Learning, Digital & Education from Oliver Quinlan.
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This week: Bjork's collaborations, free speech and Hello World

I was at the BETT education technology show for some of this week, and it was nice to bump into a few subscribers there. The newsletter is a funny format compared to a blog or social media, it seems a bit more of a broadcast, but then when I bump into people who read it they often have lots to say about it. I wonder what the trend towards newsletters says about the different ways we like to consume and produce information. Whatever it does, I appreciate you taking the time to read my thoughts each week, and let me know what's working.

Bjork on creativity as an ongoing experiment

This is a fascinating interview with Bjork on her creativity and work, but the part that stuck out most to me was on collaboration.

"I think the best connections or collaborations are when you don’t assume anything and there’s no projection and there’s no pressure and people are not forced up against the wall and like, “This is what we’re doing.” The few moments where we’ve found each other in that sort of situation, something was not right. I think where collaboration works best is when you drop all that and you just really start from scratch and you really try to make something that’s different than what you’ve done before, and you try to find a coordinate, which you wouldn’t have found on your own or with somebody different. That’s when it’s fertile."

This definitely resonates with me in terms of collaboration I've been involved with in music and creative pursuits. I wonder how transferable that is to other domains. I've been reading a lot recently about transferability of skills between domains, much of it concluding that it doesn't really happen and skills are domain specific. I wonder how much that's true of these kinds of skills to. The constraints of many collaborations are much tighter than those in artistic endeavours such as those Bjork is likely involved with, but could this kind of looseness and holding ideas lightly be useful for collaboration more broadly?

It's the (democracy poisoning) golden age of free speech

There seems to be a raft of these kind of articles at the moment, from social media creators not 'getting high on their own supply' to a survey that only one in four Britons trusts news on social media. This one goes into some detail about how campaigns of misinformation are the new censorship.

"The most effective forms of censorship today involve meddling with trust and attention, not muzzling speech itself. As a result, they don’t look much like the old forms of censorship at all. They look like viral or coordinated harassment campaigns, which harness the dynamics of viral outrage to impose an unbearable and disproportionate cost on the act of speaking out. They look like epidemics of disinformation, meant to undercut the credibility of valid information sources. They look like bot-fueled campaigns of trolling and distraction, or piecemeal leaks of hacked materials, meant to swamp the attention of traditional media."

There was a time a few years ago when 'web 2.0' and social media looked like they were ushering in some new era of egalitarian utopia of communications. Things looks very different today, but I wonder how much of it can be overcome by discussing these kinds of ideas? On the one hand that seems healthy, on the other it's articles like these that could directly lead to the stats on how much people mis trust online information, and turn their attention away from it as a result. 

Hello World on computing education and professional development

This time last year the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Computing At School launched Hello World - a free magazine for teachers. It's gone from strength to strength with thousands of subscribers and we just released issue 4. I wrote articles on the Royal Society report into computing education, what the research says about what makes good professional development, and what we've learned from our comprehensive teacher surveys. The whole thing is free (in hard copy for UK educators, online for everyone else), so take a look.
... and finally...
Thanks for reading.
Until next week,


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