Tuesday, March 22, 2011

May You Live in Interesting Times Continued....

How must education change and what are the opportunities for these changes? I believe there are three areas where education organization must address or risk becoming outdated.

1. Communication. We must come to the realization that communication between people and organizations has fundamentally changed. Instant messaging, Twitter, Facebook and many other platforms exist that allow a rich dialogue to develop between people. The communication that these platforms provide is not the “end”; rather, they are a means to an end. The “end” is easier access to information for everyone. Information can come from websites, blogs, or interaction with experts from around the world. The ramification for education is simple. First, teach students to be smart consumers of information. Second, incorporate these information gathering strategies into every class.

2. Transparency. All organizations, but especially public organizations, must have transparency in the way in which they conduct their business. Public school districts no longer have the luxury to say “just trust us” because there is a perception of mistrust in the public. I believe this perception is false and that the vast majority of public school districts operate under the strictest moral and ethical guidelines. However, in an effort to show everyone that school districts do operate under high ethical standards, then transparency is a must. Oftentimes community members will get upset about decisions the district makes because they are not aware of the information that was considered in making the decision. Other times, there are misconceptions about the information itself. The best way to combat this situation is to be as transparent as the law and confidentiality allows.

3. Flexible Organizations. In today’s fast paced world, organizations must respond to threats and opportunities in a quick, efficient manner. Bureaucracy often prevents organizations from responding efficiently. An entrenched, inflexible bureaucracy is the hallmark of an organization that is dying on the vine. An example for many organizations is the standing committee structure. Although there is a need for some standing committees, there is a tendency to try to “fit” a decision into a one of these committees when it may not belong there. The better way to respond is to have systems within the organizations that allow for efficient use of decision making resources. For example, at RASD the school board has moved away from some of their standing committees and has formed more ad hoc committees that address specific issues. These ad hoc committees are very specific in scope and time and can make good decisions in less time than a general committee.

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