Transitioning from What to Why #iPad #Chromebook #edtech #simonsinek

"No matter how visionary or how brilliant," shares Simon Sinek in his book, Start with Why, "a great idea or a great product isn't worth much if no one buys it." Assuming Sinek is right, it probably shouldn't come as a surprise to instructional technologists that this is why they are often ignored. The desire of instructional technologists are to share great technologies with teachers so as to revolutionize teaching and learning. But that approach doesn't work...as Sinek says, "No one buys it." 

"Have you seen this?" This comes across when discussing the latest awesome app, or device (e.g. Apple Watch, for example), or blog entry! Once you're on the bandwagon of praising the latest, being a cheerleader or fan-girl/boy, you're lost until you stop focusing on the latest and greatest technology.
"WHY did we start advocating technology in schools (WHAT) in the first place, and WHAT can we do about that with all instructional approaches and easy to use technologies available to us in schools today?"
A profound question. I remember why I started down this road. Do you?

When We Start with Why
"Do you have a lot of one device in your school or district? What would a transition plan look like? As others have suggested, starting with the device is problematic. Too many initiatives in schools have started with technology as the magic bullet...it's not that the technology failed, but that we imagined that just having access to technology in the classroom would make a difference. We actually have to shift the culture and practices in classrooms, which means doing that at the District level, too.

Source: Simon Sinek, Start with Why

  1. Why - This is the core belief of the organization. It's why it exists. To inspire, start with why.
  2. How - This is how the organization fulfills that core belief...action you take to get to why.
  3. What - This is what the company does to fulfill that core belief. The results of your actions (all you say or do). (Adapted from Source)

Since Simon Sinek's Lead with Why has been making the rounds, what would that look like in education? I'm not sure since I'm still trying to wrap my head around the why, how, what approach (I'm slow, that's why I blog...to try and figure things out).
  1. Why - We want to truly transform how children learn alone and together in a way that fundamentally changes how students learn in school. In fact, we want kids to learn and share across schools, transcending boundaries of time and space. They do it all the time while learning to play internet-based games together, why not in school?
    1. 2nd Draft: Human beings can learn and create alone, but when they collaborate, "Wow!" the result is exponential! 
    2. 3rd Draft: People do things on their own all the time. We want to help people work together to to learn, create, and share together...to achieve powerful results. Often, schools aren't able to do that.
  2. How - We accomplish this by rethinking our learning activities, asking ourselves, how are we able to facilitate more effective learning alone and reflection time, enabling creative tools for students when they are working alone and designing collaborative learning experiences that fit together like extenders? My individual creations can be remixed as part of a collaborative creation process with others.
    1. 2nd Draft: With coaching strategies that model technology use, we can coach people to collaborate to be more creative and collaborative.
    2. 3rd Draft: We can use technologies designed to facilitate creation, collaboration and communication to help people be more creative and collaborative.
  3. What - We happen to use a variety of instructional approaches, but integral to each are mobile devices and web services that make individual to group, group to group collaborations easy to accomplish, and empower inter-disciplinary content creation.
    1. 2nd Draft: Whether it's GoogleClassroom and GoogleApps, Chromebooks or iPads, we can empower people to create alone or together to achieve common goals.
Miguel's Effort to Put It All Together: People do things on their own all the time. We want to help people work together to learn, create, and share. To support this, we will coach others to develop or find technologies designed to support active learning, creating and sharing. Mobile devices (e.g. iPads, Chromebooks, smartphones), web-based services (e.g. GoogleApps for Education) are only two of the tools we can use to make this possible.
I'm not sure that works, or even makes sense, but it's a quick effort to make sense of Sinek's ideas and apply them to educational technology. If you've seen someone else do it, I'd love to see what they did! Or, if you have suggestions, please drop them in the comments. Ok, so now that you know about start with why, let's do it wrong.

When We Start with WHAT
In conversation with others, I asked what were some of the problems that we experienced with iPads, as well as what possibilities were enabled with Chromebooks. This was done purely for fun to tease a visiting Apple sales representative, but I have no doubt some will find it relevant. There is truth in this..."transition plan" for  iPad to Chromebook:


In this Transition Plan, you can see how iPads are an expensive proposition for schools. Let's quickly review how:
  • iPads require a Mobile Device Management (MDM) that can be quite expensive, no matter which of the top providers you are using like JAMF Software's Casper Suite or AirWatch (both GREAT products you need to be using if working with more than 30 iPads)
  • Expensive power cord replacement (which change periodically), as well as
  • Expensive display adapters to connect your Apple device to a digital projector/display
  • Individual cost of iPads can be quite high to get a quality model
  • Repairs costs can start at $180 and go up from there.
  • GSX Warranty process can be slow to navigate through
  • iTunes content is closed and proprietary, so you have to have an Apple device to get maximum benefit.
On the other hand, Chromebooks are now showing up with a wealth of options:
  • $200 price point that include remote management
  • No Mobile Device Management is needed
  • Repair costs are included in the pricing, and even with some Chromebooks that had the "wrong glue" included that resulted in screens peeling back, replacement is at no cost if within the warranty period
  • The whole Google for Education ecosystem is richer and more powerful for schools including Google Classroom, GoogleApps, Google Drive.
  • For some schools using Brightbytes' Clarity, top needs identified include addressing multimedia, classroom management with technology, online writing, collaboration tools.
  • Keyboarding support, free apps
  • Science Peripherals and Probes (I just saw one that has everything you could ever need on it for $600)
However, let's remember that while the facts and opinions in this blog entry resemble the truth, focusing on the device is problematic. We don't want to make instructional decisions around technology. For me, technology sets up boundaries...simply, you do things the way the technology allows or not at all...or worse, you have to come up with different workflows to detour around "built-in technology roadblocks."

Detour Example: When many of us wanted to share iPads in classrooms, we had to create generic email accounts for each device so that students could share their work products from one class period to another and/or take advantage of cloud storage. Now, a few years after launch in schools, Apple is moving to fundamentally change the technology so it supports rather than restricts sharing in classrooms.

Obviously, while this transition plan focuses on the device (e.g. iPad or Chromebook), the best transition plan isn't about devices...rather, it's about how we approach teaching and learning. In an ideal situation, we're not going to have one type of device but devices that make learning alone and together possible, that facilitate collaboration and creation in ways that weren't possible previously.
Golden Circle

In my ideal district, Ardent ISD, I would try to find the solution that provided the most bang for the buck in achieving why and how. Again, I'm not sure if I've understood Sinek's work and applied it incorrectly. But it's been fun exploring the ideas.

Ok, here's another try:
We want to help people learn, create, and share in ways that transcend time and space. Coaching others to develop or find technologies designed to support active learning, creating and sharing. Mobile devices (e.g. iPads, Chromebooks, smartphones), web-based services (e.g. GoogleApps for Education) are only two of the ways we can use to make this possible. Are you ready to have experiences that redefine your learning? If yes, give us a call!


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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