🌎 Online: Bringing Safety to the Serendipity

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Home » 🌳 Space 🚀: The place where we belong does not exist. We will build it. » 🌎 Online: Bringing Safety to the Serendipity

How do we help our students navigate the world of public, digital scholarship in a world increasingly dominated by harassment, abuse, disinformation, and polarization?

That’s the piece that’s been missing, bringing the safety to the serendipity.

Closing Tabs, Episode 3: Teaching with(out) Social Media – UMW Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies

Online, we bring safety to the serendipity with our distributed community and communication stack. Chance favors the connected mind. Our learners connect using 1:1 laptops and indie ed-tech. We give our learners real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill those laptops with assistive tech and tools of the trades.

Now we have the opportunity and understanding to move from emergency pandemic remote school and its pantomime of learning to purposefully designed online education spaces that are accessible, sustainable, and representative of the communities they serve.

Conference to Restore Humanity: The Need
Playing pieces arranged on a network of lines

Created Serendipity

Chance Favors the Connected Mind

wooden letter tiles spelling out the word BLOG

Writing Online

A Social Equalizer and a Path to Community and Power

Computer screen showing HTML code

Indie Ed-Tech

Rewire and Reshape the World

Hands and arms of various skin tones overlapping in a circle

Teams, Technology, and Help

Mitigate our weaknesses and build on our strengths with teams, technology, and help

No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.

The Basics of Open Technology

🕸 Created Serendipity: Chance Favors the Connected Mind

Playing pieces arranged on a network of lines

Chance favors the connected mind. Opportunities for serendipity increase with bigger, more diverse networks. Build personal learning networks. Expose yourself to new perspectives. Listen in solidarityBe in the space. When we seek perspectives different than our own,  share hunches, and connect ideas, we participate in created serendipity.

Created Serendipity: Chance Favors the Connected Mind

You, each of you, have some special wild cards. Play with them. Find out what makes you different and better. Because it is there, if only you can find it. And once you do, you’ll be able to contribute answers to others and others will be willing to contribute back to you. In short, synthetic serendipity doesn’t just happen. By golly, you must create it.

Synthetic Serendipity – IEEE Spectrum and Vinge, Vernor (2007-04-03). Rainbows End (p. 52). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

if we don’t support young people in building out a strategically rich graph, they will reinforce the worst segments of our society

🎧 “Seeing New Worlds” danah boyd (Team Human) | Read Write Collect

⌨️ Writing Online: A Social Equalizer and a Path to Community and Power

Written communication is the great social equalizer.

Screenshot of the element.io chat showing the Writing room at Stimpunks

Written communication is the great social equalizer.” Bring the backchannel forward. Embrace the equalizer. Backchannels accommodate neurological pluralism while fostering the serendipity of networks. Backchannels are vital parts of the internal networks that allow us to tap into not just “a diversity of voices, but a diversity and divergence of thinking and ideas.” Build such networks in your school with indie ed-tech. Look to distributed work for ways to integrate backchannels into education and workplace cultures.

Bring the backchannel forward. Written communication is the great social equalizer.

Writing is the path to power for those born without power.

Writing is too important because, though forms and structures will differ, writing is the path to power for those born without power. This importance lies not in how to write a “five‐paragraph essay” or a “compare and contrast” book review but in the capability to clearly communicate visions both personal and collaborative. Whether the work is a tweet that generates action when that is needed, or a text message to an employer, or the ability to convince others in the political realm, or the expression of one’s identity in a form that evokes empathy in those without similar experience, “communicating” “well” is a social leveler of supreme importance.

 Timeless Learning: How Imagination, Observation, and Zero-Based Thinking Change Schools.
black and red typewriter with "stories matter" typed on a sheet of paper in the typewriter

The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface

Text and reading have never been as pervasive and central as today. We live in a stream of digital revolutions pushing reading at the centre of our lives and activities. The result is the emergence of a new role for text as the all-purpose interface. This trend leads to a future made of text, where everything is mediated by text and in which everybody is directly and indirectly involved in the production and consumption of more text. The production of text is already collectively amplified, for instance, considering as texts receipts, reports, manuals, frequently asked questions, to-do lists, memos, contracts, chats, tags, notes, descriptions, emails, invitations, calendar appointments and so on. Therefore, the Future Of Text lies in the re-definition of text “craftsmanship”, focused on enabling and facilitating a text-mediated access and interaction with the relationships, functions and actors of the reality we live in.

The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface, The Future of Text
Screenshot of the Ulysses text editor showing this page being edited

Text Augments All Other Media

The Future Is Text: The Universal Interface, The Future of Text

Unfortunately this is a familiar experience for me and many other blind and partially sighted people. When using my phone I often get stared at, tutted at, and have even experienced several abusive comments about faking my blindness.

What they don’t realise is that I’m using several of the built in accessibility features to enlarge the text, zoom apps, and even have my phone read out information to me.

People think I’m faking my blindness because I use a phone – but it’s other people’s prejudice that’s the problem

A Workflow-Focused Approach to Writing Offers a Pathway to Agency, Creativity, and Confidence

two pens and a phone beside a macbook

Ultimately, we argue that a workflow-focused approach to writing offers a pathway to agency, creativity, and confidence with computing-a spirit that is very much in line with the lineage of digital and multimodal work in composition studies.

Writing Workflows | Introduction

I’m learning a lot about myself since my ADHD and autism diagnoses. One of the things I’m learning is that a lot of my ways of working are actually disability hacks: as it turns out a LOT of my people are very visual and a LOT of my people have poor working memory. Instead of trying to change myself to fit the ways of working I think I should have, because other people, I should maybe instead celebrate that I have, by trial and error and very little help or encouragement from anyone, kluged my way into some best practices for my particular career and set of challenges. I should congratulate myself on the self-knowledge that got me to a place that I’ve devised a whole workflow that minimizes the disabling effects of my particular forms of neurodivergence and allows me to shine. (para. 5)

Writing Workflows | Introduction
masking tape and medical tape stacked on a table
Person writing on notebook and looking at graphs

Morrison’s post suggests that workflows can be an inclusive and productive concept-that we have much to gain by considering how we work, what tools we work with, and how those preferences can help us think beyond a set of default, invisible, or unstated norms.

Writing Workflows | Introduction

Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.

Disabled ways of languaging are primarily about modality.

Crip Linguistics Intro

If you are a dyslexic person or the parent of a dyslexic child, I recommend that you allow technology to become your new best friend.

The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan

I am introducing these terms to address an underlying bias in our schools: that eye reading is the only form of reading. You can help move the needle on this limited assumption by using the terms eye reading, ear reading, and finger reading yourself and explaining them to your child.
…we must question what we are taught is the “normal” way to do things, and instead integrate multiple ways for our children to access information.

The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan: A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning

Writing Online and Community

Writing Online and Community

The rare studies on Internet use by adults with ID show that information and communication technology is important to them, to forge their identity and find a place in which they belong to a social network. Adults who were interviewed, in the few studies published, like social networking sites (SNS) particularly for keeping contact with parents and friends, making new friends, and giving and receiving support (Holmes & O’Loughlin, 2012; Löfgren-Mårtenson, 2008; Molin, Sorbring, & Löfgren-Mårtenson, 2015; Shpigelman & Gill, 2014).

The majority of participants from Shpigelman and Gill’s (2014) study also reported finding it easier to make new friends by Internet and being more comfortable communicating online than face to face. Furthermore, adults with ID say that the Internet provides them with a (cyber)space where they can escape their parents’ or caseworkers’ control and be more self-determined.

On the Web, they are freer to “go” where they want and make friends with whom they want, unseen by their guardians and caregivers (Löfgren-Mårtenson, 2008). They can describe their activities and express their feelings in blogs or other social media (McClimens & Gordon, 2009; Shpigelman & Gill, 2014).

Community concept illustration of young people using mobile gadgets such as smarthone, tablet and laptop to be a part of internet community. Flat design of guys and young women on letters with symbols
Community concept illustration of young people using mobile gadgets such as smarthone, tablet and laptop to be a part of internet community. Flat design of guys and young women on letters with symbols

Internet access has opened a wide window of opportunity for people with ID and ASD, but more education and support is needed to ensure safe and positive Internet use by this population.

From solitude to solicitation: How people with intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder use the internet | Sallafranque-St-Louis | Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace

ocean tidepool

ANI launched its online list, ANI-L, in 1994. Like a specialized ecological niche, ANI-L had acted as an incubator for Autistic culture, accelerating its evolution. In 1996, a computer programmer in the Netherlands named Martijn Dekker set up a list called Independent Living on the Autism Spectrum, or InLv. People with dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, and a myriad of other conditions (christened “cousins” in the early days of ANI) were also welcome to join the list. InLv was another nutrient-rich tide pool that accelerated the evolution of autistic culture. The collective ethos of InLv, said writer and list member Harvey Blume in the New York Times in 1997, was “neurological pluralism.” He was the first mainstream journalist to pick up on the significance of online communities for people with neurological differences. “The impact of the Internet on autistics,” Blume predicted, “may one day be compared in magnitude to the spread of sign language among the deaf.”

The neurodiversity movement: Autism is a minority group. NeuroTribes excerpt.

The revenge of the nerds was taking shape as a society in which anyone who had access to a computer and a modem could feel less disabled by the limitations of space and time.

NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity
stream of information

One day someone will write a history of the Internet, in which that great series of tubes will emerge as one long chain of inventions not just geared to helping people connect in more ways, but rather, to help more and more types of people communicate just as nimbly as anyone else. But for the story here, the most crucial piece in the puzzle is this: Disability is an engine of innovation simply because no matter what their limitations, humans have such a relentless drive to communicate that they’ll invent new ways to do so, in spite of everything.

Microsoft’s Radical Bet On A New Type Of Design Thinking: By studying underserved communities, the tech giant hopes to improve the user experience for everyone.
Human face painted to look like the earth

Until one day… you find a whole world of people who understand.

The internet has allowed autistic people- who might be shut in their homes, unable to speak aloud, or unable to travel independently- to mingle with each other, share experiences, and talk about our lives to people who feel the same way.

We were no longer alone.

 7 Cool Aspects of Autistic Culture » NeuroClastic

I know I’m not the only one. For many disabled people, social media gives them access to a social life and community involvement in an otherwise inaccessible world. Not only does social media give me the platform to correct assumptions, people don’t assume things about me in the first place, because it’s a level playing field. For example, when I Tweet, my addled movements are replaced by various emojis and reaction GIFs, which gives me a vaster palette to express myself.

I’m a Disabled Teenager, and Social Media Is My Lifeline – The New York Times

Typed Words, Loud Voices

Another way that typing has helped me is with my blog. I am able to say things, especially about my feelings that I cannot get out through my mouth. Sometimes, it can take weeks to get it out even by typing, but it does come. If I was trying to speak, it would never come out. I have noticed that when I am upset about something, if I blog about it as soon as possible, I am able to get my real feelings and frustrations out. This is a new and helpful thing. It is helping me to become a better advocate for others and myself. The words are starting to come out through the keyboard, but it has to be done as soon as possible, otherwise the words disappear. I also have to be careful because certain people may read what I write and get worried (this has happened even though there is no reason to be). I am tempted to start another blog but keep it anonymous so that I can say whatever I need to say. It would be interesting to see what would happen if I had that freedom. Something I have definitely never had with the spoken word.

Typed Words, Loud Voices is written by a coalition of writers who type to talk and believe it is neither logical nor fair that some people should be expected to prove themselves every time they have something to say. Read our arguments and hear us. Help us change the world.

I type to talk. Without typing I have no voice to tell you I am smart. I spell my thoughts because I cannot speak with my mouth. Thoughts remain imprisoned in my mind escaping only through my finger on a letterboard or keyboard. I tell of my experiences of being autistic in my writing and blog. Without typing I am misunderstood as retarded and unteachable. You cannot tell from my exterior that I am following everything you say. Understanding comes easy to me.

Some days I spend most my day typing. In the past, most days. I type to share who I am, to figure out how to interact with the world, to interact with my boyfriend, and to teach. I am verbal. I’m also someone who interacts better online. Most my communication has been through IM and IRC. I’ll sit down, cuddled up to my boyfriend and type to him. I’ll ask a channel how I should interact with a situation I’m in and learn how to deal with social situations like that. All of this is understandable to people. Me having gone for years unwilling to go anywhere without my laptop, and now using my smartphone more as a connection to the people elsewhere to type to than everything else combined, is just the same as everyone else just a bit more extreme. The fact that this is how I understand the world, how I figure out what I’m saying, and frequently me feeling like the only people who respect me, doesn’t change that it’s something they can understand.

Fingers are better communicators. They’re just harder to be listened to if you’re in the same location. Sometimes this isn’t used because speech is so much faster, but the fingers give so much more detail, phrase in so much more depth, get tied up so much less. Fingers don’t get lost in their own sentences.

Even those who can always make words with their mouths often find typing a more eloquent and less stressful means of communicating than speech. No one should feel that they have to prove they are “disabled enough” to deserve the supports that will make their lives easier, happier, and more productive. Increasing my ability to communicate with others has filled me with so much hope and joy. I want everyone to feel that way. I want everyone to be heard. Typed voices are a celebration of communication and connection. Listen to them and rejoice. The clicking of the keyboard is the song of life unfolding.

Typed Words, Loud Voices: A Collection – Autonomous Press
Close-up of a keyboard with the Russian alphabet for the blind. Braille.
Close-up of a keyboard with the Russian alphabet for the blind. Braille.

Let’s Augment Everybody, Let’s Leave No Mind Behind

Digital communication and collaboration technologies enable NeurodiVentures to act as a catalyst for trusted collaboration between groups.

Autistic people – The cultural immune system of human societies | Autistic Collaboration

Using hyperlinking and contextual computing, we take the written word (and the underlying paradigm about how we work on a computer) from one dimension and convert it to three dimensions.

It is the way for computers to truly serve the role as “bicycles for the mind“.

The Growing Movement for Hyperlinking and Contextual Computing

My hope for the Future Of Text is that, as in the past, it will adapt to us as we adapt to it. That it will bring the body—of writer and reader—back into view in all its difference and complexity.

Embodying Text, The Future of Text
pink bicycle leaning on a fence under a blossoming cherry tree

🔌 Indie Ed-tech: Rewire and Reshape the World

A Domain of Their Own: The Web We Need To Give Students

Computer screen showing HTML code

“Indie ed-tech” offers a model whereby students, faculty, staff, and independent scholars alike can use the “real-world” tools of the Web — not simply those built for and sanctioned by and then siloed off by schools or departments — through initiatives like Davidson Domains, enabling them to be part of online communities of scholars, artists, scientists, citizens.

‘I Love My Label’: Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech

Giving students their own digital domain is a radical act. It gives them the ability to work on the Web and with the Web, to have their scholarship be meaningful and accessible by others. It allows them to demonstrate their learning to others beyond the classroom walls. To own one’s domain gives students an understanding of how Web technologies work. It puts them in a much better position to control their work, their data, their identity online.

And then — contrary to what happens at most schools, where a student’s work exists only inside a learning management system and cannot be accessed once the semester is over — the domain and all its content are the student’s to take with them. It is, after all, their education, their intellectual development, their work.

The Web We Need To Give Students
wooden letter tiles spelling out the word BLOG
Ethernet cables plugged into a server rack

 Suppose that when students matriculate, they are assigned their own web servers…

As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name. Over the course of the first year, in a set of lab seminars facilitated by instructional technologists, librarians, and faculty advisors from across the curriculum, students would build out their digital presences in an environment made of the medium of the web itself. 

In building that personal cyberinfrastructure, students not only would acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives but also would engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic instruction, and social networking. Fascinating and important innovations would emerge as students are able to shape their own cognition, learning, expression, and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium. Students would frame, curate, share, and direct their own “engagement streams” throughout the learning environment. Like Doug Engelbart’s bootstrappers in the Augmentation Research Center, these students would study the design and function of their digital environments, share their findings, and develop the tools for even richer and more effective metacognition, all within a medium that provides the most flexible and extensible environment for creativity and expression that human beings have ever built.

A Personal Cyberinfrastructure | EDUCAUSE

Too often, education technologies are developed that position students as objects of education, a reflection no doubt of how traditional educational practices also view students. Education technologies do things to students, rather than foster student agency. If we are to challenge what “school” should look like, we must also challenge what “ed-tech” does as well. What sorts of technologies can and should we build to give students more control? What sorts of technologies can offer students the power to “own” their learning — their data, their content, their digital profiles, and their domain?

Claim Your Domain

No Student Will Have Mechanical Limitations in Access to Either Information or Communication

woman lying in bed typing on laptop

No student will have mechanical limitations in access to either information or communication — whether through disability, inability at this moment, or even just discomfort. Learning is our goal, and we make it accessible.

We hand our students real laptops with real capabilities, and we fill them with software, apps, and bookmarks.

We want our children to discover how to choose effectively for their own needs. To do that, they need choices, and so we believe in Toolbelt Theory.

The Basics of Open Technology
A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are in the computer lab using laptops. A little boy is watching a video and is listening to music.

laptops in the classroom represent the first real chance at Universal Design for Learning – the first real chance to allow every student to choose the media format most appropriate for their own needs – the first real chance for students who are different to be accommodated without labels

SpeEdChange: Humiliation and the Modern Professor

Punk DIY: Students should have the freedom to explore and experiment with their school-issued devices.

“Indie ed-tech” draws rather explicitly on the spirit of indie music and the DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos of punk rock.

‘I Love My Label’: Resisting the Pre-Packaged Sound in Ed-Tech
The Power of Open in Education

To best prepare students for the future, we must think deeply and openly about our vision for school technology today. I believe every student, in every school, deserves equal and open access to computers. Students should have the freedom to explore and experiment with their school-issued devices. In an open schoolhouse, every student is trusted with learning technology and empowered to rewire and reshape the world.

The Open Schoolhouse – Building a Technology Program to Transform Learning and Empower Students

👩‍💻 Teams, Technology, and Help

Successful human beings, whether they have learning differences or not, mitigate weakness through teams, technology, and help, and they build a life around strengths, gifts, talents, and interests.

What we know about successful human beings is they take an interest and they make it a passion and they take the passion and they make it a sense of purpose and they take the sense of purpose and they build a pathway.

Lab School Lecture Series

The most successful human beings aren’t good at everything, they’re good at one or two things and they scale those strengths. How do they mitigate those weaknesses? They mitigate those weaknesses the way we all do, with teams, technology, and support.

The Gift: LD/ADHD Reframed

There is also something uniquely satisfying about working with other people effectively, towards a shared goal; in my experience there is no substitute when it comes to building a community.

Craft, Flow and Cognitive Styles

⏭ Continue on Page 3

The story continues on page 3, “☀️💪 Offline: Fresh Air, Daylight, and Large Muscle Movement“.