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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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EdTech Update





Evolution of computer use in Minnesota






We're building a new school!

newschools.jpgI work in a great community.

Despite the high cost of food and fuel, a tax burden that's shifting more and more to local property taxes, and a general concern about the economy and personal well-being, the greater Mankato area citizens voted themselves a tax increase yesterday to build a new elementary school. The $33.5 million dollar construction referendum passed by 400 votes - 53% in favor. There are some other items in the referendum, including purchasing more land for yet another school, remodeling some science classrooms, and putting in an elevator but the big excitement is all about the new elementary building - the first we've built since the early 1970s.

We have a very smart school board and superintendent and savvy-supportive community. In my estimation, our district has a good track record of passing referendums because:
  • We are modest in in our requests.
  • We are well-known to be very well-run financially (and conservatively), winning awards in this area. We have the lowest administrative overhead and cost-per-pupil expenses in our region. 
  • We are open and transparent about our finances.
  • We are an "education-oriented" community, with four colleges within our school district boundaries.
  • We get the support of the local chamber, city government and business organizations. They "get" that good schools are a community development issue.
  • Our local paper has always been fair to our schools.
  • The anti-referendum letters to the editor made state government the villain in the problem of rising property taxes (as well it is), not the schools. There was never a letter saying we don't NEED a new school, only objections about how education is financed in the state.

Anyway, this is exciting. We already know this will be a "green" school, modeling as many energy efficient technologies as possible. I am hoping the new building will also have a "model" elementary media center that will serve students and staff for the next, uh, hundred years? (We are still using schools built in the 1920s with no plans to stop doing so.)

When's the first planning meeting? I can't wait! 



Excuses, excuses

excusemaker.jpgThe Top 100 Lamest Excuses for Not Innovating
(Once again via Stephens Lighthouse. How does he find these things?)

Read the list and then here is the challenge:

  1. Make a list of your three most bothersome excuses.
  2. Turn each excuse into a powerful question, starting with the words "How can I?" or "How can we?" (For example, if your excuse is "That's R&D's job," you might ask "How can I make innovation my job?" or "How can I help my team take more responsibility for innovating?"
  3. Brainstorm each question -- alone and with your team.

My excuses..

  1. It's not broken. Why fix it?
  2. It involves a power shift and somebody will get mad.
  3. I don't have the energy. 

In a sense, I object to innovation for innovation's sake. It's a means to an end. Not an end in itself. Is that my 4th excuse?

What keeps you from innovating? What are your excuses?