Category Archives: School evolution continuum

Silo Like to Integrated Schools

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

A significant part of your digital evolutionary journey will be the school’s historic movement from its inefficient silo like organisational structure of Industrial Age origins to an increasingly integrated, efficient and productive one befitting a digital and socially networked society.

You’ll shift from the traditional arrangement where the various cells within the school – the classroom teacher, the faculty, the ICT unit, the library, the front office – operate largely autonomously to a significantly more integrated structure where all operations are interconnected and focussed on realising the school’s shaping vision.

A major – and again largely unwitting – driver of the shift will be the school’s move to a digital operational base and the recognition of the many benefits that flow from convergence and organisational integration. Digital congruence is the key. The physical networking of the school and the ubiquitous use of all manner of digital technologies that can talk to each other make redundant many practises and quickly remove the strict divisions between the operational units.

The vast majority of the world’s schools, and in particular the secondary are still impacted by the factory model with its strong division of labour and the assumption that if each unit on the production line does its job the students would graduate with an appropriate holistic education.

Many over the last fifty years have questioned that assumption and some schools have made major strides in adopting organisational structures that open the way for a more holistic education.

Until relatively recently the major impediment to the running of a more integrated school has been its underlying paper base. Paper as a technology has major limitations, the most important of which is the requirement that the information thereon has to be physically transported to its recipient/s. The high level use of that technology necessitated close physical proximity. The delivery of a paper to another member of staff meant getting up and physically delivering the information.

While philosophically and organisationally the school might have wanted to integrate its efforts while ever it retained its paper operational base its efforts would be frustrated.

Networks and the digital technology change the game. Not only does the digital operational base negate the physical and logistical shortcomings, stimulate operational integration but it also allows full multimedia creation, 24/7/365 communication, interaction and storage – all at pace and with little cost. Few have yet to sit back and analyse the impact alone of the physical networking of schools in that 90’s and early 2000’s.

The experience of the pathfinder schools would suggest the shift from the loosely to more tightly coupled school will be gradual, incremental and will accelerate the more the school matures its ecosystem.

That acceleration will be assisted by the school’s:

  • tightening focus on its shaping educational vision
  • efforts to ensure all school operations are directed to realising that vision
  • rising digital expectations
  • recognition that digital congruence is the crux
  • trust and empowerment of its staff and community, and efforts to ensure all have a better macro understanding of the school’s workings
  • endeavours to shape an increasingly mature and powerful school ecosystem
  • daily efforts to create an evermore productive ecosystem, that marries the in and out of school learning and resourcing

Experience has demonstrated that the integration will in general terms occur much faster in the primary or elementary school than in the high schools. The structural hurdles and cultural mores of the high school are far harder to overcome than those in the primary school.

In the secondary school in addition to the challenge of changing the culture, and shifting the focus away from paper based external exams there is the invariable silo like organizational structure and the fiefdoms and their warlords keen to retain their power base.

In brief if you are leading a secondary school on its evolutionary journey be prepared for a long and at times painful graduated shift.

 

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 – http://douglasandbrown.com/publications/

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

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 – http://www.digitalevolutionofschooling.net 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.

 

 

 

BYOT and the Digital Evolution of Schooling

Martin Levins and I have just released our 2016 edition of BYOT and the Digital Evolution of Schooling.

It is now available free as an e-book.

While building on our earlier 2012 publication for ACER Press on Bring Your Own Technology the new work addresses the rapid developments in the last four years and positions the move to BYOT within the wider digital evolution and transformation of schooling.

The authors’ have decided to make the work freely available to all interested globally wanting advice and direction on the key development.

It can be downloaded from the Professor Peter Twining’s EdFutures site in the UK at –  http://edfutures.net/Lee_and_Levins_2016.

2015 edition of the Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages

The 2015 edition of the Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages is now available for free download from the Taxonomy sub-section of this site

This edition updates the attributes displayed by schools operating at the Digital Normalisation evolutionary stage.

While the digital evolution and transformation of all manner of businesses is literally discussed daily in both the media and the management literature (http://www.scoop.it/t/digitalevolutionofschooling) the fact that schooling globally is undergoing the same kind of organisational evolution and transformation remains largely unseen by most schools and educational administrators, as too are the profound implications that flow from the phenomenon.

So too is the understanding that once schools, like all organisations begin their movement to a digital operational base the schools will evolve in a remarkably common manner globally, demonstrating at each evolutionary stage numerous similar attributes.

It is as if schools are unique organisations somehow immune to the impact of the digital revolution and will forever remain ensconced in their paper based world.

Nothing could be further from today’s reality.

Schools globally are at different points on the school evolutionary stages continuum, with the pathfinder schools that have normalised the use of the digital evolving and transforming their operations at an accelerating rate.

Using the 2015 edition of the Taxonomy you can quickly identify your school’s evolutionary stage and the likely path ahead.

Feel free to download the latest version, and suggest other colleagues make use of this simple international measure.

2015 Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages

ACER Teacher Digital Evolution Series

Mal Lee has written for ACER’s online Teacher magazine in a series of brief research papers on the digital evolution of schooling. They include:

Article in ACER’s Teacher on School Evolutionary Stages

Mal has an article in the inaugural edition of ACER’s new online magazine Teacher on the global school evolutionary stages.  Simply go to – http://teacher.acer.edu.au/article/school-evolution-a-common-global-phenomenon.

A Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages

Roger Broadie and I have posted on under the new Taxonomy section of this site and at http://www.BroadieAssociates.co.uk a copy of our Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages and the complementary publication Evolution through the Threads.

Both publications are free.

We’d strongly suggest downloading both publications.

The Taxonomy posits, as mentioned in earlier posts that

  • schools globally evolve in a remarkably similar manner, particularly when shifting to a digital operational base
  • all schools currently sit at a point on six stage evolutionary continuum; a continuum that will over time continually expand
  • schools will evolve through a series of key evolutionary stages, demonstrating at each stage remarkably similar attributes
  • the vast majority of schools will need to evolve through each of the stages before moving on to the next
  • it is finally possible with the continuum to provide schools and their communities an international indicative measure, that allows them to readily identify their school’s approximate current evolutionary stage and the likely path ahead
  • it takes considerable time and effort for schools to move along the evolutionary continuum
  • schools in equilibrium are prone to the same risks as other complex organisations that don’t continue to evolve.

The Evolution through the Threads explores in depth the evolution that has occurred in the pathfinder schools that have or nearly normalised the whole school use of the digital technology in some 20 plus key operational areas. Vitally the analysis of the threads underscores the reality that the evolution in a school might well occur at a different pace in different operational areas.

Both works have emerged out of the research we have undertaken with pathfinder schools in the UK, US, NZ and Australia.

While as stressed both works are human constructs and indicative in nature we have both in our school consultations found the staff and vitally the parents can swiftly position the school and soon understand the many variables needing to be addressed.

Impact and Imperative of a Digital Operational Base

 

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

The more we analyse the operations of the pathfinder schools in the UK, US, NZ and Australia the more strongly it appears it is only when schools move to a digital operational base do they begin to fundamentally change their form and embark on a never ending path of on-going change, evolution and transformation.

The rapid organisational transformation that is occurring in the pathfinder schools, and those following close behind in 2014 is the same kind of organisational transformation that occurred in industry 20 plus years ago when all manner of businesses left behind their reliance on paper and moved to a digital operational base.

Schooling globally for the last fifty plus years has invested vast funds, time and expertise trying to innovate and change the traditional, largely Industrial Age mode of schooling.

It failed to make any sustained fundamental structural change. Any dents made in the ways of old were soon rectified as the innovators moved on.

Unwittingly and in an as yet largely unrecognised way the paper technology that those school’s operations was built upon reinforced the constancy and continuity.  There was no inherent quality in paper as a technology that stimulated change. Indeed the technology actually worked to reinforce the status quo.

In stark contrast the ever-evolving, ever more sophisticated, ever-more convergent digital technology, when coupled with its users ever-growing expectations and their increasing awareness of what is possible with that more sophisticated technology constantly works to stimulate the on-going evolution.

A quick look at the following expression of Moore’s Law, prepared for the Washington Post, provides an insight into the kind of evolutionary path along which the digital schools will likely move.

Transistor_Count_and_Moores_Law_-_2011

Children today in early childhood classes will likely on their school graduation around 2026 be using 24/7/365 ‘computers’ that may be self- aware and self learning, with all the concomitant opportunities and implications. These computers will be largely invisible, constructed into the built environment and the fabric of clothes as well as prosthetically embedded..

As you know from your own use of the digital technology, and in particular that of your children once one has normalised the everyday, 24/7/365 use of that technology and has incorporated it in every facet of one’s life we very soon have ever greater expectations of that technology and constantly envisage new ways how it can be used.  Where once getting modems to mate or using a search facility like Alta Vista was mind blowing today those developments pale into insignificance.

That is what is happening globally in the schools that have moved to a digital operational base. That said the pronounced transformation is only happening in those schools where virtually all of the school’s main operations, teaching and administrative are digitally based.

Critical to that development is having all the school’s teachers use the digital naturally in their everyday teaching.  The digital technology has been used in school administration for decades. It is only when all the teachers use the digital technology in their everyday teaching, as a group recognise the opportunities possible, envision the type of schooling desired in an ever more digital, socially networked and collaborative world and understand the kind of holistic changes school wide required can schools be said to be operating on a digital base. It is not enough to have 40%, or even 80% of the teachers using the technology in their teaching. It actually matters not if all teachers are digitally competent outside the classroom. All the teachers, permanent and casual have to use the kit in class with the kids expecting the use of the digital technology will be the norm in the teaching.

It is only when the schools leave behind the traditional paper based operation and mindset will the schools, like the business world beforehand and move to a digital operational paradigm and begin their dramatic transformation and on-going evolution.

Organisationally it is only when all the key operations are digital can they talk, converge and become ever more integrated.

While seemingly simple, the websites of the pathfinder schools with their quick and ready access to a tightly integrated digital communications suite, are only possible when the schools are operating on a digital base.

A look at the school evolutionary stages will reveal that transformation does not happen overnight but is graduated and only gathers pace when the culture, the school’s ecology is at ease with the all-pervasive use of the digital.

Sadly, and vitally unappreciated by many educators and politicians, the vast majority of schools in the developed world in 2014 don’t have 100% of their teachers using the digital technology normally in their everyday teaching..

Schooling in general lags well behind the general societal use of digital technology.

The only ways for schools to redress that shortcoming is to move to a digital operational base.

Impact of Digital Operational Base

Distinguishing Attributes of Digital Schools

 

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

 

It is apparent from the research we are undertaking on those schools globally operating on a digital base (http://www.schoolevolutionarystages.net) is that all are demonstrating a distinct suite of distinguishing attributes that already sets them apart from the traditional paper based school and are on trend to forever amplify that difference.

Schooling, as we have all known it, has been characterised by its constancy, continuity and its relative sameness.  It hasn’t fundamentally changed its form in the last 50 – 60 years.  While the trappings vary between nations and sometimes regions in essence schools operate on a fixed number of days each year, between agreed hours, within a physical place called school.  The teaching is controlled and conducted wholly by the professional teachers, with solitary teachers normally teaching class groups, invariably behind closed classroom doors.  Paper – used in conjunction with the pen and the teaching board, be they black, green or white – has been the core instructional technology for hundreds of years and largely unseen and unwittingly has profoundly impacted the nature of the schools, their organisation, operations and teaching.

Generation after generation of children have experienced basically the same mode of schooling and teaching, to the extent that all know what is entailed in the schooling of the young.

That is until recent years and only then with those schools that have moved to a digital operational base.

Seemingly overnight those schools where all of the teachers in the school use the digital technology in their everyday teaching begin to abandon the long established ways and practices of the traditional school and transform every facet of their operation.

The fuller details of that transformation that has occurred in the pathfinder schools in their journey to digital normalisation are fleshed out in the six school evolutionary stages elsewhere on the site.

On first glance someone visiting those schools, be they primary or secondary could readily mistake them for a traditional school.  Tellingly the transformation has occurred in the existing buildings, of all shapes and sizes, with invariably no major structural change. However as they delve further they’ll soon recognise that not only is their modus operandi already fundamentally different to the traditional school but they are also operating in a mode where in general terms they will forever continue to change, evolve and transform their nature.

That modus operandi is so different to that experienced in the majority of schools it bears spending some time examining some of the distinguishing changes occurring and reflecting on the implications for later adopter schools.

The plan is to explore key attributes over the next couple of months in a series of weekly posts, with a view to alerting all associated with schools – be they the clients, the providers of the education or the shapers of the national education – of the developments occurring and the likely implications.  We’ll explore the

  • Impact of the digital operational base
  • Distributed control of teaching
  • Empowering the school’s community
  • On-going evolution of schooling
  • Digital convergence, ever-tighter integration and growing organizational complexity
  • Schools as living ecologies
  • Complexity science and school evolution
  • Ever – increasing school variability
  • Impact of school ecology on student attainment
  • Chaos and order – the new working paradox

It should be stressed that these attributes should be viewed in conjunction with the other writings on the site on the evolution of schooling, and that while each is addressed singly all are tightly interrelated and collectively add to the character and distinctiveness of the ever-evolving school ecologies.

In brief schools when schools shift to a digital operational base – go digital – they leave behind the constancy, continuity and sameness of the traditional school and

  • constantly change and evolve, with their operations forever transforming
  • develop ever more strongly a unique school ecology
  • become ever more tightly integrated, increasingly complex, higher order and networked teaching organisations
  • teach increasingly 24/7/365.
  • marry the once separate ‘formal’ teaching of the school with the ‘informal’ teaching of the children’s homes
  • create a mode of schooling in keeping with an ever more digital, networked and collaborative world.