When I was at SXSW several weeks ago, I was in the "Google" lounge waiting to chat with some people about Explain Everything and I happened to see Getting Smart's Tom Vander Ark sitting and chatting with some people nearby. I went over to introduce myself. Though we had exchanged DMs around the time that Leading Online was released, I did not expect him to remember me. Still, I felt that it was important to say hello to someone with whom I had engaged online. We spoke very briefly and before he left he gave me a card and suggested that I do a guest post on the Getting Smart blog. Several weeks later, Steve and I finished an article based on our chapter about meetings and the GettingSmart team reviewed, approved, and posted the article.
There is some serendipity around how this article transpired. Sure, we could have followed Getting Smart's guidelines for guest submissions on our own. But the combination of a Twitter exchange and a chance face-to-face meeting allowed something to be created from nothing. It just took some follow-through. The next time someone hands you a card, follow up with them. You never know to what end (or beginning) it might lead! — RR
IF you have an iPad program or your colleagues have iPads...
AND IF you are looking for an innovative summer read for yourself, your faculty, your trustees, and/or the leaders of your school...
AND IF you seek to disrupt the traditional way that summer reading (and subsequent debriefing) are done...
THEN please keep reading!
While our book, Leading Online, has received a warm welcome from bestselling thought leaders like Dan Pink, Adam Grant, and Dr. Nick Morgan, we wrote it for you — educators and school leaders — so that you would read it and discuss it with others like you.
Leading Online is a book for leadership teams, for full faculties, for business offices, and for collaborative teachers. Leading Online models what is possible with emerging interactive technologies by engaging readers in a unique learning experience as they read.
Some people have read it and learned about leadership. Some people have read it and learned how to do more with their iPads. Some people have connected with its "drop-in" authors (10 total) to widen their networks. Some people have looked at the book's sketchnotes and started to develop a visual vocabulary to complement their written language. Some people have inquired about ways to use the iBooks platform to publish their own work or the work of their students.
As bestselling author Adam Grant said in one of the book's more generous and potent blurbs, "It's more than a book: it's a demonstration of how the internet and social media can change the way we lead and learn."
With sketchnotes by Brad Ovenell Carter, and contributions from innovative leaders like Scott McLeod, Kristen Swanson, and Scott Rocco, the book aims to do what it says. Chapters concludes with “Things to Try” that can be completed as individuals or in groups — depending on how you want to structure the ongoing and follow-up conversations around the text and experiences.
We have reduced the price by half (now only $4.99 USD) after hearing from many schools who wanted to do a bulk purchase of the book for their faculties in the same way that they purchase iPad apps via apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP). We’ll keep the reduced price in effect until June 30th, 2014.
Here is where you can buy a single copy of the book: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/leading-online/id791774966?mt=11
Here is where you can buy multiple copies via Apple’s VPP: http://volume.itunes.apple.com/us/book/leading-online/id791774966?mt=11&term=leading%20online&ign-mpt=uo%3D4
And Steve and I are happy to help you buy multiple copies even if you are not part of Apple’s VPP.
Regardless, have a great END (IF in the northern hemisphere) of the school year!
-Reshan & Steve
Reshan and I think learning is so important for leadership that we used the word in the subtitle of our new book -- twice!
Leading the learning, learning by leading: if you pull on one end of that grammatical construction, you ultimately end up on the other end.
Now that the book is published and starting to find its audience, we have shifted some of our energy to helping leaders and leadership teams acquire tools to (a) learn effectively and (b) apply that new learning to new leadership situations.
Showing a leader how to use Evernote is an example of giving her a new tool. Mentoring that leader as she uses Evernote to share documents and notes with a committee that is having trouble meeting face-to-face is an example of helping her apply new learning to a new leadership situation.
Inviting a leader into a one-on-one Google hangout is an example of giving him a new tool. Helping him to use a Google hangout to join two groups, from two schools facing a similar problem, is an example of helping him to apply new learning to a new leadership situation.
One of my favorite new tools is one we used in our book. If you've flipped through it, you know that we have embedded a widget -- called "engage with us" -- at the end of every chapter. This tool allows readers to tell us what they think after reading a chapter, and we do our best to respond as quickly as possible. For me, the widget is a new tool (a new category of tools, really), and it's helping me to learn in a way in which I previously could not.
The situation in which I've been learning is one that, I'd imagine, is common to most readers -- it's the situation in which you are so busy that you can't even think about learning.
I have been particularly swamped at work and home lately, so I have not been actively trying to learn -- I haven't been paying attention to my twitter stream or consuming media or new books. I haven't been engaging in deep conversations. But this widget, which Reshan set up months ago, keeps churning. It keeps pulling in interesting voices and thinkers. It keeps surprising and delighting me, even when I don't have the time to be surprised or delight.
In short, it keeps my learning mechanism engaged, even when I swear I can't -- or won't -- learn due to excessive demands. Here's an example:
Ted Parker (@MrTedP) recently responded to our book using the aforementioned widget. As I said, I have been busy, but Reshan had a slice of time one evening and he used it to engage in some dialogue with Ted. I didn't have time to participate in the conversation, but since I am wired into it through the widget, it eventually crossed my screen. As I read it, I realized I was in a very lucky spot -- I was an observer of two passionate practitioners who were talking shop in my digital backyard. All I had to do was pull up a chair and listen.
At one point, Ted said:
This is my first iBook, and I think the "engage with us" idea is great! I've found myself using it as more of a deliberate prompt to reflect at the end of the chapter -- perhaps a secondary use to the primary intention of raising questions and prompting back-and-forth discussion. There's great value to both uses!
This response reminded me about the difference between intention and reception. Reshan and I intended for the widget to be a way for readers to engage with the book and its authors; Ted made us realize that the widget also promotes a reflective activity. When intention and reception don't match, conflict can emerge; at the same time, as the case above illustrates, learning can occur. Reshan and I have vowed to "mind the gap" between our book's intentions and our book's reception, and to use such knowledge to inform future editions of the book and future projects associated with it. (We were inspired in this regard, too, by a recent blog post by Austin Kleon that mentioned Brad Ovenell-Carter, a.k.a. @braddo, a.k.a. the force of nature who created such beautiful and useful illustrations for Leading Online.)
At another point, Ted and Reshan found some common ground. Both are leaders and both are technology integrators, and it was fascinating to hear their commitment to what's happening inside the hearts and minds of the teachers with whom they work.
Here's Ted again:
I completely share your emphasis on learning as the essence of online leadership. We ourselves must learn constantly and must as well spur constant learning among those whom we lead. It seems to me the cultivation of a growth mindset in oneself and others could be the most important leadership skill of all.
And here's Reshan:
We're so glad that you connected with this point. I recently completed a big research project on educational technology -- but the focus was not at all on the technology but on the beliefs and practices (i.e. mindsets) of the teachers involved. I do think there is a parallel when considering online leadership -- or leadership in general. One's ability to learn and grow is directly connected to one's ability to lead others through their own learning and growth.
Next, the two break off into a discussion of User Experience (UX), an under-discussed topic in our schools. Again, you can see the cross-pollination of ideas.
I really appreciate the [book's] points about UX. As an EdTech integrator, I have sometimes worried about how much time I spend using tech to create efficiencies for teachers rather than helping them to see tech's truly transformational power. That's obviously a worthwhile concern to have -- we should spread out our work along the SAMR spectrum -- but efficiencies also create the space for teachers to explore their own innovations. (Ted)
I'm thinking that, hopefully, introducing a team to online meetings and reflecting critically with the team about such meetings' benefits and drawbacks could be a great way of building digital literacy and encouraging team members to seek further online professional interactions. (Ted)
I really, really didn't have time to learn this week. But I did anyway thanks to Ted Parker, Reshan Richards, and a faithful widget.
Steve's recent article is on the cover of the Spring 2014 issue of Independent School Magazine. The full title is In the Maelstrom of American Independent Education: A School Leader's Guide to Chaos, Change, Competing Agendas, and the Dilemmas that Won't Go Away. You can read the article on the NAIS website by clicking the linked title.