Friday, 27 June 2014

Are you a disruptor?

Last week I had the privilege to attend the Independent Schools of New Zealand conference in Auckland to hear a range of inspirational speakers. A common theme that ran through the keynote and plenary presentations was the idea of disruption. This was framed around change and the demands change places on our school leaders in terms of preparing learners for life in our ever changing world.

Peter Biggs challenged leaders to disrupt, to act as the disruptor before they and their schools are disrupted. He referred to a world of change and ‘disorder’ where we need to rethink to connect. In other words we need to be very aware of the world around us, to perceive current trends and new possibilities, to see change coming. Besides dealing with our current reality a critical part of leadership is to foresee the future - to create, to innovate, to take risks, to experiment, to be courageous and brave, to create the culture within our schools that will enable us to achieve the future that will meet the needs of our students / community.

Frances Valentine continued this theme as she explored how advancement of technology and digital devices has created disruption, identifying Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon as the four key disruptors in education. She challenged the audience to rethink their processes and systems, to ask themselves who they needed to get close to and then get with these disruptors and consider:

  • What is changing? 
  • What is driving the change? 
  • What are the implications for us? 
  • How do we predict / plan for this change? 
  • What research / data is available? 
  • Supply and demand

Dr. Lester Levy asked leaders to identify the time they spent on identifying risk as opposed to exploring new possibilities. He made the statement that focusing on risk can stifle innovation and creativity. As leaders how do we frame up discussions to enable disruption, foster creativity and innovation? How do we avoid new ideas and initiatives being lost in realm of risk or difficult logistics? He encouraged leaders to be ‘open’ to be disciplined and promote dialogue for the initial conversation where negative comments, bias and assumptions were put aside. Using the ‘art of possibility’ to explore feasibility and provide opportunities to disrupt, refresh and possibly reconfigure.

So as a leader are you a disruptor?

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Future thinking

If we teach today's students as we taught yesterday's we rob them of tomorrow

I have been recently working with several schools to review their school vision and values. I believe that the vision and values of a school are critical, the foundation or cornerstone  to guide and determine all decision making therefore they must be owned, committed to and enacted by all members of the school community.

Identifying and clarifying a school's vision and values is no small feat, but their are some great theorists and resources to draw on and to assist in this development process.

One of my favourite books is Howard Gardner's Five Minds for the Future. I believe that the five minds that Gardner promotes serve as a guide to schools as they look to review and redevelop their vision, ensuring that they are learner and future focussed. This short clip provides a succinct introduction to Gardner's thinking.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Thinking iPads - what guides your decision making?

Many schools are now considering the introduction of iPads to assist and promote student learning. As schools plan to select, introduce and implement the use of iPads they need to consider a multitude of elements directed by the overriding question - ‘What difference is this going to make to student learning and achievement.’ This process needs to be carefully considered and strategically planned. Key questions arise:

  • What resources are available to assist schools in the strategic planning process?
  • What needs to be considered?
  • What guides this process?

    The Educational Positioning System (EPS) developed by CORE Education in conjunction with Dr Julia Atkin provides a comprehensive process for future focussed school review. The EPS provides a framework to the  guide the decision making and strategic planning process required for the selection, introduction and  implementation of new technology.

    Philosophical Framework

    This dimension looks to explore the fundamental essence of learning within the school.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • What is your ‘educative purpose?’Is this clearly understood and shared by all? What are the key values, beliefs and principles that guide learning in your school?
    • Have these been explored, discussed, debated and developed to ensure that these are indeed meeting the needs of learners?
    • Have you identified what you consider constitutes powerful learning? Is there shared understanding and commitment to the development of a culture that promotes powerful learning?
    • Do these shared values and beliefs guide decision-making?

    • Have your clearly identified your overriding educative purpose and are you using this to guide the selection process?
    • Do you know what type of technology you want and why? Which type of technology will best support and promote your school beliefs about learning?
    • Are new technologies explored in terms of their potential to transform learning? Have you had the opportunity to explore the potential of these technologies to see which one best aligns with your schools philosophical framework for learning? Which technologies will best meet the needs of your students / teachers?
    • Which technology will best promote ‘powerful learning’ empowering students to be confident connected learners?
    • How will this technology support your school’s metacognitive approach for learning?
    • Does your philosophical framework refer to the potential and use of ICTs? Is this a shared understanding and belief across the school. If not, do you need to provide opportunities to update this?

    Community and Culture

    This dimension looks at the school as a learning organisation.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • Does the school culture reflect the school’s philosophical beliefs about learning?
    • Is the school informed and up to date with latest research and initiatives. It is ‘open’ to developing new opportunities and initiatives that would enhance learning opportunities for students? Does it consider new possibilities? How does it reflect, review select and identify areas for change?
    • Are the dispositions required for learning in the 21st century modelled and fostered? For example are collaboration, open-mindedness, informed risk taking, critical reflection evident?

    • Will this technology enhance the learning culture at your school?
    • Does this technology align with the vision and values of your school. For example if your school vision is to create confident, connected, communicators who are life long learners  - how will this technology enact this? Are all members of the community aware of the vision? Do they have ownership of and commitment to this vision?
    • Does this technology foster opportunities for collaboration, informed risk taking and critical reflection?
    • Are you prepared to take risks, be open-minded and  receptive to the change that may be required? What is required to ensure that you teachers are empowered to be confident users of ICTs? What needs to be considered, planned for,  to ensure that teachers are encouraged but not overwhelmed with the new technology?
    • Will this technology strengthen your learning culture? How can it be used to strengthen home school partnerships?

    Strategies and Structures

    This dimension looks at how the school fosters and develops the learning culture and enacts it’s philosophical framework.
    As you look to select and introduce new technologies use these questions to guide the  process.
    • Do the strategies for school curriculum design, assessment, reporting, teaching and learning align with the school values and beliefs about learning?
    • Are ICTs being used to translate your school philosophy into practice?
    • Are ICTs used discerningly and integrated seamlessly into learning programmes?
    • Is the organisational, technical and physical infrastructure developed to support and promote learning in the 21st century?
    • Are learning, thinking and teaching strategies current? What systems and processes are in placed to review what is working well and what requires further development?
    • Is curriculum design personalised to meet the needs of learners?
    • How will this particular technology enhance teaching and learning in your school?
    • Can this technology be integrated seamlessly and used discerningly in learning programmes?
      • what is required for teachers? How can your professional learning programme strengthen teacher capability?
      • what is required for students?
    • Have you fully explored the capability of this technology - do you know what could be possible? it’s limitations?
    • Will the school’s current infrastructure sustain the introduction of this new technology?
    • Is this technology fit for purpose?
      • durable?
      • child friendly
    • How can you ensure maximum use of this technology
      • allocation?
      • access for all students?
      • storage?
      • charging?
      • security?
      • maintenance?
      • monitoring?

    Selecting and purchasing new technology can be a difficult process for schools. Many school leaders feel  pressured into purchasing technology by suppliers or groups within their schools. It is important to keep the focus on learning, not the device, by clearly identifying what you want the device to do. 

    The framework of the EPS provides a valuable reference and guide for this decision making - ensuring that the technology selected will best meet the needs of the students by keeping the focus on the learner and the learning.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

A challenging view of leadership

I recently attended had the opportunity to attend a fascinating presentation on leadership. You know the feeling you get when a presentation starts and you realise that you are about to hear something very powerful  .... well this was exactly that. I sat and listened to a passionate and humble man talk about his life and his learning. It would be fair to say it was one of the most inspirational presentations I have heard. This gentleman held a captive audience in the palm of his hand while he told his story.

Ngahihi o te ra Bidois  presentation was based on his book entitled Ancient Wisdom, Modern Solutions.

He talked about leadership in terms of influence, by skillfully weaving this into his own life story
Through listening, looking & thinking we gain the wisdom to speak.... Leaders ask courageous questions....Through proverbs and people we achieve our purpose..... If it isn't broken .... fix it! Image if Apple thought that land lines were all we needed..... Identify your eagles - who has influenced you in past? .... Who will influence you in the future?
It was a privilege to listen to Ngahihi's story, an inspirational guide and challenge to leaders.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Making movies

Over the last couple of weeks I have undertaken a real learning journey. Technology enables us to communicate in more ways than ever before, in fact the choice is endless. New technologies and capability are continually evolving, so it is important to be aware of what is available and be very clear about what it is you want to achieve.

I have been wanting to develop some movies to promote the capability and capacity of a range of tools. I wanted to do this in a way where I could include the key information as text, provide an audio explanation and have some music playing in the background. Sounds simple ..... I know.... but the reality was somewhat different.

The first step of this journey was a posting by Richard Byrne 5 Ways Students Can Create Audio Slideshows. In this posting Richard highlighted - Narrable, UTellStory and three other applications. I explored Narrable first, but quickly realised that I couldn't have both the soundtrack and the audio. UTellStory is a quirky application to use and enabled me to create the exact type of presentation that I wanted. It was very user friendly and you could easily adjust the audio recording slide by slide, however, it was not easy to share with a large group of people. It can be embedded in a blog, but the organization that I was preparing the video footage for did not want this, they just wanted to share a link.

In the end, after lots of investigation, the solution was very simple. Create the presentation in Keynote, add the sound track and audio using the 'Inspector' tool, then export to Quicktime. When adding the soundtrack and audio, you need to upload the sound track first and then add the audio. Video clips can be shared easily via Dropbox. With larger videos it pays to save them as small or medium sized movies, otherwise you will exceed the capacity of your dropbox.

So hope my many hours of learning and investigation provide a short cut for you.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Scenario planning

I am still playing major catch up here.... but the course content looks so interesting that I am determined to find the time this week.

A brief overview of clarification and new learning to date. Scenario planning:

  • is a metaphor of rich narrative designed  to help you consider alternative / potential futures
  • provides an opportunity to explore how your present strategic decisions can / could impact on the future
  • Scenarios are not predictions of the future, but mental models to gain a better understanding for decision making. Scenarios help answer the question: What will we do now, if that future were to happen? In other words scenario planning provides an opportunity to 'scope.'

The key elements for scenario planning are creative thinking and the use of qualitative subjective information. I would add open-mindedness, as I believe that you would have to be open to truly engage in the scoping aspect of scenario planning.

This slideshare presentation provides a brief overview of scenario planning and outlines a workshop process

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Scenario Planning

It is amazing how quickly the days seem to fly by. A colleague of mine has a wonderful saying which he uses to explain how the tyranny of the urgent overtook the best of intentions. 

I have been hearing a lot lately about Scenario planning and Futures Thinking as a way to navigate new and uncertain times. I started to investigate and quite by chance came across this Scenario Planning course for educators. So ... I have signed up - so watch this space and learn with me.