Archive for the ‘Data’ Category

00607 Innovation vs. Disaster

October 8, 2010

I am blessed by people who respond to the eSATS blog with comments and support. One person recommended a list of the leading organizations in Arizona who are focused on improving education. Another thought we would be better served if we focused on “getting inherent” vs. focusing on implementation.

We are in the middle of a four month effort to redesign eSATS to reflect the latest thinking in eLearning for K-12 education. Our Grand Challenge must also determine a path to bring a rapid and effective transformation. I will describe three scenarios below. But first we must be careful to both cause no harm.

Many years ago an article posited that the best way to make a change for the good was to ride in on the chaos generated by a disaster. It is unconscionable to wish for or create a disaster. But the really is that we are living in a time of double crisis: the prolonged recession and a third of our students dropping out of high school, unready for the 21st century world of work and education.

But the real concern should be about potential disasters caused by human innovation and eLearning transformation of education is the biggest invention to hit K-12 since universal education.

Over the centuries America has had many man-made ecological disasters. The most devastation was caused by straight furrow plowing of our prairies 100 years ago. Over a decade, the “dust bowl” caused immense economic lost, displacement of 2 million refugees and human sickness and death. The slaughtering of millions of buffalo and centuries of coast to coast deforestation are also significant disasters. An 18 month oil spill in California in 1910 was twice as great as the current BP spill.

All of these were caused by unintended consequences from technical innovations of the time: axe/saw, mortar board plow, Sharps repeating rifle, and oil drilling rigs. Since there is no history of how large scale systemic transformation of K12 education supported by eLearning – unintended consequences are yet unknown.

Three scenarios face Arizona leadership as they grapple with this opportunity with an eye on avoiding disaster.

One is to call a halt to the innovation and stop any additional online or classroom use of eLearning. This would “pause” the growing eLearning support at about 5% of student learning.
The second is to let the eLearning driven disruptive innovation happen without significant State level leadership or investment. This approach is expected to increase the 5% to approximately 30% in ten years. There would be equity distortions but the average of academic gains might meet (squeaking past) State’s minimum academic goals.
The third is to recognize that eLearning is the means to solve Arizona’s most troubling dilemma and take a systems approach at both the State and district levels. With 95% of student learning supported at the most appropriate level by eLearning, academic goals will be surpassed and significant cost savings secured.

This third scenario would minimize the risk of innovation driven disaster by using a fully integrated data driven decision support system at all levels from classroom to State. It would also address the individual disaster of our 40,000 drop outs and cut short our prolonged recession.

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