Facilitating System Change
Hub and Spoke Networking Model
Paul Morris, Mal Lee and Sue Lowe
The movement of schools globally to a digital operational base has, largely unseen, fundamentally changed the way those schools, and schooling in general needs to be developed.
Like all other digitally based organisations, be they banks, newspapers or retailers schools in going digital very much need to take charge of their own evolution, drawing where they can on the apt support of the pathfinder schools and their education authority.
What is now evident globally, both within industry (Westerman, et al 2014) and schooling (Lee, 2014 b) is that the digital masters who have taken control of their growth are evolving at an accelerating rate, daily becoming increasingly different to their more traditional confreres.
The digital pathfinders in all areas are fundamentally transforming their ‘industry’ at pace and obliging the later adopters to employ growth strategies apposite for a rapidly evolving digital world and to forego the ways of the paper based world.
That is happening worldwide, again largely unseen with schools. The pathfinder schools have taken charge of their evolution, have attuned their ways for the digital, have already transformed the mode of schooling they are providing and are on trend to accelerate their difference with the traditional paper based school.
….what can safely be said it is now clear is that the new norm with schooling globally will be the accelerating differences between schools, and the mode of schooling each provides (Lee, 2015).
The digital transformation literature (Solis, et al, 2014) talks of ‘Digital Darwinism’ where those organisations that capitalise upon the ever evolving technology thrive, and those which stay in the past struggle. Projections are made of the number of Fortune 500 companies that will fall out that group in the next five years unless they become digital masters.
Atop the transformative impact of the digital technology have been the global moves to give schools and their principals a greater voice in and increased responsibility for the running and growth of each school. In New South Wales (Australia) that devolution is expressed in the Government’s ‘Local Schools, Local Decisions’ policy.
The immense – and only slowly realised – challenge facing education systems globally is how do they best facilitate whole of system change in a digital environment, where the differences between the schools is accelerating. How do they contend with in the one system astutely led digital masters where the students want to go and slow mover schools clients see as irrelevant? The traditional ‘one size fits all’ model cannot accommodate the vast and growing differences.
The Far South Network of the New South Wales Department of Education and Communities (NSW DEC) has opted to employ an educational variant of the hub and spoke network model to address that challenge, and to facilitate whole of Network change.
It is a significant step in the search for a solution apposite for school systems seeking to lead and provide schools the appropriate support in an ever evolving digital world, where schools will increasingly be ‘surfing at the edge of chaos’ (Pascale, Millemann and Gioja, 2000), needing to thrive and deliver while living with on-going rapid, often uncertain non linear change, evolution and transformation.
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