By on July 29th, 2014 | Comment on this post

Think fast: What is the purpose of education? Ask any group of people — including any group of educators — and you’re likely to hear a different answer from each. Therein is a clue. If each of us gives a different answer to this age-old question, doesn’t it follow that education serves a unique purpose, for each individual?

Indeed, if there is a common theme to answers given to this question, it typically revolves around the individual: “To give each person a life-long love of learning.” “To give learners practical skills that will enable them to support themselves.” “To ground each student in a philosophy of life that will allow him or her to flourish.” Is each a legitimate answer to the question? Yes. Is each focused on an individual’s growth and success? Yes.

For millennia, the practice of education has aimed for and fallen short of this ideal of individualized growth.…

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By on July 29th, 2014 | Comment on this post

All organizations have social impact — good or bad, intended or not.

Social impact is the logical consequence of an organization’s plans, decisions, and actions on the social and economic lives of employees, customers, and their communities.

Such consequences might be direct or indirect, immediate or long term. Most organizations are unaware of their social impact and, therefore, invest little time or energy in appraising it.

To understand social impact, let’s look at an organization’s first and primary customers: their employees.

If an employee’s hourly wage goes up a nickel or five pence, there are benefits to the employee, the employee’s family, and the employee’s neighborhood. That wage boost might enable that employee to take his or her family out to dinner one night a month. That outing boosts family member’s satisfaction, possibly boosts their nutrition, and brings business to a local restaurant.

If an employee’s hourly wage goes up a dollar or a euro, the benefits to the employee, family, and neighborhood are typically greater – and more longer lasting.…

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By Matt Renwick on July 29th, 2014 | Comment on this post

tablet on white background. Isolated 3D imageThis past spring, I was asked to substitute teach in one of our first-grade classrooms. There were no guest teachers available that day so, as the elementary principal, I was it. Being a former fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, I was a bit out of my comfort zone. How would I document what students learned during their time with me?

During the literacy block, I found moments to capture learning with my iPad. Using the device’s camera, I was able to take photos of both the students’ work and of them actually working. Along with images, I typed up reflections from our experience. In addition, I recorded audio of one student reading aloud their own writing to me. All of this information — text, images and audio — were stored within one note in Evernote. When I was done, I emailed the note to the classroom teacher. Once shared, the teacher was then free to add any or all of the content from this one note to the students’ digital portfolios within Evernote.…

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By on July 29th, 2014 | Comment on this post

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership — tracks feedback from more than 190,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our e-newsletter.

Last week, we asked: How prevalent is the use of buzzwords in your organization

  • Extremely — it seems like everything we say is a buzzword: 25.69%
  • Very — buzzwords creep into normal conversations: 40.39%
  • Somewhat — the occasional buzzword gets thrown around: 27.06%
  • Not at all — we rarely use buzzwords: 6.86%

Words with no meaning. Sure, buzzwords sound great but they get in the way of communicating clearly. At worst, using buzzwords makes you sound silly or arrogant. If you want to get your point across, speak simply and directly. Leave no room for interpretation. There are some horrible phrases we tend to use and the worst of those buzzwords can make us sound ridiculous. Find better alternatives. Your team will appreciate it and you’ll make a much better impression upon those around you.…

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By Aubrey Daniels on July 28th, 2014 | Comment on this post

As the saying goes, “Timing is everything.” Someone at Microsoft should tell the big boss. It seems to me that Satya Nadella, the new CEO at Microsoft as of February, has been let down by his PR people in the communications of the last two weeks. The order of announcements could not have been worse.

In an e-mail to employees (July 10) about an evolving culture at Microsoft, Nadella talked of “Bold Ambition and Our Core“ and outlined what the company has to do to get its mojo back. One week later (July 17), he announced a layoff of 18,000 employees. Talk about a letdown. My take on the two messages: “I have some good news and some bad news. I’ll give the good news first: Microsoft is going to be a lean, mean fighting machine. The bad news: Many of you will not be a part of it.”

There are at least two problems with these announcements, but let me first say I have no problem with the decision to eliminate jobs.…

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