Posted by: Floyd Braid | May 10, 2012

Why I Hate This TED Video!

http://www.ted.com/talks/derek_sivers_how_to_start_a_movement.html

I know, I know everyone loves this video. What is not to love? A crazy guy (probably drunk) with no shirt decides to ignore everyone and do what he wants to do, dance. After a few minutes someone joins him and then another until the drunk shirtless guy can’t even been seen. This video is part of a Derek Sivers TED Talk and he uses it as an illustration of what good leadership looks like. I’m sure if given more time Sivers would expand on his thoughts regarding leadership and the “pied piper” scenario depicted in the video. I hope.

The reason I “hate” this video is that I have seen it 1000 times. OK, too much drama. I have seen this video a lot. On Facebook pages, Tweets and in seminars and workshops on “leadership.” I believe Sivers calls this “How to Start a Movement” and not “How to Lead” although he does say that the “biggest lesson” is that leadership is “over glorified” and that it was the first follower that transformed, that’s right, “TRANSFORMED” the shirtless dancing guy into a “LEADER.” That folks, is why I hate this video. This is exactly the type of message K-12 leaders can do without.

This is not leadership. This is a movement, which may have lasted all of 5 minutes. Nobody followed him down the hill, showed up in the same place the next day and started to dance or moved to the next town and recruited new dancers. What good is a 5 minute movement…(lots of room for a good middle school joke) I say it was not even a movement, but, just a moment. It is funny and I even enjoyed it the first couple times I saw it but we are faced with too many “real” challenges regarding leadership in our k12 schools today. I believe we are at the beginning of the most transformative time in the history of education. We see and use new innovative tools that will fuel amazing shifts in how teachers teach and students learn. With this pending shift, we need serious discussions about CHANGE on many levels;

  • Change- Are we artist, craftspeople or both?
  • Change- Are we transitioning or transforming
  • Change- “the habit cycle” and its impact on instructional practice
  • Change- movement away from the herd mentality and leveraging new tools and data to individualize a path for each student

Most of the people that got up and danced were pressured mostly by fear and guilt for not being a member of the group. They brought very little to the table and in the process of “following” they lost their individuality and creativity. I organize change into 2 categories “transitional” and “transformative.” Transitional change can happen by following the crowd. However, it will most likely result out of fear or guilt and you can forget about creativity as well as sustainability. Transformational change is much harder. One must be willing to accept the idea that everything we know or how we do something  something may be completely wrong. It is only from this stripped down state can we fully engage the process of transformation.  Then, with strong leadership, allow ourselves to leverage the creativity and resources of the group to re-imagine a better way by leveraging new information and tools to create a superior model.

This video unfortunately represents the type of change that we have seen in k12 education for as long as I can remember. We see someone or something that looks interesting or successful so we jump right in for fear of being the only one left standing apart, from the now large dancing group. However, the video only represents a fraction of the scene. If we were able to allow the dance to continue eventually we would soon see the disappearance of the “leader” and then not long after the leader is gone some of our dancers would start to move away from the group and modify their dance just a bit. Some would stick with it and keep dancing but most would slowly dance closer and closer to where they were sitting before they started dancing and eventually sit back down only to twitch every so often with very little resemblance of the dance. We seem to be stuck in this “paradoxical dilemma” where we know the process is broken and does not work but we can’t seem to be able to break out of the cycle of doing it. Transformational change allows us to throw all that away and start from scratch. It can provide the mechanism for interrupting the habitual process we seem to be stuck in and truly focus on meaningful and lasting change. Then we can all dance.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | July 7, 2011

The Truth (Data) Will Set You Free!

…if the data is accurate and valid. Oh, and also if the data can be turned into a great graphic which makes the information more accessible and brings the data to life. This is what you get with http://flowingdata.com/ . There is always something interesting on this blog. I was recently looking at a data visualization (that’s what there calling it these days) and it occurred to me that I have never seen these type of graphics created for data regarding student test data or formative assessment data. I wonder what we could see more clearly if we could get the same type of visualizations for each of our students…hmmm.

I have played around with Many Eyes from IBM and it gives you the ability to create these type of visualizations from data sets they make available from their library or you can import your own data. However, there seem to be too many steps for a classroom teacher to get a valuable visualization of student progress.  One can only hope that visualizations like the one below might someday be avalible to teachers to track student proficiency. **I know it looks confusing but just click on it…

 

Posted by: Floyd Braid | July 4, 2011

Google Voice Search Now on PC

Google Voice Search in ChromeI just had an interesting experience in the kitchen with my daughter. We harvested about a dozen fresh tomatoes from the garden and we decided to make salsa. Wanting to try something new she asked me to do a Google search for salsa recipes. We have a family laptop that pretty much stays in the kitchen for the kids to use as needed. So I went over to the laptop and went to Google. I sat and stared at the screen appreciating the Google Logo Art   for the day then something on the right side caught my eye. A microphone! Now, I have been using Google Voice Search for many years on my iPhone but was totally surprised when I saw it on the laptop screen. I use ie & Firefox for my web browsing but it looks like the voice search got added to the Chrome browser a couple weeks ago (June 2011). This may not seem like a very big deal but it tells me that Google is moving forward with their speech to text programs full force. With this tool  and their speech to text-to-email via voice mail in Google Voice they are showing their commitment to dominating the race to kill the keyboard. That’s right “kill the keyboard.” Apple and Nuance have already made some headway into this area. Most notably Nuance with their “Dragon Dictation” which is a free app available on both iOS & Android systems. My teacher friends out there know I am a big fan of losing the keyboard in the writing process especially for students who struggle with keyboarding. We should spend less time typing and more time writing. I have teachers and students using Dragon Dictation to word process their rough drafts and some of them have set up Google Voice phone accounts so they can call themselves, leave a voice mail (they read their rough drafts into the phone) and Google emails them the speech to text translation which they copy and paste into their word processing program. With the move to the voice search in the browser it seems we are just one short step away from Google making the speech to text option a simple icon on the Google Docs Toolbar which will allow students, even some as young as 5 or 6 to use their gift of story telling to publish content. Who says we need to wait to help our young writers find their voice until they have figured out the pencil/paper thing. More on this later. Oh, BTW the salsa was great and the recipe is here SALSA.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | February 12, 2011

Weekly Harvest!

Floyd Bob’s “Weekly Web Harvest” is  like a farmers market of the great tools, ideas & resources that come across my many screens throughout the week.

Here you go, this is the weekly “Web Harvest” for February 12, 2011

Voki (Talking Avatars) http://www.voki.com/Voki_for_education.php

Free Blackboard- http://bit.ly/i3p9Yo

Word Cloud Ideas for the Classroom- http://bit.ly/hZvbyC

Think about Thinking- http://bit.ly/dS5Wwr

Prezi Ideas- http://bit.ly/gUXppb

More Online Text Books- http://aol.it/icEiTs

Posted by: Floyd Braid | January 25, 2011

State of the Union Address, Another Way to Look at It

Like most presidential addresses we don’t have to wait until the speech is given to expeieance it. Here is an image of the speech created using  http://www.wordle.net  This is a simple tool which allows you to copy and paste text from anywhere into the tool and it creates these great visual representations of the words by making the size of the word porportional to the number of times it is written in the text. I thought jobs woul have been the biggest word.

Here is Paul Ryans Official Republican Response- 

Another great Word Cloud tool is www.tagxedo.com

Posted by: Floyd Braid | January 25, 2011

A Search Engine with a Voice!…Finally

I spend a lot of time with educators. Many whom work with students who are just getting ready or mastering the art of reading. When I talk with them about the web and more specifically the discovery & research process for young students I always here, “but Floyd, my kids can’t read so how am I suppose to use a search engine with my students” so we talk about whole group instruction and how younger students can start the the process of understanding “the search” by doing teacher led and mediated search activities which lead to the discovery of new facts, thoughts and ideas. That seems to work pretty well. Then recently a colleague texted me to ask if I had seen the new search engine that talks to you. Yep, talks to you.  Qwiki  is a new comer in the search engine market but it is different, very different. Its the “Storyteller” search engine. Instead of sorting through a list of results that the search engine assembles for you Qwiki pulls out a short list of narrated slides shows about the topic you sesarch for. Very cool and interesting. They are just on their first release “Alpha” so I’m sure we will see more exciting things to come from them. Although I don’t think we turn the talking search engine over to our non readers I do think it opens up a entirely new world of access of information for all students. So, next time you want to learn about something just type it in and sit back and listen.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | August 20, 2010

Modern Day Oregon Trail? Don’t Think So…

I’m not sure because I have not had my hands on this new  EduGame “Crystal Island 5”  developed by the Friday Institute. It  seems to allow students to select and customize their own “Miivitar” which then embarks on a very visually rich adventure learning about landforms and ecosystems. Students get a camera and a notebook to collect “artifacts of learning” along the way. They meet other characters that serve as guides and collaborators on their journey. It seems from the video (at bottom of the page) that the games goals grow in complexity as the student progresses. I would love to see more… the project was funded by the National Science Foundation 2.5 Million and took 4 years to produce. I like what I see. I know my kids would love learning about landforms through this rich exploratory edugame.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | July 14, 2010

Wishing for Collaboration Through Wallwisher.com

I found this site a few months ago and have already used it with many teachers across the country. Such a simple idea but if used right can be very powerful. I have used it for back channel converstation and dialouge durring presentations and workshop, as a place for teachers to share ideas for how to use new technology tools in their clasroom and with students working collaboratively on a research project. All you do is go to www.wallwisher.com click on “Build a Wall” or set up a free account. Follow the steps and design a Wall. You can add videos, douctments & links to other sites. It will give you a url for your wall and who ever you give it to can post sticky notes to the wall. Simple but powerful.

Posted by: Floyd Braid | October 8, 2009

Blaberrize Has Me ROTFL!!!!

Blabberize

 

What can I say…I emailed a teacher friend of mine about what she knew about Web 2.0 in preperation for a workshop I am doing for her district. She replied, “I haven’t really trained the teachers in web 2.0 although I am pretty well versed in a variety of applications.  I think things like RSS feeds, delicious website, teachertube, blabberize, etc. would all be good”. Blabberize, Blabberize, what is Blabberize? Why haven’t I heard of it? I went to the site, Clicked on the play button and laughed for 5 minutes. Enjoy!

Posted by: Floyd Braid | August 26, 2009

Safer 2.0 Tools for Schools?

2 or not 2.0?

2 or not 2.0?

Is it really safer? This week I had the opportunity to work with a group of teachers involved in a 1-2-1 laptop initiative in Clayton County Georgia. Right in the shadow of the worlds busiest airport. There are so many things that are cool about this project. The TEACHERS (great group of highly motivated fun professionals), The Principal (has a great “bring it on attitude”), Partners, Many Outside Partners (QualComm, SayWire, Tutor.com, 1-2-1 Institute, Smart, Alliance for Digital Equality) I’m sure I’ve left someone out. Whats so cool about this is that so many of the players are working toward the same goal. It boils down to “how do we create a wireless environment both in and outside of school that will promote a greater level of engagement in the learning by students and teachers” This is being done with laptops but any wireless device would work. SOOOO, what happens when students have that kind of access and you want them working with and learning through the use of many of the new Web 2.0 apps that many school districts block?  Enter- Saywire.com this is a kind of Blackboard/WebCT lite with a greater focus on the social side of collaboration and sharing. It includes tools for teacher & student wikis, blogs, discussion board, chats, enotes(email) and a few other Web 2.0ian type applications. At first I was a bit skeptical but as I have spent more time using the tool with teachers I have found it to be quick to learn and easy to get started on. The safer part of the tool is that students belong to specific networks with fellow students, it is NOT anonymous and the teacher has the ability to review all material before it is posted and initiate contacts between students. I have used Moodle, Blackboard, Ning, Edmodo and a few other LMS or LMS Lite type tools but this one seems to have the right mix of student friendly tools without much of the back end work that many tools require. I’m still working my way through this tool but I think they have hit on something here. If you have used it let me know what you experience has been. Stay tuned, I’ll be following up on this one for sure.

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