The Strength of Weak Ties

Everyone participates. Everyone contributes. Leveraging the power of digital networks to connect people, resources and ideas to drive creativity and innovation forward...and actually accomplish something!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Making IT Stick

As Instructional Technology Coordinator, one of my charges is to evaluate new technologies as they apply to learning within the context of our climate and culture in District 99. My job also entails taking new technologies and integrating them so that they become a seamless aspect of what we do.

So, how do new technologies, new innovations become a mission-critical part of a school's instructional climate? How do they become classroom sticky and how do they become the way? What characteristics must these technologies have and what is required of the school climate and culture to make IT stick? Here is my list of 7 key factors:

1. There must be a high degree of organizational readiness for the innovation. If you are initiating a new program, have you done a pilot program first, where every aspect of the program has been tested and evaluated and corrective measures have been taken, if necessary? Are professional development activities available to support the initiative? Are you ready for general release to all teachers? Nothing will kill a new program faster than if things don't work, equipment isn't available, and support isn't ready and dependable.

2. The innovation must have multiple entry points for a spectrum of usership; each of these entry points must support effective use by teachers and students. Everybody can use the innovation for something. There also must be growth potential for all, with the goal of moving every user to the right in terms of their ability to utilize the innovation for learning.

3. The innovation must clearly address an instructional need, with benefits for both teacher and student. If it doesn't why bother?

4. The innovation must add value to an instructional process. It must take the learning to a new place, a place where the learning could not go unless the innovation had been included. The process of digital storytelling adds value to the process of writing, and gives students the capability to develop voice with an entirely new medium, one that can potentially reach a world-wide audience.

5. There must be visible and tangible results indicating that the innovation improves student learning. This is the big one, and how do you measure it? What constitutes an improvement? How many school districts define the criteria for success for an innovation prior to the implementation of that innovation?

6. The technology has been taken out of the technology, or innovation. It has to be teacher-friendly, and surprising, kid friendly (we overestimate the global understanding of what kids know about various technologies). If you are going to start podcasting in your district, perhaps starting with simple systems like Evoca or Gcast (try the cell phone recording features that both platforms offer) makes sense before you start putting Audacity on your ghost or image.

7. The teacher has become a confident, active, and visible user-use becomes seamless and transparent. The teacher has internalized this as a tool, it now becomes a viable option to use and part of the teachers repertoire.

OK, there is my list. I'm currently reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath (see their blog, which contains a post why the introduction to the A-Team was so sticky...), which explains the survivability of ideas. For an idea to stick the authors suggest the idea must possess:

1. simplicity
2. unexpectedness: an idea must "violate people's expectations."
3. concreteness: to many ideas suffer from being abstract
4. credibility: sticky ideas must "carry there own credentials."
5. emotions: make people feel the idea
6. stories: this is how you get people to act on your idea, you tell it to them in the context of story.

A different list from mine certainly, but intriguing...and by the way, how could this list be applied to effective blogging? Don't those six ideas embody an effective post?

If you would like to add/change or contribute ideas to the list of what makes IT stick, I encourage you to do so. I'd really be interested in how you perceive the list and how it might evolve in accordance with your experience.

If you can contribute, I've set up a simple single page wiki at pbwiki. Add your thoughts here.

UPDATE: how about if I include the password: sticky


Thursday, March 08, 2007

CUE Live

I was interviewed for the CUE Live video podcasts by Chris Walsh (Infinite Thinking Machine)when I was at the CUE Conference in Palm Springs. The topic was Web 2.0/Life 2.0 and it goes for about 20 minutes. If you haven't had a chance to meet or see the work of Chris, you are missing out.

Other interviews include Mike Lawrence and Hall Davidson, Peter Reynolds, Leslie Fisher, Deneen Frazier Bowen, Steve Hargadon and Mark Wagner, Beverly Bisbee, and a group from Google, including Brittnie Felton (a student), Cristin Frodella and Mark Hall.

tags: cue07 cue2007 chriswalsh davidjakes

Monday, March 05, 2007

Google More…an Introduction to Google in Education

CUE Conference-Palm Springs, California

Presenter: Mark Wagner
Presentation Resources (wiki format and outstanding)

Links to all help docs for Google resources can be found here.

Mark began by talking about Google News and using Google News as a platform for viewing the same news/information from a variety of sources to help kids get multiple perspectives and to learn about detecting bias.

He then introduced a phrase I would here several more times in different presentations: when at Google, click on “More, even more.

This, of course takes you to the Google page that hosts its ever-increasing suite of tools, ranging from Google Desktop, to Google Earth to Picasa and Sketchup. I don’t spend that much time digging through GoogleNation, but the tools listed there certainly are impressive. Mark also introduced the other stuff Google was working on over at Google Labs.

Google for Educators:

This page has three areas: Tools for the Classroom, Google Teacher Academy, and a Teacher Community Section with a discussion board. The home contains a section on the Infinite Thinking Machine and a subscription box for a Google Educator Newsletter.

Google Notebook: Mark then demonstrated the note feature within Google Notebook and the Notebook itself. This has application to student research as a tool for paraphrasing and/or distilling content and the notebook sharing feature makes it a natural for collaboration. I also like that you can create as many notebooks as you would like. The presenter also suggested making your notebook public and posting the URL so that others could see your notebook.

Google Home Page

When you get a Google account, you can add widgets to your page. This is done by clicking on the Add Stuff button. There are quite a few widgets available but I like PageFlakes better, as the flakes are more appropriate for my work, with, furl and flakes available. A set of widgets were available, but I didn’t really like any of the results.

I did like the ability to input any RSS feed into the Google Home page. This is done by clicking Add Stuff>Add by URL and then adding the feed URL. Nice feature.

Searching with Google Tools

Mark began his searching by using “21st Century Skills”

Google Book Search

Mark entered the search string above along with Prensky and searched through Games and Simulations in Online Learning: Research and Development Frameworks - Page 59 by David Gibson, Clark Aldrich, Marc Prensky.

Google Scholar

He then continued the same search with Google Scholar and showed how you could use the cited by feature to see who had cited the particular work in another. He then showed how to get this information into Google Notebook, which was a nice touch. I don’t remember how exactly how he did this, but I highlighted a component of the search return and clicked on the icon for the Notebook extension for Firefox in my browser and in it went. Very cool.

Mark then continued his search by showing the same search in the Google Blog Search, the Image Search, the Video Search and even the Google Map Search.

The important thing to remember here was not forgetting the multiple methodologies for locating information with a variety of tools. Who would have thought to look at a 21st Century Skills search in Google Map Search?

Google Docs and Spreadsheets

Google docs allows for multiple and simultaneous authorship-I didn’t know that. I’d like to see how that would work with kids…

An audience member had an interesting question. Can multiple authors be logged in as the same user? (it doesn't appear so)-some teachers and parents of elementary kids may not wish to them to have a Google account, which is necessary for access to Docs. Someone mentioned that you could create accounts off a master Gmail account.

The interesting point here is that there was much expertise in the room, but how many will add content to his wiki? It’s public, but we are just not there yet…

He finished up with demonstrating Calendar and Blogger. Only about 10 of 110 had heard of Blogger, if you can imagine that…at least that’s how many raised their hands.

All in all, an interesting hour and a fine job by Mark, who has a very confident approach to presenting, not to mention an outstanding presentation voice. It's easy to just use the typical Google Search and not all the other tools-this presentation reminded me of all the tools that I potentially could use for myself, along with helping the teachers and kids I work with become more effective learners.

I was impressed with the all the tools available, and I need to spend more time wrapping my head around the possibilities.

tags: cue cue2007 cue07 markwagner davidjakes

CUE Reflections

I've just returned from CUE in Palm Springs-from 75 degrees to 30...

  • Mac's were everywhere
  • So was Google
  • A really good lineup of speakers and sessions, with podcasting probably being the dominant topic
  • Interesting new strategies, with a series of CUE Tips (20 minute presentations) being presented at the entrance to the exhibit hall. These were recorded and will be made available for viewing by anyone. A nice way to extend the conference experience.
  • Hands-on workshops that you could get a ticket for at the conference, and then attend. An opportunity for more than just sit and get, and what I could tell from the lines to obtain a ticket, very popular. I've never seen this before at the conference.
  • A 9 P.M. to midnight session done by Leslie Fisher on World of Warcraft, introducing attendees to the world of gaming.
  • I attended sessions by Hall Davidson, Mark Wagner, Gary Stager, and Chris Walsh, my session notes will be posted shortly.
  • I was interviewed by Chris Walsh for a show at the Infinite Thinking Machine. My thanks to Chris for the completely professional job he did with the interview, and making someone new to that experience comfortable.
Tags: CUE CUE07 CUE2007 halldavidson markwager garystager chriswalsh

Thursday, March 01, 2007

CUE 2007

I'm in Palm Springs, California for the CUE 2007 Conference, which is considerably better than the sleet, snow and thunderstorms (?) in Chicago. It pretty much rocks here.

Tomorrow I'm being interviewed for CUE Live! with Chris Walsh, on the conference floor. I'm somewhat apprehensive and hope I don't make a complete idiot of myself-Will Richardson is also supposed to be part of this. But I feel honored just to be asked.

My presentation day starts with a 20 minute Cue Tip (cool name) presentation on Flickr, entitled Got Flickr?

I follow that with a breakout on RSS called RSS! The New Information Pipeline. I've put together a page on my Web site that supports the presentation, the presentation is also posted at Slideshare.

Will is presenting a spotlight on the same topic an hour before so I'll have maybe three people.

None the less, the conference lineup looks pretty good and after missing METC in St. Louis due to illness, it's nice to be here.

Tomorrow night from 9-midnight they will be teaching everyone how to play World of Warcraft. That should prove humerous.

I'll be posting on the sessions here, and be sure to check out Hitchhikr as well.

tags: cue cue2007 cue07