Another dot in the blogosphere?

Posts Tagged ‘permission

Today I reflect on my work with two education groups and how they react to change. 

I suggested to one group that we needed to teach pandemic strategies in our course for future educators. There has been no change ever since the course went fully online.

In another course, I included a new learning outcome: Suggest strategies for integrating ICT into [area of education] during a pandemic. I did this outside our regular course document review/revision.

The latter move is a timely one and already appreciated by my learners (pre- and in-service teachers) as one of several optional focus areas. It is timely and I do not see significant objections to it during official review.

Change is not asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

There is a saying among change agents who dare: Better to ask for forgiveness later than to ask for permission first. Anyone who is serious about change knows that going through proper channels regardless of circumstance will result in no change, or worse, regression.

Change sometimes means colouring outside the lines. If I am advised to remove that optional learning outcome, I will apologise for including it without consultation. But I will also have tinkered with that change element and have data on how that went. This will inform me and my client, and we will be better for it.

I have avoided reading and reviewing this opinion piece Analytics can help universities better support students’ learning. When I scanned the content earlier this month, my edtech Spidey sense got triggered. Why?

Take the oft cited reason for leveraging on the data: They “provide information for faculty members to formulate intervention strategies to support individual students in their learning.”

Nowhere in the op piece was there mention of students giving permission for their data to be used that way. Students are paying for an education and a diploma; they are not paying to be data-mined.

I am not against enhancing better study or enabling individualisation of learning. I am against the unethical or unsanctioned use of student data.

Consider the unfair use of student-generated data. Modern universities rely on learning management systems (LMS) for blended and online learning. These LMS are likely to integrate plagiarism checking add-ons like Turnitin. When students submit their work, Turnitin gets an ever-increasing and improving database. It also charges its partner universities hefty subscription fees for the service.

Now take a step back: Students pay university fees while helping a university partner and the university partner makes money off student-generated data. What do students get back in return?

Students do not necessarily learn how to be more responsible academic writers. They might actually learn to game the system. Is that worth their data?

Back to the article. It highlighted two risks:

First, an overly aggressive use of such techniques can be overbearing for students. Second, there is a danger of adverse predictions/expectations leading to self-fulfilling prophecies.

These are real risks, but they sidestep the more fundamental issues of data permissions and fair use. What is done to protect students when they are not even aware of how and when their data is used?

This is not about having a more stringent version of our PDPA* — perhaps an act that disallows any agency from sharing our data with third parties without our express consent.

It is about not telling students that their data is used for behavioural pattern recognition and to benefit a third party. While not on the scale of what Cambridge Analytica did to manipulate political elections, the principle is the same — unsanctioned and potentially unethical use of a population’s data.

*I wonder why polytechnics are included in the list of agencies (last updated 18 March 2013) responsible for personal data protection but universities are not.

… and damned if you don’t. That was one of my reactions when I watched this video.

Video source

The video featured volunteers trying to help during the US government service shutdown. But they were stopped by an authority figure because current policies do not allow them to chip in when the chips are down for federal employees.

Therein lies a reminder for change agents in schooling and education. You know that something should be done now and you take it upon yourself (and perhaps a small team) to enact the change. But policies and those that police them will stand in your way.

This reminded me of a series of workshops that I designed and conducted for an education institute. I had recommended that policy makers and administrators also attend the sessions.

My contact enabled this and it was a joy to facilitate. The police makers and administrators were not on the frontline and could not see what progressive pedagogy looked like. At the same time, instructors on the ground could not understand the rationales formed in towers overhead.

The workshops became shared spaces and experiences for these folk to co-learn and to exchange their perspectives. I wish more organisations would enable such designs.

When I enter contract negotiations for my talks, workshops, or consulting services, I occasionally see this line item: Video recording the session.

When I ask what this is for, the usual responses include archiving, showcasing, reference for absentees, or later review. I object to all three, but not for the reasons you might expect.

Archiving or showcasing a session on video is a lot of work with very little return on investment. If you want to do a good job of archiving or showcasing, the video must spend a lot of time in post-production. At the bare minimum, every minute shot needs at least ten in editing.

If the video is meant to be a reference, I wonder:

  • Who exactly is going to watch the video?
  • Why do they need to do this?
  • How exactly is watching a video a proxy for attendance?
  • What use is a video-based review if it is incidental and not designed for follow-up?

A workshop is about work, not watching dispassionately. Even though my sessions are blended, they designed for being there, getting involved, and learning together. A video is not the same as being there.

A workshop is also about context. I have conducted many sessions with the same title, but I have to do something different each time because the context changes. The people who attend make a difference to what I do. Watching a video does not give you a sense of context nor the ability to add to it.

Other than these design factors, I also have a consulting factor for saying no to most recordings. A single video recording is a potential loss of opportunity for me. Someone can offer the video in an online repository and an administrator can claim that they have the same experience for free. They do not, and they fool themselves if they think they do.

So I say no to most video recordings while negotiating contracts, when I am asked on the spot, or when I notice video camera pointed at me without permission. This is not about being camera-shy; it is about being savvy with learning design and firm with my rights.

I used to conclude two courses I taught at NIE with this: Change is not about asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

Change is not about asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

I shared this at a panel after my keynote, and before I could elaborate, the moderator reminded the audience that they should not be doing this with budgets or financial transactions. Taken out of the context, it might have seemed like I was advising people break the law. I was not.

The context of my courses was taking ownership of problems in schooling and teaching. The content of my talk was about changing mindsets on how to learn in the workplace. I was advising participants and my audience to be change agents instead of waiting for change to happen.

It might be difficult to visualise this or see the impact of such actions. Thankfully, there is a YouTube video that illustrates this nicely.

Video source

An activist wanted to send Twitter-Germany a message about dealing with hate messages. As he kept getting stonewalled, he decided to take action.

He made stencils out of 30 terrible tweets and sprayed the messages in chalk outside Twitter’s office in Hamburg. The semi-permanence of the chalked text was more impactful visually than scrolling pixels on a screen. They were tough to ignore.

The video ended with Twitter doing in real life what it seemed to be doing online. It removed what was immediately outside its building on the pavement, but left intact the majority of messages slightly further away.

I do not know if there was a longer term impact of the activist’s actions, but his message spread on Twitter, RSS feeds, and news sites.

He did not wait for permission to take action because he saw a real and urgent need to do something. If he got into the good sort of trouble, he could ask for forgiveness later.

The lesson is this: It is not about guaranteeing a change as a result of action; it is about taking action when few, if any, are ready or prepared. It is about moving in the right direction even though the destination is not clear.

It is about not asking for permission to move, and if you make reasonable mistakes, asking for forgiveness later.

Singapore’s mrbrown shared his snapshot of a presentation.

The statement — we cannot allow regulation to catch up with innovation — is not restricted to business or change management. It extends to education as well, but this is not the mindset of most teachers or leaders in this field.

People involved in schooling were themselves schooled to be compliant and are self-selecting because they tend to be cooperative and nurturing. They toe the line and do not question policies and practices even though they might stifle innovation.

So how do schools innovate? They need to let in people who have this mindset: Change is not about asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

Change is not about asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

Innovation in schooling is almost an oxymoron. It does happen, but very slowly. The catalysts are mavericks and trouble-makers who have good intent.

There is more than one way to innovate. The fastest is not to ask for permission first.

This is one of my favourite sayings. I modified it from my assorted readings (and watchings and listenings) about leadership. I cannot find a definitive source for this quote.

The quote resonates with me because it reflects my belief system. It is a key driving force for why and how I do things.

It should come as no surprise by now that my graphic has all the hallmarks of Haiku Deck.

With a basic account, export options are limited. After I am satisfied with the look of the graphic, I take a screenshot of it on my iPad and upload it to Google Photos. I put the image in an album with other quotes and copy the URL to the image. The final step is embedding and resizing the image here.

I found the original image using the keyword “forgiveness”.

However, in the several weeks of doing this “quotable quotes” series, I have found that Haiku Deck‘s method of finding photos differs markedly from ImageCodr‘s. It can take a fair bit of investigative work to trace the source of images.

On 3 Sep 2008, Digital Life (subscription required) featured a colourful graphic* on pp. 14-15 to illustrate a white paper by Dr Tracey Wilen-Daugenti of Cisco Systems.

The original white paper by Wilen-Daugenti can be downloaded here (PDF). The parts of the white paper I found particularly interesting were on pages 5-9. (Never mind that the student featured had the same name as me!) The content in those pages featured Web 2.0 as key to 21st century learning.

So just what is 21st century learning? We will be exploring that nebulous concept in weeks to come.

*I sought the permission of the newspaper publisher to use the graphic. I am including the email I sent to the publisher and their reply to me (permission-to-use-article-for-teacher-education). I am hoping that my action might serve as one model for teachers on how to use resources in a responsible way.


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: