📰 Read Write Respond #031

Read Write Respond Newsletter 031

My Month of July

LinkedIn recently reminded me that it has been two years in my current position. I was shocked, time has flown. As I touched on recently, it has been a whirlwind of an experience as is the nature I imagine of working within a transformational project. The biggest lesson learnt is that in a lean environment (or at least an attempt at a lean environment) you sometimes get stuck doing what needs to be done, rather than what you may prefer to be doing, which in my case is working with teachers and schools. I am currently working on refining a scale-able implementation process associated with student reporting.

At home, the common cold came back, again. I swear we had overcome it for this season, but no. Also, new term and new song for my daughter’s school. So I think I am up to 20+ listens of Try Everything from Zootopia. Another great growth mindset anthem. Might also say something about the algorithms at play.

I am learning through practice that the easiest way to learn something is to watch and copy somebody else. Scary how quickly our youngest picks everything up. Understanding Mal Lee and Roger Broadie’s point about the young being digitally proficient by the age of three.

I attended DigiCon18. Although I went to some interesting sessions and sparktalks, what was great were the conversations in-between. This included discussing the Ultranet with Rachel Crellin, the pedagogy associated to ongoing reporting with Chris Harte, connected learning with Jenny Ashby, parenting and partnerships with Lucas Johnson, implementing the Digital Technologies curriculum with Darrel Branson, purpose and leadership with Riss Leung and direct instruction with Richard Olsen.

In other areas, I have been listening to Amy Shark, Florence and the Machine, DJ Shadow, The National and Guy Pearce. I started reading Adam Greenfield’s Radical Technologies. I also updated my site, moving back to ZenPress and adding in a new series of header images developed by JustLego101.

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

REVIEW: New Dark Age – Technology and the End of the Future

My Life in Black and White

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

Learning and Teaching

Bill Cohen on Authentic Learning

Teaching Game Design with Bill Cohen (TER Podcast): Cameron Malcher interviews Bill Cohen about game-design through play-based learning. Cohen goes beyond the usual coding and computer-aided approaches to focusing on ‘low-tech’ games. This included engaging with board games and outdoor games. This play-based approach focuses on developing clear metalanguage, feedback for mastery and working with an iterative design process. This reminds me in part of Amy Burvall’s notion of ‘rigorous whimsy‘ and BreakoutEDU. Some resources Cohen shared include Boardgame Geek and Lady Blackbird, while in a seperate post, Clare Rafferty shared a list of games associated with History. For a different take on games, in a recent episode of the IRL Podcast, Veronica Belmont and Ashley Carman take a look at gamification in everyday life. Some examples of this include notifications on smartphones, likes and retweets on Twitter or the endorsements on Linkedin.

If there is one thing that I have learnt as a teacher is that nothing leaches out fun more than dropping a layer of education over the top of it – Bill Cohen

Encountering harmful discourses in the classroom: Ian O’Byrne discusses the challenges of engaging in harmful discourses. He provides some ways to responding, as well as a number of ways to be proactive. This touches on what danah boyd describes as the weaponisation of worldviews.

Howard C. Stevenson from Penn’s Graduate School of Education indicates three steps to address these harmful discourses as they enter your classroom.

  • Start with you – Process your own feelings, and address your own vulnerabilities before entering the classroom. Develop a support system with your colleagues.
    Practice – Classroom reactions usually happen in a split second. Prepare yourself for these instances by role-playing with colleagues in your building, or online with your PLN.
  • After an incident – Resist the urge to condemn the action or content. First try to understand the motivation if is disseminated through your classroom or building. Allow the school’s code of conduct to address instances where students actively spread this information. Strongly explain to students that these harmful discourses and the messages being spread about individuals and groups are not accepted. You will not accept the silencing of voices.
  • Keep talking – After these events, the best course of action is to keep talking. Difficult discussions will often ensue, but children and adults alike need to be able to process their feelings and reactions. This is an opportunity to shut down and be silent, or engage and promote change.

How well do we ‘face up to’ racism?: Anna Del Conte provides some take-aways from a course on racism. Some of the activities included what racism is, a timeline of diversity in Australia and listening to stories. Another resource I am reminded of is Dan Haesler’s interview with Stan Grant. In part this stemmed from Grant’s speech addressing racism.

Multiculturalism is not an outcome but a process. Racism may not be deliberate BUT anti-racism is always deliberate.

Can Reading Make You Happier?: Ceridewn Dovey takes a look at bibliotherapy and the act of reading as a cure. Some argue that readers are more empathetic, while others suggest that it provides pleasure, whatever the particular outcome maybe, reading has shown to provide many health benefits. As Kin Lane suggests, when in doubt, read a book. Zat Rana suggests that this reading is not about being right or wrong, but rather about being open new ideas and lessons.

So even if you don’t agree that reading fiction makes us treat others better, it is a way of treating ourselves better. Reading has been shown to put our brains into a pleasurable trance-like state, similar to meditation, and it brings the same health benefits of deep relaxation and inner calm. Regular readers sleep better, have lower stress levels, higher self-esteem, and lower rates of depression than non-readers. “Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines,” the author Jeanette Winterson has written. “What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination.”

Historic Tale Construction Kit – Bayeux: This site allows users to recreate the Bayeux Tapestry. Clearly this is a great resource for history students, but it is also an interesting approach to storytelling.

Two German students originally wrote the Historic Tale Construction Kit, with Flash. Sadly, their work isn’t available anymore, only remembered. This new application is a tribute, but also an attempt to revive the old medieval meme, with code and availability that won’t get lost.

Edtech

Background Image via JustJego101

Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet: Chris Aldrich provides an introduction to webmentions. This includes unpacking the specification, the notion of mentions, the idea of kinds and way in which sites are potentially able to connect two-ways. This continues Aldrich’s efforts to document the IndieWeb, which has included a thorough overview of the IndieWeb, the future of feed readers and reimagining academic research. This introduction is different to Aaron Parecki’s guide to sending your first webmentions or breakdown of the oAuth standard.

Breaking down the walls between the internet’s many social silos, Webmentions offer a new level of freedom for web interactions.

Twenty Years of Edtech: Martin Weller looks back at twenty years of EdTech, highlighting the various moments that have stood out across the journey. This brings together many of the pieces that he has written for his 25 years of EdTech series that he has written to celebrate 25 years of ALT. As he points out in his introduction, we are not very good at looking back. This post then offers an opportunity to stop and do so in a structured manner. Another interesting take on history is Ben Francis’ post on the Firefox OS.

What has changed, what remains the same, and what general patterns can be discerned from the past twenty years in the fast-changing field of edtech?

Learning To Code By Writing Code Poems: Murat Kemaldar discusses the connections between coding and poetry. He re-imagines the various rules and constructs in a more human form. This continues a conversation started between Darrel Branson, Tony Richards and Ian Guest on Episode 234 of the Ed Tech Team Podcast about whether everyone should learn poetry and coding. This is also something Royan Lee shares.

In all languages, there is probably a word for love. You kinda know what it means, but not really, because it is so subjective. But still, there is a word for it. But in JavaScript, there is no “love,” until you say there is. It can be whatever you want it to be.

18 best practices for working with data in Google Sheets: Ben Collins provides a guide for working with data in Google Sheets. Some of the useful steps that stood out were documenting the steps you take, adding an index column for sorting and referencing, creating named ranges for your datasets and telling the story of one row to check the data. This is all in preparation for his new course on data analysis. Another tip I picked up from Jay Atwood has been to import data, if moving from Excel to Sheets, rather than simply copying and pasting.

This article describes 18 best practices for working with data in Google Sheets, including examples and screenshots to illustrate each concept in action.

Zuck’s Empire of Oily Rags: Cory Doctorow provides a commentary on the current state of affairs involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. Rather than blame the citizens of the web, he argues that the fault exists with the mechanics in the garage and the corruption that they have engaged with. The question that seems to remain is if this is so and we still want our car fixed, where do we go? Doctorow has also recorded a reading of the article.

It’s fashionable to treat the dysfunctions of social media as the result of the naivete of early technologists, who failed to foresee these outcomes. The truth is that the ability to build Facebook-like services is relatively common. What was rare was the moral recklessness necessary to go through with it.

How the Blog Broke the Web: Amy Hoy reflects on the early days of publishing on the web, where people would handcraft pages and connect them using a contents page. This was superseded by Moveable Type and the chronological blog, subsequently killing off the non-diariest. I was not really engaged in the web back then so it is hard to comment as Jeremey Keith, Duncan Stephen and Kicks Condor have, but it does remind me of the current debates around blogging. I think that all these spaces are forever changing and developing. Sometimes this is based on wholesale changes, but usually people have their own particular reason. Maybe some people will drop off with Gutenberg, but then again sometimes these things have their day.

Movable Type didn’t just kill off blog customization. It (and its competitors) actively killed other forms of web production.

Are We Listening?: Jose Picardo argues that the question about whether we should have more or less technology in schools misses the point. What matters is how it is used. For example, those who argue for more knowledge often fail to put the effort into actually understanding how technology is used in education. This comes back to the importance of why and having a framework to guide you. For a different perspective on technology in the classroom, read David Perry’s thread.

The very teachers who read William and nod vigorously about the need to know stuff before you can understand or do stuff in the context of curriculum are unable to draw parallels between their dismissal of digital technology and their own lack of knowledge about it. Rather than finding virtuosity and pride in learning about how what technology works best and in what context—so as to be able to discern the best tool for particular tasks—we seem happy to eschew whole new toolkits on the dodgy grounds of ignorance and misconception.

Storytelling and Reflection

Throwing Ideas Under the Bus

Throwing Our Own Ideas Under the Bus: Ross Cooper discusses the idea of putting your worst foot forward taken from Adam Grant’s book Originals. This involves trusting the idea at hand and starting with reasons why it might fail. Cooper suggests that this can be useful as it disarms the audience, critique involves effort, helps to build trust and leaves audience with a more favourable assessment. He also looks at this alongside Simon Sinek’s concept of ‘start with why’, highlighting the reason why and the challenges that might be faced. I wonder if the challenge in focusing on the why and why not is about finding balance? This reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion of Generous Orthodoxy.

As an elementary school principal, here’s the approach I’ve been taking with change: “Here’s what we’re doing, here’s why we’re doing it, and here are some of the ways I will support you!” Now I’ll be toying around with the idea of also proactively addressing the elephants in the room. Furthermore, we should allow for teachers and staff to respectfully and honestly discuss these obstacles, as opposed to us trying to sweep them under the rug. After all, flaws will be talked about in one way or another, and critical conversation that gives everyone a voice is preferred to potential venting in the faculty room.

The future will be dockless: could a city really run on ‘floating transport’?: Alex Hern discusses the rise of floating transport, something that I touched on recently with the demise of oBike in Melbourne. Hern captures a number of stories from around the world of hope for efficiency, but also issues associated with shared spaces. I am taken by Hern’s closing remarks concerning reliability over flexibility. This leaves me thinking that sometimes what is required is community and sometimes that involves patience. What is the cost to the public/private transport industry when everyone relies on private personal transport models like Bird or Uber?

Ultimately, floating transport is going to have to learn another lesson that conventional transportation bodies have taken to heart: flexible may be fun, but cities run on reliable.

i am sorry: Pernille Ripe reflects on life as a connected educator. She discusses the stress, anxieties and perceived responsibilities that come with being an educelebrity. Although we often talk about the technicalities associated with being (digitally) literate, what is sometimes overlooked are the social consequences. This is something that Austin Kleon also recently reflected upon.

So it is time for me to step back a bit. To do less work publicly, to share less, to not be so immediately available. To be just Pernille, the person who doesn’t have all of the answers necessarily. That only creates something because she cannot help it. That gives all of her when she is in a public space, but then steps back when she is private.

Facebook’s Push for Facial Recognition Prompts Privacy Alarms: Natasha Singer discusses Facebook’s continual push for facial recognition. She traces some of the history associated with Facebook’s push into this area, including various roadblocks such as GDPR. She also looks at some of the patent applications. This made me wonder how many patents actually come to fruition and how many are a form of indirect marketing? Elsewhere, Doug Levin explains why facial recognition has no place in schools, especially the way Curtin University is using it.

Cameras near checkout counters could capture shoppers’ faces, match them with their social networking profiles and then send purchase confirmation messages to their phones.

The anti-cottonwool schools where kids stare down risk in favour of nature play: This article from the ABC discusses a couple of schools in Western Australia that have reduced the rules on outdoor play. This reminds me of Narissa Leung’s use of old bricks and Adrian Camm’s use of odd material to engage with play.

Mr Smith said whereas students would previously come to the office complaining of injury, they are now too busy to make a fuss. “Students are becoming more resilient and getting on with it.” The school has just three rules — no stacking milk creates, no walking on the large wooden spools and no tying rope to yourself.

The Dangers of Distracted Parenting: Erika Christakis discusses the challenges of parenting in a digital age. This all comes down to distractions and as I have touched on before, this is not always digital. I really like danah boyd’s strategy for dealing with this, that is to say why you are using a device. This openness offers a useful point of reflection. I think that the conclusion to this article says it all though, “put down your damned phone.”

Parents should give themselves permission to back off from the suffocating pressure to be all things to all people. Put your kid in a playpen, already! Ditch that soccer-game appearance if you feel like it. Your kid will be fine. But when you are with your child, put down your damned phone.

FOCUS ON … SPACE

Murdoch on Noticing

I was recently challenged on the place of space in regards to learning. I recorded a microcast on the topic, but I haven’t had the chance to put all my thoughts together. In the interim, I have collected together a number of posts on the topic. If you have any others to add to the mix, I would love to read them.

  • Imagining Different Learning Spaces: Jon Corripo provided his suggestions for redesigning a classroom space which again sparked my imagination.
  • Flexible Seating: What’s the Point?: Chris Wejr reflects on his experiences in reviewing flexible learning spaces. This includes the reasons to re-design, as well as a series of thoughts associated with the process of re-imagining.
  • Why I Hate Classroom Themes: Emily Fintelman reflects on classroom themes and wonders what impact they are really having on learning. She suggests that our focus should be on how spaces are structured and strategies that can be used to give students more voice.
  • Flexible Classrooms: Research Is Scarce, But Promising: What is interesting about this report is that rather than discussing furniture in isolation, it is considered as a part of a wider conversation about learning and environment. The impact of flexible spaces though can be almost incidental at times, as is with the case of Maths. This speaks of agency as much as it does of the chairs in the classroom.
  • Adding the Learning Back to Space: A reflection on an outdoor learning space and the potential of technology to increase learning and engagement.
  • Benefits of Flexible Learning Spaces #1 Teaching in Teams: Stephen Rowe explains that teachers working in teams is a significant benefit that arises from teaching in an open learning space.
  • Designing Learning Spaces – putting the cart before the horse: June Wall and Jonathon Mascorella define learning environments as a set of physical and digital locations, context and cultures in which students learn.
  • Learning Space Design Inspiration: Steve Brophy collects together a number of ideas and inspirations associated with learning spaces.
  • Beanbags in Space: Matt Esterman suggests that what most teachers want is a more shiny version of what they have, because they are not trained as designers (usually) and are so often hemmed in by the expectations of current reality.
  • Inquiry, noticing and the changing seasons… A tribute to the late Frank Ryan: Kath Murdoch reflects on the potential of the environment associated with inquiry.
  • Coalescent Spaces: Dave White considers the impact of digital technologies on the creation of coalescent learning spaces.
  • Seeing Spaces: Bret Victor reimagines the makerspace built around tinkering and argues that it is in ‘seeing’ that we are able to make this a science.
  • Communities, Networks and Connected Learning with Google: Technology enables us to easily develop digital communities and networks inside and outside of the classroom. The reality though is that connected learning is as much about creating spaces for learning and building on that.

READ WRITE RESPOND #031

So that is July 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, maybe you want to subscribe or buy me a coffee? Archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 Read Write Respond #030

Background image via JustLego101

My Month of June

I moved departments and subsequently desks. It is interesting how the space you work can influence you. It has provided me a totally different perspective on the project, as well as feel more at home as I was the only one in my old team bridging the gap between the learning, teaching and the central management system. In my new team everyone is involved in integrating with the system, it is therefore helpful in developing a more systemic view.

In regards to the family, our youngest continues to excel with swimming. It seems like the centre questions her age every second week, assuming that she is ready to move up. In part this is confidence, as well as having an older influence around.

The oldest one has turned into a walking karaoke machine, pumping out song after song. She has also continued to develop her own songs on keyboard, mashing up her practice tunes with her own hook lines. Only three chords away from being a star!

Personally, I have been reading James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age. I have also been listening to the latest offerings from Father John Misty, The Presets, Soulwax and Snow Patrol, as well as way too much Baby Shark.

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

  • Being Analogue: Often we talk about ‘being digital’ but what does this imply in reverse? What might it mean in today’s day and age to be analogue?

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

Learning and Teaching

Digital Portfolio

Digital Portfolios and Content: Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano unpacks a number of questions and considerations associated with digital portfolios. This includes being open to authentic audiences, reimagining the idea of branding, creating a consistent habit and ethically using content. In a separate post, Diane Kashin reflects upon the interpretative nature of documentation. It can be so easy to discuss the use of technology to support the process, however this is often to no avail without pedagogy and a purpose.

Don’t create content for content sake. The content of your digital portfolio needs to be seen as an attempt in learning, evidence of learning, the process of learning, and/or growth in learning.

Lessons from the Screenplay: In this YouTube channel, Michael Tucker breaks down the art of film and scriptwriting. A useful resource for exploring various techniques associated with storytelling. Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Amazon also provide some other useful resources associated with films and storytelling.

With Lessons from the Screenplay, I make videos that analyse movie scripts to examine exactly how and why they are so good at telling their stories. Part educational series and part love letter to awesome films, Lessons from the Screenplay aims to be a fun way to learn more about your favourite films and help us all become better storytellers.

Using Picture Books With Older Students – A How-to Guide: Pernille Ripp provides a detailed guide to using picture books in any classroom. This includes choosing the right picture book, how to display them, their place in supporting fluency and how they can be used as introductory texts. This is all a part of knowing yourself as a reader. I too have used picture books in the past to support teaching comprehension.

Which book I choose to share depends on the lesson. I treat it much like a short story in what I want students to get out of it so it has to suit the very purpose we are trying to understand. I introduce the concept by sharing a story and then I ask my students to come as close as they can to the rocking chair in our corner. Once settled, whether on the floor, on balls or on chairs, I read it aloud. We stop and talk throughout as needed but not on every page, it should not take more than 10 minutes at most to get through an average size picture book. If it is a brand new concept I may just have students listen, while other times they might engage in a turn-and-talk. I have an easel right next to me and at times we write our thoughts on that. Sometimes we make an anchor chart, it really just depends on the purpose of the lesson. Often a picture book is used as one type of media on a topic and we can then branch into excerpts from text, video, or audio that relates to the topic.

Effort and Achievement Charts: Emily Fintelmen reflects on the co-construction of charts and culture in the classroom. This approach offers an opportunity to unpack various myths, such as whether a silent classroom constitutes a good classroom. Maria Popova provides a lengthier introduction to the concept of growth mindset, while I have written about effort and encouragement in the past.

Once we have determined what effort looks like, we map out what kind of achievement we would expect to get out of it using real scenarios.

Learning in and with Nature: The Pedagogy of Place: Diane Kashin discusses her interest in nature as a space to learn and play. She shares the story of collecting beach glass on the shores of Lake Huron. This reminds me of Alan Levine’s reflection on ‘106‘ and Amy Burvall’s focus on looking down. Kashin’s story of collecting that which was once rubbish reminds me of Shaun Tan’s picture book The Lost Thing. Kath Murdoch also shares a series of ideas and activities for noticing nature.

From the beach as place to the forest as place, what is important is the meaning making. Cumming and Nash (2015) discovered that not only do children develop a sense of place from their experiences learning in the forest, they also form an emotional attachment to place that contributes to place meaning. Place meaning can help to explain why people may be drawn to particular places. Place meaning helps to support the development of place identity, and to promote a sense of belonging. I am grateful for the opportunity this summer to experience the beach and the forest. It is my hope that children will be given the gifts of these places too.

Edtech

Rise of the Machines

Rise of the machines: has technology evolved beyond our control?: In an extract from James Bridle’s new book New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future, he discusses the evolution of the machine. This includes the place of the cloud, algorithmic interactions within the stock marker, the corruption of the internet of things and incomprehensibility of machine learning. It is one of a few posts from Bridle going around at the moment, including a reflection on technology whistleblowers and YouTube’s response to last years exposé. Some of these ideas remind me of some of the concerns raised in Martin Ford’s Rise of the Robots and Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction.

Our technologies are extensions of ourselves, codified in machines and infrastructures, in frameworks of knowledge and action. Computers are not here to give us all the answers, but to allow us to put new questions, in new ways, to the universe.

GitHub Is Microsoft’s $7.5 Billion Undo Button: Paul Ford unpacks Microsoft’s purchase of Github. This includes an account of the history of both companies. Dave Winer shares a number of points to consider associated with the acquisition. Louis-Philippe Véronneau and Doug Belshaw suggest that it might be a good opportunity to move to other platforms, such as GitLab. I wonder what this might mean for Github in education? It is interesting to reread Ben Halpern’s predictions for Github from a few years ago. He thought it would be Google or Facebook, wrong. For those new to GitHub, read Jon Udell’s post from a few years ago.

GitHub represents a big Undo button for Microsoft, too. For many years, Microsoft officially hated open source software. The company was Steve Ballmer turning bright colors, sweating through his shirt, and screaming like a Visigoth. But after many years of ritual humiliation in the realms of search, mapping, and especially mobile, Microsoft apparently accepted that the 1990s were over. In came Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella, who not only likes poetry and has a kind of Obama-esque air of imperturbable capability, but who also has the luxury of reclining Smaug-like atop the MSFT cash hoard and buying such things as LinkedIn Corp. Microsoft knows it’s burned a lot of villages with its hot, hot breath, which leads to veiled apologies in press releases. “I’m not asking for your trust,” wrote Nat Friedman, the new CEO of GitHub who’s an open source leader and Microsoft developer, on a GitHub-hosted web page when the deal was announced, “but I’m committed to earning it.”

How (and Why) Ed-Tech Companies Are Tracking Students’ Feelings: Benjamin Herold takes a dive into the rise of edtech to measure the ‘whole’ student, with a particular focus on wellbeing. Something that Martin E. P. Seligman has discussed about in regards to Facebook. Having recently been a part of demonstration of SEQTA, I understand Ben Williamson’s point that this “could have real consequences.” The concern is that not all consequences are good. Will Richardson shares his concern that we have forgotten about learning and the actual lives of the students. Providing his own take on the matter, Bernard Bull has started a seven-part series looking at the impact of AI on education, while Neil Selwyn asks the question, “who does the automated system tell the teacher to help first – the struggling girl who rarely attends school and is predicted to fail, or a high-flying ‘top of the class’ boy?” Selwyn also explains why teachers will never be replaced.

For years, there’s been a movement to personalize student learning based on each child’s academic strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Now, some experts believe such efforts shouldn’t be limited to determining how well individual kids spell or subtract. To be effective, the thinking goes, schools also need to know when students are distracted, whether they’re willing to embrace new challenges, and if they can control their impulses and empathize with the emotions of those around them. To describe this constellation of traits and abilities, education experts use a host of often-overlapping terms, such as social-emotional skills, non-cognitive abilities, character traits, and executive functions.

Hacking the ISTE18 Smart Badge: Doug Levin reflects on the introduction of ‘smart badges’ at ISTE. Really just a Bluetooth tracking device that then allowed vendors (and anyone for that matter) to collect data on attendees. Levin hacked a badge to unpack their use. He explains that with little effort they could be used by anybody to track somebody. Audrey Watters suggests that, “ISTE has helped here to normalize surveillance as part of the ed-tech experience. She suggests that it is only time that this results in abuse. Gary Stager concern is the “denaturing of educational computing’s powerful potential.” Mike Crowley wonders why in a post-GDPR world attendees are not asked for consent, while David Golumbia wonders if we really know what personal data is? If this is the future, then maybe Levin’s ‘must-have’ guide will be an important read for everyone.

There are three points about the risks of what ISTE deployed at their conference to know: (1) the ‘smart badge’ is a really effective locator beacon, transmitting signals that are trivial to intercept and read, (2) you can’t turn it off, and (3) most people I spoke to had no idea how it worked. (I freaked out more than a few people by telling them what their badge number was by reading it from my phone. Most of those incidents ended up with ‘smart badges’ being removed and destroyed.)

How to Fight Amazon: Robinson Meyer unpacks the story of Lina Khan and her investigation into Amazon and the antitrust movement. This stems from a paper, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox,” Khan wrote in the Yale Law Review. Although Meyer focuses on Amazon, this has ramifications for all the platform monopolies. It is also increasingly having an influence on education. Mike Caulfield puts forward another response, arguing that rather than worrying about the Walmarts and Amazons, we should use the money saved to fund an organisation that supports your aims.

When a company has such power, Khan believes, it will almost inevitably wield that power far and wide, distorting not just the market itself, but the whole of American life. With sufficient power, companies can commission studies, rewrite regulations, bulldoze neighborhoods, and impoverish education and welfare systems by securing billions in sweetheart tax cuts. When a company comes to monopolize a market—when it grows so big that it can threaten other industries just by entering them—it ceases to be merely a company. It becomes an institution so powerful that it can rule over people like a government.

Storytelling and Reflection

Your ABC

Your ABC: Value, Investment and Return for the Community: In response to the recent call to sell the ABC, Michelle Guthrie presents a speech explaining the value of the Australian Broadcasting Commission in today’s world. I must be honest, I don’t listen to ABC radio as much as I used to, however I follow a number of podcasts, such as RN Future Tense, and often turn to their website as a first port of call for news. In a time when there is a lot of discussion about the ownership of core infrastructure, it seems strange to sell the ABC. I wonder if this is a reflection of the changes to the media landscape that my nostalgia is overlooking?

What price do you put on public trust in an independent, commercial-free news organisation at a time of fragmentation and disruption? As the Prime Minister himself noted at the Liberal Party council meeting, it is difficult to establish the facts in a disputed media landscape full of echo chambers and “fake news” outlets.

Are You Blithely Unaware of How Educational Research Impacts You?: Peter DeWitt reflects on the place of research within education. He makes a comparison with the Devil Wears Prada and the way we assume fashion changes and trends. I find this interesting as both fashion and research are often outside of the reach people and pedagogues. This is epitomised by the story of Aaron Swartz who died campaigning against research hidden by paywalls. Is it possible for all educators to feasibly have access to research or is this another example of have’s or have not’s?

There are teachers and leaders who believe that researchers have little to do with their classroom practice, but the reality is that what researchers do has a direct effect on everything that happens in the classroom. We may think that we work in silent protest to research but the reality is that it all trickles down into our little casual corner called our classrooms and schools. And we should stop being blithely unaware of it all.

How Informal Learning Gets Misunderstood (And Misinterpreted): David Price responds to the criticism that creativity is dependant on a cache of knowledge. Referring to his experiences with Musical Futures, Price explains that it is creativity and passion which lead to an interest in knowledge and theory, not vice versa. Something he also discusses in his book Open. This reminds me of a post from Amy Burvall who also discusses the importance of having dots to construct ideas. Interestingly, Brian Eno suggests that such ‘dots’ can grow out of shit. Reflecting on the growing trend to ban devices, Mal Lee and Roger Broadie suggest that banning will have no impact on students digital learning and will instead have a detrimental effect on agency within schools.

The inconvenient truth is that students don’t need ‘experts’ the way they used to. Knowledge is ubiquitous. Any teacher that thinks that they don’t need to change as a result of this truth is doing their students a disservice. Make no mistake: the real learning revolution has already happened, it just doesn’t involve those of us who teach. Because they real revolution is in the phenomenal growth in informal and social learning — as practised by the Beatles and, now, all of us.

Team Human: Don’t have to look like a refugee: Douglas Rushkoff reflects on the current crisis involving children been taken off their parents. He suggests that it is less about politics (or the Bible), and more about propaganda with the creation of dehumanising images of children in cages. Rushkoff’s answer is to focus on the intimacy of the sounds. Bill Fitzgerald wonders how much of this is spoken about at events such as ISTE? It can be easy to think, ‘that is America’, but Australia is no better. Whether it be the stolen generation or detention centres, Australia has had its own examples of abuse.

Forget the reality — that Mexicans are actually emigrating from the US back to Mexico: there’s a net decrease. That more immigrants come from China and India than the south. The only way to understand the Trump administration’s proposed wall is as a safety play for global warming. Instead of admitting there’s an environmental crisis underway and reducing carbon emissions, just accept the inevitable climate crisis, and barricade the nation from the inevitable flow of refugees from the south. Whatever we’re doing now is simply priming the American public for the inhumanity to come.

The 12-month turnaround: How the dumpers drove oBike out of town: I remember when I first saw an oBike in action, a guy rolled up to a train station and dumped it near the on ramp. In this article from The Age, Simone Fox Koob reflects on their rise and fall in Melbourne. The dockless bike share scheme is managed by a mobile app. After concerns were raised around Uber, I was sceptical of the data collected by the company. I feel the disruption may have gone too far and caused the creative revolt. It will be interesting to see how competitors respond and what – if any – changes they make.

The ET oBike

FOCUS ON … Why Domains

Alan Levine put out a call for reflections on ‘why domains’. This touches on many of the ideas associated with Domain of One’s Own and the #IndieWeb. Although Levine has had a go at collecting together the various responses, I decided to create a list of my own.

  • Interviewing CogDogBlog.com: Alan Levine provides the back story to ‘cog’ (interest in bikes), ‘dog’ (interest in dogs). He also unpacks the numerous hallways and secret chambers that make up CogDogBlog.
  • The Story of My Domain: Chris Aldrich explains the meaning behind ‘BoffoSocko’ and the ways he uses his site as a commonplace book. He also shares his belief in the #IndieWeb and the ability for everyone to self-publish.

  • Interviewing my Digital Domains: Ian O’Byrne shares his interest and focus on documenting his learning openly online. This exercise has evolved through many iterations. Associated with this, Chris Aldrich wrote a post build around the use of Hypothesis to capture and curate highlights and marginalia. A post which Ian annotated in response.

  • Interviewing My Domain: Tom Woodward provides the stories and choices associated with his domains. He suggests that the biggest challenge with maintaining your own domain is sustaining it over time.

  • Why Domain: John Stewart discusses the association between domains and being found on the web. Although you can write a book or publish an article, a domain allows us to be found on the web.

  • Interviewing my Domain: Colin Madland shares the freedom and flexibility associated with having a domain. What comes through with Colin’s reflections is the crossover between purpose and process.

  • Interviewing my Domain: Sandy Brown Jensen shares her domain journey associated with DS106. For Sandy, a domain offers a way to talk back to the world

  • A Kingdom of One’s Own?: John Johnston discusses his journey AOL to his own site. This has come to include his blogs, various web experiments and custom shortcuts to other sites.

READ WRITE RESPOND #030

So that is June 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.

Replied to Doug Belshaw on Mastodon (Mastodon)
I don’t really pay much attention to the ‘format’ of a newsletter, I am more interested in the person and the story told. I love the personal nature of Laura Hilliger’s rambling reflections and the structured collections provided by Ian O’Byrne. I am sometimes sceptical of newsletters which are really means of summary and self-promotion. I think that Austin Kleon is someone who gets that balance right.

📰 eLearn Updates (May 2018)

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

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

Drawings

Geo Tools

Keep

YouTube

Blogger

General

📰 Read Write Respond #029

Read Write Respond 029

My Month of May

This month I realised the limitations to using a priority matrix to organise my work. It was not capturing the different facets of my work, such as reporting, online portal, attendance and timetable. I am still organising my work around priorities, I have just taken to representing this in a spreadsheet, therefore allowing me to filter it in various ways. I still am not quite settled on this, but it will do for now

In regards to other aspects of work I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by Hilary Hollingsworth on ACER’s work on reporting. I have also been helping some schools with the implementation of various administrative applications focusing on interviews and excursions. The more I do the more I realise how much of what is ‘transformative’ is built upon a raft of invisible parts that build to make the complex systems, which we so easily take for granted.

On the family front, my girls have taken to belting out duets together, even in the middle of the shops. Although the youngest one cannot keep up with every word of every line, she gives it a go. In general, it is fascinating watching them learn together.

Personally, I have found myself spending more time bookmarking and collecting my thoughts, rather than crafting long forms. It was interesting to read Doug Belshaw reflect upon this with his own writing. I think that Ian O’Byrne captures this best when he explains the interrelated nature of the different spaces.


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


Here then are some of the thoughts and ideas that have also left me thinking:

Learning and Teaching

21 simple design elements

21 simple design elements that will make any School Assessment Task sheet accessible: Haley Tancredi, Jill Willis, Kelli McGraw and Linda Graham reflect on the assessment task sheet so common in the secondary classroom. Responding to the challenge of accessibility, they collect together a number of elements to support all students. This list is organised around visuals, clarity and directions.

Access can be made easier or more difficult depending on the way the assessment task is presented; both in terms of visual presentation and in terms of the language used. The number and type of procedures required can also differentially affect students’ successful completion of the task. This approach to analysis helped us to produce a list of recommended design elements that will be useful to teachers as they plan and write up their assessment tasks.

Civix Releases New Online Media Literacy Videos: Mike Caulfield shares a series of videos summarising his work on Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers. Although it only touches on the basics, it still provides a useful introduction to the ‘Four Moves’ approach. Caulfield has also started a project associated with local newspapers that is worth checking out.

As I say — it’s the internet — you’re not stuck with that one story that comes to you. By going out and actively choosing a better story you will not only filter out false stories but also see the variety of ways an event is being covered.

When words won’t suffice: behavior as communication: Benjamin Doxtdator unpacks behaviour in the classroom. He touches on knowing your child, student choices and systemic inequalities. This is a useful post to read and critically reflect upon various practices and pedagogies. I think that it all starts with the language that we choose. Chris Friend also considers the influence of language in regards to learning management systems and assessment. In regards to behaviour, Riss Leung compares dog training with her classroom experiences.

Just as I try (and sometimes fail) to de-center myself when addressing student misbehavior, I try to de-center myself when I write. The vast majority of the students that I teach won’t be racially profiled in a behavior policy or by the police and that’s why I think it is especially important for me to seek out literature that reflects on those systemic injustices.

Learning for learning’s sake: Austin Kleon responds to the challenge associated with ‘learning for learning’s sake’. He suggests that we need to invest in hobbies and curiosity, just as much as we focus on ‘return on investment’. This reminds me of Amy Burvall’s point that “in order to connect dots, one must first have the dots”. Thinking about luck, Janice Kaplan discusses the importance of engaging with curiosity. Diane Kashen suggests we need more messy play.

Setting aside the importance of hobbies and the amateur spirit, what worries me the most is this faulty idea that you should only spend time learning about things if they have a definite “ROI.” Creative people are curious people, and part of being a creative person is allowing yourself the freedom to let your curiosity lead you down strange, divergent paths. You just cannot predict how what you learn will end up “paying off” later.Who’s to say what is and what isn’t professional development? (An audited calligraphy class winds up changing the design of computers, etc.)

Forget the checkout: what about the plastic clogging supermarket aisles?: Nicola Heath reports on the current plastic crisis in Australia. Although every state has agreed to ban single use bags, the real problem that needs to be addressed is in the aisles and aisles of pre-packaged food. Although the impact of plastics on our ocean has been well reported, it seems that there is a significant impact on our fresh water lakes too. Studies have found microplastics in drinking water, beer and honey. I wonder if the solution starts with school and education?

Some, like the Greens, argue manufacturers and retailers need to take more responsibility for the lifecycle of their packaging. “Product stewardship” and extended producer responsibility (EPR) requires manufacturers to factor the disposal of packaging into its design and production.

The Brick Wall: When I taught robotics I would show my students a video involving the use of a simple Lego kit in a science laboratory as a point of inspiration. The Brick Wall takes these possibilities to a whole new level, providing a collection of videos useful for thinking about what is possible in regards to programming, Lego and robotics. Some other series and collections that I have stumbled upon lately include the New York Times’ podcast Caliphate, which explores the world of ISIS, as well as Amy Burvall’s creativity vlogs as a part of the #LDvid30 project.

Edtech

Better Visions of Ourselves

Better visions of ourselves: Human futures, user data, & The Selfish Ledger: Ian O’Byrne reflects on the internal video produced by Google Project X focusing on speculative design the notion of a ledger that does not actually belong to the user, but managed by some grand AI. Although this was designed as a case of ‘what if’, it is a reminder of what could happen. It therefore provides a useful provocation, especially in light of Cambridge Analytica and GDPR. O’Byrne suggests that this is an opportunity to take ownership of our ledger, something in part captured by the #IndieWeb movement. Not sure what this means for our digitally proficient three year olds. Douglas Rushkoff makes the case for including less on the ledger, not more.

I think there is a reasoned response to technopanic. Perhaps a sense of techno agency is necessary. Now more than ever, faster than ever, technology is driving change. The future is an unknown, and that scares us. However, we can overcome these fears and utilize these new technologies to better equip ourselves and steer us in a positive direction.

How an Algorithmic World Can Be Undermined: danah boyd continues her investigation of algorithms and the way in which our data is being manipulated. She did this at re:publica 2018. This is very much a wicked problem with no clear answer. The Data & Society Research Institute have also published a primer on the topic. I wonder if it starts by being aware of the systemic nature of it all? Alternatively, Jamie Williams and Lena Gunn provide five questions to consider when using algorithms. Om Malik highlights the focus of algorithms focus on most over best. Jim Groom also presented at re:publica 2018 on Domain of One’s Own and Edupunk.

It’s not necessarily their [technologies] intentions but the structure and configuration that causes the pain

Truth in an age of truthiness: when bot-fueled PsyOps meet internet spam: Kris Shaffer continues his work in regards to bots, unpacking the way in which our attention is hijacked through attempts to influence and advertise. It is important to appreciate the mechanics behind these things for they are the same mechanics that those on social media engage with each and every day. One of the points that Shaffer (and Mike Caulfield) make is that whether something is true or not, continual viewing will make such ideas more familiar and strangely closer to the truth.

Harald D. Lasswell wrote that the function of propaganda is to reduce the material cost of power. On a social-media platform, that cost-reduction comes in many forms. By their very existence, the platforms already reduce both the labor and the capital required to access both information and an audience. Automated accounts further reduce the cost of power, for those who know how to game the algorithm and evade detection long enough to carry out a campaign.

Email Is Dangerous: Quinn Norton takes a dive into the mechanics of email. She continues to remind us how everything is broken, Norton gives a history of email and many of its inherent flaws. This comes on the back of the latest discovery of bugs associated with supposed encrypted email.

Email has changed since then, but not much. Most of what’s changed in the last 45 years is email clients—the software we use to access email. They’ve clumsily bolted on new functionality onto the old email, without fixing any of the underlying protocols to support that functionality.

Programming with Scratch – An educator guide: Anthony Speranza provides an introduction to Scratch. An often underrated application, Scratch provides an insight into some of the ways that the web works, particularly in regards to ‘blocks’. Sometimes it feels as if you are not really coding unless you are working with some form of language. The problem is that this is not how the world works. More often than not it is about building on the ideas (and snippets) of others. Look at WordPress’ move to Gutenberg. In addition to this, we interact with ‘blocks’ each and everyday in the applications and sites that we use. One only needs to use something like Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles to start realising that inherent complexity within the web. For more insight into Scratch, listen to Gary Stager on the Modern Learners podcast.

Scratch is a graphical programming language and online community where users can program and share interactive media such as stories, games and animations. Whilst it is targeted at 8 to 16 year olds, anyone of any age can write a program in Scratch.

The platform patrons: How Facebook and Google became two of the biggest funders of journalism in the world: Mathew Ingram reports on the increasing influence of platforms on the news industry. Google has been really pushing into journalism lately, with the further investment of News Lab and the Digital News Initiative, as well as the ability to subscribe using your Google account. This in part seems to be in response to Facebook’s problems. It is interesting considering this alongside discussions of the history of news and the long association with advertising.

Both Google and Facebook may argue—and may even believe—that they simply want to help increase the supply of quality journalism in the world. But the fact remains that they are not just disinterested observers. They are multibillion-dollar entities that compete directly with media companies for the attention of users, and for the wallets of every advertising company that used to help support the business model of journalism. Their funding and assistance can’t be disentangled from their conflicted interests, no matter how much they wish it could.

Storytelling and Reflection

Lanclos on Digital Capabilities

What We Talk About When We Talk About Digital Capabilities: In a keynote at the UCISA Digital Capabilities event at Warwick University, Donna Lanclos unpacks the effect of analytics and the problems of profiling when trying to identify improvements. A skills approach is an issue when decisions get made on your behalf based on the results of a preconceived checklist. Lanclos suggests that we need to go beyond the inherent judgments of contained within metaphors and deficit models, and instead start with context.

The history of Anthropology tells us that categorizing people is lesser than understanding them. Colonial practices were all about the describing and categorizing, and ultimately, controlling and exploiting. It was in service of empire, and anthropology facilitated that work. It shouldn’t any more, and it doesn’t have to now. You don’t need to compile a typology of students or staff. You need to engage with them.

Citizen of Apple, State of Lego: Julian Stodd explores the evolving idea of ‘citizenship’. Whereas it was defined by geography and culture in the past, Stodd wonders if in the future it will be subscription based. Rather than depending on the state and taxes to provide societies infrastructures, we now rely on the various multi-national platforms, such as Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google. This reminds me of the conversation that was had recently around being a citizen of the #IndieWeb. If states lose their sway, I wonder if this opens up other alternatives? This is something Aral Balkan touches upon. I wonder what this means for rituals or habits.

Imagine a future state, one of multiple citizenships, so i can be a Citizen of the UK, a Citizen of Apple, and a Citizen of Lego, not traversing physical borders to move from one to the other, but rather conceptual, or internalised ones. Each providing real utility, it’s own type of ‘space’, and each giving us it’s own component of culture. Perhaps in this model, ‘Culture’ becomes a meta entity that we each construct, through a combination of our geolocation within space, and our subscriptions online.

School is One Spoke in the Wheel of Learning & Why This is a Critical Insight for the Future of Education: Bernard Bull reflects on what people need to stay current in a job, shift to a similar job, develop skills that transfer to work environments, move into leadership within one’s field, or make a full career shift. To support this, he provides a series of questions to consider. I wonder where the second wave of MOOCs sits within all of this?

If we are looking at learning across the lifetime today, we need to think beyond the teacher/student and schooling constructs. Education is already larger than that. This is no different from recognizing that health and wellness is about so much more than a patient/doctor interaction. These professionals do and will continue to play a valuable role, but limiting many of our conversations about education to these formal contexts is inadequate for the challenges and opportunities of our age. In fact, it has always been inadequate. Formal education has a role to play today and in the future, but it is one of many spokes in the lifelong learning wheel.

The risks of treating ‘academic innovation’ as a discipline: Rolin Moe argues that we need to recognise the often negative history associated with ‘innovation’ in the way that we use it. If we don’t do this we risk the word being simply an emotive tool. This touches upon Audrey Watters message to respect history, rather than live in the ever present that so many try to perpetuate.

Negotiating the future we want with the history we have is vital in order to determine the best structure to support the development of an inventive network for creating research-backed, criticism-engaged and outside-the-box approaches to the future of education. The energy behind what we today call academic innovation needs to be put toward problematizing and unraveling the causes of the obstacles facing the practice of educating people of competence and character, rather than focusing on the promotion of near-future technologies and their effect on symptomatic issues.

12 tips for great speaking: Steve Wheeler provides some useful tips and reflections on the art of the keynote. They include use humour, minimal text, engage with your audience, don’t speak too quickly, repeat key points and only stick to three of them. In part, this reminds me of Presentation Zen and the idea of a minimalist slidedeck, while Emma Cottier also wrote an interesting post share a range of tips and tricks associated with Google Slides. Although not necessarily about ‘keynotes’, Andrew Denton recently shared some tips for a better conversation that I think relate to this conversation, including be respectful and empathise with the interviewee (or audience).

If you are lucky enough to be invited to address an audience of your peers at a conference, a lot will depend on what you say and the manner in which you say it. You want your speech to be memorable, inspiring and thought provoking. You’ll also need to be convincing if you want to put your arguments across effectively. So I’ll share some of the top tips I recommend for keynote speakers.

Burden of Proof: Malcolm Gladwell wonders how much ‘proof’ we need in order to do something about CTE, a neurodegenerative disease found in people who have had multiple head injuries. Gladwell’s focuses on Owen Thomas and his suicide in 2010. In regards to the question of breaking point, there was no reference of Aaron Hernandez, whose case involves murder and suicide. I wonder how long until this becomes a case in AFL?

Sometimes proof is just another word for letting people suffer.

Gonski review reveals another grand plan to overhaul education: but do we really need it?: Glenn Savage has written, recorded and been interviewed about the new Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. He raises a number of questions, including whether the new report addresses the question of inequality, is ‘personalised teaching’ worth the money and investment, is the educational sector exhausted by continual reform agendas and do the recommendations really address what is happening in the classroom? In other spaces, both Andrea Stringer and Deborah Netolicky have highlighted the potential in providing more time for teachers to collaborate. Greg Miller argues that we need to wrestle with how to assess the capabilities, rather than continue to work where the next silver bullet for literacy and numeracy is. Peter Hutton shares concerns about testing the capabilities. Gabrielle Stroud sees it as the industrial model of accountability rebadged, where a teacher’s relationship with their students is trumped by a test. Netolicky also raises concern about the lack of trust for teachers. Darcy Moore describes the whole affair as a never-ending rebuilding of The Windmill. Ann Caro rues the missed opportunity associated with equitable funding of education in Australia with this clear change in direction.

We need to (once again) question whether the contemporary reform fever does any more than treat symptoms while deeper structural conditions continue to ensure, as the original Gonski report put it, unacceptable links between young people’s socioeconomic backgrounds and levels of achievement. We need to be careful not to stray too far from where the first Gonski report started out. That is: addressing inequalities in Australian schooling through re-distributive funding.

t’s time to be honest with parents about NAPLAN: your child’s report is misleading, here’s how: It was that time of year again, when the whole nation stops for NAPLAN. There has been a range of posts shared. One that stood out was from Nicole Mockler She summarises Margaret Wu’s work around the limitations to NAPLAN in regards to statistical testing. Moving forward, Mockler suggests that NAPLAN should become a sample based test (like PISA) and is better suited as a tool for system wide analysis. To me, there is a strange balance, for on the one hand many agree that NAPLAN is flawed, yet again and again we return to it as a source of ‘truth’.

At the national level, however, the story is different. What NAPLAN is good for, and indeed what it was originally designed for, is to provide a national snapshot of student ability, and conducting comparisons between different groups (for example, students with a language background other than English and students from English-speaking backgrounds) on a national level.
This is important data to have. It tells us where support and resources are needed in particular. But we could collect the data we need this by using a rigorous sampling method, where a smaller number of children are tested (a sample) rather than having every student in every school sit tests every few years. This a move that would be a lot more cost effective, both financially and in terms of other costs to our education system.

FOCUS ON … GDPR

Searls on adtech

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy for all individuals within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). Adopted on 14 April 2016, it became enforceable on 25 May 2018. Here then is a collection of posts exploring what it all means. Although not exhaustive, it provides a starting point:

READ WRITE RESPOND #029

So that is May 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, for those concerned about privacy and sharing thier email address, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 Read Write Respond #028

My Month of April

At work, I have continued the development of a flexible reporting solution. A part of this has involved trying to streamline the user interface, as well as testing out various scenarios. I also went to the #EdTechTeam Summit in Canberra and presented on Ongoing Reporting.

On the family front, I have continued to feed my daughter’s pop sensibilities. (Cue 80’s synths.) She often believes she has heard a song on the radio, when in fact it was me playing it. Although, it has me doing a second take on some of the lyrics. Not young forever, especially when you listen to the radio.

Personally, I have been continuing my dive into ‘intention’, cleaning up some of my online accounts. I saved all my Evernote notes and closed the account, while I am in the process of cleaning up my Facebook site. I never knew it was so easy to delete old posts. I was also lucky enough to meet Amy Burvall in Canberra and attend a few of her sessions. Inspiring online, even more inspiring in person.

Amy Burvall and I at EdTechTeam Summit in Canberra

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


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

Learning and Teaching

Quote about reporting
Quote via Hilary Hollingsworth and Jonathan Heard ‘Does the Old School Report Have a Future?’
Image via “Albert Einstein” by Dunechaser https://flickr.com/photos/dunechaser/567753250 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Does the old school report have a future? – Hilary Hollingsworth and Jonathan Heard provide some background to student reporting in Australia. One of the challenges they highlight is the difference between progress and achievement. I have a long history with reporting, one challenge not addressed in this post are the constraints put in place by the platforms and providers of the reporting packages. It would seem that ongoing reporting provides more flexibility. My question is what the future holds for biannual and ongoing reporting, especially in light of ‘Gonski 2.0?

When considering the utility and purpose of student reports, it is important to distinguish what it is exactly that teachers are asked to report. The words ‘achievement’ and ‘progress’ are often used interchangeably in student reports and conflated to mean the same thing. Indeed they are highly related concepts; it is often through tracking one’s achievements that a sense of one’s progress can be measured. However, if achievement is taken only to mean the grades, scores or marks received on summative assessment tasks, then progress often appears only to mean whether the child’s standard of achievement (their grades) is improving, maintaining or declining. Where progress is understood differently – to mean ‘increasing “proficiency” reflected in more extensive knowledge, deeper understandings and higher-level skills within a domain of learning’ (Masters, 2017) – an emphasis only on reporting achievement on summative assessments would give very little sense of a child’s progress from where they began.

Establishing a Culture of Thinking – Cameron Paterson provides a useful introduction to Ron Ritchhart’s Cultures of Thinking and the notion of documentation. Along with Silvia Tolisano and Diane Kashin, I have written about Project Zero and the routines of thinking before. I was also left thinking about the power of documentation during a recent session with Amy Burvall, where we critiqued our creative thinking. However, Cameron’s post left me wondering the place of thinking and documentation outside of the classroom?

Some simple ways to begin practicing documentation include:

  • Sharing a short video clip of documentation at the start of class or a meeting by displaying a brief clip and then asking students their thoughts about it.
  • Taking a photo of an especially powerful learning moment to revisit with students by using the classroom walls to display the documentation.
  • Jotting down a provocative or insightful quote from a student to share with the class via speech bubbles on the walls.

Editing is Everything – Dani Veven creates alternative trailers for movies. Changing the scenes, lighting and audio, she demonstrates the power of editing. Her work is a useful resource for understanding the choice of what to include and exclude, as well as understanding the tropes associated with the different genres.

I create out-of-context trailers from YouTubers’ videos and movies.

Wild About Books – Kim Yeomans has started a new blog to share books for young readers. Along with Bianca Hewes’ Instagram account @JimmyReadsBooks, Pernille Ripp’s collections and Brad Gustafson’s Championship of Booktalks, these sites are useful when looking for new titles.

The Wild about books blog is a place for me to continue to share books I have enjoyed reading as well as letting you know about author or bookish events that make reading even more fun.

Edtech

Image via Tom Woodward
Quote via Tom Woodward ‘Social Media Jujutsu’
Image via “[114/365] Waterfall” by pasukaru76 https://flickr.com/photos/pasukaru76/5285725875 is licensed under CC CC0

Social Media Jujutsu – Tom Woodward reflects on the stresses of social media and shares a number of tools for mitigating the harm. This includes add-ons which hide Twitter metrics and tools which adjust your language. He also touches on some strategies, such as commenting on sites more than social media. Depending on your platform, I would recommend exploring the #IndieWeb and activating webmentions. Something Ian O’Byrne has recently jumped into. Micro.blog also offers a simple #IndieWeb entry point to claiming the web, especially in regards to RSS.

Jujutsu is a martial art focused on using your opponent’s momentum against them– clever redirection of force rather than trying to meet it directly. This seems like it might be an option for some of today’s social media woes where people are trying to continue to take advantage of the good aspects of these tools/communities while opposing some of their attempts at manipulation. There are major alternatives like Brontosaurus Mastodon but many people aren’t going to make that jump. So consider this post more of a way you might mitigate harm while continuing using tools meant to bend your mind and warp your perceptions.

Curation Tools for Teachers and Students – Kasey Bell curates a collection of curation tools. I have collected together my thoughts on various tools before, however Bell’s list goes much further. I really like her point of using different tools for different purposes. I am however left wondering about the longevity of them all and their subsequent data. Take for example, the recent closure of Storify and TodaysMeet. At least in using things like Google Sheets or blogs there are clear options for how to archive the information. I think that just as there has been a push for RSS again, I feel there is a potential to revisit blogs and their many possibilities. For example, Chris Aldrich has documented his workflow, which includes the maintenance of a modern day commonplace book.

Depending on the purpose of your curation, there are certain tools that may fit your needs better than others. This list has it all! Whether you are curating professional learning resources, planning a lesson, or creating something to share, there’s a tool that can help you do it!

The webinar must die: a friendly proposal – Bryan Alexander reflects on webinars comparing the lecture style with the more interactive videoconference. He argues the lecture style must go and is better presented as an asynchronous experience on a platform like YouTube, allowing for engagement through the comments. Another possibility is to flip the lecture presentation therefore allowing the webinar to be a discussion of the various points.

Type I webinars are a mistake in 2018, and they need to die. We can leave them behind and take our presentations and conversations to other platforms, either Type II or by flipping the webinar. Or we can re-invent, re-use, and reboot Type I. In a time where discussions are more fraught and also more needed, we should do this now.

Tools come and go. Learning should not. And what’s a “free” edtech tool, anyway? – Lyn Hilt reflects on Padlet’s recent pivot to a paid subscription. She argues that if we stop and reflect on what we are doing in the classroom, there are often other options. Hilt also uses this as an opportunity to remind us what ‘free’ actually means, and it is not free as in beer either. We therefore need to address some of the ethical questions around data and privacy. A point highlighted by the revelations of the ever increasing Cambridge Analytica breach.

Do I need this tool? Why? How does it really support learning? What are the costs, both monetary and otherwise, of using this service? Do the rewards of use outweigh the risks? Is there a paid service I could explore that will meet my needs and better protect the privacy of my information and my students’ information? How can I inform parents/community members about our use of this tool and what mechanisms are in place for parents to opt their children out of using it? When this tool and/or its plan changes, how will we adjust? What will our plans be to make seamless transitions to other tools or strategies when the inevitable happens?

Why Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Apology Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook – It is a little disconcerting when ever Facebook seems to do something positive for the ‘user’ in response to complaints. What is worse, Zeynep Tufekci highlights how some of the changes Facebook is promising now were promised years ago too. A reminder why the history of EdTech is so important. (As a side note To keep a track of Tufekci’s reporting, I recommend signing up to her newsletter.) In other Facebook news, Alex Hern explains how companies you have never interacted with are able to target you, Tim Wu argues that we need a trustworthy platform not driven by survelliance and advertising, while David Shanske and Chris Aldrich discuss some possibilities in Episode 1 of the #IndieWeb Podcast.

At a minimum, Facebook has long needed an ombudsman’s office with real teeth and power: an institution within the company that can act as a check on its worst impulses and to protect its users. And it needs a lot more employees whose task is to keep the platform healthier. But what would truly be disruptive and innovative would be for Facebook to alter its business model. Such a change could come from within, or it could be driven by regulations on data retention and opaque, surveillance-based targeting—regulations that would make such practices less profitable or even forbidden.

Storytelling and Reflection

Quote from Tim Winton
Image via “LEGO Collectible Minifigures Series 2 : Surfer” by wiredforlego https://flickr.com/photos/wiredforsound23/6870695330 is licensed under CC BY-SA

About the boys: Tim Winton on how toxic masculinity is shackling men to misogyny – In an excerpt from a speech, Tim Winton says that it is men who need to step up and liberate boys from the culture of toxic masculinity that has come to mark Australian society. Along with Molly Ringwald’s reflections on the problematic art of John Hughes and Phil Cleary’s post on the misogynistic subculture of football, they represent a challenge for equity. It is also interesting reading these pieces alongside Kate O’Halloran’s article on the fear associated with women, exercise and sport.

What I’ve come to notice is that all these kids are rehearsing and projecting. Trying it on. Rehearsing their masculinity. Projecting their experimental versions of it. And wordlessly looking for cues the whole time. Not just from each other, but from older people around them, especially the men. Which can be heartbreaking to witness, to tell you the truth. Because the feedback they get is so damn unhelpful. If it’s well-meant it’s often feeble and half-hearted. Because good men don’t always stick their necks out and make an effort.

How to Find New Music You’ll Actually Like – Nick Douglas collects together a number of suggestions for finding new music. Whether it be best lists or review sites, there are a number of entry points provided. Some not mentioned include La Blogothèque’s, Take Away Shows and other live performances, as well as Deep Cuts guides and reviews.

Some people can dig up great music like magic, or have friends inside the industry who keep them updated. Some people are contented with their weekly Spotify Discover playlist. But if you need more ways to find music, here are 50 ideas, taken from Twitter users, my colleagues at Lifehacker’s publisher Gizmodo Media Group, and some of my own habits. Some are obvious, some bizarre, some embarrassing, but they’ve all helped people find their new favorite song, or even their favorite band.

The gardens where ideas grow – Austin Kleon discusses gardening as a metaphor for creativity, referencing artists such as Prince and Brian Eno. I have written about gardening in regards to learning before and the way in which a garden never stops growing, even if you stop caring for it. Michael Caulfield uses the metaphors of the garden and the stream to discuss the web, with the garden being rhizomatic in nature without a centralised structure, whereas the stream brings everything together. Amy Burvall considers the cycles that exist within the garden, suggesting that there is a time to grow and a time to flower. I am interested in investigating the different sorts of ideas and creativity within the garden. I wonder about the propagation of covering other artists? Is this borrowing second-rate? Where does this fit within the cycle? Or is it a reminder that we need dots to make new dots.

Many musicians who use recording technology as a compositional tool refer to their studios as gardens. It’s an interesting contrast to Motown, which was conceived as a factory, or Warhol’s studio, which was actually named The Factory.

I Read One Book 100 Times Over 10 Years… Here Are 100 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned – Ryan Holiday reflects on the impact of Marcus Aurelius’ Mediation in light of his new book, The Daily Stoic. One of the interesting points Holiday discusses is the influence of translation. This comes back to the work of Walter Benjamin and the Task of the Translator. Another idea discussed is the ability to explore a side of life that many assume is only possible through the use of drugs. He explains that this just takes effort. This reminds me of Jack Antonoff’s avoidance of drugs.

All the things that people do hallucinogens to explore, you can also do while sober as a judge. It just takes work.

Whose meeting is this? A simple checklist – Seth Godin provides a set of questions to consider. I wonder how many of the meetings I have been a part of (and led) would actually tick all these, especially the last. Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes’ discussed the challenge of keeping meaningful notes of meetings in the 100th episode of the Tide Podcast, while Jeff Bezos believes the answer is narrative memos.

There’s one person responsible.

The time allocated matches what’s needed, not what the calendar app says.

Everyone invited is someone who needs to be there, and no key party is missing.

There’s a default step forward if someone doesn’t come.

There’s no better way to move this forward than to have this meeting.

The desired outcome is clearly stated. The organizer has described what would have to happen for the meeting to be cancelled or to stop midway. “This is what I want to happen,” and if there’s a “yes,” we’re done.

All relevant information, including analysis, is available to all in plenty of time to be reviewed in advance.

FOCUS ON … Peter Hutton and Templestowe College

Quote via Peter Hutton ‘An Education Revolution’
Image via “DC Hero Minifigs – Wave 10: Teen Titans” by levork https://flickr.com/photos/levork/4509401065 is licensed under CC BY-SA

Here is a collection of posts, videos and podcasts featuring Peter Hutton and his EdRevolution. It is easy to talk about change, however Templestowe is a school that actually seems to be shaking things up. It is interesting thinking about these ideas alongside the release of ‘Gonski 2.0’:

  • Modern Learners Podcast #37 – Revolutionizing Education Through Student Empowerment – In a school struggling for enrollments, Peter Hutton spoke about how he started the change by asking students what they enjoy. Provided there is one or two electives that students look forward to, they often have a different outlook on the curriculum-required classes. Days at Templestowe are structured around three lots of 70 minute blocks with students choosing six classes. Interestingly, without the ability to self-regulate, disruptive students are not suited to Templestowe. This culture allows the school to hire students to actually run elements of the school. Hutton is not interested in measuring everything, instead he is concerned about happiness. The secret to this change is not rolling out the TC model, but in actively negotiating your own journey.
  • What if students controlled their own learning? – Peter Hutton’s TEDTalk in which he discusses the idea of students designing their own education. This often involves the ‘yes test’: Is there an issue with time or money? Does it negatively impact on someone else? It is organised around a five year learning plan. Hutton encourages students, parents and teachers to ‘take action’ and get involved on school councils or other such spaces.
  • Peter Hutton – In this interview on the Educhange Podcast, Peter Hutton discusses his own experience of education and why he became a teacher. He explains that there are aspects that are similar to tradition schools. Students still study English and Mathematics. However, everything is negotiable, but not everything is permissible. Hutton explains that there is a Section 82 in the Victorian planning outlines that allows for personalised learning plans. Some of the other policies include the ten minute policy and that everyone is equal. Rather than focusing on what the future of jobs might be, Templestowe is interested in confident students who can embrace any change. In regards to ‘success’, they have a 95% satisfaction from parents.
  • Breaking the ruler: Melbourne school lets students choose when to learn, what to study -Jeremy Story Carter provides a profile of some of the transformative work occuring at Templestowe College
  • Drum interview: Education is broken, here’s how we can fix it – Jessica Tapp summarises the key points Peter Hutton made in an interview on ABC’s _The Drum_.
  • ‘We don’t want this to be a dirty little secret’: The school ditching the ATAR – Henrietta Cook and Timna Jacks discuss the move at Templestowe to make ATAR ‘opt-in’ rather than ‘opt-out’. This is an interesting move as it disrupts the ability for people to compare outcomes, therefore changing the conversation.
  • Swinburne University is pioneering a ‘no stress’ route to uni for year 12 students – Tim Dodd reports on the pilot between Templestowe College and Swimburne University to allow students to gain entry without an ATAR.
  • The Victorian State Education System…from the inside out and the outside in – Peter Hutton reflects on his connection with the Victorian Department of Education.
  • An Education Revolution: Templestowe College Principal Peter Hutton – Colin Klupiec and Peter Hutton discuss the rise of Templestowe College as a part of the Learning Capacity podcast. Hutton argues that often we are our own blockers when it comes to change and innovation. In regards to learning, there are only different minds and the challenge then is metacognition. Hutton argues that teachers are leaving because they are disillusioned. The big game changer though is getting principals onboard.

READ WRITE RESPOND #028

So that is April 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 Update (April 2018)

Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Gmail

Calendar

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

  • Google Classroom: Spiral Review on the About Tab – Alice Keeler coded a spreadsheet that allows users to keep adding to a spiral review all school year and it automatically updates the exact same Google Slides. Every hour the Google Slides changes to show a different 5 spiral review questions.
  • Google Classroom: Short Term Goal Setting – Alice Keeler suggests creating a new assignment in Google Classroom titled something like “Short-Term Goal for this week” to monitor goals. Ask students to, in the Private Comments, state their goal for the week along with their actionable plan to reach that goal.
  • Submitting Photos to Google Classroom – Alice Keeler suggests sharing images in Classroom using Google Slides to improve the workflow.
  • Filter Gmail for Google Classroom – Alice Keeler highly recommends NOT turning off notifications from Google Classroom. Instead, manage the email notifications through filters.

Drawings

Geo Tools

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

Blogger

General

📰 eLearn Update (March 2018)

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


Updates

Resources

Drive

Chrome

Research

Docs

Slides

Forms

Sheets

Sites

Classroom

Geo Tools

  • Google Maps learns 39 new languages – Google are making Google Maps even more useful by adding 39 new languages—spoken by an estimated 1.25 billion people worldwide: Afrikaans, Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bosnian, Burmese, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Estonian, Filipino, Finnish, Georgian, Hebrew, Icelandic, Indonesian, Kazakh, Khmer, Kyrgyz, Lao, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malay, Mongolian, Norwegian, Persian, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Uzbek, Vietnamese, and Zulu.

Connecting Classrooms

Keep

YouTube

General

📰 Read Write Respond #027

Background image via JustLego101

My Month of March

At work we took another step with the reporting solution that we have been working on. This involved setting up two schools. There was a bit of a rush to have all the testing and documentation completed beforehand. However, the relative smoothness made it all worthwhile.

In regards to the family, our eldest daughter was playing a game on the iPad recently and I said that maybe one day she might code her own such game. She said she could, but she had already decided that she was going to be a performer. I feel challenged everyday by my role as a parent. Do I step in and suggest that maybe she does not sound as good as Sia as she belts out her rendition of Chandelier or do I just support her in dreaming big? At the moment, it is the later. Our youngest on the other hand must have found my copy of A More Beautiful Question as she has taken to asking the Five Whys about absolutely everything. I answer and answer again. My wife says that I will lose, but I don’t see it like that. It is about the conversation, right?

On a personal level, I find myself diving deeper into reflections these days, especially with my second blog providing a means of ongoing engagement. One of the side-effects has been my lack of engagement in spaces like Twitter. I still write extended responses when challenged, but I do not trawl through conversations or conference hashtags as much as I used to. I am left wondering what am I missing in my move more and more to RSS and curated feeds?

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


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

Learning and Teaching

Image via “Stormtroopers Training: Theory” by Pedro Vezini is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via Kath Murdoch ‘‘12 ‘Lesson Hacks’ to Nurture Inquiry’’

12 ‘Lesson Hacks’ to Nurture Inquiry – Kath Murdoch provides a number of simple changes to consider in every classroom. They include letting students try first before providing instruction, turning learning intentions into questions, co-constructing success criterias, standing up rather than sitting down and changING your position in the classroom. Steve Mouldey also shared some thoughts on supporting learners with being more engaged and active within the learning, while Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern shared ideas for how to create dynamic learning environments on the Ask the Tech Coach Podcast.

Inquiry classrooms (and inquiry teachers) are constructed day by day, session by session. Being conscious of the choreography of our teaching and the degree to which it amplifies or diminishes inquiry is a powerful way to build culture over time. These ‘hacks’ are simple but by making one change, we can gain insights to which we have been previously blind.

The Library of the Future – Deborah Netolicky reflects on her recent investigation into libraries. This include the history of libraries, as well as how they and those who work within them are defined. Her review of the literature found that libraries are: neutral and democratising; participatory and connected locally and globally; centred around learning, literacy, research, and knowledge; and, facilitators of interdisciplinarity. I have written about the future of libraries before, however Netolicky’s deep dive takes it a step further.

School libraries have been called instructional media centres, media centres, information centres, information commons, iCentres, learning labs, learning commons, digital libraries, and cybraries (Farmer, 2017). These terms are in some ways faddish and transitory. ‘Library’, however, has a deep and long tradition associated with it, although the spaces and tools of libraries change over time. Librarians in schools have also had many names, such as teacher librarian, library teacher, library media specialist, library media teacher, cybrarian, information navigator, information specialist, information professional, informationist, and information scientist (Farmer, 2017; Lankes, 2011). Lankes (2011) argues that the terms ‘library’ and ‘librarian’ are entwined with the concept of knowledge and learning. I have said before that those claiming disruption should embrace interrogation of their ideas. Does ‘library’ need to be disrupted, in what ways, and why (or why not)?

My Learning – It has been fascinating following Greg Miller’s thinking in regards to the construct of learning. There are many assumptions that go unquestioned in schools, I am finding that as I discuss reporting with more people. This move towards self-directed learning reminds me of the work going on at Geelong College and Templestowe College. My wonder is how we manage to marry these changes with various expectations, such as timetables.

As students progress through Years 8, 9 & 10 in the coming years, there will increasingly be more and more time for students to self direct their Personalised Curriculum. This may include, but is not limited to: Acceleration of core curriculum subjects leading to early commencement of HSC in one or two subjects. If required, intervention strategies for those students who do not meet minimum national benchmark standards for literacy and numeracy. Early commencement of VET (Vocational and Educational Training) subjects either at school or through TAFE. Participation in Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), completion of digital badge courses or informal internships with local industry experts and ‘start ups’. Self-directed electives and collaborative projects as a result of students working with teachers with the following provocation: Knowing my Strengths, Motivations and Interests (SIM), how can I use my identified talents and affirmed capabilities to ensure a better world?

How to Write an Edu-book – Alex Quigley discusses his six steps to writing a book. In addition to the reflections from Mary Myatt, Tom Sherrington and Ryan Holiday, they offer a useful insight into the writing process. It is interesting to compare these with the process often taught in schools. Students often get straight into writing without being given initial planning time.

I wanted to share my own edu-bookery. It is important to state that for me, regular blogging and writing separate to a book is an excellent mental work-bench for writing a book, offering me the discipline needed to write habitually and at length. Still, my book writing process is really quite specific and I have fell upon a helpful habit in writing my latest book.

Assessing Assessment for Digital Making – Oliver Quinlan discusses the challenges associated with Black and Wiliam’s work on feedback and digital technologies. In the absence of defined criteria, he suggests using comparative judgement where feedback is gained by comparing with a similar object.

Comparative Judgement is a field relatively new to education practice that offers huge potential for this problem. It’s based on well established research that humans are relatively poor at making objective judgements about individual objects, but very good at making comparisons. Play a musical note to most people and ask them what it is and they will struggle. Play them two notes and ask them which is higher and they are likely to be successful. Repeat this several times, with a clever algorithm to keep track and present them with the right combinations and you can come up with a ranking. These rankings have been shown to be very reliable, even more so if you involve several people as ‘judges’.

Edtech

A comment made in the Q & A after boyd's keynote
Image via “Lego on Facebook” by amarois is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via danah boyd

You Think You Want Media Literacy… Do You? – danah boyd discusses concerns about the weaponising of media literacy through denalism and says that there is a need for cognitive strengthening. Benjamin Doxtdator raises the concern that focusing on the individual. Instead he suggests considering the technical infrastructure. Maha Bali argues that we need aspects of both. In a response to the various criticisms, boyd admits that she is not completely sold on the solution, but we need to start somewhere.

One of the things that is funny is that these technologies get designed for a very particular idea of what they could be used for and then they twist in different ways.

Typing Tips: The How and Why of Teaching Students Keyboarding Skills – Kathleen Morris reflects on the place of typing in schools. She collects together a number of sites used to teach typing. It feels like we spend so much time debating handwriting sometimes that we forget about typing. Airelle Pardes suggests that the lack of a keyboard (and therefore typing) is one of the major reasons for the demise of the iPad in education. The discussion of typing also reminds me of a post from Catherine Gatt from a few years ago associated with assessing typing.

There are so many great games and online tools designed for younger students. Once students begin recognising the alphabet, I think they can begin learning to type. This can complement your teaching of traditional writing and literacy.

On the Need for Phone Free Classrooms – Pernille Ripp shares why her class will become phone free. A part of this problem is that the compulsive behaviour of social media and smart phones is by design. Douglas Rushkoff’s argues that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Mike Niehoff’s concern is what happens in the future when people have not learnt independance and moderation?

I know that I have pushed the use of phones in our classrooms before on this blog, how I have written about using them purposefully, but I will no longer subscribe to the notion that when kids use their phones it is only because they are bored. It is too easy to say that if teachers just created relevant and engaging lessons then no child would use their phones improperly in our rooms. That’s not it, all of us with devices have had our attention spans rewired to constantly seek stimulus. To instantly seek something other than what we are doing. To constantly seek something different even if what we are doing is actually interesting. And not because what we seek out is so much better, look at most people’s Snapchat streaks and you will see irrelevant images of tables and floors and half faces simply to keep a streak alive. It is not that our students are leaving our teaching behind at all times because they are bored, it is more because many of us, adults and children alike, have lost the ability to focus on anything for a longer period of time.

PressED – A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter – This online conference involves 45 presenters across 12 hours posting 10 to 20 tweets each at a scheduled time. Although many have also shared posts corresponding with their presentations (Alan Levine, Tom Woodward, Jim Groom and John Johnston), you can also go back through the tweets. One of the things that stands out is the use of the different addordances, such as graphics and GIFs.

I’ve been to conferences that used a hashtag, but this is my first conference that is a hashtag (Jim Groom)

Dear IndieWeb, it may be time to start considering the user, not just the technical spec – Eli Mellen wonders if the answer to extending the #IndieWeb is in considering the user. I think that this is part of the challenge. Mark Pospesel discusses about reducing friction, while Cory Doctorow suggests that we need to reconsider which technologies we use. Whatever the particulars, it will take a collective response to move the #IndieWeb from the hipster-web to a “demonstratably better web

Whereas “[e]ach generation is expected to lower barriers for adoption successively for the next generation” I wonder if it is maybe time to update some of the tooling from generation 1 and 2 to be more compatible with generations 3 and 4?

Why the PDF Is Secretly the World’s Most Important File Format – Along with David Brock’s investigation into Powerpoint, this article is important in reminding us of two things, that things have not always been the way that they are and the way we got to now. Maybe we should demand better? Or maybe we need to spend more time reflecting on the past.

The story of the invention of the PDF may not have a legal battle at the center of it or a hook like a Suzanne Vega song to push its story forward, but it does have this scandal. And love it or hate it, Manafort’s awkward use of a tool used by basically everyone really highlights how prevalent the PDF really is.

Storytelling and Reflection

Image via “Happy Little Trees” by nolnet is licensed under CC BY-NC
Quote via Austin Kleon ‘How to Keep Going’ https://collect.readwriterespond.com/austin-kleon-bond-2018/

How to Keep Going – Austin Kleon reflects on the life of an artist and outlines ten things to consider in order to keep on going. Some of his suggestions include treating everyday like Groundhog day, building a bliss station and going for a walk to scar of the demons. Some other tips for staying focused include Jenny Mackness’ reflection that the last step does not matter, Jeff Haden’s suggestions that planning for a holiday is more beneficial than the holiday or Seth Godin’s reminder that the goal is change, not credit.

Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I actually feel better when I accept the fact that there’s a good chance it’s not going to get easier. Then I can focus on this question: “How to keep going?” Whether you’ve burned out, just starting out, starting over, or even if you’ve had success beyond your wildest dreams, that question always remains: “How do you keep going?”

Excellent teachers in an age of fads – Mark Esner suggests that many teachers will often make anything work to a degree. What is really needed is time for teachers to study how students learn, as well as time to reflect on their processes together. John Spencer describes this as a food truck mindset. Some similar approaches designed to support teachers with structures, rather than solutions, include Modern Learning Canvas, Agile Leadership and Disciplined Collaboration.

Many things that get labelled as “fads” might work for an individual teacher (although many things might work better) but they only become fads when divorced from their original meaning and then are spread around and are imposed on other teachers. Teachers, being brilliant, are able to make these things work as best they can, or at least to minimise harm, but they still have an opportunity cost. Worst still they add to our workload and drive teachers out of teaching.

Metrics, Thy Name is Vanity – Harold Jarche reflects on turning Google Analytics off. He instead suggests that the metric that matters (for him) is how many books he sells and how many people sign up to his courses. He gives the example of a course that had hundreds of likes and reposts, yet only one person actually registered. This has me thinking about which metric matters to me and the way in which I engage with others. Maybe Doug Belshaw is right in creating a committed group of supporters?

About a year ago I deleted Google Analytics from this website. I no longer know where visitors come from, what they find interesting, or what they click on. This has liberated my thinking and I believe has made my writing a bit better. I always wrote for myself but I would regularly peak at my statistics. Was my viewership going up? What did people read? How did they get there? What search terms were people using? — Who cares? There are a lot of numbers that ‘social media experts’ will tell you to maximize. But there are few that make any difference.

TER #109 – How large-scale tests affect school management with Marten Koomen – 04 March 2018 – In this interview, Marten Koomen addresses the question of how Victoria went from a state that was a leader in content knowledge and democratic values to the launch of a content-free platform driven by the terror of performativity? (My attempt at notes here.) This continues a conversation started last year. For me, this touches on Audrey Watter’s point about technology as a system.

We are all part collectivist, individualists neoliberals and skeptics, so to identify in one corner is disingenuous.

The male glance: how we fail to take women’s stories seriously – podcast – Lili Loofbourow rewrites the wrong that has male art is epic, universal, and profoundly meaningful, while Women’s creations as domestic, emotional and trivial. This critique has ramifications far beyond fiction.

Consider this a rational corrective to centuries of dismissive shrugs, then: look for the gorilla. Do what we already automatically do with male art: assume there is something worthy and interesting hiding there. If you find it, admire it. And outline it, so that others will see it too. Once you point it out, we’ll never miss it again. And we will be better for seeing as obvious and inevitable something that previously – absent the instructions – we simply couldn’t perceive.

FOCUS ON … Cambridge Analytica

A quote from Paul Ford on the toxic data spill
Image via “CIMG5200” by Phil LaCombe is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA
Quote via Paul Ford https://collect.readwriterespond.com/how-to-fix-facebooks-data-breach/

This month saw the revelation of the ways in which Cambridge Analytica used and abused data scraped from Facebook to nudge voters in the 2016 election. It remains to be seen whether this is the start of a new era. In part this reminds me of the changes in the way people saw things after Snowden. Thinking about Doug Belshaw’s web timeline, maybe this will mark a new era of informed consent. Here then is a collection of responses to the current crisis.

Background

Responses

Alternative Solutions


READ WRITE RESPOND #027

So that is March 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.

Replied to @mrkrndvs I've really been interested in the collection/curation I see from you & @chrisaldrich - I'm in the process of figuring out how to build up a WordPress site to serve as the by wiobyrnewiobyrne (Scholar Social)
@mrkrndvs I've really been interested in the collection/curation I see from you & @chrisaldrich - I'm in the process of figuring out how to build up a WordPress site to serve as the "commonplace book" on the WordPress site, keep it simple, and have it pump into my weekly newsletter. Any links/guida...
I agree with @ChrisAldrich about post kind plugins. Although I have more variants than the kinds provided, they offer a really good starting point.

Clint Lalonde Also wrote about the use of MailPoet To curate his newsletter. It doesn’t suit me at this point in time, but might suit you. Also, I think MailChimp allows you to collate via blog posts too? I assume that is what @dajbelshaw is doing with Thought Shrapnel.