Tag Archives: educational leadership

Strategic Planning for 21st Century Learning

A typical Sunday morning for me includes catching up on blog reading, and this one was no different. While the reading is always interesting, what intrigues me is the way in which things link together and stimulate new thinking about things. Topics today made me think back to comments I made in a presentation to our trustees as part of my technology strategy update. 

There are many things you could do with technology in education. The real question is: what are the right things? Choices and decisions have to land on some key areas including: impact on student learning, investing in the future and a key one in my mind – sustainability and supportability in terms of both human and financial resources. This last point can not be overlooked, as I believe it is the fundamental reason many initiatives/projects fail. A final area looks at focus vs fragmentation. It is not possible to do everything, do it well, support it and sustain it. Strategic planning is about doing the right things for the long haul. 

Here are a few highlights from recent reading.

Angela Maiers – Mission to Transform
David Warlick – Teaching and Technology
Doug Peterson – A Plan Needed (netbooks, cloud computing)
Howard Rheingold – Attention Literacy
Will Richardson – If Every Student Had a Computer

The content covered in these articles embraces many of the significant issues in K-12 education today: technology available to every student, netbooks, cloud computing, student learning, literacy in the 21st century and teacher training (changing instructional practices). From my perspective as a K-12 CIO, these articles are all right on the money. I will throw IT infrastructure planning into the mix.

How do we best move ahead? Based on the validity of each of these key areas, none can be ignored – each one needs to be addressed. I believe the key to success and system level strength, is to work at these areas with an eye to alignment. Achieving major successes in some of these areas while others are excluded will not yield the best overall results. I believe the answer lies in alignment – the ability to drive each of these areas forward in a planned way at the same time. We are having these discussions in our Board. I am impressed with the dialogue, thinking and collaborative approach to date. It is early in the process, but I believe we are solidly headed in the right direction. We will keep dialoguing, learning and collaborating about best to move forward. I will continue to share thinking, dialogue and questions.

In the meantime, more thinking and learning to do.

~ Mark

Leadership Perspective: Reading and Reflections

From my July 14th blog post … I am reading What I Learned From Frogs in Texas by Jim Carroll which I picked up at the Leading Learning conference in May 2009. The first section of the book captured my interest with a couple of insightful thoughts. First, the notion of ‘aggressive indecision’ and secondly ‘lost momentum’…

I have finished reading the book and thought I would share a few comments. The core message in the book challenges us to look at the preparing for change and the future with the right approaches. While many of the examples are business oriented, it is not much of a stretch to see how these ideas can be mapped to many of our educational systems.

Every organization, business or educational, needs a strong long term plan to maintain strength, vibrance and critical function in today’s rapidly changing world. The long term plan must be clearly stated, sustainable, achievable and good for the long haul. There is nothing strategic about a plan that keeps changing every few weeks or months.

Highlights and Challenges

Culture – what is the culture of your organization? Do you have a culture that embraces change and explores new opportunities? Or perhaps you are stuck with indecision – no momentum, or perhaps the avoidance of decision making all together. Is risk taking minimized to the point of ineffectiveness?

Innovation – is critical to the future success of any organization. My translation to an educational setting: invest in strategies that keep enrollment up, produce meaningful results in student learning, prepare students (and staff) for the future and find efficiencies.

Gen Y workers/students – this group of people is used to change, and used to multitasking. After all, as Jim points out, they have lived through through 5 generations of gaming technology already. How do provide for them in a business environment? How do we keep them engaged and focused on their work? AND, before we get there, how do we keep them fully engaged in a learning setting? Big questions!, and important ones looking ahead to future success. Based on trends, the Gen Y group is poised to be a more mobile and transient work force where the focus will be more strategic than tactical.

Leadership – Organizations must sift through the management and/or/vs. leadership question. Bottom line – forward thinking leadership is critical for success. No organization can stay the same in today’s world and remain equally effective.

Lastly, tying back to organizational culture, it is important to make decisions. This is the way in which leadership teams send the signal about moving ahead, and is part of fostering a culture of innovation.

I found the book to be well worth the read. Jim made a lot of solid points which were illustrated with excellent examples. It certainly stimulated me to keep thinking about how to keep improving my skills as a leader and having a positive positive and future focused impact on my organization.

Enjoy the reading and thinking!

~ Mark