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EdTech Update






Cruft is jargon for anything that is left over, redundant and getting in the way. It is used particularly for superseded and unused technical and electronic hardware and useless, superfluous or dysfunctional elements in computer software. Wikipedia

Along with plenty of reading and reflection, I’ve been cleaning out lots of the cruft, physical and digital, that has accumulated over many years. Including a few bags of stuff brought home from the former cubicle. No matter the origins, it’s a process that’s often quite cathartic. [On his retirement activities] Tim Stahmer, Some Things Never Change

I love discovering a new and useful word. "Cruft" is the perfect term for all that digital garbage in one's harddrive or Dropbox, in one's e-mail, and on one's website that simply accumulates slowly, unnoticeably, and relentlessly. The detritus of digital activity.

In the physical world, I do a pretty good job of eliminating cruft. I regularly weed my book shelves, desk drawers, file cabinets, clothes closets, and garage. With the exception of souvenirs from my travels and handmade gifts from my children, I have no qualms about pitching something.

Digitally, discarding the obsolescent, redundant, and useless is more challenging. Probably because the medium that stores 1000 PowerPoint files weighs about the same as the medium that stores 1 of them, assuming one is not using the cloud which weighs exactly the same and uses exactly the same amount of space - nada.

As I get prepared for moving - just in case my house ever sells - I am tossing a lot of physical cruft. If I have not used something in the 15 years I've lived in this house, it get tossed, gifted, or sold. Why should I not then dump anything digital I have not used in 15 years?

A teacher commented this week that before our department started doing training on Schoology, we should have first taught teachers how to move all their digital files from their computer and local network drives to their GoogleDrive accounts. A good suggestion, I thought, since linking to online documents in Schoology makes a lot of sense.

As educators move files from local drives to cloud-based application, are they moving a lot of cruft as well? And does all that gunk make finding and using the good stuff more difficult.

Any suggestions for identifying and managing the cruft in your virtual life?


Policies up-to-date? Pentlin on blocking web sites

Two examples made me start thinking about this issue [reconsideration of blocked websites]. I use Skype in my library science classes and one of my students said she couldn’t use Skype at school. She had found this out when she wanted to Skype her husband who was serving in Afghanistan The district refused to let her use Skype even after school to participate in a graduate class or to contact her husband. It doesn’t take much reading to realize that Skype, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook are being blocked by a number of school districts even though there are many examples in the literature of effective educational use social media.

Not too long ago a school district near me systematically blocked any Web sites that dealt with homosexuality. It was only after the ACLU became involved that the school district backed down in a very public display of contrition which included having to pay the ACLU attorney fees, unblocking non-sexual pro-LGBT sites and reporting regularly about blocked Web sites to an outside party.

In both of the examples above, could the issues have been resolved had there been a collaboratively developed and board approved selection policy in place with a procedure for the reconsideration of Web sites? Of course we know that even with policies in place, a common problem with censorship challenges is that administrators don’t follow their own policies, but even so, having a policy is an important step.

Floyd Pentlin, "Banned Web Sites: Are Your Policies Up-to-Date", Knowledge Quest, Septemeber 8, 2015

I am happy to see AASL continue the work of eliminating the censorship of online tools and resources. Although digital resources still only get a day, while banned books (those old-fashioned paper things) get a whole week, the work does continue.

Super-librarian, Michelle Luhtala, is spearheading this year's BWAD (Blocked Websites Awareness Day). BWAD this year is September 30, 2015. Check the free resources on the site.

Honor BWAD this year by asking a student to show you how to get around your school's Internet filter. You'll be glad you did.


Getting websites and web-based resources including social media treated fairly has long been a horn I've tooted. See:



BFTP: Do I really look that stupid?

First, please don't answer that. It was rhetorical. But here's why I asked...

I've been on an anti-purchased water kick lately. Partly driven by latent environmentalism, but mostly caused by my refusal to be persuaded that I need to spend good money for water that I have been drinking freely from the tap with no ill effects all my life.

So I am waiting for the Pike's Peak Cog Railway to take up the mountain and I ask a young woman who works at the place if the water in the bathrooms is safe to drink. "Oh, sure," she replies. Then looks at me and thinks.

Adding, "So long as you get it out of the sink."

Which makes me wonder if I actually look like a person who might drink from a toilet. Sort of ruined my whole day.




Original post July 5, 2010.