Archive for November, 2009

91124 eLearning is Innovation

November 24, 2009

The November 18th edition of Education Week has two major articles:

Starting Gun Sounds for ‘Race to the Top’ RTTT has $4.35 billion up for grabs for reforms including State level data systems with buy in from school districts, and evaluation of teachers and principals based on student performance (outcomes).

States Are Lagging On Innovation Front. The US Chamber of Commerce graded  the states on school management, finance, staffing, staff removal, data, technology, pipeline to postsecondary and reform environment (inputs). Arizona got one few A’s for charter school management.

Let’s put aside the issue that that $4.35 billion is less than 1% of the financial system rescue/stimulus funds. Arizona can win a potential $100 million for RTTT that is critical to Arizona’s education transformation plans.

Arizona’s RTTT team of highly capable and dedicated staff and volunteers are working long hours to address the highly structured proposal requirements. Debra Duvall, Governor’s Special Advisor is leading the RTTT effort. Carol Peck of the Rodel Foundation is chair of the Governor’s 16 person P20 Coordinating Council which has four RTTT task forces, each working on a key RTTT proposal area;

Jack Lundsford of WESTMARC is leading the Standards and Assessments

Dave Howell of Wells Fargo Bank is leading the Great Teachers, Great Leaders

Marc Osborn of R&R Partners is heading the Supporting Struggling Schools

Cathleen Barton of Intel is leading the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems/Use

As the task teams struggle with the myriad of proposal requirements the overarching issue of Innovation becomes a challenge. eSATS has attended most meetings and reviewed the most recent summary of dozens of task team generated ideas, options, strategies, interventions and pathways. click on first presentation under Materials

There are eLearning components woven through each of these task forces. So we got to thinking about the innovation issue and eLearning. The problem of leading with “eLearning” is that most people have an image that is locked the technology with a student glued to a computer screen who is working on Reader Rabbit and immersed in online learning. To jar us away from those images lets consider:

eLearning as system of innovation.

Every other industry transformed by emerging technology has had to redefine itself with a new and innovation driven systems model.

Take aviation for example. It has both a physical infrastructure of airports and data driven decision support system for navigation. Pilots required real-time data from flight instruments. The aircraft was designed around serving the needs to both the passengers and air and ground crews. An intellectual infrastructure was needed for aeronautical research and education of aeronautical engineers and other experts. The creation of the financial system from reservations and ticketing to aircraft purchases based on new revenue, allocation and investment models. And finally an aircraft industry had to exist to develop and build the airplanes. The icon was the airplane. But from initiation through growth to maturity aviation was a highly coupled system of innovation. We all understand this model.

Take the above and substitute schools and longitudinal data system; teachers needing real-time formative assessment; learning support systems serving the teacher-student nexus; learning research and professional teacher/leader education; and school financing initiatives that removes legacy system barriers, creates efficiencies  and funds innovation to enhance student performance. Embrace the digital curriculum and hardware/software industry as they redouble their effects for education.

The now mature aviation, was from the 1930’s to 1970’s a highly successful system of innovation. eLearning can also be viewed as a system of innovation from the 1990’s to the 2020’s.

If we make this intellectual leap, then we have a powerful pathway to integrate innovation into Arizona’s RTTT proposal.

91111 Fourth Turning Implemention

November 11, 2009

Driven by my “True Believer” gene, every few years I jump fully clothed into a new ocean of ideas that promises an understanding of how our world works. My latest is the 1997 book by William Strauss and Neil Howe, “The Fourth Turning.” Their “research” resulted in the discovery of an ~ 80 year cycle of human history that is caused by the interaction of four distinct ~ 20 year generations. The Fourth Turning is the 20 year period, the Crisis “Turning” starting a few years ago and ending in ~ 2025. In the Crisis turning – think Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWII and now – are noted by terrible unforeseen events, a renting of the social fabric, and the implementation of major changes – especially infrastructure.

The four generations that are playing out now are “Archetype: birth years, current name, roles.

Hero: 1901-1924, G.I. Generation, cope with Depression and fight WWII, build new institutions, protected children; 1982-2003 Millennial Generation, will take us through the crisis now emerging.

Artist: 1926-1943 Silent Generation, improved institutions, populated suburbia, had midlife crisis and are now active seniors. 2004-2025 Homeland Generation will grow up in time of crisis.

Prophet: 1943-1960 Boomer Generation, grow up in affluence and upheaval, moralistic and value obsessed, playing down dangers, steering country into next big crisis.

Nomad: 1961-1981 Generation X, reared under protected during cultural upheavals, don’t trust institutions, speak frankly of dangers, are highly realistic and pragmatic individualists.

What does this mean for our K-12 transformation mission for the next ten years? In a recent interview author Neil Howe said the Gen Xer’s are in the drivers seat, with strong support of the Millennials. This is evidenced by the Obama election with strong support from the younger crowd. As the Gen Xer’s move into positions of power during the crisis the Millennials will be like the G.I.’s of the prior crises. The Boomers who failed to address the emerging crises will fade from power.

First Turning (1945-1965) was a High with Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy and social conformity. The Second Turning (1966-1982) was the Awakening where social obligations where thrown off and individualism drove riots, civil rights, tax cuts, and deregulation. The Third Turning (1983-2004?) was the Unraveling where individualism is high and institutions are weak and discredited, many celebrity circuses but little sense of public purpose.

The Fourth Turning (2005? To 202??) is the Crisis where ineffectual institutions are torn down to build new. There is enormous rebuilding of public, social, political and economic life as a response to a series of crises.  The recent small wars and economic upheavals may be the foothills of the crisis, similar to the 1770’s, 1850’s, and 1930’s. Individualism gives way to a new sense of community to reverse the process of Third Turning attitudes. The crisis nor the crisis trigger cannot be forecast during the prior decade: Boston Tea Party, Lincoln’s election, and stock market crash in 1929 followed by Pearl Harbor.

Turnings are caused by the sequencing of the generations, not technology. During Crisis the reaction to a crisis is what matters. The Silent Generation drifts off into retirement and Prophet Boomer cultural warriors shouting at each other on talk shows. The realistic and pragmatic Nomad Gen Xer’s lead by fixing the crises. They are supported by the Hero Millennials who remain close to their elder visionary Prophet parents.

There will be a push toward pro-family and  middle class with recent focus on seniors, the poor and the very wealthy slipping. Millennials want free-trade and capitalism with a public and social purpose. They have respect for realistic “smart” people but not the ideological “best and brightest.” The invention during the Awakening, drove unlimited and diverse innovation (biogenetics, nanotech) during the Unraveling to setup implementation in the Crisis. Fourth Turning society picks winners and invests in them. Infrastructure build out was big in the last three (toll roads and canals, railroads, then highways). In this century digitizing medical records, Internet everywhere, security at all levels, and high-speed trains are coming on strong.

Stable employment and personal reputation are critical individual factors leading to teamwork building and community activities. Intergenerational families will come together.

The economic problems of today are a 2 to 3 compared to the 10 of the Crisis ahead of us. But what could trigger this Crisis. A nuclear bomb going off anywhere would change the rules all over the world. Cheap robots make war, everyman’s war. There are many more. But as society wipes away old way, better systems can be built. As the crisis peaks, the myriad of problems that defines this period are seen as parts of same huge systemic problem.

Over the past two months I have experienced a “sea-change” during our voyage toward the eLearning promised land. As a observer in meeting after meeting with ABEC, P-20 Coordinating Committee Task Forces, Valley Forward panels, legislators and IBM-Smart Cities Forum almost every participant touched on or lead with a component of eLearning as a part of the solution.

I developed the understanding is that our advocacy work has been successful. The time for  It is now time for us “Boomers” to switch from pitching the value of eLearning to advising the Gen X implementers teams. It is a bit like the old story of:

“Robespierre sitting with his friends at an outside café drinking wine when a mob surges by. Robespierre jumps up and dashes off. His friends call to him, “Where are you going?” He replies, “That’s my mob and I have to get in front of them and lead.”

eSATS and our collaborators have a well honed system design. We understand of what is needed to significantly integrated the pieces into a whole. The investments and timing including process changes can be spelled out.