Issue #207: Open Source in schools, internet control, quitting email
Doug Belshaw's Thought Shrapnel
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This week I wrote:
Doug Belshaw
Doug Belshaw is a typist, walker, and occasional napper. Some people say he thinks too much. 

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TIDE podcast

Episode 42: Neuromyth Anti-Hype

Today In Digital Education is a regular podcast hosted by Dai Barnes and Doug Belshaw, focusing on education, technology, and everything in between.

This week, Doug and Dai talk about the nature of knowledge work, a new book about ‘sprints’, gun control, neuromyths in schools, Chinese education, work chat anti-hype, Kanye West, and more!


Tweet of the week

"What shall we order?" "I'm not fussed" "Pizza?" "'No"

Links of the week

Why Aren’t More Schools Using Free, Open Tools?

Why Aren’t More Schools Using Free, Open Tools?

This Mindshift article explores places in the US that have eschewed iPads and Chromebooks in favour of Open Source laptops:

The district recently gave all 1,700 high school students laptops running Ubuntu operating systems, an easy-to-use version of the open source product Linux. Reisinger estimates that going with an open-source operating system has saved the district $360,000 in just the first year of the program and his dedication to Linux machines has saved closer to $750,000 over the ten years he’s been with the district.

Just as the University of Mary Washington's Domain of One's Own initiative seeks to give students control over their digital presence, so this approach gives students control over their digital environment:

“The difference is with a device such as this, it’s unlocked and kids have administrative level accounts on their laptops,” Reisinger said. “So where our formal instruction ends, their new learning can begin because they have control over the device.” Students can download and load anything they want — and Reisinger even encourages them to do so. He’s not worried about them breaking the system because of its flexibility and wants them to learn from mistakes, if they do.

Is this harder than following the herd with Apple and Google's offerings? Undoubtedly. But, I'd suggest, done properly, it can lead to spectacularly better outcomes.

Quietly, symbolically, US control of the internet was just ended

Quietly, symbolically, US control of the internet was just ended

If there were any celebrations on March 10th, I must have missed them. That was the date of 'Internet Independence Day', when the United States of America's de jure control of the Internet, ended:

When Icann was founded in 1998, the plan was to keep its anchoring contract with the US National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for a year or two, and for Icann to become independent in 2000. But in the meantime, the internet became just too important for the US to let go of the reins.

Shielded by the US, Icann resisted attempts by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union to take over its job. Iana (the Internet Assigned Names Authority, the part of Icann that deals with country codes, internet numbers and protocols) went on being part of Icann, even as other countries felt sure the US must be abusing its power behind the scenes. And Icann’s “multi-stakeholder model” evolved; a hodge-podge of different interests, meeting by conference call, email list and in different cities around the world to manage the domain name system.

The idea is that no-one will notice the change in practice, but governance matters — so I'm pleased this move has taken place.

What Happened When 13 Workers Quit Email For A Week

What Happened When 13 Workers Quit Email For A Week

The problem with email is that it keeps on coming, even when you decide not to use it for a bit. For example, when I do my 'Belshaw Black Ops' period away from personal email, social media, and blogging, I've effectively got two options: delete all the emails that were sent while I was away, or spend a week digging myself out of my inbox.

It's for this reason that I found this Fast Company article interesting. My assumption from the title was that the 13 people would be on the same team. In fact, they were all from different teams within a US government research facility. 

The study found three main advantages from being unchained from email:

First, the email quitters got out of their chairs a lot more, particularly the managers. When they needed to communicate with colleagues, they preferred face-to-face conversations over phone calls. In an age when people decry sitting as the new smoking, getting out of your chair more is a big deal.

Second, with email out of the picture, people task-switched less and focused on one thing at a time more. Some studies suggest that so-called deep work, or focusing on hard tasks without interruption, strengthens the skills that ultimately help people get promoted.

Third, "there was a measurable reduction in stress," Voida says, referring to an increase in heart rate variability. However, "it's a little bit of a confounding result, because there are so many things that can influence it," such as caffeine and sleep. While more research is needed to confirm that giving up email reduces stress, it was anecdotally supported. In interviews, participants said they were happier and less anxious without it.

The interesting thing for me was that organisation-wide information delivered via email still reached the 'email quitters' via word-of-mouth. There was also an interesting finding about what they found when digging themselves out of their email inbox — but I'll let you read the article rather than summarise the whole thing...

Also worth exploring



Billing itself as 'IMDB for podcasts', Podcat allows you to search for people who may either have been featured on a podcast, or host one themselves! It even works if you search for me!



An interesting hybrid of Pinterest and Medium, ReadBoard aims to bring "meaningful contextual conversations on the Web" to one place. It reminds of what coComment tried to do about 10 years ago, but using different tropes. 

Nike unveils self-lacing Hyperadapt trainers

Nike unveils self-lacing Hyperadapt trainers

I went to see Back to the Future II at the cinema on my ninth birthday. As those who have seen the film will remember, Marty McFly wears a pair self-lacing trainers. I've wanted those for the last 26 years, and they're finally becoming a reality!

What happens when you pour molten copper on a Big Mac is horrifying

What happens when you pour molten copper on a Big Mac is horrifying

Oh my word. I may have only averaged about one Big Mac per decade up to this point, but this has put me off them for life.

GIF of the week

The best kind of animated gifs are those that loop perfectly. There are very short ones that do this effectively, as well as much longer ones, such as this one. 

I love the look the cat in the box gives at the other, larger, cat!

Quotation of the week

"Education, therefore, is a process of living and not a preparation for future living.”

(John Dewey)
Until next week!


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