As we meet to talk about bringing all tools under one roof, as we
start to work toward a single solution, as we start to use the same
language to discuss learning, as we get on the same page with
professional development models, as we create in the same formats, as
we pull from the same information and databases, as we get into the
same ganntt chart and project plan, as we start to realize the same
As we begin to all of these things more and more, I feel as though we
may lose some of what makes pushing boundaries seem so right.
I believe that there is value in scope creep, so long as it is
reflective of the needs of learners.
I believe in not choosing a final solution.
I believe that disruptive innovation comes when fast moving ideas are
allowed to move fast.
I believe in knowing whose shoulders we are standing on and whose feet
we will support.
As we meet to talk about bringing all tools under one roof, as we
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 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 had a lot of conversation today about pilot initiatives within a
larger institution. it seems as though in each project that I take
part in, there is reason enough to get a small group of (semi)
dedicated people together who will try something out and report back
on their success. Whether that is moodle, gmail, google sites, dimdim,
or ning; it seems as though there is never enough at stake to require
all users to jump on board initially. While this is good in a lot of
ways: less kicking and screaming, learning from mistakes with small
group is better, and less chance of falling flat on your face with
everyone watching. But, it is bad in many as well: no ensuring that
the pilot will go further, no urgency in rolling out to everyone, and
all pilots are basically representations of the person who creates
This last point is what I would like to focus this post on. What I am
finding as I do more pilot initiatives is that I am trying to model
the pilot on my own practice and workflow. I am taking what I feel is
valuable and important and I am saying that others should feel the
same way. At the end of the day, I am piloting a larger and more
unwieldy version of me.
While it is flattering that others would want to help beta test me, I
am not totally sure how smart it is. I am not a typical user of almost
anything. I want to break things open and push them to do what I
envision, not what they were intended for. While I may have a good eye
for what others may need, I need people who aren’t using tools in such
ways to help design the pilots too.
I guess what I am trying to say is that I cannot pilot myself if I
want the pilot to actually do what it is supposed to: test whether or
not something will work for everyone. But, how do I ask those who are
less willing to try new things to become a part of a pilot. How do I
ensure that all voices are heard so that when things do go live, the
backlash from these users isn’t fierce enough to shut it down?
Easy question, right?
I was given the task recently of coming up with 15 questions to ask a
information technology director candidate during an interview. While I
missed the window during which this information would have been useful
to the person who solicited my help (moving is really hard), I would
like to provide it here. It may not be useful as a list in itself, but
I had a lot of fun coming up with it, and it may lead to more good
thinking if I ever care to answer these questions.
1. What do you see as the purpose of technology in education?
2. What is the one change that you would make to our institution that
would help students to learn in a more connected way?
3. What do you believe is the purpose for acceptable use policies?
What is your ideal AUP?
4. What should professional development look like?
5. Who is in your personal learning network?
6. What does your learning workflow look like, or how do you learn?
7. How should our institution archive, tag, and share information and
8. How do you plan on bringing all stakeholders to the table to make
9. What role should open source software play in our institution?
10. What is your vision for mobile devices accessing our institution?
11. What does online learning mean to you?
12. What kind of technology infrastructure is essential in our institution?
13. How will you connect our institution to others in the state,
country and world?
14. How will you let our students take their learning identity with
them after they graduate?
15. What will we find if we google you?
Anyone think of any others?
Anyone want to answer these ones?
Why do we struggle to pull together people from all over the state,
country and world into 2d places like blogs, wikis and aggregator
pages when all we need is a decent SLurl to direct people to in order
to connect? Now, I know that the WebHeads in Action do Second Life
events all of the time, but as far as I know they do not have a
face-to-face component. As for the face to face conferences I have
been to, not one of them invited those watching the elluminate or
usteam feeds to join in on an SL roundtable.
Do conferences need to artificially separate those who can see one
another with those who cannot?
Why can’t we put the usteams into a SL environment? Why shouldn’t we
allow the hallway conversations to happen for virtual attendees?
In other words, I would like to do this soon. Anyone already tried it