Managing Complex Change


Without a VISION, you get CONFUSION.
Without DATA, you get INCOHERENCE.
Without SKILLS, you get ANXIETY.
Without an ACTION PLAN, you get FALSE STARTS.

Working on a plan to bring a Mozilla…


Working on a plan to bring a Mozilla Club to my area…hoping to do a little mental FAQ/braindump here on the blog.

Q. What is the goal in all of this?
A. Improving digital literacy for all – elementary, middle, and high school children as well as homeschoolers, college-age, those entering the workforce, or adults looking to gain new skills. Not just theory but practical knowledge, things that they might be able to use every day. Our world is becoming more and more digital – people pay their bills online, shop online, communicate online, make things online…the list is continually growing. And as the Internet of Things continues to grow people will need to understand how their physical world is being automated and digitized. So yeah, improving digital literacy but not just coding, not just Minecraft. It has to be practical.

Q. What constitutes “digital literacy”?
A. Hard to define. Doug Belshaw, et al. did a great job of defining web literacies, so that’s a great starting point.

Q. How do you go about teaching digital literacy to such a wide demographic range?
A. Mozillians have already spent countless hours developing a curriculum and teaching activities, so it will be a matter of remixing those to give our programs some “local flavor”. I want people to make direct connections between the benefits of digital literacy and solutions to our communities’ specific problems.

Q. Who do I have to sell this idea to?
A. Schools. Churches. Senior centers. Businesses. Makers. Government agencies. Libraries. Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Inner-city organizations. Non-profits. Artists. Homeschoolers. I could go on for a while…this has to reach everyone.

Q. Who will teach?
A. Volunteers. It has to be volunteers. This has to be cost-effective…we don’t have money for professional staff and nobody is going to pay a whole lot to get this kind of training, even though it is incredibly important. At the end of the day, I’d rather see schools start to shoulder the burden of teaching digital literacy and maybe at some point down the road they will, but right now the real drivers of programs such as these are community and volunteer-based. That said, I’d like to see a wide variety of instructors all the way from teenagers to seniors.

Q. So what’s my role?
A. Coordinator – I need to get the initial program off the ground, meetings being held on a regular schedule, participation blossoming, off-shoots forming…then I reach out to more club captains in more places and help them launch. Eventually this could lead to the formation of a Hive Learning Community or Network and there could be substantial dollars and cents involved, but for right now the idea is to start small and build on whatever momentum we achieve. The sky’s the limit.

I’ll fill in more later if I feel up to it.

Lessons Learned from my Big Trip


Every now and then I get to put on my big boy pants and go out of town for work. On Monday afternoon I loaded up the Buick and drove out to Mars, Pennsylvania to teach a class on best practices in the student transportation field. The class was held on Tuesday, and then I had to pack up fast and head home to catch my daughter’s band concert. Now that it’s Wednesday, I thought I would take a few minutes to jot down what I learned on my trip:

  • Sometimes being a follower sucks. I was cruising along on the Pennsylvania Turnpike when all of the traffic in my lane slowed to a crawl. A few cars passed by but I thought they might have gotten off the highway as well, so thinking that there was a road closure ahead I also got off the highway. And then sat there for ages. I looked at the Maps app on my iPhone and there were no visible traffic issues on the highway…but there were traffic issues on the road I was about to merge onto. And then I started seeing traffic going past us on the highway again. I don’t know what happened, but my decision to follow everyone else instead of trusting my eyes or checking my phone led me to be stuck in traffic for about 30 minutes.
  • I have to overcome my fear of rejection. On the way home I listened to an episode of the You Are Not So Smart podcast about Jia Jang, the man in charge of Fearbuster. He described his 100-day challenge in which he attempted to get rejected over and over. By the end, he had two main takeaways (that I picked up on): first, that he was rejected far fewer times than anticipated; second, that he treated each rejection like it was a success. It made me think about the last conversation I had with my boss – I didn’t come right out and ask for a raise, I danced around the subject. I can’t be upset that I didn’t get what I thought I deserved because I didn’t make my request clear enough. Next time, I can do better.
  • I am an expert on some things. I’m a firm believe in humility, and when people refer to me as an expert on something I often hem and haw and blow off their complement. But standing in front of a room of transportation and school business professionals, it kind of sank in. I shouldn’t be afraid to stand up and say that I know what I’m talking about. I may not have 24 years in the field like my co-instructor, but my five years in student transportation have taught me a lot. And I shouldn’t feel pressure to know everything…being an instructor can be just as much about learning as teaching.
  • Murphy’s Law isn’t real. I drove a Buick with 155,000 miles on it across the state twice in two days and nothing bad happened. Maybe it will break down this evening or tomorrow, who knows. But I put myself through a ridiculous amount of anxiety and worry leading up to my big trip…I almost didn’t make the trip because of how afraid I was that my car would break down. And it didn’t. Boom.