As I shared, in my previous post, innovation is one of my passions and I want to strengthen and improve my understanding of it to help our district create a culture of innovation. It just so happens, a new MOOC (#OSSEMOOC) was beginning this month around George Couros’s Book – The Innovator’s Mindset. I had lurked previous, MOOCs before – but never was an active participant AND have yet to see a MOOC through. So, here is my shot, to elevate further develop my learning through new opportunities.
Innovation = First Different, Then Better.
What does innovation mean to you? What does Innovation look like, sound like in your role?
As a technology director for 20 years, change is a constant in my job. I think about innovation often. While you don’t need technology to be innovative, technology certainly can be a catalyst for innovation. My inbox (email/phone) is continually bombarded with vendors trying to sell me their latest and greatest. Sell me things that could “Revolutionize Education”. I will admit, I do love shiny things – and even I wind up getting immersed and excited about the NEW – but I also need to remember to ask – Is it Better?
As I am writing this, I am reflecting on our PD roll-out of 1:1 iPads 3 years ago. We focused on the SAMR model of integration. Focused first on the S – Substitution with the hopes within 3 years, the grades would be at the M/R – or transformation. Our thinking then – was to get our staff “comfortable” with what they already knew. And now, as I reflect on it – I am not sure it was the right decision. Presentations, word processing and workflow was a significant portion of the initial training. While we focused on the new of the ipad. We unfortunately did not focus as much on the better. Sure it was better that every student had a device – as they wouldn’t need computer labs, had the internet at their fingertips… but our initial training should have focused on the better – specifically BETTER of harnessing the functionality of the iPad to support a deeper purpose…. A student – centered education. I want to mention I own this failure, as I certainly could have steered us down a better path of PD. But I know more about iPads, more about GOOD pedagogy, and more about PD than I did back then.
Since this rollout several years ago – PD has improved and I continually try to innovate within the system. We have had Edcamps, created a DLC position, created a personalized gamified PD program, and worked with a local highered institute to create the Innovative Instructional Leadership program. I believe our PD programs should be an incubator of ideas/innovation (around student centered learning) VS sit and get one-sized fits all death by powerpoint PD. Don’t get me wrong, large group PD can be good – especially when modeling excellent pedagogy practices. (Something I want to get better at!) But, there also needs to be follow up. PLEASE – no more 1 and done PD.
Many times when an idea doesn’t work (the first time) schools will drop it. Many times schools will not put forth adequate resources and time for ideas/innovation/action to become better. Measurements need to be determined and evaluated. While it’s good to have measures – sometimes we don’t know how to measure truly innovative ideas/actions without living it for awhile. And be ready…. many times Traditional measures won’t be able to measure innovation. I also believe reflection and reiteration is just as important as the putting an innovative idea into action. No matter if you are a student, a teacher, a principal or even a “veteran” tech director – failure should be permitted and opportunities to revise – given.
So what does innovation mean to me? Because of my role in the district, both information and instructional technology – I believe that student-centered thinking and innovation (as in the definition of innovation) should be at the forefront of what I do. Do I like these new tools/concepts because they are shiny or do they make things better? They need to have both. BUT, sometimes the “better” is not so clear and I have to be open to ideas that don’t necessarily seem to be student centered at first. Have we given sites like Vine and Snapchat a fair shake? Teachers throwing out grades? I am always appreciative of divergent educators and will always leave MY DOOR open to new pilots in tackling these innovations and will work to the Nth degree to help remove roadblocks vs being the roadblock (which unfortunately is the view of many folks in my position).
And finally, I have been participating in the Voxer Group for this Mooc. One question was raised – Does innovation decrease the further up the ladder one goes? IE – From Teacher, to Principal, to Superintendent? Absolutely NOT. If anything – the further you move up the ladder – the MORE we should be innovating AND being very transparent of these innovations, actions, reflections, and reiterations….. It is my belief that transparent modeling might just be some of the best PD in a pursuing a culture of innovation.