To flog a dead horse
2020 December 7 Monday 21:54
Myspace, Bebo, LiveJournal. The internet is full of many examples that had their day in the spot-light, then disappeared. My rsc is one such example. It is an embarassment to a professional society. Technology is dated, privacy control is non-existent, essay-writing spam: the tumbleweed of inactivity is palpable. The designers could not even be capable of localisation (date format a simple example). For the umpteenth time, a rudimentary request to re-set password results in:
Your privileges on this site have been revoked. If you feel this change has been made in error please contact the site administrator.
Please, rsc cut your losses and get rid. There are credible alternatives, 'discourse' to suggest an open source option.
2020 December 8 Tuesday 13:13
UK government publishes code in 'R' used to estimate grades earlier this year. Only minor criticism that they chose to use Github. Now we have a good example of real world benefit to use open source software. Schools, take note!
End of a long term
2020 December 11 Friday 17:52
Not long to go until the winter (northern hemisphere of course) holidays. Unsurprisingly it has been a strange one. Some observations:
- Top attitude students have the resilience to deliver, regardless of external factors. What a coincidence that these types of students don't appear to suffer from any "strategic illnesses" (add the alleged covid-19 to this category) every time there's an exam, or difficult practical, to do;
- Corporate software has such a stranglehold on education, there is little space for true innovation. Teachers too ignorant to learn, it personnel too lazy to be self-sufficient, open source programmers too inept at strategic sales to make a real impact...
- Alternative options are very limited for non-academic 'P-16' students, beyond gce a(s) and pseudo-alternative that is the money-for-old-rope course(!), btec. What does a second year gce a hovering at 'U-grade' performance, this far into the course, go from here?
- With private-sector businesses experiencing excessive applications for nearly every job, the educationalists remain unable to develop anything as an alternative equally credible to the "exam" to help select suitable candidates for sustainable, mutually beneficial employment.
New to the open source game
Earlier social media post:
UK government publishes code in 'R' used to estimate grades earlier this year. Only minor criticism that they chose to use Github. Now we have a good example of real world benefit to use open source software. Schools, take note! https://www.gov.uk/government/news/code-used-to-calculate-qualification-grades-in-summer-2020Having looked at the contents of the archive file, really annoyed at the preponderance of whitespace characters in file names. Whilst glad the government people are using freedom software, a request: please do not bring bad micro$oft habits such as a these file names, references to "folders" and so on.
A review of the year
2020 December 19 Saturday 17:13
After a few too many years, finally finished reading a book recommended by a fellow teacher: Curious incident of ...(Mark Haddon); a nice happy ending, with (in the extant climate) an amusing reference to the impact of a virus pandemic. Yes, a review of "annus horribilis" would not be possible without inevitable reference to the so-called sars-cov-2 pandemic. X months later, the inequities (some insidious, in existent for a looong time) persist and there appears little appetite to eradicate. No point in promotion of "on-line" resources, if the infrastructure is not available (with inclusion of financial resources to access that on-line content). Is there light at the end of the tunnel? Maybe random university course allocation may be a start...
There is an extant consultation by uk government about provision of "support materials" to give students advance notice of topics to be in exams next year, due to the coronavirus disruption. Not convinced this is applicable, or desirable for the sciences subjects. Perhaps a prudent approach would be to reduce the content. Suppose the vast majority of gce a(s) chemistry topic sequences teach analytical techniques towards to end, could chromatography, spectroscopy be removed without negative impact on comprehension of the other chemistry topics? Problem of knowledge gap then gets "kicked down the road" towards university...Welcome to the four-year £10k per year BSc invoice (sorry, "degree certificate").
There is an additional consequence; further grade inflation, as indicated by the ill-fated decision last year to award grades without exams; see the latest report published by ofqual. This has already been observed: gcse students with inflated grades, who then go on to struggle with gce a(s) subjects. What educationalists fail to realise, or accept, or acknowledge, is that ultimately there will be generations of people that are unattractive to (tax revenue) private sector businesses/investors in the future.
Plans are nothing. Planning is everything
2020 December 23 Wednesday 17:46
So said an amerikkkan president. With a bit of minor distraction (justified: on holiday!) during the day, satisfied to have sensible tentative plans ready for the first day of winter term next month. Can relax some more now, knowing the Sunday evening tension should be less; but who knows what 2021 will bring?
An idea for utilisation of extant infrastructure to maximise social distance between school children. Identify suitable vacant office, retail shops, etc. for supply teachers (probably on furlough now?) to provide capacity to teach and also permit examinations to occur, whilst sars-cov-2 remains disruptive. Of course, devil's in the detail, but such resources should be deployed to minimise the inequity gap; social skills development, mental health, computer and/or internet access, even food supply (unicef active in UK???!!!). Remember where you read it first! :)
Webmention: hiatus from twitter
Reply to: Suzanne Fergus
Fortunately, there are alternatives to twitter. Within the "fediverse" there are all sorts of specialist social media communities slowly, quietly growing: https://scholar.social; https://fediscience.org; https://mentalhealth.social. Hope to see you join! :)
Webmention: follow the leader
Reply to: Shuaib writes Khan thinks
It is easy to sit in opposition, but the fact is the extant government have a clear mandate to do almost as they wish. "Shines a light" is probably the most illuminating (pun intended) aspects of the so-called sars-cov-2 pandemic. One statement caught attention: "equitable alternatives to exams". It seems that the educationalists have had decades to find alternatives, without credible success. Last year's centre assessed grade inflation is uncomfortable truth about the education sector. Who would benefit from inevitable 100 % successful "outcomes" if teachers had their way?
De-colonisation and a global world
2020 December 28 Monday 17:43
Some years ago in a previous life before school teaching, encountered a book 'Science and empire' (Ed. Bennett and Hodge). At the time, thought it interesting to know, would like to read at some point in the future, etc., anyway beyond this bit of serendipity, what was I looking for again? Fast forward a few years, hashtag "something/body must fall", hashtag "I can't breathe" etc., to de-colonisation of the curriculum. Admittedly, the initial thought of this de-colonisation agenda was not relevant to the sciences, but more the "humanities" (e.g. his-tory). However re-call of the aforementioned book encounter forces a self-correction. There is an debate of interest about this, via a 'bameed network' discussion video. Thirty minutes duration and the mention of definition makes an inevitable entrance, bame, poc, blah blah blah. According to who? Anyway, this discussion has prompted to return to the aforementioned book; no promises to complete though! Whilst de-colonisation is a useful to learn for self-development, what about student relevance? Are examination boards about to devise a de-colonial assessment framework? Time will tell...
uk government has just published a press release about the imminent Turing student exchange scheme, to replace the European 'Erasmus' programme of which, similar to the wider migration of Europeans, was always imbalanced in terms of net flow towards uk (which of course was the reason for brexit ultimately to take effect in the next few days). Perhaps in this context of Britons (both "native" and "recent immigrant") adopting a less eurocentric, more global perspective can be a useful combination of de-colonialisation and said Turing programme.