Education Evolutions #73

The future of books flickr photo by Johan Larsson shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Select Readings and Thoughts on Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age

Well, this may be a day late but hopefully, it finds everyone well and not too disappointed. The grind of reviewing considerably more student work this year than I have been doing the last few left me with a little less time than I expected this weekend.

This week’s “If you read only one article…” is probably the last one. The whole student stress issue can inspire a lot of groans amongst teachers. Yet, this short piece presents a pretty balanced look at the issues involving stress and teens. Best of all it doesn’t exactly take a real position on how to address it as much as it provides some context.

Welcome to October and the autumnal season.

Here are three+ curated articles about education, technology, and evolutions in teaching.

How Google Co-opts Our Schools to Collect Kids’ Data – The National Review –  Michelle Malkin (8-minute read)

While this is certainly not the first article I have included here that is critical of Google, this one comes from a very conservative source. Michelle Malkin has a television show on Conservative Review Television (CRTV), which I admit I have never watched. However, what is fascinating is how conservatives are taking aim at technology companies, especially considering how much money is spent lobbying corporate-friendly conservative candidates.

While this may not be the most informative or even impartial reporting, by any stretch, it is not without some salient points. There has been very little consent or disclosure regarding Google’s massive edtech initiatives. I too once embraced the idea of Google tools in the classroom and certainly continue to use them extensively. However, Google has long since lost its cool for me and my suspicion has only grown in recent years.

I would argue that the very nature of software licensing is at the core of the problem, not to mention our woefully inadequate privacy policies in the United States. In nearly every software agreement is some clause that explains the company can alter the terms of the agreement at any time, often without notification. If that is the case what’s the point of having an agreement at all?

Google admits it lets hundreds of other companies access your Gmail inbox – The Telegraph –  Laurence Dodds and Margi Murphy (5-minute read)

Sometimes it seems like when it comes to Google the hits just keep coming. Amazingly, I spotted this article not long after the above one came across my radar. The widening web of third-party apps that can access your data has ballooned in recent years, especially with the proliferation of the Google Suite. It is so easy to add an additional app to your Gmail, Drive, etc. Plus, I question the Deloitte study that found 91% do not read the user agreement. That number seems too low.

The third-party and beyond companies can be a problem even with education accounts since the user is the one that opts to allow the sharing when confirming the Add-on. Some schools have stepped up the limitations on Add-ons if they allow them at all. Using the included link from this article is a good way to start surveying exactly what apps are accessing which Google services. Still, the notion that any of this is entirely transparent is a bit of a push. Even this article explains that Google is not exactly forthcoming when questioned by Congress or the media.

How to Help Teenagers Embrace Stress – The New York Times –  Lisa Damour (8-minute read)

Every fall when school begins there seems to a requisite spate of stress articles. This one certainly falls in that genre but it does have a slightly different take from the calls for stress reduction in teens. At least this one highlights the fact that not all stress is bad and that it is even essential to the learning process. Even more interesting is the notion that it is not the stress of a particular school situation as much as it is the recovery period that can make things more or less manageable.

I have often thought that schools do not approach this topic in the best or most productive way. A lot of learning requires discomfort and an increase in stress, as this article suggests. I think too often, once schools decide to address challenges associated with stress, they run with the more pathological perspective. Instead, I believe a much more productive approach would be explaining the privilege of pressure. Students that opt for particularly intense academic loads benefit from great privilege. It is an option they are given because of their ability and desire, and that fact should always be made clear. It is not a requirement. That strikes me as a much more stress-enhancing point of view.

Yet, I think what is seriously missing is just how many outside activities parents and students schedule beyond the school day. Of course, students should have a life outside the classroom and there probably needs to be considerably less homework but overscheduling does not exactly encourage recovery either.

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