A guest post by Ben Jones from the DERNSW team:

A tale of the same meeting in two schools:
School A:
About 8 people are presented representing all levels within the school and regional support. Whilst there was an agenda with names allocated the flow of discussion naturally moved between various members of the team. All knowledge, skills and leadership was openly shared under the vision of the principal. Anyone could have been absent and there spaced would be filled by natural diffusion.
School B:
1 member of executive represented the entire school; some admin staff where briefly introduced but had no impact on knowledge. I was clear this one person owned the vision, skills and knowledge. If they were absent there would be no way to replace them.

About this post

The aim of the following points is not to tell school leaders how to suck eggs, they have been doing succession management for leadership for a long time (in my view NSW schools do it exceptionally well). Rather this discussion is to consider how succession management could evolve in this digital age, the new succession issues that the digital age creates and how they can be managed in a digital way.

Access:

A quick survey of school accounts and passwords in an average school could be far more extensive than may appear on the surface have you considered all these:

  1. School moodle admin
  2. School shared drives server admin
  3. School Facebook account for Alumni
  4. School youtube account
  5. Teachers class blogs, wikis, web2.0 tools (this could be a very extensive list)
  6. Wireless access passwords
  7. School Zoomerang account
  8. School website
  9. The list goes on and on and on

Who holds the passwords, what happens if they are no longer around and access is required, what if it’s critical?

Solution: A password protected OneNote file could be created that all Senior Executive can edit. As part of school procedure when a new account in any online application or server is created the OneNote file is updated.

Skills:

If a school has decided to set up their own network, servers or moodle installation how many people know how to manage the setup in your school? This can be off the radar for many leaders, if you not sure of the impact get a few quotes for a third party vendor to reconfigure your entire installation, it won’t be cheap.

Solution: A technicians (teachers, SASS or vendors) must document everything about their installation and configuration, this should be clear in there roll statement. A team should be responsible and they should all be equally skilled and knowledgeable about the installation and configuration.

Knowledge:

Some questions about knowledge and information in your school:

  1. How well is the knowledge of technology (resources, links, professional learning events, frameworks, online tools, etc) shared across your school.
  2. Is information filtered?
  3. Is information only accessible from a gate keeper?
  4. Can all information be accessed anywhere anytime?
  5. Does your school have an internal communications strategy?
  6. Do all staff know where they can access school/community/district/region/state procedures and documents

The knowledge is what affects most teachers every day, not knowing where to access or knowing it has to be accessed from a specific person becomes a barrier to effective practice. Rather all knowledge can be stored in a wiki designed under the principles of ‘organic design‘. All teachers can contribute and refine, so as a resource is discovered it can be shared leading to shared engagement and ownership of knowledge which is when knowledge become very powerful. This article explains how a university library transformed is procedures by moving to a wiki.

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