This, is probably going to become a weekly thing or at least I'll try and make it one. This is a recap of the 1st week of class with #EdTechJoker .
If you haven't followed the references, I'm code naming a research project EdTechJoker, a reference to my Masters Thesis work called Information Altruism. TLDR; I studied the spread of Drupal by performing action research in which I attempted to get others to use Drupal by giving away my efforts for free.
This "research" is not formal research so don't worry, I'm not needing to file paperwork and being in violation of things. This "research" is more like activism. I have a postulate and I try and make it reality by application of the same principles and tactics learned in my previous work to this new context.
So what is it?
Can we build enough social momentum around open source tools produced, enhanced, and implemented by universities that we can improve access, reduce costs, and ultimately regain control of the innovation that LMS / EdTech vendors have a direct incentive to never provide us.
How do we do that? Well... going back to my past research, we get everyone on a common platform. This place, and EDU in general (and gov) use Drupal and PHP and most importantly, open source solutions. This sets a baseline ability to accept the things that I will be trying to do.
Am I taking credit for all of that? Absolutely not, I helped play a small role in getting one institution onto it and hopefully helping others self empower through my past blogging / tutorials / code. I am a spec of dust in the bin but happy to be there.
So what is class then.. if these are the goals. Well, EdTechJoker is about having the students follow this flow:
We'll look into spaces like... Open Educational Resources; what it is, why people should be using them, what some are, what technologies often underly them... and then... how web components and HTML are the solution to the elimination of the vendor space that's popped up around it.
The technology selection of a space, while not always political, has political ramifications. Someone asked me about "Should I use a password manager" and I said I mean... i do, I use 1password... but I use an older version because now it requires a subscription and it literally has 0 additional value add other then to keep working .
The notion of licensing software that EASILY could just run as a flat file or be included by default on my computer... is insane to me. Well.. that's exactly what the industry does with tools like the LMS. It's marketed that it's "always getting better" and then, relative to costs and their budgets (which often spend way more in marketing and administration than actual product)...
You can easily connect with students on the battle ground of their debt going directly from their future selves, to a corporation that provides an unchanging product who then holds rock concerns (legit) in order to attract other people to join in and pay in the same manner.
It's learn about a space, learn how to fix that space, gain a skill, hopefully gain some insight into the industry and how to talk to a potential employer in the process. It's a new form of activist laden technology learning.
We're not just learning Git... we're improving documentation in a project that will help lower the costs of education for future generations. We're not just looking at terminal windows, we're learning how no one should ever allow this to hold you back from running a handful of commands in order to let your company, department, self move forward.
We're going to setup a server... and run HAXcms on it... and we're going to play with Docker and StackBlitz and CodePen and GitHub and all these different things that are sadly, unique experiences in most of edu.
Paul Hibbits / Michael Collins both use markdown to let students fork and modify their content to enhance it. That's a cool idea (it doesn't happen much..). I've taken that and weaponized it. I've left intentional mistakes in my course (that I could easily fix in like 2 seconds, not world bricking errors) and then as an example exercise, we're going to learn more about version control and git and markdown by actually doing pull requests against the course.
It's one thing to allow it, it's another to require it. No, not all of those will be accepted, but we have to go through the motions in the UI.. to then step back to that scary terminal window and do it in the background.
These ideas... and descriptions and examples.. are just a few of what spilled out last night. I didn't plan any of what I'd say, it's what keeps it interesting for me and I think it makes it more genuine. I don't just read slides too much (other than when I need to for specific details I am required to give) and instead plan a lot, then just free form.
A few more powerful examples from my first class (as I recall them, again, I free form).
Not because of the standard itself, but because of the social implication for businesses. Already organizations are going from a React Native, Angular, Web, iOS, Windows, Chrome structure where all of those are different teams... into a Web as platform structure where all browsers understand 1 standard, all phones (look up Ionic) and all desktops/laptops (look up Electron) are uniformly worked on via Web code.
Web components are then written accurately once, will plug into all of the above in a uniform way. One way of writing abstract building blocks that can plug into any new and next framework or platform that comes along.
This will suppress market growth in coding and then the things surrounding coding. When it only takes 10 engineers to do what it used to take 100, those jobs don't come back.
When everyone routinizes design (phones are effectively the same as they were 10 years ago, websites too) and there's less work for same output people will flock to whatever happens most rapidly and at higher scale.
Web components thrown on a CDN that say.... connect securely to YouTube, now eliminate that form of integration into any platform as far as being a thing people have to work on. There will begin to be less variety in the space as it already has begun to form a monoculture that lacks any new, real world changing idea. All ideas require silicon valley to exist, and as that stagnates, it will stagnate the rest of the globe.
If... we don't empower ourselves and our businesses to realize that we don't need them to be successful. Servers? Sure, we need those, but increasingly there will be less and less people in this space as a result of the idea consolidation unless we do something.
Unless we create more vibrancy in our online spaces, edu and otherwise, and do it in responsible ways that reduce reliance on platforms, hiding behind the magic of terminal windows.
This is what I hope we can work toward avoiding, in whatever small ways we can. Playing my role as a spec of dust along so many others, in a bin that we all just want to make sure is accessible to the maximal number of people.
Welcome to class.