Look, I’m glad my university is aware of and responding to the digital divide, but I’d appreciate a more critical treatment of what we’re doing. This sounds almost like ad copy for Apple, and it’s falling into a lot of tired edtech tropes about how technology must necessarily improve learning.
link to “Leveling the technological playing field with Apple | UKNow”
Last year, Daniela DiGiacomo, Sarah Barriage, and I published an article on student and principal perceptions of ClassDojo. Our findings weren’t entirely what we expected, even if they weren’t a huge surprise. In short, students and practitioners don’t always share the concerns about edtech platforms (like ClassDojo) that are gaining steam in the critical educational technology literature. I don’t say this to shame edtech users for not thinking the way that we ivory tower types do—rather, it speaks to a long-recognized tension between theoretical and conceptual concerns held by academics vs.
It’s already indefensible that ClassDojo promises greater access to teachers for parents willing to pay, but these features also translate into letting richer parents put more pressure on teachers. This business model is awful.
I’d like to read the whole report before coming to definitive conclusions but wow, are there some important lessons in here for edtech—not least, that efficacy cannot be our only concern! link to ‘Dependence on Tech Caused ‘Staggering’ Education Inequality, U.N. Agency Says - The New York Times’
Kiddo’s school is contracting with a company called Booster to raise $78,000 for new technology for the school. U.S. schools are, of course, underfunded, and I’m generally in favor of getting more money into their bank accounts. I have a number of concerns about this fundraiser, though, and it’s making me grumpy.
what “technology”? I have a PhD in educational technology, which means two things in this context. First, I’m very aware of the fundamental—and often useful—role that technology plays in learning, so I’m not opposed to updating the tech in kiddo’s school.
Trying to get back into writeblogging—and, well, just writing, since it was a very family-focused summer. We recently got reviewer feedback on this manuscript, and so I met with co-authors today to discuss our approach to revisions.
It’s good to ask whether generative AI is good or bad for students, instructors, or education, but it’s arguably more important for ed. stakeholders to ask who else generative AI is good or bad for. Edtech needs to pay more attention to broader contexts.
Heading into finals, campus sent out a message about AI detection tools maybe not being trustworthy, which is great. However, this is in the context of these tools being wrapped into plagiarism detection software we already have access to, so they should say the same about it, too.
Lots of helpful stuff in here. link to ‘ChatGPT Is So Bad at Essays That Professors Can Spot It Instantly’
If ClassDojo can send me “hey, check the new content in ClassDojo” emails, it could also send me that content in the email itself, so that I never have to open the app. Too bad it’s too dedicated to walled gardening.
After bouncing off of it a year or so ago, I recently decided to restart Cory Doctorow’s novel Walkaway (which led NPR reporter Jason Sheehan to describe Doctorow as “Super-weird in the best possible way”). The audiobook is excellent, and since I started a couple of days ago, it’s displaced my podcast listening and given me another chance to wrestle with Doctorow’s ideas here.
There is way too much going on (and I’m not far enough into the book) for me to engage with the underlying message of the novel (or even to be sure of what it is yet), but one passage stood out to me so much this morning that I have to write it down now.
The desire to “enhance” or “improve” learning is a noble one, but I’m increasingly convinced it gets too much attention—and distracts us from as (or more) important questions about education and technology.
Canvas: “You can draw conclusions about student participation with our analytics!” Also Canvas: “Mobile page view data aren’t exact, and our analytics only update every 24 hours, so don’t draw too many conclusions, lol.”
My co-authors recently got back to me with comments on my “coding” of respondents’ open-ended answers. Based on that, I made some tweaks and then started grouping “codes” into categories. It turns out there are fuzzy boundaries between many types of edtech, which probably exacerbates the underlying phenomenon we’re getting at.
My sister-in-law recently gifted me a copy of R. Sikoryak’s weird but wonderful comic Terms and Conditions, which “adapts” the 2015 iTunes terms and conditions into a comic format. I was as delighted by the gift, which I’m sure only contributed to her bewilderment (she knew I wanted the book, but I can’t blame anyone for not understanding why I wanted it).
One of the gags of the comic is, obviously, the idea that a comic adaptation would get you to actually read through the whole document instead of just pretending that you have.
Got my data sorting done today! And this despite a considerable setback: I realized that there was a less clunky, more efficient way to categorize the open-response entries, so I started from scratch once I realized that. Fascinating to see how many different technologies students mention when prompted to pick tech similar to ClassDojo.
Survey respondent mistyped “Infinite Campus” as “Infinite Camus,” and now I’m looking for a French existentialism punchline.
See, as worried as I am about ChatGPT use in education, this actually worries me more, because it’s basically plagiarism detection, which I’m opposed to.
link to ‘A CompSci Student Built an App That Can Detect ChatGPT-Generated Text’
Looking for help from people working in or familiar with ed and ed tech: Do you know anything about an LMS, student information system, or other software called “Reef”? It’s showing up in survey data, but I can’t find anything on it.
Personally, I’m not very optimistic about ChatGPT, and I think OpenAI should have better considered disruptions to fields like education before releasing the tool. That said, I don’t think a ban is the solution here.
link to ‘New York City schools ban access to ChatGPT over fears of cheating and misinformation - The Verge’
I see a worrying future for edtech ahead, and I’m not sure the academic discipline is adequately prepared for it.
[link to ‘Brief – Hidden Harms: Student Activity Monitoring After Roe v. Wade - Center for Democracy and Technology’](https://cdt.org/insights/brief-hidden-harms-student-activity-monitoring-after-roe-v-wade/?utm_source=rss
The Black Friday email I got from ClassDojo today is representative of everything wrong with the ed tech industry.
Josh is doing important work here—the kind of work that edtech researchers often don’t consider as being in their purview. Glad to see this getting coverage.
link to ‘School Facebook Pages and Privacy Concerns: What Educators Need to Know’
See, I get the impression that it’s increasingly district, school, and legislative priorities that are driving tech choices. I agree that teachers ought to have the agency, but I don’t know that’s the case.
link to ‘The Essential Tech Question for Schools: What Are the Teacher’s Objectives?’
Really important story here, and glad to see George Veletsianos quoted. I’ve long been an advocate for developing assessments that are impossible to cheat at, but I don’t know if that’s the entire (or even a practical) response to GPT-3. We are continuing to develop technologies whose societal effects we are not prepares for.
link to ‘Students Are Using AI to Write Their Papers, Because Of Course They Are’
As kiddo’s school year has gotten into full swing and mine has gotten busier, I’ve spent less time griping about her school’s use of ClassDojo. However, I’ve also become increasingly annoyed at the fact that the weekly update email I get from the company always has the subject line “What did your child accomplish this week?” The body of the email is divided into two sections: The number of “points” that my child was assigned, and the number of “stories” that my child appeared in.
This week, I’m hurriedly putting together some revisions for a book chapter on data ethics that I’ve been working on for an open access volume on ethics in educational technology. I’m excited about the volume, and I’ve really loved writing the chapter, so it’s kind of fun to be doing these revisions, even if I waited for the last minute to do them.
One reviewer suggestion that I’m particularly grateful for is to elaborate on a sentence I wrote arguing that “learning management systems allow us to monitor students in invasive ways that would be unimaginable in a face-to-face context.
I have been writing a lot about ClassDojo recently, spurred by a combination of my professional concerns about the app and by my frustration that my kid’s school is now using it. Last week, I was pleased to see a new report from the United Kingdom-based Digital Futures Commission about not only ClassDojo but also Google Classroom. I’m sure my kid will have to use this latter software as well, so it’s good to be aware.
Early in the school year, I signed up to be a parent representative on one of the Site-Based Decision Making (SBDM) committees for kiddo’s school. I had already started being a rabble-rouser about ClassDojo and some of my other edtech concerns, and I wanted to show that I could put in work where my whining was: That is, that I wasn’t just going to complain about things, but that I was going to show support for the school by helping out where I could.
Yesterday, I complained about Apple putting artificial limitations on what its hardware and software can do in terms of music syncing in order to make more money out of its consumers (and, probably, keep music companies happy). As I was writing that, I was thinking about similarities with the business model of a lot of mobile apps—let people download the app for free, but keep bonus features (or even the best features) behind a paywall.
In addition to all the irritating ClassDojo stuff going on at kiddo’s school, I’ve also spent some time banging my head against the wall made up of two forms: One to opt out of FERPA directory information sharing, and the other to opt out of kiddo’s information being shared with media outlets. I’m too tired tonight to get into all the details of what’s been going on, but the short version is that there’s no (clear, easy) way for spouse and I to request that kiddo’s name and image not be shared on school social media without also insisting that kiddo’s name and image not appear in innocuous things like… a school yearbook.
What a mess of a story. School safety tech is edtech, and like edtech, a lot of it appears to be more posturing and theater than effective practice.
link to ‘‘The Least Safe Day’: Rollout of Gun Detecting AI Scanners in Schools Has Been a ‘Cluster,’ Emails Show’
I’ve been grumpy about ClassDojo all week, and this is the only thing that’s made me feel better about it—BECAUSE THIS IS SO MUCH WORSE.
link to ‘A Tool That Monitors How Long Kids Are in the Bathroom Is Now in 1,000 American Schools’
The new semester at the University of Kentucky starts on Monday, and I am flailing to try to get my data science course ready to go—including putting together an open, alternative textbook for my students. I’ve been borrowing heavily from Catherine D’Ignazio and Lauren Klein’s Data Feminism for my textbook: It’s a fantastic resource, and I’m hoping my students take a lot from it.
Of course, my kid’s semester has already started, and I’ve already blogged a bunch about my frustrations with her new school’s use of ClassDojo this year.
I’ve been blogging about ClassDojo enough over the past few weeks that I think it’s time for a quick recap before sharing some of the latest developments. I heard about ClassDojo being used schoolwide back in late July and started wondering what approach I should take as both a student’s parent and an edtech researcher. On Monday of this week, I talked to kiddo’s teacher about it and wrote up some thoughts the next day about teachers’ diminished agency in the realm of edtech.
I hate myself for creating a ClassDojo account, but kiddo’s school is going all-in, so not sure I have the choice. First observation is how confident the app is that it can make me pay extra for free software I don’t want to use in the first place.
I really will get back to blogging on other subjects sometime soon, but here’s an email I just sent to kiddo’s principal raising some concerns I have going into the school year. I’m not sure what will come of this—and I’m not at all sure this was the right email to write—but in the off-chance it’s helpful for someone, I thought I’d post about it here.
Dear Principal [so-and-so],
Last night, my spouse and I took kiddo to her new school to find her classroom, officially meet her teacher, and all that fun stuff. While we were there, we got confirmation of what we’d heard earlier: ClassDojo is going to be used in all classrooms this year as part of a school-wide initiative. It was helpful to talk to kiddo’s teacher about this. She understood my concerns, she had her own trepidations about being required to use ClassDojo, and she honestly wasn’t sure how she was going to bring it into the classroom.
Kiddo starts at a new school on Wednesday, and I’ve been putting off signing the Acceptable Use Policy and Chromebook Policy because I want to read them carefully. I don’t know how much I can do about anything that I’m really concerned with, but I’m a tech researcher when I’m not being kiddo’s dad, so I feel an obligation to be informed and raise a fuss when something is fussworthy.
Masnick’s critiques of Pearson here are better than anything I could have written.
link to ‘Absolutely Terrible Textbook Publishing Giant Pearson Wants To Make Everything Even Worse With NFTs | Techdirt’
Some really worrying privacy implications in this kind of edtech—and edtech as a discipline doesn’t care nearly enough about this kind of thing. Makes me worried as a scholar and a parent.
link to ‘Kids Are Back in Classrooms and Laptops Are Still Spying on Them’
Kiddo starts at a new school this year, so we got the chance to all go as a family today and get introduced to everything. Kiddo got to meet teachers and other kids while we filed into a meeting to fill out a ton of paperwork and learn about how this school does things. For years, I’ve been wondering when my research in educational technology (and, increasingly, critical research on social technologies more broadly) were going to become relevant as a parent with a kid in school, and it looks like it’s going to be this year.
I’ve seen a number of headlines about how a post-Dobbs world changes the game for online privacy, but this is the first one that I sat down to read. School surveillance software is scary enough without this possibility, so let’s not make it worse. I can’t believe that this software gives schools any benefits that outweigh the heavy cost to students’ privacy.
link to ‘After Dobbs, Advocates Fear School Surveillance Tools Could Put Teens at Risk – The Markup’
I just barely microblogged something about what I want to say here, but over the past hour, it’s been nagging at me more and more, and I want to write some more about it.
I was introduced to academia through educational technology, and I was introduced to educational technology through a class at BYU taught by David Wiley. This class was not about educational technology, but David’s passion for Web 2.
Gun violence can’t be solved with educational technology—and make no mistake, all of this is edtech.
link to ‘Schools Are Spending Billions on High-Tech Defense for Mass Shootings - The New York Times’
Solid thinking by researchers I respect and admire. I especially appreciate the point that no solution exists outside politics.
link to ‘The Silver Bullet of Anti-Shooter Educational Technologies — Civics of Technology’
This kind of social media surveillance has been bothering me for years. I’m happy it’s getting some attention, even if the impetus for that attention is such a tragedy. This is edtech and our discipline needs to treat it as such.
link to ‘Software to detect school threats online is costly but mostly ineffective.’
This article may make its way into a chapter I’m writing on how assumptions about education shape our understanding of what appropriate data collection looks like. As Audrey Watters has written, this kind of thing is very much edtech, and we need to be critical about how we deploy it. Even if it did work, I’m not sure the surveillance would be worth it. If it doesn’t work, all the more reason to be skeptical.
The only way to make emotion detection tech worse is, of course, to make it ed tech.
link to ‘Intel Wants To Add Unproven ‘Emotion Detection’ AI To Distance Learning Tech | Techdirt’
The focus on student learning in this year’s AECT reviews is good, but I worry that it blinds us to other important ed tech questions. I’d struggle to describe how surveillance, ethics, privacy impact student learning, but we desperately need that research too-or more!
Let me get this straight: Invasive surveillance isn’t enough, now companies are creating opportunities to cheat just so they can ding them and take credit for stopping it?
link to ‘A Network of Fake Test Answer Sites Is Trying to Incriminate Students – The Markup’
Doctorow tackles the grossest parts of ed tech. It’s a great read.
[link to ‘Pluralistic: 16 Feb 2022 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow’](https://pluralistic.net/2022/02/16/unauthorized-paper/
Why are people still touting facial recognition as a convenience?
link to ‘ICO to step in after schools use facial recognition to speed up lunch queue | Facial recognition | The Guardian’
Perk of having ed tech degree/experience in the era of COVID-19: I’m currently walking my mom through Zoom to allow for possibility of her offering distance piano lessons.
Responding to reviewer who has a specific picture in their head of what “good” edtech research “should” look like. Thus, they’re confused by things in my paper that I’m sure aren’t problems—but don’t fit that picture.
Getting in touch with my BYU roots in educational technology by applying for a grant to move to alternative textbooks for my Fall 2019 course.
I (an educational technology researcher) have just declined the opportunity to review for the journal “Cell Proliferation.” The weird thing is that it didn’t seem like the spammy requests from journals I sometimes get. Mistaken identity, maybe?