Your Research Matters

Cross posted at the Huffington Post

John Spencer is quickly becoming one of my favourite reads. He’s clever, succinct and more importantly works with kids everyday. His recent post about why he doesn’t believe in research comes to me after experiencing a few issues around research of late.

Much of my own feelings about research are a result of reading a lot of Dave Weinberger’s writings. Weinberger¬†talks about the changing shape of knowledge and that network knowledge is negotiated as opposed to traditional knowledge which was more accepted. Print and books are designed to contain and be the final word on truth. You don’t ask questions to paper. Now with work being online, our reaction is always to want to have a discussion around ideas. Of course this is extremely liberating both also problematic when everything is questioned and conversations involved many perspectives. Welcome to democracy.¬†

While preparing for an upcoming presentation I came across a slide I’ve used citing that our brain processes images 60,000 times faster than text. Sounds impressive and useful for convincing folks to use more images to help understanding. The problem is the research, as far as many can tell is not Read the rest

Don’t Ask People What They Want

Cross posted at the Huffington Post.

Steve Jobs never believed in focus groups. Guy Kawasaki, who worked for Apple and Steve Jobs said, "Apple Market research is an oxymoron. If you ask people what they want they'll tell you "Better, faster and cheaper"- that is better sameness, not revolutionary change. Many other innovators have echoed similar sentiments. This flies in the face of the idea that the customer is always right. Jobs also said "people don't know what they want until you show it to them" No doubt he was a brash visionary that designed some very innovative products that many people adore. 

In education I hear this sentiment a lot lately: "Involve and engage all stakeholders". That sounds lovely. Why wouldn't we want input for parents and the community? All stakeholders in this case probably means every parent and taxpayer. That's a lot of people with a lot of ideas about what school should look like.  There's a desire to be transparent and be collaborative. These are words I use with great frequency to describe learning. But I'm beginning to question these ideas when it comes to making bold moves in education. 

I think of … Read the rest