Thursday, March 31, 2016

Mohiomap - Wow! A New App With Great Potential

https://www.moh.io/mohiomap/welcome/(Luis Valentino)  While I was looking for a project management app to complement Evernote,  I came
across Mohiomap - Wow!  At first I couldn't figure out what it did, but after spending a few minutes with it, I came to understand a little bit of what it can do. Wha'ts clear is that it offers incredible possibilities. Basically, Mohiomap creates a visual representation of notes and tags, and their interactions.  Think of the mindmapping tools that we have used to organize our ideas.  From their website,

 "With Mohiomap we are bringing the power to make sense of large amounts of data (with the help of visualization) to the field of Cloud based document and content management platforms such as Dropbox, Box, Evernote, and Google Drive.  Our objective is to help individuals and teams to see the “big picture”, discover relationships and patterns, gain valuable insights, and act on them.
We believe in easier ways to manage Cloud documents and we strive to push the boundaries on how people consume and interact with their online data."

This app is new to the ecosystem, but I believe that as users become more familiar with its capabilities, and the Mohiomap developers make improvements, those of us in education might see great benefit in the app to help us organize our databases and allows us be more efficient.  Good luck Mohiomap.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Implementation of STEM Education

(Luis Valentino)  During the last two years of his presidency, President Obama has dedicated increased attention to STEM education, believing that it is a critical approach to improving K - 12 education. The president's  interest is not to turn every student into a scientist, a mathematician, a programmer, or an engineer, but to equip them with important skill sets, including critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, advanced organization, etc.  As we consider what challenges our students are facing in this 21st century, defining STEM education, and the role that STEM should play in the education of all students, is an important step that will help create a useful framework for schools and districts.

An important aspect of that clarity will include looking at issues of access, equity, and inclusion.  Establishing who will gain access to STEM education opportunities, as well as what concerted efforts will be tried to bring historically marginalized student populations into the STEM fold have become part of the President's narrative. A goal, inspired by the White House and the US Department of Education includes “…fostering an open and diverse scientific community that draws from an array of unique experiences and viewpoints...”  The strategy for achieving this goal, includes,
  • Focusing on underrepresented groups, across all levels
  • Providing girls and young women experiences in STEM fields
  • Expanding the use of role models to help set the standard in education
  • Making meaningful uses of technology a part of students’ learning experiences

These are steps that provides students with expanded learning opportunities, narrows the achievement gap, and helps prepare more students for college and career opportunities.  But how do we make it happen?  How will teachers and schools acquire the knowledge base and skill sets needed to make STEM education a reality for all?  How can school districts develop their capacity to support a STEM education strategy that is comprehensive, rigorous, and sustainable?  These and other implementation questions will need to be answered as districts work to ensure that all of their students obtain access a STEM education that prepares them to acquire the appropriate knowledge base and skill sets to succeed in college and career, who can thrive in the 21st century.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Flexible Leadership: Learning to Lead And Manage

(Luis Valentino) Hi everyone.  As leaders, whether in education or industry, have to grapple with making meaning of leadership, and what it means on the ground on the day-to-day.  From our graduate programs we learned the theories and philosophies of leadership that have informed our practice.  In that is the concept of "leadership" vs "management".  My guest blogger, Richard Lepsinger will help us refresh our memories by revisiting that conversation.  Hopefully, it will bring us to a better place of understanding.  And as always, your feedback is welcome.

By Richard Lepsinger

It's time to put an end to a decades-long debate.

For years, leadership consultants have discussed the differences between leadership and management

Some contend managing and leading are mutually exclusive roles that require different values and traits. This conventional way of thinking says managers value stability, control, and efficiency, whereas leaders value flexibility, innovation, and adaptation. Managers are practical, analytical, and rational, whereas leaders are visionary, creative, and emotional.

Another perspective is that leading and managing are distinct roles, but both roles can be enacted by the same person. Managing seeks to produce predictability and order, whereas leading seeks to produce organizational change.

Both roles are necessary, but problems can occur when one role is overemphasized. Strong management alone can discourage risk taking and create a bureaucracy without a clear purpose. Strong leadership alone can disrupt order and create change that is impractical. 

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

What can Flint's water crisis teach us about organizational culture?

Leslie Garner Franklin, Consultant, Mākyago
(Luis Valentino)  My friend and colleague, Leslie Garner Franklin, recently shared this blog post with me, which she posted on her website, Makyago.  I appreciated her sharing this blog entry because it resonated on a number of levels. For those of us who have dedicated our careers to working in the public sector, there is growing frustration over our inability to affect change in comprehensive and sustained ways.   Our fear is that we have contributed little to the transformation of the institutions we have embraced.  In this thoughtful piece, Leslie offers us a perspective on some of those aspects that impact our public institutions.

What can Flint's water crisis teach us about organizational culture?

(Leslie Garner) Those of us who are Harvard Business Review junkies may remember Julian Birkinshaw’s 2013 article “Bureaucracy is a Bogeyman”. It was written in the customer service section and posed the opening question We frequently accuse large and complex companies of being bureaucratic, but what about them do we really want to see change?” He goes on to define bureaucracy, talk about its merits (yes, there are a few), and share a story about what it looks like in real life, bringing to bear a recent personal experience. He then provides an obvious answer to his opening question: we want to know who is responsible for fixing our problems. The end, of course, is a solution: publish a list of who is responsible for what so customers can get their questions answered without going through layer after layer of…bureaucracy. 

Having spent the last three-and-a-half years in a large, complex, and yes, bureaucratic organization, I can attest to Birkinshaw’s key points, even going as far as agreeing with bureaucracy’s merits. I struggle, however, to believe that greater transparency and technical fixes are sufficient to combatting bureaucracy when it comes to the large, complex and political organizations that are our government and public agencies.