Children Should Learn to Web

For the last few years we’ve been hearing a good many people (most of them computer programmers) say that every child should learn to code. As I write these words, I learn that Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has echoed that counsel. Learning to code is a nice thing, I suppose, but should be far, far down on our list of priorities for the young. Coding is a problem-solving skill, and few of the problems that beset young people today, or are likely to in the future, can be solved by writing scripts or programs for computers to execute. I suggest a less ambitious enterprise with broader applications, and I’ll begin by listing the primary elements of that enterprise. I think every young person who regularly uses a computer should learn the following:

  • how to choose a domain name
  • how to buy a domain
  • how to choose a good domain name provider
  • how to choose a good website-hosting service
  • how to find a good free text editor
  • how to transfer files to and from a server
  • how to write basic HTML, including links to CSS (Cascading Style Sheet) files
  • how to find free CSS templates
  • how to fiddle around in those templates to adjust them to your satisfaction
  • how to do basic photograph editing
  • how to cite your sources and link to the originals
  • how to use social media to share what you’ve created on your own turf rather than create within a walled factory
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    Source: IASC: The Hedgehog Review – Volume 20, No. 1 (Spring 2018) – Tending the Digital Commons: A Small Ethics toward the Future –

I like that list. A good way to acquire those skills is to contribute to WordPress and other open web projects.

In essence, the open Web, while not free from governmental and commercial pressures, is about as free from such pressures as a major component of modern capitalist society can be. And indeed it is this decentralized organizational model, coupled with heavy reliance on volunteer labor, that invites the model of stewardship I commended earlier in this essay. No one owns the Internet or the World Wide Web, and barring the rise of an industrial mega-power like the Buy-n-Large Corporation of Pixar’s 2008 movie WALL•E, no one will. Indeed, the healthy independence of the Internet and the Web is among the strongest bulwarks against the rise of a Buy-n-Large or the gigantic transnational corporations that play such a major role in the futures imagined by Kim Stanley Robinson, especially in his Hugo Award–winning Mars trilogy.

Some of the people most dedicated to the maintenance and development of the open Web also produce open-source software that makes it possible to acquire the skills I listed above. In this category we may find nonprofit organizations such as Mozilla, maker of the Firefox web browser, as well as for-profit organizations that make and release free and open-source software—for instance, Automattic, the maker of the popular blogging platform WordPress, and Github, whose employees, along with many volunteers, have created the excellent Atom text editor. One could achieve much of the independence I have recommended by using software available from those three sources alone.

Source: IASC: The Hedgehog Review – Volume 20, No. 1 (Spring 2018) – Tending the Digital Commons: A Small Ethics toward the Future –

Instead of focusing so much on learning to code, children should learn to web.

This isn’t about making sure literature students “learn to code” or history students “learn to code” or medical faculty “learn to code” or chemistry faculty “learn to code.”

Rather it’s about recognizing that the World Wide Web is site for scholarly activity. It’s about recognizing that students are scholars.

Mike talks about the difference between what he describes as the “garden” and the “stream.” The stream are the other threats to the Web, I’d argue – these are Twitter and Facebook most obviously. The status updates and links that rush past us, often stripped of context and meaning and certainly stripping us of any opportunity for contemplation or reflection. The garden, on the other hand, encourages just that. It does so by design.

And that’s the Web. That’s your domain. You cultivate ideas there – quite carefully, no doubt, because others might pop by for a think. But also because it’s your space for a think.

Source: Why ‘A Domain of One’s Own’ Matters (For the Future of Knowledge)

It is only now, a decade after the financial crisis, that the American public seems to appreciate that what we thought was disruption worked more like extraction—of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity, our content, our DNA, our homes, our cities, our relationships. The tech visionaries’ predictions did not usher us into the future, but rather a future where they are kings.

They promised the open web, we got walled gardens. They promised individual liberty, then broke democracy—and now they’ve appointed themselves the right men to fix it.

But did the digital revolution have to end in an oligopoly? In our fog of resentment, three recent books argue that the current state of rising inequality was not a technological inevitability. Rather the narrative of disruption duped us into thinking this was a new kind of capitalism. The authors argue that tech companies conquered the world not with software, but via the usual route to power: ducking regulation, squeezing workers, strangling competitors, consolidating power, raising rents, and riding the wave of an economic shift already well underway.

In a winners-take-all economy, it’s hard to prove the rulers wrong. But if the tech backlash wants to become more than just the next chapter in their myth, we have to question the fitness of the companies that survived.

Source: An Alternative History of Silicon Valley Disruption

Links to eye-straining presentations and slide shows offered in formats that need third-party tools are features of the communications from our school. Almost of all of this content could be blog posts on class and school blogs

If I had a desert island EdTech, it would be blogging, and that is not just in a nostalgic sense. No other educational technology has continued to develop, as the proliferation of WordPress sites attests, and also remain so full of potential. I’ve waxed lyrical about academic blogging many times before, but for almost every ed tech that comes along, I find myself thinking that a blog version would be better: e-portfolios, VLEs, MOOCs, OERs, social networks. Sometimes it’s like Jim Groom and Alan Levine have taken over my brain, and I don’t even mind. I still harbour dreams of making students effective bloggers will be a prime aspect of graduateness. Nothing develops and anchors your online identity quite like a blog.

Source: 25 Years of EdTech – 2003: Blogs – The Ed Techie 

No other edtech has continued to develop and solidify (as the proliferation of WordPress sites attests) and also remain so full of potential. For almost every edtech that comes along—e-portfolios, VLEs, MOOCs, OER, social media—I find myself thinking that a blog version would be better. Nothing develops and anchors an online identity quite like a blog.

Source: Twenty Years of Edtech | EDUCAUSE

Blogging is durable, open, and democratic indie ed-tech.

https://rnbn.blog/tag/blogging/
https://boren.blog/tag/blogging/

As Ryan indicates, the planet-like features that OPML subscriptions provide are immensely valuable in general, but also solves a tough problem that some of the best minds in the educational tech space have found perennially problematic.

Source: Reply to Ryan Boren et al on the WordPress Link Manager, Calypso, and Indie Blogging

Indie ed-tech link bomb:

Bringing Safety to the Serendipity in Digital Pedagogy
http://hackeducation.com/2017/11/30/top-ed-tech-trends-intro
Communication is oxygen. Build a districtwide collaboration infrastructure and an open by default culture.
Mindset Marketing, Behaviorism, and Deficit Ideology
Default to Open: Open Education, Open Government, Open Data, Open Web, and Open Source
Hyperlinks and Education in the Disinformation Age
Feed Readers, Micro.blog, and Digital Pedagogy
Bring the backchannel forward. Written communication is the great social equalizer.

We also believe the path to becoming a better reader relies on becoming a writer. Children excel in production based literacy environments. The critical evaluation of online sources is no different. Any classroom exercise around sourcing must involve readers reflecting on their process and interacting in social spaces for reading. We believe the best way to do have students understand how the web shapes meaning is to use the web to make meaning. Part of any intervention should embrace students publishing on their own domain with parents and students in control of their privacy.

We also believe teachers should be central in educational research. Part of any intervention must encourage educators to build, share and remix resources while reflecting on their learning in the open. We can not tackle critical evaluation alone. Furthermore we must recognize that our teaching corps requires a basic understanding of how you read and write on the web and the lack of skills in our teachers is a national crisis. Students will never be ready for computer science classes in middle school and high school if they are taught by educators who can’t add a link in an email let alone build a web page. By encouraging teachers to network through the use of OER sharing we can address the lack of skills.

Source: Can the #IndieWeb Improve Better Readers and Writers Online? – INTERTEXTrEVOLUTION

I updated “Compassion is not coddling. Design for real life.” with a selection from “Dear Developer, The Web Isn’t About You | sonniesedge.co.uk”.

“Edge case” is, to be frank, a phrase that should be banned from all developer conversations (and then tattooed onto the forehead of anyone who continues to use it).

When we say “Edge Case” we mean “Stress Case”. In their book, Design for Real Life, Eric Meyer & Sara Wachter-Boettcher point out that what we glibly call an “edge case” is normally an enormously stressful event for a user.

It often accompanies high emotions, stress, physical problems, financial problems, etc. When we discount and dismiss the “edge case”, we’re actually saying “I don’t care about that particular user’s stressful situation”.

Source: Dear Developer, The Web Isn’t About You | sonniesedge.co.uk

I also dropped in these lines.

Without the social model and intersectionality, we’re just bikeshedding injustice. There is no path to inclusive design that does not involve direct confrontation with injustice. “If a direct confrontation of injustice is missing from our strategies or initiatives or movements, that means we are recreating the conditions we’re pretending to want to destroy.

Better than before; still need work; slow iteration.

We should preserve the past on the web, and learn to make sites even more future-safe. The web is where human knowlege accumulates. #

It’s time for tech people to have values, as journalism, medicine and law do. Deliberately taking features out of the web, claiming pieces of the web as corporate property, forcing the history offline, all are terrible abuses of what make the Internet great. An ethical technologist would refuse to do this work.#

When we teach people to create technology, they should learn to respect and enhance the things that make the Internet great, not help modern day robber barons appropriate them. #

The Internet is a place for the people, like parks, libraries, museums, historic places. It’s okay if corporations want to exploit the net, like DisneyLand or cruise lines, but not at the expense of the natural features of the net. #

Source: Scripting News: The Internet is going the wrong way