number of ways.
  • Blogging the Digital Technologies Curriculum – Digital Technologies is more than just learning to code. This post re-imagines the curriculum around blogging and explores how it maybe better integrated. This post was also included in the Edublogs Newsletter.

I also passed 400 blog posts this month, which I actually totally overlooked at the time.


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching

“Twist Fate @mizuko ‏” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Twist Fate – The Connected Learning Alliance challenged teens to pick a classic story and create an alternate scenario through art or story where a famous hero is the villain or an infamous villain, the hero, with the finalists collated in a book. For further insight into the project, Sara Ryan and Antero Garcia provide a reflection on the some of the stories and the project.

When young people create and learn with others who share their interests and passions, and are able to share and be recognized for this, it is much more powerful than the kind of learning that young people do in most of their schooling. We call this kind of learning “connected learning” — learning that connects peer culture, personal interests, and recognition in the wider world.

There is No App For That – On the Team Human podcast, Douglas Rushkoff speaks with Richard Heinberg about the challenges of a renewable future. Both authors question the narrative of technological progress and wonder about other human possibilities. Heinberg’s ideas are documented in the manifesto, There’s No App for That. Kim Stanley Robinson provides another take on the future, arguing that we have reached a junction with no middle ground.

Technology has grown with us, side by side, since the dawn of human society. Each time that we’ve turned to it to solve a problem or make us more comfortable, we’ve been granted a solution. But it turns out that all of the gifts Technology has bestowed on us come with costs. And now we are facing some of our biggest challenges—climate change, overpopulation, and biodiversity loss. Naturally, we’ve turned to our longtime friend and ally, Technology, to get us out of this mess. But are we asking too much this time?

Critical Creativity for Grownups: Teachers Try Intention, the Book – Disemminating ideas from the book Intention, Amy Burvall describes some of the creative activities that she has used with teachers. These include #INTENTIONOREO where participants have to work within the contrants of an Oreo and #INTENTIONBRICK where participants explain something using random Lego pieces. Dan Ryder, co-author of Intention, also presented some of these ideas as a part of the recent EdTechTeam Virtual Conference. Burvall also recently gave a TED Talk on creativity which also provides a good introduction to her work. In regards to other ideas around professional development, Jackie Gerstein shares some of the strategies she uses with teachers, while Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano discusses the idea of a scavenger hunt to connect and learn.

This selection is by no means comprehensive – most workshops are 3-5 hours and we address at least 3 activities from each of the themes in the book: Creating with Words, Images, the Body, Social Media, Others, Sounds, and Stuff.

The Battle That Created Germany – David Crossland investigates new findings relating to the battle of Teutoburg Forest, between the Germanic tribes and the Romans. A decisive victory, it was a battle which stopped the Roman’s surge east of the Rhine. The article provdes an in-depth analysis of the battle and uncovers many of the complexities with retracing such events often overlooked in textbook accounts. It is interesting to think about the challenges associated with Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History series and why he continually states that he is not a historian.

Archaeologists have made a fascinating discovery that could rewrite the history of a legendary battle between Germanic tribes and the Romans in the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD.

Edtech

“We Are All Using APIs @APIEvangelist” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


We Are All Using APIs – Kin Lane explains how APIs are a part of our daily existence. Although we may not be able to do APIs, we need to be aware that they are there and what that might mean. This focus on the ethical as much as the technical relates to Maha Bali’s post about adding humanity back to computer science and Ben Williamson’s call to explore the social consequences associated with coding. Providing a different take on the ‘Hour of Code’, Gary Stager explains that the epistemological benefit of programming comes over time as we build fluency.

We are all using APIs. We are all being impacted by APIs existing, or not existing. We are being impacted by unsecured APIs (ie. Equifax). We are all being influenced, manipulated, and manipulated by bots who are using Twitter, Facebook, and other APIs to bombard us with information.

Simple Truth: Your Attention Has Been Hijacked. – Bill Ferriter reflects on the way smartphones have been designed to grab our attention. This continues with the discussion around technology engineers avoiding the use of social media, as well as Adam Greenfield’s autopsy of the smartphone on its tenth birthday. Doug Belshaw relates this all to the rise and recognition of ‘notification literacy’.

So what are the solutions?

Here are mine:

  1. You’ll never see me checking any social apps on my phone while we are together
  2. I’m uninstalling MOST social apps from my phone
  3. I’m going to nudge the people in my life — my peers, my relatives, my students — to take the same actions

100+ Ideas And Prompts For Student Blogging – Updated from an initial post from Ronnie Burt, this collaboration between Burt, Sue Waters and Kathleen Morris provides a long list of prompts to inspire teachers and students in regards to blogging. Along with the recent culmination of the #edublogsclub project and John Johnston’s reflection on the Glow Blogs e-Portfolio system, these posts offer a number of ideas to continue blogging in and out of the classroom.

Enthusiasm is typically high when student blogs are first set up. Students often can’t wait to unleash their creativity and publish for an authentic audience on their own online space.Sometimes when the initial excitement wears off, students start facing ‘bloggers’ block’ or get in a rut of writing the same style of post over and over (eg. ‘My favourite…’).With a little guidance and encouragement, you can ensure your students reach their full potential as a writer, while extending themselves by exploring various genres and mediums. This post aims to provide prompts to inspire you and your students for a whole year of blogging.

Where to Find Free Images for Students and Teachers – Kathleen Morris reflects on the use of images in the classroom. After unpacking a myriad of challenges, she suggests a solution: copyright free images. Supporting this, she compares a number of sites that provide access to free images and provides a number of printable resources to use in the classroom. Continuing the conversation around licences, Alan Levine encourages attribution, even when it is not required.

Over the past few years, there seems to be a rise in the availability of free images that are licensed under public domain or Creative Commons Zero (CC0). Public domain works can be used freely for any purpose. Their licenses have expired, or they are released with no restriction on their usage. CC0 is a Creative Commons license that allows copyright owners to release their works with no usage restrictions. There are now many sites to find CC0 and/or public domain images. Some of these sites can be very useful in the classroom, however, they’re not all created equal.

Your Data is Being Manipulated – In an extract from danah boyd’s keynote at the 2017 Strata Data Conference, she highlights some of the ways in which our lives are being distorted through data. Associated with this, boyd spoke at the Digital Media Lab Conference about the challenges of inadvertently learning the wrong things. She explains how the beliefs generated by online communities, such as 4Chan, shape our everyday understandings. It is interesting to consider this alongside Cathy O’Neil’s book Weapons of Maths Destruction, which is currently the focus in Bryan Alexander’s book club.

The tech industry is no longer the passion play of a bunch of geeks trying to do cool shit in the world. It’s now the foundation of our democracy, economy, and information landscape. We no longer have the luxury of only thinking about the world we want to build. We must also strategically think about how others want to manipulate our systems to do harm and cause chaos.

The Couple Paid 200k a Year to Travel – Jessica Holland explores world of social media influencers and uncovers the reality associated with being the product. This is something that is also coming into education, with the branding of teachers who are then given resources to use in the classroom. Has it always been this way?

The number of social media influencers – people like the Stohlers with huge audiences and companies eager to piggyback on their success – is growing, and the industry is evolving rapidly. But only a tiny minority are able to make a living doing so.

Storytelling and Reflection

“Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world @Tulip_education” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

 

Should men or society stop the Harvey Weinstein’s of this world – Marten Koomen explores where to now with Harvey Weinstein and the way women are treated in society. He suggests that we need a collective effort by government to develop legislation and policy. Along with Rebecca Solnit’s post on blaming women for men’s actions and Julian Stodd’s investigation of the wider cultural problem brought out in the #MeToo movement, they touch on a wider problem around gender and inequality. On the Gist podcast, Mike Pesca discusses the challenges associated with reporting such topics. Jenny Listman adds a reminder that such power is abused by regular people too.

Politics is more private and personal for women than for men. Matters related to reproduction, violence, abuse and childcare, tend to affect women more harshly than men. Pain is often suffered in private, in silence, and impenetrable to communities. Individual men are often not placed or equipped to help in sometimes complex matters, but society can.

Hurry Slowly: communication and trust are key to successful organisations – Doug Belshaw reviews a book/blog by Johnathan Nightingale exploring modern leadership. The two factors which stand out to him is communication and trust. This is something also correlated in the work of Paul Browning. Reading through Belshaw’s thoughts, I wonder if open planned office environments are bad for us?

The two things that make organisations awesome, whether they’re for-profit, non-profit, co-ops, or something else are: – Communication – Trust

Without these two, organisations have to have a lot of something else to get things done. That can be money, it can be time, or it can be talent. But the quickest and easiest route to success is paved with good internal and external communication strategies, and trust between stakeholders.

Critical Pedagogy – My number one from #uLearn17 – Richard Wells reflects on the closing keynote for the recent uLearn Conference in New Zealand. It was by Ann Milne and involved shining a critical eye over inherent inequalities within their education system. Having visited New Zealand earlier this year, I think that it is easy to get caught in the hype around the various improvements and innovation. It also left me thinking about the voices left silent in my own system.

Ann’s complaint is that New Zealand schools generally tinker with cultural issues and identity but do not do nearly enough to help address serious and ongoing societal inequities … Educators still have much work to do if we are to build authentic experiences for all individual learners to equip them to solve the problems previous ‘educated’ generations of have caused.

In Praise Of ‘And’…. – Kath Murdoch pushes back on the evidence that inquiry does not work, instead arguing that it is not a question or OR but AND. Along with David Price’s posts and Steve Collis’ TED Talk, they are a reminder that focusing on supposed ‘effective’ strategies sometimes requires more nuance, particularly when it comes to context. This is why I like the Modern Learning Canvas as a means of painting a richer picture of practice.

I am regularly amazed by what learners DO figure out for themselves (and how deeply satisfying that is for them) when given the right conditions, opportunity and challenge AND I have in my repertoire, the technique of timely, direct explanations or demonstrations when required.

What Problem Are We Trying to Solve? – Chris Wejr reflects on the many changes occurring in education and askes the question, what problem are they trying to solve? He focuses in particular on the danger of continually jumping on the latest shiny technological toy or application. This reminds me of a post I wrote a few years ago about supporting the development of digital pedagogies which focused on starting with the intended outcomes. It is also interesting reading Wejr’s post next to Benjamin Doxtdator’s recent review of Most Like to Succeed.

Too often we are drawn in and sold on solutions to problems which we have not even defined. Effective sales people do this very well as you walk away with something new that you didn’t even know you needed! In schools, we have so much change right now. I love Brian’s idea of defining the problem first and then seeing if we can find potential solutions as I believe this will help us filter and manage the changes more effectively.

FOCUS ON … LIBRARIES

“What is the value of a library with no content? @daveowhite” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

A recent article on the ABC News spoke about he demise of the traditional library in schools. Here is a collection of resources I collated with Anthony Speranza exploring the future of libraries and makerspaces:


READ WRITE RESPOND #022

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?

Cover image by JustLego101

eLearn Update (October 2017)

Updates

Posts & Resources

DRIVE

CHROME & BOOKS

RESEARCH

DOCS

GMAIL

CALENDAR

SLIDES

FORMS

  • 24 Tips for Google Forms Quizzes – Eric Curts shows how allowing multiple correct answers allows you to ask more sophisticated questions that have more than one correct answer, as well as account for variations in the correct answer.
  • 24 Tips for Google Forms Quizzes – Eric Curts provides a video documenting (at least) 24 tips and tricks for getting the most out of the new features in Google Forms when making online quizzes.
  • Five Great Add-ons for Google Forms – Richard Byrne provides a quick guide to using add-ons with Forms, as well as a summary of some useful options.

SHEETS & SCRIPTS

SITES

CLASSROOM

DRAWINGS

GEO GOOGLE

  • Street View goes to the “top of the world” – Emma Upton shares the story behind one of the new Street View collections that captures Canada’s Quttinirpaaq National Park.
  • Meet Pegman – Richard Byrne discussess pegman, the icon in Google Earth and Steet View that allows users to move around
  • Google Street View App – Richard Byrne discusses some of the purposes and potentials associated with the Google Street View App on iOS and Android.
  • Games to Sharpen Geography Skills – Richard Byrne documents some games that provide students with fun and engaging ways to learn geography

CONNECTING CLASSROOMS

YOUTUBE

PHOTOS

GENERAL

eLearn Updates (September 2017)

Here is a collection of links and resources associated with GSuite and Hapara for September 2017.

Updates

Posts & Resources

DRIVE

CHROME & BOOKS

RESEARCH

DOCS

GMAIL

SLIDES

FORMS

SHEETS & SCRIPTS

SITES

  • 9 Google Sites Tips – Alice Keeler provides a number of tips to get going with the new Google Sites.

CLASSROOM

DRAWINGS

GEO GOOGLE

CONNECTING CLASSROOMS

  • Step inside of music – Alexander Chen discusses the new collaboration between Google and the Song Exploder podcast which allows viewers to interact with music but turns parts on and off.
  • Something’s coming … “West Side Story” on Google Arts & Culture – Google Arts & Culture is launching a new collection honoring “West Side Story,” bringing together artifacts and mementos from the making of the musical and movie, behind-the-scenes photographs, and a peek into the modern-day representation of the musical, this collection explores the history, artistic value and social relevance of “West Side Story.”
  • Teachers keep their lesson plans fresh with Expeditions – Per Karlsson provides a summary of some of the updates involving Expeditions, including incorporating aspects of Earth VR and running your own expeditions.

KEEP

YOUTUBE

BLOGGER

  • How to Make a Blogger Blog Private – Richard Byrne provides a quick guide to making a Blogger blog private.
  • A Blogger Privacy Setting You Might Want to Use – Richard Byrne discusses some privacy settings to consider when using Blogger, such as the request that your blog doesn’t appear in Blogger’s list of published blogs, restrict viewing to those who have been invited by email and turn on moderation for comments.

GENERAL

Read Write Respond #021

Image via JustLego101

My Month of September

In regards to work, I continued my deep dive into Synergetic. This included some more tinkering with options associated with generating a timetable, as well as refining the structural aspects of our reporting package. I also did some preliminary work around developing a dashboard as a live analysis of data captured in Google Sheets. I was also lucky enough to attended the #EduChange Conference, where I heard Peter Hutton discuss his new venture EdRevolution.

On the family front, I am reminded every day about the differences between siblings, especially as our youngest approaches her second birthday. It felt like one day she was our baby and then the next day she was a hurtling down on a flying fox. My wife and I were also lucky enough to get away for a night to celebrate our wedding anniversary, as well as take the kids away for a few days to Warrnambool.


“Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

In relation to my writing, here is my month in posts:

I have also been tinkering around with the #IndieWeb, trying to take more ownership of my online presence.


Here then are some of the thoughts that have also left me thinking …

Learning and Teaching


“Asking the Right Question” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Asking the right questions – Alice Leung unpacks a range of question types and their place in the classroom, including no hands up and higher order. I have written about questions in the past, while Warren Berger’s book A More Beautiful Question is also an interesting provocation.

Strategic questioning is key to assessment for learning. While questioning is essential for students in all grade levels, teachers can take the opportunity of new syllabuses and school based assessment requirements for the HSC to re-think how they design and implement assessment for learning in Stage 6. However, questioning is often viewed as an intuitive skill, something that teachers “just do”. At a time when many teachers are creating new units of work and resources for the new Stage 6 syllabuses, it may be a good opportunity to look at strategic questioning and embed some quality questions and questioning techniques.

Engaging Students’ Parents in a Collaborative Digital Place – Robert Schuetz provides some ideas for engaging with parents. Going beyond social media, Schuetz shines a light on the potential of digital spaces, such as the LMS. Coming at the problem from the perspective of blogs, Kathleen Morris suggests engaging parents as virtual volunteers. I also explored this topic a few years ago. Definitely one of those wicked problems with no simple solution.

Suggesting nearly all parent involvement programs are too passive, Mapp says there are three things parents should know about their child’s school and school-related experiences. (2)

  1. Parents are the child’s first teacher. Parents need to know they are an essential aspect of their children’s development.
  2. Parents possess a deeper knowledge about their children. Educators are better able to differentiate and individualize instruction when armed with the background information parents can provide.
  3. Parents need to know they have access and support from their child’s teacher and school. Parents should have a direct line to the feedback that helps support their child’s learning and development.

Show a Pro – Emily Fintelman provides her thoughts and suggestions for engaging with professionals as a means of provocation. Some ideas include contacting the local council, videoing in a guest or drawing on the parent community for expertise. The reality is that developing connections, whether it be experts or co-collaborators, is hard work, as Lee Hewes highlights. Another useful resource associated with PBL and more authentic learning is Michael Niehoff’s exploration of
professional presentations.

Tips

  • Ask your students who they think they should talk to to learn more about their topic. Have them make suggestions about WHO might have the knowledge they need, and HOW they might get in touch with them.
  • Some people you ask (especially parents) might feel that they don’t have enough to share. It’s important to be clear on what information you would like them to talk about, what you want them to demonstrate, and what level of understanding the students will come with. This can make it easier for your guest to understand how their expertise can help your class.
  • In most cases, experts are experts in their field, not in teaching or public speaking. It can be very helpful to provide some information on how to run the session, or for you to run it and allow time for your guest to share, and manage question time for them.
  • If your expert is willing, get their contact details so that if students have a follow up question, you can get in touch to find out their answers.
  • Excursions and incursions can be very expensive. Finding experts in other ways is often extremely inexpensive and is most likely more tailored to what the learning needs of your students are.

Doodles Away: Starting the School Year with Sketchnoting – Kevin Hodgson discusses the use of sketchnoting to support active listening in the classroom. He shares some strategies, as well as challenges he still has ahead. I have discussed sketchnoting before in association with visualising and collected a number of resources there.

I realize I have some questions yet to tackle when it comes to using this sketchnoting concept with them:

  • How to help students already easily distracted to listen and doodle at the same time?
  • How to help them filter out what is important enough to be doodled and how to figure out what to leave out?
  • How to teach them the use of artistic lettering in order to use words as art in meaningful ways?
  • How do I demonstrate that sketchnoting has actually helped improve their writing and understanding of complex topics?
  • How to help them form a personalized systematic approach for the flow of their own sketchtnoting?

Lorde Remix Competition – Triple J have provided access to the stems to Lorde’s track ‘Homemade Dynamite’ from her recent album, Melodrama. I am less interested in the competition as I am in the opportunity to hear the song broken down into its parts. Lorde also reflects on her track, ‘Sober’, on the Song Exploder podcast. Another resource for digging deeper into the layers of songs is the recent collaboration between Google and Song Exploder, which provides a virtual space within which you can turn parts on and off. I also came upon PennSound, a collection of poetry recordings, both past and present.

Triple j Unearthed is teaming up with Lorde to give you the chance to remix her track ‘Homemade Dynamite’.

Take A Knee Padlet – A multimedia collection crowdsourced by educators and curated for middle year students interested in understanding the context associated with the Take A Knee movement. Not only is this a useful resource, but another great example of the way that Padlet can help facilitate collaboration. In a way, I think this is what Mike Caulfield envisaged for Wikity. Julian Stodd also provides a commentary on the current situation, focusing on the different forms of power at play, while Bill Ferriter discusses inadvertently second guessing students of colour.


Edtech


“RSS Still Beats FB” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Why RSS Still Beats Facebook and Twitter for Tracking News – David Nield provides an introduction to RSS and why it can be better than social media for consuming content. One of biggest benefits is that it is unfiltered by the stacks. Nield provides some strategies for working with RSS, such as IFTTT and feed readers. Alan Levine lifts the hood on RSS, explaining how it works and what OPML is, while Bryan Alexaner states why he recently decided to rededicate himself to RSS reading. In the end, it comes back to Doug Belshaw’s question of curating or being curated?

One of the main reasons RSS is so beloved of news gatherers is that it catches everything a site publishes — not just the articles that have proved popular with other users, not just the articles from today, not just the articles that happened to be tweeted out while you were actually staring at Twitter. Everything. In our age of information overload that might seem like a bad idea, but RSS also cuts out everything you don’t want to hear about. You’re in full control of what’s in your feed and what isn’t, so you don’t get friends and colleagues throwing links into your feeds that you’ve got no interest in reading.

Is The Inbox Zero Strategy All Hype? – Scott Friesen explains that Inbox Zero is more about the process of getting through the mail than getting to the magical ‘zero’ mark. He lists some applications to help with this. Another hack Cal Newport suggests is to have all mail delivered into a sort folder, while Lauren Brumfield recommends thinking about an application which allows you to easily manage a number of accounts in the one space. Along with Doug Belshaw’s 10 tips to email productivity, this collection of posts provides a useful point of reflection for those struggling with email anxiety.

So how can you become more effective with managing your email? – Consider using the concepts of Inbox Zero to speed up the way you process your messages. Remember, it’s not about keeping your inbox empty. It’s about getting through a large number of messages quickly and being able to identify the ones that deserve your attention. – Stop checking email so frequently! Did you know that the average professional spends 6.3 hours a day dealing with email? See if you can spend as little as 3 to 4 email sessions a day so you can focus on your most important work. Studies show that you will enjoy less stress as a result. – Use applications such as Boomerang, Trello, or Slack to keep your communication focused and on target. If you work with a team, make sure everyone knows how to use the communication tools within your project management system. You’ll save time and a lot of headaches for everybody.

Podcast Generator – Jim Groom unpacks the process of publishing a podcast on your own domain with Podcast Generator. This is the tool that Doug Belshaw uses for the Tide Podcast. One of the benefits of publishing a podcast yourself is that you control the content, something that John Johnston has been reflecting on of late with AudioBoo(m)’s decision to become a paid service. He has also shared the process that he went through in downloading the Edutalk recordings housed there.

After being asked by a friend about podcast options on Reclaim, I started playing with the podcasting tool Podcast Generator. I heard about it thanks to this thread by Tim Klapdor on the Reclaim Hosting Community Forums. It’s a really simple content management system designed specifically for podcasts. It provides a stripped down space to upload files and simple metadata like title, description, and categories. It also provides iTunes integration and an OG RSS feed.

Do Your Technology Investments Advance Your Priorities? – Bill Ferriter unpacks three steps for identifying technological investments. This involves defining core teaching and learning, identifying tools that can fit this need and then breaking costs down into ‘per-student’. I have written about technology integration before. One thing that I would add to Ferriter’s process is using something like the Modern Learning Canvas to develop a more comprehensive picture of practice.

schools and districts need to start putting their money where their mouths are when it comes to technology spending. In the words of Richard Elmore, for every new increment of performance that you demand from classroom teachers, you have an equal obligation to provide the time, the tools and the training necessary to meet those new expectations. That’s impossible when we aren’t making deliberate choices about the digital tools and services that we are purchasing.

Using Hitachi Data Systems to improve student life at Curtin University – James Gallaway documents the way in which Curtin University is using 1600 cameras around its campus to capture staff and students for attendance and security purposes. However, this is only seen as the beginning, with the intent being on actively collecting data with an openness to future innovation. Continuing with this theme, Emily Talmage discusses the move in education to focus on psychological data, something that Ben Williamson has been addressing in regard to platforms like ClassDojo. Privacy International provide a case study for how data and algorithms are being used against us. Mike Caulfield wonders if there needs to be a state tax on personal data that is stored about us. Martin Weller argues for a mixed diet of data consumption. Kin Lane and Audrey Waters discuss the way in which technology companies shape public discourse in Episode 66 of Contrafabulists podcasts.

Keeping track of Curtin University – 1600 cameras – 60,000 students – 4000 staff – 300,000sq m of floor space – Facial recognition software – Data and video analytics


Storytelling and Reflection


“Tackle Workload” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Tackle Workload. This bandwagon actually matters – Tom Sherrington discusses the problem of workload piled on the modern teacher. He highlights a number of elements to reconsider, such as report comments and pointless assessment. Considering the problem from the perspective of the teacher, Jamie Thom advocates becoming a minimalist and cutting back. Steve Brophy suggests looking after our own wellbeing by putting on your oxygen mask first. One thing that matters is our own development.

Some workload issues require a major culture shift; some simply need us to rebalance the trade-off between the benefits of autonomy and the benefits of working collaboratively within an agreed system; others need us to stop doing certain things altogether.

“Students as Creators” and the Theology of the Attention Economy – Mike Caulfield builds on the ideas of Benjamin Doxtdater in highlighting some of the problems associated with Connectivism and the narrative of ‘students as creators’. Not only does this feed the capitalist propensity towards product, but it also ignores all sense of privilege. Maha Bali explains that we need to support, rather than give agency.

I’ve come to think that, in today’s world, one of the most valuable lessons we can give to students is not “how to build their identity on the web,” but how to selectively obscure it. How to transcend it. How to personally track it. How to make a difference in the world while not being fully public. To teach students not just to avoid Google, but to use Google safely (or as safely as possible). To have them look at their information environments not as vehicles of just self-expression, but as ways to transcend their own prejudices. To read and listen much much more than we speak. And to see what is needed through the lens of privilege – teaching the beauty of deference to the students with self-confidence and social capital, while teaching marginalized students to find communities that can provide them with the self-confidence they need.

Suis-je flâneur? – Ian Guest reflects on the data his has gathered associated with Twitter and wonders if he is a ‘flâneur’, in that he both captures and actively creates in the spaces where he works. Also writing about research, Julia Lindsay shares the lesson that she has learned that the coding of data is very much an interpretative act. This all adds to the questions to consider when it comes to data.

The flâneur is more of a serendipitous explorer, receptive to whatever comes along. They are a combination of curious explorer (having no goal other than to experience city life), critical spectator (balanced analyst, seeing beauty, but aware of social inequities), and creative mind (an interpreter who renders the urban landscape legible).

The Seven Keys to Creative Collaboration – In the first of a series of posts unpacking creative collaboration, John Spencer highlights seven keys to success. These include ownership, dependability, trust, structure, shared vision, fun and candor. It is important to point out, as Gary Stager, not everything has to be collaborative.

When collaboration works well, there is a certain group flow experience, where you are totally “in the zone.” There’s this dance back and forth where you get lost in the work and you realize that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. In the process, you create something as a team that you would have never been able to produce on your own.

10 Atypical Tips for Having a Great School Year (For Teachers, Professors, and School Leaders) – Bernard Bull provides some tips for how to have a great year. Whether it be reading books by dead people, asking more questions than you give answers or quit one thing a month, these ideas designed to stretch your thinking and widen your perspective.

There is nothing magical about the items in this list, but they are guaranteed to stretch you, give you a new perspective, and add some freshness to the school year. Pick one or two, give them a try, and if you are willing,

The Education Paradoxes of Singapore – Pak Tee Ng shares the five paradoxes associated with the Singaporian education system. They are: timely change, timeless constants, compassionate meritocracy, centralized decentralization and teach less, learn more. It is interesting to compare this with the Finnish story. It would seem that the only constant is a commitment to change.

Singapore’s experience with educational change show that paradoxes can be powerful in driving positive change, provided people are united in a common purpose, and there is commitment and tenacity to see through meaningful and long-term education reform. Despite achieving what would appear to be great success in education, Singapore is choosing to ditch its past success formula for the sake of the future. It recognizes that every country or jurisdiction is different and each will have to find its own path. For a small country that has survived against the odds for five decades, it has the gumption to chart its own path and every intention to thrive for many decades to come.


FOCUS ON … Classroom Behaviour


“Breaking All the Rules” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

A struggling school in Norfolk, England has taken drastic measures to turn around results. This includes providing a bucket to vomit in instead of being allowed to leave classrooms. Click here for the original list of rules as they have since been amended. Here is a collection of posts reflecting on the question of classroom behaviour:


READ WRITE RESPOND #021

So that is September 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?


Cover image via JustLego101