Systemic Maturity Required

CEO, One-to-One Institute

At the One-to-One Institute, our mantra and mission has been to transform education, revolutionize it, to ensure personalized learning for all through the power of technologies, authentic experiences, and human interactions. We believe and foster a systemic approach with components including leadership, communications, professional learning, assessment, curriculum and instruction, financial and human sustainabilities. This sounds good—and is—but it’s complex.

In education we often focus on a single device being implemented within a student population. There are numerous cases where there isn’t a vision or strategy to drive a successful implementation. Frequently, there is not a sense of mission to authentically transform education with the deployment of technology tools as an end in and of itself. But the real work is about engaging the entire system in creating new realities that best serve learners and communities as well as local and global economies. The traditional education system doesn’t simply change because tech tools are being used. That is just a small part of the equation.

Strategy is a key driver of education reform for a digital world as it is in the business world. MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte’s 2015 worldwide investigation discovered that “..maturing digital businesses are focused on integrating digital technologies… the service of transforming how their businesses work. Less mature digital businesses are focused on solving discrete business problems with individual digital technologies.”  The latter sounds a lot like what happens in schools. Providing technology tools in education addresses some basic needs, but access to technologies, in and of itself, is simply retrofitting new gizmos into the traditional system.

Leadership can guide the creation of cultural mores that nurture risk-taking, invention, and a real shift in how we do school. Change leadership is crucial and clear strategies to drive authentic reform will reap the best results. Reimagining what school can be based on what we know today helps create the mindset needed for this work. High quality leadership from inception to vision to strategizing through implementation and beyond is imperative. Ensuring that thse shifts are integrated throughout the system is a top priority.

Professional growth goes hand in hand with real transformation. We possess skills and perform our craft as we first learned it. Unlearning what is our "norm" isn’t easy. Replacing the "norm" practices with the new requires numerous ‘tries’ until the habits of mind and skills are embedded. Since this is a continuous cycle of growth in a rapidly changing global world, our knowledge and skills need continued rebirth. Thus, we adults need to become nimble in knowing what we need and where and how we can acquire it. In a systems approach, this ought to be turnkey for all stakeholders.

The continuous cycle of growth within and beyond changes alerts the system that there really is no end game. The expectation is that the learning community and stakeholders are in a consistent mode of progress seeking knowledge, skills, and tools that enhance learners’ abilities to achieve. This means an ongoing assessment of the evolving landscape of what is needed as global learners, citizens, and workers. This also means prognosticating future developments in ways in which the education industry must become aligned to serve its purpose.

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