Monday, December 26, 2011

Reaching Escape Velocity - Digital Leadership


 Great trials seem to be a necessary preparation for great duties. ”
— James Thomson

Skimming my twitter feed--marking items as favorites that I need to revisit later, if time allows--every morning with my Android phone has become one of those habits. One of those habits you're not sure is good or bad, only that you've done it. It's like other bad habits I'd like to shed, such as:

  1. Eating some of my daughter's sugar cookies--she's turning into an excellent baker--with a glass of milk two hours before bed-time.
  2. Going back to sleep during the work week instead of jumping up and jogging for 30 minutes.
  3. Waiting until the smoke detectors start beeping before replacing the batteries.
You know, those are habits I'd like to shed. Habits I've picked up that I'm not sure about include:
  1. Reading my Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, News RSS feeds before getting up out of bed in the morning, along with checking the weather. Somehow, I feel that this has replaced reading the newspaper, sipping coffee, watching the morning news.
  2. Methodically wiping the free space on work machines after working with confidential data, as well as safeguarding it.
  3. Making time to reflect on blog entries, narrowing the scope of the blogs I read, so I don't suffer from information overload. This might also be called "pruning" the RSS feed, or to use a library term, "weeding."
One of the items that popped up today included the blog entry, You Cannot Afford Not to become a Digital Leader! The telling quote from my perspective includes the following:
Digital tools are are available to bring you the latest news and trends, cut down on desk time, and keep you connected to your staff and administrative teams.  You can have a tool that brings you the latest education news right on your desktop, customized with just the content you want (try Google Reader).  You can have educators all over the world sending you ideas and resources directly to you on your computer or phone (try Twitter).  You can collaborate with staff and teams virtually without having to physically meet (try SkypeGoogle Docs, or Google +).  Evaluations and data about observations can be collected, stored and distributed digitally by using a smartphone, iPad, or laptop and a form created in Google Docs.
This is great advice for new folks, especially administrators who have yet to take a sip from the firehose. It opens up a world of ideas and information.

But how do we move beyond this advice to the next level? As a veteran blogger and administrator, I ask myself, How can I help others in leadership positions--not just admins, of course--get to the next level?

Some might point out that production is the next level. The stages might be as simple as this:
  1. Telegathering (to remix Dr. Judi Harris' term) information and connecting with others.
  2. Connecting with others in real time.
  3. Creating content (e.g. blogs/wikis/videos/podcasts) and sharing it online.
As great as these steps/stages are, what's the effect on the school organization? I get the idea of super-heated particles caught in an inflexible system, bouncing around trying to escape but firmly fixed in place by an obsolete system.

How can we reach escape velocity (to really mix terms up)?
In physicsescape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy plus the gravitational potential energy of an object is zero [nb 1]. It is the speed needed to "break free" from a gravitational field without further propulsion.
When I started this blog entry, I imagined that active learning in a hyper-connected virtual polity was no different than what Connected Principals' Dave Meister proposed in his You Cannot Afford Not to become a Digital Leader! 
Active learning is a process whereby students engage in activities, such as reading, writing, discussion, or problem solving that promote analysis, synthesis, and evaluation of class content. Cooperative learning, problem-based learning, and the use of case methods and simulations are some approaches that promote active learning.  (Source: Teaching Strategies)
If active learning and digital leadership are equal--and the conflation is inaccurate, IMHO--then haven't we done a dis-service to leadership?

Where has this blog entry gone wrong?

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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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