Inspiration for Leaders

Enjoy this news and reflection blog brought to you from the LHRIC Technology Leadership Institute!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Educating the Mobile Generation - Elliot Soloway & Cathleen Norris

Elliot Soloway and Cathleen Norris of Universiy of Michigan talk about the opportunities cell phone computing has for one-to-one computing in schools. While this is a conversation you've likely had over the past decade with some frequency - perhaps its time has finally come.

Due to some advances in technology, the state of the economy, and some significant pedagogical changes in schools, cell phones may actually be at a point where districts can explore their use in classes.

You may remember the NY Times article "Seeing No Progress, Some Schools Drop Laptops" several years back. The article cited three basic reason why: the devices didn't have educational software; lacking adequate professional development; and the cost of sustaining the hardware was prohibitive or impossible.

Soloway and Norris suggest that it is for these very reasons that the cell phones or maybe even netbooks can be successful and point out how schools can ensure that they are.

Educational Software - Establish the device as an Essential Tool

It is critical for success to create a device that is an essential tool. A tool that students and teachers can't live without to do their jobs. To do this we must provide operating systems and software that is job specific. In the private sector essential knowledge workers have devices that do just that. Real estate agents, accountants, doctors and engineers all have software that is specific and "essential" to their jobs. Education need to create portals and dashboards that deliver information and tools to our knowledge workers; students, teachers and even administrators that is essential so they can be successful knowledge workers in the 21st century and beyond.

Create professional development that is Sustained and Virtual
Professional development programs need to be "just in time" , relevant and continous for teachers. Bring online courses in to the mix of options for teachers with Learning Management Systems such as Blackboard, Angel and Epsilon.

Cost of Sustaining - Outsource device and connectivity costs to telco

Schools have learned that while they are experts in the education business they need out outsource services such as food services and transportation - why not technology. In this mobile market why not pay the telephone provider a monthly fee and get the device and the connectivity - making the entire thing eRateable. If you have a device that costs $300 divide by 10 months that is $30 per month. Cell companies can create plans that do not provide phone service - data only is all we need to provide students.

While they recognize we are in the infancy of this converged technology for schools, the presenters believe now is the time to get started in our district school with pilot projects. Start small with a target group, find a teleco company that will support your the effort.


Redfly - cell phone device that has full size keyboard and larger screen.
mobi Controller for controlling cell phone devices -

Monday, June 29, 2009

Collaboration and Synergy - Jamie McKenzie

International author, presenter, thinker, and former superintendent of Bellingham schools in Washington State, Jamie McKenzie considers the idea that schools need to do a better job prepare teachers and students for synthesis and collaboration.

Taking ideas from Pete Senge, he reminds us that there are significant differences between passive listening and active listening. With active listening individuals are required to "suspend their assumptions". Take a moment to reflect on the last adult meeting you attended and think if you saw any evidence of suspended assumptions or worked with your colleagues toward the synthesis of new ideas and thinking. McKensie suggest that this is a necessary part of any "true" collaboration framework and that we will never really get the results we want in the collaborative web until we do.

McKenzie suggested trying Debono's Thnking Hats model with your staff to facilitate the appropraite level of thinking in activities.

On the side:
Did you know Virtual Thesaurus has multiple languages?

From Now On
- McKenzie's web site

Malcolm Gladwell NECC Sunday Keynote

Renowned author and writer Malcolm Gladwell greets ISTE/NECC Conference on Sunday evening with thoughtful ideas about "Learning Environments" from his book "The Outliers".

Gladwell points to the learning theories of Capitalization and Compensation (anyone remember Psych 101?) to demonstrate the idea that learning environments where indivduals are challenged and have to overcome conditions actually are met with higher levels of success than those that are considered "gifted and talented" out of the gate.

Capitalization Theory suggests that you build on successes and advantages in a linear sequential way toward a goal.

Compensation Theory is a multi-directional approach that reinforces the idea of "learning from mistakes".

That individuals with Dyslexia may in fact experience higher levels of success because they have learned to "compensate" for the challenges they face with reading and writing. Skills such as negotiation, leadership, communication all compensate for a lack of ability in reading and writing. "30 % of the best known entrepreneurs suffer with Dyslexia" suggesting that these compensation skills are as if not more valuable that the standards for that type of work. These individual learn how to work in teams because they need others to help them, they learn how to lead those folks getting them to help them and finally they communication with verbal skills because they do not have the skills to communicate with writing.

Gladwell suggest we should consider creating learning environments where students are appropriately challenged and to build skills where they may not believe they have an inate talent such as math or music. Gladwell believes that by challenge peopole appropriately you will watch them work creativity and develop innovations as they compensate.