The Evolutionary Stages of Schooling

The Evolutionary Stages of Schooling

Key Indicators 

A Discussion Paper

Mal Lee

June 14, 2013 version

This paper emerged out of an analysis of that as yet rare cadre of schools in the UK, US, NZ and Australia that have or nearly have succeeded in normalising the use of the digital in all their operations, educational and administrative.

The research was undertaken as part of the preparations for a forthcoming publication on Digital Normalisation and School Transformation I’m writing.

The belief was that the work had so many implications for schooling globally, and it would be beneficial to place the thoughts on the evolutionary stages online and allow all interested to read, reflect and if they wish to comment.

Indeed I’ve partnered with Roger Broadie in the UK in creating a Taxonomy of School Evolutionary Stages, a work that will provide schools globally an international measure, with easily used benchmarks to identify where they are at on the evolutionary continuum and to readily identify the path ahead.

That work will be published as an e-book in the near future.

If you would like to provide me a comment please do at –

The Evolutionary Stages

At this point in the evolution of schooling I’ve identified six main development stages.

The transformative Digital Normalisation stage has only come on to the radar this year, even though there were strong signs in 2012 of its emergence.

The stages are a construct designed to assist schools with their planning and development. They have emerged after noting the remarkably similar journeys of all the pathfinders studied. The indicators within each of the stages are intended as guide, full well recognising that in different situations a particular development might come earlier or later.

The crucial variables at each stage are italicised.

In considering the stages it is important to appreciate all the schools displayed an excellent understanding of organisational change, with all throughout the stages being highly proactive, consciously seeking to foster a culture of change and understanding the imperative of the leadership being politically astute.

To secure a PDF of the full stages click here.

Evolutionary Stages

About Mal Lee

Mal Lee is an educational consultant and author specializing in the evolution of teaching and schooling from the traditional paper based mode to one that is digital, and in turn networked, and the impact of the technology on that evolution. Mal’s is a macro focus examining all the elements associated with the development, leadership and operation of schools operating within a digital, and increasingly as networked school communities. Most importantly his is a positive approach that envisions how educators and school communities might best use the ever-evolving, ever more pervasive technology in the home, on the move and in the classroom to provide an ever better schooling for the full range of students. Mal is a former director of schools, secondary college principal, technology company director and a member of the Mayer Committee that identified the Key Competencies for Australia’s schools. A Fellow of the Australian Council for Educational Administration (FACEA) Mal has been closely associated with the use of digital technology in schooling, particularly by the school leadership for the last two decades. A historian by training Mal has written extensively, particularly in the Practising Administrator, the Australian Educational Leaders and Access, Educational Technology Guide on the astute use of technology in the development of schoolings. Mal has released four publications with ACER Press. In 2008 Mal and Professor Michael Gaffney edited and had published Leading a Digital School. In 2009 he co-authored with Dr Arthur Winzenried The Use of Instructional Technology in Schools – Lessons to be Learned, and with Chris Betcher, The Interactive Whiteboard Revolution – Teaching with IWBs. In 2010 Mal joined with Associate Professor Glenn Finger (Griffith University) in the writing of his most significant work yet for ACER Press on Developing Networked School Communities: a guide to realizing the vision – on the next phase of schooling. Copies of the books can be obtained from the ACER Press website at -
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