Hurry up and learn, and learn more and more and more

Learning needs to take place in snippets. This is because snippets of time are usually all the time we get to focus our attention on something. In my day-to-day job as a Director of Technology it is unusual to get even one half hour without having to switch my attention. I can go from updating our technology plan to changing out toner in a printer in less than a minute.
Job performance takes place in snippets as well. Gone are the days when you could take all the time necessary to put out your best work. To be successful today you need to be nimble enough to produce good work quickly, and if lucky improve on it at a later time. If you are really lucky you have a network of collaborators that will help you via criticism and input.

3/10/2008

Today I uploaded all the existing 4th graders into the system. I tested one user. All seems well. Now we need to look at all the features that google apps has to offer and decide which ones should be presented to the users as the default. We can build on these as the year goes on. I think that right off the bat we should build a class web page. I am excited about this project. I think it will be great for the students and the teachers.

I would really like to add a homework feature so we can get rid of Zingaroo. Would all the students be able to manage a calendar? Each teacher could have a calendar and the students could subscribe to it?

The leopard can change its spots

A back injury last July changed everything, but changing me took a lot longer. I had been eating, working out, moving, sitting and actually living in a manner that had worked for me for as long as I could remember.
I knew I had to change but resisted it. I had my life down to a science and was comfortably successful.
I finally gave in and decided to ask for help. I didn’t like the changes or the effort involved so I resisted. My way IS the best way for me. I was desperate and distraught. I had to rethink everything I did. 24-7. I had to invest in myself (I bought a new mattress. Heaven). I had to re-engineer literally every aspect of my life. I had to change.
It has worked so far. It wasn’t easy, but it was necessary. From my experience you can’t, but the leopard can change its spots.
We need to be aware that resistance to change is a reality. Even when someone knows that change is necessary it is still hard to accept. The same is true of a great educator that has developed a manner of teaching that has always produced successful students.  We can feed the leopard information about 21st Century learning, but the knowledge that change is necessary and the decision to make that change has to come from the leopard.

Technology Best Practices, Academic Technology Best Practices:What’s a girl to do?

If this is not already causing you heartburn it will be soon. How do we balance two these very different needs? I need to keep my network viable and preserve bandwidth. I block high bandwidth sites during the day and equitably distribute bandwidth. In order to teach 21st century skills I need access to all the Internet has to offer. In order to successfully maintain the school owned computers I need to practice configuration management. Administrative rights to computers are the exception not the rule. In order to be a successful teacher I need to be able to experiment with software. I cannot install anything. You are holding me back.

Tacit Knowledge

I am working towards my MBA with a specialization in Information Management. Working at an independent school is my second real career, my first being an engineer for a major technology company. More about my MBA and my past career later. Since I arrived at my school (www.wyomingseminary.org) I have looked for ways to take the best from the business world and the best from the independent school model and merge them into a better, greater independent school model.

The discussion below is from my strategic planning class (what fun) regarding business knowledge management. This to can apply to a school environment. How does an organizational environment form? How do we change a culture?

The culture of an organization will determine the success or failure of a knowledge management effort. The sharing of explicit knowledge is a relatively easy task. Tacit knowledge is the challenge.
Some organizations foster an internal competitive atmosphere by rewarding individual achievement. This reinforces the concept of being of value to the organization and compensated because of your personal knowledge. This creates an incentive to remain autonomous rather than to share information for the greater good.

I have often heard the statement: “There is no I in team. ” Certain personality types retort with “ but there is a me in team. ” That says a lot about that person and how they will act in different situations. The goal of a knowledge management system is to collect and share the intellectual assets of the organization to provide a competitive advantage.

To create a “knowledge-sharing” culture, in addition to being rewarded for individual achievement people are rewarded for their contributions to team efforts.

Knowledge management programs are often designed around the concept of “a communities of learners.” People within an organization form connections through common skills, interests or responsibilities. An employee is no longer confined to their department and it’s mini-culture. Virtual communities of learners cross departmental and geographic boundaries. Upper management must model knowledge management best practices.

Without the cultural shift from “I am valuable to the company because I am the single point of failure “ to “I am valuable because I published my knowledge and it is now available to anyone in the organization that can benefit from it.” a knowledge management initiative will have difficulty succeeding

Laptops are like ChapSticks

This is my first attempt at blogging. I had my coat on, ready to head down the street to our other campus, and decided not to go. I need to take my dog to the vet in twenty minutes. This is a better use of my time.
The computer can now be compared to a ChapStick. Every year after winter recess my IT department expects a barrage of boarding students at our office door with their new laptops. They will need assistance getting “network enabled”. We expected ten or more. No one showed up! This to me represents a societal change. During the school year we had a steady trickle of owners of new laptops needing assistance. This is where the ChapStick comes in. Access to a laptop can no longer wait until the holidays. If yours breaks, goes missing, or no longer meets your needs you go out and get another one. Immediately.
My observation is within the context of a private boarding school and this subtle change might only apply to our demographic, but I find this fascinating.
Pervasive computing. Will it be as pervasive as the ChapStick?