What a fall! One of the two courses I took this fall at San Diego State was Enterprise Architecture, with Dennis Danielson (San Diego County Office of Education Director of Educational Technology) and John Cusack (San Diego County Office of Education Senior Director, Infrastructure and Operations). This was a fantastic class and a great way to continue my Master of Educational Leadership program at SDSU.
This particular course focused on enterprise architecture and started to provide an understanding, and actually an awareness, for EA. One of my biggest take-a-ways from the course was that EA may look daunting, but once dissected, is actually a novel way to bring teams together to work together on a common vision, using common language. It is like putting our three-year budget, Local Control Accountability Plan, Strategic Plan, WASC together, all while working on the vision through the lens of the mission. It truly ties an organization together.
Another take-a-way was reviewing a system in its current state, and where we would like to see the organization move. This could either be with the same system or finding a new system to meet such a need. It was enlightening to review some of the current systems at AAS and reflect on where the organization could go.
Many take-a-ways, and a final one to reflect on in this post is on technology bricks. The idea follows the first two (2) points, and is a visualization of where a system or tool is today, where it will be in the short-term, and where it will be in the long-term. It also shows how the evolution of the tool may impact other systems and/or tools, providing insight on what may no longer be needed or what gaps may be created through this evolution.
I continue to be impressed with the program thus far. It is truly rewarding to be able to learn with my cohort, my peers! Thank you Dr. Danielson, Mr. Cusack, and my cohort, for another great semester at SDSU!
In my EDL 680 course, which is Introduction to Enterprise Architecture, we are wrapping up the course and reading several pieces of information and research on enterprise architecture and frameworks. As the course winds down, it is time to reflect on the various types of plans an organization has, and whether they should be separate or inclusive of one another.
Typically an organization is going to have its educational plan, along with a technology plan. They may also have a strategic plan, and for those school districts in California, we also have our Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP). We simply like to plan. But to what end? And are each of these different?
When I became the President & CEO of Academy of Arts and Sciences in the spring of 2016, I was committed to creating a strategic plan for the organization. In addition to this plan, we would work on our LCAPs and lay the groundwork for our WASC three-year study (another plan really). After some reflection, I nixed the idea of a strategic plan ... it is basically the same as the LCAP, and if there were any missing pieces, it would be easy enough to add them in.
My thinking is evolving on this concept of a plan. I still love planning, and having a road map to follow. I do not love separate maps however. All of these plans can be, and actually should be, consolidated into one master plan. This will ensure the entire organization is on the same page, and that we properly deploy our resources: time, talent and treasure. This gives us the big picture of where we are going, the resources that are needed to get there, and the inputs and outputs to measure success.
It is time to develop one plan, ensure the organization is on the same page, and start advancing together towards the future.
In my EDL 680 course, which is Introduction to Enterprise Architecture, we are reading several pieces of information and research on enterprise architecture and frameworks. These past two (2) weeks we have focused on the systems of an organization; earlier I wrote on a systems review, now on the concept of a 'brick.'
According to this course, "a “brick” specifies technical standards and protocols or technologies and products. They define current and future standards. They also define products or standards in the current environment that are to be retired or contained. From a planning point of view, once they have been evaluated holistically and approved centrally, the Bricks become ‘the bible’. They describe future plans and containment/retirement targets. Therefore, for example, if a proposal is offered that attempts to build a new service on something is marked as a retirement target the team can have a fully informed conversation about whether to recommend against that."
Great concept, and glad we spent some time talking about it. This is something that we can utilize at AAS and elsewhere, as it helps create an understanding of where we are and where we are going in the short and long term. I tested this model with our SIS and LMS systems. It helped me understand all the systems we use for our SIS and LMS, and what would happen in the near and far term if we ever made changes to either system.
The 'brick' is a terrific way to understand a system or process, and the implications of change, both on the system and process and on some of the support systems that surround said system or process. This is a system that should be used to truly understand the evolution of change within an organization.
In my EDL 680 course, which is Introduction to Enterprise Architecture, we are reading several pieces of information and research on enterprise architecture and frameworks. These past two (2) weeks we have focused on the systems of an organization, such as teaching and learning systems, administrative systems, back-office systems, and supplemental systems. Another timely section as AAS reviews a few keys systems of its own.
While we have been studying systems in EDL 680, AAS has been reviewing some of its systems. Our current focus has been on our student information system (SIS) and learning management system (LMS). For those who know our systems, know and may appreciate our use of a number of solutions for our SIS and LMS. We have a few great partners in this areas, from FuelEd to School Pathways, and some others in between. As we started to evaluate options for the 2017-18 year and beyond, a new potential partner was introduced by our new back office provider. First, how great to have the introduction from a current partner who had a great opportunity to share.
We assembled a team to start our reviews. We assembled an administrative team, with our coordinators and managers, along with a new Curriculum Review Committee. We deployed both teams to review some of our options and provide recommendations. After a month-long intensive process, which for some aspects actually started in the spring, a solid and near unanimous decision was reached and shared with senior leadership.
As this is posted in our Academic Affairs Committee packet for their October 13 meeting, it is OK to share that we believe we have found an integrated solution for our SIS, LMS and curriculum. Both committees, along with administration, have found and are recommending a new partner for AAS for the 2016-17 year. I am very proud to say this process involved input and feedback from a number of staff within the organization, and if the Academic Affairs Committee and full Board of Directors approve the recommendation, will allow us time to fully implement and execute the new system and ensure we continue to provide a rigorous, robust educational experience for our scholars.
What is most important to note in this post, is the decision and determination to involve our staff in this process. Clear expectations were set at the beginning of the process, reminders shared throughout, and final reports submitted. Information continues to be shared to ensure the organization is on the same page, and is ready to start implementation if the governing body gives its final approval.
In my EDL 680 course, which is Introduction to Enterprise Architecture, we are reading several pieces of information and research on enterprise architecture and frameworks. This particular week we focused our efforts and learning on data and data standards. As usual, a very timely topic to relate back to AAS.
There are numerous agencies and organizations which require data, and internal uses for this information as well. At the state and federal level, this data is sometimes used for funding decisions and norms tracking. We collect data to report on our progress with our Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPs), and to share with our governing and oversight organizations, such as our Board of Directors and charter authorizing districts.
AAS started collecting another set of data this year through our partnership with i-Ready. We are testing our scholars as they return/start the school year, and at two (2) additional points throughout the year. The goal is to assist with personalized instruction and support, see where our scholars are and provide additional assistance if necessary to help them be successful in our virtual program.
As our vision states, we are working to "create a collaborative virtual learning community, inspiring scholars to appreciate the ways in which arts and sciences nurture a curiosity for life-long learning, and prepare scholars to take responsibility for their future success." These test scores and data pieces are a means to do just that, help prepare our scholars to be successful in whatever they choose to do once they graduate from AAS with their high school diploma.
In my EDL 680 course, which is Introduction to Enterprise Architecture, we are reading several pieces of information and research on enterprise architecture and frameworks. This continues to be a challenging journey to understand, though pieces are starting to click as the course progresses.
I continue to learn how to use EA and try to apply it and some of the other lessons from this course at AAS. This week we took at look at the current and desired states of our organization, in a number of areas. What I continue to realize is we have a ways to go to move from a start-up charter school to a model program. That is not to say we are not doing great things at AAS, rather, there is still opportunity to grow, build and enhance our work in and for the community.
One of the big areas I would love to tackle in the coming weeks is the creation of mission and vision statements for each of our divisions and departments. Our entire staff came together this past February to create a new mission, vision and core values for AAS. Now is the time to take those guiding principles and create visions for each of our departments.
We have a great foundation at AAS. Now is the time to use these new tools to build on our foundation and enhance our various programs and initiatives, whether they are meant to serve our scholars, learning coaches, staff and/or community members.
In my EDL 680 course, which is Introduction to Enterprise Architecture, we are reading Scott Bernard's "EA3: An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture" along with several other pieces of research on enterprise architecture and frameworks. As I stated in my last entry, this is a new topic to me, one that is both exciting and a little scary to learn (exciting to learn and implement, scary as its part of a course for credit at SDSU)!
What I know and /or assume thus far is we rely on technology, in our personal and professional lives, and even at AAS as a virtual school. AAS truly relies on the effective deployment of technology to ensure a robust educational experience is available to the scholars we serve and the staff we employ. Technology is a key asset to many organizations, including our own. We have several pieces of hardware and many software solutions that we utilize. EA and EA Frameworks help ensure technology is intertwined with the mission and vision; a true partner is the strategic plan.
As previously mentioned, I am excited to continue to learn more about EA and how it can be successfully used in the educational setting. I am part of an amazing cohort of educational leaders from across the state, all at different stages of their careers and holding various roles within their schools. This is the perfect cohort to learn together and find ways for each of us to utilize EA in our classrooms, schools and districts. I am excited to use this tool as AAS works on charter renewals, WASC renewal and evaluates many of its contracts which expire at the end of the fiscal year. (Truly exciting as a majority of our long-term contracts are up for renewal; perfect time to use EA to be on the same page and ensure everything we bring to AAS makes sense.)
In only a few short weeks, I have started to better understand EA and how it can work in education, much like it works in business and government. This was a major federal project in the 90s. I have also learned that I need to learn more, to better understand the best ways to use EA. So many times we learn about a new tool and want to deploy it, without truly taking the time to understand that tool. I plan on spending a great deal of time over the next several weeks to fully understand EA and its uses, and see how it can be used at AAS.
In my EDL 680 course, which is Introduction to Enterprise Architecture, we are reading Scott Bernard's "EA3: An Introduction to Enterprise Architecture." I'll admit that this is a new concept for me, but one that is useful. The cover of the book intrigued me most when I received it in the mail, as it stated "Linking Strategy, Business, and Technology." A no brainer in my head, and a concept I am thrilled to spend the next few months learning more about.
I am thrilled about my M.Ed program and this class in particular, as the Academy of Arts and Sciences works on three (3) charter renewals and our Three-Year WASC Study. The 2016-17 year is of utmost importance for the future and our vision to create a collaborative virtual learning community, inspiring scholars to appreciate the ways in which arts and sciences nurture a curiosity for life-long learning, and prepare scholars to take responsibility for their future success. I can see how Enterprise Architecture can play a large role in our work, as it "is a management and technology practice that is devoted to improving the performance of enterprises by enabling them to see themselves in terms of a holistic and integrated view of their strategic direction, business practices, information flows, and technology resources."
Deploying this concept will help ensure our staff and stakeholders have the ability to see the big picture of AAS, rather than a singular view from their silo in the organization. While we have developed five (5) strong divisions: Academic Affairs, External Relations, Information Services, Operations and Strategic Initiatives, the use of Enterprise Architecture will help ensure AAS is working collaboratively to meet our mission and vision of the school, and in turn, ensure we are meeting the needs of those we serve: our scholars.
I believe utilizing Enterprise Architecture will allow us to align our mission, vision and values, with our charter petition, with our Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAPS), with our WASC studies, while keeping the organization grounded. That is to say, all of our purpose statements and governing documents will be aligned with all of the resources at our disposal to execute those plans.
I look forward to learning more with my SDSU peers about this particular concept and how it can be effectively used in education.
What a summer (theme continues)! The other course I took this summer at San Diego State was Seminar for Personalized Learning and Leading Through Technology, with Michanne Hoctor (San Diego County Office of Education Technology Coordinator). This was another fantastic class and one of the best ways to start my Master of Educational Leadership program at SDSU.
This particular course had several focuses, including building and cultivating a professional learner network (PLN). This is one of my biggest take-a-ways from the course (there are others, of course, and I have a few blogs posts on them below) as a PLN is a wonderful way to learn and grow with peers. I have spent a lot of time this summer growing my own PLN through Twitter and participating in a weekly Twitter Chat, #caedchat. These chats take place every Sunday night at 8 pm.
The other take-a-way was through the research I did on my 20% Project, which aims to create the AAS Learning Coach Institute. As a virtual charter school, we rely on our parents (learning coaches) to be our partners in the educational process. We may not be providing all of the tools in order for them to be successful, so this project is meant to create a program that will empower our learning coaches to be empowered and successful in their role.
I continue to be impressed with the program thus far. It is truly rewarding to be able to learn with my cohort, and especially Group 3! Thank you Dr. Hoctor, and my cohort, for a great first semester at SDSU!
In my EDL 680 course, which is a Seminar for Personalized Learning and Leading Through Technology, we are reading Yong Zhao's "Catching Up or Leading the Way." A section that caught my eye was on input-oriented accountability, which as Zhao puts it, measures the quality of schools by looking at the quality of educational resources and opportunities they provide to each student."
This is timely as the Academy of Arts and Sciences begins to look at charter renewals for three of our five charters we operate (the other two are due for renewal during the 2017-18 school year). I spent the afternoon today at the California Charter Schools Association offices in LA, sitting through their Charter Renewal Workshop. In addition to revisions and updates to the charter document itself, authorizers want to see, and EdCode stipulates, the presentation of data. They want to see the program is successful, and successfully impacting the lives of those who attend the program. Some of the data points are cohort graduation rates, absence numbers, and test scores from the SBAC test. The State Board of Education is working on a new matrix, and the CCSA has some standards as well. What I learned today is if AAS does not meet certain thresholds, even as a member of CCSA, they would advocate against our charter renewal. Luckily, I believe we are meeting these standards.
But are they correct? Should we be judged on test scores, when even folks like myself are not the best test-takers but can show my understanding in a different way. Is this truly a personalized approach, or one that believes every American child is the same: learns the same, applies knowledge the same, and the like. Or would a better measure of success for a school like ours be more in line with an input-oriented accountability system? Some of the measures that Zhao shares include teachers ("does the school have a staff that is highly qualified and motivated to help students learn?"), curriculum ("does the school implement a broad and rigorous curriculum relevant to all students?"), opportunities to be different ("does the school make arrangements to enable students who have different talents to pursue the?), and more. These are interesting data points, and ones that would show a commitment to each individual scholar. In fact, it would help make the point of our mission statement at AAS: "to inspire and develop innovative, creative, self-directed learners, one scholar at a time."
As I continue with SDSU's program, I continue to learn new ways of thinking and am excited to share these ideas with my professional networks and my colleagues at AAS.
J.J. Lewis - a blog sharing the journey throughout SDSU's MA.EL. program.