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EdTech Update





Go Google Yourself

September 15, 2005

Filed under: Navel gazing — dougj @ 4:12 pm Edit This
It’s been just a little bit of crazy around here with the start of school, so I didn’t get to check my Blogline feeds until just before bed last night. (That’s about 8:30 among us wild and crazy Minnesotans.) It was then I found a new delight!

I am a self-admitted Google addict and love all the tricky little things it can do (despite the Onion article claiming the search engine wants to destroy all information it can’t index). So I was happy to see in the Google Weblog that one can now just Google blogs using Google Blog Search.

Although my karma now may be seriously at risk, I Google Blogged myself. (Come on, admit it - you Google yourself now and then when you think you are alone.)

After wading through search results for far more illustrious “Doug Johnson’s” than myself, I found a few hits where some poor soul on his/her blog has linked to something I’ve written.

Now I have been writing for professional journals since the earth was cooling, so finding links to my articles was not too shocking. But I found links to entries in my blog which has been in existence less than two months!

There is a whole, big, whopping blogging sub-culture roaming about cyberspace that I didn’t even know about. It’s like finding a big bunch of elves in the backyard of a house you’ve lived in for 10 years. I’m amazed by the speed which thoughts now propagate in the blogosphere - even crackpot ideas like mine.

I’m going back to the NECC 2005 webast of David Weinberger’s keynote “The New Shape of Knowledge” in which he argues that knowledge is less static entity and more fluid conversation. I’ll be ordering his book too - despite the archaic, staid format.

Still trying to get my mind around this. Are you beginning to look at knowledge as not just facts, but dialog?
Yes - it is truly amazing. Here is what is rolling around in my mind… We have some very well established criteria for judging the reliability of web sites. What criteria should we add to evaluate blogs? I will be teaching evaluation skills to 9th and 10th graders over the next few months, and need some serious help with this issue!

Comment by Jacquie Henry — September 16, 2005 @ 5:49 am

Karen Schneider’s comment that “I do believe information is more of a conversation than it was in the past, and that librarians who fail to understand that are not coming along” still resonates; especially when we look at how new technologies are changing our whole perceptions of information-delivery. But critical thinking is still critical thinking, no matter what the format or framework, and that’s really what we need to concentrate on.

Comment by Alice Yucht — September 17, 2005 @ 1:46 pm


It’s Not My Job

NEVER say “It’s not my job” to your boss, teachers, or kids. If someone asks you to do something that you can’t do, you have two acceptable responses:

1. I don’t know how to do this. I need to find someone who does or find out how to do it.
2. I have other tasks I have to do first, but I will get to it when I can. (And you enumerate those other tasks.)

As you know, whenever there is a new technology implementation, there are new jobs in training, trouble-shooting, and support. And not a one of them comes labeled saying, “The librarian should do this” or “The technician should do this” or “The district technology guru should do this.”

I have always advised folks to take on the nasty, specialized jobs that are vitally important. If you have some of those and your job or hours are ever threatened, they are wonderful things to put on the table. Your boss will quickly realize that if you aren’t there do some of these things, s/he will have to find someone else to do them - and may find someone else (with few nastier jobs that need to be reassigned) to cut.

If my job ever is axed, I want the person who wielded the instrument to be really, really, really sorry s/he did - because they miss me.

Strike “It’s not my job” from your vocabulary!

Any nasty little jobs that have saved your big job?
Ironic that I should choose now to check out your blog . . . hours after I very nearly lost “it” and went storming into the office screaming “this is NOT my job!” I didn’t. I surely wanted to.

I find more and more and more of my time spent in technology/network troubleshooting. This leaves less and less time to devote to the library program, collaborating with teachers and just helping kids find a book they will love.

I am relatively new to the profession. This is my second year at the school. Where is the balance? As a librarian I expected to help out with technology. Graduate classes covered all sorts of multimedia productions and how to create rubrics for assessment, teaching kids and teachers effective search strategies, promoting higher level thinking assessments and information evaluation. No one mentioned that few teachers are willing to give you the time of day and try these activities. What they want is someone who will run AR for them. And someone who can IMMEDIATELY fix network printing problems.

It’s also especially funny when I call the district help desk and am told “we aren’t trained in trouble-shooting like you are.” HA! When did that happen? Almost everything I know about computers I learned by playing around with it.

I know I need to learn to say “I have other tasks I have to do first, but I will get to it when I can.” So how do you get the people who are standing there waiting while you are trying to teach a class to LEAVE and let you get to it when you can? Which may be in quite a while? There is no way I can go to each and every computer on campus and input the proxy server numbers or change email account names. Is that my job? Can teachers not follow written directions? I know they have a lot to do. So do I.

Vent over. Thanks, cyberspace readers, for listening.

Comment by Angie — September 24, 2005 @ 6:55 pm

I am in my 28th year of teaching-the last 10 in a high school media center. I love everything about being a media specialist including tech support-one reason I was lured to this position. But I am extremely frustrated that I, like Doug suggests, did not say no when asked to add to my responsibilities. One of the secretaries at our school was doing asset inventory which includes labeling and tracking everything purchased in our school with 100 teachers and almost 1900 students. She didn’t want to do it and the principal asked me to take it on. Of course I said, “yes”. I would never think of telling an administrator I could not handle something he or she needed done. But, besides being burned out I am no longer enjoying the perfect job. I feel I no longer have the time to discuss books with students or spend time helping them find answers to things they just “were wondering about”. I am constantly stressed because teachers don’t get information back to me in a timely manner so that I can complete endless reports which includes a video inventory of the entire school-something that took two weeks to get done with a school this size and a schedule like mine. I can retire after next year and will because I am no longer doing the job I loved.

Comment by Debi Tebeau — September 29, 2005 @ 3:05 pm


The Doughnut System of Employee Evaluation

Happy people evaluate themselves; unhappy people evaluate others. William Glasser

One of the goals my boss, Ed the Superintendent, has set for me this year is to conduct a formal evaluation of my district office staff. Let’s see, that’s about a dozen people, ranging from our technology coordinator to secretaries to technicians to printers.

My problem is that I genuinely like these people – every last one of them - because they are both competent and, well, likeable. Sure, once in a while somebody gets on my nerves, but I probably do things that annoy them as well. But largely we really are one big happy dysfunctional family.

This is how I described our current evaluation system in my book Machines are the Easy Part: People are the Hard Part :

Our printer Greg helped me formulate the Doughnut Employee Evaluation SystemTM.

Here is how it works:
1. Let if be known that the best way teachers and administrators can express their appreciation for work above and beyond the call of duty by an employee of your department is to bring that employee a box of pastries.
2. The above pastries are shared with others in the department, custodians, and visitors.
3. The boss keeps track of how many such boxes are given in any employee’s name. The more doughnuts, the better the evaluation.
As supervisor, take credit for one doughnut from each box since you had the intelligence to hire such outstanding individuals.

I tried to convince Ed that this system has been used successfully for about 14 years in the department. He still insists on something more formal (and reminded me that I never earned a single box of doughnuts for him.)

So my question is: Have you ever participated in a review process from which you actually benefited? And what exactly made it beneficial?

1 Comment »
Recently I have decided to work openly and transparently with my faculty. Although I have 6 entrances to the library and a huge bank of windows to a courtyard that others can see into from the hallway and the front of the building, we didn’t seem VISIBLE enough. So,I have started using the intercom after school with the bizarre announcements that spice up life. Here is yesterday’s:
“Mrs. Chen and crew are in the library painting and getting ready for next week’s bookfair. If anyone has any masking tape to send us, they will be in Mrs. Chen’s good graces.”
Five rolls of masking tape came rolling in. Four teachers immediately rushed in, 1 called, 2 caught me in the hallway. Everyone watched avidly while I wrote their names down on my “good list.” Several bargained for favors immediately or watched me write down favors such as “first dibs on lesson time after the bookfair,” “one hour story and lesson time without the teacher,” and my favorite “librarian promises to read 2 stories from the bookfair to a class.” Seems by these standards that I must be doing something right.

Comment by Diane Chen — September 13, 2005 @ 10:43 pm