Free iPad Apps

Lots of great apps available today!  Thanks to Mark Coppin for sharing these suggestions:

****  McGraw Hill’s Everyday Mathematics apps are free again today.

****  All of Assistiveware apps are 50% off today through tomorrow (4-4) in honor of Autism Acceptance Month. This includes Proloquo2Go!

Free apps
MonsterMe by MonsterCreate – https://appsto.re/i67t3mg
My First Keyboard – https://appsto.re/i67c33t
ABA Flash Cards & Games – Emotions – https://appsto.re/i67t3mV
Even Monsters Get Sick – https://appsto.re/i67t3m2
Everyday Mathematics® Divisibility Dash™ – https://appsto.re/i67t3mL
Everyday Mathematics® Baseball Multiplication™ 1-12 Facts – https://appsto.re/i67c4nb
Everyday Mathematics® Subtraction Top-It™ – https://appsto.re/i67c4nm
Everyday Mathematics® Baseball Multiplication™ 1–6 Facts – https://appsto.re/i67t3mS
Everyday Mathematics® Beat the Computer™ Multiplication – https://appsto.re/i67w4j7
Everyday Mathematics® Equivalent Fractions™ – https://appsto.re/i67t3mh
Everyday Mathematics® Name That Number™ – https://appsto.re/i67w4jP
Everyday Mathematics® Tric-Trac™ – https://appsto.re/i67c33n
Everyday Mathematics® Addition Top It – https://appsto.re/i67w4jV
Everyday Mathematics® Monster Squeeze™ – https://appsto.re/i67t3mP
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Is leadership different in business than education?

road-1556604_960_720Pixabay – AidaGorodoskaya

As I reviewed my reflection on leadership, I began to think about how leadership shows itself in business and education.  Are the contexts so different that the actual concept of leadership is different?

Leadership is about inspiring a team to achieve a shared goal, which is made possible because of the social and intellectual capital of the group.  It’s about using the influence that you have built up within the group to add value and help not only individuals learn and grow stronger, but support the team in moving toward their shared vision.  All of the things that you choose to do or not do shape the culture, relationships and success of the team.

As an educator, I’m part of many different teams.  The teacher in a classroom has a unique opportunity each semester to support the development of a strong learning team by involving his/her students in the learning process.  Teachers work with other teachers, admin, parents, support staff and student support services professionals in a constant search to respond to the needs of the student in a way that creates the best learning environment possible.  As educators, we are all on the same team.  Our ultimate goal is to support students in reaching their learning outcomes in the best ways that we can.

As an entrepreneur, I’m also part of many different teams.  The world of network marketing and direct sales is built on teams.  Teams that work well together propel all of the contributing individuals towards their goals.  You can always work alone but the synergy that comes from being part of a positive, inspiring, cohesive team is revitalizing.

While the specific goals we are trying to achieve may be quite different, the concept of leadership is consistent.  Whether I’m working in education or business, genuine leadership makes a difference in achieving the outcomes.  Leadership styles will vary based on the specific leader, the team and the context.  How you get to the goals you set will be different, but the factors that support the coevolution of social and intellectual capital will be the same.

Granted there we be specific parts that may be more difficult in one realm or the other but the concept itself still holds true.  Take for example Jim Collin’s idea that before you can go anywhere you must first have the right people on the bus. Ensuring you have the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As a teacher, you don’t get to pick the students in your class and often as a business leader you don’t have the authority to change your team.  The idea of starting with who is on the bus is still valid.  You have to know the people on your team or in your class in order to truly build a culture of excellence. It goes back to creating a shared identity, so that we are all working our our fullest potential.

Uniting a team begins by building trusting relationships.  Covey (2006) offered 13 practical ways to build trust.  While these trust building behaviours may show themselves differently in a classroom or an office, the behaviours are the same.  Purposefully, creating and maintaining trust within the network increases the likelihood of people interacting positively.  This in turn builds social capital which increases the chances of people exchanging knowledge.  As the social capital grows, so to does the intellectual capital.  As a community evolves shared stories begin to emerge, which help shape the group’s identity.  Daily interactions lead to shared language and codes which increase communication and build a resilient culture.

Creating a trusting environment in a classroom means that students will feel more comfortable stepping outside their comfort zone.  As a learner, they will be open to taking risks, trying new strategies and making connections to new information.  Students that trust their teachers will become more involved in the classroom, which creates more opportunities for knowledge sharing interactions and decreases behavior challenges.  The same is true in business.  In direct sales, for example, building a team matters.  If I’m worried about my upline’s motives, I’m less likely to work as part of team.  This in turn means that I lose out on mentoring opportunities and the chance to be part of a learning environment which could help push myself and my own team to new levels of success.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it (Sinek, 2014). Whether people are consuming an actual product or the act of learning itself, they still want to know why you are teaching it and that you value their perspective in the exchange.  We all want to feel valued.

Leadership style will vary from one situation to another.  How people inspire or scare others into achieving the desired goal of the group happens through different strategies.  You will find all types of leaders in business and education.  The type of leader isn’t mutually exclusive to one domain or the other.  The leader is ultimately shaped by his or her personal choices within the context he or she is attempting to lead.  The concepts that I’ve suggested to be common to leadership are foundational to leaders in both education and business settings.  Building trust, creating shared stories, shaping a common identity and context, enhancing communication and sharing knowledge are all significant in building a connected team.  So while the logistics and specific activities of developing team relationships may be unique to each setting, the path to becoming a leader worth following shares the same road.

usa-1556922_960_7201Pixabay – MarioSchmidtPhoto

 

goal more effectively because together the whole is stronger and better equipped

Popular Culture vs Academic Writing

As with anything the way that I attempt to convey my message is dependent upon the message I am attempting to share, my purpose and my intended audience.  Mullen (2011) noted that persuasion is at the root of what we do as researchers, teachers and with our colleagues.  We are often trying to convince others of our intended purpose (para 1). He went on to explain logos as the use of argumentation to convey data, statistics and information in a logical format.  It’s research based.  Pathos, Mullen noted, serves to stir up people’s emotions and appeal to what Chip and Dan Heath referred to as the elephant sides of our brains while logos appeals to our rational rider.  Lastly, ethos reflects not only how you speak but the individual integrity you bring to what you are saying.  It’s your credibility based on your previous results (para 4-6).

As I look back on the leadership resources that I’ve reviewed they fall into two groups.  Resources that are more easily accessible may be considered more popular reading while highly academic pieces follow more rigorous standards and processes before they are published.  Does one have more value than the other?

I was certainly drawn to the page turning pop culture books.  They not only shared statistics and data they made it come alive by sharing stories and personal experiences.  It appealed to my logos and pathos side.  A powerful combination when you get both the rider and the elephant headed in the same direction.  Over the course of my ETAD program, I came to re-appreciate not only the ideas and data that come from more academic writing, but the rigorous process of publishing respected work.  It appealed to me on both a logos and ethos level; moreover, the academic work often forms the foundation for more popular books.

I noticed frequent citation of each other’s work within the more academic realm including both formal studies and academic articles.  If you hit on the right concept and trace the research back it forms a long chain of reference.   Daniel, Schwier & McCalla (2003), for example, often cited the work of Nahapiet and Ghoshal (1998) with regard to social capital. Even Google has run with this concept by highlighting the number of times an article has been cited.  I’m certainly drawn to the articles that have been cited many times.  It seems to reason, they are more credible.  It doesn’t necessarily mean those articles have the information I’m interested in learning more about.  To apply Nahapiet and Ghoshal’s concept of intellectual capital, the more connections between cited articles the higher the intellectual capital.

In reviewing, Covey’s Speed of Trust references, it’s apparent that Covey wants you to know where the information comes from and he has organized his references by chapter highlighting where he found the material.  His references range from interviews, quotations, conferences (i.e. Stanford Leadership Conference), many articles – some of which included newspapers while others included the Harvard Business Review; he noted formal studies, surveys and annual reports.  Overall, his resources pulled from both popular culture and academic sources as did Chip and Dan Heath’s in the Switch.

Not all of my pop culture reading and articles provided detailed references.  Some simply mentioned the reference in the context of the text.  They clearly stated who the information came from, but a list of references wasn’t included in the copies of the books that I read.  It is something that I’m more aware of since my return to grad school and it makes me wonder why they didn’t note their sources more directly.

McGonigal’s Super Better book, for example, provided a detailed chapter by chapter break down of the science.  In fact, she has even dedicated a website called showmethescience.com to share the research behind living gamefully.  In fact, McGonigal’s references tended toward the more academic side citing numerous journals and academic studies.  In fact, Super Better, itself has been involved in two clinical trials.  So while there is certainly differences in how pop culture authors cite the research, there is ethos embedded into the writing.  Sometimes, however, the ethos may come from their status in society not from the detailed references that they provided.

I did notice that Covey’s work was referenced on a few occasions in other pop culture books.  I think how often some of them cited each other depended on how recently the book was published. With regard to the concepts of leadership, different authors often mentioned the names of respected and well known leaders instead of citing other books about those leaders.

Having learned more about social and intellectual capital, it’s often what the pop culture leadership books are referring to or at least in part.  Again it depends on the message and the particular focus the author is attempting to convey.  As with anything, we need to acknowledge that while the main purpose of writing a book or publishing a study is to better the common good and increase what we as a society know.  There is a financial factor involved.  As a reader, it’s important to actively think about the material you are reading and it sources.  Citizens have to be able to make informed decisions and not just go with what sounds best.

Lastly, it’s about the audience.  Writers compose their text with a specific audience in mind.  Academic writing has a very specific audience and purpose, as does pop culture.  The latter perhaps to make the research more accessible to a larger group of people in a variety of social circles.  Perhaps how you write and the language you use defines the community of practice to which you belong. Shared language and codes help build positive social capital as does following the expectations and norms of the group.  Each group has a different form and standard of what’s considered acceptable when sharing information including different ethical responsibilities.

ETAD 898 has provided a unique opportunity to delve into the topic of leadership from both sides of the spectrum.  While some topics distinctly came up in each realm others were more subtly connected. Communities of practice weren’t formally mentioned in the pop culture books, however, the characteristics were discussed in relation to teams and various groups.  Researching leadership from both perspectives has increased my appreciation for the ongoing need for both types of writing.  In the end it’s about sharing our explicit and if we are willing our tacit knowledge with members of our group.  The more diverse our network and sources the more we can grow our understanding of the world around us.


Mullen, Lincoln. (2011).  How to Persuade – with Ethos, Pathos, or Logos? ProfHacker

Connections – United we stand…

Connections build a united culture… (Connections Part 2)

hand-1030565_960_720Pixabay – Geralt

United we stand, divided we fall … the leadership choices that you make today shape the culture you live in tomorrow.

If you want to increase the effectiveness of your team and achieve goals you thought were out of reach, it begins by creating a culture in which people not only feel safe, they feel valued.

In “Leaders Eat Last,” Simon Sinek (2014) introduced us to the Circle of Safety.   Knowing that you are part of the circle of safety frees up people’s minds to focus on the team’s goals.  When a leader creates a culture where you “trust that the people to the left…[and] to the right of us have our backs, the better equipped we are to face the constant threats from outside together” (p. 22). Sinek wrote that you can feel it.  You can feel when you are surrounded by the circle of safety.  We feel valued and cared for by our colleagues and superiors.  We feel like we belong and our confidence grows along with our connections.  All of the group’s energy is directed towards the greater good (p. 24).

group-157841_960_720Pixabay OpenClipart-Vectors

When the circle begins to falter, we become suspicious of those around us and our brains go into survival mode. Our energy is redirected into watching for the dangers all around us instead of trusting our team (Leaders Eat Last, p. 22).  When trust goes down, speed goes down and costs go up (Speed of Trust, 2006, p. 13).  Trust, as Covey (2006) pointed out, is one of the most highly valued competencies of the new global economy (p. 21).

Daniel, Schwier and McCalla (2003) pointed out that “in almost every discussion of social capital, trust is treated as a central variable” (p. 6). While the development of social capital isn’t as simple as a direct cause and effect relationship with trust, Daniel et. al. noted that opportunities for positive social interactions do build trust.  Over time, increased trust is an integral part of growing social capital within a community (p. 6).

trust-1418901_960_720Pixabay – lcaroselli

In recent body language and confidence workshops and coaching sessions, Carla Gradin (2015-16) shared building connections is all about building on your know, like and trust factors.  As soon as you meet someone their brain automatically starts to process their first impression of you. Keep in mind first impressions happen in 2-3 seconds, likely before you’ve actually said anything (Gradin, 2015, p. 9). She reminded that our primitive brains immediately sort people into 4 categories:

  1. Friend
  2. Foe
  3. Sexual Partner
  4. Indifferent
    (page 8)

So if you want to build positive connections with people not only does what you say matter, how you say it has more impact than you think. Gradin reinforced Sinek’s 2009 TED Talk comment

“that people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it”
(minute 4:00).

In order to believe your why, people need to make a connection with you.  Gradin noted that people first notice your hands.  If I can’t see your hands or more specifically the palms of your hands, my primitive brain becomes quite concerned with what you are hiding and if you are a threat (p. 8).  Even palms facing down tells my brain that you could be hiding a weapon and I need to be on alert.  The story people’s body language tells is often more honest than what people actually say.

So how can you help build connections?

Touch, builds connection.  As Sinek (2014) explained in Leaders Eat Last, it’s all about the hormones.  Oxytocin in the right balance can enhance positive, trusting connections. Gradin (2015) explained that when we touch people, it has the potential to release oxytocin, “which can evoke the same feeling of connection equal to 3 hours of talk time” (p.10).  In Super Better, Jane McGonigal (2015) explained “touch and gratitude are two of the most effective” (p. 17) ways to increase your social resilience.  In particular, McGonigal noted that 6 seconds of holding hands or touching someone not only increased your oxytocin level but theirs as well.  The more oxytocin you release the more likely you are to help and protect that person which deepens your connection (p. 18).  Gradin added that when shaking someone’s hand making eye contact also enhances oxytocin release (p. 10).

Interestingly, McGonigal highlighted research by Dr. Robert Emmons & Cheryl A. Crumpler along with Sara B. Algoe, Jonathan Haidt and Shelly L. Gable when she wrote:

“gratitude is the single most important relationship-strengthening emotion because, as researchers explain, ‘it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people'” (p. 18).

It turns out that expressing your appreciation is one of the best ways to build positive connections with others (McGonigal, p. 18), which is why Gradin highlighted the significance of the handshake.  When done well, it’s a socially accepted greeting that can enhance how people see your agreeableness (you appear more extroverted), your open mindedness and your emotional stability (p. 10).  Wonder what a great handshake is – check out our video on the handshake.

Interested in learning specific behaviours that can increase your trust factor?  Check out our next post on Covey’s Recommended Trust Building Behaviours.

 


 Resources Referenced:

What’s your Story? Here’s my ECI 830 journey.

So what’s my story?  What did I learn?  ECI 830 has provided many thought provoking opportunities for reflection on the Ed Tech world.  Here’s my attempt to try and sum up my learning journey.  Because Alec & Katia classes are different than my Blackboard based U of S Educational Technology and Design  (ETAD) classes, I’ve included a short section at the start of the video that highlights how we learn in this class.  It will be added to my ETAD Portfolio because after I’m brave enough to post my summary of learning and share my last debate reflection this will conclude class 9 of 10 on my ETAD journey.  Next up is an independent study on Leadership – Is there a difference between our face to face and online worlds?

So here’s my video….
—The first part is more my style and then, like a fellow ECI 830 student mentioned, I stepped way outside my comfort zone and attempted to rewrite a song.  (I should mention my husband plays in a band (guitar and vocals)… I don’t sing…in public…or very loud… so this is way outside my comfort zone – hopefully your ears are okay after;)  It’s hiding at the end of the video.

–I’ve attempted to rewrite & perform the Johnny Cash version of I won’t Back Down – It’s now called, “I Will Step In.”  Special thanks to my husband, David, for recording the guitar & background vocals and not laughing at me while I attempted to sing it:)  He helped edit the musical track together for the song. (It was quite the process, first he recorded the guitar track, then I had to sing, then he added the harmonies… glad he’s a DJ, rockstar, shop teacher. And did I mention… he always sings the Johnny Cash songs that the band plays – he said it was important for me to sing my story.)

All images included in the video are sourced from Pixabay Creative Commons CC0 & Screenshots by Stephanie

Our debates reminded me of the Story of Two Wolves shared by a Grandfather to his Grandson.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It’s a terrible fight and it’s between two wolves.”

“One is evil, he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt and ego.

“The other is good, he is joy, peace, love, hope, serentiy, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

“This is the same fight going inside you – and inside every other person, too”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?

He replied simply, “The one you feed.”

There’s always two sides to the story, to the issue – careful which one you feed.

Thank-you for watching!  I truly appreciated learning with everyone!! Truly one of the highlights of my Masters class journey.  I can’t thank you enough for sharing your stories and different perspectives.  It’s truly added to the richness of the class.

Wishing everyone a restful and re-energizing summer and smooth sailing your Masters’ journey.

bfed9a_8bb1e1a124c049da987669c54296750b

No need to keep reading – this is just my reflection on how I came to learn what I did in ECI 830:)  It’s a more detailed description of what I tried to put into video with a top 10 things I learned.


What’s my story? 

The non-video version


Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase. – Martin Luther King Jr.

It started with a decision to apply to the ETAD program in April of 2014, a letter welcoming me to the program and the fun of trying to register and figure out classes. Class #1 started in September of 2014, the same day my daughter started Kindergarten.  Coincidentally, the same summer the Color By Amber came to Canada and I started a home based business all while I worked as a Learning Consultant.   Because when opportunity comes along you just have to go for it.

 

Change is an ever present force in our lives and you can either fight it or learn and grow .  So why not step out of your comfort zone and see just want you can do.

Fast forward to the count down to my two remaining classes.  I reached out to Alec Couros to see what might be available at the U of R and he suggested ECI 830 – Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology – one SUGA agreement and a “hey, so we just found out your are in our class from Katia and her I am.  Working on finishing class #9. (Okay this post means the class is almost finished 🙂

The more learning I do the more I find we are all connected by the stories we tell and those that we share. ECI 830 enabled me to step out of my ETAD comfort zone and meet a whole new network of amazingly talented, reflective and creative teachers. So here’s the story of ECI 830….Contemporary Issues in Educational Technology… which is really a fancy way of saying in the world around us;)

Having just finished a full year of amazing Kitchen Parties with the legendary Rick Schwier, I was excited to join my fellow colleagues each Tuesday night at 7 for our Great Ed Tech Debates.

I use zoom with my business team so it was great to see it in action live with an entire class.

Instead of textbook we shared articles each week and instead of lectures we debated ed tech topics.

We shared evidence of our learning through blogs, which is something that I’ve always wanted to do but have just never had the time to do consistently.
We used WordPress to share our ideas and interact with each other.

In ETAD, we typically posted behind the blackboard walls in discussion forums so this provided a public forum for us to share our ideas.

I’ve never met these educators before but they  are shaping my stories by choosing to share theirs.

Twitter gave us another chance to connect and share our ideas and grow our personal learning network.

Finding that online community that energizes and encourages you to grow is like finding a treasure.  Together we shared not only our stories but our articles, blogs, podcasts and TED Talks all intended to help us better understand the Ed Tech issues all around us.

While the class talked about focusing on Ed Tech trends and issues, it’s really a course that any citizen would benefit from.  Our topics don’t just affect our schools and our students, they affect our lives and our children….that’s who our students are.  These issues affect all of us.

Alec and Katia carefully crafted the debate statements to get us to dig deeper and think more reflectively about how the issue affect us and our teaching.

Let’s break that down who’s affected….

You – students, parents, teachers, admin, division, community members…

  • your kids, your family, your friends
  • your social media connections…

The conversations that you have matter and whether you choose to step in or just listen impacts the ripple effect of your legacy.

Does technology enhance learning in the classroom?

Technology is all around us.  It comes in many forms from the pencil with an eraser, scissors, to mobile devices, to the cell phone in your hand, to 3D printers.  There will always be technology.  It’s not inherently bad or good, it’s what you do with the technology you have that has the ability to enhance learning.

Should you teach anything that can be Googled?

Google is an integral part of our lives, if I said just Google it – you’d know what to do.  Does our 24/7 access to information replace what we need to teach?  It all depends how you teach; moreover, how you assess?  If your students can just google the answer, what is it we are teaching them?  Let’s remember that for information to become knowledge we have to think about it – Google doesn’t think about it it’s programmed to find connections – it’s up to us to use our brain to make sense of the world we encounter and as educators it is up to us to reflect on how we authentically assess students in a information based world.

 What we choose to value in the learning process is going to echo forward for years to come.

Our class challenged the notion that memorization is bad, just think of all of the processes you’ve learned that have become automatic.  It’s about what we choose to memorize and the purpose of investing in it.  I’m more of a connectivist – yes there’s knowledge I need to hold in my own brain but there’s also an immense of amount of knowledge that I can connect to in my learning network (Google or the human kind).

Is technology making our kids unhealthy?

Is it making all of us unhealthy? Again it’s developing an awareness.  Each week I find myself stepping back and looking at my world through a more reflective lens. Is my love of technology making me unhealthy? Or rather do I need to be more aware of the lifestyle choices that I am making?  Tech is just a tool – before mobile devices, TVs were bad influences and before that books contained information that might just make us want to stay in one place until we finished the story.

As Audrey Watters pointed out, we always seem to have amnesia when it comes to new technology – as if we are the first ones to struggle with the challenges of tech.  Are our problems must be more significant than those before us.

Isn’t it really about how we choose to use the tech? It’s how I choose to shape my life? You have to find the balance.

Is openness and sharing unfair to our kids?

Again it’s about the choices you make…. although I may be a bit biased.  In a social media, knowledge based world where your life, as Alec pointed out, seems to be public by default and private by effort.  I think we (educators and parents) have to teach our children how to become thoughtful, digital citizens that are aware of how their actions will impact their future.  Every generation has things to learn and learning what and how to share may be one of the top five things to understand. Like the agree side explained, you are essentially creating a digital tattoo that will live years beyond you.

What do you want your legacy to be?

Is technology is a force for equity in society?

Let’s step back from technology – how do you create equity in your classroom?

Tech has the potential to be a force for equity, but it depends on how you use the tools you choose to use, how you choose to use them and the prior knowledge that your students bring to the table.

Equity doesn’t just happen, people consistently choose to look, listen and reflect on the environment they are creating in their class. In a diverse world, it’s important for us to recognize that culture shapes the way our brains make sense of the world.  So you are going to have to step out of your comfort zone and choose to value equity.

This is the week I learned about Storientation = sharing your story builds connections, listening to the stories of others develops trust and being aware of your organization’s story shapes the path you are on.

Like Malcom Gladwell shared in the “Tipping Point” and Chip and Dan Heath explained in “The Switch” – it’s the small consistent choices that we make that truly shape the path and move us toward our goals.  Tech is only one piece of the puzzle.

Is Social Media ruining childhood?

Social media has changed childhood.

As educators and parents, we need to be aware of what we choose to share and the medium we choose to share it in.  If you are choosing what you post on social media, you are branding yourself.  Changing the identity of a brand isn’t easy so learning strategies to think through things before you post is an important strategy in continuing to build a digital footprint. You wouldn’t send your child to the park unsupervised to spend the day with strangers, so use your not so common, common sense.

Make the effort to be aware of the world you live in and make the best choices you can to help build resilient children that have a well developed tool box of strategies to not just cope but thrive in today’s social world.

Has public education sold it’s soul to corporate interests?

Of all the debates this this one opened my eyes… not that I was oblivious to education’s connections to business. It’s part of life. Schools will always need supplies, tools and tech from the non educational world, what tugged at my heart was …it’s not something I actively reflect on very often. I love google, office, windows, android, apple, share point…. I use the tech I have access to – to create the best learning opportunities I can for my students and staff.  If it’s free, all the better… but how do my choices ripple out?  When I choose to use Google Apps because it’s free for education do I ever stop to have the conversation with my students about why I chose this tool?

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my Coordinator or Student Support Services. Attribution theory – as we reviewed IIPs she reminded me it’s great to explicitly teach students the strategies they need but we also need students to learn to think about why choosing that strategy in that context works.  It’s important for them to attribute their success to choosing the tool or strategy appropriately.

After all if I tried to use one thing for everything, it just wouldn’t work, but if I step back and choose the tool or strategy that best fits the situational need, then I’m more likely to find success.

What have I learned on this journey?

  1. If you are too comfortable with what you know maybe you haven’t thought about it enough
  2. Learning is messy and that’s good.
  3. It’s all about perspective.  We each come to the table with different ideas and strengths and that’s the best part – it’s how we learn by sharing ideas and challenging each other to think outside our comfort zone
  4. If you walk into a room and you think you are the smartest person you are in the wrong room!  You become like those you interact with, so choose to surround yourself with people that are going to challenge you to grow outside your comfort zone in positive ways.
  5. The more I learn the less I know & there’s always more to learn
  6. There’s always two sides to every issue, every story has at least two sides.  It’s important to respect and listen to the challenges and questions raised by those that lie outside your initial zone of comfort…. you always have to listen first.
  7. Dean Benko explained that you have to find the balance – when you do you will find a state of flow.
  8. It’s not about the technology its about what you do with what you have… then again in our last debate … does it matter the kind of tech you have?
  9. Data and information are just that – knowledge is created by individual minds drawing on individual experience.. making value judgements based on their experiences….tech makes info and data easier to access, more visual and what seems at first easier to interpret… but that of course depends on who created the parameters of what to graph out? Just because it looks pretty doesn’t mean it’s any more valid – you have to think critically and look deeper.
  10. Our ultimate goal is to encourage our students (our children) and those around us to become an engaged, multi-literate learners that care enough to think critically about the information, the environment and it’s sources that they encounter and choose to make a decisions based on their experiences.  As Toffler says,  the future belongs to the those who can learn, unlearn and relearn.

To reach the end is really to begin again and write the next chapter.

So here’s to the next chapter. 

to reach the end

 

Do you know what train you are on? The stories we tell ourselves – Rationalizing or Collaborating?

network-1433045_960_720Image from Pixabay – geralt

Has public education sold its soul to corporate interests in what amounts to a Faustian bargain?

14532764725lpw0Image by GeoffS MorgueFile

Did we do what now?  Have we already? How do we find the balance?

FYI… you may know the term Faustian Bargain better as a deal with the devil…Dictionary.com  explained

“Faust, in the legend, traded his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge. To “strike a Faustian bargain” is to be willing to sacrifice anything to satisfy a limitless desire for knowledge or power.”

robot-507811_960_720Hmmmm do we have a limitless desire for knowledge?  Do we take for granted how easy it is for us to access information? To become knowledge – we still have to process it in our brains and make sense of it otherwise it’s just data.  Is our economy today based on knowledge and who has it? Or rather who’s willing to share it?  Seems I have lots of questions this week.

(Image from Pixabay – Geralt CC0 Public Domain)

So do we take a bus trip or boat trip this week?  Or are we already on a high speed train with the details flying by so fast that we are distracted by the comforts of high speed travel?  As with most ECI 830 debate topics, this one raised some very interesting points. How far down the track are we? Have we gone off the rails?  Hang on this week’s reflection looks comfy but there’s a lot more happening outside the train than we may realize….

train-1044993_960_720
Pixabay – Si_Platt – CC0 Public Domain

Do you even know what train you are on?

  • GAFE… Google Apps for Education
  • Have you opted for Apple instead?
  • Perhaps it’s a CLEVR dash of StudentsAchieve, a cup of Maplewood, mixed with SKOPUS, delivered through Community Net with a side of SharePoint;)
  • What kind of vending machines are found in your building?
  • How do donations impact your school?
  • Do sponsor names cover your school uniforms?

First let me say we had an amazing array of presenters this week including our very own ECI 830 colleagues Tyler and Justine paired against our guests –  Dean Shareski and his team Kyle Schutt and David Fisher.  Following the debate Audrey Watters of Hack Education shared her thoughts on the stories we tell ourselves about the connections between education and business.  Perhaps things aren’t as clear cut as we might first think.

I’m a Google fan but Tuesday’s debate has me wondering just how much does Google know about me based on my let’s say variety of Google Accounts and extensive use of Google Apps?   Is it wrong that Google is my preferred search engine?  Has popular culture ingrained it in me?  It all made me wonder just when did Google get “verbed?”  Anderson explained that “Google” became a verb in 2006, a marketing dream, however, “for the companies themselves, though, being “verbed” has its dark side.  A company that does not defend its trademark risks losing it when it becomes a common figure of speech” (para 1). The article is old so laws may have changed since then but it’s an interesting commentary that reaching common phrase status can also affect trademarks.

digital-marketing-1433427_960_720Andrea Peterson’s (2015) article “Google is tracking students as it sells more products to schools, privacy advocates warn” noted that there’s a concern going forward about just how much information Google is collecting on our students as only certain apps are private.  Step outside those faint lines and Google will begin to build a profile. Peterson asked is Google quickly becoming as common in school as pencils and erasers?

(Image from Pixabay – Wdnet –  CC0 Public Domain)

I find it interesting that we go to google for anonymity.  Think of the questions that we would only ask Google…rather than our own Doctor, but ironically Google remembers more about what we are looking for than we do.

You may want to check out some of the links found in this post, 6 Links that will show you what Google knows about you.

Just how deeply embedded into our lives and our classrooms are corporate influences? I’m not saying this is good or bad, I’m just asking you to consider for a moment just how much we are surrounded by brands.

Molnar (2001) examined the history of corporate marketing in US public education.  He noted, “Unfortunately, to this point in America, policy makers have devoted much less time to thinking through the constraints that may be necessary on corporate involvement

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Pixabay- geralt-CCO
Public Domain

in the schools than considering ways to expand school-business partnerships.”  As Dean Shareski reminded us during the debate, it’s important for schools and divisions to consider how partnerships align with division and ministry initiatives.  It’s important to be smart and ethical with whom you choose to create partnerships. He also reminded us that schools have always had a connection with the private sector… think about all of the supplies required to run a school.  We are inextricably linked to corporations, but it’s important as Shareski mentioned to look at underlying values of the companies.  Yes they all need to make money to survive? But I’d like to hope that some want to partner with schools because they believe they can make a difference for our students not just the bottom line.

Do any of your resources come from Pearson? Likely at some point you’ve crossed paths with this “multi-national conglomerate” (Singer, 2012, para 2). Until the debate, I didn’t realize just how intricately networked Pearson was in the world of education from the traditional textbook to delivering assessments to funding educational research.  It’s just not something I reflect on daily, there are different aspects demanding my daily attention.  I look for the resource that will best meet the need of my team…I’ve never really stopped to think about how often I prefer one company over another… or does Google do that for me?

Tyler and Justine shared this video which provides another interesting perspective,

In what the Saskatchewan Government proclaims to be transformational times in terms of education and health care in Saskatchewan, I wonder what the long and short term costs will be to our students. When divisions are required to make it work what is it that disappears.  I’d like to hope it’s not the people providing the education.  As Watters mentioned computers don’t care about us, they respond to code. What worries me is that educators are encouraged to be innovative and creative in response to decreased funding…what state of vulnerability does that leave schools in when corporations offer to invest in your school?  It’s not that any one school or division would purposefully set out to lose control over the goals of education but what happens when it’s —find a partnership or decrease class offerings to students.  Are the Faustian bargains mentioned in our debate statement closer than we care to think?

So let’s consider “How Corporations Are Helping To Solve The Education Crisis.” Schiller and Arena (2012) noted that 80% of jobs in the next decade will need science, technology and math and they cited a McKinsey study warning that two-thirds of those jobs don’t even exist yet (para. 3). Schiller and Arena explained that companies like Microsoft are taking corporate citizenship and social innovation to a new level to help decrease the opportunity divide. VP of Microsoft Worldwide Education, Anthony Salcito explained

“It’s not just about technology. It’s about bringing innovation to schools. How do you personalize the education experience? How do you incorporate new modes of classroom design and curriculum, or think about assessment differently? How do you change a kid’s vision of his future?…. We have to acknowledge that learning is shifting away from content memorization to a more relevant, personalized, skill-based foundation. We have to dig deeper, think harder and get more engaged to determine what change is needed and then push the pieces forward. We also have to bring a culture of sustainability to the process of transforming education.”

And that’s great as long as our partnership goals are to create positive learning environments where students are encouraged to become engaged, literate, critical thinkers.  Will being surrounded by certain types of products unconsciously influence our choices?  Just a question…or are we always influenced by the choices of our peers, colleagues and family members?  Then again back to the importance of empowering students to become engage citizens who can think for themselves.

During the debate I asked where the bright spots are in educational partnerships.  In “The Switch” Chip and Dan Heath encouraged us to look for the bright spots. “When it’s time to change, we must look for bright spots — the first signs that things are working, …. We need to ask ourselves a question that sounds simple but is, in fact, deeply unnatural: What’s working and how can we do more of it?” (2010, para. 12).  Alec explained that it’s not easy to find balanced published research on this or perhaps more to the point there’s research; however, only the positive research gets published…I used to joke with my senior science students to keep asking questions, to be critical, to ask who funded the study…. to follow the money.

GAFE screenshotScreenshot from Google for Education

I found the Google for Education case studies interesting. Lots of positive examples of how to collaborate and grow… bright spots? I did find it interesting, how some of the case studies were phrased….”Unfortunately, the Windows devices the school had at the time were clunky, slow, and difficult for students to use….” The solution…“We chose Google Apps for Education, touchscreen Chromebooks,and Google Classroom because they deliver the type of experience that our students need and deserve.” Just interesting the choice of words.

Just to clarify at this point… I’m a Google fan.  I’ve been said to drive the Google Bus encouraging people to join.  I like Google Apps for education and how it works in my own business. It’s convenient and it does what it needs to do for me and I will continue to use Google and Sharepoint and Microsoft… but I do wonder now more than ever…

[perhaps that’s a result of 22 months of Educational Technology and Design Masters program or the great conversations I’ve had the opportunity to have with professors and fellow students.]

I do wonder… what is it that I really need to worry about in terms of service, in where my info goes and who has it…. or how much have my current choices been influenced by my choice of educational institutions.  We all make choices every day.  We do the best we can with what we have and as long as each day we learn more and try to do better than the day before.  We will learn from the journey we are on and maybe just maybe we can relax on that high speed training knowing what’s whizzing by outside and that in the end it will help get us to our destination and our next learning adventure.

We were fortunate to have Audrey Watters of Hack Education join us for our #ECI830 class and if you haven’t checked out her Hack Education blog it’s well worth your time.  In fact, be sure to take a look at “Ed-Tech and the Commercialization of School” follow up post to our class conversation. Watters (2016) reminded us that testing is a part of the Ed-Tech and corporate interests web.  Just think about the business of testing.

She also contended that we seem to develop

“an amnesia of sorts. We forget all history – all history of technology, all history of education. Everything is new. Every problem is new. Every product is new. We’re the first to experience the world this way; we’re the first to try to devise solutions.” (Hack Education, 2016)

Both Watters and Shareski pointed out that we’ve always had a relationship with the corporate sector. In fact it’s been a part of life for schools since we’ve needed things like pens, pencils, phones, chalkboards or books. In particular, I was intrigued by her references to the stories we tell ourselves.  Stories resonate with me and it’s how we make sense of and remember the world… perhaps not always accurately as our stories are influenced by our own perspectives.

apple-256261_960_720Pixabay – jarmoluk –  CC0 Public Domain

Watters noted that we need to look at how

“the relationship between public schools and vendors has changed over time: what’s being sold, who’s doing the selling, and how all that influences what happens in the classroom and what happens in the stories society tells itself about education.” (Hack Education, 2016)

She cautioned us that schools have always been failing and business models and the faith that data will save us is not new.  We just have more ways to collect data, process the data and to look at the data. There’s a innate discrepancy of being efficient and the messiness of learning.  It’s an important reminder to all of us “Humans are not widgets.  The cultivation of the mind cannot be mechanized. It should not be mechanized” (Watters, 2016)

I’m thankful to have crossed paths with Audrey Watters, hers is a blog I will continue to read as it provides a thoughtful lens with which to consider our world. I leave you with her closing lines:

“The money matters. But I’d contend that the narratives that powerful people tell about education and technology might matter even more.”(Hack Education, 2016)

It’s about the stories we share and we have, now more than ever before, a way to share our stories.  And so I leave you with:

this is my story, but what’s yours?

Here are thoughts on this week’s blog from a few of my talented and thoughtful ECI 830 Colleagues:

  • Kyle – Deals with the Devil, or maybe just not with Bill Gates?
  • Chalyn’s post – Selling Souls in the name of education made me wonder… how the future of sponsorship will play out.   As we approach graduation, her post made me think about all of the Memorial Scholarships that we hand out at Grad – people have donated money with specific requirements for a lasting legacy.   While others have reached a certain level of donation and have had an academic scholarship named after them – in this case our committee attaches the requirements not the group or individual that donated the money.  I think it depends on why people or businesses do what they do… do I give money because I want something from it or because it will make life better for others?  Then again the Scholarship Fund is separate from school – we are a non-profit that gives back….It’s really more complicated than we first imagine.
  • Dean’s post – Name Your Price – made me think about how sponsorship changes over time…what impact does that have as names come and go?
  • Luke shared “The important consideration becomes whether the corporate involvement in schools is actually providing enhanced learning for students.”  Partnerships with corporations have the potential to connected talented industry leaders with students as part of the their educational journey.  Is that good or bad?  Does it come at a price?