Every college or university claims to help students succeed. But do actions align with words?
A crucial "systems thinking" component of a learning ecosystem is this: Integration trumps functionality. In other words, if 85% of your desired functionality can be achieved with a fully integrated tool, or 97% of your desired functionality can be achieved with no connection to other parts of the ecosystem, use the former and avoid the latter. (Of note, this is why the RFI / RFP process can be so detrimental to an organization's longitudinal well-being from a systems perspective.)
When I was with eCollege, we always heard from integration partners which schools were truly ahead of the curve and which ones simply had a good marketing story, but were in fact awful to work with. Likewise, we would hear which companies were great to work with and which ones were not. That even translated to a company’s values or ethical practices. But embarrassingly, I did not include vendor referrals as part of my research. I solely relied on college / university recommendations. And at this point in my career, having worked on both sides of the fence as well as sitting on committees like the CWiC Executive Advisory Board, we all know that there are thousands of failed technology initiatives which have little to do with the technology and everything to do with the implementation. Yet I contacted school after school, both the solid and the weak, asking if they recommended a vendor.
Teaching today is far more about classroom management than it is about actually teaching leading to learning. But when you add in Common Core requirements, newly defined elements of "rigor", high stakes testing, the political and process-based rules setup by people who have often never been in a classroom, as well as the operational issues needed to organize a grouping of people, teaching and learning is often quite strangled - becoming almost impossible.
For those of you creating workshops of your own, we found some amazing benefits to practicing what we preach. This is a major differentiator for the Institute, actually leveraging brain science, learning research, and more as we learn and contextualize. We utilized the most effective practices from cognitive science, persuasion, and perception strategies in each session. From Interleaving to pattern finding to intentional creation of norepinephrine / dopamine / endorphin moments, we saw the power behind these learning frameworks. Participants had the opportunity to review and reflect often. Attendees also networked like crazy, establishing a community of practice that will follow them home. In other words, I am confident in saying that we all learned. I am also confident that learning will stick.