The Game Leaders Play

Note: Another oldy but goody from blog entries I wrote.

The Game Leaders Play

Jonathan Becker asks us all in his LeaderTalk blog entry entitled, The Future of Educational Leadership, the following questions:

1) Are schools going to become increasingly virtual and distributed (as the authors suggest of businesses)? 

2) Should school leaders be spreading around the leadership wealth so as to encourage experimentation?

He cites a report that points out that if we want to see what business leadership will be in five years, we need to check out online games. I was grateful to Jonathan pointing this out, as well as highlighting the report.

It reminds me of the Demos “Their Space” report I read a few years ago.

In the article, the skills a World of Warcraft guildmaster needs are as follows:

  • attracting, evaluating and recruiting new members;
  • creating apprenticeship programs;
  • orchestrating group strategy; and
  • managing disputes.

Isn’t it ironic that these are the tools that in 5 years–and if you wait that long to acquire the skills, you’re out of business according to Don Tapscott and Anthony William’s Wikinomics–business may find useful, necessary for communication in a flat world?

    Changes needed in schools include the following: a) Recognize/value learning that occurs outside the classroom; b) Support this outside learning, providing a space for reflection, enabling students to recognize and transfer those skills to new situations and contexts.

This sentence makes me wonder at what potential goes untapped in schools today. The answer is staggering–our children. It is our children that are untapped. This led me to the next question: What needs to be unleashed in schools? Children’s power for creativity and innovation. Slow to respond to change in schools, schools’ failure to recognize and value the skills that young people are developing is a blind spot.
Educational leaders, in neglecting to use mass collaboration tools like wikis, fail to model how students can interact with a changing world that expects global collaboration.

A few months ago, I found myself walking my seventh grader through the halls of a local high school. She was there–ahead of her time–to take the SAT, that high stakes test that determines whether you will be successful.

As I read more and more of the Demos’ THEIR SPACE report, I started to wonder at the relevance of the SAT my daughter was taking. Wouldn’t it have been better if they’d put her in a team of learners who had to solve a problem? And, solving that problem involved coordinating the work of others around the world (or in the next classroom) using technology tools, voice over IP? Wouldn’t such approach to assessment do what the SAT was meant to do in the first place? SAT 2.0 would do the following:

  • Challenge young adults to demonstrate how they can collaborate at a distance to develop creative solutions that involve mashing-up different technologies.
  • Successful completion of the SAT 2.0 would mean using Web 2.0 tools to connect, collaborate, create and share ideas/solutions with each other.
  • Successful completion would involve the team catalogue each team member’s strengths and weaknesses, then assign jobs/tasks that build on strengths.
  • Based on a team’s weaknesses, staff people from outside their team–across the world but accessible via VOIP technologies (like Skype)–to buttress their weaknesses.

What other ways could such a project be used to measure what students need to know in a Read/Write Web world? What skills and strategies that need to value the soft skills our children are developing for recreation, that are worth emulating, but aren’t unleashed in schools today?


The more important question for educational leaders isn’t whether schools are going to be more distributed or virtual. Rather it is whether educators–including administrators, teachers, students in leadership roles, regardless of position or title–will be able to continue functioning in five years WITHOUT these skills.
I fear that if the answer is YES, then we will have schools that serve as centers of static learning…and our “students” will have already found somewhere else to learn what they need to. The SAT will have become meaningless except as an out-dated rite of passage.

Are you modelling online collaboration and enabling others in your district? If you’re not, then you need to consider how you can accomplish that within the work you are expected to do every day.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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