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Tag: community

You Gotta Show Up

Live Stream

I’ve mentioned Seth Godin’s Akimbo podcast in several posts around here. For more than a year, at the end of almost every weekly episode they play an ad for something called the Alt MBA. It’s an online program that probably doesn’t lead to an actual degree, but instead seems to be more of a leadership seminar.

Anyway, the ad is wasted on me since I have no need for an MBA of any kind. But, for some reason, the language of the promotion attracted my attention. Continue reading

Observing From The Outside

It has been three years since I left the overly-large school district to set out on a new life as a drain on society.1 Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

But the fact that I’m no longer involved in the day-to-day minutia of instructional technology in the system doesn’t mean I’m not interested anymore. I just have to learn about what’s going on in the school district the same way most of the community does. Continue reading

Blogging Still Matters

Returning to the idea of a domain of one’s own, I ran across a post from long time blogger Andy Baio who mourns the “decline of independent blogging”, but still believes “they’re still worth fighting for”.

Ultimately, it comes down to two things: ownership and control.

Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.

Ok, so none of us own a domain – we only rent it. And few people own the web server that distributes their work.

But by blogging at our own domain – outside of corporate platforms like Facebook, Tumblr (Verizon, by way of Yahoo), and Blogger (Google) – we still own and control our ideas and how they are first presented to the world.

Echoing Andy’s desire to see more independent bloggers, I firmly believe more educators should be posting out there on the open web. On their own domains. Telling the world what’s going on in their classrooms, schools, and districts (charter companies?). Discussing their ideas about learning. Reflecting on problems standing in their way. Contributing their unique voices to the mix on the web.

However, blogging is not enough. We also need to help each other build an audience and build communities around those educators who are willing to share in the open. And, on the other end, to teach our colleagues, parents, and even students why reading blogs is important, where to find the good ones, and how to easily build them into their routines (RSS still lives!).

How does that happen? I don’t quite know. Others have tried and largely failed (top 100 lists and trivial awards do not a community make). But I think it’s worth more effort, and I’m open to suggestions.

Right now, all of this is just an idea buzzing around my warped little mind. We’ll see if anything develops from it.

Learning to Code Should Not Be About Getting a Job

Since our new superintendent arrived last July, she’s been making some high-profile attempts to attract input from the larger community.* One example of that effort is a forum on a service called UserVoice which allows anyone who registers to post suggestions and then comment and vote on the ideas of others.

As of the date of this entry, the top vote getter suggests “Our students should learn to code”, with 989 votes and 24 comments. Slightly ahead of complaints about class size, teacher pay, and the ever-popular issue of later start times for high schools.

Unfortunately, the writer of the coding idea tied it to offering formal computer science classes and helping students better qualify for jobs in that field.

There are, of course, far better reasons that kids need to learn the basics of programming starting in elementary grades. Here’s a comment about the context of learning to code I added to the original suggestion.

Certainly every student should learn the concepts of programming but it has nothing to do with getting a computer science-related job. Everyone should have a good understanding of how the systems that control the world work. Too many people put their trust in technology without having a clue about what goes on behind the screen.

Learning about those processes should be a fundamental part of the school curriculum starting in the lower elementary grades. Some kids will be interested and want to continue in the field. For everyone else, they acquire invaluable knowledge for whatever vocation they follow as well as being a more informed member of society in general.

Do you suppose our superintendent will pay any attention to the idea of students learning to code (other than expanding high school programming classes)? The cynic in me doubts she will. Those concepts are not on the SOLs, and we all know that what gets tested is what gets taught.

* Her “listening tour” arrives in my neighborhood later this month. It may be worth a rant or two.

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