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.