Monday, November 26, 2007


Influencing this post:
Karl Fisch's Thought for the Day 11-25-07
Jeff Utecht's Where's the R&D in Education?

Karl Fisch excerpted this quote from Shelly Lazarus, CEO of Ogilvy & Mather:

We’re living in a world now where consumers are bombarded with thousands of commercial messages – they’re everywhere you look. Unless you cut through that and engage someone, I think you are lost. Consumers are now clearly in control. They control what they hear and see, when, and where. You have to find new ways to allow them to actively engage with you, or the money you spend is wasted.
and I immediately thought back to watching Seth Godin's TED Talk in which he spoke about the noise created by advertising. Lazarus is on to something here, as is Karl with his appeal to the educational community. What's the parallel?

Lazarus's quote echoes what has been said many times over: engage them don't enrage them because they have heard it all before. When Godin spoke, the most striking thing, and being an Apple geek I understand this all too well, was that he spoke about how the center of the populace doesn't hold it for advertisers any longer; if you are going after the biggest demographic, you are going to lose and and lose bad. The niche market, the long tail, the early adopter is who you need in order to tip the scales in your product's or idea's favor. There's the link--the early adopter, or as we like to call them here, the blue-bird.

Bear with me.

Jeff posted today about who is doing the R&D in education. He argues that it is us, the educational technologists, who are doing the majority of the testing and playing with new ideas. Taking Seth's and Shelly's ideas into consideration, we are the early adopters. It's what we are paid to do, and, in my experience, what we are passionate about. However, is that where we should be heading? I've got this idea stuck in my head that the best way to transfer the R & D is not through my work, but the work of the early adopter, the blue-bird.

Have you ever seen teachers learn from one another? It's magical, and quick! There is no wasted time, just "do this, do that, this works well, this doesn't, let me know how you do." While it is our responsibility to encourage and guide the early adopter, I am so amazed at how well teachers relate to one another when it comes to tackling new concepts, or as Jeff put it, R & D.

Here's my plan: I want to begin shifting the professional development onto the blue-birds. They use these tools practically. They use them daily and see them for what they truly are. Couldn't they offer classes in what they do? This is not a shirking of responsibilities by any means, but rather a hard look at effective transfer. Teachers learn well from teachers. In bouncing this idea around with a few colleagues, another great idea came out: why not co-teach the classes or at least Skype in one teacher they know during the workshop?

My role is to find the next thing, understand its pedagogical uses, and bring it to the faculty. The same ratios will apply in that you will get early adopters to whatever you are selling. But you will need them. They are your niche market, your standard bearers.

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