Leslie Wilson, CEO of OTO, blogs at Digital Learning Environment which is sponsored by HP and Intel. We invite you to read this week's blog and to visit the site to read archived blogs.
June 10, 2013 Keeping it Personal
May 28, 2013 Figuring Out Future Ed Tech Needs
May 13, 2013 Does Technology Make a Difference?
Apr 29, 2013 Rich or Poor-It's About the Focus
Apr 15, 2013 Superb Leaders in Action
Apr 2, 2013 Getting to Education Innovation
Mar 18, 2013 Leading Culture Shift
Mar 4, 2013 Positive Movements Afoot
Feb 18, 2013 A 7 Year-Old Entrepreneur
Feb 4, 2013 Connected Students and Agency
Jan 21, 2013 Noodling on Double-loop Learning
Jan 7, 2013 Charting the Future! Knowledge Works!
Nov 26, 2012 First Project RED Hands-On Institute Successful
Oct 29, 2012 Project RED Signature District Awards
Sept 28, 2012 You've Got 'Tablets' and Now You're 1:1? Really?
Sept 17, 2012 Our Schools Can Be Creation Engines
August 20, 2012 Leading: Working the Bull's Eye
August 6, 2012 Reality Hits
July 23, 2012 Student Achievement Research Meets Technology
July 9, 2012 Bold Truth and Leadership
June 14, 2012 My Teacher Liked My Essay: The Algorithm Didn't
March 16, 2012 Schools Have Changed - It's a Work in Progress
March 19, 2012 Finding Our Own Internal Compass--When Technology Overwhelms
March 8, 2012 A National Leader: The Digital Textbook Playbook
February 2012 The First Follower- Dancing with the Leader
Project RED II Launch at Intel Visionary Conference
What an event!! The Project RED II launch in Washington DC at Intel’s Visionary Conference last week was exciting and inspiring! We had the opportunity to highlight our research findings and introduce our next version plans – bringing those findings to life in selected, qualifying sites.
We personally recognize and thank Paige Johnson, Intel, for providing this launch venue which was spectacular. Liz Crawford, HP-our other major sponsor, was front and center to provide support and leadership in the conversation. Mick Adkisson, of sponsor-SMART Technologies, actually spent his birthday with us to celebrate the launch and share his expertise. Thanks also to sponsor, Pearson, and representative Kathy Hurley.
The conversation has changed among those who reach out for help in moving to ubiquitous ed tech solutions. It’s good news that most educators who are seeking support realize that laying an effective foundation, focused leadership, shared vision and robust project plan are crucial to success. Project RED uncovered those critical success factors and is now aligning them with other variables within sites that are shovel ready for the Project RED Design™.
The Intel Visionary Conference focus was on ‘messaging’. Frank Luntz provided extensive data and recommendations for ‘how’ we get the message out about the moral imperative of education technologies to the different audiences we touch. We have to be bold – but we have to use language that resonates to different groups in order to effect the necessary calls to action.
And Project RED is just that – our call to action! We will roll out our readiness assessment, project plan template, community of practice, new website through our Introductory Webinars:
May 15; 1 p.m. EDT
May 17; 3 p.m. EDT
May 23; 1 p.m. EDT.
I invite you to join the complimentary national learning community and receive additional information at www.projectred.org. We welcome any and all communications.
Check this out! http://tinyurl.com/brcptxz. It is the demerit system my high school publicized to our parents circa 1964. Of course, I’d love to get my hands on their current disciplinary overview to compare and contrast. But when I read this I was immediately struck at how contrary to current belief, practice and research these expectations are! This is smack dab, in my face, a fundamental reason why the school transformations we seek are so difficult to bring around.
Many of us had traditional school experiences with key characteristics. Some of those are:
- the teacher was the center of the education experience from all perspectives;
- students sat in desks (maybe tables) in rows facing the front of the room;
- multiple textbooks; binders/paper/pens/pencils;
- chalk and chalkboards that the teacher used;
- media included projectors (8M), VCRs, overhead transparencies;
- scheduled visits to the school library for special projects and research;
- expectation of ‘quiet/silence’ in classrooms and hallways;
- lock step class times and schedule;
- minimal personal contact student to teacher and vice versa;
- students’ one to two week wait times for test results;
- curriculum/content was ‘covered’ in spite of not knowing students’ progress and skill development.
What a difference several decades makes! From this cat bird’s seat, we recognize that a lot has changed in our schools. Many of those shifts are the result of responding to the changing learner profile and the emergence of contemporary resources including tools such as computers.
The most dramatic shifts have yet to take hold. Having the student at the center and having the teachers’ expertise as facilitating, personalizing the learning experience – creating self-directed learners. Effectively using and creating digital content that allows students to move at their own pace and receive quick feedback on their progress are needed. Anytime, anywhere, anyway learning is becoming more prevalent and should become the standard not the exception. The latter being enabled through personal, portable technologies. Dramatic partnerships among schools, businesses, higher learning organizations and other community outlets will create reciprocal benefits for all involved. The silo approach has proven to be untenable if our goal is a robust citizenry and workforce.
Finding Our Internal Compass-When Technology Overwhelms
by Leslie Wilson
Most of my colleagues and friends will say that technology has dramatically increased their productivity, and often, effectiveness in the personal and work spaces. Those same individuals carry 3 or 4 technology tools with them at all times. It is quite an accomplishment to be able to interchangeably use technologies for the tasks they are best suited. That ability didn’t just fall from the sky. It took time, experiences, research, trial and error to figure this stuff out and determine how best to utilize each tool.
Friend or foe of technologies, these tools are here to stay and they continue to morph at a rapid pace..which can be overwhelming when trying to keep pace. Even though technologies facilitate efficiencies they also create vast options which one must navigate.
David Allen, in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/business/when-office-technology-overwhelms-get-organized.html, New York Times, March 18, 2012, says that to assuredly navigate these pathways we have to develop a “structure for capturing, clarifying and organizing all the forces that assail us; and ensure time and space for thinking, reflecting and decision-making.” He says that most of us try to use our traditional, internal mechanisms to plod through the technology induced environment. Those skills that well served us in early tech days, today cause us to be “unclear, distracted, disorganized thinkers” which leads to “frustration, stress and undermined self-confidence”.
While Allen’s article speaks to work place employees, his framework is worthy of educators’ paying attention. In the education ecosystem, not only is technology integration on the uptick, so are public and national expectations, community expectations and, most importantly, the imperative to increase student achievement. On parallel paths, educators are expected to perform, deliver the goods and stay current with research, best practices and tech integrations. That’s a tall order.
Allen recommends five action steps each can take to bring control, focus and order to our personal and professional lives.
1. To garner greater focus and control, write down everything that has captured our attention – in work and personal lives. He calls this ‘emptying the attic’ of our heads.
2. Clarify the importance of each item to our lives. Define what results are desired aligned with needed actions. This puts each item in context of the bigger picture of life and guides us to what next steps need to be. ACTION!
3. Create reminders for each action needing to be taken. Put this inventory in a convenient, noticed place.
4. Make it a practice to regularly review, reflect and modify the commitments to keep it updated. Different items will emerge as more important than others with each review which will help shift focus and behaviors and decisions.
5. Position our resources and attention appropriate to the above.
Many of us take action in response to the loudest, most present factors of our lives. The goal is to be able to make conscious, smart choices that emerge from the above 5 steps….Proaction vs reaction increases our productivity!
Recently, I had the opportunity to participate in the The Digital Textbook Collaborative. The collaborative group’s aim was to step up the development of digital resources and enhance the quality and saturation of digital learning in the K-12 space. The collaborative was organized by the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Department of Education and amplifies the FCC’s National Broadband Plan and the Department of Education’s National Education Technology Plan.
The group was made up of major hardware, software, publishing, mobile/telcom, & education groups-industry stakeholders, school officials and nonprofit leaders. It was a heady experience to participate with these key engagers of the ed tech industry to discuss, provide current and future visions, and strategies to drive schools’ abilities to effectively decide and plan for education technologies.
Because technology factors move at the speed of light, it is difficult to anticipate and plan for what’s down. The FCC Digital Textbook Playbook (http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/digital-textbook-playbook) provides the best thinking and prognostications for educators as they grapple with decisions in this arena.
There are four major pillars in this work: ‘making the transition to digital’, ‘connectivity beyond school’, ‘connectivity at school’, and ‘device considerations’. Major considerations, purposes, strategies, recommendations for each area are provided in the context of here and now and the future.
In the Executive Summary of the Playbook, we restate President Obama’s message from his 2011 State of the Union address: “I want all students to be able to learn from digital textbooks.”
The digital resources visualized will be in states of constant evolution. They will engage a variety of technological and instructional come in an ever-evolving variety of technological and instructional distinctions to meet diverse student needs and interests. What they will have in common are digital devices that provide access to quality, interactive and personalized content that will But they will all have in common digital devices with access to rich, interactive, and personalized content that will include the primary toolset in digital learning.
I believe this is a rich resource for our nation. It surveys the best information from thought, industry and education leaders…definitely worth the read and use as a ‘go to’ playbook!
Leadership is the special ingredient for successful organizations-education settings included. Different scenarios demand different kinds of leadership. A scan of the environment is crucial to knowing what type of leadership is required.
In all situations, it is desired that others will follow the leader’s philosophy and practice to reach established goals. This is a key note because without the followers the expected objectives will not be reached.
Friend and colleague, Ron Canuel, talked about the essence of the ‘first’ follower and how important is that person’s role. He turned me on to the YouTube video, “The Dancing Guy”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fW8amMCVAJQ which explains it all. The leader can appear to be a whacky, ‘out there’, kind of thinker and doer. He/She will stand alone for a while in that space until the ‘first follower’ comes along and adopts the leaders’ thinking and doing. The latter’s behavior speaks volumes to other members of the organizational community. That first follower ubiquitously sends messages like, ‘it’s okay’, ‘I didn’t get hurt’, ‘it’s kind of fun’, ‘I can put my own spin on it’, ‘c’mon, join in’.
The first follower takes the focus off the leader’s unique status by adopting his/her beliefs and practices – almost mimicking them – but really casting a light on them that is also unique to that first follower. This inspires others to jump into the fray and see how it all looks and feels. Those additional followers become less and less noticed as they become lost in the crowd that includes a majority of everyone else. At the same time, the organization has everyone on their feet, moving in the same direction, in unison, each putting their own unique imprimatur on the movement.
The important message here is that as crucial as it is to have effective leaders to transform schools, it is equally important for that leader to be able to generate first and second followers to get the mission accomplished. In the past I’ve called this the ‘nucleus of support’ and ‘critical mass’ needed to get to the transformation. What I didn’t consciously understand was the impact of that first follower.
Obviously, that first follower has to be well chosen to get the mission underway. The leader will want someone who knows and understands the organization, is networked positively and respectfully with others, is able to effectively communicate in ways productive within the culture, and, above all, is focused on serving students and community – not self.
Tall order? Not really. Think back to all of your leadership roles and the people with whom you worked to get the job done. Who emerged as your first follower? Why? If you consciously engaged with the person toward organizational goals – how did you do that?
I have thought about all of my education leadership roles and was able to identify each first follower and subsequent follower groups. I had no idea that is what I was doing….but it was the reason we accomplished our missions! For me it was quite an ‘a-ha’ moment.