Refusing Educational Technology with Charles Logan Cybertraps Episode 003

Charles Logan is a doctoral student in the Learning Sciences program at Northwestern University. He previously worked as the educational technologist in the College of Education and Human Ecology at The Ohio State University, and prior to entering higher education, he taught high school English for nine years. He holds a Master of Arts in Educational Technology from Michigan State University and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middlebury College. A father of two, he spends a good deal of time building elaborate forts and instilling a love of the Chicago Cubs. You can find him on Twitter at @charleswlogan.

On this podcast we talk about refusal strategies for harmful ed tech.

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Jethro Jones: 00:00:00 Hi folks. Welcome to the cyber traps podcast. I’m Jethro Jones, host of the podcast, transformative principal and author of the book, school X, how to redesign your school for the people right in front of you.

00:00:12 Frederick Lane: 00:00:12 greetings. I’m Frederick lane, an author, attorney, and educational consultant based in New York. I’m the author of 10 books, including most recently cyber traps for educators. 2.0, raising cyber ethical kids and cyber traps for expecting moms and dads, Jethro. And I are teaming up to bring timely, entertaining and useful information.

00:00:34 To teachers, parents and others about the risks arising from the use and misuse of digital devices.

00:00:42 Jethro Jones: 00:00:42 over the coming weeks and months, we’ll be talking to some of the nation’s leading experts in the fields of education, parenting, sociology, cyber safety, and probably some other areas as well. Join us as we look to at what it takes to better navigate an increasingly high-tech

00:00:58 Frederick Lane: 00:00:58 Good afternoon, Jethro.

00:01:01 Jethro Jones: 00:01:01 Good afternoon. I am excited for our podcast

00:01:04 Frederick Lane: 00:01:04 I’m looking forward to it. Who do we have?

00:01:07 Jethro Jones: 00:01:07 So we have Charles Logan and he is a doctoral student in the learning sciences program at Northwestern university. He previously worked as the educational technologists in the college of education and human ecology at the Ohio state university. And prior to entering higher education, he taught high school English for nine years.

00:01:26 He’s a father of two and he spends a good deal of time building elaborate forts and instilling a love of the Chicago Cubs. Well, we all have our flaws. You can find him on Twitter at Charles W. Logan, Charles. Welcome to the cyber traps

00:01:40 Charles Logan: 00:01:40 Thank you. To start off with no love for my Cubs, that hurts, but yeah, I’ll have to, I’ll have to look past that. we are three time world series champions at this point. So.

00:01:50 Frederick Lane: 00:01:50 Um, as, as a Boston red Sox fan, you’re welcome for Theo Epstein.

00:01:55 Charles Logan: 00:01:55 Yeah. Hey, you know, he helped, he helped these out. He he’s gone now, but you know, he got us to where we needed to be broke the curse. That’s all that matters.

00:02:04 Frederick Lane: 00:02:04 Yep. Same here.

00:02:06 Jethro Jones: 00:02:06 Yeah, and I am just not a baseball fan, played it and I just can never bring myself to watch it. If there’s a live game, I’d be happy to go with somebody and hang out. But, that’s probably still a few years in the future at this point. So we’re excited to have Charles today because he wrote a an article this fall in    the digital pedagogy.

00:02:25Magazine. I don’t remember what it was called now that I, now that I’m

00:02:29 Charles Logan: 00:02:29 hybrid pedagogies. Yeah.

00:02:31 Jethro Jones: 00:02:31 Hybrid pedagogy, my apologies to everyone involved with that. But that and his article was called refusal partnership, encountering educational technologies harms. And I’m really excited to talk with you about this topic today because especially during the pandemic.

00:02:49 We have been in a race to adopt policies, procedures, technologies, to enable us to continue to do some sort of schooling. And I fear that we have not paid attention to the harms and dangers associated with that. So can you start just by telling us a little bit about Countering educational technologies harms and what inspired you to write this piece and we’ll talk more about it.

00:03:13 Sure. But what’s your approach coming into this?

00:03:16Charles Logan: 00:03:16 I guess one thing I would note is that I think while the pandemic has accelerated the feeling that these technologies need to be adopted that the technologies are around before COVID-19. And so the piece actually arose out of. My experience first supporting and then refusing to support an online proctoring technology that the university I was working at the time was using.

00:03:45 So I would say that that’s one thing, just to note that these technologies, you predate COVID, but I think COVID right. Has accelerated their use or the feeling as if we need to shift everything we’ve been doing and our in-person classes online. As you mentioned in the intro, I was a high school English teacher and I think for a long time a new technology would come out or I would be made aware of another technology that was in use.

00:04:10 I very uncritically. It was like, this sounds great. Let’s let’s do it. Without really having a set of questions to ask about whether I should do it. How would my decision be impacting both me, but most importantly, my students the kinds of data that the app or whatever it happened to be would be gathered.

00:04:30You ask a ninth grader to you know, open up their computer and , sign into this thing.  For the most part, they’re going to do it. At least in my experience, I mean, some might have some resistance to it, but. As I’ve developed as an educator and really thought about my own kind of technology literacies and the questions that are important to me to consider that are also, I think very much intertwined with my pedagogy

00:04:54 my own  kind of development of my critical consciousness to, to use some Paulo Freire language, um, has really made me see the ways in which technology is, uh, or can be, I should say, not all technology. Um, is. Uh, based on Pentagon use of control of coercion, um, that sort of manifest and re entrenched oppressive hierarchies, things like that.

00:05:22 So it’s been a while. I mean, it took me, took me about a decade to get to that point, um, of at least having some of the questions that to consider an ask, to guide my thinking. And then. Um, to feel confident that, uh, I can act on that. So I think it’s, you know, one thing to raise the concerns privately, or, you know, amongst a few colleagues, but I think the real challenge for educators is, um, and those who work with, with, you know, students too, and not in all sorts of ways.

00:05:54 I mean, I use the word teacher pretty broadly. I was an educational technologist after being a classroom teacher. And I think educational technologists and instructional designers and library staff, everyone is a teacher, you know, um, to think about how do you then act. Um, and particularly if you occupy a position of power and privilege, how do you, use that power and privilege  on behalf of those who are less powerful or do not have those, intersections of power and privilege.

00:06:24 So it’s been a long time, but, but it, it, it ultimately sort of culminated in this past year, really year and a half, where, uh, online proctoring in particular has really become a very lucrative business.  It’s also a very,  I would argue pernicious racist abelist technology. Um, and so I think, um, people need to know that, and then people were able to, and in whatever way, shape or form need to need to resist that technology.


00:06:56 Frederick Lane: 00:06:56 It seems to me, Charles, like you’re on a, a really, uh, both important and, and challenging journey, you know, in, in number one in trying to understand what the impact of technology can be. But then also I think addressing the uptake of technology in schools. And I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on that point.

00:07:16 Because, um, as I mentioned in our preliminary conversation, I spent 10 years on the Burlington Vermont school board. And, you know, a chunk of that time was on our technology subcommittee. So I got kind of a, hands-on look at how technology winds up in the classroom. And I’d like to hear your thoughts on the relative balance between.

00:07:38 Uh, or among, I should say economics and, um, vendor pressure and, um, you know, uh, issues of, uh, economy. I think the control point is really important where what’s your sense of, of how these factors play into each other and related to that, what can educators and parents do if they have concerns about some of the technology that’s being embraced?

00:08:08 Charles Logan: 00:08:08 Yeah. I mean, I would start with, the assertion that any claim that a vendor makes about their technology should immediately be doubted. So if a vendor says that their facial recognition technology, uh, you know, is unbiased or their, uh, you know, their algorithm is objective. It’s not true in my opinion, and the opinion of many people who I respect a lot.

00:08:41 So, you know, educational technology companies, many of them, they are businesses and they’re selling products. Some of them employed former teachers and they point that out and they sort of elevate the role that educators play. Um, But at the end of the day, they want you to buy their product and they don’t really care.

00:09:07 I would say, um, you know, how it impacts students. And so I would look very carefully at the narratives that these technology companies use to sell their products. Um, claims about Egypt, Tivity, about being unbiased about. Um, you know, in the world of academic integrity, um, you know, pushing this, if you don’t use our products, somehow the degree your students earn are not, it, you know, is, is somehow in questioning integrity of its value.

00:09:36 So you hear a lot of language around, um, what I would argue sort of a Neil liberal approach to education that it’s not about, um, you know, helping our students. Yeah, realize themselves and push themselves as, as, um, sort of intellectual, creative, uh, compassionate human beings. It’s how can we get them ready for the workplace, you know, 21st century skills and all of these things.

00:10:02 So I, I would immediately be very scared, Nicole, about any kind of claims that the technology companies make. I would also think about, you know, a lot of in my experience, um, which, uh, I will admit is not vast, but we know when I was working at a previous university, I was part of a committee looking at different video conferencing tools that we should have the university of should, should, you know, sign a contract for.

00:10:28 Um, and a lot of the questions centered around issues of privacy, which I think are absolutely. Important and essential. Um, but I also think, um, there should be questions around ethics. Um, about, should we do this? What kind of, um, relationship does this technology create between, um, Teachers and students, um, does it frame students as adversaries not to be trusted and they then have to submit their paper to a plagiarism software company that is then going to determine the accuracy of, you know, uh, the truthfulness of their, of their intellectual property, which is then, you know, sold back to the school.

00:11:12As a sort of third point, I guess, to thinking about how decisions are made about whether technology should be adopted in a school is, is who’s at that table making that decision, because if it’s just an administrator and, and the person from the industry, um, or maybe there’s like a, a small select committee of folks who are voluntold to, be there, um, then, uh, you know, that’s missing.

00:11:39 Really important people like the students themselves. Right. So how often are students actually involved and if they are involved, is it. performative? Is it, well, you were on the committee, but you didn’t have a vote. Um, and we, you know, we thank you for sharing your opinion, but we have sort of entered into this conversation, you know, with our kind of preconceived idea about where we want to go with this.

00:12:03Our parents involved, you know, there was a letter just this, this morning, I was looking at Twitter, um, more than 2000 parents signed, um, an open letter to, uh, uh, Like a publishing company. I don’t know if I can name names on this, on this podcast, but I’m a publishing company and their partnership with, uh, an online proctoring company is saying that, you know, um, this online proctoring company is invasive, um, and it’s surveillance and it’s, uh, you know, based on algorithms that have a documented history of racism and ableism.

00:12:40 And so, so I think, you know, it’s often about, I think schools. Taking seriously, the, uh, the principles upon which they’re, they’re built and in which they claim and their, you know, uh, mission statements, right? If you care about students, then they need to be involved. You care about the school community. Um, then they need folks need to be involved in decision makings that are going to impact students.

00:13:09 Um, and so. I think all of those things, if we’re doing all of this and I think that’s a pretty good, pretty good start.

00:13:16 Jethro Jones: 00:13:16 Yeah. So I wanna address a couple of things that you mentioned. One of those is privacy. And just to set the stage for how far this pendulum has swung in the early two thousands. I was, um, a, uh, an English teacher, high school and middle school. And I was, um, working with kids on starting to blog. Right. And I was not allowed to have them blog on the open internet as in, on blogger or WordPress or something like that.

00:13:44 Um, because people would be able to find them and then they could be abducted or whatever. And so now we’re swinging all the way to the other end, where if a student is taking a test at home, they have to install, uh, A software on their computer that can look around their, their bedroom. See if there’s anything that could say that they are cheating.

00:14:05 Um, and, and things like that that are, that pendulum has just swung a tremendous amount. And it’s, it’s crazy to think how, how far that has gone. 

00:14:15And then the second piece was about having people be involved in decisions. And, um, I had a, uh, A assistant superintendent, um, where I was in, in charge of a group of student council representatives and they would come together and, they would seek to be involved and make decisions and things like that.

00:14:34 And the assistant superintendent told me the way that these, these kids are complaining about not being involved, but the way they need to be involved is in the way we tell them to be involved was essentially what she was saying, which is join our committees, do work our way. Otherwise you don’t have a voice.

00:14:52 And I remember being totally taken aback by that approach and thinking that’s not really involving them. And all that is is saying, we were going to pretend like you have a voice, but really if you’re not doing it exactly how we want your voice is, is meaningless. And I just thought that that example of do it our way or else is,

00:15:14 you know, there’s no

00:15:15 value in that at all.

00:15:17Frederick Lane: 00:15:17 Since we’re talking to an English teacher, I mean, it’s utterly appropriate. To talk about that. Literally being Orwellian, the idea that we’re going to have these kids open up screens in their rooms so that they can be observed at any given moment. And, you know, Charles said, part of my writing is on cyber traps for educators and you know, was kind of the trouble that folks can get into.

00:15:42 And there was a case that I’ve written about a couple of times in Pennsylvania. Where I’m actually an it department, not to really throw stones, but the it department head installed. Antitheft software on laptops that were handed out because there was a one-to-one initiative in the school and their quote unquote solution was that at any given time, they could turn on the webcam in the laptop and.

00:16:10 You know, find out where it was if it had been stolen, was it down at, you know, like the local Chuck E cheese or whatever. And unfortunately the it department was treating that as like a soap opera. They would dial into different kids’ rooms each morning when they got to work. And so, you know, I think that one of the things that I try to.

00:16:31 To address in the work they do is the unintended good consequences of technology. And it sounds like you’re touching on many of the

00:16:39 same things as well. 

00:16:40 Charles Logan: 00:16:40 I think that’s an important point of, you know, some of this is unintended and then some of it is very much intended. again, it comes down to, you know, what is your relationship with. Students. And how are you conceiving of, uh, that relationship? So if you think students are there to, you know, fall in line and be controlled and do what I say then, you know, uh, spying on students through their laptops, um, seems like a perfectly fine thing to do.

00:17:11And also to buy, to seek out technology that allows you to do that, you know, uh, Makes me think too, of the ways in which schools are being sold. Um, you know, essentially like NSA it’s not NSA level, but it’s like, it’s essentially it’s carceral technology. So it’s technology that, that, uh, prisons and police officers use to break into phones, um, in the name of, uh, of security.

00:17:39And so the ways in which a very real problem, , of. School shootings, um, can be co-opted by technology companies to try to, um, gin up fear and then have people purchase these, uh, these technologies. Rather than right. Invest in the community itself rather than hire more mental health professionals rather than, um, you know, do the sorts of things that I would argue are far more effective than right.

00:18:13 In the name of privacy in the name of safety. Right. So many terrible things are done in the name of privacy and , um, I would just really hope that folks listening to this, um, you know, start to, to, to take a step back and think about, you know, Again, I, as an English teacher by training, like, what are the narratives?

00:18:31 What is the, I mean, go to, I’ve found it very helpful to actually go to these technology companies, websites, and read their ad copy. Um, and think about what is the rhetoric they’re using. How are, you know, what metaphors are they using? How do they really conceive of, of students, of, of teachers, of their mission.

00:18:50 Um, and then push back against those that, uh, you know, Essentially, essentially right. Militarizing these technologies and bringing them into schools in ways that are really harming

00:19:01 students. 

00:19:02Jethro Jones: 00:19:02 , Charles, I want to talk about that idea of intended consequences, where the purpose, like you said is to surveil or to be carceral. Is that the word you use? Carceral? That’s a new word for me. Thank you. Uh, to use carceral technology. Um, in a way that, that that’s the whole point and, and out of fear, many schools have made those types of decisions because they don’t want a lawsuit in the future.

00:19:29 They don’t want harm to come to their students. And those are all well and good. So how do we make that decision? When we know that that’s, that’s the intended consequences that they’ll be surveilling on our students? How do we, how do we make the right choice in that regard?

00:19:44 Charles Logan: 00:19:44 Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I guess. I’m a firm believer that every context is different. Um, so I don’t believe in sort of saying follow policy a or B and therefore, you know, that’s the right thing to do. It goes to me, it goes back to the people, um, who are the people, what’s the community, what’s the history of the community.

00:20:04 What does the leadership structure look like in the school? So if it’s a predominantly black and Brown student population and the school leadership is all white, right. That that’s problematic. Um, and so to think about, um, you know, the decision making process as a truly democratic prod project that is going to be messy and ongoing, um, I think is, is important.

00:20:31 Uh, You know, it’s, it’s hard. I mean, I understand there, there are things that concern us to be balanced, to be balanced. And, you know, I know you maybe speak to this more than I can, but, you know, we live in a very litigious society. People are happy to Sue one another. Um, and so again, I think it comes down to that, that fear of being sued, therefore, and companies playing up on that fear.

00:20:57 They know,

00:20:58 Frederick Lane: 00:20:58 I will say, Charles, I’m much happier writing about why people are so lawsuit happy rather than bringing the lawsuits themselves. Um, I have an enormous amount of respect for my colleagues who, you know, particularly public defenders and so on and so forth. It’s it’s brutal work, but I think your point is well taken and it, it ties in nicely with what Jethro is saying is that.

00:21:20 So much of educational technology seems fear-based now. And I think that that is a really unfortunate aspect of what we’re facing as a parent myself. And, and while we all are all three of us on this, on this call, you know, we all get it. We all get how we want the schools to be safe. But I think that one of the real concerns that I have.

00:21:44 And, you know, we, we used to articulate this on the school board is we can’t have the school technology where using, reinforcing our fears as opposed to actually providing pedagogical value.

00:21:57 Charles Logan: 00:21:57 Yeah, and I th you know, it. There are so many sort of ways to go about this, right? So then it’s like, well, in, in teacher preparation programs, what are the sorts of conversations and ongoing support that teachers are receiving about using the open web, you know, Jethro, you talked about that earlier, you know, the things that is often, and I’ve done this too, of like, how do you come up with more authentic assessments?

00:22:20 And this is maybe more in a, uh, it’s I think a K-12 question, but also I know it’s a K-12 question 

00:22:26 so if you’re using online proctoring, for example, um, in a very sort of traditional multiple choice questions, um, You know, to make sure you’re not cheating versus a much, you know, I would argue authentic, um, you know, uh, assessment that allows students to use the open web because none of us as adults for the most part are ever assessed by here at cake.

00:22:47 There’s a a hundred question, multiple choice. You know, we can’t look something up on our phones or on a computer. Um, but that does raise the question of how folks are navigating, right. And how students are navigating the open web and things like that. Um, But I think their approach, those as questions of possibility that rather than restriction or fear-mongering, um, is, is the way to go.

00:23:11 Um, and I think once we start doing that, then the technology has become irrelevant because the, the assessments that, that students. Are taking, uh, you know, don’t necessitate them, um, all, so then it becomes a question of how do we support teachers who don’t have that, that, that pedagogy training, especially in higher ed, many of them, um, uh, in my experience, uh, don’t, don’t, you know, there’s no, no requirement graduate school that you learn how to be a teacher.

00:23:45 Um, and so a lot of, you know, At research, one universities where the, your career is tied to how much you publish rather than, you know, how great of a teacher you are. There’s not, there’s not an incentive in place necessarily to really think about yeah. You know, I’m going to really think about, cause it takes a long time to, to design a really effective assessment that, that might make these technologies, um, irrelevant.

00:24:09 So there are, there are all these, um, uh, you know, pieces of this puzzle.

00:24:14 Jethro Jones: 00:24:14 Yeah. And w one of the things that I talked with my teachers about as a principal was if, if your students can cheat on the assessment, that is a design problem on your part as the one who created that assessment. And so. The idea of, of cheating as a whole, like that has this whole basis in the idea that there is one single right answer and one single right way to get there.

00:24:39 And that’s just not reality in the real world that there are many different ways to do many different things. And we need to recognize that. And one of the things that you mentioned in the article that we referenced above, um, was the idea of caring about students and making sure that that’s something that is.

00:24:57 Intentional on our part. And I think that’s a key to this that we need to care about students, not just care that they don’t die, but care about them and their futures care about them on a, on a deeper level than just good or bad. You know, there’s got to be more nuance to it than that. And we need to examine things at a deeper level to be able to make these decisions.

00:25:21 What would you add about that idea of caring about students?

00:25:26 Charles Logan: 00:25:26 Yeah, I think that’s a great point. I, you know, folks like autumn Keynes have written about the weapons, weaponization of care. Um, and so I think there’s a way in which that sort of language around care can be used against. Uh, against teachers, parents, um, staff members, um, in this sort of, uh, really kind of pernicious way.

00:25:52 Um, because it, you know, if you really cared about your student, if you really cared about your kid and you dothis or you buy that or whatever it might be. And then you’re like, well, of course, I’m going to do this thing because I, yes, I care. I care for my students. Right. So there’s this, this distinction between caring about and caring for, um, And so I think when we care for students, we, we center them in their needs and their complex and changing needs, um, and, and really trying to emphasize their, their humanity, um, rather than, um, again, these sort of, uh, uh, narratives around, you know, do this thing by this thing, if you care for your student, or if you care for again about.

00:26:37 You know, the specter of, they’re not going to have a job if they don’t know how to code. Right. Like that, look to see who’s pushing those narratives. Right. Um, and then to see, does this really is my kid even interested in coding, He’s coding boot, like, you know, so that’s another soap box or another day.

00:26:55Frederick Lane: 00:26:55 Well, it’s funny. We’ve been on a lot of soap boxes today, so that’s really apt a description. Look, I think what we’re, what we’re talking around at this point, right? Is really the values that are brought to the table when these decisions are being made. Right. And I think this idea of the weaponization of care is brilliant.

00:27:19 It’s a, it’s a beautiful phrase because it calls up this idea of the militarization of the police, right? That we care for our communities by offloading weapons of war, to, you know, PO dunk. Police department and, and that in a sense invites certain behaviors just in reaction to it. And when I think about the kinds of pedagogical questions that you’re raising, it seems to me that one of the values that is absent from the conversation, both actually amongst us right now, and, and more broadly is this idea of, do we care for the society?

00:28:00 That is to say, do we bring values of digital citizenship and kind of communal activity and empathy to the educational system in the sense that know w w it seems to me that we build the kind of society we educate our kids to expect. And so if we’re surveilling our kids and we’re controlling our kids and so on and so forth, we are effectively teaching them.

00:28:27 That those behaviors are acceptable on a broader societal level. And that, that troubles me deeply because we should be teaching kids. To be free thinkers, to be critical thinkers, to think outside the box, whether it’s a bubble on a test or, you know, a, you know, whatever their lunches. I mean, just it, I, I really am concerned that one

00:28:51 of the efficiencies that’s

00:28:52 being driven by technology is, is cookie cutter students.

00:28:58 Charles Logan: 00:28:58 Yeah. I mean, I think that’s a great point and I think you use the word efficiencies there and I think again, that’s part of it, right? Is that, um, rethinking and creativity are sort of antithetical to efficiency. Right. And so again, thinking about the broader education landscape, right? If you are teaching in a school that uses high stakes testing, um, where teachers livelihood are on the line or, um, or you’re, you know, going to be labeled a failing school and that very, you’re going to have funding cut.

00:29:30 Um, I mean, I get that you feel this tremendous pressure to try to let’s March through this curriculum. Um, you know, let me make sure you’re doing this by turning on, you know, your webcams because, um, there’s just this enormous amount of pressure to achieve, you know, to race to the top, right. To leave no child left behind, um, that, um, is really in.

00:29:57 Not the students’ interests, not the teacher’s interests. So, you know, and I don’t know other fields as well, but I feel like in education, like you pull on one string and, you know, pretty soon the whole thing starts to unravel. But I think what that allows you to do is say, let me unravel this thing and Hey everybody, who’s part of my community.

00:30:20 Let’s build something else. Let’s reject what, you know, the system that we have inherited. And it makes something new. And, um, that takes a lot of will by people like principals, especially I would think, you know, and I’ll, I’ll let Jeff speak to this, but like, you know, I don’t have a sense of, of, you know, as a teacher, I had some autonomy in, in some classrooms, more than others to sort of. Um, do what I wanted to do. And even that light is going to reflect the kind of pedagogy that I bring my own experiences, the way I’ve been socialized, uh, my expectations, um, my implicit biases. Um, I don’t know. I mean the more, the older I’ve gotten very experienced I’ve had, I mean, it just seems like I’m not, I’m not ready to burn it all down, but like I’m ready to, you know, kick a few, uh, holes in some walls.

00:31:13 Frederick Lane: 00:31:13 I love hearing you say that. And you know, I feel like I’m a personal rebuttal to the argument that as you get older, you get more conservative because I feel very much like I’ve gone the other way, but I thought, I think that you might find it interesting that, um, when I was on the Burlington school board, one of the initiatives.

00:31:34 Uh, that we undertook because we were under the no child left behind regime, if you will, um, was that we took to failing quote unquote failing schools, and we actually turned them into magnet schools. And one was a magnet school for the arts and the other was a magnet school for sustainability. And it did make a significant difference in terms of the.

00:31:57 Um, the measured performance, if you will, of the students, I think is the best way to distinguish that because I think students perform in all different ways, but in any case, the demonstrable measurement improvements were good, but I look back on how difficult it was to make that kind of systemic change just in two little elementary schools in Burlington, Vermont.

00:32:21 You know, which you would think would inherently be sympathetic to the concept. And it was a heavy, heavy lift it’s challenging stuff. I, there are no easy answers. I’d love to hear where you think your work is taking you in terms of addressing some of this.

00:32:38 Charles Logan: 00:32:38 Oh, boy, I don’t know. I got five more years after I had dissertation, but, uh, I guess I had some time to figure it out. It doesn’t stop there. Of course. Um, gosh. You know, um, I am more and more interested in, you know, the, the piece focused on, um, partnership, um, and sort of moving away from, uh, hierarchical relationships, relationships, at least in higher ed in staff, faculty positions that, you know, that relationship is often, um, one of my job on multiple times was framed to me as, uh, you know, doing some sort of like, Um, customer service.

00:33:18 And so, uh, you know, as it right in the piece, like, I don’t think there are a few jobs that like, such as like innate, like simmering rage, then like someone who’s calling, some are service with a problem. Um, and that’s why I always try to be so patient with folks, um, in whatever context, but especially customer service.

00:33:40 And so. Yeah, moving away from that, that mindset to, to one of, you know, partnership, a partnership that is deeply informed by the history of a place, um, that, um, you know, that understands the role of white supremacy and racism in this country. Um, and doesn’t shy away from having those conversations, um, that is willing to have messy conversations.

00:34:09 Um, And create brave spaces for folks. Um, so you know, the extent that that relates to, um, technology. Yeah. I’ll try to connect that, um, is to think about, you know, use the word carceral technology before I am more and more convinced that, you know, educational technology is. Can be, or in some, um, certainly unequivocally in my mind is carceral technology.

00:34:35 It’s, it’s it’s prison and police technology, um, that is repackaged as educational technology. Um, and so thinking about what does it look like to abolish that technology in, um, In schools and communities, um, to really work with students to lead that effort since they are the ones who are often, um, the, the targets of that technology to work with teachers, to understand how the technology works and the sort of ethical underpinnings of it.

00:35:08 Um, Even the notion of ethics itself, right? So the notion of like, well, maybe we can make a big push now and it’s been around for a few years, but to make artificial intelligence ethical, right. And Google just fired. It’s, you know, one of its preeminent black scholars in artificial intelligence for sort of.

00:35:28 Calling it calling out its poor diversity and equity and inclusion, um, uh, and you know, for not publishing the paper that they retracted. Um, so, you know, it’s people in power also, just not this sort of, uh, performative. I care about these things. Um, you know, I care about diversity equity inclusion, but, but actually paying people and, you know, investing in their, in the communities, um, So that right.

00:35:58 We think about what is liberatory education really look like, um, in a way that is sustainable. Um, and, and that touches again, it’s about technology in some ways, but it also is

00:36:10 just, again, it’s, it’s the institutions and the systems themselves in which people find themselves.

00:36:17 Jethro Jones: 00:36:17 Yeah. So on that note, what I’m curious about is how. So if a, if a student is being subjected to the use of some sort of educational technology that they feel is violating their rights or violating their privacy, or they don’t like it, how does a student, um, then start to refuse and. Be able to get out from the clutches of that technology.

00:36:45 Is there a smart way to do it? I know you you’ve talked a lot about power and how those who have the power. They’re really the ones who have the, um, the impetus to refuse, because they’re the only ones who really can. But what advice do you have for those who may be the subject of that and what they can do?

00:37:03 Charles Logan: 00:37:03 Yeah, that’s a, that’s a hard question because I think the expectations, I mean, if a student, if a student. Feels as if or experiences that technology, as invasive as surveillance one day may not have the words for it. And I should step back and say, students care about privacy. I think that, you know, I’ll briefly step on a little soap box to say.

00:37:28 Students care about privacy. And I think that’s often what you hear from these technology companies and others is like, you know, they, they put all this information out on Snapchat or on Instagram. They, they clearly don’t care about privacy. Yes they do. Right. So, um, I I would just say that, um, Listen to students, trust students, you know, Jesse Stommel as an educator, I just really have all the respect in the world for, you know, I think his four word pedagogy is, you know, um, start by trusting students.

00:37:59 That’s four words. Um, and so if a student comes to you and says, This thing just doesn’t feel right to me, don’t dismiss them. Right. Um, and so there’s only so much a student can do. Um, I would also think about what kind of environment are you creating, where a student can come to you? Because I think it’s an incredibly brave thing to do for a student to come to a teacher to say, you know, I’ve got a problem with this.

00:38:28 Here’s why, um, You know, I’m thinking of college students, but, you know, thinking of like a fourth grader did that, you know, part of it is how their students are socialized and use technology. So I think right, if, if everyone is using this very popular platform where you get points awarded to you and there’s various sort of like Skinner behaviorist approach to classroom management, even the word class, the phrase classroom management is problematic in my mind, but, .

00:38:53 what kind of environment are the, are the students being socialized into to say I’m skeptical of this thing? Am I, am I skepticism is really valued in the school, in my classroom. And in the absence of that, right. It goes back to, to listen to students because, um, nothing is more well.

00:39:14 One of the more demoralizing things for a student is to say, I’m taking this brave act. I’m going to go to some, whether it’s a parent or a teacher or administrator staff member to say this thing doesn’t feel right to me, you know, maybe they’ve done a little research on the web depending on, you know, um, The way that they’d go about this.

00:39:32 And certainly students, at least in higher ed, particularly on issues with online proctoring and you see, you know, around the world at this point, students really, um, voicing their opposition. Um, To listen to two students, because as I said, I, you know, that that is a courageous thing to do, um, and not, and not to dismiss them to believe them.

00:39:52 And then, and then research yourself because I think sometimes, you know, there’s so many things that a teacher or a parent or administrator has to keep track of. And so much of it, it’s just easier to say, Oh, this technology companies tells me that this is how it works. I can believe them, whatever, you know, the other schools in the district are doing that, whatever.

00:40:08 Um, and so to, to not meet the other schools in the district, right. To really, um, Prioritize. And I know they’re, so I don’t know. I can only imagine how many priorities a principal has to, you know, decisions that a principal has to make any, any one day. I may know, as a, as a teacher, the number of factors I was trying to balance in any one day, um, you know, in some ways that gets right into.

00:40:31 If you plan professional development, what kind of professional development are you planning? Right. Is it really worthwhile for your teachers? Do your teachers have a say in it? Like I said, all these things I think are like interconnected in this, in this really important way that can’t be oversimplified.

00:40:46 Um, so to get back to your original question, um, what can students do? I think they can try to, I would encourage students to voice their concerns and more importantly, I would, um, You know, say to those who are working with students, listen to them, take them seriously. And if they are concerns, you know, do your homework and, uh, you know, as you would ask your students to do your homework, um, and figure out, you know, what, what are the issues with this technology?

00:41:17 And if you feel there are legitimate issues, and I think they are,

00:41:21 um, think about how you can make a change.

00:41:26Jethro Jones: 00:41:26 I’ll just say this real quick. I think what I would add to what you said, Charles is if you’re a student go find that teacher or professor or whoever who is going to listen to you because that person exists in your school. So go find that person and have this

00:41:40 conversation with them because they

00:41:43 do exist.

00:41:43 And we got to find them. Sorry, Fred, go

00:41:45 ahead. 

00:41:46 Frederick Lane: 00:41:46 No apology required because, uh, you know, many time zones involved here, um, I’d like to follow up on what you just said, Jethro, because my. My advice to students. And I say this cautiously as a former school board member is that there is strength in numbers. So if there is something that you and your classmates are concerned about, or if there is something that you would like to organize your fellow students around, figure out how to do that.

00:42:17 And it leads to my question to you Charles, on this, which is to say that. An argument I think can be made that students are savvier in some ways today than even 15 or 20 years ago because of the access to information they have and the resources that they have online. So I guess I’m curious how you think that will play out and will that shift the power balance a little bit in terms of how schools view students.

00:42:52 Charles Logan: 00:42:52 I can only hope it does, you know, I, I, as you said, I think part of it is making an argument and being persuasive. And if I’m a student and I can say, you know, our school has just signed this contract with this online proctoring company for however many thousands of dollars. Um, and I go and I, you know, enter an internet search for other schools and other students who are facing this.

00:43:14 I can point out to my teacher or my administrator or everybody, um, to say, this is an issue. It’s not an isolated issue. Hear how other students in schools are addressing it. I would like to begin this conversation. And I would like to be a serious member of this conversation and not just thank you for bringing this to our attention.

00:43:36 We’re going to form a committee around this. Now we’ll come up with a recommendation in two years time. And by that point, the student has forgotten, not probably not forgotten about it, but has graduated or something like that. And with, with the message that, uh, you know, I can bring these issues to light and I can bring them up with people who might be able to do something about it.

00:43:56 But if they ignore me or, you know, pretend to listen to me then, um, Right. The, the kind of like civic message I’m taking away from that is one that I think is ultimately pretty demoralizing. So I, I, you know, I would say that I’m hopeful, you know, students that you said, um, I think students have always been savvy and that their protests look different in different time periods of different contexts, but I’m hopeful that, um, yeah, when it comes to educational technology, that that students are able to in conjunction with, um, teachers and administrators who care for them, uh, able to really make some change around these issues.

00:44:33 Jethro Jones: 00:44:33 Yeah, well, I want to thank you Charles, for being part of the cyber traps podcast. This was great. And as a reminder, you can connect with Charles on Twitter at Charles W. Logan

00:44:43 Frederick Lane: 00:44:43 Excellent stuff, Charles. Thank you.


00:44:48 Well, that wraps up this episode of the cyber traps podcast. In the coming weeks, we will continue our coverage of emerging trends in digital misconduct, cyber safety, cybersecurity, privacy, and the challenges of high-tech parenting along the way. We’ll talk to our growing collection of interesting experts from the Y from a wide range of fields, including cyber safety, 

00:45:10 education 

00:45:11 and privacy.

00:45:13 Jethro Jones: 00:45:13 you can find the cyber traps podcasts on all your favorite podcast apps. And we hope that you’ll share the show with your friends and colleagues and reach out to us. If you have questions or topic suggestions, we’ll take those too. If you’d like to follow us on Twitter, I’m at Jethro Jones and Fred is at cyber traps.

00:45:29 You can also find us on Facebook at transformative principle and cyber traps and on a variety of websites as well.

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