Mal Lee and Roger Broadie
The digital transformation research underscores the critical importance of organisations continually meeting and astutely building upon the client’s ever rising, increasingly higher order digital expectations.
- ‘The customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation (Forrester, 2015)’.
The Economist concludes:
Evolving customer expectations are the most common driver of digital transformation (Economist, 2015, p2).
The same imperative will increasingly hold with the school, and its ability to continually meet and accommodate its current and prospective client’s rapidly rising 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 rising digital expectations unless they, like their client’s have normalised the whole school use of the digital.
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 for example 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.
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.
To what extend does your school meet the above expectations? How far has it yet to travel?
As a quick test 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 those 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 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.
Economist Intelligence Unit (2015), Digital Evolution. Learning from the leaders in digital transformation. The Economist
Forrester (2015). Digital Transformation in the Age of the Customer. Forrester for Accenture. October 2015 – https://www.accenture.com/_acnmedia/Accenture/Conversion-Assets/DotCom/Documents/Global/PDF/Digital_1/Accenture-Digital-Transformation-B2B-spotlight.pdf
Lee, M (2015b) ‘Schools Have to go Digital to Remain Viable’ Educational Technology Solutions July 2015
Westerman, G, Bonnett, D and McAfee, A (2014) Leading Digital. Turning Technology into Business Transformation, Boston, Harvard Business Review Press