UPDATE: As much as I’ve loved the idea of using Bundlr, I ultimately found the service unreliable and have discontinued my use of it as of October 2015. If and until I find a better solution, follow me on twitter for links to what I’m reading.
Most mornings, over a cup of coffee, I do my daily reading of news about trends and issues related to education and technology – a practice I have more or less followed for at least the past 20 years. I think I’ve learned a few things about how the press covers technology in education over this time (the good, the bad, and the ugly) and have recently started sharing some of the best and most interesting of what I find in a section of my website entitled What I’m Reading [LINK REMOVED]. My hope is that by clipping these ‘off the beaten path’-type articles and sharing them publicly (adding a few steps to my morning workflow) that others could perhaps benefit, that I might help to inform the public debate and discussion about technology in education even in a small way, and that others would react to what I’m doing, perhaps suggesting other trends and topics (or even tools to track them) that I’ve missed in my scans.
I find my daily reading in three ways:
- I subscribe and opt into a number of newsletters that deliver to me information that I’ve found to be valuable.
- I scan my twitter feed and have found my network (of 1,200+) to be incredibly good at uncovering stories and events of note and in real time.
- I proactively search the internet for recent news stories and information that may not be being picked up by other sources.
Admittedly, this results in an over-abundance of information, but I have gotten very comfortable over the years in spotting stories that I find to be notable for some reason or another. And, I’d rather spend a few moments culling through articles that are less interesting than missing that article or few that offers some pivotal insight into a question I’m pondering. The only remedy I know for those overwhelmed with the volume of incoming news and information is the tincture of time (and the experience that comes with it). I most definitely do not feel obligated to read everything that comes my way (or that I come across), which is important because it’d be impossible to do. (Hint to writers: pay attention to your headlines and lede.)
I also have to be right up front about a few biases I have in my scan of the morning news, borne out of my interest and experience in advising education leaders about the use of technology to improve education:
- Yesterday’s reports, studies, and new stories may already be too dated to be actionable. This doesn’t mean that there is nothing to learn from well-constructed papers and studies produced on academic timelines, but – in a world where technology is rapidly evolving and the political news cycle is 24/7/365 – I’ve read more than my fair share of reports (and news articles about them) that are out of date by the time they are published.
- It is vitally important to follow people and organizations with whom I may disagree to increase my understanding of the political context in which technology is being used in schools and also to challenge my assumptions about what I think I know. In fact, I think it is more important to pay attention to these voices than the ones with whom I tend to agree.
- There is an awful lot of technology product placement masquerading as educational technology news coverage, which makes me alternately sad for the state of journalism today and/or upset about journalistic ethics and/or disappointed about the lack of disclosure/transparency around story selection. All kudos to the edtech PR flacks who get their stories covered. Nonetheless, once I realize what I’m reading, I am usually quick to move on.
- There is an educational technology/digital learning/personalized learning echo chamber that results in a lack of critical consideration about the use of technology in schools today, including a tendency to gloss over any nuance with respect to the diversity of educational technology practice and experience in schools or context for the public policies that may or may not be responsible. It is important to look for voices that challenge this innovation-minded status quo.
- I love empirical findings and research citations, but research methods matter and far too often in the educational technology arena I see citations to figures as if they are a generalizable fact (and almost always absent the information I need to judge their quality and context). I know folks get excited when a finding seems to support their position (or intuition) and are eager to provide a wider context for their story. However, I spent too many years conducting policy research to just gloss over the quality of a study or data collection.
So, please do take a look at some of what I’m reading [LINK REMOVED] and let me know what you think. On any given day, I may find 10-15 articles to clip. I use Bundlr to organize the clips by month, display them on my site, and to share them publicly via my twitter account. For the month of June 2015, for instance, I clipped a total of 265 stories (which – according to bundlr – were uniquely viewed over 16,000 times, equating to about 60 unique views a clip on average).
Is this helpful? What would make it more so?