Thursday, August 02, 2007
In our development of the BSC, which is as much a framework for our strategy as it is a reporting tool, we first developed the strategy map. The strategy map frames the interrelationship between perspectives and objectives. In addition, the strategy map is communicating what is important to the district. What becomes problematic is that everything that is important is not easily measurable. For example, one of the things that we have identified as important is to "improve student products." We think this is important because in the 21st Century it is not enough for students to complete the requirements of the traditional school system (e.g. worksheets). Students need to be demonstrating their skills at 21st Century skills like presenting, analyzing, and communicating to and with the wider global community. That said, we haven't the slightest idea how we are going to measure the improvement in student products. What is key is that we still put the objective on the BSC. Even if we haven't figured it out we send the message that this or will be important to the district achieving its mission.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
In a previous post I argued that we should be working to "measure what matters". In other words, if we want to know whether a teacher is effective we need to develop an example of "effective" and tools for determining whether the teacher is achieving that example. Teachers and leaders need to know where teachers on a scale (or rubric) and they need to know what to do next to improve. Years of service apparently can differentiate a 1st year teacher from a 5th year teacher, but after that there is little difference between a 5th year teacher and a 15th year teacher. Instead of seeing our longest serving teachers as the most skilled, we should create measures to see our most skilled teachers as our most skilled teachers.
Monday, March 19, 2007
Many Eyes is user-friendly and addictive. I kept loading new forms of data to try different views. I loaded school district demographics over time, speeches made by Margaret Spellings, and rap lyrics from Ice Cube and TuPac.
Imagine the potential in a K-12 setting where students could be challenged to collect data (primary collection or secondary) and then these data would be shared across the world. their classmates could comment, but so too could an expert in the field they are studying. This tool not only creates opportunities to see the world in a new way (literally), but also to collaborate and understand the world more deeply (or see it in a new way metaphorically).
Check out these examples I created:
Example #1: District demographics over time. Click the image here and drill-down (using the plus signs) to the demographics by school, ethnicity, and gender.
Example #2: A tree map of two years of demographic data reveals change in color. Check out the hover over Ajax features.
Example #3: Tag Cloud of recent testimony from Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. Any idea what Spellings intends to focus on? Could you imagine students using this to compare the language in two poems, rap lyrics, books on the same subject in two different decades, speeches...or anything else? Imagine how engaged students would be to see the text they are analyzing come alive.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
First, technology serves humans. If the technology fails or the user cannot figure out how to get value from it, then the design is the problem. A simple concept that seems to be overlooked when considering how to display data to teachers. Second, design is not art. Art is to be enjoyed and design facilitates use. Third, designers do not create experiences, they create artifacts to experience. This seems to be akin to Kathy Sierra’s argument that serving our customers means that in the end it is about them kicking ass. Fourth, great design is invisible because it solves a problem and works well. We take it for granted. Fifth, simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Distill the design to the absolute needs to solve the problem at hand, that is all.
This all applies directly to design of data systems for school districts to use. If the ultimate goal is for teachers to use the data system to analyze data and track student progress, then the design of the system must be teacher-friendly, focused on their experience, and simple enough that the user does not have to read the freakin’ manual.
Monday, February 12, 2007
Above was my picture for the first scene in the storyboard. Here is my storyboard for the first two images. The metaphor of a storyboard is great because it makes you think through the emotion and imagery that you want to create, just like a great director does with a movie. The storyboard version of talking to parents about students could result in better metaphors and descriptions of the student's actual performance. It is a deliberate method for creating a vision for the parents.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
No matter what assessment or performance related material we are sending home to parents we should be sure that we are clear about the following things: (1) What is the test, when did your son/daughter take the test, and why the results are important. (2) How your student scored some comparison data (e.g. how did the rest of the state, district, or school score). (3) How you can support your student to improve or maintain high performance. (4) When the student will test next. (5) What is the best way to contact their teacher to get more information.
How often are we successful at all of these steps?