Quick Peek at TWU Portfolios Project

This post was originally published on CogDogBlog http://cogdogblog.com/2018/09/twu-portfolios-project/ on September 17th 2018.

Since August I’ve been working on an up to now unblogged WordPress as portfolio project with Colin Madland at Trinity Western University. Let’s dash the “un”. I remember hearing of electronic portfolios from my very get go in instructional technology in the 1990s. I remember getting to know Dr Helen Barrett who even then billed […]

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In Production

This post was originally published on Kathleen Fitzpatrick https://kfitz.info/in-production/ on September 17th 2018.

I sat down this afternoon to force myself to write a blog post, as I haven’t been doing much in the way of writing of late, and am feeling a bit cramped because of it. Or perhaps it’s more fair to say that I haven’t been doing much in the way of writing of the … Continue reading In Production →

‘It’s Like Amazon, But for Preschool’

This post was originally published on Hack Education http://hackeducation.com/2018/09/13/fuck-these-billionaires-and-their-bad-ideas on September 13th 2018.

A year ago, the richest man in the world asked Twitter for suggestions on how he should most efficiently and charitably spend his wealth. And today, Jeff Bezos unveiled a few details about his plans – other than funding space travel, that is. His new philanthropic effort, The Day 1 Fund, will finance two initiatives: the Families Fund will work with existing organizations to address homelessness and hunger; and the Academies fund “will launch an operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.”
“We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon,” Bezos wrote in a note posted to Twitter. “Most important among these will be genuine intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer.”
The child will be the customer.
Bezos then went on to cite a phrase that is so often misquoted and misattributed in those shiny, happy motivational PowerPoint slides – you know the ones – that people like to post to social media: “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” W. B. Yeats never said this, for the record, but words get so easily twisted, history so easily co-opted.
The assurance that “the child will be the customer” underscores the belief – shared by many in and out of education reform and education technology – that education is simply a transaction: an individual’s decision-making in a “marketplace of ideas.” (There is no community, no public responsibility, no larger civic impulse for early childhood education here. It’s all about private schools offering private, individual benefits.)
This idea that “the child will be the customer” is, of course, also a nod to “personalized learning” as well, as is the invocation of a “Montessori-inspired” model. As the customer, the child will be tracked and analyzed, her preferences noted so as to make better recommendations to up-sell her on the most suitable products. And if nothing else, Montessori education in the United States is full of product recommendations.
There’s another piece to all this, not mentioned in Bezos’s note about building a chain of preschools that “use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon”: Amazon’s own labor practices. The online retail giant is a notoriously terrible place to work – the pay, particularly in the warehouses is so low that many employees receive government assistance. The working conditions are dangerous and dehumanizing. “Amazon has patented a system that would put workers in a cage, on top of a robot,” read the headline in last week’s Seattle Times. And it’s not so great for the white collar workers either. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk,” one employee in books marketing told The New York Times back in 2015.
The majority of the early childhood educators in the US are already very poorly paid; many preschools have incredibly high turnover rates. As research has demonstrated that preschool has a lasting positive effect on children’s educational attainment, there have been many efforts to “raise the standards,” demanding for example that preschools be staffed by more qualified teachers. But the demand, in turn, for more training and certification hasn’t brought with it better pay or benefits. The median pay for preschool teachers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is less than $30,000 a year. Even those with Bachelor’s degrees earn only about $14.70 an hour, about half of the average wages for all those with the same level of education.
This is a field in which a third of employees already qualify for government assistance. And now Jeff Bezos, a man whose own workers also rely on these same low-income programs, wants to step in – not as a taxpayer, oh no, but as a philanthropist.
And he’s not alone. Early childhood education has received quite a bit of attention from ed-tech investors in recent years. Three companies have raised venture capital to help people run preschools and childcare facilities in their homes so far this year: Wonderschool, WeeCare, and Procare Software. Last year, VCs poured millions into Tinkergarten, Sawyer, and Kinedu. Investors in these startups include some of the “big money” names in Silicon Valley: Omidyar Network, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and Andreessen Horowitz, among others. (One of these companies, WeeCare, says it’s also planning to train and license childcare providers, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see the micro-certificate, only education, nanodegree folks also jump on this bandwagon. “Uber for Education” or something.)
Ostensibly, there’s no shortage of potential “customers” for these private school software startups – the demand for childcare is high, and many families live in what the Center for American Progress has called “child care deserts,” that is places where there are no options for affordable, high-quality early childhood education.
But are private preschool chains really the path we want to pursue, particularly if we recognize that early childhood education is so incredibly crucial? Can the gig economy and the algorithm ever provide high quality preschool? For all the flaws in the public school system, it’s important to remember: there is no accountability in billionaires’ educational philanthropy.
And, as W. B. Yeats never once said, charity is no substitute for justice.

Feeds and Gardens

This post was originally published on Kathleen Fitzpatrick https://kfitz.info/feeds-and-gardens/ on July 23rd 2018.

My last post, Connections, gathered a fair bit of response — enough that you can see a good example of Webmentions in action below it. There’s a little back-and-forth discussion there that mostly took place on Twitter, as well as a lot of likes and mentions that came from there as well. One important question … Continue reading Feeds and Gardens →

Want To Write Just One Thing Down? Try Edit

This post was originally published on ProfHackerProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education http://www.chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/want-to-write-just-one-thing-down-try-edit/65607 on June 14th 2018.

The desire to capture something quickly on one’s phone is a pretty common one. As I mentioned back in April, one of my favorite iOS apps is Drafts 5, which somehow combines both great quickness with a relatively easy-to-learn automation scheme. It’s terrific.
Yet, as great as Drafts is, it lends itself to a proliferation of little scraps of notes, potentially turning it into Yet Another Inbox that needs to be managed/weeded/curated/shunned in fear. That’s because just about every time you launc… Continue reading

The 101 Most Useful Websites on the Internet

This post was originally published on Digital Inspiration Technology Blog https://www.labnol.org/internet/101-useful-websites/18078/ on June 4th 2018.

The 101 Most Useful Websites on the Internet is a frequently updated list of lesser-known but wonderful websites and cool web apps that will make smarter.The post The 101 Most Useful Websites on the Internet appeared first on Digital Inspiration.

Social Media Jujutsu

This post was originally published on Bionic Teaching http://bionicteaching.com/social-media-jujutsu/ on April 17th 2018.

Jujutsu1 is a martial art focused on using your opponent’s momentum against them– clever redirection of force rather than trying to meet it directly. This seems like it might be an option for some of today’s social media woes where people are trying to continue to take advantage of the good aspects of these tools/communities while opposing some of their attempts at manipulation. There are major alternatives like Brontosaurus Mastodon but many people aren’t going to make that jump.2 So consider this post more of a way you might mitigate harm while continuing using tools meant to bend your mind and warp your perceptions. Twitter Numbers One way these interfaces play games with your mind is by showing all kinds of numbers. You’ve got a score card for likes, retweets, followers etc. It becomes a shortcut. Is this tweet funny? 453 people fav’d it. Should I fav it too or is this just a bandwagon thing now? How good was my tweet? Did enough people retweet it? That extends even to following people. How many followers do they have? Are they worth following? It can make you skip really looking at the content. One path out of Twitter’s attempt to manipulate you via numbers is Benjamin Grosser’s Twitter Demetricator. It’s a browser plugin3 that removes all those numbers replacing them […]

My Internet. One Course at a Time.

This post was originally published on Cole Camplese https://www.colecamplese.com/2018/02/my-internet-one-course-at-a-time/ on February 28th 2018.

I sit in my spare time these days searching my mind for sites to visit. I hit The Verge, NYT, and maybe a couple of other places that are familiar to me regularly. I still spend more time every morning browsing my RSS feeds via Feedly then I do resolving any random URLs. I only … Continue reading My Internet. One Course at a Time.