Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Google+ For the Disruption

The Buzz
Maybe using the word Buzz is not a good choice of words, I know that it is another Google product, but I never really pursued that one. Hype may be better, whatever word you choose to describe the recent (limited) release of Google+ is up to you. What I do know is that is has spawned countless articles, blog posts, tweets, and im's, and everyone seems to have different theories on the what, why, and how Google decided to go all in with g+.

Disruptive Innovation
Clayton Christensen has broken down disruptive innovation in a rather simple idea that established firms fail because they don't keep up technologically with other firms. From my point of view, Google has not allowed themselves to fall into the trap of relying on their existing success, they continue to innovate, and have launched a number of initiatives over the years, some good some really bad. What Google seems to do well is not focus on their failures, but use them as opportunities to push forward and learn from them. So how can K-12 learn from Google or any other successful organization?

Too Simple
Maybe I look at things the wrong way, I try and make them as simple as possible. If something is not working and the results are the same year after year, that is a good indicator it is time for change, simple right? The point I am trying to make is, we in the K-12 arena must be willing to take a look at successful organizations and see what makes them tick. How has their leadership created a culture that allows them to innovate, change, and fail forward. How do their customers (students), hands on employees (teachers), etc., collaborate to create an environment that provides the best possible product (students prepared for a changing world).

All the Google+ media recently made me think a bit, even if g+ is a giant failure when it is is released to the masses, Google won't continue to stick with it year after year. They will learn from the experience, listen to the feedback, collaborate and try something new...seems simple.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Social Hurricane

Where To Begin
With all the social media tools out there to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. Just when you think you have chosen the one or three that you want to focus on and get the most return from, another pops up to take its place. Take a look at how Google+ is really starting to create a stir and take a shot at the Facebook crowd! Who would think that anything could ever challenge the giant that Facebook has become. It may be difficult to know where to begin, but the value in using the social platform of your your choice for staying current professionally, keeping in touch with parents, community, and students, shouldn't be overlooked.

Embrace It
It doesn't have to be overwhelming though, just relax a bit, take a deep breath and ask yourself who your audience will be. I am not an expert on social networks, but this has seemed to work for me. I jumped into the mix some years ago like many with:

I enjoyed myspace, it allowed for creative control of your profile and the number of bands using the site to promote was amazing. But the audience I was wanting to connect with were friends that I had lost touch of and current friends. I was able to connect with a small number, but not the number that I had anticipated. As Facebook gained traction, I created an account and started exploring, basically my entire graduating class and many more were quickly friends and we all know what has happened to myspace. My point, if one social network is not meeting your needs, don't be afraid to look at others, take advantage of the many choices available.

The Professional Menu
When Looking at this menu, I have tried to focus on what social network is going to connect me to a peer group that will help me grow as a professional and stay current with the rapid change that technology provides. But more important than that, I wanted to be able collect great resources from others that I could then pass along to the teachers, administrators, and other staff members in my district. Sharing is caring, but I wasn't sure what platform was going to best provide what I was looking for, choosing the appetizer when I really needed the main dish took some time and exploring.

The Plug
My main dish that I was searching for happened to be right under my nose, which is my only plug for a social network that I would recommend everyone spending some time with if you are looking to jump into the game.

I have had a twitter account for some time, but didn't really understand the buzz and was not liking the celebrity attention it was getting, yes I think you are OK Ashton Kutcher, but I am not interested in what you are doing on a daily basis. But I realized one weekend that I could follow the Supercross race real time, since it was not on TV. It brought relevance for me on the personal side and with the encouragement from Nick Sauers and Tracy Watanabe, I jumped in and started following peers on the professional side. I have to say that this has been the one of the best professional decisions I have made in the last year. The vast amount of resources that I have been able to take in and contribute has been amazing. Check it out!

Game Changers
It is difficult to predict the next best thing that will come along and change the way that social networking is valuable to us. Google may be on to the big game changer in my opinion with Circles, their answer to organizing friends, and how you communicate with them. This seems like a logical way for educators to use social networking tools and keep their personal lives separated from professional, which seems to cause some issues at times. Others may have a similar feature, but Circles is very user friendly.

Social networks are part of our culture and here to stay, just ask your students:-). How we participate will be up to to each individual to decide, jump in feet first and give something a try!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Not the end...

Publish It
I began the final day at ISTE 2011 attending the session, "Writing for an ISTE Publication." I am not sure if people are aware just how many publications that ISTE has in circulation, but I suggest checking them out here, there is something for everyone.

Vendor Row
I waited until the final day to really spend any meaningful time in the exhibit hall. I was discussing with my colleagues the days when we used to attend Comdex in Las Vegas during the height of the tech boom. Vendors had gigantic exhibits, some with live music, showgirls, one company even had people high in the air swinging around like Cirque du Soleil! It really was over the top and hard to figure out what some were even trying to sell. The ISTE 2011 exhibit hall was very nice, easy to get around, and had a nice vendor presence. I was able to make some meaningful contacts with a few of the vendors we use and put a few names to faces.

Wrap up
The closing keynote was amazing and started off with the group Street Beats Group, who performed an amazing glow in the dark percussion piece. Their performance was followed by a well done animation by Youth Voices, "Who Do You Think You Are" (both can be watched in the video below).

Chris Lehmann was the closing keynote, but before he took the stage, he had a group of his students present their poetry slam and that was a very emotional piece that moved the entire audience, I would recommend sharing with your staff and not just teaching staff, but any staff in your district. The importance of my technology staff understanding today's students is monumental in helping to clearly define our role in the organization, I believe this applies to every person working on a school campus.

It is difficult to describe Chris Lehmann's keynote in just a few words, but I will just say that he is very passionate about kids and learning and a great inspiration for all educators. It is very obvious that Chris wants to see our kids not just become 21st Century workers, but 21st Century citizens. Take the time to be inspired and watch his keynote address along with the other closing performances below.

You can never doubt the wisdom of the voices of students
-Chris Lehmann

ISTE 2012
Thanks for following my blog this week and I hope to be attending ISTE 2012 in San Diego. Feel free to follow, comment, and share your thoughts here at "this and that" and follow on twitter @jcastelhano.