Release of 2016 Edition A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages

Release of 2016 Edition A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages

Roger Broadie and I have markedly updated our Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages

A copy is freely available on the Douglas and Browne website at –

As is Mal Lee’s and Martin Levin’s updated version of their work on BYOT and the Digital Evolution of Schooling.

There is the choice of e-book or PDF

The updated Taxonomy explores in depth the attributes demonstrated in the pathfinder schools at the Digital Normalisation and 24/7/365 Schooling evolutionary stages and links the digital transformation evidenced to that found in other complex adaptive systems in business and the wider public sector.

Significantly the updated evolutionary continuum allows schools globally to get a quick indication of where they are at on their digital evolutionary journey.

Evolutionary Stages 2016 Final

Feel free to tell interested colleagues of the work

Mal and Roger

Ecosystems within Ecosystems

Digital Schools Growing Their Community

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

In contemplating the digital evolution of your school and the creation of the desired school ecosystem appreciate that as your school’s digital ecosystem ( grows so too will it increasingly interact with other ecosystems, local, regional and national unwittingly assisting those respective communities grow, while simultaneously furthering the school’s growth.

In making this observation the author is conscious it likely takes the reader into an as yet unexplored aspect of schooling.

The suggestion is you recognise:

  • the digital evolution of schools is occurring within an increasingly socially networked society
  • schools as social institutions are, and should be an integral part of that networked society, not as many would have us believe stand alone entities divorced from that world
  • social networking, while increasingly all pervasive and a potentially powerful educational facility is also an unbridled development, impacting – intentionally and unintentionally – all parts of the networked world, playing a significant part in the growth of all complex adaptive organisations
  • any consideration of the impact of the digital on schooling in a socially networked society needs to address the intended and the very considerable unintended impact, both within the school – as is normally done – but also upon the school’s community. With digital normalisation consideration should be given to the key ecosystems that interface with the schools, particularly the local and regional.

What is increasingly apparent is that as schools grow their digital ecosystem, the school’s growth will simultaneously and unwittingly grow the digital capability of the school and its community (Lee, 2015). In communicating the educational importance of the digital, in using it astutely and naturally in the everyday teaching and all the school’s operations, in assisting the children to use their own suit of digital technologies in and outside the school walls the pathfinder schools are also unintentionally saying to their communities, and in particular to the parents, carers, grandparents and each of those folk’s social networks the digital is important.

At the same time the school – particularly through the students – is assisting enhance the digital proficiency of all within its immediate community. The use of a school app for communication and interaction, the encouragement of the children to use of apt technologies and the children’s exploration of the emerging technologies all impact on the extended family’s 24/7/365 use of and thinking about the digital. The unwitting pressure for all in the extended family to use the current technology sees those loath to use the digital technology normalise its everyday usage.

Quite unintentionally – at least at this stage in history – the school is assisting grow the digital prowess of its community.

That is particularly apparent in those regional communities with pathfinder schools, where the digital prowess and application is appreciably greater than nearby towns where the school is not providing the digital enhancement.

Significantly as the school’s community enhances its digital proficiency so its expectations of and support for the digital in the school will rise.

The parents, the relatives of the children within that ‘digital community’ will invariably wear numerous hats, as town planners, business owners, software developers and work within other regional digital ecosystems. They will see the benefits for their children and the wider community in the various ecosystems interacting and collectively working to develop an environment that grows the total region.

That is what the author, along with Morris and Lowe found in the far south coast of Australia (Lee, Morris and Lowe, 2015).

The trend is very much suggesting, like it is with the digital masters in industry that the digital pathfinders in growing their school ecosystem will also grow their community, its life, culture, its digital proficiency and in time its industry.

If that is so it takes the role of schooling, and in particular digital schools into a new, different and very powerful position.

The author appreciates the above is cutting edge and needs far more research but as you address your school’s digital evolution it is suggested you look carefully at the interaction with other digital and networked ecosystems, the impact and the implications.


  • Lee, M (2015) ‘Digital Schools Grow Digital Communities’. Digital Evolution of Schooling. October 2015 – at
  • Lee, M, Morris, P, and Lowe, S (2016) ‘Hub and Spoke Networking Model: On Reflection.’ Digital Evolution of Schooling February 2016 – at

Where to Now, Education

Ricoh is running a series of blogs on its new educational services site.

I was given the challenge of identifying – in 1400 words – where to now.

The thoughts can be read at –

Mal Lee


Pathfinder Schools as De Facto Policy Makers

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

Unwittingly the pathfinder schools of the world, those that have normalised the use of the digital, have become in many areas of schooling the de facto policy makers and are on course to be increasingly more so.

Developmentally the pathfinder schools are invariably quite literally years ahead of the central office policy makers, obliged daily to decide on the appropriate practises, procedures and policies as they take their schools into unchartered territory.

The schools moving beyond the Digital Normalisation stage are entering into completely unexplored territory. How they evolve none of us know. Scour the literature and you’ll find no hint of what is likely to transpire.

The decisions those pathfinders make, how they deploy the emerging technology, the type of schooling they provide, the practises and policies they adopt will strongly impact the later adopter schools, far more in many areas of schooling than any central office bureaucrat, working party or academic.

It is a new reality that astute policy makers and academics should build upon, rather than as now being seemingly oblivious to the development.

Significantly in a globally networked world where schools as complex adaptive systems are evolving in a remarkably similar manner the pathfinders are unknowingly creating policy for the early and later adopter schools worldwide.

While the policy makers have only a local brief the pathfinders are unwittingly working on a global remit.

Analyse the attributes of the pathfinders (Lee and Broadie, 2016) and you’ll see they have shaped policies on the likes of home-school collaboration, staff empowerment, equity of student access to technology, pooled resourcing, recognition of out of school learning, BYOT and student responsibility for operating their chosen technologies years before the local education authority.

Moreover look at the trend line and you’ll appreciate that while the pace of digital evolution in the pathfinders is accelerating the operations of the local bureaucracy remain unchanged.

While structurally the pathfinders have the agility needed for rapid on-going transformation, organisationally bureaucracies are struggling in the cutting edge policy areas.

The pathfinders, like the digital masters in industry are using the vast body of data generated by their many digital systems to research the way forward on the fly, finding limited value in traditional, invariably dated rearward looking, external research by those who don’t know their situation.

Critically the pathfinders are operating within an ever evolving digital mindset, making decisions in a paradigm largely alien to most of the bureaucrats, committee members and academics who invariably will be working within a paper based paradigm, or as Bhaduri and Fischer (2015) describe, an analogue mindset.

So profound is the difference in mindset many pathfinders struggle to explain their work to colleagues and bureaucrats working in traditional settings.

The authors openly admit that while we have researched the pathfinder schools for over a decade we too struggle to keep up with the pace of digital evolution. All we can do is take snapshots of the schools at moments in time.

It is those in the early adopter schools who are calling the shots, unwittingly making many of the policy decisions and having them taken up globally before the local authority moves.

As Professor Glenn Finger observed in conversation in the traditional paper based schools where constancy and continuity were the norm school policy development invariably took the following form

Educational Research – Policy – Practice


Policy development, with its various white and green papers often took years.

Within the pathfinders that slow measured approach has been replaced by

Emerging Technology – Pathfinder Schools – Practice – Research – Policy

The pathfinder schools are in many areas of schooling the educational leaders, the de facto policy makers charting the ways for the later adopter schools, the policy makers and indeed government, rendering much of the traditional policy making and educational research irrelevant.

They are translating the emerging, increasingly sophisticated digital technological developments into classroom, school wide and potentially system wide practice at such a pace that most educational researchers and educational administrators struggle to comprehend the significance of the development let alone shape it.

It is a new reality all policy makers, those in the pathfinder schools, the education authorities and indeed educational researchers need not only to be aware of but which they should build upon .


Thriving on Chaos and Constant Evolution

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

In observing the workings of the pathfinder schools that have normalised the use of the digital one is struck by the palpable excitement, the professionalism of the staff, their quest for continued enhancement, the embrace of change, the mess and seeming chaos, the social networking, the belief that anything is possible, the risk taking and teachers singly and in ad hoc combinations ‘flying’, seeking to take advantage of the ever emerging opportunities.

In many respects the culture is akin to that of start up companies.

The contrast with the traditional school culture with its constancy, continuity, conformity, set procedures, micro management, adverseness to risk and change and its body of disempowered, seemingly tired staff going through the motions is pronounced.

It is however a culture that has taken years, an astute leadership and a supportive digital ecosystem to create.

But it is one that every school should aspire to work within.

Contrary to the myth that teachers will not accept change the reality is that the above mentioned cultural shift has occurred in normal, everyday schools with a typical mix of staff. Yes in time the more capable professionals seek out the pathfinders and add to their attraction but early on the pathfinders had the usual staff ‘challenges’.

For schools, like businesses to grow in a rapidly evolving, often uncertain digital and networked world they need a supportive organisational culture that thrives in seeming chaos and with constant evolution.

Peters (1987) in Thriving on Chaos, and Deal and Kennedy (1982) in their work on apt organisational cultures recognised that imperative thirty plus years ago.

It has taken some time but finally the pathfinder schools globally have demonstrated the critical importance of having a culture that fosters and supports their digital evolution.

The challenge is very much primarily human and not technological.

It calls for an astute principal willing and able to create and grow that culture over time, able to roll with the inevitable frustrations.

It necessitates the principal trusting and empowering a usually disempowered staff, student body and parent group, and being willing to distribute the control of the teaching and learning.

The genuine empowerment of the teachers and the professional support staff is particularly important, working to ensure all are treated as professionals – and not factory line workers – who are educated in the macro workings of the school as well as their speciality area/s.

It requires an apt, mature, appropriately governed professionally maintained digital ecosystem that supports and fosters the desired teaching and learning culture and which can accommodate staff wishing to fly while still maintaining a high level of efficiency and reliability.

It most assuredly requires each school to take charge of its own evolution and for the educational bureaucrats to support each school’s decision making and cease using the technology to micro manage the school’s operations and frustrate the growth of the desired culture.

The creation of the desired culture will take years and constant nurturing but the going becomes that much easier when the school moves to a digital operational base and begins shaping the desired school ecosystem.

  • Deal, D.E, and Kennedy, T (1982), Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life, Harmondsworth, Penguin
  • Peters, T (1987) Thriving on Chaos NY Alfred A. Knopf

Position on Digital Evolutionary Continuum

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

Before embarking on your school’s digital evolutionary journey you need to know where you are and the likely path ahead.

The authors’ have developed an international measure that provides that facility. We’ve identified a now seven point evolutionary scale and a set of explanatory benchmarks that readily allows you, and vitally the wider school community to quickly adjudge the school’s current position on the continuum and the likely challenges ahead.

It is only indicative, but ‘precise’ enough for the planning. Importantly it is a tool all associated with the school can quickly and freely use – with no outlay to consultants.

The measure emerged out of own extensive research with the pathfinder schools and the recognition that schools globally were moving through the same evolutionary stages, and has been reinforced by the parallel research on complex adaptive systems and the digital transformation of business that identifies the key attributes in the evolutionary process.

It appears to matter not where the schools are located globally, whether small or large, primary or secondary, state, Catholic or independent or where they sit on the socio-economic scale.

At the present time we have identified seven major evolutionary stages. In time that number will grow.

Evolutionary Stages 2016 Final

The attributes of each are fleshed out at – and within A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages (Lee and Broadie, 2016).

At the Paper Based stage – the traditional school – the majority of the teachers have yet to use the digital technology in their everyday teaching and still rely on the pen, paper and the teaching board.

At the Early Digital stage a critical mass of the teachers, in the region of 70% plus, are using the digital in their everyday teaching and the pressure is on the remaining staff to make the shift.

By the Digital near on all teachers are using the digital technology in their everyday teaching, but the focus of the teaching is still primarily on what happens within the school walls, with the school unilaterally controlling all operations. Vitally when the school’s main operation – its teaching – goes digital, and is coupled to a largely digital administration the school moves to a digital operational base.

At the Early Networked stage the school begins to recognise the educational benefits of social networking in its widest sense, to reach out beyond the school walls and vitally begin genuinely collaborating with its homes and community.

By the Networked stage the school walls are coming down, the school is distributing the control of the teaching and learning, collaborating with its homes and community and vitally is willing to embrace BYOT and trust the students to use their own kit in class.

The Digital Normalisation stage sees the school having normalised the use of the digital technologies in every facet of its teaching and daily operations, created a tightly integrated, increasingly mature and higher order school ecosystem, social networking and is providing a mode of schooling largely antithetical to that of the traditional school.

With digital normalisation and the creation of a sophisticated and mature digitally based school ecosystem that transcends the old school walls and agrarian school timetable the school moves to a 24/7/365 Schooling stage, positioning the school to take advantage of the rapidly evolving digital and networked world and to move into historically unchartered waters.

Where does your school sit on this continuum?

Download the Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages if you would like to consider the fuller attributes of each of the stages.




Schools as Complex Adaptive Systems

[ Another in the series of blogs intended to support those participating in our 10 week Leading Your School’s Digital Evolution program.

The next of the 10 week program begins on April 26, and is open to any who are interested.]

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

It is vital in addressing the digital evolution of your school you view the school as an ever evolving, complex adaptive system, exhibiting in its evolution the traits found in all other evolving organisations, it becoming an increasingly higher order, more sophisticated, integrated and productive ecosystem.

While you don’t as a school leader have to be expert in complexity science and the evolution of systems it is important to appreciate digital schools like all other digitally based organisations will continually evolve and transform their nature in a remarkably common manner. Moreover they will do so at an accelerating pace, often in a seemingly messy and chaotic fashion, and will in their evolution demonstrate the attributes found in other complex adaptive systems.

Ready yourself to lead a school where constant, often uncertain change will be the norm.

You need to cease, if you haven’t already done so, seeing your school as a distinct one-off entity, and believing schools are immutable, constant in form and will forever stay the same as we have known them for the past century plus.

While each school is unique each will in its evolution display the attributes of like complex adaptive systems.

The reality is that schools globally, like all other organisations, are evolving at pace – albeit at very different rates – displaying in their evolutionary journey a suit of remarkably common attributes, the major features of which have long been identified in the research.

In 2000, 16 years ago, Pascale and his colleagues astutely observed:

‘The science of complexity has yielded four bedrock principles relevant to the new strategic work:

  1. Complex adaptive systems are at risk when in equilibrium. Equilibrium is a precursor to death.4

  2. Complex adaptive systems exhibit the capacity of self-organization and emergent complexity.5 Self-organization arises from intelligence in the remote clusters (or “nodes”) within a network. Emergent complexity is generated by the propensity of simple structures to generate novel patterns, infinite variety, and often, a sum that is greater than the parts. (Again, the escalating complexity of life on earth is an example.)

  3. Complex adaptive systems tend to move toward the edge of chaos when provoked by a complex task.6 Bounded instability is more conducive to evolution than either stable equilibrium or explosive instability. (For example, fire has been found to be a critical factor in regenerating healthy forests and prairies.) One important corollary to this principle is that a complex adaptive system, once having reached a temporary “peak” in its fitness landscape (e.g., a company during a golden era), must then “go down to go up” (i.e., moving from one peak to a still higher peak requires it to traverse the valleys of the fitness landscape). In cybernetic terms, the organism must be pulled by competitive pressures far enough out of its usual arrangements before it can create substantially different forms and arrive at a more evolved basin of attraction.

  4. One cannot direct a living system, only disturb it.7 Complex adaptive systems are characterized by weak cause-and-effect linkages. Phase transitions occur in the realm where one relatively small and isolated variation can produce huge effects. Alternatively, large changes may have little effect. (This phenomenon is common in the information industry. Massive efforts to promote a superior operating system may come to naught, whereas a series of serendipitous events may establish an inferior operating system —such as MS-DOS — as the industry standard.) (Pascale, Millemann and Gioja, 2000, p6).’

All four of these principles have been evidenced in all the authors’ research on the digital evolution of schooling over the last decade, but it is a message that doesn’t appear to have been grasped by most governments, educational bureaucrats or indeed school leaders.

In looking to lead the digital evolution of your school do draw upon to the lessons of complex adaptive systems and appreciate the guidance they can provide your journey.

  • Pascale, R.T, Millemann, M, Gioja, L (2000) Surfing at the Edge of Chaos NY Three Rivers Press


A Culture for a Digital and Networked Society

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

The challenge all schools wanting to prepare the young for a digital and networked society have to successfully meet is the creation of a school wide culture of change.

For the vast majority of schools that entails a fundamental, 180-degree turnabout, and the creation of a culture antithetical to what has long been regarded as the desired norm.

That change in culture will take years of concerted astute effort and skilful school leadership.

It entails moving the school from a culture of constancy and continuity, that is highly risk adverse and anxious about change to one that embraces and thrives upon on-going, rapid and often uncertain change, evolution and transformation and which actively encourages and supports risk taking and innovation by all within the school’s community.

It places the learner rather than the teacher at the centre and moves the school away from teaching mass groups to a more individualised and differentiated approach.

It requires the school to move from its traditional highly hierarchical organisational structure where the executive unilaterally control operations and the vast majority of the staff, the students and the parents are disempowered and simply acquiesce, to a flatter organisational structure that trusts and empowers all members of the school community, that distributes the control of the teaching and learning and actively collaborates with all in school community in the 24/7/365 teaching and learning, and growth of the school.

Critically it entails the shift from an insular, loosely coupled organisation where each silo like unit is largely autonomous, strongly resistant to change, to a tightly integrated, ever evolving socially networked, digitally based ecosystem with the agility and desire to rapidly and continually transform its operations. Where the former takes literally years to respond to the changing circumstances the latter can adjust in months.

Bhaduri and Fischer (2015) posed in the Forbes business magazine the question, ‘Are You an Analogue or Digital Leader? ( While written with business in mind in two pages they succinctly describe the culture found in most schools and that required to succeed in a digital and networked world.

Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull rightly observes that while this is one of the most exciting times in human history it requires of the nation, of all organisations a mindset, a culture willing to embrace the on-going digital transformation, to take risks and to learn from failure.

This is the kind of culture found in the pathfinder schools globally (Lee and Broadie, 2016) and the digital masters in industry (Westerman,, 2014).

It is an anathema to the majority of schools and educational bureaucracies, set on maintaining their unilateral control of the teaching and learning.

For schools, like business to thrive in a digital revolution they must adopt a culture and a mindset apposite for that scene.

It is not merely about acquiring the technology, but rather it entails the creation over the years of an ecology, and a school community wide culture that facilitates and supports on-going evolution and transformation.

Until schools create that culture their growth will be stymied.

  • Westerman, G, Bonnett, D and McAfee, A (2014) Leading Digital. Turning Technology into Business Transformation, Boston, Harvard Business Review Press


Your Client’s Rising Digital Expectations

Mal Lee

The business digital transformation research underscores the critical importance of organisations continually meeting and astutely building upon your client’s ever rising, increasingly higher order digital expectations.

The customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation (Forrester, 2015).

The same imperative will increasingly hold with your school, and the school’s ability to continually meet and accommodate its current and prospective client’s – its present and future students’ and parents’- rapidly evolving digital expectations.

In a digital and networked society where the young and their parents have normalised the use of the digital to the extent that its has become virtually invisible the expectation is that they will naturally use their current technology in every facet of their lives and work. Indeed we are shocked when we can’t and are scornful of those enterprises that don’t provide fast, ready and sophisticated online access.

We are living in a society for whom the increasingly sophisticated use of the digital has become the norm and which no longer differentiates between face- to-face and online experiences (Westerman, et al, 2014).

The early adopter, pathfinder schools globally have long recognised this reality, have normalised the use of the digital in every facet of their teaching and administration, are providing an integrated digital client experience and vitally have positioned their schools to evolve at a pace where they can continually accommodate their client’s rising digital expectations.

Schools can only do that, and meet the client’s rising digital expectations – known and unanticipated – if they too have normalised the use of the digital.

School can’t hope to meet, let alone build upon the school their client’s rapidly evolving digital expectations unless they, like their client’s are naturally, invisibly using the digital in every teaching situation, have the digital underpinning every school operation and are working with a digital and socially networked mindset.

The strong indications are that in 2016 most Australian schools are not yet in that position, able to meet the current let alone rising digital expectations. Mid 2015 the author assisted with a survey of 35 state primary and high schools, that revealed that only around 30% believed they had all teachers using the digital naturally in their everyday teaching.

What is the situation at your school?

As stressed in previous articles the getting of 100% of teachers to naturally use the technology – to move the school to a digital operational base – is but a step on the path readying the school for BYOT and achieving digital normalisation, the creation of a mature school ecosystem and the placing the school’s use of the digital on par with the clients. Indeed the digital transformation research by the likes of Westerman et. al, (2014) and Solis (2015) highlights how sophisticated the digital masters are becoming in accommodating their client’s digital expectations.

It is appreciated a number of schools are still firmly of the view that only professional educators and government know what is best educationally, and as such it is essential the students and parents to follow the school’s and government’s dictates. They see no merit in addressing their client’s needs or expectations, educational or digital. Their view is similar to that taken by a cross section of industries that have all but disappeared.

Schools and their communities can take that view, but the strong signs are that the gap between the client’s expectations, educational and digital, and those schools will grow, with the clients increasingly taking their custom to those schools that they perceive meet the rising expectations.

Client’s expectations

With digital normalisation the clients in general terms naturally and largely unwittingly expect the school to mirror the evolving digital practises of society. There is the expectation, particularly among the students and younger parents, that:

  • the children will use the current digital technologies they already use 24/7/365
  • Net access and bandwidth in the school will be on par with that in the home
  • the digital will be used naturally in all teaching and learning, from Kindergarten upwards
  • students and parents can email their teachers
  • students can use their smartphone to photo board notes
  • the school website will provide all the latest information
  • the school will have an effective integrated digital communications suite, like all other organisations
  • the school’s use of the digital technology will evolve, becoming increasingly sophisticated, while always readying the young to use it astutely.

There is also the expectation the school’s teaching will build upon the young’s normalised 24/7/365 use of the digital technology, recognising the nature of the learning and teaching they do outside the school walls and will adjust and individualise their teaching accordingly.

Possibly largely unwittingly they also expect the curriculum to employ and enhance current, but also rapidly evolving, technological practices, and not be constrained by a dated formal digital technology curriculum that teaches digitally aware clients the ways of the past.

There is likely to be the expectation that the digital will be used naturally and astutely to enhance the teaching of the many interpersonal, intrapersonal and cognitive skills essential to an apt holistic education.

In saying ‘possibly’ and ‘unwittingly’ the reality is that the client’s digital expectations will continually grow and change, and will be impacted by their local school setting. Four years ago apps were largely unheard of: today they are an integral part of modern society. Schools that have normalised the use of the digital and are striving to meet their clients digital needs will engender in the school itself and likely ‘competing’ local schools appreciably higher digital expectations than those found in a traditional paper based school.

Envision yourself as a client, jot down your digital expectations and compare them to your school’s practises.

Building upon the client’s expectations

One of the new arts to be conquered by leaders of digital schools is the reading and continual building upon of the clients’ digital expectations.

The continued viability of a school will increasingly be tied to its ability to meet its client’ expectations (Lee, 2015).

That challenge is made that much more difficult by the pace and uncertain nature of the digital revolution and the school’s requirement to identify and address the current digital expectations, those of the near future and critically those as yet unidentified. In many respects the genius of Steve Jobs was in the identification of the latter.

In identifying the attributes required by the students in a digital and networked world while schools cannot foretell of the future digital tools that will be used they can and should have an ecosystem agile enough to readily accommodate the emerging technology and changing practises.

In that shaping ecosystem the business management research, for example that by Solis ( 2015), points to the need to

  • view the road ahead through your clients’ eyes, through those of your students and parent’s, comparing their digital expectations with those provided or planned, understanding in any school population the digital expectations of the clients will be spread
  • undertake that mapping through a digital and networked mindset (Bhaduri and Fischer, 2015) and most assuredly not an analogue
  • identify the moments that will matter, and resonate, with the current clients and indeed those potential clients still to enrol their children. It is more than creating the moments of truth, even amazing moments of truth that markedly exceed the client’s expectation but rather having an ecosystem that continually provides the clients memorable experiences. It is more than the first encounter with the school; rather it is providing both the children and the parents many years of magic moments. One is looking at those moments, those happenings that prompt the parent to share the experience on Facebook.
  • identify the current and potential out of touch points, practises employed by the school that might jar with the client’s digital expectations. Do you for example still insist on using only paper communication, have a dated, bland or painfully slow school website, limited bandwidth, unreliable low end computers, poor Wi Fi coverage or a front office that doesn’t answer the phone? It is appreciated some of these things could be outside the school’s control but all can be off-putting.
  • have an effective and efficient integrated whole of school digital client experience, that seamlessly integrates the school’s marketing and accountability into the school’s everyday teaching and operations.

It will be the lack of school leadership, not funding, the school’s situation or the technology that prevents school’s meeting their client’s digital expectations.


If your school is to remain viable in a digital and networked world and hope to ‘compete’ with the digital masters first and foremost it must normalise the whole school community use of the digital.

But equally – and for many this could be a first – the school needs to get serious about addressing the client’s expectations, and in particular their rising digital expectations.

Schooling globally historically is transitioning from its traditional paper based mode to a digital form, catering in the process for a parent clientele that has only known the traditional school, which understands the young should be schooled for a digital world and who, like their children will need to be ‘educated’ in the workings of a digital school.

It requires astute school leadership to provide that ‘education’, a willingness to seriously address their needs and digital expectations, and to genuinely collaborate with them in growing their understanding of 24/7/365 schooling, in teaching their children in a digital and networked world and growing ‘their’ digital school.


Bhaduri, A and Fischer, B (2015) ‘Are You an Analogue or Digital Leader?’ Forbes 19/2/2015 –

Forrester (2015). Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer. Forrester for Accenture. October 2015 –

Lee, M (2015b) ‘Schools Have to go Digital to Remain Viable’ Educational Technology Solutions July 2015


Solis, B (2015) ‘The Insiders Guide to Digital Transformation and the Path to Innovation’.

Westerman, G, Bonnett, D and McAfee, A (2014) Leading Digital. Turning Technology into Business Transformation, Boston, Harvard Business Review Press



The Shaping Educational Vision

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

[This is the fifth of the short blogs designed to supplement the readings for the Leading Your School’s Digital Evolution program].

Very early in your digital evolutionary journey it is imperative the school identifies its shaping educational vision, making it clear to all within the school’s community the kind of schooling it wants to provide.

The research (Lee and Broadie, 2016) reveals that in undertaking the digital evolutionary journey the shaping vision will move through a series of iterations and refinements, at each point becoming increasingly important and focussed.

In time it will and should shape every facet of the school’s operations and ecosystem.

Lipnack and Stamps (1994) in commenting on the emergence of networked organisations presciently observed the organisation’s shaping vision would become the glue that bonds the organisation together as lesser importance was attached to the physical place of operation and increasing use was made of the networked world.

That is what has happened in the pathfinder schools globally. As they make increasing use of the online, and the teaching and learning occurring outside the school walls so the physical place called school became less important and the shaping educational vision paramount.

All within the school’s current and prospective school community need to readily understand that shaping vision and its aptness for a rapidly evolving digital and networked world.

That awareness, particularly by the staff will only be achieved by active and concerted discussion, arguing the semantics, allowing all the teachers and professional support team to clarify the meaning of the chosen wording.

It is likely to entail regular revisiting the wording as the school ‘road tests’ its effectiveness, ensuring all continually understand the school’s underlying purpose and direction.

A critical facet of empowering all within the school’s community – the staff, students, parents and community – and actively involving them in the school’s teaching and growth is that all understand the desired big picture and what the school is seeking to achieve.

Within the traditional school while virtually all will have some kind of motto or mission statement the real ‘shaping vision’ was the external exams, and success therein.

That is still so today.

In tracking the digital evolution of the pathfinder schools (Lee and Broadie, 2016) of note is that at each key evolutionary stage the importance of a clear shaping educational vision grows and by the Networked stage the realisation of that vision informs every decision, educational, administrative and technological made by the school.

While exam performance continues to be important it is the chosen educational vision that shapes the school’s growth.

What is the situation with your school?

Is yours a ‘motherhood’ statement, or as one principal observed more apt for a retirement home than a school or does it clearly enunciate what the school believes to be an appropriate education for a digital and networked society?

  • Lee, M and Broadie, R (2016), A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages. Broulee Australia –
  • Lipnack, J & Stamps, J 1994, The age of the network: Organizing principles for the 21st century, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.