To build a project-based learning culture compatible with work, prioritize communication. Tool for communication, collaboration, iteration, and launch. Bring students, teachers, and tech workers together to do_action education.
Source: DSES Website
- inspiration > authority
- carrots > sticks
- networked > hierarchical
- nonlinear > linear
- iterate > plan
- risk > order
- real > right
- open > closed
Source: Creative Leadership
The Open Schoolhouse
The Open Schoolhouse is a candid story and practical guidebook for school administrators and educators seeking affordable and powerful technology programs. Follow Penn Manor School District’s open technology journey from the server room to the classroom. Learn how open source software and values helped the district cut costs, design a one-to-one laptop program, and create an internationally recognized student help desk.
The Open Schoolhouse tells the story of collaboratively iterating a school district toward open, 1:1 technology.
We believe this act of human collaboration across an open platform is essential to individual growth and our collective future.
I think of Moodle and WordPress as fraternal twins. Passionate and ingenious founders with ardent beliefs in free and open source software created both software platforms. Global communities of programmers, designers, and end users drive the development of both platforms. They use similar web technologies (LAMP), and subscribe to principles of simplicity and ease of use. They are credited with creating, and disrupting, entire industries. And they made dramatic impacts on our students, teachers, and staff.
Locked-down technology is a symptom of an education model designed for student compliance and defined by the incessant measurement of learning. A factory-like school system values what a student has purportedly learned on a linear path, as demonstrated by a standardized test score. Technology device restraints and restrictions lock students on the assessment assembly line, at the cost of a child’s curiosity and intellectual freedom. Computers were once the spark for a child’s imagination. Now, they are a testing apparatus for assessment monarchs.
The destructive confluence of decimated school budgets, neurotically locked-down technology, and lockstep assessment mandates is taking a toll on progressive educators—and disempowering students.
There is also a deeper ethical problem: reliance on closed source proprietary software teaches students a lesson of dependence on secret technology they are powerless to examine, study, share, and improve upon. If the social mission of schools is to amplify student potential, disseminate knowledge, and prepare students to have an impact on the world, then schools have a duty to help kids be free thinkers and self-reliant architects of their futures.
Reisinger, Charlie (2016-09-29). The Open Schoolhouse: Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students. Kindle Edition.
Recognizing the deficit model
This image is actually a great example of deficit thinking — an ideology that blames victims of oppression for their own situation. As with this image, deficit thinking makes systemic forms of racism and oppression invisible. Other images, like the one of different animals having to climb a tree, or of people picking fruit, suffer from the same problem. How would we make these root causes more visible in our “equity vs. equality” image?
Well, if we began with the metaphor of the fence, this would require making clear that the reason some people have more difficulty seeing than others is not because of their height, but because of the context around them.
Keep grit, bootstrap, and deficit ideology out growth mindset. Growth mindset without structural ideology, restorative practices, and inclusion can be more harmful than helpful. Do not use growth mindset to shift responsibility for change from our systems to children. The practice and implementation of growth mindset has been suborned by deficit and bootstrap ideology. Develop an authentic voice based on diversity & inclusion, neurodiversity & the social model of disability, and structural ideology instead of propagating the untempered language of the latest deficit/bootstrap fad. Inclusion and structural ideology are the way forward. Growth mindset as commonly implemented is just another bootstrap metaphor that excuses systems from changing and learning.
Surveillance in Education
“In the educational domain we see a lot of normalisation of designing computers so that their users can’t override them. For example, school supplied laptops can be designed so that educators can monitor what their users are doing. If a school board loses control of their own security or they have bad employees, there’s nothing students can do. They are completely helpless because their machines are designed to prevent them from doing anything.”
“We have this path of surveillance that starts with prisoners, then mental patients, refugees, students, benefits claimants, blue collar workers and then white collar workers. That’s the migration path for surveillance and students are really low in the curve. People who work in education are very close to the front lines of the legitimisation of surveillance and designing computers to control their users rather than being controlled by users,” Doctorow says.
Surveillance in education can also interfere with the educational process, he says, because “nobody wants to be seen fumbling. When you are still learning, you don’t want to feel like you are being watched and judged.” Doctorow adds that, due to their lack of power, students have limited options to take control of their learning and the digital tools they use.
“I talk to students, often younger students, who say they don’t worry about surveillance because they know how to block it out; they use a proxy or something else. But, first of all, those students can get in a lot of trouble for it. In America, they could actually be committing a crime and they could go to jail for it. It also doesn’t solve the overall problem; it only solves it for them. So I’ve often said to students that rather than breaking the rules, they document the absurdity of the rules and demand that adults account for it.”
“The censorware companies mostly work in the Middle East in repressive regimes who buy it on a mass scale to try to control the flow of information in their countries. Students should contact journalists, the school board and the parents’ association and ask why they are giving money that was meant to be for their education to war criminals who spy on us.”
Building welcoming communities
Open source communities have been iterating on community and collaboration for decades. Education can learn from the history, good and bad, of open source communities. Onboarding, recognition, inclusion, managing trolls and toxic contributors.
1. Be Safe
It doesn’t matter how fun and amazing your project is, if people don’t feel safe — they won’t contribute. Security is a hygienic factor — make sure it is good enough. You want a Code of Conduct. Contributor Covenant is a great resource for this, but refrain from just copy & pasting. Take a moment and read it, and make sure you document how you will enforce it and be prepared to enforce it.
3. Be Inclusive
Use simple language (Hemingway can help). List all professions like “Design”, “Editorial”, “Documentation” instead of saying “Non-Coding”. Use gender-neutral language, prefer “them” and “they” over “him” and “she”. Avoid phrases like “Hey guys”.
People love stickers 🙂
Source: Welcoming Communities
When we rally around a common goal and share our work with others, we create something new, something that we can be proud of sharing, something that can change and transform our world. This is the spirit of the open source community.
The accretion of individual contributions, the additive effect of cooperation, and a community growth mindset makes open source compelling for educators. As we will discover, the open source community model shares considerable similarities with a vibrant learning community. It takes a village to raise a child; it also takes a community to cultivate and grow great software. It turns out that hackers are outstanding members of the open source community.
open source principles signify “a sense of humanity between every single individual by acting as a unified medium for collaboration, and the ability to contribute to any cause by the power of your voice and actions. In education, this philosophy is essential, as no singular concept, whether programming or academic practice, stands to be perfect.”
Open source allows people to transcend tribalism and belong to a true cosmopolitan community resolute on the improvement of life standards through all-inclusive access to technology. The use of open source in our schools benefits the community through the growth of its user base. This base is in constant renewal when new generations of students enter our school population every year. All these students will carry in their minds, at the very least, the awareness of the usefulness of open source; many of them will carry over to their professional careers such awareness. We are truly seeding the open source mentality in our community.
We were initially attracted to free and open source software because of the cost savings, but ultimately, it was the spirit of open that liberated our students and opened our schoolhouse.
There are codes of conduct for contributing to the open source foundations of the internet. The Contributor Covenant is widely used and representative of an emerging consensus on codes of conduct for distributed collaboration. The covenant is compatible with structural ideology, restorative practices, neurodiversity, the social model of disability, and real life.
Privacy and Passwords
I updated my password primer with a reference to the new NIST password rules.
Update: The NIST recently announced new password rules that recommend sites allow a maximum length of at least 64 characters. 1Password updated its password generator to support a 64 character maximum.
At most schools, student identities are protected by weak passwords trivially derived from usernames and reused everywhere. Once someone gets ahold of your email password, they can reset your passwords elsewhere and pwn your life. When you reuse passwords, a data leak on a forgotten site can be escalated into takeover of your email and your identity.