February 21, 2011

Sheesh, I love a good Quote!

On the trip over to  Portland I happened across some quotes that ended up being just too rich to ignore as I was heading into 2 days of educational technology saturation.
Here's some of them. They’re pretty awesome.

  • “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home.” Kenneth Olson, President/Founder Digital Equipment Corporation 1977
  • “Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value.” Marshall Ferdinand Foch, French Military Strategist and future WWI Commander, 1917
  • “[Television] won’t be able to hold onto any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Darryl F Zannuck, Head of 20th Century Fox, 1946
  • “This telephone has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.” Western Union Internal Memo, 1876
  • “Nothing of importance happened today.” Written by King George III of England on July 4, 1776

It got me really thinking about how a person/organization can avoid making short-sighted mistakes with technology. In an environment where change is the only constant and fads and trends go viral with the same alacrity, how do we know when something has real merit? How do we recognize the game changers when we see them? How do we plan? These are especially important questions when we’re talking about educational technology, because the decisions we make about what “gadgets”…ok, “tools” are important today directly impact the futures of our kiddos for better or worse.  I really want to have some excellent foresight and nail this thing at least a little better than Darryl Zannuck did…for the kiddos sake, you know?!

I suppose that’s why when I wound up with Joe Morelock at my table this afternoon, I just had to ask him what was behind the decision he made 3 years ago to just hand a 3rd grade teacher a whole pack of iPods. The tool was brand new and certainly not yet a legitimate educational adoption, at least not the way most of the industry sees it. He asked me, “Do you want the real story or do you want me to make up something good?”

Real story, please.

It goes like this: He was at a birthday party with his young children. All the dads were doing the dad thing (which nowadays means, so he informed me, that they stand around and show each other pictures of their kids on their iPhones). Some 3rd grader came up to him and said, “Hey, can I see that?” So he handed it over. The kid had never played with an iPhone before but started immediately playing games and moving things around as if it were an old friend. Joe said, “at that point I just thought, huh…there’s something there. I didn’t know what it was, but I went ahead and got 30 of them, because I wanted to do it right and gave them to Julie.” (Julie is the awesome teacher who also knew nothing about the tool but took them and implemented them into her instruction in phenomenal ways).  “I figured even if it turned out to be nothing, I could find some place to use 30 of them somewhere in the district, so it was worth trying.”  He looked up at me then, almost apologetically, knowing I wanted a better answer. I didn’t though. His answer was just what I expected, especially after reading those quotes the day before. I kind of think that’s how all great things happen…someone opens their eyes for a moment and notices something. They think to themselves, “huh, there’s a thing here,” and for whatever reason that thinker is allowed to try it. Somehow they find themselves unhindered by protocols and naysayers and they get to just try it. And sometimes it works and changes the entire game.

My take away:
Listen and pay attention to the little people. (Yeah... so, this was already my life policy pre-conference).
Believe my gut instead of the naysayers when it tells me “there’s a thing here.”
Accept that I don’t always have to be able to explain the thing but I do have to let myself (or someone who is amazing) try it.

And, just because I love a good quote, here are a couple beauties I picked up over the weekend!

  •  “Never memorize what you can look up in books.” Albert Einstein
  • “I don’t set trends. I just find out what they are and I exploit them.” Dick Clark, American Bandstand

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