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Ian O'Byrne

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant. - Max De Pree In TL;DR - subscribe at #leadership


Ian O'Byrne

Trust is like blood pressure. It's silent, vital to good health, and if abused it can be deadly. - Frank Sonnenberg

1 min read

What is Trust?

Trust is the belief by the trustor that the trustee is capable of delivering on a promise.

Trust is the belief by the trustor that the trustee is honest and fair and will not exploit the trustor's vulnerability.

How can you grow or build trust?

Giving trust involves taking a risk. Trying to reduce the risk means possibily reduing the trust involved in that relationship. 

Honesty and timing are key factors in building and rebuilding trust. Be truthful and realistic. Communicate.

Transparency. You need to dare to bare it all in the relationship and put yourself out there. 

Practice what you preach. Lead by example.

How can you build trust culture?

If you start with trust and stick to it, others will follow. Trust can be part of the DNA of what makes up the habits and practices of the culture. 

Ian O'Byrne

Review of Chapter Submission for Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts

6 min read

Repositioning Online Reading To A Central Location In The Language Arts

Kervin, Mantei, & Leu

Review of Chapter Submission

Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts, 4th Edition


The submitted manuscript identifies a much-needed step in the advancement of the integration of technology in literacy instruction. The chapter is of high interest the educators and researchers that would use the Handbook as guidance in the field. The chapter continues to make the case for why we need this thread of instruction in the classroom, but also builds this case by providing a more global perspective to these activities. Finally, the submitted manuscript includes connections to other fields of research to make it more inclusive and connected to related work in the field. For these reasons, I recommend the publication of this manuscript in the Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts.

Making the case for the centrality of online reading

The Internet is the dominant text of our generation, yet we continue to have to make the case for why digital texts and tools should be authentically embedded in classroom instruction. The authors of this piece have been at the forefront of pushing this agenda and continue this important work in the submitted manuscript. The authors expertly frame this chapter for the handbook by starting with the framing of the social practices necessary for these new spaces and contextualize this with guidance from the worlds of economics and global development. With this subtle framing, they move on to paint a picture of the need for these literacies while considering a more global focus for this discussion. It is this nod to the more global aspect of online reading and literacy that I most appreciate in this submission.

As these new and digital literacies continue to become much more ubiquitous across global spaces, I believe we need to continue to push and advocate for those less fortunate that may not have access to these texts or spaces. If the inclusion and use of online texts in the classroom is a necessary and powerful element, we need to advocate for opportunities for all learners in global classrooms. Literacy is a powerful force and this is augmented by the influx of the Internet and other communication technologies. As governments and businesses increasingly monitor and adjust our online reading habits, we need a global population that fully understands the challenges and complexity associated with being digitally literate.

Connections to other fields and perspectives 

            In reviewing this chapter submission I also appreciate the nuanced changes in framing this work from previous examinations of online reading. The primary focus on disciplinary literacy recontextualizes this work within another dominant perspective in literacy education and research. This first theoretical perspective makes it easier for educators to align the reading of online texts with current initiatives that draw most of the attention in the English Language Arts classroom. Much of the challenge in carving out time for these new and digital literacies in instruction is that the Common Core State Standards and other frameworks often dominate the focus. The role and use of technology is often given a back seat, or ignored as educators and curricular coaches frame pedagogy. By focusing first on disciplinary literacy, the authors truly seek to reposition online reading.

            In the review of the chapter I was also excited to see a focus on theories of materiality and multimodality guiding this work. It is these examples of material culture that provide important perspective on the skills and practices associated with online reading. Furthermore, I believe this inclusion adds to the global perspectives that are imbued throughout this submission. This provides connections to other perspectives on new and digital literacies, and makes this a much more accommodating and inclusive guide to educators making room for online reading in their classroom.

Actionable advice for the literacy educator

            The remainder of the chapter presents granular guidance for the literacy educator and pre-service teacher as they identify opportunities to make this happen in their classroom. Too often we hear that educators “don’t get technology,” this submission provides approachable, actionable advice for integrating online reading into classroom activities. The authors also do a stellar job of identifying and addressing most of the arguments, or counter narratives that may exist as we integration technology into literacy instruction. An example of this is evidenced in sections that address assessment practices, simulated assessments, and the basic computer skills needed to operate in these spaces. The authors effectively balance theory, perspectives, actionable advice, and questions that remain in this work.

            I also appreciate the focus on beginning with younger readers and connections between emergent reading and online reading. In far too many examinations of new and digital literacies we identify the skilled and less proficient use of these skills and strategies with a population of adolescent or adult learners. We understand that learners develop their learning and literacy roadmap for their future from Pre-K up through third grade and then beyond. Yet, very little is know about best principles associated with brining online reading and associated literacies into the context of emergent reading or soon after. The authors interject this discussion by bringing connections to online reading into the work and research in emergent reading. This has the potential to guide and motivate future literacy educators and researchers.

Repositioning a central location

            The submitted manuscript presents a necessary, and forward thinking chapter for the Handbook. I believe the materials attempt to situate the reader in the current milieu, and then prognosticate for that crystal ball that you requested. The focus of the text is thankfully shifted to a more global perspective. These threads are evident across the text and woven in to the conclusion. The theoretical perspectives are accommodating, and make for a much more inclusive read as educators try to identify places to embed online reading into instruction. Finally, the guidance and materials presented to operationalize this in the classroom is actionable and specific enough to guide all learners. I believe the authors have developed a piece that certainly carves out a spot in the English Language Arts classroom and in the process helps reposition it to a more central location.

Ian O'Byrne

February 24, 2016

2 min read

As we enter the marketplace, or build up a digital identity that is representative of our skills, we upload our resume/CV. We can use badges/credentials to signify growth/learning. We can use networks, like LinkedIN to express our values and have others review/vet them.

One of the challenges in this is that when we look for a job, there are usually two questions that many jobs will ask. Are you the right fit and are you the right fit?

First, are you the right fit for the position? E.g., credentials, degree, background knowledge, experience, etc. In higher ed…most of this is done before you get through the front door. They’ve gone through your materials, and cut through the people that just don’t fit.

Second...usually when you meet F2F, are you the right fit? Would you fit in with the culture? Are you a jerk? Also, would you want to fit in with them?

I’m wondering what badges would do in that infrastructure.

As we move to a distributed economy in which people/colleagues/associates might rarely/never meet F2F, how do we make these judgements?

There are the skills, degrees, and credentials…but how do you assess those soft skills? Yes, we trust the filters…but how do you evaluate/justify if someone is an jerk or not? How do you evaluate that second fit?