Monthly Archives: March 2019

#ForTheWeb? FFS! #DigCit #Cybernat Mission to Help Recruit Elle⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

In 2017 my 7 year old son went on a Spy Guy Mission to Help Recruit a P1 teddy called Ellie to go on a #DigCit trip to support a number of people and organisations that I was connected with at the time.

As the saying goes there is no 'I' in team (But there is a me), so we've dropped the I in Ellie and with people like Asqa Mahmood encouraging young people like Shamina Begum to leave home to join ISIS... it might be an idea to call the adults in to help keep our kids safe online from the kind of threats that Begum faced.

A LOT has changed in both mine and my sons life since that Classroom Skype call and in the world of social media today... 

This includes the definition and nature of how we keep young people safe online now. 

This post looks at some of these changes and is written in the hope that either politicians and/or people in my network will help to recruit Elle to see if we can address some of these rather serious issues.

On the week that the web celebrated it's 30th Birthday and Tim Berners-Lee encouraged people to fight #ForTheWeb... by the end of the week far right extreme hate groups video'd their attack on mosques in Christchurch. 

The far right have been in the news almost every day since (Anna Soubry court case, Birmingham Mosques etc) 

In 2015 #DigCit was all about 

'Be the same person you are online as you are offline'

'If you've nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all'

In 2019 we have:

  • The US President surrounded by advisers who are going to jail
  • Shamina Begum losing her babies and the far rights' 
  • Online hate spilling onto our streets days after Tim Berners-Lee calls for people to fight #ForTheWeb. 

#DigCit & Politicians Part of the Problem? ...Definitely! 
You might expect politicians to be doing something about this. During the 2015 election the MPs were throwing their hands up saying 'What can we do about it' (See Online Abuse I Blame the Politicians)

In 2019 not only are parties like The SNP doing nothing to reign in #Cybernats like 'Wings Over Scotland' (Rah! Rah! Rah! IndyRef...all the way from Bath?!) ...But Alex Samlond's support make people like this front page news by jumping to this 'kind, well mannered and model SNP supporters' defense by claiming that You Tube is politically biased.

The tribalism of groups like the Cybernats and the Yoons not only suits these political parties BUT the (so called) political 'Leaders' seem to be following Mr Trumps playbook according to the #FakeNews as Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Jacob Rees-Mogg and other contenders for taking over Theresa May's role are speaking to Steve Bannon, who is openly declaring what his intentions are.

And even if #Cybernats like Wings Over Scotland were not being defended by the SNP and Bannon being courted by self interested Old Etonians like Boris & Gove... given the obsession (and MPs uselessness) with finding solutions for Brexit, I would not expect any solutions regarding cleaning up 'The Wild West of the Internet' from this group any time soon. 

That is if they were even to accept the facts regarding what is going on, which they are not! On the BBC's This Week last night Frank Luntz highlighted the dangers... Only for Michael Portillo to dismiss the concerns and threat out of hand.

In 2015 I blamed them for being part of the problem with online abuse. 

In 2019 there is no change with this view... but with tragic situations like Shamina Begum and Christchurch, it's a lot more serious today!

'Network Effects' & 'Feedback Loops' Online = Creates 'Social Proof' Offline
In 2014 I was super supportive of The SNP, writing 30+ posts in support of them. 

I was never supportive or The SNP per se, but of the cultural conditions that the post vote momentum created.

Upon reflection, I realise that I wasn't even writing in support of the SNP... but was writing posts to detail what they needed to do to maintain the positivity of the extremely powerful 'Network Effects' and 'Feedback Loops' where a single event (The night the BNP came to town to celebrate the #NoThanks result) delivered record results for the SNP during #GE2015.

If the extent of the threat is not recognised and addressed, the events in Christchurch may well be set to have the same impact... but for hate groups.

As I've started a number of times, the online momentum for #IndyRef in the last 2-3 weeks of the 'Yes' campaign influenced the offline, IRL rallies where they grew and grew and grew and saw the polls go over 40% for only the second time ever during the campaign.

The night of the vote with the rioting in Glasgow's George Square ignited the post vote movement.

As the book New Power highlights:
"Those on the side of the angels, who want to spread compassion, promote pluralism or defend science must grapple with a painful reality that New Power can supercharge hate and misinformation"

I would add to this a comment from Sam Conniff Allande's Be More Pirate Tedx Talk:
No One Is Coming to Save Us 

(Especially not those #Cybernat-supporting-Bannon-consulting-Brexit-Shambles pointless politicians)

Educators? Look for the Bright Spots... Help Recruit ElleNew Power highlights that after a number of false starts in creating a solution to effective ISIS recruiters like Asqa Mahmood includes educators who 'Connected Connectors' and 'Crowd Leaders' to build a network of positive messengers who create alternative narratives drawing people away from more extreme positions and amplifying messages of groups like religious leaders and their schools.

HOWEVER! Taking on people with opposing views and getting into a heated debate in the hope of 'dialing the conversation down' a little and looking for common ground (Even when 'I wasn't looking for any common ground!' is a reply once you've established some), is NOT easy! But can be done.

But before we can expect educators to go from the current position of 

'If you've nothing nice to say don't say anything at all' 


'Hey that's not right' and/or 'I think you need a virtual hug'

Will need people to path find some solutions to this.

Where to look for the bright spots?

If they are not actively adding to the problem with the future UK Prime Minister speaking to Steve Bannon, they are doing nothing by advocating for people like 'Wings Over Scotland' and/or not calling out their own supporters who look to troll those who have a different political view. 

After all this is the democratic UK, not Alex Salmond's Russian sponsored propaganda channel RT  

Social Media does not come with the job (Yet!) today. There is no remit to take on Asqa Mahmood to help provide vulnerable people like Shamina Begum with a sense of belonging online.

Taking on Far Right groups, ISIS recruiters and political trolls like the #Cybernats could affect the educators digital footprint and get them into trouble with their employers... even though a virtual hug could help them before it was too late: Imagine an educator providing an 'Alternative Narrative' in the way that a Muslim did with Ivan Humble (@NewDayStarts) to turn him away from the English Defence League.

I see a few brave educators who are doing this and IMHO they should be encouraged, supported and their example followed.

Cybernats? Help Recruit Elle?
When experimenting with engaging with the 'Cybernats' (Engaging with them because I made a data prediction that - based on the data - The SNP were in trouble at the next election), I connected with someone that got excited about the 2014 Yes/IndyRef/SNP movement for the same reasons that I did:

The potential for change and the participatory politics that never came.

If there is one group online that is not afraid to chase people away from a topic of conversation, it's those #Cybernats... what if they were turned into an SNP liability to a huge #IndyRef2 asset?

How easy would this be to do? IMHO Very!

Instead of attacking others who have an opposing - and perfectly legal - political view in the UK's democracy, why not turn their willingness to have a fight online with those who are turning to violence offline and the extreme groups like the far right?

Alt Right has been on spaces where our young people are for years and people like Michael Portillo say that the links are unconnected, Bannon says he wants to connect the far right across the world and the Old Etonians of Gove/Boris/Ree-Mogg are speaking to this guy?

No One Is Coming to Save Us #ForTheWeb #FFS #Cybernats Help Recruit Elle!  

NMIS-Skills Soft Launch #NMIS⤴

from @ ...........Experimental Blog

NMIS Skills I've sent out some initial invitations tonight to what will become a different sort of on-line community. The targets and mission are clear . You can find them here on the website . I'll move this post across to the project's blog site in next day or two.

While for some there is not much new in webinars and some teachmeets , nor in driving at the torpidness of the education sector and industry around sharing learning materials and knowledge. There are still many who have not changed their methods of working and we are really going to have a go at it in an innovative way.

What has been done before :

  • We are trying to summarise a lot of the excellent work that is already out there in one place.

What is new:

  • We are trying to model best practice by using open tools and resources and sharing with a creative commons licence.
  • We will showcase tools that are within the reach of anyone.  
  • We have quite a compelling offer for ambassadors. 
  • We are mapping our offer to the digital competency frameworks for education as they exist in Scotland, so that the offer is relevant to all who wish to boost their skills in collaborating , sharing and co-creating.
  • There will be plenty of space for collaborating and working together. 

The only thing that is out of scope is the kind of support that staff get already from within their own institutions and organisations . So we will be talking about learning design and tools for building learning content but we won't be talking use of specific virtual learning environments.

We have started by sucking up and pointing to the useful courses and resources that we know about already. We do know when the discussion gets going there are many that we have not discovered yet.

To some,  the website and resources,  might look a bit different . The whole resource is being built in a way that we hope can move from being a website with some interesting bits to being a community resource owned and led by the ambassadors.  This is thanks to some creative thinking and support from  Google Apps for Education.

I am sure this won't be without some initial technical hitches - but that is what learning is all about.

I'm afraid everyone can't be ambassadors, our target is membership from Scottish Schools , Colleges, Universities , Employers and Work-based learning providers with an interest in Industry4.0 and the innovation centres and agencies in Scotland around this. If we break some of the silos down around this we will have achieved our mission.

So why this post - if you work in one of the above please consider becoming an ambassador and start following NMIS-Skills . Have a look around the website and feedback please.

If you are from my network  and the bigger wider world of digital skills for education and open learning, then let us know what we need to add to help our community find your resources.

Words, words, words …⤴

from @ blethers

I've been reading. Of course, there's never a time when I don't have a book on the go, but that's fiction. As it's Lent I've tried to be a tad more disciplined, and to that end saved up a book that I bought some months ago. At the time, I posted online that it had been a bargain - and it was: it cost me about £70 less than its published price.

Saturday's Silence is an academic study of my favourite poet's work with reference to Holy Saturday, the day between Good Friday and Easter Day. And when I embarked on the introduction, I found myself nodding in agreement with much that the author had to say, about poetry in general and Thomas in particular. And it's not that I've stopped agreeing as I move through the body of the argument - quite the reverse.

I'm struck by how intense, line-by-line scrutiny of a poem kills that poem stone dead. This isn't a new thing floating into my consciousness - it's something I was terribly aware of when I was teaching English lit, and especially teaching poetry. But in my latter, more experienced days, I had learned the trick of teaching the "how" rather than the "what" - teaching the basics of poetic understanding* via snippets of examination so that the individual pupils could do it for themselves, and reach the point where it would be in the first instance instinctive, even if further study produced deeper and more detailed appreciation. It was that approach, I believe, that had S4 boys (15-16 years old) learning and loving poems by not only Thomas but also John Donne, reciting them off by heart and lovingly examining what it was that had so attracted them.

I've never really stated all this on paper before. Perhaps it's struck me as blindingly obvious without my labouring the point. But why I'm doing it now is because I've linked it in my mind, thanks to Richard McLauchlan, with religion, with faith itself and the nature of faith.

Think of all the tedious sermons you've listened to in your day. (Obviously, I'm addressing a somewhat targeted audience here - you know who you are...) Do you ever consider, perhaps when you give up actually paying attention, what's wrong with them? I bet some of them at least were lectures, telling you what words in the bible signify in terms of what you, the punter, ought to believe.  Lectures, instead of actual communication, kill faith as dead as academic study kills a poem.

I'm not going to chase this further. I want to emerge with today's little epiphany which is probably more of a realisation of something I've known for decades.

Prose can kill.

Which is why poetry is important, why the practice needs to be done to acquire the eyes with which to grasp it.
Which is why I approach faith as the poet, or as the lover of poetry who spots symbolism at a hundred paces.
Which is why music is so important.
Which is why it was a combination of music and poetry that brought me to faith.

I'll finish the book. It's had the merit of taking me to revisit some dearly loved poems, to feel once again the sudden stab of recognition that Thomas's last lines can so often create. But it's the poetry that matters.


*I'm talking here about such technical features as caesura, enjambement - all the stuff you make a part of your perception so that you don't need to think about it.

Some myths by which we live⤴

from @ education

"I have always argued that we can’t live by or be made to exist outside of mythology, and that every group and nation has, possibly unacknowledged to themselves, some myths by which they live. It remains important to revisit them, understand them and possibly retell … Continue reading Some myths by which we live

NQ Support Materials Update⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The NQ support materials for Gàidhlig, Gaelic(Learners) and subjects and courses through the medium of Gaelic, previously hosted on the Education Scotland National Qualifications website are now available on our professional learning community for Gaelic education on Yammer.

It should be noted that these resources no longer fully match the SQA course specifications. However, they do provide a range of useful support on approaches to effective learning, teaching and ongoing classroom assessment, should teachers wish to use them. You will find these resources here.

A glow login is required to access Yammer and membership of the group is also required.

Senior phase GME curriculum: Foundation Apprenticeships⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Foundation Apprenticeships in Social Services – Children and Young People

Are you considering pathways in the senior phase for young people learning through the medium of Gaelic?

This Foundation Apprenticeship is available through the medium of Gaelic for young people in S5 and S6 . It can be studied  over a period of one or two years, starting in S5 or S6.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig offers a partnership with schools to deliver this foundation apprenticeship. Delivery is organised to suit the school’s timetable. Young people will be taught by a college lecturer from Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. A range of online learning materials will be used  support young people in their studies.

A video sharing a pupil’s experience of the foundation apprenticeship, as well as additional information is available here:

More advice on the GME senior phase is available here:

A case study on improving the secondary curriculum and challenge questions to support planning are available here:

Information on e-sgoil, a digital teaching platform to support the GME curriculum is available here:


#EdChatMod Google+ Forum… Thank You & See You at @GiveAndTakeInc Givitas?⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

Google+ closes down in a few weeks. One of my very first attempts at community building was an EdChat moderator G+ forum. 

I've revisited this community this week to share some thoughts about how social media and #DigCit has changed with the rise of hate groups etc ...and to encourage people to send our friends at #INZspirED a Virtual Hug.

#EdChatMod Forum & Nurph

In 2014 I curated lots of Edchat information and added all the Twitter Education Chats to Chat Salad and advocated for Twitter chat platform Nurph (Which I found out about from #CmgrHangout). I wrote this EdChat Resource Plan

After writing this report I created a G+ forum for EdChat moderators to share ideas on all aspects of hosting Twitter chats and working towards 4 main aims:

1) That we will do what we can to help promote everyone's EdChat
2) To curate information that will add value
3) To collaborate and co-ordinate on some EdChat admin
4) Drive the EdChat Agenda Forward

As with all first attempts this was a learning process and the forum has been quite quiet recently, but it was lovely to revisit one more time to share some posts in the hope of supporting our friends at #INZspirED with a Virtual Hug 

...And to try to raise awareness of how I feel #Digcit has changed since organising the UK #DigCitSummit for the movement's Co-Founders David Ryan Polgar and Marialice Curran in 2015 compared to social media today.
My 7 year old son's first blog post was about why he turned @BeMorePirate by breaking a little rule by skipping school to model the DigCitSummit Co-Founders aim that students 'Act Locally, Connect Globally'

#DigCitSummit @SpyQuest Mission to help recruit @ElliePrimary1

I'm glad that was the reason and it wasn't because he'd been recruited to join like Scottish school girl and ISIS recruiter Asqa Mahmood did with 15 year old Shamina Begum.

The message delivered on this mission to our Education Secretary was

Mr Swinney

We need, as educators & parents, to model
Digital Leaders for kids everywhere
To connect classrooms on Twitter and Skype
with educators & policy makers w
schools locally but we need to learn
& globally kids at Westquarter
Help Ellie

But if you read the first two words from each sentence the decoded messages reads.

"We need Digital Leaders To connect with educators & schools locally & globally. Help Ellie"

It would appear that keeping young people safe online in 2019 now includes ensuring students have a sense of belonging in their local community offline... to prevent them going looking for it in hate groups online, which then become tragic IRL decisions that see violence and death as a result.

Tech Story 2: The Wild West of the Internet… And the Digital Citizen ShipPhoto

I read New Power last May and it highlights how organisations like Alt Right have been on spaces like Reddit for years making angry people even angrier... putting the same 'Feedback Loops' & 'Network Effects' in place that led to 'Unprecedented swings' for the SNP 2015... And is affecting life offline now too

"The Reddit world is made up of its users, who skew young, male, and geeky, and do the upvoting, linking and commenting...In the months prior to the #RedditRevolt the CEO had tried to create new rules to shut down offensive content and hate speech on the site. Predictably, this had clashed with the somewhat outlaw, libertarian ethos of Reddit. Many suspected these efforts were not driven by a moment of moral awakening but rather were an effort to clean  up the site so it could be more easily monetised for advertisers. The speech that the CEO was targeting was extreme: Revenge porn, attacking transgender people, white supremacists... It was also easy to sense gender dynamics at play on a platform whose users were mostly male" 

"Brian recalls why he chose to become a volunteer moderator when the site introduced them 'You got to build a community. You build a policy structure that keeps it thriving, keeps it going. That's why Reddit was successful. You feel like you own it"

Courtnie talks about her identity as a super users like this: 'Reddit is my community center, it's my YMCA'"

"Reddit also has a big impact on politics - research has shown that Reddit was one of the most important online spaces for Alt-Right Trump supporters to congregate and coordinate as they successfully wages the so called "meme wars" on social media during the 2016 elections...Reddit Co-Founder Steve Huffman estimated that users they looked to silence, the 'toxic 0.2%' who polluted the space for everyone else. " New Power

I've made an attempt at sharing New Power case studies in a way that might engage even the youngest of audiences by wondering how the Toy Stories characters would fair without any #DigCit guidance, it was fun to write: Tech Story 2: The Wild West of the Internet… And the Digital Citizen Ship

Ian Gibsom (@GibsonI) is looking at doing a #NewPowerEducation book club and people from further afield will be able to Skype in to join the discussion, if there's enough interest in hosting some kind of event to discuss these ideas.

#DigCit and Keeping Kids Safe Online ACEing Made to Stick:
ISIS Recruiter Asqa Mahmood & Educator 'Swarms'

The reason I shared that article in the #INZspirED Virtual Hug Tweet is because the advice of having positive messengers and alternative narratives is the advice US Counter Terrorism recommends regarding tackling people like Scottish School Girl Aqsa Mahmood (who was one of ISIS best recruiters)... and recruited Shamina Begum, More heartache for the families involved, more lives lost!

"After these false starts, the United States began to realise it needed to take a different approach. CSCC coordinator Alberto Fernandez laid out a new direction, speaking to Congress in 2015:

"You need to find a way to form loose, open source communities of interest or swarms that can swarm back and push back against the ISIS message. It's not an impossible thing to do. It can be done"

The new inter-agency Global Engagement Centre is trying to make this happen. Discarding the top down hectoring tone of the Think Again Turn Away campaign, the centre is trying to build a "Network of positive messengers" to share not just counter narratives, but alternative narratives drawing people away for more extreme positions, amplifying the messages of its partners, from religious leaders to schools." New Power extract at the end of this post
Please Retweet to send #INZspirED a Virtual Hug

How EDL Member turned his back on the group - after a hug from a Muslim
I'm a fan of High Impact/Low Cost Vs High Cost/Low Impact ideas and interventions. Compare how a hug is all that it took to turn Ivan Humble (@NewDayStarts) to turn away from the English Defense League.

But, at the same time, note how Ivan was recruited... his life wasn't in the best place -> he posted a racist tweet -> and someone was on the phone within 15 mins providing him with a sense of belonging

From the Suffolk coastal town of Lowestoft, Ivan was back in 2009 a stay-at-home single dad of two.

“At that time my personal life was a bit erratic," he said

"I was a single dad with two kids, I had bad depression and a break down a few years before. I was on benefits, I had normal struggles with everyone else.”

He posted a comment online and within 15 minutes had been contacted by someone from the EDL and soon joined, rapidly becoming the regional organiser for East Anglia.

“I felt a sense of belonging with them and when I got into the secret groups, that was when the magic happened, not that you call it magic," he said.

“No one person radicalised me. If I blame any one for my radicalisation it would be Anjem Choudary because I bought into his interpretation of Islam, just like many other people.”

What Kind of Leader are You? Education Crowd Leaders

New Power Crowd Leader Quiz
This a fun quiz... if you do take a moment to complete it and decide to share the result on Twitter, feel free to share on the thread below. There are some policy makers in the Tweet and, you never know, the engagment might see them reply and join the conversation.

Fight for #ForTheWeb and The Well
My closing remarks at the 2016 #DigCitSummitUK event was based on The Well's mantra of You Own Your Words. 
After spending 10 years on The Well Howard Rhiengold found the place predictable... when I read Katie Hafner's The Well in 2015, I felt that social media would be heading in the same direction.

Earlier in the month I asked Howard if he felt that Facebook could be 'Unslummed' of all the hatred...

His reply = I wasn't wrong, which is why I'm exploring @GiveAndTakeInc Givitas

(@CordyM's mentor and featured in the 2016 closing keynote at ISTE)

This was one of my first attempts to create a community space and it will be closing in a few weeks. Thank you to all the EdChatMods who spent their time on this G+ Community.

I wanted to let people know where I will be going next and also wanted to post some thoughts on the terrible events in New Zealand and elsewhere with the rise of the far right and provide some suggestions that Educators might want to consider.

I'll be using @AdamMGrant's @GiveAndTakeInc 'Givitas' platform and posted my first '5 min favour' request recently and has led to meeting some great new contacts and interesting links and resources.

William Jenkins on Twitter
My First Request on @GiveAndTakeInc's Givitas... Hopefully See You There!