Crisis & Opportunity

An object at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.

Throughout history, opportunities for change have arisen from times of crisis. New leaders emerge and people consider new ideas that had been, up until recently, quite unpalatable.

Remembering what the road of good intentions is paved with,  the more cautious among us may be hesitant to step forward during such times, but we must remember that with or without our input, the problem will have some sort of solution – why not be a part of it? We’ve all had a nagging desire to improve something but we don’t know how get others interested; sometimes a little crisis can provide an opportunity finally get some traction on it.

Here in Bangkok, we’ve had our own little crisis in the form of a biblical flood. My school was forced to close, and teachers were required to provide an online learning program. This was to be implemented on through the class websites. Unsurprisingly, all of the simmering issues people had previously had with the blogs suddenly became important. In comparison to the flooding around us, these problems were pretty small, but trying to provide support to a school of teachers using only an iPhone with a slow Edge connection gives one some clarity on what issues really need to be addressed. More important, those teachers suddenly cared — that’s momentum.

For those of my friends a little further along than us, these may seem like embarrassing shortcomings, but our blogs (WPMU) had no standardized theme elements, navigation structure or categorization, and several specialists teachers were not currently blogging because nobody had ever told them they had to.

When we returned to school, I met with my principal to discuss how to address these issues, and a few hours later, I was presenting a simple plan to the faculty of how we would reform and standardize some of our blogs.  The result was that my ICT colleague and I had what we both felt was one of the most positive work experiences of the year. Each team we met with had a great interest improving their blogs. They saw the direct impact on teaching and learning. It was easy for them to understand when we told them that some of them would need to change their themes, and nobody complained when we tweaked their menus. Teachers who had previously yawned impatiently when forced to sit through training sessions were now approaching us asking questions like, “How to I easily have students submit webcam captures to my blog via Youtube?”

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Yes, these are pathetically small potatoes, but something dramatic has happened: there is a shared vision between senior management, teachers, and the ICT department. How about some mixed metaphors: we got the ball rolling and hopefully it will continue to snowball. It’s not a lot of movement, but we’re not standing still.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion.