Organizations Really Can Change

CEO, One-to-One Institute

This June we will be releasing our Project RED III research.  The seventeen Signature Districts were identified as understanding and following a successful path for implementing their 1:1 programs.  They collected 3 years of data across several key factors including student achievement.  We are excited to see the results.

Signature Districts

These Signature Districts stood out through a competitive process across the country.  They rose to the top in each Key Implementation Factor from the original Project RED research.   They agreed to work with us for three years as they continued their implementations and data gathering. They have been pioneers.  And there have been changes along the way in how they did ‘school’. We’ve captured those and will be analyzing how/if those changes affected performance.  Their entrepreneurial spirits came to mind when I read about the companies below in the New York Times, Sunday, Feb. 14th.

New Genres Led by Technology

In 1908 the Model Ts rolled off the assembly line.  There was no market for mass produced cars.  Henry Ford believed the world that he knew was dramatically changing.  We all recall his quote, “If I had asked people what they wanted they would have said ‘faster horses’.”  Today technologies are inspiring a new genre of organizations that are recreating people transportation.

Sharing services like Uber, Lyft and Zipcar gives folks the option of not owning an auto.  Self-driving cars are under development through collaborations among car makers and technology gurus.  Prognosticators believe that our need for individual car ownership will ultimately be eliminated.  So back to Ford…they won’t be abandoning car development any time soon. But to ensure their competitive edge well into the future they will need to do more than make cars. Ideo is their go-to research team to help figure this out. They began in earnest last October.

AT&T is also reshaping their universe through Vision 2020.  Employees are expected to access online courses to drill up their skills and knowledge sets in coding, Cloud and building out their digital footprint.  Vision 2020 is an education blended model – online and bricks and mortar course work. Data sciences and digital networking are two focal areas.  Employees have been told to ‘adapt’. For some this is unwelcome news.

The Data Factor

Data is a big factor in both the above cases.  Ideo used a company developed ‘platform’ to determine key factors and experiences today’s commuters want in transportation systems.  They reported research results back to Ford.  It is believed that their findings will make up a small piece of Ford’s greater strategy over time.  AT&T is using virtualization and new systems that gather more data more quickly, analyze rapidly allowing the company to react.  These processes used to take years – now they can be done in days or minutes.

Leadership for Real Change

Many companies have tried to reinvent themselves. Some have succeeded. Some have not.  Education has been at it forever. We have access to more data than ever – certainly more than what we know how or when to use.  There is a proliferation of technologies in schools.  Much of it not well or meaningfully implemented.  But with high price tags and no plans for sustainability.  Still we march along and discover pockets of great leadership, vision, strategies that have turned traditional education on its head. It’s quite random.  State, federal and foundation programs have done little to launch or sustain authentic school transformations.  We rely on the unique school or district experience where all the stars in the galaxy are aligned.  There is high quality leadership for real change, focused integration of curriculum/instruction/technologies, plans for sustainability, consistent professional learning, effective 360 degree communications, a collaborative and blended ecosystem that targets personal learning potential and goals.  Such is what we found in the Signature Districts.

It is these schools/districts that are leading real reform.  They have alliances with researchers, writers, and vendors that share or lead the same mission and vision.  Many players are part of the picture. 

Stay tuned for Project RED III release!!!


Leslie Wilson, founder and CEO of One-to-One Institute, has served education for 38+ years  in top level, key decision-making roles at state and local levels. Recognized as an international expert in education technology, Wilson is a frequent writer, presenter and interviewee. Among her many publications, she co-authored, “Project RED-The Technology Factor, Nine Keys to Student Achievement and Cost Effectiveness” which is the most broadly used research around successful implementation of 1:1 technologies in schools.    

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