EdNet 2007 Theme of the Day

qed_logo.gifBreaking down artificial boundaries in the world of Education emerged as a theme today at EdNet in Chicago. This applies to the curriculum, but it also applies to how schools are managed – it may be a new overarching meme for education.

Chuck House from Media X at Standford kicked things off with a keynote that touched on a lot of interesting ideas. One of them was that the big challenges our society faces (e.g. global warming, terrorism) cross many disciplines. Addressing them demands the ability to weave disparate ideas together. We need to proactively teach that skill. In addition, how we access knowledge via the web is going to force schools to start breaking down the artificial barriers we have set up between subject areas.

860640_cooperation.jpgThis thread was picked up early in the afternoon by panelist Jackson Grayson from the American Productivity and Quality Center (APQC). One of his central points was that most schools don’t do process management very well – they manage inputs and outcomes well but they don’t focus on what happens in the middle, which all about process. Moreover – when they do focus on process they do it in silos – they look at finance or curriculum but don’t look at where those things intersect. Echoing Chuck’s presentation Jackson noted that the big issues schools face require a systemic approach that crosses boundaries.

As publishers we have our own set of challenges in this area. We tend to silo products – print vs. technology or basal vs. supplemental – in ways that may not serve our customers well. Some of the more interesting projects – like Pearson’s California Social Studies submission – have shown the power of breaking those barriers down.

This is a great meeting for making contacts, catching up, and getting some new ideas about our business. Many thanks to Quality Education Data and their many sponsors for supporting the meeting.