If you are not reading the blog”Getting Smart” the website/blog/aggregator from Tom Vander Ark of Getting Smart, you need to be It is insightful, cutting edge, and while it leans over towards the private over public sector in education, it does have lots of good information. I like it because Vander Ark is talking in a space that many public educators are not aware of and need to be: the side of education that attract the venture capitalists and the entrepreneurs. From my experience, the public education practitioners almost universally dismiss those that are making or trying to make a buck or two on education by changing the paradigms we are driving ourselves in. I think that this is wrong, because frankly, all of us can learn from each other.
With that in mind, I liked this entry from Tom’s blog “Leading the Shift to Digital: School, System & City.” In it, Vander Ark discusses seven components of what it takes to make a city a “smart city.” It is not an easy thing to do, and even large cities may or may not have these seven things in place.
Without the seven, a city cannot be expected to make significant changes to how the population is education, stays educated, or changes. Want to change a city? You need to have the seven in place:
- Innovation Mindset: a combination of growth, maker and team mindset—from classroom to city;
- Sustained Leadership: building political capital to create a portfolio of options;
- Talent Development: preparing and developing great teachers, leaders, and edupreneurs;
- Collective Impact: partnerships and community engagements;
- Aligned Investments: aligned public and private investment;
- New Tools & Schools: incubation capacity for new tools schools and connecting teachers and technology; and
- Advocacy & policy: a supportive environment for schools and startups.
Think about those seven: I would postulate that most cities DO NOT have these in place. I would also venture to say that if change happens in the cities where the seven are not in place, it takes place in fits and starts.
If I am reading this correctly, Vander Ark is saying that great schools cannot happen by themselves. There has to be a symbiotic relationship with the city and the businesses that they exist in. Got 6 of these? Un uh. You need all 7 in order for smart change to happen.
All seven of these are hard to come by in singular instances, and indeed I would suggest are almost impossible to come by in anything other than large metropolitan areas that have money, will power and the capital base to do this. I wonder how rural cities, towns or villages can even hope to succeed in a smart city way when these would be difficult for e much bigger, richer city to do the same?
Finally, Vander Ark and crew have seen the future and have a hopeful vision of innovation:
- Every person, organization, and region needs to get smart—to skill up, learn more, and build new capacities faster and cheaper than ever;
- Innovative new tools and schools are making that possible everywhere
- Innovation starts with a mindset that can be developed in every classroom and every city
- Innovation is scaled by leaders that develops talent, and align partnerships and investments for collective impact
- Innovation is sustained by advocacy and policy
So, you know where you live. Can your city become a smart city? An innovative city?
Why or why not?