Archive for the ‘Grand Challenge’ Category

00719 eSATS 3 Scenario Redesign

October 8, 2010

From the date above, you can see that I am a couple of months behind on my weekly blog. I will be catching up over the next few months. The main reason is a combination of vacation activities and hours a day committed to the redesign of the 2004 eLearning System for Arizona’s Teachers and Students (eSATS) design document.

For the past 6 years, we have attended hundreds of community organization and legislative gatherings, collected their ideas, studied the experts and research, and synthesized this information into the redraft. The 2010 eSATS draft recasts the K12 transformation effort into Grand Challenge mode. The heart of the challenge is for eLearning adoption to transform education which in turn reverses the downward spiral of workforce capability and employment, and economic development and prosperity. The 60 pages include new graphics and a revised 10 year time line based on three scenarios:

Freeze eSATS: holds eLearning at the existing 5% of learning but builds data decision support systems, broadband telecommunications to all communities, and increases legacy teacher professional development by a factor of ten. This low probability scenario maintains the current 68% graduation rate and is the baseline for the next two scenarios.

Current eSATS: forecasts a continuation of low growth of eLearning from 5% to a 30% level. There is State support, but most progress is by District/School initiatives. This scenario aligns with the current national trend. Graduation rate is increases to 80% due to significantly higher but fragmented motivation to learn and academic achievement.

Full eSATS: has Arizona doing a carpe diem with adoption of the eSATS Grand Challenge design. The State builds out 21st century class intellectual infrastructure and physical infrastructure to support adoption at the District/School level. Finance, laws and regulations are changed, costs savings due to accelerated learning pay most of the bill, and eLearning savvy teachers get a 15% raise over normal inflation. Districts and Schools refocus the teacher professional development to produce eLearning savvy teachers, install 1:1 computing interfaces for students and effective digital curriculum and content for every class. The individualized, competency based education for all students results in not only a graduation rate of 95% but students are prepared for post-secondary careers and education. Arizona becomes the vision, poster child, and center of the vortex for eLearning transformation of the Nation’s education system.

eSATS task team had a fruitful meeting on Friday, September 17th. We addressed how we can use this design to influence dozens of community organizations and hundreds of Arizona leaders to embrace K12 eLearning as the main dish on their plate to “fix” education.

We are redoing our web site and it will be up shortly. If you want a copy of the 2010 “Grand Challenge, Transforming Arizona’s K12 Education by Adopting an eLearning Systems Design” August 2010, send me an email.

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00531 Ambiguous Decisions

October 8, 2010

Being an engineer, entrepreneur, designer and strategic planner, I have long been an advocate of integration of the rational, intuitive, creative and visionary aspects of decision making. This quartet seems to have served me well for most challenges over the decades. The one challenge that seems to be intractable to this approach is the transformation of K12 education to meet the needs and expectations of the 21st century. Many of our eSATS task team have been working on this issue for 20 years – some for 30, and at best the solution has reached the 5% level.

Last week, I had a heated discussion on this issue with my close circle of high-tech entrepreneurial buddies from the 1980’s. They recommended that I abandon this grand challenge and like an entrepreneur, refocus on something that has a reasonable probability for success. I retorted that I had done the smaller summits, and Mt. Everest is the only game worth playing.

But it got me thinking that maybe my quartet of decision making processes was not hacking it. Perhaps what was needed was a new approach that would be effective with our target audiences – Arizona’s governance and education leadership. In reality, it’s their decision process, not mine that is fundamental to this K-12 transformation.

For incumbent leadership, the solving of this education challenge has been disappointing and potential solutions ambiguous. For 30 years they have responded with reforms that have face validity but have had minor effect on the overall challenge a 30% failure rate for student

graduation. Gary Klein, a psychologist and chief scientist at Applied Research Associates, has written a book on how people make decisions in ambiguous situations.*

From an interview in Science News, Gary Klein describes how we are wired for speed and it is impossible to not jump to conclusions in ambiguous situations. Within an unending universe of rules and facts, the logical risk analysis approach leads to inaction, or worse, to inaccurate and deceptive calculations that lead to disaster – like our financial crisis. Experienced decision makers use tacit knowledge to recognize situations based on experience. They create a mental story to understand what is going on while using intuition to make their decision.

Education is the most critical factor in the success of each citizen and for the entire State of Arizona. Leadership is rightfully hesitant to risk a radial change in the status quo without being assured of the outcome. But without a radial and successful change, we will continue our slow economic decline and wastage of 30% of our children. What to do?

I say we trust our decades old intuitively reinforced concept that technology is the key to transforming K-12 education and follow Gary Klein’s advice, “Successful decision makers actively manage a situation and shape their options rather than passively awaiting the outcome of a gamble that has specific probabilities, risks and benefits.”

In other words don’t analyze, synthesize or shade your eyes. Act now knowing that once eLearning  transformation has started your intuitions will serve you well in the follow through to a successful conclusion.

*Streetlights and Shadows: Searching for the Keys to Adaptive Decision Making, MIT Press, 2009.