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?