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the art of warcraft – executive leadership development through gaming


When is playing video games actually a seminar in executive leadership?  When the game is an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game) and the stakes seem high – just as high as the goals, accomplishments, recognition, disappointments, and politics in your workplace.

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disrupting pedagogy – part 2

This article was first published at Getting Smart on November 4, 2013


generic4In my previous post, I talked about how subtle shifts in developing digital learning materials – content, apps, services, games, videos – can help disrupt pedagogy as practiced in most schools and help students learn more independently, more deeply, and more authentically.  From an educator perspective this shift is akin to changing from pedagogies based in direct instruction to constructivism.  From a technology perspective it is akin to the shift from structured to object-oriented programming.  In either case, it is hard for those who are unused to the distinctions to see the difference.  Therefore, until such time as there are assessments that measure and show clearly the outcomes of such approaches beyond immediate impact on summative test scores, it is imperative to identify the markets where such innovations can evolve and to create incentives for meaningful innovation. Read more

disrupting pedagogy – part 1

This article was first published at Getting Smart on November 1


generic7With personalized learning a passionate goal of parents, students, educators, and policy makers, why are online resources for learning still so uninspired?  Technology and education science are sufficiently advanced today to create authentically transformative digital learning tools and experiences, and yet the market offers us little but apps and services with the same old limitations that evolved from cohort-based lock-step classroom instruction.  The answers may lie in the uniquely challenging market conditions of our education system.  The solutions to those challenges may comprise largely untapped opportunities for innovators of all kinds. Read more

a new breed of apps puts joy back in math learning

This article was first published at Getting Smart on September 6, 2013


em8Math should be fun – even when it’s stupidly hard.  Instead it feels grueling – even when it’s fundamentally a delightful puzzle.  This has nothing to do with our smarts or math aptitude and everything to do with how we approach it.  I’ve written previously about the dearth of excellent math apps and how disappointed I’ve been that the promise of achieving computational and mathematical fluency as a side effect of truly engaging work has been left unfulfilled.  Until recently, that is. Read more

the metaphor of disruptive innovation

This article was first published at Getting Smart on May 27, 2013

generic5Is “disruptive innovation” a myth – in the rich sense used by folklorists as a culture’s sacred story?  Audrey Watters tells a beautiful and compelling truth about the cultural (particularly high tech culture) entanglement with the disruptive innovation story in arecent blog post.   Watters illustrates how the story about disruptive innovation connects with our deep collective millennial stories about the end of the world. To quote: “The structure to this sort of narrative is certainly a well-known and oft-told one in folklore — in tales of both a religious and secular sort. Doom. Suffering. Change. Then paradise.”  The piece suggests that the nature of the stories we already hold as a culture are what make the ideas of disruptive innovation seem so “unassailably” true to us, and yet, as is the case with such prophecies, when things don’t unfold as foretold they inevitably require revision (or perhaps as Watters notes, refinement) of the sort found in the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation’s recently publishedreport on hybrid innovation and its role in education. Read more

why non-geek parents have the advantage in parenting young makers

This article was first posted at EdSurge on May 22, 2013


em27What does it take to inspire, raise, and nurture young Makers? Do they need lots of “stuff” lying around the house to create with? Do they need Internet access to connect with and learn from other makers? Do they need parents who respect and protect their need to make? “All of the above,” was the conclusion of apanel of Maker Moms and Dads I had the pleasure of participating in at last week’s San Mateo Maker FaireRead more

what are teachers responsible for?

This article was first published at Getting Smart on April 30, 2013

generic12Where does the current emphasis on accountability come from?  I think it comes from a desperate need for equity and justice – from the awareness that has been raised by the national high-stakes testing of students that there is a very real and tragic difference in the outcomes of poor students versus those that are more affluent.  The No Child Left Behind legislation has caused data to be collected for the first time that measures achievement according to race, economic status, English learner status, and so on.

The results are grim.  According to this blog from the National Education Policy Center, a think-tank based at the University of Colorado:

“In 2012, white and Asian students had a 71 percent probability of a higher English Language Arts score than Black and Latino students, and a 75 percent probability of a higher math score.”

There is widespread agreement that the achievement gap is real and persistent and that this sort of social inequity is unconscionable.  Something must be done, and an obvious place to start is by ensuring that every child, regardless of race, has access to a quality school with quality teachers and quality leadership. Read more

education standardization – essential or harmful?

This article was first published at Getting Smart on April 26, 2013

em25In my previous post, I described how much of the standardization that exists in our current system of schooling is harmful to students and should be eliminated, but made the argument that not all standardization is harmful – that, in fact, in some cases it is essential to enable innovation and transformation.  Today I will discuss some areas where standardization is possible, some advantages and disadvantages of each of these, and my rationale for whether standardization at this level is helpful or harmful. Read more

to innovate in education, first standardize

This article was first published at Getting Smart on April 24, 2013

em24Standardization harms students.  The much-maligned industrial model of education trulyis flawed in countless ways that flow from the assumption that children are like interchangeable parts on an assembly line: Read more

the infrastructure of personalized learning

This article was first published at Getting Smart on Feb 22, 2013

postpic7In my previous posts I’ve written about my wishes for a personalized learning environment for my children, how such an environment is not yet available, and how we as a family have begun to use a wide variety of resources to essentially prototype such an environment.  I use the metaphor of a “platform” – seeing education not as a single, monolithic experience to be performed upon our young people, but as a set of services that students and parents can use to meet their own, unique educational goals.  This is an Internet metaphor – a platform provides a set of standard services that enable lots of different applications.  A platform doesn’t have to be monolithic, but like the Internet can consist of “small pieces, loosely joined”.  And like the Internet, “education as a platform” needs to serve the long tail – all the niche needs of small groups and individuals who may be separated by age, geography, and means. Read more