Multi-level schools for multi-level living: 7 lessons from great cities around the world (and lots of pics)

Living room comfortLook around at the places where people gather: shopping malls, offices, hotel lobbies, pubs. All these places are seeking to make an environment that make people want to return. At my local mall there are numerous ‘living room’ areas for people to sit, meet and wait. The design of these new communities are multi-level, spacious and use colour and lighting to create the right atmosphere. The designers thought about the way people move around, to see more, stay longer and presumably purchase more.

primary school 3The traditional Australian school has a wide, broad footprint, reflecting the spaciousness of our land. Usually, they are single or double storey buildings, opening onto a covered verandah overlooking a play area. This means there are often fewer corridors to herd the students along.

However, in many cities today, the medium to high density housing market is booming, bringing families into the city and apartment living. As a result schools in these areas are bursting at the seams. Many of us live in multi-level cities, but are reluctant to think about multi-level schools school.

I have visited multi-storey schools in a number of cities around the world. Older cities like New York, London, Amsterdam need schools where the people are and the people are in the older parts of the city, but even in new developments in Manchester, Copenhagen, Stockholm and Auckland schools are designed to go ‘up’ rather than ‘out’.

What does it mean to rethink how we design schools in Australia? Here are some ideas from around the world, schools and libraries I have visited on SCIL Vision Tours that may provide insight into rethinking the design of school.

Multi-level schools: Often designed around an atrium, these schools open the learning, giving a sense of space within. The spaces for learning are wide, multi-age and/or large cohorts often share an entire floor.

Shared open social spaces: One of the most common elements of multi-level schools are the social/meeting/eating spaces, where the whole community are welcome, without barriers that separate staff spaces from student spaces.

Stairs as a focal point and gathering place: In a number of schools and libraries the stairs are designed to be more than the means of travelling between levels. Wide stairs area enable free flow of movement of large numbers of students and also serve as gathering places for the community.

Spaces within spaces: These smaller spaces enable groups to work on a project, individuals to get into their own headspace and they also can create a sense of fun. A large open space can be broken up with smaller spaces.

Open movement areas and wide corridors extend the learning areas: Corridors have traditionally been considered the efficient means for movement, but are often an inefficient use of valuable space for learning. Make them wide, accessible and part of the learning area.

Light, colour, comfort: Each of these require attention. Designing a space that enables the students to see outside, to see sky and trees and to work in natural light helps everyone’s mood. Similarly, bringing colour through lighting, wall colours, murals or glass panels adds vibrancy.

Many of us like to choose the location and the furniture for the task, it is the same with students. A variety of furniture types provides students with choice. This will mean that all students may not be facing the front, which begs the question, “Do we really need a front at all?”

The People matter: A well-designed school is the starting point, creating the right culture and supporting the students and teachers in the use of the space is essential. Here are a few key areas that require deliberate planning and careful execution to make the transition:

  • Creating a collaborative work and learning culture
  • Rethinking the role of the teacher
  • Simple and reliable technology
  • Leadership that communicates vision

@anneknock

 

 

If… “Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than IQ” …then what will you change in your school?

Aside

Have you heard these statements?

A parent may say “I like Mr X for my son’s teacher, he is a good disciplinarian.”

What about this advice to a new teacher: “Don’t smile for the first month, and you will be able to discipline them for the year.”

One of our greatest responsibilities as educators is to create an environment where self-discipline can flourish, and in so doing, provide life long benefits for our students.

What matters in building self confidence:

  • Students need to develop self-discipline as a life long habit
  • Willpower acts like a muscle that strengthens self-discipline
  • Stressful and discouraging situations drain willpower
  • Willpower is fuelled by warmth, kindness and appreciation

A disciplinarian-style teacher might have a quiet classroom, with well-behaved students, when they are contained within that environment, but it doesn’t help them in the long-term if they aren’t given the opportunity to become intrinsically motivated and drive their own learning:

Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than IQ.
(Duckworth and Seligman - See notes”)

Martin Seligman and fellow researcher Angela Duckworth made this finding in their 2004 research in a longitudinal study of 140 eighth-grade students. The research discovered that under achievement was a failure to exercise self-discipline and that students who displayed greater self-discipline had fewer absences, spent more time on self-directed work and watched less TV.

The traditional models of education, that support passive learning and teacher as keeper of content may focus on extrinsically applied discipline within that particular context, but this isn’t the same as ‘self-discipline’. Willpower is the habit for success and the fuel for self-discipline.

Mark Muraven, Associate Professor of Psychology, University at Albany, NY State conducted research into willpower and came up with some interesting findings (see Notes for more information). He discovered that willpower can get used up like fuel and that treating people with warmth and consideration actually builds willpower stamina.

Muraven says in The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business (Duhigg, 2012).

When people are asked to do something that takes self-control, they think they are doing it for personal reasons – if they feel there is a choice or something they enjoy because it helps someone else – it’s much less taxing. If they feel they have no autonomy, if they are just following orders, their willpower muscles get tired much faster… when the students were treated like cogs, rather than people, it took a lot more willpower.

Many parents prefer a school or a particular teacher because of a reputation for keeping students in line, for attention to rules and regulation, and providing lots of homework. They will often say “they have good discipline” – but is it the right type of discipline. Self-discipline can look messy and it can be used as an excuse for accepting rowdy behaviour, but when used effectively it is a powerful tool that sets up our young people for success later in life.

@anneknock

References and Notes:

Duckworth and Selgman “Self-Discipline Outdoes IQ in Predicting Academic Performance of Adolescents” 2004 http://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/PsychologicalScienceDec2005.pdf

Muraven’s research, from The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do in life and business (Duhigg, 2012).

1. Cookies and Radishes: Two groups of students were asked only to eat the food assigned to them – cookies or radishes. You can imagine, the cookie eaters were in heaven and radish eaters in agony. After this they were each given a difficult puzzle to complete. The cookie-eaters with their unused reservoirs of willpower were relaxed, they persevered, tried different approaches to completing the puzzle. The radish-eaters, on the other hand, had their willpower thoroughly taxed. They became frustrated and started to complain about the puzzle

2. Just Cookies: Again, there were two groups of students, each with a plate of warm cookies in front of them this time, but the instructions were different. The first group were treated kindly, “We ask that you please don’t eat the cookies. Is that OK?” The researcher then explained the project goals and requested feedback on the experiment and thanked them for contributing their time.

The second group were treated more rudely, “You must not eat the cookies. We’ll start now.” They weren’t given an explanation of the goals, appreciated nor was there any interest in feedback on the experiment.

Each group had to ignore the cookies for 5 minutes after the researcher left the room. Non one gave into temptation. Then the participants were given a computer task. The first group did well on computer task. They were able to maintain focus for the 12 minutes, they had willpower to spare. However, the second group were tired and less-focused. Their willpower muscle had been fatigued by the instructions.

Schools should do more to teach children and young people about [insert hot topic here]…

This morning in our major Sydney daily newspaper, an op-ed piece Another brick in the wall of Gen Y culture decline states,

Schools need to do more about bringing a little elitism back into the awareness of culture. High culture: fine art, opera, serious drama and music that requires patience and understanding needs to be embedded into the curriculum

Whenever I read the line Schools need to do more… I recall the number of times I have read this in the past, but it leads me to ask:

What responsibility falls to families and the broader community?
Should schools be the portal for all civic and cultural education?

After all it takes a village to raise a child.

I can remember similar claims after a crisis or event that the school curriculum should include:

  • pet care and responsibility

  • drug and alcohol use

  • hygiene matters

  • playground equipment safety

  • road safety

  • cyber safety

  • stranger danger

  • ???

Insert any other community or cultural issue that apparently can be disseminated when all our nation’s young people are compulsorily and conveniently lumped together, as a collective empty vessel waiting to be filled.

Is this a simplistic approach to a greater problem?

What is the purpose of school education and the curriculum?

These topics listed are very important and are rightly included in the life of many responsible schools. However, I do wonder if we could adopt a more comprehensive community-wide approach to tackling them, other than crowding the curriculum even further.

This would enable our professional educators to spend more time on what they do best. If the school day/week/term/year only has a finite amount of time available needs to be something eliminated in order to accommodate each new hot topic into the curriculum.

How do we empower parents and build community?

How do we recreate the village?

Sadly the soulless shopping mall has become the quasi-village over the last few decades, without responsibility for the village-community, other than getting them there to buy more stuff.

In many places schools, faith and local communities are becoming the village hubs. Wouldn’t it be great if pre-emptive grants could be made available to educate parents and their children as a community about these broader community-related matters.

So the next time there is a hot-topic impacting our young people we will all take responsibility for finding solutions.

@anneknock

Internet of Things: 4 challenges for school leaders in 2014

We live in a world that is fact-paced and technology-driven, the Internet of Things is all around, gathering data, sensing trends and improving services, yet  school can still be like entering your grandmother’s living room. It’s comfortable and predictable, it hasn’t changed much in the last few decades. In 2014 Granny might even have an iPad because she likes to watch catch-up TV, play scrabble and email the grand kiddies.

The comfortable and predictable at school exists:

  • We can manage students in lots of about 30
  • We all have our designated place/desk to work at – student, teacher, principal
  • It’s simpler to just teach discrete subjects
  • The day starts at 9am-ish and finishes at 3.30pm-ish
  • The principal/headteacher knows everything and tells us what to do.
  • Our behaviour management system keeps the students in line
  • We upload websites and Youtube videos to the portal to control the content
  • We have a one-to-one laptop/iPad program
  • The IT team manage our technology

Just like granny’s living room, we know what to expect everyday, every week, every year, whether we like it or not.

Is 2014 your year for change?Internet_of_Things_Infographic
It is time to think differently about technology – we are in the era of the ‘Internet of Things’. Check out the Cisco Infographic.

  • The world is not 1:1 technology, in fact, during  2008 the number of things connected to the internet exceeded the number of people on earth.
  • Technology ‘things’ can mean a myriad of devices – not just laptops, tablets and smartphones
  • Data collection enables more effective use of time and resources
  • Sensors provide analytics and improve health and life outcomes
  • User activity is tracked for improved experiences

This video from IBM explains the Internet of Things

Link to video

Link to video

These ‘things’ collect data and connect meaning, providing the relevant information to improves services, connecting aspects of life, to make human activity more efficient and providing the basis of innovation. New insights and activity can be generated.

Most importantly, we need to know where we fit in. The IBM video explains the DIKW-Pyramid. Data, information and even some knowledge can be gathered by technology, we need people who can make sense of it, bring their wisdom, be ethical and innovate. Ultimately to find solutions to big problems and improve lives.

DIKW Pyramid IBM

Four Challenges

There are new skills and expertise required, to ensure that  students are well-prepared for the present and an unfolding future. So where does that take our learning focus? Some thoughts to ponder:

  1. Is technology viewed narrowly as a subject or a 1:1 device program? Otherwise the scope of the possibilities open to students is limited.
  2. Do your teachers only use devices as an input and output repository for content? The potential enables them to solve problems, be entrepreneurial.
  3. Will school administrators invest in a robust wifi network? Without it you are limiting the possibilities of learning, innovative ideas and expression
  4. Is your IT Team/Department  separated, rather than integrated in making the decisions about technology in your school? If separated they are more likely to confine the breadth of their own knowledge and expertise.

So as you think about the 2014 school year – it’s probably time to move out of granny’s living room and rethink what it means to provide a meaningful education for 2014 and beyond. Where  students are equipped with the skills, values and attributes that will help them make sense of their world and then prepare for the generation to follow them.

@anneknock

Resources: Cisco, IBM

Silence is golden? Perhaps it’s measure of good-old-fashioned teaching. But is it the measure of great learning?

This headline caught my eye: “Australia’s classrooms among world’s noisiest”

As I talk to educators and school leaders about rethinking the way we contextualise education the question of noise regularly rears its head. There is a generation of educators and parents who are under the impression that a good education (teacher-centred) can only occur in an environment of silence. I believe that great learning (student centred) requires noise.

An international study* has found 43 per cent of Australian students reported ”noise and disorder” as factors in their classrooms. One-third said they had to ”wait a long time for the students to quiet down” and 38 per cent said students ”don’t listen to what their teacher has to say”. (SMH: 8 December 2013) *Study not cited.

I believe that these are factors of teacher capacity and school culture, rather than a problem of noise. However, later in the article, the voice of reason:

But Michael Anderson, associate professor in education and social work at the University of Sydney said it was important for teachers to distinguish between productive noise and distracting noise. ”Noise can be productive when it comes out of collaborative learning opportunities that the kids are involved in,” he said.

oldschoolThe idea of working in silence, and by inference, individually, is an industrial-era paradigm of productivity. During my own teaching career, I would relish those moments when I looked around the room to see and hear the buzz of productivity as students explored, you could almost hear the learning happening. I would joke with my colleagues that we would schedule a handwriting lesson for a little bit of structured quiet – no communication, heads down.

Great learning needs connection, conversation and ‘aha’ moments.

As we walk around the open learning spaces at NBCS we ‘see’ learning accompanied by noise and productivity – yet the question from visiting educators is almost always one who asks about noise levels. They tell me about teachers’ headaches and unruly students. We need to ask ourselves, is this fear and trepidation concerning noise a question of teaching or learning?

There are two important points to make:

  • Noise levels should be planned for and managed – From an acoustic management perspective, there are ways to  manage the sound in a room. The beauty of open spaces is that there are less walls for reverberation, yet lack of attention to this and low ceilings can exacerbate the problem. (In this short video I am talking about the importance of acoustic management.)

  • Educators need to become comfortable with noise as a condition for learning – When education was teacher-centric, there would be silence for the words of the oracle to heard and digested. But today, when students are exploring and challenging concepts, when they are developing passion projects noise is necessary

SCIL Building20 years ago I wanted a classroom that buzzed with learning and exploration, but it took time to reach this. As students and teachers take time to adapt to the new culture it can be tempting to give up before this goal is reached.

In the first two years of The Zone at NBCS there was a traffic light noise system, to remind the students when the voices were too loud. As the culture of respectful and productive noise became the norm, the traffic lights were no longer necessary.

Here are my conclusions:

  • Finding the right levels of noise for learning takes time and strategy for the right culture to take hold.
  • Teachers  need to become comfortable with the idea that deep learning happens in a noisy context of many-to-many, not one-to-many
  • Learning space design requires attention to the key factors that will make noise levels positive and productive.

@anneknock

Read this if you hate the idea of being in front of the video camera (BTW…It’s time to get used to it)

If you are like me, you hate the idea, so why do you even need to consider it? If you work in education, this is the reality:

Video is the 21stC currency of communication. We really can’t ignore it.

Gen Z

Gen Z were born between 1995 and 2009. According the McCrindle Research this generation of digital integrators are more effectively engaged through the visual medium, they use technology for more than 10 hours/day and YouTube is the second most commonly used search engine after Google.

photo 2

A 16 year old I know had a cracked smart phone screen and wasn’t prepared to pay ridiculous rate that the suppliers would charge to repair it. So what did she do? Typed “How to fix a cracked smart phone screen” into YouTube. She bought a replacement screen on eBay, watched the video over and over, gathered the necessary tools and fixed it herself.

photo (17)

Gen Z represents the students we teach today. Video is a very powerful medium for learning and engagement. But it is not just Khan Academy, or ITunesU, we need homegrown videos. It means that you and I need to get used to being in front of the camera.

We actually don’t have any excuses not to use video, or be video-ed, in order to engage the students. For Gens Y and Z talking to a camera and uploading is as straightforward as talking on the phone. They don’t seem to worry about the lighting, background or how their hair looks.

Yet, there are a large number of us who avoid being video-ed at all costs. We need to get comfortable about being video-ed and seeing ourselves, so here is my tip…

Do you realise that when people see you in person, it’s exactly the same as what they see on the screen?

The problem is that we don’t actually see ourselves often. Even the mirror isn’t that accurate. Do you realise that most of us even have a mirror-face? Next time you look in the mirror relax your face and see the difference.

As part of the babyboomer generation I don’t want to be a fuddy-duddy, but embrace cultural trends. This also means seeing myself on video.

So, to jump in with two feet into the video generation and, as I do, just tell yourself “This is the face that people just see all the time”, and there is only other thing…

@anneknock

On the road in CPH: The Hub, Maglegardskolan & Orestad Gymnasium #VisionTour13

After much planning our tour group gathered together for dinner last night at a restaurant in downtown Copenhagen (CPH) run by a young Australian guy. It was the first opportunity for us all to meet and start the getting-to-know-you process, as we travel together for the next two weeks.

The Hub CPHThe morning started with a good walk across town to the Hub CPH. There was plenty of time to chat along the way as we joined in the morning commute, trying to remember to stay out of the bike lanes. CPH is a beautiful city. 

 

The Hub movement – Where change goes to work – is a worldwide community of co-working and event spaces for entrepreneurs and change-makers. Laura, our host, showed us around explaining the use of the different areas and the aims of the Hub.

HUB CPH

The Hub encourages innovation, creativity and sustainability. With different spaces designed for different ways of working – open, collaborative, engaged and quiet.

So why did you decide to join us for the Vision Tour? 

Unless you come along on this kind of trip you don’t know what you don’t know.

Our group is comprised of educational leaders – principals, a board chair, school systems leaders and facility planners, from NSW, Qld, SA and ACT – grappling with questions like:

How do we continue to engage students? They start off keen in the early years and then this deteriorates.

Can we help teachers not to revert to the industrial model in new spaces?

What is the resource centre for schools today?

What are the design challenges to incorporate into new schools?

How do we make collaboration the default, not the control model?

Can space lead to better pedagogy?

Can we invest in new ways of teaching and maintain academic standards?


So why did you decide to come?
This was the first framing session and Stephen Harris set the scene for change ahead, asking:

What common language do you need to create the culture you want?

What do you need to do for every student to have an equal user experience at school?

And challenging the group with: What do we really believe about change?

From there we started the educational adventure.

Two schools…

MaglegardskolenMabglegardskolan

The interesting feature about Maglegard is the grouping of three grades in the one home space – 75 children, with 5 teachers. They start the morning altogether as a community, then use the entire space as a learning area. The ‘classroom’ spaces are small – instruction is limited to around 15 minutes, then
MAglegardskolan
each child goes to a shared work area. Every student has their own plan, in their own portfolio.

This was my second visit to this school and I enjoyed the openness and friendliness of the students as they shared their work with me. Also, the communal area of the space, with the kitchen the sofas and the fish tank made it feel like home.
Maglegardskolan

Orestad GymnasiumIMG_2535

Architecturally, Orestad Gymnasium is impressive. This school is now five years old and is renowned for its outstanding design. A central spiral staircase forms the heart of the vertically designed senior high school.

Everyone can see everyone.

It is located in the growing IT district of Orestad, full of interesting and quirky
Orestad Gymnasium
buildings. The senior high school is
preparation ground for students who seek university education.

We were hosted by two students, Christoffer and Nikita. Their honest and candid reflections were helpful. The school is open and spaces are bookable as needed. There are closed off classrooms where learning lectures are held, but these students prefer the collaborative approaches. Only 20% of their learning time is in lecture format.

And in between… Lunch at a most amazing building.

We stopped for lunch in the Orestad precinct at a uniquely designed housing and 8 Housebusiness development – 8 House.

The bowtie-shaped 61,000 sqm mixed-use building of three different types of residential housing and 10,000 sqm of retail and offices comprises Denmark’s largest private development ever undertaken…the 8 House stacks all ingredients of a lively urban neighbourhood into horizontal layers of typologies connected by a continuous promenade and cycling path up to the 10th floor creating a three-dimensional urban neighbourhood where suburban life merges with the energy of a city, where business and housing co-exist. 

8 House

8 House cafe

 

In the new paradigm of work and learning, have we given sufficient thought to the teacher workspace?

20120223-061243.jpgIn the last couple of weeks I have had tours of city workplaces, particularly in the banking sector, that are opting for the activity-based work (ABW) approaches to organising their people and spaces.

ABW does away with a personal workspace for each employee, while providing different spaces for various work functions, including collaboration, learning, focusing, and socialising. Read more.

Luc Kamperman, from Veldhoen, the Dutch company that pioneered this approach commented in an interview:

Activity based working in a building is really characterised by a different environment, different spaces, different settings for people to either concentrate individually or to collaborate with a couple of people together. 

This all makes sense. It looks and feels like the open learning spaces in school – for the students,  but has the teacher own workspace kept up?

What could a teacher’s workspace (other than the learning space) look like?

Individual study corals

Messy desks

Stacked high with paper, folders and lots of unused resources

Little consideration of the aesthetics – bare brick wall and fluorescent lighting

‘Stuck’ beside the colleague who drives you crazy

Lacking in a sense of pride and collective ownership

In the ABW environment the employees have choice, very similar to what many of us advocate for our students. Workspaces are not owned, people have lockers for their gear. There are kitchens, shared tables, quiet nooks and meeting areas. There is no mess, nothing left out at the end of the day and, over time, personal responsibility taken.

Generally in these buildings there are 75% of spaces for the number of people who work there – with city office costs, it provides a significant saving on the cost of business. The actual place of work depends on the project at hand and who they need to work alongside.

The benefits, however, are more than just cost savings, the Commonwealth Bank found:

The kicker was an increase in the work/life satisfaction level, which jumped from 10 per cent before the move to 72 per cent. Almost 80 per cent of employees said they were inspired by their new environment. 

For our students we might focus on the 4Cs of 21stC learning:

Creative

Critical thinkers

Collaborators

Communicators

But the ideas are valid for the staff as well. And to that we can probably add two more Cs

Choice

Change

How are we providing the physical context to make this happen, and then help teachers shift in their thinking from privatising work and learning to a shared and collaborative culture. Education has a lot to learn from activity-based work.

It requires a significant mental shift in ownership from ‘my space’ to ‘our space’, from paper-based resources, to digital and cloud storage. It takes time and determination. We are preparing our young people for a world that relies more on the 4Cs, once they’ve mastered the 3Rs. By rethinking the way that teachers work, we are helping them understand the reason why the way students learn may need to change.

Ultimately, they just might enjoy it as well.

@anneknock

PS… If you are interested in hearing more about this, join us for CEFPI Australasia’s event: Relearn2013 on 14 and 15 November in Sydney

How to prevent ‘reverting to type’… Rethink change-management to change-leadership

The term ‘reverting to type’ came up this week when we were talking through the process of change with a visitor to NBCS. We met with an educator from a post-secondary college that has an incredible opportunity to bring change, to personalise the learning and enhance the experience for the students.

Their space is ready and the opportunity awaits, but he was concerned that without effective process the educational practitioners will put up walls, compartmentalise the learning and ‘revert to type’.

What type?

The type of teacher they were in the industrial-style spaces. The space may change, but the mindset must also be radically altered. I’ve seen this in schools in other parts of the world, once heralded as the peak of innovation. Without a deliberate process to make the change stick the compartments are reset, cupboards and bookshelves soon make traditional spaces.

I don’t think ‘change management’ is the key. I think that change leadership is needed. ‘Management’ refers to things and systems. Leadership is about people and it’s the people who need to change. Things and systems seem to be able to cope.

How to implements a change leadership program?

Shaping culture: Do you know the culture you want? Articulate it, then live it.  Let the culture be the filter through which every decision is passed. This applies to small and big decisions. Culture is, in simple terms, ‘the way we do things around here’. As leaders, we actually need to be deliberate about the culture we want. Culture is evident in:

  • purpose

  • priorities and goals

  • the organisational language

  • values and attitudes held

  • the climate, unseen yet evident

  • systems and processes

Leading by example: We are watched. As leaders we need to appreciate how powerful our actions and decisions are to others. This doesn’t mean we must be perfect, otherwise we wouldn’t achieve anything. We will make mistakes. How we respond in these situations will provide powerful examples of leadership.

Growing a champion team: If change is difficult, find your champions and then drill down identify the influencers. Yes, you will be accused of favouritism, but you will also be accused of a lot of things across your life as a leader. One of the most powerful things you can do is reward and recognise the change champions in your team.

When change is led well it is impossible to ‘return to type’, because we can’t remember what it was, as we have become too excited and passionate about the ‘new type’.

@anneknock

Champion educators: There’s a place for boulders, but who are the new pebbles on the beach? #rethinkingPD


2013-09-05 04.19.01
I enjoy my Twitter community. I personalise my use to my interest, seeking out fresh voices of education, practitioners and leaders who are in the day-to-day business of great learning and leading. We all know the big names  - but who are the day-to-day expert voices, the real thought-leaders who are working with kids and leading great schools, making a difference in the lives of young people.

In his book We Think social commentator, Charles Leadbeater uses the metaphor of the beach, (obviously it’s an English beach, there aren’t any pebbles on an Australian seashore).

The scene would have resembled a large, sandy beach, with crowds organised around a few very large boulders. These boulders are the big media companies.

These boulders came into being because media had high fixed costs – print plants for newspapers and studios for television… Rolling a new boulder onto the beach took lots of people, money and machinery…

Now imagine the scene on the same beach in five years time. A few very big boulders are still showing, but many have been drowned by a rising tide of pebbles. As you stand surveying the beach every minute hundreds of thousands of people come to drop their pebbles. Some of the pebbles they drop are very small; a blog post or a comment on YouTube. Others are larger such as a video… A bewildering array of pebbles in different sizes, shapes and colours are being laid down the whole time, in no particular order, as people feel like it.

Pebbles are the new business. The new kinds of organisations  being bred by the web are all in the pebble business… Oddly some of the tiniest pebbles seem more powerful than the biggest boulders… the dynamic growing business is with the pebbles.

Attending the big headline events is more about the edu-rock star boulder-experience. It is inspiring to be in the same room with SKR speaking live on a screen from the middle of the night in the US or other international edu-celebrities. It still reinforces the one-to-many experience of learning and the sense of the big picture community is fun and exciting. But does this experience change practice?

There is so much to learn from the great practitioners, but who are they and where is their platform for influence.

Join with me to pick up the pebbles on the beach. Let’s find the great inspiring and humble practitioner and give them a voice. These are the true champions.

Who is your champion educator who should have a voice to a larger audience? Tweet me.

@anneknock