audrey watters – hacking ed
Audrey is an education writer, rabble-rouser, rambler, recovering academic, lifelong learner, serial dropout, part-time badass, mom.
You want something straight up? Google/go to Audrey.
Her latest ..
And unlike the adaptive learning software tool, this isn’t “personalized” learning as a marketing message. This is personal learning.
Back to Cormier, the guy who coined the term “MOOC” back in 2008, long before Stanford’s massively-hyped online artificial intelligence class. That’s an important piece of education technology history that’s been overlooked a lot this year as Sebastian Thrun and his Stanford colleagues have received most of the credit in the mainstream press for “inventing” the MOOC.
But MOOCs have a longer history, dating back to some of the open online learning experiments conducted by Cormier, George Siemens, Stephen Downes, Alec Couros, David Wiley and others. Downes and Siemens’ 2008 class “Connectivism and Connective Knowledge,”for example, was offered to some 20-odd tuition-paying students at the University of Manitoba, along with over 2300 who signed up for a free and open version online.
In July, Downes made the distinction between “cMOOCs,” the types he has offered, and “xMOOCs,” those offered by Udacity, Coursera, edX and others. The terminology is very useful to help distinguish between the connectivist origins of MOOCs (and the connectivist principles and practices of open learning and online networks) and the MOOCs that have made headlines this year (with their emphasis on lecture videos and multiple choice tests). While cMOOCs are strongly connectivist and Canadian, xMOOCs, as Mike Caulfield contends, exist “at the intersection of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.”
more places to find her.
She and Steve podcast together.. on hacking ed.
great post on – what are we doing…?
dec 2013 – learning 2.0 keynote:
feb 3 2013 – history of future of ed-tech keynote:
Bret Victor‘s talk from the 70’s
This is a prediction that has come true. But that’s because it has become a self-fulfilling prophesy: chip manufacturers like Intel have made increased computing power a goal.
And aye, there’s the rub.
Doug Engelbart‘s talk – literally – from the 60’s
In the demo: the mouse, “windows,” hypertext, graphics, version control, word processing, video conferencing, and a collaborative real-time editor.
But even at Xerox PARC, new technologies were developed that were never adopted. Why? Why, when as Victor argues, many of these were more interesting and elegant solutions than what we have actually ended up with?
Alan Kay‘s dynabook
And Alan Kay designed the prototype for something called the Dynabook — “a personal computer for children of all ages.”
Alan Kay was among those instrumental in pushing forward a vision of personal computing.
Kay argued that computers should be commonplace devices, used by millions of non-professional users. And Kay believed this would foster a new literacy, a literacy that would bring about a revolution akin to the changes brought about by the printing press in the 16th and 17th century. And key: children would be the primary actors in this transformation.
personal fabrication ness
Kay writes in his manifesto. Again, 1972 – 40 years before the iPad. “Although it can be used to communicate with others through the ‘knowledge utilities’ of the future such as a school ‘library’ (or business information system), we think that a large fraction of its use will involve reflexive communication of the owner with himself through this personal medium, much as paper and note- books are currently used.“
So, if I were to tell you a story about the future of ed-tech like Bret Victor tells about the future of programming, I’d probably start from there — from the Dynabook’s design in 1972. And it would be a story, like Victor’s, with a subtext of sadness that this is not what history has given us at all.
The main point was for it to be able to qualitatively extend the notions of ‘reading, writing, sharing, publishing, etc. of ideas’ literacy to include the ‘computer reading, writing, sharing, publishing of ideas’ that is the computer’s special province.
The Dynabook was not simply about a new piece of hardware or new software — but about a new literacy
Seymour Papert – mindstorms
“Computer-aided inspiration,” as Papert encourage has been mostly trumped by “computer-aided instruction.” – ah PLATO
So much B. F. Skinner. So little Seymour Papert. So little Alan Kay.
presentation april 2014:
15 min – domain of one’s own flies in the face of the concept of scale. this is about people.
30 min – what’s magic is that we can deeply connect
there’s more – she’s penning just now on twitter – but here’s a bit already penned:
So it sucks, I agree, that comedians – famous comedians – get to wield this subversive rhetorical power +
While teachers are ignored for making similar arguments
Punchlines can further and exploit and undermine the political arguments of the powerful
And I think @‘s Twitter rant might have been the most important public, political argument we’ve seen about the CCSS so far
And that right there is a mighty big punchline at the end of the serious multimillion $$ business of the CCSS
may 2014 – on reclaim:
liking ignorant unplugged masses..
how to think about small modulars…not some massive storage
tech/the web – doesn’t demand that we be products.. we have the tech capabilities to have a different model. we just have to take steps toward making that happen..
june 2014 – on un fathom able
I’d argue, however, that (sadly) one of the most significant successes of the Dot Com era — financial successes, that is — is one that has left an indelible mark on ed-tech: and that’s the success of the learning management system — the technology, the industry.
The LMS — the VLE, I should say while here in the UK — has profoundly shaped how schools interact with the Internet. The LMS, the VLE, is a piece of administrative software — there’s that word “management” in there that sort of gives it away for us in the US at least — software that purports to address questions about teaching and learning but often circumscribing pedagogical possibilities. […….]You can access the VLE through your web browser but it is not really “of” the web.
The learning management system is a silo, a technological silo, by design. This isn’t because the technology isn’t available to do otherwise. Rather, it’s a reflection of the institution of education. The LMS silo works because we tend to view each classroom as a closed entity, because we view each subject or discipline as atomistic and distinct. Closed. Centralized. Control in the hands of administrators, teachers, and IT but rarely in the hands of learners.
If you look at the much-hyped online courses of today — those offered on the Coursera or the edX platforms, for example — you can see the influence of the LMS.
But as we see with the LMS, ed-tech has come to mean something else. As Papert notes in his 1993 book The Children’s Machine: “Progressive teachers knew very well how to use the computer for their own ends as an instrument of change; School knew very well how to nip this subversion in the bud.”
altc 2014: Ed-Tech, Frankenstein’s Monster, and Teacher Machines
resist much. obey little. – Walt Whitman, leaves of grass – tattooed in binary
17 min – luddites weren’t really anti tech – their focus was more on the work
19 – like today – if you question tech – you’re questioning economy
– is it ok to be a luddite..? – thomas pynchon – 1984
22 min – lord byron – one of the few to stand up for the luddites – gave birth to ada lovelace –
to deny the machine – pynchon
frankinstein a monster not a machine
27 min – f was not born monstrous – he became monstrous when his creator fled upon seeing him
it’s not that we’ve created tech – it’s that we’ve not loved it… taken care of it
30 min – what are seeing from an absence of care
science doesn’t give us monsters – but it doesn’t give us answers
34 min – ayn rand uses skinner to say we can’t have ed research – she criticizes skinner – always wanting control… silicon valley – is all about rand – yet edtech party today is all about behaviorism…
37 min – 1930 skinner box – operant behavior – just like so much ed tech today. project pigeon during ww2. pigeon guided missels. cancelled – skinner – no one would take us seriously. 1953 – skinner visits 4th grade daughters classroom – he was struck by its inefficiency – flaws that could be addressed through a machine. teaching machines. elimination of inefficiencies that come with human teachers. today – ed techers call that personalization.
the problem w/human teachers – just weren’t consistent with reinforcement – skinner
came to love the machine – but perhaps more a fascination – grasping the shiny
43 min – kevin kelly – what tech wants – that’s a monster
44 min – education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it.. hannah arendt
love our children enough to not forsake them from our world.
ed tech – to renew our common world. we have to face our monsters (control, standardization, …)
55 min – we often use tech for things we’re already doing – only faster, more efficiently, etc, cheaper (but actually only shifting who gets the money) – what we need is for it to be transformative – doing something different.
57 min – rather than giving up more to tech – how do we reclaim more – luddite ness – problem isn’t ie: the web, it’s when the web is owned by google and facebook
klout et al
programmed instruction vs programmable web:
.. instructional technology is not so far removed from programmed instruction, and the profession needs to wrestle with that, I think.
One of the most powerful things that you can do on the Web is to be a node in a network of learners, and to do so most fully and radically, I dare say, you must own your own domain.
.. one needs a space — a safe space that one controls — in order to do be intellectually productive.
Howard interview Audrey on dml2015:
book (above image) links to multiple ways to get it..
“I spent 2014 on a book tour for a book I hadn’t yet written
love this. like leaving a trail w/0 focusing as much on the trail. commonplace book ish.
Visiting his old bedroom was like stepping into the past that felt strangely disconnected from the present. Not totally disconnected; strangely disconnected. You could find glimpses there of the kid he was, of the person he was supposed to become – of my parents’ and grandparents’ visions of and plans for his future. A future predicted in the 1970s and 1980s. It’s not the future that came to be. The room contained the history of that not-future.
while building new technologies is easy (or easy-ish), changing behaviors and culture is much, much harder.”
need for deep enough ness – how to get 7 billion doing it, rather than one or ten, or tech.
Sterling. “That’s your big dragon,” he tells them. “That’s your actual dragon. … As long as you are making rich guys richer, you are not disrupting the austerity. You are one of its top facilitators.”
Kay argued that computers should be commonplace and be used by millions of non-professional users. Kay believed this would foster a new literacy, one that would change the world much like the printing press did in the 16th and 17th century. And key: children would be the primary actors in this transformation.
expert in the room – crossgenerational
“is a computer program but one that is completely programmable.”
a large fraction of its use will involve reflexive communication of the owner with himself through this personal medium, much as paper and notebooks are currently used.” The personal computer isn’t “personal” because it’s small and portable and yours to own. It’s “personal” because you pour yourself into it – your thoughts, your programming.
talk to self ness..
For Kay, the DynaBook was meant to help build capacity so that children (and adults too) would create their own interactive learning tools. The DynaBook was not simply about a new piece of hardware or new software, but about a new literacy, a new way of teaching and learning. And that remains largely unrealized.
reading ness.. et al
It is about using computers to challenge current beliefs about who can understand what and at what age. It is about using computers to question standard assumptions in developmental psychology and in the psychology of aptitudes and attitudes. – mindstorms
1993 book The Children’s Machine: “Progressive teachers knew very well how to use the computer for their own ends as an instrument of change; School knew very well how to nip this subversion in the bud.”
getting to an Eleanor Longden et al mindset.. can’t oppress the people..
“Computer-aided inspiration” as Papert envisioned has been mostly trumped by “computer-aided instruction.” ie: plato
The learning management system is a silo, a technological silo, by design. This isn’t because the technology isn’t available to do otherwise. Rather, it’s a reflection of the institution of education.
“It isn’t an accident, and it certainly isn’t an innovation, that our online classes look this way.”
It is about whether personal computers and the cultures in which they are used will continue to be the creatures of “engineers” alone or whether we can construct intellectual environments in which people who today think of themselves as “humanists” will feel part of, not alienated from, the process of constructing computational cultures. – mindstorms
Why are we building learning management systems? Why are we building computer-assisted instructional tech? Current computing technologies demand neither. Open practices don’t either. Rather, it’s a certain institutional culture and a certain set of business interests that do.
There’s been a failure of imagination to do something bold and different, something that, to borrow Papert’s phrasing, unlocks “powerful ideas” in learners rather than simply re-inscribing powerful institutional mandates.
Computers’ origins are wrapped up in war and cryptography and surveillance. How does that carry forward into education technology?
As with Pressey’s teaching machines, we can see in Skinner’s some of these elements that still exist in our technologies today. Behaviorism in general: excitement about gamification and “nudges” and notifications from our apps all designed to get us to “do the right thing” (whatever that means).
John Dewey. As he wrote in 1938 in Experience and Education, “There is no such thing as educational value in the abstract. The notion that some subjects and methods and that acquaintance with certain facts and truths possess educational value in and of themselves is the reason why traditional education reduced the material of education so largely to a diet of predigested materials.”
Minecraft isn’t a game. Not really. There are rules, sure. To survive, you have to collect resources and build shelter. You have to build before night falls because at night, there are monsters. But that’s it, really. There aren’t levels to beat. There isn’t a “save the princess” narrative. The world you build and narrate is up to you.
a non-narrative for 100% of humanity
that’s the question that robots always raise: what is happening to our humanity? As we mechanize and now digitize the world around us, what happens to our labor, our love, our soul?
We can trace some of the early efforts to automate education back beforeČapek coined the term “robot.” To a patent in 1866 for a device to teach spelling. Or a patent in 1909 for a device to teach reading. Or a patent in 1911 awarded to Herbert Aikens that promised to teach “arithmetic, reading, spelling, foreign languages, history, geography, literature or any other subject in which questions can be asked in such a way as to demand a definite form of words … letters … or symbols.”
ed timeline ness
The view of education as a “content delivery system,” for example, appears as readily in ed-tech companies’ press releases as it does on the big screen. Take The Matrix where Keanu Reeves delivers one of his finest lines as a computer injects directly into his brainstem all the knowledge he needs: “Whoa, I know Kung Fu.”
Alex Reid has argued: “If computers can read like people it’s because we have trained people to read like computers.”
We rarely ask, “What are ethical implications of educational technologies?” Mostly, we want to know “will this raise test scores?” “Will this raise graduation rates?” We rarely ask, “Are we building and adopting tools that might harm us? That might destroy our humanity?”
This is one of my most popular tweets: Openwashing: n., having an appearance of open-source and open-licensing for marketing purposes, while continuing proprietary practices.
data & society ness
Education data lives in this tricky and powerful in-between space of public and private; it is both-and. That is, it is often data generated at and collected by publicly funded institutions. It is also deeply personal data, if not legally protected private data. Furthermore, the data that is collected often fulfills institutional needs, rather than learners’.
Over a hundred years before there was a Department of Education, that is, the federal government was collecting education data. As such local, state, and federal governments, along with educational institutions themselves have long tracked “data” about students. Since the advent of No Child Left Behind under George W. Bush, data collection has become part of a larger disciplinary effort, to identify and punish “failing schools.” And under Barack Obama’s No Child Left Behind policy, the data collection has only continued, an effort that dovetails quite nicely with schools’ increasing adoption of computer technologies and, as such, students’ increasing generation of “data exhaust.”
Open source doesn’t actually get us out of the conundrum that is education data collection. Open source doesn’t opt you out of reporting mandates, for example. Indeed, “open” might put us farther into the weeds.
policy killing us – too much ness
data, open or not, is often designed around meeting the needs around businesses and institutions and not around meeting the needs of citizens, or in this case students.
the inBloom data spec included hundreds of data points. A small sampling: Academic Honors, Attendance Type, Behavior Incident Type, Career Pathway, Disability Type, Disciplinary Action, Grade Point Average, Incident Location, Personal Information Verification Type, Reason for Restraint, Eligibility for Free or Reduced School Lunch, Special Accommodation, Student Characteristic, Weapon Type. I think it’s clear, as I list these, that the moments when students generate “education data” are historically moments when they come into contact with the school and more broadly the school and the state as a disciplinary system.
Did you speak out of turn in class? Are you a child of an illegal immigrant? Did you get written up for wearing a halter top? Are you pregnant? Did you miss school? Why? What classes did you take? What grades did you make? Why? (Is the answer to “why” a data point? And – here’s the rub – is that “data point” ever connected to an ethics of care or a sense of social justice?)
we need to recognize the messiness of our learning, of our data and not normalize that for the sake of analysis, not open it for the sake of control.
letting go ness.
“the stakes are very high. We have to think about the networks we are building and we are using.”
the death of us ness
As the sociologist Bruno Latour has argued, we don’t merely mistake the identity of Frankenstein; we also mistake his crime. It “was not that he invented a creature through some combination of hubris and high technology,” writes Latour, “but rather that he abandoned the creature to itself.”
Frankenstein was the scientist not the monster
.. our sin is not that we created technologies but that we failed to love and care for them. It is as if we decided that we were unable to follow through with the education of our children.”
.. my nod to the Luddites or to Frankenstein isn’t about rejecting technology; but it is about rejecting exploitation. It is about rejecting an uncritical and unexamined belief in progress. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it’s that we have pretended like it is truth and divorced from responsibility, from love, from politics, from care. The problem isn’t that science gives us monsters, it’s that it does not, despite its insistence, give us “the answer.”
Despite the intervening decades, instructional technology is not so far removed from programmed instruction, and the profession needs to wrestle with that, I think.
We can’t act as though “access” to content is the pinnacle of what new technologies can afford us.
likewise – to data for data & society – perhaps things we are assuming a given (ie: security, ownership, ..) become irrelevant when we try a different focus. one where 7 billion of us are free to do something else – the thing we can’t not
We can’t just surrender the Web to the technology industry or the advertising industry, just as we shouldn’t surrender ed-tech to programmed instruction.
Tim Berners-Lee ness
The Domain of One’s Own initiative at University of Mary Washington purposefully invokes Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own: “A woman must have money, and a room of her own, if she is to write fiction.” That is, one needs a space – a safe space that one controls – in order to do be intellectually productive.
If we are to resist “programmed instruction” – or at least do things differently in this so-called information age – we shouldn’t just talk about new education technologies that do the same old thing, but more efficiently..
..We have an amazing opportunity here.
Many pieces of software, despite their invocation of “personalization,” present you with a very restricted, restrictive set of choices of who you “can be.” It’s what cyborg anthropologist Amber Case calls the “templated self.”
Are we ready to move beyond “content” and even beyond “competencies”?
imagine – nothing to prove ness
I worry that the US, particularly Silicon Valley, is exporting its stories alongside its technologies to the rest of the world as well. It isn’t quite cultural imperialism, although I do think that’s a part of it that we shouldn’t ignore. Computing programming, despite the gesture to “programming languages,” is done almost entirely in English after all. I think we’re witnessing here a new sort of imperialism – at the level of technology, at the level of infrastructure.
schooling the world ness – often out of a good heart. but ie: building schools can be much like thinking an lms is the answer.
The Learning Management System. The LMS. Or in the UK, the VLE. The Virtual Learning Environment. Even though the latter sounds much less foreboding and less controlling than the former, I confess: it makes little difference to me. I am not a fan.
The LMS market is huge: several billion dollars a year are spent on these systems. Once sold just to universities, the LMS is now used in corporate learning, and it’s increasingly a tool in elementary and secondary education; these companies see a huge potential market in the developing world as well.
Rather than looking for or building towards a better Blackboard, or a better VLE, I want us to ask why we use these technologies in the first place. And from there, why we’d continue to do so.
We often find ourselves adopting new tools that simply perform old tasks a wee bit better, a wee bit faster.
our obsession with shiny. again – often from a good heart. just – a heart to busy to question..
We call those administrative controls “privileges.” I think that speaks volumes.
back to imperialism ness… who’s to say which space/place/country is developing…? and perhaps.. might that not be a good thing..? (ie: i know there’s much good in places we think we need to fix. we miss much because we can’t see better/closer. if we could/would.. we’d be developing.. no? in a good way.)
The student information system did not offer a way to open student information or course information to the Internet. It was a closed, proprietary tool. It wasn’t about learning. It was about administration. Course enrollment. Scheduling. Grades. The learning management system built a layer on top of that.
so (too) much of our day is spent on things that aren’t about learning/living/love.
If we think about new technologies like the Web as facilitating learning networks and as learners and learning communities as nodes on those networks, we can see a very different “shape,” if you will, to education technology than what the learning management system enables.
“As much as we love the open, unfettered Web,” wrote then editor Chris Anderson, “we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work.
..there’s a push for a return to the Web, the “indie Web,” that many of us fell in love with when we first dialed up to it, ..
Jon Udell, a Microsoft researcher who’s long explored how non-engineers can use Internet technologies in new and empowering ways, began arguing for something he called “hosted lifebits” – a way for us to consolidate and control our own data in our own repositories.
deep address ness… leading to whatever.. perhaps site as prototype of my brain.. perhaps jerry’s brain.. perhaps combo of all.. whatever dance you choose.. personally fabricate.. via whimsy. so the manilla envelope doesn’t ever have to kill off some of you – tech can handle tons of data.. and call it out/direct/organize it when/where/however needed/desired..
The “lifebits” idea actually comes from another Microsoft researcher, Gordon Bell, who undertook a project to build a personal archive of all the digital assets related to his life, and going forward, to capture, in close to real time, all the digitalia he created.
For Udell, adding the adjective “hosted” to Bell’s concept means that a repository of “lifebits” would be stored in the cloud where it could interact with other repositories and other people. Udell wrote in a blog post in 2007, Today my digital assets are spread out all over the place. Some are on various websites that I control, and a lot more that I don’t. Others are on various local hard disks that I control, and a lot more that I don’t. It’s become really clear to me that I’d be willing to pay for the service of consolidating all this stuff, syndicating it to wherever it’s needed, and guaranteeing its availability throughout – and indeed beyond – my lifetime.
shows it matters… rather than someone saying.. i’d like to sell this. now couple that with a money is irrelevant society… where this is a basic need.. filled.. because of your nationality: human.
[like these notes – i could be talking them.. perhaps even thinking them.. and tech leaves the trail for me.. linking up better than i ever could. freeing me up .. to be.. in the moment.]
Domain of One’s Own” offers a resistance to the silos of the traditional learning management system and of traditional academic disciplines.
.. it is striking to me – it’s part of the motivation for my writing a book on the history of automation in education – that two of the leading scientists at Google X, two of the leading scientists in the field of artificial intelligence and artificial intelligence at scale have opted to launch companies that purport to address developing human intelligence, through instruction and content delivery at scale.
As privacy researcher and activist Chris Soghoian quipped on Twitter, Google has built the greatest global surveillance system. It’s no surprise that the NSA has sought to use it too.
Technology companies benefit when we think this is all magic.
And that, if anything, is what’s magical about technology.
what’s magic: the ability to connect to other people – an connect in deeply meaningful ways – even thought separated by physical space.
.. if we dig under the infrastructure of society, we’ll find something beautiful.
Paul Goodman’s compulsory mis-education (64). Jonathan Kozol‘s death at an early age (67). Neil Postman’s teaching as a subversive activity (69). Everett Reimer’s school is dead (71). … Alan Kay‘s manifesto – a personal computer for children of all ages..
For Kay, the DynaBook was meant to help build capacity so that children (so that adults too) would create their own interactive learning tools. The DynaBook was not simply about a new piece of hardware or new software, but again, about a new literacy.
.. as Papert wrote in his 1980 book Mindstorms, “In most contemporary educational situations where children come into contact with computers the computer is used to put children through their paces, to provide exercises of an appropriate level of difficulty, to provide feedback, and to dispense information. The computer programming the child.” The computer programming the child. The computer isn’t some self-aware agent here, of course. This is the textbook industry programming the child. This is the testing industry programming the child. This is the technology industry, the education technology industry programming the child.
Education technology is used to prop up traditional school practices, ostensibly to make them more efficient (whatever that means). Drill and kill. Flash cards. Now with push notifications and better graphics. Now in your pocket and not just on your desk.
Education technology has become about control, surveillance, and data extraction. Ivan Illich, Neil Postman, Paulo Freire, Paul Goodman – none of these writers would be surprised to hear that, having already identified these tendencies in the institutions and practices of school. But to say this – education technology has become about control, surveillance, and data extraction – runs counter to the narrative that computer technologies are liberatory. It runs counter to the narrative that they will open access to information. It runs counter to the narrative that they will simplify sharing. It runs counter to the narrative that they they will flatten hierarchies, flatten the world.
Education technology is not convivial.
People need new tools to work with rather than tools that ‘work’ for them. They need technology to make the most of the energy and imagination each has, rather than more well-programmed energy slaves.” What are convivial tools? They are those that are easy to use. They should be reliable. They should be repairable and durable – and already we can see here how the planned obsolescence of so much of technology veers away from conviviality. Convivial tools should be accessible – free, even. They are non-coercive. They should, according to Illich, support autonomy and agency and enhance the “graceful playfulness” in our social relationships.
As Illich writes, “A convivial society would be the result of social arrangements that guarantee for each member the most ample and free access to the tools of the community and limit this freedom only in favor of another member’s equal freedom.”
Caulfield has recently been exploring a different sort of wiki, also created by Ward Cunningham. This one – known as the Smallest Federated Wiki – doesn’t demand consensus like Wikipedia or other wikis do. Not off the bat at least. Instead, entries – and this can be any sort of text or image or video, it doesn’t have to “look like” an encyclopedia – live on federated servers. Instead of everyone collaborating in one space on one server like a “traditional” wiki, the work is distributed. It can be copied and forked. Ideas can be shared and linked; ideas can be co-developed and co-edited. But there isn’t one “vote” or one official entry that is necessarily canonical.
“we are all auto-colonialized by the austerity,” insists Sterling. “That’s your big dragon,” he tells them. “That’s your actual dragon. … As long as you are making rich guys richer, you are not disrupting the austerity. You are one of its top facilitators.”
Education technology is full of monsters. We’ve given birth to some of them. We’ve given birth to the “everyone should learn to code” narrative. We’ve given birth to the “everyone should be online” story too. We’ve demanded that everyone have their own device. Education technology requires our love and our care so as to not become even more monstrous, so that it can become marvelous instead. It demands we resist and we fight and we build and tell a different story. Folks like Seymour Papert started a powerful storytelling for us. We just need to pick up that tale.
re-building the blog
Using GitHub in this way has helped me to compartmentalize my work in new ways and to think about how best to highlight what I do, to make my best work (not just my most recent writing) discoverable by readers.
But in retrospect, perhaps he’s right: I’m not a builder. But it’s not because I’m a destroyer. (The opposite of “constructive criticism” is always this unspoken “destructive criticism,” isn’t it.) It’s because I’m doing something else entirely, unrecognizable I guess in a certain paradigm about “what counts” as professional work online, what counts as “building.”
we’ll never get there/here/alive/peace if we continue to define value for each other/selves.
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/587819786324709376
april 2015 – chronicle of higher ed on Audrey:
may 2015 – wonder woman
These three areas – educational psychology, intelligence testing, and teaching machines – work together in ways that I don’t think we often acknowledge, particularly when we argue ed-tech is an agent of liberation and not an agent of surveillance, a tool that supports curiosity and not one whose earliest designs involved standardization and control.
the “strapping girls (and boys) to machines” that still happens in education technology in the name of “science.” Take, for example, the galvanic skin response bracelets that the Gates Foundation funded in order to determine “student engagement.” The bracelets purport to measure “emotional arousal,” and as such, researchers wanted to use measurements from the bracelets to help teachers devise better lessons. This is arguably not that different from Marston’s work in Hollywood. It’s particularly not that different if you see education, much like film, in the business of “content delivery.” Make a better lesson, make a better movie.
Much like Wonder Woman, education technology could serve to extend human capabilities. Instead, it winds up being assigned the role of secretary of the League of Justice, doing menial tasks and not saving the world.
april 2015 – industrial model
In other words, the monitorial system expressly operated like a factory. “Industry” here isn’t simply a reference to manufacturing or production; “industry” is the opposite of “idleness.” To counter idleness, students must be taught to work – and the functioning of the classroom should be like a machine.
As Mike Caulfield points out, the monitorial system quite arguably provided a certain amount of “personalization” – at least as that word is often used today – insofar as students could move at their own pace, one of the shortcomings so often indentified in the “factory model of education.”
Pressey, much like Sal Khan and other education technologists today, believed that teaching machines could personalize and “revolutionize” education by allowing students to move at their own pace through the curriculum. The automation of the menial tasks of instruction would enable education to scale, Pressey – presaging MOOC proponents – asserted.
..we’ve invented a history of “the factory model of education” in order to justify an “upgrade” –
to new software and hardware that will do much of the same thing schools have done for generations now, just (supposedly) more efficiently, with control moved out of the hands of labor (teachers) and into the hands of a new class of engineers, out of the realm of the government and into the realm of the market.
Beers, Marx, Deleuze, Guattari, APIs, OAuth, and Swagger https://t.co/cYjV56DjKt
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/602275756408836097
june 2015 – sputnik ness
Has ed-tech ever furthered equity? Or has it always been about educational measurement and achievement, always wielded to serve arguments the failures of public education and to stoke fears about Others?
Computers and mainframes and networks are a point of control. Computers are a tool of surveillance. Databases and data are how we are disciplined and punished. Quite to the contrary of Seymour’s hopes that computers will liberate learners, this will be how all of us will increasingly be monitored and managed.
Plenty of educators here hail Google as a benevolent force, for example. (It’s not. It’s a corporation beholden to its shareholders.)
As Tressie McMillan Cottom has argued “a ‘personalized’ platform can never be democratizing when the platform operates in a society defined by inequalities.”
We’ve upgraded since then from punchcards to iPads. But underneath, the ideology — a reduction of humans to 1s and 0s, programmed and not programmable — remains. And we need to stop this ed-tech machine.
In Deep Water With Audrey and Tressie ift.tt/1C2rCdV
The Web We Need to Give Students https://t.co/h5e8OSjdCV — why students need a domain of their own
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/621462387904790528
aug 2015 – And So, Without Ed-Tech Criticism…
stuck chasing the wrong sorts of change.
Often what I’m trying to analyze is not so much about the actual technology at all: it’s about the ideology in which the technology is embedded, encased and from which it emerges; and it’s about what shape technologies seem to think teaching and learning, and the institutions that influence if not control those, should take.
Computer criticism, as outlined by Papert, demands we look more closely instead at policies, profits, politics, practices, power.
“If we are interested in eliminating technocentrism from thinking about computers in education, we may find ourselves having to re-examine assumptions about education that were made long before the advent of computers.”
These passages comes from a 1987 essay “Computer Criticism vs. Technocentric Thinking,” in which Papert posited that education technology – or rather, the LOGO community specifically – needed to better develop its voice so that it could weigh in on the public dialogue about the burgeoning adoption of computers in schools.
“There is no shortage of models” in trying to come up with a robust framework for computer criticism, Papert .. ..“does it raise standardized test scores?” .. “What new features does it boast?” i.. These approaches are insufficient, Papert argued, when it comes to thinking about ed-tech’s influence on learning, because they do nothing in helping us think broadly – rethink – our education system.
critical judgment may also open our eyes to previously unnoticed virtue. And in the end, the critical and the creative processes need each other.”
that framework in some ways conceptualizes code as the opposite of thinking deeply or thinking critically – that is, coding as (only) programmatic, mechanical, inflexible, rules-based. …Technocentrism would be happier talking about “learning to code,” with the emphasis on “code” – “code” largely a signifier for technological know-how, an inherent and unexamined good.
Papert’s argument is not “why everyone should learn to code.”
Papert offers an activist critique. Criticism is activism. Criticism is a necessary tactic for this community
It’s particularly necessary as we see funding flood into ed-tech, as we see policies about testing dictate the rationale for adopting devices, as we see the technology industry shape a conversation about “code” – a conversation that focuses on money and prestige but not on thinking, learning.
Without ed-tech criticism, … likely we’ll be stuck with a technocentrism that masks rather than uncovers let alone challenges power.
so part of the defn of criticism: evaluation, assessment.. the other part – disapproval, denunciation.. neg.
ironic – to say the least – that criticism/evaluation is seen as negative .. for a system obsessed with (based on) the very thing.. based on critiquing individuals.
don’t criticize the system whose foundation is criticism.. don’t dismantle the power.
Existing Digitally, a talk by @audreywatters http://t.co/4J0vDmYQKV
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/royanlee/status/643203510176190464
Is Education Broken? – Audrey Watters Interview by Steve Wheeler at #EDEN15
more systemic issues.. isn’t just a matter of having an institution that’s no longer relevant economically/tech/political.. there are many aspects in crisis.. i do think ed is in crisis…
do you think it’s fixable.. i have to believe there’s hope.. i have to believe we can make things different.
i do think there are things we have to change.. but i’m not sure tearing things down and starting from scratch is necessarily the right answer either
the web is a model for a diff way of thinking about knowledge/tech… very fortunate tim made it open.. but web has become something else..
the price we pay in open web.. the price women pay..
or.. price we pay for not being us.. ie: need for gershenfeld something else law
..it’s quite common to hear claims that the economy is facing a “STEM crisis” – that too few people have studied science, technology, engineering, or math and employers cannot find enough skilled workers to fill jobs in those fields. But claims about a shortage of technical workers are debatable, and lots of data would indicate otherwise: wages in STEM fields have remained flat, for example, and many who graduate with STEM degrees cannot find work in their field. In other words, the crisis may be “a myth.”
But it’s a powerful myth, and one that isn’t terribly new, ..
dating back at least to the launch of the Sputnik satellite in 1957 and subsequent hand-wringing over the Soviets’ technological capabilities and technical education as compared to the US system.
Much like the worries about today’s for-profit universities, even the earliest commercial colleges were frequently accused of being “purely business speculations” – “diploma mills” – mishandled by administrators who put the bottom line over the needs of students.
That’s part of the apprehension about for-profit universities’ (almost most) recent manifestations too: that these schools are charging a lot of money for a certification that, at the end of the day, means little. But at least the nineteenth century commercial colleges were affordable, UC Berkley history professor Caitlin Rosenthal argues in a 2012 op-ed in Bloomberg,
The most common form of tuition at these early schools was the “life scholarship.” Students paid a lump sum in exchange for unlimited instruction at any of the college’s branches – $40 for men and $30 for women in 1864. This was a considerable fee, but much less than tuition at most universities. And it was within reach of most workers – common laborers earned about $1 per day and clerks’ wages averaged $50 per month.
Many of these “life scholarships” promised that students who enrolled would land a job – and if they didn’t, they could always continue their studies. That’s quite different than the tuition at today’s colleges – for-profit or not-for-profit – which comes with no such guarantee.
Interestingly, several coding bootcamps do make this promise. A 48-week online program at Bloc will run you $24,000, for example. But if you don’t find a job that pays $60,000 after four months, your tuition will be refunded, the startup has pledged.
(Incidentally, the two ed-tech companies which have raised the most money in 2015 are both loan providers: SoFi and Earnest. The former has raised $1.2 billion in venture capital this year; the latter $245 million.
Access for whom?
Of the more than 5000 career programs that the Department of Education tracks, 72% of those offered by for-profit institutions produce graduates who earn less than high school dropouts.
Shawna Scott argues in “The Code School-Industrial Complex” that without oversight, coding bootcamps re-inscribe the dominant beliefs and practices of the tech industry. Despite all the talk of “democratization,” this is a new form of gatekeeping.
Before students are even accepted, school admission officers often select for easily marketable students, which often translates to students with the most privileged characteristics.
Because schools’ graduation and employment rates are their main marketing tool, they have a financial stake in only admitting students who are at low risk of long-term unemployment.
conversations in the media (and elsewhere) often ignore that community colleges exist at all, even though these schools educatealmost half of all undergraduates in the US.
3 of 3 tech trends of 2015 – the employability narrative
once something is algorithmically sorted, it is not about conversation but consumption – rob horning
Many Twitter users seemed to balk at letting the company control their social and information networks algorithmically. It’s time we bring the same scrutiny to the algorithms we’re compelling students and teachers to use in the classroom.
feb 2016 – blockchain in ed
i’m thinking.. blockchain w/in some io dance – not as a validation/measure of people/transactions (aka:for organizing B) .. but rather as a coordinator/facilitator of connections to self/others.. via self-talk as data into some chip.. as the day.
april 2016 – blockchain ed guide:
perhaps hosting life bits on blockchain will allow us to completely redefine … everything.
ie: commonism via Pascal Gielen (dissensus)
in many ways, I fear, the answer (and the definition) might not matter. If the product label says it’s VR, then it’s VR; if the pundits and press say it’s innovation, then it’s innovation; if they say it’s disruption, then it’s disruption.
The body matters to learning.
i want to talk about memory machines
we are not required to respond to tech the way the tech industry wants us to..
tech’s tend to become mythic – postman..
kelly – from – what tech wants.. to .. inevitable.. on us having no choice
on myth/data .. that’s easily shareable/clickable… yet.. under scrutiny
on using a single date for data.. on tech.. when the development took years
some of us adopting – ie: because apple says obsolete.. does not mean tech is speeding up – that’s capitalism
some say we’re in tech stagnation.. way diff than in ie: 1870-1970
we’re all obsessed with innovation…. don’t confuse consumption with innovation…
i’m not saying do nothing.. i’m saying.. be critical
this is not the only time there’s been too much info..capacity of humans bological memory has always lagged behind the tech & info available.. over abundance hasn’t hinged on computers/internet
how do we count data.. does all data count.. does it count if deleted/unused/unseen.. does meta data count… do we really on need to care about it if it’s human readable..
throughout human history.. we’ve always felt overwhelmed by info.. we are curious.. and there’s always been more to learn than humanly possible..
challenge has been – what info is necessary to move toward expertise
will not use memories.. become tiresome.. forget – writing enables this.. writing will harm memory.. far better to do f to f exchange…socrates..
so 2000 yrs later.. same (kinda) debate..
not how tech impacts individual memory.. but how they serve to extend memory beyond us..
help create..expand collective memory – our culture..
gets slippery .. as though computer memory and human memory the same.. they’re not
human: partial, contingent, fragile, prone to error/embellishment.. designed to filter/forget
info tech: durable, fix memory, permanence, stability, a materiality to our knowledge
digital data – maybe more robust.. really easily overwritten.. easily erased…quickly obsolete.. highly prone to decay (even more than paper.. which was already more fragile/flamible than stone tablets) …
what we gained in efficiency.. lost in durability..
avg lifespan of website – brewster kahle – 44 days
geocities lasted 15 yrs.. myspace lasted 6 – posterous lasted 5.. no matter exact length.. it’s too short..
internet archive.. and their wayback machine.. gives us some.. but partial effort..
we live in a time of digital abundance.. but digital/personal/collective memories are incredibly brittle.
potential loss of knowledge.
we are depending/unthinkingly on these platforms to preserve and not erase our memories..
we are putting a great deal of faith into these .. as memory machines.. ie: just have the machine do it.. the machine will preserve it..
some argue that machine based memory will be preservable.. ie: memories served back to us algorithmically…
memory posed to become personalized in just this way… what happens to collective memory in a world of personalization…
begs we design for this
memex – individual stores all books/records/communications.. and it’s mechanized to be consulted with speed.. supplement to memory… you can buy the microfilm to feed your memex…
this memex.. indexed so that pull up topic.. would suggest other materials for you.. people thought this would be an incredible vision.. a personal memory machine.. that you can org as you see fit.. retrievable even when human memory..ed.. might fail you…
douglas englebart – talked of using tech to augment memory.. and ted nelson on hypertext.. if we had something like memex today.. we’d probably want it to be networked
io dance ness
www – doesn’t quite work like this.. doesn’t even work like library… things break.. go away.. copyright stands in way..
sparked imagination of englebart/nelson.. memory had little influence on ed of 20th cent.. not surprising.. we haven’t been interested in developing for people learning what they want to learn.. more interested in teaching machines… rather than building devices that advance human memory…
fits with another version of memory.. ie: framed by ed tech/theorists.. memorization.. we are a little bit obsessed about memory in ed… but about dictating what you should learn..
vast majority of ed tech have not demanded that we rethink about challenges of dig tech when it comes to memory.. that once we do things by computer… things will happen faster.. efficiency.. yay….
memex could be seen anticedent of current pushback.. ie: domain of one’s own
how can we build knowledge on our own terms…
on web.. knowledge/memory can be stored/shared.. we could build some collective memex.. but have to think about how tech is built/purchased/talked about..
who controls our memory machines today…
how do we let them dance.. how do we build a future that values the collective..
q&a – i use public and collective interchangeably.. a commitment to a larger piece.. than just the people who pay the bills/taxes/tuition.. a responsibility to the collective.. in time & space.. not a future of private knowledge.. not about a mission of the bottom line financially..
memory isn’t about the past.. it’s about the future.. it’s what we build forwards with..
a lot of people get news now via fb.. which is algorithmic.. so tends to be according to what you want to see.. re enforcing certain kinds of political behaviors..
if it was a priority.. we’d make it a priority.. ie: in ed.. we don’t care a lot about work created by students.. because we’ve assigned meaningless work.. it wasn’t ever meant to have a durability to it… how do we ask students to do meaningful work.. they will find a way to preserve it..
google docs is not great.. and we pay for it with our data.. with our students data.. w/o their consent
digped lab 2016
let’s do it for the world.. ie: host-life-bits..
aug 2016 – on ownership ness of domain of one’s own
Virginia Woolf’s essay “A Room of One’s Own,”
It’s about having the financial freedom and a personal space to write.
Debra Schleef: a domain is more than a delimited internet space with your name on it – it is a figurative room that provides time, creative license, and a space to express oneself freely.
I think we know such a thing as an “ownership society” has *never existed for all of us. Nor has, to be fair, …
**the ability to have “a room of one’s own.”
**this is what rp ness models..
When I call for each of us to have a domain of our own, I’m not really invoking “ownership” in the way in which Maha suggests the “Domain of One’s Own” initiative implies; but I am, I do confess, invoking Virginia Woolf and the importance having the space and safety and security (financially well before technologically) to think and write and be.
sept 2016 – credit score – as surveillance/control
Credit scores and ed-tech algorithms – learning analytics, personalized learning, predictive analytics, whatever you call it – have much in common: surveillance; the sharing of that information, done in the best interest of the institution (not so much in the interest of the student); elaborate grading and rating systems, always designed to exclude. They claim objectivity all the while reinforcing systemic biases.
Audrey on Bryan’s shindig futures forum
55 min – we’re collecting all this data.. (w/in data anal) but how interesting can that data be.. ie: when you’re doing a biology exam/course..
not more data.. but what kind of data
ie: self-talk as data
Education technology has become so bound up in arguments about the necessity of technology, that it’s forgotten how to be anything other than the most loyal of servants to ideologies of machines, efficiencies, capitalism.
voluntary compliance ness
We also need care – desperately – the kind of care that has compassion about anxiety and insecurity and that works to alleviate their causes not just suppress the symptoms….We need radical disloyalty, blasphemy……
In her 1985 “Cyborg Manifesto,” science studies scholar Donna Haraway gave us a blasphemous, “ironic political myth faithful to feminism, socialism, and materialism,” one centered on the figure of the cyborg. This figure has been key in my own thinking about science and technology and nature and gender – how to challenge the exploitation and control wrapped up in our narratives and our practices of education technology. Haraway: The cyborg is resolutely committed to partiality, irony, intimacy, and perversity. …. The main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring of militarism and patriarchal capitalism, not to mention state socialism. But illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.
We must be more unfaithful to the inheritance and intentions of information technology and education technology. And I say this as someone who’s constantly reminding people of ed-tech’s history. Not ignorant. Unfaithful. We must remember – we must always remember – that the origins of computer technologies are in militarism. Command and control.
h u g e
He (Papert) described himself as a Robin Hood – another blasphemous figure – stealing computing power from the AI labs of MIT and giving it to children. And to be clear, it wasn’t simply stealing computers; his intention was all about power…. the child is in control
Papert: ‘…instead of changing the emphasis from impersonal curriculum to excited live exploration by students, the computer was now used to reinforce School’s ways. What had started as a subversive instrument of change was neutralized by the system and converted into an instrument of consolidation.”
I’ve used the pigeon as an emblem on my website Hack Education for a couple of years now. ..I picked up Donna Haraway’s brand new book, Staying with the Troubles, and, sure enough, the first chapter is on pigeons. I admit, I was both thrilled and mortified. It wasn’t really an anxiety about whether or not I was wrong about pigeons; but what if – and this is the real fear of writers, I think – my work is redundant, simplistic, or worse irrelevant.
as I think about the task of how to “re-con-figure” our education technologies – as the word’s etymology suggests “to figure again together” – I believe ..
we need this deliberately messy, convivial response, one that extends beyond our current categorizations of whose words and whose ideas and whose bodies and whose lives matter.
while the dove has retained its symbolic power as a bird of peace, the pigeon is now viewed as a marker of defilement, a sign of urban decay. The pigeon was first described as a “rat with wings” in The New York Times in 1966,
Pigeons are viewed, to borrow a phrase from anthropologist Mary Douglas, as “matter out of place.” They do not belong…They remind us of dirt and danger and disorder. They violate the social order, a transgressive invasion of public space, of human space.
They are – with a nod to Haraway once again – a companion species gone astray, a border creature that might mark its own and just as importantly our own trainability, a reminder of what happens when our cyborg fantasies about hybridity and resistance are, despite their subversive theoretical promise, quite submissive to the technologies of command and control.
doves and pigeons share the same bird family. The former is a symbol of peace; the latter has been used as a weapon of war.
Computing technology is also a weapon of war, of course
Learning, according to Skinner and Thorndike, is about behavior, about reinforcing those behaviors – knowledge, answers – that educators deem “correct.” When educators fail to shape, reinforce, and control a student’s behavior through these techniques and technologies, they are at risk, in Skinner’s words, of “losing our pigeon.”
again to pigeons in war.. this time via skinner… not taken seriously.. so on to ed and to programmed instruction
Even though his theories have largely fallen out of favor in most education psychology circles, education technology (and technology more broadly) seems to have embraced them –often, I think, without acknowledging where these ideas came from. Our computer technologies are shot through with behaviorism. Badges. Notifications. Haptic alerts. Real-time feedback. Gamification. Peck peck peck……
I’d contend that with this unexamined behaviorist bent of (ed-)tech, we actually find ourselves at risk of losing our humanity.
How can we purposefully, willfully, subversively become “lost”? Purposefully “lost pigeons.”
I want for us all to be beautiful, iridescent, willful beings. I want for us all to be free.
indeed. a nother way.
Who’s Funding Ed-Tech in Africa? funding.hackeducation.com/2016/12/21/ed-…
Read this whole thread. Raw, real, and painful and personal. https://t.co/FiV7ZmtzwV
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/gsiemens/status/839226559668027401
Mostly, I don’t want to have to moderate them. I have neither the time nor the emotional bandwidth.
no obligation to host convos on your website.. i don’t think it’s intellectually productive.. it can be.. but overwhelmingly not.. huge problem for spam.. it’s a piece of affective behavior that we’re expected to do online.. i don’t want to do that work on my site.. ie: wade thru harassment in order to approve comments that might be interesting..
11 min – on comments and annotation being so similar.. rather than ie: annotation more scholarly.. as people seem to think
13 min – i’m not sure why annotation is different and then superior .. to comments..
21 min – i don’t want to be responsible for my personal space online becoming a vector for harassment
27 min – on creative commons.. i haven’t given up copyright..
28 min – we have convinced ourselves that asking for consent.. you can ask my consent.. but no means no..
29 min – now i’m really rethinking cc.. i want people to think about consent and permission.. i’m not a text..
30 min – it’s not this overtly sexually action.. it’s this assumption
33 min – annotations are now a web standard.. 1st class citizens of the web.. gives agency and status to a piece of tech.. personhood to a piece of code.. then to describe it as first class as opposed to underclass second class..
37 min – authors/artists.. don’t get to control the reception of their work…
thinking ursula ness
Love the idea that it was never really abt digital vs analog—-every single talk a gem. And the edtech mafia stuff is awesome! https://t.co/SnOZvobGIS
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/jimgroom/status/943260852332920832
asking why is this the story.
I want to look at the stories that are being told about education and technology. What are the stories that have been repeated again and again over the course of the year? What are the stories and why are they being told?
What interests me – and this is the focus of my Spencer Fellowship: Is there an equivalent to the PayPal Mafia in education technology?
At first glance, it might not seem like Musk’s projects are all that relevant to education investing or education narratives. But what Musk says and what Musk does is still worth our paying attention to, I’d argue, because of how his work (and storytelling) in transportation and space exploration subverts or shifts our expectations for public investment and public responsibility. Stories about and stories by Elon Musk are very much stories about the future of public space, public science, public knowledge, and as such, public education.
Bryan Alexander (@BryanAlexander) tweeted at 6:48 AM – 17 Jan 2018 :
Fascinating update on 911, 211, 511 etc services by @kinlane and @audreywatters :
Well. This was quite a week for education news, wasn’t it. (I’ve gathered it all up for you here) https://t.co/FhZ63I0tgz
Original Tweet: https://twitter.com/audreywatters/status/974691896764321792
Audrey Watters (@audreywatters) tweeted at 9:00 AM on Thu, Jun 28, 2018:
Pretty thrilled to announce that MIT University Press will publish my book, Teaching Machines. https://t.co/agrywUVb1X