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Posts Tagged ‘ownership

This tweet provoked me to think and here is my response: You can own processes like learning.

I am an autodidact. Every day I consume content from my RSS feeds, Twitter stream, podcast episodes, and YouTube subscription. Then I reflect on them so that something rises to the surface.

That is my learning process. I take it, make it, guard it, and practice it daily. I take ownership of that process while respecting that others may have similar or different ways of learning.

I also take ownership of my workshop facilitation processes, so much so that I took one opportunity years ago to create a quick video of one example.

Video source

For me, ownership is about taking responsibility, not about taking possession. I take responsibility for supporting my family; there is nothing tangible to possess about that.

Likewise I take responsibility for educating myself (I own the processes I described above), but I do not possess that learning. The overall process is not transactional; it is transformative.

Ownership is evidenced by shows of agency and empowerment, be it for students or teachers. The article linked in the tweet below provides some how-tos of promoting agency and empowerment.

Ownership of learning by learners is not a frivolous fad. It is a foundation upon which to nurture resilient and independent learners.

Yesterday I hit Level 40 in Pokémon Go (Pogo). This is a significant milestone because there are only 40 levels in this game.

My Level 40 profile as viewed in a raid gym.

To reach this level, I had to accrue 20 million experience points (XP) by grabbing them wherever and whenever I could in the game.

Even though this is a difficult task, others have reached this level before me. Some use bots to harvest or unsanctioned tools to spoof their location. These “players” are so common that I can often be at a remote gym and be the only person in sight.

Thankfully there are people who play the game legitimately. I have met local “uncles” and “aunties” who met this milestone long before me. (Who am I kidding? I am an uncle myself!)

Younger folks might argue that the older folk have more spare time on their hands. And that they do. I played strategically in terms of time and how to maximise XP gains, but it still took me 20 months to reach Level 40.

For some, this milestone is the finish line — game over. However, it is not the end of the game for me. I am relying on a mix of extrinsic and intrinsic factors to keep playing the game.

Niantic, the parent company of Pogo, releases legendary Pokémon in raid battles roughly once a month. There are also monthly Community Days that promise the chance of catching shiny variants of Pokémon. The company also has a few more generations of Pokémon to release in the game.

I no longer need to grind for XP in the game. However, I will continue to look for the best of every type of Pokémon in terms of their IVs. I will also keep levelling up the Pokémon that have relevance in the meta game [examples] because they help in gym battles.

I also do not have some of the regional Pokémon. This is one more incentive to travel.

My game play reflects my learning philosophy. There are goals that someone else might define for me, and if I share these goals, I pursue them. But I do not stop there because that is a short-term learning strategy. I take ownership of the what, how, and why I learn.

Niantic owns Pokémon Go, but I own the way I play the game. Likewise, someone other entity might own the rights to a learning resource, but I own the learning process.

I am rewarding myself with a short break after intensive week of evaluating assignments.

But even as I relax by playing Pokémon Go (PoGo), I observe behaviours that remind me why implementing change is so difficult. People keep old habits because they see only what is around them.

Niantic, the company behind PoGo, recently re-released past legendaries Kyogre and Groudon alongside the current Rayquaza in an attempt to spice things up. What players collectively catch more of determines what normal but rare (or rare-ish) Pokémon hatch from eggs.

There is currently 85K people in a Facebook group of PoGo players in Singapore. A group poll showed that an overwhelming majority favoured the catching the current legendary, Rayquaza. The experience is fresher (it was just released) and the consequences are better (the rarest normal Pokémon will hatch from eggs).

That said, a poll and an online community does not necessarily represent what happens on the ground.

If you find a gym with a five-star rating (legendary boss), you have a one in three chance of battling Rayquaza, and a two in three chance of battling the other two.

If the poll held true, you would expect most people to invest time, effort, and their free or paid passes into the Rayquaza raids. Very few walk away from non-Rayquaza raids even though they said they would.

A few who stay might not actually be raiding. They might just be there for a friend or are clearing up their game inventory. But even a cursory glance will reveal the telltale tap-tap-tap battling motion of the players that remain.

What people say is not what people always do.

Likewise, when there is change, it is easy for people to buy-in to rationale, but it is not as easy to take ownership of action. I have shared before how buy-in is a state of mind while ownership is a state of being.

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being.

So why is it difficult for people to take ownership and create change?

While there might be shared purpose, there might not be shared plans or strategies. In PoGo, there might not be a social signal to abandon a futile raid, so people keep raiding even though it is short-sighted. In schooling, there might not be a signature pedagogy, so teachers keep doing what they have always done.

An edublogger I respect once wrote that is it important to not just look up and beyond, but also look down and at what is immediate when implementing change. I agree, but only to a point.

Only the skilled and wise know how to balance the actions of keeping their eyes on the prize while dealing with the daily grind. Ignore one or the other and you lose your way. The PoGo players see only what is immediate — people around them raiding and using up a daily pass — so they do not change tactics. Teachers see what the majority of their peers are doing — buying in but not taking ownership — and they do the same.

PoGo is a game with consequences that are relatively short-term and do not have much of an impact outside the game. However, teaching indifferently has consequences that are long-term and go far deeper. Both benefit from shared strategies and looking beyond the immediate.

Today I link a tweet and a YouTube video that I discovered last week.

Aaron Duff declared this on Twitter:

Yoda said this near the end of a new animated short:

Learn your should, from your Master. But take what you learn and make it your own, you must.

Video source

Both speak of empowering learners and creating real ownership of the learning process and products. The reductive statements are powerful, but easy to make.

Far more difficult is the daily and long-term process of HOW to do these. But this does not make the statements about empowerment and ownership any less relevant.

Now if only more teachers made the mantra of learner empowerment and ownership their own…

I used to conclude two courses I taught at NIE with this: Change is not about asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

Change is not about asking for permission first. It is about asking for forgiveness later.

I shared this at a panel after my keynote, and before I could elaborate, the moderator reminded the audience that they should not be doing this with budgets or financial transactions. Taken out of the context, it might have seemed like I was advising people break the law. I was not.

The context of my courses was taking ownership of problems in schooling and teaching. The content of my talk was about changing mindsets on how to learn in the workplace. I was advising participants and my audience to be change agents instead of waiting for change to happen.

It might be difficult to visualise this or see the impact of such actions. Thankfully, there is a YouTube video that illustrates this nicely.

Video source

An activist wanted to send Twitter-Germany a message about dealing with hate messages. As he kept getting stonewalled, he decided to take action.

He made stencils out of 30 terrible tweets and sprayed the messages in chalk outside Twitter’s office in Hamburg. The semi-permanence of the chalked text was more impactful visually than scrolling pixels on a screen. They were tough to ignore.

The video ended with Twitter doing in real life what it seemed to be doing online. It removed what was immediately outside its building on the pavement, but left intact the majority of messages slightly further away.

I do not know if there was a longer term impact of the activist’s actions, but his message spread on Twitter, RSS feeds, and news sites.

He did not wait for permission to take action because he saw a real and urgent need to do something. If he got into the good sort of trouble, he could ask for forgiveness later.

The lesson is this: It is not about guaranteeing a change as a result of action; it is about taking action when few, if any, are ready or prepared. It is about moving in the right direction even though the destination is not clear.

It is about not asking for permission to move, and if you make reasonable mistakes, asking for forgiveness later.

If there is a video that illustrates giving agency, taking ownership, and enabling learning, it might be this one.

However, it was not carefully scripted by an edu-vlogger or TED-ified by a team in collaboration with a respected education guru. It was a clip from the The Ellen Show featuring the efforts on a seven-year-old boy and his recycling business.

Video source

He made his first USD5 when he was three-and-a-half. At the ripe old age of seven, he claims to have made USD10,000 and plans on buying a truck so he can do more.

The interview is entertaining and there can be little doubt that the boy would have not been able to do this without his parents drive and support. His classmates and school probably helped. Ellen helped with a small truck and a sponsor gave him another USD10,000.

There is a lot of rhetoric among leaders in schooling and education about promoting and nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship. Teachers, educators, planners, and thinkers often respond curricular interventions.

They might be barking up the wrong tree by recycling an old approach. Perhaps they might borrow ideas from a seven-year-old.

  • The agency and passion can start from a young age with a soft touch.
  • Buy-in is not enough; the learner must take ownership by providing self-drive and action.
  • Support structures and the environment do not just enhance, they enable.

Mention systemic or organisational change in schools and you will invariably hear a few phrases like taking baby steps, involving stakeholders, and creating buy-in.

These and other practices are critical to making change that is actually worthwhile and effective. However, the change processes often have unspoken assumptions. For example, I unpacked what is wrong with taking baby steps.

Today, I focus on buy-in.

Creating buy-in among stakeholders of change is important because if they are not aware of the need or do not believe in the change, the effort is doomed from the start.

However, it is not enough to simply create buy-in. Buy-in is a state of mind. It is about understanding what the change is, projecting possibilities, and deciding to be associated with it.

The message to buy into can sometimes remain someone else’s property. Stakeholders may understand the rationale for change, but still think “This is not really our problem or that is your solution!”

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being.

What is missing is ownership. Ownership is a state of being. It is a sense of belonging.

Creating this type of ownership is less traditionally top-down and more socially bottom-up. Depending on the structure of organisation, ownership can also be generated middle-up-and-down by an empowered group that deeply understands both ends.

Creating buy-in tends to be associated with the process of communicating change. It typically involves engaging stakeholders at the early phase of change efforts.

However, ownership is about articulating change. It is not only about connecting with stakeholders, but also moving them and empowering them to take action. Creating ownership is a continuous, multi-phase process.

Buy-in is a state of mind. Ownership is a state of being. It is far more important and effective to create ownership of change.

Yesterday I wondered out loud on Twitter:

It reminded me of another tweet.

Getting your items checked out at a grocery store is like schooling in this respect: You are taught that someone else does this for you.

The point is we pick up what we want by ourselves. Why not take control of the whole process by checking the items out and packing them?

This process could be faster, you learn to be more independent, the store needs fewer people at the gates, and people can be deployed elsewhere more worthwhile.

The analogy is not perfect. Unlike a grocery store, you cannot choose exactly what you want in school. But you have to pass through a gate that someone else controls.

While your schooling is prepackaged, your education is not. Your schooling becomes your own education when you take ownership of all aspects of learning. There seems to be more opportunities to do this only the further you go up the hierarchy of schooling. This is the case only if we let it.

If there is resistance to such an effort, the reasons are similar to the tweet replies I received:

  • Fear of technology
  • The perception that it takes more time
  • The process seems more challenging

Every technology-enabled change is feared and might take more time initially. However, when it normalises it also becomes transparent.

CC source

When we look back at older technologies like the pencil and printing press, we wonder what the worry was about back then. It was about changing the status quo.

Change is inevitable. You can either kick and scream as you go or embrace and improve the processes. Education, like such change, is what we make of it.

The Chronicle reported how a US college used students’ iPhones as clickers. (Apparently this same college provided each freshman with an iPhone. I wouldn’t mind getting an iPhone for Christmas!)

A clicker is an interactive tool, typically used during a lecture. A presenter might ask the audience for feedback or answers to a multiple choice question. The information is gathered from audience members wirelessly via the clickers, processed, and presented in real time.

The concept is not new as existing tools already do this. However, they are expensive and limited by the number of clickers available. The strategy that this college used was to rely on what students already had: Their phones. No one forgets their phones!

This reinforces two concepts for me. First, how tools are converging to mobile technologies. Second, how important it is to take advantage of technologies that learners already use.

I’ve asked my preservice teachers to sign up and maintain their own group wikis for a few weeks. Why?

  1. Ownership: Of the wiki and hopefully of the learning process.
  2. Learning: By fumbling, experiencing, and reflecting. They have experienced wikis for three weeks as students; they now get to plan and organise their own wikis as teachers.
  3. Anchoring (providing a concrete experience): They have e-learning tasks and an assignment that requires them to think about technology integration in face-to-face and online environments. I have no doubt that they will be able to deal with the face-to-face component. I hope that this activity will give them some insights into what it takes to plan and implement online lessons.


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