The Case for Collaboration and Innovation

The last 10 years have seen various sectors of the economy turned on its head, due in large part to the emergence of B2C (business to consumer) organizations leveraging the power of technology.  You do not have to look far to find examples of this business model and successful businesses taking this approach.  Facebook is the world’s premier media company but does not produce any content.  The largest taxi company in the world, Uber, owns no cars.  The largest living accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no hotels.  The meteoric rise of these companies all have one thing in common, and that is they exploit economic inefficiencies.

If it is a fascinating business story it is also an encouraging economic one. The only way our economy, or indeed any developed economy, is going to get richer is by becoming more efficient. What these technologies do is to enable existing infrastructure to be used more efficiently. -Hamish McCrae

The catalyst, in the case of economy, was the emergence and ubiquity of the mobile device and ability of those devices to connect to the web.  New technologies have made the possibility of exploiting these inefficiencies possible.  It is here that we find what could be an incredible parallel between the stories of our modern economy and that of education.

Though the story varies greatly from place to place some schools are approaching that ubiquity point, so the question is why hasn’t the fundamental narrative mirrored that of the economy?  Why hasn’t there been an Uber of education?

The answer lies in the current structures with which education operates.  Education processes that predominate today are archaic in most cases with outliers being an exception as opposed to the norm.  For the past several decades schools have focused their gaze within, operating as silos isolated from like institutions.  As a result of that policy, schools have been slow to innovate and change simply because, unlike our economy, external forces have not commanded it.

To further the analogy,  just like McCrae and the economy, there are encouraging signs in education.  Sharing, collaboration, and innovation is springing up in pockets across the globe.  Schools are adopting sustaining innovations in the form of devices that will continue to steadily improve learning outcomes.  Some schools have even gone the route of adopting disruptive innovation in the form of virtual or distance learning.  Professional development practices are coming under the microscope, and new innovative models for developing yourself professionally are becoming more accessible.

Technology is smashing down barriers that once existed in  almost every facet of society.  Education is poised for the same change that we see in our economy, but the key in all this is that the successes we find within our schools as we continue to take risks for the sake of growth, is that we share.  Collaboration is indeed the key to exploiting our inefficiencies and revolutionizing education.

In light of the remarks above, I would like to put a quick plug for Lehigh Valley Learns. If you are going to talk the talk you better walk the walk, and such is the case with Lehigh Valley Learns.  The goal of this organization is to lead through collaboration by helping connect schools, businesses, non profits, and higher education to form a regional learning eco system.  If you live in the greater Lehigh Valley Area check out our Twitter and Facebook presence, and hopefully soon, our website.

Thanks for your time and attention.




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