👓 The Tech ‘Regrets’ Industry | Audrey Watters

The Tech 'Regrets' Industry by Audrey WattersAudrey Watters (Audrey Watters)
Silicon Valley has lost some of its shine in recent months, what with the “fake news” and the bots and the hacks and the hate speech. All the promises about the democratization of information and power ring a little hollow nowadays. I’d say they rang a little hollow all along. Of course that’s what I’d say. I’ve been saying it for years now. There’s a new tale that’s being told with increasing frequency these days, in which tech industry executives and employees come forward – sometimes quite sheepishly, sometimes quite boldly – and admit that they have regrets, that they’re no longer “believers,” that they now recognize their work has been damaging to individuals and to society at large, that they were wrong. These aren’t apologies as much as they’re confessions.

An essay about technologists saying the equivalent of “Do as I say, not as I do.” and “Don’t pay any attention to that man behind the curtain.”

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🔖 Lower Ed: How For-Profit Colleges Deepen Inequality in America by Tressie McMillan Cottom

Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy by Tressie McMillan Cottom (The New Press)
More than two million students are enrolled in for-profit colleges, from the small family-run operations to the behemoths brandished on billboards, subway ads, and late-night commercials. These schools have been around just as long as their bucolic not-for-profit counterparts, yet shockingly little is known about why they have expanded so rapidly in recent years—during the so-called Wall Street era of for-profit colleges. In Lower Ed Tressie McMillan Cottom—a bold and rising public scholar, herself once a recruiter at two for-profit colleges—expertly parses the fraught dynamics of this big-money industry to show precisely how it is part and parcel of the growing inequality plaguing the country today. McMillan Cottom discloses the shrewd recruitment and marketing strategies that these schools deploy and explains how, despite the well-documented predatory practices of some and the campus closings of others, ending for-profit colleges won’t end the vulnerabilities that made them the fastest growing sector of higher education at the turn of the twenty-first century. And she doesn’t stop there. With sharp insight and deliberate acumen, McMillan Cottom delivers a comprehensive view of postsecondary for-profit education by illuminating the experiences of the everyday people behind the shareholder earnings, congressional battles, and student debt disasters. The relatable human stories in Lower Ed—from mothers struggling to pay for beauty school to working class guys seeking “good jobs” to accomplished professionals pursuing doctoral degrees—illustrate that the growth of for-profit colleges is inextricably linked to larger questions of race, gender, work, and the promise of opportunity in America. Drawing on more than one hundred interviews with students, employees, executives, and activists, Lower Ed tells the story of the benefits, pitfalls, and real costs of a for-profit education. It is a story about broken social contracts; about education transforming from a public interest to a private gain; and about all Americans and the challenges we face in our divided, unequal society.
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🎧 Nikole Hannah-Jones | The Atlantic Interview

Nikole Hannah-Jones by Jeffrey Goldberg from The Atlantic
Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief, talks about America's unequal education system with journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. How much progress has been really made since Brown v. Board of Education in giving black kids access to equal schooling as white kids? Far from enough, Hannah-Jones has found. And she has some concrete—but difficult—ideas for fixing it.

Transcript

This may be my favorite interview of the series so far. There’s so much to unpack here that the discussion should probably have gone on for a few more hours. The differences in how this issue differ in various parts of the country make it a difficult problem to handle.

My initial inclination is that one cannot (easily) have a government take over of private schools. To equal the playing field however, one could completely defund private schools and force them to live on their own steam. This would potentially free up a pocket of money that could go to improving better integrated and un-gerrymandered schools. I suspect the economic forces would help level the playing fields, though a tremendous amount of work would still be required as follow up.

I’ll have to revisit the issue, but I have a feeling that the public good built into public schools and hospitals creates a different “market” than the traditional capitalistic ones because the root of these institutions is to build a “public good” which is hampered by the infrastructure costs of otherwise allowing directly competitive forces to create an equal access market.

I do find it interesting that in the Los Angeles area I have the option of almost 20+ potential schools while when I lived in Georgia and South Carolina there was really only ever one real option (without a tremendous amount of travel) for school choice.

I love Nikole Hannah-Jones‘s perspective and want to read more of her material. Fortunately she’s got a really interesting looking website, which should make doing so a whole lot easier. I hope others do as well as this short interview barely scratches the surface of what looks like some awesome thought.

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🔖 PressForward in the classroom

PressForward in the classroom (pressforward.org)
Do you want to work with students to publish class assignments or research? Instructors use PressForward in the classroom to consolidate and review student assignments, help students learn to survey their fields, and create opportunities for collaboration, communication, and research. The Lewis & Clark College Environmental Studies Program produces Environment Across Boundaries, a student-led publication that cultivates interdisciplinary perspectives on environmental issues. Participation gives students an opportunity to engage with their discipline through experiential, project based learning. They develop skills both in their field and with a suite of digital tools.

An interesting use case for PressForward: creating a “planet” website to aggregate and/or showcase work of students in an entire classroom who are all posting content to their own separate web spaces.

Sketch idea: create a standalone WordPress site for a course, install the PressForward plugin, input the RSS feeds for students’ websites to aggregate all their work collectively into one space. Various ideas include:

  • Use the feed for students and teacher to keep up with the entire classroom.
  • Publish an OPML file for students to easily subscribe to all feeds in their feed reader of choice.
  • Optionally publish the highlights of the best work or even all of it.
  • Teachers could use the feed to check that students are posting/keeping up with assignments for grading purposes.
  • Use the read/unread functionality to “mark” pieces as graded/ungraded or seen/unseen.
  • Use the internal commenting system to keep private notes on student’s work.
  • Create output feeds for specific tags and/or categories
  • Works with any student sites that produce feeds, not just WordPress, so students have choices of different CMSes.
  • Use the nomination functionality to quickly aggregate and disseminate online sources for classroom assignments or readings.

I had contemplated planet like aggregation at the recent WPCampus online conference. It’s interesting to see that PressForward has considered it as a use case as well though I’d love to hear about or see examples of this in the wild.

How else could this rich, multi-functional Swiss Army knife-like plugin be used in education?

Cartoon diagram with a funnel collecting content from sites like YouTube, WordPress, Drupal, Blogger, RSS being aggregated into a single computer-based website.
Diagram of PressForward functionality as a content hub or “planet” courtesy of PressForward.org
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📅 Domain of One’s Own Workshop for Admins

Might be attending Domain of One's Own Workshop for Admins
After hearing from a number of schools running Domain of One’s Own, we thought it might be useful to host an in-person workshop that focuses specifically on implementing this project on your campus. Workshop of One’s Own is a two-day, geared towards the instructional technologist who assists with managing DoOO on an administrator level, but also focuses on project conceptualization, instructional uses, and empowering their community from a teaching/learning standpoint. You’ll not only be receiving the in-person, focused attention from the entire Reclaim Hosting team, but you’ll also get a chance to brainstorm with folks from other schools who are running their own Domain of One’s Own projects. We’ll work through common troubleshooting tips, SPLOTs with Alan Levine, cPanel application case studies, and more.

I’m almost painfully tempted to attend this workshop on March 15-16 with the idea of and setting up a side business to specialize in hosting WordPress and Known sites for IndieWeb use. While it could be a generic non-institutional instance for academics, researchers, post docs, graduate and undergraduate students who don’t have a “home” DoOO service, it could also be a potential landing pad for those leaving other DoOO projects upon graduation or moving. Naturally I wouldn’t turn down individuals who wanted specific IndieWeb capable personal websites either.

Either way it’s an itch (at an almost poison ivy level) that I’ve been having for a long time, but haven’t written down until now. It would certainly be an interesting platform for continuing to evangelize the overlap of IndieWeb and Educational applications on the internet.

I think there are almost enough IndieWeb friendly WordPress themes to make it a worthwhile idea to have a multi-site WordPress install that has a handful of microformats performant themes in conjunction with tools like webmentions and micropub that allows easy interaction with most of the major social silos.

I think the community might almost be ready for such a platform that would allow an integrated turnkey IndieWeb experience. (Though I’d still want to offer some type of integrated feed reader experience bundled in with it.) Perhaps I could model it a little bit after edublogs and micro.blog?

Who wants to help goad me into it?

 
h/t:

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👓 Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It? | Andrew Rikard

Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It? by Andrew Rikard (EdSurge)
Universities across the country are giving personal web domains to their students. I picked andrewrikard.com.

Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It?

Universities across the country are giving personal web domains to their students. I picked andrewrikard.com. Davidson College, where I’m a junior, pitched it as an opportunity to own my own data. I could create a WordPress blog from scratch. I could play with HTML, CSS, and Javascript and create experimental projects for courses. I could even keep the domain after graduation. It is a living portfolio, my representation in the digital world. Continue reading “👓 Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It? | Andrew Rikard”

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Reply to a Comment on Supporting Digital Identities in School

Comment on Supporting Digital Identities in School by Christina Smith (Read Write Respond)
Your post reminded me of a challenge I see every time Couros posts about students having those three aspects of a digital identity: no matter how much we as educators may encourage this, ultimately it is up to the students to make it part of their lives. I have been blogging with my students for some years now, and when it is not a class requirement, they stop posting. I think part of this digital presence that we want students to establish – the \”residency,\” as Robert Schuetz said in the recent blog post that led me here (http://www.rtschuetz.net/2016/02/mapping-our-pangea.html) – is not always happening where we suggest. I know my students have an online presence – but it\’s on Instagram and Snapchat, not the blogsphere. Perhaps instead of dragging kids on vacation to where we think they should set up shop, we need to start following them to their preferred residences and help them turn those into sturdy, worthy places from which to venture out into the world.

This is certainly an intriguing way to look at it, but there’s another way to frame it as well. Students are on sites like Instagram and Snapchat because they’re connecting with their friends there. I doubt many (any?) are using those platforms for learning or engagement purposes, so attempting to engage with them there may not translate for educators. It may have the colloquial effect of “I’m on Snapchat because my parents aren’t; if my parents join I’m either going to block them or move to another platform they’re not on.” Something similar to this was seen in cultural teen use of Facebook as parents swarmed to the platform over the past decade. To slightly reframe it, how many high school teachers in the past have seen students in the hallways between classes socializing and thought to themselves, “I should go out and teach in the hallway, because that’s where the students are and they seem alert?”

It might also shed some light on our perspectives to look at what happens at the end of a quarter or semester in most colleges. I always remember book sellback time and a large proportion of my friends and colleagues rushed to the bookstore to sell their textbooks back. (I’ll stipulate the book market has changed drastically in the past two decades since I was in University, but I think the cultural effect is still roughly equivalent.) As a bibliophile I could never bring myself to sell books back because I felt the books were a significant part of what I learned and I always kept them in my personal collection to refer back to later. Some friends I knew would keep occasional textbooks for their particular area of concentration knowing that they might refer back to them in later parts of their study. But generalizing to the whole, most students dumped their notes, notebooks, and even textbooks that they felt no longer had value to them. I highly suspect that something similar is happening to students who are “forced” to keep online presences for coursework. They look at it as a temporary online notebook which is disposable when the class is over and probably even more so if it’s a course they didn’t feel will greatly impact their future coursework.

I personally find a huge amount of value in using my personal website as an ongoing commonplace book and refer back to it regularly as I collect more information and reshape my thoughts and perspectives on what I’ve read and learned over the years. Importantly, I have a lot of content that isn’t shared publicly on it as well. For me it’s become a daily tool for thinking and collecting as well as for searching. I suspect that this is also how Aaron is using his site as well. My use of it has also reached a fever pitch with my discovery of IndieWeb philosophies and technologies which greatly modify and extend how I’m now able to use my site compared to the thousands of others. I can do almost all of the things I could do on Facebook, Twitter, etc. including interacting with them directly and this makes it hugely more valuable to me.

The other difference is that I use my personal site for almost everything including a wide variety of topics I’m working on. Most students are introduced to having (read: forced to maintain) a site for a single class. This means they can throw it all overboard once that single class is over. What happens if or when they’re induced to use such a thing in all of their classes? Perhaps this may be when the proverbial quarter drops? Eventually by using such a tool(s) they’ll figure out a way to make it actively add the value they’re seeking. This kernel may be part of the value of having a site as a living portfolio upon graduation.

Another issue I often see, because I follow the space, is that many educational technologists see some value in these systems, but more often than not, they’re not self-dogfooding them the same way they expect their students to. While there are a few shining examples, generally many teachers and professors aren’t using their personal sites as personal learning networks, communications platforms, or even as social networks. Why should students be making the leap if their mentors and teachers aren’t? I can only name a small handful of active academic researchers who are heavily active in writing and very effectively sharing material online (and who aren’t directly in the edtech space). Many of them are succeeding in spite of the poor quality of their tools. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think about one or more interesting thought leaders who I wish had even a modicum of online space much less a website that goes beyond the basic functionality of a broken business card. I’ve even offered to build for free some incredibly rich functional websites for researchers I’d love to follow more closely, but they just don’t see the value themselves.

I won’t presume to speak for Aaron, but he’s certainly become part of my PLN in part because he posts such a rich panoply of content on a topic in which I’m interested, but also in larger part because his website supports webmentions which allows us a much easier and richer method of communicating back and forth on nearly opposite sides of the Earth. I suspect that I may be one of the very few who extracts even a fraction of the true value of what he publishes through a panoply of means. I might liken it to the value of a highly hand-crafted trade journal from a decade or more ago as he’s actively following, reading, and interacting with a variety of people in a space in which I’m very interested. I find I don’t have to work nearly as hard at it all because he’s actively filtering through and uncovering the best of the best already. Who is the equivalent beacon for our students? Where are those people?

So the real question is how can we help direct students to similar types of resources for topics they’re personally interested in discovering more about? It may not be in their introduction to poetry class that they feel like it’s a pain doing daily posts about on a blog in which they’re not invested. (In fact it sounds to me just like the the online equivalent of a student being forced to write a 500 word essay in their lined composition book from the 1950’s.) But it’ll be on some topic, somewhere, and this is where the spark meets the fuel and the oxygen. But the missing part of the equation is often a panoply of missing technological features that impact the culture of learning. I personally think the webmention protocol is a major linkage that could help ease some of the burden, but then there’s also issues like identity, privacy, and all the other cultural baggage that needs to make the jump to online as seamlessly (or not) as it happens in the real world.

…perhaps we’re all looking for the online equivalent of being able to meld something like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Bloom’s Taxonomy?

I’ll have to expand upon it later, but perhaps we’re all looking for the online equivalent of being able to meld something like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Bloom’s Taxonomy? It’s certainly a major simplification, but it feels like the current state of the art is allowing us to put the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy in an online setting (and we’re not even able to sell that part well to students), but we’re missing both its upper echelons as well as almost all of Maslow’s piece of the picture.

With all this said, I’ll leave you all with a stunningly beautiful example of synthesis and creation from a Ph.D. student in mathematics I came across the other day on Instagram and the associated version she wrote about on her personal website. How could we bottle this to have our students analyzing, synthesizing, and then creating this way?

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Reply to It might be a little way off yet, but …

It might be a little way off yet, but … by Ianin Sheffield (Marginal Notes)
The traditional way that most theses are presented is in the form of an 80 000(ish) word report. University regulations usually specify that this should be bound in hard copy format, and ready to be posted onto the shelves in the Library stacks. Recently, in the spirit of openly sharing knowledge, it is becoming common for Universities to also require a digital copy of the thesis for posting to the institutional digital repository. For me then, this will be through the Sheffield Hallam University Research Archive, SHURA. We are also now required, where permissible, to post the data that our research generates. This aligns with my own feelings about research being as open as is ethically permissible, so I have no problem with any of this.

I like the general thrust of what you’re looking for in this area; it’s certainly intriguing.

I’m glad to hear about Scalar and look forward to checking it out myself. I’m a bit surprised you hadn’t heard about Omeka. Their main site has some great examples of it in use which might help your investigations for examples. I recall seeing some interesting map-related projects by Anelise Shrout that used Omeka which you might appreciate for their interactivity.

Since you’ve got several sites on WordPress, you might appreciate potentially using it to provide some of the functionality you’re discussing.

For pop-ups on references you might appreciate the Academic Bloggers Toolkit plugin.

For highlights and potential feedback, you might take a look at Hypothesis which is an interesting highlighting and annotation tool. It allows private groups which a writer might share with an advising committee or even provide for public facing markup and sharing. There are available WordPress plugins for expanding functionality on one’s site, though the tool is a free-standing one.

I suspect that if you look around the plugin repositories for WordPress and Omeka, you’ll see a variety of plugins that can extend the functionality to do some of the things you’re interested in executing.

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👓 When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work | New York Times

When Unpaid Student Loan Bills Mean You Can No Longer Work by Jessica Silver-Greenberg, Stacy Cowley and Natalie Kitroeff (New York Times)
Twenty states suspend people’s professional or driver’s licenses if they fall behind on loan payments, according to records obtained by The New York Times.

This has to be one of the most un-ethical and painfully stupid laws out there. Far better would be for them to focus their efforts at shutting down the predatory for-profit schools which are causing students to have some of these unpayable loans in the first place.

It’s almost as a nation like we’re systematically trying to destroy ourselves and our competitive stance within the world just for spite.

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👓 Another USC medical school dean resigns | Washington Post

Another USC medical school dean resigns by Susan Svrluga (Washington Post)
The University of Southern California announced Thursday that Rohit Varma has resigned as dean of the Keck School of Medicine. He had replaced a dean who was banned from campus after allegations of drug use and partying.

I’ve been so busy in the last month, I had to do a double-take at the word ANOTHER!

The statement USC released seems highly disingenuous and inconsistent to me.

“As you may have heard, today Dr. Rohit Varma resigned as dean of the Keck School of Medicine of USC,” the school’s provost, Michael Quick, wrote in a message to the community.

“I understand how upsetting this situation is to all of us, but we felt it was in the best interest of the faculty, staff, and students for all of us to move in this direction. Today we learned previously undisclosed information that caused us to lose confidence in Dr. Varma’s ability to lead the school. Our leaders must be held to the highest standards. Dr. Varma understands this, and chose to step down.”

First they say Varma resigned as dean which makes it seem as if he’s stepping aside of his own accord when the next paragraph indicates that the University leadership has lost confidence in him and forced him out. So which is it? He resigned or was fired?

Secondly they mentioned “undisclosed information”. This is painful because the so-called undisclosed information was something that USC was not only aware of, but actually paid off a person involved to the tune of more than $100,000!

USC paid her more than $100,000 and temporarily blocked Varma from becoming a full member of the faculty, according to the records and interviews.

“The behavior you exhibited is inappropriate and unacceptable in the workplace, reflects poor judgment, is contrary to the University’s standards of conduct, and will not be tolerated at the University of Southern California,” a USC official wrote in a 2003 letter of reprimand.”

Even the LA Times reports: “The sexual harassment allegation is well known in the upper echelons of the university, but not among many of the students and staff.” How exactly was this “undisclosed?!”

So, somehow, a person who was formally reprimanded years ago (and whose reprimands were later greatly lessened by the way) was somehow accidentally promoted to dean of an already embattled division of the university?? I’m not really sure how he even maintained his position after the original incident much less subsequently promoted and allowed to continue on to eventually be appointed dean years later. Most shocking, there was no mention of his other positions at USC. I take this to mean that he’s still on the faculty, he’s still on staff at the hospital, and he’s still got all the rights and benefits of his previous positions at the University? I sincerely hope that he learned his lesson in 2003, but suspect that he didn’t, and if this is the case and others come forward, he will be summarily dispatched. For the University’s sake, I further hope they’re looking into it internally with a fine-toothed comb before they’re outed again by the Los Angeles Times reporting staff who seem to have a far higher level of morality than the USC leadership over the past several years.

During a month which has seen an inordinate amount of sexual harassment backlash, I’m shocked that USC has done so very little and has only acted (far too long after-the-fact) to sweep this all under the rug.

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👓 A Tech of Our Own | Beyond the Wrapper – Martha Burtis

A Tech of Our Own by Martha Burtis (Beyond the Wrapper)
Last night, we (meaning the DKC and my colleagues in the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies) hosted a premiere of a short horror film that we shot in May of 2016. We developed the script over about three weeks, shot the movie in one day, and then took over a year to get our acts together and finish editing it. In fact, the only reason it WAS finished was because of two amazing new students who split their time between tutoring in the DKC and supporting DTLT, Stef and Bethany. They started only two months ago, but they began working on the movie almost immediatley and, in collaboration with Jess Reingold, masterminded a pretty amazing event last night. We had a nice turnout in the Digital Auditorium and it was incredibly satisfying to be in a room of people enjoying The Convergence.
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👓 The Blockchain for Education: An Introduction | Hacked Education

The Blockchain for Education: An Introduction by Audrey Watters (Hacked Education)
Is blockchain poised to be “the next big thing” in education? This has become a question I hear with increasing frequency about a technology that, up until quite recently, was primarily associated with the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. The subtext to the question, I suppose: do educators need to pay attention to the blockchain? What, if anything, should they know about it?

A facile introduction with some interesting directions that education could take with it. Still, none seem so strong as to be worthwhile/valuable.

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E-book “Education and Technology: Critical Approaches”

E-book "Education and Technology: Critical Approaches" (Diálogos sobre TIC & Educação!)
Following months of hard work, we are finally ready to publish our 2017 e-book, Education and Technology: critical approaches. This bilingual collection brings together 12 chapters written by researchers based in Brazil, Australia, Scotland, England and USA. The work has been edited by Giselle Ferreira, Alexandre Rosado e Jaciara Carvalho, members of the ICT in Educational Processes Research Group, who maintain this blog (mostly in Portuguese – at least so far!). From the editors’ Introduction: "This volume offers a measure of sobriety in reaction to the excesses and hyperboles found in the mainstream literature on Education and Technology. The pieces (…) tackle questions of power and consider contextual and historical specificities, escaping the usual euphoria that surrounds digital technology and adopting different perspectives on our current historical moment."

Available as a free .pdf download.

👓 Link: The futility of science communication conferences by John Hawks

Link: The futility of science communication conferences by John Hawks (johnhawks.net)
Rich Borschelt is the communication director for science at the Department of Energy, and recently attended a science communication workshop. He describes at some length his frustration at the failed model of science communication, in which every meeting hashes over the same futile set of assumptions: “Communication, Literacy, Policy: Thoughts on SciComm in a Democracy. After several other issues, he turns to the conferences’ attitude about scientists...

John’s note reminds me that I’ve been watching a growing and nasty trend against science, much less science communication, in the past several years. We’re going to be needing a lot more help than we’re getting lately to turn the tide for the better. Perhaps more scientists having their own websites and expanding on the practice of samizdat would help things out a bit?

I recently came across Science Sites, a non-profit web company, courtesy of mathematician Steven Strogatz who has a site built by them. In some sense, I see some of what they’re doing to be enabling scientists to become part of the IndieWeb. It would be great to see them support standards like Webmention or functionality like Micropub as well. (It looks like they’re doing a lot of building on SquareSpace, so by proxy it would be great if they were supporting these open standards.) I love that it seems to have been created by a group of science journalists to help out the cause.

As I watch some of the Domain of One’s Own community in higher education, it feels to me that it’s primarily full of humanities related professors and researchers and doesn’t seem to be doing enough outreach to their science, engineering, math, or other colleagues who desperately need these tools as well as help with basic communication.

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