Monday, October 11, 2010

Hello Prospective Teachers

Hello Teacher Education North students from GPRC (and others who may have found their way to this post). 

The brief presentation I used to start conversation during my recent visit to your T.E.N. classroom follows.  The purpose of this presentation was to introduce you to the idea that technology integration 'fits' in modern classrooms and to introduce some of the tools/concepts you will be working with during your student teaching and upon graduation.  It can be challenging to talk about the integration of technology into teaching and learning with veteran teachers, but trying to put together a 90 minute session for education students is a different challenge entirely.  I hope you found it interesting and relevant. 

Ideally, some of what you saw and/or we discussed will be useful as you continue to prepare for the day you have your own classrooms!  Feel free to come back and review this presentation over time and check to see if your perceptions or beliefs change in the future.  For those of you who may be interested in the links shared in the presentation, they are listed after the presentation that follows.

Integrating Technology, Teaching, and Learning (10.12.2010)

The following links are embedded in the above presentation: (re: facebook and twitter behavior) (to access SMART Notebook Express online) (to share SMART Notebook activities/lessons) (Alberta Education's Internet Safety page with great information and resources) (searching for resources licensed for sharing) (home of an amazing blogger who shares FANTASTIC resources) (ditto, produced by an Alberta SMART trainer) (Google Reader home) (Google Reader in Plain English video)

Questions?  Comments?  Drop me a line or leave a comment below.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Is More More, Or Is More Less? Or Maybe Less Is More?

There has been LOTS of press lately about the new U.S. documentary Waiting for Superman, by Davis Guggenheim (the same director as An Inconvenient Truth), and about the status of education reform in the United States.
I loved an Inconvenient Truth.  Author John Kotter  was likely impressed by how that movie helped build a sense of URGENCY re: the need for action to address global warming.  It was a very compelling presentation on the perils that faced us if we remained inactive!  I suspect the director may have approached the issue of education reform from the same perspective with his most recent movie from the early reviews I've read online.  I'm conflicted though, likely given my position immersed in the education system, that while I haven't yet seen Waiting for Superman, I think I can already tell I don't like it!
(note:  I'll probably go see it.  Or rent it.  I get curious.  I had to see the Blair Witch Project too.  I still regret that, actually)
I don't disagree that education needs reform.  That belief is affirmed every day when I read, see, or hear about kids not getting what they need to maximize their success.  I feel it in my stomach when I am unable to provide the best solution to an issue and have to 'settle' for the best we can do at that time.  I know we need to change.  I disagree with anyone who suggests it is primarily only teachers who need to change.  The changes that have occured in society are huge, and I think corresponding huge changes are needed in education to help address our needs. 
I am completely impressed by the direction our system is heading here in Alberta to look at building teacher capacity and enlisting the cooperation of the community to enact the reform we need.  I hope we move away from the incredibly prescriptive curriculum (are there really over 1200 specific learning outcomes in grade 7?) to a more descriptive system that allows us to focus on the core skills AND ALSO those deemed critical and relevant by the community and the students!  A committment to helping develop emotional intelligence anyone?  That can work!  We've got great teachers and eager students and families ready to go, let's get pointed in the right direction and get going!
I see education reform as promoted by politicians and business leaders in the U.S. as short sighted.  The focus I see advocated for in Waiting for Superman, and being promoted by Charter School advocates in the U.S., to add more hours, more resources, etc. is something I think is misguided.  How can that be sustainable?  How can systems and families sustain that kind of effort over time?  Superman, as an individual, does not exist.  The strength of superheroes does exist however, and it is the power of the collective.  Of community.  Of collaboration.
It makes me wonder how what are reformers like Bill Gates seeking to accomplish?  What is the function of their desire to see more rigidity?  Why is the fourth way presented in the book The Fourth Way: The Inspiring Future for Educational Change (by Hargreaves and Shirley) that incorporates partnerships and capacity building as a comprehensive solution to education reform not being embraced by those who might be Waiting for Superman?
Is it Replicability?  Are those in private industry, used to the scientific method of building consistent and replicable means of production, seeking to apply the skills they know to the more human-focused system of education?  Frederick Taylor's scientific management methods (and the standardization they imply) can't really be effective in education, can they? 
Would they work for you in your current job?  What if you were a student?  Would mass standardization work for your 13 year old son or daughter?
Is it all a labor ploy?  Are the Waiting for Superman advocates focused on teacher unions as the scapegoats for the results of the education system in the U.S. so they fail to recognize other factors (such as societal expectations and behaviors) as being influential to the output of the education system (i.e. student acheivement)?
The bottom line for me is that society has changed, and continues to change faster than most of us realize!  Ultimately, if we want creative and innovative thinkers, perhaps we need less rigidity, and more focus on meeting local needs.  Less is more.  Lets get more parents involved and focus on less objectives.  Let's spend the most time on what is most important.  Let's put our limited resources where they will make the most difference.  Any successful reform must involve parents and the community.  As supporters and partners, not as the experts those Waiting for Superman seem to think they may be.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

What Is In Store For Education In The Future?

I attended a meeting of the Alberta School Boards Association Zone 2/3 Trustees recently where much conversation took place re: the future of education in our province.

I shared my feelings that this is an amazing time to be involved with education in Alberta, as it appears we have much opportunity to contribute to significant education reform, given the provincial leadership with Setting the Direction and Inspiring Education/Inspiring Action.  Lots of work remains, but if the foundation remains change for the sake of improving the learning experience for kids and adults alike, then I am confident the work will get done!

I also used a favorite comment of mine to describe the state of education.  I'm not sure who the original source is, but it has been said that if Rip Van Winkle were to awaken today, he'd find a great deal different in society.  Cell phones, vehicles, computers, etc.  If he were to walk into many (but not all) schols however, he'd likely feel very much at home, with the neat rows of students and the teachers up at the front doing lots of talking.

We know an awful lot about how people learn, and about how we need to create an environment for kids that allows us to use that knowledge, but in the end we struggle to use that knowledge and change our environment within our existing structure. 

If you want to take a quick look at the future and see what is likely in store for education, researcher Phil McRae has posted a 'Forecasting the Future' article on the Alberta Teachers Association website.  I think his short-term, mid-length, and long-term predictions are pretty spot on!

Deep, rich digital connections, distributed learning, different definitions of time, etc. are all predictions that I believe are coming true NOW. As the pace of change quickens, I don't doubt we're going to have to react QUICKLY in the future. 

I think we might need to start looking at our change management skills in the field of education to make sure we are prepared to adapt and change when the time comes!

For 5 bonus points***, who said:  "In times of change learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists."?  I think that statement describes the challenge that lay before us beautifully....


***the quotation is attributed to American author, sociologist, and philosopher Eric Hoffer.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The First Days of School

When times are busy, and chaotic, my natural reaction is to make a list, get down to business, and start striking things off the list.

Busy and chaotic sounds like the first day of school, doesn't it?  On the first day of school however, I think that focus on tasks and efficiency is the absolute LAST approach to take to making it through the day.  There is an old saying that suggests you only get one chance to make a first impression.  The first day of school is when the relationships that teachers will have with their students for the year begin to be formed.  It is important to take the time to get to know them, to begin making deposits into the relationship bank account, and to focus for the day on the social and emotional needs of the people in the building, and not the curriculum, and the rules, and the needs of the system.

To that end, here is a GREAT list of tips for attending to social emotional needs on the first days of school by engaging kids as important stakeholders in the learning process.  I love the first one, about making the atmosphere one of festivity: 

Have a great year everyone!


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Summer's Over - Back to Work!

It is fitting, in a way, that this post is my first since I took my summer hiatus.  My last post was on the topic of what reading means to me, and thanks to my good fortune in winning a signed copy of Seth Godin's LINCHPIN, and as I write this I am just about to embark on a new book to start a new season of personal professional reading. 

I usually read during the summer, but for some reason (likely the reading I've been doing for my Ed.D.) I spent a little less time reading for personal professional reasons this summer.  I'm looking forward to getting back in the swing of things next week after the kids get up and running at school.

I also have borrowed what looks like an excellent book on change, The Fourth Way, by Andy Hargreaves, and will be starting that next week too.  I'm itching to get going!

In general, it is good to be back and putting my reflections into print again.  I know (next to) no one (thanks mom - AND Malkie!) likely reads this, but blogging helps me refine my thoughts and progress my thinking.  It helps me make sense of things when they often seem to be coming our way in education at 100 mph.  My next post?  Likely on how the AISI project structure supports educational change in our province and what I think the connection is to the systemic change that is looming on our provincial horizon.


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

What Does Reading Mean to Me?

I've always been a reader, and for most of my life I strayed very little from popular fiction and the occasional eccentricity that caught my curiosity. For the last 5 or 6 years however, I've found myself reading more and more about topics that are relevant to my work in schools and with students of all ages.

In addition to the many many books I've read over the last few years (perhaps a thread on my favorites is in order), there are a great many excellent resources freely available online. Whether it is an incredibly interesting blog, or an informative educational website, I have a list of over 100 sites marked for updates in Google Reader. Google Reader is a GREAT way to capture and collect updates to your favorite sites. I try to set aside some time every Friday to visit my Google Reader feed and see what new posts/updates have been made to my favorite sites. It is staggering what I've learned in this manner. If you would like to learn more about Google Reader, click HERE and visit one of the many tutorials on the service that will explain or illustrate how to use it.

Today, I want to share a promising new link that I found recently for reading about leadership, business trends, higher education trends, etc.:  If you are a young professional looking to add to your knowledge base and engage with some interesting content at the same time, you might want to add Online MBA to your Google Reader feed, and watch for new content being added regularly!  Being a visual learner, I especially like the infographics!

To me, reading means continuous growth.  Reading to me is as water and sun are to plants.  Reading gets to my core and provides the nourishment I need to grow personally and professionally.  I get as much enjoyment and learning from reading a book I disagree with as I do from reading a book that affirms my beliefs.  What does reading mean to you?


Friday, May 7, 2010

Testing New Video Resource

The Regional Resource Center in our Zone is exploring the use of a new digital content streaming service provided by  I have access via a trial account, and I am exploring how smoothly the content can be used off-site.

It doesn't look like it embeds, but I can link to specific videos, such as THIS one illustrating how to substitute and solve square roots for different valued. 

If anyone has any experience with this service provided by, please let me know.  It looks very promising at this point but I would love to hear how it functions across an entire district in the long term.

EDIT: Whoops. It appears the content may not be shared with others via forums like class blogs, and perhaps Moodle. The link above will not open the media player unless the user is logged in to the site.  The next question is, how does this affect our use of the content?  Will this be a significant problem?  Or perhaps our students will be given the ability to create their own accounts as well (which I doubt)?  Some more investigating is in order.


Monday, April 12, 2010

Paying Students to Improve Performanc

This morning a colleague sent me a link to a recent article published on the Time magazine website titled Should Kids Be Bribed to Do Well in School?  The article is written by Amanda Ripley, and summarizes an extensive research study on the topic of offering financial incentives to students as a means of improving their performance.  This research was conducted by Dr. Roland Fryer, Jr., who is an economist at Harvard University.
Ripley references the work of Dr. Edward Deci in the article in TIME.  Daniel Pink, in his latest book DRIVE, also reference Deci's research on Self-Determination Theory to suggest external rewards and punishments do not work in the long run.  Pink describes the need to move away from Motivation 2.0 (carrot and stick type stuff) and to use Motivation 3.0 to inspire people in modern organizations (build autonomy, mastery, and purpose).  Having recently read DRIVE, I formed some pretty immediate opinions of what I was about to read.
On the whole, I think this research illustrates the line that separates many educational reform ideas:  reforms that rely on some sort of accountability measures (test scores, rewards, etc.) vs. reforms that are based more on developmental theory and building internal skills/needs.  Finland is often used as an example of a model system where trust and empowerment foster intrinsic motivation in contrast to systems that use actual test results, such as with the NCLB Act and Annual Yearly Progress.
Ripley's article turend out to be very interesting reading though, despite the bias I held as I began reading it.  Many of the concerns I had about an incentives program were identified in the article, and it is interesting to see the questions for future research that still remain with Fryer. 
The most successful of the four incentive programs used in Fryer's research comes not from paying for performance, but rather in paying students for behaviors and offering specific and meaningful feedback on their performance in a very timely (bi-weekly) fashion.  Students seemed to do the best on standardized tests at the end of the research when they received their rewards for engaging in behaviors that support learning, not necessarily for how well they could demonstrate their learning.
I initially said "Uh-Oh" to myself when I read that some of the more vocal proponents of merit pay for teachers were enthused by this approach.  The more I thought about it though, the more I questioned the benefits of a behavior-based approach for motivating teachers too?  Perhaps we could tie teacher remuneration to specific best practices teacher behaviors (such as collaborating, planning, integrating technology, differentiating learning, giving students immediate feedback, etc.) instead of tying teacher pay to results?
Would that work?  Would you all be motivated as teachers if similar rewards were applied to your behavior?  If you were given an extra $100 for sending descriptive feedback home with students ever week (for example) would that be enough to motivate you to do that?  I'm not sure how sustainable that would be, but perhaps Fryer might be motivated to extend his research in that direction. 
As I read this, I thought of how connected this research might be to locally relevant projects at the single school level. If a school were to identify the essential behaviors stakeholders felt were important, and then provided instruction (and feedback) to kids at home and at school (with the parents' help) they may be able to achieve similar goals.  The key would have to be focusing on the behaviors kids needed to have at the END and then putting a plan in place to develop those skills.  Local goals with local control of the plan and including lots of parental and community involvement is a good way to increase the chance of a reform strategy being successful. 
Just like the grade 2 students who read more in Fryer's study, and were paid for it, the kids who get more feedback for managing their own emotions should be more effective in the long term at managing their emotions.  Over time the rewards will continue to come (although in different forms) and the kids should continue to display those same behaviors....
I'm looking forward to hearing any comments people may have on this topic!!  It is controversial, for sure, which is why I think the discussion has so much potential value!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Balancing Accountability and Learning

In one of my classes lately we have been having a very interesting discussion about how our traditional education systems measure success.  We have been discussing the two purposes for testing, for internal accountability (learning) and external accountability (systemic performance) and it is important to remember both are valid. 
Applying theory to practice however, the reality is that problems occur when the focus on external accountability is confused with internal accountability (Campbell & Levin, 2007).

As a school administrator, my number one focus has to be on how well our students learn.  As a taxpayer, I am concerned that my tax dollars, significant as they are, are used wisely in my province. It is legitimate to expect a focus on both, but we need to accept this fact and work with it in our schools.

Some teachers feel pressured by teaching test grades/subjects while others do not.  I think this is in part due to the leadership in the school.  The attitude and leadership re: tests that is modelled by school administrators creates the culture that influences how test results are accepted. 
Unfortunately, it is a reality that some administrators apply intense focus on test results resulting in teachers feeling pressured to produce scores that may come at the expense of other issues.  In some cases, this pressure comes from Central Office, and in others it is not necessarily intentional, as actions often speak louder than words.  Regardless of the reason, the tension between accountability and learning is something school leaders need to understand well.

A frequent comment is that test results are influenced by the work of all teachers leading up to that grade.  For the kids that have been in the school the whole time, that is true, but it does not apply to students new to the grade/school that year.  It is another reality that when the results of one or two teachers are analyzed by the entire school, some teachers may feel a sense of personal pressure that their work is under the microscope.  As leaders, it is important for us to attend to their concerns and help create the culture of shared internal accountability and focus on learning.

Campbell and Levin (2007) describe this as a need to balance pressure and support, where we accept the internal/external accountability focus and also focus on capacity building within our own schools.  Our schools need to take the testing programs we have in place and use that data as part of a school's comprehensive assessment plan.  Using test results as assessment for learning is what is needed to improve the performance of our own students.  It is up to us as educational leaders to wrestle with these many issues and put them together to be able to make a difference for our students!  We need to have a vision for how accountability and learning can peacefully coexist, and we have to have deep knowledge of systemic and local needs to help support this vision.

Now, having said all that, I wonder about tweaks to our provincial testing program that might help us meet both needs.  I have written previously about the possibility of using sampling as a way to achieve external accountability.  That would take our ability to use test results to inform our own practices in schools however.  Instead, what about rewriting our tests and administering them closer to the start of the year?  We could have results in time to influence the teaching of those specific students, and by taking a longitudinal approach to the results we could track how schools are progressing over time. 

Just an idea....


Campbell, C., & Levin, B. (2009). Using data to support educational improvement. Educational Assessment, Evaluation & Accountability, 21(1), 47-65.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What is the Purpose of Education?

I was asked in class (where I was the student, not the teacher) recently what my thoughts were on the purpose of education.  Specifically, I was asked what I thought the role of education was with respect to any class divisions that may or may not exist in society. 

I approached this answer with what I thought was a crystal clear understanding of what my beliefs were, but as I reflected on this topic I found myself questioning my beliefs.  Internal conflict being what it is, and given that it is also the subject of many a Hollywood blockbuster, I thought I'd share my reflections on this question here.  I hope my reflections don't offend you....please remember....I'm a work in progress!

I believe that I am mostly a structural fundamentalist, but that I can tend to display Marxist elements in my thinking on my more cynical days. At least I hope I am. I hope I'm not a closet conflict theorist masquerading as a consensus theorist.  Maybe I am a post modernist at heart?  Wouldn't that be something if I had completely deceived myself?  Perhaps I already have, given the theoretical babble I just threw out in those last couple of sentences?

To explain, my personal belief is that a fundamental role of education is to prepare our students for success in our society.  This is the structural fundamentalist, or consensus theory, belief.  I see education as playing a significant role in reinforcing the basic fundamentals of society, which are basically well-intentioned.  I think our society is set up to allow for people to succeed in spite of where they begin.

Where I believe we struggle as a system is in identifying the social and political goals of society that we are supposed to prepare our students for. I think we have too broad of a definition re: what our funademental goals of society are.  Based on that, when I see needed change within society stalling, and class divisions being reinforced, it frustrates me. In that situation, I can question the fundamental purpose of our system.

Essentially though, I consider myself an optimist. I think the majority of our societal goals are basically good and I have seen many examples in our modern, western, society of people who have used the knowledge, tools, and opportunities provided by education.  A good success story helps me avoid remaining cynical for too long! I will admit though that we need to do more to identify our priorities as a society so that we can then support that with our education system, but at the heart of it all I do not see conflict theory as the prevailing theory.

As I read description of the different theories, and examples of how some nations structure their education systems to tacitly support class divisions that exist, I did question my beliefs. I wondered about our testing system, and our hidden curricula, and I wondered if I did not know about these 2 theories if my beliefs might reveal a more Marxist predisposition. Perhaps I don't know enough about all of this to fully comprehend all of the information at my disposal? 

Ultimately however, for now, I returned to my belief in the power of our system to prepare and support people to transcend class divisions.  You have to start somewhere, right?  If I am going to facilitate continued improvement of our system, perhaps I should start from a positive position instead of a deficit position.

If you have feelings on this topic, by all means please share them! If you disagree with me, I'd love to hear why.  I'm only of this mind until you convince me otherwise...and constructive discussion is how I learn!


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daniel Pink DRIVE: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

I've just finished reading a very interesting book by an author I enjoy reading a great deal: Daniel Pink (author of A Whole New Mind).  Just as I was finishing the book, I had the good fortune to attend a webinar interview of Dan Pink.  I thought I'd try something new tonight, and share the executive summary of my notes from the webinar for anyone who might be interested.

Dan Pink-DRIVE
Elluminate Webinar, February 18, 2010

A Whole New Mind - Describes what people do at work
DRIVE - Explains why people do what they do at work

The DRIVE Cocktail Party Summary (from
When it comes to motivation, there's a gap between what science knows and what business does.  Our current business operating system–which is built around external, carrot-and-stick motivators–doesn't work and often does harm. We need an upgrade. And the science shows the way. This new approach has three essential elements: 1. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives. 2. Mastery — the urge to get better and better at something that matters. 3. Purpose — the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.

Watch this Summary of Drive: Two Questions That Can Change Your Life (excellent!):

Science suggests that Creative/Conceptual/Knowledge work (i.e. teaching) does not typically experience success with "IF-THEN" motivators

Similar work completed/published by Alfie Kohn in "Published by Rewards"

There is a dichotomy between what business does and what science knows!  Premise of  DRIVE: Carrot/stick approach (standards, etc.) does not work. We need to build our systems to foster Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose in our employees!

Part of the problem for us in education....very few legislators with an education background...they don't understand the nature of the work!

Is rigor a bad term? If you don't hate it, then is it not rigorous? NO!  Rigor is about chasing your passion!!!

Rigor, relevance, relationships are crucial in education....always....

MY TAKEAWAY of the DAY #1: The world changes ONE conversation at a time, therefore administrators have to commit the time to engage with staff in those conversations!

Comfort with ambiguity means you will struggle in a world of tight standards....if you are not comfortable with ambiguity, you'll struggle in modern world....

AUTONOMY - desire for self-direction. Old systems that seek compliance are outdated. Mgmt is an old technology for getting people to comply, and is NOT good at getting people to engage.

MASTERY - The HIGHEST satisfaction at work comes on days when people feel they are making progress. Not solving problems, nec., just making progress!

PURPOSE - We want to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We want to know what it is all about.

Are we too focused on data?

BRUNER: "students should experience their success and failure not as reward and punishment but as information"

Teaching kids to self-assess changes the role of the teacher to one of coach....see Wooden's assessment of coaching philosophy: -- Red Deer teacher sharing reflections on using grades as motivation, etc.

John Wooden's Coaching Style Studied:  He gave 7% praise, 7% disapproval, and 86% STATEMENTS of information.  Offered 0bservations, asked questions, etc. Gave very very few speeches. Used Assessment FOR learning, all the time!!!

Grades are NOT EQUAL to feedback.  They are summative.  When your child gets a grade, look at it, ask the kid what they feel about their performance. Did you do your best? Why is your mark what it is? etc.

Have the discussion and establish the difference between grades and MASTERY with your children

In Summary, Pink wants the Two Questions (see video linked at start of presentation) to help drive us:

1 - What is my sentence?

2 - Am I better today than I was yesterday?

TAKEAWAY #2: As an administrator, what can I do to build 20% time into my school's master schedule to foster teacher autonomy, creativity, and passion? What would be the rules of it, and how can we do it for TEACHERS and STUDENTS?


Monday, February 22, 2010


Within my district there has been a great deal of work done over the past 2 years on reviewing and revising the process used to evaluate school-based administrators.  Significant input has been given to the administrators and a committee has worked through many drafts to put together both a rubric to be used to help guide our actions as well as to help assess our growth and behavior as administrators.
I'm mostly pleased with the final product, as I feel the use of a professional growth portfolio will give us the opportunity to provide an authentic representation of our performance.  There will always be an external voice involved with any evaluations, but offering us the opportunity to help create the process and to demonstrate our own growth is a huge opportunity.
I recently read a report originating from Denver Colorado re: perceptions of the Denver Public Schools teacher evaluation process.  Recent research in Denver suggests a high level of dissatisfaction among teachers and administrators with their teacher evaluation process.  Reading this started me thinking about our own process....
I wonder what the satisfaction level is in my district, among teachers and administrators, of the quality of teaching?  This level speaks to our potential to improve instruction, I think. 
I also wonder what the result might be if we invited teachers to participate in the process of reviewing our current model?  Hmmmm....I bet that would be a very powerful experience! 

GREAT PD FOR FREE? Sign me up!

Being on sabbatical and working from home this year has been amazing for the Professional Development opportunities I have had access to.  My PD budget has been dramatically impacted (read: eliminated) by not working in a school this year, but it has also been the fullest year of PD experiences to date for me!

The Ed.D. courses I am enrolled in have been excellent learning opportunities, of course.  I am very pleased on the whole with the program offered by the University of Phoenix and find it very relevant to my current position.  Additionally, the classes I've taught/facilitated in the UOP master's program have provided me with significant learning opportunities too!  It is nice to be able to put Knowles' theory of adult learning, andragogy, to practice and get real-time feedback from the students as I do.

Those formal opportunities however make up only the tip of the iceberg that is my professional learning and personal growth this year.  Just like an iceberg however, the BULK of my opportunities have been under the surface.  The amount of FREE QUALITY learning available on the internet is amazing, if you know where to look.  It is a completely unexpected bonus to have the time to learn my way around the online learning opportunities and to access as many of them as I want this year.

I'll start with GOOGLE READER.  If you don't use Google Reader to keep track of blogs and websites you visit regularly, YOU MUST START!  Simply put, there is no better way that I know of to keep on top of a number of sites.  I am currently following over two hundred blogs and other websites and it is completely manageable, for lots of reasons.  If you want to know more, please ask. 

Next on my list would be the communities I've joined such Classroom2.0 and The Educator's PLN.  Great conversations take place in these networks, and I'm sure there is a topic of interest for anyone in education.  I'm currently in a discussion on the Educator's PLN regarding the issue of who is to blame for school failure, following the announcement last week an entire HS staff in Rhode Island is being let go due to recurring poor results.

In the past several months I have also attended several webinars using Elluminate where I've had the opportunity to interact and speak directly with authors such as Yong Zhao, Daniel Pink, Seth Godin, Alfie Kohn, and Ian Jukes and to engage in discussions on all sorts of topics related to education.  I've got March 30th circled, as Sir Ken Robinson (Do Schools Kill Creativity - if you haven't seen this yet, commit 20 minutes to watch it.  It is inspiring!) will be doing an Elluminate session that day!  See you there, I hope.  That one I do not want to miss!

In fact, if you want to look at the list of presenters lined up by Steve Hargadon over the next little while, check out The Future of Education ning network where he has the list of speakers posted to the end of March.  The best thing about these opportunities? They are archived, for review later or in case you miss the original presentation.  And, they are free!
I am also currently attending a free online conference right now, the CRSTE Cyber Conference 2010.  Sessions run from February 21st to March 5th and they are all in the afternoon/evening and on weekends, as well as 6 sessions running asynchronously throughout the entire conference.  The list of presenters is astounding, and you can check it out HERE.  Thanks to my ass't sup't LT for hooking me up with this opportunity.

Twitter, as I've written about earlier, has been an amazing discovery for me this year as well too.  I won't go into it in detail again, other than to say the learning potential of this networking tool is staggering.  if you want to learn more about this opportunity, just ask.  I'd love to help anyone get started using it!

Finally, this morning I stumbled across another opportunity, the more substantial free online course.  This is a very interesting PD model.  It looks like the courses are relatively substantial, spanning 2-3 weeks in time.  As an example, here is a link to a free course on copyright for teachers (which I consider a relatively large topic):     Here is the list of all of the current course offerings at this site:

Now, I don't know about the quality of the learning in these courses, but I would bet they are interesting and engaging.  So much of what is available online is valuable simply because it is so relevant and interactive!  I find online courses are typically far more interactive than most one-day workshops where we sit  back and absorb without meaningfully interacting and engaging in coversations with other participants. 

I keep thinking that we might be able to offer our own virtual PD in our district using techniques like this when we get our moodle up and running.  There would be some huge challenges, of course, but it has me thinking, what kind of custom district training might we want to offer our staff?  New staff orientations could be done asynchronously, with district-specific content conveniently delivered when the staff have the time, minimizing the need for as many scheduled face to face sessions.  This would not replace the face to face meetings, but it would certainly give them a different focus if the learning was done outside the sessions and the f2f time was more active participation and/or working sessions. 

I can think of lots of great uses of this sort of learning, but I'm wondering how we can effectively harness this opportunity for our district staff?  How do we change the culture of PD and/or move away from the workshop mentality?  Any ideas?  I'd love to hear what other districts have done to embrace new learning opportunityes on a larger scale.

One strategy I have thought of is using sub time to allow teachers to attend online workshops.  Perhaps staff can be given a half-day sub (or I can cover their classes for them) to attend the workshop.  Then they could write up a summary of the opportunity and share it on our staff PD Ning (an interesting concept, no?) with a link to the archived session.  I'd love to actually see a year-long archive of the professional learning out teachers engage in, and this would be an easy way to do it.  Take a workshop or attend a conference?  Write up a summary and share it with the rest of the staff on the ning!  What a powerful testament to the power of the school's vision this would be at the end of a year!  We rarely see the totality of our collective efforts as a staff to learn...

Any other ideas?


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Are We Driving Towards Change, or Hiding Behind Barriers to Keep From It?

Sherlock Holmes might say "Watson, the change is afoot!"

I've only been in the field of education since 1991, but it seems to me change is a permanent fixture on our radar.  The first few years of my career, as with most of teachers, the change was due to me trying to stay afloat and learn how to teach.  After that, I remember many different 'initiatives' from my schools and districts.  

The veterans in those early days used to make skeptical comments about 'waiting out the change', but I am not so sure that is possible now.  I'm seeing some very sticky change occuring at the higher levels, and I am seeing some very worthy change initiatives being introduced that I think will change our practice forever.  Systemic change takes great planning though!

Managing Change Means Making Sure You Have
Vision, Skills, Incentive, Resources AND an Action Plan!

In general, it seems to me that the external pressures for change are increasing, for a variety of reasons which I won't go into here.  This is not the time for a Fraser Institute/Standardized Test/Standards-Based System discussion.  Reasons why change is proposed aside, I don't think waiting out change is an option for us now.  I'd like to see us take our destiny more into our own hands, and I think the way to do that is to be proactive, get everyone on board, and start to make the changes we know will help us improve the learning that occurs in our schools.

The thing is, change in times of cuts and diminishing resources can be demoralizing!  Who wants to change, when change causes uncertainty, when it has the potential for hurt, and when we are not sure of what the results of change will be?

Tonight, as I was replying to some posts made by my students in the online Master's class I facilitate,  I was struck by that thought about the demoralizing effect the prospect of change has.  I've not really stopped and reflected on it in these terms in the past.  When thinking about the uncertainty of change, it is easy to see why an uncoordinated and uninspiring attempt at seeking educational change might be difficult to implement successfully.

In my response to my students, I was sharing the value of perspective when looking at change.  We need to honor and strengthen our relationships, but we must also look at the forces that will influence any change efforts.  We need to consider the driving and restraining forces, as described by Kurt Lewin's Force Field Analysis strategy.  I first learned this technique approximately 10 years ago, and I think it is a powerful tool. 

Simply put, Lewin's strategy is used to analyze problems in an organizational setting as a precursor to identifying a solution.  With his strategy, you analyze the forces that act as barriers to implementing your change (restraining forces) and the forces that support the change initiative (driving forces). By understanding all the forces in effect, you can direct your future actions to create an unbalanced system.  When the sum of the driving forces are stronger than the sum of the restraining forces, change will be successful.

It is not too complicated of a strategy, but for me it does two things.  One, it provides what I consider to be needed structure to the change process.  Change must be planned if it is to be supported. The second thing I like about it is that it forces us to look at driving forces, not just the restraining forces.  All too often I feel we focus on the negatives, and the reasons why we can not embrace a change we think may be good for kids.  Focusing on the negative, and battling to overcome those barriers, can be especially tiring.  By looking at all the forces in play, sometimes our new perspective will allow us to focus our efforts on the positives. 
At times, expending our efforts to FURTHER enhance the positives can help us to tip the balance in the favor of change and our new practice will eventually further whittle away at those restraining forces as well.  I find this approach a much more energizing way to approach change, and in general I try to force myself out of my box to look at the forces on both sides of a problem now.

Change is inevitable.  So are cuts and recessions and criticisms, and ...  What we need to have, to support our work towards our vision, is HOPE and OPTIMISM.  We need to play to our strengths, focus on those forces we can influence, and strategically make the changes we know our system, and our students, need.  Now, the last line caveat is this:  Of course, there is so much more involved to systemic reform than I have addressed here, so if you read only this last line please remember that hope and optimism will sustain us in so many ways!


Monday, February 8, 2010

Sample Prezi - Created By My Favorite Test Subject

I've seen some amazing PREZI's online, but I have yet to create my own. I'd played around with it and made a couple of short presentations, but nothing substantial.

Last week my son, in grade 6, mentioned that he was starting a presentation for Social Studies. I emailed him a link to the site, in case he wanted to give something new a shot for his presentation.

He took the bait, and with no instruction from me, he and two friends learned how to use the program and all 3 completed their presentations using Prezi.

Here is Alex's...leave him a comment in the comments section here, or visit him at his blog HERE to let him know what you thought.

Poor kid....he gets stuck having his dad egg him on to try all the new things.....


Thursday, February 4, 2010

Testing an Embedded Quiz Using Google Docs

Thanks in advance for taking the following quiz to help me test how to use an embedded Google form as a quiz!


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Positively Influencing Change Through Perspective

I read a statement similar to this today, or heard something similar somewhere today, and it has been sitting on the top of my head ever since.  I want to make darn sure I remember it for the next personal planning I do, or the next planning meetings I attend, so I'm posting it here to keep it at hand.
Instead of looking to save money by chipping away pieces of what we already have, why don't we instead approach the problem by assuming we have nothing and add in everything we truly need.  The leftovers will be our savings and the process will affirm our core values.
I love the PERSPECTIVE this approach offers me.  It is a transferable and scaleable approach to looking at situations requiring a critical analysis or a cut of some sort.  I could use this to assess the efficiency of how I use my time at work.  I could use this to review our personal budget at home.  I could use this to review my classroom instructional practices.
What I like best about taking this perspective is that it is POSITIVE (building from scratch to support our core values) for dealing with often negative (budget cuts) situations!  It seems like such a positive way to proceed...

The AMAZING Potential of Social Networking

I've sat back and been fascinated by the social networking revolution!  I watched Myspace take off, I've seen good friends get immersed in Facebook, and I've had to deal with teeanage conflict arising out of Nexopia.  I never participated in any of those networks however, because I didn't have time (I thought) and I just thought it did not look like much fun.  I had lots of reasons, I suppose, but at the heart of it I think I was just too busy working and trying to be a good husband/father to my family. 
I have always been an advocate of online discussion forums though, as I find them amazingly useful sources of information on a wide variety of topics.  When I was a rabid Palm user, I wrote reviews of software and hardware for a while, sharing them in different forums.  When I built my mountain bike, I received great support from people in a couple of different forums.  When I needed to fix my treadmill, I found the answer in a DIY group.  On the whole though, I didn't see the utility of groups like those as anything more than a handy resource.  It made sense to me why they would not have widespread appeal, as they were too focused for most people and only the diehards want to talk PDSs all day every day anyway.
Approximately a month ago though, I read an article on the power of Twitter for teachers, and I thought I should check it out and see what value there was in it.  WOW!  Twitter has helped me identify the true value in social networking.  Twitter is networking, but is not narrowly focused.  It is real time, and flexible, and can meet the many different needs that many different people may have.  Flexibility is a key word re: future learning, and Twitter is flexible.  Now, the concept of a Personal Learning Network is at the heart of Twitter's utility to me. 
Now, I don't really care to know what my friends had for lunch, unless they are buying me lunch, but I do care when one of them posts a link to some great new research on how to teach math more effectively.  Or when one of them invites me to discuss the importance of 1:1 computing with members of their state's government (thanks #vanmeter gurus, that was fun!).  Twitter can do that for me, and the people I follow, and interact with daily, are in my PLN.  They are great sources of inspiration, and information, and supplement the learning I engage in with colleagues in my district nicely! 
If you have not taken a look at Twitter yet, give it a shot.  Get an account, go to this site  and find some people to follow, get a desktop client (I like Tweetdeck) on your computer and sit back and watch and learn from your group.  I bet you will soon find yourself wanting to share as well!
Taking the concept of social networking in a completely new direction, today I watched a video that dropped my jaw to the floor.  In a video available on TED, Jamie Heywood discusses his website Patients Like Me, that uses the principles of social networking for patients receiving medical care.  As patients share their data, a staggering amount of information is collected and freely available for others to use.  I believe Heywood shared that there are over 45,000 patients sharing data on their diseases, which is a staggering amount of collaboration on such an important topic.  I can't do it justice, the information contained in the site is a bit overwhelming, so please watch Jamie's video, I think it will AMAZE you too.  I'm still processing what I saw, but I wanted to share it now while it was fresh in my mind.  I'll come back later and edit it after processsing for a while.
The essence of my amazement is how we can work together, as members from a disparate society, to fight illnesses that in years past would have been solitary battles.  If we can do that, and make a positive difference, what can we do for issues like poverty and homelessness if some amazing entrepreneur comes up with a way for us to work together in some new innovative social network?
When I think of the problems I face in my normal day to day life, they pale in comparison to some of the issues I was writing about above.  My takeaway learning for the day is that I need to change MY perspective to solve my issues.  I need to imagine starting from scratch and trying to build support systems to help meet my/our goals, instead of trying to apply micro-levels of change to my current situation.  Einstein's words about solving the problems of the future with different thinking that what caused today's problems never rang more true!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


I've recently had a change in perspective related to a belief I have had for a long time, and I wanted to share the process by which I ended up thinking of things differently.  It has to do with my perceptions and perspectives about the way I see the world, and what I need to do to make improvements in the system!

I watched an interesting video over the weekend, in which Clay Shirky spoke on the topic of privacy, information overload, and how we design systemic solutions for issues we face.  Shirky is an author, consultant, and adjunct professor at New York University who focuses on how the internet influences our social and economic realities.  I've listened to him speak several times and he is an entertaining speaker, who is astute and has an interesting perspective on issues we are all familiar with.

Since I have begun to read about the influence of the technology on society, I've read quite a bit about the amount that our collection of available information has grown.  It is a fact, and until recently I've thought it was an imposing barrier for peope to have to navigate in order to find important information.

Shirky however, proposes it is not necessarily information overload that is the challenge.  He makes the point in his video that people have always had access to more books than they could ever read.  Information overload is relative, and Shirky proposes it has always been this way since the invention of the printing press.  While the topic of his presentation is not on critical thinking skills, I was struck by this different perspective.

Shirky argues that it is our filter, through which we analyze information for validity and reliability, that we need to focus on.  Instead of publishers filtering for quality and only publishing good books as in the past, it is us current content users who must filter the information we read for value. 

Looking at the issue from this perspective, I think it might give us a different look at what we need to do for our students.  We must help our students develop their ability to analyze information and apply their critical thinking skills.  Instead of focusing on how much information there is available, we should be designing an approach that attends to the filter issue as opposed to the information overload issue.  It is a slightly different perspective that may be reflected in our curriculum and lesson design.

Shirky spends a fair bit of time talking about spam email, which is a filter problem of a different sort, privacy, and other issues but his presentation made an impact on the way I thought about this issue as well as how I hope to look at future issues I study. 

I don't know if there is a substantial difference between filter issues or information overload when it comes to teaching students critical thinking skills.  That debate is for elsewhere.  What I took away from his presentation is the importance of making sure I look at situations from multiple perspectives.  I have to push myself to look at situations from a perspective outside my traditional belief system.  I need to know my own biases about education, so that as we discuss building learning systems to meet the needs of adults and 21st Century learners, I can identify my beliefs and biases towards any issue and then look objectively at the situation from outside of my perspective.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

21st Century Teaching Skills and Teacher Interviews

I was in my first #edchat using twitter today (what a great group by the way - thanks for making me feel welcome) and partway through our large group discussion I was struck with (what may be) a crazy thought about interviewing teachers.  I've sat on the administration side of the table for a great many interviews over the last 12 years, and I reflect often on making our hiring practices more effective.  Before I get to the crazy thought...a little background.

I've attended workshops on how to develop and ask questions designed to identify behaviors. Myself and my colleagues have put a lot of work into hiring the right teacher for the right job, and I think we have gotten pretty good at it, judging by the excellent people we have had join our team.  Assuming we agree there is a need for change in overall instructional practices (which I think we do, based on our common calls for learner-centered instruction this morning), things are going to change in the hiring game. Based on that assumption, and the fact that technology integration will only continue to gain in importance, I think we are going to need to change what we are looking for in a 21st Century teacher.

I thought I would share my thought from today here and I hope you might consider leaving your  thoughts in the comments section so we can have a little discussion about teacher interview practices and preparing our schools for the future.  Heck, even if you disagree that we need to seek a different skillset than in years past, let me know that too, please!

During the discussion this morning I began to think of turning the interview into a more practical demonstration of teacher skills. Years ago my mentor had prospective teachers teach a practice lesson in addition to the spoken interview.  It worked wonderfully, but unfortunately we don't often have a timeline conducive to arranging for test instruction.  I'm a little sad to say that I've never used that technique since, because I love that idea.  Surely there are other practical techniques out there.  Perhaps we should be looking for an electronic portfolio?

Back to the crazy thought at hand though!  Regarding 21st Century Skills, my thought today was that if we value a teacher's ability to learn and creatively solve problems (so they can teach those skills to our students), why wouldn't we ask the teacher to prove it?  What if we gave the prospective teacher 5 minutes, a telephone, and internet access to summarize a difficult concept they are not familiar with?  Would that give us a realistic view of their tech proficiency as well as their ability to grasp and synthesize new concepts?

After I raised that idea, one of the other participants in the #edchat discussion suggested giving the teacher an exemplary model of a traditional lesson plan and asking them to critique it and/or address how they would change it.  The intent of that activity would be to see if they would suggest changes to make the lesson differentiated or more learner-centered.  I think that is a very innovative idea too!

Now, what do you think?  Are those crazy ideas?  What other interview techniques/practices might we employ in order to assess teacher proficiency in the skills we know they need for the 21st century?  Have any of you participated in authentic or non-traditional interviews?  Did they work?  Did you like them?

If you have the time, I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments section…


Friday, January 15, 2010

Testing Youblisher

I recently learned about an innovative and interesting way to publish and share .pdf files online. Rather than posting a file and expecting people to download it to read it, I am trying out a website called YOUBLISHER.

Youblisher turns your .pdf document into an online magazine. You can then embed that magazine in your blog, website, etc.  I've chosen to use my resume as a sample, and it follows.  Perhaps someone from an island paradise is looking for an energetic, enthusiastic Web2.0 educator and will stumble upon this blog, find my resume, and whisk me off to the islands.

More likely though, my wife, kids, and mom will look at it an be the technology...not the resume...Isn't this a neat way to publish .pdfs though? I'm going to use this in school to publish newsletters, I think...

Big thanks to @jenclevette for giving me the idea to wordle my resume, it makes a great cover page!

Sample Publication


More From Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk "Do Schools Kill Creativity" is one of my all time favorite resources that supports my belief our educational system is in need of change.

If you've ever worked with a capable student who struggled with succeeding in school, you know that there are a lot of factors influencing students' dispositions toward school. I believe if we help shape our system to better meet the needs of our students we will be doing what we can about the factors in our control!

To that end, I was thrilled to find the following video on the Educator's PLN ning site tonight. If you liked his talk on TED, you will find this JUST as appealing. He covers essentially the same content, but goes into more depth and takes a broader view of the need for creativity. The overall result is, as usual, brilliant!  It is 65 minutes long, and I hope you enjoy it:

Sir Ken Robinson from NYSCATE on Vimeo.


Motion Leadership and Facilitating Instructional Change

I had the good fortune of attending a one-day working session in Edmonton with Michael Fullan, sponsored by The College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS), earlier this week.  Fullan is working with a cohort of Alberta school districts invovled in a CASS-sponsored Leadership Capacity Building Project titled Moving and Improving.

This was the second time I've been able to attend a working session with Fullan, and the day did not disappoint. His focus was on using the strategies found in his new book, Motion Leadership, to help districts build their instructional and leadership capacities. Myself, and I believe the others I was with, found the day useful and affirming that a lot of what we are working on in our district is on the right path!

If you have read many of Michael Fullan's books, you may have noticed his fondness for lists.  In honor of that, I thought I would share my take-aways from the day in the same fashion:
  • Clarity of purpose is developed through action. Clarity develops while you act.
  • It is specific leadership behavior that causes positive movement.
  • If you want to get somewhere you have to have a clear, shared vision of what you want to achieve.
  • Make your focus student learning. Be specific to the instruction.
  • Do a small number of things VERY well, instead of a large number of things pretty well.
In his book, Fullan shares 9 components of change, that are part of a READY - FIRE - AIM approach. He believes you should get started first, then adjust your plans and develop your supports once you know what you are doing.  From those components of change, I took away:
  • We must have a bias for action.
  • Relationships are the foundation upon which all lasting change occurs.
  • We must expect the implementation dip, where we fall back before improving, but must PERSIST (a focus throughout the day) and fight through it.
  • We will learn about implementation DURING implementation.
  • Communication is essential, but, communication without implementation doesn't mean much. It is almost wasted effort.
One goal for the weekend is to read the book and compare my takeways from the brief session with the content in order to develop a deeper understanding of the concept he was sharing. I'll be back with updates, if needed.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

This Is Something That I Have to See to Believe

The concept is brilliant, and if it works as well as described below, this new cell phone/electronics charger will be in my pocket the day after it is released!

Obviously, I never thought when I was a child that we would have the powerful electronics devices common today. Taking that notion even further, I believe, the idea that there is a device that can harvest the power found in the AIR borders on incomprehensible to me. Really? They can do that? Amazing. I'll be watching to see if this makes it to market.

And then I will buy one!

That's if it works, of course. I've seen lots of amazing ideas run out of steam on the way to the finish line. I've may even have some of my own crazy schemes, errr, ideas, not make it to reality. Or I may not have.

But still....

What do you think? Are we mere steps away from batteries that never need recharging?


Monday, January 11, 2010

Olivia is the Class V.I.P. - January 13, 2010

Our little girl is her class V.I.P. in grade 2 this week. Today we had to write her a letter and send it in to the class, and I believe the teacher reads it out in class. Of course, we couldn't resist doing a little bit more....she really does deserve it!

Here is Alex, Olivia's big brother, reading the letter my wife and I wrote and sent in with Olivia. Thanks very much to Olivia's teacher, Ms. Kraig, who played Alex's video for the class.

Just as we are lucky to have her with us, Olivia is lucky to have an awesome big brother like Alex!

The pizza lunch was awesome this week too. Thanks very much Ms. Kraig for making the kids in your class feel so special!


Friday, January 8, 2010

Different Ways to SHOW What You KNOW

Sorry to interrupt your regularly scheduled Friday afternoon programming, but I came across this today and thought it might be of interest to some of you...
If you are looking to come up with alternative ways to get the kids to show what they know, perhaps this periodic table of visual representation might be useful? 
I could see this being given to kids too, to choose their own way of presenting information instead of writing the book report or completing a paragraph.  There are some higher level thinking skills needed for some of the causal comparative techniques on the page...
Thanks to Ian Jukes for posting this on his Committed Sardines blog. Thanks to the good people at for putting it together. It's AWESOME.  I learned some new things today.
AND...looking at this reminded me of the diagram to help people choose what kind of chart to make to show relationships between numbers.  If your kids make charts, take a look at this link.  Thanks to EXTREME PRESENTATION.COM  for putting this one online!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Do You Work in a Professional Learning Community?

If you work in a PLC, perhaps you should review the 8 Laws Of Human Nature In A Professional Learning Community

I read these, posted on another blog I frequent Education Innovation.  The objective of a team working together may be pure, the actions of the individuals honorable, but still the work they try to do to help students learn can turn out incomplete or otherwise as they did not intend.

Rob Jacobs, author of the Education Innovation blog explains how PLC teams can veer off course in 8 easy to understand ways. If I were king for a day, I might make this required reading for all of our schools PLC teams at the end of this year AND at the start of next year. There may be some good reflection on team functions taking place as a result...

Wisdom like this, quoted from Jacob's post (HERE) is golden:

"Have you ever considered that the first person in a PLC to share an idea, their knowledge, their opinion, or give input to their Professional Learning Community may create a sequence of events that prevent the PLC from making the strongest most informed decisions possible?


"Teachers are often reluctant to share their ideas about effective instructional practices to meet the varying needs of students. Often they are afraid that they will be "wrong." Talking about page numbers and dates carries less risk. "

The PLC teams in our district are doing very well, but I sometimes wonder if enough time is spent developing the proper relationships in order to function effectively as a team. I know as a principal, I never had enough time to work with all of the teams, and other potential mentors were equally as busy.  Reflecting on these rules, and reviewing the vision for the teams, may be a very useful exercise!

As I always like to say, you do not have to be sick to get better!!!  (edit: Darn, I wish I could give credit to where I heard/read that phrase. If you have a source for who said it, let me know. I think it was W.E. Deming in a video I watched a long time ago, but I'm not sure...)


More on Disruptive Innovation

Thanks very much to Scott McLeod, author of the Dangerously Irrelevant blog, for sharing the text and audio of his recent presentation to the NEA. Thanks very much to one of Scott's readers (Art Wolinsky) for synchronizing the two and making them available for everyone to enjoy.  You can find the individual components HERE and the combined version HERE.  If you have any interest in the topic of disruptive innovation or educational change, I recommend you take 20 minutes and watch/listen to this presentation.

Bob Dyan said the times, they are a changing.  Scott McLeod's presentation will give you a great overview of the theory that explains why.  I'm not a betting man (mostly because I'm on PIL and not as flush as normal), but if I were I might be tempted to bet the 2019 target promoted by Christensen may be reached a bit earlier than that!

The book Disrupting Class, by Clayton Christensen and Michael Horn, makes a great deal of sense to me. The idea of disruptive innovation driving successful organizations from the marketplace makes sense as a potential influence on the structure of education when explained in the book. I believe another book I read a while ago, A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, helps to further explain the conditions that exist in society to support the upcoming disruption of our systems.

McLeod's presentation will be most helpful to me when trying to explain the changes that will take place during this next decade. When talking to people about the change I believe is coming, they frequently struggle to comprehend the breadth of the dramatic change that is coming. Old perspectives say there is no way kids can learn online in large numbers.  The problem with that belief though is we are not using old perspectives. Our students are creating new perspectives every day.

By focusing on what education is going to look like (i.e. an almost 50-50 blend of online and traditional classes at the HS level by 2019), I think I have been contributing to people's inability to understand the innovation that is happening as we speak.  I shouldn't focus on the end. It is too dramatic a jump. Rather, to help people understand the influence online learning is going to have, I should be focusing on the conditions being created that will foster kids learning online. I should explain more about how kids are starting to demonstrate their learning.  McLeod's presentation did a much better job of helping his audience (and us on the web watching it) build our understanding of what is happening.

The slides showing the exponential curve, especially, will help me to help others understand this concept the next time we are having a discussion about it.  Great presentation Scott!  Thanks for sharing it!


I Think This is Incredible

I came across this offer this morning:

Explore 120 years of amazing discoveries, fascinating maps, and the world's best photography with The Complete National Geographic. This definitive collection of every issue of National Geographic magazine, digitally reproduced in stunning high resolution, brings you the world and all that is in it. Use the advanced interface to explore a topic, search for photographs, browse the globe, or wander on your own expedition.

Can you imagine having EVERY issue of the National Geographic Magazine available digitally? If you move, they weigh nothing to take with you.  Can you imagine how many hours you'd spend poring over the maps, pictures, and articles?


What do you think that might be worth?  My first thought was that it would come at a premium.  As it turns out, the regular price (on the Geographic website, here) is only $69.95, but it is currently on sale for $59.95!!  I think that is an incredible deal.  For those seeking a higher level of personalization, you can get them preloaded on a 160 GB hard drive, with your name laser-etched into the shell, for $199.95.


I want....and I know a couple people for whom this would be an amazing gift, too. 


This could be a great resource for schools to look at too...and as the size of hard drives increases and prices drop, can you imagine sending your child to school every day with information like this, plus a collection of other resources readily available, at their fingertips?  The possibilities are impressive!