I accidentally posted this too soon, but here is the official version
of this idea (which is bound to change at some point).
What does it mean when you are faced with the following challenge:
The place that you work has given you the freedom to explore different
learning platforms, work with creative people, collaborate on process,
policy, and pedagogy, and the means to not have to say no too often.
The future you see for education is different than what is being planned.
The opportunities to branch out and create your own learning spaces
have never been more numerous or more engaging.
The community you actively engage in advocates for open communication
and documentation of every move forward that you make with your own
The boundaries on that communication have never been more clear: “Some
meetings are secret.”
The platforms for learning and support that you use are at odds with
“having someone on the other end of the line” when something goes
So, what here is a conflict of interest. Can all of this coexist and
not create chaos, unrest or animosity between my job, my network, my
living, and my passion?
(Too vague? Give me a few months, and perhaps specifics will surface.)
I accidentally posted this too soon, but here is the official version
I have been thinking a lot about this recently: I don’t want anything to do with a device that only does what it was advertised to do. It is something that I have slowly realized as over he last few years as I went through the experience of using a Smart Board, CPS clicker system, an iPod touch and an Apple TV. The two former products are meant to do one thing well. They are advertised specifically for educational purposes, and they work. But the two latter products are meant to do anything that the community makes them do, and they are not specifically marketed as educational components.
The latter products I keep on coming back to because they can do more and more as the community supports future development, and I guess that this is the difference between products I want to use and ones I don’t. The ones I care to use for education, are the ones with built in communities. They are the ones that get pushed to their full potential.
So I guess what I am saying is that if I am ever put in change of large purchasing decisions for a district or school, I will be choosing to purchase and support products that connect together and have a community surrouning them.
For example: I am right now using my iPod touch with an open source program called boxee (remote on the touch and the full program on the Apple TV) that is a full fledged media center in order to watch powerful TED talks in high definition on my TV using WiFi to stream the content. It is all connected.
Shouldn’t it always be this way?
(As an aside, I realize that this example is filled with apple products. I don’t believe that apple has a monopoly on connectedness or hackability, it happens that this is the community that I associate with most easily. I would actually love to hear about other devices that you keep on coming back to because they increase in value over time.)
Sent from my iPod
I was in a great meeting this week where we were considering whether
or not to go ahead with a full scale implimentation of the Moodle LMS
for assessment purposes in our district. It was a great meeting not
because of the topic but the way it was being handled.
We were talking about the absolute costs of an open source LMS and of
staying with a custom-built assmessment solution. We were really
looking for a venn diagram moment when one of the curriculum and
instruction representatives said something really smart: “There is a
cost to not doing anything as well. It may not be a dollar cost, but
it will cost the teachers the ability to know more about their kids’
knowledge and it will cost the kids some learning opportunities.”
(Paraphrased by me.)
Too often we do not think about the cost of doing nothing or of doing
things too slowly. Does appathy in the face of huge choices cost our
kids the best learning years of their lives?
So, it got me thinking: What are the costs of doing nothing (or doing
very little) to change school?
Share an idea if this makes you think as much as it has made me.
I was thinking about waiting until I got a little further into the
project to start blogging about it, but since I made the choice to
start blogging daily, I have really found that this forum let’s me
think through all of the things that I need to.
So the new responsibility is this: I have been put in charge of
administrating multiple moodle installations in our district. The
reason why this new charge I have been given is so strange to me is
that up until 2 months ago, the only “official” moodle installation in
our district was at a high school in parker, which I had little to do
The reason for the shift is nothing short of an economic and
pedagogical perfect storm. Our district had slowly been building the
capacity for more and more teachers to start asking for a way of
teaching and engaging with their students online, and with the failure
of our bond election, the only choice for an LMS was to have someone
who was already working in open source to implement and support a
solution like moodle.
The best part is, however, that no one I have talked to thinks that we
are settling for something. From all of the initial conversations, all
stakeholders believe that professional development, online learning,
and blended learning fit well within a vision of moodle that includes
outside assessments and google apps for communication.
I guess the only reason for this post is to ask for advice. If you
were asked to design and implement learning environments for an online
school, a professional development program, and a blended model
(online and in centers/schools) using moodle, what would you make sure
to do (or not do)?
While I have a definite vision for the way forward, I am not the
smartest person in the room (considering that I have no idea how big
this room is). I want to know more… Always more.
I was at a restaurant this morning with my family and my wife’s
fingers were getting stickier and stickier from the leaky maple syrup
container. After a while she started looking for some water to wash
them off with. Her water cup was empty but the condensation on the
outside was still there so she used it to clean her hands.
I’m not sure why this sparked something in me, but the act of her
using only the water that was on the outside of the glass made me
think of what is happening in many school districts that I see around
We can see the water, the life giving liquid inside, but we have to
settle for the small beads collecting around the outer edge.
We know that the bandwidth that is needed to fully share with one
another the media, ideas and resources of our district is available.
It exists for businesses and other entities out there, but in
education we are stuck with the runoff from those large high speed
We need a straw, but we are stuck licking at the glass.
(The preceding metaphor is stretched pretty thin, but I did want to
get it out there just in case someone else found it useful.)
I just got word that the Chief Information Officer for Douglas County
Schools (my school district) is now on Twitter
(http://twitter.com/rmweldon). Allong with both McCains, I am the
third person he is following at the moment. I guess I’m not sure why
it matters, but there is this small part of me that is happy to know
Not that he is following me, but that he is following someone… that
he sees the platform as one that is worth exploring. I don’t expect
many tweets or that it becomes his main platform for asking questions
and getting answers, but I guess it does matter. It matters because I
can now ask him questions. It matters because he is a part of my
learning network now (because I am following him too).
So, I guess if you are reading this, please give him a warm welcome.
And Randy, if you ever read this, I look forward to learning from you.
The other day I was working with the principal of our online school on
creating a workflow for contacts, email, and calendar that would allow
her to add, read, and create from anywhere, meaning more productivity
I am pretty convinced that we need to be addicted to creating a better
workflow for ourselves, but that is a longer blog post. The reason for
this one was that Chris Lehman left a comment on my last post
expressing that he had a similar idea of people who were just too
busy. His post is right here:
And here is my comment on it:
I recognize that this happens everywhere. I love that you have a
better name for it, though. (The hardest working teacher in the
I know that you were talking about teachers when you wrote it, but I
really think that admin and IT need this post quite a bit.
The lack of help, support, and sharing that goes on because we are too
busy is truly troubling. Taking time to recognize that busy (or hard
working) is no excuse for not sharing what you are working on or
taking time to see what others are working on.
I think recognizing that an addiction to finding a workflow that
actually works is not optional anymore. If a teacher or admin is “too
busy”, their workflow is probably out of whack. That doesn’t get
talked about enough in our conversations. We just assume that others
aren’t duplicating efforts all over the place because we don’t.
If everything (our learning) is connected, nothing is out of place,
meaning that we don’t have to add more, we just make it flow better.
There is a syndrome that I see from many of the people that I work
with, and at many times, it I can be guilty as well. It happens when
someone asks a question or has a request of you. They have a simple
thought that they would like to discuss with you, but instead of
answering, you put it off or say that you don’t have time for their
tangent. You talk about all of the other things that you have to do
and you just don’t have time for their little project.
While this may be strictly true, you are shutting any opportunity to
advance your relationships with those people who ask or your skills
with the tools that are required for the request.
I know this sounds that I am advocating for dropping everything you
are working on to fix other’s problems, and I guess I kind of am.
If we have programs in schools that are called drop everything and
read for kids, I think we may as well have programs in schools called
drop everything and help for adults. I believe that if the culture
within a school or online space is based upon helping others to be
better or to know more, it is the only way to truly institutionalize
When I shut people and their unique requests for help out (or put them
off indefinitely) I find that I stagnate. It take some going out to
help someone else in order to truly lean something new about what I
need to work upon.
I guess that I learn more and more that all learning is connected.
Even if I am not researching online schools when I am helping someone
to forward their email, it doesn’t mean that it won’t eventually end
up helping in the long run.
I guess all of the things in my brain really do have a long tail, and
it isn’t until it wraps around something important that I notice.