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 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/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 www.digitalevolutionofschooling.net
- Lee, M, Morris, P, and Lowe, S (2016) ‘Hub and Spoke Networking Model: On Reflection.’ Digital Evolution of Schooling February 2016 – at www.digitalevolutionofschooling.net