I have never met Karl Fisch, but we do seem to know some of the same people. I see him connect online with folks like Alec and George Couros and Dean Shareski. Karl, is the Director of Technology at Arapahoe High School in Colorado, and seven years ago he helped give me my “Aha” moment.
Around August, I find myself searching and sometimes stressing for my opening day presentation to staff — looking for the right words, the right video to set a tone for the year and give the right message. And this habit really all started several years ago when I was entering what would be my final year as a Principal of Riverside Secondary School in Port Coquitlam. Alan November had been to Coquitlam the year previous and inspired many of us, and Thomas Friedman’s 2005 book The World is Flat was still fresh in my mind. I wanted to share a message about the changing world and how it was changing teaching and learning and the world for our kids. I was stumbling around the web through some blogs I was following at the time, and came across a post from Will Richardson on Public Attitudes Towards the Public Schools that pushed me to a post from Karl Fisch (who, I had never heard of) called Did You Know? which was the sharing of his opening day presentation for his school.
Here is his presentation:
Although I had never met Karl I took him at his word in his post,
I haven’t taken the time yet to figure out the different levels of creative commons licensing, but let’s just assign the most permissive one. As far as I’m concerned, as many people as possible should be thinking about and discussing these ideas. You all have permission to use, modify, reuse, etc. anything you’d like. (Although if you find good stuff to add to or replace what’s in there, I’d love it if you’d send it my way so that I can add it to mine.) Since I basically stole (ummm, “remixed”) all of the ideas from other folks I really don’t see what claim I have to all this. As far as giving me “credit,” you’re welcome to – I assume that will help pay for my daughter’s college tuition somehow, right? :-)
After watching the video that August afternoon, I went home and began to personalize the slides for my school. Less than a week later I was showing my version of the video to our staff, then to our parents and then to all the students in our school:
I did show different versions of the presentation many times over that year, and I was not alone. “Remixes” have been created of the Did You Know? video; presentations on YouTube had viewership in the millions. It was an education video gone viral, and It became the go-to change video at conferences until Sir Ken came along. Up until then, I thought it was only videos of cats that spread so quickly.
That experience was my “Aha” moment. I learned about the power of a network and also learned that it is not only the smart people you know, but the smart people they know that can help you. I also learned about the new power we all have to influence conversation. Previous to this experience in networking, there would have been no way I would have ever seen a PowerPoint created for an opening day presentation in a high school in Colorado. Now, just days after it was presented, I was remixing it and sharing it with my staff, and hundreds of others were sharing it around the world. I was also reminded of the generosity of our profession — we are all sharing and learning together with a common purpose around student learning.
As I start my seventh September in West Vancouver, I am again crafting my message for our opening day — and, it is one of passion. The passion we want our kids to have for learning; the passion we want to have as teachers and learners ourselves. And, like my experience in August 2006, I will take the best of what others are thinking, saying and doing in education, remix it with my own ideas to make it make sense for the community we work in.
Thanks Karl. We’ve never met, but you have changed how I think and work.