by Stephen Downes
Jul 07, 2015
Body cameras making their way into Iowa schools
Des Moines Register,
According to this article, a Iowa school district is "outfitting its principals and assistant principals with small, clip-on video camera." Why? "It's personal accountability," Superintendent Pat Coen told The Des Moines Register. "Did we treat this person with dignity, honor and respect? And if we didn't, why didn't we?" He can say that, but I imagine it's just as much to protect the educators from the accusations of parents. For example: "A parent had complained about the Burlington school leader's behavior after he used de-escalation strategies to try to calm down a student. The incident was caught on a school camera, which Yeoman said he reviewed and later showed to the parent."
What happens when Facebook says you don't exist
Christian Science Monitor,
I can only imagine how violated someone may feel when they log on to Facebook and are asked to "verify" their identity by sending documents and photos. I would certainly not send any such information to Facebook. Yet, based simply on the say-so of an anonymous tipster, this is what happens to many Facebook users. It should be a sobering lesson. "The intent, according to the company, is that users know at all times who they’re talking to.... (But) Identity is such a complex issue, says Drake (Nadia Drake, who doesn't exist). 'Where does Facebook get the power to decide what 'authentic' is?'" Facebook says it needs real names to be able to combat harassment. But there's no evidence that real names reduces harassment - if anything, it seems to increase it!
I'm Sorry, But Agile Won't Fix Your Products
The point here isn't that Agile is the wrong direction to take, but rather, that it doesn't go far enough toward ensuring that projects are responsive and adaptive. "While Agile did educate a generation of software developers on the importance of experimentation and customer feedback, it failed to change the old, centralized, command-and-control system of management which remains a large part of the problem. Even with Agile, disempowered engineers working with too little context still ended up taking too long to create products customers don’t even want." the challenge thus becomes one of managing projects in an agile manner, which sounds great until attempted against a funder's requirement for specific deliverables and milestones (which is my life these days).
U.S. Digital Services Playbook
U.S. Digital Services,
Interesting and useful resource. "Today, too many of our digital services projects do not work well, are delivered late, or are over budget. To increase the success rate of these projects, the U.S. Government needs a new approach. We created a playbook of 13 key 'plays' drawn from successful practices from the private sector and government that, if followed together, will help government build effective digital services."
Writing an online, open textbook: is it worth it?
online learning and distance education resources,
The answer, unsurprisingly, was "yes" (though you have to read a fair way into the article to see this). The interesting bits, though, concern the function of PressBooks as a way to write an open textbook (the good: it was relatively easy to use; the bad: persistent hacking attacks, and exporting images into the various formats. Also, despite Tony Bates's credentials, professors still didn't want their students citing it because it wasn't peer reviewed (I have this issue as well, made all the more difficult because I don't write typical journal articles that peer reviewers like). But still, as Bates writes, "I was able to go from initial idea to final publication of the book in 15 months. I have had a publisher take that long from handover of the final draft to publishing. For a book of this kind, quick publishing is important otherwise it starts to look out of date, even if the main foundations do not change." Also worth noting: the cost of producing the book was $80 - $130K.
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