In 2020 go online to connect and learn: 5 ways to an experimental culture

‘Social distancing’ becomes the new normal. Sport, cultural and community gatherings cancelled. After streaming the entire Netflix catalogue, tackling the Hilary Mantel trilogy, we also need to connect with other humans and keep working and learning. Yet how ? We get online, human-to-human. They say that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

Can you empower your community to engage in innovative learning and work in the digital space?

I’m a glass-half-full kind of person, who sees opportunity within difficulty.

  • What can we learn?
  • How can we try out new ideas?
  • Can we actually experiment?

This idea of experimentation in education is a difficult concept to adopt, because who are we experimenting with? Kids. But this situation is an opportunity because we are definitely not in business-as-usual mode. Everything we need to do to engage kids in remote learning is an experiment.

There are those in education who enthusiastically embrace the opportunities of the digital era, and those who view face-to-face as the only way to properly educate, and lots of people in between. But, as we are finding out, in 2020 we cannot ignore the potential of the digital world for human connection and learning. It’s time to dust-off that LMS, if it’s been a repository that is required to hold the content and breathe new life into it

Building an culture of experimentation

This month’s edition of HBR is about building a culture of experimentation. Asking the question of business, why don’t we experiment more? The same could be asked of education.

I can tell you that the central reason is culture… often find that the obstacles are not tools and technology but shared behaviours, beliefs, and values.

From: Building a Culture of Experimentation, by Stefan Tomke Mar-Apr 2020

It’s that all important culture of shared behaviours, beliefs and values. Innovating through experimentation is an opportunity that is before us now. Tomke offers the how…

  1. Cultivate curiosity – this is exploratory, some things might work, others won’t. Being curious means accepting that reality.
  2. Data trumps opinion – if you try something and more students stay online and engage with the learning, there’s your data. If not, try something new.
  3. Democratise experimentation – why have layers of approval, instead trust your professionals and empower them to experiment.
  4. Be ethically sensitive – a balance between ‘going crazy’ and not getting tangled up in red tape.
  5. Embrace a different leadership model: Set a grand challenge, put in place systems that support experimentation, be a role model, and

“recognise that words alone won’t change behaviour”

This is an opportunity. I’m exploring experimenting PD delivery. I hope that we can come out the other side of this with new ideas to engage learners and we are changed for the better.

PS… I know that there is a digital divide, inequality in online access. As I am working from home more at the moment, I will be donating my unused mobile data, through my provider, to those who need it.

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