Replied to Experiential Learning and AI: Redefining Education Through Immersive Experiences by New community features for Google Chat and an update on Currents (wiobyrne.com)

This powerful convergence of experiential learning philosophy and AI technology promises to reshape education in the coming decades. As AI continues advancing, understanding its applications in creating immersive, data-driven experiential learning environments is crucial. However, a lot more discussion is necessary as we explore the profound implications this convergence could have for individuals, educational systems, and humanity at large.

Source: Experiential Learning and AI: Redefining Education Through Immersive Experiences | Dr. Ian O’Byrne by Ian O’Byrne


I remember being in a discussion about devices a few years ago (probably ten) and I asked the presenter about the pedagogy underpinning the technology. I was told that technology is pedagogically agnostic. This has always lingered with me. On the one hand, I can understand the point, that technology makes learning more doable, but there is also a part of me that feels like an application that actively promotes surveillance clearly says something about the type of learning occurring in the classroom. In regards to things such as chatbots, I can appreciate the argument that it makes the learning more doable, but, as people like Dan Meyer highlight, are we happy with this learning? For me, this is why the Modern Learning Canvas has really stayed with me as a way of thinking about technological change. Too often it feels like the conversation around technology is in isolation, whereas the canvas invites you to think about all the different facets.

Liked Adobe’s Enterprise-First Ambitions Led To This Mess (Tedium: The Dull Side of the Internet.)

To me, I think there is a firewall of trust between product and business model that needs to be maintained, and Adobe has failed to do so. It’s not that Adobe necessarily made a mistake with its terms of service. It’s that goodwill around Adobe was so low that a modest terms change was nearly enough to topple the whole damn thing over. Adobe needs to get over its focus on B2B and realize that it is a B2C company whether it likes it or not, and price and focus accordingly. Cheap education pricing will not win over the next generation of creatives forever.

Source: Adobe’s Enterprise-First Ambitions Led To This Mess by Ernie Smith

Liked When your smartphone tries to be too smart by Tim HarfordTim Harford (timharford.com)

Donald Norman argues that a well-designed product should make functions visible and intuitive: users should be able to grasp how it works, what their options are and get feedback about the results of their actions. That is all very wise, but our modern devices have managed to become so intuitive and versatile by concealing from us how they really operate. Laying bare the true complexity of the supercomputers in our pockets would boggle the mind. We cannot be exposed to how these things really work, lest we lose our grasp on reality. (See also: ChatGPT.)

Liked Pluralistic: You were promised a jetpack by liars (17 May 2024) by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (pluralistic.net)

As a society, we have vested an alarming amount of power in the hands of tech billionaires who profess to be embittered science fiction fans who merely want to realize the “promises” of our Golden Age stfnal dreams. These bros insist that they can overcome both the technical hurdles and the absolutely insurmountable privation involved in space colonization:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/01/09/astrobezzle/#send-robots-instead

They have somehow mistaken Neal Stephenson’s dystopian satirical “metaverse” for a roadmap:

https://pluralistic.net/2022/12/18/metaverse-means-pivot-to-video/

As Charlie Stross writes, it’s not just that these weirdos can’t tell the difference between imaginative parables about the future and predictions about the future – it’s also that they keep mistaking dystopias for business plans:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/tech-billionaires-need-to-stop-trying-to-make-the-science-fiction-they-grew-up-on-real/

Cyberpunk was a warning, not a suggestion. Please, I beg you, stop building the fucking torment nexus:

https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/torment-nexus

Pluralistic: You were promised a jetpack by liars (17 May 2024) by Cory Doctorow

Replied to I Told You So by Audrey WattersAudrey Watters (Second Breakfast)

As I argued in my book Teaching Machines the entire history of education technology, from the first decades of the twentieth century, has been bound up in this quest to automate education. And much of the early history of artificial intelligence too, ever since folks cleverly rebranded it from “cybernetics,” was deeply intertwined with the building of various chatbots and robot tutors. So if you’re out there today trying to convince people that AI in education is something brand new, you’re either a liar or a fool – or maybe both.

I Told You So
by Audrey Watters

The discussion around my edtech job has been how AI can help cutdown on the repetitive and mundane, of doing things like cleaning up duplicate data produced through previous attempts to automate things. I sometimes wonder if such errors occur because when faced with the investment in capacity and how people work, we just double down on more automation?

Replied to The Unfulfilled Promises of Tech in Education: Can AI Succeed? (The Construction Zone)

Will this be it? Will we see radical changes in our educational systems? Is there something that makes it different this time?

Peter, I feel like I have tried critiquing you before and I am not sure how much hope there is even left:

can you really find wisdom in one-line? The answer is probably no, but you can definitely find hope. Hope for a different world, hope for a different way of doing things, hope for a more critical viewer. And sometimes that hope is all that we have.

Source: Can You Really Find Wisdom in One-line? by Aaron Davis

I still like Bill Ferriter’s argument, that technology makes higher order learning ‘more doable’:

Technology lowers barriers, making the kinds of higher order learning experiences that matter infinitely more doable than they were in previous decades.

Source: Do We REALLY Need to Do New Things in New Ways?
by Bill Ferriter

However, I guess like all technology, it can also make lower order learning ‘more doable’ too.

As always, food for thought I guess.

Replied to How to Use Technology for Documentation in the Classroom (Zoe Porter-Children and Technology)

Technology has been integrated into the classroom over the past several years. Teachers use it to teach their students new concepts. What about documentation? Teachers also need to keep data about how the students in their class are developing. There are certain milestones administration expects children to reach throughout the school year. Keeping the data about these milestones is an important part of the work of educators. Teachers can do this in different ways. Some teachers may write informal notes about how children are doing when they see a specific behavior. Other teachers may use more formal methods, like keeping detailed observations in a file on their computer. Technology can be used to keep the data teachers collect on their students organized.

I am glad that you found my investigations into the use of technology to support documentation helpful. In case you are interested, I found Making Thinking Visible by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison, a useful read and reference, as well as all the Project Zero resources. One of the things that I was always challenged by was the importance of ‘advancing learning’, not just capturing it.

The focus throughout is the development of understanding, rather than as some sort of by-product. Central to this is the notion of documentation. This can be split into four practices: observing, recording, interpreting and sharing. What is important about documentation is that it, “must serve to advance learning, not merely capture it. As such, documentation includes not only what is collected but also the discussions and reflections on those artifacts.” (Page 38)

Source: An Introduction to Making Thinking Visible – Read Write Respond by Aaron Davis

Another book that I have dived in and out of on the topic has been The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation, a book that brings together a number of voices on various topics, including Part III, which is on documentation.

Replied to Technology in education – friend or foe? by Gill (macgirl19.wordpress.com)

I can absolutely appreciate the validity of the arguments the authors raised particularly the big one – for young people (and actually, many adults as well) the primary function of technology is entertainment so attempting to change this to a learning focus (and expecting it to easily translate) is far from ideal. Technology provides an endless menu of distractions. Even as I’m writing this blog post, there are other tabs in my browser tempting me and my attention does flit from time to time. And that’s on a task that was self-initiated.

I find this such an intriguing topic Gill, especially in a post-COVID world. Your discussion of technology and distractions has me thinking about the challenge to justify the impact many years ago. I feel that the biggest challenge is actually being mindful about the choices, too often if feels like choices are made out of convenience, rather than some deliberate consideration.
Bookmarked The Man Behind Mastodon, Eugen Rochko, Built It for This Moment by Will Knight (WIRED)

People fleeing Twitter have turned to Eugen Rochko’s alternative. He says social networks can support healthy debate—without any one person in control.

In an interview with Will Knight, Eugen Rochko discusses the current move to Mastodon, Musk’s free publicity and the differences with Twitter. Rochko also explains why the same thing that has happened with Twitter cannot happen with Mastodon.

What if someone—say an impulsive billionaire—wanted to buy Mastodon or take control of it somehow?

The network is protected from something like that. The code is free, open-source software, and nobody can change the license or take it back retroactively, and all of the different servers are owned by other people. Somebody could buy Mastodon gGmbH [the German nonprofit that maintains the software] and with it the trademark and the servers we run—mastodon.social and mastodon.online—but it wouldn’t affect the Fediverse in any significant way.

In other pieces on Mastodon, Clive Thompson suggests that it is an example antiviral design that encourages murmuring conversations, rather than the must-see post.

And I’ve realized that Mastodon is a superb example of antiviral design.

It was engineered specifically to create friction — to slow things down a bit. This is a big part of why it behaves so differently from mainstream social networks.

Jeremy Keith compares the exodus from Twitter to being at Dunkirk.

Right now, Twitter feels like Dunkirk beach in May 1940. And look, here comes a plucky armada of web servers running Mastodon instances!

Wouter Groeneveld wonders if social media scrolling is the answer, something I have been wondering about for a while.

I don’t really know what I’m trying to say here except that it’s perhaps not worth it to scroll endlessly on yet another social media platform where posts are starting to converge into the emptiness that Twitter had to offer.

Jim Groom and the team at Reclaim Hosting have documented how to setup your own instance.

Liked Why Do Batteries Lose Charge When You Aren’t Using Them? by Jason Fitzpatrick (How-To Geek)

But the electrical energy we stash away in batteries is not entirely unlike a bunch of school children all squashed into a classroom. The children fidget about, full of energy, really wishing they could be outside the confines of the classroom, racing about the playground. You could easily argue that it is not the natural state of children to stay calm and still in neatly organized rows.

The electrons packed away in your battery are like those fidgety kids, practically dying to be free and bouncing around again. The natural organization of the chemical compounds in the battery is not calm and neatly organized rows, so to speak—which is why batteries can be quite dangerous when things go wrong.

Liked The Psychological Weirdness of “Prompt Engineering” (Medium)

Kind of poetic, isn’t it? The act of speaking to an art-AI feels like a communication word-game — like playing Charades or Taboo, where you have to trigger your collaborator to produce the right result by talking around a subject. Except in this case, the goal is to find the correct incantation that awakens the spirits residing within yonder eldritch cauldron of vectors, and summons them to do your bidding.

Bookmarked Blockchain’s real world problem by Ryan BarrettRyan Barrett (snarfed.org)

Blockchain and smart contracts are truly groundbreaking advances. They fascinate me. I hope they mature and succeed. However, we had to trust people before blockchain, in all sorts of ways, and we still do now. It’s the basis of modern civilization. This is a good thing, not a bad thing. Let’s remember that.

Ryan Barrett reflects upon the the potential of the blockchain and the importance of human trust.

Next time you hear someone say they’ve taken a real world problem and solved it by putting it on the blockchain, ask them how. How do they authenticate the data? How do they vet the systems that do that authentication? How does the data get onto the blockchain? The more guarantees they make, the more they’ll depend on off-chain tools, procedures, organizations, and people. Always people. Verisart punted on many of these problems, as did most of its cousins, but that didn’t make them go away.

For me, this touches on the association between technology and magic.

Bookmarked 50 Most Common WordPress Errors and How to Fix Them (wpbeginner.com)

Are you encountering one of these common WordPress errors. Learn how to fix some of the most most common WordPress errors (Step by Step Beginners Guide).

I had a few errors on my sites recently. ALT LAB Timeline Maker and Subscribe To Comments plugins were causing issues on Collect, while I was unable to login to my Read Write Respond site. After logging a ticket with Reclaim Hosting, I was pointed to a guide for replacing the core files via FTP.

For me, it really highlighted how much I take for granted that everything just works. It has me thinking about improving my backup process. Was also interesting reading Wouter Groeneveld’s reflection on whether we should all have our own Wayback Machine.

Liked Pluralistic: 07 Oct 2022 “Don’t spy on a privacy lab,” and other career advice for university provosts by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (pluralistic.net)

the students arrange the sensors into a “public art piece” in the lobby – a table covered in sensors spelling out “NO!,” surrounded by Sharpie annotations decrying the program.

Meanwhile, students are still furious. It’s not just that the sensors are invasive, nor that they are scientifically incoherent, nor that they cost more than a year’s salary – they also emit lots of RF noise that interferes with the students’ own research.

Bookmarked The GIF Is on Its Deathbed (theatlantic.com)

I think there will always be, at least, a handful of masochists who want to struggle to make a GIF and struggle again to post it somewhere—all because they are devoted to the perfect animated loop, and because they think there is something spiritually important about contorting themselves to create it. “[Igor] Stravinsky has a quote about constraints,” Kohler told me. Then he read the whole thing aloud: “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees one’s self. And the arbitrariness of the constraint serves only to obtain precision of execution.”

Kaitlyn Tiffany reflects on the demise of GIFs. She discusses the embarrassing nature in which particular GIFs are used on repeat. In addition to this, the MP4 format is a lot smaller.

Ir is interesting to look back on when I presented on GIFs as a form of quick makes.

Bookmarked We need to deal with data privacy in our classrooms — University Affairs (universityaffairs.ca)

Data is the currency of the tools we enhance our classrooms with. Yet no individual educator can assure safe usage: there are simply too many tools and too many TOS that aren’t meant to be read, or that don’t address educational or ethical concerns.

As a sector, we don’t have to cede our educational infrastructures to corporate entities and data brokers. We could use our collective voices and procurement power – on postsecondary campuses and in K-12 – to demand that educational technology platforms post clear, plain language, and pedagogically-focused data privacy assurances. As institutions and individuals, we could refuse tools that don’t comply. We could protect our students from extraction and surveillance, while educating them – and ourselves – about privacy in this brave new world.

This would take a culture shift. Like everyone else living through the last decade, educators have become acculturated to a “click yes and ignore” approach to data.

Bonnie Stewart reflects upon the online learning with the return to the classroom in a post-COVID world. She discusses the problem we have with understanding terms of service and data privacy. One suggestion provided is to come together and work collaboratively to understand the impact.
Bookmarked Tech Fear-Mongering Isn’t New—But It’s Time to Break the Cycle by Lauren MurrowLauren Murrow (future.com)

Amy Orben wanted to answer a very modern question: How do digital connections compare with other forms of connection?  It’s the kind of thing only a wonky, hyperanalytic person would think to ask. Orben is that person. She received a master’s in natural science from the University of Cambridge, and then went to the University… Read More

In an excerpt from Build for Tomorrow, Jason Feifer provides insight into Amy Orben’s four-step Sisyphean cycle of technology panics. This is cycle that has been repeated again and again over time.

  1. Something seems different
  2. Politicians get involved
  3. Scientists slam the gas
  4. The low-information free-for-all

Feifer explains that the way to break out of this cycle is to start collecting evidence prior to being aware.

It’s time to keep a record. The next time you surprise yourself by loving something you thought you’d hate, write it down. Memorialize it in a notebook, or on a Word doc, or just an email to yourself. It doesn’t matter. Describe why you didn’t want to do this thing, and then what happened after you did it, and how you feel now. Then store that piece of writing somewhere that you can easily find — because one day, I guarantee, the boulder you just rolled up a hill will roll back down, and you’ll be at the bottom, feeling lazy and defeated, and you will not want to push it back up. That’s when you need the reminder that you’ve been there before — but that there are great things on the other side of these feelings. All you need to do is say yes.

The question I am left wondering what the difference is between being critical compared to the act of panicking? Is concern over something like Facebook panic or is it something different?

“wiobyrne” in Sisyphean Cycles – Digitally Literate ()

Bookmarked We Spoke With the Last Person Standing in the Floppy Disk Business (eyeondesign.aiga.org)

I would say that floppy disks have a future, but it won’t see a revival like Vinyl. People like the idea of the record player and it will be around for a long time as a very niche or cool kind of thing. Floppy disks are going to be a little bit more like buggy whips or typewriters. They’re going to be a collectible marvel of their time. Imagine how hard it would be to manufacture a new typewriter today. There are a number of American authors who talk about the fact that they can only write on a typewriter. It’s something very important to them that is tied into their artistic genius. I think that floppy disks are going to be a little bit like that.

In an extract from Floppy Disk Fever: The Curious Afterlives of a Flexible Medium, Niek Hilkmann and Thomas Walskaar interview Tom Persky about the dying art of maintaining floppy disks. Persky discusses how he came to be in the busy and where he gets his stock from. He also explains how there are still various industries that are dependent upon the technology, such as medical equipment, that was developed 20+ years ago.

The customers that are the easiest to provide for are the hobbyists – people who want to buy ten, 20, or maybe 50 floppy disks. However, my biggest customers — and the place where most of the money comes from — are the industrial users. These are people who use floppy disks as a way to get information in and out of a machine. Imagine it’s 1990, and you’re building a big industrial machine of one kind or another. You design it to last 50 years and you’d want to use the best technology available. At the time this was a 3.5-inch floppy disk. Take the airline industry for example. Probably half of the air fleet in the world today is more than 20 years old and still uses floppy disks in some of the avionics. That’s a huge consumer. There’s also medical equipment, which requires floppy disks to get the information in and out of medical devices. The biggest customer of all is probably the embroidery business though. Thousands and thousands of machines that use floppy disks were made for this, and they still use these. There are even some industrial companies that still use Sony Mavica cameras to take photographs. The vast majority of what I sell is for these industrial uses, but there is a significant hobbyist element to it as well.

Bookmarked After Self-Hosting My Email for Twenty-Three Years, I have Thrown In the Towel. The Oligopoloy has Won. (cfenollosa.com)

Email is now an oligopoly, a service gatekept by a few big companies which does not follow the principles of net neutrality.

Carlos Fenollosa reflects on the demise of self-hosted email. One of the main reasons he argues for the failure is the crude blacklisting of large swaths of email, rather than a penalty process.

I’m not asking for a revolution. Please hear my simple proposal out:

  • Let’s keep antispam measures. Of course. Continue using filters and crowdsourced/AI signals to reinforce the outputs of those algorithms.
  • Change blacklisting protocols so they are not permanent and use an exponential cooldown penalty. After spam is detected from an IP, it should be banned for, say, ten minutes. Then, a day. A week. A month, and so on. This discourages spammers from reusing IPs after the ban is lifted and will allow the IP pool to be cleaned over time by legitimate owners.
  • Blacklists should not include whole IP blocks. I am not responsible for what my IP neighbor is doing with their server.
  • Stop blackholing. No need to bounce every email, which adds overhead, but please send a daily notification to postmaster alerting them.
  • There should be a recourse for legitimate servers. I’m not asking for a blank check. I don’t mind doing some paperwork or paying a fee to prove I’m legit. Spammers will not do that, and if they do, they will get blacklisted anyways after sending more spam.

These changes are very minor, they mostly keep the status quo, and have almost no cost. Except for the last item, all the others require no human overhead and can be implemented by just tweaking the current policies and algorithms.

Fenollosa argues that instead of worrying about interoperability between closed platforms, we should be protecting the open ones we already have.

This all reminds me of Quinn Norton’s post from a few years ago about how email is dangerous. However, for some like David Truss, email has simply failed us as a means of communication and technology.

Bookmarked Essential Tools for Teaching? (mguhlin.org)

If I had to teach history again, I would focus on the following:

  1. An evidence-based instructional strategy with a heuristic to scaffold students as they learn it
  2. A digital tool that supported a wide variety instructional strategies
  3. A way to encourage reflection that led to deeper applications of strategy and digital tool.
Miguel Guhlin reflects on the process of selecting the right tool for teaching.