“So,” concluded Sanjay Bhansal, walking me to my car and opening the door for me, “this is what is happening in India. My father could not dream of what I am planning to do.” (Planet India, p. 142)
Bucking the model imposed by British Imperialism, Bhansal rose from the ranks to own Ambootia Tea, maker of one of the most exclusive teas in the world. He chairs the Darjeeling Tea Association. In short, he attributes his success to an open market and an entrepreneurial spirit.
So much of the literature today points to open markets and creative talent as keys to success in the 21st century global economy. And we in the school business love to reverberate our mission statements about preparing students for this new world order.
So how are we doing in developing the creative talent to prosper in the open global markets of the 21st century? ___________________________
At a recent meeting of school administrators, I was encouraged to hear the presenter state that Mozilla Firefox is arguably the most stable browser for the new student information management system. Apparently, it won’t work with IE7, so IE users have to roll back to IE6.
According to W3Schools, Firefox overtook IE6 in Sept ’07 as the single browser with the greatest market share.
Although the combined presence of IE5-IE7 stands at 56% of market share, we would be remiss not to analyze the growth trends over time. According to the data, IE actually lost 3% of market share over the course of 2007. Firefox gained 5% over the same duration.
For an even more telling detail, we can compare data going back to January ’05. Since then, IE has lost 20% of market share; while Firefox has picked up 33%.
Last year, Firefox was a centerpiece of the Future Ready training for our technology facilitators in conjunction with the laptop learning initiative that helped to ice the big technology infrastructure victory, the aim of which was to equip 100% of our staff and students with 21st century tools and skills for teaching and learning.
A year after, here is an update on why I prefer Firefox as the browser of the future:
- Live Bookmarks: Without RSS, how can you even pretend to stay current in an info-rich, networked environment?
- CiteBite: Here’s one example of how I used citebite to reference Miguel Guhlin in an entry I wrote called Worldview in the Creative Age.
- ScribeFire: I use this often to share news stories. My most recent entry “powered by ScribeFire” is Panel: Fewer Want Fewer Tests in NC Schools.
- Foxmarks: Perhaps my most useful Foxfire extension. This stores all my bookmarks on a server. Whenever I hit Foxfire on any of my four computers, it automatically synchs my bookmarks so I have the most recent version. In other words, my bookmarks remain uniform regardless of the machine.
- Sage: I use this Firefox RSS reader to stay current with some NC edubloggers (Are you on this list?).
- Answers: An automatic point-and-click dictionary.
- Public Fox: Locks down my browser preferences, add-ons and options.
- AdBlock Plus: Keeps the web annoyances at bay.
- Clipmarks: Similar to kwout, this lets me clip and post artifacts directly to my blog. It also maintains those “clippings” on a server where I can organize and reference them.
- TextMarker: What teacher or presenter wouldn’t want to highlight in yellow something on a webpage?
- Zotero: This is the next generation research tool. I’ve not gotten too deep into it, but I see its promise as it continues in development.
Strictly on the basis of add-ons, Firefox is the superior all-in-one browser. In terms of swiftness, it blows the clunky competitors out of the water. But the most compelling reason for education professionals and students to embrace Firefox is that it is an undeniable asset to teaching and learning in the new world order.
Think of the possibilities with research papers, the senior project, digital portfolios, masters degrees, and message-making in the 21st century.
Over at LeaderTalk, Jonathan Becker shared an interesting piece called Leadership Without Followers (1/16/08). He cites Chris Dede on four attributes of educational technology leadership.
An interesting exercise would be to couch the IE v. Firefox debate inside Dede’s datapoints . . . and then conjecture what that may say about our future-forward trajectory.
Chris Dede, a Harvard professor and one of the preeminent thinkers in the ed tech field, wrote that true leadership requires four attributes:
- Envisioning Opportunities: “One of the most important attributes that distinguishes leaders from managers is ‘vision’: the ability to communicate desirable, achievable futures quite different from where the present is drifting.”
- Displacing Cherished Misconceptions: “An important attribute of leaders is their ability to displace deeply held, cherished misconceptions with alternative visions that more accurately depict reality. Mistaken beliefs most people hold about teaching and learning form a barrier that blocks improving American education.”
- Inspiring Others to Act on Faith: “Inspiring a group to work toward a shared vision necessitates building trust: faith that this team of people can overcome all the obstacles that block creating a future quite different from the present.”
- Discouraging Followers: “A destructive myth about leadership is that a visionary person gives directions to followers who execute this plan. Real leaders discourage followers, instead encouraging use of their visions as a foundation for other, better insights.”
The true potential and future of the educational Internet, much like Indian tea, appears not to be in the past.