While it is difficult to speak of single educational solutions considering the many forms of education we enjoy in North America, the major issue facing educational leaders is that of bringing education into the Knowledge Era. Ironic as it may sound, education in many instances has retained the forms and practices of the industrial age. In order for education to become part of what the Uhl-Bien et al. (2007) characterize as the Knowledge Era, educational organizations must become highly adaptable, creative entities able to respond to changing demands and situations.
Complexity leadership theory describes the means by which leaders can navigate these uncharted waters leaving the flexibility to allow leaders to emerge. As education becomes more personalized, students will expect greater accomodation of their needs and desires. Meeting student needs and supporting their learning will become the standard as established institutions compete for shrinking student populations. At the same time, employers will be requiring up to date training and education that students can access on an as needs basis. Solutions like those implemented by Alverno College in the United States will become more common as leaders balance economics with educational needs. Creative course delivery and innovative approaches to learning will allow for a balance to be achieved. The affordances of complexity leadership theory allow the intesections of individuals and ideas to flourish opening possibilities for solutions that have come from the synergy of group dynamics.
A corallory of bringing education into the Knowledge Era is bringing students into the Knowledge Era. Many of these students will be immigrants to North America. Leaders will be faced with the difficulty of facilitting the assessment of prior learning for these immigrants. Declining birth rates and rising life expectancies will no longer allow for the arrogant assumption that only those trained in North America are sufficiently educated to form our skilled work force. Meeting the challenge of evaluating certification and providing learning programs to fill any gaps in professional knowledge will require thinking out of the traditional boxes we have built in North America.
Leading into the Knowledge Era will require wisdom and foresight, but require the collaboration of many groups able to act in their own interests and meet on common ground to create solutions that will allow people to fulfill their potential. The synergies possible from networks of engaged individuals have potential beyond our imagination.