Colin's Sandbox

Archive for December, 2013

Keep on rocking: Reflection on #aktechplan week 6

by on Dec.10, 2013, under Technology Planning

As I was stomping through the woods these past two days looking for deer, I spent a lot of time wondering why we don’t spend more time using the outdoors as our classroom, and I keep coming back down to the block of time / management overhead / expense / logistical hurdles and it’s a bit of a shame.  For every subject I could think of to be explored at the primary and secondary levels, be it math, science, reading, history, humanities, the arts, and so on, there’s something to be added from the environment that we live in.   Sometimes I get down at being in the educational technology sphere in a state with such underwhelming bandwidth, high teacher turnover, limited expertise and experience in the technology field, but we could be playing to our strengths and that I feel is often right outside our door.

From reading the blog posts and comments This week I think folks in this class really enjoyed having the venue to describe their thoughts on creativity’s place in technology planning.  I was expecting a video or comic strip about it, but I think people really had a lot of *stuff* to put out there, with nuances, that apparently wouldn’t fit easily in other mediums.  Chris did make a pretty nifty graphic, but it too was packed with goals, elaborations, and the like.  I think if we took the maxim “A picture is worth a thousand words” and did this week over again I think we could get some rather nifty ideas about what creativity’s place in tech planning.  I’ll give it a shot here from a quick web search, of what I would like to see more of in technology in education:

Note that just about everyone, with the exception of the girl on the left with a blue coat, is totally engaged.  I’m sure there’s a lot of ways we can incorporate technology into this (I’m thinking using Evernote to take pictures and notes for later creative use), but first things first: there’s a discussion going on with [just about] the whole class taking part.  We need to make sure that technology doesn’t interfere with this important aspect.

Now we’re down to the final final final stretch I’m looking at what’s in front of me to do writing wise and presentation wise and I’m a little intimidated to be sure.  I have much to do in the next couple of days, not a whole lot of time to do it in, but I feel well prepared to get it done at least.  I have really enjoyed the discussion that our small class has generated and have really enjoyed the feel of getting outside the box so to speak as far as tech planning goes.  Thanks everyone for the discussion.

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#aktechplan Vision of Creative Leadership

by on Dec.08, 2013, under Technology Planning

I’m having a difficult time writing this week’s post.  I’m soon leaving my position at SERRC, one in which I’ve held for roughly 8 years, to focus on my graduate school work.  I think it’s the right call – but it throws in a snag, a writer’s block.  The various components we’ve studied in this course, from the first look at the technology plan, to the strategic plan, to examining your group’s professional development practices in greater detail, and so forth, these are all seen in a different light for me; more foreign perhaps.  There’s some areas where I go back and forth between negativity on one end balanced with the more objective “areas for improvement” on the other.  I’m hoping to feel more objective as I move through some writing this week.

I was going to stick with the outlet for this week’s post but there’s just too much *stuff* that I saw as I went through the reading.  In order to overcome the writer’s block therefore, I turned to my tried and true standby, essentially an unordered bulleted list.

So, without further ado, a snapshot of my thoughts on creative leadership after this week’s reading (Robinson, chap 9-10):

Organizations as systems

Almost right off the bat the work of Frederick Taylor was mentioned at length in chapter 9 of Robinson.  Suddenly certain aspects of how enterprises are structured totally made sense to me, particularly the categorization of job positions, roles, managerial tasks.  It would seem there’s a naturally tendency for large (read stodgy) institutions to develop and refine this over time, particularly in long intervals between disruptive innovations.  I would claim that we need these disruptions to challenge us, provide us a sense of mission, a narrative to be a part of.  Hoo-rah!

Culture of learning

The example brought up of Pixar’s internal university was apt.  I really enjoyed that all employees are able to participate across the different options because the focus is for everyone to be a part of the movie making process.  I have had the pleasure of touring parts of the studio before and it is amazing.  A really neat art exhibit, large open spaces where people can work away from their office / workspace, lots of good light (can’t say enough about how important that is), and the guy I was visiting who worked there is hooked, totally engaged, and is 100% on board with the movie making mission.  Culture win.

Collaboration vs. cooperation

A small piece, but I will re-quote this from a unit trust manager that Robinson interviewed because I think this represents a big change in how one views the world, and their work within it: “I began to delegate, realizing that actually others were more competent than me.  I began to listen, rather than compete with others to produce the cleverest answer.”

Teaching for Creativity: Encouraging, Identifying, Developing

I read this section and thought, “Every student, even in the secondary grades needs a teacher that’s checking in with their studies and could work with the student on these three things”.  For me that role was primarily held by my parents.  In some institutions it can be the counseling staff.  My own personal experience was that there were far too few interactions between myself and the academic counseling staff to have much sway one way or another.

Emphasis on balance of assessment (diagnostic, formative, summative)

I enjoyed Robinson’s discussion on the current state of the assessment culture of our education systems, one in which the primary focus is on summative assessment due to the oft-cited “high stakes” nature of the tests.  I have mixed feelings about this topic to be sure, and I don’t think I’m alone out there.  I have seen from afar efforts to get data during the diagnostic and formative stage, and teachers I’ve spoken to do look at the data.  Their complaints seem to largely stem from the amount of time it takes away from instruction as well comments that reflect the Elliot Eisner quote mentioned in Robinson: “Not everything important is measurable, and not everything measurable is important”.

Other Areas Open to Innovation

I was intrigued by the “democratically run studio” (Room 13) mentioned in Robinson, all staffed by children who were not even in high school (ages 8-11).

Service Learning – What are some examples that you can think of where it’s been effectively done in an existing school?

Standards-based grading – I would like to see arguments against standards-based report cards.  It seems like a logical evolution away from the {A,B,C,D,F} grading set that I find many faults with.


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