What would these 7 skills matched to leadership in Texas schools look like? Are our leadership/management styles aligned to these 7 skills? When you watch a video about WolframAlpha–like this one–it’s pretty scary. I’d bet most of the questions are students are asking can be answered by this search engine…why aren’t we teaching them better? I suggest because we aren’t leading our schools to accomplish this.
Seven Skills as I understood them:
- Critical thinking and problem-solving: To accomplish this, we need more problem-based learning.
- Collaborative leadership: How do you work together to solve problems and innovate at a distance? How do you “win friends and influence people” over the network? There is definitely a need to know how to do this.
- Adaptability and learning: Not only do you have to be flexible and adapt (isn’t that humanity’s claim to fame, being adaptable in harsh environments?), you have to be able to learn quickly. This doesn’t sound like anything we didn’t need to do as we evolved…why are we not doing it in school?
- Take the initiative and be creative: Waiting for direction from others rather than taking the initiative and creating something can be a show-stopper. I know that I want people on my team who can take the initiative and create something new, something *I* never could have imagined.
- Effective Oral and Written Communication: this seems obvious.
- Accessing and analyzing information
- Imagination – This actually reminded me of Seth Godin’s purple cow
What I really enjoyed from this article was the steps at the end…I’ve paraphrased them a bit:
- Give students a complex, multi-step problem that is different from the ones they’ve seen in the past and, to solve it, they have to apply previously acquired knowledge.
- Students have to engage in parallel problem-solving–developing at least two ways to solve the problem–which requires some initiative and imagination. Then, share their solutions and rationale using effective communication skills (not just a Powerpoint, eh?)
- Teacher uses questions to push the student groups’ thinking.
- Hold the team, and each member, accountable for the solution and the thinking that went into it.
“Creativity is akin to insanity, say scientists…”
Source: BBC: http://bit.ly/caPQMk
What’s it like in YOUR neck of the woods?
This morning, this Buzz bugged me like a gnat on a hot summer day (and, in Texas, that’s not too far off!):
Emanating from a central hub, your influence should transcend multiple levels within your organization. Conceptually, 360° Leaders “lead up, lead across, and lead down” to maximize their sphere of influence.
The expression usually means clearing out confusing details and finding out the real facts about something.
- Fails to Conduct an Environmental Scan: If you conduct an environmental scan–getting relevant information about your situation–you will probably find that there is an entrenched culture ready to resist your change efforts. It doesn’t matter that YOU think it’s all wonderful and great, but that people with real feelings do not want to change. Leadership without taking stock of the needs and fears of those around you is plumb loco.
- Fails to Avoid Garnering Needless Resentment and Retaliation: In the diagram above, it is stated that your professional responsibility IS to break the chain of command and talk to your supervisor’s peers, peer’s subordinates, and supervisor peer’s subordinates. Although education certainly gives lip service to distributed management/leadership approaches, the dysfunctional hierarchy is very much still in use.
Is the following true of your organization or school hierarchy?
Most hierarchies express arrogance and abuse of power, repressing expressions of new creative impulses. The limitation of the leader or leadership group becomes the limitation of an entire organization or society. Dysfunctional hierarchies create immense frustration in others, accompanied by threats of rebellion or at least passive resistance and subtle sabotage.Source: The New Leadership
In hierarchies, is leadership shared? Can we have leaders in the middle and leaders in positions? Sure we can! But will insecure leaders in positions allow the leaders in the middle? NO.
A great example of this is, if I go off and shout out a message to campus principals without ensuring that message has organizational support, nothing will happen. In fact, those folks at every angle of 360 degrees will strongly resent and retaliate. R&R increases when I go up the chain of command. Whether we agree that this is the “right” way, in many school cultures, R&R are a consequence of violating the chain of command and the culture of “no information” for those lower on the hierarchy.
- Fails to Consider Command and Control Type Approaches in Schools: I haven’t read a single leadership book that encourages a lack of openness and transparency in leadership, but I bet readers would be unsurprised to find out that being close-mouthed IS an expectation for those higher-ups in position. The approach was described in this way to me by someone holding a doctorate in education leadership and consulting for local schools (read my disclaimer below before jumping to conclusions): School leaders are looking for “Soldier Ask Not” type obedience; they make a decision at Central Office and they want it carried out without argument or discussion. “Just do it.” That’s how districts that work get it done. This results in a top-down hierarchy where important decisions ARE made at the top by the POSITIONS, rather than the stakeholders.
Maxwell believes that those who are deficit in leadership skills tend to hoard their information. They protect their work from peers, supervisors and subordinates in order to make sure they receive their due credit for the work they have done.
He also believes that true leaders share everything. They share their best ideas, their hardest work, their most invested projects with everyone from every level in order to provide for the good of all. He feels this type of leader will ultimately reap the benefits of their unselfish and dedicated efforts and, like cream, rise to the top.
Star followers think for themselves, are very active, and have very positive energy. They do not accept the leader’s decision without their own independent evaluation of its soundness. If they agree with the leader they give full support. If they disagree, they challenge the leader, offering constructive alternatives that will help the leader and organization get where they want to go. Some people view these people as really “leaders in disguise” but this is basically because those people have a hard time accepting that followers can display such indpendence and positive behavior. Star followers are often referred to as “my right-hand person” or my “go-to person.”
- “What activities do you need to report to me?”
- “What about my activity and my plans do you need to know from me?”
- The CEO needs to say, “This is what I am focusing on.” Then the CEO needs to ask of his associates, “What are you focusing on?” Ask your associates, “You put this on top of your priority list–why?”
“Where there is no hope in the future, there is no power in the present.”
Everytime I listen to a keynote speaker, there is an air of inevitability conveyed. You know, it usually is along the lines of Sylvia Martinez’ words at GenYes Blog, “This is a floodgate well and truly open, whether or not you declare it closed.” Not unlike those speakers, I also find myself sending a message similar to the ones below…it’s worth reflecting on the implications of expressing such an air of inevitability:
“No, parents don’t have a choice. Technology is coming and you better quit trying to close the door on it.”
“No, teachers don’t have a choice. Technology is coming and you better work in like yeast into the bread of everyday instruction.”
“No, administrators don’t have a choice. Technology is coming and you better use it for data collection, reporting, disaggregation and analysis to improve student achievement.”
“No, students, you don’t have a choice. As your parent, I bought you this mobile phone or this interactive white board, and I expect you to use it.” And, so they do.
I don’t like inevitability…it conveys a lack of choice. So does the word “inexorable.” If something is inevitable, it’s coming no matter what. Inexorable implies relentless progress. What we need is a profound shift in our thinking. It’s no longer about not having a choice, but having boundless possibilities. Yet, what you do with what is possible for you reflects upon you, as does public perception of your decision. Consider the following information from Reputation Management and Social Media Report:
More than half (57%) of adult internet users say they have used a search engine to look up their name and see what information was available about them online, up from 47% who did so in 2006. Young adults, far from being indifferent about their digital footprints, are the most active online reputation managers in several dimensions. For example, more than two-thirds (71%) of social networking users ages 18-29 have changed the privacy settings on their profile to limit what they share with others online.
Reputation management has now become a defining feature of online life for many internet users, especially the young. While some internet users are careful to project themselves online in a way that suits specific audiences, other internet users embrace an open approach to sharing information about themselves and do not take steps to restrict what they share. “Contrary to the popular perception that younger users embrace a laissez-faire attitude about their online reputations, young adults are often more vigilant than older adults when it comes to managing their online identities,” said Madden.
Source: Reputation Management and Social Media by Mary Madden and Aaron Smith, 05/26/2010
How do you perceive the Internet? Will you share information about yourself or limit yourself?
In reviewing this report, I wonder about my teenage daughter. Is her reluctance to publish her work online, as well as her deletion of her Facebook account, stemming from:
a) Her traditional instruction that jealously refuses to publish work online for fear someone will steal the ideas and their expression?
b) Her desire to safeguard her personal and life details
c) A desire to keep her technology use social, as opposed to academic.
It is choice C that bothers me the most. Is it possible that our children are learning that technology use is social, as opposed to academic? My child is a creator but only creates on paper. As I point out to her, is that going to cut it when you have so many–including children–already creating and posting their work online?
When I read Dave Fleet’s points in a blog entry entitled, How To Ruin (Or Build) Your Personal Brand, I found myself slowly doing a quick check of my own online reputation. How would I score?
I’ve re-ordered Dave’s points into ones I found to resonate the most with me:
- Follow your passion; be yourself – My passion is anything at the intersection of leadership, technology in education, and writing. I’ve tried to be myself in these blog entries, although I often wonder, have I been TOO much myself?
- Be willing to fail – This is critically important. Some people won’t write or try something for fear of failure, embarrassment. I can honestly say, failure is a key aspect of learning, writing and blogging.
- Define Your goal – This is something that I’ve been criticized on. If I were to focus on ONE topic, that would make Around the Corner a “killer blog.” What folks don’t realize is that my focus when I started the blog was to share what I was learning, and I have to learn a lot of different things that are relevant to the work I’m about and my interests. Funny, huh? If I have an over-arching goal, it’s learn and share.
- Under-promise; over-deliver – This is one that isn’t hard. I never made a promise to my readers about what I would deliver. I don’t have to deliver anything some days, nor do I feel obligated to do so.
- Kill people with generosity – Gee, I hope that has happened. I hope people have found what is shared useful for THEIR work.
- Find a mentor – If I had to claim mentors, I’d probably pick on BlueSkunk Blog (Doug Johnson) since he is one of the oldest folks I know about (smile). I sure appreciate being able to give him free rein to pick on me while he’s teaching me something by being himself. Of course, there are so many mentors online that are available to learn from.
- Network like crazy – Well, you be the judge of my network.
- Be a sponge/say yes – I’ve had real trouble with this. I’m having to say NO more often to outside projects so I can focus on a few. I’m a workaholic, but I guess I’m getting more selective in my collaborations. That’s dangerous, I suspect, now that the world is all about collaboration. As such, I need to grow seriously in this area.
- Build your brand before you need it – This is very true. I have a brand, I’m just not sure what brand it is. I hope that the brand says, “This is reliable, offered in openness and transparency with no hidden agenda.” You’ll have to tell me.
Wes Fryer, sharing his passion for StoryChasers, points out the following:
Never underestimate the power of WORDS and the importance of helping others become AUTHORS…We all have stories to tell, and stories to which we have unique access that deserve the opportunity to be shared with others. Whether writing text, recording audio, or creating video, we can ALL now have access to a powerful set of documentary and publishing tools which our ancestors could scarcely imagine.
Want to manage your reputation? Do something worthwhile and share it online with as many as may want to subscribe to your work! Perhaps, the word isn’t inevitable…it’s inexorable.
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure
“We wouldn’t exist, as a human race, unless we had evolved as the most effective lifelong learners in the history of the planet.” One of my favorite quotes so far!
I’ve been snatching a few pages here and there from Robert L. Fried’s book, “The Passionate Learner.” Here are a few quotes from that jumped out at me…for fun, I titled each of the quotes…sort of like what you might see in Bible quotes. I won’t provide chapter and verse, though (or even page #). You’ll find all these quotes in pages 1-45, though.
The loneliness of the solitary educator and the isolated parent, the school cut off from a vital connection to its neighborhood, the home and classroom that feel like totally other worlds to the child–these things must change if we are to raise a generation of passionate learners.
“High school was like a penance imposed for some unknown sin. Everything I ever learned that was important to me was learned outside of school. So I never though to associate schools with learning.” –A former high school student
CELEBRATE THE ETERNAL
The Passionate Learner is all around us, within us. It is the child who questions, who daydreams, who invests problems and tries to solve them. It’s the child who winces at injustice and wants to know how to make life fair. It’s the child who acts and then steps back to wonder why things turned out that way, who reads and then links the universe of the book, seamlessly, with that of her own imagination. Let us find ways to celebrate the eternal promise of the passionate learners that we are.
Children spend the first years of life solving problems all the time. They are born learning; if there is nothing to learn, they are bored and their attention is distracted. We don’t have to train children to learn, or even account for their learning; we have to avoid interfering with it. – Frank Smith
EVOLVED EFFECTIVENESS AS LIFELONG LEARNERS
We wouldn’t exist, as a human race, unless we had evolved as the most effective lifelong learners in the history of the planet. As human beings, we are makers and users of tools. We just have to make sure that the tool we have invented, called “school,” has a handle that can fit every child’s grasp.
(Miguel’s Note: When reading this, it made me wonder how Creationists would interpret this paragraph).
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure
Find out more about the open source imaging solution, F.O.G. TECSIG and SOSSIG members, Mark Cockrell and Shawn Kibel, recently interviewed the developers of F.O.G. for an episode of their podcast, The Tightwad Tech. There is a lot of good information on this product as well as their latest version, which was released on 5/25/10. If interested, you can find the podcast here: http://ht.ly/1QBg3 or search “The Tightwad Tech” on iTunes.
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure
One of the common obstacles–although not a significant one–that some school districts have shared in moving to cloud computing, especially GoogleApps for Education for email, calendars, and a rich variety of other tools useful for students, teachers, and administrators is that of switching systems. After all, if you’ve built your house of cards in MS Exchange, it’s hard to imagine making the transition. Anything Google can do to make the transition easier is important. One day, you can hope for 1-click transition from MS Exchange to GoogleApps for Education.
Recently, Google came a lot closer to achieving that with this announcement:
Businesses and schools are moving to Google Apps in droves, and they’re able to switch more seamlessly with the help of tools to move old email, contacts and calendar data from legacy solutions to Google’s cloud. We have administrator-managed migration utilities for Microsoft® Exchange and Lotus Notes®, and today we’re making it a lot easier for many end-users to move their old data themselves if their administrators aren’t planning server-side data migrations.
Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook® is a new end-user tool that moves email, calendar and contact data from Outlook® profiles, PST files and Exchange accounts to Google Apps. . .Google Apps Migration for Microsoft Outlook® works with Microsoft Outlook® 2003 and 2007, on-premise and hosted Exchange, as well as legacy PST files saved on users’ machines, and it’s available at no additional cost to Google Apps Premier and Education Edition customers.
When will YOUR district make the switch to “free” solution and re-invest precious dollars back into teaching and learning rather than maintaining a server farm, district technical staff that support it?
Like gluttonous kids in a candy store, exploring with toothy excitement the depths of the shiny candies in the jar at eye level, educators are rallying around a simple message – “ALL THE CANDY YOU CAN PULL OUT OF THE JAR–FREE!” Yet, the sad truth is that the candy jar of Web 2.0 tools has a narrow mouth a full hand can’t fit through, and someone has to pay the bill for the candy devoured…even if it is the “parents” (or network admins) who must “foot the bill” for clean-up and cavity eradication.
The biggest draw in the Candy Jar? Cloud Computing a la “absolute good,” which in the minds of those starving for real food, is quite simply not good–or bad–at all. No thought is given to the lack of security in cloud computing solutions, solutions colleges and universities (like Yale) have cast aside as junk. Consider their perspective:
“People were mainly interested in technical questions like the mechanics of moving, wondering ‘Could we do it?’ ” he said. “But nobody asked the question of ‘Should we do it?’ ”
Fischer said concerns about the switch to Gmail fell into three main categories: problems with “cloud computing” (the transfer of information between virtual servers on the Internet), technological risks and downsides, and ideological issues.
Google stores every piece of data in three centers randomly chosen from the many it operates worldwide in order to guard the company’s ability to recover lost information — but that also makes the data subject to the vagaries of foreign laws and governments, Fischer said. He added that Google was not willing to provide ITS with a list of countries to which the University’s data could be sent, but only a list of about 15 countries to which the data would not be sent.
Colleague–and candy afficionado–Dan Rezac points out the following:
The Cloud is an absolute good, that the very idea of an open Internet that is available to everyone, does not discriminate, is not exclusionary, and allows information to grow and be exchanged without walls or economic status will further support a society of collaboration, sharing, and participation. Let children sign up for any school they desire, and let technology be their savior here, not their virus or…Trojan Horse.
Drilling for oil is also an absolute good–for the businessmen involved, the workers who make a living from it, the tourist industry that gains some money, but when something goes wrong–and it inevitably does because we all fall short of…perfection–letting people follow their desires IS cause for concern.
It’s clear that Candy Jar advocates, er, I mean, Cloud Computing advocates have missed the point. It’s not that the open internet isn’t a worthwhile end in itself. It’s not that Moodle–or any course management system–fails to live up to their desires for an open learning environment. Everyone knows GoogleApps for Education, Moodle offer different solutions to perceived and real problems schools have.
The fundamental goals of schools today, by their very nature, express a different concept of how children and teachers should be approaching learning and teaching. It’s not to say that one is evil or as sinister as a Sith Lord cloaked in shadows, or as good as a Jedi Master wrapped in self-righteous, controlled emotion and sensitivity to the plight of the hungry and the oppressed.
What we have is a simple lack of understanding. The question isn’t, “if there was no Moodle, we would have easy access to Cloud Computing and CourseClouds and all that vaporous nonsense, right?” Rather, the question is, “If there were no Moodle, what would be your favorite brand of chalk and chalkboard?”
To really get insight into what school teachers in some districts–like Texas and Oklahoma–face, you have to listen to insidious dark whispers of technology directors who protect us all, but especially those gluttonous children from eating too much candy, running rampant like ravenous rats in the corn.
Cloud computing? CourseCloud? Moodle? Yes, say these words but then, in the still of the night, remember the Man behind the counter, his smile too chilling to forget, his rapacious expression of greed too frightening to recall. An absolute good? In whose hands would you want your future, the Corporations eager to capture your data, or the tech director you work with every day, who labors constantly on your behalf?
Allanon and Flick – http://www.ans-graphics.com/digital_images/swordflick.jpg
Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosurep
A colleague at work called me up today, asking for guidance on how to best access the Internet in China. Not having been to China (hint to anyone who’d like to foot the bill), I scrambled while I had him on the phone to provide him with some solutions.
Fortunately, I recalled Wes Fryer’s travails in China and googled that. Some of the solutions that came up–which will surely get this blog banned by school districts, so enjoy it while you can–included the following:
Virtual Private Network
Important for protecting logins and passwords you enter in while using public WiFi hotspots (not a bad thing to do anywhere you happen to be with “sniffers” out there ready to grab your info):
- Invisible Browsing
- Psiphon.ca and you can read the tutorial here
- TOR Park
- Access Flickr
- Circumventor (PeaceFire)
Step 2 – Take the IP Address provided in Step 1 and Convert it to Decimal – DO IT HERE
My head of school wants to know if it’s possible to have Twitter feeds from two different accounts send updates to a Facebook page and if so how this can be accomplished. If this isn’t possible, is there a quick and easy way for him to switch the feeds from different accounts off and on?
UPDATED BLOG ENTRY
Each Twitter account has what is called an RSS feed. This feed can be re-routed easily and multiple feeds posted to Facebook. Here’s how you can do it:
Let’s say you have 3 Twitter feeds, maybe one for your superintendent/principal, technology director, and/or Communications Director. To accomplish that, you will follow these steps:
1) Create the multiple twitter accounts. For purposes of this example, let’s say they are:
2) Create a dlvr.it or ifttt.com account. These services will allow you to re-direct your content from multiple Twitter accounts to your Facebook account. You will need to know the RSS feed address for your Twitter account, which happens to be as follows:
In the example above, mguhlin is my Twitter username. For the example Twitter accounts, it might look like this:
Each of these addresses would, theoretically, generate an RSS feed that can funneled through the dlvr.it or ifttt.com account.
For example, in the case of dlvr.it, it would look something like this:
What’s neat about this approach is that you can easily blend in multiple RSS feeds–say, maybe pull in twitter accounts for all teachers at your school and run them through ONE instructionally-focused Twitter or Facebook account for your school–to form ONE RSS feed for content. Using these simple techniques, you could also deliver content in a variety of ways to blogs, wikis, etc.
ORIGINAL BLOG ENTRY
Here’s are two possible approaches; the first one is mine, the second is Scott Floyd’s. What approach would you take?
I bet you can do that in Tweetdeck. You can assign each Twitter account a Facebook account to update concurrently. Tweetdeck also allows you to post to more than one Twitter account at a time. I do not use Facebook (oh the horror!), so I have not tested it. In theory, it should work just fine since each Twitter account would not care which Facebook account you are publishing to.
What would you do?
Nancy Willard shared this piece of information earlier today:
SURVEY: JOB SEEKERS REJECTED
DUE TO ONLINE INFORMATION
Seventy percent of hiring managers say they’ve decided not to hire an applicant because of information they have found online, according to a survey commissioned by Microsoft of 1,200 human relations managers and consumers. While most of those surveyed stated they research candidates online and think they are justified in doing so, only seven percent of consumers believed that recruiters check out potential candidates online when making hiring decisions. Over one-half of managers surveyed agreed that data on lifestyle, inappropriate written text and inappropriate photos were types of information that could result in rejecting a candidate. An overview of the findings from the survey can be accessed at http://www.microsoft.com/privacy/dpd/research.aspx.
Ever wondered if having a digital footprint at all would negatively impact your job chances? I have. Often, it’s the question of whether you’re online at all…it’s the proclivity one displays in having a digital footprint that is negative, rather than what you put online. Of course, that’s not a survey finding, just a personal suspicion of mind not validated by data out there (I haven’t looked too hard). But what do you think?
Would having a “good” digital footprint help you get a job? Fortunately, that question is answered by this study:
Positive online reputations matter. Among U.S. recruiters and HR professionals surveyed, 85% say that positive online reputation influences their hiring decisions at least to some extent. Nearly half say that a strong online reputation influences their decisions to a great extent.
Cracking open “The Passionate Learner,” (by Robert L. Fried) I was struck by the following quote and its relevance to a conversation going on over at Dangerously Irrelevant:
The true challenge for any teacher is to make caring the threshold for student work in any subject where thoughtfulness, imagination, analysis, reflection are important aspects of the knowledge and skills. When teachers focus solely on performance or compliance, we get the typical range of responses…But if we first ask, “Does the student care about what she is doing?” we open the door to a more engaging dialogue, leading to a more satisfying and productive teaching/learning relationship.
It would be easy to read Dr. Green’s guest blog entry at Dangerously Irrelevant entitled “Should We Get Rid of Technology Directors?” and walk away with the following conclusions:
- School culture and technology have changed to the point that implementing and maintaining technology is like managing utilities.
- Technology usability has increased so that anyone can model use of technology–think of Dr. Tim Tyson at MabrySchool.org as he converted his campus teachers into bloggers–in the classroom provided the technology tap is “turned on.”
- Designating people as educational technology directors is no longer worthwhile because we want to move ownership of technology use closer to the desired user–teachers, administrators, and students.
Yet, I keep coming back to the experiences I have had as a director of Instructional Technology Services. Often, I am the only person in the room who can explain the techno-babble of Technology Departments. It has taken years and countless hours of research on my own to serve as translator for the work committed Technology Department staff do every day. Yet, more importantly, it is my work in sharing exactly how technology can support instruction that is most important.
A CLEANER BREED – HERE COMES ANOTHER ENEMY!
When I opened up a network/information systems magazine–too late, I threw it away yesterday–I was shocked by the attitude displayed in it. There was an attitude that the user is the enemy, the point of vulnerability in the network, and that the user’s actions must be restricted whenever possible. When support is limited, a network tech’s job isn’t to teach people how to do it right, but to fix the problem. Soon, network support becomes an enemy to the primary mission of schools–to teach and learn.
As an educator, my experiences have taught me a different lesson that involves creating “conditions that promote authorship,” as Bolman and Deal put it in one of their books (Leading with Soul, I think), authorship that does not thrive in top-down, aggressively managed school networks many educators–and students–find themselves circumventing with tethered mobile devices. The role of an ed-tech director isn’t too challenge network policy but to find ways to help teachers and students learn what they must so that they are not points of vulnerability, alien bodies that must be attacked by the white blood cells of school district technology departments.
The truth of the matter is that an educational technologist could always exist or do an awesome job as a teacher or leader. When asked, “Should we move educational technology under curriculum or under Finance?” the answer should always be, “Why aren’t you moving Curriculum & Instruction under Educational Technology?”
Yet, that seldom happens. It seldom happens because edtech is about letting the genie out of the bottle, of embracing your enemies–those you serve–and giving yourself completely over to their service and learning. Our approaches to Curriculum and Instruction, Technology always seem to involve the sacrifice of creativity, discovery learning, authentic learning experiences in favor of artificial (as Clay Burell puts it, “schooliness”) activities designed to improve performance on high stakes assessments.
Simply, a school district without an edtech director committed to these authentic learning experiences, using the digital media tools of the day, has little stomach for passionate learning focused on reclaiming the “joy of discovery.”
As an instructional technology director, I often pray that technology would become so essential to what we do as teachers and administrators that if it broke down, we wouldn’t be able to do our job. The reality is often quite different…what we do as educators is irrelevant to the experiences our children have when they are passionately engaged in discovery learning.
For fun, what if we re-wrote Fried’s words (my apologies):
The true challenge for any edtech director is to make passionate engagement that empowers student the threshold for student, teacher and administrator work in schools. This is engagement that taps into the thoughtfulness, imagination, analysis, reflection critical to learning in technology-rich environments.
When directors focus solely on network performance or compliance, they get a typical range of responses…use of technology for data analysis, disaggregation and management, locked down technology that is to be held above passionate learning conditions….
But if we first ask, “Do we, as directors of educational technology, care about how technology can serve as a tool of liberation and empowerment?” we open the door to more scaffolded technology use that facilitates engaging dialogue, leading to a more satisfying and productive teaching/learning and leading relationship.
I should point out that I am a director of instructional technology. I could easily see my job disappear but then, I know what would happen. A critical voice would have been silenced…while some may have chosen, like Dr. Green in his story, to revel in irrelevance, the loss of voice comes at great cost to the people one serves. We must not forget that we are human beings, and though there is much that is of inestimable value, we also remember the words of Frederick Douglass….
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Are schools today adopting technology for use in the classroom or is technology dangerously irrelevant to the work of education? If so, technology directors must be like Mr. Douglass, mindful of the truth that power concedes nothing. Yes, those at this blog may be willing to concede everything, but as for me and my colleagues….
Watching you other people making friends
Everywhere ~ as a dog makes friends! I mark
The manner of these canine courtesies
And think: My friends are of a cleaner breed;
Here comes ~ thank God! ~ another enemy!
Note: Ah, Cyrano de Bergerac. I hope you had as much fun reading this blog entry as I did writing it!
Or, “if an educator tells you he loves children, but denies them technology, he is a liar!” (adapted from Abraham Lincoln’s quote on labor)
Although I hate to say goodbye to FriendFeed, what was driving me nuts was not able to post to Plurk directly. In fact, I want to just say something ONCE and have it go to all my favorite networks without duplication. You know…one social media network to rule them all. Unfortunately, no one tool does it all in terms of publishing content. I have to rely on 1) Ping.fm and then 2) either Friendfeed.com or Twitterfeed.com (read more about RSS to Ping.fm publishing)
Friendfeed.com will allow you to post your RSS feed for your blog, and then post it to Twitter. For me, this falls short since I want it to go to Ping.fm and then to everything else indicated in the image above.
Twitterfeed.com will post RSS feed content–such as from your blog–straight to Ping.fm and once that happens, my content will go to all the networks indicated in the image above. I was hoping this would be THE solution, but apparently, not so…I keep getting an error (Update 05/23/2010 – Twitterfeed acknowledged the problem via a tweet to me earlier and shared they are working to resolve it!):
My desire is to set this up and then forget about it. . .you know, once it is setup, just forget about it. I like the fact I can use PingDroid on my Android Phone (pictured in the image above, although you should see what PingDroid looks like on a G1 to the right) to push out updates that go everywhere. I can use a web browser to access Ping.fm or PingDroid when mobile. Of course, I’m still stuck having to read updates from others via Plurk, Twitter, Buzz, Facebook in their own apps, but sharing ideas/information has never been easier!
I’d looked at Ping.FM as a way to accomplish this a few months ago and had decided to stick with FriendFeed.com. In the intervening time, though, Ping.FM has added all my favorite networks, including:
- Plurk.com – Mostly using this because it allows for more in-depth conversations, not that I’ve had any recently since I visit it so infrequently. Yet, some people hang out here and I have read stuff here I haven’t necessarily seen elsewhere.
- Twitter.com – This is mostly my “professional” network where I can interact with other educators and reach a broad audience.
- Facebook – This is my “public-personal” network, where everything I post is personal but limited to a small group of people I’ve met face to face, who aren’t co-workers (check Twitter for that), and that I can honestly remember meeting (a small group). I haven’t decided if these criteria will work, but this is intended to be a narrow audience, as opposed to Twitter/Plurk that can include just everyone.
- Buzz – Still not exactly sure why this network is valuable, but you never know. I have gotten some significant info from Buzz, but the interaction is quite different from Twitter and Plurk. Real content sharing there that is accessible from anywhere, including work.
- GoogleReader – I want to share something via Reader and have it appear everywhere.
- Around the Corner-MGuhlin.org – The feature to post content from new blog entries or a custom URL is nice, and the fact it goes to all my social media outlets simultaneously and instantaneously is just plumb awesome!
UPDATE 05/23/2010: This is wrong. I wish Ping.fm would pull content via RSS but it does not. Sigh. Still have to use FriendFeed.com to post RSS related content for me.
- Diigo.com–>Delicious.com – Bookmark something and it ends being broadcast. For the record, I use Diigo.com for everything, but whatever I bookmark with Diigo automatically is posted to Delicious.com, and hence, to my social networks.
A few months ago, Tim Holt pointed out that keeping track of all your social networks can be very difficult. Ping.FM makes it easy to post something ONCE and then have it appear everywhere. Of course, you have to be careful of what you post!
From a social media perspective, this can certainly make it easier for a business/school district to get information out without having to juggle the networks and post to more than one at a time.
Here is what my Ping.fm dashboard looks like:
and you can track your updates from multiple locations via Ping.fm:
Some of the clients I’m using include:
- Nambu on Macintosh, although there is a dashboard set of apps, too
- Gnome Do on ubuntulinux (thanks to Joel Zehring for that tip!)
- PingDroid on my Android phone
To prepare our kids for the 21st century, I insist that:
Politicians stop dragging our children’s schools into the “culture wars”
Decisions about what students learn are based on sound scholarship and the work of real experts in every subject
Classroom teachers and professors in our state’s world-class colleges and universities – not politicians promoting personal agendas – guide the adoption of curriculum standards and textbooks
Our kids deserve better. Our future depends on it.
What can you do?
2. Call your local legislator, and tell her or him that you are dissatisfied with the board’s actions. Remind your representative that the Texas Legislature has the authority to reform this board and the process by which they adopt curriculum. You can find out who represents you by going to this website.
3. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. It’s important that this issue remain front and center in the media. Click here for information on how to write an effective letter to the editor.
4. Get five of your friends to sign the Just Educate petition and join this movement. Forward this link:www.tfn.org/justeducate.
5. Spread the message across Facebook. Invite your friends to join the Just Educate Facebook group.
Read the background:
For those who may have forgotten…
Rule 247.2 Code of Ethics and Standard Practices for Texas Educators:
Standard 2.4. The educator shall not interfere with a colleague’s exercise of political, professional, or citizenship rights and responsibilities.
Kudos to Remote Learner folks for accomplishing what I’d hoped for a long time ago–a MoodleMoot close to San Antonio! ;->
This announcement showed up in my email today:
MoodleMoot Scheduled Austin Texas August 2nd – 4th, 2010
Registration is now open for MoodleMoot Austin 2010, August 2-4 at the Marriott North in Austin, Texas. Co-sponsored by Moodle partners Remote-Learner and Moodlerooms, the Moot will feature a keynote from Martin Dougiamas, the creator and lead developer of Moodle. We will be adding more exciting speakers and networking opportunities in the near future. Early bird registration for this full two-day event is only $150 and will include meals and a full schedule of breakout sessions for K-12, higher education and corporate Moodle users. You will not want to miss this event along the river in beautiful Austin TX! Your participation in this event directly supports Moodle.
The price isn’t TOO bad, either!
For you adults in the room, here’s an experiment. Go to Openbook, a new site that searches through all public accounts at Facebook, and enter your favorite bad word of the day. Be prepared…not only for some pretty vile stuff, but from much of it being posted by kids.
I followed Will’s instructions in the first word I searched on but then decided to do something different. The second word was “love” and I found the results curious. Amidst the many posts, I found these fairly quickly:
O GOD,the source of all health,so fill my heart with faith in your Love,that with calm expectancy.I may make room for your power to possess me and gracefully accept your Healing,through JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD!! AMEN..
God’s whisper: Dear Child, I have sent (and will continue to send) people into your life who will make you discover the gold within you. They will see things in you that you yourself cannot see. They will make you grow. Love, God PS. These people are one of your greatest blessings. Appreciate them.
whenever we have failed to be loving, we have also failed to be wise, whenever we have been blind to our neighbors’ interests, we have also been blind to our own interest, whenever we have hurt others, we also hurt ourselves even more. Let us ask God for forgiveness for all acts of malice and unlovingness, blindness and hardness of heart and pray for the spirit of true love, which alone is true wisdom….
Life is short, break the rules, forgive quickly, kiss slowly, love truly, laugh uncontrollably, and never regret anything that made you smile…
I love how when you release something to God in begins to fall into place a whole lot better…Thank You Lord For Another Day!!!
Fascinating, huh? For these folks sharing these perspectives, they have found a platform for sharing their inspiration. (My personal favorite is the one that starts out “Whenever we have….”)
For fun, my third word to search on was “hope” and this is some of what came up:
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power or the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:29-31
Our 40th anniversary is Sunday, can’t believe so many years have passed. There have been good times and bad, sickness but lots of good health, trials and tribulations, laughter and tears. A good man is hard to find but I’ve got one and wouldn’t trade him for anything. I hope for many more years with him. Love and blessings from God have helped us through it all.
May you have enough happiness to make you sweet, enough trials to make you strong, enough sorrow to keep you human and enough hope to make you happy!
its a good thing to live in hope, to keep on dreaming, and not to curl and just die for lack of trying isnt it!, to have aspirations , if we dont have any of these , then we have nothing!
Life is complicated. No book or manual can ever guarantee you a successful life. You live & learn, make the best decision possible and hope for the best.
hope faith and love but the greatest of them all is love
What a neat source of inspiration from people out there using Facebook. What if the search term had been “learn” or something else that people would find inspiration in?
The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn… and change.
Life isn’t about how to survive the storm but how to dance in the rain, I was sent this from a friend and had to share this beautful story, We can all learn from this.
Dance in the Rain…how do we teach that perspective to our students?!? Perhaps one way to do it is to help people find enjoyment in what they are doing. It’s easy to get caught up in the deadly seriousness of the work we are doing–as educators, at home, wherever/whatever–that we can forget what William Zinsser points out below:
The one that I wrote down was by the American painter Robert Henri: “You should paint like a man coming over the top of the hill singing.”
Amen. That’s also how you should write, sing, dance, draw, sculpt, act, play an instrument, take a photograph, design a building, live a life. I often think I’m the only teacher who talks about enjoyment as a crucial ingredient in writing…When I write I make a conscious effort to generate a sense of enjoyment… I also try to convey the idea that I was feeling great when I did my writing–which I almost never was; writing well is hard work.
As teachers, how are we dancing in the rain, teaching and learning like we enjoy what we are doing, even when the work is hard?
You have to appreciate nice, simple tutorials like this one…performing the kind of work that’s often needed with Windows computers.
Here are some of my favorite anti-malware tools, some of which can run on UbuntuLinux after installation and others you can install on Windows:
- Avira-AntiVirus_Personal Edition
- ClamWin AntiVirus
- ComboFix (works great)
- WinPatrol – lets you see what’s happening, etc.
- Comodo Firewall
- BitDefender Rescue CD
- Kaspersky AntiVirus CD
When I heard the following story on National Public Radio, I was deeply moved. What moved me was the beauty of expression in the words the father below used to describe the separation of himself from his wife when she came down with cancer. Then, towards the end of the piece, I was struck by the words he used to described his daughter and how his wife seemed to be embodied in her.
There’s an upcoming Google webinar for EDU’s re: upcoming changes to Message Security for Google Apps as well as Archiving and Compliance for EDU’s. The focus will be on Texas Edu, but this is open to any organization specifically looking at these elements of Google Apps (currently have ~50 schools currently running Google Apps Education Edition registered).
Google Email Archiving and Compliance for EDUs – Register online at http://goo.gl/GEFI
Have you seen the March 2010 survey results on under-represented minorities in STEM? Last week, in The Power of Enthusiasm, I wrote the following:
Everywhere I turned, there were phDs in mathematics and science. In fact, at my table, I had the opportunity to listen to math professors, one of which bemoaned the state of public education and how poorly our children were being prepared by our public school system. I can certainly say, I had a marked lack of enthusiasm for participating in the event after having to listen to such a perspective…
So, in considering the STEM issue, I don’t think the problem is that our high schools are poorly preparing students for college math courses…that our students arrive so behind in math skills that they fail. I’d rather believe that math professors at universities have a lack of enthusiasm in teaching the children that come to them, instead preferring as one of the presenters at the Summit put it, to focus their attentions on those who come to them “prepared.”
Apparently, I was wrong. So much for belief. I couldn’t believe that the skepticism among our local university professors was on target. Then, I read the May, 2010 issue of eSchoolNews print publication, wherein the following appears:
The survey found that the K-12 education system fell short as well, with respondents giving it a “D” for the job it does to encourage minorities to study STEM subjects and a “D+” for girls.
Source: Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV Survey
Worse, the Bayer Facts of Science Education XIV survey–which polled 1200 females, black Hispanic, and American Indian chemists and chemical engineers–quoted above also supported another assertion one mathematics phD had made, perhaps completing “slaying” the idea that I knew what the heck I was talking about in STEM. Long Sigh.
The assertion the surveyed chemists and chemical engineers were making included this point:
Sixty percent say college is the leading place they are discouraged…U.S. colleges were cited as the leading place in the American education system where discouragement happens, with 44 percent saying college professors were the individuals most likely to discourage.
This, of course, supports the assertion of one speaker who stated something along the lines that such discourage happens exactly because math professors don’t want to spend the time encouraging students who are too far behind. Better to out-source the math/science talent.
No conclusions here from me…except that I intend to encourage my kids to go math/science.
Looking for Creative Commons Copyright Flickr images but not sure how to cite them? Need a quick Google Image search but it’s blocked? Then try one of the following image sources instead!
This web site enables you to search Flickr for relevant images and then cite them appropriately. You do have to have access to Flickr.com, so this is not the site to use that will search Flickr, and then share those images without a Flickr domain prefix.
Other Image Search Engines
While you can find what appears to be a comprehensive list online at http://www.faganfinder.com/img/ you might also consider these:
And, of course, FlickrCC.bluemountains.net which is my favorite.
UPDATE – Image Sites that did not work in my situation well (they pulled up but the images themselves did not come up to full-size or were blocked) but you might try anyways:
- Cyclops (Beta) – http://cyclo.ps/
- PicSearch – http://www.picsearch.com/
- Pixsy – http://www.pixsy.com/
- Spfy – http://www.spffy.com/ (check out the Web tab)
Have a netbook in your possession? I have access to a few and in spite of certain protestations, I’m always tempted to install a GNU/Linux OS of some sort. It’s kind of silly. My criteria for working GNU/Linux Operating Systems that work on netbooks is pretty simple:
- Don’t get in the way of what I want to accomplish, whatever that may be.
- Are light enough to keep the netbook running snappy, fast as if I were on a full blown laptop or desktop, especially during video playback
- Can work with Flash (which is why I don’t see myself switching to an iPad anytime soon)
Update: Well, it was an easy process to put it on a 1gig flash drive (using UNETBOOTIN) but I’m not that impressed with it. It does seem snappier than Ubuntu Netbook remix, but full Ubuntu seems just as fast. Google Chrome installed quickly and without problems.
That said, I didn’t quite appreciate what the MakeUseOf.com blogger meant when he discussed the Jolicloud. Essentially, you’re downloading a variety of apps for your netbook that can run in their own window without a browser. So you can run Gmail or whatever as an app rather than in a browser tab. And, there’s a wide selection of apps to choose from…
Hulu.com played very well…no stuttering or anything, surprising.
The number of ocean dead zones has grown from 44 areas reported in 1995 to more than 400, with some of the worst oxygen-starved areas extending over 22,000sqkm.
Recent figures from the United Nations Environment Program estimate fertilisers, sewage and other other pollutants, combined with the impact of climate change, have led to a doubling in the number of oxygen-deficient dead zones every decade since the 1960s.
The growing list of dead zones includes waters in the Gulf of Mexico, South China Sea, Gulf of Finland, Adriatic Sea and areas of the Caribbean. The Black Sea between south-eastern Europe and Turkey which has one of the largest dead zones in the world, had 26 commercial fish species in the 1960s but now has only five.
Source: Oxygen Starved Oceans Are Rapidly Dying, 2006
You know, the date on that report cited above bothers me. 2006. 4 years ago.
Like lots of other folks, I’ve been following the news about the oil disaster ongoing in the Gulf. And, like a lot of other folks, I’m watching sci-fi movies. I finally started to connect it all in my head. It’s not hard to imagine the story line for a tale that would end up on the SyFy channel, right? It might start with something as simple as a news story….
Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick. . .The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes. (Source: New York Times)
With such a news story online, you start to feel a bit surreal. It’s the end of the world, the Gulf of Mexico yet another casualty in man’s casual destruction of Mother Earth as he struggles to forfeit long-term rewards for short-term monetary gains.
I can easily imagine a series of events that start with the depletion of oxygen in the ocean and then lead to greater catastrophe, especially in light of information like the following:
Atmospheric oxygen is an important part of the Earth’s atmosphere and of the conditions that allow for life on Earth. The atmosphere is composed of approximately 80% nitrogen and 20% oxygen, with trace amounts of other elements. The air we breathe has atmospheric oxygen in it, but the atmosphere also helps to make a protective envelope for the planet.
Yes, you see where I’m going with this, right? Where does that oxygen come from? Well, here’s the fun part:
The sources of atmospheric oxygen through photosynthesis are cyanobacteria and plankton in the ocean, and trees on land…some scientists suggest that over half of the world’s atmospheric oxygen comes from oceans, for example, while others put the number at closer to one third.
Perhaps it’s not a new idea. Oxygen depletion in the ocean results in the loss of half, or even a third of atmospheric oxygen. At that point, the world begins it’s final journey through 1) Atmosphere burns away without sufficient oxygen; 2) We slowly asphyxiate due to lack of oxygen.
The question is, how toxic is oil in the quantities in the Gulf to algae and marine life? How long before the effects are irreversible? And, what about the giant squids threatening California’s coastline (source1 | Source 2) ?
Yes, it’s like being in a SyFy movie. Makes me wish I’d not been turned off to math and science as much.
Like anything else that just doesn’t mean what it once did, the term “educational technology” has come under attack. It comes under attack, not from the newest in the field, not the newly certified doctorates or master’s degreed students, but from the veterans who’ve been getting technology trenchfoot while waiting for the rush across noman’s land to rescue the lost from themselves. The attack comes in the form of a simple question from Tim at Assorted Stuff:
We say we want students to be able to communicate and collaborate, to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills, and to become creative and innovative in their work.
Do we really need special “edtech” to make that happen?
Maybe, just like our tech standards that linger from the previous century, the whole concept of “educational technology” is outdated and obsolete.
You might as well ask questions like the ones below….
- Did the Lone Ranger need Tonto as he rode into danger?
- Would the Canterbury Tales been half so interesting if they’d all taken the bus?
- Would we still be living in caves if some brave soul hadn’t eaten the first oyster?
- Was Don Quixote an idiot or a hero in a land of cowards? Was Walter Mitty his descendant?
Listen to the Song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyO5Mi1ZXg0
Image Source for Don Quixote: http://www.depts.drew.edu/engl/events/marathon/PicassoDonQuixoteSancho.jpg
I am looking forward to recalibrating my life. I am looking forward to dedicating more time to things I love and less to things I don’t. How about you? Do you need to take the difficult step of saying no to some things? Do you need to scale back too?
Source: Dangerously Irrelevant
These past two weeks, I’ve found myself lagging behind my regular blog schedule. A part of me would rather lie in bed and check email via my Android phone rather than go upstairs and work on the computer. When I do the latter, I end up writing a few blog posts. When I lie in bed, I end up falling asleep. It’s not a lack of energy, I think, but a lack of will. That’s a concern. Am I losing my enthusiasm for blogging?
When I read Scott’s post this morning, I considered that maybe I had over-extended myself in my efforts. Too many avenues of input, not enough reflection and creation. The act of creating something–even a blog entry like this one–is enough to get me going.
LeeChel Moersch wrote this comment in response to my The Power of Revelation:
It may be incomplete, but it makes so much sense. I have often sat back in awe at the regularity of your publishing work ethic. I have tried so often to find it myself. I often have things to share or questions to ask, but have such a hard time moving from thought to publishing. I for one get it that it “just is…” for you, and I am grateful.
It is a statement that I can easily make about others in the edublogger community. You see, we’re not all blogging for fame and fortune, consulting jobs, book deals, whatever. I am most impressed by those who share with little thought to the financial benefits of becoming a well-known blogger. And, of those folks, I am impressed with THEIR ethic, and I find myself in exactly the same shoes that LeeChel does when she looks at MY blog. So, one might say we are all fortunate in who we choose to read and follow…in my case, they spur me to do more than I normally might want to. For me, blogging is an important act of reflection, and in reviewing my blog entries for the last year, little of that reflection is there…but you may never know because of the quantity. I’m grateful to readers that have hung out and kept reading as I have taken a break from trying new things, learning, reflecting and sharing.
So, I re-commit myself to reflection and enthusiastic learning. Will that mean saying “No!” to projects? Well, yes, probably it will. Consider this advice from this blog entry on Adult ADHD:
Over the course of several years, I pruned my project list down to the bare few that I truly cared about versus the ones that simply interested me. The trick here was to keep asking myself “What did I really want to spend my time on?” In this way, I began to develop the motivation I needed.
I’ve always liked the idea of motivation, inspiration, as a pool of water slowly accumulating as a result of a hidden spring in the ground. While I’d like it to be a roaring rapid, the truth of the matter is that I need time to process ideas and see how they engage or enchant me…hmm…that’s not a bad way to think of it.
Here’s my stop doing list:
- Stay away from ideas that “enrage.” For the majority of my life, I managed to keep a calm attitude towards pretty much everything. In the last few years, I found ways to tap into the anger that is part of each of us and use it. I’ve learned a lot, but I need to be careful to not make embracing rage a habit, no matter how helpful it is. I recall the recent tweet about the Gulf Oil Disaster…”Why doesn’t this enrage more people?” Is rage really all that helpful of a response? It provides fuel and energy, it can be used strategically when appropriate, but as a long-term tool, it leaves much to be desired. Rage and the drama it generates are good to engage, but not as constant tools for learners who need to embrace new learning.
- Conferences – This past year and a half has been a year of conferences. It contributes to the unsettled feeling…in fact, I’ve kept my suitcase pre-packed so I can pretty much leave when needed. Instead of attending conferences, I want to focus in on one or two things that I want to learn more deeply and then write about those.
- Launching New Projects – At a recent work event, a colleague asked me by way of conversation starter, “What exciting new project are you working on?” I wanted to answer that we were slimming down and focusing on a few key projects, but realized that I was ready to share some fresh ideas that had popped into my head. I’m grateful that my team is providing some leadership on this question, and I am thankful that I’ve adjusted my own approach as their supervisor to enable them to own the projects we focus on, and the projects we don’t. It’s far too easy to start a new project without giving long-term consideration to sustainability.
- Publishing to old venues – Writing an article, as much as I enjoy it, is not as rewarding as writing a blog entry. There’s no editor to worry about, no reason to align to national standards, no reason to let the magazine change your lead paragraph or cut half the article because one is too verbose. In the last few years, I’ve seen several publishing venues “dry up” as a result of the economic challenges magazines are facing. This has meant that a lot of my work is being thrown back up in the air, a fresh face being put on it, and then getting republished. That’s fine as far as it goes, but I want to be open to fresh ideas…in fact, I want to find out how new ideas intersect with my work and learning habits. How will NOT publishing in print venues impact my readership? If my writing doesn’t appear in TCEA’s TechEdge or an ISTE publication or elsewhere, what impact will that have? Is having 2000+ readers per day equivalent to having a potential of 18000 in a magazine once a quarter? Could this be sour grapes?
- Hoarding content – I don’t know about you, but I’m a content junkie. I have books stacked up at work that I haven’t read but will (and I will!), towers of tales at home, sacks of stories ready to be sold at the local Half-Price Bookstore at a fraction of their value. But I have tons of content online too, crammed into every corner of Diigo and Delicious. I never look at it again after having read it. I need to stop hoarding it and cut it all loose.
If that’s my stop doing list, what am I going to do to put myself in conversations that engage and enchant me?
- Find patterns that make sense to me in the content I do see – Face to face, or when seeking focus on Google Reader when I’m at my computer, Twitter when I’m on the go.
- Play the “hermit” more – That doesn’t mean disconnect from people so much as take the time to play the mystic, and then share the revelations.
- Find more to be enchanted by, rather than enraged by the injustices and pecadilloes of the education system.
- Share more.
Update: I was reflecting on this blog entry and remembered a Ben Franklin quote. “Serendipitously” enough, it showed up in my Twitter stream for today about 30 minutes after it popped into my head.
“I will speak ill of no man, and speak all the good I know of everybody.” – Benjamin Franklin
Of course, you have to know what led Ben Franklin to make that remark. Go find out the story!
Like an iguana on hot sand, I kept in motion, trapped in a chair with pretend padding at the Municipal Auditorium. It was an experience to grow on, and I suffered willingly as I shifted in a seat located next to the smartest guy in the place–my son.
The event was Safety Patrol Day, a show put on by lots of great folks including the San Antonio Police Department, Kiwanis International and featured Surgical Strike (a band formed of army personnel stationed at Ft. Sam Houston) as the entertainment. Sonny Melendrez did a great job as host and comedian, impersonating a variety of characters and sharing a story simple enough to be memorable in voices as varied as Tweetie and Sylvester, Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse, and others.
While I don’t remember the whole of the speech, Sonny did a nice job of making the point about the power of enthusiasm (and he spoke about dreams). It is such a simple message and one I’d forgotten. As we celebrated the Safety Patrols–which featured participants from all over the City of San Antonio–my favorite quotes started to come back to me on the power of enthusiasm. You know, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s, Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. As well as this quote from my Dale Carnegie training over 20 years ago (when I first heard it), If you ACT enthusiastic, then you’ll BE enthusiastic. It seems like crazy advice, but I remember the truth of that advice in my life 20 years ago. What changed?
It’s too easy to forget those practical lessons one learns when young. Then, everything is exciting and new. Now, the excitement is less new and can be perceived more negatively. The difference? Enthusiasm for the adventure.
It’s a question that I had occasion to reflect on today when a random tweet popped up on my Android phone (in your face, iPhone enthusiasts! (smile)). It was from Dr. Scott McLeod:
University prof: Students need remedial courses in order to take calculus.
Superintendent: Not being ready for calculus is not “remedial.”
The quote reminded me of my lifelong dislike of mathematics. I never could get my “head around the concepts” and spent some time arguing with my mom–a math teacher–at the table, often leaving the table in frustration. Writing and reading came very easily to me, and I honestlyEducational Leadership believe that our brains are wired differently from those “math snobs.” In fact, I recall highlighting an Educational Leadership magazine research article for my mom and sharing it with her making exactly that assertion.
This past Thursday, I found myself facing my worst fears about mathematics instruction when I sat down at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Summit. Overall, it was an opportunity to listen to motivating stories of female Hispanics triumphing in STEM fields. However, as positive that experience was–and I am certain to share that experience with my daughter–there was another that gave me cause for concern.
Everywhere I turned, there were phDs in mathematics and science. In fact, at my table, I had the opportunity to listen to math professors, one of which bemoaned the state of public education and how poorly our children were being prepared by our public school system. I can certainly say, I had a marked lack of enthusiasm for participating in the event after having to listen to such a perspective. When I inquired as to what the solution was, there was none. I’m sure that from one perspective, it was a clear-eyed view of the poor state of public education today. And, the reason for the problem? You won’t believe it.
It was clear that “Technology” was the bane of math professors existence. I couldn’t help but wonder if the “Technology” in STEM really referred to anything I actually believed in. In fact, it was stated “as a consequence” of the introduction of calculators and computers into schools that mathematics talent had to be out-sourced, and America is in the state it’s in–down the tubes. I have to sympathize–and agree–with Doug Johnson (Blue Skunk) when he writes:
I love working with numbers but I flunked Algebra II and never attempted Calculus. I enjoyed Geometry and Statistics since they made sense to me but I fume that our state is requiring that all our students take ever more math classes and tests for graduation
While I didn’t flunk Algebra, I ended up not doing as well in it as my other classes. In fact, my College Algebra professor’s goal was to flunk kids…how do I know? She told us. I ended up taking College Algebra with a kindly older guy at a Community College one summer (I finished college in 3 years, having tested out of every course I could, except math and science ones) who made the stuff understandable, if not incredibly likable. Thank goodness for him.
That comment–technology as the cause for poor preparation at the public school level–at the Summit so irritated me, it took all I had to keep my mouth shut. After all, what do *I* know? I’m just a writer who uses a spreadsheet to analyze his taxes, a database to manage $1.9 million dollar budget, and keeps a graphing calculator on his desk so he can plan projects, if a computer isn’t available. If technology wasn’t in my life, I’d be functionally illiterate in mathematics!
So, in considering the STEM issue, I don’t think the problem is that our high schools are poorly preparing students for college math courses…that our students arrive so “behind” (Update: Per a request in the comments, I replaced the word “retarded” with “behind,” even though the word wasn’t used to signify what the commenter objected to, IMHO) in math skills that they fail. I’d rather believe that math professors at universities have a lack of enthusiasm in teaching the children that come to them, instead preferring as one of the presenters at the Summit put it, to focus their attentions on those who come to them “prepared.”
That would be like a public school teacher saying, “I’m only going to teach the brightest and the best, those who meet MY high standards and doing things the way *I* do them. The rest of you? Go find something else to do, you’re not good enough.” Can you imagine that attitude? But let’s not spend much more time on educators at high school and college who believe our system has failed them. Instead, let’s ALL take to heart the message of enthusiasm that Sonny shared with fifth graders at the start of their life. It is a message that, if it endures through the years, can yield powerful benefits, regardless of what field of study or career one chooses to pursue in life.
Fortunately, there ARE math teachers who approach their subject with enthusiasm. You can probably name a few of your own, but in my mind, my high school Algebra teachers (Ms. Delaney and Ms. Bosquez) were such people. Their enthusiasm and fierce dedication to each of us in learning how to do math were binary stars that made math bearable and, if it’s possible, exciting. I can only pray that such teachers exist all along the path students must travel who wish to learn math and are engaged by it. For me, it was a rare experience.
Today at the Safety Patrol celebration, one teacher stood up in front of me, focused on her fifth grade charges. She encouraged them to stand up and clap, move with the music played by the Army group Surgical Strike. She modeled for them how to behave in public at a concert, and they slowly began to emulate her. Her enthusiastic support and modeling of these children in her charge moved me. Even when they accidentally skipped her school’s name, she kept her smile, and marched down the center aisle to tell the host that her school had been left off the list.
Thank goodness for enthusiastic teachers like Ms. B (I asked her name since I intend to give her some praise on Monday when I call her principal), who aren’t afraid to stand up in front of strangers and model for their children how to learn.
Although I’m still hoping for the old Diigo toolbar that allows you to send highlights of a web page to a blog (which I use for my DiigoNotes), I was thrilled to experiment with the Awesome Screenshot extension for Google Chrome Browser! All the more so because easy image capture and editing in a browser on a GNU/Linux machine isn’t all that quick-n-easy-n-convenient…but imagine that combo of attributes for image capture/editing on Mac and Windows from the Chrome browser!
For Mac users, the easiest way to think of this is “Skitch” lite for any machine running Chrome. Although the Awesome Screenshot extension lacks all the wonderful features Skitch has, it will do the job that other more complex image editors take forever to do–quick, easy image cropping, quick addition of text annotations, and more! I had a bit of trouble getting the square and circle to draw exactly where I wanted, but that will probably be fixed in a subsequent release.
While there are many features I would have liked to see, the most essential right now is the ability to enlarge the font size of annotations added to the image. That’s it! Otherwise, an easy to use tool that should be your second to install Chrome extension (right after Diigo extension itself!).
Another feature that is scheduled for release is this one – Uploading to an online host site
That will be a handy feature to have in place…I hope that you are able to specify email address or account names with passwords, and aren’t locked into any one particular hosting site. Imagine being able to quickly email your annotations to Picasa (which stores them for Blogger), Flickr, or the many other image-sharing sites!
Nice job overall, Diigo developers! You still have some work to do but this brings some nice functionality to ALL platforms running Chrome.
The Texas Freedom Network has sent out this email….
The State Board of Education meeting is next week, and we need YOU to make a difference.
“Am I a religious fanatic? Absolutely. You’d have to be to do what I do.”
– State Board of Education member Don McLeroy
Is this who you want to decide what Texas schoolchildren learn? Or would you rather entrust that task to someone who believes public education is a “tool of perversion,” as board member Cynthia Dunbar believes? Or maybe any one of the board members who believe the separation of church and state is a myth?
If this is not what you want for Texas children, NOW is the critical time to take a stand.
The controversial social studies curriculum process is coming to an end. Public testimony will be heard at the State Board of Education meeting on Wednesday, May 19, and we expect a vote on these standards to take place the following day. We need you to stand up to the State Board of Education by attending our rally on Wednesday, May 19. Or testifying in front of the board. Or both!
“Don’t White-Out Our History” Rally
Wednesday, May 19 at 1:00 p.m.
William B. Travis building (where the state board meets).
Also on Wednesday, the State Board of Education will hear public testimony on the social studies curriculum standards. Since you are already planning to be at the William B. Travis building for the rally, you can also sign up to testify! Read below for more information on registering to testify with the Texas Education Agency. (Testimony will begin in the morning and likely stretch into the evening — so if you wish to testify, be prepared for a long day.)
We look forward to seeing you next week. If you have any questions, e-mail Judie or call us at
Instructions for registering to testify at the State Board of Education
Instructions for registering to testify at the State Board of Education
1. You have to register to testify with the Texas Education Agency. TEA will accept registration on Friday, May 14, 2010 from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Registration is on a first-come, first-serve basis, so it is beneficial to register as early as possible on Friday. You can either register by phone by calling 512-463-9007, download a form by clicking here and fax it to or hand deliver the form to the William B. Travis State Office Building. The building address is 1701 N. Congress Ave. Austin, TX. (Click here for a google map).
2. Click here to download the form you will need to register with the TEA. Here is some information to help you fill out your form. The hearing date is May 19. Item to be addressed is Social Studies TEKS, and the grade level you will be testifying about: elementary, middle school, or high school. You will need to bring 35 hard copies of your testimony with you to give to the board members. If you represent an organization or business, please indicate that in the section marked “affiliation”; otherwise indicate “parent” or “self”. Do not mark your affiliation as TFN. TFN will have only one official spokesperson that day.
3. The hearing will take place at the William B. Travis State Office Building, 1701 N. Congress Ave., Austin. The hearing will be on Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. (Click here for a google map). The hearing room is 1-104.
4. Parking is limited. There is street parking around the William B. Travis State Office Building that is metered, and we recommend parking at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum garage. (Click here for information on the parking garage).
5. We suggest you also look over the general rules for public testimony and the registration process created by the Texas Education Agency by clicking here.
6. You only have 3 minutes to give your testimony, so it is important to state your main points clearly and quickly.
The conversation began innocently enough in a car ride back from a workshop. The person in the car was someone who couldn’t understand why I always shared my reflections online via my blog. “Why can’t I write my own reflections in a journal and not share them with anyone else?” The answer, of course, is no one has to do anything. Honestly, I feel it as an imperative to share what I’m learning with others, whether through published articles or blog entries. It’s a deep-seated compulsion that, as I tried to explain to my passenger, has its roots in my core beliefs. As I followed the thread of that compulsion, I realized that my desire to “share more” goes to the bedrock core of who I am as an individual.
Since I found myself trying to explain how important it is to share what you know and learn with others, I thought I’d write it down in a blog entry…that’s been a challenge. There’s so much that contributes to what makes me want to “share more” that it feels impossible to identify all the variables…it’s like pointing at the sunrise and saying, “That’s the reason why.” There’s so much represented, symbolized by the sunrise that it’s almost impossible to explain it.
The more I tried to explain how important it was to blog and take advantage of social media, I found myself wading into my own spiritual beliefs. In no time, my conversation about the power of sharing tapped into core beliefs that flowed from my Christian roots.
Those beliefs include:
- Personal revelation is insufficient; that revelation must be shared with the Community so that it will benefit all.
- Don’t hide your light under a bushel basket; put your light in a high place so it will light the darkness. “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness,” as the old saying going around in my head from Amnesty International poster I saw so many years ago in college.
Let it serve as an example of a poorly formed, incomplete blog entry, a failed attempt at making order from the chaos…in fact, exactly what the passenger in my car ride would never share.
Free training is available via two programs shared by Susanna Garza (firstname.lastname@example.org). More info below:
ESC-20 will offer two Intel Teach courses at no cost for up to 15 educators each during this summer. Please read this message to see how your district or campus can take advantage of this opportunity!
The Intel Teach Program is a research-proven, worldwide professional development program that helps educators enhance learning through the effective use of technology and student-centered approaches. In these hands-on courses, participants learn how to:
* develop inquiry-based, technology-enriched projects and units to enhance student learning.
* use the Internet, online tools, and Web 2.0 resources as tools for research, creativity, and communication.
* align curriculum to standards while addressing and assessing 21st century skills.
How it works:
Intel Teach uses a train-the-trainer model. This summer, two courses will be offered for trainers:
Intel Essentials – July 12-15, 2010
Teachers develop an project-based unit plan that integrates critical thinking, research skills, and web 2.0 tools, such as wikis and blogs.
Thinking with Technology – August 10-13, 2010
Teachers develop a project-based unit plan that integrates three online thinking tools developed by Intel.
Registration is NOT through iLearning. To enroll a teacher in one of these courses, a district must first register to become an approved Local Education Agency (LEA) with Intel. Many districts in ESC-20 have already done so. Whoever completes the registration becomes the LEA contact. This person will identify someone from the district who would make an ideal Intel trainer. The trainer will attend one or both of the courses and be expected to redeliver the training to about 10 other teachers at some time during the next school year. The training can be scheduled whenever is most convenient. All training materials and support are provided at no charge. However, districts may choose to offer teachers an incentive for attending the courses.
An ideal trainer is someone who possesses excellent teaching skills, a strong knowledge of curriculum design, and comfort using technology. This person must also hold a teaching certificate, although they do not have to currently be a classroom teacher. Due to the length of these courses (32 hours), it is important that the trainer have time in their schedule to redeliver the training. Persons who already offer staff development training, such as campus technology facilitators, might have an easier time delivering the course due to their schedules.
IMPORTANT: If a participant registers for an Intel Teach course and is not able to attend, we respectfully ask that he/she notifies Shannon Baumann ahead of time. This way we can accommodate participants on the waiting list.
At lunch today, I had a chance to sit and chat with someone who has been visiting Honduras for humanitarian work–essentially, digging trenches, running hoses from water sources to faucets near the homes of villagers. He wanted my opinion on a video he had made, essentially a photo slideshow with copyrighted music on it.
Part of our conversation hinged around a variety of Mac related questions and audio recording issues, including the following:
- Digital Audio Recorder Recommendation
- External USB Microphone
- Speck See Through Cover for Macbook
- Marware Wrist and keyboard protection
- Podcast Safe Music Sources
Here are some safe podcast music safe sites (that means they can be re-used, usually provided credit is given to the author):
The following came up on the Moodle Mayhem email list, and though I think I’m in the ballpark on the response, I know I’m not 100% correct. How would you respond to the problem situation below and what would you correct about my responses? Thanks in advance!
UPDATE 05/12/2010: On a completely different server solution, a friend asked me about earlier designs of the diagram above. Here’s what this looked like back in pre-2004 time period using a different solution…try not to laugh:
Note that the idea of having one server host the database (FMPRO Host Server), while another server (FMPRO Unlimited Server) handles the web sites isn’t that original! Ahh, nostalgia. ;->