Monday, August 25, 2014

Support for Common Core in a Free Fall

According to an August 20th article from U.S. News & World Report support for the Common Core Standards is in a free fall. Many supporters are now turning away from it and even opposing it.

In a country as diverse socially, geographically, financially, and others, one has to wonder if common ever had a chance in the first place. And, with half the states in America receiving a waiver in 2012 from the NCLB mandate of achieving 100% of students deemed proficient, one also wonders if enacting new standards is the answer when existing ones evidently cannot be met?

What is the solution to our educational problem? I believe we first need to make sure we are asking the right questions, and I am not sure we are doing that just yet.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Caring for Customers

Comcast, TimeWarner and AT&T do a poor job of caring for their customers. They talk the talk but fail to walk it. If their customers had a true alternative they would leave in droves.

On the other hand, companies such as Life is Good, Hoot Suite, Squidoo, and Walt Disney World understand what it means to care -- to walk the talk is more important than the talk itself.

In today's world it is much easier for customers to share their experiences, go behind the curtain and see whether or not the walk is consistent and true to the talk, in short, authentic.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The power of choice in education

Virtual schools spend millions in an annual attempt to have families choose to go to their schools.

However, once families have chosen them, they tend to forget they are schools of choice and families can also choose to leave them -- which an alarming rate of them do each year.

Choice can go both ways and too many virtual schools focus on bringing people in the front door while thousands exit the back door.

Imagine a virtual school obsessed with serving its existing families instead of constantly looking for the next one to enroll.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Windowless Airplanes and Virtual Schools

Technicon France is re-imagining what it can be like to fly. Instead of thinking outside the box, they are throwing the proverbial box away. The result could be a fascinating journey the next time we take to the skies on a private jet. Who know, perhaps commercial airlines might be next.

The Future of Airplanes Could Be a Windowless Jet by Brittany Jones Cooper, Editor at Yahoo Travel.

How does this relate to virtual schools? Too many of them try to differentiate themselves by tweaking little things just like most commercial airlines do. Is there really a big difference between Delta and American? What about K12 and Connections Academy -- how different are they?

Technicon France is trying to change the flight experience as we know it. Imagine if United adopted a similar approach and utilized this technology -- in what ways would it alter the flying experience for passengers? Could it alter seat arrangements since there would be no windows? How would it benefit First Class passengers - could they utilize the technology for work while in flight? What could it do for Coach passengers - could the visuals provide a calming effect? The possibilities would definitely be expanded. More importantly, people would take notice of United.

In the world of virtual education where is the school that is re-imagining online learning in order to alter the paradigm instead of simply tweaking and hoping for better results? It can be risky out there close to the edge. Or, is it riskier to stay in the middle with everyone else?

Those in the middle seldom get noticed.

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

Robin Williams, 1951-2014

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world."
Robin Williams

Friday, August 8, 2014

A mission statement or an obsession statement: Real Deals

Knowing my affinity for companies who are obsessed about something rather than on a mission, a friend of mine sent a link to me the other day and told me I needed to check out Real Deals on Home Decor, especially their Facebook About page.

This is what I found:


At Real Deals, you have the right to say I like it, I love it, I want some more of it! Linda Hill (Real Deals Fan)
Mission Statements are for the birds. Here at Real Deals on Home Decor we have an Obsession Statement.

The Obsession of the Real Deals Family of Mom and Pop Stores is to:

1. WOW you with amazing (startling, classic, fresh, super-cute, hip) decor at prices too good to be true.

2. PROVE that YOU are our favorite (most-valued, preferred, adored, best-looking) customer.

3. CREATE a unique (fabulous, dynamic, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping) shopping experience you can't wait to repeat!
Company Overview
We are a close-knit, family-owned group of franchises. We are open only two days a week. Simply put we offer the best home decor from at the best prices. It's a place where you can feel at home while you are shopping for your home. Try getting that at a stuffy big box store.

Now, I don't know about you but this is the kind of place I would like to go to.

Is your company obsessed with anything? If so, why not share it with us and inspire us to do business with you.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

rigorous virtual schools and spaghettification

A quick Google search of rigorous virtual schools will supply you with the following:

1. It is the RVS mission to provide a rigorous, college-preparatory online school . . .

2. Our mission at Temecula Advantage Virtual School is to . . . by providing a rigorous virtual . . .

3. TEC Connections Academy will . . . promote DESE's mission by providing a rigorous, effective virtual . .

4. Lake County Virtual School provides a rigorous curriculum . . .

Now, look up the definition of rigor and it aligns itself with words such as: strict, inflexible, severe, uncomfortable, and even cruel.

Why do virtual schools like to use the word rigorous when it carries with it such negative terms? What they will tell you is in the realm of education, rigorous means challenging. And, that is fine as long as they are speaking to their peers. The question is -- how many parents understand that? What about the students? Or, do they associate the word more with its Merriam-Webster definition?

In astrophysics the word spaghettification is the vertical stretching and horizontal compression of objects into long thin shapes but has nothing to do with the pasta (other than it looks like a noodle). Other scientists will naturally understand this which is fine as long as the astrophysicist speaks only to her peers. However, what if she were speaking to an audience of parents? Would they understand her talk? Or, would they simply envision a pasta noodle and wonder what spaghetti has to do with astrophysics?

I wonder what parents envision when they continually hear the word rigorous?