Sharebar?

Won't You Give Me a Reason Why?

IMS Global CEO Rob AbelRob Abel, Ed.D. | June 2019

"Won't you give me a reason why?"—Dave Mason

Do you ever think about how special the leadership of IMS members is in terms of what your work achieves for the large majority of sector participants who are not IMS members? Rarely in the world of technology has the work and investment of so few benefitted so many.
 
It is accurate to say that there are thousands of education sector organizations that are benefitting from IMS work every single day. IMS work has become so pervasive in the educational technology sector it is increasingly hard to find an educational institution that is not benefiting from the IMS work in some way. While 500+ members is a large number for an organization working on technical standards, it is a very small number relative to the ubiquitous impact we are creating.
 
IMS has had this impact because we focus on transformational leadership for the education sector. Our shorthand name for this over the last 13+ years has been Learning Impact. Transformational leadership—whether at the institutional level or the sector level—requires achieving clarity of the "why."  Yes, there is also the "how" but the "how" is much more effective when guided by the "why." Too much of edtech is "how" and "what" without a sufficient "why." A "how" or "what" without a clear "why" typically leads to low adoption, low impact, and lack of sustainability.
 
For those of us gathered around the IMS table—a table that has grown over 10x (see recently released IMS Annual Report)—it's essential to understand and stay focused on the "why." The end goal includes interoperability and standards but as an enabler of a higher purpose "why" of much needed educational transformation for a new generation of challenges. It is crystal clear that educational systems need to support a greater diversity of inputs and outputs via programs and pathways that need to be invented and scaled, based on new models and metrics.
 
The "how" is large scale digital transformation initiatives that contribute to a shared investment that lifts the entire education sector. Interoperability standards—if they can achieve plug and play—are an essential foundation for scaling at low cost. The shared investment and return for all participants in a single connected ecosystem is the foundation for transformation across the sector. Absent a shared investment with a shared ROI it is very questionable whether we can rise to the challenges of the future.
 
The "what" in IMS is you – the IMS member community. IMS is leadership from the education sector for the education sector. You (institutions and suppliers as equal partners in IMS) evolve the "why" and the "how"—because IMS is your organization—funded, resourced and led by you. In the IMS model, the members share the expense and the decision making equitably and sustainably. Thus, IMS is primarily an investment and development partnership, if not the largest in the edtech space, among the largest. We are, surprisingly to many, not solely a standards organization (even though we are better at standards than any other organization in the sector). IMS is very happy to leverage standards created elsewhere if they help achieve the "why."
 
My sincere hope is that you and your organization will take advantage of the unique opportunity IMS has to offer in terms of leadership in educational transformation, as well as the very critical foundation of interoperability standards required to enable it. IMS Global's community model is effective, sustainable, and getting better every day as we bring on extraordinary staff and leadership from across the sector. Please contact any IMS staff member if you'd like to get more involved!