So, I'm watching football and I notice a few commercials for the iPhone. One involves celebrity tennis players playing ping pong. It's an advertisement for sleep mode, which is apparently a really big innovation in technology. Another advertisement revolves around editing pictures with retina display. The message is clear: we make quality stuff. Just check out our features.

I contrast that to the two Google commercials I view. The first is a tear-jerker describing the way a daughter and a father stick together as she moves on to college. In thirty seconds, they create a story and a backstory of how technology can help us connect. The features are still there, embedded, not for quality, but for simplicity. The second commercial tells a blended story, a collective narrative, about how we can use technology to learn from one another.

I'm not sure either advertisement is entirely accurate. However, I know that the Google ads are memorable. They feel less like a glossy ad and more like an indie short film.The viewer makes an emotional connection with a vast, nameless corporation - one that often feels cold and distant to the public.

So, it has me thinking about technology integration and schools. What do we need to do in order to tell better stories? Are we sharing the connections, the relationships and the learning? Or are we talking to the public about prototypes and tools and the shiny hardware?

14 comments:

  1. I think many teachers still need to make the shift from using and consuming technology, which is really just a bunch of bells and whistles, to utilizing technology to create, share, and expand . That's when we can really talk about tech integration.

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  2. Maybe we should quit talking at and starting talking with others.

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  3. I'm getting my master's right now in educational technology. The course I'm finishing this weekend actually has to do with developing blended learning learning environments. I had to develop a two week unit integrating technology in a blended way to a standard unit that I already teach. It was difficult to do this! I think that the reason that I hadn't done it before is that there is just no time to learn the technology and then plan how to use it in the classroom in a way that's useful, and improves student achievement. Teachers need time- time to learn, time to plan, time to implement and time to evaluate whether it acually does improve their students' learning.

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    1. I'm tube principal and I know this is the cry of my teachers' hearts.

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    2. That was supposed to be "the" not tube. I'm learning to type on an iPad!

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  4. What do we need to do to tell better stories?

    First, tell any story. Get comfortable with some medium be it text, audio or video. Then,tell many stories! The good ones will rise, and the ho hum ones will fade away. Whether or not you learn what it takes to tell a good story, your actions will encourage others to tell their stories... and so on... and so on...

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    1. One of the things that I'm struck by as I watch the Google videos is that they are not just telling successful stories. They are telling real stories. Human stories. Vulnerable stories. We need to share those stories, too. I think that's why your comment resonates with me so much. I love the notion of "tell many stories." Exactly.

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    2. "Tell (m)any stories" is so incredibly important.

      I work at the district level, in the Comm Dept. I post every story a teacher sends on the homepage of the district website. At first, it was our response to local media shifting to focus on negative education stories; we were tired of people not understanding that every school day is full of success stories.

      Eventually, it became my own love letter to our teachers and students. I post their stories because they matter. I want them to be heard. I want the teachers and students in them to know that they are important enough to put on the district homepage, front and center. Anything that someone thinks is important enough to take the time to submit to me, I respect as important enough to share.

      The results have been wonderfully indirect. I can show charts that we're posting over 500 stories a year. I can't show charts of how many teachers showed their students that they were featured on the homepage, or how many new teachers used it as a way to show that they're hanging in there, or how many teachers got a neat idea from what someone at another school did, or how many outsiders and district-level people have a better daily reminder of what it means to be in the classroom.

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  5. Schools, like so many business, don't tell stories, they share data and information. Stories are about people and humans and bring with it messiness that most organizations can't bear to expose. As you suggest we need more vulnerability but schools are scared to death of it.

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    1. I can see that. It's hard enough as a teacher to be vulnerable and tell those kinds of stories.

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  6. Narrative is an extremely powerful tool for communication. Stories help us to make an emotional connection with our audience. As mentioned by Dean Shareski in his comment above, they add the human element to a communication. That is why the Google advertisements are so memorable for viewers - the human stories evoke an emotional response from the viewer. We empathise and relate to the experiences of the people in the story. (As a father of 2 young children, my favourite Google advertisement is 'Dear Sophie')

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  7. Schools certainly don't tell enough of the positive stories. They need to be their own PR machines. Ben Grey does an excellent job of this in his district. Here's an example of one of those great stories. http://bengrey.com/blog/2012/11/proud-to-tell-our-stories/

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Please leave a comment. I enjoy the conversation.

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