A Video-based Primer.

Here we offer a series of video segments looking at 'systems thinking in action.'  The PREP Center within Intermediate District 287, serving the western suburbs of Minneapolis, created these videos under a grant from the Minnesota Department of Education in 2001.  These segments were included on a self-running CD-ROM that included some additional material.  You will need to have the QuickTime player and Windows Media Player to view/hear the files.
The set of files includes eleven QuickTime movies and two 'narration only' files.  Briefly, the players in the video portray a couple teachers, the principal, a teacher/union representative, and a curriculum development person.  The principal has called them together to talk about the adoption of graduation standards in the high school. 
In sequence they offer (with the running times indicated in minutes and seconds)

  1. an introduction to the need for systems thinking (in public education, in this case) -- 1:08
  2. background material on the fictional school -- 2:03
  3. an introduction to systems thinking generally -- 1:39
  4. the team's development of the triggering question -- 5:54
  5. narration only on the selection of variables for the systems model -- 1:02
  6. the team's development of the variables -- 2:56
  7. the team's documentation of the mental models -- 2:48
  8. an explanation of mental models -- 0:45
  9. narration only on the nature of feedback -- 0:58
  10. the team's development of feedback loops -- 2:00
  11. an explanation of feedback loops -- 1:53
  12. the team's development of interventions -- 1:49
  13. an explanation of interventions -- 2:09

Note that this is a fictional high school.  The 'actors' and Cassie Erkens (the female commentator) were all associated with public education at the time of the video-taping.  Michael Ayers of The Commonwealth served as the male commentator and wrote all of the narration and commentary.  The 'scenes' were generally laid out in terms of the points to be made and who might reasonably say what; the actors, however, created their own lines.

The PREP Center may still have copies of the CD-ROM (and accompanying notes) available.  If not, and you'd like a copy, please contact us at The Commonwealth Practice, LLC.

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