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robertogreco : via:audreywatters   45

On Being Broken, and the Kindness of Others – The Tattooed Professor
"We’re not sending graduates “out into the real world”–they’ve been there for their entire lives, and most of them know at least implicitly how the deck is stacked against people regardless of how hard they’re bootstrapping. We have given our students a wide array of tools, and tried to prepare them to use those tools well for themselves and for their communities. We teach in the hopes of a better, more compassionate, and more just world. But then we tell a graduation-day story that assumes our graduates will go out into a broken world riven by hate, fear, and inequality but also that it’s their fault if that world beats them down. I don’t think we do this on purpose, but the myth is no less insidious for being unintentional. Consider this: as the college student population increases, so to has the incidence and significance of mental health concerns for our students. Substance abuse among college students exhibits several worrisome trends. The scale and scope of the sexual assault epidemic on our campuses is horrifying. The uncertainty of the post-2008 job market and the increasingly contingent and precarious nature of work in our neoliberal world present a post-graduation outlook that is bleaker for this generation than it was for any of their predecessors (to say nothing of the victim-blaming from those very forebears).

These are interrelated and telling concerns; they describe a significant portion of our students’ reality. Yet we’re telling them that effort and pluckiness will suffice to change the world, just like that effort and pluckiness got them to graduation. But it wasn’t just effort and pluckiness. For many of our students, the path to graduation was strewn with detours, interruptions, even crises like the ones detailed above–perhaps the way forward for them will be littered with similar obstacles. We celebrate the triumph over adversity, as well we should, but I wish we would give ourselves permission to recognize that adversity as something more than the thing we get over and never speak of again. If we don’t sit with the rough edges of our journey, we forget how we made it. Our students make it through like we did: sometimes through individual effort, but more often from the support, compassion, and vital companionship and affirmation of those around us. I don’t think we pay nearly enough attention to that fact. Nobody does it all by themselves, but I worry that we’re telling our students they have to do exactly that, rather than giving them permission to fail, to fall short, to admit they need help. Because those lessons are hard ones to learn, all the more so if there aren’t examples or encouragement for us to follow. Believe me, I know."



"I was afraid of other people, and afraid of what I’d learn from them. I believed asking for help was an admission of defeat. I’m in a career field that places a high value upon the appearance of professionalism; I’m expected to have it together, to know what I’m doing. To admit that wasn’t the case was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I can see now that I wouldn’t have done it were it not for the people around me who helped me feel safe and supported when I was at my most raw and wounded. I didn’t want to talk about my past, what I’d done, or what had been done to me, but those around me helped me realize that if I didn’t, I would continue to carry it with me. Doctors, nurses, counselors, clergy, spouse, parents, siblings, co-workers, others in recovery, random strangers, Vin Scully, my pets–it was their voice, their connection, and their freely-given kindness that sustained me.

It was not the smoothest or easiest road from there to here; don’t cue the happy closing music yet. I still struggle. I still need lots of help. I still act like a jerk to the people who are helping. But I have learned this truth: there are times when life will break me. The problem isn’t being broken, it’s in not letting others help put me back together. When I graduated, I went out into the world, and the world beat me up while I sat and watched. I thought fighting back was a solo project, so I failed. Only when I gave others the chance to help me, and accepted that support and affirmation honestly and without begrudging it, did I stop getting beaten up.

That’s my advice, then, to you graduates. You will go forth and hopefully forge many successes for you and your loved ones. But you will also fall short. There will be failures. There will be wounds inflicted by yourself and by others. You will find yourself in places you did not plan to be. You may even find yourself broken. And when that happens, remember that you are neither the first nor the last to end up there. Others have, too, and they can help. It is no defeat to ask for others to help you, and to depend upon that assistance. It’s a victory over fear and anger, that’s what it is. As a society, we tell ourselves that the individual reigns supreme. But it does serious damage when we take that ethos too seriously. Not every problem can be solved by an individual. Not every success is the product of an individual. There is no shame in recognizing those facts as they operate in our lives."
via:audreywatters  kevingannon  2017  resilience  pluckiness  grit  education  realworld  highered  highereducation  adversity  mentalhealth  well-being  uncertainty  expectations  kindness  compassion  companionship  substanceabuse  academia  colleges  universities  brokenness  professionalism  help  helplessness  success  individualism  support  assistance 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Unbroken | Music for Deckchairs
"Fault is the shadow thrown by the magic bean we sell as the means of clambering up to a future in which not everyone can win. This bean is something to do with making an effort, toughing it out, following the rules. Resilience, grit—we peddle all sorts of qualities demanded when the world is harsh. And I think this is why we monitor attendance as a kind of minor virtue, a practice of grit. But when we make showing up compulsory, then we have to have a system of checking it, and penalties, and some means of managing something we call “genuine” adversity, and the whole thing has to be insulated against complaint. (And if you want to know more about how this goes down, this forum is an eye-opener.)

Where I am we have a fixed tolerance for not showing up 20% of the time, which has the rat farming perverse incentive effect of causing every sensible student to calculate that they have two free tutorials they can plan to miss. And I’ve written this all over the place, so just bear with me while I haul out my soapbox one more time: we then ask students to get a GP certificate for every single additional missed class over the two free passes, which means that we are clogging up the waiting rooms and schedules of our overworked public health bulk billed GP clinics in order to sustain a rigid and penalty-driven policy that doesn’t prepare students for their professional futures, while they’re sneezing all over the really sick people around them.

(University business data divisions currently measuring every passing cloud over the campus, why not measure this? How many GP certificates for trivial illness have your attendance policies generated? How much public health time have you wasted pursuing this?)

Just quietly, I take a different approach. We talk about modelling attendance on the professional experience of attending meetings, including client meetings. If you can’t be there, you let people know in advance. If you can’t be there a lot, this will impact on your client’s confidence in you, or your manager’s sense that you are doing a good job. It may come up in performance management. Your co-workers may start to feel that you’re not showing up for them. Opportunities may dry up a bit, if people think of you as someone who won’t make a reliable contribution.

And at work there won’t always be a form, but you will need a form of words. You need to know how to talk about what you’re facing with the relevant people comfortably and in a timely way, ideally not after the fact of the missed project deliverable. If hidden challenges are affecting your participation now, you can expect some of these to show up again when you’re working. University should be the safe space to develop confidence in talking about the situation you’re in, and what helps you manage it most effectively. You need a robust understanding of your rights in law. And, sadly, you also need to understand that sometimes the human response you get will be uninformed, ungenerous or unaware of your rights, and you’ll need either to stand your ground or call for back up.

To me, this is all that’s useful about expecting attendance. It’s an opportunity for us to talk with students about showing up as a choice that may be negotiable if you know how to ask; about presence and absence as ethical practices; and about the hardest conversations about times when you just can’t, and at that point need to accept the kindness that’s shown to you, just as you would show it to others."



"To sustain compassionate workplaces, we’re going to need to do more than dashboard our moods in these simplistic ways and hurry on. We’re going to need to “sit with the rough edges of our journey”, as Kevin Gannon puts it, to understand how we each got here differently, in different states of mind, and to hold each other up with care.

This will take time."
katebowles  via:audreywatters  2017  education  absences  attendance  kindness  grit  seanmichaelmorris  lizmorrish  kevingannon  fault  compulsory  rules  incentives  unintendedconsequences  flexibility  listening  resilience  adversity  compliance  virtue  tolerance  highered  highereducation  colleges  universities  us  conversation  compassion  work 
may 2017 by robertogreco
Uber’s ghost map and the meaning of greyballing | ROUGH TYPE
"The Uber map is a media production. It presents a little, animated entertainment in which you, the user, play the starring role. You are placed at the very center of things, wherever you happen to be, and you are surrounded by a pantomime of oversized automobiles poised to fulfill your desires, to respond immediately to your beckoning. It’s hard not to feel flattered by the illusion of power that the Uber map grants you. Every time you open the app, you become a miniature superhero on a city street. You send out a bat signal, and the batmobile speeds your way. By comparison, taking a bus or a subway, or just hoofing it, feels almost insulting.

In a similar way, a Google map also sets you in a fictionalized story about a place, whether you use the map for navigation or for searching. You are given a prominent position on the map, usually, again, at its very center, and around you a city personalized to your desires takes shape. Certain business establishments and landmarks are highlighted, while other ones are not. Certain blocks are highlighted as “areas of interest“; others are not. Sometimes the highlights are paid for, as advertising; other times they reflect Google’s assessment of you and your preferences. You’re not allowed to know precisely why your map looks the way it does. The script is written in secret.

It’s not only maps. The news and message feeds presented to you by Facebook, or Apple or Google or Twitter, are also stories about the world, fictional representations manufactured both to appeal to your desires and biases and to provide a compelling context for advertising. Mark Zuckerberg may wring his hands over “fake news,” but fake news is to the usual Facebook feed what the Greyball map is to the usual Uber map: an extreme example of the norm.

When I talk about “you,” I don’t really mean you. The “you” around which the map or the news feed or any other digitized representation of the world coalesces is itself a representation. As John Cheney-Lippold explains in his forthcoming book We Are Data, companies like Facebook and Google create digital versions of their users derived through an algorithmic analysis of the data they collect about their users. The companies rely on these necessarily fictionalized representations for both technical reasons (human beings can’t be computed; to be rendered computable, you have to be turned into a digital representation) and commercial reasons (a digital representation of a person can be bought and sold). The “you” on the Uber map or in the Facebook feed is a fake — a character in a story — but it’s a useful and a flattering fake, so you accept it as an accurate portrayal of yourself: an “I” for an I.

Greyballing is not an aberration of the virtual world. Greyballing is the essence of virtuality."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-204 ]
mapping  maps  technology  self  simulacra  nicholascarr  via:audreywatters  greyballing  uber  ideology  fictions  data  algorithms  representation  news  facebooks  fakenews  cartography  business  capitalism  place  google 
march 2017 by robertogreco
Most of the time, innovators don’t move fast and break things | Aeon Essays
"The global view shifts the focus from Manchester, Lowell, Detroit and Silicon Valley. It involves accepting that innovation and technological change are more than just making things. Ironically, this allows us to begin to glimpse a more familiar world where activities such as maintenance, repair, use and re-use, recycling, obsolescence and disappearance dominate. A much more global picture, one that includes people whose lives and contributions the Great White Innovator narrative marginalised, comes into view. The Lizzie Otts of the world can take their proper place as participants and contributors."



"Efficiency, therefore, is not some timeless universal value but something grounded deeply in particular historical circumstances. At various times, efficiency was a way of quantifying machine performance – think: steam engines – and an accounting principle coupled to the new applied sciences of mechanics and thermodynamics. It was also about conservation and stability. By the early 20th century – the apogee of Taylorism – experts argued that increases in efficiency would realise the full potential of individuals and industries. Dynamism and conservatism worked together in the pursuit of ever-greater efficiency.

But a broad look at the history of technology plainly shows that other values often take precedence over efficiency, even in the modern era. It would, for example, offer several advantages in efficiency if, instead of every apartment or home having its own kitchen, multiple families shared a communal kitchen, and indeed in some parts of the world they do. But in the prevalent ideology of domesticity, every family or even single person must have their own kitchen, and so it is.

Nor, despite what Silicon Valley-based techno-libertarians might argue, does technological change automatically translate to increased efficiency. Sometimes, efficiency – like the lone eccentric innovator – is not wanted. In the 1960s, for instance, the US military encouraged metal-working firms, via its contracting process, to adopt expensive numerically controlled machine tools. The lavish funding the Department of Defense devoted to promoting the technology didn’t automatically yield clear economic advantages. However, the new machines – ones that smaller firms were hard-pressed to adopt – increased centralisation of the metalworking industry and, arguably, diminished economic competition. Meanwhile, on the shop floor, the new manufacturing innovations gave supervisors greater oversight over production. At one large manufacturing company, numerical control was referred to as a ‘management system’, not a new tool for cutting metal. Imperatives besides efficiency drove technological change.

The history of technological change is full of examples of roads not taken. There are many examples of seemingly illogical choices made by firms and individuals. This shouldn’t surprise us – technological change has always been a deep and multilayered process, one that unfolds in fits and starts and unevenly in time and space. It’s not like the ‘just so stories’ of pop history and Silicon Valley public relations departments."



"Perhaps most simply, what you will almost never hear from the tech industry pundits is that innovation is not always good. Crack cocaine and the AK-47 were innovative products. ISIS and Los Zetas are innovative organisations. Historians have long shown that innovation doesn’t even always create jobs. It sometimes destroys them. Automation and innovation, from the 1920s through the 1950s, displaced tens of thousands of workers. Recall the conflict between Spencer Tracy (a proponent of automation) and Katharine Hepburn (an anxious reference librarian) in the film Desk Set (1957).

And what of broader societal benefits that innovation brings? In Technological Medicine (2009), Stanley Joel Reiser makes a compelling case that, in the world of healthcare, innovation can bring gains and losses – and the winners are not always the patients. The innovation of the artificial respirator, for example, has saved countless lives. It has also brought in new ethical, legal and policy debates over, literally, the meaning of life and death. And there are real questions about the ethics of resource expenditure in medical innovation. Can spending large amounts pursuing innovative treatments or cures for exotic, rare diseases be ethical when the same monies could without question save millions of lives afflicted with simple health challenges?

It’s unrealistic to imagine that the international obsession with innovation will change any time soon. Even histories of nation-states are linked to narratives, rightly or wrongly, of political and technological innovation and progress. To be sure, technology and innovation have been central drivers of the US’s economic prosperity, national security and social advancement. The very centrality of innovation, which one could argue has taken on the position of a national mantra, makes a better understanding of how it actually works, and its limitations, vital. Then we can see that continuity and incrementalism are a much more realistic representation of technological change.

At the same time, when we step out of the shadow of innovation, we get new insights about the nature of technological change. By taking this broader perspective, we start to see the complexity of that change in new ways. It’s then we notice the persistent layering of older technologies. We appreciate the essential role of users and maintainers as well as traditional innovators such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and, yes, Bill and Lizzie Ott. We start to see the intangibles – the standards and ideologies that help to create and order technology systems, making them work at least most of the time. We start to see that technological change does not demand that we move fast and break things. Understanding the role that standards, ideologies, institutions – the non-thing aspects of technology – play, makes it possible to see how technological change actually happens, and who makes it happen. It makes it possible to understand the true topography of technology and the world today."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-204 ]
history  technology  innovation  invention  maintenance  wpatrickmccray  2016  economics  continuity  incrementalism  change  changemaking  via:audreywatters  ethics  stanleyjoelreiser  siliconvalley  hacking  nurture  nurturing  care  caring  making  makers  standards  ideology  efficiency  domesticity  taylorism  technosolutionism 
march 2017 by robertogreco
TPM Features: The Hidden History of the Privatization of Everything
"PART 1: The History of Privatization: How an Ideological and Political Attack on Government Became a Corporate Grab for Gold"

"PART 2: The True Cost: Why the Private Prison Industry is About so Much More Than Prisons"

"PART 3: Who Really Runs Your City-Citizens of Corporations?: Privatization of Municipal Services Often Means Selling Off Democracy"
privatization  policy  neoliberalism  capitalism  2016  history  via:audreywatters  cities  democracy  prisons  prisonindustrialcomplex  us  government  corporatism  finance 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Radical Hope: A Teaching Manifesto – The Tattooed Professor
[Especially for this line: "Teaching is a radical act of hope."]

"Every summer, I take time to reflect on the academic year that was. The classes I taught, the workshops I either facilitated or attended, what I learned from failures and successes in and out of the classroom–when it comes to my teaching, I try to be a critically reflective practitioner. Directing a teaching center on my campus gives me a chance to also ground that reflection in the larger discourse about teaching and learning in higher education.

That discourse often doesn’t give one grounds for optimism; we’re continually reminded of the toll neoliberalism has exacted from higher education. Kansas, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois are only the most dramatic examples of a larger trend where higher education is a hostage to governing elites’ Randian economic fantasies. The fetishizing of “efficiencies” continues to erode faculty effectiveness, morale, and labor conditions. A narrow and misguided rhetoric of marketability and utility slowly chokes the Humanities. And, like a constant refrain above the din, we’re repeatedly told that students aren’t prepared for college, that technology makes them stupid, that none of them knows how to read or write or declaim or interact or balance a checkbook or do laundry or whatever. It’s easy, then, to slide into a sort of existential despair. Why bother teaching when it doesn’t matter? When no one cares about what you do or why you do it?

And, honestly, that’s where I was earlier this summer. It’s hard enough to cope with the challenges inherent in higher ed; coupled with the greasy dumpster fire that is our state of public affairs at the moment, it seems downright impossible. So I did what comes naturally to a historian–I went to my books, and then I wrote. Reconnecting with some of the books that have shaped me as an educator, and taking the time to write reflectively about where I think I stand, was a reminder that despite all of its problems, higher education is still a place of transformation and possibility. But it remains so only if we continually and intentionally hold it to the standards we know it should meet. And at the heart of that enterprise is what we do in the classroom. It comes down to, as it so often doefists, a conversation about teaching and learning.

In that spirit, I share here the products of my wrestling with angst and dismay, and the renewed drive it ultimately sparked.

This is my Teaching Manifesto.

If I want my students to take risks and not be afraid to fail then I need to take risks and not be afraid to fail.

It is tempting to think that “upholding disciplinary standards” is the only thing standing between us and the collapse of western civilization. It is also comically inaccurate.

Remember what Paolo Freire meant when he criticized the “banking model” of education, and take those insights to heart.

Learning cannot occur without metacognition and reflection. This applies to both us and our students.

Kids These Days are just like Kids in My Day, or Any Other Day, if we choose to remember honestly.

Our students are not us. If we merely teach to how we prefer to learn, we exclude a majority of our students.

I cannot assume my students will be able to do something that they have not been asked to do before coming to my class, and I cannot blame them for struggling with a task that’s new to them–no matter how ingrained that task is for me.

I am not the one to decide if a student is “ready for college.” That’s the student’s decision. If they’re admitted to my university and they’re in my class, I am ethically and morally obligated to give them my best.

They’re not deficiencies, they’re data points for our pedagogical decisions.

Just as students can get better at learning, I can get better at teaching. If I expect it from them, I should expect it from me.

There is a large body of scholarly research on teaching and learning. To not be conversant with at least its major findings is to commit professional malpractice.

If pedagogy and professional development are secondary priorities for you, don’t be surprised when your class is a secondary priority for your students.

It doesn’t matter how much I know if my students aren’t learning; knowledge must be used, not set up on a shelf to be admired but not touched.

Much of what we do in the classroom cannot be quantified.

And yet…“cannot be quantified” is not the same as “cannot be measured.” If we can’t demonstrate student learning, we aren’t doing it right.

Reclaim assessment for what it is meant to do: to show what our students can do as a result our classes. If we don’t tell our stories, someone else will tell them for us.

If universities truly value education, they cannot undercompensate or adjunctify the faculty and seriously claim to adhere to that commitment. As someone in a privileged academic position, I am obligated to speak this truth loudly and often.

Everyone is fighting their own battles, some on multiple fronts. Compassion and flexibility >>> being a hardass

Things whose pedagogical impact is often underestimated: empathy and humor.

Things whose pedagogical impact is often overestimated: shaming and rigidity.

When you say “rigor,” I think of corpses.

“Coverage” for coverage’s sake is where learning goes to die.

No matter what: Teaching is a radical act of hope."
pedagogy  technology  radicalism  teaching  2016  kevingannon  howwetech  why  thewhy  whyweteach  hope  rigor  empathy  humor  shaming  rigidity  flexibility  highered  highereducation  optimism  curriculum  manifestos  learning  metacognition  reflection  professionaldevelopment  content  knowledge  howwelearn  howweteach  via:audreywatters 
july 2016 by robertogreco
I want my country back
"The Welsh have a word for this feeling. The word is "hiraeth". It means a longing for a home you can never return to, a home which may never have existed at all. The Welsh, incidentally, voted to leave the EU after decades of being ungently screwed by government after conniving Tory government; cackling and tearing the heart out of towns which were once famous for something other than teen suicide. Finally, someone gave them the opportunity to vote for change, for any change at all. When all you have is a hammer, every problem starts to look like David Cameron’s face."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hewn-no-167 ]
uk  brexit  politics  lauriepenny  via:audreywatters  welsh  words  vocabulary  saudade  nostalgia  longing  government  2016 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Databite No. 76: Neil Selwyn - live stream - YouTube
"Neil Selwyn presents (Dis)Connected Learning: the messy realities of digital schooling: In this Databite, Neil Selwyn will work through some emerging headline findings from a new three year study of digital technology use in Australian high schools. In particular Neil will highlight the ways in which schools’ actual uses of technology often contradict presumptions of ‘connected learning’, ‘digital education’ and the like. Instead Neil will consider ….

• how and why recent innovations such as maker culture, personalised learning and data-driven education are subsumed within more restrictive institutional ‘logics’;

• the tensions of ‘bring your own device’ and other permissive digital learning practices • how alternative and resistant forms of technology use by students tend to mitigate *against* educational engagement and/or learning gains;

• the ways in which digital technologies enhance (rather than disrupt) existing forms of advantage and privilege amongst groups of students;

• how the distributed nature of technology leadership and innovation throughout schools tends to restrict widespread institutional change and reform;

• the ambiguous role that digital technologies play in teachers’ work and the labor of teaching;

• the often surprising ways that technology seems to take hold throughout schools – echoing broader imperatives of accountability, surveillance and control.

The talk will provide plenty of scope to consider how technology use in schools might be ‘otherwise’, and alternate agendas to be pursued by educators, policymakers, technology developers and other stakeholders in the ed-tech space."

[via: "V interesting talk by Neil Selwyn on ed-tech and (dis)connected learning in school"
https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/718900001271783424 ]

"the grammar of schooling"
neilselwyn  edtech  byod  via:audreywatters  logitics  technology  teaching  learning  howweteacher  power  mobile  phones  ipads  laptops  pedagogy  instruction  resistance  compliance  firewalls  making  makingdo  youth  schools  design  micromanagement  lms  application  sameoldsameold  efficiency  data  privacy  education  howweteach  regimentation  regulation  rules  flexibility  shininess  time  schooliness  assessment  engagement  evidence  resilience  knowledge  schedules  class  leadership  performativity  schooldesign  connectedlearning  surveillance  control  accountability  change  institutions  deschooling  quest2play  relationships  curriculum  monitoring  liberation  dml  liberatorytechnology  society  culture  ethnography  schooling  sorting  discipline 
april 2016 by robertogreco
Education Outrage: Now it is Facebook's turn to be stupid about AI
"What could Facebook be thinking here? We read stories to our children for many reasons. These are read because they have been around a long time, which is not a great reason. The reason to read frightening stories to children has never ben clear to me. The only value I saw in doing this sort of thing as a parent was to begin a discussion with the child about the story which might lead somewhere interesting. Now my particular children had been living in the real world at the time so they had some way to relate to the story because of their own fears, or because of experiences they might have had.

Facebook’s AI will be able to relate to these stories by matching words it has seen before. Oh good. It will not learn anything from the stories because it cannot learn anything from any story. Learning from stories means mapping your experiences (your own stories) to the new story and finding some commonalities and some differences. It also entails discussing those commonalties and differences with someone who is willing to have that conversation with you. In order to do that you have to be able to construct sentences on your own and be able to interpret your own experiences through conversations with your friends and family.

Facebook’s “AI” will not be doing this because it can’t. It has had no experiences. Apparently its experience is loading lots of text and counting patterns. Too bad there isn’t a children’s story about that.

Facebook hasn’t a clue about AI, but it will continue to spend money and accomplish nothing until AI is declared to have failed again,"
rogerschanck  2016  facebook  ai  artificialintelligence  algorithms  via:audreywatters  context  experience  understanding  stories  storytelling 
february 2016 by robertogreco
Mad Generation Loss - parker higgins dot net
"Mad Generation Loss is a project exploring media encoding and the ways in which imperfect copies can descend into a kind of digital madness. It takes an audio file—here, a recording of Allen Ginsberg reading an excerpt from his seminal poem “Howl”—and adds another layer of mp3 encoding to each second of the sound. That is to say, the first second is encoded directly from the original, the next second is re-encoded from that first lossy copy, and the third encoded again.

[ https://soundcloud.com/thisisparker/mad-generation-loss ]

That sort of re-encoding from lossy originals, known as transcoding, is supposed to be avoided. The generation loss builds on itself, and the quality degrades quickly. That effect is exaggerated here by its second-by-second compounding. By the end of the 3:18 recording, Ginsberg’s voice is nearly impossible to pick out among the background noise.

The last seconds of the recording have been transcoded nearly 200 times. All together, the recording represents nearly 20,000 individual mp3 encodes.

Ginsberg, glitchedThis project takes inspiration from earlier efforts to explore generation loss. “I Am Sitting In A Room” (1969) by Alvin Lucier was perhaps the earliest, and featured a 4-sentence narration recorded on taped, and re-recorded over and over to hear the tape loss. As the narration notes, that process “smooths out” the irregularities of speech, reflecting instead the rhythm and resonant frequencies of the room of the recording.

More recently, an artist named Canzona documented the process of downloading and re-uploading a video to YouTube 1000 times, and the effect of its compound video encoding. He described that project as a tribute to Alvin Lucier.

Unlike those projects, Mad Generation Loss shows the effect of transcoding and loss on a linear recording, not a repeated phrase. The degredation is apparent not from comparing identical inputs and diminished outputs, but from hearing the creep of the telltale white noise and the regular pulse of the mp3s getting stitched together.

The code to create the Mad Generation Loss audio is freely available under the GPLv3. It is written in Ruby and depends on free software like lame, mp3splt, and mp3wrap. Thanks are due to Eric Mill and Ben Gleitzman for technical assistance (though please do not attribute my sloppy code on them), and to Caroline Sinders and Ethan Chiel for their encouragement."
2015  degradation  sound  via:audreywatters  audio  allenginsberg  alvinlucier  canzona  videoencoding  encoding  compression  parkerhiggins  mp3  howl  art 
november 2015 by robertogreco
The Little Professor: How to write an essay about teaching that will not be published in the NYT, Chronicle, IHE, or anywhere else
"1) There are many pedagogical techniques.

2) These techniques vary in usefulness, depending on the discipline, class size, role in the major/GE program, level of instruction, content, classroom layout, time of day, available technology, instructor's skill set, the university/college environment, and student demographics.  

3) Depending on changes to any or all of these variables, these techniques may or may not work from one course to the next.  They may or may not even work across two sections of the identical course taught during the same semester/quarter.

4) Not all techniques are suited to all instructors.  

5) The instructor's perception of a technique's efficacy may or may not match the students', and vice-versa.

6) The instructor's perception of a technique's "enlightening," "liberatory," or other X quality may or may not match the students', and vice-versa.  

7) Students may or may not agree with what pedagogical theorists think is helpful for them.

Short version: All instructors have to assemble their own pedagogical toolkit from the many resources out there and restock it (and recreate it) as necessary.  There is no one single way of being effective.  There is no magic spell (previous post on this blog to the contrary) that will make all pedagogical techniques effective all the time.  It is very difficult to generalize from one instructor's experience to the next.  One gets on with it."
teaching  education  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  pedagogy  2015  instruction  efficacy  highered  highereducation  via:audreywatters 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Close at Hand — Medium
"In a very real way, what people tuck into their pockets signals what they care about. Ötzi the Iceman carried fungus to make fire. Japanese men in the Edo period carried medicine and seals. Queen Elizabeth I carried a miniature jewel-encrusted devotional book. European women in the 18th century carried money, jewelry, personal grooming implements, and even food. Here in 2015, we carry cellphones?--?never letting them out of our sight.

If what we put in our pockets is important, to advertise a product as pocketable is to imply that it's indispensable: something you'll always want by your side. Pocket watch manufacturers adopted this approach early; purveyors of pocket knives, pocket handkerchiefs, and pocket books (also known as paperbacks) followed suit. Technologies all, these tools still seem primitive relative to slim electronic bricks we haul around today. To find a direct ancestor of the cellphone, we need only look back as far as 1970: the year the pocket calculator was born."



"Pockets matter because they’re personal. What we wear at our waists is at least as intimate as what we wear on our wrists, and what we’ve worn there over the centuries tells us a lot about who we are, how we’ve changed, and how we’ve stayed the same. We’re greedy; we’re vain; we’re hungry; we’re late. We want to start fires and listen to a thousand songs."

[via: http://kottke.org/15/09/the-history-of-technology-is-the-history-of-pockets ]
dianakimball  pockets  history  clothing  clothes  wearable  wearables  technology  2015  uniformproject  via:audreywatters 
september 2015 by robertogreco
PNBHS Haka for Mr. Dawson Tamatea's Funeral Service - YouTube
"The entire school performing the Haka during the arrival of Mr. Tamatea in the hearse. This was a very emotional and powerful performance. We are extremely proud of our boys' performance and we know that Mr Tamatea would be too."

[via: https://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-121 ]
haka  dawsontamatea  newzealand  maori  2015  funerals  via:audreywatters  māori 
august 2015 by robertogreco
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
Towards a Bright Mountain: Laudato Si’ as Critique of Technology | boundary 2
"Throughout Laudato Si’, Pope Francis praises the merits of an ascetic life. And though the encyclical features numerous references to Saint Francis of Assisi, the argument is not that we must all abandon our homes to seek out new sanctuary in nature, instead the need is to learn from the sense of love and wonder with which Saint Francis approached nature. Complete withdrawal is not an option, to do so would be to shirk our responsibility – we live in this world and we bear responsibility for it and for other people. In the encyclical’s estimation, those living in affluent nations cannot seek to quietly slip from the scene, nor can they claim they are doing enough by bringing their own bags to the grocery store. Rather, responsibility entails recognizing that the lifestyles of affluent nations have helped sow misery in many parts of the world – it is unethical for us to try to save our own cities without realizing the part we have played in ruining the cities of others.

Pope Francis writes – and here an entire section shall be quoted:
“Many things have to change course, but it is we human beings above all who need to change. We lack an awareness of our common origin, of our mutual belonging, and of a future to be shared with everyone. This basic awareness would enable the development of new conviction, attitudes and forms of life. A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” (Francis, no. 202)

Laudato Si’ does not suggest that we can escape from our problems, that we can withdraw, or that we can “keep calm and carry on.” And though the encyclical is not a manifesto, if it were one it could possibly be called “The Bright Mountain Manifesto.” For what Laudato Si’ reminds its readers time and time again is that even though we face great challenges it remains within our power to address them, though we must act soon and decisively if we are to effect a change. We do not need to wander towards a mystery shrouded mountain in the distance, but work to make the peaks near us glisten – it is not a matter of retreating from the world but of rebuilding it in a way that provides for all. Nobody needs to go hungry, our cities can be beautiful, our lifestyles can be fulfilling, our tools can be made to serve us as opposed to our being made to serve tools, people can recognize the immense debt they owe to each other – and working together we can make this a better world.

Doing so will be difficult. It will require significant changes.

But Laudato Si’ is a document that believes people can still accomplish this.

In the end Laudato Si’ is less about having faith in god, than it is about having faith in people."
laudatosi'  popefrancis  zacharyloeb  2015  technology  lewismumford  jacqesellul  economics  environment  via:audreywatters  nature 
july 2015 by robertogreco
How MOOCs Could Reform Education Completely by Accident - The Atlantic
"Even so, it may not be time to write them off. An unexplained phenomenon in early MOOC data, now illuminated by another recent study (this one from Harvard and MIT), could help the courses live up to the education-reform hype after all—but with a somewhat ironic twist. Perhaps one of the overlooked values in MOOCs is not in sharing Ivy League wisdom with the masses, but in teaching educators—and, in turn, improving traditional K-12 schools.

From the outset, analyses of MOOC students showed that enrollees were already overwhelmingly educated. According to various MOOC enrollment data, including that contained in the UPenn study, a majority of those registering for the free classes (between 70 and 80 percent) already had college degrees. That’s about double the rate of the U.S. population at large. And in other parts of the world—where free online college classes were envisioned as tools of social mobility—the portion of already-educated students was even more dramatic. Last year, a piece of commentary that ran in The Times cited a study showing that in countries such as Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa—where just 5 percent of residents have college degrees—more than 80 percent of MOOC students had one.

Although there wasn’t a lot of hard research to support it, many analysts pegged the high percentage of already-degreed students in MOOCs to an interest in freshening up job skills. Meanwhile, some MOOC backers attributed the lack of degree-seekers in the free courses to limited broadband access among lower-income populations.

Then, earlier this year, Harvard and MIT released what’s ostensibly the largest study to date of MOOCs and their participants. The joint study examined 68 courses offered by the two institutions though the edX platform, covering 1.7 million participants and more than 1.1 billion “events”—what the study defines as each participant “click” recorded in the edX servers. The report not only confirmed that MOOC students tend to be college-educated, but it also demonstrated that a striking percentage of those students are educators themselves. “What jumped out for me was that ... as many as 39 percent of our learners [in MOOCs overall] are teachers,” said Isaac Chuang, one of the study’s lead researchers. In some of Harvard’s MOOCs, half the students were teachers. And in “Leaders of Learning”—a course out of its Graduate School of Education—a whopping two-thirds of participants identified as such.

This makes sense. Teachers devote their lives to the arts and sciences of sharing information and imparting skills. That they would voluntarily participate in an online-learning experience focusing on a field they already know isn’t that surprising; as practitioners of education, teachers may also have an interest in the processes and applications of MOOCs, studying how questions, assignments, and tests are handled in online teaching environments, for example. Nor is it surprising that teachers are interested in pedagogy—watching and learning how an applauded instructor delivers a lesson. Educators may want to see how an esteemed Harvard professor, for instance, teaches topics they cover in their own classrooms. Or they may want to appropriate the learning resources used in the MOOCs.

And if teachers are flocking to MOOCs to observe their more-accomplished colleagues or pick up new ideas to apply in their own classrooms, this trend could accelerate a needed renaissance in professional development for teachers.

Nationally, professional development—the process of keeping teachers up to date on subjects and teaching methods—is a costly and (arguably) futile endeavor. Every state requires some form of ongoing education for teachers; the U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, has said the United States spends about $2.5 billion on it every year. “But when I say that to teachers they usually laugh or cry,” Duncan said. “They are not feeling it. We have to do better with professional-development money.”

And that’s probably an understatement: Teachers don’t seem to be “feeling” professional development at all. According to a 2009 study from the Center for Public Education, when asked about their experience in professional development, most of the teachers surveyed “reported that it was totally useless.”

In general, with the exception of moving from chalkboards to PowerPoints, professional-development programs for teachers over the generations have hardly changed. The programs seldom involve more than presentations and narrations on new classroom tactics or standards—even though research has shown that those teaching methods aren’t the most effective."



"Given their high rates of voluntary MOOC participation, according to the Harvard/MIT study’s authors, teachers may have discovered these benefits on their own, turning to the free courses to fill in for what traditional professional-development programs are lacking. “There is an opportunity to make the ‘secondary’ use of online course resources by teachers a primary goal,” the researchers wrote.

If MOOCs take advantage of that opportunity, and if the teaching practice improves as a result, these massive open online courses may help improve education worldwide after all. And that wouldn’t necessarily be by exposing eager minds to free higher education, as advocates once hoped, but by enhancing learning at traditional, brick-and-mortar public schools.

And the results could be powerful. More than 6,100 of the participants featured in the Harvard/MIT study were teachers who took MOOCs in subjects they already taught. That’s roughly the number of public-school teachers in San Diego. In a way, then, perhaps Friedman was inadvertently right: It’s hard to imagine many things with “more potential to lift more people out of poverty” and “unlock a billion more brains to solve the world’s biggest problems.” Perhaps that potential, however, lies in their ability to improve the quality of the country’s public-education system."
via:audreywatters  mooc  moocs  professionaldevelopment  education  pedagogy  teaching  learning  online 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Apples for the Teacher, Teacher is an Apple | Easily Distracted
"Why does AltSchool, as described in this article, as well as similar kinds of tech-industry attempts to “disrupt” education, bug me so much? I’d like to be more welcoming and enthusiastic. It’s just that I don’t think there’s enough experimentation and innovation in these projects, rather than there being too much.

The problem here is that the tech folks continue to think (or at least pretend) that algorithmic culture is delivering more than it actually is in the domains where it has already succeeded. What tech has really delivered is mostly just the removal of transactional middlemen (and of course added new transactional middlemen–the network Uber has established in a really frictionless world wouldn’t need Uber, and we’d all just be monetizing our daily drives on an individual-to-individual basis)."

Algorithmic culture isn’t semantically aware yet. When it seems to be, it’s largely a kind of sleight-of-hand, a leveraging and relabelling of human attention or it is computational brute-forcing of delicate tasks that our existing bodies and minds handle easily, the equivalent of trying to use a sledge hammer to open a door. Sure, it works, but you’re not using that door again, and by the way, try the doorknob with your hand next time.

I’m absolutely in agreement that children should be educated for the world they live in, developing skills that matter. I’m also in agreement that it’s a good time for radical experiments in education, many of them leveraging information technology at new ways. But the problem is that the tech industry has sold itself on the idea that what it does primarily is remove the need for labor costs in labor-intensive industries, which just isn’t true for the most part. It’s only true when it’s true for jobs that were (or still are) rote and routinized, or that were deliberate inefficiencies created by middlemen. Or that tech will solve problems that are intrinsic to the capabilities of a human being in a human body.

So at the point in the article where I see the promise that tech will overcome the divided attention of a humane teacher, I both laugh and shudder. I laugh because it’s the usual tech-sector attempt to pretend that inadequate existing tech will become superbly useful tech in the near-term future simply because we’ve identified a need for it to be (Steve Jobs reality distortion field engaged) and I shudder because I know what will happen when they keep trying.

The central scenario in the article is this: you build a relatively small class with a relatively well-trained, attentive, human teacher at the center of it. So far so good! But the tech, ah the tech. That’s there so that the teacher never has to experience the complicated decision paths that teachers presently experience even in somewhat small classes. Right now a teacher has to decide sometimes in a day which students will get the lion’s share of the attention, has to rob Peter to pay Paul. We can’t have that in a world where every student should get all the attention all the time! (If nothing else, that expectation is an absolutely crystallized example of how the new tech-industry wealthy hate public goods so very much: they do not believe that they should ever have to defer their own needs or satisfactions to someone else. The notion that sociality itself, in any society, requires deferring to the needs of others and subsuming one own needs, even for a moment, is foreign to them.)

So the article speculates: we’ll have facial recognition software videotaping the groups that the teacher isn’t working with, and the software will know which face to look at and how to compress four hours of experience into a thirty-minute summary to be reviewed later, and it will also know when there are really important individual moments that need to be reviewed at depth.

So the article speculates: we’ll have facial recognition software videotaping the groups that the teacher isn’t working with, and the software will know which face to look at and how to compress four hours of experience into a thirty-minute summary to be reviewed later, and it will also know when there are really important individual moments that need to be reviewed at depth.

Here’s what will really happen: there will be four hours of tape made by an essentially dumb webcam and the teacher will be required to watch it all for no additional compensation. One teacher will suddenly not be teaching 9-5 and making do as humans must, being social as we must. That teacher will be asked to review and react to twelve or fourteen or sixteen hours of classroom experience just so the school can pretend that every pupil got exquisitely personal, semantically sensitive attention. The teacher will be sending clips and materials to every parent so that this pretense can be kept up. When the teacher crumbles under the strain, the review will be outsourced, and someone in a silicon sweat shop in Malaysia will be picking out random clips from the classroom feed to send to parents. Who probably won’t suspect, at least for a while, that the clips are effectively random or even nonsensical.

When the teacher isn’t physically present to engage a student, the software that’s supposed to attend to the individual development of every student will have as much individual, humane attention to students as Facebook has to me. That is to say, Facebook’s algorithms know what I do (how often I’m on, what I look at, what I tend to click on, when I respond) and it tries (oh, how it tries!) to give me more of what I seem to do. But if I were trying to learn through Facebook, what I need is not what I do but what I don’t! Facebook can only show me a mirror at best; a teacher has to show a student a door. On Facebook, the only way I could find a door is for other people–my small crowd of people–to show me one.

Which probably another way that AltSchool will pretend to be more than it can be, the same way all algorithmic culture does–to leverage a world full of knowing people in order to create the Oz-like illusion that the tools and software provided by the tech middleman are what is creating the knowledge.

Our children will not be raised by wolves in the forest, but by anonymously posted questions answered on a message board by a mixture of generous savants, bored trolls and speculative pedophiles."
altschool  via:audreywatters  2015  timothyburke  education  teaching  howeteach  learning  children  surveillance  edtech  technology 
may 2015 by robertogreco
The reality | Music for Deckchairs
"Here’s a story that ought to be filling us all with hope: a big tale of resilience, creativity, cooperation and opportunity, driven by a remarkable and gifted Australian. Look at him here: he is young, and healthy, and doing so much good. He has time left. If I was his mother watching this, I’d be awash with pride at what he’s achieved."

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAP2xWlEfNU ]

"But his reality is this: that right at this minute plans are being made for him to be taken to a field, tied to a post and shot. Let’s not mince words, this is what we mean by “death penalty” and “firing squad”, and anyone who is still championing this as a just outcome needs to look much more closely at the violence in the details. There is nothing at all separating this killing from that of Kenji Goto, and the only whisper of daylight between this and the shooting of Kajieme Powell is the premeditation, the forced contemplation of what’s to come. Nothing at all distinguishes what his mother will feel when his body is returned, from the grief of Junko Ishido.

None of us are going to live for ever, and this is why mortality really is inseparable from love. We all wonder how, when, in what condition we’ll end our turn; we wonder who will be with us, and how they will get up and carry on without us when we stop. Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal, an intensely personal discussion of what happens to individuals and their families at the end of life, suggests that this is why humans really cannot bear the idea of dying. So we go on suffering because we don’t know how to accept that what’s around the next bend—the next birthday, the next family wedding—isn’t going to be part of our life time. The weather will continue, the buildings will stay up and the clocks won’t stop; it’s just that we won’t be here to see it, and people we love will have to go on without us.

Gawande and many others are now arguing that it’s vital to good healthcare that we learn to make peace with human dying, and let that direct us towards living while we’re here in a way that reflects our values. This isn’t a simple thing: it takes time to untangle our own values and beliefs from those of our community and the cultures that shape us. It’s easy to get taken up with the things that seem to matter to others, the achievements that are celebrated, the stuff that is envied. But in the end we all have a fairly strong sense of what we each really care about—what we would go on doing if it was the last day of our lives.

UK palliative care specialist and cancer patient Kate Granger, for example, has taught me a great deal about what it means to value work, and to fight to continue working while thinking that this might be the last year for doing anything at all. Lisa Bonchek Adams advocates tirelessly for the right of patients with metastatic breast cancer to have their condition recognised as a disease stage that can be lived with, and in so doing she continues to love and care for her children, her family and friends. Both have made hard personal choices to continue in treatment, and to do this in public, because this is what enables them to go on living with purpose.

This is Gawande’s point: we each approach the question of what it would take to live the best possible day today on our own terms, whatever the constraints we’re facing. This isn’t just a question for people who are sick; the best possible day is a wish we can all offer each other, for the simple reason that we’re all mortal too. And this really should be the basis for how we treat each other, how we value each other’s time, and how we react to the knowledge that someone is facing their death. This isn’t just about ethics in institutional or constitutional decision-making, or state sovereignty: we stop in our tracks for death, and we try to bring every possible resource of care and hope to the end of someone’s life, because one day that’s exactly how it will be for each of us.

"How people die and how we participate in their deaths is as much about us as about them. Our own humanity is at stake."
– Eric Manheimer, MD, Twelve Patients

And so I can’t make peace with this dying at all. I wander round the house thinking about him, and I know that thousands of us are doing exactly the same, right at this moment. Those close to him have said goodbye and look exhausted with grief. I can’t imagine their pain.

Execution strips all possibility of dignity or care from the event of dying, which is why it’s used wherever the aim is to brutalise and terrify. The aim isn’t simply to end life, but to cause its end to be a spectacle, and to force the whole world to contemplate the violence and abjection of life being ended in this way. Kenji Goto’s mother, pleading for his release, said that she would sacrifice her life for his, and we all knew that this was an unbearable cruelty that she should be made to suffer the knowledge of his death, and her exclusion from it. Nothing is different here.

Myuran Sukumaran is an Australian artist. With persistence and vision he has created a studio and an educational enterprise filled with generosity, and inspired an incredible campaign to try to keep him alive. And at this last minute, he’s still there painting, caring for his family, thinking it all through, making a portrait of himself and the island of Nusakambangan, where prisoners are taken to be shot.

He is one of us, and he is still alive. Don’t disturb him. Let him paint."
balinine  mortality  atulgawande  2015  via:audreywatters  myuransukumaran  crime  punishment  deathpenalty  australia  indonesia  rehabilitation  dignity 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Ursula K. Le Guin on the Future of the Left | Motherboard
"When you’re given the opportunity to publish Ursula K. Le Guin, you leap at it—even if you’re ​ostensibly a fiction magazine and what lands on your desk is one of Le Guin’s political essays.

It’s all connected, anyways. The recent ​National Book Award-winner and science fiction icon has a long and storied interest in political thought; many of her earlier novels, such as The Dispossesed and The Word for the World is Forest, are effectively allegories about environmentalism, anarchism, and Taoism. At 86 years old, she’s still a radical thinker, and the essay below—an impassioned endorsement of the writer and political theorist Murray Bookchin, excerpted from the preface of ​a recent collection of his essays—is testament.

“The Left,” a meaningful term ever since the French Revolution, took on wider significance with the rise of socialism, anarchism, and communism. The Russian revolution installed a government entirely leftist in conception; leftist and rightist movements tore Spain apart; democratic parties in Europe and North America arrayed themselves between the two poles; liberal cartoonists portrayed the opposition as a fat plutocrat with a cigar, while reactionaries in the United States demonized “commie leftists” from the 1930s through the Cold War. The left/right opposition, though often an oversimplification, for two centuries was broadly useful as a description and a reminder of dynamic balance.

In the twenty-first century we go on using the terms, but what is left of the Left? The failure of state communism, the quiet entrenchment of a degree of socialism in democratic governments, and the relentless rightward movement of politics driven by corporate capitalism have made much progressive thinking seem antiquated, or redundant, or illusory. The Left is marginalized in its thought, fragmented in its goals, unconfident of its ability to unite. In America particularly, the drift to the right has been so strong that mere liberalism is now the terrorist bogey that anarchism or socialism used to be, and reactionaries are called “moderates.”

So, in a country that has all but shut its left eye and is trying to use only its right hand, where does an ambidextrous, binocular Old Rad like Murray Bookchin fit?

I think he’ll find his readers. A lot of people are seeking consistent, constructive thinking on which to base action—a frustrating search. Theoretical approaches that seem promising turn out, like the Libertarian Party, to be Ayn Rand in drag; immediate and effective solutions to a problem turn out, like the Occupy movement, to lack structure and stamina for the long run. Young people, people this society blatantly short-changes and betrays, are looking for intelligent, realistic, long-term thinking: not another ranting ideology, but a practical working hypothesis, a methodology of how to regain control of where we’re going. Achieving that control will require a revolution as powerful, as deeply affecting society as a whole, as the force it wants to harness.

Murray Bookchin was an expert in nonviolent revolution. He thought about radical social changes, planned and unplanned, and how best to prepare for them, all his life. A new collection of his essays, “The Next Revolution: Popular Assemblies and the Promise of Direct Democracy,” released last month by Verso Books, carries his thinking on past his own life into the threatening future we face.

Impatient, idealistic readers may find him uncomfortably tough-minded. He’s unwilling to leap over reality to dreams of happy endings, unsympathetic to mere transgression pretending to be political action: “A ‘politics’ of disorder or ‘creative chaos,’ or a naïve practice of ‘taking over the streets’ (usually little more than a street festival), regresses participants to the behavior of a juvenile herd.” That applies more to the Summer of Love, certainly, than to the Occupy movement, yet it is a permanently cogent warning.

But Bookchin is no grim puritan. I first read him as an anarchist, probably the most eloquent and thoughtful one of his generation, and in moving away from anarchism he hasn’t lost his sense of the joy of freedom. He doesn’t want to see that joy, that freedom, come crashing down, yet again, among the ruins of its own euphoric irresponsibility.

What all political and social thinking has finally been forced to face is, of course, the irreversible degradation of the environment by unrestrained industrial capitalism: the enormous fact of which science has been trying for fifty years to convince us, while technology provided us ever greater distractions from it. Every benefit industrialism and capitalism have brought us, every wonderful advance in knowledge and health and communication and comfort, casts the same fatal shadow. All we have, we have taken from the earth; and, taking with ever-increasing speed and greed, we now return little but what is sterile or poisoned.

Yet we can’t stop the process. A capitalist economy, by definition, lives by growth; as Bookchin observes: “For capitalism to desist from its mindless expansion would be for it to commit social suicide.” We have, essentially, chosen cancer as the model of our social system.

Capitalism’s grow-or-die imperative stands radically at odds with ecology’s imperative of interdependence and limit. The two imperatives can no longer coexist with each other; nor can any society founded on the myth that they can be reconciled hope to survive. Either we will establish an ecological society or society will go under for everyone, irrespective of his or her status.

Murray Bookchin spent a lifetime opposing the rapacious ethos of grow-or-die capitalism. The nine essays in "The Next Revolution” represent the culmination of that labor: the theoretical underpinning for an egalitarian and directly democratic ecological society, with a practical approach for how to build it. He critiques the failures of past movements for social change, resurrects the promise of direct democracy and, in the last essay in the book, sketches his hope of how we might turn the environmental crisis into a moment of true choice—a chance to transcend the paralyzing hierarchies of gender, race, class, nation, a chance to find a radical cure for the radical evil of our social system.

Reading it, I was moved and grateful, as I have so often been in reading Murray Bookchin. He was a true son of the Enlightenment in his respect for clear thought and moral responsibility and in his honest, uncompromising search for a realistic hope."
ursulaleguin  via:audreywatters  2015  murraybookchin  capitalism  environment  climatechange  growth  anarchy  anarchism  change  society  realism  inequality  hierarchy  horizontality  socialchange  revolution  directdemocracy  popularassemblies  canon  labor  work  egalitarianism  left  liberalism  socialism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Solidarity without Affect: The MLA Subconference Enters Its Second Year | Yasmin Nair
"Because each of them has dealt viscerally with how their individual universities engage or, rather, brutally disengage from their surrounding environments, they have no illusions about the transformative power of the university as an agent for positive change. Carpenter knows first-hand the tensions between the gentrifying power of Duke and the onslaught felt by residents of Durham; Strayer has been looking at Johns Hopkins’ role in the drone-making industry, and so on.


If we are to rethink the meaning of academic institutions and their material and conceptual presence in our lives, we have to consider the varying and often horrifically brutal roles they play in their built and unbuilt surroundings. Which will also mean going beyond arguing for and about wage labour or job security or the creation of more tenure lines, the issues that are most likely to capture the imagination of academics and their allies. Instead, we have to consider the university as simultaneously the site of great potential — as the committee put it to me, perhaps even as a transitional space that can engender radical thinking — and a site of enormous potential destruction.

This will also mean dispensing with some of the angry and embittered rhetoric hurled against the university as elitist and exclusionary because of what is often termed “inaccesible” and “jargon-filled” language and research. While those charges can sometimes stick, we tend to forget that they’re usually made, with ominous regularity, only against those disciplines like those of language and literature. Consider the fetishisation and even glamorisation of physics, for instance, a far more inscrutable field than poetry. As a result, over the last few decades, organisations like the MLA have grasped at straw after straw, aiming darts at an ever-moving target, imploring its graduates to resort to any number of survival techniques: Blog More! Blog Less! Learn Another Trade! Specialise!

But the results have been dire. Or, as the subconference’s description of the 2015 event puts it,
Living wages AND reduced labor time, healthcare, and accessible and affordable education must be understood as the conditions under which our mutual social aid and academic lives will thrive, rather than a cost that capital must bear. For far too long, those of us in higher education have been willing to make compromises that we thought would save us, compromises that translated into higher costs of tuition for students and families; compromises that led to decreased state and federal funding in favor of privatized dollars; compromises that immiserated low-wage workers to free up increasingly scarce resources; compromises that negatively impact the affordability and quality of higher education in order to improve the status of our brand for Wall Street, tech firms, and for an out-of-state and international student body. That zero-sum game has run its course and it has become increasingly clear that the high-stakes race for private dollars has been a loss for almost everyone who works and learns in higher education. Our struggle needs to be understood as capable of generating material and theoretical gains for us all, not less for the few through a misguided “race to the top.”

I find these words, and the general politics of the Subconference, to be more bracing than what I’ve encountered in academic organising so far. An expansive view of what the university truly means, both in its potential and its ability to damage, is preferable to the kind of shop-worn, shoddy, and often clumsy attempt at solidarity that now pervades, for instance, much of the organising that unions are apt to do within universities, organising that smells more of the fervent desire to collect more dues than to bring about change. 1

It’s a brand new world, this, where academics finally agree to stand in solidarity with the workers who keep their enterprise running, hopefully in terms shorn of the usual affective talk about the sheer saltiness and heroism of “ordinary workers” that is cringe-inducing, counterproductive, condescending, and anti-intellectual. The Subconference committee members I spoke to are able to hold and put forth the contradictions presented by the university and see them through to their ends, logical or not.  This might, as the members put it, mean the end of the university entirely or as we know it, or it might mean that it becomes a transitional or permanent space that opens up the resources it hoards so avariciously, like library holdings and knowledge production, and returns them to the cities and towns that help sustain such exclusionary systems, with nothing offered in return."
academia  highered  highereducation  2015  labor  solidarity  via:audreywatters  education  economics  interconnectedness  interdependency  privatization  capitalism  militarism  colleges  universities  yasminnair  interconnected  interconnectivity 
january 2015 by robertogreco
All You Need to Know About the 'Learning Styles' Myth, in Two Minutes | WIRED
"On a sunny hike along a Madeiran levada a couple of years ago, I got chatting to a retired school teacher and I told him about the brain myths book I was writing. An affable chap, he listened with interest about the 10 percent myth and other classic misconceptions, but his mood changed when I mentioned learning styles. This is the mistaken idea that we learn better when the instruction we receive is tailored to our preferred way of learning. The friendly teacher was passionate about the concept’s merit – his own preferred style, he said, was to learn “by doing” and no-one would ever convince him otherwise.

How widely believed is the myth?
The teacher I met in Madeira is far from alone in endorsing the myth. It is propagated not only in hundreds of popular books, but also through international conferences and associations, by commercial companies who sell ways of measuring learning styles, and in teacher training programs. The TeachingEnglish website published by the British Council and the BBC states boldly “Your students will be more successful if you match your teaching style to their learning styles” – this includes, they claim, being: right- or left-brained, analytic vs. dynamic, and visual vs. auditory. A recent international survey of teachers from the UK, China and elsewhere found that 96 percent believed in the idea of preferred learning styles.

Why is the idea so popular?
Parents, understandably, like to think that their children are receiving a tailored education. Teachers, also understandably, like to think that they are sensitive to each child’s needs and many are clearly motivated to find out more about how to fulfill this ideal. Also, no-one likes to think of themselves as low in ability. It’s more comforting to my ego to think that a class was difficult because of a teaching style I didn’t like than because I wasn’t concentrating or because I’m simply not clever or motivated enough.

Is there any evidence to support the learning styles concept?
Yes there is a little, but experts on the topic like Harold Pashler and Doug Rohrer point out that most of this evidence is weak. Convincing evidence for learning styles would show that people of one preferred learning style learned better when taught material in their favored way, whereas a different group with a different preference learned the same material better when taught in their favored fashion. Yet surprisingly few studies of this format have produced supporting evidence for learning styles; far more evidence (such as this study) runs counter to the myth. What often happens is that both groups perform better when taught by one particular style. This makes sense because although each of us is unique, usually the most effective way for us to learn is based not on our individual preferences but on the nature of the material we’re being taught – just try learning French grammar pictorially, or learning geometry purely verbally.

Are there any other problems with the myth?
Oh yes! Another major problem is that there are so many different possible ways to describe people’s preferred learning styles. Indeed, a review published in 2004 identified over 71 different styles mooted in the literature. As Paul Kirschner and Jeroen Merrienboer explained in their recent article on “urban legends” in education, if we view each learning style as dichotomous (e.g. visual vs. verbal) that means there are 2 to the power of 71 combinations of identified learning styles – more than the number of people alive on earth! What’s more, even if we accept a particular scheme for measuring learning styles, evidence shows that learning style questionnaires are unreliable and people’s self-reported preferences are poorly correlated with their actual performance. In other words, a person might think they learn better, say, visually rather than verbally, but their performance says otherwise! The fact is, the more accurate predictor for how well a person will fare in a math learning task, is most likely not the degree of match between their preferred learning style and the teaching style, but their past performance on math tests.

So, should we completely give up on tailoring our teaching styles?
No. While people are often poor at judging which teaching methods are most effective for them, and while there is little strong evidence for the benefits of matching teaching style to preferred learning style, this does not mean there is no scope for tailoring teaching style to improve learning. For example, as Kirschner and Merrienboer point out, there is evidence that novices learn better from studying examples, whereas those with more expertise learn better by solving problems themselves. Other research shows how learning is improved (for most everyone) by combining different activities – such as drawing alongside more passive study.

Let’s bury this harmful myth
Many leading experts believe the myth of preferred learning styles is not just a benign misconception, but is likely causing harm. As Scott Lilienfeld and colleagues write in 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, the approach “encourages teachers to teach to students’ intellectual strengths rather than their weaknesses.” Yet, they add: “students need to correct and compensate for their shortcomings, not avoid them.” There’s also an economic case. Many learning style questionnaires and training programs are expensive. “Given the costs of assessing students’ supposed learning styles and offering differentiated instruction,” write Rohrer and Pashler, the news of the lack of scientific evidence for learning styles “should come as good news to educators at all levels.”"
education  myths  myth  learning  learningstyles  2015  via:audreywatters  christianjarrett  haroldpashler  dougrohrer  howwelearn  paulkirschner  jeroenmerrienboer  scottlilienfeld  differentiation 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Home Schooling: More Pupils, Less Regulation - NYTimes.com
"Unlike so much of education in this country, teaching at home is broadly unregulated. Along with steady growth in home schooling has come a spirited debate and lobbying war over how much oversight such education requires.

Eleven states do not require families to register with any school district or state agency that they are teaching their children at home, according to the Coalition for Responsible Home Education, a nonprofit group that is pushing for more accountability in home schooling. Fourteen states do not specify any subjects that families must teach, and only nine states require that parents have at least a high school diploma or equivalent in order to teach their children. In half the states, children who are taught at home never have to take a standardized test or be subject to any sort of formal outside assessment.

And the movement is growing. Once mainly concentrated among religious families as well as parents who wanted to release their children from the strictures of traditional classrooms, home schooling is now attracting parents who want to escape the testing and curriculums that have come along with the Common Core, new academic standards that have been adopted by more than 40 states.

According to the most recent federal statistics available, the number of school-age children who were home-schooled in the United States was close to 1.8 million in 2011-12, up from 1.5 million five years earlier. According to federal data, the highest concentration of home-schooling families are in the South and West, although precise figures are difficult to collect because many states, including Connecticut, Oklahoma and Texas, do not require families to register with either a school district or the state education agency."

[See also: “The states that don't require homeschooled kids to learn math or English, in one map”
http://www.vox.com/2015/1/5/7495465/homeschooling-regulations-subjects-teachers ]
homeschool  education  2015  trends  via:audreywatters  unschooling  parenting 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Nearly 500,000 Fewer Americans Will Pass the GED in 2014 After a Major Overhaul to the Test. Why? And Who's Left Behind? | Features | Cleveland Scene
"The numbers are shocking: In the United States, according to the GED Testing Service, 401,388 people earned a GED in 2012, and about 540,000 in 2013. This year, according to the latest numbers obtained by Scene, only about 55,000 have passed nationally. That is a 90-percent drop off from last year."



"But there is another reason for the small number of people passing the GED test in 2014: Hardly anyone is taking it this year. And that has as much to do with how the test is administered as the content. The previous test was administered with pen and paper, but this version can only be taken on a computer. And here's the kicker: More than half the people in the U.S. who do not have a high school diploma do not have a laptop or desktop computer at home. The same number, not surprisingly, have no Internet access either.

Those making less than $25,000 clock in at similar rates regardless of their educational background. So many of those who need a GED most — those without a high school diploma and with a poverty-rate income — do not have a computer or Internet access, which puts them far, far behind from the very start for two reasons: It's hard to build keyboard and mouse skills for a timed test without practice, and GED Testing Service (the company that administers the test) makes it maddeningly hard even to print sample questions to study at home.

To get sample tests, students must have access to the Internet to take them, pay $6 for each sample test section with a credit card (if their tutoring program won't buy it for them, and most don't), and have an active email account. All of that makes having a computer and Internet access paramount to passage.

"We are just finding that students without a computer or credit cards are not able to keep up as well, and in studying for a test like this, it is easy to find reasons to quit," Bivins says. "The way this test has been set up has put barriers in front of people, when we should be doing a test where keeping the goals in front of them is what they see instead of more reasons to quit.

While a certain lack of access makes studying for the GED harder, the content itself makes it even more difficult.

And that raises the question that has dogged the GED test since its inception after World War II: Is the primary purpose of the test to measure a student's college preparedness? Or is it a measure of a dropout's willingness to achieve a goal that makes them more attractive to employers?

In other words, is the GED designed to measure whether a student can handle Jane Austen novels and polynomial equations, or whether that person has the wherewithal to stock shelves at Walmart or hang drywall? The current test suggests it is the former that seems to be more important. And while the old test seemed to have some "just showing up" success rate measurement attached, which in some eyes was a practical way to administer the GED, the new one seems to have none of that.

To put it another way, we all would agree that high school students need to know more before entering college and that sound math and language skills are part of that. But are we going to ace out a whole group of people from getting a GED because some college administrators don't think their incoming students know enough algebra?

"What I've noticed more than anything is that the participation rates are shockingly low this year over previous years, so the word has gotten out that it is extremely hard," says Stan Jones, president of Complete College America, a non-profit based in Indianapolis that works with states to get more of the poor and disadvantaged into college.

"The way I see it, they have effectively gutted the GED program by these changes they have made," Jones says. "Adult students who have been out of high school for a while aren't passing this test. There needs to be a viable option for older adults to get into college and move up in the job market, and the changes made this year have greatly diminished the GED as a pathway to get to that goal.""
2014  education  via:audreywatters  policy  ged  highschool  assessment  testing  standardizedtesting  digitaldivide  inequality  employment  technology  edtech 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Yeah, We're Really Screwing This Up | Just Visiting @insidehighered
"It’s not coincidental that the sorts of places that allow students to make mistakes in the name of exploration, Harvard, Yale, Stanford, et al, will not be putting these algorithms to use because the university as paternalistic surveillance state isn’t consistent with genuine student welfare.

Freedom’s just another word for something that’s too expensive for anyone other than the wealthy to possess.

The chief beneficiaries of the surveillance state university will be the corporations (some of which will be housed inside the universities) that stand to make billions selling these tech-based “solutions[5]” to problems we’ve created because we refuse to see education as a collective endeavor, because we refuse to see education as a public good.

To my eye, Blumenstyk describes a dystopia. That she seems to be urging us to move towards it makes me wonder if I’m inside a nightmare.

A significant portion of my students fear failure even when there are no stakes. I can’t imagine what happens when they receive their daily or hourly or even real-time alerts on their academic progress sent to their biofeedback sensors[6].

Will I have students jolting awake in class when those sensors detect a slowing of respiration and pulse?

Paging Professor Pavlov.

Maybe I too can be assessed using the data. We shall conduct class inside giant MRI machines that measure our brain activity. The brighter the lights on the scan, the better the instructor.

RateMyProfessor better get on this, lest they be left behind.

--
I have a different idea to the current crisis: Let’s lower the stakes.

Let’s make education affordable.

Let’s have a society where decent-paying jobs are available to people without four-year degrees.

Let’s pay all faculty a wage that allows them to do the kind of work that makes a difference in students’ lives.

I will never understand why we subject students to treatment we would never accept for ourselves.
And yet, here we are."

[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-89 ]
2014  johnwarner  via:audreywatters  surveillance  highered  highereducation  freedom  inequality  control  quantification  highstakes  education  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  scriptedlearning  affordability  society  bigdata  goldieblumenstyk 
december 2014 by robertogreco
This Is What Happens When You Criticize Teach for America | The Nation
"In the interview, Chovnick referenced the extent to which Teach For America manufactured its public image, explaining, “Instead of engaging in real conversations with critics, and even supporters, about the weaknesses of Teach For America and where it falls short, Teach For America seemed to put a positive spin on everything. During my tenure on staff, we even got a national team, the communications team, whose job it was to get positive press out about Teach For America in our region and to help us quickly and swiftly address any negative stories, press or media.”

An internal media strategy memo, obtained by The Nation, confirms Chovnick’s concerns, detailing TFA’s intricate methodology for combating negative media attention, or what it calls “misinformation.” Given that TFA takes tens of millions of government dollars every year, such strategies are troubling. According to its last three years of available tax filings, Teach For America has spent nearly $3.5 million in advertising and promotion. As the strategy memo indicates, much of this promotion goes toward attacking journalists, including ones previously published in this magazine. The memo details the numerous steps TFA’s communications team took in order to counter Alexandra Hootnick’s recent piece for the The Nation, “Teachers Are Losing Their Jobs, but Teach For America Is Expanding. What’s Wrong With That?”"
teachforamerica  tfa  marketing  2014  via:audreywatters  education  policy  publicity  edreform  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control 
november 2014 by robertogreco
How to Destroy a Public-School System | The Nation
"In fact, the basic structure of school financing in Philadelphia is rigged to benefit these privately managed companies. Public-school money follows students when they move to charter schools, but the public schools’ costs do not fall by the same amount. For example, if 100 students leave a district-run school at a cost of $8,596 per head (the district’s per-pupil expenditure minus certain administrative costs), that school’s cost for paying teachers, staff and building expenses doesn’t actually decline by that amount. It has been estimated that partly because of these costs, each student who enrolls in a charter school costs the district as much as $7,000."



"For privatization-minded reformers, the creative destruction unleashed by Corbett’s budget cuts presented an opportunity to implement a new round of privately managed restructuring. In May 2013, just before the School Reform Commission approved what Philadelphians called the “doomsday budget,” Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp—an icon of the self-described reform movement—tweeted: “In Philadelphia today, so much more to be done, but I can’t get over the progress in this city’s schools in the last decade!”

Wealthy donors and local and national foundations poured funding into a new reform-movement infrastructure to back the growth of nonprofit charters, which had continued their rapid expansion even as the for-profit experiment collapsed. The Philadelphia School Partnership (PSP), founded in 2010, quickly grew into the city’s most powerful pro-charter and anti-union organization, thanks to a $15 million grant from the local William Penn Foundation—the same entity that had funded the “Blueprint for Transformation” plan.

“Change is the only option,” declared Mark Gleason, the PSP’s chief executive, in testimony before state legislators in 2013. “We may not fully know which changes will make the most difference, which will transform outcomes for poor and minority students. But we have some good clues—we even have some proof points right here in Philadelphia—and we know the status quo is most definitely not working for disadvantaged students. The debate we should be having is about which changes are worth trying—not about saving a failed system.”

The new reform groups built ties with a pre-existing conservative network in the state, including pro-school- voucher groups like the Students First PAC, a wealthy political-action committee funded by the libertarian managers of a suburban Philadelphia investment firm.

StudentsFirst, a separate group led at the time by former Washington, DC, schools superintendent Michelle Rhee, also founded a state chapter. PennCAN, the state affiliate of the national group 50CAN, was launched in the PSP’s office. The Gates Foundation, a major backer of reform projects nationwide, funded the creation of a quasi-governmental body staffed by the PSP, the Great Schools Compact, dedicated to promoting its vision for change. It is, Gleason said earlier this year, a matter of “dumping the losers” to “create a higher bar for what we expect of our schools.” But the process of judging winners and losers amid wrenching austerity cuts has proved highly controversial. The Renaissance schools run by Mastery have demonstrated strong test-score gains. Even so, the district-run Promise Academies showed the same encouraging results—until their budgets were gutted."



"It’s what scholars have bluntly called an apartheid system: wealthy districts spend more on wealthy students, and poor districts struggle to spend less on the poor students who need the most. According to state data from 2012–13, Philadelphia spent $13,077 per pupil, while Abington spent $15,148—on students in much less need of intensive services and support. Wealthy Lower Merion spent $22,962 per pupil."
philadelphia  inequality  2014  schools  education  educationalapartheid  apartheid  funding  pennsylvania  via:audreywatters  charterschools 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Known: a social publishing platform
"For you
Tell your story any way you'd like. Known is a simple platform for publishing words, pictures, podcasts and more to a site that you control. Choose to share it on networks like Twitter and Facebook, or the software you already use.

For your group
Whether you're sharing quotes with your neighborhood book club or starting a grassroots campaign to change the world, Known is built around group collaboration and social publishing. Public or private, big or small; with Known, your platform is powered by people.

For your organization
Meet your colleagues around a digital water cooler. With Known you can run a private social network for your company, campus or organization. Today's teams don’t always work in the same room, but now you have a way to share inspirations, chat with colleagues, and send around company BBQ pics without getting lost in endless email threads.

Wherever you are
You already spend enough time in front of a computer, and inspiration can strike anywhere. Known is fully responsive and works on whatever device you’ve got in your hand. Whether you’re sharing a sunset picture from the beach or blogging from the road, real-time publishing is real.

Open and extensible.
Known is a fully installable platform based on an open source engine with a complete plugin architecture, an easy template system, and access control support.

Roll your own network.
You can install Known yourself if you have a server, and you can easily extend its functionality. It's your site: you're in control.

No server? No problem.
You don’t have to worry about the technical stuff if you don’t want to. Sign up for a website above, and we'll take care of the details."
via:audreywatters  opensource  publishing  indieweb  blogging  webdev  lms  known  adomainofone'sown  ownership  webdesign 
september 2014 by robertogreco
A day in the life of a data mined kid | Marketplace.org
[inforgraphic here: http://www.marketplace.org/content/lc-privacy-infographic ]

"Nearly everything they do at school can be — and often is — recorded and tracked, and parents don't always know what information is being collected, where it’s going, or how it's being used.

The story begins at the bus stop.

Your child swipes his ID card and climbs on the bus. The card may contain an RFID or radio frequency identification chip, which lets the school know when he gets on and off the bus. In some school districts, parents will get text alerts, letting them know their child arrived safely to school. The bus technology is presented as a way to keep children safer.

“The data collection begins even before he steps into the school,” says Khaliah Barnes, director of the Student Privacy Project at the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

And, says Barnes, in some schools it just keeps on going. RFID chips let schools track kids on school grounds. Administrators could know if a child leaves the building, or if he visits the school counselor.

“The issue is that this reveals specifically sensitive information,” says Barnes.

Location information is just one small part of a child’s data file.

In the classroom, teachers gather data on routine things like attendance, tardiness, test scores and grades. The kinds of records that used to be kept on paper.

In most states, the data are fed into a giant database, known as a “statewide longitudinal data system.” Different states collect different elements of personal student data. (You can look up your state here.)

In the last decade, the federal government has handed states more than $600 million to help them create these databases. The idea, says Stephen Balkam, head of the Family Online Safety Institute, is that “if we could keep track of our kids from kindergarten to 12th grade we'd have a much greater handle on what's working, what's not working, what needs to be added to the curriculum.”

The government isn’t the only one trying to figure out what’s working by investing in and gobbling up data about your kid.

Sales of educational technology software for kids in kindergarten through high school reached nearly $8 billion last year, according to the Software and Information Industry Association.

One of the biggest players is the field is Knewton. It analyzes student data that it collects by keeping track of nearly every click and keystroke your child makes during digital lessons.

Jose Ferreira is Knewton’s CEO. In a video posted by the Department of Education, he says “We literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything.”

Knewton claims to gather millions of data points on millions of children each day. Ferreira calls education “the world’s most data-mineable industry by far.”

“We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has,” he says in the video. “We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”

Five orders of magnitude more data than Google is a whole lot of data."
via:audreywatters  2014  education  data  datamining  children  schools  policy  privacy  control  software  datacollection 
september 2014 by robertogreco
This is Our Moment - YouTube
[See also: http://www.inventtolearn.com/moment/

"Abstract - In this plenary address, the speaker will share three societal trends that validate and vindicate decades of leadership by the constructionism community. The growing acceptance of learning-by-making represented by the maker movement, a newfound advocacy for children learning computer programming, and even the global education crisis, real or imagined, are evidence of predictions and efforts made by constructionists being realized. This conference offers a brief opportunity for celebration before returning to the “hard fun” required to harness the momentum of these trends and improve the learning ecology." ]
constructionism  math  mathematics  education  programming  making  2014  garystager  howweteach  cv  tcsmnmy  teachablemoments  turtleart  art  children  schools  learning  learningbydoing  projectbasedlearning  pedagogy  schoolreform  seymourpapert  policy  politics  via:audreywatters  makermovement  makerfaires  coding  pbl 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Michelle Rhee’s real legacy: Here’s what’s most shameful about her reign - Salon.com
"Instead, would-be reformers like Michelle Rhee totally abandon advocating for poverty reduction in favor of flavorless, politically neutral policies that don’t offend big donors. Generally, the refusal to recognize the role poverty plays in diminishing educational attainment forms three themes. In the first, reformers claim that people who chalk up low educational attainment to poverty are just excuse-making. This is, of course, manifestly absurd: Someone who says educational outcomes are harmed by poverty is not making an excuse out of poverty; they are identifying it as the (or a) cause. To argue such explanations are really excuses is as absurd as saying that Michelle Rhee is using “bad schools” as an excuse for low educational attainment. In other words, the “excuse” gambit is both false and nonsensical."



"What we know of all the empirical data recording child poverty rates and their changes is that the best, easiest and most efficient way to cut child poverty is through transfer programs. We could cut child poverty in half tomorrow – that’s a 50 percent reduction in poor children — if we wanted to, for little more than 1 percent of the GDP. All it would take is a child allowance, similar to many programs already extant in a slew of countries. Better yet for all the ed-reforming data lovers, we can actually track the rate at which transfers reduce child poverty – and they do so very, very well.

Yet from Michelle Rhee and her celebrated class of reformer compatriots, there’s no word on reducing child poverty head-on. The failure to endorse direct child poverty reduction, even after recognizing it as a serious contributor to educational problems, is either a function of Rhee’s own conservative politics or her abject pandering to her rich, corporate donor base. It’s popular to mock those who remark that education reform is “corporate,” but the organizations emblematic of ed reform are, in fact, funded by extremely wealthy people and corporations – like Wal-Mart. With backers like that in her corner, Rhee can’t ever push child poverty reduction sincerely because it generally means policies that make such donors less rich in order to make poor students less poor.

And this is the ultimate failing of this whole education reform business, really. Through extraordinary amounts of money and carefully collected social, political and cultural capital, they are the most preeminent movement for helping poor children in this country. All national conversations about child poverty happen fully within their court, according to their terms.

Yet, because they are led by people who are either ideologically, or out of convenience due to donors’ preferences, against policies that would dramatically cut child poverty, they are limited in what they can actually accomplish. Despite their rhetoric, (poor) students are never actually placed first, but always second behind the distributive political preferences of the rich. Rhee and those who follow in her wake will drill on trying to squeeze out some marginal gains here and there through school reform, all while ignoring and minimizing powerful, tested solutions so as to make sure people don’t aim at child poverty itself. When you absolutely dominate the national discourse on how best to help poor children, as Rhee and her cohorts have for so long, such a posture is extremely shameful and damaging."
michellerhee  education  policy  us  mattbruenig  via:audreywatters  povery  studentsfirst  children  gdp  walmart  inequality  politics  childpoverty  society  power  charitableindustrialcomplex  philanthropy  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  control 
august 2014 by robertogreco
elearnspace › Bundling and Re-bundling
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"Unbundling is an appealing concept to change mongers. The lessons of the album and mp3′s is strong with these folks. MP3s lead to newspapers which lead to music and media in general. Since change mongers (a species native to Silicon Valley but now becoming an invasive species in numerous regions around the world. Frankenfish comes to mind) do not have much regard for nuance and detail, opting instead for blunt mono-narratives, unbundling is a perfect concept to articulate needed change.

There are a few things wrong with the idea of unbundling in education:

1. Unbundling is different in social systems than it is in a content only system. An album can be unbundled without much loss. Sure, albums like The Wall don’t unbundle well, but those are exceptions. Unbundling a social system has ripple effects that cannot always be anticipated. The parts of a social system are less than the whole of a social system. Unbundling, while possible in higher education, is not a zero sum game. The pieces on the board that get rearranged will have a real impact on learners, society, and universities.

2. When unbundling happens, it is only temporary. Unbundling leads to rebundling. And digital rebundling results in less players and less competition. What unbundling represents then is a power shift. Universities are today an integrated network of products and services. Many universities have started to work with partners like Pearson (ASU is among the most prominent) to expand capacity that is not evident in their existing system.

Rebundling is what happens when the pieces that are created as a sector moves online become reintegrated into a new network model. It is most fundamentally a power shift. The current integrated higher education system is being pulled apart by a range of companies and startups. Currently the university is in the drivers seat. Eventually, the unbundled pieces will be integrated into a new network model that has a new power structure. For entrepreneurs, the goal appears to be to become part of a small number of big winners like Netflix or Google. When Sebastian Thrun stated that Udacity would be one of only 10 universities in the future, he was exhibiting the mentality that has existed in other sectors that have unbundled. Unbundling is not the real story: the real issue is the rebundling and how power structures are re-architected. Going forward, rebundling will remove the university from the drivers seat and place the control into the re-integrated networks."
georgesiemens  via:audreywatters  education  unbubdling  bundling  control  economics  universities  colleges  highered  highereducation  pearson  siliconvalley  disruption 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Playing the Odds | Easily Distracted
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"No academic (I hope) would say that education is required to achieve wisdom. In fact, it is sometimes the opposite: knowing more about the world can be, in the short-term, an impediment to understanding it. I think all of us have known people who are terrifically wise, who understand other people or the universe or the social world beautifully without ever having studied anything in a formal setting. Some of the wise get that way through experiencing the world, others through deliberate self-guided inquiry.

What I would be prepared to claim is something close to something Wellmon says, that perhaps college might “might alert students to an awareness of what is missing, not only in their own colleges but in themselves and the larger society as well”.

But my “might” is a bit different. My might is literally a question of probabilities. A well-designed liberal arts education doesn’t guarantee wisdom (though I think it can guarantee greater concrete knowledge about subject matter and greater skills for expression and inquiry). But it could perhaps be designed so that it consistently improves the odds of a well-considered and well-lived life. Not in the years that the education is on-going, not in the year after graduation, but over the years that follow. Four years of a liberal arts undergraduate experience could be far more likely to produce not just a better quality of life in the economic sense but a better quality of being alive than four years spent doing anything else.

I think I can argue that the disciplinary study of history can potentially contribute to the development of a capacity for empathy, or emotional intelligence, an understanding of why things happen the way that they do and how they might happen differently, and many other crafts and arts that I would associate as much with wisdom as I do with knowledge, with what I think informs a well-lived life. But potential is all I’m going to give out. I can’t guarantee that I’ll make someone more empathetic, not the least because I’m not sure how to quantify such a thing, but also because that’s not something everybody can be or should be counted upon to get from the study of history. It’s just, well, more likely that you might get that than if you didn’t study history.

This sense of “might” even justifies rather nicely the programmatic hostility to instrumentally-driven approaches to education among many humanists. Yes, we’re cultivating humanity, it’s just that we’re not very sure what will grow from any given combination of nutrients and seeds. In our students or ourselves.

This style of feeling through the labyrinth gives me absolutely no title to complacency, however. First, it’s still a problem that increased disciplinary knowledge and skills do not give us proportionately increased probability of incorporating that knowledge into our own lives and institutions. At some point, more rigorous philosophical analyses about when to pull the lever on a trolley or more focused historical research into the genesis of social movements doesn’t consistently improve the odds of making better moral decisions or participating usefully in the formation of social movements.

Second, I don’t think most curricular designs in contemporary academic institutions actually recognize the non-instrumental portion of a liberal-arts education as probabilistic. If we did see it that way, I think we’d organize curricula that had much less regularity, predictability and structure–in effect, much less disciplinarity.

This is really the problem we’re up against: to contest the idea that education is just about return-on-investment, just about getting jobs, we need to offer an education whose structural character and feeling is substantially other than what it is. Right now, many faculty want to have their cake and eat it too, to have rigorous programs of disciplinary study that are essentially instrumental in that they primarily encourage students to do the discipline as if it were a career, justified in a tautological loop where the value of the discipline is discovered by testing students on how they demonstrate that the discipline is, in its own preferred terms, valuable.

If we want people to take seriously that non-instrumental “dark side of the moon” that many faculty claim defines what college has been, is and should remain, we have to take it far more seriously ourselves, both in how we try to live what it is that we study and in how we design institutions that increase the probabilities that our students will not just know specific things and have specific skills but achieve wisdoms that they otherwise could not have found."
education  2014  via:audreywatters  liberalarts  timothyburke  highereducation  wisdom  empathy  openmindedness  ethics  morality  philosophy  history  learning  purpose  humanism  humanities  fiction  literature  society  generalists 
july 2014 by robertogreco
“No Excuses” in New Orleans | Jacobin
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70]

[part 2 here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/the-charter-school-profiteers/ ]

"Extensive observational research one of us conducted (Sondel) in two of these “No Excuses” schools (an elementary KIPP school and a locally based middle school modeled after KIPP) provides evidence that assessment data is no longer the proxy for educational quality but has in fact become the purpose of schooling itself.

At both schools, as is the case in many “No Excuses” charters in New Orleans, the principals were white males, under the age of thirty, and TFA alumni. TFA corps members and alumni also constituted five of the six collective administrators and over 60 percent of the instructional staff.

With few exceptions, the curriculum was characterized by a narrow interpretation of state standards at the expense of all other material. Students rarely learned local history or current events. Instead, science and social studies were relegated to ancillary classes in the elementary school and reduced to the accumulation of vocabulary and lists of facts at the middle school. Teachers stopped introducing new material a month prior to state assessments in order to begin review.

This curriculum was delivered almost exclusively through direct instruction — what TFA corps members refer to as the “five step lesson plan,” and educator and philosopher Paulo Freire calls “banking education,” wherein students are treated as passive and empty receptacles into which information can be deposited. In nearly every lesson Sondel observed, teachers stood in front of students to introduce new content or an isolated skill, after which students were asked to parrot, practice, and then perform their newly acquired knowledge on worksheets and multiple-choice assessments. There were no student debates, projects, or science experiments.

In a literacy lesson, for example, a teacher started by reviewing the definitions of figurative language. The teacher then projected on the Smartboard sentence after sentence, poem after poem, and, finally, a short story while students raised their hands and waited to be called on to identify idioms, similes, and personification.

After this series of questions and answers, the students sat silently at their desks, read four short passages, and identified figurative language on multiple-choice questions. The students were not asked to read the poem, analyze the story, or discuss the purpose of metaphors. After the lesson, upon being asked if students practice this skill in their independent reading or writing activities, the teacher responded, “You know the problem with that is then they have a difficult time identifying metaphors on the test.”

Perhaps because there was little inherently interesting or relevant to students about the curriculum or the classroom activities, teachers often attempted to control rather than engage students in lessons.

There were, for example, specific expectations about where students should put their hands, which direction they should turn their heads, how they should stand, and how they should sit — practices referred to at one school as SLANT (Sit up, Listen, Ask and Answer Questions, Nod, and Track the Speaker) and at the other as SPARK (Sit up straight, Pay attention, Ask and answer questions, React to show I’m following along, Keep tracking the speaker). Students were kept silent, or what teachers called “level zero,” through most of the day.

Silence seemed to be especially important in the hallways. At the sound of each bell at the middle school, students were expected to line up at “level zero” with their faces forward and hands behind their backs and, when given permission, step into the hallway and onto strips of black duct tape. There they waited for the command of an administrator: “Duke, you can move to your next class! Tulane, you can walk when you show me that you are ready!”

Students then marched until they reached the STOP sign on the floor, where their teacher checked them for hallway position before giving them permission to continue around the corner. Throughout this process, students moved counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the hallway (even if they were going to a classroom one door to the left).

This system of control was administered through intricate systems of reward and punishment. Elementary students received and lost stars for each “behavioral infraction.” In one classroom, a teacher circulated the room with a timer in her hand while students read silently. Every three minutes, after the buzzer, she put a single goldfish on the desk of each student who had remained silent. In another classroom, a teacher silently glared at a student and then typed into his iPhone, which was connected through Class Dojo — an online behavior management system — to his Smartboard. Numbers would increase and decrease on little avatars representing each student.

At the middle school, stars matured into fake money that students could use to buy access to brass band and spoken word performances. When they were not compliant, or did not have enough money to attend the weekly celebration, they were sent to the “behavior intervention room,” where they were expected to copy a piece of text word for word on lined paper. One particular afternoon, the text in question was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Despite the reputation that people join TFA to pad their resumes, many get involved in an attempt to contribute to society. Some are even convinced they are a part of the Civil Rights Movement of their generation. Implementing the “No Excuses” approach is equated with social justice, under the assumption that it is the most effective way to improve students’ test scores — which will get them into college and out of poverty. One teacher explains: “Because these days with the economy the way it is, you need a college degree. So this is a movement of social justice and giving everyone that wants an opportunity access to education.”

Teachers unconvinced by this ideology tend to acquiesce to the “No Excuses” approach for fear of losing their jobs or negatively influencing their students’ futures. One social studies teacher who wishes he could develop his students into historically curious, community-oriented citizens told Sondel why he focuses on teaching standards and test prep instead of current events: “I would be afraid of seeing a whole lot of sixth graders end up back in sixth grade and I would, frankly, be equally afraid that I wouldn’t be the one teaching them next year.”

Yet this pedagogy is far from justice-based or reflective of the radical ambitions of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead, this type of schooling extinguishes young people’s passion for learning and potentially pushes out those who fail to or are unwilling to comply. At best, the “No Excuses” approach attempts to develop within students the compliant dispositions necessary to accept and work within the status quo."
neworleans  education  kipp  schools  2014  policy  edreform  control  socialjustice  democracy  politics  tfa  civilrights  economics  forprofit  via:audreywatters  commoncore  standards  measurement  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  detroit  publicschool  crisis  exploitation  bethsondel  josephboselovic  teachforamerica  nola  charterschools 
july 2014 by robertogreco
academic influence on Twitter: the findings | the theoryblog
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"The central theme that ran through participant data was that scholars do employ complex logics of influence which guide their perceptions of open networked behaviours, and by which they assess peers and unknown entities within scholarly networked publics. More specifically, all scholars interviewed articulated concepts of network influence that departed significantly from the codified terms of peer review publication and academic hiring hierarchies on which conventional academic influence is judged.



A primary finding of the research was that metrics –the visible numbers attached to social media profiles and blogs – are seldom taken up in isolation. Participants showed a nuanced and relatively consistent understanding of metrics: the higher the number of tweets, the longer a profile was assumed to have been active, and the higher the ratio of followers to following (Twitter does not require reciprocal ‘friending’ in the way Facebook does), the more likely the person was to be perceived as influential. Yet equally consistent across the data were caveats of context, in which participants made clear they seldom interpret the metrics of public Twitter profiles as a final indicator of a scholar’s influence or potential value to their own network.



While size or scale of account was not taken up as a direct indicator of influence or value, there did appear to be a critical mass at which those who are visible in open networks to become ever more visible. A number of interviews – with participants of varying scale – noted that for large accounts identity and reputation can become “a thing,” and the reciprocal communications upon which many participants build their networks becomes difficult to sustain.



Participants who had reached significant scale with their own Twitter accounts, blogs, and digital identities tended not to speak about size of account as a benefit or goal, but more as an identity shift; one that involves challenges, adjustments, and responsibilities, as well as privileges.



The intersection of high network status with lower or unclear institutional academic status was a recurring topic in interviews, in reflections, and in public Twitter conversations. Participants indicated that the opportunities sometimes afforded junior scholars with network influence can create confusion and even discord within the highly-codified prestige arena of academia, because the hallmarks of network influence can’t be ‘read’ on institutional terms. Networked scholars were acutely aware both of network and academic terms of influence and appeared to codeswitch between the two even on Twitter and in other network environments. However, they noted that colleagues and supervisors tended to treat networked engagement as illegitimate and, in some cases, a signal of “not knowing your place.” Of the alternate prestige economies that intersect with academia, participants reported media exposure as the most coherent to their less-networked academic peers.



The value placed on shared peers reflects a broader pattern observed within the research: recognizable signals have a powerful impact on perceived influence and perceived credibility. In the same way that recognizable journal titles or schools or supervisors serve as signals of conventional academic influence, so do both conventional and network factors of recognizability carry weight in assessments of network influence. Thus, shared peer networks matter, as do visible acknowledgements such as mentions and retweets; additionally, familiar academic prestige structures such as rank and institution can add to impressions even of network influence.



One clear indicator of a lack of network influence was automated engagement. Three exemplar identities had automated paper.li or Storify notifications in the screen-captured timelines that were shared with participants; one exemplar’s visible tweets were all paper.li links, or automated daily collections of links. Responses to the paper.li were universally negative, even where the exemplar was otherwise deemed of interest. “Potential value to my network – she tweets relevant stuff so probably I should follow her! On second thought, she has a Paper.li, and by definition I unfollow anyone who uses that tool.” Other participants were equally direct: “The only negative for me was the link to a daily paper.li. I tend to find those annoying (almost never click them!)”

Storify was not interpreted to indicate the same level of low influence or awareness, but its automated tag feature was still a flag that participants mentioned: “This is on the fence for me since Storify takes some effort to be engaged with things and maybe she didn’t get that she can opt out of those tweets informing people that they’ve been “quoted.”"
bonniestewart  2014  twitter  networks  academia  infuence  filterbubbles  metrics  paper.li  storify  authority  via:audreywatters 
july 2014 by robertogreco
World Processor | The Baffler
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70 ]

"As Processed World veteran Dennis Hayes explained it to me, “We were really examining social history. We were asking questions that went unasked. We were asking, ‘What’s the value of a job that creates no value? Or that simply creates more work?’”"



"As Daniel Brook recounts in his book The Trap: Selling Out to Stay Afloat in Winner-Take-All America, Carlsson and friends liked to “dress up as investment bankers and bow in unison at the stock ticker in front of the Charles Schwab building.” Marina Lazzara, one of the magazine’s poetry editors, recalled this period fondly. “I miss those days,” she told me. “We were really out in the streets.”"



"This was but one among the magazine’s darkly comic dispatches from the absurdist trenches of the overmanaged workplace. Others gestured at something more haunting, such as the anonymous San Franciscan who wrote in issue 7, “I’m unemployed now and should be typing my resume. Typing a resume becomes more and more like typing a suicide note, and yet choosing not to work is a kamikaze mission.” It was to this group—torn between the exigencies of white-collardom and the seeming impossibility of living as one chooses—that Processed World ultimately spoke."



"Many of us know we work bullshit jobs; others would be only too happy to have one, to escape the suffocating anxieties of living on the margins. Those employed in socially useful jobs—teachers, nurses, social workers—must contend with low pay or, if they agitate for something more, being vilified."



"Along the way, the sense of community and common cause epitomized by Processed World has been sublimated into the incessant branding and self-promotion from which none of us appears immune. We are all living precariously, and so we tread water by competing for the occasional life preserver thrown out by the attention economy. Do your job well and maybe the Washington Post, the Daily Beast,or the latest buzzy new-media property will hire you as its token leftist columnist. Hit the jackpot, and you’ll become the next Chris Hayes.

Who can blame them? It’s now so expensive to live in a coastal metropolis that one hopes to sell out at least a little bit."
jacobsliverman  culture  society  economics  siliconvalley  2014  1981  processedworld  bullshitjobs  labor  via:audreywatters  chrishayes  marinalazzara  chriscarlsson  caitlinmanning  technology  efficiency  productivity  jobs  unemployment  employment  busyness  capitalism  sellingout  sellouts  attention  attentioneconomy  markets  precarity 
july 2014 by robertogreco
CODE OF CONDUCT - ISTE UNPLUGGED
"ISTEunplugged Code of Conduct

All attendees, speakers, sponsors and volunteers at our event are required to agree with the following code of conduct. Organizers will enforce this code throughout the event. We are expecting cooperation from all participants to help ensuring a safe environment for everybody.

tl;dr: Don’t be a Jerk

The Quick Version
Our event is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion (or lack thereof). We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form. Sexual language and imagery is not appropriate for any event venue, including talks, workshops, parties, Twitter and other online media. Event participants violating these rules may be sanctioned or expelled at the discretion of the conference organizers.

The Less Quick Version
Harassment includes offensive verbal comments related to gender, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, religion, sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.

If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the conference organizers may take any action they deem appropriate, including warning the offender or expulsion from the event.

If you are being harassed, notice that someone else is being harassed, or have any other concerns, please contact a member of event staff immediately. We will help participants contact hotel/venue security or local law enforcement, provide escorts, or otherwise assist those experiencing harassment to feel safe for the duration of the event. We value your attendance.

We expect participants to follow these rules at any event venues and event-related social events."

[via: https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/476386286580686848 ]
2014  isteunplugged  conduct  codeofconduct  harassment  behavior  via:audreywatters 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Chile students' debts go up in smoke | World news | theguardian.com
"Artist named Fried Potatoes removed tuition contracts he says were worth up to $500m from private university and burned them"

"For a whole year, a Chilean artist using the name Fried Potatoes (Papas Fritas) planned his revenge. Saying he was collecting material for an art project, the 31-year-old visual artist sneaked into a vault at a notorious private, run-for-profit university and quietly removed tuition contracts.

Fried Potatoes – whose real name is Francisco Tapia – then burned the documents, rendering it nearly impossible for the Universidad del Mar to call in its debt – which he claimed was worth as much as $500m (£297m). "It's over. You are all free of debt," he said in a five-minute video released earlier this month. Speaking to former students, he added: "You don't have to pay a penny."

Tapia's move is just the most radical of a three-year campaign by students and children to demand free, improved public education. With monthly marches– and four former student leaders elected to parliament – the students have built a potent citizen's movement rarely seen in post-Pinochet Chile.

This week, they claimed their biggest victory so far when the president, Michelle Bachelet, outlined a multibillion-dollar package of educational reforms and invesment. "Chile needs and the people have clamoured for this reform, which must transform quality education into a right," Bachelet said at a bill-signing ceremony. Her proposals include an end to state subsidies to for-profit universities and schools, and – potentially – the introduction of free university education for all. While Bachelet spoke, students outside the congressional hall scattered ashes from the burned Universidad del Mar documents in symbolic protest against for-profit educational scams.

The ashes have since been converted into a mobile art exhibit built into the sides of a Volkswagen camper van. The back window of the van holds a video screen so that Tapia's message can be played to crowds of curious onlookers.

The van, laden with ash, has toured the streets of Santiago and Valparaiso, and even went on display at the GAM – a prominent Santiago art gallery and cultural centre. When Chilean detectives, wearing white body suits, attempted to confiscate the fine grey dust as evidence, they too were incorporated into the exhibit's PR blitz and listed as "media partners".

According to government investigators, the Universidad del Mar, in the swanky seaside resort of Renaca, was less a university than a money laundering operation. The university was shut last year, accreditations stripped away and thousands of students left with half a diploma – but who still found themselves lumbered with outstanding debts.

Lawyers say that Tapia's destruction of the files does not technically rescind the debt, but it does make it extremely difficult to prove the debt exists. Only by formally testifying in court and acknowledging the debt would students now be forced to pay, said Mauricio Daza, a lawyer.

Daza also argued that the debts were of questionable legality even before Fried Potatoes destroyed them. "These debts are product of a fraud by the owners of the university over a long period of time," said Daza. "They pretended to have a non-profit [university] but really it was all a cover-up for getting money from the students and the state and transferring those resources into the pockets of the university owners."

Chilean students brought up the accusations of for-profit education schemes during huge street protests in 2011. As hundreds of universities and high schools were seized and occupied by teenage students, legislators began to investigate the charges. Eventually the students were proven right, university leaders were jailed and institutions shut down.

Tapia said his plan was hatched after reading press accounts that Universidad del Mar students were being forced to pay debt even after the university was shut down.

In a statement delivered to a Chilean court, Tapia defended his action. He claimed to have smuggled the documents to Santiago, where he began to investigate the credit files, case-by-case, student-by-student. By day Tapia would investigate the financial situation and life struggle of a single student. Then in the evening, he would destroy the documents related to that particular debt. "Every night, like a ritual, I burned the documents that detailed the debt."

A university spokesman confirmed the documents had been stolen but refused to quantify how much the papers were worth.

Former Universidad del Mar students have celebrated the unorthodox protest. "This is spectacular, this is the only victory we have had in economic terms," said Raul Soto, a spokesman for the former students. "This gives us the peace of mind that we are not going to still be in debt to Universidad del Mar.""
chile  art  education  debt  studentdebt  friedpotatoes  franciscotapia  universidaddelmar  forprofit  highereducation  highered  via:audreywatters 
may 2014 by robertogreco
ClintLalonde.net | The pedagogical features of a textbook
"This is pretty exciting stuff. Theoretically, if we create a button in the user interface to insert a case study into the textbook, it could also insert metadata that identifies that block of content as a case study. Once you have content identified, you could then build API’s that could extract the textbook specific content chunks. From a reuse and remixability perspective, this makes a textbook modular. Build an API that can, for example, extract just the practice questions in a book and you can create a separate practice question handbook with nothing but the practice questions from the book. In essence, we can make the book modular and with that modularity comes flexibility to potentially mix and match content in interesting and unique ways.

But before we get to the point where we could have modular & remixable content, we need to focus and determine what are the really useful pedagogical features of a textbook that improves student learning. Once we can answer that, then we have some footing to proceed to the next step & build the technology to enable that."
education  2014  textbooks  clintlalonde  interface  pedagogy  via:audreywatters 
march 2014 by robertogreco
My student asked me a question | Gardner Writes
"What I always try to do, whenever I teach, is to arrange the class as a shared project. We’re making a movie together. We’re making a record together. We’re building a house together. The whole meta-team idea was an extreme version of something I now recognize I’d been doing for decades. The idea of the course as a series of meetings, all self-contained, has always been boring to the point of hysteria for me. I’d have a similar reaction (have had, in fact) to a PowerPoint presentation full of inane and obvious bullet points and nothing else–no images, no video, no sound, nothing out of the ordinary. Same thing. All inert lists.

Over time, inert lists have come to be expected by many students, maybe even most students. They actually come to prefer it, very often. Inert lists make everything so much more manageable. Stuff in stacks. I didn’t want stuff in stacks. I wanted art or mystery or eureka or games or symphonies or laboratories or studios.

So when I teach, I try to convey, in every way I can imagine, that this is not going to be an experience of stuff in stacks. And every time I sense a student is going along with the idea of no-stuff-in-stacks, I try to reward that right away with attention and commitment and equal blends of zaniness and intensity. When one fishes, there’s an art to landing the fish: the line has to be taut, but not so taut that it snaps or the fish gets away somehow. It takes a lot of patient back-and-forth and an art of the line as subtle as how a violinist holds her bow to make the strings sing. (Not to worry: I’m a catch-and-release kind of fisherman, though I do eat fish, I will confess.)

What’s never worked, in my experience, is making 90% of the experience stuff-in-stacks and making 10% “freedom to learn,” because the 90% just overwhelms the 10%. Truth to tell, “stuff-in-stacks” can overwhelm “freedom to learn” even at the 5% level. Stuff-in-stacks is a poison and it doesn’t take much to kill the learning.

I don’t know if any of that is helpful. All I can say this morning is that I try as hard as I can to help nudge the class forward in its journey, its project, its writing-itself-into-being. I try as hard as I can to let the class nudge me forward, too, because I’m also in it for the learning. And I try to do this with an absolute minimum, as close to zero as I can make it, of stuff-in-stacks. This is one of the reasons I love the internet. The web, at least so far, is full of what Walt Whitman calls “barbaric yawps.” These yawps can be like throwing a window wide open in the early spring, just before it’s really warm enough to do so, but just when you really want to because the stale inside winter air is just too stifling. So we shiver some, and we take in the cold air, and we smell some of the mud and early growth of just-spring, and our brains clear and our hearts beat faster for just a little while. And sometimes that’s enough to get everyone over the school-as-stuff-in-stacks hump and we can get another magic moment and recapture that feeling of determined yes.

I don’t mind syllabi or semesters. I kind of like final exams. I love projects and highly refined and purposeful zaniness. When creative thinking and critical thinking marry and have a child, the child’s name is joy–it’s the same child born to Cupid and Psyche in the old tale by Apuleius.

You’re working very hard to push a huge rock up a steep hill. When I teach, I have the opportunity to frame the whole encounter very differently. You don’t have that opportunity. But you do have extraordinary shining eyes and a heart for adventure and a mind for keen insight. So I’d say you should talk with the students, heart to heart, and tell them what your dreams are for this experience, and then see if anyone responds. If anyone does, then find a way to celebrate that, and keep on hoping that the response will catch on."
gardnercampbell  canon  teaching  howweteach  2014  via:audreywatters  stacks  freedomtolearn  learning  howwelearn  engagement  lcproject  tcsnmy  cv  openstudioproject  creativity  criticalthinking  content  openended  collaboration  cooperation 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Education Outrage: The top ten mistakes in education. Twenty years later.
"Twenty years have passed. Surely my writing about this and other’s re-posting and writing about this have had a big effect on education. Let’s look at them one by one:

Mistake #1: Schools act as if learning can be disassociated from doing.
Yes. Things have changed. They are worse. The latest horror is MOOCs which is just more talking and insists on the idea the education means knowledge transfer and that knowledge can be acquired by listening.

Mistake #2: Schools believe they have the job of assessment as part of their natural role
Yes. Things have really changed here. They are much worse. Before there were just a lots of bad tests. Now there are tests at every grade. Tests to get ready for the test. And now, teacher evaluations based on the tests.

Mistake #3: Schools believe they have an obligation to create standard curricula.
Wow! This one has gotten even worse than the others. Now it isn’t schools that create standard curricula it is Bill Gates, Common Core, the US Department of Education and every state Department of Education. We sure fixed that one.

Mistake #4: Teachers believe they ought to tell students what they think it is important to know.
I am not sure about this one. I don’t think teachers think much of anything anymore other than how to survive in a system where they are not valued and teaching doesn’t matter except with respect to test scores.

Mistake #5: Schools believe instruction can be independent of motivation for actual use.
No change. Still no use for algebra, physics formulae, random knowledge about history or literature. No use for anything taught in school actually after reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Mistake #6: Schools believe studying is an important part of learning.
No change.

Mistake #7: Schools believe that grading according to age group is an intrinsic part of the organization of a school.
No change.

Mistake #8: Schools believe children will accomplish things only by having grades to strive for.
No change.

Mistake #9: Schools believe discipline is an inherent part of learning.
Perhaps this has changed. There seems to be a lot less discipline.

Mistake #10: Schools believe students have a basic interest in learning whatever it is schools decide to teach to them.
Nah. No one believes that anymore.

I am not only one loudly talking into the wind. There are lots of people who agree with me and say thing similar to what I say.
Is there anyone listening?

Sure. Parents are noticing how stupid the test are and how stupid Common Core is. The kids are noticing, now more than ever. The teachers are upset.

Is anyone listening to them? No. There is big money at stake in keeping things as they are.

Well, that the report from 20 years on the front lines. We shall not retreat, but victory looks to be far away."
via:audreywatters  education  testing  standardizedtesting  2014  1994  learning  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  commoncore  grades  grading  motivation  assessment  schools  mooc  moocs  instruction  rogerschank 
january 2014 by robertogreco
A Domain of One's Own | University of Mary Washington
"A Domain of One’s Own is a project that began at the University of Mary Washington as a pilot collaborative effort between the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies and the Office of Information Technology Services. The pilot gave 400 students and faculty their own domain name and web space to install a portfolio of work or map onto existing systems. In Fall of 2013 every incoming student at UMW will have the opportunity to choose their own domain and receive a web hosting account with the freedom to create subdomains, install any LAMP-compatible software, setup databases, email addresses, and carve out their own space on the web that they own and control."

[See also: http://timmmmyboy.com/2013/07/a-distributed-domain-of-ones-own/ and
http://reclaimhosting.com/ ]
control  identity  domain  domains  adomainofone'sown  web  online  teaching  learning  webhosting  freedom  ownership  2013  via:audreywatters  reclaimhosting  timowens  jimgroom  indieweb 
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