EdConteXts finds 5: on social justice, edtech, & open learning

by EdContexts Facilitators

Here are our CLMOOC inspired “#f5f” (“Find 5 Friday”) “picks” for August – thought-provoking posts we’ve come across during the month that have shown sensitivity to context in education.  Themes of social justice, edtech, and learning in open spaces are covered in our finds this month.

Cody Charles (educator) _@CodyKeith_

We first noticed Cody Charles’ post “WTF? 10 Counterproductive Behaviors of Social Justice Educators”  in late July when it was published on the  “Teaching Social Justice” blog, which we featured last time in our #f5f. This is an insightful post that points out 10 habits or behaviours that can be easy for social justice educators to fall into, but which tend to hinder rather than help our cause. Many of us at EdContexts thought it raised such important points that it’s something we’ll likely be posting above our desks as a reference to inform our daily practice.

Audrey Watters (education writer) @audreywatters

Audrey’s post “Student Data, Algorithms, Ideology, and Identity-less-ness” references an excellent talk by Tressie McMillan Cottom (@tressiemcphd) on ideology, inequality, and digital education – about how online education is increasingly defined by affordances of digital technologies which ignore a learner’s context, place and identity. Audrey goes on to question whether it’s desirable (or even possible) to develop learning technologies and algorithms which provide feedback and history divorced from a student’s identity.

More recently, Audrey also wrote this post On Silence, later republished on HybridPed. Inspired by the writings of Audre Lorde, and her own observations of the media coverage on the Mike Brown shooting in Ferguson (i.e. that it was largely covered by the community through social media rather than via the mainstream), this is a call to speak out, and to prompt one another to speak out: to turn silence into “language and action”.

Kris Shaffer (educator) @krisshaffer

Kris Shaffer, also prompted by the shooting of Mike Brown, discusses in this post how the events have inspired teachers to share ideas for incorporating social justice via the hashtag  #FergusonSyllabus. But he makes the point that social justice education isn’t simply about discussing a single event: it’s about teaching students how to stand up for what’s right, to question and critique, to weigh things up and carefully consider particularly where decisions conflict with their conscience; to value human life.

Kandy Woodfield (social researcher) @jess1ecat

Originally inspired by Martin Weller’s “ethics of digital scholarship”, Kandy Woodfield in her  post, “The ethics of social learning and working out loud”, asks about the ethics of requiring students to participate in open / public social learning, online communities and working out loud initiatives. She references this post by George Siemens, highlighting the vulnerability of learning, particularly in public. Kandy puts forward a case for having more open conversations about the ethics of pushing those who either don’t want to, or don’t know how to learn in open or public spaces; the practices we can undertake as educators to minimise the risks; and how we can create safe digital spaces where these students can still contribute, in ways they are comfortable with.

Julian Stodd (learning consultant & author) @julianstodd

In his post “Gender in Technology: Feature or Culture?” Julian Stodd reflects on the male dominated nature of the technology industry – and raises the question (in a social age facilitated by technology): “…is that technology built by and for men, or by and for women? Or is it agnostic?…..If there’s some inbuilt bias in the software or technology, we are deploying an uneven playing field between the genders.” This is an excellent point. And at EdConteXts we might also extend this question to one about the broader cultural context in which this technology is designed, developed and tested: a context which tends to be US-centric, Western, ‘white’ – as well as male.

*****                                                                                                                                                                               …and a ‘bonus’ find: Released a while back, but still relevant, this short, sharp video from Jay Smooth (@jsmooth995) provides a bit of serious Friday fun on How To Tell Someone They Sound Racist  (hint: focus on what they did – words & actions; not what they are).

What are your #f5f for the month? Share any links to posts you think we’d like in the comments section!

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