“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” #SP4Ed

The Cheshire Cat very aptly asks the question of Alice about where she wants to get to; for if there is no purpose and direction, then it really is of no consequence what way you choose.

The question that I have been teasing at and trying to unpack for the last two weeks have in many ways been answered by entering the domain of SP. I was merrily making plans and had chalked out one specific way to go; focusing on the influences that effect my personal and professional arenas ( Niki’s Arena of Change Diagram). However, there has been a paradigm shift in my thinking; the myriads of possibilities that present themselves can each have a different scenario developed around it. The future is unpredictable but the choices I make can be definitely informed by the literature and arrived upon through a thoughtful and discerning  process. Time, I believe wisely spent!

This exciting realisation propels me to broaden my horizons and I feel as I have finally got a grasp of the zooming in and out of the arena. No longer is it merely about the change in technology, or its application in the classroom or the directions that education is going to take in the context of my school. The questions that I am now beginning to ask have shifted in perspective; the focus now is not how will this effect me personally or professionally, but more so what  ‘stories’ am I going to choose to paint the pictures for the future.  Suddenly from a static, two dimensional scenario building perspective, as the article by Emma Stewart warns us to stay clear off,  the possibilities of multiple dimensions has exploded into colourful characters and settings;  the invitation to shape and develop possibilities is opened up within my own perceptions.

The Economist quotes Wack (1985), from the Harvard Business Review, referring to scenario planning as a a mingling of two worlds; facts and perceptions. The perceptions are what drive decisions; the aim then is to get these perceptions out in the open and link them to existing facts with the intention of providing a shift in thinking. The picture that is then painted of the scenarios, gives the view of the forests and not just of one tree ( Senge, 1994). The aim is to paint the picture with everyone present so that the heroes and the villains that lurk in the minds of the decision-makers are revealed and can be added in behind the trees and in the cottages. The important step however, is to preempt the way some of these can alter the path or direction that Whitman wishes to take, on its  journey through the woods of change,  and having strategies up our sleeves to circumnavigate these. 

Merrily mixing my metaphors, I set out this weekend to consider my ‘What if ?’ questions. I literally am getting out the digital paint brush and am painting my way through the various scenarios, dreaming of a different Whitman.

References

Case study: Scenario planning, published by BUSINESS21C, University of Technology Sydney

Daniel, J. (2012). Making Sense of MOOCs: Musings in a Maze of Myth, Paradox and Possibility. Journal Of Interactive Media In Education, 3(0). Retrieved August 2, 2013, from http://www-jime.open.ac.uk/jime/article/view/2012-18

Idea: Scenario Planning , Published by The Economist.

Senge, P.M. (1994). The fifth discipline. The art and practice of the learning organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.

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EDEM630- ‘Voila! The Elephant?” A Reflection on the Course 1

I almost feel that I have come to adopt change as my personal companion! At a recent conference for Third Culture Kid’s(TCK’s) I discovered, that in my lifetime, I have lived in 5 countries, moved 14 times and learned 4 languages. I have always embraced the many dimensions of change with an excitement, or thought of it as an adventure; new faces, tastes, colours, nuances of the culture, the beauty of a new language… the list is limitless. For the longest time I was under the impression that the intermingling of the fear, novelty and challenges was what made the change worthwhile. Do the people is this country drive on the wrong side of the road? Well, the sooner I learn the rules and adapt to the difference, the sooner I can get on the ‘right’ side of the road and explore the sites and begin my adventure!

Unfortunately or fortunately, I have applied the same thought pattern to the classroom and school environment and walked in thinking, “Gosh! This is going to be exciting!” I remember my first computer ( remember Windows 3.1), my first laptop, the first time I encountered an interactive board and the advent of the iPad; I couldn’t wait to discover more and of course the learning trajectory was steep and swift. Having grown up in a exam based system in India, I was suffocated by the limitations and always had questions on how things worked. I look back and attribute the perseverance in my personal and professional journey to the dissatisfaction presented by the system. The journey of discovery since then, encountering the academic and educational field in New Zealand, has been a pleasant and valuable one. I am able to identify with the characteristics of change that Robinson ( 2009) sums up on the Diffusion of Innovation; I am comfortable with taking risks to try out something innovative or being a ‘guinea pig’. However the caution, of a ‘chasm’ existing between the early adopters and the majority, was interesting to note as I always observed that  there is a ‘watching and waiting ‘ period before an idea or a programme I try out or use , gets adopted.

Yesterday, I picked up the first of the iPads that we will use in the media room and I have already begun to hear the concerns being expressed that  come wrapped up with using these in an educational setting. It is extremely valuable to have the research put out by many,  especially the collation of thoughts by Evans and Chauvin(1993); change inevitably brings up concerns and behaviours and there is a progression in the way it is processed and questioned. The value of trying it out in a classroom setting and opening up the window for others to observe, adapt and change it to suit their needs, will be an exiting one. I look forward to acknowledging and addressing the concerns based on the emerging and existing knowledge of how to address and journey authentically along this route. However, the delightful anticipation is directed more towards the area of my research; how will the selected few adapt and accept the digital technology and the tool from a fundraising perspective. I believe by contextualising the tool and the technology  to the learning arena, it will be better adapted and accepted within the learning environment. Well, at least, that is my conjecture at the moment!

My ‘Aha!’ moments during the first few weeks of the course have been around the discovery that change is many faceted in a school arena; having a broader perspective of the social impact, has helped me shift my focus from just the ‘teacher’ in the classroom to the influences and indicators that act as the agents of change. My mindmap, based on Davis’ (2013) arena of change graphic, was an excellent signpost for me and allowed me to adjust my lens and get a birds eye view of my own arena and then zoom in to get a better picture from a personal context.  I wish I had the benefit of this tool when I first started working at Whitman and I am looking forward to sharing this  with the various stakeholders. It gives me a better perspective of the ‘gestalt’ of the change happening within the context of my own environment. Wayne’s blog on the three complimentary aspects (technology diffusion, shared leadership and models of change) as the premise underlying  the course, was excellent at providing the visual to the conceptual ideas; it definitely  helped me unpack and put back the arms of the triangles and nudged me to look for the relevant research.

Now, I am able to look at the entire elephant and not just parts of it. The explorations of others who have gone before is extremely beneficial to me because it brings a wealth of experience as well as the invitation to go on the journey on that elephant, whose existence they have taken the time and energy to establish . I have taken the liberty to use the analogy that Ellsworth(2000) starts out with in his introduction to a survey of change models. Exploring the various models from a viewpoint of their uses and the questions that they raise; the value of a collection of them in my tool box is very beneficial. The strategies give me the ability to introduce the digital change from a strategic and systemic standpoint and allow me to acknowledge that I will change in the process too. Therefore, the best solution is to go on the  adventure with other people who are in the process of discovering that it is the shape of an elephant, or already riding on it!