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robertogreco : toolbelttheory   11

Questioning the Conformity Curve | bavatuesdays
"The folks involved in Cal State University, Channel Islands’s domains project known as CI Keys, wrote a series of really thoughtful posts about the projects from a variety of vantage points. Michelle Pacansky-Brock wrote about the project as a catalyst for teaching on the open web. Jill Leafstedt wrote about the possibilities for faculty at CSU to create connected learning spaces for their courses. Jaimie Hoffman breaks down lessons learned after a year of building numerous classes out using CI Keys. And Michael Berman offers a broader rationale as to why an investment in CI Keys made sense. I love that each of them explained the impact of this pilot through their own lens, and it captures a nice cross-section of the possibilities and limits of such an initiative.

One of the things I think Berman totally nails is the willingness to question the adoption curve of a project like CI Keys. He notes the following:
I am coming to question the usefulness of the innovation diffusion curve in Ed Tech. First of all there’s an implicit value judgment that early adopters are better than late adopters – not to mention the infamous laggards. Not all technology adoption is useful, to say the least, and some is downright harmful. Second, why is success measured as universal adoption? If 20% of the faculty at my campus find CI Keys to be a useful and even transformational tool for encouraging student learning, does that necessarily mean that the other 80% are missing something by not using it? Perhaps, but I’m not so sure. It’s nice to think that we can provide a single tool for everyone to use but we can see where that’s gotten us. Instead, some will use institutional tools, some will use open source, some will use commercial tools, and faculty and students will use different tools (really, media) to accomplish different things. Is that hard from an ed tech support position? No doubt! But I think that’s the world we live in, not one where we always think in terms of scale-up and universal adoption – that ship has sailed.

I can’t possibly have said it better, and it really frames beautifully the predicament at many campuses. Someone throws out the stat that 85% of faculty are using the LMS and the conversation stops there. The various constituents who need resources beyond the LMS are poorly served, if at all. The adoption curve is actually a conformity curve used to justify supporting fewer and fewer tools on campus. So what should be seen as a pretty basic resource like web hosting/publishing are all but absent on many campuses. As Brian Lamb noted in the “Reclaiming Innovation” piece for EDUCAUSE Review:
…institutional leaders may refuse to support alternative systems….lest they draw attention and users away from the “serious” enterprise learning tool, diverting resources and endangering investments. If a technology is sufficiently large and complex, it can dictate policy, resource allocation, and organizational behavior far beyond its immediate application.

And the investment-based logic that can breed an aversion to alternatives often fails to comprehend that they’re not only significantly cheaper than any given system, but often complementary to that system. So, rather than endangering investments, it provides alternatives that make the system that much less monolithic. What’s more, it serves a portion of a campus community that has been forced to fend for themselves for almost a decade.
jimgroom  technology  toolbelttheory  2015  brianlamb  michaelberman  education  adomainofone'sown  cikeys  jaimiehoffman  michellepacansky-brock  jillleafstedt  universality  lms  complexity  diversity  onesizefitsall  edtech  via:audreywatters 
july 2015 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: those who think less of Dyslexics while claiming to love them...
"OK, if you've watched you will say that he is a Dyslexic, so how can he think less of Dyslexics? Well, its confusing. He's a Dyslexic but really he's a missionary. He is not doing research, he is taking a personal experience and selling it to all as a "personal (and universal) savior." It is not just that he gets the science wrong - though he is right about "thinking in pictures" for many, but he is far off at thinking its about a visual processing issue... but that's not the problem. For many dyslexics reversals and upside-down letters is no issue at all. In fact, no matter how you might describe the underlying issues of reading issues, you will find a scatter plot across any graph.

It is like the colonial subject in 1910 seeing his or her personal issues solved through an interaction with a priest or a minister and assuming that interaction is what the world needs. And at the heart of this is desired ignorance, it is ignorance built of desire not to understand people, to actually believe that people do not count if they are not just like you.

Honestly, at a younger age, I almost made similar mistakes. I found myself arguing for Times New Roman for text, and for WYNN as way of reading. But fortunately, I noticed this absurdity on third person I talked to. He liked Helvetica and Kurzweil 3000, and he wasn't wrong of course, he was different from me. The next person I spoke to found no font useful, no keyboard useful. The next wanted Garamond at a certain size in a certain color combination, though color - within boundaries - had little effect on me. She wasn't wrong, she was different.

So I didn't develop a system for dyslexics, I worked out a way of thinking about choice, because I did not want to rate people according to their distance in similarity from me. I called this idea Toolbelt Theory and I still like it, because I think it respects the people around me.

So in a lifetime of being a Dyslexic, in 20 years of researching Dyslexia, I have learned that there is no best font for this, no best reading method, no best technology choice, no best color combination, no best anything... not even for me across a week or even some days, and I've heard that variability matters for others too. So we need to learn to choose from a menu of what works, to set defaults in browsers but to have other choices, to have a range of technologies.

I choose between 4 fonts, none are designed to look like bubbles being held to the ground because - well - that's not my issue. The computers the students have in our schools come with WordTalk and Balabolka and to in-browser Text-To-Speech system, and there are bookmark links to many others. My computers usually have at least five systems for TTS, my phone has three. But I never, ever, expect any other Dyslexic to choose the same combination.

I have learned that my experience is not "data" because I do not think those different to be outliers or "Children of a Lesser God." So please stop saying what Dyslexics need. And start talking about what choices humans need."
irasocol  2014  dyslexia  dyslexie  fonts  toolbelttheory  reading  difference  typography 
july 2015 by robertogreco
Seven Pathways
"Our pathways are two things: Commitments for our professional learning - how will we learn to be contemporary educators - and promises to our students - what kind of educational environment are we building.

The Seven Pathways

Choice and Comfort

It is our responsibility to provide every learner with real learning space choices based on task-based and physical comfort-based needs, which not only allow their cognitive energy to be focused on learning but helps students to develop the contemporary skills needed to alter and use spaces to initiate and accomplish collaborative and individual work. This includes the availability of multiple communication tools and contemporary technologies as well as assisting students in understanding and creating a variety of learning products which demonstrate student choices in curriculum, task, technologies, and media.

Instructional Tolerance

We will all support student learning environments where active, engaged learners routinely choose from a variety of learning spaces, collaborative and individual activities, and technology tools, including their own personal devices. Our environments will create student opportunities to learn best practices essential to entering contemporary learning and work environments and which enable students to sustain an open mindset and skillset in the use of evolving technology tools. These environments, pre-K through 12, will allow negotiated environmental rules which include and improve student individual and community decision-making.

Universal Design for Learning/Individualization of Learning

No child within the Albemarle County Public Schools should need a label or prescription in order to access the tools of learning or environments they need. Within the constraints of other laws (in particular, copyright) we will offer alternative representations of information, multiple tools, and a variety of instructional strategies to provide access for all learners to acquire lifelong learning competencies and the knowledge and skills specified in curricular standards. We will create classroom cultures that fully embrace differentiation of instruction, student work, and assessment based upon individual learners’ needs and capabilities. We will apply contemporary learning science to create accessible entry points for all students in our learning environments; and which support students in learning how to make technology choices to overcome disabilities and inabilities, and to leverage preferences and capabilities.

Maker-Infused Curriculum

Across our School Division we are committed to student construction of knowledge and skills through the processes of imagining, creating, designing, building, engineering, evaluating and communicating learning. We believe that it is essential that our students learn how to be "Makers" in all phases of their lives, rather than just consumers. We are committed to "Making" as "how we learn," and not as an "extra," and we understand that both "Learning to Make" and "Making to Learn" are essential in every day classroom practice.

Project/Problem/Passion-Based Learning

All Albemarle County Public School students will have consistent learning opportunities across the curriculum to construct knowledge and understanding through responses to authentic problems; to create projects that demonstrate higher order thinking and knowledge acquisition, and to pursue personal interests by making real choices in project forms and media, even when those choices might lie beyond pre-determined expectations. Students will always be encouraged in the use of differentiated pathways as ways to both learn and demonstrate lifelong learning competencies.

Interactive Technologies

In every classroom, every day, we strive to create open learning environments in which students make individual choices as they use technologies to develop classroom work and assignments, and to provide opportunities for our students to actively make tech-based product investigation and choice as part of their study of curriculum. Our students will, regularly during instructional time, use those contemporary technologies (both school provided and individually owned) interact with external experts and students in other communities in order to build learner competencies in the use of the technologies of this century for information access and communication.

Connectivity

We will continuously develop and use activities that engage students in learning networks, including asynchronous and synchronous communication with external experts, access to digital content including primary sources, and interaction with other learners locally and globally who represent a variety of demographically diverse communities. We will, every day, promote and value collaborative projects and knowledge development representative of principles of global and digital literacy and effective, and which demonstrate appropriate global, national, community, and digital citizenship."
albermarleschooldistrict  irasocol  pammoran  technology  connectivity  projectbasedlearning  passionbasedlearning  making  mekers  curriculum  pathways  interaction  universldesign  learning  individualization  howweteach  howwelearn  teaching  education  schools  tolerance  instruction  choice  comfort  toolbelttheory  schooldesign  communication  pbl 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Things do Jobs
"A visual comparison of two things [one analog, one digital] solving the same job"
mobile  phones  applications  ios  iphone  tumblr  toolbelttheory  analog  digital  interactiondesign  ux  tools  toolkits 
february 2015 by robertogreco
LMS Metaphors | Bionic Teaching
"It seems to me that the LMS is a fast-food franchise kitchen. It does exactly what it is meant to do. It is built for people with minimal skills to make cheap food quickly at scale. It isn’t meant to be a training ground so people can move up to gourmet cooking. These skills don’t transfer. You aren’t even meant to graduate to being a line cook at Friday’s.

The LMS reaches the minimum quality people will tolerate in exchange for convenience and low cost.1 The LMS focuses on making the very things I find most problematic easy. Blackboard tells you what it thinks is most important for teachers with their own lead copy.
Efficient Teaching Tasks
Blackboard Learn enhances basic teaching tasks like grading and creating assessments. And with an intuitive design, this is one LMS that will save you time in and out of the classroom. – love Bb

It’s pretty clear why Bb exists. Every bit of that language reeks of unpleasant things done efficiently at scale.

Now you can take fast food and do big campaigns about serving up some semi-healthy stuff. You even have people with energy and creativity using fast food ingredients to make gourmet food. But when it comes down to it, the ingredients, the hardware, the thinking behind the layout is focused entirely on a scale delivery of certain kind of “food” and that purpose drives most everything that will ever happen in a fast food kitchen.2

It’s also pretty clear that our society is perfectly ok with fast food. We eat liquid meat paste after all. Putting multiple hundreds of students in a class, the wild popularity of video/quiz MOOCs, certainly indicate we have a very low bar for education. Most people have not had much but fast food education and any move away is likely to create dissatisfaction of various kinds.

Anyone can put content online now. I think YouTube comments prove that conclusively. If not, there’s always Literally Unbelievable or your 2nd grader of choice. So the technical threshold the LMS was supposed to get faculty over isn’t really there but the LMS ceiling remains. There’s no real bump coming into the LMS but be prepared to stoop the entire time you’re in it. It does make scale assessment easy. It does put the focus clearly on grades and an ever tightening feedback loop. It does allow us to scale faculty to greater and greater numbers of students.

The LMS tool shapes what faculty think they can and should do both online and off. It shapes how courses are designed,3 how assessments are designed. It shapes what students and parents expect. It shapes how Universities structure course loads and enrollment. It shapes far too many things in a reciprocal loop of “practical” choices and low bars. That’s a terrible thing to standardize. The LMS is a symptom of larger issues, a cause of larger issues, and a way of understanding these issues. That scares me. The “solution” that contributes to the problem it solves is a hard one to untangle when it’s enmeshed in the understanding of the problem like this. Yet we keep bringing more people into it, becoming more reliant while simultaneously limiting the understandings and aspirations that would enable us to do something different."
lms  edtech  teaching  education  tomwoowdward  blackboard  control  scale  scaling  standardization  learning  online  internet  dehumanization  fastfood  metaphors  assessment  systemsthinking  tools  onlinetoolkit  toolbelttheory 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Episode Forty Four: Snow Crashing; danah boyd; Facebook and Oculus Rift
"It looks like Facebook's leadership is waking up to this (in fairness to them, the rest of the industry is waking up to this, too). With mobile, there isn't (and doesn't have to be) a one-size-fits-all communication/social networking utility or app. Facebook may well be the thing that everyone ends up having an account on, but in their latest earnings call, they reiterated their strategy to build more mobile apps and with the acquisition of WhatsApp alongside Instagram it seems clear to me (without my work hat on) that Facebook's goal to connect the world is through Facebook the holding company, not just through Facebook the product/platform. 

You can contrast boyd's work with that of Paul Adams' in his book Grouped[2], the result of which was Google Plus Circles shortly after he left Google for Facebook. Circles (and Google Plus) appears to me to be the sort of social network you end up building where you want everyone *and* you want to solve the problem of having different spaces and contexts. But we don't work like that, not as people: Google Plus is the place and it doesn't matter how many different circles I might have there - the cognitive overhead involved in placing people in circles is just too great and causes too much friction as opposed to just using a different app like Snapchat or WhatsApp or Twitter or Secret that comes with intrinsic contextual cues to being another place.

Adams' research was right - people don't like inadvertently sharing different facets of themselves to the wrong audience. No product has successfully catered for multiple facets, I don't think, and trying to build it into a one-size-fits-all product has failed so far. Mobile, which has reduced context-switching to near negligible, as well as provided a new social graph through the address book, has finally let a thousand social flowers bloom at scale."



"So when you're vision driven, look at Facebook the way you look at Google. One way of looking at Google is that they want to organise the world's information and make it freely available. One way of looking at Facebook is that they literally want to connect the world and enable every living person to communicate as frictionlessly as possible with everyone else.
Like I said, the devil is in the detail.

Facebook - the product you and I use, the one with the newsfeed - is just one way Facebook the holding company is connecting the world. Instagram is another. WhatsApp is another.

Some of those products are ad-funded, some others aren't. And if you're thinking about an end-goal of connecting the world, what's going to connect more people more quickly? Them paying for it, or the connection being available for free?

This might sound like having drunk the kool-aid, but try crediting Zuckerberg with more intelligence and think of him as the prototypical smart nerd: optimize for a connected world. What do you build? How do you deploy it?

It's against this background that they buy Oculus Rift. And don't think agency people have any knowledge - I'm in a plane at 30k feet, and when the news broke about WhatsApp, we were in a meeting *with our clients* - we find out about this stuff when you do, when Twitter explodes.

Like everyone apart from Apple, Facebook missed the boat. But Oculus as display technology - as another way to augment the human social experience is provocative and interesting. In the PR, Zuckerberg is quoted as saying:

"Oculus has the chance to create the most social platform ever, and change the way we work, play and communicate."

He's not wrong. You are always going to be able to meet more people through mediated experiences than physically. Physicality doesn't scale. Is this a terrible harbinger of the replacement of physical social contact? Probably not. We have always invented and looked for more ways to connect with people. boyd says in her book that teenagers aren't addicted to Facebook in the same way they were never addicted to texting or tying up the house landline for hours. They're addicted to *people*. And if Oculus genuinely has the way to change the way people connect, then that makes perfect strategic sense for Facebook.

It turns out that today, people are still using Snow Crash as a business plan."
personas  diversity  facebook  occulusrift  personality  pauladams  danahboyd  google  google+  circles  toolbelttheory  onlinetoolkit  multitools  killerapps  instagram  whatsapp  spaces  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  communication  multiplefacets  contextswitching  danhon  markzuckerberg  snowcrash  nealstephenson  googleplus 
march 2014 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Thinking TEST and Toolbelt Theory again, the Tech Choice Paradigm for Every Child
[Related: http://www.iwasthinking.ca/2013/10/10/understanding-ira-socols-test-approach/ ]

"None of this is unimportant. These are the kinds of tool choices which will help define success for students in their lives in their century. It is especially critical for every student on every margin, the ones - like me - who need to make the right technological choices to be effective at, say, reading or writing. Or at communicating, or at maths. These aren't "assistive technologies" anymore than elevators, cars, and eyeglasses are - they are the tools we need to learn to choose, use, and leverage to be our best.

Let's go through this. It isn't enough, in this century, to say, "I will read (or watch) the news." We need to decide what kinds of news to read, watch, and interact with, when to do that so we maximize our learning and attention, on what device to do that, using what apps or software to prioritize it. If I use Flipboard do I know how t set that up? What are the limitations of New York Times apps? How do I interact with the Guardian? Is it worth having news alerts emailed to me? texted to me? About what? If reading isn't easy, or I'm in my car a lot, which apps best convert text to speech?

It isn't enough to say, "I'll write that down." On what? How? Where? Do I know how to set up Windows Speech Recognition? How to use Speech to Text in Android? in Dragon Lite in iOS? in Chrome? Do I know how to configure a keyboard on a tablet or mobile device? Can I adapt a keyboard if I have to use a computer in another country?

Obviously, we just don't "send letters," I need to know how to text my boss even if I'm driving. I need to know how to send a professional text, a professional email, a professional dm. I need to know how to read critical work emails and texts even if I'm driving or rushing through an airport. And, most critically, I will need to choose and set up devices throughout my life.

These are essential skills. And these are essential skills that certain children - the privileged - get at home from the start, but they are essential skills which most American schools have chosen to deny to kids whose parents cannot supply them with these options - thus widely increasing the devastating opportunity gap.

The critical point today is, you can't do any of this if you do not begin by changing how you acquire the technology in your school, and then change how you teach with that technology. You have to begin by buying technology based your students' needs to respond individually to the first three steps in TEST, so that they have the options, and eventually the knowledge, to function in a multi-device, multi-operating system world."



"Cochrane explicitly locates this within the postcolonial realm of the Disability Studies/Disability Rights movement - a large force in Europe - and little known in American, especially American K-12, education. The Disability Studies movement views disability as between somewhat and entirely a social construct... my preference is to use the term Transactional (see also this) - the opposite of the medical model... and tends to want to allow humans to make identity choices instead of being described by diagnosis - as even the most well-meaning American educators tend to do. (Americans like to use the same terminology for "disability" as for all pathologies, so they say, "a student with a reading disability" as they'd say, "a student with cancer." The other option is for the student to choose - or not choose - to use an identity label as we would with other forms of identity, "an African-American student," "a dyslexic student," "a gay student.")

This matters not just for students we label as having "disabilities," it matters for all not statistically average. Students cannot reach their potentials when we spend more effort limiting them and describing their problems than we spend enabling them and equipping them with the tools they need."
toolbelttheory  irasocol  education  teaching  learning  byod  technology  assistivetechnology  onesizefitsall  2013  test  choice  diversity  disability  disabilitystudies  colonialism  reading  writing  communication  specialeducation  postcolonialism  disabilities 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Alex Payne — The Case Against Everything Buckets
"One of my Rules For Computing Happiness is: “do not use software that does many things poorly.” Everything Buckets violate this rule up, down, and sideways. They’re poor filesystems, poor text editors, poor databases, poor to-do lists, poor calendars, poor address books, poor bookmark managers, and poor password managers. At their worst, they’re even poor web browsers, poor encryption systems, and poor synchronization schemes.

The corollary to that rule is: “use software that does one thing well.” When you need to store some data, there are so many wonderful applications to pick from. From recipes to receipts, photographs to music, journal entries to to-do list items, there’s a great application out there for what you need to do. Chances are good that the right application structures your data so that you can get more out of it. Use an application that actually does something more than holding data. You’ll be happier."
yojimbo  shovebox  devonthink  2009  computing  toolbelttheory  toolbelts  onlinetoolkit  specializedsoftware  tools  software  specialization  evernote  alexpayne  via:ablaze  organization  everythingbuckets 
september 2012 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Toolbelt Theory for Everyone
"The only way to allow students to assemble this essential toolbelt for information and communication is to to throw open your classroom and let the world in. How will your students know which calendar works for them - the one on their phone, Google Calendar with SMS appointment texting, Microsoft Outlook, or any of a dozen paper systems unless you allow them to try them out? How will your students know whether they 'get' a novel better by listening to an audiobook, or reading it on paper, or using text-to-speech, if you don't let them experience all repeatedly and help them decide? Will their choice be the same when they are reading history texts? Math texts? Again, how will they know? How will they know which is the best way for them to write, by hand (either on paper or on a tablet system), by keyboard (and which keyboard), or by voice, if they do not get to try out all the kinds of writing they need to do with all these tools?"

[See also: http://es.slideshare.net/irasocol/toolbelt-theory ]
tools  assistivetechnology  technology  education  accessibility  irasocol  onlinetoolkit  toolbelttheory  learning  tcsnmy  cv  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  onesizefitsall  individualization  individuality  whatworks  toolbelts  environment  skills  learningtolearn  2008 
december 2010 by robertogreco

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