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Recognizing Navigational Tools For the Future of Education

Posted on May 5, 2018 in Uncategorized

I have to laugh when I think of the times I watched the television program, “Flash Gordon,” as he putted through outer space in his make-believe space ship, talking on his make-believe wireless radio, and dressed in his make-believe space suit. Well, I’m not laughing anymore. Today we have shuttled astronauts into outer space, have men living in a Space Station, have space suites that take your temperature and gauge your heart rate, and wireless communication devices that send pictures to Planet Earth. Far fetched from reality? Not anymore. As we speak, the future is starring us in the face, waiting to see how we will promote her in the next 5-10 years.

How did science-fiction become reality over the past 50 years? Let’s consider one aspect of innovation: the learning environment – post secondary education. Why post secondary education, you may ask? As post secondary education population increases, programs to accommodate students will develop into curriculum that affords students the freedom to create and design systems they toy with on a daily basis. Are there risks involved in this adaptation process? There are risks involved when change occurs, and leadership should be aware of how to diplomatically confront the risk areas that could slow down progress. Some of the risks that could be encountered due to change are:

o Systems risks

o Subsystem risks

o People

o Financial/economic risks

o Societal/Cultural risks

If communication between systems, subsystems, people, and cultures within the organizational environment has established a strong communication system, risks factors will be at a minimum as long as the creative teams are honest and upfront about their reservations to change.

Let’s look into the future through ‘futureoculers’ and see how the universe of learning can be brought into the present. I want to introduce to you five (5) key trends that I believe affect the current learning environment, can create change, and renovate the perspective of learners and educators for students of the future. These trends could be the key in creating a new perspective in post secondary education for an institution. The key trends are:

o Competitive classroom learning environments – campus on-site/online/distant

o Increase in technological tools

o Teaching/learning environments-more hands on

o Global expansion capability-internal and external

o Student input in the creative learning process

Navigational Systems

Before the five (5) key trends are defined, there needs to be an acknowledgement of how the trends will be supported and regulated through a changing environment. According to de Kluyver, and Pearce, II, having the right systems and processes/subsystems enhances organizational effectiveness and facilitates coping with change. Misaligned systems and processes can be a powerful drag on an organization’s ability to adapt. Therefore, check what effect, if any, current systems and processes are likely to have on a company’s ability to implement a particular strategy is well advised. Support systems such as a company’s planning, budgeting, accounting, information and reward and incentive systems can be critical to successful strategy implementation. Although they do not by themselves define a sustainable competitive advantage, superior support systems help a company adapt more quickly and effectively to changing requirements. A well-designed planning system ensures that planning is an orderly process, gets the right amount of attention by the right executives, and has a balanced external and internal focus. Budgeting and accounting systems are valuable in providing accurate historical data, setting benchmarks and targets, and defining measures of performance. A state-of-the-art information system supports all other corporate systems, and it facilitates analysis as well as internal and external communications. Finally, a properly designed reward and incentive system is key to creating energy through motivation and commitment. A process (or subsystem) is a systematic way of doing things. Processes can be formal or informal; they define organization roles and relationships, and they can facilitate or obstruct change. Some processes or subsystems look beyond immediate issues of implementation to an explicit focus on developing a stronger capacity for adapting to change. Processes/subsystems aimed at creating a learning organization and at fostering continuous improvement are good examples. As an example, processes or subsystems are functional and maintain the operation of the system; the system may be Student Services and the subsystem may be the Financial Aid office or Admissions. Subsystems can be more in depth in relation to office operations, which involves employee positions and their culture; financial advisors, academic advisors, guidance counselors. These operations are functions performed on the human level and could have a positive or negative impact in the development of key trends. If employees are valued and rewarded for their dedication and service, the outcome will be responsible, committed employees for the success of their subsystem.

The Navigator

Every navigator needs a map, a plan, a driver to give direction to for a successful trip. In this case, the driver is several elements:

o Service integrity, reputation

o Affordability with an open door concept

Hughes and Beatty relate drivers as Strategic drivers; those relatively few determinants of sustainable competitive advantage for a particular organization in a particular industry or competitive environment (also called factors of competitive success, key success factors, key value propositions). The reason for identifying a relatively small number of strategic drivers for an organization is primarily to ensure that people become focused about what pattern of inherently limited investments will give the greatest strategic leverage and competitive advantage. Drivers can change over time, or the relative emphasis on those drivers can change, as an organization satisfies its key driver. In the case of post secondary education, drivers help measure success rates in the area of course completion ratio, student retention, and transfer acceptance into a university and/or the successful employment of students. Because change is so rampant in education, it is wise for leadership to anticipate change and develop a spirit of foresight to keep up with global trends.

Drivers can help identify the integrity of internal and external functions of systems and subsystems, as mentioned previously, by identifying entity types that feed the drivers’ success. They are:

o Clientele Industry – external Market – feeder high schools, cultural and socio-economic demographic and geographic populations

– Competitors – local and online educational systems

– Nature of Industry – promote a learning community

– Governmental influences – licensed curriculum programs supported by local, state, and federal funds

– Economic and social influences – job market, employers, outreach programs

o College Planning and Environment – internal

– Capacity – Open door environment

– Products and services – high demand curriculum programs that meet, local, state, and federal high demand employment needs

– Market position – Promote on and off-campus activities that attract clientele

– Customers – traditional and non-traditional credit and non-credit students

– Systems, processes, and structures – trained staff and state-of-the art technical systems

– Leadership – integrity-driven, compassionate leadership teams

– Organizational culture – promote on-campus activities promoting a proactive environment for students

According to Hughes and Beatty, these functions can assimilate into the Vision, Mission, and Values statements to define the key strategic drivers for developing successful environments.

Navigating Towards a Destination

With the recognition of systems, subsystems, and drivers, we can see our destination in the distance and their value in building a foundation to support the five key trends. The five (5) key trends will help define strategic thinking in a global perspective; the understanding of futuristic thinking that encompasses: risk taking, imagination, creativity, communication among leadership, and a perspective of how the future can fit into today’s agenda. The five (5) key trends are:

1. Competitive Classroom Learning Environments – campus on-site/online/distant

One of the major attractions in education today is to accommodate a student at every level: academically, financially, and socially. These three environments are the mainstream of why one school is selected over another school. Today there is a change in tide. Students who once competed for seats in post secondary schools are becoming a valued asset as post secondary schools compete between each other for students. High schools are no longer the only feeder into colleges. Today, students are coming from home schools, career schools, charter schools, high risk schools, private schools, religious schools, work environments, and ATB tested environments. So, how can the educational system attract students and keep them motivated in an interactive learning environment they can grow in? Wacker and Taylor writes that the story of every great enterprise begins with the delivery of a promise, and every product a great enterprise makes is nothing but an artifact of the truth of that promise. So what great enterprise can be created to attract new students? By creating learning/teaching environments, post secondary schools can prepare students to meet the demands of everyday life and their life in the community. Schools can consider incorporating a learning model to enable professors and/or community leaders/entrepreneurs to team teach in the classroom/online environment. Team Teaching will contribute valuable views into the learning environment, as well as, give students the working community’s real-time perspective. In an excerpt from “The University at the Millennium: The Glion Declaration” (1998) quoted by Frank H.T. Rhodes, President Emeritus of Cornell University, for the Louisiana State Board of Regents report, Dr. Rhodes wrote that universities are learning communities, created and supported because of the need of students to learn, the benefit to scholars of intellectual community, and the importance to society of new knowledge, educated leaders, informed citizens, expert professional skills and training, and individual certification and accreditation. Those functions remain distinctive, essential contributions to society; they form the basis of an unwritten social compact, by which, in exchange for the effective and responsible provision of those services, the public supports the university, contributes to its finance, accepts its professional judgment and scholarly certification, and grants it a unique degree of institutional autonomy and scholarly freedom. To experience education is learning, to exercise knowledge is freedom, and to combine them is wisdom.

2. Teaching/learning environments-more hands on

As post secondary educators relinquish hands-on-chalk-board teaching styles and establish group teaching models, students will develop a greater understanding of the theme of the class environment as well as the professor in developing an understanding of the class cultures’ stance in learning. Educators are discovering that inclusive learning styles are revamping the teaching model and becoming a positive influence in retention, better grades, camaraderie among students, and a greater respect for the professor. As professors learn to develop relationships with students, interaction will transpire, lecturing will be condensed into a time frame and interactive learning between students and professor will enhance the classroom environment.

3. Global expansion capability-internal and external

Students are surrounded by virtual global environments or are impacted by global elements: the clothes they wear are made overseas, the games they play on their electronic toys are created overseas, the war games they play are created to identify with global war games, etc. The only draw back to this scenario is a truly global learning experience. What they are seeing is not what they are getting; a real time global experience. James Morrison writes that in order to meet unprecedented demand for access, colleges and universities need to expand their use of IT tools via online learning, which will enable them to teach more students without building more classrooms. Moreover, in order for professors to prepare their pupils for success in the global economy, they need to ensure that students can access, analyze, process, and communicate information; use information technology tools; work with people from different cultural backgrounds; and engage in continuous, self-directed learning. Christopher Hayter writes that post secondary schools need to be ‘Globally Focused’ for the 21st century that includes a global marketplace and be internationally focused. This means ensuring that skills needed to compete in a global marketplace are taught and that the mastery of such skills by students is internationally benchmarked. It may also mean a new emphasis on learning languages and understanding other cultures and the business practices of other countries.

More and more businesses are expanding into the global marketplace, opening corporate offices in foreign countries and hiring and training employees from those countries. Are our college graduates being trained to assimilate into cultures and work side-by-side with employees who may not be able to relate to them? Developing curriculums accommodating social and cultural entities will propel a student into higher realms of learning and create change in the individual student as well as support their career for their future.

4. Student input in the creative learning process

Professors are the gatekeepers in education. However, as Baby Boomer Professors begin to exit the educational workforce and head down the path of retirement, younger generation professors will take their place bringing with them innovative teaching methods that can expand the learning process. Are post secondary educators equipped to prepare for the onslaught of younger generation educators needed to be trained for this mega shift in the workforce? Most important, will those professors caught between Boomers and Xer’s be willing to adapt to change in the education industry to accommodate incoming generations? I believe younger generations will impact even the technological industry and challenge change that will equip them for their future. Previous generation students slowly adapted to technological advances. The good news is change can occur, and educators can utilize life experiences from students familiar with technology tools and create fascinating learning environments.

5. Increase in Technological tools

In an Executive Summary written for the National Governors Association in a report called “Innovation America – A Compact for Post Secondary Education,” the report reads that while post secondary education in the United States has already achieved key successes in the innovation economy, the public post secondary education system overall risks falling behind its counterparts in many other nations around the world-places where there have been massive efforts to link post secondary education to the specific innovation needs of industries and regions. According to this report, American post secondary education is losing ground in the race to produce innovative and imaginative realms in education. Can this trend be counteracted? With the cooperation of post secondary educational institutions within each community, leadership can create co-op learning environments that can be supported through e-learning and online teaching that can provide virtual reality technology to enhance real-time learning environments. Through Business Development operations currently established in post secondary institutions, a shared technology program can be created that will afford students access to ongoing virtual business environment settings and prepare students with knowledge and insight into a specific industry. As students prepare to transfer, graduate, or seek employment after completing a certification program, virtual experience in the job market can help a student assimilate education and work experience to their advantage. This concept could challenge Human Resource departments to create new mandates in accepting virtual-experienced college graduates as they enter the workforce.

Reaching the Destination

As Flash Gordan lands his Spacecraft on unclaimed territory, you imagine yourself slowly turning the handle to the spaceship with your spaceship gloves, opening the door with explosive anticipation. Your heart racing, sweat running down your brow, and your eyes at half mask waiting to see a new world; a world filled with beauty and potential when suddenly, the television shuts off and your Mom is standing in front of you telling you to get up and go clean your room and stop daydreaming! Ah, Mom, you say to yourself, you just destroyed my imaginary planet! Oh, by the way, did I mention that this was you as a child growing up and using your imagination?

Now that I’ve created a visual world of potential for you can you see the power within to see the future from the present and help others visualize the potential benefits of change in their lives and the lives of others in an organization? T. Irene Sanders states that thinking in pictures helps us link our intuitive sense of events in the world with our intellectual understanding. Now, more than ever, we need to integrate the techniques of imagination and the skill of intuition with our analytic competencies to help us see and understand the complexities that vex us daily. Visualization is the key to insight and foresight-and the next revolution in strategic thinking and planning.

Can you SEE the systems, subsystems, drivers, and the five (5) trends with a visual perspective in a post secondary educational environment? This is the nature of Strategic Thinking, which can or is taking place in your organization; a cognitive process required for the collection, interpretation, generation, and evaluation of information and ideas that shape an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage. The need to stay abreast of progress, technology, and global opportunities will be the change in drivers that will validate the creative elements needed to stay attuned in a global perspective. The author’s intention of introducing Flash Gordan into the paper was to create a visual image and demonstrate imagination fulfillment to a present day reality. Is there anything out there that cannot be done if it is fine tuned and prepared for a service of excellence? What are the risks involved by not exercising strategic thinking in the elements mentioned in this article?

Education is not about the present it’s about the future. The five (5) trends are only a beginning adventure into an unknown space. Do you remember when you were in college and wished things were done differently, be more exciting, more adventurous? Consider the age groups becoming proficient in technology. Will post secondary educators be prepared to teach/instruct future students? Educators must invite strategic thinking into the system and take the risks needed to build post secondary education back into the global futuristic race of achievement. In an article written by Arthur Hauptman entitled “Strategies for Improving Student Success in Post secondary Education” (07), he concluded his report listing four elements:

1. While there is a growing rhetorical commitment to student success, the reality is that policies often do not mirror the rhetoric. Whether intentional or not, policies in many states are at best benign and often antithetical to improving student success.

2. Policy focus in most states has been to lower tuitions or the provision of student financial aid. This ignores the importance of ensuring adequate supply of seats to accommodate all students as well as providing a proper set of incentives that encourage institutions to recruit, enroll, and graduate the students who are most at-risk.

3. Some progress has been made in developing contemporary practices that have great potential for providing the right incentives in place of redress this traditional imbalance. But much more needs to be done in this regard.

4. Efforts to create incentives for students to be better prepared and for institutions to enroll and graduate more at-risk students have the potential for greatly improving rates of retention and degree completion.

Can the five trends be a stepping stone in rebuilding or strengthening the weakest link in the system? The evidence of deficiency is public, and that’s a good start. Educators have the choice to rebuild and prepare for the advancement of our future; our students. I encourage you to take the five (5) trends and see how they can accommodate your institute of higher learning.

Giving Children a Sporting Chance

Posted on April 29, 2018 in Uncategorized

Living in a Garbage Dump

“It was during a sponsored rugby union visit to Cambodia that I saw children living in squalor on the Stung Meanchey Municipal Waste Dump in Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh. Despite the terrible conditions these children were living in, they still had hope and happiness in their eyes,” says Greening.

Greening was inspired to get involved when he saw the difference sports could make to them. Two boys who had grown up on the dump, and had then been given assistance from a volunteer, were now representing Cambodia on the national rugby team. He quickly realised his expertise could go a long way towards helping these children.

Greening says, “In most cases, sport is last on the list in terms of a charity’s funding and objectives. Knowing that sports have excellent therapeutic value, I also believe that the ethics learnt on a sports field – responsibility, leadership, and teamwork – are transferable to any environment. We established this charity to provide an opportunity for children to gain some therapy through various sports, and gain self-confidence.”

Kick a Ball

Thus came about the Sporting Chance Foundation to improve the lives of underprivileged children – whether they’re inner city kids from London, or child prostitutes in Vietnam. As long as they want to kick a ball, the charity aims to always be there to kick it back. “Sporting Chance Foundation established itself by providing the necessities to make this transformation – food, shelter and clothing,” Greening explains, “and we have endeavoured to provide each child with a set of characteristics that will last them a lifetime.”

Jonny Wilkinson Steps Up

Calling upon high-profile friends, Greening gained support from sport and media personalities, including England rugby World Cup heroes Jonny Wilkinson and Jason Leonard, Joel Stransky, leading musician Heidi Range from the Sugababes, TV and radio presenter Dave Berry, and ESPN STAR Sports presenter Charlie Webster. Each has pledged to dedicate their time and expertise to ensure the charity reaches as many children as possible.

To maximise the impact of the Sporting Chance Foundation, Greening ensures that the charity works alongside existing non-government organisations (NGOs). The charity will help supply funding and sporting equipment to orphanages, and work directly with specific NGOs to improve the lives of the children in their programmes.

Greening says, “The charity presently works with three NGOs. Two are based in Phnom Penh and the third is an international charity, Touraid, based out of the UK. Touraid funds children from less developed countries to travel and play sport abroad. The alliance with Touraid gives children from Sporting Chance Foundation the opportunity to experience new regions of the world and learn about different cultures.”

Down in the Dumps

Funding from Sporting Chance not only supports their own projects; if they see an NGO with a suitable cause, they will also help. On a recent trip to Phnom Penh, Sporting Chance Foundation met up with two other NGOs: Friends and the Sunrise orphanage. Both had shelters set up to help the city’s street children. Friends, an inner city shelter, has been incredibly successful at taking boys and girls off the streets; however, the children had nowhere safe to run around. Sporting Chance Foundation proposed a sports hall and playground within the shelter’s walls.

Sunrise, based just outside the city, has a small soccer field, but the girls at the shelter have no sporting outlet. Sporting Chance Foundation drew up plans to build a multi-purpose playing surface for the children to enjoy tennis, badminton, volleyball and netball. This is just the start of their work in Phnom Penh; they will continue to look for more worthwhile projects in the city.

Developing Coaches

Presently, the foundation uses outside help with its construction projects and coaching, but its aim is to make the charity 100 percent self-sufficient. Greening’s goal is that children coached in his programmes will go on to be coaches for the next generation of young sportsmen and women.

Currently, Sporting Chance Foundation helps 2,000 children a day, ranging from infants with HIV to children orphaned by landmines, dysfunctional families or drug abuse. As funds increase, the charity hopes to sponsor children through the local public school. Ultimately it aims to establish its own centre in Phnom Penh near the school with dorms, a canteen, a sports field and sporting facilities.

Through Joel Stransky and Heidi Range, Sporting Chance Foundation is beginning to use the Cambodian template to help an orphanage in the townships of South Africa.

An All-Star Team

Through his contacts in the rugby world, Greening is also in the process of putting together an all-star rugby team to play in Dubai, Hong Kong and Bangkok to raise funds and increase overall awareness of the charity. Two young boys from Cambodia will be invited to join the team for the tour.

“The Foundation’s aim is to ultimately help children in every corner of the world. As a charity that works to a ‘non-compete’ principle, Sporting Chance Foundation openly invites other charities to give a helping hand, resulting in a bigger impact towards helping those in need,” concludes Greening.

Greening is currently living and working in Singapore with Standard Chartered Bank as Associate Director, Global Clients Relations & Entertainment for Wholesale Bank, along with continuing Standard Chartered’s commitment to youth sport and especially Greening’s sport of rugby.

Sustainable Education Reform Is Possible by Focusing on Results to Overcome Under-Education

Posted on April 22, 2018 in Uncategorized

In a recent article by Jay Mathews, education writer of the Washington Post, Mr. Mathews writes about the K.I.P.P. (Knowledge is Power Program) and the above average outcomes that this program is delivering in 43 selected schools throughout the country.

This program focuses on 5 pillars:

  • High Expectations
  • Choice & Commitment
  • More Time
  • Power to Lead
  • Focus on Results

What is interesting to note is the last Pillar – Focus on Results. By embracing the desired end results, this program has shown how to overcome the under-educated culture that is rampant within many urban and even suburban schools.

Focus on Results

In the book Fail-Safe Leadership by authors Linda Martin and Dr. David Mutchler specifically addresses the importance of beginning with the desired results and then developing the shareholders through leadership (see next pillar) to achieve those results. Using this approach of internalization to improve performance is a more logical driver of change than trying to use the traditional approach of externalization.

Power to Lead

Additionally, this program embraces solid leadership skills that include both academic and organizational. Many administrators are good instructional leaders, but are not trained nor developed to be equally good leader managers.

More Time

During the last 25 years, actual time in the classroom has continued to decline even though information is increasing at phenomenal rates. When I was a school board member in the early 1990’s, elementary teachers spent less than 5 hours daily engaged with their students. The other 2 plus hours centered on recess, lunch time and specials such as library, computers, gym, art or music.

Choice and Commitment

Even though KIPP schools appear to be “chartered or choice schools,” the emphasis by all shareholders on commitment is necessary for the success of any organization.

High Expectations

When public education started changing its focus years ago by dumbing down the curriculum, the standard of high expectations was relegated to the bottom. This action also directly contributed to the under-education of students within all schools. Evidence of this is supported by the dismal progress nationally by students through the Nation’s Report Card. When over the course of 33 years 17 year olds students nationally have not improved their reading scores and those scores are not exceptional, these results reflect low expectations. For example, one of the reading questions for 12th grade students asked the following:

The purpose of a tax table is to help you determine: a) gross income b)the amount of tax you owe c)your net earnings d) your allowable deductions.

Less than 2/3 of the students answered this correctly. Given the clue words are tax and table and only one response has the word tax, the inability of 1/3 of the students to answer this correctly clearly demonstrates why there has been no reading progress. And more importantly suggests that we are not developing the knowledge workers required for the 21st century.

Just imagine, if all schools infused these 5 principles identified by KIPP or similar principles within their culture,what types of outcomes could be realized? From a performance perspective, each and every American public school could easily be a Baldrige winner in 5 years. And, our country would once again retain its number one leadership role in education.

P.S. If your immediate response to the statement regarding attaining Baldrige in 5 years was No, Not possible, or She doesn’t know what she is talking about, then you are a victim of low expectations and looking at excuses to justify unacceptable performance.