Flattening the classroom by flipping the teaching engagement model

Blog post
edited by
Matt Tricomi

Continuing on from: The world is getting flatter – Why isnt our educational system?

With this approach, teaching resources will not be spent on redundant or duplicative efforts such as preparing and delivering the lesson. 

The video lesson and supporting services will do that.  A simple rough order magnitude business case estimates we can shift an enormous set of resources from preparation and delivery to creativity, facilitation and assessment.  Here is how significant a shift it is:

$63,033,390,000 = (180 days/year X 3.5 hours / days X $30/hr.) X 3,335,100 teachers

 

These tools will work for the vast majority of subjects and lessons. This cursory analysis assumes 2/3 of the lessons can be affected and that teachers deliver 5 classes /day with an average teacher salary of $30 dollars an hour sans benefits.  This obviously does not include the cost of developing the alternative content which should be offset by the cost avoidance benefit of not buying text books, improvement in teacher productivity, remedial education etc… 

This approach is certainly not arguing for a reduction in teaching resources or in their level of subject matter expertise.  This approach is arguing for:

  • A reallocation of the resources away from redundant lesson preparation and delivery towards ensuring the lesson is understood.
  • A role change that would place greater responsibility on the student and introduce the opportunity to customize educational delivery.
  • teachers to become facilitators of learning and apply their creativity, knowledge and inter-personal skills but at a different phase of the learning cycle.
  • students to be able to work with parents and other students to comprehend the lesson. 
  • for student centric education.

The combination of the Khan Academy and flipped classrooms allow us to do that.  The target state value chain now adopts the “create and facilitate” functions in lieu of prepare and deliver. (See Figure 2)  Ideally, if this is implemented and it provides the opportunity to save human resources by increasing the number of student to teacher ratio, the resulting resources savings should be reallocated to Early Childhood Education (ECE). Either way, as any rationale individual would conclude, ECE should be a high priority target investment opportunity due to its Return on Investment (ROI) and social benefits (3)

With this synthesized approach, we can achieve a form of scalability that allows us to focus on the application and assessment of the student’s progress.  It allows for creativity and the development of best of breed approaches for lesson preparation and delivery.  Students can progress at personalized rates using tools that conform to their learning styles.

Now, how do now get the best “quality” lesson preparation and delivery?

We take our “best” or most impactful teachers and they become the lesson producers who create and deliver the content for this new model.  We allow the best of breed lessons to develop at a grass roots level and let the market demand for quality establish what is effective.  If we empower the educators, we will find hidden stars and performers and discover teachers who are even more creative in enhancing this new model of education.  We will have tapped into a rare commodity that will enhance other teacher’s approaches and engage the students with a personalized approach. Motivating and positioning teachers to out create one another will only ensure the students are getting the quality they deserve.

Another fundamental deficiency within the current educational system is the limited role parents have.  

They are effectively shielded from the most critical part of the process – delivery. The communication model is woefully inadequate and in essence is single point of failure network with the child as the weakest link. (See Figure 3)

 

This new model allows us to “flatten” communication increase shared access to information between parents, teachers and students. It offers a number of additional possibilities.  A student will be more empowered and vested in their educational journey and will now be more responsible and motivated to set and reach greater educational goals.  The student’s goals and progress will be easily tracked and monitored by parent and teacher.  The approach aligns well with the rapidly developing technology trends on how our whole society is researching, discovering and learning new information – self-paced, personalized and content rich.  Each lesson can be the launch point for self-exploration and research on related subjects or a deeper dive into the content.  A student’s time and motivation, home support or peer group will now be the constraining factors.  The student is no longer the weak link between parent and teacher.  Parents will have the option take a more proactive role. If they do, wonderful, if not, the student has options to pursue with peers or go solo.  Inevitably, as the amount of information and content flow increases between the parents, students and teachers, the awareness of educational system performance and accountability will organically improve. (See Figure 4)

 

We will accelerate the transformation from the teacher-centered pedantic model to a student-centered responsibility model.  

Teachers will fulfill the challenging role of content creation, facilitation and assessment. If it takes the student 10 viewings to understand the lesson, they can now do that without system or peer pressure.  The student may do the lesson by themselves, with their family or with their peers. They can and should discuss it on social networks or in their friend’s basement.  Encourage educational topics to be discussed – anywhere and everywhere. Encourage the growth of educational communities.  Let’s destroy this anti-intellectual notion that we only learn in school and that it is best to learn by oneself.

Extending lesson delivery beyond the classroom, frees the student to collaborate and explore the best means to meet the lessons ends with a less restrictive timeframe.  Students could even share a computer and learn lessons together.  Why not?  Learning with peers has proven to one of the more effective means for intellectual, social and emotional growth.  Students should be encouraged and trained to learn collaboratively.  Why would we want to constrain lessons and learning to a teacher-centric classroom?  This is certainly not what will be expected of them in the workplace or in their personnel lives.  The world is flattening, why not the educational system and the classrooms?

Parents will no longer be “blind” to how good or bad a lesson has been delivered.  

They can be active participants in educating their children using a medium that is much more natural and intuitive than a text book.  They will be able to learn for the first time or relearn, as we often have to, along with their child. They will be able to take an earlier and more pivotal role in the learning process. This is potentially the most valuable and challenging departure from the traditional model. Why is it so important?  Parents will now have the option to model education and learning in addition to all other forms of social norms. Today, we have positioned parents in the background and we wonder why we do not get more school to home communication.  The achievement gap will also improve as we can shift the roles of parent and student to be integral to personalizing the educational experience.

We all know this has to change but we have never given the parents the tools to participate nor have we positioned them effectively in the learning process. 

We ask parents to help with homework but only after the child has had the lesson.  They have no insight into how effectively it has been delivered. We ask the parent to help the frustrated child when the parent has no idea how the lesson is structured or if they are contradicting what has been stated.  Let’s face it. We have outsourced education from the family. If we believe our own rhetoric and the underlying research, we all know that bridging the learning process between educators and family is transformational and the best means to ensure lifelong learners and an educated society.

Teachers should be empowered to create a “marketplace” for lessons and to be permitted to promote and sell them to schools.  

Teachers should be financially compensated for these creative outputs but more importantly honored for creating a better way to educate a student. Education is one of the few work pursuits, other than entrepreneurship, where one can readily create or influence the value of the core product or service.  We can improve educational performance with consistent content that is bundled with a customized delivery that addresses our inherent learning differences. Students should be able to choose from these alternative designs and personalize their educational approach based on what works for them.  We can develop a core lessons taxonomy and semantic model that will provide a means to catalog or organize the marketplace.  Teachers, administrators, students and parents will be able to search and discover based on content and delivery style what is needed for the individual.  Imagine a parent and child researching or shopping for a lesson to understand the Pythagorean Theorem and having choices.  No more running out to shop for just pens, notebooks, rulers and backpacks.  The family can now research and construct personalized curriculum for the school year!

This marketplace would allow teachers to develop a stronger and more creative voice, to be the principal producers of lessons and content that speaks directly to the primary stakeholders – the students. 

Teachers are the ones who get to see and assess what is working every day.  Allow them to build it, evolve it and ensure its impact.  Restore educators to a position of honor and respect.  Give a voice to students who undoubtedly will let the system know when it is not working.  Build a smart system that feeds and learns from itself and in the process let the model flatten.

If we do this with a national commitment, we will quickly rediscover the fact that children are not “robots”. 

They are much more capable of learning and taking initiative than we have come to expect from them.  What is needed is for them to know they are the principal stakeholders in their educational pursuit.  Given the chance they will take an active role in the structuring their educational destiny from the outset in collaboration with parents, teachers, friends and peers. Our future is at stake.

(1)      National Center on Educational Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=84

(2)      ASCD September 2009, Volume 15, Number 3, Highly Effective Teachers: Defining Rewarding, Supporting and Expanding their Roles. Laura Varlas

(3)      The Economics of Inequality – The Value of Early Childhood Education  James Heckman, American Educator Spring 2011http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/spring2011/Heckman.pdf 

What are some patterns or anti-patterns where architecture and governance can help

Blog post
added by
Wiki Admin

Architecture programs can be help to organizations – but for many different reasons. In same breath, by not identifying the needs for doing architecture, an architecture program can address problems that do not exist or leaders or team do not care about, and can become a waste of money or relegated to a compliance exercise.

At Xentity, we believe instituting architecture, governance or design guidance needs to address patterns, anti-patterns that create portfolio, solution and analysis management strategies that help deal with disruptions, investment in innovation, and shrinking budgets while improving services and aligning suppliers and partners.

Below are some example external pressure trends, common impact or anti-pattern trends cutting across cultural, business, and technology aspects of programs

  • Resistance to Change Planning: Intellectual approaches without balancing emotional or maturity context, not engaging leaders motives, pain, not seed-planting
  • Paving Cow Paths:  Automating management problems, function over form, not questioning assumptions, not looking at new (HR, IT, $) resource enablement patterns
  • Geek Speak Execs don’t get it, and its not their fault
  • Poor Modernization Blueprints: Mile-High, Inch-Deep, without proving pieces at time to gain momentum
  • Islands of Automation: aka Center of Universe – disparate sites, systems, apps, instead of services in user environment
  • Redundant Buying: Buying same item many times, no architecture  guidance to scale or change patterns

  • Program Management: Few delivered on time, on budget, on scope, on quality. Sponsorship lacking, not insuring/governing/buying risk, still not agile PM

  • Bad Data: Building GIGO Business Intelligence. Asking the wrong question of data which in turn leads to data collection failures.
  • Poor Cyber Security: IT security seen as lagging  IT cost, instead of asset-risk management issue
  • Too Much Change: Executives and Consultants promote constant flux, instead of unfreezing, adding change, and institutionalize new efforts and concepts
  • Problem seems insurmountable: Too large, complex leading to reversion to waterfall project planning techniques. The window for 2 years to test to new overhauling policies are gone. Business agility requires negotiation between business for prioritizing and agile project rollout.
  • Vision/Thought Leadership left to higher-ups only:  Challenging to staff to truly envision a change or target state not part of their incentive, even though best tactical ideas to enhance/meet strategy usually comes from within. Thinking gets bound up in current operational mire.
  • Revolving Door: Working to satisfy the management of today for organization political or self interest purposes. Middle management is often positioned or left to be soft with few exceptions on the drive needed to manage change. For example, with middle management and up are nearing or at retirement, large amounts started to retire, the churn caused by vacuum-effect at high level makes long term initiatives difficult to start or sustain.
  • Compliance Driven: Overwhelming amount of data calls with heavy-handed “fines”. Manage and plan to compliance – measuring to ineffectual measures
  • Compliance too complicated to understandCost/Price analysis on subcontractor costsSelf-monitoring/compliance reviews, manage contracting risks, methods and evidence used for estimation, understanding government acquisition regulations. Without expert help, small businesses are heavily limited to engaging.
  • Planning to the beast and not the customer: Fear at operational level of making decisions that lead to a innovative approaches or straying from norm – risk adverse. No reward for doing things better.
  • Delivering Value not part of Culture: Not sure of value of what we produce. no clarity on strategic outcomes and therefore have little recognition of recommended initiatives and what they mean to the workforce.
  • Blackbox Syndromes (aka Man behind the Curtain): Information Technology and management concepts and operations are overwhelmed by or shielded from the consumer of customer view. Programs/Mission are not informed of what IT has to do. Thus executive direction is disconnected, sometimes thus IT solutions or operations funding tie executives hands. Business agility gets put on backburner regardless of what Portfolio/Project Management is in place.
  • Surviving, not Thriving – Mission management model or system not designed to manage sustained change and transition. They are designed to deliver a product or service, if lucky.
  • Stovepiped Policy creates stovepipe programs: Cannot collaborate – need to get my task done now. Without collaboration, there is an inability for prioritization methods or techniques to be imparted and use effectively at all tiers of management.
  • Funding mismatch: Budget is a constraining variable in all work formulas precluding optimization across elements. These may be synthesied or aggrgated – mixed and matched as you see fit. Some programs may actually be funded right, but key functions of program budget are misaligned limiting what can be accomplished as a whole.
  • Enterprise Planning flavor of the day: Due to either past failures, or perception that new approaches are repackaged ways tried before kills internal buy-in towards integrated or collaborative techniques. Enterprise architecture, team functional/segment analysis, or agile project management may have been “tried” before, but instead of evaluating failure as tried to take on too much scope, other factors not resolved above, or simply, was over-engineered, are usually not labelled as the cause. The baby gets thrown out with the bath water or enterprise planning gets tossed aside due to lack of leadership, mistrust or burn-out.
  • Imbalance of Leadership Styles: Quick deciders, Stalling Stabilizers, Never-satisfied Challengers, Start-up Innovators – whatever the persona,  a lack of understanding of what each brings causes consternation or even over imbalance towards one style. Which leads to no decisions, status quo, low morale, or too much change.


Why the name “xentity”?

Blog post
edited by
Wiki Admin

There are two general small talk questions we get asked a lot. The first is “How do you pronounce xentity?” Our usual answer is ZEN-i-tee, CENT-it-ee, zen-ti-TEE, X-EN-ti-tee . Going through life with a name like Tricomi, you hear them all – tric-OH-mee, TRIC-uh-mee, tric-OH-my. To-MAY-toe, To-MAH-toe. Then, we are asked, “OK, so what does it mean“? Thats the fun answer, in which, pending the listening audience, we give a one-liner or the full gist. Below is the latter.

=====

One week after September 11, 2001, Xentity was founded to help businesses restart after the tragedy. Leveraging our previous successful experiences in Travel Architecture (among other sectors – Financial, Energy, Education), we left our previous jobs and gained a contract to help a small business specifically focused on getting people traveling again. Of least priority, was a name.

In 2002, we still didn’t have a name. We were halfway through the first contract, but nameless. At the time, we were proposing business model designs for a prominent venture capitalist who was looking to properly invest in both a business services firm and its enabling IT services. He wanted to understand – does he spin-off IT services, does he run as division, does he sell it to mitigate risks or focus, does he co-invest with us? This reminded me of Orbitz per their name and organization. When doing architecture  proposal support then, they, among several dot-com engagements, weren’t letting us know or didn’t yet know what they would become, so the architecture couldnt be referred to as T2’s architecture, or a certain airline partners architecture, so in the documents we had put x entity’s architecture. This happened over a few proposals, architectures, and spin-off support. 

So, in 2002, we did it again. It was at that time we simply merged x and entity to make xentity. We slapped our first logo and name on our co-investment option with xentity in lower case and in aqua green colors with a grey shadow branded prominently. We only made it official in 2003 once we started with Federal contracts requiring the full formalities.

But, beyond the novelty, what I liked about the name is the homonym nature of it. “entity”, just like the dot-com example, allowed us flexibility in adjusting to the client based focusing and needing change. I wasn’t hitting a rolodex like most consulting firms start out. We were delivering new architecture for new or changing business models, and well, relying on our performance, and the clients executive relationships to say “you got to check these guys out – look what they did for me”. I didnt know if the client based would change, or types of services, topical areas, subject matter, level of executive advisory would change, size of client?

And to us x meant change. To digress, x in math typically is the defacto variable for an equation. And, when you are born with an equation in your namsake – Euler–Tricomi equation –   – you tend to have math and lots of x’s on your brain. Add on top of the years of advanced study in engineering, you see x’s in your sleep. Whether its a DIFFY-q (differential equation) where you are mathematically deriving the function as x changes, or you are trying to connect the business drivers, goals, products, technology, resources, and costs – you need to design for change – design for the x or change in your entity . 

All I knew is we started to focus on changing groups, entities. We wanted to help clients be more relevant, efficient, and impactful. I knew I wanted to be in change, find people who wanted to make an impact (not a body shop). We started because we wanted to be a part of getting the world flying again. We looked ten years into the future. As noted in our core architecture concepts, We could see the positive and negative disruption of the recent then of offshoring.  We were looking beyond the marketing and selling craze of the internet and tracking Moore’s law on digitized solutions would look to change how the world would communicate, learn, discover, and solve new problems. We wondered how could increasing interaction following Metcalfe’s law impact solutions and knowledge. We looked into how the online could impact the offline and vice-versa especially where once abundant resources were now either trending towards scarce or requiring new solutions. We knew their were so many variables, that change design, analysis, architecture, and planning was needed. We were wowed by veteran innovators – for instance, of course a fellow College Alum Dean Kamen, who hit pop fame with the Segway, but interested or more socio-technology solutions such as water for 3rd world. 

So, xentity it was. 

In the world of transformation consulting, managing change, leading change, or even just handling change we believe strongly is what will make businesses of this century more relevant and more efficient. With that in mind, when you read the concepts and services, you can likely now see, hopefully clearly, our focus, even in our name is on helping change your entity.

-Matt 

Why is change so fundamental

Blog post
edited by
Wiki Admin

The heartbeat of our business model is that the largest generational change in history is occurring right now. A bit dramatic, but consider the following cultural, business, and technological factors happening globally.

Cultural – 6.8 Billion people pressuring boundaries, resources, and relationships impacting policy, environment, and security and locally mass retirements causing brain drain. The U.S.’s largest generation, which has led the world for the past 50 years, is retiring creating a vacuum on workforce replacement; during the same period the world population has gone from 2 Billion to 6 Billion. This large population has created immense pressures on boundaries, resources, and relationships impacting policy, environment, and security.

plus

Business – Efficiency needs pushing quality, finite resources breaking financial models, globalization pushing costs, fast-automated transactions, all causing bad eactive policy. To deal with this change, the new speed of automated transactions or dying conception of “infinite” resources, for example, are forcing new radical and early version policies into Law creating immaturity in governance and financial models, no analysis or paralysis. This is forcing leadership to consider new models and controls such as globalization, service organizations, new collaborative partnerships on product management, and massive supply chain workflow changes.

has resulted in

Technology – technology performance, management, and safety controls to be non-existent and logarithmic growth of IT capital. Either way, technology outpaces culture and business, or vice versa. New technologies are moving faster than can be absorbed or catalogued, introducing new Consequences via rapid deployment to keep up replace depleted U.S. labor forces , but challenges the “perishable value” of your technology capital portfolio causing inefficient controls, work, and impacts the quality of your products and services. Do I invest? Do I leapfrog?

This time is exciting, yet massive change causes massive confusion. These level of changes, describe from hot, flat, and crowded to too much information to many other are driving the need for change. We believe transformational activities start with the executive understanding the culture, policy, and environment first and foremost prior to engaging in major business transformation. We understand change is nebulous, inevitable, but less jaded – powerful. Whether the business change is enhancing, correcting, or repairing, Xentity’s transformation services are designed knowing your people are the heartbeat of your organization.

The ever-changing technologies provide new windows to enable more efficient and effective ways of doing business. Xentity has skilled, trained, and certified consultants in the areas of technology unique to lines of business or general to enterprises to properly institute technology change. Xentity promotes Technology change operationally, tactically, or strategically, but ultimately guided by the true business service, process, or management needs for such.

Xentity brings its knowledge of technology innovation trends to help take advantage of the correct acceleration points that the culture can absorb to support its community. 

What are our Integrated Change Management Concepts

Blog post
added by
Wiki Admin

Improve Performance – Plan and Manage your change

Your project, program, or organization leadership typically hinges on your effectiveness to implement relevancy. Usually that means improving performance or integrating change – both of which helps garner the goals.

Issues clients may encounter requiring these services include:

  • Program Management: Few delivered on time, on budget, on scope, on quality. Sponsorship lacking, not insuring/governing/buying risk, still not agile PM
  • Planning to the beast and not the customer: There is a fear at operational level of making decisions that lead to a innovative approaches or straying from norm – risk adverse. And why not, what is the reward for doing things better?
  • Your Team is thinking about surviving, not thriving: Is your mission management model or system designed to manage sustained change and transition proactively and built into the culture? Or is it setup to run operations, and as issues come up, react distinctly to each issue. You may have organizing units by a product or service, but are your metrics setup about growing, increasing relevancy?
  • Enterprise Planning flavor of the day: Due to either past failures, or perception that new approaches are repackaged ways tried before kills internal buy-in towards integrated or collaborative techniques. Enterprise architecture, team functional/segment analysis, or agile project management may have been “tried” before, but instead of evaluating failure as tried to take on too much scope, other factors not resolved above, or simply, was over-engineered, are usually not labelled as the cause. The baby gets thrown out with the bath water or enterprise planning gets tossed aside due to lack of leadership, mistrust or burn-out.
  • Shopping hungry (aka Funding Mismatch): You have a great new change plan, great new architecture, but its unfunded both short and long-term. How do you work within your budget which is a constraining variable in all work formulas precluding optimization across elements. These may be synthesized or aggregated – mixed and matched as you see fit. Some programs may actually be funded right, but key functions of program budget are misaligned limiting what can be accomplished as a whole.

Many of these issues need to be addressed before engaging in a change management initiative, and many may be noted as part of the new change plan. But a concept, or set of recommendations is just that. There needs to be a way to continue buying back the risk of implementing the changes in an integrated, efficient, and effective pattern.

Our management services focus on introducing the right performance management or/and change management tools to help your initiatives achieve.

We use an Integrated Change Approach

The key to Xentity’s success at executing  business transformation, governance, and excellence in communication management has been in the knowledge of how to integrate and tie all domains of program engagements together to create a sum value greater than the individual parts. In 2006, Xentity published an approach on enterprise planning business intelligence and management for the Department of the Interior to improve the change management coordination between CIO investment and information management including CyberSecurity, Privacy, Capital Planning and Investment Control, Enterprise Architecture, Project Management Plans and coordinating OMB required PAR and other strategic performance reports. In commercial organizations, some of the rigor, policy, or other aspects may very, but the tenets remain the same.

To make changes among these previously disparate and uncoordinated efforts, an Integrated Change management approach was recommended. This includes an integrated oversight of the parts that need to be connected, understood, and communicated prior to significant investment, supported by excellent  communication and project management skills to facilitate the changes.

This is crucial to the executing of enterprise information management, program management offices (PMOs),and data lifecycle management concepts with multiple driving force directions pulling on it (i.e. policy change, regulations and compliance, mission direction including strategic plans and transformation blueprints, and change budget pressures). These approaches help ensure Enterprise Architecture plays a key role in being a coordination component to organizing strategic principles, product and service roadmaps, transformational blueprint recommendations, and resulting plans such as product, capital, integrated strategic, and even future business cases, yet at same time, is just one of many key change leadership and management components.