Overcoming our Metric Obsessed World with Stories

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2011 at 11:03 am

I’ve been yacking about storytelling for a long time on my blog. Partly from a personal passion and love, partly because new technologies have allowed us to tell stories differently and partly because storytelling is at the core of who we are. But beyond all these reasons it’s becoming more and more apparent that we are living in a time where storytelling is now more than ever an essential skill to combat the obsessive world of metric based living.

“In this world in which we are so centered on metrics, those things that are not measured get left off the agenda,” he said. “You need a metric to fight a metric.”Technology brings ever more metrics. The strange thing is that nothing in them prevents us from using other lenses, too. But something in the culture now makes us bow before data and suspend disbelief. Sometimes metrics blind us to what we might with fewer metrics have seen.

I’ve been fortunate to work in an environment where metrics and hard data have only been a small portion of determining value in education. I’ve operated in work places … Read the rest

Inside a Slide Deck

Dan Meyer is at it again. Stirring up trouble and asking hard questions. That’s okay, in fact it’s good. While the specifics of his post might seem targeted at the small number of educators who regularly present at conferences and meetings, I think, and I’m sure Dan would agree it’s for all teachers.

I sometimes post my slides here and even have gone to the trouble to add the audio, after the fact. I usually invite discussion but more so on the ideas rather than the packaging.

I’ll be the first to admit, the more I learn the more inadequate I feel to speak about visual literacy. I’m not trained in graphic design, but have read about it and practiced it to the point where I hope I have something to offer folks. I definitely push this the importance of visual literacy in our own school division.

Dan asked for people to explicitly solicit critique. I welcome it. When it comes to presentations, I subscribe to much of the ideas of Garr Reynolds, Cliff Atkinson and others. I spend hours and hours on each one. I recognize how it can engage audiences and provide some memorable images that … Read the rest

THIS is a 21st Century Skill

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:16 pm

I’ve struggled with the term 21st Century skill since many of these skills have been around for a long time. It’s not a discussion I’m passionate about but sometimes I’m struck but the clarity of a skill that is clearly new to this century.

Video is indeed a 21st century skill. Take the recent contest for the Best Job in the World. Applicants were charged with creating a one minute video as their application. The ones highlighted on Presentation Zen are impressive. But Stephen Downes nails it,

They are, of course, creative and imaginative and effective. Now for the kicker: ten years ago, not one student in a hundred, nay, one in a thousand, could have produced videos like this. It’s a whole new skill, a vital and important skill, and one utterly necessary not simply from the perspective of creating but also of comprehending video communication today. Some people out there argue that such skills (a) are old hat, and (b) not worth teaching. The world is passing such critics by, and they should not be heeded.

Our schools need to re-evaluate how much time … Read the rest

Seed Planting

This post was last updated on December 12th, 2011 at 03:16 pm

It’s been a while since I’ve done a “how to” style workshop. I’ve purposely shied away from them instead trying to move the conversations more towards, “what might you do that makes a difference for kids?”  I’ve been referred to by a local high school principal as “Big Idea Dean”. I can’t say for sure, but I take it as a compliment. I guess I’m trying to aspire to this:

Wishful+Spring+ThinkingThe reason I’ve not done many “how to” or tool based workshops is simply because as an initial introduction to I don’t think it works. That said, I’ve done some in the past and do support teachers with just in time learning. I’ll get teachers and administrators asking about blogs. My first response is always “why?”. Without a belief and understanding of how it might help kids, it’s generally a waste of time. Instead I ask them to take a step back, do some lurking, determine what you want to do and then dive in. Backward by design. I’ve just seen my early approach of showing how easy things are to be less than successful. I’ve said it … Read the rest

Still images more powerful than video

I’m not sure I completely believe that but certainly my last post hints this.  Today I see Barbara Ganley, who is one of my longtime blog heroines and thinkers refering to the post and of course takes the idea much further and further complicates and spins the idea of writing and imagery to new depths. (that’s a compliment by the way)

Then I grab this little gem from Garr Reynolds about Ken Burns:

When you think about it, often the photo really is more powerful than video at telling the story. The photo captures a moment in time allowing the viewer to slow down and think and wonder and reflect. Photos allow for greater emphasis and may have less distracting elements, giving the presenter or narrator/film maker more freedom to augment the photo (or the other way around). We can learn a lot from documentary film, especially the kind like those created by Burns which rely so heavily on still images. One tip is to avoid the usage of imagery as ornamentation. What you see in Burns’ films is a simple and powerful use of photos and other imagery that support the narrative and illuminate the story on

Read the rest