Friday, 28 November 2008

How leaders should behave in web 2.0

Social networking is pervasive and leading a change in the way we do things...have you noticed? Each morning I check my twitters to see what new ideas I can use in my leadership and connect up with my various social networking sites to see who is doing what. I am able to build loose/tight networks as never before. And with this go a number of responsibilities:
  • to be ethical in what I share about and with people;
  • to only share what I want to have known about myself;
  • to avoid spamming others with advertising and ongoing campaigns; and
  • to be honest and authentic in what I say.
As a leadership thinker, I spend my days working with leaders who want to build their capabilities and this is often in a face to face setting. It is much easier to hide behind online tools, than it is in a face to face situation. There are a whole new set of skills and behaviours to lay on the foundations of web 2.0 leadership. Leaders for tomorrow need to embrace web 2.0 technologies, at least in understanding how they change the nature of communication and create new networks of learning. As an example, schools and organisations that block staff and student access may be doing more harm than good. Time spent developing a team charter for use of web 2.0 may be more useful in building skills and expectations. Saying 'no' to technology usage does not help create a culture of trust. Yes, I know there are arising issues but in developing your people to explore ideas you are more likely to produce people who think for themselves. Don;t we need that?

I am online often and I have to be able to control myself!! I need to be able to manage my time, explore and research, decide what is appropriate, and make sense of the world. If I can do it so can you. So can students in our schools. So can government departments. Blockers, knockers and mockers - make way for the rest of us!

Monday, 24 November 2008

You're a Leader - Lead!

Several months ago I spoke at the ULearn Conference on the importance of leadership. This was in response to some thinking about the nature of leadership and the ways in which we model managing ourselves and relating to others. I asked the audience to consider which of the following they thought were 'good' - that is at least average - parliamentarians, early childhood centres, schools and teachers' colleges. It came as no surprise that parliamentarians averaged 40%. Teachers' colleges fared slightly better, then schools, then early childhood centres. The next question was if x% of these schools are good...what percentage are great? The figure was not great!! If we look at this in terms of within school variance we can see that there can be significant differences in the education received by students in the same school. As a leader I want every teacher to be great for every child. It may sound impossible but why would leaders strive for anything less. If it was your child or grandchild in a class with a mediocre teacher would you think that was okay?

Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming teachers. Leaders have a responsibility for creating strong relationships that build capacity of staff and students. One of my mentors, Wilf Jarvis, puts it like this, "Leaders are distinguished by their skills in transforming hidden potential in children, pupils and colleagues in demonstrated capacities." - Wilf Jarvis, 4QL program, 1998.

If you want to listen to the podcast of my presentation, to hear some ways in which you can develop your leadership click on the link below.

Cheryl Doig's Spotlight at Ulearn08

Thursday, 6 November 2008


The whole notion of 'and - both' is one which I find intriguing. So many people worry about there being a right answer and trying to solve problems as if there is always a solution. Organisations, and people, are complex. We need to become comfortable with paradox and with polarity. Recently I came across a Teacher Tube summary of Daniel Pink's "A Whole New Mind". I have read this book a number of times and I like what it has to say. Pink understands that we need 'and-both'. It is not a move from one thing to another, but a realisation that holonomy is important - parts AND wholes. As a leader I ponder on this...

Here are some of the things I ponder:
Why do we still structure so many businesses in a linear fashion rather than as networks?
How can we support educators to be flexible, fast moving and 'whole-minded'?
Do leaders need to be designers? If so, of what? How?
What is emotionally compelling to different individuals and groups?
How could we develop leaders to be whole minded?
What parts of our education systems should we outsource to focus on what is really important?

Have a look at the Teacher Tube summary and see what you think. What do you think we need in order to thrive?

Daniel Pink's a whole new mind

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Forecast for the future

Today I have been pondering future trends for our planet - the exciting possibilities and the growing negative impact of mankind on the planet. I was looking at the Futurist Magazine's forecast for 2008 and beyond, and it all seemed pretty grim stuff. Yet the outcome can be altered by us - one person at a time. Tony Ryan refers to this as the ripple effect. This ripple can alter the course of history. In terms of leadership, each of us has an important role to play. Educators can explore some of these issues in more depth with their students eg the water wars of the future... As leaders, whatever our role, we need to be constantly scanning the future, discussing our preferred futures and working towards those futures. We need to be leaders who take a stand, who get on with things, who are not happy with the status quo, who take Seth Godin suggests, become a heretic.

The OECD Book Trends Shaping Education 2008 is one useful reference for thinking about where we are headed. It poses some interesting questions at the end of each section. For example, in the section Towards Web 2.0? it talks of the following: "With the increase of user-created content, the Internet is no longer just about down-loading - up-loading is becoming important too." It then poses the questions: "Is this undermining the status of schools and established curriculum knowledge or is it reinforcing the quality of education? Or instead is it not especially relevant to the core business of education?" What do you think?

If the trends indicate that there is a steady increase in self expression you can bet that students, colleagues, employees and society in general are going to want an increased say, and to tailor their environments to meet their needs. At the same time we need to look at this in the context of the social world and be aware of the intricate interdependencies of our planet. This is not an either/or approach - rather an and/both approach. We need to manage these polarities - and understanding ourselves and others will never be more important.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Self Management of Students

Over the last few weeks I have been thinking a great deal about the way schools let go...and let students take greater control of their own learning. I am not saying the role of the teacher is dead, just changing. It takes teachers who know their craft to support learners to grow their own learning, and it takes time. If you want to find out more about my thoughts in this area, read my latest article on Student Self Management: Letting Go... My particular interest is in leadership so I am thinking about what school leaders need to do to enable student self management to happen...and they need to let go too!

What I want to specifically blog about in this post is the use of cellphones as one example of how schools could encourage self management. Wesley Fryer's Guidelines and instructional applications for cellphone use at school provides many resources and links to get you thinking about this. Toni Twiss has also undertaken some interesting research into the use of mobile phones.

Mobile technologies are pervasive and a wonderful tool to enhance school learning. While I understand why leaders might try to limit their use in schools, I don't agree with it. It's the same old issue of removing 'toys' because there are one or two problems...the card collections, the marbles...whatever the latest craze is. Schools that react by imposing blanket bans are not supporting self management, they are dealing with a symptom and hoping that if the temptation is removed the 'problem' will go away. Yet if we want to encourage self management, aren't we better to take part in real dialogue with students, to use the tools to enhance learning, and to help students use the technologies safely and powerfully? And because my work is with leaders, I would encourage them to explore the possibilities and...let go...