|Photo: Sydney Johnson|
|Photo: OLC/ neftali (Shutterstock)|
He’s caved in before. “I have a personal confession,” Brown admitted in his keynote address at OLC Innovate happening this week in New Orleans. “I am a very big sinner.”
Yet like any confessional, Brown also offered ways to repent from what he called “the seven deadly sins of online learning.” Feeling a bit guilty ourselves (and perhaps inspired by the home of the Saints), we caught up with Brown afterwards for some advice on ways to return to the righteous path.
Sin: The glitzy gadgets, bandwagons and buzzwords are easy to latch on to. But they aren’t always meaningful, and can limit innovation by pigeonholing people to old ideas and ways of thinking about online learning. “In the past, I have been guilty of being seduced, perhaps mesmerized by the hype of new technology,” Brown said. “I have to remind myself that real sustainable innovation isn’t about the magic of marvel; it goes deeper than that.”
Repent: Take a close look at the research before giving in to flashy brands and the latest-and-greatest, Brown warned. “There are too many generalizations—online and blended learning isn't a single entity. We have wonderful case studies of innovation, but when you remove the novelty after time the impact isn’t the same. We must be able to skillfully read the research.”
Sin: Brown is weary of the so-called thought leaders and loud talking heads in the community. These people can be easy to latch onto, he said, and limit the level of input others can contribute when crafting goals and plans. “We are told vision is crucial to planning sustainable change, to structural innovation. But the problem is not a lack of vision, but rather whose vision, and where is the vision coming from?”
Repent: Instead of focusing on a single vision, Brown thinks real innovation lies in the ability to create more leaders and with that, add diverse perspectives. “The world we are living in is so fluid and dynamic, you have to build an environment where everyone is able to contribute to the vision.” As an example, Brown pointed to his own university, which last week ran a 24-hour live brainstorming exercise that invited anyone to share their ideas about what the college should be working on. “We had thousands of people contribute and everyone had the chance to see themselves in the vision.”