What are your three most critical discoveries for this course? How will the learning you have gained serve you in your role as an educational technology leader?
This course has provided me with a wealth of information to process and learn to implement. Primarily, it has given me a new understanding of how districts make decisions. If District 12 were to adopt the Gartner EA process framework, they would have an easy to follow framework that provides an easy transition from current state to the future state. One of the major benefits of the Gartner model is that it also manages the transition, making it an effective model for my district to follow.
Secondly, I learned the importance of FERPA, COPPA, CIPA, and SOPIPA. I learned that through no fault of my own, other than not being informed of how these laws operated, that I need to change my practices. In an effort to push my students into new learning realms, I, like others, have worked in ignorance of the governing laws. This is something that districts need to identify and correct within their PD offerings. It is the responsibility of the district to teach their teachers about applicable laws, and provide opportunities for them to create lessons that are in compliance.
The third critical discovery was the extent of work that is involved in identifying needs, upgrading the networks, and then testing them, along with evaluating the available machines for SBAC testing. I didn’t realize the extent of work necessary to ensure the testing occurs smoothly. Work in District 12 began last August to prepare for the testing in May.
Much of this week’s work and readings focus on setting the stage for Enterprise Architecture. Typically, school districts have maintained separate plans for technology and the district. For example, a district creates a “district education plan” and then has a separate “technology plan.” Moving forward, do you think this is still a good practice, or should they be combined? Please provide a rationale for your decision.
No longer do I think that a school district should have plans that are created in isolation, a “district education plan” and “technology plan” for example. All systems and departments within a district have a symbiotic relationship, with an end goal of helping students learn. Not all departments have an overt role in student learning, such as curriculum or technology, however, departments such as maintenance ensure that children go to school in safe and clean buildings.
Enterprise Architecture is commonly seen as a way of infusing technology into daily practices for any organization. However, we have moved into a learning and business paradigm where technology is already infused within all aspects of society. Having a “district education plan” that does not include technology demonstrates a lack of vision and adequate appreciation for the increasing role technology plays in a 21st century education.
Textbooks are systematically offering digital texts, and online curriculum that requires schools to have robust WiFi and ubiquitous access. Districts need to be aware of these resources as they make their, “district education plan.” Technology and education now go hand in hand, therefore it is impossible to make education plans that are blind to the technology needs of the district. Technology and learning are blended, district plans need to reflect that.
This week you completed a brick for a technology. In your current capacity (teacher, etc.), how could you use this same process to improve your practice?. For example, could you use a brick to determine which instructional tools you use (or would like to use) or which curriculum resources?
I think that in my current position using a brick to analyze my practice would be beneficial. We are looking at piloting a new curriculum and new set of course materials for next school year. We need to have a systematic way to evaluate the new materials that all teachers can understand and relate to.
The box that I think will be the most useful is the “strategic” box. As we evaluate a new book and curriculum, knowing the alternatives will be essential to making our final decision. We have the leeway with our administrator to try new materials until we find one that works best for our students.
This week’s discussion reminded me of the sales presentations we have been sitting in. Each publisher makes their book and materials seem like the “perfect” solution. None have tried to appear as a one stop shop of course materials, but they all make their curriculum appear pretty darn good. Luckily, our team is extremely inquisitive, so we spend an enormous amount of time asking the presenter questions. Each of us creating a brick on our experience with the pilots would help to guide our questions. I think that this is a useful tool that I could introduce to my team.
Reflect on the work you did to collect information for the SBAC testing requirements. What stood out to you as key discoveries?
The work that I did to collect the information for the SBAC testing may be different from other students in the cohort. My main difficulty all semester is gaining access to knowledgeable personnel at the district office. If I were to start this assignment over again, I would choose to look at the district I work in, this way I know exactly whom to contact. Luckily, I went to the CUE conference and ran into the person I wanted to speak with on the last day. We had a good conversation and he admitted that my emails had been ignored due to a triage of importance. He asked me to remind him on Monday of this week of the questions I needed answering and mention in the subject line that we met at CUE.
Some of the key discoveries was the advanced thought process of a back-up plan. I know that this sounds judgemental, but I don’t have much faith in my local district. Our community doesn’t have much faith in it either. I know that the brand new school board and new Superintendent are working hard to restore the communities trust, but they have a long way to go. I truly like that they did a load test and, while it worked, still had a back up plan of installing more AP’s for a “just in case” scenerio. I mentioned this to my neighbors who, like me, were surprised and pleased with the forward thinking of the Informational Technology Department and School Board.
The more I look at the district through the lense of Enterprise Architecture and other tools we have learned this semester, the more I can see that the new leadership is working hard to take a district in chaos, identify the problems, and then provide solutions. By analyzing my local district I am seeing the “big picture” of how this course, 630, and 600 work together to provide school improvement.
My former Director of Technology said that the first question he asks himself before he makes important decisions, “What is the experience of the end user (students)?”
As a technology leader in an educational organization it is important to keep focused on the purpose for the districts existence; the education of children. Support systems are important to have and understand, but at the end of the day we need to make sure that our students learn. Applications that students use should always be high priority. Classes are immediate and, based on current educational standards, often unrecoverable when time is lost. District personnel have schedules and timelines as well, however, they are secondary to the students sitting in the classroom.
One of the longest conversations I had with district engineers in North Carolina, was about how to understand the immediacy of the needs of the classroom. I worked in the corporate world for many years before I chose to move into education. I understand an office environment, complete with timelines and project demands. The classroom is an unique environment that is different from anything that I had ever experienced before. Those who haven’t taught have no frame of reference to understand.
This lack of reference made it difficult for the engineers to truly understand the urgency I was trying to help them make a connection with. It took a full day meeting with a working lunch for me to completely describe the dynamics of the classroom. It was an eye opener, having them walk in a teacher's shoes for a short time. By having all departments involved in creating the evaluation of applications you ensure that all voices are heard. There is a disconnect between classroom based personnel and district office based personnel. The lack of common reference can cause conflict, and by involving all in the Application Rational, you will have the best information with which to make decisions.
Reflection: Schools are often working against themselves as there are distinct applications for various needs:
In the district that I am evaluating for this class, I see the draw of various departments to have their own systems and processes for their tasks. Teachers have instructional sheets on the various processes to follow based on the department they need to contact. This causes confusion and wasted time for the teachers, who have more important things to do, lesson plan, grade, tutor, etc…
Identifying the problem is the easy part. Solving it is more difficult. Districts don’t purchase a wide array of counterintuitive systems just for the fun of it. Most departments have compelling reasons why they need a particular program. HR, for example, has confidentially (social security numbers, background checks, bank account information, emergency contact information) needs that other departments don’t. Teaching and learning have specific needs that are integral to the mission of the school district, educating students. Back office systems and supplemental systems are also specific to their functions.
So again, how do we rectify the problem and make the systems more streamline? As with any big decision, we need to gather data, and evaluate it. The systems themselves need to be studied for functionality, purpose, ease of use, security, among others. Once this evaluation is complete the district should employ an Enterprise Architecture like approach to determine if any uses cross departments. If they do, then it should be possible to purchase, or create, a system that is multifaceted enough for all stakeholders to use.
Many products currently on the market claim to be a one stop shop for district needs. As much as I would like to believe that products like this truly do exist, I have to be hesitant until I see them in action. Pearson makes Power School, which according to them, “technical ecosystem for district and school ... operations.” This is one system that could be evaluated by the Enterprise Architecture group mentioned above. If it does provide a complete ecosystem, then this can alleviate many difficulties that districts encounter.
The SOPIPA recently became law in California but many district leaders are unsure of its existence or how to respond. Based on your experience, what steps would you put into place in the school or district you are studying? What advice would you give to the leadership team based on your analysis?
I really like westerns. I think they are fun. My dad and I would watch them when I was younger. The bad guys run rampant throughout the town, and finally the good and honorable hero comes in to save the day. Then he rides his horse off into the sunset. My favorite is “The Man who Shot Liberty Valance.” Nothing is better than Jimmy Stewart swooshing in to save the day, then talk about how he really didn’t do it. This makes me wonder how often our “hero’s” are truly responsible for what they are doing. Hang in there, I’m syllogistically coming to the point.
I am not going to bash anyone, especially my tech department. They do incredible work, and often are verbally beaten up by teachers and the general public. After reading the article on SOPIPA, I realize that we are still working in the Wild Wild West. The teachers I work with have no idea about SOPIPA, or CIPPA, or COPA. Neither does our schools Tech TOSA.
This isn’t the fault of anyone. Communication within the tech realm is difficult because things change frequently. Prezi, for example, consistently changes their TOS from 13 to 18 years old, and then back to 13 again. It is a fluid situation, and teachers need to be careful to check TOS before each instance a student may use that particular tool.
SOPIPA puts the onus of protecting student privacy directly onto the tech companies themselves. This is unique. Districts need to begin working on and developing plans to educate teachers about SOPIPA, and based on my experience, CIPPA and COPA as well. Many teachers will most probably feel bad that they have been breaking the law for so long, and hesitant to change direction quickly, but it is necessary. The Tech department needs to be the hero’s to come in and change the district's internet wild wild west, into something that is viably compliant with current laws, and stay on top of potential new ones. Since the technology is constantly changing, they won’t be able to come in and then ride off into the sunset, the sun never sets on the internet.
Herold, B. (2014). Landmark student-data-privacy law enacted in California. Education Week. Retrieved from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2014/09/_landmark_student-data-privacy.html
(2003). The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) - IMDb. Retrieved February 28, 2016, from http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056217/.
Reflect on how information (data) plays a role in decision making, and why understanding data and sources of data are important.
Rarely do our leaders rely on a flip of the coin, or a phone call to the psychic hotline to make decisions. They rely on information; data. The current market for data is enormous, giving rise to the term, Big Data.
Big data is exactly that, an enormous influx of data from every source imaginable. Data comes from the “like” button you hit on Facebook, to tracking your purchases with a credit card. Each bit of data gives information for companies to use in its marketing and advertising protocols.
Data is useful in education also. Big Data allows us to design curriculum and modify pedagogy for students with special needs. MOOC’s are excellent sources of instructional data, as they record every aspect of a student's interaction with the class learning environment. From when and how the student registered, to the time it took them to read the textbook the course itself is a constant stream of information that instructors and course administrators can use for self reflection when the course is complete.
In specific terms of educational technology, Big Data allows districts to see how various devices are being used within the classroom environment. The district I am evaluating is currently constructing their Technology Plan. They are using data from the surrounding districts to determine the direction of the technology implementation model; currently they are trying to figure out if the district will issue technology devices or if they will implement a BYOD type program. None of the explorations of the possibilities would have occurred without the data from other districts.
“BA will continue to evolve and change as state agencies identify and improve business operations” (CEAF, 2008). As I read the California Enterprise Architectural Framework I remembered the economic theory of Creative Destruction. As business and the general economy move forward, the old processes must be destroyed in favor of new, more efficient ones. Current and Future State Business Architecture utilizes the auspices in creative destruction to move practices forward.
Education does not exist in a vacuum. If anything, education is a microcosm of the community it serves. Societal advances are reflected in the needs of our students. In order to best serve our students we need to have an accurate accounting of the district in it’s current state; and how we best serve our students. Current state architecture shows us how to manage the district on a daily basis.
Creative destruction sounds like a bad thing, but it’s actually very good. During the industrial revolution the outdated mills and single person shops disappeared in favor of larger scale factories with assembly lines. In essence, the basis for the United States economy.
Progress doesn’t usually happen by accident. Future state planning is an essential component of any business architecture. As in lesson planning, you envision the end goal (Future State). What is it you want to accomplish? Your students are assessed on their current knowledge to identify gaps or areas of focus (what don’t they know), and then you plan the scaffolding to get the students to understand the concepts (steps to address the gap).
As I have said before, as we move along the semester, I am beginning to understand more how business concepts are applicable to education. I will, however, hold firm that the educational environment is not a business, while the structures for efficiency may be applicable, students are not quantifiable “products” that can be measured and evaluated like carbon copy items rolling along a conveyor belt.
(2008). California Enterprise Architecture Framework. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.cio.ca.gov/Publications/pubs/Appendix_A.pdf.
(2008). Creative Destruction - Library of Economics and Liberty. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/CreativeDestruction.html
This week's assignment was a difficult one for me. It wasn’t the comprehension of the principles, those were easily obtainable from the readings. BIZBOK provides the most comprehensive, yet easily understandable, definition: “a blueprint of the enterprise that provides a common understanding of the organization and is used to align strategic objectives and tactical demands.” It answers the “who, what, how, when and why of a businesses intent”, and how it’s core functions enable the intent.
What was difficult was trying to understand the Business Architecture of my district. I contacted many individuals and found that two departments (Instruction and HR) followed an architectural structure. The other departments seemed to be in a state of flux. From phone conversations, and emails, departments don’t see themselves as a part of a whole structure, they tend to view themselves individually apart from what one woman called, the “main part” of the district, referring to curriculum and instruction.
Business Architecture identifies the current state and desired future state of the business, it also enables processes to close the gap between the current and future states. A roadmap, of sorts, to achieve the future state. With the exception of one member the entire school board is new this school year. They each have their ideas of what is important and their own expertise that they bring to the table, which is generally a good thing. From my observations and conversations, I believe that where the district is in the most desperate need of BA is in the transition between the current and future state. The pathway of a clear goal in which all components are aware of their strategic importance is missing.
The four high level domains identified by the BIZBOK are Capabilities, Organization, Information, and Value Streams. If I were to create the Business Architecture for this district, I would focus on restructuring and defining these four domains. I would then redefine the who, what, when, how, and why of the district to align with the four identified high level domains. This will bring more structure to the district, and ensure all projects are complementary and communication is seamless to bring the idea that all departments of the district are important and part of the “main part” of the disrtict.
A Guide to the Business Architecture Body of Knowledge [PDF]. (2013). Business Architecture Guide. Retrieved February 7, 2016 from http://www2.mitre.org/public/eabok/pdf/BIZBOK-V3.5-Part1-Introduction.pdf
California Enterprise Architecture Framework [PDF]. (2013). Retrieved February 7, 2016 from http://www.cio.ca.gov/Publications/pubs/Appendix_A.pdf
Enterprise Architecture Guidebook [PDF]. (2014). Retrieved February 7, 2016 from http://www2.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/implementation-support-unit/tech-assist/education-architecture-guidebook.pdf