Dive in. It’s the 5th of July, tipping point of the summer for many U.S. schools, starting that long slide towards the start of the new school year just 6-7 weeks away. Schools live in this strange quantum of 10-12 month cycles; if we don’t plan and do something one school year it almost always means a delay of a full year. That is an enormous amount of time. Just 10 of those cycles ago the Internet was not really a part of education; five cycles ago few of us had a smart phone; four cycles ago no one had heard of Khan Academy; three cycles ago we had just learned about something called an iPad; two cycles ago few of us knew a flipped classroom from a flipped pancake; last year we thought you had to physically go to college to, well, go to college.
Think what you will miss if you and your organization decide to sit on the sidelines this coming year. Over the next 12 months in America (friends from other countries please extrapolate for your own area):
- Millions of students will access, manage, or create information in some new way, an activity that just a few years ago was directed and organized by an adult teacher. They will do this whether or not any adult tells them to or teaches them how.
- Hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of parents will seriously think about more than one option for educating their children.
- Thousands of teachers will link together via social media, online communities, and informal PLC’s to discuss and in some cases pilot new educational material, programs, and approaches, some with the prior approval of their direct superiors and much without.
- Hundreds of school leaders will take the risk of trying new approaches to management and organizational structure without a guarantee that short-term results will demonstrate they made the right choice.
- Dozens of schools will think their way into a new set of guiding paradigms and vision guidelines that will fundamentally restructure the learning relationship between students, teachers, and knowledge.
How do I know these things will happen over the next 12 months? Because for the last 500 years the rate of change in human knowledge-based activities has ALWAYS increased. To predict a sudden change, a slowdown, a stalling-out of the rate of change in education, our core knowledge-based activity, would be the riskiest bet of all.
The question is, will you and your organization move intentionally forward in the coming year, or wait and see for another cycle? Will you dive in, not sure of the result, but sure that the risk of inaction is greater than the risk of action? Or will you stay on the side of the pond where it is safe and dry, and lose another year to those who are working within the framework of the future? On the 5th of July 2013 will your organization be more closely aligned with a rapidly changing world, or one year farther behind it?