“It’s a system… and so too should be our strategies for change.” Jon Kolko @TheAlpineReview #PedagogicalMasterPlanning

From Jon Kolko in The Alpine Review, No.1

It’s perhaps obvious to point out that the world we live in is interconnected, yet the simple statement is at the crux of our downward digression: our political system is intertwined with economics, intellectual property is connected to technology, design is at the heart of consumption and marketing feeds the beast. It’s a system, and so our critique of it should be systemic, and so too should be our strategies for change.

What if we blueprinted the architecture of the inner workings of a school – of the interconnected elements of the ecosystem – and designed the construction plans for the transformations it is undertaking? Then, we could act on what matters.


Associating: Borrowing from Booz & Company to Think about Educational Innovation #pedagogicalmasterplanning

In The Innovator’s DNA, one of the five secrets of innovation is ASSOCIATING – connecting seemingly disparate ideas, from various fields, in new and compelling ways.

Recently, Booz & Company released their 2012 Global Innovation 1000. In their research and study, they found that the majority of new ideas are generated in relatively traditional ways:

  1. Direct customer observation
  2. Traditional market research
  3. Feedback from sales and customer support

In terms of converting ideas into implementable offerings, they show that internal means appear to rule supreme:

  1. Proof of concept work
  2. Rapid/virtual prototyping and preference testing
  3. Advanced development review teams

There is a discipline to front-end innovation. As I’ve cited before, many innovation leaders say that innovation is a combination of creativity and discipline. In the next breath, most say that humans are naturally creative; our critical work in schools is to help them grow in these natural capacities and exercise those “muscles.” To be creative is in everyone, particularly those who practice creating things of value! Where we fall short in the magic combination is more in the discipline of regularly practicing the skills of creativity development. We’re not strategic and process-committed enough to sustain innovation.

In our schools, how much are we committing to these studied, effective processes:

  1. Direct customer observation? Do our schools purposefully observe the ways that people learn best – our children learners and our adult learners? Is this a function that we embed into the daily life of our schools? Are we studying the skills and content that prove most valuable in life after formal schooling?
  2. Traditional market research? Do we study the brain research? Do we study the practices that are leading to the most successful learning for different kinds of learners? How do all members of a school community even know the market in which they live and work everyday? Do we understand the search internal and the search external for what works? Do we examine other fields for insights about innovation and advancement in practice? Do we listen to what business and culture say learners need to be able to do in 2040?
  3. Feedback from sales and customer support? Do we purposefully and intentionally SEEK feedback from students, parents, alums, faculty, business, government, NGO, social entrepreneurs, etc.? On a regular and consistent basis and show that we are listening and using the feedback to improve practice?
  4. Proof of concept work? How are we systemically studying the innovative concepts that some teachers are implementing? Are the innovations working? For whom? In what conditions?
  5. Rapid/virtual prototyping and preference testing? How are we embedding into our daily habits the lessons from design that prove the value of rapid, iterative prototyping and using fast failures to improve and further develop? What are our cycles of trial and implementation and redesign in schools? Do we support student rapid prototyping and promote risk taking? Do our assessment strategies promote such or do they cause reticence and fear of failure?
  6. Advanced development review teams? How are we meaningfully establishing and empowering such teams in our schools? Are we creating hybrid research-practitioners that are serving as R&D within, between, and among schools? Do we build and nurture and maintain the feedback loops within our own schools?

Education should be on that Booz & Company list! We should be leading the way! We have to plan for doing so. We have to innovate our purpose and raise our trajectory. I know we can do it…with the discipline it takes.

PROCESS POST: Frederick Law Olmstead, landscape architect, provides 1865 insight into 2012 #pedagogicalmasterplanning

[Frederick Law] Olmsted’s role in designing new campuses would change the landscape for campus master planning by shifting the focus from buildings located in isolated locations to educational neighborhoods integrated into the larger community (in this way reflecting the more open nature of education).

– from Steven Lou Mouras, 2004 white paper

“Buildings located in isolated locations” – subject-area departments, such as math, science, English, history.

“educational neighborhoods integrated into the larger community” –

  • departments becoming increasingly connected and integrated…at least “shared” and/or collectivized (see Michael Fullan, High Tech High, etc.)
  • challenge-based or project-based learning constructs that replace disciplinary with what Sandy Pentland of MIT Media Lab calls anti-disciplinary (see Nikhil Goyal’s “Why Learning Should Be Messy“)
  • thinking of pedagogy, instruction, assessment, professional development, technology, learning spaces, curriculum as the interrelated neighborhoods in the larger community

[All of this, of course, would depend on the “campus” that a school or educational organization was trying to build. There is no one-size-fits-all, but all should be thinking about the systems design of their strategy and master plan, regardless of what they want to build. And this is very different and distinct from strategic planning because of the variance in “granularity,” although PMP certainly integrates SP.]

PROCESS POST: Comprehensive plans vs. Campus master plans #PedagogicalMasterPlanning

It was the presence of this mysterious thing called a campus master plan that first sparked my interest. In 1996, as the new director of transportation for Virginia Tech, I was wrestling with the increasing demand for parking spaces. I wanted to know if the university had formally stated a priority for specific modes of transportation (pedestrian, bicyclist, transit or car) and was pleased to discover this issue was addressed in the university’s master plan. At the same time I was surprised to see some obvious differences between the campus master plan and the scope and content of the adjacent town’s comprehensive plan (Blacksburg, VA). Being also new to working at universities I had assumed, erroneously, that master plans were merely comprehensive plans for campuses. My knowledge of comprehensive plans led me to believe they had been sufficiently refined over the years to adequately meet the needs of their communities. As I looked at past master plans at Virginia Tech and then master plans at other universities I realized the documents varied widely in scope, content, purpose, and intent. It was the difference in the documents that caused me to wonder what was in a campus master plan.

– from Steven Lou Mouras, 2004 white paper

I am awed by this sentence: “I wanted to know if the university had formally stated a priority for specific modes of transportation (pedestrian, bicyclist, transit or car) and was pleased to discover this issue was addressed in the university’s master plan.” All from a curiosity about parking spaces, of all things.

Aren’t schools, at least some, formally stating preferences for certain types of instruction and learning? Project-based learning. Formative assessment. Gamification. Design-thinking. Achieving the 6Cs of 21st century skills. (Certainly these are at least as important as parking spaces!)

But how are these schools developing and designing the plans that will coordinate and collectivize these complex systems of interrelated methods and approaches? Are any organizations actually making tangible, viewable plans so that a community of learners can point at a set of “architectural renderings” and realize that all…many…some…few are on the same page, the same sheet of music? How might we create methods for constructing such designs in ways that make specific the strategies, tactics, and capacity-building exercises required to successfully innovate such incubator ideas and experiments?

PROCESS POST: Translating campus master planning into #pedagogicalmasterplanning

Most often, campus master planning consists of updating plans for existing university campuses. This process includes the analysis and conservation of the structures, open spaces, and buildings, all of which represent the history, the present and the future of the institution. However, an equally important part of this process is identifying opportunities for new sites, which are often on the periphery of the existing campus. Thus, the relationship of the campus to an adjoining community becomes a critical consideration in the campus master plan exercise.

Read more: http://mithun.com/knowledge/article/some_observations_on_campus_planning/#ixzz2AoBKHe9S

Translating for #PedagogicalMasterPlanning – testing some ideas and language:

Pedagogical master planning consists of strategically designing plans and structures for evolving, school curriculum and instruction, as well as all of the intersecting educational domains, such as professional learning and development, assessment, learning environments, stakeholder communications, etc. This process includes the inventory and analysis of existing structures, methods, and pedagogies, all of which represent the history and the present of the institution. However, an equally important part of this process is identifying opportunities for emerging and innovative practices, which are often on the periphery and margins of the existing learning complex. Thus, the relationship of the current reality to an adjacent possible becomes a critical consideration in the pedagogical master plan exercise.