Crafting the Vision - Don't leave this out!
I feel like there should be a riddle that leads into this blog post. What’s dirty and messy and critically important when implementing a project like digital learning? Ok, so that’s maybe not an actual riddle. But it’s a really good question. What’s your answer? If you said, “crafting the vision,” you would be correct!
When it comes to making digital learning successful, too often than not the time dedicated to bringing in key stakeholders and working through the visioning process isn’t allocated. In fact, what commonly happens is “reverse implementation” where devices are purchased first, then schools push them into classrooms where teachers are left to “figure it out.” There is little to no direction from building or district leaders and little to no coaching to support instruction.
What does it look like when digital learning is rolled out the right way? One example is the Madison-Grant United School Corporation in Fairmount, Indiana. Madison-Grant is a small, rural school serving roughly 1100 students in northeast Indiana that approved a new superintendent, Dr. Scott Deetz, in January of 2016. Dr. Deetz understood the importance of vision and culture.
Shortly after he assumed the leadership position at Madison-Grant, Dr. Deetz reached out to his technology partner, Five Star Technology Solutions, to strategize the 2.0 version of digital learning. Through this collaboration, it was determined the corporation needed to establish a guiding coalition to develop a new vision for digital learning.
“Our valued partner in education, Five Star, brings the resources and perspective from around the state to our small rural table and assists us in creating programming and practices that we did not realize were even possible. It’s truly inspiring to compare what we do with our teachers and students to larger corporations with more resources.”
This group met for the next year in meetings and workshops facilitated by Nathan Davidson from Five Star. The first step was to develop the vision for learning. Instead of starting with a focus on student devices, the workshops focused on what learning would look like in digital learning environments. Members of the guiding coalition were challenged to stretch their thinking and look into the future. Through collaboration, a new vision emerged:
“Connecting and engaging as lifelong learners in an evolving digital world.”
With the vision established, it was time to engage other stakeholders to determine if the current device would provide the best match for the corporation’s anticipated learning outcomes. Sets of Chromebooks were provided in both of the elementary schools as well as the junior/senior high school. Over a two month period, teachers were presented the opportunity to facilitate collaborative lessons within the G Suite ecosystem. Surveys were distributed to students and teachers to collect data based on their experiences. The feedback from the surveys turned out to be the tipping point leading to a complete shift from the previous student devices to fully adopting Chromebooks in Grades 2-12 and eventually Grades K-1.
“Our teachers are truly engaged in the visioning process as Five Star’s collaboration helps us to truly identify and understand our core values, which has turned our vision into something that we live by.”
As a result of being intentional about working through the vision process the “right way,” the shift to the new vision for digital learning was seamless, coaching was provided and transformation was beginning.