The Learning Organization
My previous post was a reflection on the concept of innovation, its importance and relationship to school design-school culture. In today’s post, Getting to the Innovation Core Part 2, I refer to my recent research, specifically the analysis and evaluation of innovation in school design-school culture. To that end, I am focusing on Step 2 in The Learning Organization. Learning organizations are the spaces where leaders, business and community partners, teachers, students collaborate in order to provide future-ready learning for all, most importantly, the students they are honored to serve. It is my hope that schools get in touch with their design-culture in order to maximize innovation and step away from an out-dated and stagnated paradigm, the traditional model, which is prominent in our school reform efforts today.
Where it Begins
When I set out to hone in on a problem for my research, I read (read, and read!) a broad range of researchers, theorists, articles, books, and social media regarding school reform in the 21st Century in the era of globalization and the flat world, organizational learning, innovative learning, leadership, school design, school culture, and many more of which contributed to my digital portfolio. As I reflect, 2015, was the year of learning, learning to learn, staying connected, broadening my professional learning network, creating my digital footprint, and completing my dissertation.
World Class Education
The catalyst for my research occurred when I attended a conference at my university and one of the presenters was Yong Zhao. His book World Class Learners led me to realize that among other things, our education system does not provide students with the opportunities to hone in on their unique talents and abilities, learn in a global campus, rely on student autonomy, or engage in authentic learning or product-based learning. We churn out standardized students that, as research shows, are less creativity and engaged, than when they first entered the school system (Zhao, 2012). While school reforms claim to provide students with a college and career ready education, how are they really innovative in terms of meeting students’ future readiness? How innovative are schools today?School reform efforts, most notably the Common Core, purport to provide students with a college and career education. Innovative school models provide them with an education that prepares them to be future-ready, creative, entrepreneurial, and employable (Zhao, 2012). I chose to conduct a comparative multiple case study on five successful STEM schools, since they are also at the forefront of school reform in terms of being innovative school models, gaining ground through federal, state, and local funding.
I coded Zhao’s framework of innovative indicators to school design-school culture in order to determine the taxonomy of innovation, those elements and components from school artifacts, frameworks, and interviews with the leaders and teachers from the schools who participated in the study.
Leaders, teachers, students, parents, business partners, and the education community at large often equate successful schools based on student achievement on standardized assessments. It is often difficult to ascertain the level of innovation in our schools and to really take the pulse of the teachers and leaders in a non-judgmental, less intimidating and and reflective way. My conceptual framework evolved into the nomenclature for qualitatively analyzing and evaluating how schools are innovative, in essence, the creation of the research tool that any school or learning organization can use to determine their degree of innovation in critical elements and components, and identifying the elements and components that are not innovative using the innovative indicators or the framework of their choice. I highly recommend Zhao’s indicators which I used successfully with five STEM schools. Getting to the Core of Innovation Part 3 will speak to the findings of my research.