Understanding Dynamic Change and Creation of Learning Organizations

Understanding Dynamic Change and Creation of Learning Organizations

Vivian Johnson (Hamline University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 5
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch323
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Abstract

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Mark Peck (May 6, 2007), a 10th grade student, notes “it’s too bad that students have to take the rap for old-style teachers who are still not comfortable with the computer as an educational tool” (p. A22). Mark’s comment was in response to a front-page article that highlighted how little substantive change had occurred in the learning environments of schools that instituted laptop programs. In succinct terms, Mark identifies a major barrier to meaningful adoption of new technologies by stating that “computer-based learning initiatives are not going to take off until teachers are just as excited about them as their students” (p. A22). Mark’s experience as a learner is echoed in a recent report (Education Week, 2007).
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Introduction

In a letter to the editor of the New York Times, Mark Peck (May 6, 2007), a 10th grade student, notes “it’s too bad that students have to take the rap for old-style teachers who are still not comfortable with the computer as an educational tool” (p. A22). Mark’s comment was in response to a front-page article that highlighted how little substantive change had occurred in the learning environments of schools that instituted laptop programs. In succinct terms, Mark identifies a major barrier to meaningful adoption of new technologies by stating that “computer-based learning initiatives are not going to take off until teachers are just as excited about them as their students” (p. A22). Mark’s experience as a learner is echoed in a recent report (Education Week, 2007).

For the past 10 years, Education Week and the Editorial Projects in Education (EPE) have collaborated to complete the annual Technology Counts report, and its supplement the State Technology Report. The State Technology Report is based on 14 indicators, collected by the EPE, and then used to assign an overall grade to the 50 states and the District of Columbia (State Technology Report 2007, About This Report, Grading the States, ¶ 1). While the 2007 Technology Counts report notes impressive growth in access to technology, our nation’s overall grades are still not impressive; access to technology is a C, use of technology is a C+, and capacity to use technology is a C. To move educational technology nationwide beyond an overall grade of C+, and generate the level of excitement described by Mark, requires overcoming the following two barriers:

  • Barrier 1: Professional development is frequently based on an incomplete understanding of the nature of complex change and the necessity for a new paradigm of change that mirrors the culture of a learning organization.

  • Barrier 2: Professional development is not consistent in making explicit that the teacher-centered pedagogical cultures common to P-16 schools are in direct conflict with using technology to support a knowledge construction environment.

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Background

In the following quote, Fullan (1982) creates a powerful case for the existence of Barrier 1. He explains that:

One of the most fundamental problems in education today is that people do not have a clear, coherent sense of meaning about what educational change is for, what it is, and how it proceeds. Thus, there is much faddism, superficiality, confusion, failure of change programs, unwarranted and misdirected resistance, and misunderstood reforms. (p. 4)

In developing his own definition, Fullan used the work of Hord, Rutherford, Huling-Austin, and Hall (1987) to develop a graphic representation of the change process. For Fullan (1982), the most important idea arising from this conceptualization was that “change is a process, not an event” (p. 41). He continues that while “ . . . dealing with change is endemic to the post-modern society” (Fullan, 1993, p. 3), this is not true for the educational system. Fullan (1993) highlights that:

The way that teachers are trained, the way that schools are organized, the way that the educational hierarchy operates, and the way that education is treated by political decision-makers results in a system that is more likely to retain the status quo than to change. (p. 3)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Technology-Related Professional Development: Professional development with a goal of expanding the capacity of teachers to use various electronic tools in the instructional environment. Professional development may range from a minimum of skills acquisition to teacher transformation

Technology: A wide variety of pre-electronic and electronic tools (e.g., disposable camera, tape recorder, adaptive devices, digital camera/recorder computer, hardware, software, etc.) that enable individuals to enhance and extend their environment.

Complex Change: Change, either voluntary or imposed, that can take place at multiple levels (individual, organization, societal, global) that requires either the transformation of a current conceptual framework including values, beliefs, and behaviors, or the adoption of a new conceptual framework Complex change is a process that involves anxiety, conflict, and learning to be comfortable with uncertainty. DigitalNative: A term applied to individuals who have grown up immersed in electronic technology. The opposite term is the “digital immigrant,” those individuals that are trying to get to terms with digital technology

Learning Organization: A learning organization is one that continually adapts and learns in order to respond to changes in its internal and external environment and to grow. In a learning organization change is welcome and necessary condition of learning

Laptop Programs: Programs initiated by school districts to provide all learners with their own laptops for use at school and at home.

Teacher-Centered Pedagogy: Classroom activity is focused on the teacher, it is didactic. The role of the teacher is to be the expert and that of the learner is to be a listener. The instructional emphasis is usually on facts, memorization, and the accumulation of facts.

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