Tech Disrupts Traditional Work…Is That Really a Bad Thing?


Reposted from Time:

There is a strong counterargument that the jobs and value technology create just aren’t being counted properly. “GDP was designed to measure the output of 20th century industrial nation-states making stuff, not a 21st century economy generating bytes and ideas,” says Zachary Karabell, whose book The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World examines what our current system does and doesn’t tally.

Academics like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Erik Brynjolfsson, who believes we vastly underestimate the productivity created by the “free goods of the Internet,” would agree, as would Silicon Valley entrepreneurs like Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. His company may have 30 million users and only 1,600 employees, but Chesky says it creates many more “21st century jobs” by helping generate extra income for hosts who monetize their homes and for local businesses and such service providers as cleaners who benefit from the influx of vacationers. For New York City alone, Chesky puts the value of that additional income at $768 million annually, which the company claims supports 6,600 jobs. Of course, those are “jobs” without the health care, 401(k) or other benefits that a traditional position might provide.

Which underscores a disturbing truth about the new economy: it’s all on you. People who are smart, well educated and entrepreneurial may well do better in this paradigm. But what about those who aren’t as well positioned or at least need help in tooling up?

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Cerebral Networking


My first district tech director job was in Salem, Massachusetts back in the day. My predecessor left me notes and records and a very dedicated and talented staff, but when it came to the big questions about the education culture of the north shore of Boston and the technology drivers across the commonwealth, I was on my own. After digging and reading and feeling my way along, I picked up the phone and started reaching out to my counterparts in neighboring districts: Beverly, Manchester-by-the-Sea, Gloucester, Rockport, Marblehead, Peabody, Lynnfield, Lynn, Saugus and Danvers. Individually they each had unique district profiles and varied job descriptions. But it struck me that they shared one common denominator; they were all so busy managing district technology, they rarely talked to each other. Still, when I called, they each had an incredible wealth of information and insight to share.

One thing led to another, and as word spread that tech directors were having a shared dialog I started scheduling and inviting them to monthly lunches to network, compare notes and find ways to collaborate and build economies of scale. What started with maybe a dozen tech directors blossomed into all of eastern Massachusetts, as people began coming from the western suburbs and south shore of Boston, Cape Cod, and Worcester. Ultimately I found myself making trips to Springfield and Lennox at the invitation of tech directors in western Massachusetts, as word spread a movement was taking place…people wanted to be heard. And after a number of conference presentations, meetings and writings, this eventually formed into an official organization, The Massachusetts Educational Technology Administrators Association (METAA). And I am proud to say METAA took root and continues to serve its mission today.


In reflecting on this, I realize it wasn’t about the personalities or the social interaction. I didn’t know any of the players when I began making those phone calls to my colleagues in neighboring districts. I was driven by questions, wanting to be fully aware of all my options to serve my district.  The professional connections and eventual friendships that emerged from those discussions was secondary to the networking and the work. Yes the personalities definitely enriched the experience; I am so grateful for the people I’ve met along the way. But it was the value I was able to bring to my district, and contribute to other districts, that was the difference maker in my efforts. It’s the ideas that drive the work, not the people. Names and faces change across the ed tech landscape, but the work goes on.

Another example, for your consideration. As board president of the ISTE affiliate in Massachusetts , The Massachusetts Computer Using Educators (MassCUE), I began asking questions of our neighboring affiliates in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. As we compared our work, emails and phone calls turned into dinner meetings. Each affiliate had a very different set of opportunities and challenges, and yet the common thread of championing ed tech in our respective states provided a lot of common ground. I can still remember our first six-state meeting at the Radisson in Nashua, New Hampshire. The weekend began on a rainy Friday night, wherein those who had to travel the farthest arrived the latest, due to weather and traffic. But we all assembled for dinner fairly on time in a posh Tudor-style conference room, and dinner gave way to an evening of going around the lengthy banquet table cerebral2sharing each affiliate’s story: how they started, what they had accomplished, and their current status. We all warmed in the glow of those stories, giving and receiving, and by the end of the evening we all headed to bed smiling and eager to spend the next two days exploring the ways we could collaborate across state boundaries. On a subsequent weekend each of our state technology directors joined us, alternately meeting with us affiliate leaders and meeting on their own. They hadn’t, they confessed, had the opportunity to meet for a weekend retreat in a long time, and they were grateful to take advantage of our invitation. We were grateful they accepted! The result was ISTE’s first regional affiliate, New England ISTE (NEISTE), which I am again proud to say continues to carry on its mission today.

This was well before the days of social media (the closest thing we had was AOL chat rooms – hey don’t judge me – my 14.4 kbps modem was screamin….so long as the dogs didn’t bark at the doorbell and kick it offline!), but the concept of asking questions and following responses to chase ideas, gain insight, share information and build economies of scale was already alive and well. There are many other stories I could share about reaching out to colleagues and initiating conversations that benefited both our districts and the profession as a whole, but you get my point. These experiences confirmed everything I believe about working within the positive flow of life, watching doors open as I move forward because I am where I need to be to get the job done. At no time was it primarily about people or personalities. Making introductions and collecting business cards is all fine and well, but that’s more about playing the percentages than being in the positive flow. Yes, relationships are important, but they are more important given the context of the work in which they thrive. In my experience, the best, most fulfilling relationships have been those that were doing rewarding work. Even when the work is over and we move on, the relationships that have lasted long-term for me are those that grew out of significant, successful collaboration.

Why do I share these stories and make this point today? Because in an age where social media makes networking and collaboration easier than ever, I see a lot more instantaneous relationships and a lot more flash-in-the-pan points of synergy. What I hope to see eventually emerge is educators asking difficult questions, looking past easy answers, and reaching beyond social connections to build a new professional legacy. We need to be about the work of pushing one another’s thinking and doing the heavy lifting that our profession requires of us here and now. Social networking is easy. Cerebral networking: vetting thinking, doggedly doing, charting paths towards an unseeable future, building capacity not just for us in our own careers, but for our profession and for society’s future…that’s the real work. Because when I go back to see what METAA, MassCUE and NEISTE are doing now, I remember all the work that went into putting things in motion so they could get where they are today. And I am proud to know I had something to do with it…something worthwhile…something that sustains itself long after I’ve moved on. Social networking is all good, but cerebral networking is where we need to be.



Counting the People You Impact [INFOGRAPHIC]


How big is life? This infographic from Funders and Founders shows the impact we have on the lives of others. On average we live for 78.3 years. Most of us remember people we meet after age 5. Assume we interact with 3 new people daily in cities, 365 days in a year plus leap yeas days is 365.24. In total it will be (78.3 – 5) x 3 x 365.24 = 80,000 people. Is it a lot? Either way most of us will meet around 80,000 people in the course of our lives. These are people you could offer something. There are many more people who you will never meet, and yet they might love to have what you can offer.

View the original post here.


Teachers Work 11 Hour Days [INFOGRAPHIC]


Created by Knewton

Teachers regularly juggle schedules that include lectures, classroom activities, one-on-one tutoring, grading, administrative meetings, parent interaction, coaching and extracurricular activities, and professional development. As any teacher knows, every activity that occurs in the classroom can require a good deal of preparation and grading outside of class. The What Does It Take To Be A Teacher? Infographic shows that teachers’ realities are growing increasingly complex. Today they face massive challenges ranging from expanding class sizes, an increased diversity of student needs to consider, and a peer and pop culture that is not always supportive of school. And already, they are charged by society with tremendous responsibilities that range from inculcating democratic values to ensuring global competitiveness and preparing students for 21st century workforce needs.

David Walsh: I’m Done Working with Jerks

Reposted from LinkedIn for your end of the week reading enjoyment:

Jerks come in all shapes and sizes. A few of jerkpngthem are actually pretty good at what they do. But I don’t need to work with them. You don’t either. There is some psychology behind jerks, I’m sure. Some are jerks because they are making up for something else. They feel inferior. Some jerks are jerks because of the opposite: they think they are all of that. Some jerks never set out to be that way. They just got so self-centered, so on their own trip, they forgot that there might be other people in the world, and that those people actually might have a point of view. They lost themselves in their sole pursuit of title, money or power – or behind whatever fitting psychological / sociological label there might be.

One time I worked with a guy who would give a soul-numbing soliloquy before every marathon meeting he held in order to ‘set the tone’. In one particularly yawn inspiring opening half hour monologue he essentially confessed that he himself had become a Jerk. Note the use of capital “J”. He wasn’t entirely sure when it had happened but he had an epiphany that he was now a class-A certified Jerk. You could have heard a fly burp in that room it was so still. And for what it’s worth, after his admission he did make subtle and not so easy strides to change. I applaud him for that.

A Jerk is someone who is:

  • Underhanded, game playing or passive-aggressive
  • Misogynistic, bullying or abusive
  • Dismissive of earnest feedback or the contributions of others
  • A scorekeeper or grudge-holder waiting to ‘get back’ at someone or some group
  • Untrustworthy or lacking candor (meeting ‘nodders’ who are backroom ‘plotters’)
  • A turf protector who roadblocks improvements or positive change
  • Blamestormers, credit stealers, under-the-bus-chuckers as well as
  • Sideline-sitting, non-committal, I-told-you-soers who try and wheedle into the glow of success after all the risk is gone
  • Work shifters who push their obligations on other people or departments

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The College-Workplace Disconnect


Reposted from CNBC:

“A Gallup-Purdue University study describes a huge disconnect between what college presidents think students need to launch successful postgraduate careers and what the schools are actually delivering. The survey, which involved more than 30,000 students, tackled topics such as internship experience, availability of mentors, enthusiastic teachers, special projects and extracurricular activities.

The biggest sticking point: Internships. On average, less than a third of undergraduates say they had an internship that reflected their course of study, and there’s concern the numbers will go lower.

“I consider that a monumental failure,” said Gallup Education Executive Director Brandon Busteed, who says business leaders have been expressing serious dissatisfaction over how qualified new graduates are for entry-level jobs. “Part of what we are seeing is that there is still a lot of hubris in higher education,” he said. “Most of these college presidents have a lot of confidence that their own institution is just fine. But then we talk about the future of higher education and they are pretty negative.”

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Getting Into the Positive Flow of Work


Reposted from the New York Times:

“Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a psychologist at the Claremont Graduate University, has been studying this phenomenon for decades. He calls it flow: the experience we have when we’re “in the zone.” During a flow state, people are fully absorbed and highly focused; they lose themselves in the activity.

But while we know intuitively that tasks we find interesting can feel effortless, what does it actually do to our mental gas tank? Can interest help us perform our best without feeling fatigued? My research with the psychologist Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia of Michigan State University, which we published recently in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, suggests that it can.

Research also shows that social engagement in activities can foster interest. In a study I co-wrote in the Journal of Educational Psychology, we had middle school students play a math-focused video game either alone, in competition with another student or in collaboration with another student. Compared with those who played alone, those playing with a partner reported greater interest in the game and a stronger desire to master it.”

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10 Most Important Work Skills by the Year 2020 [INFOGRAPHIC]

2020 work skills

Rather than focusing on future jobs, this infographic looks at future work skills: proficiencies and abilities required across different jobs and work settings that will reshape the landscape of work. You can read the full report from which this infographic acquired its data here.


Top 10 Skills for the Successful 21st Century Worker

Top 10 Skills for the Successful 21st Century Worker

Are these your top 10? How would you rank them?

Assessing, analyzing & synthesizing
Critical Thinking
Global citizenship
Productivity & accountability