DEC Scan Journal : August 2011
Scan Vol 30 No 3 August 2011 24 Introduction chooling across the developed world is finally going digital, and, daily, more of the pathfinding digital schools are moving in turn to the networked operational mode. While industry and most public sector organisations went digital and networked by the 1990s and, as such, moved irrevocably from their traditional paper based operational mode and the associated stability and continuity to an era of ongoing change and evolution, schooling did not begin to make that shift until the 2000s (Lee & Gaffney, 2008; Lee & Finger, 2010; Lee & Hay, 2011). Today, many schools globally have gone digital, and normalised the use of the digital in the everyday teaching and operations of all staff. An as yet small subset of those schools have, in turn, recognised the educa- tional opportunities opened by the networked world and are moving at pace to a fully networked operational mode. They are reaching out beyond the traditional school walls to take advantage of the technology to work more collaboratively and productively with their community in the provision of a 24/7/365 education. These schools recognise that in a networked world students do not always have to physically attend the school to be taught and to learn. Broulee Public School (PS) on the far south coast of NSW is one such school exploring these potentials. It is one of a suite of international case studies that Professor Glenn Finger and the author are drawing upon in preparing Leading a networked school Community (in press). Broulee PS provides a succinct insight into what is possible in an everyday state school: a vital insight into how the school library and the teacher librarian can become a core and indis- pensable part of the school’s opera- tions, and how a school, by pooling its resources with those of its community, can significantly enhance its offerings. Broulee PS no longer has a traditional school library or teacher librarian. It has an iCentre, and an iCentre Coordinator, who is playing a leading role in developing a networked school community. It is most assuredly not a matter of semantics, but a fundamental role change. Importantly, that change and the iCentre’s movement to a central and integrating role in the school’s everyday operations was instigated and orchestrated by the school leader- ship, albeit with the full support of the iCentre team. While teacher librarians, like all the other education profession- als on the staff, must have a strong awareness of what is desirable in their particular domain, only the school leadership, and principal in particular, within a hierarchically structured school can tightly integrate all the elements needed to run a successful networked school community. Shaping the future As organisations – be they banks, hospitals or schools – go digital and, in turn, networked, and are strongly impacted by the ever evolving technology, it is imperative those organisations consciously seek to shape their desired future, recognise the mega forces at play and not simply react to each new development (Lipnack & Stamps, 1994; Drucker, 2001; ID, 2007; Hesselbein & Goldsmith, 2009; Bellanca and Brandt, 2010). This was the underlying message of Developing a networked school community (Lee & Finger, eds, 2010) that the authors subtitled ‘A guide to realizing a vision’. The authors’ desire in that work was to envision the next phase of schooling, and to provide schools with an idea of the kind of schooling possible. We identified the develop- ments taking place in the pathfinding schools globally, noted the possibilities open to them if they more consciously shaped the future, examined the organisational structures needed to facilitate the desired development, analysed the immense potential educa- tional, social, economic, organisational and political benefits of moving to the networked mode and suggested how all schools could begin making the move immediately. The networked school community and Broulee Public School Mal Lee is an author and educational consultant specialising in the evolution of schooling. He can be contacted at <email@example.com> or via <www.malleehome.com>. S Researchcolumns It has an iCentre, and an iCentre Coordinator, who is playing a leading role in developing a networked school community.