Without changing our patterns of thought, we will not be able to solve the problems we created with our current patterns of thought.
Welcome to EduChaos – a new series of thought pieces that will take you to the edge! Each month, Marie Jasinski will explore new and emerging thinking and trends that may seem weird today, but workable tomorrow.
Explore the edge!
Here’s a narrated overview to entertain you for five minutes! (You’ll need Flash installed on your computer). Be patient! It may take a few minutes to download. Note: Once downloaded you can maximise the screen and jump to any part you want using the navigation bar.
EduChaos is flexible thinking with attitude! It’s a play on the concept of “edge of chaos” applied to an educational context!
The edge of chaos is a concept from Chaos and Complexity theory, a contemporary thinking model for living and working in dynamic, unpredictable and turbulent environments. Here’s the thinking behind it. If individuals, groups or organisations are too structured, they become too rigid to move. If they are too loose, they become disorganized and fall apart. The edge of chaos is a dynamic zone between order and chaos which is neither too rigid, nor too disorganized. The essence of the concept is that individuals, groups and organisations are at their most vibrant, creative, innovative, productive, dynamic and flexible when they are working and thinking at this edge. It is also where they can most effectively change.
It’s not an easy place to be, as you have to work to stay at the edge of chaos. You are constantly being pulled towards either too much structure or too much chaos and you are confronted with a choice of fates: you can “leap” to a higher order of complexity and face the changes of living and working at the edge; you can fall back into the comfort of order and control and maintain the status quo, or you can go into meltdown by falling over the edge into complete disarray! Your goal is to become an edge worker operating on the boundary between chaos and order!
EduChaos: manoeuvring through, not managing change!
EduChaos is a thinking style for manoeuvring through rather than managing change. It challenges outdated concepts of old change management thinking! While change in more stable times could be managed, what is becoming clearer in this current volatile, fast-paced and unpredictable world is that we can only manoeuvre through change. Change can no longer be managed. In other words, contemporary change requires stakeholders to reinvent and discover their destinations as they go, rather than try to control it through applying traditional forecasting and planning practices that no longer fit. They effectively need to create and adopt new ways of perceiving change in order to exploit it. EduChaos is one way to achieve this.
EduChaos and VET
At an anecdotal and informal level within the VET sector, the words “complex” “complexity” and “chaos” are appearing more in conversations and reports, relating to new practices and fast-changing environments. However, complexity is used more as an ad hoc descriptor rather than as a strategic conceptual framework. In other words, complexity is used to describe our environment, rather then to understand it.
Complexity and chaos theory offers a powerful conceptual model for VET. It offers both a contemporary interpretation and practical strategies for dealing with rapid environmental changes generated by the move to the Knowledge Era. This is an environment where advances in technology demand new ways of working and learning in increasingly competitive markets.
A VET practitioners, we are increasingly working with contradictions and paradox. Here are three we seem to juggle every day:
- Working in the present AND working in the future
These days we have two parallel jobs. While we need to focus on the routines and daily practices of our core business, we also need to keep current and stay abreast of new and emerging practices.
- Being flexible AND being compliant
Although we are encouraged to be flexible in the way we deliver products and services to our customers, this takes place in an environment of compliance. Being “Flexipliant” (integrating flexibility and compliance) is a mental and physical juggling act.
- Playing by the rules AND playing with the rules
We are often faced with having to co-operate in order to compete, teach by learning, and work with the rules of the “official” and the “shadow” sides of an organisation.
EduChaos: What’s in store for 2004?
During 2004, a series of articles, interviews, reports, web-based games and other presentations will address issues and events around the theme of EduChaos and its implications for working and learning in VET. The focus will be on new ways of thinking about how to work more creatively, effectively and flexibly. We’ll be exploring a range of “on the edge” models, practices and thought pieces that stretch the edges and blur the boundaries. Here’s a sample:
Disruptive Technologies: be afraid - very afraid! Be excited - very excited!
Have you ever bought a piece of software that offers more than you want, but you’ve had to pay for the total package? Have you ever been locked into system that no longer meets your needs or is a bit too slow to change? Disruptive technologies may interest you. Disruptive Technology is a term popularized by Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen in his book The Innovator's Dilemma.
Christensen distinguishes between sustaining and disruptive technologies. Sustaining technologies improve the performance of established products that often dominate a field. Disruptive technologies offer alternatives to these established products. They are cheaper to produce, simpler, smaller, better performing, and, frequently, more convenient to use. They attract the fringe clients of established products or new client markets. What are the implications of the disruptive technologies such as Open Source and blogs on how we deliver elearning? Will they threaten our established way or doing things or will they provide us with a greater repertoire of tools and strategies to better service client needs? What’s disruptive, who’s using them and what’s their story?
Working and Learning in VET in the Knowledge Era
VET is a knowledge-based industry and increasingly VET practitioners are becoming knowledge workers – they generate, manipulate, share, store and use knowledge in dynamic and complex ways. Knowledge is what the VET business is built on, yet it has a high redundancy rate. How do we keep our knowledge current? What are the capabilities of knowledge workers, and what professional development models best suit the demands of the knowledge era? This will build on the research commissioned by the Australian Flexible Learning Framework’s Professional Development Program.
Performance Improvement: Is training always the solution?
Training is not always the solution to an identified performance gap. In April, Marty Cielens and I will be attending the International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI) conference, in Florida, USA. We’ll check out what’s happening in the world of performance improvement and with digital cameras and sound recorders at the ready, we’ll send you a roving report on the latest thinking and trends in the world of performance improvement!
Social Software: beyond the tools to the humans
Kenneth Boulding, the economist, humanist and social scientist, once wrote: "We make our tools, and then they shape us." That is what social software is doing. It is changing the way that we socialize. Social software is software that enables groups to form and organize themselves. Social software consists of applications with features that provide support for conversational interaction between individuals or groups, social feedback and social networks. It becomes truly “social” when we create systems and conventions that allow us to fully integrate all of the “social” features of the software. Social software allows us to create new social groupings and then new sorts of social conventions arise. How is this different to what we do now and how will it shape the way we “socialize” online?
The Learning Ecology
Ecology studies the complex web of dynamic interactions of living creatures, including humans and their environment. Learning is a process which is vital for sustaining the integrity of this web and hence for sustaining life and its unfolding. Learning ecology focuses on factors and conditions, interrelationships and interactions which stimulate sustain or impede human learning. We’ll move beyond “cognitive” learning to investigate the latest thinking about how emotion, environment, relationships, opportunity and circumstance open up new possibilities and influence our ability to learn and better cope with changes in our environment.
Job Sculpting: the art of making work work
Are rigid work practices stifling your creativity and innovative thinking? Are your human assets under-utilized because they are not managed well? Have your knowledge and skills progressed beyond your job? Then this article on job sculpting will be of interest to you. Job sculpting is about valuing and retaining human assets by sculpting the job to fit the person rather than expecting the person to always fit the job. It’s about changing work practices to accommodate both individual as well as organisational goals. It’s an emerging Human Resource strategy used by high performing organisations to keep people happy and productive in an organisation.
What’s Industry saying about Flexible Learning?
Look forward to candid interviews with industry non-clients who are learning flexibly but not with VET! Why are they doing their own thing and not engaging in accredited training and what can we learn from their stories?
Trends! What are opinion leaders predicting the next big thing will be?
A synthesis of where key opinion leaders predict we’re heading and what we need to do to prepare for it. Will it be transforming Instructional Design to LXD? Mobile Technology? Trainers as Learning Objects? Courseware rejection in favour of personalised content with an ROI emphasis? Disintermediation of training providers? The rise of informal learning to challenge accredited training? Integration of knowledge management and elearning?
EduChaos: Come to the edge and explore the chaos!
Articles in the EDUCHAOS series
EDUCHAOS: out of control and thriving!
EDUCHAOS- Disruptive Technologies
EDUCHAOS: Using improv and storytelling in business
EDUCHAOS: Job Sculpting - in tune with making work WORK!
EDUCHAOS: Patchworking – showing off your assets
EDUCHAOS: Go Conative - where there’s will, you’re away!
EDUCHAOS: Tuning in to your own voice!
EDUCHAOS: Loose change – a new currency