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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Open Leadership

I have just started to study Charlene Li's book - and am mightily impressed. Not that she addresses education as such nor that she even mentions ePortfolios. However, the sub-title to her book says it all:

"How social technology can transform
the way you lead."

Early on (p8) she says,

"The first step is recognising that you are not in control - your customers, employees, partners are. If you are among the many executives who long for the "good ol' days" when rules and roles were clear, indulge yourself in that kind of thinking for just a few more minutes - then it's time to get to work. This is a fad that will not fade, but will only grow stronger, with or without you."

For teachers wondering about all this 'Open Stuff' and Collaboration etc this book makes a very good read. Every page wants me to pause and think, 'Well how could what she says apply to me and my kids in the classroom?'

On the point of how classrooms have changed and how children are now given more control over their learning see my slideshare, Schools and Change.

What Charlene fails to mention is that teachers have been working towards this for the last 30-40 years (and even before ePortfolios!) I remember asking my class to form groups of 5-6 and, surrounding a large sheet of paper, to brain-storm or collaborate on a project or issue - and even to take away 'two good points and two bad points' from their activity to write up in their own notes.

Earlier on (p5) she identifies three trends that have brought this about this release of control; (1) more people on line, (2) Widespread use of social sites, and (3) the rise of sharing.

Perhaps we should recognise that it is the combination of the three trends above and an evolving expectation amongst teachers that Teaching and Learning MUST change that has brought about the phenomenon of Open Leadership not only in the workplace but also in the classroom. In the context of education, therefore, we can see Charlene Li's three trends as:

1) More people on line: Through many separate avenues including gaming, availability of hand-held devices, Building Schools for the Future, initiatives like Becta's Home Access Programme, governments' Broadband initiatives and the sheer advertising and peer-pressure, it is no wonder that the world-availability culture should pervade schools.

2) Social sites:
or possibly more often repositories that have seen the commercial attraction of being social platforms have enhanced a social contagion which, whether for good or bad, cannot be put back inside Pandora's box.

3) The need to share: is part of our gregarious makeup. Educators of all categories have the opportunity to build upon a ready-made culture in order to exploit collaborative processes in teaching and learning as never before.

Yet again, I see the ePortfolio, and eFolio in particular, as the perfect solution to safely delivering all the aspects of teaching and learning or rather 'Open Teaching and Open Learning' that we may ever have dreamed of.

No longer can education be dominated by 'The Sage on the Stage', but, understanding its Latin root, assessment becomes 'The Guide by the Side', and even, in terms of Lifelong Learning, 'The Friend to the End'.

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