data

Data mining. Data harvesting. Data profiling. 

This, coupled with student privacy in a digital world, is the focus of my research. 

If you would like to read more about the ways social media impacts education, start here. If you are using Google Suite for Education, check out this research article [PDF] from 2016.

I am not opposed to digital learning, but I am concerned about the data that is collected. Who controls that data? Who makes decisions based on that data? And where is the line between enhancing collaboration (enhancing the user experience) and improving student learning? What is the real cost of all the data we surrender in the name of instructional technology?

The answers to these questions are not limited to one company. Google, Apple, Microsoft, and a host of other companies are all competing for a share of the education market. Corporate strategy in the education sector is nothing new (see below), but the speed and scale of the market has shifted...and the outcomes of these strategies run far deeper.

*image:18pt Century Schoolbook typeface | mirror image for legibility

Another immensely popular face for A.T.F. [American Type Founders] and [Morris Fuller] Benton, Century Schoolbook was either licensed or copied by all the makers of mechanical composition machines, including Linotype, Intertype, Monotype, and Ludlow. Linotype also commissioned Rudolph Ruzicka to design Primer, which was intended to compete directly with Century Schoolbook for the textbook market. -Wikipedia

research

There is a lot going on in this image below...and, I think this cut (print block) sums up my current situation in life. This image popped up on my facebook "memories" today as a reminder of the picture I snapped four years ago in my printshop.

My intent was to document and share with others this gorgeous vintage cut and type I rescued from a Fresno antique store. At the time, I had questions about the best cleaning methods for the copper plate and the type...and facebook was a big part of my print community. The letterpress and printing groups on facebook are full of wonderful, helpful people. 

Thanks for the memories, facebook. I miss those people in the printing groups, the hobbyists, the artists, and the veterans of the craft. Why am I slowly leaving facebook? As part of my terminal degree, I am knee-deep (not a scientific term) in researching scholarly journal articles for my doctoral degree. Instead of printing and sharing to the communities on facebook, I am synthesizing main arguments within the texts and creating a matrix (spreadsheet). For this current project, I am curating approximately 14 articles around the topic of instructional technology ("edtech") and the ways technology impacts student privacy. It is a bit frightening, to be honest.

And, social media is the biggest offender next to smartphones and apps. The more I read about edtech and student privacy, the more I become concerned over my own. So, my "memories" are methodically being archived and summarily deleted. I am not jumping on the Big Data conspiracy train or sounding the social media alarm bells—I just want more control over my data. On that note: I'll post my findings here later if you're interested.

tension

Now knee-deep into Week 2 of Spring 2020 semester of my doctoral studies. And, I’m anxious. Not because of the work, the reading, the research, or the writing. 

My anxiety is because of all the questions. Questions surrounding my studies and my pursuit of a degree. Why? What do I hope to achieve by accomplishing it? Will I return to the private sector once I’ve earned my degree? 

Upside: the anxiety fades pretty quickly. I remind myself that I am doing this for me. And, that I don’t have the answers to everyone’s questions. I’m still learning. 

one word

FOCUS 

The world is a distracting place. We hear phrases like, “Pay attention!” and "undivided attention" along with other demands for personal time and energy.

But, is there a cost associated with distraction?

The cost is personal satisfaction. If I lose focus, I allow little things to distract me from my needs and goals.

With so many things competing for my attention, I’ve decided that I need to focus. Focus intentionally. Focus on what matters to me. Focus where and how I spend my time.

To be clear (see what I did there?), my focus is not about self-care. My focus concerns self-awareness, for self-care without self-awareness is useless. I want to focus, analyze, and be critical of how I think, act, and behave.

With an increasingly connected world, it is easy to fall into a persistent state of distraction. It is easy to convince myself that I am accomplishing things or that I am being productive. Only, that is not true because all the little things amount to broad and shallow work. It is a simple justification.

I want to focus on deep work. I miss the long, solitary concentration that yields a satisfaction of knowing that I was intentional and deliberate. There is a state of flow that comes from deep work, and that requires focus.

To be so focused on the work, to be so engaged in the process, is a wonderful thing...even if the work itself is not stellar. The focus is the reward.