Saturday, December 22, 2012

Twas the Blog before Christmas

I can’t believe how fast this past year has gone by.  It’s almost like we’re in a time warp or something.  I suspect technology has Mountain Scene - SK-001something to do with that.  Things change so quickly now, it’s really hard to keep up.  I wonder what 2013 has in store for us?  Will there be new gadgets that blow our minds?  Will there be breakthroughs in robotics where more work is performed by machines?  How might learning and teaching be changed by technology?

I was watching a TV piece on the food channel today about how those chocolate oranges are made, assembled, packaged, and shipped.  I had no idea how automated the process is.  It’s quite amazing or perhaps alarming, how machines have taken on more work that not too many years ago, required human beings.  Now in factories of all sorts, the humans are really serving the machines, not the other way around.  I’ve written previously about automation and it’s looming impact on us.  Automation, for most of us, quietly invades processesiStock_000017723170XSmall and displaces human workers – we’re not even aware or rarely think about it.  In a world of the near future where robots increasingly take over roles humans currently or previously fulfilled, what must our school system do to properly prepare the next generation?  Are we preparing students today for their uncertain tomorrow?  Even higher order jobs that require sophisticated decision making are vulnerable.  What about teachers?  Can they be partially or substantially replaced by machines?  I don’t think so as long as teaching adapts to the times, continuously. 

Teaching from textbooks (paper or digital) or teaching to a test or for memorization or to impart knowledge, won’t cut it in a world where what is knowable doubles every year or so.  Sure, we will continue to need quality and relevant content that our society determines is worth knowing but how that is imparted or accessed should be through more technological means while human interactive methods like projects, problem solving, etc. are used to connect knowledge, skills, and processes.  Learning is social and thus interactive collaborations will be important processes to leverage.

So, it’s almost Christmas.  Post-Christmas break, schools always see an influx of digital devices in the hands of students.  Are we ready?  In my District we’re just now rolling wireless through all of our 130 iStock_000012987855XSmallschools and annexes so access is still limited.  But even with perhaps 10-15% access, we already see peaks of 3000 wireless devices in a school day!  When we are fully implemented, this could easily climb to 15-20,000.  Technologically we’re getting ready (although we have significant bandwidth challenges to overcome still) but pedagogically, are we ready?  I think this will be our greatest challenge in the years ahead, to transform how teaching and learning works as technology invades our classrooms. 

I was at a recent student forum in one of our secondary schools where students were asked how they think technology should be used to enhance learning and engagement and what technology wish they want granted at their school.  Some of their statements include:

  • a database that would allow us to look back on lessons, missed notes, videos
  • blogs for all teachers that have a consistent layout
  • increased access through improved bandwidth
  • reduced paper through digital class materials and textbooks
  • more digital and visual materials
  • embrace technology and integrate into lessons
  • more flexible policy around use of personal technology
  • replace overheads with projectors and online material

I find nothing earth shattering or future-orientated in that list, just current day practical ways technology could be used in schools.  In 2013, I see the advent of Christmas sending 1000’s of digital devices into students hands and thus into schools.  The District will need to collaboratively and formally develop and articulate ways teachers can effectively embrace a context where students have personal technology in class.  This might involve developing and sharing scenarios for grade levels, subject areas, learning activities, where diverse student technology could be used effectively, even when not all have it.  Classroom management strategies will need to be adapted to this mixed digital context.  Teachers need to see possibilities and ways that work.  Of course, we cannot forget a key outstanding technical piece - we must upgrade our bandwidth – more on this in a future post.

Our students will also need digital learning spaces for safe communication and collaboration, storage of documents and other materials, and online creation.  I can see us exploring the possibilities of Microsoft’s Office 365 platform for this purpose.  Other BC Districts such as Surrey, Kelowna, West Vancouver, and Maple Ridge are already heading in this direction.  Office 365 is a free service for us within our existing licensing and provides 25GB of space per student, a District integrated login and a District named email address, SkyDrive storage, and online creation, editing, storing, and sharing of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote documents.  For the latter, they don’t even need Microsoft Office software installed on their computers – it works like Google Docs in a fully online way through their Internet browser.  This approach would solve numerous current challenges with storage and access of materials from anywhere (school, home) on any device (computer, iPad/iPhone, other), email for students (we don’t currently provide this), and access to the Office software online for free which is compatible with tools used at school.

Well, here’s to a fabulous Christmas with family and friends and a futuristic and exciting 2013.  I wish us all well as we continue to figure our how to adapt in our rapidly changing world.  I trust that this time next year I am able to write a reflective post that highlights how in VSB we’ve met and addressed some of the key challenges we face in a technology powered education system.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Implement Technology Well

I’ve learned a lot (through the school of hard knocks) about implementing technology for learning, teaching, and work.  I naively Green Check Mark Symbolused to focus on the tools and the technical aspects without seriously considering the impact on people.  That was then and this is now.  Technology is very often the instigator of significant changes for people.  It should be, or what’s the point of buying and providing it?  Simply adding a new tool and carrying on with a current practice really doesn’t make a lot of sense does it.  We see this occur often in schools.  SMARTBoards, for example, often get a bad rap, perhaps unfairly.  We need to do implementation well!

Principals will see or hear about how amazing these interactive whiteboards (IWB) work, then they buy and install some in their school and wonder why teachers don’t use them.  Or, worse, teachers do use them but in exactly the same way they used their overhead projector or the LCD projector they already had.  A $5000 (all in, installed) tool serves really well as a glorified projection screen.  I have often been asked into classrooms to see an amazing use of an IWB and as I observe and question, leave wondering what was so amazing or transformative.  Technology too often is seen as a panacea for transforming teaching, learning, or our work and we end up disappointed with the outcome.  Why is that?  School Districts have expended millions, more likely billions, of dollars over the years on technology and often we still can’t emphatically document the real improvement or transformation.  I believe poor implementation is at fault.  A technological change is a culture change after all.  It’s all about the people.

I like to use and refer to the SAMR model when describing stages of technological adoption.

image

A technology can be added, for example a SMARTBoard, to a classroom and be used as a substitution for a previous tool (overhead or LCD projector) with no change in practice.  Or, a teacher could augment her teaching, perhaps of a math lesson on geometric shapes.  The teacher can quickly and efficiently produce the backdrop, the shapes, and place them on the IWB.  Students then debate whether shapes fall into the Symmetric or the non-Symmetric categories, taking turns leading the discussion, from the IWB.  Next, they talk about lines of symmetry and take turns drawing in the line imagefor each shape.  They get to the pentagram and the whole class appears to believe there is only one line of symmetry.  One girl (the one in the image above) disagrees.  The teacher asks her to come up and explain.  She says “there are five lines, let me show you” and proceeds to visually spin the pentagon through its five lines of symmetry and draw the other four lines.  The class was shocked (actually they briefly had me sucked in too).  In the example here, I suggest the teacher designed a significant modification into her lesson this day.  This would not be easily replicated without the IWB technology.  How did this teacher create the modification?  She participated in a Learning Team, an action research model of implementation through facilitated professional learning with her colleagues.

Interestingly, we know from research that people fall into nice neat buckets when it comes to accepting and adopting change as see in the Rogers Adoption / Innovation Cure. 

image

Innovators Brave, embrace any change, show the way.
Early Adopters Opinion leaders, try new ideas… carefully.
Early Majority Thoughtful, careful, accept change quicker than the average person.
Late Majority Skeptics, only adopt the tool/change once the majority of people have done so.
Laggards Traditionalists, hang on to old ways, critical of new ideas and tools, will adopt once an change/tool is mainstream or “tradition”.

A new tool comes out, say the iPad, and there will be 2.5% of a population, the Innovators, that will readily embrace it and generally use it effectively. This group will essentially embrace any change you toss their way with no resistance! The next group, Early Adopters will see and get excited by the possibilities of the new tool and will try it, carefully.  You get the idea.  You might be tempted to think investing time in the first two groups will get your change, the adoption of the new tool, to flourish.  Unfortunately, the majority of people tend to be suspicious of the Innovators and Early Adopters thinking “they will try anything new”.  It takes a well designed implementation process, patience, determination, and good change management to shift the organization forward in adopting new tools and ways, effectively.  It’s easy to buy, distribute, and use new tools like iPads, but it’s really hard to shift our work, teaching practice, and ways of learning to maximize the value of having the tool.  Some colleagues and I often say we need to “use new tools to do new things in new ways”.  The alternative of using new tools to do the same things in new ways doesn’t represent a high value change.  A iStock_000017128753XSmall$5000 display screen seems rather expensive doesn’t it?  Similarly, a mobile lab of digital tablets moving class to class (is this any different than a lab model?) seems rather ineffective doesn’t it?  Perhaps a better way is to acquire the class set of digital tablets for use in immersive ways by students whose teachers are engaged in a professional learning team doing action research into how they can redesign their lessons and their students learning to maximal benefit.  The class set in this scenario is shared by 2-3 classes rather than available to the whole school.  Unfair?  I don’t think so given that it would be used effectively for learning.  Think of it as the best starting point for students and teachers and grow it over time for other classes.  The alternative is interesting but would not likely have the same positive impact on learning and teacher practice.

In my new role with Vancouver School Board, implementing well is top of mind.  Funds are very tight and we need to maximize our investments for greatest impact on learning, teaching, and work.  Focusing specifically on educational technology here, I see significant opportunity to leverage some structures I’ve learned and used in a previous organization.  A few key principles that lead to successful implementation come to mind: engage teachers and principals early in choosing, testing, piloting, and designing technological changes (Design Teams, Implementation Teams).  Require professional learning to be part of any technological change – budget for it, build it into the purchase cost.  The professional learning I’m referring to is not the 1-shot workshop model, rather it is one involving Focus Groups and (action research) Learning Teams.  Read the following descriptions with the lens of designing and implementing technological tools and systems.  I want to thank my Coquitlam School Board colleagues for their work in developing, actualizing, and teaching me these structures (valid link as of Dec 2012, go to page 6) – I found them to be a very successful and effective means of implementing technology in schools.

Focus Group educators sharing a common area of expertise / specialization identifying and supporting colleagues through developing documents, professional development
Design Team educators with a time-specific task such as designing an implementation model, a new system
Implementation Team representative group of educators tasked with implementing a pre-designed process, system, etc. for cross-district shared understanding
Learning Team small groups of educators, school-based or cross-district, engaged in professional inquiry focused on educator practice, student learning

I plan to actively work with my new colleagues to develop successful implementation process for technology used for learning, teaching, and for our work.  I look forward to seeing this play out, successfully, over the coming months and years.  Any advice you might have for me, please share it here!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Joel's New Textbook

Joel soaks up the sun this fine day on May 19, 2021 as he walks to school.  He’s excited ‘cause today his middle school is finally allowing him and his fellow students to engage with the new “textbook”.  He’s a little puzzled why it’s called a textbook.  It’s really a place to enter in and experience – it’s not a book.  Joel rarely actually uses “books” as iStock_000018493321XSmallin the paper kind, these days.  The students have learned that the new textbook requires them to wear a special headset with glasses and ear buds.  They can choose from a multitude of colors, shapes, and sizes that the school provides or they can purchase and bring their own along with their other school supplies.  These headsets or “Portal Sets” as their teachers referred to them as, work anywhere and anytime.

Joel arrives at school and sees his friend Carrie – he runs up to meet her at the door.  Joel and Carrie catch up on what they did on the weekend as they walk to the great hall of learning, the gathering place for the 337 students attending this school.  In fact though, not all of the students attend in person, as some prefer to learn from home while others are traveling with their families.  Students not at school in person have earlier versions of the Portal Sets to use which allow them to attend as holographic representations of themselves and to see and interact with other students at school, home, or on the road.  The great hall has various other rooms around the perimeter, small and large, called learning caves, transporter rooms, cooperative spaces, etc.

The students start receiving their Portal Sets and after some basic orientation from their teachers, they head off as small group iStock_000010954699XSmalllearning teams.  Their teachers will be available to guide and teach them upon request.  Teachers also have Portal Sets and can instantly see and support their students either in person or through the textbook. Joel and his learning team, one member who is attending from Hawaii (on vacation), have decided to study early Roman history today.  Students are for the most part self-directed but their teachers are only a “thought” away to help, guide, assess, nudge, interject, lecture as needed, and support. 

As Joel and his team enter the textbook they command it to take them to the days of the gladiators in Rome.  Instantly they find themselves sitting on a seat in the ancient Coliseum but, it isn’t ancient at all, rather it appears to be new!  They look around and see 1000’s of Roman citizens sitting, eating, and discussing the politics of the day.  One of the teachers joins them and starts to share some of their knowledge of the setting and poses some critical questions to Joel’s team to explore.  Joel and his team get up and go speak to some of the citizens asking them questions about how they feel about the games, why they come, what they think of the current emperor, etc.  The students are essentially “there”, back in timeEurope 2012 120-001 with the citizens of the day.  The textbook provides access to all knowledge in the world of all time and all places.  It also, via the Roman (virtual) citizens, prompts the students to fully experience their surroundings.  Joel and his team then ask the textbook to transport them to the Arch of Constantine where they are met by Constantine himself, well a representation of him actually.  The students engaged in amazing conversations about the construction of Rome, wars, science, religion, and many other topics.  Constantine introduces them to some very skilled mathematicians and engineers who take the students to the Pantheon and describe and show how it was designed and constructed.  They even transported further back in time to when it was under construction to provide hands-on help to the citizens of the day with the work and learned valuable construction skills.

After Joel’s team transported back “virtually” speaking, to their school and removed their Portal Sets, they engaged in some cooperative group learning activities to process what they learned and to determine how to represent it.  They decided to use the Learning Deck to recreate what they learned but with a twist.  To create some controversy, they are going to rewrite history and produce a slightly different outcome.  Joel and his team tapped into the math and engineering learning they picked up at the Pantheon to accurately recreate the pillars and other elements.  Other student teams who are also studying Roman history will later enter the Learning Deck to explore Joel’s teams variant on Roman history and will be assessed on how well they can detect and explain the differences.

Children

After learning, hanging out with his friends, playing soccer, etc., Joel is happily exhausted by the time the day ends and he walks home from school.  Joel is relieved that the city leaders didn’t eliminate schools as physical places to go as he and his friends really appreciate the opportunity to do things together, not just virtually.  Students are learning to find a good balance for learning in the textbook and the Learning Deck and learning together in the same physical space.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Equity

There are a lot of imbalances in our world.  The protests last year about the 1% (richest) having and controlling most of the resources was a reflection of how people feel about imbalances in the distribution of resourcesEquity in simplest terms is about fairness but defining fairness is no simple task.  For example, how society Wants Vs Needs - Balancevalues the work people do is directly related to the level of their salaries.  But is the distribution of salaries, fair?  Are famous musicians and singers or athletes really worth the millions they are paid relative to a doctor, teacher, or the person responsible for placing concrete on the bridge you travel over everyday?  Wealth is certainly unevenly distributed and this has been the case it seems since the dawn of time.  I’m thinking a lot about equity right now as it is very apparent it will be an important factor in how I will need to consider appropriate and fair investments in technology for our schools.

I visited an elementary school last Monday in the East end of Vancouver.  I parked my car near the school and as I walked along the school I saw two homeless men waking up under a school overhang roof.  I saw run down apartment complexes nearby.  Inside the school, I visited a classroom and saw very old desks and furnishings.  As I spoke to the staff about technology and various options they might consider to invest in with funds they’ve raised, I talked about BYOD (bring your own device).  One of the teachers said something like “Brian, you need to know that our students all receive breakfast and lunch at school”.  I’ve not encountered this sort of situation in my past experiences.  I said something like “I get it, BYOD might not be viable in all of our schools”.

Our schools are looking to me, to the School District, for help in replacing out-dated technology, to support the change to technology powered learning.  In our District, the neighbourhood demographics have significant range in terms of poverty to super rich.  Families in the richer areas will easily provide laptops, tablets, and handhelds for their kids to use at school, assuming they see clear learning benefits.  However, in the poorer neighbourhoods, many families hope ave and change waysimply struggle to feed and clothe their children.  How we can’t expect them to provide technological learning devices?  I would expect that the poorer schools will generally have more difficulty fund raising for technology as well.  We will have to structure our investments in an equitable manner accounting for the economic differences between neighbourhoods.  However, I don’t believe that equity implies equality.  I do believe in providing a base level of support and perhaps increased support relative to a rating of a school neighbourhood’s socio economic condition.

Thinking out loud, here are some of the criteria that might be reasonable to consider in calculating an equity index for schools:

From this information, a weighted (percentage) allocation of technology funds for elementary and secondary schools relative to their financial need could be developed consistent with an equitable distribution.  I also believe strongly in commitments.  Funds invested in technology should be done so in conjunction with principals and teachers committing to regular professional learning with an aim to change practice.  Technology all through history has resulted in changes in how we do things with the goal being the new practice is iStock_000017128753XSmallbetter.  For example when the printing press was invented, eventually knowledge spread like wildfire – previously it was under the control of the few.  Adding technology to a classroom or as a tool for students without changing how teaching and learning occurs is a waste of money and a frustrating experience.  Perhaps part of the equity formula should include commitments to participate in professional learning related to integrating education technology?

With a limited resource (money) and an insatiable need for technology, equity is a critically important aspect of any plan for technology in schools.  I would appreciate your thoughts on how equity could be defined and calculated for schools in the context of technology investments.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Reimagine Learning

With all of the conversations, conference sessions, government initiatives, and books on the topic of 21st century learning, personalized learning, etc., one would think we’d have a clear sense already about the future of learning.  I’m not sure we do though.  We truly do need to be and produce lifelong learners – I heard that term iStock_000012723220XSmallfor the first time in the early 90’s and only in the past decade has it really resonated for me given the acceleration of change we are experiencing.  I was at a traditional conference with 1200 others this past Thursday and Friday and an Edcamp on Saturday, doing my lifelong learning thing.  I have recently switched to taking notes live on Twitter and find myself immersed in a 3-dimensional learning experience.  It’s a bit disorientating and mind boggling to be honest.  It’s challenging to focus in the physical session, taking relevant notes (tweeting), while engaging with other tweeters in that room and in other sessions I’m not physically present in.  Also, people not attending the conference chime in via Twitter and I engage with them.  It’s an exhausting but exhilarating way to learn.  I wish my technology could help with this…  I starting thinking about what could (should) learning really look like.  What could transformative learning look like?  How might technology be the disruptive agent?

I find that most people are not able to think beyond what technology can do today, into a very different future.  It is hard to reimagine the now as something different.  But, come along with me for a little reimagining…  What if our “phones” take another disruptive leap in the near future and become true personal digital assistants?  Imagine that after a suitable “learning” period, our phones can “know” how we think, our preferences, what ideas stimulate us, etc.  What if they are able to “storify” what we hear, see, and share, and include the backchannel feeds into a learning and knowledge repository?  These new tools would “know” what points and ideas would resonate with us and would highlight them and bring in other connections from blogs, iStock_000013191903XSmallnews articles, other tweets, and feeds.  In bringing together relevant information and people, our tools will then pre-synthesize and prioritize for us.  As well, our “phone”, which increasingly understands us, can tweet and share out on our behalf saving us the time to do so.  Imagine this all happening in real time.  Okay, so now we’re free to focus on the synthesized whole of the live speaker, the other sessions or teachers, and the stream of related information from other sources without having to deal with all the distractions of seeing, recording, and synthesizing the details.

With our new phones doing the work of assimilating relevant information, we’re now able to engage in highly informed and critical face 2 face conversations with other people.  Perhaps keynotes, workshops, and classroom teacher lectures are now chunked to create time for small group cooperative learning.  The heavy lifting of capturing, relating, and synthesizing information has been done, now we learners can add our purely human attributes into the mix.  We can engage our emotions, our biases, our experiences, with each other and with the broadly synthesized iStock_000006855981XSmallcontent provided to us by our phones.  Imagine how deep the conversations could be, the scenarios that could be created, the problems that could be contemplated?  Most or all of the research and assimilation is done, freeing up time to go deep, engage, and transform our thinking.  Our learning experiences then would go way past hearing, recording/repeating notes, and shallow conversation to rich, deep, meaningful discussions, problem solving, goal setting, initiative design, and project planning and actioning.  These latter activities are what we strive for, they are the reasons we attend classes, workshops, and conferences.

I know, you’re thinking “science fiction”.  But think about the tools we all take for granted already that past generations would have considered to be wild dreams.  My phone today forecasts traffic problems along the routes I regularly drive to/from work.  It receives/sends messages, pictures, videos to/from people anywhere in the world in seconds.  It speaks to me and I to it.  It reminds me when I’m supposed to be places, how to get there with maps, who will be there with me, and why I’m going.  It lets me search vast databases around the world while speeding along in a train or airplane, and talk to other people with full motion live video.  It lets me read millions of books, tracks highlights and notes somewhere “in space” that other people can also read and use.  It tells me which direction on a compass I’m heading.  It knows about all digital conversations I have.  I could go on and on but the point is, this little handheld device seems to know no bounds to taking over things other machines, people, or I used to do on my own.  Is it a stretch to imagine it gaining understanding over what it “knows” and does?  Perhaps Steve Wheeler is writing about “an early version” of this in his Next generation learning article.  Would this reimagined phone not simply be a faster computer with a more sophisticated knowledge representation and processing algorithm?  Is this perhaps a 3rd or 4th generation version of IBM’s Watson in your pocket?

“If you make some very logical, and even conservative, assumptions about where technology is likely to lead in the coming years, much of the conventional wisdom about what the future will look like becomes unsupportable.”, The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future

What could students do, what could you do, if you had such a device?  How might you reimagine learning for K12 students where every one of them has such a device?  What would conferences look like where every participant has such a device?  Let your imagination go…

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Comfortable with Uncertainty

I went for a mountain bike ride this morning at Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford.  It was a crisp 0 degrees, small snow flakes were falling on the ride up, and “Jack Frost” was present on the trails. I start to roll the tires down the mountain and I see frost, some ice, and I have WP_000407a real sense of uncertainty and concern.  Will my tires hold on the turns (high speed…) or not?  I tentatively burn through the first few corners and thankfully the tires hold.  I release the brakes some more and increase the speed until I’m flying down the trail and not worrying (too much) about the frost and ice.  My trust grows in the bike, its tires, and my skills and I have an exhilarating and positive experience.

So “what does this have to do with technology, education, and the future?” you might ask.  All three are fraught with uncertainty!  Technology is under constant change, often radical.  The options and possibilities available today didn’t exist only a few years ago.  How do we make sustainable choices in a constantly shifting and uncertain context.  This is less of a concern for individuals and consumers as they are only concerned with what a technology means to them right now personally and the cost of a poor choice has limited impact.  But, in a large school district, poor choices can have a devastating impact in terms of lost student learning time, frustrated teachers or other staff, security implications, tremendous expense, difficulty to learn, and expense, to name a few.  Choices come with opportunity costs: if we choose “A”, we are unable to consider “B” and we may miss opportunities.  What works for some iStock_000019241487XSmallmay not work for others.  School Districts must also consider how a technology might impact equity and how their choices impact schools in very poor neighborhoods and in very rich ones.  How do we shift schools away from older models of technology such as labs to embedding a variety of technology in classrooms, embracing BYOD, in a context of limited funds.  BYOD models can increase inequity if funds and a will are not available to fill the gaps.  While my District is rolling out wireless networking to its schools I see uncertainty attached to teacher readiness to embrace it for learning.  I also see uncertain network bandwidth availability for accessing District and Internet services.  Staff development opportunities are necessary for wireless, BYOD, iPads, etc. to be valuable learning and teaching tools.  Similarly, network bandwidth is an essential ingredient to technology powered learning.  Without these, I see a very uncertain future for our ability to effectively leverage technology for learning and teaching.  How do we shift to a culture of action research for technology implementation and how do we find funding to radically increase network bandwidth?  Uncertain.

In BC, educators and parents are wrestling with what personalized learning means in action.  Changing a world class education system like ours is an uncertain exercise.  Creating space in a curriculum, reducing what kids must know (perhaps), redesigning how they will be assessed,… this is serious business with outcomes that will affect all of society.  Stakeholder involvement in choices for education has radically changed the decision making environment.  Decision makers have to consider so many more points of view and influences today – the uncertainty about impacts can be paralyzing.  Technology is increasingly seen as a lever for educational change.  How certain are we that new tools, process, and focus are what our society requires for our kids to embrace and succeed in an uncertain future?  Are our investments, often measured in the millions of dollars, going to make the impact we expect?  Are we always clear about the impact we expect?

The future has always been an uncertain reality.  However, today our reality is on an exponential change trajectory, powered by technological progress.  The uncertainty of the future is being amplified like never before.  How do we make successful choices and decisions in a context that at times feels like chaos?

Today more than ever, leaders need to be comfortable with uncertainty or they shouldn’t be in leadership roles.  Gone are the days of predictability and knowing.  I’m one week into my new iStock_000017883547XSmallleadership role and I must admit there is a mountain of knowing to be traversed.  While I’m discovering and learning, expectations will rise quickly for me to make a difference.  I have to accept that I will not know everything I need to know before I start deciding to pursue certain strategic directions.  Time is not a friend of a leader in a rapidly changing world. 

For all of you in leadership roles who feel fear, uncertainty, discomfort, can’t sleep at times, don’t know what to do, worry about deciding, I have some advice for you.  Trust your judgment, your staff, your experience, your advisors, your training, and enjoy the opportunity and privilege you have to make a positive difference in the lives of others.  That’s our job as leaders, and it’s a privilege and an honor to be trusted to do what we do.  I am excited about the uncertain future I face as a leader in my school district and I look forward to an exhilarating future as we roll forward together.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Network or Perish

I know, a bit of a harsh title for this post but I got your attention…  Seriously though, networking has for the most part always been WP_000250important to being successful in whatever you pursue.  I think technology though has significantly amplified the importance of networking.  I believe that increasingly, in our rapidly evolving digital work and learning places, those that figure out and embrace the new forms of networking will succeed at what they do more so than those that don’t.  If you’re not on the path to networking yet, maybe now’s the time to take the first step.

Friday was my last day with Coquitlam School Board and Monday will be my first with Vancouver.  I didn’t realize how many social networks I had an identity in until I started to change them for this move.  I had used my Coquitlam email address for most so I had to update all the digital spaces I participate in.  My advice after this task is that you consider using your personal email address wherever possible for your login and email notifications… This exercise really brought to light how networked I’ve become.  I have found many of these networks to be powerful career amplifying spaces.  I believe they and my involvement with them, played an important role in this career opportunity and move.  At Vancouver School Board, I will be in extreme networking mode for the foreseeable future, beginning with face to face and then blurring with the digital space.  Exciting times ahead.

I share my presentations on Slideshare.  Hundreds of people take the opportunity to view these, some may follow, comment, or favorite them.  The same goes for Youtube where I’ve posted over 70 short video clips, mostly of students learning with technology or teachers sharing their experiences and practice.  Again, people can freely view and use these clips, comment on them, favorite them, or follow my future posts.  LinkedIn is a great professional connecting place.  I flickr - langwitches - 21st century skills - 6486500681see more and more people joining, presenting themselves as professionals with their skills, experience, and interests.  Others can endorse them, comment, congratulate, etc.  Twitter is my main networking space.  From that network I learn about what’s going on in the world, in education, technology, who’s doing what, presentations others have shared, blog posts, news articles, etc.  Through Twitter I also contribute my thoughts, ideas, quotes from others, share my blog, share web articles, and converse with others.  My blog is my place to write what’s on my mind and share with the world.  What an amazing feeling this brings when 100’s (sometimes 1000’s) of people read what I write, and many share it with others.  A principal told me the other day that she really enjoyed my last post, The Rabbit Hole, and shared it in her recent staff meeting with her teachers.  I often have people tell me how much they enjoy my blog – it’s very rewarding and humbling.  These networking tools have become the life blood of how I connect with information, ideas, and people.

My blog has brought invitations my way to speak at conferences and to various other smaller audiences.  That along with my positive digital footprint in many other social networks, has created a highly transparent story about who I am, what I think, what I’m passionate about, what my values are, what I do, and what I believe.  If you follow me in these spaces you will know me professionally, and a little bit personally.  When I say “transparent”, I do limit my digital footprint to mainly my professional life.  I keep my personal life fairly well protected even though I do use Facebook to connect and share with family and friends and some of my professional colleagues iStock_000009205146XSmallare also my friends.  But for example, although I am a Christian and have strong beliefs about our world and the future from that perspective, I focus my digital presence and participation on my professional life and interests.  Incidentally, this is consistent practice in my face to face work life.  My reason for sharing this is that being networked online doesn’t mean you have to be “all in” online.  There’s a place and time for everything and everything does not belong online.  It distresses me when friends or relatives share very personal or disturbing information on Facebook or when colleagues seem to “life blog” on Twitter.  That just doesn’t sit well for me…  Some conversations and topics really belong in face to face contexts and with people you have built up quite a bit of trust with.

So folks, if you’re reading this, likely you’ve at least got a toe in the streams of digital conversation and social networking.  I encourage you to wade in further.  If you’re a professional, you have a lot to contribute to others – use Twitter, start a blog, share your presentations, produce and share videos.  There are people out there digitally connected that are just waiting to enjoy what you have to share.  Reciprocally, there are people online that you need to learn from and get to know to boost your professional life to the next level.  Feel free to connect with me here on this blog and on Twitter @bkuhn.  Happy networking!

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Rabbit Hole

I wonder how much we really think about where we’re going on this technology amplified journey we are all on.  We are so enthralled with each new invention or improvement that we clamor to do everything we can to get the new.  We’re kind-of like Alice…

“she ran across the field after it [the rabbit], and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.  In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again”. (referenced Oct. 28, 2012)

We need now to be more thoughtful than ever in our adoption and pursuit of technological solutions.  We need to think beyond the “rabbit hole” about what may lay down the path.  We need to ask “why” before determining our journey with technology.  Too often we simply follow the crowd.  In a world where funds are scarce and technology is abundant, we need to “choose wisely, for while the true Grail will bring you life, the false Grail will take it from you” (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade).  Technology has the potential to do good or to simply consume our money…  In education systems, our money has many competitors and we need to be very purposeful and clear when advocating for new technology to improve or transform learning and our work.

I read an article about in the November FastCompany Magazine about ways IBM’s Watson computer is being used since its famous Jeopardy win.  “A few years ago, IBM’s new computer was a game-playing curiosity. Now Watson is poised to change the way human beings make decisions about medicine, finance, and work” (FastCompany).  Watson will one day soon be a qualified Doctor iStock_000014726231XSmallbecause “for well over a year, the Watson computers have been "trained" in science and medicine. Technicians feed Watson medical textbooks and journals, patient histories, and treatment guidelines”.  Are you ready for this… “doctors have begun using a Watson app on a tablet to access the computer through the cloud. The doctor logs in to Watson and begins to input data and ask questions”. 

Watson can ingest more data in a day than any human could in a lifetime. It can read all of the world's medical journals in less time than it takes a physician to drink a cup of coffee. All at once, it can peruse patient histories; keep an eye on the latest drug trials; stay apprised of the potency of new therapies; and hew closely to state-of-the-art guidelines that help doctors choose the best treatments (FastCompany)

Essentially Watson combs through every journal and medical case known, analyzes it and produces likely diagnoses and recommended treatments.  A human doctor (so far) will make the final call but at some point, their opinion and decision may be irrelevant as Watson can access and process more information and data than any human could possibly hope to do and more accurately and consistently diagnose.  Since “medicine embodies so much unstructured information that its proliferation has, by the account of many medical professionals, far outstripped the ability of doctors to keep up. Neither better training nor continuing education could ever wholly remedy this problem”.  IBM’s Saxena says that “ninety percent of the world's information was created in the last two years”, and it’s mostly unstructured.  How can humans keep up with this?  They can’t.  In the not too distant future, computers like Watson will be available to anyone anywhere anytime as an app on their phones and tablets.

I suspect that most of us would agree that becoming a qualified medical doctor is a journey filled with rigor, is knowledge intensive, involves complex pattern recognition, and quick accurate responses to problem solving.  It looks like Watson may be able to replace the thinking side of medicine and perhaps one day with agile robots, much of the surgery element.  So imagine for a moment that IBM and iStock_000010314279Smallothers turn their attention to education.  How might Watson be a disruptive force in the education space?  I suggest that if teaching continues to be primarily one of imparting content and learning one of absorbing, memorizing, and reciting back, we’re in big trouble.  Our machines will take care of the knowledge, diagnostic, and through game based learning, much of else what occurs in many classrooms today.  The process of learning and teaching must shift to one that fully leverages everything that is human and social from one that is about knowledge.  The time to change, is now…

I think we need to thoughtfully shape the destination the rabbit hole we are heading down leads to.  Every decision to spend precious education funds on technology needs to connect to the big picture.  As we purchase iPads and other tablets and tools for teachers or students, there aught to be a clear purpose.  For sure, some sandboxing and experimentation is essential to figure that out.  But, before we pour money into something, we need to be clear about “why”.  I’m heading into a new opportunity with a large school board as their CIO.  I’m expecting to face a lot of pressure to provide updated and innovative technology, infrastructure, and new digital experiences for students and staff along with updated and new business systems.  I look forward to writing about this journey and how we’ve connected our investments clearly to improved work and to enhanced or transformed learning and teaching practices.  We will need to future proof learning, teaching, and our work in a rabbit hole world of technology where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to predict the destination.

Let’s not be like Alice who said “’would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’  ‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.  ‘I don’t much care where—‘ said Alice.  ’Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat” (chapter 6).

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Wisdom in the Room

It used to be so easy to be smart.  Seriously, all you had to do was learn lots of trivia, know how to do a variety of things, be able to quickly recall information, facts, and figures, and people figured you iStock_000020019232XSmallknew it all.  Well folks, the world has changed.  The Internet knows a lot more stuff than you or I do or ever will and it’s doubling every 18 months or so.  We must learn together to become wise!  Why then is it that a lot of learning continues to be isolated and static? How can individuals possibly compete with Youtube, TED, Twitter, Google, Wolfram Alpha, and many other sources that we can now hold in our hands to access whenever we need or want to?

I participated in a conference led by George Couros with about 100 principals/vice principals (#cpvpa) from #sd43.  Some of the deep thinking and resources shared can be seen here.  I’ve worked with quite a number of these folks over the years supporting their learning and progress with technology and social media.  But, I’ve never seen as many of them dive in, join twitter, and make the switch from lurker to contributor.  This may have been a tipping point. One principal Karen said…

How can I start and put myself out there, so I can embrace risk-taking on global media?

It was amazing to sit back and watch the risk taking unfold.  Congratulations #sd43 #cpvpa on taking the leap.  I tweeted earlier today “We talk about making student learning visible, now #cpvpa we need to make our learning visible”.  That’s what this is really about and modeling this new way for teachers and them for their students.  It really changes what “showing one’s work” actually means when it’s on a public stage.  Whether using text via a tweet, writing through a blog, or some combination with pictures and video, it’s a powerful way to communicate, share, and learn from one another.  Think about students sharing their learning in this way.  What impact might 1000’s or 1000000’s of views with comments have on their learning?  How can feedback from teachers or parents compete with the global room?

The room has grown in size.  When I went to school, it fit about 32 people comfortably and there wasn’t always a lot of wisdom to be found.  Now that the walls of classrooms have largely disappeared… I’m getting ahead of myself, most classrooms do not allow for full iStock_000016399116XSmallengagement in learning in public, because we don’t let them.  Perhaps there are privacy concerns, fears, no time to change practices, lack of knowledge, lack of understanding of the value of learning different.  The message this weekend for district and school leaders is they need to model the changes that are important for learners and clear the way for others to do the same.  I love this video that George shared to encourage people to overcome their fears and to take that first step…

The reward that one experiences after trying something new, especially something scary, is amazing.  Having been a downhill sort-of extreme mountain biker for years (recently switched to something safer given my age…), I understand what this is like when facing some new crazy stunt.  Apply this to beginning to Tweet or to start a Blog, and the feeling can be similar.  This happened like a wave this weekend with many new principals hurtling themselves into Twitter and committing to starting a blog – it was exciting to see!

So, about the wisdom in the room.  The idea here is that together we’re better, together we can solve our own problems, we can teacher one another, learn from each other, and experience a collective wisdom not ordinarily possible alone.  Those that don’t tap into the room are left out.  Alison shared…

I like the idea of getting more people sharing. We will all become better if we work together and collaborate.

She is right, “we will all become better”.  About the room, I’m not referring to a physical room but rather the global space you tap into through Twitter, Blogging, Google Plus, Youtube, etc.  If we don’t social networkparticipate in these spaces, we miss out, and we will increasingly become irrelevant.  Contributing only in spaces where you are physically present, won’t serve you well.  You can’t connect with 1000’s of people at once in person – you likely don’t know 1000’s of people that well even if you had the time!  You need to create your digital identity and start to connect, share, and contribute online, or you may just go unnoticed in the future and you won’t be a participant in the room.

Part of going public like this is being a real person.  I love the statement George made about people who sign up on Twitter and don’t add a profile picture.  He said “If you’re an egg, I won’t connect with you!”.  For the illiterate, an egg is what Twitter shows for your account if you don’t add a picture.  This might seem trivial but it’s super important to be yourself and show your true self so that people can engage with you, a real person.  Don’t be an egg!

So what’s holding you back?  Take the leap like the girl in the video above.  Find a friend or colleague who knows more about this than you do.  As Frank said in his “Putting the Plan into Action” referring to help he might need…

It's in the room and in my PLN on twitter.

Ask your local room and PLN to help you get started. Then just do it! Redefine yourself, join the global room, tap into and contribute to the wisdom.  Soon after, you won’t understand how you lived without this!  See you on twitter (you can find me @bkuhn).

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Legacy and the Future

Well, I’ve had quite the week.  I quit a job and accepted a new one.  For those that may not know yet, I am leaving my current role Nov. 2nd as Manager of Information Services at Coquitlam School Board (SD43) to join the Vancouver School Board (VSB) Nov. 5th as their Time for changeDirector of Technology and Chief Information Office (CIO).  Interestingly, I wasn’t looking for a change but the opportunity to serve in this new role became rather compelling.  I’m very excited to make this change while simultaneously experiencing a sense of loss.  After the announcement went out in SD43 about this change, emails started pouring in with shock, sadness, and congratulations.  People shared very kind words with me about the difference I’ve made for them, their schools, and the District.  It is very humbling and honoring… Shortly afterward, VSB made their announcement and emails started flowing in from folks there welcoming me to VSB.  It was an emotional roller coaster of a week for sure.  I thought I’d carve out a reflective blog post to share a few highlights of my time in Coquitlam and my thoughts on the future with Vancouver.

I will miss most, the people of SD43.  My staff, the many teachers I know, the principals and vice principals, managers, senior staff, Board members, parents, and the students.  I always say “a good day is one spent in a Kindergarten class” and I will miss my K’s!

Where to start…  I joined SD43 Aug. 29, 2001 shortly before the dreaded 911.  I was commuting back and forth for four months between Coquitlam and Nanaimo where my family and I were living, imageactually my home town for 38 years.  The move to work in Coquitlam was like taking a job oversees!  I was hired to replace my good friend and colleague Dan Turner (currently Director of Technology for Surrey Schools).  I inherited a team of about 20 which increased overtime to 35 today.  We were a pretty traditional IT group, dealing with hardware, software, and basic networking.  Use of technology for learning was rare – busy / game use in elementary labs, specialist use in middle and secondary schools.  Technology for education was a nice to have but generally not necessary in most classrooms.  Business and communication systems were not used much beyond the Board Office except for email.  Technology infrastructure was adequate for the types of use of the day.

Coming in to SD43 I brought a mind set of making change than asking questions later.  Hey, I was young, eager, na├»ve, and I knew what to do, right?  Wrong…  I made a lot of mistakes, some unnoticed, but enough that were significant to cause quite a bit of conflict in the early years.  Through the school of hard knocks I learned a lot about how to successfully consult, collaborate, seek input, acknowledge and honor others, share leadership, serve others, etc.  I learned the value of relationships – this was a powerful lesson – and how strong relationships make it possible to successfully make changes and accomplish a vision.  Even though the lessons I learned were often painful and very stressful, I’m not sure I would change a thing.  Our past makes us who we are.  I am a much wiser, more thoughtful, strategic, far more relational person than I was 11 years ago.  This journey has prepared me for the next.

I’m proud of the work I’ve been able to accomplish along side many other great people (technologists and educators) in Coquitlam.  On the technology side, we standardized and centralized the funding and support for core infrastructure such as networks, servers, data/file storage, databases, web systems, email/communications systems, and major software licensing.  We secured our networks and systems.  As a District we invested directly in elementary school technology to move use from game playing in dysfunctional spaces to digital spaces often rich with learning, not just in labs but increasingly embedded in classrooms with diverse devices, Fresh idea crosswordand educators who are very capable in their use of these tools.  We invested directly in wireless access before anyone really understood why – this unleashed the use of technology in our secondary and middle schools.  Doug Sheppard (now Assistant Superintendent, Delta Schools) was principal (a well respected leader) for Heritage Woods Secondary, our “hi-tech” school to first get enterprise wireless and pilot 1-1 laptop computing in 2002/3.  In 2004, Chris Kennedy (now Superintendent, West Van Schools) was principal (great vision) for Riverside Secondary, our next generation “hi-tech” school where with a shared vision of the future, we designed and implemented our next wireless network to enable digital learning and teaching anywhere and on any device.  Chris supported teachers with laptops, tablets, and other tools which increasingly wove the use of technology into the fabric of teacher and learning at Riverside.  This set the standard for the rest of the District which still serves SD43 today.  Wireless became like oxygen for us – you don’t have to think to breath when you enter a building and our vision was/is that you shouldn’t have to think to connect, it should just happen.  I am thankful for our Boards support to create my43, an online environment designed to transform the learning and work of our students and employees.  I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Jill Reid (Coordinator) and the my43 Design Team for the tireless work back in 2005-2007 and since then, Martine Duby (Coordinator) and Wayne Atkinson (Team Leader for our Web Team) for continuing the design, implementation, and support for the 1000’s of users of my43.  This is a key strategic legacy to leave with SD43.  Although the technology isn’t perfect and my43 is in need of a significant upgrade and some new design, the long term vision I had for how digital systems should be created to connect and serve organizations and its people came to life in my43.  This work has begun a movement in BC School Districts, using the same underlying technology, to design new portals, hubs, and dashboard spaces to support education and business.  A final legacy I leave with SD43 is the rejuvenation of the network through investments in private fiber optic networks and network optimization.  Our Board’s investment in this will serve the District well into the future and will release and enable innovative learning and teaching in digital spaces!  I could probably write pages about the past 11 years and how proud I am of the work our people have accomplished but I think I’ll shift to the future now.

I am really looking forward to my move to VSB.  What a gift to be able to join another organization and leverage the many lessons I’ve learned to make a difference along side people I’ve not yet met.  I am so excited about the steep relating and learning curve ahead for me.  A key priority for me will be relationships.  I’ve learned that building solid relationships early will serve a vision of change and innovation more than technology, ideas, or personality.  People are the ones affected imageby change, not systems and practices.  Systems and practices should be designed to serve people, not the other way around.  People need to be part of the journey – change shouldn’t be a surprise.  Obviously (to those that know me) I love the possibilities technology brings to make change, make things better, make them different.  Another key priority for me will be to listen, understand, and be highly informed.  It will be important for me to clearly understand the context, the various perspectives, the current state of technology, systems, practices, the history, culture, needs, hopes, and desires, etc.   This, along with relationships, should prepare me for the work in visualizing possible futures and advocating for strategic improvements, new initiatives, transformed practices, integrated systems, and new efficiencies.  There are clear references to technology playing a key strategic role in the VSB strategic plan and how VSB will move forward.  I am excited to be tasked with the responsibility to turn this into action for the future.

I leave one legacy behind while beginning a new one.  Stay tuned to this blog for stories about the VSB experience.  The journey begins Nov. 5th, 2012!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Technology Influenced Leadership

Does anyone else in a formal leadership position feel a little overwhelmed these days by the torrents of communication / Network connection plug RJ-45information, time wasting meetings, and increased uncertainty for decision making?  I certainly do.  It can be paralyzing if you don’t rise above it.  Technology was supposed to make life easier, wasn’t it?  Unfortunately, our tools which are designed to improve our work flow often have the opposite effect. 

Take email for instance, it can replace a lot of paper-based writing like memos, reports, and letters, and help with giving direction, sharing information, etc.  But, so many people misuse or overuse it.  You have probably crafted elegant emails with say three or four questions and then find that people respond to only one or two, or worse none or completely different questions.  This probably happened (I can’t remember) in the old days of paper memos but the speed of communication then was in days or weeks, not seconds.  Poor email use results in email storms with back and forth clarifying, defending, re-communicating, etc.  Also, why is that we sometimes feel compelled to respond to an email as soon as it arrives?  Worse yet, it’s after hours and one simple email before heading to bed might generate a half dozen back and forth within minutes, when it could easily wait until the morning.

Just to complicate things, we now have texting, tweeting, Facebooking, Blogging, LinkedIning, Youtubing, Preziing, Slidesharing, Diigoing, Google Plusing, Pinteresting, and countless other communicating means where we can provide feedback and interact.  Technology, while it adds new channels and dimensions to our ability to share, communicate, and coordinate, it also makes life rather complicated and exhausting.

I have been working with District staff to reimagine our communications methods in digital ways.  As we moved from paper based methods to digital, we often carried across the old methods and practices into the new tools.  I believe it’s important to redesign the formats, purposes, and practices in the context of new tools: do iStock_000009545884Smallnew things in new ways.  For example, why would we continue to create “heavy” memos in a Word document with the rather large routing information used on multi-part paper memos and email that as an attachment to share information?  Why would we continue to ask people to print, sign, and mail something back without questioning whether there is a better way or if signing is even necessary?  There are better ways and tools for these tasks and leaders need to be aware and willing to help their people make the shift.

Changing channels a bit, what about business meetings?  Aren’t they generally a treat hey!?  Actually a well designed and run meeting is a treat (advice here).  I’ve experience amazing meetings (I know sounds oxymoronic).  I have experienced meetings designed by gifted facilitators.  But, more often it’s the other kind I get to “enjoy”.  Full disclosure, I’ve run poorly designed meetings and too many of them.  I used to pull my team (about 35 people) together every school month for an all staff meeting.  It was hard to create meaningful experiences for us and I think too often it was a waste of all of our time.  I did the math: 35 x $35/h x 2.5 hours + 2 more hours for either end (travel, socializing), call it 5 hours + lunch = $6425 x 10 meeting to get to $64,250 / year!!!  I’m embarrassed to disclose this actually. One of my managers pressed me to reduce to quarterly meetings which has been far more manageable, useful, and Europe 2012 716-001economically appropriate.  We have to find better ways to share information and engage our people, using effective technology and making face time more effective.  I think we can effectively use email, document collaboration, wikis, discussion boards, and surveys to accomplish a lot of what we do in meetings now.  Then our meetings could be “flipped”.  When we do meet face-to-face, we could use cooperative learning group techniques or designs from Bruce Wellman’s Groups at Work to have our people deeply engaged in social learning and work.  I tried this all last year with my quarterly staff meetings with a focus on the future and work design (eg: Considering the Future and Personal Vision to the Future).  I shared out information, readings (blog posts, online articles, presentations, business updates) etc. in advance for them to prepare.  I would say I had mixed results.  My staff weren’t used to working that hard in meetings and I think I actually exhausted them!  Also, I found that some people just couldn’t work well this way.  Some people ate it up, others were disengaged and frustrated.  I think I need to figure out how to design differentiated cooperative work meetings to accommodate different working and learning styles.

Uncertainty: The lack of certainty, A state of having limited knowledge where it is impossible to exactly describe the existing state, a future outcome, or more than one possible outcome (WikiPedia Oct 6, 2012)

Anyone feel uncertainty is on the rampage?  I certainly do.  Decision making used to be easier.  The pace of change, the number of unknowns about the future, the variables that are co-dependent, etc. make our jobs as leaders uncomfortable and very challenging.  We can survey the “market”, read the research, talk to colleagues and still miss big on important decisions.  How do you predict the effect iStock_000019296536XSmallof new tools that aren’t yet invented?  Look at how quickly tablets like the iPad have replaced a lot of what we needed a laptop for.  It was only a few years ago that the laptop took the world stage by storm, now some people are seriously questioning the need.  Sidebar… many leaders have got their iPads and many don’t use them beyond email, they still use their binders, notepads, and other traditional tools.  We need to get better at purposefully acquiring new tools and shifting our work practices accordingly.

In a school setting, decision making about technology choices are very difficult given the (very limited) funding context.  We can not afford to miss trends or head in a direction that is a dead end a few years later.  I do think that reading, surveying, networking, listening, observing are still our best tools currently for trying to reduce the uncertainty.  But we need to add patience to this as we’re often pressured to make snap decisions and the implications of not being careful can be significant.  For example, the pressure to use cloud services such as DropBox, Google Drive/Docs, Edmodo, iCloud, or endless others has increased dramatically in school systems.  These are fabulous tools that do support our learning agenda but, we have to follow good process, adhere to relevant laws, etc.  How does an organization manage and leverage disparate information sources, control their risks, etc. when they lose control of the tools? Often WP_000157those who want these tools don’t understand the requirements or restrictions, or don’t care.  As leaders we need be wise, stand strong, do the right thing, communicate well, be patient but don’t procrastinate, and ensure good process is in place.

As leaders I believe we need to question everything in this rapidly changing world.  We need to Love Learning, embrace the unknown, unlearn old ways, and thoughtfully, purposefully, and bravely walk our way into the future while preparing and carefully bringing our organizations along with us.