|TRANSFORMING EDUCATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS|
James L. Morrison
Program in Educational Leadership
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH)
On the Horizon is replete with descriptions of trends and forecastable developments that are likely to affect the future of educational organizations. The emerging global economy, characterized by the increased international movement of capital, products, technology, and information, is accentuating economic competition and means that students knowledge and skills must meet international standards. Regional free trade will be augmented by worldwide free trade. Organizational downsizing, already common in corporations and government agencies, is spreading to colleges and universities. Computers and telecommunication systems are driving changes in how we manage educational organizations, how we teach, and how our students learn. In home schools and public classrooms, in vocational institutions and graduate and professional schools, new "informated" operations and products are challenging employers and educators.
The implications of these macroenvironmental changes are substantial. Educators need to rethink their basic assumptions about organizational structure and curricular
programs. According to Terry OBanion (1995), the existing structure
and organization of most schools are inappropriate for the information age. The current
educational system is time-bound by requiring credit hours, class hours, and semester
courses; and efficiency-bound by credentialing students on the basis of time-in-class (so
many hours per grading period) and by specifying bodies of materials. The current system
is also teacher-bound, requiring instructors to be experts in rapidly expanding fields of
knowledge, motivational psychologists, and gifted lecturers so that they are able to
initiate, nurture, and certify learning.
outside of school. Schools and colleges should provide road maps, optional routes,
itineraries, rest stops for feedback, and access to information databases throughout the
world. Postsecondary students should be allowed to enter, leave, and reenter on any day,
twenty-four hours a day. Students "must be allowed to change directions, to move back
and forth, to make U-turns for remediation, and to call for assistance when they hit
roadblocks" (p. 2). Schools and colleges must improve their assessments of student
abilities, achievements, attitudes, goals (and limitations), as well as reconceptualize
their standards for entry into and exit from formal learning activities. In short,
educational institutions must become self-transforming organizations to take advantage of
what we know about learning and what we know about using technology to enhance learning
environment that could affect their schools future. This exercise is necessary so
as to link what is happening or could happen in the external environment to internal
decision making and resource reallocation in the minds of the institutions
stakeholders. When stakeholders from all functional areas of the organization comprehend
just how the future could be different from the past, and when they draw out the
implications of these changes for their organizations mission, goals, structure, and
functioning, they are more likely to want to make the resulting plan work.
in the New Directions for Institutional Research series (Morrison, Sargison, and
Francis, in press). The point: by harnessing the intellectual power of stakeholders
(boards of trustees, faculty, staff, students) to identify signals of change, analyze the
implications of these signals for the organization, and design actions in light of these
implications, organizational leaders are able to develop and implement creative plans.
Because these plans incorporate the thinking and support of the majority of stakeholders,
they can transform the organizational culture and align it with changing realities.
Morrison, J. L., Sargison, A., and Francis, D. "Transforming a University to Meet the Challenges of the Twenty-First Century." In Donald M. Norris and James L. Morrison (eds.), Transforming Institutions of Higher Education. New Directions for Institutional Research, no. 93. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, in press.
OBanion, T. "School Is OutLearning Is In," On the Horizon, 1995, 3(5), 12, 56.
OBanion, T. "Gladly Would He Learn," On the Horizon, 1996, 4(1), 1, 35.
Perelman, L. J. Schools Out: A Radical New Formula for the Revitalization of Americas Educational System. New York: Avon Books, 1993.
Snyder, D. P. "High Tech and Higher Education: A Wave of Creative Destruction Is Rolling Toward the Halls of Academe," On the Horizon, 1996, 4(5), 1, 37.
Wingspread Group on Higher Education. An American Imperative: Higher Expectations for Higher Education. Racine, WI: An American Foundation, 1993.
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