27 posts categorized "Funding"

August 30, 2007

Collaborative creatives and the future of education

Andy Polaine set the scene with the importance of collaborative design and creativity in this new age, and now turns his attention to how education can innovate in a future we cannot determine.

Slime_mould_2 'Slime mould and suburbs'
There are lots of small things being developed independently on the web that are becoming one, much in the same way as slime moulds form - one cell links to another until you get that yellowy fibrous material you find in rotten logs. It's the way small villages and towns become part of cities.

This changing, metamorphising of the web we thought we knew is so much like these slime moulds that it's almost impossible to track and follow until you see the final fibrous mould and wonder: "How did that get there?". So how can education change when the mould appears so slowly?

Process vs Knowledge
One way, that reflects how designers have worked for years, is the emerging importance placed on process instead of knowledge. Knowing how to do something is actually less beneficial than actually doing it. Listening to a seminar on how to podcast, for example, is less beneficial than doing a series of radio shows on a local environmental issue.

Funding: the fossil fuel of education
Funding is never going to be enough in education. It's effectively a toxic fuel that creates short-term benefits easily but leaves unsustainability in its wake. Great efficiencies are not what is required to resolve this, but rather greater effectiveness. The Victorian Industrial Revolution way of doing things doesn't work. If I have an idea in the shower to whom does it belong; if I make professional connections in Facebook but I'm only allowed to use it during breaks (as the national trade union stated today) then am I not working for free? The boundaries have changed. People graze for knowledge, they don't clock in for it. Life, work and play are converging like they never have done before. It's a mix of work ethic and play ethic.

But for education leaders to count on this convergence as their sole research and development, professional development or employee improvement is not sustainable either - less and less money for more and more grazing?

Firefoxscreensnapz001 Expertise by portfolio or degree?
Likewise, if this grazing has not been 'credentialised' then, under the old regime, it's not been seen as having worth. Would you rather spend four years increasing your knowledge and capacity by reading 800 blogs a day for free or by spending $50,000 for an MBA?

Increasingly, though, this unpaid unofficial expertise and capacity is turning the investment in an MBA sour; portofolios, not further degrees, are what give you the edge. Just ask Jonathan Harris. Does formal education recognise and support this? In education circles is a blog seen as being as valuable as a certificate? That's a challenge to resolve, a truth to be acknowledged at the very least.

Portfolios' little cousin, Learning Logs, are currently mostly done on paper, if at all, are rarely read or shared by and with the teacher, almost never read by fellow students. Maybe an online alternative is the only feasible way of not only making learning logs more manageable, but also making them of more worth.

Firefoxscreensnapz004 Harnessing 'grazed' portfolio expertise

So even if you have educators who understand the potential of the portfolio, and students who also engage in this online grazing and gathering of information and continuous collaboration to analyse or discuss it, how can you know about it and how can the education institution take advantage of it?

Tom Coates' outline of what makes a successful social network provide some worthwhile ethical pointers for any education institution thinking of using blogs, wikis or social networks to harness the expertise being grazed and published in online portfolios:

How you can use social software to build aggregate value… in a nutshell:

  • An individual should get value from their contribution
  • These contributions should provide value to their peers as well
  • The organization that hosts the service should derive aggregate value and be able to expose that back to the users.

What would an education institution look like that works on this basis? What would happen if there were no departments or even no funding in the institution? What would a sustainable, open source, sharing, nurturing and mentoring institution look like? How can education institutions keep themselves relevant?

Well, I think I know one place that's getting there, not-so-slowly and very surely: an online social space where people can share what they've done, see what others have done and create collaborative projects with that information; open source leadership that encourages and empowers unpromoted staff to have an active distributed role in decision-making, rather than cutting managers and expecting the remainder to do more; collaborative projects for designing new curricula and bringing colleagues up to speed.

I'm sure there are others.

I'm hoping there will be more.

March 12, 2007

Scoopt gets scoopt

Scoopt_logo_625x80 Scoopt, the Glasgow-based mobile / amateur photograph buying company which I took Shel and Rick to see last November, has just been bought by Getty for an undisclosed sum. Well done, Kyle and co. I knew it was a winning idea the moment I met you, especially since thirty minutes later I had made my first web bucks with you.

February 13, 2007

Scottish Executive not keen on gaming? Or the Internet?

There's a report in Holyrood Magazine, the Scottish Parliament's publication, about how the gaming industry in Scotland feels it's £30 billion stake in the country's creative industry is being ignored:

“Scottish Development International and Scottish Enterprise talk a great deal about the knowledge economy and they seem to appreciate its importance, but that is where it ends. The Executive seems to have no concept of how big the games industry, or even the internet, really is, and certainly not of the successes we have had.”

Baglow said that one of the key frustrations for the industry is that the Executive only pays attention to the interactive and games industry when a title containing adult content is released, without realising the benefits such material can bring to Scotland.

Ouch. Agencies such as the one I work for, Learning and Teaching Scotland, do realise the importance of gaming, the 98% of it which is not adult. For the development of the sector within the education sphere a significant amount of effort and cash has been put into researching, applying and advocating the use of commercial, epistemic and educational games in the classroom. Indeed, if plans for handheld devices for 63,000 teachers and learners in the East of Scotland were to be open-minded enough to include wifi and browser-equipped gaming consoles, education and, by proxy, the Executive would in fact become major customers of the gaming industry.

I'm still left agreeing with part of the article's point, that there is a need for symbolism amongst the action, and I don't think it's limited to gaming. Where on the decision-making boards and advisory councils are the country's top internet CEOs, social media experts, online marketing gurus and gaming manufacturers? So far, it would seem, most of that talent seems to be going West to the Valley or South to London.

February 12, 2007

How to benefit from failure, Part One

In all the organisations with whom I have worked and currently work I've never been sure what the attitude to failure is. This isn't really a revelation, since rejoicing in failure is not something most groups or individuals are particularly good, or that keen, at doing. But three times this past week I've been reminded how vital failure is to becoming successful in our ventures.

How to Benefit From Failure No. 1: David Law, Speck Design
I went to hear David at the superb Edinburgh-Stanford link Entrepreneurship Club Silicon Valley series (you can download his presentation from the site). He was talking about Business Design and the role creativity has in that process of building something. David is a Glasgow Uni educated, self-proclaimed "unlikely" entrepreneur of Speck Design now hailing from Palo Alto, who believes that creativity is what makes the only competitive advantage for many industries and, importantly, countries. This grand statement, though, was proceeded by a host of failures (about 20 minutes' worth).


First failure: cool stuff isn't easy to come up with all the time

First of all he went after Patent Sales, where you come up with an idea, slap a patent on it and hope someone else will buy your great idea for loads of mullah.

But when was the last time you said "Wow. That's cool"? Coming up with cool stuff for a living is not easy.

David worked at first on the "work an hour, earn a dollar" basis, quickly moving on to only speculative work, using what the company had in terms of creativity to create what they believed would maybe sell. They were "all over the map" - producing everything that could possibly hit a niche which was as yet untapped. They thought they would sell tonnes of patents, but realised this wouldn't work, either - they've only sold one patent, in 2002. They developed real estate radio, taking videos down ski slopes, vents that drew the heat out the top of LCD screens. They were all over the place.

Second failure: Be creative but link it to reality

The lesson from the patent stuff was that the closer you are to reality the easier it is to sell. Unfinshed products or notions are near impossible to sell.

"Made", his spin-out company, found success by making something quickly which related to a real product, the iPod. Made made that first iPod holder that wraps around your arm, but succeeding only when the iPod was finally released - in 2001 several investors told them that they were "not sure the Apple thing is going anywhere".

Third failure: You can't have it all

Triangleofcreativity There's a visual you can pull up when you've got an idea you want to develop, either in the classroom, in the education office or in the board room. Innovation, Speed and Cost are three factors within which you can lie. But you can only be in one spot, and that's where you'll be. You can't avoid that. If your products follow in the wake of others then speed is the most important - get something simple which you know how to do out there asap. Once that's done, you can get your innovation worked out for the follow up, still maintaining some speed but, of course, in both instances it costs money. Lots.

Combining speed and innovation is, in David's words, going to make you "fall flat on your face".

Failure 4: Fail fast Fail frugal Fail again

This is true just given his introduction, covering 15 years of, mostly, failure. Lots of 'em. Build a prototype, as cheaply as you can, test it. Take the feedback and roll with it again. The same is true when we're trying out innovative teaching practice: give wee bits of it a go, fail, don't lose the kids or your sanity and learn from what didn't work to come back at it from a different angle. Everything will fail. Just get to that failure first and before anyone else does.

This links into David's latest, more successful way of being creative on a frequent basis: the microventure. This way of working is exactly what I try to imbue in my workplaces, with varied success ;-). David and his associates want to start at least 35 companies in the next five years, most of them if not all self-funded. They will target underserved niches, happy if coincidentally one or two of those niches overflow into the mainstream, though it doesn't really matter in this global marketplace.

Roi To get return on investment they make the investment small (a microventure) and any return will mean the ROI is relatively large, and therefore successful. Quick wins are essential, not superficial, so that the company is sustainable. Investment can't be nothing - $25,000 is small in David's world. So don't make the mistake of ROI being the same as ROE - return on effort requires small but significant, small but well-targeted and intelligently used effort.

Failure 5: Don't to a me-too - get obvious advantage

Don't do a me-too when it comes to innovating; find something where you are adding on obvious advantage. In the business world the Far East is specialist in me-too companies, thrashing out widgets. In the West, in Scotland, we need to produce things with added obvious value if we are to be exceptional.

Failure 6: Keep your credibility

What is it you do? Work it out and keep to it. Straying from what you are good at doing or what you tasked yourself to do strains your credibility.

6230824_3e4a65fa19_oHow does failure like this work in education?
1 . Cool stuff: we constantly put ourselves under pressure to come up with cool entertaining stuff to get the kids educated better, deeper, wider or in a more motivating way. We're never going to get that all the time, so is it worth investing more energy in one or two big projects where we can see a feasible sign of success?

2. Link it to reality: so many projects to effect educational change don't offer a hook to what we do at the moment. Unless we can hook onto reality of today we can't expect to make a success of the unknown of tomorrow. School 2.0? Let's work our way there through all the 0.1s first.

3. You can't have it all: We can't have huge innovation in broadband overnight without huge cost. Spending money in one area means another suffers. Do you want high speed with no means to publish or a means to publish which is a bit sluggish in school? We'll always have to make that choice - nothing will change.

4. Fail fast, fail frugal, fail again: I'm not convinced the public sector allows us to do this. Projects are generally funded (saying you just want to do a project with no funding means the project is not taken seriously), and sometimes overfunded. There's rarely a get-out clause - part fund people until they fail and then part fund again until they have success. Website rarely just appear, they're always launched. A bit like most education initiatives. Maybe there's something to learn here.

5. Don't do a me-too: It's easy to copy others' ideas and think that what they're doing is the best possible thing. Don't. The best ideas are borne out of a localised, individual need. Satisfy what you need in your classroom and someone else might find it useful, but don't feel you have to join a bandwagon if it's going to stop you spotting a success for your own class.

6. Keep your credibility: I think teachers are pretty good at this. What are the instances of people losing their credibility through social media, though? Plenty.

More failures and what it means for education coming soon...

January 23, 2007

Keeping up with the Joneses: has your kid got a tutor?


  "Studying for class" 
  Originally uploaded by jakebouma.

From BBC Breakfast this morning was a preview of tonights wry look at those who have and those who have not in the BBC 2 (8.30pm) The Madness of Modern Families (it comes just after the equally depressing Dr Alice Roberts' Don't Die Young). One of the topics? Tutors.

It got me thinking (again) at whether schools and Local Authorities should not be nipping the tutor trade in the bud and providing something more, something better and for free.

I only ever had a piano teacher when I was at school, but some might say that I did well in my other subjects because I happened to have two 'professionals' on my back all the time. But when I got stuck in Physics, Mathematics or Geography I had great teachers who spent time in their lunch hours or after school, for free, taking me through what I had failed to keep up with in class. They were, I felt, Good Teachers.

Later in life, in the first year at Edinburgh University, I found myself submerged by a fairly poor (OK, bloody awful) understanding of French and German grammar. In the case of French my language tutor, Dr Brian Barron, took me aside at least a half dozen times in that first term to help me 'get' the perfect tense vs the imperfect. He's now Dean of the Arts Faculty. Just shows that Good Teachers make it places ;-)

Even in my professional life Good Teachers have been there to offer some free advice 'after hours' to help out. My old PE teacher at Dunoon Grammar took me into the school gym one Christmas eight years ago and spent four hours showing me how to scale 12 foot walls, jump hurdles without breaking my neck and jump through open windows head first without, again, breaking my neck (that was for the Army exams, not teaching).

My current bosses are more than happy to take five minutes out of their own busy schedules to give me their help in managing others or getting through projects.

Why, then, do we allow the kids in our classes to go off to private tutors, paying between £25 and £50 an hour for help which, really, the school might be able to provide? And what are the rates of private tuition elsewhere around the world?

  • Is it a case that the school doesn't know who needs more help?

  • Is it the case that kids in classes where they don't like the teacher or the teacher is, shock and horror, just not very good, don't feel that they can approach another teacher in that school to ask for help?

  • Is this not an issue we could do something about to save our families' money and bring more respect for the expertise in our schools back to those schools?

Mums' and dads' views as welcome as those at the chalkface.

Update: Mike shows us, through Google Earth, the amazing lengths parents might go to keep up.

January 20, 2007

Why handheld learning shouldn't be about laptops or even giving kids kit

The Edinburgh Evening News carried a very fact-low hype-high story on Learning Hubs, the one-to-one computing and area-wide wifi project whose board I have been asked to advise. Ollie made some good points on the story but felt that any one-to-one computing project should be using laptops instead of PDAs. There are other options and reasons for not doing this en masse.

The first relates to variety. In one class or one Local Authority, even, it might be seen as desirable for some to use one handheld device for learning: a PDA, a laptop, a smart phone. However, in the world of work, where we have to borrow many different types of technology to get our jobs done, there might be more value in dispensing whatever piece of kit will do the job justice.

Some days, an entire class will need a smartphone between two for some work out in the field trip, while another class will need a GPS device, a laptop and a 3G plugin to do some work around their school. Other times a GPC device and air monitor will be needed for science, while a good old MP3 recorder and laptop will be needed for the kids doing some podcasting.

What will make each of these projects work is having quick and easy access to the technology and an online or network profile which will allow you to pick up where you were before.

Gaming devices are nowadays just as apt a tool as a PDA or SmartPhone. You can even run your Nintendo DS (which has voice recognition built in) as a Voice over Internet Protocol telephone.

Ollie also points to a few of the PDA or one-to-one pilots that have taken place in the UK and USA. From what I saw, though, at the Handheld Learning conference and from excerpts on Teachers TV I've not been impressed by the incredibly offline way the tools have been used. They have been used to make connections in class between kids that could just talk to each other face-to-face, and have helped most in providing old-type resources (textbooks) in rather similar ways, just with a smaller screen. There have also been a fair few of these "high input, low educational output" exercises, to those of us observing from afar, at least.

Our challenge in East Lothian and throughout the East of Scotland is going to be doing something rather different from what else we've seen in the UK. We want ubiquitous town-, village- and city-wide wifi internet access so that kids can use their own technology online, whatever that tech is. This is the real deal: if we get the access right and manufacturers continue to build in wifi as standard, within a few years we just won't be thinking about spending mega-bucks on mega projects to provide kids with kit. We'll just be facilitating them to use their own.

This last point is my own, and not an official aim of the project. However the board's existing aims are ambitious and in the really early stages of negotiation. It is almost certainly far too early to know what the technology we will be using might be when this aim will take much time to achieve.

Update: You can also use your PSP with a keyboard.

January 05, 2007

Bubbleshare's a safe bet

One of the things I look out for in an online tool is how robust it's going to be in terms of lifespan. Online services, especially free ones, need some kind of model to keep them afloat, keep them innovating and developing with me. If they don't have it I might as well go off and find another tool to invest time in learning how to use. Even more true when I'm building services or working with teachers who have no or little time to learn new tools and need something that they can stick with on the same terms for a long time.

Bubblesharelogo Bubbleshare, one of my favourite tools that was bootstrapping, it seemed, for a long time, has found its lifespan in a $2.25 million investment (it could stretch to $3m). We'd already started training teachers in East Lothian on how to use it for teaching and learning but we can do so with a bit more of a long term relationship now.

January 02, 2007

And the prize for Linkbater of the Year goes to...

Time might win the 2006 prize for best link-bating but in 2007 I wonder how many people in the blogosphere will be trying to get others to do their work for them?

11444661459thumb Stephen Downes hinted that the K12 Conference was, to some degree, aimed at raising the profile of a few individuals more than it was about sharing good practice. I don't think that was the intention at all, even if it appears that way to some. But his words of caution are making me see a more sinister side to the edublogosphere beginning to emerge which makes me feel a little uneasy. Just in the past month I've been called up or emailed around two dozen times expected to offer free advice to people who intend to further their own business (public speaking, promotion of businesses, "how can I make money from blogging"...).

Take Andrew Pass who this morning is starting his own meme (to join this one and that one), but with far more constructive (it seems) aims. My problem is not with the meme: building lesson plans collaboratively might have some merit. My problem is with the reasons behind Andrew starting the meme in the first place. He's an educator, perhaps, but he's also a businessman who, according to his work website makes his lion's share of cash from selling lesson plans and ideas for others.

Add to this the fact that most of us do occasionally share ideas for lessons on our edublogs for free anyway it seems that this monthly meme may serve to create a business profit (for him) with minimal business investment (because we invest for him - is that not what they call a pyramid scheme?).

At $5 a pop per user for a lesson plan from AP Education Services this seems the edublogging equivalent of getting a batch off the back of a lorry.

Am I hitting below the belt here or could AP Education Services go about things another way to endear themselves/himself to the education community while still making a crust? I have nothing against business using weblogs to make money when it's done well and in a way which benefits its users, but something just isn't sitting right with the "something for nothing" expectations of the edublogosphere's businessmen and -women.

Update: Andrew has updated his business plan online and shows how he intends to make a crust and take part in the conversation. His sponsoring and Adsense mix seems to make perfect sense. He's also not going to sell lesson plans anymore, including any from the meme. The lesson for those running businesses in the blogosphere - tell us what you're doing and involve us in it.

December 29, 2006

Should schools dive in and own their own tools?

DOPA bans social networking in public institutions (including schools) in the US under the guise of safety and control of information. Since May the act has been discussed on the US edublogosphere, with several educators this side of the pond getting jumpy, itchy or mildly wary of relying on external suppliers and hosters of content.

John has started the debate once more on two angles - open source tools and self-hosting of tools by local authorities - after stimulation from the excellent Booruch podcast. It has all made me think afresh on whether schools or states should spend time, money and effort on creating 'safe', self-owned products which do the job of Flickr, blog engines, Bubbleshare, YouTube, del.icio.us and so on.

 

Owning information

Do we need to spend our effort on creating 'eduFlickrs' and self-hosted blogging platforms? My instant over-simplistic reaction is: no. The question of ownership of information might seem like a huge one when one stores one's writing on a blog hosted by Typepad or Blogger, for example, or one's photos on Flickr. It is a real question, too, not one of the made up examples or "imagine ifs..." that we are so fond of in education. For this very reason I think it's important to use the best of what is available in relation to the money we have to spend on it, and work at discussing the accompanying debate, whether that is ownership, copyright, intellectual copyright and plagiarism or "how do these sites make money?" (at Yester Primary School they are discussing just this question, and I hope to be able to head along there and help them come to the answer).

59876372_65de0278b9_m But is what we right online any more important than what we right write in school jotters, which end up binned, lost, water-logged or forgotten? Does writing some schoolwork or thought online make it worth so much more than the jotter that we must, at all costs, keep it? What is it about writing or publishing images and artwork online that seems to make the issue of who owns that virtual piece of paper more important than who owns/loses/keeps the school jotter?

Where owning information is good useful

This still did not stop me recommending to East Lothian that they use WordPress MultiUser, hosting the content of all their blogs, at least, on their own dedicated server, but the aims had nothing to do with security, safety or "owning the information". Hosting blogs on WPMU does nothing to help in any of these scenarios, but does help marketing (you can better analyse the impact of what you are doing, spot new trends, predict what plugins might be popular), troubleshooting (a double-edged sword since we are relying on fewer middlemen for help, but still work within the limits of our own expertise) and in trying to create a more coherent community (we're back to marketing, effectively, and how the information on user habits can help push community where it might not have existed beforehand). In East Lothian we are beginning to do this pretty well ;-)

Glow, for that matter, the national education intranet in Scotland, will offer some degree of extra security to the mix. The people in it are centrally registered users and therefore traceable, though I don't know how much tracing will go on; during the Glow trials there were incidents of 'minor' online bullying but no effort made by teachers or administrators to pursue it while the iron was hot. At the end of the day, owning the servers on which the content is stored will not stop predatory bullying, 99.9% of which comes not from the wild west of the www, but from within your schools, your classrooms. If we can get that little human glitch ironed out (I don't know if we ever will) then Glow-hosted blogs would be a real step in the right direction for increased new technology use by the next part in the equation, the third-generation of more risk-averse teacher ICT users.

   increased security
+ better marketing
+ better community finding and creating
= breaking down of our edublogosphere pareto principle.

Where not having to host the information is better

To go back to the East Lothian social media project, most of the other tools we are recommending our users to engage with involve hosting material on someone else's servers: del.icio.us, Bubbleshare, Flickr, Quintura and PageFlakes, for example. It's simply not worth our time, effort and money to attempt to recreate these pretty damned good tools just so that we can host them on our servers. At the moment I'd recommend the continued hosting of blogs in East Lothian since most people use a blog as their principle place of publishing news, artwork, video and so on (even if it's not hosted directly on it all of the time). But over the next year and beyond the blog in its current form will morph and many more people will live their online publishing life on non-textual tools such as YouTube (quelle surprise), Flickr and the forthcoming medium of IPTV.

40934342_cb6ee17c18 So what's the difference between hosting blogs and hosting everything else? Money. Well, bandwidth to be more precise. Just as YouTube began to get exponential last May my LesBlogs buddy Peter was working out their bandwidth costs at around $1 million per day, with 15 million video downloads (each video about 3.5 minutes long). Considering that most educational content is longer than that and even with fewer users, I think most Local Authorities and even our dear Executive would baulk at a service which would drain 000,000s of pounds from the public purse - with no business model allowed to support it.

Self-hosted video and images? At the moment it doesn't make financial sense when aggregated costs and economies of scale from the big guys and venture capitalists help cushion the blow.

So if we're stuck with these guys for practical reasons, surely we'll get screwed on ethical ones? I'd say less of the conspiracy theory and more of the research. It's not in the interest of these companies to ignore the educational market. It's for that reason, perhaps, that the CEOs of PageFlakes, Quintura, Wikispaces, PBWiki and many other Live Web cos. are in fairly regular contact with me and other edubloggers to find out what would make their products better for education. I know that they keep an eye on Technorati watchlists of their product names to leap in and grab our feedback and improve their products.

Why? Because their teen and pre-teen customers of today are their ad revenues of tomorrow. Do I want a product without ads for my kids? Yes. Do I mind if they are facing advertising once they leave school and enter the world of work? No, because advertising is part of the makeup of their lives on MySpace, Bebo and the telly (do they still do that?) - avoiding a cool tool on the basis of advertising is cutting our collective nose off to spite our faces.

Rugs and feet

134894866_1702844941_m Will developers purposefully pull the rug from under their customers' feet? No, not if the business model is solid and they are making money. If a company changes the rules it set out with at the beginning (or tries a Google "we'll keep Google Earth free for the moment") then they are screwed for the long haul. And then take a look at the technologies mentioned in this blog post. Every one has an open API and a bit of magic which makes it what it is (that's why we might like PageFlakes better than Netvibes, Bubbleshare better than Flickr and so on). These companies are more or less open - open enough for most geeks - and provide a business model which reassures us they will be around for long enough.

Balancing risk, time, effort, development, skills and final product

Moreover, these 'open private' companies provide refined products which are generally quick to set up and use, and easy to get a backup from. Should they go bust or withdraw a service, there's nothing to stop regular users exporting the content and making a switch. Compared to some of the most popular open source apps, such as Moodle mentioned by Peter in the Booruch podcast, setup is a doddle and more accessible for the masses. So, my tuppence worth to John and others' points on open source and self-hosting might be summarised something like this:

  • Does hosting offer a better chance to create a community?
  • Does hosting offer better safety for kids? (Probably not)
  • Does open source version of this provide the same experience AND more longevity (look at the business model, not the 'open sourceness' of the app - companies genuinely won't go out of their way to piss their customers off, especially the younger ones)
  • Do the vast majority of users care if the final product is open source or not, hosted by the institution or not? (Audacity happens to be better than Windows Media for most people, but most people don't know it's open source and will not contribute to the creation of the product).
  • Will most users be able to contribute to the open source product, or will the open source product be fed into by a minority of the group using it (thus making it quasi proprietary)?

The questions are, hopefully, provocative. I personally get fed up with the open source versus everything else debate and see a more complex mélange leading to success, but wonder whether some of the companies I've mentioned have superior venture capital, expertise and customer feedback to do the job better. Ouch. Release the spiders!

Photo of the jotter. Photo of pound note. Photo of slippery surfaces. (Creative Commons ;-)

December 21, 2006

Competitions for UK edublogging kids

BT regularly run competitions on the theme of listening and speaking (given their business the link is easy to make). Their current two competitions offer significant cash prizes to schools or Local Authorities who can show that their kids:

  • understand and endorse the principles of constructive dialogue?
  • are committed to helping those around them have better conversations?
  • endeavour to make the most of every discussion, whatever their role in it?
  • want to actively seek opportunities to promote the importance of speaking and listening within their work with young people?

Sounds like East Lothian to me, and plenty of other schools around the country, too.

More information and examples of previous winners on their site.

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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