My friend is a project manager at a company that deals with sustainable, environmental practices. So it must be perplexing to her that I have both an online and paper subscription to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The online version is part of my bed-time ritual after binge-watching (currently, Fringe, season 2) on Netflix. The paper version is to remind me to read something other than education stuff. The October 20, 2014 issue of WSJ has a section on the C-Suite, and in it, Ben Fried, Google Chief Information Officer (CIO), expounds on Google’s approach to its employees’ use of technology.
Google is a role model in the correlation between technology and culture. In this interview with Fried, he contrasts the day when people were trained in the use of technology and the current time, where everyone (in the field) knows how to use technology. He posits that CIOs who limit technology choices set a “patriarchal and rigid” culture that is counterproductive. By allowing employees their choice of technologies at work, they become part of the decision-making process, and change management becomes easier.
An unconventional resource at Google is an IT residency program that recruits people with nontypical backgrounds who want to learn. The rationale is that the company invests in individuals who embrace change and, as a result, “can give great customer support….And those people create a more secure environment.”
Lastly, when queried about technology and culture change, Fried cites an MIT team that is measuring patterns of social interaction in the workplace. The interest lies not in what people are saying or in data measurements; rather, the focus is on team-building.
In the field of education, the current focus on professional learning communities (PLCs), teacher leaders, and professional development is discomforting to a profession that is traditionally solitary and isolated. Factor in the new Common Core standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that advocate the use of engineering and technology to foster students’ critical thinking skills, and disequilibrium is to be expected. The push for team building and shared best practices has been an ongoing process for reform. The classroom teacher, long regarded as the key to improvements in student achievement, is no longer solely accountable in the goal for academic excellence. The site principal is not the solitary Lone Ranger or Pied Piper who singlehandedly leads his staff to his or the district’s vision. The movement is towards a collective moral purpose (Fullan, Bertran, & Quinn, 2004; Frick and Gutierrez, 2008).
Frick, W.C., & Gutierrez, K.J. (2008). Those moral aspects unique to the professor: Principals’ perspectives on their work and the implications for a professional ethic for educational leadership. Journal of School Leadership, 18, pp. 32–61.
Fullan, M., Bertran, A., & Quinn, J. (2004). New lessons for districtwide reform. Educational Leadership, 61, pp. 42–46.