To succeed in a disrupted world, leaders will need to forge an agile and connected enterprise with a future-focused workforce. For both individuals and organizations, there needs to be a reconciling of the demand for digital skills to deploy and manage technology, and the human skills to live and work with this technology. Positioning the enterprise for success as the work of humans and machines converges, will require a digital mindset. (KPMG)
The same kind of exhortation has been expressed by the other global management consultancies and throughout the business management literature. Lewis (2020) writing in the Harvard Business Review noted
……having a digital mindset means being constantly on the lookout for ways to introduce digital technology to your role, your team, and your organisation.
You’ll struggle to find the same advocacy in the school leadership literature. A Google search will unearth little.
Nor will you find it in lead teacher advertisements, the teacher standards, teacher accreditation documents or initial teacher training programs.
You will however find the mindset shaping the personal lives of most of the world’s teachers and the four billion plus digitally connected. While few have likely fully appreciated the profound change that has occurred, particularly in the last decade, it takes only a few prompts for them to appreciate it’s distinct nature, the magnitude of the shift, its continuing evolution, and the extent to which the mindset shapes their personal lives, 24/7/365.
The digitally connected have grown in their everyday use of the digital and networked world, a mindset, a set of expectations and behaviours that see them instinctively opting to use the digital in most facets of their lives. While strongest in the young, who have only ever known a digital world, the mindset is to be found in varying degrees in most every age group.
It is a mindset that expects instant connectivity, 24/7/365, anywhere, anytime, at speed and control of one’s chosen digital device/s, with the agency to use them how desired, when wanted, to do what and how they wish. It assumes everyone, from a very early age will choose the technology, configure it, use the apps they want and critically to learn what, how, when and where they want. Moreover, they expect to directly access the desired material, without going through gatekeepers.
While one might rightly debate the traits that combine to make the digital mindset, but most summaries would include:
- An instinctive preference for a digital solution, and an acceptance that many traditional practises will be superseded by the digital
- Normalised everyday use of the digital and social networking
- A working understanding of the mores of the networked world
- Natural continual adaptation to the rapidly evolving digital and networked world
- on-going enhancement of the desired digital thinking and competencies
- a strong appreciation of the up and down sides of the digital and network use
- Just in time, non-linear, experiential learning, done mainly in context
- A preference for self-discovery, while being willing to network and learn collaboratively when desired
- Increased and rightful individualisation of the digital capabilities, that flows from each if us having greater control of our learning, and being able to pursue our particular interests and passions.
The digital connected, in going about their everyday life, find themselves ‘being digital’ (Negroponte, 1995), on trend to grow and strengthen that situation lifelong.
Nearly sixty years ago Marshall McLuhan (1964) famously alerted the world to the reality that ‘the medium is the message.’
In today’s world the message is digital and networked.
The strengthening of the digital mindset has been accelerated by COVID, and particularly by governments’ taking as a given the population being digital, connected, and having at the centre of their lives, a smartphone.
Significantly the COVID experience also accelerated the nation’s teachers bringing the digital mindset into their teaching, as well as the digital competencies they had naturally grown in their personal lives.
While the educational leadership at the school and system level, and within most educational faculties have yet to have the digital mindset shape the school and its teaching most teachers used the mindset to advantage.
Significantly they used it astutely in teaching remotely with their digitally connected families, understanding the importance in so doing of working collaboratively, of individualising much of the teaching and support, of giving the students and their families agency, and resourcing the remote teaching.
A digital mindset shapes, as noted in earlier posts, a very different type of schooling to that with its roots in the Industrial Age.
It challenges much of the ‘grammar of schooling’.
The reality facing all school leaders is that society’s worldwide are going to increasingly shape the way forward with a digital mindset.
As will most every private and public sector organisation.
COVID accelerated the world’s teachers use of the thinking in their classrooms.
The new normal is already, as discussed, looking to be accommodated by all schools.
That accommodation is markedly assisted by a school and system leadership looking to shape the way forward with a digital mindset, and not one from an aged past.
- McLuhan, M (1964) The Medium is the Message. NY. MIT
- Negroponte, N (1995) Being Digital Sydney Hodder and Stoughton