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Tuesday
Oct142008

Why we satisfice - 2


I am always amazed at the amount of time and anguish some people will devote to completing reports - especially those useless ones required by the state or a central office.

Here's how I look at them:

If there is money involved, I attempt to be as accurate as possible without agonizing. When ever possible, I figure conscientious estimates are enough. I mean, is somebody actually going to come in and recalculate the average age of your science section? Re-measure the square footage of your media center? Really care if you count a set of reference books as one title or three volumes? Sit and monitor the average number of students who visit the media center? I don't think so.

As my dad always said, "A job not worth doing is not worth doing well." Give a good guess and then use your time helping your kids or staff. The world will continue to revolve.

Monday
Oct132008

Why we satisfice


Satisficing (a portmanteau of "satisfy" and "suffice") is a decision-making strategy which attempts to meet criteria for adequacy, rather than to identify an optimal solution.Wikipedia <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satisficing>

A common complaint about student researchers is that they "satisfice." They stop after finding the first possible answer to a question. I am guessing there is more to it than just laziness.

Consider this graph:

Is there a direct correlation between importance of the question to the researcher and the depth of research he/she is willing to do?

Maybe, just maybe, if we asked better questions, we'd get better researchers.

Ya think?

Tomorrow, the corollary with filing state reports.


Sunday
Oct122008

Odds and Ends - Rainy Fall Sunday


After a very nice trip to do workshops and presentations at the Washington/Oregon Joint School Library Conference in Portland last week, it's great to be home to enjoy Minnesota's fall colors, muted by rains this quiet Sunday. Life is good.

A few things that caught my eye this past week and you might find interesting as well:

It's not what you know but who you know...
When my superintendent showed an interest in podcasting and asked for examples of other educational administrators who were creating these things, I turned to Scott McLeod who put the question to his readers of  Dangerously Irrelevant and they generated a nice list. Thanks, Scott and your groupies.

Another post of Scott's made me stop and think a bit. In Messianic arrogance, Scott asks "Passionate, visionary leadership or self-righteous, messianic arrogance?" Is there a difference? Hmmmmm... Do you you offer Kool-Aid to your guests?

In print
It's always fun to see one's article published in a print magazine, especially a magazine like School Library Journal. I'm kinda proud of ’Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad (c)?” - it's controversial and good for kids, teachers and librarians. The topic has been great fun in the conference presentations I've given about it these last two weeks. I'm pleased SLJ put it online. Illustration at right by Mark Tuchman from SLJ Oct 08

Are you willing to get fired for your beliefs?
I've extolled the humor of Librarian Wham on the Books, Bytes and Grocery Store Feet blog before. But this week his How Firm is Your Stand? post tells the story of the economic and career consequences of being a principled person - about standing up to one's supervisor and getting fired for it.

Most of us talk a good game about going to any length in upholding our ideals, acting in the best interest of our students, playing David against the administrative Goliaths. But I suspect that niggling self-doubt and mortgage payments combine to trump principle in all but the true heroes among us.

Oh, speaking as a supervisor, principled people can be scary to have working for you too.

A short list of technology competencies
Senator McCain has infamously admitted to his lack of Internet(s) savvy. Knowing how to send an e-mail probably isn't crucial to being the Leader of the Free World, but it does seem a bit anachronistic. Heck, my mom does e-mail and she's even older than McCain. But then she doesn't have an aide at her beck and call either. Except my brother.

Anyway, Seth Godin has a pretty good list of technology competencies in his post The growing productivity divide. David Pogue has some similar basic tech tips. How would your teachers do if given a test on these?

A good question
How would you answer this question that popped up in a workshop last week during a discussion on evaluating web resources:
But what do you do when you've steered your students to "authoritative" sites and the good sources don't all agree? I had students use three reliable sources to find the maximum speed of a cheetah and they came back with three different answers!
Average them? Give a range?

Hell, just use Wikipedia.

What gets tested, gets taught
By way of my friend Mary Mehsikomer:
ON THE WAY: NATION'S FIRST TECH-LITERACY EXAM, eSchool News
For the first time ever, technological literacy will become part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the Nation's Report Card. Beginning in 2012, the test will measure students' proficiency with technology in addition to reading, math, science, history, writing, and other subjects. The new test will mark the first time students' technology literacy has been assessed on a national level.
http://benton.org/node/17652
Is this what it will take to get schools to address the tech skills kids need? How sad.

Off to Montana this week
The LWW and I leave this Wednesday for Missoula in the great state of Montana. I'm working at a conference on Thursday, visiting with our friend Sally Brewer on Thursday evening, and then heading to Glacier Park for a long weekend.

I'll tell the grizzly bears you said hello.