Understanding Technical vs Adaptive Challenges (With Examples)

Understanding Technical vs Adaptive Challenges (With Examples)
Contributed By

Dylan Rodgers

Content Strategy Manager and Editor in Chief of the Schoology Exchange

Understanding Technical vs Adaptive Challenges (With Examples)

Posted in Pro Tips | March 27, 2017


Do you know the difference between a technical and an adaptive challenge? I'll admit that I had no idea when Kellie Ady, our Director of Instructional Strategy, casually brought this up in conversation.

She had been reading Leadership on the Line: Staying Alive Through the Dangers of Leadership by Ronald Heifetz and Marty Linsky. She explained that understanding the two types of challenges can mean the difference between success or failure in implementations and initiatives at the institutional level.

We all deal with change, whether in our professional or personal lives, so Kellie decided to create a short video lesson about it. Her goal is to help those of you rolling out new or evaluating existing blended learning programs, LMSs, or other large-scale initiatives incite the change you need to make it successful.

In it, she explains that a technical challenge is one that can be fixed with a single or momentary solution. Losing wifi is a technical challenge. Often you can just restart the router and the hair-pulling chaos that ensued from momentary connection separation anxiety, or MCSA (Not a real term, but a real problem.), is immediately relieved and quickly forgotten.

An adaptive challenge takes time and often a cultural shift. Implementing an LMS or rolling out a blended learning program are two examples of adaptive challenges. They require everyone involved to change their day to day activities, their strategies, and their preconceptions.

So if you approach a newly launched blended learning program as a technical challenge—let's say, by thinking your new LMS will quickly alleviate all the issues—it's going to be a rocky transition, no matter how awesome your tools are.

There are no silver bullets for adaptive challenges, so overcoming them requires a thoughtful strategy, continuous support, and time to adapt (hence, adaptive challenges).

Speaking from her own experience as a former District Instructional Technology Coordinator, Kellie offers some tips for approaching these longer term changes. It comes down to three considerations—what you should stop doing, what is important to keep doing, and what you are building.

For all the details, watch her video above.

Over to You. Do you agree with the points made? How have you handled adaptive challenges in your own institution?

one size fits all pd

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