Ed Tech Innovation–#3: Set the 5 minute test

5 minutesWhen I was studying for my first degree at university, the hardest essay I was ever set in the whole three years was “Explain the competing theories about capital in no more than 500 words.” To give you an idea of what that means, 500 words is approximately a side of A4 – not exactly loads of space to summarise what has taken scores of economists and thousands of trees. In this, the third part of this mini-series, I explore how you might use this “less is more” approach in school.

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Making a Good Impression: Get To The Point!

These days, doing a good job as an ICT or Technology Co- ordinator/Subject Leader is not enough. In order to get on in your career, you have to be seen to be doing a good job.

In this new series, Alison Skymes looks at ways of making a good impression. Today: knowing when to be brief.

Alison Skymes

Many people make a big mistake when talking to their boss: they give what teens refer to as (albeit in a different, and usually seedier, context) TMI: Too Much Information. Unless your supervisor is a nit-picking, ultra hands-on, overbearing fool who is obsessed with operational rather than strategic matters, she just doesn't need to know it all, and what's even more important, she doesn't want to.

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Well, put yourself in her shoes. She gets up at 5 am and does a pile of reading over breakfast. Arriving at work at 7am, she is confronted by the caretaker having a moan about someone flooding the boys' toilets -- again. 8.30 am comes and Mrs Grimes has phoned in sick, and her class is supposed be on a museum trip today. Then the bell has hardly stopped ringing when -- but you've got the picture by now, yeah? Do you really, honestly, hand-on-heart believe that she is gonna be interested in your 80 zigameg broadband connection?

Tell you what the boss will be interested in though:

Anything which gets the school a good press.

Anything that makes it more appealing to parents.

Anything that is likely to raise grades.

Anything, in short, that is going to make your boss look good.

So, you need to bear two things in mind before you go talking to your boss or write a report:

Fact: she is busy. Really busy.

Fact: she has taken the "what's in it for me? attitude to the next level.

Knowing these facts makes writing a progress report a cinch:

1. Never write more than a side of A4 or Letter-size paper -- and no cheating by using a size 5 font with no margins.

2. If you can, try and restrict yourself to half-a-dozen bullet points. Heck: go the whole hog and reduce it to a single tweet.

3. Lose the technicalities. Instead of writing, "We now have an 80 zigameg broadband connection", say "Teachers and students will now be able to access high quality resources from the internet -- all at the same time and in less time than it takes to blink."

But -- and this is of major importance -- always have the full story available at the click of the mouse just in case your boss wants more detail.

Tomorrow: Write right.