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Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

Growth Toward Greatness in Education: Author Compare Contrast Renee J. Erickson C&I 579 March 4, 2012

Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

Author Compare Contrast: Growth Toward Greatness in Education In Peter Senges The Fifth Discipline (1990), he identifies the need for organizations to evolve into learning organizations to survive and prosper. He emphasizes that we must grow into learning organizations comprised of people who continually expand their capacity, where new and extensive patterns of thinking are fostered and where people are continually learning how to learn, together (p. 3). Gone are the days of having a designated person learn for the organization; no longer can we have a grand strategist, with everyone else following orders (p. 4). There must be a shift of mind, from seeing ourselves as separate from the world, to connected to the world and part of a highly complicated and global economy (p. 7). Peter Senge identifies the five disciplines of a learning organization as personal mastery, mental models, team learning, shared vision and systems thinking (p. 6). It is through the fusion of individuals commitment and drive toward continuous knowledge (personal mastery), understanding how our assumptions impact how we view the world and take action (mental models), how we engage in genuine thinking together (team learning) and how we unearth visions for the future (shared vision), that systems thinking (the fifth discipline) is launched into practice and the potential of the organization is unleashed. Senge suggests that disciplines of personal mastery, mental models and systems thinking are more person or individual centered, while the disciplines of shared vision and team thinking are best utilized by teams within or the organization as a whole. Through the development of this larger perspective, systems thinking, we become more motivated to understand and further develop our interconnectedness to our expanding society and global economy (p. 12). While the belief that an organization determines its own fate is a common theme throughout the book, Senge identifies potential causes that contribute to an organizations failure,

Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

many of which stare the organization in the face for a long period of time, disguised as small problems or insignificants events. Throughout various chapters of The Fifth Discipline (1990), Senge suggests potential causes for failure, which include organizational learning disabilities. These learning disabilities put onus for failure on various members and perceptions of an organization (p. 17). Additionally, organizational failures as the direct result of individuals decisions or actions, with little or no regard given to the organization as a whole, is identified as an potential cause of failure (p. 53). Further, Senge identifies two structural models which can become cyclical in an organization (limits to growth and shifting the burden), that when coupled with an inability to develop leverage or make small scale decisions that have significant impact on the organization, failure is inevitable (p. 113). Quite simply, if an organization does not evolve into a learning organization and engage in systems thinking (the fusion of disciplines of personal mastery, mental models, shared vision and team learning), their longevity and success are limited. It is when organizations shift their perception of the world from linear, to that of an increasingly complex, interconnected world, organizations who employ systems thinking and evolve into a pure learning organization, will learn to observes patterns of behaviors, identifies cause-effect relationships and employs tomorrows skills to solve todays problems. Ultimately, such an approach will result in a more stable and stronger organization. In the book Games and Simulations in Online Learning: Research and Development, the editors (Gibson, Aldrich & Prensky, 2007) compile many articles containing research regarding various topics on online games and simulations, including why they are not commonly used in todays classroom, how they directly relate to and support the development of 21st century skills,

Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

the impact of todays preservice gamer generation teachers and their impact on online learning and how simulations are used to teach preservice teachers to connect teaching and learning. In Games and Simulations in Online Learning: Research and Development, Goknur Kaplan Akilli suggests that current instructional design and development is not equipped to accommodate learning through the use of online games and simulations (p. 9). As we shift from the Industrial Age to the Information Age, instructional design and development models must shift the responsibility for learning from the instructor, to the learner (p. 11). With the development of new models of instructional design and development, game designers have the opportunity to create game-like learning environments which contain powerful learning opportunities, and prepare students for the future (p. 15). Lisa Galarneau & Melanie Zibit state that learning experiences and expectations in the 21st century have evolved beyond teaching of basic academic skills, but the teaching of critical thinking skills, collaboration skills, communication skills and creative problem-solving skills (p. 61). Skills learned no longer last a lifetime; learners must stay mentally agile and embrace new things (p. 62). Lisa Galarneau & Melanie Zibit (2007) state that people today are not acquiring 21st century skills through structured learning environments that anticipate these needs, but rather through various cognitively demanding leisure activities they chose, such as massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs), while not the intention this cognitively demanding leisure activity that organically and holistically developed 21st century skill (p. 61). Katrin Becker (2007) proposes that there is a strong correlation between games and motivation, as beyond pleasure and entertainment, games sustain individuals attention by meeting their fundamental need to be challenged. If this holds true for games which provide little more than time spent, the potential for games in education is astounding (p. 23). The design

Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

of games, specifically those whose purpose is learning, parallel the learning theories and learning models that drive education today (p. 26). However, despite encompassing strong pedagogy within their design, neither designers nor educators can articulate the specific elements that make online games good (p. 41). Gibson, Halverson & Riedel (2007), state that the fears of non-gamers, in regard to the use of games and simulations in learning center around the beliefs that new technology will take time away from learning and games are no more effective than current teaching practices (p. 176). Further, non-gamers fear that the use of games in learning are potentially harmful to young impressionable minds, as they may be exposed to commercialism, sex and violence (p. 178). This belief may stem from studies of television and film, which found children exposed to sex and violence in media, to be more aggressive (p. 177). Proponents of games in education firmly believe that games cannot only help children learn things better, but help them learn better things (p. 176). Todays generation of preservice teachers are of the gamer generation meaning that they grew up with games and have and have a deeper understanding of them, than many who oppose them (p. 180). Learning through gaming has resulted in a new learning style, one which ignores formal instruction, leans on trial and error, includes learning from peers and recognizes that knowledge can be consumed in small bits, usually just before you need it (p. 182). Girod, Girod and Denton (2007), as well as Dexter (2007) detail the use of online simulations and Educational Theory in Practice Software in many preservice teacher educations. Todays preservice teachers are of are provided with opportunities to employ educational theories and methodologies to teaching and then analyze the relationship between the theories and methods

Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

employed and student learning. This is just one example which supports the use of online games and simulations in learning. The Fifth Discipline and Games and Simulations in Online Learning approach growth and development of education and educational practices in different ways. However, while they can be connected on many levels, they are not in contrast of one and other, just different. A common theme in both books is the belief that change cannot be made in isolation, but must be made with input and consideration of an organization as a whole. Both emphasize that you cannot pour new wine in an old bottle or do things the way we always have, and expect different results. Not only do practices need to be closely examined, but the foundation of the organization as well. Further, both books view learning as ongoing and mastery as non-existent in our rapidly evolving, interconnected world. In my perception, Senge (1990) emphasizes that learning for the growth of an organization cannot occur only in an individual or isolated capacity, but must include all members of the organization. However, the various reports included in Games and Simulations in Online Learning leave me to believe that leaning for and leading of an organization is left to those with expertise and experience in that area, specifically those who see the value of games and simulations in learning. It is my perception that Senge takes the approach of embracing differences in experience, expertise and perception, to develop shared vision and team learning, bringing an organization closer to realizing its mission. The reports in Games and Simulations in Online Learning present the facts and makes the case that we will put students at a disadvantage in our rapidly evolving global society, and ultimately global economy, if we do not embrace online games and simulations in learning. However, I feel that opposed to Senges approach of embracing varying viewpoints in hopes that the organization will engage in continuous team

Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

learning, the presentation of facts is intended to inform and ultimately persuade those who are non-believers, yet while allowing individuals to maintain their perceptions. Upon reflecting on one of the leadership teams I sit on at the district-level, I recognize that we are not a learning organization. We are a disjointed team, whose members engage in I am my job and I need to cover myself mentalities. As we make district-level instructional recommendations and decisions, we need cease our practice of practice of breaking down the big pictures into smaller, more manageable sections, as we admittedly lose sight of our shared vision and we make decisions and recommendations without realizing the greater impact on the organization or groups within the organization. Currently, we are engaged in discussion and planning for the development of 1:1 classrooms. Each member of the team possesses responsibility specific components of the plan, but in doing so we are making decisions in isolation and find ourselves doing double the work, as we work to undo the parts of the plan we have contributed, which adversely impact others contributions to the greater plan. As we move forward in or planning I would encourage our team to embrace Senges systems thinking model. When it comes to the use of online games and simulations for learning, from a district perspective, I can think of few learning opportunities in which students engage in interconnected online learning. While we make use online learning games that are task oriented and challenge students in attempt to remediate skills, we seldom employ online games and simulations in learning for the development of 21st century skills. I do not believe that our lack the incorporation of online games and simulations based on fear of what students what may be exposed to, but a fear that learning may be replaced with fun. As we move forward with the implementation of 21st century skills into our academic initiatives, I would like to see students connecting with students, online, for the purpose of learning and developing 21st century skills.

Running head: EVOLUTION IN EDUCATION

References Akilli, G. K. (2007). Games and simulation: A new approach in education? In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development (pp. 1-20). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Becker, K. (2007). Pedagogy in commercial video games. In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development (pp. 21-47). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Dexter, S. (2007). Educational theory into practice software (ETIPS). In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development (pp. 223-234). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Galarneau, L. & Zibit, M. (2007). Online games for 21st century skills. In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development (pp. 59-88). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Gibson, D., Halverson, W., & Riedel, E. (2007). Gamer teachers. In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development (pp. 175-188). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Girod, G.R., Girod, M., & Denton, J. (2007). Lessons learned modeling connecting teaching and learning. In D. Gibson, C. Aldrich & M. Prensky (Eds.), Games and simulations in online learning: Research and development (pp. 206-222). Hershey, PA: Information Science Publishing. Senge, P. M. (1990). The fifth discipline: The art & practice of the learning organization. New York: Currency Doubleday.