Start At The End

The best advice I ever received when I was looking to start a consulting business was this... "To guarantee success... find a need, and fill it."

There is no value in creating products or services for which there is no need.  On occasion, an organization will come up with a game changing product and redefine a whole industry (think RIM in the early days - replacing pagers with email anywhere, Apple with its iPhone and iPad - bringing smart devices to the masses), but for the most part, the businesses that thrive are those who have found their version of finding a need a filling it.

It seems they excel at anticipating what their customers would need, and when.  It seems they have almost put themselves in the place of the user, and walked through what a successful experience would be.

Interacting with these organizations is eerily intuitive.  The website is informative, expectations are clearly defined, there are no unpleasant surprises, and if it is a product, you could likely hand it to a child and they would be able to figure out how to get started.


I used to have superpowers.

When I was young, I could fly.

I could teleport myself across space and time.

I could beat up any bad guys that got in my way, no matter how big they were.

Image: MS Office Imagebank
In reality, I really couldn't do these things, but in my imagination everything was possible.

In reality,and sadly, children who hung out in the imagination part of their brain didn't do too well in school.

The alternate universe of imagination was an exciting, creative place to be. But it conflicted with the 'real world'.

"Imagineers" had trouble staying on task.  Trouble staying in their chairs. Trouble doing tasks that didn't engage their imagination.

I was one of them.

But in order to ever hope to get out of school, I had to conform.

It meant doing things their way.

Laying aside the superpowers.  Hanging up the cape.

It meant conforming to whatever everybody else was doing.

Skip ahead a few years.


iPads in our School? Not Quite Yet... (Repost)

There have been many questions lately about the role of the new "slate" style tablets in our school.  The most famous of these is the iPad, but also include the collection of other devices in my office including the Fujitsu Q550 and the Lenovo Thinkpad Android powered tablet.

As such, I thought a reposting of this musing would be in order.

Image: Apple.com
Everyone seems to be excited about iPads and other tablet computers (with the possible exception of HP). They are a great personal extension to the internet.   I was recently forwarded the results of a survey done by Staples who (surprise) found people are thrilled with tablets and one of the benefits of having a tablet is that it allowed a number of the survey respondents to have a better work/life balance.

Coincidentally, Staples happens to sell tablets. I am sure the survey results were unbiased. :)

So what about tablets in education?


A Field Trip to the Garbage Dump?

Imagine if your child came home from school with a permission slip to go on a field trip...

... to the garbage dump.

Image: MS Office Imagebank
"Um..." you say since you don't really understand "modern" education.

So you read further.

"We will be dropping your kids off at the front gate of the dump, with the objective of finding something of value buried in all the trash.  There will be no adult supervision on this field trip".

Would you sign?

If you answered yes, then I will be contacting the local Children's Services agency in your area.

You would be foolish to agree to this kind of field trip.

But when we put computers in the hands of our students and give them access to the Internet with no guidelines, objectives, or training, we are essentially agreeing to do this very thing.