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

Read Write Respond #018

My Month of June

What a month. I discovered that I was not doing the job I thought I was doing, subsequently I got a name change. Now I am an eLearn Subject Matter Expert. Wondering if such surprises are part and parcel of an agile world?

In regards to the family, if it wasn’t one daughter then it was the other this month. Our youngest had the flu for a week, then our eldest stood on glass and had a visit to emergency. All good now, was just a bit hectic for a while. Maybe that is life?

In relation to my writing, thinking and learning, here was my month in posts:

  • Art and Science of Teaching and Music – With the passing of Chris Cornell, I reflected on covering music compared with a faithful interpretation. This was associated with the idea of best practice
  • REVIEW: The Global Education Race – A review of Sam Sellar, Greg Thompson and David Rutkowski book, The Global Education Race, Taking the Measure of PISA and International Testing.
  • Reflections from #CoachEd2017 – A Reflection on the 5th National Coaching Conference for Educators held in Melbourne and the three ideas I was left with.
  • A Comprehensive Guide to YouTube – A dive into watching, curating and creating content with YouTube.
  • Developing Safer (Digital) Schools – A summary of a day spent with eSmart exploring safer schools. I also documented a number of my own resources collected over time.
  • Starting the Learning Before the Conference – I asked the question, rather than waiting for people to walk into the room, what if we seek feedback from participants before they arrive at professional development sessions?
  • The Risk of Hospitality – My response to the #Digciz discussion around hospitality, risk and vulnerability relating to online spaces. The post explored ideas of  context, imaginary lines, tribes and mapping.
  • Questions for Cal – After watching Cal Newport’s TED Talk on quitting social media, I was left reflecting on three questions: what is social media, what is work and how do I differentiate the changes in my mind?
  • Daily Habits – Having spoken about the process involved in learning and the tools I depend upon, I have never thought about the daily activities which help me as a learner.

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

Learning and Teaching

“Catch the Flipgrid Fever” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Catch the Flipgrid fever! 15+ ways to use Flipgrid in your class – Kayla Moura provides an introduction to Flipgrid, an application for visual feedback. To support this, she lists some potential uses, such as a debate, an exit ticket or a book report. In some ways it reminds me of Verso and the way that users can share and respond in a centrally managed space. The main difference is that Flipgrid is built around video. 

Flipgrid is a video response platform where educators can have online video discussions with students or other educators. Teachers can provide feedback to students AND better yet students can provide feedback to one another.

Teaching and Learning Research Summaries: A collection for easy access – Tom Sherrington collects together a range of research-based resources to provoke deeper thinking around learning and teaching. This should not be considered the essential list, but rather a place to start a conversation about research. A need that Linda Graham wrote about recently.

There are several superb summaries of educational research that have been compiled into easily accessible websites and articles in pdf format that can be read online and shared with staff. Although they are easy to find via an internet search, I am pulling them together into one place for easy access.

Self-Editing Tools for Student Writing in Google Docs – Eric Curts looks at four areas of self-editing tools students can use when writing in Google Docs. He discusses speech-to-text, text-to-speech, grammar checkers and thesaurus tools. This year I have dabbled with ProWritingAid, a paid Google Docs addon that allows you to gain feedback within Gsuite. I discovered this via Vicki Davis’ blog. Other than that, I like the Grammarly add-on too. Neither replace the need of the human to understand the decisions being made.

One of the best features of Google Docs is the ability to share your work with others so they can offer comments and suggestions. As awesome as that is, sometimes a student may not have another person available to provide feedback, and will need to do the editing on their own. Thankfully there are loads of useful tools that can help students to self-edit their writing, including text-to-speech, grammar checkers, dictionaries, and more. With these resources students can take ownership of the editing process to improve their writing. Even if they can also receive peer feedback, these tools can help student do a majority of the editing on their own.

Crash Course Computer Science – Crash Course recently started a new series unpacking the history of computers hosted by Carrie Anne Philbin from the Raspberry Pi Foundation. Like the Contrafabulists podcast exploration of Underground Histories, Bret Victor’s History of Programming, John O’Brien’s paleofuture and Audrey Watters’ History of the Pedometer, Philbin’s explorations provides a context for the choices made associated with technology that many of us have come to take for granted today. This is not another ‘How to Code’ series.

In this series, we’re going to trace the origins of our modern computers, take a closer look at the ideas that gave us our current hardware and software, discuss how and why our smart devices just keep getting smarter, and even look towards the future! Computers fill a crucial role in the function of our society, and it’s our hope that over the course of this series you will gain a better understanding of how far computers have taken us and how far they may carry us into the future.

Instagram for Teachers – Tony Vincent explains how Instagram can be used in education. This post provides a range of examples and some considerations in regards to managing your account. Owned by Facebook, I am not sure where this all sits with Doug Belshaw’s assertion that friends don’t let other friends Facebook? As a platform, Instagram seems to be an alternative for some to a blog? 

Instagram isn’t just for posting photos of food. Instagram can actually be a powerful learning and communication tool for educators, so I’ve written this guide for teachers. I’d like to show the kinds of things teachers can see on Instagram. I’d also like to tell you about the ins and outs of Instagram, starting with the basics and ending with crafting awesome posts.

Going Public and Going Pro: The Power of Portfolios, Publishing & Personal Branding – Michael Niehoff makes the case for the public element associated PBL being fostered through a personal portfolio. In addition to having a ‘canonical url‘ as Jon Udell would put it, Niehoff discusses the need to continually create content and maintain our own brand. This is a topic that Ian O’Byrne, Bill Ferriter and Bob Schuetz have touched upon elsewhere.

Traditionally, most of us associate portfolios with artists, writers and designers. In school, we have had watered down versions for years where students were asked to put their work in a folder that may or may not have been shared. Well, we are in a new era. Forget AP scores, weighted GPA’s and SAT scores. We are now in a portfolio world and economy. Remember, in a “Gig Economy” where our students are going to have to continually contract work and pitch themselves to clients, our students need a lifetime portfolio where they digitally present and publish their work….and themselves.

Edtech

“A Sociology of the Smartphone” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

A Sociology of the Smartphone – Adam Greenfield shares a portion of his new book, Radical Technologies, unpacking smartphones. In this assemblage of parts he looks at what actually makes smartphones work, the changes they have brought to our habits and the impact on our environment. On this matter, Kin Lane documents the valuable bits in a smartphone that everyone wants, Doug Belshaw discusses email and notification literacy, Aral Balkan asks who owns the data, while Mike Caulfield rues the impact smartphones have had on research. Greenfield’s essay also serves as an example of how technology can construct a ‘templated self’. This is timely with the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. In another extract from Greenfield’s book, he reflects on the internet of things.

Whatever the terms of the bargain we entered into when we embraced it, this bargain now sets the conditions of the normal, the ordinary and the expected. Both we ourselves and the cultures we live in will be coming to terms with what this means for decades to come.

Twitter’s Misleading User Experience When Reporting Abuse – Bill Fitzgerald highlights the problem with the way that Twitter responds to abuse. Although to the person who has reported the issue the situation would seem resolved, the user is still present to the rest of the Twitter. This in part is a reminder that Twitter is a capitalistic advertising platform, something Audrey Watters and Kin Lane touch upon in a recent episode of Contrafabulists.

When Twitter automatically hides offensive content from the people who have reported it, they create the impression that they have done something, when they have done nothing. Design choices like this demonstrates Twitter’s apathy towards effectively addressing hate and abuse on their platform.

Coding for what? Lessons from computing in the curriculum – Speaking to a group of educators in Sweden, Ben Williamson focuses on the rise of computing in the curriculum. He traces some of its origins, as well as some of the cautionary tales and advice, especially the influence of private enterprise. This left me thinking about the Australian education system and the introduction of digital technologies. It too has largely been led by various investments, not-for-profit ventures and private providers. Although there has been a lot of talk about coding, there is little discussion about the critical side. Bill Fitzpatrick and Kris Shaffer’s explanation on how to spot a bot is a good start.

Technical know-how in how computers work has its uses here, of course. But also knowing about privacy and data protection, knowing how news circulates, understanding cyberattacks and hacking, knowing about bots, understanding how algorithms and automation are changing the future of work—and knowing that there are programmers and business plans and political agendas and interest groups behind all of this—well, this seems to me worth including in a meaningful computing education too.

Neither Locked Out Nor Locked In – Continuing on from the conversation about Domain of One’s Own, Martha Burtis goes beyond conformity in her explorations of a Domain of One’s Own in her keynote for #Domains17. One of the first steps is to find your own metaphor for the web. Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon provide a useful follow-up discussion on the Modern Learners podcast. There were some other great posts from Domains17, including Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris on the need for pedagogical approaches that help Domain of One’s Own make the LMS irrelevant, Meredith Fierro on the web as a shipping container, Tom Woodward on running a multisite like a boss, Adam Croom on starting a new conversation and Amy Collier on going beyond the notion of residency to describe ideas of kindred spirits.

How do we create a space within our schools (with all their political, technical, and institutional realities) that truly embodies a spirit of self-determination and agency for our students. How do we free our students from the shackles of corporate and commercial Web spaces without creating some new kind of shackle? And, how do web build a platform for the practical, valuable, discernible activities of building on the Web while also grappling to understand the Web on which we build in deep and discerning ways?

How to install Linux on a Chromebook (and why you should) – J.M. Porup explains how to use Crouton and Gallium OS to turn Chromebooks into Linux laptops. Both options offer the ability to dual-boot, but come at a cost, as working in developer mode has the potential to open users up to various vulnerabilities. Mark O’Meara discussed this a few years ago, however his approach was to boot from a USB. Running Linux is an interesting idea and something that Dai Barnes and Doug Belshaw have discussed quite a bit lately on the TIDE Podcast. 

Chromebooks are one of the most secure devices you can give a non-technical end user, and at a price point few can argue with, but that security comes with a privacy trade off: you have to trust Google, which is part of the NSA’s Prism programme, with your data in the cloud. Even those who put their faith in the company’s rusty “don’t be evil” mantra may find Chromebook functionality limiting—if you want more than Google services, Netflix, some other Web apps, and maybe the Android app store, then you’re out of luck. Geeky users willing to engage in some entry-level hackery, however, can install Linux on their Chromebook and unleash the Power of Torvalds™.

iOS Losing Steam To Chrome In The Classroom? Kahoot Releases First EdTrends Report – The team at Nibletz provide a summary of a new report from Kahoot looking at Edtech. What interests me about this is the ability for an application like Kahoot to grab such an insightful snapshot of habits and behaviours, but more interesting is what this says about Kahoot. It leaves me wondering if the application is in fact a front for something else? Just as Amazon started with books and Uber with transportation, is Kahoot starting with quizzes? Both this report and Snapchat’s addition of maps are reminders of the data which we hand over each and every minute. Kin Lane and Audrey Watters’ discuss this in light of monopolies on the Contrafabulist Podcast.

Kahoots own metrics have now reached 50 million monthly active users, 2M U.S. teachers, 25M U.S. students with over 20M public Kahoots. Kahoot is a game based learning platform that allows teachers to quickly and efficiently create interactive and fun, immersive game lessons for students.

What You Need to Know About “Acceptable Use Policies” – Ian O’Byrne discusses the role of an user policy and what makes them acceptable. For Tom Murray and Eric Sheninger, it is about being responsible and setting in place the appropriate behaviours. Coming from the perspective of terms and conditions, Bill Fitzgerald suggests searching for particular terms when investigating questions around consent, these include: third party, affiliations, change, update and modify. For the reality is not everyone has the time and resources to unpack applications like TurnItIn or ClassDojo. In the end, the challenge is first and foremostly to have deeper discussions about these topics, such as the one facilitated by the #digciz group.

Digital networks, websites, and services are a necessary component of the toolset required to build and utilize digital and media literacies. Appropriate policies, procedures, and guidelines are necessary to protect the developers and administrators of these texts and tools, as well as the users of these spaces. These documents often fail to provide users with the freedom needed to expand their skills, while still creating safe and appropriate boundaries for use of the Internet and all it has to offer. To prepare individuals to be digitally savvy, media literate citizens, there is a need for guideline guidelines, discussions, and agreed upon policies that emphasize successful practice and define the suitable use of the technology and tools being used.

Storytelling and Reflection

“Tweeting and blogging: Selfish, self-serving indulgences?” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Tweeting and blogging: Selfish, self-serving indulgences? – Responding to Clare Narayanan and her critique of the guru teachers who spend their time at Teachmeets and on Twitter, Deb Netolicky discusses finding balance between self care, family time and service to the profession. This is a reminder that being online is a choice with consequences. Something Claire Amos touches upon. Benjamin Doxtdater also suggests, maybe our primary focus should be on self-care and private journals. 

Many of those who tweet and blog, I would argue, do so because they are interested in learning from others, sharing their own perspectives and experiences, and engaging with educators from around the world.

4 Critical Questions To Ask When Attending Education Research Conferences – Charlotte Pezaro (and Marten Koomen) unpack four questions to ask when attending research conferences. Many of these questions go beyond ‘research’ conferences and can be applied to a lot of PL, such as who is paying and what is put forwards as working. In part, this touches on some of the points Dan Haesler made in his post on disclosure, as well as the rise of the thought leader in society (rather than the public intellectual as Gramsci described).

Have fun, participate in discussions, share your ideas, and challenge (respectfully) the ideas of others. But most importantly, ask the critical questions of who is speaking (and ask about who is not), question speakers about what they’re claiming and the basis for those claims, look at how the narrative of the conference portrays and constructs education in Australia. Try to uncover who’s paying and what they’re paying for. Ask lots of questions of speakers in workshops. If you get a chance, ask a few very direct questions of the organisers.

Ep 10: ILEs, VCE and the Flow state – Steve Brophy and Dean Pearman discuss the challenges of innovation, particularly in the senior years. They suggest that with the culture of results, students have become conditioned into memorising content. Greg Miller has written a lot about giving pride of place to soft skills and capabilities, while Bianca Hewes has explained how PBL is possible in the final years. There are many who say that the senior assessment will not change until University changes. CCourses provided a clear vision in this area.

Transitions was a public research conference exploring research behind the move from traditional classrooms to what are being called innovative learning environments (ILEs) This day included a catch up with our good old friend Terry Byers (@tezzabyers). An interesting insight from the conference led to Dean and I taking an intense look at VCE and questioning the validity of the current system

Conditions for Community – Julian Stodd reflects on the conditions required for communities to prosper. He touches on such attributes as social capital, rules, consequences, social leadership, trust, fluidity of role and shared values. As always, Stodd uses a visual as a means of representing this thinking. I think that the only thing missing, that I have touched upon elsewhere, is a compelling case for being there. Associated with online communities, Jenny Mackness recently published her PhD looking into MOOCs and online learning environments.

Community is more than simply ‘technology’, or ‘space’. 

4 keys that predict which education idea will be more than just a fad & Is “making” in education a fad or a lasting change? – In these two posts, Sylvia Martinez looks at the history of sticky ideas and makes a prediction about the place of makerspaces in the future. Building on the work of Schnieder, Martinez identifies four attributes that are important to the analysis: perceived significance, philosophical compatibility, occupational realism and transportability. This is an interesting read alongside Audrey Watters’ presentation on robots raising children at New Horizons Media.

Will making in education have a lasting effect on education, or will it become just another “new new thing” that is overtaken by some newer new thing? It certainly has the perceived significance. Both academic credentials and cultural trends are working in its favor. It has philosophical compatibility with many teachers and parents too. They see children starving in a desert of worksheets and tests and know there must be a better way. There may be more to worry about in other areas. In some cases it has transportability, especially when using simplified models like Design Thinking. The problem is that simplified models and canned lesson plans are a double-edged sword. As they helps teachers with operational realities, it removes agency from the teacher. Is it inevitable that creating a version of making in education that is widely acceptable will by its nature create unacceptable compromises?

Before and After Ok Computer – With the twentieth anniversary of Ok Computer, Charles Aaron provides an audio guide to the album’s 12 songs, plus what came before, and what came after. It is an interesting exercise to place the album in a context. I remember seeing Radiohead in concert a few years ago, one of the best concerts I have ever been to. In other anniversaries, it was recently the 50th anniversary Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band too. 

“OK Computer” has a reputation as a sprawling dystopian reckoning, a commentary on the time’s relentlessly digitizing means of production by thrashing those very means. It’s an album of the proper sortstriving towards a narrative of sound and vision. If you wish, there are treatises to consult on this matter. Ultimately, the record serves as Radiohead’s sturdiest argument for itself as one of rock’s most thoughtful and sonically compelling bands, a claim that critics and fans have made consistently since its release 20 years ago.

FOCUS ON … Publishing Your Own Book

“An Unreasonable Man writes his Damn Book by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

In a recent blog post, Steve Brophy wrote about moving from dreaming of writing a book to having enough content to do so. The question though is what is the process. Here then are some of the posts and examples that I collected together on the subject:


READ WRITE RESPOND #018

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

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

Cover image: “My room” by justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/34954439821 is licensed under CC BY-SA

Read Write Respond #017

My Month of May

At work, I have been doing a bit of work around investigating and developing a learning hub. I also attended the 5th National Coaching in Education Conference, exploring the coaching approach.

On the home front, our youngest daughter is growing up way too fast (and way to cheeky). She has progressed from climbing stairs to climbing anything and everything to get what she wants.

Personally, I signed up for the Ed Tech Coaches Blogging Buddies program, where you join a group of five others in committing to both post and comment regularly. I am interested to see how it goes.

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

  • Exploring Facebook Pages – A guide to Facebook Pages, including critical questions and considerations.

  • Predicting Google Drawings 2.0 – I have been saying to quite a few people that there seems to be change afoot in regards to Google Drawings. This got me thinking about what I would actually want in a revised version.

  • My #EdTechRations – A cross between a review and a response to David Hopkins’ curated book on the technology you would not leave home without.

  • Picking a Portfolio Platform – A summary of some potential platforms for student portfolios.

  • Engaging with Algorithms – A look at the Explore tool and the way that it makes use of Google’s APIs. I wrote this before the I/O conference and that only confirmed many of my hunches.

  • Making an Online Learning Hub – An investigation into the way that a number of organisations structure their learning hubs and the tools they use.

  • Light and Shadow by Mark Colvin – a review of the late Mark Colvin’s memoir of life in journalism and as the son of a spy.

  • My Awesome Reading List – A documentation of the way in which I used Awesome Tables to create a more dynamic organisation of my reviews for my blog.

  • Taking Tech Beyond the Tool – A post unpacking Doug Belshaw’s essential elements of digital literacies as a framework for working through some of these idiosyncrasies of technology.

  • Creating Video Content – A review of some applications to use to create video content, with examples to support.

NOTE: An anonymous comment pointed out a glaring mistake in one of my posts this month. In my discussion of the new Google Sites, I wrongly stated that Google had bought out Wix. I laugh and cringe in reading this now. I swear I read something last year, but can find no evidence whatsoever. It also illustrates that fake news is not always devious, sometimes it is a mistake.


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

Learning and Teaching

This free course can teach you music programming basics in less than an hour – Quincy Larson discusses Ableton’s free interactive music course that runs right in your browser. Having taught music a few years ago, I found this as a much more engaging method of grappling with the different principles of music in an interactive way.

If you enjoy listening to music, but don’t know much about how it all works on a structural level, this course is for you. It will teach you some of the principles at work in popular songs like Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Björk’s “Army of Me”.

The Cartography of Learning – Jose Picardo uses feedback to unpack research into feedback, such as providing regular dollops and developing a roadmap. This is something that I have reflected upon before elsewhere, while it is also interesting reading alongside Deborah Netolicky’s post about the benefits of formative assessment.

This article is an attempt to explore what makes feedback effective and therefore where schools should focus their policies, which should encourage teachers to view giving feedback as an integral part of teaching, not as an additional intervention.

Make Your Own Word Search in Google Sheets – Alice Keeler has created a script for generating a word search using Google Sheets. What interests me most about this is not the creation of the task, but the steps involved. From a Digital Technologies perspective, this is a great example of abstraction, breaking a problem down to its parts, and then thinking algorithmically in the creation of a solution.

The Google Sheets template I created allows you to copy and paste your own list of words onto the spreadsheet. Use the menu to “Create Puzzle.” Copy and paste your puzzle into Docs, Drawings, Slides or Sheets or you can simply print.

Interpreting, and Honoring, the Words of Others – Kevin Hodgson looks at Lumen5, a webapp which allows users to turn blog posts into videos. Integrating with free to use images and audio, it provides a creative way to demonstrate close reading.

By close reading posts of others (or close reading yourself, too), you can point to textual elements and then add images and music. The site then kicks out a video

Search for Syria – UNHCR has created a site in partnership with Google unpacking different elements of the Syrian war. A useful resource for looking into the crisis.

Edtech


“Benjamin Doxtdater ‘What should teachers understand about the snapchat back-channel?’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

What should teachers understand about the snapchat back-channel? – Benjamin Doxtdater questions the place of Snapchat and other such backchannels in the classroom. Sachin Maharaj goes a step further to calling for it to be actively banned. For Steve Brophy, this is about waterholes. This takes me back to the question about what sort of teacher you are: limiters, enablers and mentors. However, as Bill Fitzgerald’s investigation into Edmodo demonstrates, there is also an ethical side to be considered. This was also highlighted by Twitter’s changes to privacy.

Relegating Snapchat to a completely unsupervised space in schools makes no more sense than not supervising playgrounds, especially given the unprecedented power of social media to quickly spread images far and wide. Supervising the playground does not mean that I don’t allow kids the freedom to talk without me hearing every word, but somehow balancing the freedoms that kids need with obligations to care for them.

11 podcast episodes about the Internet – MJ Kelly from Mozilla curated a list of podcasts to dig deeper into the internet. These episodes touch on questions of privacy, investigations of ownership, developing an open web, trolling, password management, algorithms and archiving the net. Along with BTN’s guide to the internet and Kin Lane’s reflections on personal data, these resources provide a useful start for appreciating the complexities of the web.

The Internet hosts thousands of hours of podcasts, all ready for our on-demand listening pleasure. While podcasting might not save the world, it does contribute to a healthy, vibrant Internet. Anyone and everyone can make a show to express themselves, pursue ideas and teach others. Some shows do a remarkable job covering Internet Health issues like privacy, security, openness, inclusion and more. Here are eleven worth hearing, from heart-wrenching human stories to lofty academic conversations, all touching on the Internet’s past, present and future.

Let’s Not Start from Scratch: Some Early Research on ‘Coding’ – There is so much written about coding, whether it be CSFirst or various applications to use for students. Although these represent fine endeavours, Peter Skillen encourages people to go back to the beginning, the time before scratch, and review the lessons learned then, rather than make the same mistakes again. To support this he has summarised a number a findings and links to their elaborations. Along with the Daily Papert project, these texts offer a provocation for going further.

If the role of the computer is so slight that the rest can be kept constant, it will also be too slight for much to come of it

How Google Took Over the Classroom – Natasha Singer traces a history of GSuite and Google’s rise in regards to the classroom. She tells the tail of Jaime Casap and his ability to sell Google to schools. There is a lot of conjecture about why Google do what they do. Users? Advertising? Licences? Algorithms? My question is what is the alternative? Microsoft? Would that be any different? Seems that they are all in a race to master artificial intelligence, changing what is means to ‘Google it’. Audrey Watters wonders if this is the ‘new normal’ and questions the consequences, while Ben Williamson describes it as platform capitalism.

Google makes $30 per device by selling management services for the millions of Chromebooks that ship to schools. But by habituating students to its offerings at a young age, Google obtains something much more valuable.

55+ Most Wanted WordPress Tips, Tricks, and Hacks – The team at WordPress Beginner compile a list of advice associated with WordPress(.org). Along with the guide to getting going, there is something for every user, even if it is a deeper appreciation for the way that WordPress works. It is also a reminder of Kin Lane and Audrey Watters’ concern that WordPress involves too much and that the future of domains and so forth may be in applications, such as Jekyll.

Ever wondered what WordPress tips, tricks, and hacks most popular WordPress sites are using? In this article, we will share some of the most wanted WordPress tips, tricks, and hacks that will help you use WordPress like a pro.

Classdojo App Takes Mindfulness To Scale In Public Education – Ben Williamson continues his exploration of Class Dojo. This time he focuses on the effort to bring mindfulness into schools. The concern that he raises is whether teaching students to be resilient is the answer or whether we really need to address the deeper problem of the standardised, dataification of education. This is something that Graham Martin-Brown also touches on in a new project.

It is probably a step too far to suggest that ClassDojo may be the ideal educational technology for digital capitalism. However, it is clear that ClassDojo is acting as a psycho-policy platform and a channel for mindfulness and growth mindsets practices that is aimed at pathology-proofing children against anxious times through the imposition of positive feelings in the classroom. While taming ‘the Beast’ of his uncontrollable emotions of ‘anger, fear and anxiety’ through mindfulness meditation, ClassDojo’s Mojo mascot is both learning the lessons of positive psychology and acting as a relay of those lessons into the lives of millions of schoolchildren. Its model of pocket-based psycho-policy bypasses the kind of slow-paced bureaucracy so loathed in the fast-paced accelerationist culture of Silicon Valley, and imposes its preferred psychological techniques directly on the classroom at global scale.

Storytelling and Reflection


“@BaliMaha ‘No Me Without Us’” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

No Me Without Us: Reflections After the UNIR #SelfOER #OpenTuesday Webinar – Reflecting on a recent call in regards to OER, Maha Bali discusses some of the challenges associated with the privilege around sharing. This is a continuation of a discussion around OER as a way of being.

I think about sustainability of openness if no model is in place to ensure it is financially sustainable, and I also think that for some of us, dissent and being on the cutting edge might also be a need, such that we will always be working on something in some way unorthodox and unfunded. And for some of us the need to share is a drive, difficult to stop. In the same way that we need to understand that for others, there is a need to NOT share, be it a personality thing or because they risk real harm or have experienced real harm from sharing in the past. But also to ask someone NOT to share when sharing is a way of being for them? It’s really hard.

The Over Promotion of Failure – Jackie Gerstein reflects on the focus on failure and wonders if it was all something that did not quite go to plan. Rather than celebrating what did not work, she has developed a set of questions to identify the successes and what could be done next time to improve. This reminds me of the strength-based approach, where the focus is on highlighting strengths in order to build confidence to go further.

I reframe the idea of failure, that oftentimes occur within open-ended, ill-defined projects, as things didn’t go as originally planned. It is just a part of the learning process. I explain to my learners that they will experience setbacks, mistakes, struggles. It is just a natural part of real world learning. Struggles, setbacks, and mistakes are not discussed as failure but as parts of a process that need improving. The focus becomes on what went right and on how learners can increase those aspects that were successful. The underlying learning principle becomes success breeds more success.

This Week In Webo-plasmosis – Using the example of a parasite shared between mice and cats, Michael Caulfield wonders if we have a webo-plasmosis that encourages us to mindlessly share personal details online that can then be mined by advertisers. He provides a partial list for users to identify if they have the parasite. Caulfield’s weekly newsletter is a good read for such topics.

  • Do you retweet headlines you agree with to help Facebook build a profile of you, while not reading the articles?

  • Do you take pictures of your food, helpfully labelling your dietary habits, consumption patterns, and common meal ingredients?

  • Have you become an email hoarder, never bulk deleting old email on fear “you might need it someday”, thereby preserving the vast library of documents Google needs to model your affinities, desires, and personal secrets?

  • When something happens to you of note, do you feel compelled to log it on the web?

  • Do you join Facebook groups that best express who you are?

  • Do you use Amazon Alexa’s much touted “Shopping List” feature to build a list of things you intend to buy locally, so that Amazon now has a list of things you buy locally?

  • Do you wince at the thought of taking old tweets offline, because of all the “old memories” stored in tweets you haven’t looked at for five years?

  • Do you authenticate into third-party services using Twitter, Facebook, and Google identity so that they can better track your online behavior?

  • Do you never use aliases or pseudonyms online, and are you convinced that this “transparency” somehow makes you a “more honest person”?

  • Do you find yourself posting lists of bands you’ve seen, or asking friends to share “one memory they have about you”?

Update: Opportunity Knocks Again, And Again, And Again – Jon Andrews provides an update of his analysis of Visible Learning. Bringing together the critiques from Snook et al, Simpson, Jones, Orange and Eacott, Andrews questions whether we can continue to ignore the issues anymore. This leaves me wondering about the alternatives? Is it returning to ideas around a ‘good education’? Is it about driving change from the ground on up? Responding to the criticism of Stephen Dinham, Adrian Camm suggests that pedagogical practice is about choosing the right strategy for the situation.

The seductive rhetoric of Hattie’s work can be found almost everywhere and certainly seems compelling. With questions being asked of the methodological credibility upon which all else gushes forth, shouldn’t we be questioning how much we buy into it? Surely we cannot ignore the noise, not necessarily because of its message, but because the noise is becoming a cacophony.

Building Staff Culture: The Importance of Trust – Chris Wejr looks back on his experiences as a principal and discusses some of the strategies that he has used to foster a culture of trust. Along with Paul Browning’s book, Eric Sheninger’s post and Ray McLean’s work with Leading Teams, Wejr’s post is a reminder of the importance of trust to education.

In order to create positive change in schools, there must be trust – not only between staff members but also between staff and the principal.  In my first position as a principal, I moved from being a vice-principal to a principal at the same school so people already knew me and had a better idea of what I stood for as an educator. There was a level of trust already there but this was not the case when I moved to a new school. When I arrived at my current school 3 years ago, I assumed that trust would be easy to build between the staff and me. I felt I was a decent guy with experience as a principal and there was no reason NOT to trust me… so building trust should happen rather quickly. I had plans to work on trust with me (as well as between staff) but I had no idea it would take as long as it did.  I have learned a ton in my 3+ years at James Hill, especially in the area of building trust. It is not something to be rushed and it takes a lot of effort and time to ensure that trusting relationships are solidified.

5 Ways Students Should Be Connected Beyond Technology – Peter DeWitt discusses connections and reminds us that it is more than just technology. He talks about connections to ourselves, peers, families, nature and society,  I think that this is important and something that I touched upon in my discussion of PLNs.

Our Smartphones provide us with a very important connection to our outside world. Many of us remember a time before the internet and social media. However, our students do not because they have grown up with it around them. As important as being connected and learning how to use Smartphones appropriately is important, so is putting them down and finding connections in other ways.

Transforming Tension And Disequilibrium Into Breakthrough Experiences – David Culberhouse discusses the challenges associated with the tensions of change. One of the biggest tensions being the maintenance of everyday practice, something that Dean Shareski touches on in a recent post. Eric Ries talks about sandboxing elements of change from the status quo, while John Kotter describes it as the dual operating system. This also reminds me of Raymond Williams’ discussion of Dominant, Residual And Emergent.

It is only through individual and organizational capacity that transformational breakthroughs are achieved, and we actually achieve the epiphany of change.  It is in our capacity-building efforts that the tension and disequilibrium wrought on by change is able to be redefined and repurposed for growth and autonomy, rather than politics, power struggles and dysfunctional structures and processes.  It is only in this shift, that change can emerge as a more productive  and transformational process for our individuals and organizations.

Out of the Darkness – Tom Sherrington reflects on the emotional challenges of failing an inspection. This reminds me of the suicides of Mark Thompson and Carol Woodward, both based on the pressures of leadership. Paul Browning suggests that if a headteacher does not look after themselves first and fore-mostly, they are useless to everyone. In an environment of increased accountability, how leaders are supported is so important.

If work makes you cry – that is stress! You need to get help…. I didn’t recognise it, so I didn’t.

FOCUS ON … Mark Colvin


“Mark Colvin’s Journalistic Credo” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

After battling 20 years with a rare disease while covering a crisis in Rwanda in 1995, distinguished journalist Mark Colvin passed away this month. Along with Tony Delroy, Colvin’s voice on the ABC is one of those things that I came to assume. Inspired by Austin Kleon who suggests reading reading obituaries to learn from those who have come before, here are a collection of thoughts and reflections to leave you inspired.


READ WRITE RESPOND #017

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

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

Cover image via JustLego101 https://www.flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06

Read Write Respond #016

My Month of April

At work, continuing to develop material to support schools as things ramp up. The modules that my colleagues and I have been working on are finally ready to be published, while we also presented together at Edtechteam GAFE Summit at Manor Lakes in Melbourne’s west.

Personally, I took some time off over Easter and with my family spent a couple of weeks in New Zealand. It is funny that it was a New Zealand artist who wrote “Everywhere you go, always take the weather with you.” While we were there we copped the remains of Cyclone Debbie, while just missed on Cyclone Cook – touted as the worst storm this century – as it ended up staying on the coast. Other than that we spent our time in gumboots visiting Taupo, Rotorua, Auckland and Hobbiton. I found New Zealand one of those places where the longer you stay somewhere the more you find to explore. I also attended the Auckland Edtechteam Summit.

 
“Hobbit for a day, human for a lifetime #hobbiton” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

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

  • Read Write Wikity – Continuing to explore different ideas and opportunities associated with blogging, I collected together some reflections on setting up my own instance of Wikity.

  • Towards Collective Innovation – After sitting through a Q&A with Jaime Casap, I felt inspired to review my moonshot developed as a part of the Google Innovative Educator program. So here is my pivot to something greater.

  • New (Zealand) Experiences – A reflection on education in New Zealand. There were quite a few differences to Australia, particularly the position of Maori culture.

  • Did Someone Say … Hashtags – A personal unpacking of the way that I see and use hashtags. This stemmed in part from a series of conversations that I have been having with Ian Guest around Twitter and professional learning.

While I have created quite a few cards in my Wikity.


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

Learning and Teaching


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

Why Journalism Might Actually Be the Class of the Future – John Spencer suggests that the true makerspaces are found in creating texts, an activity best captured by journalism. To support this, Spencer provides a range of practical suggestions to turn every student into a budding journalist. This reminds me of Michael Caulfield’s ideas about creating the web and connecting ideas. I wonder how it fits with the Digipo project and whether domain of one’s own is the greatest form of journalism?

I believe the best way to prepare students for the future is to empower them in the present. Journalism asks students to make sense out of their world as critical thinking citizens and then communicate their ideas to an authentic audience.

Stop Motion Animation with Google Slides – Eric Curts demonstrates how Google Slides can be used to make stop motion animation. With this he provides a number of use cases, as well as an outline how to turn the complete slideshow into a video. For more on GSuite, here is a summary for the month of April.

Many times we think of Slides as just a program for creating multimedia presentations. However, with just a few tricks you and your students can actually use Google Slides to make stop motion movies.

Ideas For How to Do Better Book Clubs in Middle School – Pernille Ripp reflects on the changes in her thinking around book clubs. She identifies a number of changes associated with choice and procedures. Not only a useful post in regards to teaching reading in the middle years, but also as a demonstration of a change in practice. This is something Emily Fintelman touches on in her post reflecting on best practice pedagogy.

While my method for integrating book clubs may seem loose at best, I have found incredible buy-in from the students.  They have been excited to read their books, they have been excited to share their thoughts, and the accountability that they feel toward one another is something I would not be able to produce through force.  Middle schoolers need a framework to grow within, they need our purposes to be authentic as much as possible, and they need to have a voice in how things function within our classroom.  Book clubs offer us a way to have these moments in reading that abound with deep reading conversations that I may not be able to have as a whole group, they allow even the quietest student to have a voice.  They allow students to feel validated in their thoughts and they allow them to share their knowledge with each other.  What have you done to create successful book clubs?

How To Train A Gcse Essay Writer – Alex Quigley provides a guide to essay writing. Rather than focusing on words like ‘evaluate and analyse’, Quigley outlines a range of strategies and strands to support the process of composition. Along with Joel Speranza’s reimagining of the common worksheet, these posts offer an alternative approach to seemingly standard practices.

Writing a good essay takes a host of knowledge and expertise. For English Literature then, we need to distill down that complexity into more manageable diagnostic assessments, so that our students can gradually develop from their novice status towards something like expertise. To use an analogy, writing a great essay is like the creation of a strong rope, with each sub-strand being woven together in unison. Each strand of the rope can represent the crucial knowledge required for essay writing success. If we are to teach great essays, then we need to define the strands that will be woven together to form the rope.

Three Questions – Dean Shareski explains that although you might not always be able to measure learning, you can document it. Currently digging into a lot of summative assessment, this recognition of data beyond basic numbers is important. To support this, Shareski uses three key questions.

What do I know now that I didn’t know before this course? Perhaps a list of 3-5 key understandings or ideas

What can I do now I couldn’t do before? Think more about skills, techniques, work habits, etc

Why does it matter? How will this make a difference in the future?

Design and Play – Our Podcast Workflow – Steve Brophy shares his workflow associated with recording the Design and Play Podcast. Along with suggestions from The Podcast, Doug Belshaw’s ‘how to’, Ian O’Byrne’s comprehensive series of posts, my reflections on adding other content to blogs and Eric Jensen’s reflections on student podcasts, these resources provide a good starting point for anyone wanting to get into podcasting. In addition to this, Dave Winer has written a few posts lately about the history and future of podcasting for those interested in the context associated with the technology.

When Dean and I started recording the Design and Play podcast, we had no clue where to start. I had been collating articles and workflows that people had shared but we were total amateurs. From my reading and my experience working with media, I knew that having great audio was the key (D’uh!) but how do you achieve that when you physically aren’t in the same room. I hope this post sheds a little light on the workflow that we have developed to make Design and Play come to life.

Google Earth Engine – Google Earth Engine is described as a planetary-scale platform for Earth science data & analysis. It is another one of those applications that allows for deep connections to the world in the classroom. Along with Jon Major intriguing post on the economics and ethics associated with solar panels, Earth Engine offers a wealth of resources to start talking about the environment.

Google Earth Engine combines a multi-petabyte catalog of satellite imagery and geospatial datasets with planetary-scale analysis capabilities and makes it available for scientists, researchers, and developers to detect changes, map trends, and quantify differences on the Earth’s surface.

Edtech


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

Reconceptualising Online Spaces To Build Digital Capacity – In notes from a webinar Naomi Barnes presented, she explores the question of integrating digital technologies. Building on the work of Marshall McLuhan, she discusses the idea of dialectics. This reminds me of Belshaw’s eight elements of digital literacies. Along with Jonathan Wylie’s recent presentation on good technology integration, these posts offer some alternatives to the usual reference to the SAMR model as the solution to talking about technology.

… the most effective way to build staff capacity in digital technologies is to allow the technology to fade into the background and help people discover how the technology can enhance and augment what they are passionate about. No digital literacy program is going to be bought into unless it pushes some buttons that are not necessarily related to technology.

The Current State of Educational Blogging 2016 – Sue Waters unpacks the results to the 2016 survey into the current state of blogging in education. The key findings include the move away from tablets towards Chromebooks and the reality that 1:1 is still far from the dominant model.

We started the annual survey because we’re frequently asked for detailed information to help educators:

Convince school administrators to allow blogging.

Understand the benefits of blogging and how blogs are used with students.

Know more about which blogging platforms are commonly used by educators (and why).

Here’s what you told us in 2016!

Digital Literacy is about power – Doug Belshaw reflects on digital literacies and argues that they are centred in power. Along with his post on deconstructing literacies, He touches on a range of questions and considerations to support a deeper understanding of literacies.

It takes longer, is messier, and involves hard work, but coming up with a co-created approach of digital literacies (note the plural) is the only real way to get to sustainable and meaningful change. If your organisation is trying to do a digital literacy ‘to’ a group of people, it’s doing it wrong.

Hashtags as Roots of Resilience – Kevin Hodgson digs into hashtags. He uncovers some of the problems, as well as the benefits associated with making connections. Along with Ian Guest’s history of the hashtag and Clive Thompson’s exploration, they offer a deeper understanding of the web and the way it works.

Without hashtags, we might as well be yelling into deep space. With hashtags, we have the possibility to connect.

5 Ways To Use Apple Clips In The Classroom – Mark Anderson reviews Apple’s new app Clips. Like Adobe Spark and Google AutoDraw, it makes the process of creating easy. Some activities that he suggests include explaining a topic or giving feedback. With this in mind Naomi Barnes considers what is lost in seemingly dumbing down the making process.

It is easy to use and there can be considerable depth of challenge applied to tasks given to pupils to complete using the tool. By demonstrating knowledge, understanding, skills, evaluation, synthesis etc whilst using the tool creatively, I can see how this tool could impact upon learning and standards.

Storytelling and Reflection


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

Collaboration – Gary Stager considers all the hype surrounding Google Docs and it’s collaborative edge. In discussing his decades of experience, he suggests that writing is selfish and collaboration should not be forced, rather it needs to be natural. Along with Peter Skillen’s reflections on technology, these posts offer a useful provocation in thinking about modern learning.

Cooperation and collaboration are natural processes. Such skills are useful when the creative process benefits from interdependence. The best collaboration mirrors democracy when individual talents, knowledge, or experiences are contributed to produce something larger than the sum of its parts. Work with your friends. Work with people you trust. Work with people who have different skills or expertise. If that doesn’t produce the result you desire, you will find others to collaborate with. That is how you learn to collaborate. You may teach it, but the students will not stay taught.

Competencies vs. Skills – Eric Sheninger identifies the differences between competencies and skills. Often talk is about future skills when what we really need to be addressing are the competencies which encapsulate these skills. This is captured within the New Zealand curriculum, something clearly visualised by Richard Wells. Competencies are also important to consider in regards to developing Open Badges.

While skills are an important part of learning and career paths, they’re not rich or nuanced enough to guide students towards true mastery and success. Skills focus on the “what” in terms of the abilities a student needs to perform a specific task or activity. They don’t provide enough connection to the how. Competencies take this to the next level by translating skills into behaviors that demonstrate what has been learned and mastered in a competent fashion. In short, skills identify what the goal is to accomplish.

How Google Book Search Got Lost – Scott Rosenberg takes a look at Google Books, the original moonshot. As he traces the history associated with the project, he shows both how Google has changed and responded to various challenges. It is also interesting to note what might have been done differently. Cathy O’Halloran and I recently presented on the way in which Google connects cultures. It is fascinating as to what is available with nGram, but also where it might all go in the future. Something that Rosenberg also notes in closing.

Maybe, when some neural network of the future achieves self-awareness and find itself paralyzed by Kafka-esque existential doubts, it will find solace, as so many of us do, in finding exactly the right book to shatter its psychic ice. Or maybe, unlike us, it will be able to read all the books we’ve scanned — really read them, in a way that makes sense of them. What would it do then?

Mark Zuckerberg’s Makeover Is a Political Campaign Without the Politics – Nitasha Tiku unpacks Mark Zuckerberg’s move to meet the people by traveling to different states. Although many have interpreted this as politicking, Tiku suggests that it is about building social capital that helps keep Zuckerberg and Facebook’s options open, especially with the growing concern and criticism around platform culture.

Right now, Zuckerberg needs public goodwill to protect the idea that his product is a tool for connectivity and not misinformation, mass surveillance, or censorship. Add to that Facebook’s stranglehold on the media and the $18 billion online advertising market, and suddenly the term “antitrust regulation” sounds like more than just a quaint European custom. Lately, even the word “platform,” which once made it easy for tech companies to evade accountability, is starting to sound sinister. The New York Times recently argued that companies like Facebook, Google, and Uber are largely responsible for “rehabilitating the concept” of a monopoly in their endless drive to dominate.

Learning Styles And Bovver Boys – There has been a lot written about the potential of social media. However, there is just as much discussed around the limitations of such spaces and the ease with which we can confirm our biases. One aspect that has arisen over time is the place and power of tribes and with this some negative attributes, such as trolling. Thinking about these matters, Marten Koomen wonders about the place of care in such spaces. It is interesting to consider this discussion alongside Michael Caulfield’s investigation of technology designed to meet a demand in his new newsletter and whether spaces such as Twitter are designed to support or sabotage a culture of care?

Many educators approach education from an ethic of care and are particularly prone to bullying. As Noddings (2003) explains, a person who engages others from an ethic of care “is not seeking the answer but the involvement” (p. 176). Care is of primary importance in education. It is through an ethic of care that new insights and understandings become possible. When involvement is inauthentic and hostile, those engaging can experience toxicity and distress. Of course, those who approach life from an ethic of care still need to reason, but this reasoning needs to proceed with an empathy for different perspectives. It requires moral development (Gilligan, 1977; Kohlberg, 1971; Murphy & Gilligan, 1980).

Wakefulness and Digitally Engaged Publics – Ian O’Byrne reflects on the challenges of university professors to engage in the public discourse. I think that this has as much to do with teachers sharing their practice to reframe the perception of education. An example of this is the #hashtag180 challenge. Having said all this, Bon Stewart and Benjamin Doxtdator touch on some of the challenges in balancing identity and citizenship.

As digital technologies become more ubiquitous, we need to realize there is not much of a difference between the online and the “real spaces” around us in which we exist. In a post-Snowden world we understand that our data and digital footprint is public. We must contend with the potential that we are under constant surveillance from business, government, and other entities. Our online and offline interactions are woven together into a transmedia narrative that forms different parts of our identity. It follows us as we browse online and in our academic journals. As we explore and adapt to these new spaces and tools, the learning may be often messy. There is also the concern of how this positioning affects our perceived or presented identities. Despite these concerns and challenges, digitally literate academics are needed to infuse networked publics with reasoned and validated evidence and data.

Meeting The Challenges Of Teacher Professional Learning – Alice Leung discusses the process associated with professional learning. I think that this where we are at in education, finding balance between running sessions, but also providing follow-up to support the development of collective capacity. This is something that both Andrea Stringer and Cameron Paterson also touch on, the need to identify areas of action as follow up.

Teacher professional learning is a process, not an event

Cultural Forces That Define Leadership… – Edna Sackson provides a series of questions to help guide leaders in recognising the cultural forces within their context. Along with Joel Speranza’s list of wicked questions, these posts allow educators to dig deeper into their own practice.

How might a leader, in any context, ensure that he or she provides time, sets expectations, engages in interactions, uses language, models actions, creates an environment and ensures opportunities that empower the community to flourish?

FOCUS ON … A Domain of One’s Own


“Domain as Rent” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

In Maha Bali’s keynote for #OER17, she touches on a number of challenges associated with open education, including gender, access, colonialism and equity. As a part of this discussion, she brought up the challenges associated a Domain of One’s Own. Last year she wrote a post arguing that we do not own our domain, rather we rent it. Here is a collection of posts associated with domains and reclaiming the web to continue the conversation:


READ WRITE RESPOND #016

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

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

Image used in the cover: “Anzac Memorial” by justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/34337343715 is licensed under CC BY-SA

Read Write Respond #015

My Month of March

On the work front, I have been doing quite a bit of learning and inquiry around data literacy. In addition to this, I have been continuing to develop material to support online learning for Google Sheets and Hapara. On the side, I have been toying around with different forms of automation using Sheets, as well as developing materials for the EdTechSummit at Manor Lakes next month.

On a personal front, I finally got around to setting up my awesome blogroll that Tom Woodward created for me. I also set up my own Wikity. In regards to my family, we have been preparing for our trip to New Zealand next month. One of the perks to not automatically having school holidays off.

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


“PBL vs VL” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

The skill, will, and thrill of Project Based Learning – Bianca Hewes reflects on here experiences with Visible Learning and Project Based Learning. She highlights the similarities, such as a focus on stages and structure. The post finishes with a call to work together to strive for a better education for all. It is interesting reading this alongside the David Price’s recent analyses and a useful introduction to Project Based Learning.

This isn’t a research article (I’m a teacher, not an academic), it’s a reflective post where I’ve tried to put down the thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain for the last week. I just think that in education we shouldn’t be making enemies, we shouldn’t need to take sides… we’re all in this field because we love young people, we care about their future success, and we are passionate about teaching and learning. It would be so super awesome to work together, and be positive, for better outcomes for the people that matter – the kids – and not for our own personal agendas of gains. Anyway, if you don’t like PBL, that’s cool (well, no, not really, you’re missing out, haha), but make sure you know what it is you’re critiquing before you start to bag it – cos it might just be that we’re arguing for the same thing.

Can We Please Stop Grading Independent Reading? – Pernille Ripp explains why assessing independent reading can be problematic. She makes the case for skill based assessment, rather than a count of books. Along with the Paula Schwanenflugel and Nancy Flanagan Knapp’s investigation into reading levels, these posts offer a useful provocation to reflect on reading instruction in the classroom.

So when we look to grade a child on how they are as a reader we need to make sure that the assessments we provide actually provide us with the answers we need.  Not an arbitrary number that again rewards those who already have established solid reading habits and punish those that are still developing.  And if you are asked to grade independent reading, ask questions; what is it you are trying to measure and is it really providing you with a true answer?  Are you measuring habits or skills?  Are the grades accurate?  If not, why not?  And if not, then what? 

The Questioning ‘Collection’ – Alex Quigley reflects on questioning and the different approaches that he has taken in the past. With his collection on feedback, these posts are a useful resources to progressively work through.

As a teacher of nearly 15 years, I have attempted annual to crack the code for asking great questions. I am working on it. Happily, I have written a lot of blogs to capture, distill and codify my thinking into practical strategies for classroom talk and questioning

How are we traveling? Reflecting on the ‘story so far’ – Kath Murdoch provides a check-in for teachers to reflect on how they we traveling. It is interesting reading this alongside Brad Gustafson’s call for us to challenge assumptions and Tony Sinanis’ suggestions on areas for educational reform.

As the days shorten (at least on our side of the world) let’s take stock and reflect on the story so far. Here are some questions to help you reflect on your culture-building efforts – and perhaps to help you consider new goals to work on. Suffice to say – none of us can manage to get all of these things happening beautifully all at once!  This is an ‘aspirational’ check list- I hope it provides the basis for some affirmation as well as for some challenge.

#ProjectDreamtime: connecting with Arnhem Land and learning about culture – Lee Hewes documents a Project-Based Learning unit focusing on bringing stories of the Dreamtime into the digital age. What stands out in Hewes’ account is the place of technology to make collaborative learning ‘more doable’. This includes a class website, Skype to connect with a remote indigenous community and a YouTube channel to celebrate and extend the learning.

So over the last couple of weeks of the summer holidays, I designed the project outline for the project, which is guided by the driving question, ‘How could new technologies be used to tell traditional stories?’, and set about trying to connect with some schools from remote Indigenous communities. In fact, I emailed probably around 50 schools from remote NSW, QLD and the NT, trying to establish connections. I finally managed to secure a connection with an awesome school from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, which I’ll write a little more about later. I also contacted the AECG and organised for a visitor to come to our school with some Aboriginal artefacts and to introduce the students to Indigenous culture. 

Black-Out Poetry with Google Docs – Eric Curts​​ provides a guide to creating blackout poetry with Google Docs. Curts work often leaves me amazed at the range of possibilities associated with GSuite. If new to his work, it is worth listening to his interview on the Check This Out podcast. 

Black-out poetry can be a fun and educational activity for students. For those that have trouble coming up with a poem, this activity can be helpful since the students already have all the words for the poem and just need to choose the ones they want to keep. 

A Change Sprint – workshopping new ideas in a hurry – Dave Cormier brings together​ his thinking around collectively building ideas in the form of a digitally connected sprint. 

A Change Sprint is focused on a central question posed by the member who calls or convenes the Spring to action. Each question, so far, has changed at least slightly in the course of each of the Sprints – the question can be iterative but it guides the discussion. A participant will convene a Sprint because they want help with an idea, a problem, a challenge…and are looking for a particular kind of outcome. They might want a model. They could need something said in a particular way, or need an idea workshopped before it goes out into the wild. Before beginning, each convenor has to create a simple project charter that explains the necessary background in a simple, organized way. The charter allows people to get up to speed in a hurry, and provides a location for discussion around broader contextual issues. We have a google template that has been working well for us. It’s been really important to us that the sprints are as efficient as possible. We put the time limit on a sprint at 5 days, but any can end if the initial target is met and the convenor’s challenge addressed.

Edtech


“On Twitter” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Dear Twitter. It’s not me, it’s you – David Hopkins reflects on some of the changes that have occurred lately within Twitter, both socially and technically. There seems to be a lot of talk around Twitter of late, whether it be around alternatives, possible changes or how it is being unbundled. 

So, here’s what I need from Twitter, in this new world – I don’t want my Twitter timeline/stream to be controlled by algorithms, but I do want more control (note: I want the control, not for it to be done for me) over the kind of tweets that fill my timeline. If the 1,300 or so people I follow on Twitter want to share and discuss current affairs and Brexit and the like, then I am happy for them and don’t want to stop them, or unfollow them either. I just want some way to filter those out, until I want to read them. Twitter is acting against the rise (and rise) of trolls and the nasty side of the internet (some say too late). 

Here we B.Y.GO again… 😉 – Corrie Barclay provides his thoughts and reflections on going BYO*. He touches on such things as having a plan and documentation in place (much of which he posted in a follow up post). What interests me about such discussions are the nuances associated with each situation. I am also intrigued by the different approaches to action research and reflection associated with such programs. 

What I am personally pleased with it that my beliefs towards integrating a successful BYO program have not changed all that much from roughly 9 years ago. What was needed to be in place then, still needs to be in place now. I have over the years read and seen quite a lot in this space and at the end of the day, you do not need ‘21 successful tips towards BYOD‘, or, ‘BYOD, 45,721 points for successful integration‘, or anything in between. Here I have shared my key tips, points, notes, ‘things’, whatever you would like to call them, that have assisted and driven myself towards leading and implementing BYOD frameworks. As usual, comments welcome. 

Why EdTech Initiatives Fail (…and a support to help!) – Tom Murray on why #EdTech initiatives fail when there is a disconnect between vision and features. The focus on vision is also touched on by Lawrence DeMaeyer in an interview with Will Richardson. 

Every product has baked in assumptions regarding how students will learn best and how a tool will be utilized in a particular school. Yet we know that to effectively select technology, one must understand whether their vision for teaching and learning aligns with the assumptions baked into the products being selected. When there is a mismatch, implementations will fail. 

Endorsement 2.0: Taking Open Badges and E-Credentials to the Next Level – Daniel Hickey and Nate Otto discuss the affordances of the new endorsement feature that is a part of the Open Badges 2.0 release. I came upon this post via the Open Badges newsletter. 

A set of endorsement features are about to make Open Badges more credible, searchable, and trackable. These features will allow individuals or organizations who issue badges to add endorsements by other parties to add to their credibility and trustworthiness across different communities. As with LinkedIn, it will take time and investment for these new features to become widely embraced by various stakeholders. But unlike LinkedIn’s endorsements, Open Badges will allow multiple institutions to experiment with this feature. 

On Next Generation Digital Learning Environments – Jim Groom​ discusses the Next Generation Digital Learning Environments. It would seem that there are a number of challenges to be grappled with, including the challenge of organising personal spaces and managing our personal data online. In an associated post, Benjamin Doxtdater wonders if the problem with edtech is the lack of pedagogical imagination from the companies creating the products. 

What the ELI white paper misses is that this system needs to be approached from a new perspective that humanizes the exchange of data and makes those negotiations everywhere apparent and transparent—that’s not going to happen through a federation of corporate software companies that are mining your personal data for their own profit—and if that’s the case why can’t you say no? —or even decide the terms and get a piece of the action? 

Sideways Dictionary – This site helps explain various edtech terms through the use of analogies. 

Sideways dictionary — it’s like a dictionary, but using analogies instead of definitions. Use it as a tool for finding and sharing helpful analogies to explain technology. Because if everyone understands technology better, we can make technology work better for everyone.

Storytelling and Reflection

“Clash of Ideas @dculberhouse” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Clash Of Ideas: The Tension Of Innovation – David Culberhouse outlines the importance of tension to foster innovation. Coming back to the ‘learning well’, he highlights the importance of difference and the way in which heavily managed environments undermine this. 

The most creative and innovative organizations don’t just accept ideas, they engage ideas. They wrestle and fight with ideas, not because they don’t think they are good, but because they want to make them even better.  They learn to not hold any idea too close to the chest, understanding that any idea can be built upon and improved. They approach the idea process with an attitude of positive “plussing” which allows ideas to expand and evolve. 

The Power of Explaining to Others – Mike Caulfield explains why the future of education is through explaining rather than creating. Along with his manifesto and guide to web literacy, Caulfield outlines something of a solution to the challenges of fake news. For Dave Winer, it is all about taking back the power over news from Silicon Valley. 

What happens in peer instruction? You give students daily opportunities to realize they understand a fraction of what they think they do, and you get amazing learning gains. People wonder why I got obsessed with federated wiki. I got obsessed for a number of reasons, but as I discussed in The Garden and the Stream, one of the primary ones was this: a daily process of trying to explain and connect incoming ideas rather than rating them and arguing them changes your brain in helpful ways. Federated wiki takes us down a path of explanation and connection. Traditional social media takes us down a path of argument and retrenchment. 

Finding Motivation – Bec Spink reflects on the motivation that comes through conversations with peers. Along with John Goh’s thoughts on learning alongside other leaders, these posts are a great reminder as to why having a PLN is so important. 

A few key things have occurred in the past year for me, that now on reflection have made me realise that that ferocious person I was after to give me that little kick was never going to be found on a stage. In fact, as it turns out, it’s not even one person. It’s the conversations. The light bulb moments. The pure excitement and looks on children’s faces and those of their teachers I see every day. It’s my continued dedication to always wanting more, to being more, to making change. It’s watching things I’ve worked hard at succeed. It’s learning from the things that didn’t. It’s surrounding myself with like minded people. It’s my mentors. Sometimes it’s the littlest moments, all you have to do is notice them 

Open as a Need? #oer17 – Maha Bali continues to openly reflect on what it is to be open in preparation for her keynote at #OER17. In this post she talks about the needs associated with being open and sharing to the world. Although this is not something that is always available to everyone, the place it serves for some is important to recognise. Also of importance is Bali’s point that it may not be for everyone and may in fact be deeply personal. This reminded me of Benjamin Doxtdator’s point about the risks associated with blogging and the point that it may not be for everyone. 

My personal “need” for open is not universal. I have a social need that’s fulfilled by open/online. I need to have people who think in certain ways to be part of my life to talk to them about certain things. I also have a need to learn from open/online that’s different from what I can (and do) learn offline. But it could have been another way, you know? There’s a lot of ego and humility in blogging and openness in general. Of course when your work gets read and shared it helps boost the ego. It becomes more or less important depending on lots of things. Each post becomes less important if you post a heck of a lot (like me) but sometimes getting noticed by particular people matters. And it also involves a lot of humility because some of us share half-formed thoughts, seek help, share vulnerability, admit pain or failure or confusion. Or frustration. In ways sometimes doing it f2f doesn’t help. 

The silent tragedy of NAPLAN, students reported in misleading bands – Marten Koomen looks into the problems of NAPLAN, especially in putting it out there through the MySchools website as an outright measurement for success. Along with Stewart Riddle’s look at the MySchools website, Bronwyn Hinz on PISA, Deborah Netolicky’s reflection on the new Evidence for Learning Toolkit and Dan Haesler’s questions about evidence, these posts offer insight into the world of data and assessment. 

Teachers are being held accountable to dubious statistics. For example, the American Educational Research Association (2015) strongly cautions against the use of value-added-models. Yet Australia reports student progress without reservation or qualification on the My School website (myschool.edu.au). This is not in the interest of students, teachers, or schools. In whose interest this reporting is occurring remains opaque. 

Worthiness – According to Who? – Jon Andrews reflects on the problems associated with conducting empirical research into humans and education. Instead, he suggests we need to start with questions and inquiry to develop the unknown. Along with AJ Juiliani’s thoughts on learning, Michael Niehoff’s questions about teaching for readiness, Andrea Stringer’s exploration of coaching and Peter DeWitt’s wondering about whether some people are uncoachable, these posts are a reminder of the divide between the overall goals of education and the way schools are managed and organised. 

Knowing the challenges complex human interactions pose to scientific study and research, why might it be that politicians and the sections of the profession are seemingly enticed by evidence-based practices and interventions? Perhaps we could consider them a bridge across the chasm that divides theory and practice, with the messiness of life and relationships in the ravine? Perhaps in the eyes of some, what education is meant to be has suffered a slow and steady erosion for too long. They cannot stand idle and observe wave after wave of fads, directionless leadership and a lack of vision. Seeing education as rudderless, misinformed and a waste of money is enough to rile anyone.

The Future of Work: 3 Mega-Trends – Graham Martin-Brown explores some of the trends associated with the future of work, including AI and universal income. This continues the conversation that is pushed by others, such as Douglas Rushkoff, Martin Ford and Doug Belshaw. It is also interesting to compare this with a post from Oxford University last year on the second topic. In the end, these are only trends and a part of the intent of the post is to highlight that the future is ours to define. 

Now I don’t for a moment pretend that I have this all figured out, I like to think of myself as more of a compass than a map, but I believe that we have entered a period of massive global disruption where the status quo as we know it is going change. We can either let someone else choose our destiny or we can exert our agency and be part of a positive change to design the new status quo for the society that we want tomorrow. 

Why Foucault’s work on power is more important than ever – Colin Koopman provides some background into Foucault’s work associated with power and explains why it is still important today (and tomorrow). It is interesting reading, alongside Greg Thompson’s reflection on numbers and measurement in a data driven age. 

Disciplinary training is not sovereign violence. But it is power. Classically, power took the form of force or coercion and was considered to be at its purest in acts of physical violence. Discipline acts otherwise. It gets a hold of us differently. It does not seize our bodies to destroy them, as Leviathan always threatened to do. Discipline rather trains them, drills them and (to use Foucault’s favoured word) ‘normalises’ them. All of this amounts to, Foucault saw, a distinctly subtle and relentless form of power. To refuse to recognise such disciplining as a form of power is a denial of how human life has come to be shaped and lived. If the only form of power we are willing to recognise is sovereign violence, we are in a poor position to understand the stakes of power today. If we are unable to see power in its other forms, we become impotent to resist all the other ways in which power brings itself to bear in forming us. 

Imaginaries and materialities of education data science – In a speech for the Nordic Educational Research Association conference, Ben Williamson brings together much of his work around the collection and privatisation of big data being imagined around the possibilities afforded by the Internet of Things. Data science and analytics have progressively moved to the heart of education, with every teacher seemingly required to be versed around the topic of data literacy. The concern that Williamson and Watters raise is the notion of education as becoming an institution of cognitive control. In response to a recent Future Tense episode looking at the potential of ‘living’ digitally beyond our death, I was left wondering if there is anything missed in such a big data correlation? 

One of the key things I want to stress here is that the field of education data science is imagining and seeking to materialize a ‘big data infrastructure’ for automated, algorithmic and anticipatory knowledge production, practical intervention and policy influence in education.

FOCUS ON … PODCASTS

I spend a lot of time commuting to work or to schools. In addition to reading, I listen to podcasts. Here then are some of the channels that fill my feed:

  • Today in Digital Education – Doug Belshaw and Dai Barnes meander their way through digital education and everything else.

  • Teachers Education Review – Led by Cameron Malcher, this fortnightly podcast incorporates news and features associated with Australian education.

  • 2 Regular Teachers – Rick Kayler-Thomson and Adam Lavars explore the world of regular teachers.

  • The Contrafabulists – Formerly Tech Gypsies, Audrey Watters and Kin Lane dissect the latest technology myth-making with an eye to connecting the present with the past.

  • Design & Play – Steve Brophy and Dean Pearman talk education, technology, innovation, pedagogy, design and creativity.

  • Wonderland – Steve Johnson discusses some of the ideas from his book of the same name.

  • Revisionist History – Malcolm Gladwell revisits the past to uncover some of the different stories that have been overlooked.

  • Team Human – Douglas Rushkoff explores the human intervention in the economic, technological, and social programs that determine how we live, work, and interact

  • The MoonshotEdu Show – Bernard Bull pushes against the status quo, exploring aspects of innovation and entrepreneurship.

  • Song Exploder – Musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made

  • Modern Learners – Associated with the wider Modern Learners brand, this podcast involves Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon discussing various.elements of change on education.

  • Hardcore History – Dan Carlin digs into some of history’s great narratives.

  • Chips with Everything – Previously the Guardian Tech Weekly, this podcast involves looking into a wide range of edtech issues.


READ WRITE RESPOND #015

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? I actually ticked over to 100 subscribers last month.

Image used in the cover via justlego1O1 https://flickr.com/photos/103739566@N06/21935581091 is licensed under CC BY-SA

Read Write Respond #014


My Month of February

I thought when I stopped managing reports and timetables a few years ago that it would be a once in a lifetime. However, I have again gone down the rabbit hole this month getting my head around the features and affordances associated with a new administration package. I must admit that I find it interesting to compare different applications and the workflows that they create. Often leaves me wondering about which decisions are intentional and which are incidental.

On the home front, my youngest decided that it was time to start climbing the ladder for the trampoline in the backyard. After a couple of failures, she now flies up. It is fascinating seeing her learn things. It is also interesting to compare with our eldest. A living reminder that we are all different.

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

“Classroom Themes” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Why I Hate Classroom Themes – Emily Fintelman reflects on classroom themes and wonders what impact they are really having on learning. She suggests that our focus should be on how spaces are structured and strategies that can be used to give students more voice.

Take steps in setting up your room that will directly facilitate student learning, for example:

  • ensure there is a mix of individual reflection areas and table banks for group work
  • ensure an attractive, easy-to-access, visible display of a variety of texts for students to browse and choose from
  • put resources and equipment (like stationary or games) within reach of the students that use it, rather than locking it away in a cupboard (to only be bestowed with the teacher’s permission).

My Digital Portfolio Project Planning and More on My Digital Portfolio Project  – Bill Ferriter elaborates on his portfolio pilot that he recently started. Along with Kevin Hodgson’s post from last year, Ferriter’s provides a great resource for anyone wanting a place to start in regards to the how and why.

According to George Couros, Learning Portfolios are all about giving students chances to collect evidence of their own growth and progress as learners over time. They aren’t about spotlighting perfection. They are about promoting reflection. Showcase Portfolios, on the other hand, are designed to give students spaces to spotlight their very best work. Both types of portfolios have value to learners — but both serve very different purposes.

A Socratic Seminar for Elementary Learners – Jackie Gerstein provides an introduction to Socratic Seminar through the use of Dr. Seuss’s Sneetches.

The Benefits of Socratic Seminars are:

  • Offer opportunities for student voice
  • Embrace the power of open-ended questions
  • Often mimic how intellectual discourse occurs in real life
  • Support providing evidence-based arguments
  • Build active listening skills
  • Reinforce close reading
  • Approach real world solutions as having multiple perspectives
  • Hone critical thinking skills
  • Build oral communication skills
  • Emphasize the importance of critical reflection
  • Help to develop conflict resolution skills

The Challenge of Non-Disposable Assignments – Alan Levine discusses the concept of the ‘non-disposable assignments’ and the potential of collaborative collections where anyone can add an idea to the repository. Reflecting on his work with both ds106 and #CCQuests, Levine shares his insights gained along the way, including aspects to consider.

I am not claiming at all I know best how to create non-disposable / renewable assignments. I think I have a good hunch for thinking about them. My thinking includes:

  • Relevance… Are they working with content, ideas in their area of interest or work? Does it fit for them as much as for the assignment?
  • Are they creating, making, constructing something that is public?
  • Does it clearly have potential for helping someone beyond the person making it?
  • Does it not feel like a rote exercise?

Make a Student-Centred Classroom (Part One and Part Two) – In a series of posts, Richard Wells responds to various questions and concerns associated with developing a student-centred classroom. They include providing access to various strategies, knowing what tools are available and remembering the place of the educator to assist not answer.  Along with Tom Whitby’s post on the Ikea effect on education, Jon Andrew’s value of theory and Brad Gustafson’s call to start with students, these posts provide an interesting provocation about what is required in regards to education today.

In 2016, I did a lot of posting and presenting on student-centred learning. I had great feedback and some supportive conversations about the obvious commonsense behind the approach. I’ve posted a number of guides and posters to help people understand the necessary components. But when the conversation on theory finishes, the first two questions are always: “So, what do I actually do?” & “Where do I start?”

Edtech

“Against Expressive Social Media” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Against Expressive Social Media – Mike Caulfield makes the case to break with our dependence on the social media generated dopamine hits to develop the type of critical collaboration needed for the future. Reflecting on his own history of the web, Caulfield suggests that we need new ways of working that challenge our collective thinking, not just confirm our biases. Along with Audrey Watters’ post on edtech in the time of Trump, these posts ask many questions to address for a different imagining of educational technology and a democratic society. It also provides a useful background to the intent beyond such tools and technology as Hypothes.is, Wikity and Smallest Federated Wiki.

In my more pessimistic moments, I come to think that the thing that poor Vannevar Bush didn’t get, and that Doug Engelbart didn’t get, and that Alan Kay didn’t get is people really like the buzz of getting beliefs confirmed. And they like the buzz of getting angry at people that are too stupid to get what they already know. Confirming beliefs makes you feel smart and arguing with people makes you feel smarter than someone else. Both allow you to snack on dopamine throughout the day,  and if you ever need a full meal you can always jump on Reddit.

Rethinking “Edtech” – David Kernohan gives an overview of the history of edtech. This post touches on everything from learning theories, investments and innovation to create a picture of practice for a deeper discussion. It is a useful starting point for those interested in going further in regards to appreciating the place educational technology today.

I was asked to offer some perspective on the wider idea of edtech – what follows covers investment management, theories of learning, education reform politics, innovation theory and around 80 years of history. Some may be surprised at the scope – I would argue that it is not enough to understand how, to truly make an intelligent decision we need to at least consider why.

What’s on the Horizon (Still, Again, Always) for Ed-Tech – With the release of the latest Horizon Report, Audrey Watters continues the conversation she started last year around predicting the future. Looking back over fourteen years of reports, Watters identifies a range of abnormalities, including the ahistorical nature of trends and the failure to address funding and inherent politics embedded within technology.

Education technology in the Horizon Report is almost entirely stripped of politics, a political move in and of itself. No doubt, I am asking the Horizon Report to do something and to be something that it hasn’t done, that it hasn’t been. But at some point (I hope), instead of a fixation on new technologies purportedly “on the horizon,” ed-tech will need to turn to the political reality here and now.

5 Ws: Trajectory of EdTech Love – Amy Burvall unpacks the process associated with integrating technology. She highlights such attributes as starting with why, providing possible workflows, sharing examples of success and exploring different approaches to professional development. This reminds me of a post I wrote a few years back, as well as a podcast during which other ideas were shared.

In discussing how to get teachers (or anyone in any organization for that matter) not only interested in but embracing technology integration it occurred to me there might be a trajectory of sorts. What must you start with to get the “buy-in”? How do you progress from there? How might one show the possibilities so that folks can start thinking in this language rather than merely translating.

Expanding the Conversation About Teachers and Blogging – Benjamin Doxtdator questions George Couros’ call for more people to stop overthinking and ‘just blog’. Doxtdator suggests that maybe our focus should be on self-care and personal journals, rather than blogging. For me blogs are often spoken about as some sort of fixed entity with only one type. It is important to make clear to ourselves why, before we just do it.

Original and critical thought is rarely well-received, and women are harassed in comments sections and on Twitter, especially women of color.

Don’t Get Pwned: A Guide to Safer Logins – Richard Barnes provides a range of strategies to better secure our online information. Along with Royan Lee’s graphics associated with the Privacy Paradox, Doug Belshaw’s battles with hackers and Kevin Mitnick guide to going invisible, these posts remind us of the complexities associated with being online.

tl;dr:
Use random passwords, and use a different password for every site
Use a password manager to make creating and remembering passwords easier
Make your answers to security questions just as strong as your passwords
Use “two-factor authentication” wherever you can
Pay attention to the browser’s security signals, and be suspicious

Google, Lawsuits, and the Importance of Good Documentation – Bill Fitzgerald looks into the terms of service(s) associated with GSuite and makes a range of suggestions on how Google could improve on some of the inherent ambiguity. Along with Jenny Luca’s post on moving to the cloud, this is an important post for all administrators to read to appreciate the nuances connected with rights and permissions.

Google has been working in the educational space for years, and they have put a lot of thought into their products. However, real questions still exist about how these products work, and about how data collected from kids in these products is handled. Google has created copious documentation, but – ironically – that is part of the problem, as the sheer volume of what they have created contains contradictions and repetitions with slight degrees of variance that impede understanding. Based on seeing both Google’s terms evolve over the years and from seeing terms in multiple other products, these issues actually feel pretty normal. This doesn’t mean that they don’t need to be addressed, but I don’t see malice in any of these shortcomings. However, the concern is real, for Google and other EdTech companies: if your product supports learning today, it shouldn’t support redlining and profiling tomorrow.

Beginner guide to APIs with Google Sheets & Apps Script – Ben Collins provides a step-by-step introduction to connecting APIs to Google Sheets. This is a great starting point, including a range of examples to work with. What is particularly useful is that Collins thoroughly describes the thinking behind each step. Martin Hawksey also posted a short introduction to Google Script Apps Smashing.

You’ve probably heard the term API before. Maybe you’ve heard how tech companies use them when they pipe data between their applications. Or how companies build complex systems from many smaller micro-services linked by APIs, rather than as single, monolithic programs nowadays. API stands for “Application Program Interface”, and the term commonly refers to web URLs that can be used to access raw data. Basically, the API is an interface that provides raw data for the public to use (although many require some form of authentication). As third-party software developers, we can access an organization’s API and use their data within our own applications. The good news is that there are plenty of simple APIs out there, which we can cut our teeth on. We can connect a Google Sheet to an API and bring data back from that API (e.g. iTunes) into our Google Sheet. It’s fun and really satisfying if you’re new to this world.

Storytelling and Reflection

“Changing Times” by mrkrndvs is licensed under CC BY-SA

Will the AFLW herald changing times for gay players in the men’s game? – Kate O’Halloran reflects on first openly gay AFL players and wonders whether this will bring about a change in the men’s game. I have been left wondering what other impacts that the women’s competition might have on AFL and women’s sport in Australia in general. All of the sudden women are not only playing prime time, but also getting involved off the field in areas such as commentary as experts. In a sport that has seemingly pushed women to the margins, I am left wondering what impact AFLW will have on such jocular institutions as The Footy Show? As a father of two daughters it leaves me with hope.

 

Will these AFLW players’ bravery have any impact on the culture of the men’s game? I retain some hope the AFL’s new lovechild will force the hand of the old guard when it comes to the shadow of homophobia that still lingers as a blight on this wonderful game

Against the Clock: How Technology Has Changed Our Experience of Time – In an interview to discuss Alan Burdick’s new book Why Time Flies: A Mostly Scientific Investigation, Burdick and Douglas Rushkoff discuss the different ways in which technology has progressively colonised human time. They talk about the different concepts of time, such as space time, clock time and bodily time. They also reflect on how things were different in the past and some of the particular challenges that we are faced with in order to regain a sense of self from our Google Calendars.

The Greeks have two words for time: “chronos”, which is like time on the clock, and “chiros”, which is more like readiness, human time. You crash the car at 4:27, but when do you tell dad that you crashed the car? I always say, “After he’s had his drink, before he’s opened the bills.” That’s chiros, human time, the way we experience time, versus real time or number time. For me, it became important in the digital age, as our style of clock time changed, what does that do to our understanding of real time? You looked at the same relationship in a different way.

When Good Intentions Backfire – Building off of a series of essays on topics affecting the public sphere, danah boyd responds to some of the criticism she received. Both justifying her intentions and providing the next step, boyd suggests that we need more people with a hacker mindset.

My goal in writing these essays is not because I know the solutions to some of the most complex problems that we face — I don’t — but because I think that we need to start thinking about these puzzles sideways, upside down, and from non-Euclidean spaces. In short, I keep thinking that we need more well-intended folks to start thinking like hackers.

Digital Literacy and Anti-Authoritarian Politics – Bryan Alexander brings together a range of perspectives on the news and media literacies, including various step-by-step guides and supposed algorithmic solutions. Along with Mike Caulfield’s new book on reading the media and Helen Bentham’s reflection on democratic digital literacies, these posts offer some insight about where to next for educators might grapple with the challenges of fake news and digital democracy.

I can see incentives and professional reasons for hewing to either pole. Institutions and professions often function as gatekeepers, after all. At the same time each of these fields also has an ethos of empowering their students/users/patrons. Some of these institutions are closely tied up to authorities, such as active churches or states, while others see themselves as independent spaces. Each has taken up a related range of positions on previous digital issues, such as web sites, open education resources, and social media.

Educating Australia – Why Our Schools Aren’t Improving – Tom Bentley and Glenn Savage reflect on the fact that Australian education has gone backwards in the last ten years. The solution they suggest is working collaboratively with a focus on evidence. This poses so many questions and it is interesting reading it next to Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon’s whitepaper.

We also need to move beyond a fascination with divisions between governments in Australia’s federal system. We must focus instead on harnessing the potential of networks and collaborations across systems. That is why a coherent reform “narrative” that genuinely reflects evidence about the nature of effective learning and teaching matters so much. Ultimately, the future success of Australian school-age education hinges on whether powerful ideas can be realised in practice, across tens of thousands of classrooms and communities. If we want reforms to be effective, their design must be grounded in wide-ranging dialogue about the nature of the problems and evidence about what will help to solve them.

A new phonics test for Australian six year olds is a BAD idea – Robyn Ewing adds her perspective to the debate about a Year 1 mandatory phonics test in Australia. She raises a few concerns, including the connection between poverty and literacy, as well as the impact of sounds on the actual act of reading.

Early childhood contexts and the first years of schooling should be centred on engaging in creative play with language including poetry, songs and rhymes, developing children’s confidence in talking about and responding to story, building a rich vocabulary and developing an understanding and love of literature.

Experts within the Classroom – Andrea Stringer discusses the place and purpose of standards and textbooks in education. Rather than going to the extreme of banning the textbook, she argues that they need to allow for more differentiation, as well as foster teacher autonomy. For in the end, it is teachers empowered to make choices where the magic occurs.

Much magic happens when teachers apply their knowledge and skills in the moment. That moment when students’ curiosity is captured, when they’re eagerly engaged and when their love for learning is evident. Teachers make decisions each day in their classroom but it is time to have more influence and control over decisions made regarding education. We need to recognise and acknowledge that the ‘Experts are within the classroom!”

If You Want to Be Innovative, Innovate – In this short post, Tim Kastelle explains that the magic to being innovative is innovating and scaling up those things that work. My latest minimal viable product is a monthly GSuite newsletter to support teachers within the organisation I work who get lost in the social stream.

Here are some things that don’t work:

  • Buying the magic innovation software.
  • Bringing someone (like me) in to give an “inspirational talk” on innovation (which is why I don’t do these anymore). A one-day workshop doesn’t work either.
  • Buying a smaller, innovative company to kick-start internal innovation.
  • Building a corporate accelerator that brings in startups to do innovative stuff that’s related to your core business.
  • Outsourcing new product development, customer development, or any of the work that connects what you want to sell to the problem that people need solved.
  • Ultimately, all of these end up being innovation theatre.

The Five Stages of Tribal Innovation – Elaborating on the work of Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright, AJ Juiliani discusses the five levels of tribal leadership. This seems similar to Roger’s Diffusion of Innovation. What is useful about the post is that it provides practical suggestions for all members and how to move up the various stages.

Part of the reason a culture of innovation is so critical in our schools today is that working towards developing new ideas that work brings us back to Stage 5. Innovation doesn’t have a finish line. Neither does culture. Both are organic, fluid, and often unpredictable. Tribes drive the move from pockets to a full culture in ways that one leader cannot.

FOCUS ON … GROUPS

A lot of my current job involves working with groups of teachers. Here then is a collection of resources associated with facilitating sessions:

READ WRITE RESPOND #014

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

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