When was the last time you, school leaders, asked your teachers for ideas on how to improve the school or current initiatives? When was the last time you, teachers, asked your students for their ideas on the classroom: units, projects, policies, etc.?
Now, I’m not talking about a go through the motions for feedback but an authentic request for ideas, an open invite for sharing meaningful ideas that will be respected and considered.
I’ve always believed that an important role of any leader is pulling together the innovative ideas of those one serves and shaping them into actionable form.
At Google, we know we’ve got some really great users with some really great ideas, and we’re excited to open up a new project called Product Ideas, a platform through which we’re taking a new approach to feedback for Google mobile products. Whether it’s a feature request, a crazy idea, a rave or a rant, we want to hear it. Even more, we want other users to hear it, to see what others are buzzing about, and to be able to vote on all these ideas.
When looking at what Google is doing here, there are some take aways that educational leaders should consider:
- Community Interaction
- Public Space
- Authentic Request
- Minimal Guidelines
As ideas are submitted, other members of the community have the opportunity to vote on that idea and discuss it in Dear Google. This interaction allows for feedback to be explored from multiple angles and to see how much of the community believes in that idea.
What is really important is the public nature in which these ideas are being shared. Ideas are not being shared behind closed doors or within an “idea box” sitting somewhere. The ideas are openly shared in a public space that allows for open shaping of what is being presented.
There is a Google Product Ideas blog. There is a running tally of ideas and votes. There is an exciting tone to the language on the Product Idea page. There is a reputation that Google is listening. Each step, each move, ensures that no one questions the authenticity behind the open movement for idea sharing.
What may seem like a small piece to the puzzle is really quite important. In true Google fashion, they take a minimalist approach and this is critical in my opinion. By not bogging this down with guideline after guideline, specifics, and minimums, the request for ideas is wide-open: small, big, radical, minor, etc. Any and all ideas are welcome!
How are you tapping the innovative ideas surrounding you? How are you helping people to know that you are someone that wants those ideas?
I know that I will be continuing to work on those two questions. After all, gathering and shaping those ideas and creating a culture of innovation is part of being a great leader!
[Tags] google, leadership, innovation [/Tags]
I have the opportunity to return to Philly this year for what I hope to be another exceptional learning experience at Educon 2.1 filled with two days of discussion, debate, and shared inquiry with practitioners from all walks of education.
During this time, I will have the opportunity to facilitate two gatherings of minds. Each of these will take place in radically different formats but will offer unique opportunities for growth.
This gathering will surely spark a lot of discussion and some hearty debate about current trends and topics with Web 2.0 education. In the end, we will surely leave with more questions than answers but hopefully on a higher plane of understanding both in depth and breadth.
Title: Beyond the Web 2.0 Hype
Description: The past few years have seen an explosion of disruptive technologies that challenge the way we think, the way we operate, and the status quo of educational practice. Understandably, critical questions have emerged regarding the use of these Web 2.0 technologies in education: What does it mean to be well-educated in the 21st Century? Are there new literacies or are there new ways to attain existing ones? What impact is web 2.0 really having on students and schools? Can one be an excellent teacher without using today’s technology? Come prepared to discuss these and other critical questions.
By using the Six Thinking Hat method of dialogue and the great minds in the room, this gathering will harness the energy, ideas, and experiences of each person as we work on the beginnings of a road map towards a multi-dimensional learning space.
Title: Developing Digital Learning Spaces: From Vision to Reality
Description: Yes, emerging technologies have great potential. But how do we make them work in our schools today? This session explores the implementation of a multi-dimensional digital space with three components—a course space, a student-content creation space, and a knowledge commons that supports both—and examines how they support the development of learning literacies. Come prepared to evaluate these three spaces and discuss the organizational readiness required to take them from conversation to implementation.
At the expense of sounding preachy, I would like to make one recommendation for those attending Educon this year: do everything possible to see and talk with the teachers and students of the Science Leadership Academy.
Yes, there are so many “names” to meet and many “virtual” friends to interact with in the physical. However, the most powerful part of last year’s experience and the impetus for much reflective thought came from the time spent observing classes on Friday, interacting with students in their various learning spaces, and listening to the passionate educators openly sharing with everyone.
[Tags] educon2.1, multidimensionallearningspace, web2.0 [/Tags]
You see, I’ve been going through a bit of a change lately and struggling to understand why. I have never been much of a paper guy. As a teacher, I had everything I could possibly have online. As an administrator, I have continued down the same path including the use of wikis and Google Docs as much as possible.
However, I’ve been printing/receiving a lot of articles in paper form lately for my doctoral work and my experience with these materials have been a lot more intellectually stimulating than I’ve experienced online lately.
While there are many possible reasons why, my experience with Gladwell’s work tonight made it all very clear.
My first reading of the work lasted all of 60 seconds and resulted in the famous bookmark it to Delicious.
Like much of what I read online, the first time is a skim, a mere glance at what is a person’s writing. I find this RSS Skim to be my way of sorting the wealth of information streaming at me in hyperspeed 24/7/7. In other words, my first read is a quick evaluation of whether or not it is worth the time investment.
Sadly, my second reading lasted just a couple 60 Seconds longer. Then, another sitting with the same short span of time. Then, another and another. I knew I wanted to read the article but I found myself struggling in much the way I have been struggling of late with reading online.
What I found wasn’t a difficultly with my eyes or the need to annotate the work (I’ve always done that with online tools like Zotero), it was the distraction of this little black machine sitting on my desk. Between tweets popping up, Skype calls coming in, Gmail doing everything, and all the other distractions, I can never focus enough to really read an article that warrants intellectual sweat.
Yes, I could just turn off all those features but those are just a small segment of my world that funtions in a state of continous partial attention when online.
My Friend the Printer
What I found was the need to print off the article, close the Macbook, grab a pen, and pull up a chair. By printing this off, my “third reading” made all the difference in my ability to focus, critically read, interact, and ponder the writing on the page.
By no means am I advocating a return to “printing the world” nor will I be printing off reams of paper myself, I simply think there is something to be said about the ability to disconnect from the twitch speed both online and in society to get the most out of some great writings online (obviously, not this blog post hahahaha).
Seamless is a word many teachers find comfort with when looking to infuse technology into the classroom where it inevitably becomes a natural, transparent part of the learning environment. When a tool can be introduced and shown for its value to teaching and learning WITH a taste for how it can be seamlessly used, it is usually well on its way to becoming sticky.
That is why I’m excited about what Slideshare recently introduced: a Slideshare ribbon in Microsoft PowerPoint 2007.
What does this mean? Well, a wealth of great features including publishing right from PowerPoint, searching and managing all your presentations from PowerPoint, and sending notifications to Twitter or FriendFeed
This essentially takes technology out of the equation allowing teachers to take another step towards a participatory culture or web 2.0 philosophy seamlessly with a simple add-on to PowerPoint 2007. This simple move allows teachers to make their presentations public as well as embeddable with little effort so that students have 24/7 access to course content. Not to mention, it is sharing to the professional community (pdf) so that all students and educators can connect, mash-up, and grow together.
Get started today using this installation guide!
[Tags] slideshare, powerpoint07, web2.0 [/Tags]
I keep hearing this god awful commercial on the radio about making yourself incapable of being replaced. It goes on about how you need to start by asking whether you are really needed by your organization or could they easily replace you. If they could easily replace you, it is time to make everyone know you are needed.
Now, I know the current economical situation is ripe for these types of commercials and while these typically drive me crazy, I couldn’t help pondering after hearing it for the eighteenth time the question raised: am I really needed by my organization?
And dang it if I found myself really struggling with this one.
I want to say that I’m needed and that my existence will radically alter the opportunities and progress within our school but that seems to simply be my own ego trying to convince myself that it is all worth it.
The reality, though, seems to be a bit harder to swallow.
That is, it really is about not messing it all up especially when you are in a place where excellence already exists.
Nah, I’m just kidding but the reality is that places of excellence demand that you don’t put the organization in a position of taking a step backwards as much as they are about taking the next step forward. The great leaders that came before have left a path and the role is to continue down that path in a way that is propelling the organization forward or to alter that path without stepping backwards. It is a sobering feeling and one that makes you wonder where one should commit their talents: places of excellence or places that could be excellent.
And not only that, but isn’t one sign of a great leader the ability to leave an organization and it continues to thrive because the vision, the ideas, are beyond just one person? I guess what I am feeling is that if I really leave a mark, the ideas and movements started that are critical and needed by the organization will continue to thrive in a rich environment. In other words, my physical self is only as valuable as the path I left for others to follow as seamlessly as possible when I’m gone.
Finally, shouldn’t we as leaders always be building up the next leader so that the legacy of the organization is great?The organization is what is needed and could not be replaced NOT the individual.
Who knows — I’m just rambling here. But I know part of my organizational legacy is leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the next.
[Tags] leadership, legacy [/Tags]
Two nights ago, I had my first experience with being on my own with my son and putting him to sleep: bath, bottle, sleep, and “on-call” duty. Yes, my son is nearly six months and yes this is the first time I’ve had with just the two of us. For months, I’ve yet to have this moment because my life has been a complete flash of 4am-8pm moments where most my time with Finnian existed only in glimpses into the crib as he slept.
At times, I question myself as a father. Will he understand his father’s life work? Will he understand that there are over 2,100 kids that I care for deeply even though most don’t even know who I am? Will he understand that I dedicate my life to my family of 500 teachers and support staff because what they do is so important to those 2,100 kids and me? Will he be proud of me or disappointed that I wasn’t there?
I know this a reality for many leaders and the concept of balance is a daily fight. But I wonder what we mean by balance or at least what I mean when I say “I need to find a little balance” when I know that balance is not as important as the future.
Dear Finnian, I hope you will grow to be proud of who I am and forgive me for why I’m not always there in the flesh. Please know that you are always there in my thoughts and actions.
It is your future that drives me!
– written late one night while in New York presenting –
A thought for today: The role of the curriculum and instruction specialist is to bring assumptions to light.
This would seem especially important for instructional technologist given that teachers are being inundated with assumptions about teaching, learning, and students.
Credit to my professor, Dr. Koski, for challenging me in this area.
I love the Simpsons. In fact, I wrote my senior thesis in college on the use of the Simpsons in the classroom: D’Oh! Teaching and Learning with The Simpsons in Secondary English Classrooms. I know it might not be what it is use to be but I felt a renewed energy when watching their parody of Apple. myPod, myPhone, myPhonies, Brainiac Bar, Steve Mobs, and much more.
1. Shoppers: Steve Mobs! He’s a genius. He’s like a god that knows what we want.
2. Apple Guy: I see you are admiring our myCube. It is fueled by dreams and powered by imagination.
Homer: What does it do?
Apple Guy: You Should ask what can you do for it
3. Lisa: I can’t afford any of your products but can I buy some fake white ear plugs so people think I have a myPod
Apple Woman: Sure! Those are called myPhonies. Oh, and they cost $40.00
4. Lisa: (after Krusty gives her his myPhone because he hates it) I’m a Mapple person!!
Apple Genius: We’re all mApple people.
– great line that seems to poke fun at Apple being all the rage
5. THE BEST –> Bart Simpson’s line about mob mentality
[Tags] simpsons, apple, parody [/Tags]
This year, I’m sending my letter a little earlier and through my blog since you’ve undoubtedly made the shift to Santa 2.0 whereby you are simply tracking all Letters to Santa via RSS.
So, where do we start big guy?
I’d really like to continue with what we started last year: all gifts for me should be in the form of donations to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). You see, last year this just didn’t happen. I’m not blaming you. You gave me a lot of great gifts (I put the Life Hammer in my car in case I fall in the water and that wonderful spill proof coffee mug comes in handy after 3 Red Bulls) but I really have all I need. I don’t really know what happened but it is just really hard for people to believe that one wouldn’t want any gifts so I need your help!
So, as much as I look forward to all the great gifts that I tend to get, I’d much rather see that money go to those that really need it.
Speaking of those that really need it, I do have one more gift that I’d like to add to my list: an XO Laptop as part of the One Laptop Per Child Movement. This would allow me to participate in another worthwhile cause wrappred around their mission and great theme of “Get a Laptop. Give a Laptop. Change the World” that is told so eloquently by Zimi:
Thanks Santa for reading my post and I hope this finds you in good cheer. Good luck on your journey coming up soon, and I will be sure to watch out for that person that ate your cookies last year — it was a moment of weaknesses I’m sure and that person’s sweet tooth just got the best of him… or her.
[Tags] christmas, santa, olpc, XOlaptop, ASPCA, lettertosanta08 [/Tags]