The First World Wide Web Server

first www server

Yep, that’s it. The very first world wide web server, used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee in 1991.

Notice the large “DO NOT POWER DOWN!” sticker on the bottom of the machine. Thankfully, no one has touched that power button.

Yet.

Thanks to ArsTechnica for this little tidbit.


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Reading Something Wonderful – I Think

a man reading book while sitting on a bed
Photo by Dayan Rodio on Pexels.com

The Internet is home to so much of the world’s written text that it’s difficult to figure out some of the “best” articles.

Of course, “best” is 100% subjective, and your favorite text is likely not mine. However, some works are interesting enough that many have shared them repeatedly.

I’m not speaking of the time-tested classics of literature that you can find for free in ebook or PDF form but of articles that have been produced primarily during the Information Age.

Now, Ben Springwater has built a site that hopes to feature many of these articles in one place.

Or, maybe it’s just a cool way to promote the Matter app, designed for reading web-based content at your leisure. (Personally, I use Readwise for this same function.)

Either way, the site is worth checking out.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

More Thoughts on ChatGPT and AI in Education

From Tyler Cowen:

No, it is not converging upon human-like intelligence or for that matter AGI.  Still, the broader lesson is you can build a very practical kind of intelligence with fairly simple statistical models and lots of training data.  And there is more to come from this direction very soon.

Tyler Cowen

Also, my friend Micah Shippee, Ph.D., posted a conversation he had with ChatGPT (yes, I’m just calling it what it is, a conversation) on LinkedIn with interesting questions:

The question remains is this original thought? The probing questions are mine, the responses are from the AI… Did I create something new by asking unique questions?

– Micah Shippee, Ph. D.

There will be more discussions about AI and tools like ChatGPT and how they affect education.

The most important thing we can do as educators is not to ignore these tools. They’re not going away. Students will find ways to use them. Educators should find ways to use them. But if we choose to ignore them and move on as if they will not affect what we do in schools worldwide, we’re failing our students.

Don’t get caught in the aftermath of significant change. We do too much of that in education already.

Recommended Books on AI

Genius Makers: The Mavericks Who Brought AI to Google, Facebook, and the World
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Metz, Cade (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 382 Pages – 03/16/2021 (Publication Date) – Dutton (Publisher)
Sale
Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control
  • Russell, Stuart (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 352 Pages – 11/17/2020 (Publication Date) – Penguin Books (Publisher)
Sale
Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
  • Tegmark, Max (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 384 Pages – 07/31/2018 (Publication Date) – Vintage (Publisher)
Sale
MACHINES LOVING GRACE
  • Markoff, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages – 07/21/2016 (Publication Date) – EccoPress (Publisher)
The Political Philosophy of AI: An Introduction
  • Coeckelbergh, Mark (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages – 04/11/2022 (Publication Date) – Polity (Publisher)

Asking the Right Questions about Educational Technology

What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the question. — Jonas Salk

When we make decisions about the technology we use in our classrooms, we very often ask the wrong questions.

We think about how we can use the latest, greatest, coolest tools and gadgets available to get students in a desperate attempt to engage them in learning while ignoring what we should be focused on in education.

I was the world’s worst offender of chasing the cool factor. Whatever came down the edtech release line, I was there for it. I would watch the Twitter stream during the yearly ISTE conference waiting for new announcements from old favorite companies or to see what the hot, new tool would be this year.

This was a time when every educational technology conference was filled with “60 apps in 60 minutes” sessions that were not unlike the opening of floodgates upon unsuspecting teachers as a skilled pitch person wowed them (most often a classroom teacher themselves) dazzling them with what you could do with kids with this new fandangled whizbangadoodle.

What a time to be alive. And what a sad time to look back upon.

The problem was that there was so much new technology appearing from seemingly nowhere and being adopted by teachers far and wide that we weren’t really sure what to do with all of it.

And no one was asking any questions. If they were, they were shouted down by the cheers of the edtech Illuminati.

If one doesn’t watch the introduction of new technologies and particularly watch the infrastructures that emerge, promises of liberation through technology can become a ticket to enslavement. 

— Ursula Franklin
Photo by Daniel Josef on Unsplash

The failure to seriously consider how new technologies might be weaponized reveals a stunning degree of either naivete, hubris, or recklessness.

— LM Sacasas (@LMSacasas) June 1, 2021

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s be clear: I don’t think that educational technology is being weaponized. But I think that we have serious questions to consider before we implement new tools.

The technology we use with our students isn’t just about the tech. It’s about the environment that is created by using technology. Technology usage changes the world around it for either good or not-so-good.

But once a given technology is widely accepted and standardized, the relationship between the products of the technology and the users changes. Users have less scope, they matter less, and their needs are no longer the main concern of the designers. 

— Ursula Franklin

As the number of devices in our schools continues to increase and our reliance on technology to complete even the most mundane tasks in schools increases, we should ask better questions about the technology we use and how we use it.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Yes, our questions about technology usage need to be about how these tools are used to support student learning outcomes. We need to know what students will create with the tools we provide them.

We need to ask about issues of access and equity. Not just access to devices and programs but to qualified teachers with the training and support to appropriately leverage any technologies.

Technology distributed and used equitably enables opportunity and voice, dismantles barriers around learner exceptionalities, democratizes access to information, and disrupts racial and economic privilege hierarchies. 

— Ken Shelton

We must ask questions about how we use devices in our classrooms and shift the focus from low-level digitization of paper activities and ineffective repetition of skills practices for intervention to deeper learning activities that provide personalization and student-centered learning.

But we should also ask questions about how our technology usage affects us as humans.

LM Sacasas has compiled 41 questions concerning technology that would be excellent conversation starters among teachers, administrators, and students.

Here are the first five of those questions:

  1. What sort of person will the use of this technology make of me?
  2. What habits will the use of this technology instill?
  3. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of time?
  4. How will the use of this technology affect my experience of place?
  5. How will the use of this technology affect how I relate to other people?

I don’t write this article to overly criticize my fellow educational technologists. Several great things are happening in our schools that are directly related to the recent influx of technology and the support that continues to be offered by experts in the field.

We’re doing good work. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do better work or that there are things we haven’t thought about in our race to improve.

It’s sometimes important to take a breath, get perspective, and ensure we’re on the right path.

The decisions we make with students make impacts that we may never see in our time on this planet.

Let’s be sure we’re asking the right questions.

Will Students Use AI to Write Papers?

Since the dawn of time, students have been looking for ways to get out of writing papers. How do I know this? Because I was a student who tried to get out of writing papers.

I was terrible at it since I’d mostly just end up not writing the paper (Have I told you how horrible I was as a student in middle school & high school? Or maybe I wasn’t horrible, I just didn’t want to do things that were busy work and it all seemed like busy work…) and placing all my hopes for decent grades on awesome test-taking abilities.

Regardless of the wonderful technologies our students can use today, at some point, they are going to write a paper. Until we convince every teacher in the world that there are other ways to demonstrate learning mastery, there’s a paper in every student’s future. And there are times when a paper is the best form of assessment or communication.

With advances in artificial intelligence, we may need to rethink writing assignments for students.

Rethinking Writing with AI in Mind

As we think about creating deeper learning experiences for students and moving past work that doesn’t have applications outside the classroom and only asks for evidence of low-level learning, we educators need to know what’s possible with AI writing programs.

If you’re asking students to give an answer that looks something like a “listicle” you might find on a website, an AI writer can craft an incredibly decent response.

Without AI, innovate_rye says the homework they consider “busywork” would take them two hours. Now homework assignments like this take them 20 minutes.

from Vice

And some budding entrepreneurs learn quickly that if they know how to use AI writing software, they can make a quick buck from classmates.

I quickly searched for “ai writing apps” and retrieved around 82 million matches. The first page of the search results is littered with articles like “21 Best AI Writing Software Tools of October 2022 (Top 3 Picks)” and “21 Best AI Writing Tools of 2022,” amongst many others.

My point is this: students will find a way to game the system. They will put more effort into getting out of work than they will in doing the work if the work they are asked to do seems pointless.

white robot
Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Can we honestly say we don’t want to do the same? If we could have an AI attend the average staff meeting in our stead, wouldn’t we?

You could even use AI to write up some helpful tips for other teachers if you want to. The quality of the work may not be what you’re looking for, but is that wrong?

Technology is a tool that we can leverage to complete mundane tasks. The part of that statement that is difficult to define is the mundane part. Who decides what tasks are mundane and which ones aren’t?

A Plea for More Authentic Tasks

I’m not saying that papers can’t be authentic; I’m saying that we have to think carefully about what we ask students to write about. As with all the work we ask of students, a move toward more authentic, student-centered learning is essential in our modern world.

Planning frameworks like the 4 Shifts protocol can help us think about the tasks we ask of students and how we can modify those tasks for more authentic work.

And maybe worry a little less about software writing student responses.

BONUS: I had this newsletter ready to launch when I saw an AI-generated podcast between Joe Rogan and Steve Jobs. Disturbing? Yes. We need to know what’s out there and what it can do. The future is now.


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Link Roundup Friday for 9-30-2022

  1. Take a peek at this animated map showing the spread of writing worldwide over time. It’s an interesting perspective on something we all take for granted.
  2. I’m really enjoying Ryan Holiday’s latest installment in his Stoic Virtues series: Discipline is Destiny. As I continue my own journey to better health, fitness, and completing a doctoral degree, I’m finding several great stories in the pages.
  3. RIP Coolio.
  4. NASA blasting an asteroid off its path is just about the coolest thing ever. Google it for more info and a fun treat.
  5. An ode to the idea of an infinite canvas and tools that support that idea.
  6. I’m now actively trying to find a usage for a colash or a semi-colash.
  7. Metaphors of Ed Tech

Making Bach Accessible to Everyone Online

I know not everyone is a fan of classical music. I get it. But you don’t have to be a fan to recognize the impact that music written hundreds of years ago still has on musicians today.

Composers and songwriters still take inspiration from the melodies created by Bach, Beethoven, Rachmaninov, and many more.

Think of the possibilities with your students if you had one place to access all the available performances of someone like Bach.

Now you do. Enter the “All of Bach” project.

Since the start of this unique project, more than 350 of the total of 1080 works by Johann Sebastian Bach have been performed and recorded in special ways. They include some remarkable highlights, such as the St Matthew Passion in the Grote Kerk, in Naarden, the Six Cello Suites at beautiful Amsterdam locations like the Concertgebouw and the Rijksmuseum, and Brandenburg Concerto no. 4 in Felix Meritis, in Amsterdam.

Informative texts, interesting facts and interviews with the performers provide a wealth of background information. All the works are performed by the Netherlands Bach Society and many guest musicians, and you can watch and listen to recordings of the complete works. In personal interviews, the musicians themselves talk about what touches them in the music or why they enjoy playing it so much. In order to keep close to Bach, the recordings are made at suitable venues, but we also look for unusual recording locations. Cantatas are filmed in a church, for instance, and chamber music at the musicians’ homes or at special locations in the Netherlands.

https://www.bachvereniging.nl/en/about-allofbach

Of course, these works are available for performance by anyone since they are part of the public domain, allowing new generations to experience the work of a master and be inspired to create their own masterpieces.

New Google Glasses Provide Subtitles for the Real World

Source

In one demo, a Google product manager tells someone wearing the glasses, “You should be seeing what I’m saying, just transcribed for you in real time — kind of like subtitles for the world.” Later, the video shows what you might see if you’re wearing the glasses: with the speaker in front of you, the translated language appears in real time in your line of sight.

I’m sure we all remember Google’s first foray into connected eyewear with a little fondness. They were ugly and didn’t work very well.

But we thought they were cool.

However, if this new model ever becomes a real product, how helpful could it be if you got real-time translation while someone was speaking with you in another language?

Or if you had hearing issues, you’d have subtitles to help.

The real question will be what Google does with the data they gather from all the eyeballs.

Oh, and then there’s the whole “why is that creeper continuing to stare at me with those weird glasses” issue that I’m sure will come up in a courtroom somewhere.

More from The Verge

On Dealing with Fake News in Education

fake news
Photo by Nijwam Swargiary on Unsplash

Fake news. Disinformation. Misinformation. We see it all and so do our students.

We can choose to ignore it or we, as educators, can help students see what is real, what is fake, and what is somewhere in-between.

Kimberly Rues writes as she tries to get a better understanding of fake news herself:

Eating the proverbial elephant one bite at a time seems like a great place to begin, but which bite to take first? I would propose that we might begin by steeping ourselves in definitions that allow us to speak with clarity in regards to the types of misleading information. Developing a common vocabulary, if you will.

In my quest to deeply understand the elephant on the menu, I dug into this infographic from the European Association for Viewers Interests which took me on a tour of ten types of misleading news—propaganda, clickbait, sponsored content, satire and hoax, error, partisan, conspiracy theory, pseudoscience, misinformation and bogus information. Of course, I recognized those terms, but it allowed me to more clearly articulate the similarities and differences in text and images that fit these descriptions.

My first instinct is to keep bringing us all back to the subject of digital citizenship (which is just good citizenship in a digital world) but I know I’m still a small voice in a big world.

Also: here’s one of my favorite tools to help recognize media bias.