📰 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.

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Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 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.

📰 Read Write Respond #026

My Month of February

Wow, it’s March already. At work, I have been supporting schools getting attendance and reporting up and running. I was also lucky enough to attend another session of a collective looking at ongoing reporting. As far as possible, I feel it is important to have a wider perspective as to how all the parts are working together as a system.

On the family front, our eldest has started the year well. We were unsure how she would respond to a teacher whose every step involves Star Wars. Prizes. Class pet. Table ‘systems’. I have therefore answered endless questions about characters and various storylines. Why is Anakin also Darth Vader? Who is the nicest character? Why does Yoda die? If Yoda is the leader, why does he live alone on Dagobah? Why does Kylo Ren have to be bad, because if he wasn’t so bad I think I would like him more. This is taking classroom themes to a whole new level!

For my focus on ‘intent’, I have been writing less longer posts, instead focusing on my exploration of microcasts. This included a response to Tom Barrett on blogging initiatives and a reflection on #engageMOOC. I lurked in the MOOC, spending more time reflecting on the readings, rather than actively responding. In part, because I am not sure I have much to add. I also continued developing my ‘collect’ blog, bringing together various responses and reviews.


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

  • Know Thy Limit – A Reflection on Myths and Solutions – This post is a reflection on the wolves introduced into Yellowstone National Park and the problems associated with focusing on supposed simple solutions
  • Googling Libraries – A collection of ways Google G Suite for Education can be used in the library, including the creation of digital spaces, supporting research, organising thinking and making connections beyond the classroom.

  • Toca Boca and Digital Toys – Toca Boca is a suite of applications that provides spaces within which to explore and play.


Here then are some things that have also left me thinking this month …

Learning and Teaching

Mulling Time – Emily Fintelman reflects on the need to find time to mull over things. To do this, she suggests scheduling time, finding a challenge partner and recording your thoughts. Coming from the perspective of comprehension, Julie Beck argues that unless we do something with what we have read within 24-hours then we often forget it. She recommends slow reading to provide time to take things in. This builds on Ryan Halliday’s point to do something with what you read. I am left wondering about the place of digital literacies to support all of this.

To mull, we need to think deeply, and at length. This can be difficult if we don’t set aside time or make a plan for it. Perhaps your school or organisation isn’t able to provide you with this extra time to mull but it is integral you find a way to process what you have experienced. With schools doing so much, we need to avoid going ‘an inch deep and a mile wide’. We need to make space to think deeply and at length.

Assessing students as they read, research, & respond in Hypothesis – Ian O’Byrne explains why Hypothes.is is different to usual social bookmarking sites. He also provides a demonstration for how he uses it teaching his university courses. I think that Jon Udell’s demonstration of Hypothes.is with Wikipedia is a good example of a use case, while Kris Shaffer has created a WordPress plugin that allows users to curate annotations in their blogs. I have written in the past about Hypothes.is as a modern form of commenting, I just get frustrated that there is no form of notification or webmentions associated with the platform. Another potential annotation tool associated with WordPress is Fragmentions and the ability to save segments of the text. Interestingly, Diigo includes many of the features too.

An annotation service like Hypothesis allows you to highlight, save, and (possibly) share individual lines from a text. This allows for saving this content across a page, and across multiple pages for themes. Used in discussion, this allows for collaborative reading exercises, or group annotations. This also allows for conducting research while you write and annotate. Since Hypothesis will import PDFs, you can annotate in the tool, it will give you a digital trail of breadcrumbs as you’re reading online to see what you found to be important. After you are finished reading and researching, you can go back and see what texts you’ve read, and the important elements from these pieces. Furthermore, if you effectively tag your annotations, you can look for larger themes across your readings.

Comments For Kids Still Count: Teaching And Promoting Quality Commenting – Kathleen Morris wonders about the changes to blog comments over time. Thinking about the classroom, she provides some tips, including setting guidelines, being consistent, using explicit lessons and involve parents. A recent innovation that I think has potential for supporting comments is Micro.blog. As a platform, it allows users to share a feed from their blog in a central space and converse there.

While we can’t control what goes on in the larger blogging community too much, we have much more control over our classroom blogging programs. The comment section is an excellent place to connect, learn, and grow. Who wouldn’t want to tap into that?

Problem Finding – Based on the methods of Design Kit, Tom Barrett breaks the process of framing a problem into eight steps: describe the problem, list the stakeholders, re-frame the problem as a ‘How Might We’ statement,
describe the impact you are attempting to have, who needs your help the most, what the possible solutions are, describe the constraints associated with your idea and rewrite the original HMW question. I remember when I ran Genius Hour, I used how might we questions with students, however I struggled with a process supporting students in developing these. I think Barrett’s steps would have helped with that.

The framing and re-framing process forces us to loop back into the process of defining the problem a little longer. It slows us a little and checks our enthusiasm to rush ahead and ensures we have carefully crafted our problem statement and it is an accurate reflection of a worthwhile issue.

Edtech

The #1 reason Facebook won’t ever change – Om Malik explains why Facebook will not be changing, as it is not in its DNA to do so. This is epitomised by recent spamming of two-factor authentication users and the skimming of VPN data only adds to this. Even with the personal adjustments to the feed in response to issues with fake news and manipulation, this is akin to the spin by the tobacco industry to hide the effect of smoking. On a side note, Douglas Rushkoff made the case in a recent episode of Team Human that other than teaching media, social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram etc) should never be used by schools. Use blogs or a space you manage yourself and your story – something that I have touched upon in the past – but to feed the ad algorithms as a way of ‘connecting’ is the wrong approach according to Rushkoff.

Facebook is about making money by keeping us addicted to Facebook. It always has been — and that’s why all of our angst and headlines are not going to change a damn thing.

The Case Against Google – Charles Duhigg takes a look at the history of Anti-Trust laws and the breaking up of monopolies. From oil to IBM, he explains why it is important for large companies to be broken up. Not for the consumer, but rather for the sake of development and innovation. He uses the case of the vertical search site, Foundem.com, to demonstrate the way in which Google kills competition by removing them from searches. Rather than living off their innovation, Adam and Shivaun Raff have spent the last twelve years campaigning against Google. Supported by Gary Reback, they took their case to European Commission in Brussels. If such changes and challenges are dependent on individuals like the Raff’s standing up, it makes you wondering how many just throw it all in? Cory Doctorow captures this scenario in his novel, The Makers.

Antitrust has never been just about costs and benefits or fairness. It’s never been about whether we love the monopolist. People loved Standard Oil a century ago, and Microsoft in the 1990s, just as they love Google today. Rather, antitrust has always been about progress. Antitrust prosecutions are part of how technology grows. Antitrust laws ultimately aren’t about justice, as if success were something to be condemned; instead, they are a tool that society uses to help start-ups build on a monopolist’s breakthroughs without, in the process, being crushed by the monopolist. And then, if those start-ups prosper and make discoveries of their own, they eventually become monopolies themselves, and the cycle starts anew. If Microsoft had crushed Google two decades ago, no one would have noticed. Today we would happily be using Bing, unaware that a better alternative once existed. Instead, we’re lucky a quixotic antitrust lawsuit helped to stop that from happening. We’re lucky that antitrust lawyers unintentionally guaranteed that Google would thrive.

Small b Blogging – Tom Critchlow provides a case for network blogging where your focus is on a particular audience. For me, I often have at least one person in mind when writing, whether it be a reply to another idea or something to share. This approach however seems to stand in contrast to the suggestion that blogging is first and foremostly personal.

Small b blogging is learning to write and think with the network. Small b blogging is writing content designed for small deliberate audiences and showing it to them. Small b blogging is deliberately chasing interesting ideas over pageviews and scale. An attempt at genuine connection vs the gloss and polish and mass market of most “content marketing”. And remember that you are your own audience! Small b blogging is writing things that you link back to and reference time and time again. Ideas that can evolve and grow as your thinking and audience grows.

The Tyranny of Convenience – Tim Wu plots a convenient history, with the first revolution being of the household (Oven, Vacuum etc) and then the personal (Walkman, Facebook etc). He argues that the irony of this individualisation is the creation of ‘templated selfs’. Wu argues that struggling and working things out is about identity. I recently reflected on the impact of convenience on learning. I am wondering how this relates to mental and physical automation?

All the personal tasks in our lives are being made easier. But at what cost?

Many More Webs Bite The Dust – Alan Levine added to his list of web sites that have shut down. Only a day after publishing, another site was added, Wikispaces.

Three years after publishing the first version of Another Web Bites The Dust (35 corpses), it was time to update, and add 24 more dead web sites to the video.

Storytelling and Reflection

Building Staff Culture: The Importance of Gratitude – Chris Wejr reflects on his efforts to be more grateful and embed opportunities for his staff to do the same. He provides a list of possible activities to use. I have written about improving staff morale in the past. Wejr’s list provides some new ideas to explore.

I am retraining my brain to see the positives (which I used to be so good at). Looking for the positives does not mean we ignore the challenges… but embracing the good things in life sure give us more energy to deal with the ‘not-so-good’ things when they happen!

China’s Dystopian Tech Could Be ContagiousAdam Greenfield discusses China’s move to measure ‘social credit’. He explains that there is nothing within the context that would stop the trend spreading globally. This is a position supported by Bruce Sterling. One of the consequences that Greenfield shares is the stifling impact such changes would have on urban environments. I am reminded of Steven Johnson’s discussion of where good ideas come from. This is one of many measures that states are using to gain control.

As private enterprise takes an increasingly prominent role in the creation and management of ostensibly public urban space, as neo-authoritarianism spreads unchecked, and as pervasive technology weaves itself ever more intimately into all the sites and relations of contemporary life, all of the material conditions are right for Chinese-style social credit to spread on other ground. Consider what Sidewalk Labs’ neighborhood-scale intervention in Toronto implies—or the start-up Citymapper’s experiments with privatized mass transit in London, or even Tinder’s control over access to the pool of potential romantic partners in cities around the world—and it’s easy to imagine a network of commercial partners commanding all the choke points of urban life. The freedoms that were once figured as a matter of “the right to the city” would become contingent on algorithmically determined certification of good conduct.

The Cost of Reporting while Female – Anne Helen Petersen documents a number of examples where women have been threatened while working in journalism. This includes a series of historical cases. This reminded me of Lindy West’s confrontation of troll and why he chose to do what he did. I am always left wondering what the answer is, sometimes fearing that such thinking creates more problems than solutions. Maybe there is something in Sherri Spelic’s suggestion to ‘think small’.

Over the course of nearly 200 years, female journalists have been under threat because of their gender, race, beat, views, and coverage.

CM 097: Sam Walker on Creating Outstanding Teams – In an interview with Gayle Allen, Sam Walker argues that successful ‘captains’ are not what we usually think. In his research, he identified seven key behaviours: they are relentless, aggressive, willing to do thankless jobs, shy away from the limelight, excel at quiet communication, are difficult to manage and have excellent resilience and emotional control. Moving forward, he suggests dropping your preconceptions about leadership, looking for those who deflect praise onto others and are focused on team goals, even if this is critical of current practices. This has many correlations with the work of Leading Teams.

Sam Walker lays out his findings in his latest book, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force that Creates the World’s Greatest Teams. Initially, he expected to find a magical combination of factors such as exceptional skill, brilliant coaching and remarkable strategy. Instead, he discovered something completely different: the 16 teams with the longest winning streaks across 37 elite sports succeeded because of a single player — the captain of the team. These captains were not only not the best player, but also possessed all or most of seven characteristics rarely associated with great leaders.

FOCUS ON … Polarisation

There was a short pop-up MOOC, Engagement in a Time of Polarisation,running over the last few weeks. When it was announced, I had every inclination to participate, yet it just has not happened. There are a range of reasons, some of which are captured in my short microcast. However, I have been engrossed in the various texts shared throughout. I have therefore collected some of them here:

  • Antigonish 2.0: A Way for Higher Ed to Help Save the Web – This is Bonnie Stewart’s call to action. She outlines a way to develop the local and global literacies needed to foster functional democratic participation. This model involves three layers: a distributed international network, institutional capacity-building and local study clubs. This post is supported by the opening webinar in which a range of guests explore the question of enagagement.
  • Recognition Is Futile: Why Checklist Approaches to Information Literacy Fail and What To Do About It – Mike Caulfield provides context to his work with web literacy, four moves and the need for info-environmentalism. This post was supported by a webinar, in which he elaborated on a number of points, including why web literacy is different and how we can better understand Google search.
  • Power, Polarization, and Tech – Chris Gillard explains that polarisation is always about power. It is a means of garnering engagement and attention. In many respects, social media and silicon valley promotes polarisation for its own good. This is best understood by considering who is protected by these spaces. This is often a reflection on the inequality within these organisations.
  • It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech – Zeynep Tufekei explains that just because we can all create a social media account in seconds this supposed ‘democracy’ is a phantom public. Although it may seem that we can all ‘connect the world’, each of the platforms is controlled by algorithms designed to keep the prosumer engaged and advertised. This is something that Tufekei also discusses in her TEDTalk. The change needed is systemic.
  • Education in the (Dis)Information Age – Kris Shaffer reflects on the abundance of information on the web. He suggests that the hyperlink maybe ‘our most potent weapon’ against disinformation.
  • The Problem with Facts – Tim Harford explains that the solution for fake news is not simply more facts, rather we need to foster a culture of curiousity.
  • Inclusion Again – Sherri Spelic discusses staying quite or taking a small step in an effort to include others.
  • The Digital Poorhouse – Virginia Eubanks compares the restrictive nature of the poorhouses of the nineteenth century with the digital spaces of today. In conclusion, she says that we need to work together to solve this crisis.
  • Why we need to understand misinformation through visuals – Hannah Guy discusses the impact of images on misinformation. This is not just about fake photographs, but graphics and memes too.
  • Why Less News on Facebook Is Good News for Everyone – Will Oremus reports on Facebook’s flip to prioritise the personal over corporation. This move isn’t to repair the damage done to democracy, but rather to limit the damage done to its users.
  • That Doesn’t Mean Dumbing It Down – Anne Helen Petersen explains how to work with and in journalism to extend the reach of academic ideas.
  • Academic Outrage: When The Culture Wars Go Digital – Tressie McMillan Cottom discusses the challenges of being critical in online spaces. She suggests learning how to organise before getting out there to organise.

READ WRITE RESPOND #026

So that is February 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 and information relating to the images can be found on Flickr.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

📰 Read Write Respond #025

A lego busker out the front of 711
Background image via JustLego101.com
Made with Canva

My Month of January

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

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

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


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


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

Learning and Teaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edtech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storytelling and Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOCUS ON … Digital Hygiene

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

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

READ WRITE RESPOND #025

So that is MONTH for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here.

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

Read Write Respond #024

My Month of December

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

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

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


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

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


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


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


Learning and Teaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Edtech

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


Storytelling and Reflection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


FOCUS ON EdTech Year in Review

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


READ WRITE RESPOND #024

So that is December for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe? Otherwise, archives can be found here.


Cover image via JustLego101.

Read Write Respond #023

023

My Month of November

At work I have been exploring different means of facilitation and knowledge transfer. There are some things in life that are easier to explain than others. I am finding that reporting packages and timetables are always obvious.

Another lesson learned are the dangers associated with leaving things in reach of children. Our youngest decided she wanted some of my freshly brewed coffee and up with burns to her foot and arm. Thankfully, not her face. This has lead to regular visits to the doctor to have her wounds assessed and rebandaged.

On the personal front, I dived into the IndieWeb to try and figure out why I was not getting comments on my site. Not exactly sure what I changed to fix things, but everything seems to be back to normal again. I was also lucky enough to meet up with Alan Levine twice. It is great connecting online and even better being able to connect in person.


Aaron Balancing by cogdogblog is licensed under CC0

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

  • Building Solutions Beyond the Code – A reflection on going beyond coding when thinking solutions and the Digital Technologies curriculum.
  • Learning Technologies – Often discussions around technologies and transformation focus on tools. Another question to consider is the way technologies entangled with learning.
  • Building Digital Workflows – Technology is always adapting and evolving, here are a few of the recent changes to my digital workflows.
  • Ongoing Reporting with GSuite – It can be easy to look at an application and provide one answer, the problem with this is that it does not cover all contexts. Here is a collection of ideas associated with GSuite and ongoing reporting and assessment.
  • Automating the Summary of Data – My first iteration using Query and Sheets to automate a solution for turning a collection of data into a regular newsletter.
  • Zen and the Art of Blog Maintenance. – This is a reflection on my recent challenges associated with maintaining a blog and an explanation of why I persist in doing it.

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

Learning and Teaching


How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

How colonial violence came home: the ugly truth of the first world war – Pankaj Mishra pushes back on the myth that World War I was largely a white European affair, instead suggesting that it was the moment when violent imperial legacies returned home. Along with Nafeez Ahmed’s reflection on Thanksgiving, these critiques remind us of the many forgotten voices during memorial days and national celebrations. Interestingly, TripleJ have decided to move the Hottest 100 Count from Australia Day, ‘a very apprehensive day’ for the Indigenous people of Australia. This is all a part of what Quinn Norton describes as ‘speaking truth’ against racism.

Today, as racism and xenophobia return to the centre of western politics, it is time to remember that the background to the first world war was decades of racist imperialism whose consequences still endure. It is something that is not remembered much, if at all, on Remembrance Day.

Challenge Creator & the Desmos Classroom – Dan Meyer introduces a new feature of his Desmos platform designed to support Mathematics students with problem solving. Students can now submit their own challenges for others to complete. This is also something that Conrad Wolfram touches on in his interview with Bruce Dixon, while Gary Stager suggests caring less about compliance and focusing more on authenticity.

Previously in our activities, students would only complete challenges we created and answer questions we asked. With Challenge Creator, they create challenges for each other and ask each other questions.

Ice Apocalypse – Eric Holthaus explains how rapid collapse of Antarctic glaciers could flood coastal cities by the end of this century. Although there is nothing guarenteed, the challenge is what we are doing about such changes. Jonathan Franzen reflects on the endless political promises that have failed to reach fruition.

Three feet of sea-level rise would be bad, leading to more frequent flooding of U.S. cities such as New Orleans, Houston, New York, and Miami. Pacific Island nations, like the Marshall Islands, would lose most of their territory. Unfortunately, it now seems like three feet is possible only under the rosiest of scenarios.

At six feet, though, around 12 million people in the United States would be displaced, and the world’s most vulnerable megacities, like Shanghai, Mumbai, and Ho Chi Minh City, could be wiped off the map.

At 11 feet, land currently inhabited by hundreds of millions of people worldwide would wind up underwater. South Florida would be largely uninhabitable; floods on the scale of Hurricane Sandy would strike twice a month in New York and New Jersey, as the tug of the moon alone would be enough to send tidewaters into homes and buildings.

A Few Questions to Re-Discover your Essentials – Pernille Ripp reflects on what matters in the classroom. She provides a number of prompts to help reassess and realign our focus. In a similar post, Kath Murdoch shares ten practices for inquiry teachers.

To help you re-discover or discover your essential, you can ask yourself:

  • When you set up your classroom, how did you envision your classroom would be?
  • What type of learning experiences did you want students to have?
  • What is the one thing you want to ensure students experience on a regular basis?
  • What is the one area of practice that will make the biggest difference to all of your students?
  • What are you spending the most time on right now?
  • What do you need to stop doing to give your students more time for something else?
  • What do you need to start doing more of?

And finally; are you doing what you said you would

Edtech


Learning Machines by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Learning Machines – Ben Williamson takes a dive into machine learning. He breaks his discussion down into three key areas: algorithms, hypernudges and personalised learning. Associated with this, Williamson also wrote about wearable brainwave training. Approaching this from the perspective of automating education, Naomi Barnes provides her own thoughts and reflections.

The machine behaviourism of autodidactic algorithm systems, public hypernudge pedagogies and personalized learning have become three of the most significant educational developments of recent years. All are challenging to educational research in related ways.

10 Fascinating Things We Learned When We Asked The World ‘How Connected Are You?’ – Jen Caltrider provides a summary of the results relating to a recent Mozilla survey investigating how connected people are. It provides a useful point of reflection, as well the opportunity to go further using the raw survey data.

Nearly 190,000 people around the world responded. People from the tiny islands of Tuvalu to the huge landmass of China and everywhere in between. (Mozilla released the survey in six languages: English, Spanish, German, Italian, French, and Portuguese.) What we learned is fascinating. Like: People in India are more likely to own a smart appliance, whereas people in Argentina are more likely to own a smart TV. And: People everywhere are worried that a more connected future will jeopardize their privacy.

Bingeworthy – Dave Winer has created another application. This time a means of sharing ratings associated with television series worth watching. I find it fascinating as much for watching the growth of the site on Winer’s blog. For more on Winer , the Internet History podcast featured an extensive interview reflecting on the various parts that he has played in regards to the web.

Bingeworthy is a website where you can rate programs on their binge-worthyness. We rank the programs based on what people think of them, and if there’s enough participation, we will also recommend them, based on your and other peoples’ ratings.

No, Facebook isn’t spying on you. At least not with the microphone – Alex Hern looks into the allogations that Facebook is forever watching and listening. He says that this is not necessarily true and instead shines a light on the store of knowledge that Facebook has, as is demonstrated by the recommendations for ‘people you may know’. Kashmir unpacks this in his investigation of Facebook’s shadow profiles, the information that is garnered about you inadvertently from other users. These platforms must be scraping more than our contacts though to work out our location, even when we try to keep it from them.

For a real picture of the extent of Facebook’s knowledge, the best place to turn is the section where it applies its vast banks of data in service of its own aims: the “people you may know” suggestions. That section has outed sex workers, psychiatrists and family secrets, all using as much data as possible to find every single connection in your life and show you that they’re on Facebook. People you may know is also subject to its own, lesser, conspiracy theory: many who have been connected with people they would rather remain invisible to blame location tracking, a feature the company swears it doesn’t use for this purpose. Then there’s the possibility that Facebook shows you people who have been searching for you.

Keeping My Thoughts Out Of Peoples Timeline And In My Domain – Kin Lane discusses being more mindful about social media. Instead of endlessly feeding the stream, Lane has taken to developing his ideas offline before sharing them with the world. In there own way, Migual Guhlin and Kathleen Morris talk about their own blogging journeys.

I’m learning to write down my thoughts. Let them simmer, and mature. I’m learning to stay out of people’s timeline, and publish all of my thoughts to my blog. Then I will share to my timeline.

A Case made for Static HTML over WordPress akin to Mashing Potatoes with a 1998 Ford F-150 – Alan Levine provides a response to the critiques often made of WordPress, such as speed, bloat and security. In an another post, WPBeginners document the changes to the user interface of WordPress. It is so important to recognise that platforms and applications evolve over time. This breaks the marasma of the ‘eternal present’ that is often perpetuated with technology.

There’s a lot to be said for simple static sites. I’m doing more and more of them, and there are some really slick things one can do. I will do that as a first approach. Going without the overhead of database and server setup is key. But it hardly makes for a valid comparison for a static site of fixed pages to compare it to WordPress and all the things it can do and manage. If you are going to mash potatoes, go for the masher, not the pickup truck.

Storytelling and Reflection


Bias Thwarts Innovation by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Bias Thwarts Innovation – Harold Jarsche explains why gender equity is so important when fostering a culture of innovation as it provides more dots to connect. This is a clarification of an initial post Jarsche wrote about our networked future. I have touched on the importance of gender equity before. Julian Stodd also wrote a useful post that breaks innovation down into six ‘thoughts’.

Innovation requires diversity. Innovation is not so much about having ideas as it is about making connections. You cannot connect the dots if you are only paying attention to half of them. Innovation is a network activity and creating structural holes through gender bias only weakens the network. Innovation is not brilliant flashes of individual insight but collective learning through social networks. Leadership is helping the network make better decisions, so managers should help to weave more diverse networks.

Reframing the ‘Progressive’ vs. ‘Traditionalist’ Debate in Education – Doug Belshaw discusses a model developed by Michael Stephen Schiro for representing perspectives on education. It involves two axis: knowledge and reality. This then provides four quadrants: Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, Learner Centered, and Social Reconstructivist. Along with Richard Olsen’s post on learning and Gert Biesta’s book on the purpose of education, these pieces provide a useful starting point for exploring pedagogical beliefs.

The four curriculum ideologies identified by Schiro are: Scholar Academic, Social Efficiency, Learner Centered, and Social Reconstructivist. He sees defining these as a way of answering the following questions:

  • What do educators conceive their professional aims to be?
  • For what kind of clients or ideals do educators believe they work?
  • Where do educators’ vested interests lie?
  • Do educators see themselves as responsible to a client whose vested interests are other than their own?

47% of jobs will be automated… oh yeah…10 reasons why they won’t…. – Donald Clark takes a second look at the coming threat of automation. After highlighting some of the errors in the original report where the commonly shared statistic is taken from, Clark unpacks ten flaws. Approaching the problem for the point of evidence, Benjamin Doxtdator collates a number of resources on the topic. For me this touches on an important point which David Culberhouse points out, that the future is far from certain.

AI is an ‘idiot savant’, very smart on specific tasks but very stupid and prone to massive error when it goes beyond its narrow domain.

Learning in the time of AI – Mark Scott provides a transcript to his speech for the Education for a Changing World Symposium, an event designed to explore the future of education. This systems thinking reminds me of St. Paul’s work in developing an education worth having. In regards to the symposium, Bianca Hewes’ debriefed on Day 1 and Day 2, while the discussion papers can be found here.

I often feel our best are not waiting for education systems or curriculum authorities to tell them what do. And they know a back-to-basics approach to education makes as little sense as Elon Musk basing his Tesla blueprints on the Model T Ford. We learn from all that has gone before but know we will need different thinking, new approaches, bold innovation and agile design to make the changes we need to find solutions.

Seeking high performance? Frame your day with clarity – Steve Brophy discusses approaching everyday with intention and presence. To support this, he provides a series of questions to frame each day. Talking about a similar topic, Ian O’Byrne discusses focusing on the things that you control in order to expand your circle of influence.

four areas to frame every day:

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

In other words, how I do want to act, grow, interact and give every day?

FOCUS ON … Big Data


Math Destruction by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

I was really keen to be a part of Bryan Alexander’s latest book club looking at Cathy O’Neil’s Weapons of Math Destruction. Sadly I failed on two fronts. Firstly, I got behind with my reading and secondly, I had no idea how to respond the provocations that Alexander provided. So here are a collection of some of my thoughts associated with ‘big data’ in all its guises:

READ WRITE RESPOND #023

So that is November for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

Read Write Respond Newsletter

Cover image via JustLego101.

Read Write Respond #022

My Month of October

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

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

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

Here was my month in words:

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

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


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

Learning and Teaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edtech

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


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

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

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

So what are the solutions?

Here are mine:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Storytelling and Reflection

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOCUS ON … LIBRARIES

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

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


READ WRITE RESPOND #022

So that is October for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

Cover image by JustLego101

Read Write Respond #021

Image via JustLego101

My Month of September

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

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


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

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

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


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

Learning and Teaching


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Edtech


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Storytelling and Reflection


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


FOCUS ON … Classroom Behaviour


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

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


READ WRITE RESPOND #021

So that is September for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear.

Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?


Cover image via JustLego101

Read Write Respond #020

My Month of August

Another month has flown on by. In regards to work, I have continued to explore reporting, this included being lucky enough to attend a collective looking at ongoing reporting. Biannual reporting is such an intriguing area and seems to be a barometer of innovation and change. I was also lucky enough to run a session on flipped learning using flipped learning focusing on Global2. It seems that creating an environment that provides time, support and autonomy can work.

On the family front, the coughs and sneezes associated with the long winter have continued on. Apparently warnings have also gone out that this Spring will be bad for hay fever …

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

Here are some of the ideas that have left me thinking …


Learning and Teaching

“‘Using Visitors and Residents to visualise digital practices’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


Using ‘Visitors and Residents’ to visualise digital practices – David White and Alison Le Cornu have published a paper continuing their exploration of digital belonging and the problems with age-based categorisations. One interesting point made was the blur that has come to the fore between organisations and individuals. It is interesting to consider this model next to White’s work in regards to lurkers, as well as the ability to ‘return the tools’ without inadvertently leaving some sort of trace.

While it is tempting to work as if we were operating with two dichotomies, Visitor and Resident, and personal and professional, such an approach would overlook the ubiquity of the Web and the fact that many people now do what we have loosely called ‘professional’ activities at home, and indeed, may also do what we have termed ‘personal’ Web-based activities at work or during formal learning sessions. The key point here is that the digital amplifies the ability to shift context beyond the constraints of our immediate, physical architectural environment (Fisher, 2009; Wittkower, 2016). In the same way, people can appear to be operating in one mode of engagement when in reality they’re doing something entirely different. They might appear to be participating in a class activity using a social media app, for example — a typically Resident approach — while in reality they’re filling in a job application online on a secure site: a predominantly Visitor approach. This is significant because it indicates a type of blurring, where the physical architectural environment no longer imposes the same degree of ‘authority’ as it once did in terms of behaviour or modes of engagement. In other words, the Web makes it possible to undertake activities that once could only be done in specific physical places.

Feedback, It’s Emotional – Deborah Netolicky weaves together some insights into the emotional nature of feedback, supporting her thoughts with an array of evidence. I have written about feedback before, however Netolicky’s work highlights the personal nature of it all.

It is through seeing our work through the eyes of others, and by being open to criticism, that we can figure out how to push our work forward, improve it incrementally, take it in a new direction, or defend it more vigorously.

Are We Eager For Change? – Grant Lichtman provides a number of short activities to start the conversation around change. For Matt Esterman, the challenge is setting in place a series of digestible chunks to facilitate rapid evolution. Maybe this is encompassed by the idea of agile sprints?

What if the school leader is alone in understanding the “why”, or if other community stakeholders, particularly large groups of the faculty, do not see the need to change what they have done in the past? How do we get this conversation started in ways that nurture the possibility of change?

Build Labeling Games with Quizlet Diagrams – Tony Vincent unpacks the recent changes to Quizlet which allows users to add interactive diagrams. These can be used as an activity or an interactive resource. This new feature provides an additional interactive layer to an image. Vincent sees potential in students creating their own diagrams to demonstrate knowledge and understanding.

It’s true: with Quizlet Diagrams, a teacher has the ability to create study aids for their students. However, I think students learn better by creating the diagrams themselves.

Young and eSafe – Developed by the eSafety Commision, Young and Safe provides advice by young people, for young people. This includes a five part video series, stories of young people’s experiences and expert advice from people in the know.

Young & eSafe is an initiative of the Office of the eSafety Commissioner. The eSafety Office works to keep Australians safer online by providing resources, programs and services which promote positive online behaviour.


Edtech

“What Do You Want to Know about Blogging?” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


What Do You Want to Know about Blogging? – Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano responds to number of questions about blogging, such as how to start out in the classroom, setup precautions, develop a habit and extend your thinking beyond the simple view of blogging. Kathleen Morris’ post on why every educator should blog, Marina Rodriguez’ tips for student blogging and Doug Belshaw’s guide how to write a blog post add to this discussion.

I have found that the more pressure I put on myself to blog, the more stressed I get and the less I write. Blogging is a pleasure for me that becomes a burden, when I give myself deadlines. Another technique that seems to work for me is that I create lots and lots of drafts. I start with titles and save them as drafts, then continue to add to these drafts, as I find little time here and a little time there. Then suddenly, I realize that one of the drafts is ready to publish

Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation? – Jean Twenge explores some of the statistics around the use of smartphones and social media by teens. It would be easy to say take phones off teens. Joshua Kim suggests that every big technological leap seems to engender a new set of worries and things often work out fine, while Alexander Samuel argues that it is parents, not teens, that we should be worried. Another approach maybe exploring the impact of notifications. Overall, Katie Davis, Emily Weinstein and Howard Gardner warn against simplistic narratives.

Social-networking sites like Facebook promise to connect us to friends. But the portrait of iGen teens emerging from the data is one of a lonely, dislocated generation. Teens who visit social-networking sites every day but see their friends in person less frequently are the most likely to agree with the statements “A lot of times I feel lonely,” “I often feel left out of things,” and “I often wish I had more good friends.” Teens’ feelings of loneliness spiked in 2013 and have remained high since.

How ready is your school for digital age learning? Building School Capacity – Christine Haynes shares D-LIFE, a framework designed to support schools with the implementation of technology. It revolves around ten categories: leadership, infrastructure, services, implementation, policies, quality, resources, environment, learning and community.

D-LIFE provides a framework to evaluate current levels of implementation, and determine areas where school growth is required. D-LIFE can also be used to guide leaders to ask the questions of other stakeholders, like technicians, parents, and faculty to ensure educational goals remain the priority of technical initiatives.

Decentralize It! – Paul Ford discusses the benefits of setting up your own server and the lessons one is able to learn through the process. This is a topic that Dave Winer also touches upon. Coming from the perspective of a domain of one’s own, this feels like a continuation of the narrative. Mike Caulfield adds a word of caution that if such choices are driven by a sense of activism that it is how tools are used, rather than what tools, which matters.

I look at Raspberry Pi Zeros with Wi-Fi built in and I keep thinking, what would it take to just have a little web server that was only for three or four people, at home? Instead of borrowing computer time from other people I could just buy a $10 computer the size of a stick of gum. Which next year could be a $7 computer, and eventually a $1 computer. It could run a Dropbox-alike, something like OwnCloud. It’s easy in theory but kind of a pain in practice.I’d need to know how to open ports on my home router.I’d need to be able to get the headless device onto WiFi.I’d need a place to plug it in, plugs are hard to come by.It needs to physically be somewhere.It would need a case.You need to buy an SD card with Linux on it.And on and on.The world doesn’t want us to run web servers at home. But I do. I really think we should run web servers from gumstick computers at home.

Social Media isn’t for Learning – Benjamin Doxtdator considers a number of challenges and concerns around using social media for learning. Whether it be the extractive nature of platforms or the inherent discrimination built in, Doxtdator questions the use of such platforms as Facebook and Twitter as a means of engaging with the open web. On top of this, he wonders how receptive we are when students do not respond the way we might like or expect, something Bryan Alexander also talks about. Personally, I wonder if an answer is to support through the use of managed spaces that offer a sense of control. I also think that whatever solution is adopted, it is an imperative to apply a critical lense, rather than solely focus on the ease of use.

For social media to make a real difference in schools, rather than end up on the heap of ed tech that has failed to live up to its revolutionary potential, we have to be willing to accept the real risks: that students might challenge us with their voices and say things we disagree with, and that not all students navigate the digital world with the same mix of privileges and vulnerabilities.


Storytelling and Reflection

“On Ditching the (Dangerous) Dichotomy Between Content Knowledge and Creativity @amyburvall” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


#rawthought: On Ditching the (Dangerous) Dichotomy Between Content Knowledge and Creativity – Amy Burvall explains that the key to joining the dots is having dots to join in the first place. Reflecting on the dichotomy between creativity and critical thinking, Burvall illustrates arts dependency on knowledge and skills. The challenge is supporting students in making this learning experience stick. Deb Netolicky also discusses some of these points in here discussion of ‘21st Century Learning’, while Bill Ferriter questions what comes first.

Virtually every piece of media we are confronted with (from pop songs to poetry, from TV shows to classic texts), makes assumptions that the audience knows certain references. It’s our jobs as teachers and parents to help the young people in our care to gather their knowledge “dots”, find a place for them in the recesses of their memory, and grow agile in making connections between them.

Teach History – Audrey Watters argues that instead of teaching love, we need to teach that the past is not past, but rather still very much a part of the present. To understand what happened in Charlottesville you need to know something about the histories and legacies that they are built upon. Associated with this, Grant Lichtman argues that educating students about the situation needs to be a priority in every classroom. Anna Kamenetz collates a number of resources to support people, while Xian Franzinger Barrett outlines seven ways teachers can respond. Sam Dastiyari also warns that this is not just a problem unique to the USA.

We have to fundamentally alter how we teach history – and that means teaching about hate, not just love. It means teaching about American evils, not just American exceptionalism. It means teaching about resistance too, not just oppression. And it means rethinking all the practices tied up in our educational institutions – systemic and interpersonal practices that perpetuate this weekend’s violence.

How thinking of myself as a ‘Human API’ helped me get over my ego – Doug Belshaw uses the idea of an API to appreciate the interactions that are a part of being a consultant. As Belshaw explains, an API does not complain unless provided invalid input, it provides an expected output for a given input, are (usually) well documented, are inclusive and don’t discriminate between users. Not only is this useful in appreciating various choices and decisions, it also provides a concrete way of explaining APIs. I also wonder how such thinking fits with the idea of assemblages?

Thinking about life in Human API terms can be liberating. It forces you to think about what you’re willing to accept as an input, what you’re providing as an output, and what overall puzzle you’re helping solve. I think it’s a great metaphor and it’s one I’ll be using more often.

There Will be Blood – GDPR and EdTech – Eylan Ezekiel discusses the changes to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation. This includes the right to access data, to have questions answered, the right to have data erased and the right to object to personal data being used to build a profile. The fear that it is too late, as companies like Amazon and Google explore the potential of automation and the data that comes with that, while John Grubar highlights another example of how our data is surreptitiously siphoned off by websites and applications. From an educational point of view, Ben Williamson demonstrates how platforms, like Class Dojo, influence the way data is collected in the classroom, which has a flow-on effect on the development of policy. Coming from the perspective of practice, Amy Collier provides seven strategies for treating data with more care, while Emily Talmage worries that data is destroying schools.

If Data is the new ‘Oil’ – then the GDPR is an attempt to bring regulation on the wild oil rush that has been going on across many sectors, before those industries take too much control over the geology of our privacy.


FOCUS ON … NAPLAN

“‘What National Testing Data can Tell us’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


It is that time again, when the NAPLAN results are released and the media goes gaga about the state of education. Here is a collection of some more reasoned responses:

For a further discussion of NAPLAN, I recommend National Testing in Schools, An Australian assessment edited by Bob Lingard, Greg Thompson and Sam Sellar. It provides a historical context, as well as unpacks many of the effects associated with the program, including media responses, pressures on schools, impact on various educators and the experience of students.


READ WRITE RESPOND #020

So that is August for me, how about you? As always, interested to hear. Also, feel free to forward this on to others if you found anything of interest or maybe you want to subscribe?

Cover image via Justlego101

Read Write Respond #019

My Month of July

Had my first experience of software testing this month, looking for product defects. Working through each step, slowly, helps appreciate the intricacies involved. On a personal level, I was struck down with a virus. Another benefit to open planned office space or maybe just winter. Although I missed the Digicon conference this year, I snuck in for a meet-up after proceedings, where I finally got to meet Darrel Branson (one half of the EdTechCrew) for the first time in real life. In regards to my writing, here was my month in posts:

  • Education’s Digital Futures – Simon Keily shared a post exploring the question, “what do you think the digital future of education entails?” Here is my contribution to the conversation.
  • Back to (Blogging) Basics – In response to Jennifer Hogan, these are my eight aspects to consider when starting out in the blogosphere, including why, what, how, portability, added content, community connections and workflow.
  • A Global2 Guide – Global2, an Edublogs campus, provides the usual functionality of WordPress, with the added benefits of moderation, filtering, class management and network admin. A few years ago, I wrote an introduction, this follow-up is a thorough guide.

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


Learning and Teaching


“Ryan Holiday ‘Here (with 2 Years of Exhausting Photographic Detail) Is How To Write A Book’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


Here (with 2 Years of Exhausting Photographic Detail) Is How To Write A Book – Ryan Holiday unpacks the process involved in developing a book, from the initial proposal to the published copy. This lengthy reflection is a great example of ‘showing your work’. Holiday shares a number of tips, such as recording quotes and ideas on notecards, as well as breaking the book into smaller chunks. It is a reminder of the time and effort involved in developing quality writing, something Mike Caulfield touched on recently.

To me, writing is a job, a profession, and the best way to be a professional is to set professional hours.

What do maker projects look like in each subject area? – John Spencer’s long list of maker projects is a continuation of his attempt to demystify makerspaces. Associated with the recent release of his book Empower, written with AJ Juliani, Spencer has been writing a number of posts exploring the challenges associated with every class becoming a makerspace. Along with Ian O’Byrne’s post unpacking what to do with children in the summer months, there are plenty of ideas for supporting students in getting more hands on.

Language Arts: For specific projects, you can do documentaries (with the green screen area), podcasts (you could do inquiry-based, curiosity casts or thematic podcasts), blogging, immersive world building (such as Minecraft in storytelling). But you can also align the Common Core ELA standards to design thinking projects. Every time they are doing research, going through ideation, and launching to the world, they are hitting specific standards. You can also integrate informational reading within maker projects by using multimedia informational text to learn how to do a beginner’s level challenge with Raspberry Pi, Arduino, or circuitry. Social Studies: Documentaries, whiteboard videos (similar to RSA Animate or Common Craft), thematic blogs, thematic podcasts, history-themed theater production (using the makerspace to do everything from set design to costume creation to multimedia elements). In economics, you can use the makerspace to do Shark Tank style projects, going through the LAUNCH Cycle to design a full project. Math: Create a board game or arcade game (probability standards), the tiny house project (proportional reasoning, volume, surface area), creating a Scratch game (reinforcing x-y access, learning logic) Science: There are tons of STEM-related ideas, like solar energy designs, engineering projects, building lunar colonies, etc. PE: Design a sport, invent a way to get people to naturally want to exercise (there’s a whole field of design-based methods for inspiring movement) — in other words, develop a partnership between P.E. classes and the design-based activity in a makerspace Art: There’s such a natural connection between what students do in art class and what they do in makerspaces that I can’t even begin to add the ideas. One maker-related thing that our former art teacher did was a steam-punk sculpture project. That could easily have an engineering and robotics element integrated into it Music: Music video projects, multimedia projects, designing an ideal studio Foreign Language: Design-oriented tutorial partnerships (where students work with refugees to create video tutorials for aspects of American life and then learn and practice the language as a result) FACS (Family and Consumer Sciences): I’d argue that FACS classes have been makerspaces before we developed makerspaces. The goal here, though, is to allow students to have more creative control in what they are making. Wood Shop: My friend A.J. helped his school redefine their woodshop to be a makerspace. They kept some of the best elements of the subject but they added additional levels of fabrication and had students use design thinking as an entrepreneurial framework. Computers: Scratch project (designing a video game), multimedia composition projects, circuitry projects, robotics

Colonial Frontier Massacres in Eastern Australia 1788-1872 – A project by Lyndall Ryan and her team at Newcastle University are digitally documenting the frontier massacres that occurred in the settlement of Australia. There have been calls to have these conflicts recognised in the War Memorial in Canberra as an example of frontier warfare. For a history of maps themselves, Clive Thompson’s has written a post for the Smithsonian.

From the moment the British invaded Australia in 1788 they encountered active resistance from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander owners and custodians of the lands. In the frontier wars which continued until the 1960s massacres became a defining strategy to eradicate that resistance. As a result thousands of Aboriginal men women and children were killed. This site presents a map, timelines, and information about massacres in Eastern Australia from 1794 when the first massacre was recorded until 1872. Only events for which sufficient information remains from the past and can be verified are included. The map also includes information about the six known massacres of British colonists in Eastern Australia in the same period. After 1872 the massacres continued but are not included here. Details of incidents of massacres after 1872 will be included in the next stage of the project.

Gaming the future of education: a student project – Bryan Alexander describes a card game designed to help reimagine education. It involves taking cards from each of the categories and using them to design a future classroom. This reminds of Anthony Speranza and Riss Leung’s use of IronChef to constrain thinking and creativity. In some other posts on games, Grant Lichtman suggests they may be the ultimate study tool for learners seeking relevancy and deep interdisciplinary understanding, while Anne Mirtchen provides a long list of games associated with learning.

The Future of Education Card Game is, as you might guess from the title, a tabletop game based on cards. Each card represents a specific development in education’s next years, and are divided into six categories.

Digital Technologies in Agriculture – Britt Gow makes the connection between digital technologies and agriculture. For me, this extends on a discussion of swarming robots discussed on Radio National’s Future Tense a few years ago. It is a great example of the real world challenges associated with STEM. Gow’s site itself is a wealth of resources associated with all things STEM across the whole curriculum.

Government, researchers, industry and many farmers recognize the enormous potential of digital technologies to transform agriculture to improve productivity. In combination with advances in biological technology, materials science and seasonal climate forecasting, the digital revolution provides new opportunities at every stage from production management, harvesting, marketing, delivery and end use.


Edtech


“Kin Lane ‘I Deleted All But The Last Six Months Of My Gmail’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


I Deleted All But The Last Six Months Of My Gmail – Kin Lane describes his process of taking back control of his digital bits from the algorithms. He is doing this by deleting archived data often used to develop marketing profiles. In addition to Gmail, he has documented cleaning up Facebook and Twitter. Lane and Audrey Watters also discuss this further on Episode 62 of the Contrafabulists podcast. Coming at the problem from a different perspective, the Guardian Tech Podcast recently discussed the new movement of platforms designed to support people in archiving their digital memories and moments.

I’m going through each of the other digital services that I use and will be setting up a similar strategy for cleaning up my history and archives on each platform. As I do this work I keep having concerns about the algorithms not treating me the same, my ranking and scoring taking a dive, and other worries. These are all concerns that are made up, and are in place to protect platforms interests, and really have nothing to do with me, except to ensure that I keep giving away my data, and the digital exhaust from my daily work.

Two-factor authentication is a mess – Russell Brandom documents a numbers of problems with two-factor authentication. Whether it be a carrier account, a pre-registered device, or just a customer service department that’s a little too eager to reset the password, hackers are finding ways in. Even though two-factor is still recommended, it is not necessarily enough. However, for those getting started, Chris Betcher has written a useful reflection on getting security sorted, while Doug Belshaw recently reflected on his move to LessPass as a means to manage his passwords.

“Get two-factor” is still good advice, but it’s not enough. Worse, it’s not clear how to fill the gap. What do you tell someone who’s worried about seeing the contents of their inbox published on WikiLeaks? There’s no simple fix for such a threat, no one step that will keep you protected. The surprising thing is that, for a few years, it seemed like there was.

How voice control reduces your stress and procrastination – Richard Wells shares how he uses voice to control more and more of his life, from writing reports to composing quick replies. I have written about the power of voice before in regards to Google Docs. For Clive Thompson, the rise of voice has the potential to replace handwriting. With all of this said, Douglas Rushkoff recently warned that “early adopters are also early adapters”. His point being that we need to be mindful of being programmed by technology. Something that Kin Lane touched on in regards to Amazon Alexa.

In the last six months I have halved the amount of time spent typing and looking at screens. Even the age old problem of walking while texting is no longer an issue now I can speak my text messages into the end of my phone even in noisy surroundings.

Banning Phones in Class Might be the BEST BYOD Policy – Bill Ferriter provides a summary of a new report looking at the impact of mobile phones on learning. The evidence suggests that even when we are not looking at or interacting with our devices that they are pulling on our attention. This is interesting reading next to Steve Wheeler’s argument for access and Robert Schuetz’s call to focus on better use. At the very least, we need to work on understanding how they work. On a similar matter, Mimi Ito discusses the challenges of parents monitoring screen time, while Doug Belshaw wonders as a parent if unlimited screen time is the solution? The problem with all of this is that there is no clear cut answer that covers every context and such problems will only raise new questions, such as the rise in schools tracking mobile devices.

Revise your BYOD policy. Make sure that it explains that smartphones will be allowed in classrooms only on an as-needed basis. Start a conversation about Ward’s research with everyone (parents, students, teachers) in your school community. Emphasize the importance of working memory and fluid intelligence to classroom success. Detail the positive impact that separation from smartphones has on working memory and fluid intelligence — particularly for people who report high levels of dependence on and emotional attachment to their phones (read: students of darn near any age.) Begin recommending to parents interested in providing their children with devices that they invest in Chromebooks and/or tablets instead of smartphones. Remind everyone in your school community that technology isn’t ALWAYS additive and encourage everyone to think more deliberately about the costs of the technology used in your classrooms.

Choosing the (digital) pedagogical tool fit for the learning – Deborah Netolicky continues her exploration of digital pedagogies. She captures a number of definitions and perspectives in a survey of the land. I have researched digital technologies before, as well as explored the different spaces and structures which they help to foster, however Netolicky post is successfully broad, while at the same time succinct. Adding her voice to the conversation, Naomi Barnes argues that digital pedagogies involves intersection of online context, curriculum and quality pedagogy, while reflecting on implementation, Martin Weller provides a range of pragmatic approaches.

Safe, ethical use of technology needs to be guided and explicitly taught, as do skills such as online collaboration and evaluating the quality of available information. Students need the skills and aptitudes to sustain engagement with digital learning, especially if it is self-directed and self-paced.

An Introduction to the IndieWeb – Chris Aldrich provides an overview of the IndieWeb, a means of controlling your content online. Some benefits highlighted include protection against loss and influence over the user experience. Although there is a WordPress plugin you can install, the IndieWeb community provides a number of solutions across a breadth of platforms.

The purpose of the IndieWeb movement is to help put you in control of your web presence, allow you a more true sense of ownership of your content, and to allow you to be better connected to your friends, family, colleagues, and communities.


Storytelling and Reflection


“Competition in Education” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


Competition – Dale Pearce highlights three key factors involved in creating a culture of competition in Australian schools: increased funding to non-government schools, public reporting to celebrate ‘winners’ and residualisation of public education. None of these aspects have been addressed with Gonski 2.0, (although Gonski has been brought on to help identify what practice works best.) To me, this is a part of a wider conversation about education, involving issues such as managing stress, providing the appropriate support, dealing with the rise of digital abuse, working together as a system and engaging with what it actually means to be a teacher.

So what do you do as nation? Firstly, you have to recognise that the problem is one of your own making. Secondly, you try to address the huge equity issue you’ve created. In Australia’s case that means throwing billions of dollars at the problem through a needs-based schools funding model. Thirdly, you try to identify methods of improving student learning through improved teaching. We’re madly running around trying to do the last two things. No-one wants to acknowledge that this is a problem created by politicians, not by people in schools; too easy to blame teachers.

Do the “basics” change over time? – George Couros reflects on the idea of ‘back to basics’ and questions whether there is actually anything to go back to. Doug Belshaw’s attempts to define literacy (let alone digital literacies) highlights the difficulty in agreeing on a set of basics. Couros raised the question of critical thinking and problem solving. For Bill Ferriter, we have always done these things, the change has been how we go about it, to which he suggests that technology makes it ‘more doable’. For Harold Jasce, hard skills are temporary, while soft skills are permanent. It is for this reason that Greg Miller and his staff have remodelled learning to focus on capabilities. Maybe these are the true basics?

We need conversations in our communities. As was pointed out to me, the context of your community matters in what is believed is to be essential. Do we have the conversation with our communities though? Perhaps some would argue that the “basics” should be the same in every school as our students will grow up in a much more global community that we did as students, and maybe that would be right. Either way, have the conversation. We need to do that more.

Filter Failure Is Not Acceptable – Harold Jarsche breaks down what is required to make sense of the immense flow of information in today’s society. On thus matter, Bryan Alexander continues to defy the world in staying with RSS, while Doug Belshaw announced his return back to RSS.

Knowledge flow has to continuously become knowledge stock. Individuals practising personal knowledge mastery have to be an intrinsic part of organizational knowledge management. Knowledge comes from and through an organization’s people. It is not some external material distributed through the chain of command.

Stop Using the Excuse “Organizational Change Is Hard” – Nick Tasler reviews the bias towards failure often associated with change management. This toxic self-fulfilling prophecy stems back to a statistic in the 90’s that 70% of change processes fail. The problem though is that there is no empirical data to support this statement. Tasler suggests that our focus should be highlighting improvements and the change that occurs every day. Building on from the idea of improvements, David Culberhouse argues that the key is to identify the bright spots within an organisation and use their stories and strategies to help drive change. Speaking about art, Austin Kleon suggestions the key is something small every day.

Change is hard in the same way that it’s hard to finish a marathon. Yes, it requires significant effort. But the fact that it requires effort doesn’t negate the fact that most people who commit to a change initiative will eventually succeed. This point has gone largely unnoticed by an entire generation of experts and laypeople alike. I am just as guilty of this omission as everyone else. But now that we know the truth, don’t we have a duty to act on it? Isn’t it time to change the way we talk about change?

The LMS is dead, not unlike God: thoughts on the NGDLE – Jim Groom continues his exploration of New Generation Digital Learning Environments (NGDLE) addressing the challenges of data. Adding to the conversation, Brian Lamb provides some possible interventions. Bryan Mather’s has visualised a number of these ideas, including what NGDLE looks like, a personal API and life in a Web 2.0 world. Chris Gillard also reflected on the way that platforms support particular users and not others.

In a worst case scenario, the NGDLE offers a way for institutions to more easily extract and share their learning community’s personal data with a wide range of sources, something that should deeply disturb us in the post-Snowden era. But the real kicker is, how do we get anyone to not only acknowledge this process of extraction and monetization (because I think folks have), but to actually feel empowered enough to even care.


FOCUS ON … Critical Pedagogues


“The Future of Programming” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA


I was recently in a discussion about the need for more critical conversations in education. So often the emphasis is on cognition over the critical or cultural. Alec Couros has collected together some useful resources to start things off, but the focus was on the voices asking the questions and carry the messages. So here is a list of critical educators and examples of their writing that I have come upon:

This is barely a beginning. For those seeking other reads, some useful sites include DML Central, Educause Review and Digital Pedagogy Lab.


READ WRITE RESPOND #019

So that is July for me, how about you? Are there any critical readings that you would add to the list? 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? “Alleyway” by justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/35620356206 is licensed under CC BY-SA