Tag: coronavirus

Connect The Outside With The Inside


Happy weekend all. It’s good to see your faces.

This week I posted the following:

  • Shine – A look back at the last year of my life.
  • The Harm in Do No Harm – There’s a difference between do no harm and immersion, investing, and accompaniment.
  • Intersectionality in Ed Tech – An intersectional framework acknowledges that there are social systems in place that create barriers and challenges for some individuals, while simultaneously providing privilege and power for others.
  • Computational Thinking for the Educator and Researcher – This week I presented a session on computational thinking as a problem-solving practice that allows educators and learners to interact meaningfully with both content and CT practices and skills.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


The NOISE of School


Many of us were told that a quiet classroom is a good classroom. Then we had a pandemic, and now so many of us miss the noise.

I can’t believe I have not come across Trevor Muir until now. Thanks to Verena Roberts for sharing. 🙂

The story and discussion guides are here.


The world had a chance to avoid the pandemic—but blew it, finds report

This week, in a surprise announcement, the CDC updated their guidance to indicate that anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities — large or small — without wearing a mask or physical distancing.

As we seem to be turning a corner on this pandemic, I’m hoping that we’ve used this as an opportunity to learn some lessons.

A new report from the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response lambasts global leaders who failed to heed repeated warnings, wasted time, hoarded information and desperately needed supplies, and failed to take the crisis seriously.

While some countries took aggressive steps to curb the spread of the virus, “many countries, including some of the wealthiest, devalued the emerging science, denied the disease’s severity, delayed responding, and ended up sowing distrust among citizens with literally deadly consequences,” said Helen Clark, cochair of the panel.

Social isolation during COVID‐19 lockdown impairs cognitive function

Research from Joanne Ingram, Christopher J. Hand, and Greg Maciejewski examining the effect of social isolation on cognitive function.

Results suggest social isolation is linked to cognitive decline in the absence of ageing covariates. The impact of social isolation on cognitive function should be considered when implementing prolonged pandemic‐related restrictive conditions.

More on this story here.

Remote work made digital nomads possible. The pandemic made them essential

Special visas. Free Vaccines. Tax breaks.

The pandemic was an existential crisis. For the first time, the community built around having no fixed address was forced to shelter in place.

Countries around the world are courting a new class of human capital that wants to mix travel and work forever.

It’s True. Everyone Is Multitasking in Video Meetings

Microsoft study finds just how often remote workers multitask during videoconferences—especially when the group is large and the meeting runs long.

The study shows that multitasking during virtual meetings is a coping mechanism to protect people’s mental well-being from … too many virtual meetings.

How the Pentagon Started Taking U.F.O.s Seriously

For decades, flying saucers were a punch line. Then the U.S. government got over the taboo.

In a memorandum issued this week to top department leaders, Assistant Inspector General for Evaluations on Space, Intelligence, Engineering and Oversight Randolph Stone confirmed a new probe and its primary objective: “to determine the extent to which the DOD has taken actions regarding Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP).”

The Pentagon’s watchdog is formally evaluating moves the Defense Department has made in connection to sightings of the unexplainable in military airspace. Next month, a government report is expected to be made public on sightings of unidentified aerial phenomena.


How the Ancient Concept of “Shakkei” Can Enhance the Beauty of Your Home

The ancient East Asian concept of shakkei, which translates to “borrowed landscape” or “borrowed scenery,” can help facilitate a greater connection between your home and the surrounding views.

While shakkei refers to the traditional technique of incorporating an outside view into a garden design, the concept also offers inspiration for connecting built forms with nature in a profound manner.

Applying shakkei successfully involves more than simply framing a view. It requires a careful analysis of the landscape and surrounding elements to create a composition with depth, scale, and texture that integrates the “borrowed scenery” in a poetic way.


Hard times are gettin’ harder, the liars are acting strong

You better get a grip on yourself or you won’t be around too long.

Rollins Band

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I knew that I shared a birthday with George Lucas. This week I learned that I also share one with Mark Zuckerberg. Ugghhh…

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

We Lost Control of Our Faces


Welcome back all.

This week I posted the following:

  • Where I’m From – Learning Event #3 – Consider your own culture & where you’ve been. How are these people, values, practices, & places a part of you?
  • Narrative for Tenure & Promotion – Sharing the Narrative for my Tenure and Promotion materials in an attempt to promote open scholarship.
  • Leadership Roles, Skills, and You – I have been spending some time researching leadership to better understand the qualities and interactions that go into creating a worthwhile leader.
  • Remembering in Digital Contexts – The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living. – Marcus Tullius Cicero

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Love Your Servitude – Aldous Huxley & George Orwell (17:34)

Aldous Huxley foresaw a Central State that persuaded its people to “love their servitude” via propaganda, drugs, entertainment and information-overload. In his view, the energy required to force compliance exceeded the “cost” of persuasion, and thus the Powers That Be would opt for the power of suggestion.

As prescient as he was, Huxley could not have foreseen the power of electronic media hypnosis as a conditioning mechanism for passivity and self-absorption. We are only beginning to understand the immense conditioning powers of 24/7 social and news media.


They Stormed the Capitol. Their Apps Tracked Them.

Times Researchers Charlie Warzel and Stuart A. Thompson were able to identify individuals from a trove of leaked smartphone location data.

Key to bringing the mob to justice has been the event’s digital detritus: location data, geotagged photos, facial recognition, surveillance cameras and crowdsourcing.

If you think that even your political adversaries deserve data protection rights then you understand why it’s a fundamental civil rights issue. – @profcarroll

This is the second time these reporters have received this kind of information. Both times, they have demonstrated that it is far from anonymous, despite carrier claims.

Collection and use of this data REALLY needs to be better regulated. – @Iwillleavenow

This is how we lost control of our faces

Deborah Raji, a fellow at nonprofit Mozilla, and Genevieve Fried, who advises members of the US Congress on algorithmic accountability, examined over 130 facial-recognition data sets compiled over 43 years. They found that researchers, driven by the exploding data requirements of deep learning, gradually abandoned asking for people’s consent. This has led more and more of people’s personal photos to be incorporated into systems of surveillance without their knowledge.

Read the report, About Face: A Survey of Facial Recognition Evaluation here.

Three American Mothers On The Brink

Eleven months, multiple breakdowns, one harrowing realization: They’ve got to get back up and do it all again tomorrow.


Banning White Supremacy Isn’t Censorship, It’s Accountability

In an earlier issue of DL, I shared some thinking about freedom of speech and digital spaces by malkia devich-cyril. In that issue, I indicated that I appreciated the balanced view of freedom of speech.

devich-cyril expands on this thinking in this post in Wired.

Claiming that deplatforming racists violates First Amendment rights shows a distorted understanding of how speech, race, and power work online.

To expand on this point, Margaret Sullivan indicates that this is not cancel culture, this is accountability.

Mathematics in Context: The Pedagogy of Liberation

Teaching Tolerance changes its name to Learning for Justice to reflect evolving work in the struggle for radical change in education and community.

Social justice education isn’t limited to humanities courses. In this post two math educators explain how their commitment to equity informs the way they teach.


Get started with Joplin, a note-taking app

I’m in the process of switching up my toolkit.

Part of this involves finally shutting down my Evernote account and moving to something open source.

I’ve been testing out Joplin…and loving it. In fact, I’ve been using it to write this newsletter over the last couple of months.

I’ll discuss more in upcoming posts.



It is just as difficult and dangerous to try to free people that want to remain servile, as it is to enslave people that want to remain free.

Niccolo Machiavelli

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Say hello to the latest addition to my home studio.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Use Your Voice

Welcome back all. Stay safe. Mask up.

This week I posted the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Using your voice is a political choice | Amanda Gorman


On January 20, 2021, President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were sworn into office. At the Inauguration ceremony, U.S. Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman made history in being the youngest Inaugural poet with her work, The Hill We Climb.

Here are several ways you can bring this into your life. Use this to talk with students about creative expression as a commentary on democracy.

You may consider picking up Gorman’s upcoming picture book, Change Sings.

Media Literacy Standards to Counter Truth Decay

This week, the RAND Corporation released a new set of media literacy standards designed to support schools in this task.

The standards are part of RAND’s ongoing project on “truth decay”: a phenomenon that RAND researchers describe as “the diminishing role that facts, data, and analysis play in our political and civic discourse.”

Banning Trump won’t fix social media: 10 ideas to rebuild our broken internet – by experts

Away from the vitriol, researchers are investigating concrete steps companies, officials and the rest of us can take to tackle the crisis.

Joan DonovanHire 10,000 librarians for the Internet.

Whitney PhillipsFund training for teachers, our “informational first responders”

malkia devich-cyril – Understand the limitations of the first amendment.

Increasingly militant ‘Parler refugees’ and anxious QAnon adherents prep for doomsday

Conspiracy theorists have enjoyed the Trump presidency. Wild false notions about the deaths of high-profile American figures and what was really going on behind closed doors in Washington and Hollywood took over certain sections of the internet.

It all came to a head when insurrectionists, who believed the president’s lie that the election had been stolen, stormed the Capitol building while Congress was certifying the electoral votes for the 2020 election.

QAnon followers have become more divorced from reality since the Capitol riots as some are targeted by extremists who try to radicalize them further.

Extremism researchers are calling some of the accounts “Parler refugees,” named for the conservative social media network whose users are stumbling upon increasingly militant and radical information streams on smaller, unmoderated messaging apps and online forums.

Fired Florida data scientist Rebekah Jones turns herself in to jail and tests positive for Covid-19

Rebekah Jones, the former Florida data analyst who has accused state officials of covering up the extent of the pandemic has turned herself in, days after a warrant was issued for her arrest, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said.

A relatively quick timeline of the events up to now:

  • Jones was fired from the Florida Department of Health in May and has repeatedly criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the Covid-19 crisis. State officials said Jones was terminated because she “exhibited a repeated course of insubordination” and modified a state data portal without input or approval from epidemiologists or her supervisors. Jones said she was fired after she refused to falsify state Covid-19 data.
  • Jones filed a whistleblower complaint in July with the Florida Commission on Human Relations.
  • After her firing, Jones published her own dashboard of Covid-19 stats. She said she received internal records from people who worked for the state, including what she said was proof that state officials “were lying in January (2020) about things like internal reports and notices from the CDC.”
  • On December 7, Jones’ home was raided. Jones has filed a lawsuit, alleging FDLE officials violated her First Amendment rights, deprived her of due process, and unlawfully seized her computers, cell phone, and storage media during a search of her home.

This week Jones turned herself in to authorities to protect her family from continued police violence.

“The Governor will not win his war on science and free speech. He will not silence those who speak out.”

Turn off that camera during virtual meetings, environmental study says

Just one hour of videoconferencing or streaming, for example, emits 150-1,000 grams of carbon dioxide. Leaving your camera off during a web call can reduce these footprints by 96%.

H/T to Doug Belshaw’s Thought Shrapnel newsletter for this link.

The Right Way To Cut A Round Cake

The triangular slice is not the “scientific” way to cut a cake.

Alex Bellos recommends a different approach, which helps keep any leftovers fresher longer. He cites a Letter to the Editor from Nature, a weekly science magazine, that dates back to December 1906.


Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.

Hank Aaron

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Infrastructure Influences Everything

Infrastructure Influences Everything
Digitally Lit #266 – 10/31/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate and issue #266.

Thanks for showing up this week. I hope you’re taking the time to recharge your batteries.

This week I worked on the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and say hey at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Make Your Online Streams, Meetings, & Classes Look Incredible

The YouTube algorithms gifted me with this video and the Tom Buck channel this week.

I’ve been slowly building up my home workspace to allow for teaching, research, and meetings. This includes leveling up my camera, lights, and mic. After this video, I’m thinking about adding a second camera to use for different angles in my office.

The other point that Buck makes is around live streaming. I toy with the idea of regularly posting to my YouTube channel. I have been viewing it as “too much work” or “just another thing.” Buck suggests that educators are already live streaming…it’s just being wasted in Zoom calls. Hmmm…


What AI College Exam Proctors Are Really Teaching Our Kids

Universities are digitally spying on students to make sure they don’t cheat on online tests. A whole generation could be learning to tolerate surveillance.

Proctoring software is a symptom of a deeper mistake: Using tech to manage a problem that is fundamentally economic.

Many students are now being asked to use remote-proctoring services like ProctorU, ExamSoft, or Proctorio when taking exams online. While these services were around before the pandemic, they have grown in popularity as the number of students taking classes remotely exploded.

In theory, they provide a useful service, allowing professors or universities to determine whether students are cheating on exams. In practice, these services have been a huge source of stress for students.

Many students who are required per their teacher’s instructions to take tests while being recorded told Mary Retta at Teen Vogue they felt heavily surveilled while doing so.

Surprise! The Section 230 Hearing Wasn’t About Section 230

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Lawmakers hammered the chief executives of Twitter, Facebook, Google, and one another at a Senate hearing on Wednesday, with Republicans claiming the companies were suppressing conservative views while Democrats accused their colleagues of holding a “sham” hearing for political gain.

For nearly four hours, members of the Commerce Committee pelted Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Google’s Sundar Pichai with more than 120 questions about social media speech and the harm caused by their platforms, often framing their attacks through the lens of next week’s election.

But unlike previous tech hearings, this one put the partisan divide on full display.

Zeynep Tufekci indicates that this should be a discussion about free speech and attention.

High Tech, High Risk: Tech Ethics Lessons for the COVID-19 Pandemic Response

As the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically reshaped society around the world, many have looked to machine learning as a technology capable of addressing large problems at scale. Applications of machine learning have been seen as desirable interventions in mitigating the risks of the pandemic.

The challenge is that machine learning, like many tools of technocratic governance, is deeply implicated in the social production and distribution of risk.

Emanuel Moss and Jacob Metcalf on the role of machine learning in the production of risk must be considered as engineers and other technologists develop tools for the current crisis.

Infrastructure Influences Everything

A terrific white paper from the Siegel Family Endowment.

The reality is that the infrastructure reinforcing today’s society is multifaceted and interdependent. Think of this as a three-legged stool: Should any leg falter or be cut off, it will topple the person sitting on it. By recognizing the interconnection of all three dimensions, we can use this new framework to better design infrastructure systems for the future, strengthen communities, and power economic activity in the process.

Take some time to scroll through the white paper and look at the web design. It’s incredible.

Family Device Rules

Doug Belshaw with some great guidance on how to discuss and agree on device rules.

  1. Wrote down (individually) what we think the current rules are. Had a discussion.
  2. Wrote down (individually) what we think the future rules should be. Had another discussion.
  3. Collaboratively come up with rules that everyone could agree to. Signed them, and pinned to the fridge.
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Tackle your email inbox with the Stack Method

Email can be time-consuming, stressful, and kill your productivity.

This FREE video masterclass puts you in control to process emails faster.



Love may not make the world go round, but I must admit that it makes the ride worthwhile.

Sean Connery

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A room, a bar and a classroom: how the coronavirus is spread through the air. The risk of contagion is highest in indoor spaces but can be reduced by applying all available measures to combat infection via aerosols. This website provides an overview of the likelihood of infection in three everyday scenarios, based on the safety measures used and the length of exposure.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

The Case for Quarantining

The Case for Quarantining
Digitally Lit #262 – 10/3/2020

Welcome back to Digitally Literate and issue #262.

This week I worked on the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

Doug Belshaw had this great post about working out loud which was inspired by Austin Kleon’s book.

The video I share above is Brian Johnson’s review of five big ideas from the same text.

If you really want to dig deep, check out this full session from Kleon at SXSW.


The case for quarantining extremist ideas

This week we heard a lot in the news about the Proud Boys, and white supremacist groups that promote and engage in political violence.

This piece by Joan Donovan and danah boyd discusses the topic of strategic silence.

By avoiding amplifying extremist ideas, are we starving them of oxygen in the informational space?

For more on this topic, read this profile of Emily Gorcenski.

Study Finds ‘Single Largest Driver’ of Coronavirus Misinformation: Trump

Cornell University researchers analyzing 38 million English-language articles about the pandemic found that President Trump was the largest driver of the “infodemic.”

The study is the first comprehensive examination of coronavirus misinformation in traditional and online media.

This study identifies and analyzes the most prominent topics of COVID-related misinformation that emerged in traditional media between January 1 and May 26, 2020 based on a total sample of over 38 million articles published in English-language media around the world.

While on the topic of COVID, this piece by Zeynep Tufekci asks why some people and areas are super-spreaders…and others are not.

How It Feels When Software Watches You Take Tests

One of my students needed to take a test virtually this past week and immediately relayed to our class the challenges of testing online and dealing with virtual proctors.

This post shares insight on software designed to flag students cheating on tests by doing things like tracking eye movements via a webcam. In a related story, other students indicated that it felt callous and unfair to be suspected of cheating because they read test questions aloud, had snacks on their desks or did other things that the software deemed suspicious.

As a result, some of my students are indicating that they may put their health, and the health of others, in jeopardy and head out to physical locations to test.

Connecting with Youth through Authenticity and Collaboration

Media companies around the world are finding out that when it comes to capturing the attention of youth, authenticity (or at least a sense of it) equals relevancy.

Anyone who has worked in a middle or high school setting can also confirm that teenagers are human lie detectors, unafraid to call out a lack of genuineness when they see it.

Armed with this realization, content creators and distributors continue vying for this group’s attention, through ever-changing media platforms in an increasingly interconnected digital space.

Reimagining Learning Spaces for Uncertain Times

This great resource from UNESCO MGIEP shares insight on the possibilities for a post-pandemic world.


8 Strategies to Improve Participation in Your Virtual Classroom

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Really digging the intersection of food, design, and art of the Ghetto Gastro. These waffles look awesome…and definitely not an option on my current diet. 🙂

Read more here about the Ghetto Gastro.


In a time of deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

George Orwell

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With the news that President Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus, the fast-moving information system that is the Internet has kicked into high gear. As a result, it can be hard to separate truth from fiction. It can also be hard to not be emotionally manipulated online.

This guide from The Verge and this from The Washington Post are two resources to help avoid being part of the problem.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Be Better

Be Better
Digitally Lit #256 – 7/25/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #256 of Digitally Literate. Each week in this newsletter, I synthesize the news of the week in education, technology, & literacy.

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

Next week I’m helping facilitate our professional development for the Infusing Computing project. This was to be held F2F at The Citadel with about 300 teachers from North & South Carolina. We are moving this to a virtual PD with a mix of Hopin, Canvas, and digital badges to support participants. I put together this post on four levels of real world home classrooms to help prepare for the event.

I’ll have one more issue next week, and then I’m going on a social media detox for a month. I’m calling it Aug-Ghosted. I think next month is going to be really hard for a number of reasons. I’ll offer the challenge to you all as well…if you’d like to join me. More info to come.


BANE OUTTAKES (wear a mask edition)

Bane is a little behind the times and tries to figure out why masks stopped being cool and tough.

While on the topic of masks, this post explains the different types of masks, and where/when they should be worn. I didn’t even think about wearing an accessible, deaf-friendly face mask.

Thanks to Jeremy Yanofsky for making sure I didn’t miss this video. Make sure you check out his EngageShow on YouTube for some great guidance in game based learning.


CDC statement on opening schools

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a statement this week which is watered down and likely politically driven. Thanks to this thread from Julia Marcus, there is a lot of guidance to keep you (and others) safe over the coming months.

In Defense of Our Teachers

Two narratives are starting to form as we prepare for the opening of the academic years in K-12 and higher ed.

It seems like K-12 school leaders are looking to pin the blame on teachers if schools don’t open, or if/when the coronavirus flares up with openings. In higher ed, it seems like the blame will be placed on the shoulders of students. We we discussed in last week’s issue, it seems like the prevailing guidance is that students should promise good habits and behaviors while on campus.

When it comes to the daunting question of reopening schools, America’s educators deserve a plan, not a trap.

Teaching Isn’t About Managing Behavior

Chris Emdin on reaching students where they really are.

The best teachers don’t just keep teaching. Instead, they use their pedagogy as protest: They disrupt teaching norms that harm vulnerable students. In my years in the classroom since 2001, I’ve learned something about how to do this. I call it reality pedagogy, because it’s about reaching students where they really are, making sure that their lives and backgrounds are reflected in the curriculum and in classroom conversations.

Disinformation campaigns are murky blends of truth, lies and sincere beliefs – lessons from the pandemic

Kate Starbird on how the COVID-19 pandemic has spawned an infodemic, a vast and complicated mix of information, misinformation and disinformation.

…disinformation does serve an agenda, it is often camouflaged in facts and advanced by innocent and often well-meaning individuals

A Flipped Learning Flow for Blended or Online Classes

Caitlin Tucker on using video to create a complete learning experience for students.

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While you’re thinking about supporting learners, this virtual bookroom by Clare Landrigan is genius.


Make your own chili oil

In one of the YouTube travel shows that I watch, the hosts waxed eloquently about the hot chili oil served at a restaurant. This led me to finally deal with the hot peppers I’m growing in my backyard.

My current garlic chili oil is more garlic than chili…but in a couple of weeks it should be great.



When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.

Paulo Coelho

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me.

This post was the appropriate amount of whimsy that I needed this week.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Welcome To The Bubble

Welcome To The Bubble
Digitally Lit #255 – 7/18/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #255 of Digitally Literate. Each week in this newsletter, I synthesize the news of the week in education, technology, & literacy. If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

I had several friends reach out behind the scenes this week with the same question. “There is so much information and anxiety about opening classrooms in a month. Could you cut through the mess and identify wicked problems that we should address?

Dear colleagues…this issue is for you. <3


Welcome To The Bubble


One of my recent interests focused on “The Bubble.” For those of you that may not know, the NBA is creating a social bubble at the Walt Disney World Resort to finish up the 2019-2020 season.

It’s interesting to see the steps being taken to protect lives, but also the social media content coming out from all. One of my favorites is the VLOG from Sixers rookie Matisse Thybulle.

I’m wondering what our institutions will learn from this experiment, and what can we use to protect lives in our classrooms.


America is not prepared for schools opening this fall. This will be bad.

There is nothing Americans can do to save public education right now. We had a window about three months ago. We saw this coming. Teachers all saw this coming. There was no federal help, no national leadership.

We got to visit bars and amusement parks this summer, though. So there’s that.

This COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool provides interactive context to assess the risk that one or more individuals infected with COVID-19 are present in an event of various sizes.

Teachers: You Are Being Gaslit

We are being presented with the false choice between our own safety and quality education. We are being made to feel crazy for being scared to do our jobs, when in reality, it is logical to be scared.

You have the power to shut it down.

Stay Apart or Stay Home

Student conduct codes and pledges promise good COVID-19 habits.

Whether we call this a “community compact,” “social contract” or “behavioral compact,” it’s time for educators to start thinking about the words you’ll use to address this with your students. Educators are the prime (most important) connection with our students. Your life (and the lives of others) may depend on it.

What will you say?

How to Judge Whether Your School District Is Doing Enough

I’m sure no one could use this guidance at this point. 🙃

This 62 page report the Harvard School of Public Health’s “Healthy Buildings” Program outlines recommendations for five aspects of in-person schooling:

  • Healthy Classrooms
  • Healthy Buildings
  • Healthy Policies
  • Healthy Schedules
  • Healthy Activities

As we think about opening up the new academic year, we should be focusing on the students that need to attend F2F, as opposed to blanket policies. To that end, this piece on CERPs (COVID-19 exposure risk profile) is a mandatory read.

CERPs hinge on preexisting forms of social differentiation such as socioeconomic status, as individuals with more economic resources at their disposal can better insulate themselves from exposure risk.

How to talk to conspiracy theorists—and still be kind.

  1. Always, always speak respectfully.
  2. Go private
  3. Test the waters first
  4. Agree
  5. Try the “truth sandwich”
  6. Use Socratic method
  7. Be very careful with loved ones
  8. Realize some people won’t change
  9. If it gets bad, stop
  10. Every little bit helps


Real-time collaboration with Canva

Learned two great things from Richard Byrne about Canva. I use Canva 2 to 3 times per day…so this rocks.

Canva started rolling-out real-time collaboration options similar to what you might experience with Google Docs or Drawings. Canva has an education version that is completely free for teachers and students. Head to Canva for Education page to sign up.



Choose confrontation wisely, but when it is your time don’t be afraid to stand up, speak up, and speak out against injustice.

John Lewis

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me.

I really needed this post this week. I think you’ll enjoy this storry about two teachers trying to find a safe way to find students missing in their classrooms.

As a regular reader of Digitally Literate….you should complete this survey on the future of digital life in light of COVID-19 and AI.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Digitally Literate #253

Confuse, Divide, and Distract
Digitally Lit #253 – 7/4/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #253 of Digitally Literate. Each week in this newsletter, I synthesize the news of the week in education, technology, & literacy. If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

This week I worked on a couple things behind the scenes. More to come.


‘What To The Slave Is The Fourth Of July?’: Descendants Read Frederick Douglass’ Speech

The U.S. celebrates this Independence Day amid nationwide protests and calls for systemic reforms.

In this short film, five young descendants of Frederick Douglass read and respond to excerpts of his famous speech, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” which asks all of us to consider America’s long history of denying equal rights to Black Americans.


College Is Worth It, but Campus Isn’t

Bringing millions of students back to campus would create enormous risks for society but comparatively little educational benefit, an economist says.

With no indication that the federal government is prepared to step in quickly with a financial rescue plan for higher education, colleges and universities are being forced to choose between bad alternatives.

But a toll will be paid, and it will largely not fall on students. Dining-hall workers, custodians, secretaries, librarians, medical personnel — as well as older faculty members — are far more vulnerable.

Is Academia in denial?

In the Covid-19 Economy, You Can Have a Kid or a Job. You Can’t Have Both

We are not burned out because life is hard this year. We are burned out because we are being rolled over by the wheels of an economy that has bafflingly declared working parents inessential.

The benefits to society of schools being open are greater than the benefits of opening most other institutions. Although we can mitigate transmission within schools to some degree, the best way to ensure that schools can open — and stay open — is to keep community spread of the virus low. We can reopen schools in the fall if we close the bars and gyms now.

As we argue about masks, staying in, or going out to the pub…we’re losing an entire generation of our youth.

Our Ability to Process Information Is Reaching a Critical Limit

We are engaged in a world wide information war, as such disinformation is coming at us from all sides – from friend and foe alike.

This is designed to confuse, divide, and distract.

A growing body of research highlights the strain on our ability to read, understand, process, and take action on the flood of news with which we’re confronted. Some of the biggest events in 2020 have demanded more of our time, more direct action, and have been more emotionally taxing than we’re used to. The result feels like a mental DDoS attack that drags down our mental health, allows misinformation to thrive, and even makes the job of delivering news more difficult.

Zuckerberg once wanted to sanction Trump. Then Facebook wrote rules that accommodated him.

Starting as early as 2015, Facebook executives started crafting exceptions for the then-candidate that transformed the world’s information battlefield for years to come.

This is the biggest test of whether Facebook will ever truly put society and democracy ahead of profit and ideology. As much as they stonewall, we already know the answer.

We’re now seeing Facebook be more responsive when it comes to content on the platform as a result of the advertising boycott. We also see the impact of this ad boycott impacting Reddit as they overhaul their hate speech policies.

Stop criticising parents and start supporting their digital practices

How can society better support families in a digital age?

  • We should encourage parents to evaluate what’s on the screen, how their child is interacting with it, and what they gain from the experience.
  • Schools could embed digital literacy in the curriculum and foster positive connections with children’s digital lives outside the classroom.
  • Librarians, health visitors and youth workers could guide parents in imaginative or educational digital choices.
  • Government could address the risks, and facilitate the production of imaginative and educational content and ensure its availability for everyone.
  • Since the digital is not everything, society could also provide more playgrounds and clubs for kids to get together, and more affordable activities for families outside the home.


How to Make Your Tech Last Longer

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In a pandemic-induced recession, it’s more important than ever to take care of our smartphones and other gadgets.

  • Check your battery
  • Do a deep clean
  • Declutter your data
  • Protect your gear
  • Find a fixer



A race of people is like an individual man; until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its own history, expresses its own culture, affirms its own selfhood, it can never fulfill itself.

Malcolm X

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me.

TikTok excels at connecting users based on their identities, and as a result, there’s a corner of the app for almost everyone, from Cop TikTok and Doctor TikTok, to Lesbian TikTok and the teens who gripe about their strict parents. With more than 2 million people locked up in prisons or jails in the United States, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there’s a Prison TikTok, too.

Also…listen to this playlist if you have complicated feelings about America.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Collective Sensemaking

Collective Sensemaking
Digitally Lit #252 – 6/27/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #251 of Digitally Literate. Each week in this newsletter, I synthesize the news of the week in education, technology, & literacy. If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net.

I was involved in the following content this week:


Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools

A conversation with Bettina Love, Gholdy Muhammad, Dena Simmons and Brian Jones about abolitionist teaching and antiracist education.

What would freedom look like in our schools?

How can abolitionist educators make the most of this moment to fight for humane, liberatory, anti-racist schooling for black youth and for all youth?

The coronavirus pandemic has transformed the US education system overnight. The antiracist rebellion in the streets has shown a light on the deep racial inequality in America.


Misinformation, Crisis, and Public Health—Reviewing the Literature

The Covid-19 pandemic comes at a time when we were already grappling with information overload and pervasive misinformation. This review of the literature by Kate Starbird, Emma S. Spiro, and Kolina Koltai explores the tactics and intentions of those spreading these streams.

In a crisis, humans communicate in a process called collective sensemaking in order to understand uncertain and dynamic circumstances. Collective sensemaking is a vital process, but we can make mistakes—or the process can be manipulated and exploited.

New research explores how conservative media misinformation may have intensified the severity of the pandemic

As the global pandemic begins to accelerate in the U.S., especially in my area, simple steps like wearing masks while in public tends to be a political statement. What initially seemed to be an anecdotal observation, now seems to be backed up by some research.

Numerous studies paint a picture of a media ecosystem that entertains conspiracy theories and discourages audiences from taking steps to protect themselves and others.

I recommend reading more on this topic:

Simulating COVID Spread in College Setting

A new working paper from professors at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania models the spread of COVID-19 in a large university setting to examine what mitigation efforts are most effective against the spread of the disease.

The working paper builds off work from Kim Weeden and Benjamin Cornwell, sociology professors at Cornell University, who modeled student interconnectedness from course enrollment patterns.

TikTok teens and K-pop stans don’t belong to the “resistance”

Not long after I shared out last week’s newsletter, a lot of news was made about TikTok Teens, and K-Pop Stans interfering with Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

I’ve been suggesting for years that adults don’t really understand how to use these digital, social spaces…and we need to spend more time studying and amplifying the practices employed by youth. This usually is met by harsh criticism from colleagues indicating that adults should guide youth and show them the way.

Not soon after the initial news stories, we see the media hop in to push back against glorification of these online forces. Stories about TikTok Teens and Pizzagate suggest that Gen Z will not save us, and that the kids are not all right.

I don’t agree.

The 7 elements of a good online course

The seven elements of a good online course by George Veletsianos

  • A good online course is informed by issues of equity and justice
  • A good online course is interactive
  • A good online course is engaging and challenging
  • A good online course involves practice…doing…and doing again
  • A good online course is effective
  • A good online course includes an instructor who is visible and active, and who exhibits care, empathy and trust for students
  • A good online course promotes student agency


Not everything has to be digital: my analogue daily and weekly planners

Doug Belshaw provides his templates for use in daily and weekly planning.

This is part of Belshaw’s #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com



You are what you read. You are what you write.

Ian O’Byrne 🙂

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me.

Black metal jazz made by people in weird masks is what the world needs right now.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.

Remember Your Anchors

Remember Your Anchors
Digitally Lit #247 – 5/23/2020

Hi all, welcome to issue #247 of Digitally Literate.

I also helped post the following:

If you haven’t already, please subscribe if you would like this newsletter to show up in your inbox. Feel free to reach out and let me know what you think of this work at hello@digitallyliterate.net.


Virtual Learning Communities

Jesse Stommel offered this virtual keynote at the University Innovation Alliance Spring 2020 Convening. The slides, and full breakdown of this talk are available here.

What I value most about this post is the way Stommel shares the materials. I’ve been trying to find a way to balance sharing materials from a talk in a blog post. I really like how Jesse shares some text and insight, and intersperses some slides and then finally shares the video.

A great exemplar as you consider how to share materials online with context.


We Cannot Return to Campus This Fall

As the academic year closes for most institutions from K-12 through higher ed, our collective focus turns to the next opening in the Fall.

Bryan Alexander continues to carefully examine the possibilities as we plan the fall of 2020 in higher ed. This future may include teaching behind plexiglass as we strive to protect all individuals. There are also questions about the erosion of trust and leadership in our universities that has been laid bare in our current milieu.

Parents and learners in Pre-K through 12 are asking the purpose of online learning, and whether we should be focused on the mental health of children and teachers.

Mark Lilla suggests that we should stop asking pundits and prophets to predict the future. It doesn’t exist. It will exist only after we have made it.

One common voice in this discussion is the refrain of the classroom teacher that once again steps up to do the most with the fewest resources.

This post by Harley Litzelman details the spatial, logistical, pedagogical, disciplinary, & epidemiological nightmare into which non-teaching decision-makers are welcoming your children. Perhaps physical distancing at schools is impossible and now is the time to prepare robust distance learning and close the technology gap.

COVID-19 metrics for phased reopening

Metrics for phased reopening. A frontline guide for local decision-makers.

This great resource provides a playbook for phased reopening…as well as a “metrics scorecard” to see exactly how you’re doing in the transition.

Valuable guidance as you see to understand and plan.

The Information Apocalypse Is Already Here, And Reality Is Losing

We’ve spent more than three years preparing for an information apocalypse. It seems like with the coronavirus we’re only seeing these trends accelerate.

As it turns out, the tools needed to unmoor people from our shared reality already exist and are less technological than societal.

This post identifies some guidance on how to fact-check misinfo on your timeline.

  • Don’t brush it off
  • Consider your approach
  • Watch your language – or don’t
  • Avoid repeating misinformation. Say what’s true
  • Choose your sources wisely
  • Focus on facts, not values

While on this topic, there is debate about the real statistics around COVID-19. The COVID Tracking Project released a white paper that compiles the latest numbers on tests, confirmed cases, hospitalizations, and patient outcomes from every US state & territory.

Teaching Strategies of Award-Winning Online Instructors

A recent study gleaned five insights on virtual instruction by examining the techniques shared in common by top-rated online instructors.

  • Authentic & relevant course material
  • A variety of multimedia resources
  • Student creation of content – individually & collaboratively
  • Student reflection on learning
  • Explanation of purpose

As Machines Get Smarter, How Will We Relate to Them?

Much of the Internet has become unintelligible lately. What this means is that it is almost impossible to understand the algorithms and pipelines that connect us to the digital. This will become even more of a challenge as we consider artificial intelligence (AI), drones, and autonomous vehicles.

As we’re all sequestered in our homes, it seems like drones were ready for this moment and are watching us.

We need to regularly think about these moral crumple zones in our lives.


How to create the life you want using anchors

When you know what you really want in life, working toward it will feel exciting and energizing, rather than draining. As you make your way through this new normal, keep it simple as you create that life.

  1. Eliminate excuses and stay flexible
  2. Examine and define your values
  3. Refine
  4. Create a plan
  5. Focus and apply



Remember your anchors. Anchors are those people in your life who remind you of who you are — your values, aspirations, and worth — even when you forget. Keep them close and always let them know how much they mean to you.

Vivek Murthy

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Digitally Literate is a weekly review of the news, notes, tips, and tricks from the week that resonated with me.

VUCA or BANI? You decide. I’ll stick with FUBAR BUNDY.

Connect at hello@digitallyliterate.net or on the social network of your choice.