Upgrades are Uberfun!

In a single moth we have made improvements to and are close to unveiling 3 sets of site improvements over at IL Virtual.  Our info site, our primary LMS and our helpdesk have all gotten upgrades.

Now many people believe its magic, you simply select a feature and boom it upgrades.  This is the upgrade fairy logic.

In reality what happens is that behind that button push there are a few people like me, earning grey hairs, testing everything we can think of, and then trying to think of how a user might use it, then trying the break it.  At the end we hope that if we can’t find a way to break it, you won’t either.

It turns out though that all the end-users are incredibly innovative in their totality and inevitably they think of a view or click combination which never occurred to us.  Our prescience is limited, our prognostication flawed, and then the inevitable happens.  Things get broken.

The next phase of grey hairs begins as we scramble to unscramble the dilemna caused by the intrepid user before it becomes an issue.

At long last it all comes together, and we can breathe a sigh of relief.  Then we have to get in gear for the next one…

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Competencies, today I am a believer.

Competency-based initiatives have been around a while now, and to be honest they were sort of something I treated like new math.  I’ve been waiting them out.  They require a design process change, the require policy change, they require change in the machine…

I was never really against them, but I wasn’t really for them either.  Until today.  I sort of had an epiphany really about the disservice we do kids when we focus on credits and course descriptions instead of learning targets and goals for competency.

Part of it is probably that I found I was giving some teachers too much credit, assuming they had the same end goals as I did, and so competency basis was happening anyway.  Instead today I learned that at least some teachers still think they are teaching subject matter that can and should only be assessed once on a specific day in a high stakes manner.  No opportunities for growth and redemption is a punitive system which sows the seeds of hopelessness and fruitless endeavour in our kids.

Competencies offer instead endless hope.  Teaching and reteaching opportunities, and a attitude that outcomes matter over methods.  They offer a way out of a nightmare for our kids who are most at risk.

So now that I get it, really get it, the question is, how can I help get others off the fence?