Friday, July 22, 2011

Innovate, Innovate, Innovate...and Innovate

Innovation. Defined as 'to renew or change' or 'to introduce something new'.

This word can sometimes be overused, both in industry as well as education. But, why? It shouldn't be overused. Innovation should be something we strive to do on a daily basis. It should be our mission and goal to constantly innovate and create new ideas / opportunities for our teachers and students. Innovation should never be stifled, it should be fostered and rewarded.

As leaders in the field of educational technology, it is imperative that we strive to innovate, alas renew, change and introduce something new, the way our students are learning and the way our teachers are teaching. Technology should be viewed as a tool, or vehicle, that enables the innovation - not drives it. Good instruction, a solid curriculum, engaging teachers and visionary administrators should be driving.

My challenge to all. Don't stifle innovation. Encourage and provide opportunities for your colleagues and peers. Enable them to utilize technology as a tool that extends the walls of the classrooms and provides engaging / exciting ways for students to communicate, collaborate, share and learn in ways not previously possible. To the innovators out there...keep pushing forward. Continue to stretch the walls and push the boundaries. You are the difference makers and you will continue to move us forward.


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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Classroom Innovation: Quick Video on Role of Teacher

This is short video that does a decent job of capturing the role of teachers in a 21st century learning environment. Side note: the John Mayer song is a nice addition.


Friday, July 15, 2011

Google+: Will it Matter?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseThat's the big question on everyone's mind right now. Google launched their new social networking application earlier this month and it has been quite the buzz around the web. 10 million users and 1 billion objects shared in just a couple of short weeks. Quite impressive. But will it stick? Is this simply the 'latest, greatest fad' or does it the potential to shift the social networking landscape? I'm becoming more and more convinced it has traction.

First, let's look at what the folks at Google did. They essentially took the best of the industries leading social networking tools (Facebook and Twitter) and created a tool that also solves some of the privacy concerns from FB users. Google+ users have the capability of following anyone in the world, just like Twitter. I can follow Shaquille O'Neal, Ashton Kutcher (think he will be the first to one million in his circles?) or Joe from next door without any approval required on their end. This replicates the functionality of Twitter where I feel 'connected' to these people and see their updates, no matter how ridiculous they may be.

But, they didn't stop there. Unlike Twitter, I'm not limited to 140 characters, as a matter of fact - I'm not limited to characters. I can now share anything / everything with those in my circles. Ah the circles...what a great concept. I can now share information that is relevant and of value to each of my friends, without sending them updates that they don't care about. I have (so far) created a circles for friends, work, family and sports. My plan, at the moment, is to focus items that are related to educational technology towards my work circle, posts centered around sports to those who I know are sports fiends and then all others to my friends. I'm sure I will tweak this over the coming days / weeks, but it feels like a good start.

Google kept on pushing. They created hangouts. Hangouts are virtual spots utilizing audio and video where people can talk, chat, laugh, etc. I was speaking to co-worker yesterday who said the high school students she knows who are utilizing Google+ are raving about Hangouts. They love it. Nice job Google - you may have hit a homerun with this piece.

Big questions that leave me hanging at the moment:

  • How can I easily access and update via my mobile device? (Specially my iPhone)
  • I need a single easy-to-use application or web-based tool that allows me to update all of my social networking places (FB, Twitter and Google+) with one post. Where is it? TweetDeck was what I was utilizing and I want to see that integration.
  • Will Google+ have a place in education? My thoughts are with a future integration with Google Apps, it is quite possible.
Back to my original question. Will it Matter? Is Google+ just the latest MySpace (ouch, I used a bad word...sorry), or does it have the potential to rattle the cages of Twitter and Facebook. Time will tell and the more users who make their over to Google+ and check out its features, the more we move towards relevance. Google has a nice start, a great product and some innovative features that are going to push FB and Twitter to regroup and get off the gravy train. I love it when competition brings out the best of innovation. Keep it coming.

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Why? Because it matters...

SparksImage by Gnal via FlickrMy wife attended a work conference this week out of state and returned home last evening. While she was there she communicated with a few past colleagues and they asked how we were doing, how I liked my new job, etc. Then one of the people turned to my wife and asked 'why did your husband stop blogging? I always enjoyed reading his posts and comments.' That hit home with me last night and something that translates into our daily lives as educators.

I had become quite consumed with my new job, new duties, new community and learning that I simply made a choice to move the blog to the back burner. It wasn't that I didn't believe the value wasn't there, it was simply trying to prioritize the chaos in my life. But to hear that someone who lives 500 miles away was disappointed that I don't blog regularly anymore created a new energy and excitement within me. The value that once was a high priority, had slipped and it is time to reclaim.

This often happens to many educators across the country. We get so consumed with our school, our district, our community that we forget their exists an education community beyond what our eyes can see. There are colleagues and peers across this globe seeking new knowledge, new ideas and new innovations on a daily basis. It must continue to be our charge to share, collaborate and learn from one another so that we can ensure our students receive the highest quality education possible.

To the colleague who inspired me via my wife. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that while my world may be extremely busy, that I can not forget about my colleagues across the state, country and world that desire to share, collaborate and learn. If everyone were to put this on the back burner as easily as I did...where would we be?

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