trade winds

By robynjay On January 4th, 2012

[CC FlickR image by nyoin]

Next week we kick of our Career Clarity Camp with Michelle Martin and I’m really looking forward to some dedicated time to reflect and set a fresh path.

In preparation Michelle has asked us to journal some reflections on our current state but before posting on the past year I thought it might be interesting to look back on where I was at 5 + years ago. Towards the end of 2004 I was privileged with an Adult Learners Week NSW Innovation in Learning award. A week before the ceremony our contract positions with the Community Colleges were axed due to Government funding cuts to an already way under-funded sector, so my speech was seriously deliberated over!

Here’s an excerpt…

Its innovation that allows organisations to adapt to the constantly changing conditions.
Without innovation, an organisation stands still while ideas, technology and pedagogy move forward around it.
It’s about knowing how to make new ideas highly infectious;
It’s also about rocking the boat, and stretching the business as usual mentality and it requires passion, persistence and an open mind

However, innovation does not occur in a vacuum – it requires a dynamic healthy environment that is empowering and flexible, that honours new ideas, tolerates risk, identifies and celebrates champions, and encourages fun.
Innovation is a catalyst – but only one ingredient in a process that must be sustainable to be of value.
In education, the lasting value of any innovation is measured by its uptake by teachers and learners.
Teachers really are the key – unless they are given opportunities to critique, reflect, research and learn new skills; to feel encouraged, supported, and positive about their roles and skills, and are shown strong leadership we will not meet the changing needs of our communities.

In a climate of funding cuts it is tempting to slash easy targets such as Professional development and research
However…. It is at these times that we need skilled innovative staff most of all.
Difficult times are a spur to innovation…. It is the time when organisations must think analytically and creatively

I’m passionate about making that happen – about enabling passionate teachers, about designing innovative solutions. What drives me hasn’t changed and I’m glad.

”Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain

the trouble with being george

By robynjay On January 11th, 2011

The trouble with being a George is that the jacket can become WAY too comfortable

i’m done with being owned

By robynjay On January 10th, 2011

Another academic year looms and info days are swarming with fresh faced enthusiastic new students. I feel like Mr Bean in the department store perfumery skit, holding my nose and warning them not to enter! I’m feeling quite disheartened with higher ed. Would I pay $30k + for a degree? NO – yet its a hurdle imposed en route to career. As consumers we need to start demanding value for money but instead we meekly accept the tripe.

I’ve been re-reading my FLL paper from 2003. 7 years is a long time and I blush at it’s naivety but there are important connections there I want to revisit. What I found then was that the most successful, innovative and engaging programs were happening in small community-based media, youth projects and community development areas. I suspect its still the case.

I grieve to hear stories of educators being told that research is top priority and that teaching should/must be compromised if necessary. Academics are told to walk into lectures unprepared if necessary, young innovators are told that their careers will go nowhere unless they stop focusing on learning and instead churn out papers and bring in dollars. It’s all about status and income; a factory line of knowledge. Good teachers who toe the line end up working 14 hour days; doing 2 jobs as researcher AND educator, and as a result get sick and burn out.

I’ve been feeling like the past two years were wasted but a flow of messages are giving me heart that I have made some difference. But I’m sick of battling from within the constraining shackles of being an employee; there’s only so much that can be pushed uphill. I’m hoping to skirt around the edges for a bit and find some new avenues to engage and affect change. For a start I’m heading on down to the Transmedia conference at ACMI in Melbourne and we’ll see if openings appear.

cartoon from gapingvoid

[ CC cartoon by gapingvoid ]

follow the leaders

By robynjay On January 22nd, 2010

Don’t be a martyr Mike!

Early-adopters, ground-breakers, risk-takers – call them what you will, bu most workplace leaders and innovators I know cannot remember the last time they themselves had any substantial professional development opportunities.

Their ongoing issue is that they are constantly developing the skills and knowledge of others. Typically local events and conferences, and workplace learning strategies are designed for the bulk of employees interests and needs. It is the so called ‘early-adopters’ who run the sessions and inspire the attendees. They also mentor and provide constant informal support within their units and Faculties.

But read my lips!!! – leaders and innovators require exposure to new skills, ideas and technologies too, and they shouldn’t be left to outlay personal funds and time to meet this need.
Unless this happens people like Mike burn out and find a space where motivational interaction and learning occurs. The success of in-house support etc depends on keeping leaders and skilled employees happy and motivated. They need to be actively encouraged to engage online and they need to be supported to identify and attend at least one inspirational event each year. The trickle-down benefits of flying a person to an international event are significant.
Yes we are FAR better off now with online connections and events, but there’s nothing quite like actually physically mixing with and conversing with like minded innovators.
Mike captures the loss beautifully when he says “It’s the feeling that I’m missing out on the excitement, the creative energy, the showmanship, the passion and the fun – missing out on the incredible aire of enthusiastic jubilation that makes for an incredible collaborative learning environment.”


cc licensed flickr photo shared by deserttrumpet

education needs innovation

By robynjay On January 20th, 2010

In light of my post – Education: right or privilege – this morning I came across the Jan 5 post – Innovation needed now – Education, by Jeffrey Phillips on the Innovate on Purpose blog. It’s interesting to read to further elaborate on the issues at hand. While it focuses on the US, the same issues exist here in Australia.

The post responds to a query re “what product or sector is in most need of innovation” and outlines why the education system should be a focus.

In summary he suggests that:

  • the primary and secondary education system is based on learning models from the 19th century; it is irrelevant to today’s world
  • we aren’t teaching kids relevant skills or how to learn, and we often channel all of kids into a collegiate (university) experience – “  Why do we continue to prepare the students for “knowledge worker” jobs when clearly there are many demands and opportunities, and proclivities for other skills?  We need to resurrect the concept of apprenticeship and place more emphasis and value on learning skills beyond the classroom.  We need better definitions about what kids need to know, and more importantly, we need to teach them how to learn and how to teach themselves and others.”
  • since most educational systems are government monopolies rather than private enterprises, there’s little innovation and little incentive for new entrants
  • the educational system is clearly failing – failing the students, failing the teachers and failing to create people who can join the workforce or create their own companies.  “ At this point we need disruptive innovation – a complete rethinking of the pedagogy, curriculum, technology and intent of education, followed by a restructuring of how education is offered and consumed.”

More on the need for educational change coming…..


cc licensed flickr photo shared by State Library of New South Wales collection