Sunday, September 28, 2008

FAQ's... FUQs... I think we need more of the latter.

We all know about FAQ files... and the need to read them. Somehow, your approach is just so much smarter when you take the time to read the FAQ file *FIRST*.

A while ago I ran across something even better - The FUQ file.
These would be the Frequently Unasked Questions!.... those things that are really important or confusing, but nobody thinks to ask them about until after the problem/damage has been done... The "in hindsight, what you really should have asked" questions. The kinds of things the project developers never even considered. We've all seen software roll-outs that suffered from this.

It takes a very creative thinker to come up with a FUQ file.
Or someone several steps away from the project.
Or a kid.

I'm trying to write one now... for a problem I'm not even quite sure exists... yet.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

There are many "C's" in success!

I have found a CEO of a large corporation who has a great message she lives by and works with.
Indra Nooyi has been CEO of PepsiCo Inc. for just under two years and is a lady to watch. A dynamic CEO, she's already having impact on the bottom line and stock margins there. More importantly, she is a well spoken, interesting person with a clarity of focus that shapes her approach to life...

Here's a small snippet of her thought process -

If you want to be successful, you have to remember the "C's";
  • COMPETENCE - you have to be damn good at something, and make plans to stay CURRENT with that skill
  • COURAGE (and CONFIDENCE) - speak up when you think something is not being done right... be willing to break some china!
  • COMMUNICATION - must be able to COMMUNICATE what you are doing in a COMPELLING way
  • COMPASS - if you don't have moral integrity, all you do is for naught
  • COACHING - look for, and mentor the best. Find those who demonstrate the C's and hitch your horse to theirs... you'll go places together, and the ride will be worth it!

This kind of message is not new, but it is refreshing to see in being offered up as a philosophy in corporate America. Makes me want to support the company, even though I'm not a fan of their product (unlike a dear friend!).

Maybe she'd consider putting this message on the sides of the pop cans to give the kids something to think about?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Opportunities arising - can we grab the brass ring?

Dennis Carter, an Assistant Editor at eSchool News recently posted an article that resonated with me....
Four-day week on the rise in education:
High gas prices, long commutes have colleges and K-12 schools taking a close look at longer days, shorter weeks (posted Thu, Aug 14, 2008)
School districts and universities are taking cues from the business world and instituting four-day weeks, a trend that some say could become the norm as gas prices and energy costs continue to rise....

A listing of school systems already testing these waters was given, and some of the pluses to this approach were pointed out...
  • free from their regular classes, students are enabled to take job shadowing experiences and community involvement activities.
  • enable students to work on projects together, and be out in the community to see what the rest of the world is doing!
  • all athletic events are scheduled for Fridays and Saturdays, meaning class is not interrupted by team/sporting schedules.

My response was YES!... this would provide the time-tabling space to implement something which has been a strongly held opinion of mine for several years now;
that no child should be able to graduate high school without completing at least one course module (25% of a credit course) through an eLearning environment ... even if it means they need show up in a learning lab or school library during that scheduled period in their timetable to access a pre-booked computer, with a teacher available nearby should they need the added support.

It's so much easier and friendlier to start the eLearning process among friends, and with the teacher available face2face if you just don't "get it".

In our post-secondary educational and our working lives, more and more of the options, the choices, and the interesting extras are showing up as online learning sessions. We do a real disservice to our graduating students if they exit grade 12 without experiencing and learning "how to learn" in an eLearning world.

This environmentally-driven move to a four day week in education provides a real opening for a blossoming of eLearning possibilities...
  • "Do Friday's classes from home",
  • or "pick up a credit that we can't offer you, from one of our affiliated school districts",
  • or "take an advanced credit from the local college or university"
...these now have a time space in which to operate.

Wonder how soon this scheduling will show up in Ontario?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Are we reduced to this?

Recently an editor from a big-name computer magazine wrote comment which disquieted me.
It's not that it was offensive or anything, but rather that it reflected a couple of disturbing attitudes I've noticed in education.

K.Turner (in the article 'Airing Out Our Bookmarks') said:
"At the moment, my Inspiration folder contains almost 40 sites, and
it's one of about 30 folders sitting in my bookmark bar -- each of
which serves a different purpose. And yet, even with all of this
ever-changing content sitting at my fingertips, there are still days
when browsing through my bookmarks leaves me bored."...

"Sometimes we all need a little help getting out of our Internet rut.
With that in mind, I recently asked my fellow editors to open
up their own bookmark collections and share their favorite sites."...

"We'd also like to hear from you. What hidden gems have you found
online? Are there sites you rely on..."

Three possible responses rolled through my head when I read this....

First thought - WOW!.. are we reduced to this?!... trolling the internet to find inspiration? How shallow! Get a life!
(... but I must confess to hearing this same attitude from students < /sigh>)

Second thought - Someone needs to teach Turner some solid searching skills and show how to find and use some of the real, meaty content on the web... there is SO much great content being built that it should be theoretically impossible to get into an "internet rut" and be bored.
(Yes, I know... my teacher voice is coming out here... but I truly hope someone near to Turner reads the article and shares this enlightening approach!)

Third thought - if Turner's life is indeed reduced to the skimming of 'net fun daily, then there are more effective and efficient ways to achieve the stated aim of the article....

It was this third thought which crystallized into my response e-mail to the article. (I thought that responding with either thoughts #1 or #2 would have been to either too belittling, or too preachy?)

Open E-mail to K.Turner:
Okay - I have to ask... why such a dated way of approaching this?
Surely you've heard of Delicious?
Instead of your current desktop build-a-bookmark-folder approach, why not move your bookmarks to Delicious, then convince your fellow editors to do likewise, and collaboratively work at solid tagging of all the *good* stuff into an organized Delicious bookmark collection. Finally - invite your readers to use similar tags and build a decent tag cloud of great, funny, inspirational, etc. sites.

Just think of how much further ahead you'd all be...
Next time you needed inspiration, you'd have not only your own gems to troll through, but also the gems from your buddies, and the ever-growing surprise gems others have nominated.

Get with web 2.0, eh?!