This is just one option. This does not reflect the direction we may actually head…
I have found that 6 months – 1 year out from the end of the LMS contract (or whatever the “core” of your ecosystem is) is a good time to re-evaluate the ecosystem and take a close look at the environmental factors surrounding the ecosystem.
In our case, there are some major environmental changes afoot.
1) The chance of us being able to have one learning ecosystem (vs separate ecosystems for staff and students) is greater than it has ever been. It never made much sense to me that we had 2 separate and practically parallel systems doing pretty much the same thing.
- The biggest risk we are taking by having just one ecosystem is that we are giving up control to another group. In this case, academics. Which is where it rightly belongs.
2) Our leadership has finally realized that how we do business is unsustainable. We might be able to afford multiple systems doing the same thing now, but we won’t be able to afford that much longer. The willingness to make some hard and uncomfortable decisions is much higher than I’ve ever seen it.
- In execution – there are going to be a lot of negotiations around people’s processes and what is REALLY a mandatory requirement vs a nice to have. I see those conversations (the ones that are forcing people to change) getting pretty ugly. I hope everyone is ready.
3) The technologies that are available for the ecosystem are very different from the ones that were available when we first designed it. The technologies we now have available are a lot more flexible and interchangeable than before.
- Our lead architecture teams are very focused on flexibility and interchangeability.
- These teams are also focused on “cloud” – which is going to force everyone to be a heck of a lot more responsible for learning their toolkits without leaning on excuses.
- Where our environment is headed is going to force a lot more accountability for one’s own learning and mastery of his/her job. The same people who whine that “they weren’t trained on the tool” are the same people who are perfectly capable of figuring out how to use a new cell phone. “I wasn’t trained on that” is not going to fly as an excuse much longer.
4) Our IT group is now thinking in terms of roadmaps for those technologies. As a result, I have a better idea of how the ecosystems that touch the Learning Ecosystem plan to evolve. I can plan the next iteration of my ecosystem to account for and support that evolution.
- The Learning Ecosystem is well-placed to relate multiple roadmaps. Because, ultimately, people use a collection of technologies to work. Not just one type.
In my mind, these are positive environmental changes.
- The recognition that systems have not just a purchase cost, but a maintenance and operations cost.
- The recognition that we do not have endless pools of money (or people, or people’s time and energy)
- The recognition that we need to plan and think longer-term.
- The recognition that we need to start saying “no”.
In a recent meeting, one of my favorite mid-level managers said the following:
“Probably the best thing we can do is take the checkbook out of everyone’s hands. THAT’S going to force an awful lot of conversations, compromise and creative thinking. We’ve been too comfortable for too long.”
I’m gearing up to get mighty uncomfortable.
And to give up a lot of what we’ve been doing for the past 7 years.