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Audrey Watters: The Future of Ed-Tech is a Reclamation Project #DLFAB

Audrey Watters Media Predicts 2011
Audrey Watters Media Predicts 2011 (Photo credit: @Photo.)

We can reclaim the Web and more broadly ed-tech for teaching and learning. But we must reclaim control of the data, content, and knowledge we create. We are not resources to be mined. Learners do not enter our schools and in our libraries to become products for the textbook industry and the testing industry and the technology industry and the ed-tech industry to profit from. 

via The Future of Ed-Tech is a Reclamation Project #DLFAB.(by Audrey Watters)

Really philosophical article about what it is Higher Ed is trying to do here. It’s not just about student portfolios, it’s Everything. It is the books you check out the seminars you attend, the videos you watched the notes you took all the artifacts of learning. And currently they are all squirreled away and stashed inside data silos like Learning Management Systems.

The original World Wide Web was like the Wild, Wild West, an open frontier without visible limit. Cloud services and commercial offerings has fenced in the frontier in a series of waves of fashion. Whether it was AOL,, Geocities, Friendster, MySpace, Facebook the web grew in the form of gated communities and cul-de-sacs for “members only”. True the democracy of it all was membership was open and free, practically anyone could join, all you had to do was hand over the control, the keys to YOUR data. That was the bargain, by giving up your privacy, you gained all the rewards of socializing with long lost friends and acquaintances. From that little spark the surveillance and “data mining” operation hit full speed.

Reclaiming ownership of all this data, especially the component that is generated in one’s lifetime of learning is a worthy cause. Audrey Watters references Jon Udell in an example of the kind of data we would want to own and limit access to our whole lives. From the article:

Udell then imagines what it might mean to collect all of one’s important data from grade school, high school, college and work — to have the ability to turn this into a portfolio — for posterity, for personal reflection, and for professional display on the Web.

Indeed, and at the same time though this data may live on the Internet somewhere access is restricted to those whom we give explicit permission to access it. That’s in part a project unto itself, this mesh of data could be text, or other data objects that might need to be translated, converted to future readable formats so it doesn’t grow old and obsolete in an abandoned file format. All of this stuff could be give a very fine level of access control to individuals you have approved to read parts or pieces or maybe even give wholesale access to. You would make that decision and maybe just share the absolute minimum necessary. So instead of seeing a portfolio of your whole educational career, you just give out the relevant links and just those links. That’s what Jon Udell is pursuing now through the Thali Project. Thali is a much more generalized way to share data from many devices but presented in a holistic, rationalized manner to whomever you define as a trusted peer. It’s not just about educational portfolios, it’s about sharing your data. But first and foremost you have to own the data or attempt to reclaim it from the wilds and wilderness of the social media enterprise, the educational enterprise, all these folks who want to own your data while giving you free services in return.

Audrey uses the metaphor, “Data is the new oil” and that at the heart is the problem. Given the free oil, those who invested in holding onto and storing the oil are loathe to give it up. And like credit reporting agencies with their duplicate and sometime incorrect datasets, those folks will give access to that unknown quantity to the highest bidder for whatever reason. Whether its campaign staffers, private detectives, vengeful spouses, doesn’t matter as they own the data and set the rules as to how it is shared. However in the future when we’ve all reclaimed ownership of our piece of the oil field, THEN we’ll have something. And when it comes to the digital equivalent of the old manila folder, we too will truly own our education.

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Next Flash Version Will Support Private Browsing

Slashdot Your Rights Online Story | Next Flash Version Will Support Private Browsing.

I’m beginning to think Adobe should just make Flash into a web browser that plays back it’s own movie format. That will end all debates over open standards and so forth and provide better support/integration. There is nothing wrong with a fragmented browser market. It’s what we already have right now.

If you have ever heard from someone that Adobe Flash is buggy and crashes a lot and have to trust their judgment, then please do. It’s not the worst thing ever invented, but it certainly could be better. Given Adobe’s monopoly on web delivered video (ie YouTube) one would think they could maintain competitive advantage through creating a better user experience (like Apple entering the smart phone market). But instead they have attempted to innovate as a way of maintaining their competitiveness and so Flash has bloated up to accommodate all kinds of ActionScript and interactivity that used to only exist in desktop applications. So why should Adobe settle for just being a tool maker and browser plug-in? I say show everyone what the web browser should be, and compete.

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My love letter to Public Television

The days I spent watching educational programs on PBS I think gave me an interesting way of seeing the world. And I am not alone:

Exposure to Samuel Beckett, art-appreciation documentaries, “Masterpiece Theatre,” and grade Z film gave me the rudiments of an aesthetic education. And a good thing, too, because nobody in the local school system would have used the expression “aesthetic education,” or considered it worth offering.

via Views: The Plug-In Syllabus – Inside Higher Ed

Those were golden halcyon days watching the weird shows fly by. I remember seeing Firing Line briefly and Steve Allen’s program and Dick Cavett’s program. I’m not saying I ‘watched’ them, but I would see them in passing hoping to find a repeat of Sesame Street. My parents would watch Masterpiece Theatre religiously, which I hated because I wanted to watch what else was on Sunday nights. Usually it was NBC’s Police Story or some other violent, low-brow entertainment.

Now all that old TV “content” can be recycled to the public airwaves of the Interwebs. All that was old is new again. Which means I should try tracking down all those old episodes of Omnibus that made the transition from BBC to PBS. Sometimes I think PBS and BBC should have formed up a single International Media conglomerate and shared more costs in preparation for the large scale media consolidation of the ’80s. And certainly they could have hedged their enterprises somewhat against the proliferation of Satellite and Cable TV networks.

Oh, if I could  just get the BBC for several hours in the evening or even during the day. I would watch Emmerdale or Eastenders, I would even watch Tesco commercials. Doesn’t matter to me. Too much of what we watch locally on TV is a kind of bubble like prison, meant to reinforce, nay indoctrinate one in the predominant culture. And more choices hasn’t helped as the media owners don’t let the media flow freely cross international borders.

Welcome to Internet U, via Video

I was raised on the most successful initiatives from Public Television, or ETV as it was previously known (E standing for Educational of course). Sesame Street, 3-2-1 Contact, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and Reading Rainbow were my bread and butter as a kid. And yet while those educational programs were major successes, television’s promise of bringing education and instruction to a wide audience was left largely unfulfilled in the United States. Proponents of educational TV faced the harsh realities of the large amounts of funding required to create and maintain television programing placed upon them. The need to satisfy the large …
(Read more at source)

As a kid I watched PBS a lot. One reason being in the 1970s funding for PBS kids shows and educational programs was better than it is now. As kids we would watch hours of programming and then we would be rewarded, REWARDED with a fund-raising drive once a year. The reason I say rewarded is PBS went out of its way to entertain and bring in new viewers. They would air special programs especially for the fund-raising drive. I remember one year they aired Woodstock as the centerpiece of one year’s fund-raising campaign. That was the cool part, you never knew what they would pull out to reward us when they were asking for money. And what did we get in return?

WGBH, the Boston superstation for PBS and WNET 13 in New York would crank out the jams. Some of it was experimental, some of it was just downright good. There was Sesame Street, Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, Electric Company, Zoom and eventually 3-2-1 Contact. And even in school our teacher’s would fire up the TV in the days before the VCR to show us certain science programs different times of the week. Sometimes it would be a reading program, or a science program. At one point during the Carter Administration, all the kids were encouraged to learn the Metric System. So for about one year we watched  a program once a week to teach us the metric system. Turns out we didn’t go metric.

After school was good too. We had a TV show produced by a “local” TV station in Sioux Falls, SD. It was hosted by the weatherman on KELO-TV. It was called Captain 11. I knew kids who had gone down to Sioux Falls and gotten on the TV show. And there was also a drawing for a prize on each episode. It was a giant plastic tootsie roll with tootsie roll lollipop candies inside. I never saw any of my friends on that show. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. I saw every Hanna-Barbera cartoon, and a few Our Gang short films along the way. Why I spent more time watching TV than I can even add up. It’s a lot that’s for sure.

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