I want to be clear that I am not endorsing this product (nor in fact have I tested it) but it is relevant to note that it exists. The premise is that it will save (paid) bloggers a lot of time by automating the research process (ie., it will do a Google search on keywords and present the results) and writing (ie., it will let you select text from the links and insert them into your document). Rearrange them as desired and Voila! a completed post with no searching and no writing. Now I should say that if you can refrain from publishing cut-and-paste articles, and you can actually work with the raw content, then this could be an enormously useful tool. And I won't lie: it's functionality I've long wanted to build into gRSShopper. Via Product Hunt.
As mentioned previously, Substack is a mailing list subscription service. It supports monetization by subscription fees, does not run advertising or track users, and does not organize content by an algorithm. Other than the fact that it is centralized, it is as decentralized as possible, focused on providing a producer-subscriber relationship without interfering. One might expect, then, that its moderation policy would be "none", but it isn't quite. Their guidelines prohibit porn, hate, plagiarism, impersonation, doxxing, criminal activities, and spam and phishing. This is a pretty reasonable starting point. These guidelines wouldn't work on a broadcast service like Twitter or algorithmic service like Facebook or YouTube, but if you as a subscriber are able to choose what you see, then these should be sufficient.
I have previously mentioned Gather.Town and InSpace in OLDaily. Sococo is another instanceof the same concept whereby people use avatars to navigate around a virtual environment and can joing in a real-time videoconference with those in their proximity. The use case is the same: "Anyone can hang around the coffee machine, bump into a colleague in the hall and attend team lunches (bring your own food!)."
This is another 'lessons learned' post, though the lessons are fairly minimal and limited, I would say, to the traditional course-centered perspective. Thus we read that "online and distance learning requires careful planning and new skills" and that "courses must be reviewed and redesigned." I'm an advocate of a bit less of both of those (in some cases a lot less) though this does depend a lot on the online instructor's ease and facility with digital media (I say this as someone who is really comfortable in online media and who would be really hampered by careful planning, review and redesign - I'm not putting on La Traviata, I'm explaining to someone in the moment how to use PowerPoint). That said, I totally agree with the need to rethink assessment and to provide greater flexibility (and equity) for students.
The Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group (AFOG) at Berkeley has written an open letter to Google executives supporting fired ethics researcher Timnit Gebru and the response (see also) of AI researchers inside Google. The telling point is this: "Ultimately change requires that dominant groups cede power. Institutional commitment must be embodied in practices and processes to enact meaningful change." In this letter dominant groups are defined in terms of position and race, but the same basic equation applies no matter how power is defined, whether it be by income, ethnicity, religion, language, or whatever. Change requires that dominant groups cede power. And what this means is that no single group or individual has ultimate power - it means moving from a hierarchy to something different. I'm not sure Google has the skills, capacities, or even the legal right to do this. But it's the only way to replace rapaciousness with ethical behaviour.
Cynics would say that the algorithm worked exactly as designed when it included administrators and doctors seeing patients remotely from home, "especially since hospital leadership had been made aware of the problem on Tuesday... and responded not by fixing the algorithm." As Roger McNamee wrote, "One of the core attractions of algorithms is that they allow the powerful to blame a black box for politically unattractive outcomes for which they would otherwise be responsible." This is why we need to be doubly watchful of the role of the algorithm in education.
Education for the most marginalised post‑COVID‑19: Guidance for governments on the use of digital technologies in education
Tim Unwin, Azra Naseem, Alicja Pawluczuk, Mohamed Shareef, Paul Spiesberger, Paul West, Christopher Yoo, EdTech Hub, 2020/12/23
I admit that I stalled on the very first point of this report (118 page PDF) - not because it's wrong, but because it's where we have so much disagreement in education. It's this: "it is essential to begin by thinking about the educational outcomes that you want to achieve, and only then seek to identify the technological modalities that best suit your context and financial capabilities." And, true, it is advice I give everyone when they ask me 'what technology is best?' It really depends on what you want to do. And to me, the key word in this sentence is 'you'. Who makes the decisions about what we want to do? And this is where I part ways with almost everyone in the field. Everyone has an agenda for education, it seems: some see it as the route to social justice, others see it as the path to economic development and workforce training, others are focused on building character and responsible citizens, and me - well, I ask the learners directly, what do you want to do, and then focus my response on the technology - all of it, including digital media, educational institutions, legal framework - that supports that. Viewed in that context, this isn't a bad report - but let's understand that it is directed toward "senior government officials who have already taken the first steps towards creating fairer and better education systems" and work from there.
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