Leadership: Points of Reflection

At a recent learning opportunity through the Abel program, I had the opportunity to hear Mary Jean Gallagher speak about leadership. As anticipated, it was a great presentation.

The session began with Mary Jean comparing developments from different time periods and the relative impact. She recalled the first main frame computers, and  Commodore 64’s on the scene and wonderment people had about how things would change. What would happen?

Technology is in a constant state of flux. How will leadership respond to technological change: Does a new technology present a promise  or a threat?

Questions to consider:  How do we embrace new technology in a time when people are concerned about ubiquitous  access and equity, AND  in the same context of parent concerns of  access, identity and privacy AND in the same context of: it is easier to be risk averse rather than push ahead.

It is human nature to pull back. How do we get people engaged in the change process? Perhaps a key role of a leader is to distress the comfortable, and comfort the distressed.  Todays leaders need to add disonance to our organizations sometimes and be less risk averse. Leaders don’t have to know everything, and that is OK. Leaders do need to model in visible ways. Leaders need to help organizations set policies that help organizations move forward by enabling rather than avoiding.

Her presentation concluded by identifying points for leaders to ponder:

  • Are you intentional about what you do?
  • Do you role model in visible ways?
  • Do you intentionally position things for change?
  • Where do you lean: towards anchors or change?
  • Are you reflective?
  • Do you engage with wider collaboration?
  • Do you model learning and inquiry?

I hope you find these points for reflection valuable. Enjoy your reflecting and learning — and happy leap year day.


Educon reflection: learning in public online

Educon2.4 was, as anticipated, a great conference this year. There were many great sessions and conversations. This was my second time attending Educon, and I thought the conversations seemed richer both formally in the sessions and less formal hallway discussions. One topic that has stayed with me for reflection, is the idea of learning in public online.

I have been following the learning journey of Dean Shareski. Over the last few months, Dean has been studying the ins and outs of learning online in public, beginning with his own learning.  I admire Dean for putting his own learning and experiences ‘out there’ first. In the Learning Project, Dean posts a video online requesting help to learn to play the guitar. Through online connections, Dean eventually connected  with a music teacher who supported Dean’s learning request by having his students prepare videos to teach Dean various aspect of guiar techniques. The full project description is described here in the  The Learning Project blog post.

Dean’s project demonstrates a great example of learning of learning on line in public through network connections, collaboration tools such as skype, video resources personalized for the needed learning experience and shared through blog reflections.

As part of the presentation, Dean referenced  Shannon Smith who is also experiencing online public learning. Learn more about Shannon’s journey here: Clarinet lesson.  My family had the pleasure of dining with Shannon and Brent on Saturday night at the conference. It was a wonderful evening of conversation, in which we learned about our many musical connections and interests.

At Educon, Dean and Alec Couros led a discussion around this idea of learning online in public. There was a great discussion around the considerations that learning online in public raises:

  • when is learning in public appropriate?
  • what are the privacy implications for students?
  • how would any negative comments be received and handled?
  • how do we prepare pre-service teachers for this type of learning environment?
  • what are the benefits?
  • are there drawbacks?
  • how do we best teach students to manage their online profiles?
  • how do students best create and manage on online portfolio?
  • what else?

The framework of learning online and in public is here as demonstrated. Helping students to develop and manage a personal learning network is an important part of preparing students for the future. I believe the need to use online resources, connections and crowd sourcing to collaborate and problem solve is the way of the future. Simple tools such as a blog can serve as a personal portfolio for students to capture their journey, sharing and reflections.

While this seems like a natural direction or next step, there is much work to do. Many people are uncomfortable in this environments. We have to put strategies in place on overcome the fear factor.  Teachers must be able to put themselves in the place of the learner in this new environment. I believe significant change is needed in pre-service teacher programs to have new professionals ready and comfortable in this environment.

As a post conference follow up, I had the pleasure of assisting Shannon with her clarinet lessons by preparing a recording to assist in her learning. Thanks to the internet, distance was no barrier to providing assistance: a pdf of the music notation was exchanged by email, I recorded the music using an iRig mic on my iPhone e-delivered the audio recording back to Shannon.  I hope I can continue to be involved in Shannon’s music journey!


The Notability App

Notability is a great little iPad app that lets you write and/or draw on the iPad screen. This inexpensive app ($0.99) offers a number of features including: advanced word processing, pdf annotation, linked audio recording, auto sync, media insertion and library organization.

The notes below were created by my daughter in preparation for her math exam. I have included screen captures here, as well as a link to the original pdf document.

This is certainly a well priced capable program.

Related Documents:

Notability Trig PDF file

Notability App


OntCL Chat Highlights 20120125

Ontario ConnectEd Leaders (OntCL) Chat Highlights from 2012-01-25.

Topic: How are you currently using social media tools in your school/board?

Note: Future Ontario ConnectEd Leaders twitter chats will be scheduled for the first Wednesday evening of each month, 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and use the Twitter hash tag #ontcl


BYOD: What’s in a device?

I have had two great opportunities to talk about Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to support student learning — at the Brock U.Teaching with Technology Showcase (Brock U Faculty of Education) and at the Educon 2.4 event.

The discussions covered considerable territory – benefits, challenges and implications for both pre-service and existing teacher training. In my organization, BYOD is certainly a strategy intended to augment access and not replace Board owned equipment. From an IT perspective, building the right infrastructure with sufficient capacity is a critical path forward to support student learning.

There is certainly a wide range of devices that could support learning. I have been pondering the desired functionality needed in any device to support student learning. Here is my initial take on a function list.

Notes/read:  take notes, read common file formats such as pdf and ebook files,

Web enabled: browse web (consume info, research), bookmark, interact with online databases, RSS

Share/Collaborate: write/publish a blog, support wiki use, google docs etc

Digital StoryTelling: capture audio, video, combine with text

Communicate: email, support for standard Social Media tools (FB/Twitter/G+) etc.

Other: good battery life, strong wifi signal

I need your feedback. How thorough is my list? What is missing? Should anything come off the list? What should be added?

Please leave a comment with your ideas, or share an idea with me on Twitter.