Tag Archives: education

Reading: Poll Highlights Sobering Toll of Coronavirus on Students

From Poll Highlights Sobering Toll of Coronavirus on Students

“Dire” is an understatement. Mn State Universities haven’t yet mentioned how they are going to address the main educational concerns. I trust they are thinking about it, but haven’t mentioned that, either.

The fallback is to trust the faculty for advice and advising. Get students connected with their instructors, face-to-social-distance face, or video call. The faculty can then advise the administration on what to try.

Then there’s 15 Scenarios

Reading: Teaching in the Time of Coronavirus, Part II

From Teaching in the Time of Coronavirus, Part II

Thank you to Aaron Barlow for calling the online fallback. Much of what I was reading on the tech and distance ed boards took the attitude of Unfortunate But Necessary. Many posters and teachers went with Opportunity Knocks. But ask the students and a different sense comes out:

This was confirmed last Wednesday when I quizzed them about their loud negative reaction to the college’s closing. Few of the students like the online tools we use every day; none of them sees the move online in a positive light. They feel their educations are being disrupted and suspect that the replacement they are being offered is a sham.

And it is.


Most educators have a somewhat cynical view of student attitudes. We think that, like most of the rest of society, they have bought into the factory model of education, that they are in school only to get the degrees that will further their upward movement in society. We forget that many of them are actually interested in learning—even though they may appear to be sleepwalking through at least some of their courses. They want their degrees to mean something, to be more than just magical pieces of paper.

Our students, of course, are shoved into as difficult a situation by coronavirus as we are. This is no vacation for them, and they know it. They also recognize that the colleges and universities are lying to them through the very act of replacing their classes with online approximations—though they, too, know the lying may be necessary. They feel frustrated, for they do not want to delay their progress toward their degrees; they feel they have no choice but to accept what is happening. But they do not like it and some of them feel—and are—technologically unprepared for the new situation. Though almost all of them have smartphones, not everyone has a computer at home for writing papers.

The lying isn’t necessary; but the universities are not in a position to offer much more than online versions right now. That’s our fault. The unwelcome move online might reveal another crack in the papered-over system. We’ll need to repair things later. We’ll need to repair a lot of things Later.

But, Barlow suggests, we need to change teaching and learning Right Now.

If we work at it, it may prove better than anything we have done before, though it will not be categorizable and will not even be the online coursework we are trying to ram down our throats and our students’ throats.

Reading: Oi, Cummings! Leave those lefty kids alone

From Oi, Cummings! Leave those lefty kids alone

From Stuart Lee at The Guardian. “Necessary phantoms” is not just a great name for a band. It’s what Cummings and Trump need to survive in a political world.

Last week Policy Exchange tried to make liberal higher educational institutions the next bogeypersons in the Rightwing Coup’s culture war, another target in an ongoing parade of necessary phantoms.

They have run out of nasties like the EU are turning on their own tail:

Turning Point UK, the British incarnation of a wealthy American rightwing youth organisation, endorsed by the child-friendly Conservative luminaries Priti Patel and Jacob Rees-Mogg, is aiming to compile a student snitches’ website listing the dangerous leftwing academics exposing our kids to their anti-racist mathematics and frayed corduroy jackets.

We’re in university to get Educated: live on mac and cheese, listen to punk with buddies and prog rock secretly, read tediously long and complex novels, and party. So why turn on the students? Instead, start your own.

Why don’t Policy Exchange, Turning Point UK, Toby Young’s X-Men of Shits, and the Freedom Association just set up their own universities, teaching climate-emergency denial, anti-trade union theory, progressive eugenics and political correctness gone mad? Universities are supposed to be leftwing, daddio! And so are students.

Ok, Boomer?

Ghost in the machine

Reading: How To (Hypothetically) Hack Your School’s Surveillance System | Gizmodo


Tracking pitched to students – and parents – as Keys to Success. Students aren’t naive: they know admin is tracking them for retention and sales – not security. Tracking via D2L is prevalent, too. They know when you are reading; they know when you are late. On D2L, that creepy prof can see your exchanges with other students – and administrators can see when that creepy prof is checking in and out.

Balan listed off several easily foreseeable scenarios in which relatively untested school-wide surveillance systems put data in the hands of faculty. An evildoer can carry out a man-in-the-middle attack on any network, injecting downloads with malicious code. An impersonation attacker could spoof a Bluetooth identifier. A bad teacher with access to location data could stalk a student; a good teacher with a dumb password could be easily hacked. “Say I’m a teacher, and my password is Whitney123,” Balan postulated. “Arguably, out of ten thousand students, someone is going to try that password.”

If school surveillance looks anything like school security, he says, a “password123” blunder ranks high on the list of probabilities; Balan calls the present state of security tech in public spaces like hospitals and university campuses “a disaster.” “The software and operating systems are outdated, and passwords are leaked,” he said. “Surveillance cameras are on the same network as other computers, and the access to that network would be the word ‘password.’ And by no means was this an isolated case.”

It’s an opportunity for guerrilla theatre. How about hacking a classroom to show all students present all the time. How about sitting down at all entrances to an admin building – blocking them in or out. How about spamming the D2L message system with Wham! lyrics.

Vick countered with an offer to students:

If you are at one of these schools asking you to install apps on your phone to track you, hit me up for some totally hypothetical academic ideas on how one might dismantle such a system.

We’re always up for hacker class, so Vick supplied Gizmodo with a few theories for inquiring minds.

Reading: It’s Time to Move Away from the Digital Classroom in Our Smartphone-Altered Universe


Smartphones and pervasiveness could help us undo the knots education admin created for online learning.

Education administrators who have bought into the various digital-platform models, on the other hand, have long seen their avenues of digital instruction as a way to reduce reliance on teachers by regularizing curricula through digital replication and turning the teachers into overseers, people there simply to solve problems as students take more and more control of their education. The digital, these people dreamed, could make most teachers redundant.

Though student control of their own education is a laudable goal, that’s not the only goal of those pushing online education. Cost-cutting and streamlining are even more important ends. Producing a workforce augmentation implemented seamlessly also is.

The growth of the student as a person and a citizen is not. Education, as we have defined it in the United States (until recently), is not.

Thing is, the digital landscape our students inhabit has changed dramatically since the old assumptions about digital utility in education were formulated. The smartphone has become student interface with much of the world, including families and, yes, classrooms. Anyone simply looking around today can see that the smartphone should be changing all of assumptions about utility of digital tools–but it hasn’t.

What I’m reading 8 Feb 2018 – 9 Mar 2018

What I’m reading 31 May 2017 through 9 Jun 2017

What I’m reading 24 May 2017 through 28 May 2017

What I’m reading 19 Aug 2016 through 24 Aug 2016

What I’m reading 26 Sep 2015 through 17 Oct 2015