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

The anatomy of a Skype call

I respect Gary Stager's opinion. He pushes my thinking. That's what he did for me here:

Why would you Skype someone involved “in the process?” What process? Who? State legislators? What are they likely to tell a student that can’t be found out in a book or article?

The connections you speak of, now matter how much you yearn for them may be as inauthentic as the task itself. Perhaps they just make a task nobody cares about even more arduous. The “you can use Google ____ or Skype with someone” suggestions have become as automatic and meaningless as when a politician says, “We need to pay teachers more, but hold them accountable.”

To be fair, Gary's comments here were about a broader issue and he goes on to discuss it in more detail. For me the striking comment that “skyping someone in” is often a automatic response to trying to demonstrate you have a classroom that “gets it” gave me pause to think. While I applaud teachers who consider this strategy, without thought and purpose it has no more value or impact that asking a parent or principal to randomly come talk to your class.

But today Read the rest

Who’s Got My Attention?

John Pederson is slightly obsessed with this question and Ewan recently explored this idea as well. I see the Edublog awards are upon us. I'm not going to provide you with my lists but instead offer you some people I've been paying attention to and why you might too. While there are many folks that have my attention pretty much everyday, I hope I can offer you some people that deserve a bigger audience. I remember when Scott Mcleod did this a time or two. 

Shelley Wright. Shelley is a local teacher who recently started telling her story of change. If you want honesty, transparency and some inspiration from a classroom teacher making big shifts this is the blog for you. Start here.

Zac Chase

Photo by Jschinker

http://www.flickr.com/photos/63873121@N00/3706685823/

Zac Chase. Okay so there's a bit of a trend here in that these are both High School English teachers. Not that they write exclusively about their classes but Zac is just a smart dude that folks ought to pay attention to. Start here.

Chris Kennedy

Photo by: Mola

http://www.flickr.com/photos/nocturnalimages/5107811135/

Chris Kennedy. Chris is a rare breed. A superintendent who is doing some great writing, sharing and tweeting. Start here
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