I have been a teacher for 17 years, and have always only looked at teaching and working within a school district through the searching eyes of a teacher. I cannot say that any longer. Learning about Enterprise Architecture has made it so that my lens is forever widened. What I have learned in this course has shifted me a bit- has rewired my thinking- and I think it is going to leave a mark. :) I enjoyed putting together my final project for this course, and found myself quite amused to look back at my first assignments and attempts at understanding the concepts of Enterprise Architecture. I'll admit that in the beginning there was a grappling curve. But then the big ideas began to settle in, and it was interesting to make their acquaintance. I'd like to reflect on the three most critical discoveries for this course:
1. Vision and Big Picture planning is everything- I always knew that- but the key is to remember that all the players are playing for the same team. Instead of seeing the organization as individual departments doing their jobs well as departments, each department has to be seen as part of the larger team moving toward the common vision. When that happens, it is possible for all of the mechanisms to move in concert toward that shared vision.
2. People are good at certain things- we call them experts- and if an organization plays to the strengths of its individuals, and then makes room at the table for all of the experts of various departments to gather and share what they know (and are planning and doing) for the common good and vision of the organization, well, that's where the magic happens. The key is to make sure that that meeting at the same big table happens... and that it happens regularly.
3. Micro planning is effective. I enjoyed going through the exercises of putting together an application brick and an application rationalization. This type of planning and data collection is smart and necessary in order for an organization to operate optimally. Looking at current state and future state of an organization is eye-opening, I still want to know how many school districts actually do that type of planning. It is impressive to go through that type of detail. It leads to incredible knowledge.
As an educational technology leader, I now have a more comprehensive understanding of the types of activities that should be going on behind the scenes of a large school district in order to make it so that teachers and students in the classroom experience cutting edge technology that leads them to the most transformational learning experiences. What I know is that it takes an INCREDIBLE amount of work and planning from several departments, to put together a seamless technology package. I have to give it to my school district: Dr. Vodicka's vision for technology integration in our school district, along with the ever-professional and knowledgeable DeWayne Cossey and his team, as well as Blueprint author and Director of Innovation, Matt Doyle, among other important key players, are setting up Vista Unified School District to truly be an excellent and innovative model of education. Having the chance to talk with these individuals regarding some of that micro planning provided me with perspectives I did not have before, and it has been enlightening.
I am truly grateful to have gone through this course on Enterprise Architecture. Dr. Danielson and Dr. Ottinger, our supportive instructors, succeeded in both breaking down EA for us so that it was relevant and comprehensible, and also ALWAYS challenging us, whether it be in discussion or assignments- to stretch ourselves and apply what we are learning. Much learning and growth has occurred for me during this semester. In recent meetings with our superintendent and also our IT director, I was able to talk big picture, and that is a good feeling. It is important. I definitely have a feel for the bigger picture of education now. I never thought I'd say this, but I'm a little sad for this course to end. One of the amazing strengths of this program is our cohort of students and all that we learn from each other. Working through this course together further strengthened and solidified this group and our sense of learning and accomplishment. I have great respect for the professionals in this group, who bring so many different experiences and perspectives to the table and offer their learning transparently so that I may learn from them as well. What started in EDL 630, under the inspirational leadership of Jeffery Heil, was further developed by our experiences with Dr. Danielson and Dr. Ottinger. Our cohort is strong and connected. Mad Gratitude :)
Provide an example of a successful (or unsuccessful) implementation due to strong (or weak) executive and stakeholder involvement. What occurred?
Our district is moving in the right direction in terms of planning for desired future state and making decisions. The Blueprint document has helped that a great deal, and is operating as the district architecture for now. One item that is particularly looking to be well-planned is VUSD's move toward personalized learning paths. Blueprint author Matthew Doyle is leading the way with this, and his communication has been early and often. The district has chosen several "Challenge Schools" that will pilot some products and processes for taking us into the world of personalized learning. So instead of just purchasing a product and rolling it out, there will be a period of research and experimentation, along with discussion and feedback among the various projects in the Challenge Schools and district leadership. Support and training are being provided, and corporate partners are involved as well. So far it is feeling like a team effort, involving schools, very different from each other in terms of program design and approach, and these schools serve students representing the wide spectrum of demographics. I have a good feeling about this process, as it is well-designed, patient, has an eye on the future, and solid communication is part of it. Stay tuned :)
The way I see it, large and important decisions do require patience, forethought, and communication. After all, it is an INVESTMENT in the organization to set the stage to make large decisions that affect an organization and its many stakeholders.