What competencies do public sector officials need to enhance national digital transformations?

Report by the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development: “The Broadband Commission Working Group on AI Capacity Building has leveraged a multi-stakeholder leadership model to assess the critical capacity needs for public sector digital transformation, including from a developing country perspective. From interviews with policymakers, global and regional expert consultations and evaluation of current international practices, the Working Group has developed three competency domains and nine recommendations. The output is a competency framework for civil servants, spelling out the Artificial Intelligence and Digital Transformation Competencies needed today…(More)”

Math for Future Scientists: Require Statistics, Not Calculus

Essay by Robert C. Thornett: “The common requirement to pass calculus in order to major in a science is a killer of students’ dreams. And it unnecessarily limits the pool of future scientists.

Charles Darwin is a classic example of a genius naturalist who was not a natural at math. As a young man, he sailed around the world aboard the HMS Beagle and explored the giant tortoises and iguanas of the Galapagos, the rainforests of Brazil, and the coral reefs of the South Pacific. From these sorts of direct engagements with nature, he developed his theory of evolution, which revolutionized science. But Darwin wrote in his autobiography that after studying math as a young man, he found that “it was repugnant to me.” When statistics stumped Darwin during his experiments investigating the advantages of crossbreeding plants, he called his cousin, the statistician Francis Galton, to try to make sense of the numbers.

Similarly, Thomas Edison said that as a boy he had a “distaste for mathematics.” But this did not stop him from becoming one of the most famous scientific inventors of all time. “I can always hire a mathematician,” said Edison, “but they can’t hire me.” Edison was so interested in chemistry that at the age of 13, when he got a job as a newsboy and concessionaire on the Grand Trunk Railroad, he brought a chemistry set aboard so he could do experiments during layovers. Math and science are distinctly different fields, and a talent for one does not imply a talent for the other.

According to professor emeritus Andrew Hacker of Queens College of the City University of New York, less than five percent of Americans will ever use any higher math at all in their jobs, including not only calculus but algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. And less than one percent will ever use calculus on the job. Born in 1929 and holding a PhD from Princeton, Hacker taught college political science for decades and has also been a math professor. His book The Math Myth: And Other STEM Delusions argues that not only college students but high school students should not be required to take algebra, geometry, trigonometry, or calculus at all. Hacker points out that not passing ninth grade algebra is the foremost academic indicator that a student will drop out of high school.

Before the objections tumble forth, I should emphasize that both Hacker and I like math and neither of us wants to remove all math requirements; we want to improve them. And I believe high school students should be required to study algebra and geometry. But Hacker’s larger argument is that both high schools and colleges should switch to teaching more useful types of math that can help students navigate the real world. He says American schools teach basic arithmetic well up to around middle school, but they stop there when they should continue teaching what he calls “adult arithmetic” or “sophisticated arithmetic” rather than veer off into more abstract types of math…(More)”.

California Governor Signs Sweeping Children’s Online Safety Bill

Article by Natasha Singer: “California will adopt a broad new approach to protecting children online after Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill on Thursday that could transform how many social networks, games and other services treat minors.

Despite opposition from the tech industry, the State Legislature unanimously approved the bill at the end of August. It is the first state statute in the nation requiring online services likely to be used by youngsters to install wide-ranging safeguards for users under 18.

Among other things, the measure will require sites and apps to curb the risks that certain popular features — like allowing strangers to message one another — may pose to younger users. It will also require online services to turn on the highest privacy settings by default for children.

“We’re taking aggressive action in California to protect the health and well-being of our kids,” Governor Newsom said in a statement that heralded the new law as “bipartisan landmark legislation” aimed at protecting the well-being, data and privacy of children.

Called the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, the new legislation compels online services to take a proactive approach to safety — by designing their products and features from the outset with the “best interests” of young users in mind.

The California measure could apply to a wide range of popular digital products that people under 18 are likely to use: social networks, game platforms, connected toys, voice assistants and digital learning tools for schools. It could also affect children far beyond the state, prompting some services to introduce changes nationwide, rather than treat minors in California differently…(More)”.

Governing the ‘Datafied’ School: Bridging the Divergence between Universal Education and Student Autonomy

Paper by Theresa Henne and Oskar Josef Gstrein: “Students and teachers find themselves increasingly surrounded by Big Data and AI technologies that facilitate the learning process and the organisation of school life. Accordingly, vast amounts of data are being collected on the working of the entire school community. This trend–referred to as the ‘datafication’ of education–was pushed immensely during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, already before the necessity to quickly find digital solutions for remote teaching and learning, many scholars were concerned about the privacy and autonomy of the ‘datafied’ student and the corresponding larger effects on public education and democracy as such. In this chapter, we approach the datafication of school education through the lens of data protection and autonomy. We point to the inadequacies in the European data protection framework, which is considered as the state of the art by many. In search of other capable legal concepts, we explore the German ‘right to informational self-determination’, which introduces the distinct argument that restricting data flows is a necessity for the free personal development of the individual–a notion relevant for the tumbling, ever evolving minds of children and teenagers. We find that the fuzzy realities of school life demand a nuanced governance approach that balances individual control and privacy protection with the interests, needs and visions of the school community…(More)”.

Education data reality: A continued conversation

 Report by the Digital Futures Commission (UK): “explores how EdTech is currently used within schools, and identifies four problems that constrain children’s best interests when it comes to EdTech and the use of education data:

  1. Disproportional risks vs benefits: The actual benefits of EdTech and the data processed from children in schools are currently not discernible or in children’s best interests. Nor are they proportionate to the scope, scale and sensitivity of data currently processed from children in schools. The teachers and school staff reported modest added value of EdTech or the insights that could be extracted from the data processed by the EdTech in use without appropriate analytics skills required from teachers or school staff.
  2. Limited control over data: Schools have limited control or oversight over data processed from children through their uses of EdTech. This limited control over data results from the design of the specific EdTech, EdTech providers’ business models, the broader ecosystem of public and commercial stakeholders with interests in data processed from children in educational contexts and convoluted terms of service and privacy policies. Effectively, the power imbalance between EdTech providers and schools, as service users, is structured in the terms of use they signed up to and exacerbated by external pressure to use some EdTech services.
  3. Insufficient guidance: Currently, there is a distinct lack of comprehensive guidance for schools on how to manage EdTech providers’ data practices. Nor is there a minimum standard for acceptable features, data practices and evidence-based benefits for schools to navigate the currently fragmented EdTech market and select appropriate EdTech that offers educational benefits proportionate to the data it processes.
  4. Resource limitation: Patchy access to and security of digital devices at school and home due to cost and resource barriers means that access to digital technologies to deliver and receive education remains inequitable…(More)”.

Kids Included: Enabling meaningful child participation within companies in a digital era

Report by KidsKnowBest and The LEGO Group: “As the impact of digital technology on children’s lives continues to grow, there are mounting calls for businesses that engage with children to deliver meaningful child participation throughout the design and development of their operations. Engaging children in how you take decisions and in how you design your digital products and services can, if done responsibly, create substantial value for both businesses and children. However, it also presents a broad number of challenges that businesses will need to address.

This report is a practical tool intended for businesses that are embarking on a journey towards meaningful child participation and encountering the challenges that come with it. It brings together expert voices from across sectors, including those of children and young people, to reflect on the following questions:

  1. What is meaningful child participation?
  2. Why is it important for children and businesses in relation to the digital environment?
  3. What are the key challenges to achieving this?
  4. How can businesses overcome these challenges?

While the report’s contributors passionately believe in the importance of meaningful child participation, they also recognise that nobody has all the answers. As such, this report is not intended to be referenced as an exhaustive resource, and is intended to be used together with the many other valuable resources for businesses.
However, we do hope it will inspire and enable businesses to move towards a future where children’s beliefs and perspectives are central to the design and development of the digital world. Children are asking to be heard. It’s time for businesses to sit up, listen, and learn…(More)”.

Evidence decision-making tool for policymakers

Repository by The Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) (via APO): “…outlines tools for education policy-makers to assess their confidence in a certain policy, program or initiative, and decide on next steps.

The evidence decision-making tool assists you to:

  • assess how confident you are that a certain policy, program or other initiative is likely to be effective in your context
  • decide on next steps, including how to implement the initiative given your level of confidence, and how to collect more evidence to increase your confidence in its effectiveness

The evidence decision-making tool can be used by an individual or a group, for example, in a planning workshop. It’s designed to be flexible, so you can use it to consider a change to an existing initiative or the introduction of something new…(More)”.

Paradoxes of Media and Information Literacy

Open Access book by Jutta Haider, Olof Sundin: “Paradoxes of Media and Information Literacy contributes to ongoing conversations about control of knowledge and different ways of knowing. It does so by analysing why media and information literacy (MIL) is proposed as a solution for addressing the current information crisis.

Questioning why MIL is commonly believed to wield such power, the book throws into sharp relief several paradoxes that are built into common understandings of such literacies. Haider and Sundin take the reader on a journey across different fields of practice, research and policymaking, including librarianship, information studies, teaching and journalism, media and communication and the educational sciences. The authors also consider national information policy proposals and the recommendations of NGOs or international bodies, such as UNESCO and the OECD. Showing that MIL plays an active role in contemporary controversies, such as those on climate change or vaccination, Haider and Sundin argue that such controversies challenge existing notions of fact and ignorance, trust and doubt, and our understanding of information access and information control. The book thus argues for the need to unpack and understand the contradictions forming around these notions in relation to MIL, rather than attempting to arrive at a single, comprehensive definition.

Paradoxes of Media and Information Literacy combines careful analytical and conceptual discussions with an in-depth understanding of information practices and of the contemporary information infrastructure. It is essential reading for scholars and students engaged in library and information studies, media and communication, journalism studies and the educational sciences….(More)”.

A Vision and Roadmap for Education Statistics

Report by he National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: “The education landscape in the United States has been changing rapidly in recent decades: student populations have become more diverse; there has been an explosion of data sources; there is an intensified focus on diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; educators and policy makers at all levels want more and better data for evidence-based decision making; and the role of technology in education has increased dramatically. With awareness of this changed landscape the Institute of Education Sciences at the U.S. Department of Education asked the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to provide a vision for the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)—the nation’s premier statistical agency for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating statistics at all levels of education.

A Vision and Roadmap for Education Statistics (2022) reviews developments in using alternative data sources, considers recent trends and future priorities, and suggests changes to NCES’s programs and operations, with a focus on NCES’s statistical programs. The report reimagines NCES as a leader in the 21st century education data ecosystem, where it can meet the growing demands for policy-relevant statistical analyses and data to more effectively and efficiently achieve its mission, especially in light of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 and the 2021 Presidential Executive Order on advancing racial equity. The report provides strategic advice for NCES in all aspects of the agency’s work including modernization, stakeholder engagement, and the resources necessary to complete its mission and meet the current and future challenges in education…(More)”.

An intro to AI, made for students

Reena Jana at Google: “Adorable, operatic blobs. A global, online guessing game. Scribbles that transform into works of art. These may not sound like they’re part of a curriculum, but learning the basics of how artificial intelligence (AI) works doesn’t have to be complicated, super-technical or boring.

To celebrate Digital Learning Day, we’re releasing a new lesson from Applied Digital Skills, Google’s free, online, video-based curriculum (and part of the larger Grow with Google initiative). “Discover AI in Daily Life” was designed with middle and high school students in mind, and dives into how AI is built, and how it helps people every day.

AI for anyone — and everyone

“Twenty or 30 years ago, students might have learned basic typing skills in school,” says Dr. Patrick Gage Kelley, a Google Trust and Safety user experience researcher who co-created (and narrates) the “Discover AI in Daily Life” lesson. “Today, ‘AI literacy’ is a key skill. It’s important that students everywhere, from all backgrounds, are given the opportunity to learn about AI.”

“Discover AI in Daily Life” begins with the basics. You’ll find simple, non-technical explanations of how a machine can “learn” from patterns in data, and why it’s important to train AI responsibly and avoid unfair bias.

First-hand experiences with AI

“By encouraging students to engage directly with everyday tools and experiment with them, they get a first-hand experience of the potential uses and limitations of AI,” says Dr. Annica Voneche, the lesson’s learning designer. “Those experiences can then be tied to a more theoretical explanation of the technology behind it, in a way that makes the often abstract concepts behind AI tangible.”…(More)”.