Schools Are At Risk

Actually, the title for this should be “every organization is at risk.”

If you haven’t already heard about some of the major trends in technology I’m sure you will. A few of the most important trends are what is euphemistically called: SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, and cloud). I like to add the Internet of Things (IoT) to this list as I believe it is an extremely significant trend that in and of itself will cause some serious disruptions to the way we live, learn, and work.

So here’s the short story.

accelerating rate of change

The business environment we are in has already eclipsed the ability of most organizations  to respond to the rate of change (which we used to characterize as accelerating or exponential change). That situation is now exacerbated by the trends being labeled: social, mobile, analytics, cloud, and the internet of things.

SMAC - social, mobile, analytics and cloud

The environment we now find ourselves in can be characterized as

Always On, Real Time, Anywhere

No organization that I am aware of is designed to operate in an always on, real time, anywhere world. That puts them at risk. Why? Because the external environment is changing at a rate that far surpasses the ability for organizations to keep up. And, the ‘next thing’ will be here before you know it.

No matter what changes an organization begins to implement now, by the time those changes are in place the world will have changed again and the organization will be behind. Not only will they be behind but their competition can and will come from just about anywhere. The barriers to entry (the cost and time it takes to create an enterprise with the capabilities of a mature organization) has shrunk significantly.

So what is the solution?

New business models, new organizational structures, new operating models, and new ways of working are required.

Organizations have to be ‘re-conceived’ in a manner that enables them to operate in this new environment.

This type of environment puts schools at risk for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is related to the rate of change. When the external environment changes faster than the internal environment there will be significant pressures put on schools. As also mentioned, the barriers to entry have dropped significantly. If I can ‘put up a school’ in a matter of days or weeks at a cost lower than existing schools what might happen?

The other risks relate to organizational models, operating models, and ways of learning. All of those things need to change if an organization/school wants to be relevant in this current environment. The organizational model (the whole concept of schools actually) was developed at a time when change was extremely slow and the outcomes for schools and schooling were somewhat simple (reading, writing and arithmetic). The operating model for schools hasn’t changed much in more than 100 years. And, the way of learning – pedagogy – hasn’t changed much either.

All of those things put schools at risk. We’ll add one more. I’ve mentioned previously about the trend called BYOD – bring your own device (one of the impacts of the mobile trend). In many parts of the country families now have better technologies and better access to information than most schools. That adds additional tension to an already pressure filled situation. Where families do not have these technologies (poorer communities) the already stressed local school becomes further behind the rest of their neighbors.

What do you think? Are schools at risk?


5 thoughts on “Schools Are At Risk

  1. I think there is a movement to online learning and I can see it in Canada. Those students and parents that do not want the 9 – 3 regime are jumping on board. Technology also allows freedom to learn where ever and when ever, which is freeing to many. Your post is very insightful, thanks for the thoughts.

  2. iPads at school yes but at home no
    I’m fine with kids learning at school but I don’t want the ipad coming home for homework.
    The home is a home
    Any thoughts on that?

    • Interesting but I can’t see the benefit of having learning only taking place in one place – at a school – when in fact the opposite is what has been happening for probably the last 30+ years (for sure the last 10). More learning takes place outside of a school site now due to technology and media influences than takes place in schools. Learning as I am referring to here is not equated with memorization but with real visceral learning – that starts to connect patterns and also involves emotion.

  3. Yes schools are at risk as well as our children’s communication and motor skills. I’m disturbed that the immediate use of the iPad and it’s applications are based upon trends rather than research for our children in their classrooms. Which institutions have implemented the use of this technology based on research?

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