Another dot in the blogosphere?

It began with a tweeted request.

I responded by seeing if my dissertation on reflecting with blogs was still online. It was.

I wondered out loud if other universities and libraries took the same initiative to unlock information with Creative Commons (CC).

When I viewed the usage statistics, I discovered that my dissertation had been downloaded 505 times to date.

That is not a huge number or life-changing, but even if my dissertation helped someone do something right (or avoid doing something wrong), I am happy.

That is 505 people that have been helped so far who might have been on the wrong side of a firewall or did not have access to the wonderful library system in my alma mater.

And people still wonder why they should share using a CC licence…

It has been a week since the passing of Singapore’s founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

I highlight several education-focused tweets from ST’s coverage of the special parliamentary session on 26 Mar 2015. Then I highlight a practice that school leaders can learn from.

From Ms Sim Ann:

From Ms Chia Yong Yong:

From Christopher de Souza:

Good leadership is effective change while you are in power.

Great leadership is effecting change by empowering. This means leaving behind a legacy in the form of good people who continue good work.

There is no big secret to doing something like this.

I took a leaf from Mr Lee’s book when I was Head of the Centre for e-Learning by having weekly lunches with my teams [1] [2].

Succession planning is something leaders talk about. I wonder how many actually do something concrete about it. Having discussions over a meal is not difficult to do.

I recycle a quote I heard while at a conference in Riyadh a few years ago: If you want to talk, let’s take a walk. If you want to eat, let’s take a seat.

People learn more when they are relaxed and informal. A lunch can be littered with lightness and laughter. Leaders could leverage on that. They might learn something about their staff and/or leave an indelible mark on them over time.

As I mull over designing a possible Pedagogy of Questions workshop, I rediscovered from quotes I collected.

From Lord Alexander:

We learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.

From Alexandra Trenfor:

The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.

The now fairly generic:

If your students can Google the answer, you’re not asking the right questions!

I could not find the attribution for:

Before you talk, listen. Before you react, think. Before you criticize, wait. Before you quit, try.

To that last one, I would add: Before you answer, question.

This reflection was prompted by the #asiaED slow Twitter chat on SAMR.

The tweet was my response to a question posted on Twitter by the #asiaED moderator of the day. The original question was posted a day earlier than it was supposed to, so it may have been taken down. The question was whether the SAMR model could fit teaching, if at all.

As a teacher educator, I first analyze what teachers say, ask, or create for signs of their underlying philosophies or mindsets, and seek to address them. If I did anything else, like provide feedback, I might deal with a symptom but ignore the root issue.

Hence my question on the utility of SAMR.

If teachers are aware of the SAMR model, do they know how to use it as it was designed? If they choose to modify it, are they doing so for the right reasons or with a similar level of understanding it took to construct the model?

Are they aware of their own biases (what drives them or holds them back) and ignorance (what they do not know) so that they can use SAMR effectively?

There is a thin line between saying “no” to new way of thinking and knowing what that thinking entails.

It boils down to the curiosity and humility of each teacher to examine what they build their practice on. If a teacher cannot quickly and convincingly reply WHY they choose to do something a certain way, they have lost touch with their foundations.

They must get back to their foundations if they are to learn, change, or improve. To do that, they must be open to how theory influences practice (praxis).

Far too many are closed to such a mindset. Far too many teach in autopilot mode.

For example, teachers might pick up “best” practices from their colleagues about setting tests. When challenged to design assessment of learning, assessment for learning, or assessment as learning, they are likely to struggle. They might even fight against the theory in favour of “what works” or “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. They are refusing to be assessment literate.

It takes great humility to say “I do not know” because teachers are supposed to know. Imagine the challenge of getting teachers to unlearn that and relearn how to be co-learners.

There is a clear line between “no” and being in the “know”. Which side are you on? What will it take to help you jump to know?

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It is Friday and time for something light. But that does not mean I cannot tickle a neuron or two.

MindShift tweeted this question:

This is my response to the question about what education (or more accurately, schooling) movement looks like.


Video source

Sometimes change in schools has the appearance of moving forward, but in reality is moving backwards or staying in the same place.

Sadly the appearances are not only deceiving, they also look really good.

What do Kodak and Instagram have to do with schooling? Read on.

A Kodak moment used to be associated with a beautiful or meaningful event that one wished to immortalize on film. At the turn of the century, Kodak became synonymous with not changing quickly enough with the times.

To cite Godin in a recent blog entry:

Ubiquitous doesn’t mean forever, and popular isn’t permanent. Someone is going to fade, and someone is going to be next to take their place.

That someone else in Kodak’s context was digital photography. This NYT video paints a sad picture of a mountain of a company reduced to a pebble. (I cannot embed the video as WordPress.com-hosted blogs do not allow some HTML tags, but the video is worth your time.)
 

Video source

The irony is that the first digital camera was invented in 1975 by a Kodak engineer, Steven Sasson (see Vimeo video above), but Kodak only started selling digital cameras in 2001 [1] [2].

Now consider this tweeted perspective:

The core thing both Kodak and Instagram have in common is photographs. I do not think that it is logical to compare the diversity of products, company timelines, available technologies, and other circumstances.

But the the tweet brings up at least two important points on what it takes to produce and how to act when change knocks on your door.

Kodak operated on the traditional industrial model. It had to in order to provide high quality photography film worldwide. Operating under such a model, Kodak needed large and common campuses to house their people.

Instagram works with ones and zeros, and it does so in a mobile and app driven space. Their people could fit in a large apartment or work offshore and independently in holes-in-the-wall.

Kodak is not quite dead yet, but its main campus is now occupied by other companies, one of which bottles food. They serve as a warning to those that do not stay relevant or do not spot the next wave and prepare for it. Kodak suffered the consequences of reducing staff a hundredfold (30,000 to 300 according to the NYT interview), going bankrupt, and needing to reinvent themselves.

Instagram, however, was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for US$1 billion. Instagram was just two years old when that happened. But both Facebook and Instagram took the opportunity when they saw it.

Which world and what circumstances are we preparing our kids for in our schools and at home? Kodak’s or Instagram’s?

Are we teaching our kids how to do more with less? Are we unleashing their energy or nurturing their creativity? Or are we holding them back?

Schools have changed. The rank and file tables and chairs remain as do papers and writing surfaces, but some teachers have responded by aligning their philosophies and pedagogies to the times.

But not enough. Not MUCH enough and not FAST enough. Innovative teachers and daring principals are still the exception instead of the norm. Very few systems have the moral courage and political will to take measures like augmenting subjects with authentic phenomena like Finland.

Kodak might have justified its dithering by saying that the timing was not right because the technology or their consumers were not ready. But Kodak had at least one visionary in their midst. If only they had listened more carefully. If only he had spoken more loudly. If only they had been braver.

If only foresight was as clear as hindsight.

If only they had taken their Kodak moment and Instagrammed it in Facebook.

We cannot predict the future for certain, but we can learn from the past. Better still, we can invent it.

We must decide our Kodak moment in education. When we look back at it, will it be a one of regret or one of joy? Decide now and do something positive about it.

Like Instagram, we do not have to wait to grow big or get permission to create. A few pockets of innovation will eventually be recognized and assimilated into the larger whole. This is the world we live in, so live it.

I was happy to be a part of a recent edtech event that promised to make resources available to participants. When asked if I would share my resources, I did not hesitate because that is what I do with all my talks and workshops.
 

Closed Sign in Yellowstone by bmills, on Flickr
Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License   by  bmills 

 
A week after the event, I received email requesting that participants complete event feedback before getting access to resources.

The organizers are entitled to do this. After all, there are very few truly free meals. But this might be a sign of the creeping back of the old mindset of withholding.

I shared my resources openly on my blog. At my session, I projected URLs on screen and provided participants with stickers with URLs to the resources.

Sharing resources openly and freely sends a more important message than the event itself. An open tool or platform must be used in an open way instead of a closed one. Model and practise closed use and that mindset remains entrenched.

I do not worry about my ideas being stolen because I shared them under a Creative Commons licence (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike). If people abuse it by not acknowledging or crediting, they will be found out and other people will stop listening to them. It will be that obvious and it starts with you being open.

The way to stop a bad cycle is to prevent the wheel from spinning. It is not to add fuel to an engine running on fear and selfishness. It is not to close what is meant to be open.

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