Monday, May 28, 2007

Working in Public: Linking Knowledge to Action

In discussions about using networking tools for school district business, Kate Greeley and I discussed several advantages and challenges. In looking for a reference link for a paper I am drafting, I discovered another advantage.

Bob Sutton and Jeffry Pfeffer identified a widespread problem in institutions and businesses that they called The Knowing-Doing Gap: managers know what needs to be done but very frequently do not implement the practices. Recently, Sutton reflected on an innovation described by Diego Rodriguez at Metacool To Do Lists: A Way to Link Knowledge to Action:
"Diego at Metacool has an instructive and inspiring new post. He has a picture and a great discussion of a 'To Do' list that was publicly displayed by the staff at the Denver Art Museum, which showed the things that they still needed to get done on a new addition. I love this because it not only advertises to donors what things they need money for, it also creates public pressure on the staff to get things done. As research on commitment shows, public proclamations are far harder to reverse than those that are made in private."
Sutton got one part of the innovation but Rodriguez took it another and more powerful step:
Even better would be to open up that to-do list to anyone. So when I find the typos on the FAA website, rather than writing a snarky post on my blog, I help 'em out by entering an item on their to-do list wiki. Now I'm part of the solution, and probably part of the brand. It's about leveraging the power of the many to create the best pile of real evidence possible about what works and what doesn't. At some point along the line this starts to feel a lot like open source. Might Mozilla really be one be one big public to-do list in disguise?

Back to the Denver Museum of Art. I wish they had a publicly addressable to-do list. I would add an entry right now. Something like "fix those crazy interior angled walls that everyone kept tripping over."
Hmmmm. Shall I add testing this idea to my public to-do-list?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Grass roots development and technology

The World Food Program uses a blog to encourage readers world-wide to understand and act on issues related to hunger and poverty. They also encourage other bloggers to spread the word with goals for sharing. I am using their tools to contribute to their goals and to understand how they have implemented the system. Fortunately, I copied text from the page that I wanted to use for a quote and can add the blockquote and paste the text below:
So I’ve asked around and it turns out there are all sorts of clever ways to generate electricity if you put your mind to it. A story in the Chicago Tribune talks about a foot-pedal-powered generator called a Weza that is now making all the difference in Rwanda. It’s a simple device, it’s portable, and humanitarian organisations are lending Rwandans the money to buy them.
The link to share simply provides the html for linking but requires that users understand html to make it work correctly. I would have found it more helpful to have worked like a bookmarklet.

Monday, May 7, 2007

International Student Survial Kit- gMap

Nils has engaged students from International Programs at WSU to help build Moscowwiki. Nils and I built some maps of Moscow using Wayfaring but they have stopped development. JB Krygier, a geographer at Ohio Wesleyan University in Columbus, has used projects in his course to achieve a similar goal.
So what about mapping your own data? If you can map your own data you can map what matters to you, or your organization, or your company, or your family, or your friends. Indeed, making your own maps with your own data means you are liberated from the confines of what other people think is important (and thus what data is made available) about the world.

Two students, Slesh Anand Shrestha & Trailokya Bhattarai, have created a survival guide to OWU for international students using the new Google Mapping tools. The final part of the assignment requires students to reflect on their mapping experiences:
Reflect on your project and relate it to other mapping you did on the web this semester. Is mapping your own data really more liberating than mapping with other peo/ples data? Can you forsee using the My Maps functions in the future? For what? Is My Maps and similar "map your own data" web sites going to have a impact beyond the "cool factor"?
I'd like to see some of those reflections.

The map includes fancier icons than those I have seen in the recently released Google MyMaps tools. I wonder whether they "come with" the Google Earth Pro tools that are available to educational institutions for free.

Costs of the War in Iraq

I searched for information about community/participatory GIS and found J. Krygier's site at Ohio Wesleyan. As a state, we are struggling with ways to make the education system more effective. A link at the cost of war site brought home the contrast in priorities.

The script form for including the counter did not work here.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Wiki Research / Viral dissemination of feeds and reading

Nils Peterson and I have frequently discussed ways to get people to understand and use RSS feeds and readers to manage information streams. Unfortunately, we have encountered challenges in getting adoption.

Theron DesRosier and I worked closely together when we rode the bus daily but not as much at a distance. So, Theron's decision to start a new blog gave me hope for new opportunties to renew our dialogs. I learned about Theron's blog from Nils' RSS feed. This "Email an item from Google Reader" tool seems like it can help encourage use of feeds and readers.

Sent to you by SC Spaeth via Google Reader:

Wiki for Original Research

via One small step for man by nils_peterson on Apr 19, 2007
In SOTLing: Open Research Wiki? Theron DesRosier asks about a wiki for publishing original research, noting that Wikipedia explicitly eschews it in its encyclopedic mission. Its an interesting question: what are the appropriate ways to get original research published? What mechanisms of peer review are desirable? How might publication be an invitation to collaboration? I struggled [...]

Things you can do from here:

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Technology Integration Committee- Next steps?

Andrew McAfee is a professor and researcher who studies how technology can be used to improve enterprises. I read his blog and reflect on the ideas for contexts important to me.

He and a colleague have recently written a piece that argues that technology can contribute to competitive advantage. They conclude the article with a series of recommendations that leaders can take to help the transformation: Dog Eat Dog, Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson:
# First, they need to look at how the company should be doing business differently. That means deciding what new tasks should be enabled with technology, and how widely they should be deployed.
# Second, managers need to lead the deployment of new procedures to success. People don't like changes to their jobs dictated from outside and embedded in software. Overcoming this inertia and resistance requires skillful leadership.
# Third, managers need to foster innovation by encouraging experimentation, collaboration, dialogue and all of the other activities that generate good ideas. That means building a technology infrastructure and an accompanying set of practices that reduce the cost of creating and replicating process innovations.
The MSAD 75 Technology Integration Committee faces a similar challenge. Sally Loughlin described the next phase of our work as follows.
TIC group will be meeting at the District Offices. We will review the tech plan and discuss how our group may support the new tech goals and new tech staffing.
How should we modify McAfee and Brynjolfsson's recommendations to fit our public school context?

Integrating tech: finding the community

Yesterday, I wrote about the frustrations of finding important resources that are essential for community engagement on the MSAD 75 web site: Integrating tech: curriculum and community

Google did not find the new page (it did find older tech pages- only 3 pages May 2, 2007) so Google's indexing robots have not yet discovered the page. If Google can't find it, and an interested, engaged member of the community can't find it, then we need to think further about what it means to communicate with stakeholders."
I searched Google again this morning (less than 24 hours later) using the same query and today, the search found the desired page and listed it first in the results:
Web Results 1 - 6 of 6 from for Current Initiatives Technology. (0.08 seconds)

MSAD 75 Curriculum - 9:54am

MSAD 75 Current Initiatives: Technology. Current Initiatives English Language Arts Math Science Social Studies Health Physical Education Music Art World ... - 14k - May 2, 2007 -
Note that Google indicates that it indexed the page on May 2, 2007. While I cannot absolutely rule out coincidence, I suspect that Google "pays attention" to blogs as a source of what engages people. Google may also have noted that I searched repeatedly for a phrase at a particular site. In either case, I am convinced they direct the indexing engines to find those resources in which users express interest. Public conversations using Web 2.0 tools (in contrast to password restricted sites) are clearly part of the more robust strategies that I encourage the district to consider.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Integrating tech: curriculum and community

In the post Sharing the work of writing a new tech plan, I wrote about working with the District Technology Integration Committee to produce a transformative technology strategy. In describing some of the challenges in the collaboration, I observed, "I can't even show you the work of the committee because the Tech Department requires authorization even for reading the developing documents." But Sally Loughlin, Kate Greeley, and Steve C. have reported interesting developments new public access points. So, I searched for the web pages but I could not find them. When I saw Kate at the district office, I asked about the pages and she quickly showed them to me. She navigated so quickly that I did not follow the exact path to them but I knew that I could always find them with a Google Search. Unfortunately, I still could not find the pages.

I wrote to Kate and requested that she send the link to the page so that I could review and prepare for the meeting. Several days later she sent the following link to the index of pages for drafts of the new plan. The link took me to the new pages, in the curriculum sub-directory of the site so I wrote the following message back to Kate:

I browsed over much of the web site but not there [in the curriculum pages]. Now that I see where it is, it makes sense because you are trying to integrate technology with curriculum.

To check my sanity, I tried to search for this page using a Google Search based on known content:
Google did not find the new page (it did find older tech pages- only 3 pages May
2, 2007) so Google's indexing robots have not yet discovered the page. If Google can't find it, and an interested, engaged member of the community can't find it, then we need to think further about what it means to communicate with stakeholders.

Since Google indexes my blog pages much more quickly than the more than two-weeks for this page, I assumed that it would index the District's pages at least as frequently. Kate wrote back and asked if we should move the link to the District site's main page. No, we need a more robust solution. Effective dialog between members of the school and community cannot tolerate those kinds of delays.