A reflection on the comments on my blog(s) that have pushed my thinking this year
So often at this time of year people publish lists of posts that received the most views, what interests me though is not the number of hits on my site, but the comments that have pushed my thinking. As Robert Schuetz explains,
Comments are like the marshmallows in Lucky Charms, the sugary goodness that adds flavor to our day. Comments turn posts into conversations.
For the last two years (2015 and 2016) I have looked back at this sugary goodness. Below then is a summary of the comments that I received in 2017. For those whose words they are, thank you. For those that I may have missed, sorry.
Context is crucial in shaping everything we do.
Idt’s complicated. A topic in isolation can provide focus, yet only in isolation is artificial. Focus should maximise learning.
I hadn’t really noticed it until now but I do use the Eisenhower Method. In my early career I worked as a clerk in an investment and I kinda flipped this idea around and called it “prioritising based on what tasks have the capacity to cause us the most amount of pain” (but in more colourful language).
Response to Getting Work Done
Glad you like Blood Meridian, and I second the idea that this one will remain indelibly burnt on my imagination. The passage of the horribles is enough to make the hair on my neck stand at attention.
Switch by Dan & Chip Heath is a great choice, in my opinion. The section on motivate the elephant connects with your quote from S. Sinek above. Take a look at my ThingLink I made after reading Switch.
Every conference and workshop these days seems to include, and rightfully so, discussions of flexible, engaging, physical learning spaces. We also need to spend time learning more about digital learning spaces. What makes them interactive, engaging, and impactful? You’ve introduced key elements of a new area of study, “modern geography” perhaps?
Images are a part of today’s culture — so finding ways to create a visual style that resonates with people is a quick and easy way to communicate messages that resonate. In fact, without visuals, I’m not sure that you can really communicate effectively in today’s world. That raises a huge question: What are we doing to teach kids to create provocative visuals?
I remember Bob Sutton’s books really impacted my work as a principal, most notably Scaling Up Excellence and Good Boss, Bad Boss… along with his other NSF edu-titled book
I appreciate your response to Couros, whose original post seemed to focused on ’personal branding’ as a way of marketing the self which can close off possibilities for being an active citizen online. The idea that we should have our ’professional purposes’ first in mind when we are online leads to the relative silence of many edtech / innovation gurus on political issues (Audrey Watters has written about this), which is an ironically inauthentic use of social media.
The #edublogsclub series has me wrestling with a deeper question, “do we manipulate our digital learning spaces, or do they manipulate us?” My original intent with digital V/R mapping, thank you Dave White, was to invite social interaction in the pathways of my digital footprints. What it has become is a reflection activity. Where is my education occurring? Why is it in these spaces? How is my map changing over time? Am I driving this, or is it driving me? To what degree are we responsible for our templates? The fact that I don’t know will fuel my next blog post.
The About.me page is static, and in this fast changing environment it might be more useful to consider the role of the online identity for personal and professional purposes. Many young people can not separate what happens online and the reflection of negativity or positivity on their actual identity. We see this though tragedies caused by online bullying. Perhaps the skill of discerning online content about the self is invaluable.
Your post reminded me of a challenge I see every time Couros posts about students having those three aspects of a digital identity: no matter how much we as educators may encourage this, ultimately it is up to the students to make it part of their lives. I have been blogging with my students for some years now, and when it is not a class requirement, they stop posting. I think part of this digital presence that we want students to establish – the ”residency,” as Robert Schuetz said in the recent blog post that led me here – is not always happening where we suggest. I know my students have an online presence – but it\’s on Instagram and Snapchat, not the blogsphere. Perhaps instead of dragging kids on vacation to where we think they should set up shop, we need to start following them to their preferred residences and help them turn those into sturdy, worthy places from which to venture out into the world.
I think transformation means a transition from one form to another, not a complete exchange. Often I see new ideas and methods taken up with little regard for what went before. That is doomed for failure. As you say, change takes time and commitment, and definitely balance. But schools need to step us into the future, not tie us to the past. Balance with one foot on the past as we stretch forward into the future.
Being mindful of the consequences is so important – and I think that’s a shortcoming of Edtech generally.
Google Sheets has always been an amazingly powerful tool for me but a difficult one to get lots of people to think about outside of simple number operations.
Last year I used forms embedded in a site to have staff sign up for PD sessions, then had a master sheet that pulled in data from the sheets connected to the forms. The master sheet was then embedded on the site along with the sign-up forms, so that people could refer back to see what they’d signed up for and see what others were doing. I’m not sure that anyone used it (they still just rang me to ask. Isn’t it always the way?), but I was very pleased with the elegance of the whole setup.
You have given voice to so many through your blog. So much research and insight goes into each one and the edu community is the beneficiary!
I think as more individuals advance their learning, while sharing and connecting with other learners, the education institution must move forward.
You mention the use of hashtags in the context of emotions; I never thought about that! Are you saying the hashtags are used here in a similar way to emoticons? To imbue a tweet with a sense of emotion … but perhaps with more subtlety than an emoticon might? If that is the case, why do people feel the need to do that; what’s the gain or payback? And for whom?
There is no doubt that I use hashtags for the “tribes” or community purpose. Your post made me think a bit about that, and I came to the realization that that’s almost the only time I use a hashtag. Thank you for your useful analysis. Now I will need to further analyze my own use. Your post makes me think I may be avoiding hashtags.
Portfolios are a cornerstone of authentic assessment. The opportunity for reflection and longitudinal tracking drives personally impactful, transferrable learning; good for students and teachers alike.
This is a helpful typology. The enabler abdicates responsibility while authoritarian limiter allows no freedom. Mentor implies cooperation.
Is there a missing dimension? Two dimensional interpretations may prove inadequate when describing our learning networks.
digciz as hospitality: one with choice: one among many; one with many; one beside many; one from many; one without many. What will I choose as the “one”?
A balance, though, might be worth considering. Use the comments you see and hear to spur your own thoughts. Take a walk while disconnected and mix the sights and sounds of nature around you with those gleaned thoughts of others. Make something new as a result.
I try to notice when I am told something (or read something) I don’t fully understand, and ask questions for clarification or more information. With the world now at our fingertips there is no reason to not know what we want to know.
Do the words of Alex Pentland help to explain why collaboration is scant in education? The ideas of natural law that teach us that humans are basically competing all the time?
Simon Kiely in response to
I would also argue that sometimes teachers who see blogging as ‘another thing’ could do away with some old habits or practices they don’t need anymore.
Why must it be a choice? I use both for consuming information, the mobile often for acquiring media (images, video, audio). I find most writing cumbersome (sloppy on the tiny keys, and the sheer challenges of copy/paste). One tendency is to make a line between a platform for consumption (mobile) vs creation (a “real” computer), yet that’s suspect. You can certainly create a fair amount of things on a mobile device. To a point.
I firmly believe that no individual device is the answer for all needs – choosing the right tool for the job, that’s the key.
Heather Bailie in response to Death of the Desktop Computer?
Bosses need to understand there is greater access to information and expertise than ever before. This makes it easier to challenge the voice of authority. Today, meaningful change occurs through crowd-sourcing.
Personal beliefs about leadership are that they are meant to inspire and empower, not be about control and power. Sadly that is not the case in every school.
Sometimes the compromise is worth it, other times it’s better to leave and see what new opportunities arise.
Starting PD by immediate upskilling is always my preferred plan. It’s so tempting to just grab the mic though.
Often those presenting (like teachers who are being ‘inspected’ as they teach) feel that they need to perform & be visible.
Not sure I want awe about me or the content (but this needs to be compelling) – I want awe at their own insights through workshop experiences.
I wonder what the effect would be if PL providers/deliverers (incl academics) would be paid only after the impact of their work is seen?
I think there’s a fine line between inspiring an audience, sharing moonshot ideas but not making Ts feel as though those ideas are out of reach for them and their organization. Show what’s possible without frustrating.
The way sheets can pull in and parse info from the web is pretty exciting as is the way the spreadsheet can be made accessible online to other web things.
Although I like tinkering and making stuff I also like things that last a long time, a bit of a tug of war in my head.
I spent many years advocating blogging in schools – espoused a variety of purposes and clear outcomes. I still advocate for them but I am met with resistance from so many. An opportunity lost in my humble opinion.
Another path would be to be fancier in Google sheets and write a formula that grabs all the month’s elements with whatever HTML/markdown wrappers you want and then make that sub-page public on the web and set a cron task and php page to grab it every month and create a post.
A big issue is even if we wanted to train entrepreneurs the skill set is not there for teachers to direct 100+ small enterprises.
I feel (and fear) that the silos have answered the “how do I publish this on the internet?” question so effectively, for so many people, that the impetus to learn and make things — as I learned NucleusCMS — almost two decades ago, is all but gone. Discovering content management systems and weblogging, after hand coding a clunky monthly newsletter, was almost magical. I doubt that today’s “publishers” feel anything like the same satisfaction, but I get it again from the IndieWeb.
You’re right that the concepts used in the IndieWeb haven’t yet solidified into something that less technical users can grasp. I guess that’s what makes it fun for more technical people to play with, and yet is a frustration for those just looking for something that works.
Today, the easier pared-down standards that are better and simpler than either of these old and and difficult specs is simply adding Microformat classes to HTML (aka P.O.S.H) to create feeds. Unless one is relying on pre-existing infrastructure like WordPress, building and maintaining RSS feed infrastructure can be difficult at best, and updates almost never occur, particularly for specifications that support new social media related feeds including replies, likes, favorites, reposts, etc. The nice part is that if one knows how to write basic html, then one can create a simple feed by hand without having to learn the mark up or specifics of RSS.
I wouldn’t call it “an alternative way of working on the web”, but as the original way of working on the web. True to the methods of the original web that made all this possible.
The Thermomix as ‘all-in-one’ cooking machine strikes me as an excellent example of assemblage Aaron, perhaps even a learning assemblage. It (and the various configurations), the instructions, the ingredients which go in, the food which comes out, recipes, you, your family, are completely entangled together and assemble differently when one of these actors changes … or a new one becomes involved. An allergy that emerges in a family member would change the assemblage completely. One might argue, well OK, that doesn’t change the Thermomix, but in assemblage thinking, that wouldn’t be the point. The Thermomix is not an isolated performer in the Davis household food prep, it is part of the assemblage. If wheat or dairy products had to be excluded, then the assemblage would shift to accommodate it. One might even say it learned.
I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Although our musical tastes differ, like you, I crave the stimulation music provides. I appreciate the algorithms Google music crunches because, with Google’s help, I am constantly expanding and diversifying my playlists. Whether it’s at the gym, in my truck, or in my office, music is part of my divided attention routines. Within the last month, I have made a daily, hour-long commitment to learning how to play guitar, fingerstyle. As a result, my listening focus has shifted to pickers like Mark Knopfler, Lindsey Buckingham, Jerry Reed, and of course, Chet Atkins. I guess I am on a quest to show old dogs can learn new tricks. Thanks for the song suggestions – I’m searching Google Music now!
I think the line about bending history into a linear narrative is very apt. I always think of Ian Hunter’s work here – the school exists as it does because it is adequate to society’s ed needs.
There is plenty of invented history in education to justify arguments for apparent new-ness, to perpetuate polarisations in debates, and to sell a ‘better way’.
Of course, technology impacts schools, but much of what schools need to be for kids is irrespective of technology. I favor a 4th option: schools adapt to new circumstances as we find out what works and what does not.
I’m not a big believer in deliberate disruption for the sake of disruption. Schools can be improved, but it’s a mistake to think that every change is evolution. We need to take care if we care about what we end up with.
it’s important for us to have conversations about our values and beliefs regarding school and learning. If nothing else, it helps establish some common vocabulary in the spirit of change.
So they were some of the voices that made a difference to me last year. I must admit that I did not know where to start with my other blog, particularly my conversations with Chris Aldrich. So what about you? Who were the voices in your village that changed the way you thought last year? As always, comments welcome.
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