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Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 10 months ago

Incremental change that provides useful process feedback is the key to a sustainable culture of constant improvement.


The hypothesis

The core value creation in the education process happens in the personal relationship between a teacher and a student. In a project based learning environment, the teacher's necessary first task is to know each student.


There are many skills and tasks that follow from knowing this information, but that is beyond the scope of our expertise.


At a minimum, it would be very helpful for teachers to know for each student:

What engages their passion?

What are they good at?

What is blocking each of them from realizing their natural tendency to be "learning machines".


Until this information is accessible in a timely way to every teacher, it's very difficult to optimize the learning experience for each student. The hypothesis is that once it informs the environment, implementing an effective learning environment is much easier.


Given the time constraints that most teachers are working within, anything that takes time away from this essential first task is wasted. Also, given large classes and the demands of high stakes test prep, making the time to gain this information in real time is usually very difficult.


One possible approach to improve the situation might be to gather the products that students produce, be able to evaluate those products in a thoughtful way, and have a method of storing observations in a practical and accessible way.


What follows is a very preliminary 4D analysis of the situation



What are you trying to acheive?

Enable teachers to allot the time to thoughtfully evaluate the work that students produce, in order to be able to communicate with the students more effectively in the classroom.

Why do want to make this change?

If it is true that each individual student has different ways of learning, different motivations and different skill sets, understanding the significant differences will make the teacher-student conversations more productive.

What is the present state of affairs

There seems to be almost no time during the day, aside from face time with students, to consistently monitor and "see" the students. Based on what I have observed, the ability to "see" what your students do in other classes or in previous years does not exist as a practical functionality.

What is the state of affairs that you want to be true?

The long term goal might be to be able to see a students work and teachers comments about the student through a google like search capability. Merely type in the students name, and you are taken to well organized series of linked pages, that include work done, process evaluations, notes from guidance counselors, etc etc. Of course there are many, many issues that will have to be solved from here to there. Privacy, integrating various IT systems, technical skills, and some hardware technologies. In theory it is a problem similar to the online health record system now in development.

But, within a relatively short time span, my best guess is three to five years, there are a number of technologies already in field testing that will likely have a significant effect on the situation.

One is the the $100 laptop being tested now and set for production for delivery to developing countries in the middle of '07. Running on Linux and web connected it makes the posssiblity of access to the internet for every student a reasonable near term plausible, with no software license fees.

Another is the book kiosk presently in beta testing in Boston and soon in NY. Built on Open Source, therefore no license fees, this will make selecting a book on line and printing a copy in about 10 mintues a practical tool in many contexts.

Another is Google's continuing development of web accessible license free software. Their recent purchase of a wiki company is a clue to the direction they are going, as are google spreadsheets and word processors. As goes Google... so goes the internet.

But that is then and this is now


How are you going to monitor your progress from here to there?

In the first phase of the implementation, this can be handled with direct interviews with the teachers involved. Both test scores and portfolio storing and analysis could give the feedback necessary to inform further development.


What has to change in the communication ecology of your environment to move towards your goal? The perceived value to the teacher of getting the information has to be greater than the time or energy necessary to get it. Teachers have to trust that investing the time will yield measurable results.

In the development phases, this implies outside expertise to get the appropriate functionality into place and create the value experience. While the technology is not expensive, the skill set necessary to manage and tend to the communications can be. Moving through the development phases, the skills can be readily transferred to willing teachers, admins or students within the school.

We used the wiki workflow to produce the student art postcards for Ms T's class that were distributed to parents on Open School Night.

What objects or functionalities or processes will get significant results? The necessary step one is always to find out what teachers want to do and help them do it faster, easier, better. This is the only way to build the necessary trust to enable sustainable long term growth. As usual, some teachers are very motivated to publish. The particular form could be posters,postcards or art exhibitions, and some struggle against mighty odds to publish books. Our primary focus in Fall '07, was to help with that effort.

The Art Gallery installation, helping with the Art Room, meeting weekly with the Ms.T and Mr.B were part of the strategy of building trust and presence among the teachers. Designing and printing the cards for open school night, publishing the memoirs for Ms M, and the publicity for Mr C. are all part of the same trust building strategy.

Is the investment of time and attention worth the expected result?

The strategy is to show the value, before asking any teacher to invest any time or energy to do anything that is not accomplishing a goal that the teacher already has. Thus far, based on anecdotal evidence, it seems that the time invested by staff - primarily Ms T - has been well worth the value received. I believe but don't know yet, whether Mr.C has yet seen comparable value for his school in general. I think that the increased value of Ms T to the school is in part because of our collaboration.


Do something small, good and fast.

We've introduced a number of functionalities in the Fall '06 semester.


1.A web based process to store homework assignments for Mr. B's students. Although the pieces are in place it is still early in the deploy stage. It is ready to be tested, but has not yet been used.

2.A wiki set up to publish memoirs for the students of Ms. M. and two of her colleagues. The primary hurdle we solved was translating approximately 400 pages of handwritten material into digital, accessible form. While the functionality was outsourced during development, the skills and procedures can be easily transfered to within the building when desired and appropriate.

The process

1.scanning the handwritten material into a PDF format - one multipage PDF for each student. This could be done in the future in the school building with a copier fax machine that scans directly to PDF.

2.Then entering the PDF into AE's online ordering system. AE (Affinity Express) is a large digital document creation facility.

3.The staff at AE then keyboarded the documents and entered into the password protected Wiki to collect the work.Moving forward, this could be easily incorporated into the school building, either by paying students to type into the wiki or by using the project to practice typing and internet skills with a real world consequence.

3 We created a wiki to showcase the art work of students. The theory is that if we can get buy in from the faculty, it will make it much easier for employers and colleges to see the work being done in the school, so that they can make jobs and college opportunities available.

The immediate value of a wiki workflow is that allows design talent to be applied very efficiently. The collection and approval of copy is completely taken out of the designers responsibility YET the designer has access to the content well before the document is due. The importance of access to the content is that the best communication design comes from the the need to uniquely communicate the specific content. If the designer gets the copy at the last minute, it eliminates the necessary creative thinking time that encourages the creation of great work.

The possible long term value of the wiki is that it may allow us to create the teacher experience that will create the buy in to develop a student centric data system. At the same time, we'll be able to get some insight into how a student centric data view might lead to better life outcomes for our students, and a better job experience for the teachers.

Evaluate how it works or doesn't.

Mr.C signed up for his own wiki that will be used in a wiki workflow to produce material for his upcoming play. Ms.M approached me to help with her publishing, and recruited two other techers in her school to participate.

What has not worked is the setting of goals that are not already part of a teacher's mission. The notion of regular exhibitions in the art space, while agreed to, did not happen. The ability to post the newspaper on the web was not taken used.

Mr B seems to be having great success incorporating "cartooning" into his curriculum. My understanding is that the visit to his class by a professional illustrator was helpful as were the outlines of maps supplied in the beginning of the semester.




Get it done and being used. Watch closely. Go back to step 1. Repeat as necessary. In an every changing environment, it's always necessary.



link to Scenarios(dot)org.

Students write scripts, professionals produce them. And the results are there for all to see.

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