Digital Darwinism and Schooling

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

Mal Lee and Roger Broadie

Brian Solis, one of the leading analysts of the digital transformation of organisations, uses the succinct but very powerful term ‘Digital Darwinism’ to describe the situation where ‘….when technology and society evolve faster than an organization can adapt. (Solis, 2014)’.

While directed at business the concept is equally applicable to schooling.

We are all aware of the impact of the digital technology, and indeed the increasingly sophisticated digital technology on the evolution and sometimes the demise on industry, on the likes of

  • banking
  • newspapers
  • advertising
  • book sellers
  • retailing
  • the local video store

Consumers globally are daily demonstrating their desire to use to use the emerging digital technology, swiftly abandoning the ‘dated’ technology and the associated businesses and embracing those organisations that meet their rising digital expectations.

While society has long normalised the everyday use of all manner of digital technology and demonstrated its ability to readily and continually adapt that usage the vast majority of the world’s schools have not done so.

In 2016 only a handful of schools globally have normalised the whole school use of the digital, trusted all its members to use their own digital technology and structured the organisation to accommodate rapid, uncertain and continual digital evolution and transformation and continually meet society’s expectations.

Digital Darwinism is not only strongly evident in the vast majority of schools but most school leaders don’t appear to be aware of that situation.

Most are still ensconced within the traditional paper based operational paradigm, working within an agrarian school calendar, ill equipped structurally and culturally to accommodate any major change, let alone that occasioned by the digital revolution.

Moreover the majority of the leaders appear not to appreciate the magnitude of the task of shifting a paper based organisation to a digital operational mode and the literal years required to do so.

Digital Darwinism, as the term connotes can lead to the demise of the school.

Schools, like any other organism can’t survive in a state of equilibrium. They have to evolve or die.