Sunday, March 1, 2009

Shaping strategies for K-20 education and beyond

Doc Searls raising his camera in salute after ...Image via Wikipedia

In a discussion about goals, Sally Loughlin recommended a recent article by John Hagel, John Seeley Brown, and Lang Davison entitled Shaping strategy in a world of constant disruption.

Hagel summarizes the shaping strategies concepts in his blog:

The concept of shaping strategies

These strategies use positive incentives to mobilize and focus thousands of participants in shaping specific markets or industries. In times of high uncertainty, we all have a natural tendency to discount rewards and magnify risk. The result is often paralysis or, at best, hesitant small moves on the margin while we wait for the fog to clear. The opportunity for aspiring shapers is to flip that risk/reward perception by magnifying perceptions of rewards and discounting perceptions of risk. By re-shaping mindsets, shapers can unleash significant investment by many participants and ultimately re-shape broad markets or industries.

Then, Hagel points out in his blog that the ideas apply more broadly to educational institutions, too.

Broader applications

While our HBR article focuses on the application of shaping strategies in the business arena, this approach to strategy has the potential to to be applied in many other domains. For example, we have held workshops exploring its application in such diverse fields as public diplomacy and and education. Even movements for social change may find that shaping strategies can provide significant leverage.

Washington State University's CTLT is using shaping strategies in their thinking about directions for higher education - The Harvesting Gradebook
We see a conflict between the AAC&U assumptions and the goal of maintaining relevance in a Web 2.0 world.

The work we are reporting at the conference comes from a different set of assumptions about the learning enterprise. The perspective is community centered. It uses a set of assumptions that have previously existed within institutions of higher learning, and to some extent, still exist at the PhD level, but which seem to have been displaced by the challenges of increasing scale and decreasing resources. We are exploring ways in which the Internet, and particularly the Web 2.0 perspective of the Internet, can facilitate a transformation to a different set of assumptions.

In a similar vein, Jason Cole presented his ideas about reshaped higher education at the Open Education Conference 2006.
In the new organization, students and tutors collaborate to create and remix educational resources to meet emergent needs in real-time. Students are supported to create their own learning environments and pathways through a rich body of open content, guided by their peers and tutors. Academics add to the body of knowledge through research and create learning designs that students can choose to use if they find them helpful in achieving their goals. The university then becomes a platform for collaborative, supported learning and an arbiter of quality through assessment. Courses become a set of services to help the student achieve learning goals, not a packaged product based on ‘seat time’. The presentation will discuss the potential for this vision to increase access, lower costs and increase learning.
Learn more about his perspective from his presentation and a video his presentation linked at the OpenEd 2006 site:
Remixing Higher Education-The Open Content University
Jason Cole, Open University
Presentation (2.1 MB, PPT) :: Video (212.8 MB, MOV*)

Cole apparently prepared a couple of slides that he did not have time to include in his presentation. "Mass Amateurization" includes a reference to Doc Searls and his "Do-it-yourself IT" concepts. The quote uses comes from an interview with Searls that Doug Kaye produced for his show IT Conversations. When I listened to the podcast, I found this .mov clip about self- and peer-based learning rather than formal institution-based learning most compelling. Searl's informal survey of practitioners in this field indicate that they rely more on self-organizing learning networks than they do on institutionally organized learning.

How do these ideas apply to student and teacher learning in K-12? In our communities? Outside of the normal school day?
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