91124 eLearning is Innovation

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.

www.azgovernor.gov/P20/agendas.asp 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.

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