Bryan Alexander – A Devil’s Dictionary of Educational Technology

This entire dictionary is awesomeness and gold.

Blended learning, n. The practice of combining digital and analog teaching. Also referred to as “teaching”, “learning”, and “the real world”.

Flipped classroom, n. “The practice of replacing lectures that instructors give to summarize a course’s readings with videos of lectures that summarize a course’s readings.”

LMS, n. 1) A document management system, whereby a faculty member can transfer a single document to his or her students. Curiously overpowered for this purpose, nevertheless universally deployed.

2) A good way to avoid legal notices about copyright.

3) The graveyard of pedagogical intentions. A sump for IT budgets.

Source: A Devil’s Dictionary of Educational Technology – Medium

Doc Searls – The problem for people isn’t advertising, and the problem for advertising isn’t blocking

Doc Searls, writing on Medium1 about some important projects to help pull the balance of power on the internet back to the individuals that make it awesome in the first place.

There’s a new sheriff on the Net, and it’s the individual. Who isn’t a “user,” by the way. Or a “consumer.” With new terms of our own, we’re the first party. The companies we deal with are second parties. Meaning that they are the users, and the consumers, of our legal “content.” And they’ll like it too, because we actually want to do good business with good companies, and are glad to make deals that work for both parties. Those include expressions of true loyalty, rather than the coerced kind we get from every “loyalty” card we carry in our purses and wallets.

When we are the first parties, we also get scale. Imagine changing your terms, your contact info, or your last name, for every company you deal with — and doing that in one move. That can only happen when you are the first party.

Source: The problem for people isn’t advertising, and the problem for advertising isn’t blocking. – Medium

  1. I had somehow unsubscribed to his Harvard blog, so hadn’t seen this. Until he cross-posted on Medium. Oops. Resubscribed. []

Reclaiming subscriptions and access to information

After deactivating my twitter and facebook accounts (again. again.) I was struck that most people don’t seem to subscribe to RSS feeds anymore, relying on twitter and facebook for notification when content is published. Which means, on the one hand, I’ve muted myself because many people will no longer know when I post something (which may be for the better). On the other hand (actually, I guess it’s the same hand…), it means that many people have completely abdicated control for their information to companies and their opaque/secret/unknown algorithms.

Platforms like twitter and facebook aren’t the same as subscribing to an RSS feed. They tweak what you see. They adjust the order. They hide things or emphasize things. They are not in the information sharing business. They are in the advertising business, which means their number 1 priority is making sure you click on their links and stay on their platform for as long as possible. So, they play with the information streams to do that, rather than just giving you the raw information from feeds you thought you subscribed to.

End rant.

So. If you’re interested in reclaiming some sense of control over what information you access, RSS is still a thing. There are a whole bunch of applications of various types that you can use to subscribe to the raw RSS feeds from any site that still generates them (over 25% of the web is published on WordPress, which still generates RSS feeds wonderfully, and most other platforms do it at some level).

I still use Shaun Inman’s fantastic self-hosted Fever˚ RSS aggregator to read 1011 feeds every day. I use Reeder on macOS and iOS as well, as it can connect to a self-hosted Fever˚ server for syncing.

There are 220 other alternatives to Google Reader listed on AlternativeTo. Many are free. Many are trivial to set up and use. There really is no reason not to manage your own subscriptions.


Mike Caulfield – Internet of Broken Things

When it comes to security, where will this sea of abandoned devices get security patches from? Who will write them, and how will they get paid?Like Ward, I worry that it’s not just an internet of things, but a proprietary mess of interdependent services built on the shifting sands of unstable business models. Unless we develop standards and protocols that reduce that proprietary interdependency we’re eventually going to have a lot bigger problem on our hands than Twitter outages.

Source: Internet of Broken Things | Hapgood

Audrey Watters – Attending to the Digital

The transcript from a presentation by Audrey Watters at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California. She was invited to talk about digital discourse as part of their launch of a domain-of-ones-own initiative. What a fantastic way to launch such a thing1. Read the entire thing.

Building on Postman, Chaucer, Caulfield. Nice.

In part, I find that those who want to dismiss such a thing as “digital distraction” tend to minimize the very real impact that new technologies do have on what we see, what we pay attention to. It’s right there in that phrase – “pay attention.” Attention has costs. It is a resource – one involving time and energy, a resource of which we only have a limited amount. Attention has become a commodity, with different companies and technologies bidding for a piece of it.

Audrey also touches on “reclaiming the web” – pointing out, rightly, that reclaiming isn’t about nostalgia or romanticizing a pristine past. It’s about reclaiming a voice. Restoring some of the individual control that has been so thoroughly trampled by large corporate platforms that have claimed to own so much of modern communication.

I want to turn here, to close, to the second part of my title – a phrase I haven’t referred to yet: “reclaiming the Web.” I want to invoke the speaker’s prerogative to change the title of my talk here as I come to its conclusion. I’ve used the word “reclaim” a lot in my work. I’ve done so in part because the word does mean to bring back. Reclamation is to reassert, to protest, to heal, to restore. But again, I don’t really believe the tale that the Web was once something pristine that we must rescue and convert from wasteland. Yes, we need to engage in a reclamation. But it’s not the Web per se that we must rebuild. It’s broader and deeper than that. Broader and deeper than technology. Broader and deeper than “the digital.”

If there’s something to reclaim – or for many voices, to get to claim for the very first time – it is public discourse. It is, I hope, one that rests on a technological commons. I think we start towards that commons by thinking very carefully, by thinking very slowly and deeply, by cultivating very lovingly our spaces and places and own domains.

Source: Attending to the Digital

  1. I’ve got to find a way to bring her to UCalgary… []