Kodak, Blockbuster, R & D

Adapt or die...

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Blockbuster knew that Netflix was in the future, but an inflexible corporate structure didn't allow them to research and develop a competitive model. Kodak invested too little too late in digital media. It can be argued that our schools have a similar rigid structure that blocks invention and impedes response to change.

Instead of calling it Professional Development (a nebulous term for sure,) maybe we need to reframe the task as Academic Research and Development. Let's think of the task as a laboratory to create new ideas, an invitation to think outside the boundaries, and a chance to experiment.  This does borrow from the corporate world, but I think we need to recognize that our schools are in a competitive marketplace. We need to push the idea of creative collaborative change.  Failure is acceptable, as long as we try new things. The approach may be difficult, but these days if we rest on our laurels we may wake up one day to find ourselves in a Kodak moment (not a good thing.)  A flexibility of school internal structure would be needed to accommodate the time and infrastructure needed for such experimentation to take place.

Academic R & D as a way to quickly evolve and adjust to change. Adapt or die....

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Photo of John Faig
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I like the idea of a laboratory to learn and understand academic trends (approaches and student trends).  The space could also be used for teachers to practice (and conduct research) in a mock classroom.  Best of all, the laboratory could be shared by multiple schools, which would both defray costs and increase collaboration.

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Agreed - Jessica's post implies a motivation toward innovative development in education.  Schools providing enough space and time for teachers to consider what the are doing and how they are doing it.

Today I ran across an acquaintance who I have not seen for years.  We both worked at the same school for severely emotionally disturbed students.  Education takes a back seat to dealing with the needs of the students, so there is a lot of experimentation at the school.  How do you best teach math to those that are behind grade level, don't have a great deal of motivation, and are extremely needy?  It forces teachers to be creative.  A think out of the box laboratory approach is almost a prerequisite.

Photo of Sarah Lundy
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Jessica Hadid's post: "Research, Real Research

What if districts curated scholarly journals to which teachers could submit work..." parallels this concept in some potentially powerful ways. I wonder if these two ideas could interact and grow....

Photo of Sarah Lundy
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Yes & yes!

I am excited about the "What"& the "Why" of this idea-- which are the two most essential components.

The "Who" will probably be a small group of enthusiastic pioneers who understand the potential impact in classrooms. 

Any thoughts on "When", "Where" & "How" we might experiment with your model?

Photo of Nick Wilson
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I looked into the "Business model innovation factory" book you recommended (thanks!)  It got me thinking about schools being in the same competitive marketplace as industry.  Our school has been slowly losing enrollment for the past few years.  One of the reasons for this is parents are now actively shopping for schools; there are alternatives.  So... how do we differentiate?  How do we constantly reinvent ourselves in order to stay relevant?  What mechanisms do we need to build into our structure to allow invention?

Photo of John Faig
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I love the term R&D because it implies a deliverable (even if it is only personal) and I'm not sure when educational research left K-12 to become the purvey of higher education and think tanks.  A few things to consider about the laboratory: design, funding, identifying classroom ideas for research, and migrating successful ideas into classrooms.