Organizations across the globe are #ChangingTheConversation when discussing the transition to modern learning environments in schools today. When engaging in this type of dialogue, the conversation often shifts focus to emphasize technology instead of learning. In this sense, technology could be considered a conversation hacker that slips into the room when school leaders discuss modern learning. Technology, and similar topics, shift the focus away from learning and on to a subject that alone, does not produce the scaling transformation of learning we are hoping for in schools. Despite the temptation to focus on technology, many districts now realize the transition from traditional classrooms to modern learning environments, at scale, takes more than investing in, and integrating, technology into the curriculum. This scaled transition involves more than training our teachers to incorporate new pedagogies and best practices into lesson design. Additionally, many leaders are well aware that a solid vision of a modern learning environment alone won’t bring about the significant shifts in student outcomes most organizations are hoping to achieve in classrooms across the nation. So, if it’s scaled transition we’re hoping to accomplish, how on earth do we succeed?
We’ve introduced the concept of Digital Convergence in this blog earlier and spoke in detail about the barriers that occur when single point solutions are expected to make a widespread impact. Many of us have fallen victim to the short-term progress these single point solutions provide. Our goal at Modern Teacher is to provide our partnering schools with the appropriate facilitation and resources to overcome these pitfalls and build the energy needed to achieve Digital Convergence.
Recently, I was working in a district when we began speaking about the energy derived from old fashioned water wheels that, at one time, dotted the landscape across the country. These water wheels provided the power to mill flour, grind wood into pulp for papermaking, hammer wrought iron, crush ore, and pound fiber for use in the manufacture of cloth – all from a simple channel of water! Imagine if we could capture that vision and convert it into scaled, modern learning with a 21st Century twist?
Jim Collins, best-selling author of the book Good to Great, speaks about the energy stored and supplied by a fly wheel in much the same manner. Successful organizations don’t pinpoint one specific event or solution that transformed the organizations from good to great. Instead, they recognize the shift from good to great as a cumulative process occurring over time. Individual members within the organization may work toward independent goals, but it is the unifying of these independent components into a greater whole that propel the organization forward and allow for transformation. Such is the case with Digital Convergence in school districts.
We believe that if a school district is able to complete the following items, then they will begin to generate an internal energy source that is capable of scaling the work of modern learning to every classroom in a district
- Communicate the vision of a modern learning environment to all stakeholders.
- Bring this vision to life in the form of an instructional model tha t guides best practices.
- Create curricular units that embody the spirit of the instructional model and are designed for modern learners.
- Develop a mature digital ecosystem that supports users with the tools, content and processes needed.
- Engage all members of the organization with the opportunity to approach fluency and mastery in architecting, managing, facilitating and coaching these modern learning environments.
This is Digital Convergence, what we believe to be the system utilized to make the transition to modern learning environments possible. Digital Convergence doesn’t happen overnight. It’s part of the initial push that begins to turn the flywheel one time around, then two, then three, then 1000 times around until you hit a breakthrough. For this reason, we state Digital Convergence is dynamic, always changing, just like the water wheel, the flywheel, and the landscape of the modern learning environment.