Updated: Sep 30
The world has changed forever, and will continue to change at a dizzying pace in the area of Information and Communication Technology. For some, the pace of change is exciting and challenging, for others it is daunting and for still others there is a fear, reluctance or outright denial to accept these changes. For educational leaders, both the learning tools and the skills necessary to thrive in today’s digital world require a nimble and changing educational system. Today’s school leaders and their leaders (boards) will need a mind set and collection of tools that will embrace dynamic change and allow it to be leveraged for maximum effect.
The new Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC) is being set up as a new regulator to the sector in Australia, and it is planned that this organisation will take over regulatory responsibility from the Australian Taxation Office, Australian Securities and Investment Commission and Departments of Fair Trading around the country. It remains to be seen the degree to which this organisation can and will provide relevant professional training for board members.
What is needed for boards comprised of predominantly volunteer board members is a system of professional development that engages volunteers, and equips them to govern schools diligently. The internet through online learning management systems provide an opportunity to develop professional learning for board members, both at a national level by regulators as well as at an industry wide and individual school level for sharing and developing specific expertise, benchmarking, facilitating board appraisal and developing financial and non financial key performance indicators etc.
Specialist training could also be provided to Chairs of boards, helping them to understand and practice their role of administering board process and ensuring that board policy is in place to facilitate a healthy relationship between the CEO and the board, clarify accountability and authority, and outline efficient and effective board processes and strategic planning. Some work is being done in a limited way through consultancy and conferences in this space, however this writer believes that a more focussed and rigorous curriculum needs to be developed to ensure that board members of the future are equipped to fulfil their important roles. Gone are the days when board members can hold a passive trusteeship role.
Resolve is committed to the professional learning and training of board members, chairs and CEO’s. In 2013 we will be re launching our Resolve Equipper series of training programs with two practical hands on workshop style courses in governance and school business operations. As these courses are developed we will provide more information to clients in relation to dates and course content.
As we move forward into an era where school and professional learning is delivered through a multitude of formats, it becomes imperative that all involved in education including students, classroom teachers support services staff, school principals and executive, board members and parents recognise and understand the need for linking and leveraging these resources. To accomplish this, a shift needs to occur so all board members and educational leaders should be able to answer the question, “How am I using digital age resources to improve governance, leadership, teacher practice and student learning?”
Essential to this vision are board leaders and Principals committed to establishing a culture of professional learning throughout our school communities. This is more than merely providing a venue for professional learning, where educators connect with instructional and pedagogical best practices in a collaborative community, which optimises opportunity for personal learning. Using the “field of dreams” analogy we cannot simply build a website or intranet portal, stock it with resources, and then sit back and expect our board, staff and students to flock to and use the site. Collaborative learning cultures can only succeed when there is clear leadership and strategic planning from the board down in an organisation.
School leaders need to set an example of lifelong learning, and build into the very fabric of the school culture a commitment to learning. This means you need to find adopters who are passionate about the potential of online learning options, and have a strategy for these adopters to “pump prime” the community with resources and content so as to help create the beginnings of and online community – to make the sites interesting places to visit and engage with. It is not sufficient to just expect everybody to start relating with each other online – just like in a flesh and blood community setting there needs to be the organisers in the community that set the ball rolling and get the party started so to speak.
The result of a strategic focus of professional learning, mixed with focussed staff resources and training provided to build capacity in the area of IT competency will help create a virtual community that leverages the experiences of experts who have succeeded in this arena, including those with deep experience in social networking, problem-based learning, digital literacy, and information management. This will improve engagement at all levels of the school community.