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Education Technology Innovation November 8, 2013

Posted by jlhawkinson in Technology and Business.
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I saw this posted by someone I follow on Twitter the other day and thought it was an interesting read.  5 Ideas to Facilitate Education and Instructional Technology Innovation by Kelly Walsh.  Kelly had some very good points, as well as ideas.  I am going to add my thoughts and possibly some ideas to his five ideas.  These are just some thoughts that came to me as I was reading his article, and if you are reading my post, make sure you click on the link to his article to read what he has to say.

1.  Create an innovation lab and/or event.  Well how cool is this idea?  And he isn’t just talking about for the teachers.  He mentions bringing in students, teachers, and other staff members.  Collaboration is key, and I love his idea of bringing in the students.  With the right minds together, ideas can start springing forth and the sky is the limit then.  What about taking teachers from different disciplines, add in a staff member or two, then ask a few students to meet with them once or twice a month during the entire school year?  Then they can not only brainstorm ideas, but will be able to collaborate further and expand on those ideas.  If it works out, they could blend groups together and combine ideas, but they should definitely share their ideas.  Maybe have a Wiki, blog, or some other site set up where someone from each group takes the ideas from the meeting and posts them.  It will then give the other groups a chance to add their thoughts and ideas to the original ones.

2.  Look to unexpected sources.  I think this one is as important as the first one, and actually could stem off of it.  You are inviting students to add their ideas to the mix.  He also mentions picking the brains of your own children.  You could also look towards other family members, for example your spouse or maybe the friends of your children.  Subscribe to message boards, attend webinars, (he mentions this but it bears repeating) surf the web.  Post your idea on a social media site and get feedback from your friends or followers.

3.  Remember that innovation often comes a step at a time, from small changes.  Think of it this way:  If someone came into your classroom one day, removed all textbooks, all pencils, all notebooks and gave you a cart of iPads or some other tablet then said that that is what your students and you would be using from that point forward, how would you feel?  Lost, upset, confused, mad, frustrated, ready to quit?  Of course, probably a mix of all of these, especially with no training of your own.  (I know there is at least one of you there going “Please, please let this happen to me!”, well you are the minority.)  We need things to happen a little bit at a time; we need an adjustment period.  Technology is great, innovation is wonderful, but we need time to prepare in order to use it all wisely, efficiently, and the best way for our students and for ourselves.  Fine, give us iPads for every student, but let us work towards the bigger picture.  Each teacher and each student is going to need to go at their own pace, but we all need to agree to move.  We can’t be stuck back in the one-room classroom refusing to move forward.  It isn’t good for the teacher and it is not good for the student – not good for education.  Our students are growing up in a digital world and we need to help them use it.  Being able to take those small steps will eventually get us to our main destination.

4.  Embrace failure.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try try try again.”  Where is the fun if we succeed the first time we do everything?  True, it would save us time, but where is the learning?  I tell my students, and my own children, I expect them to fail.  I actually want it to some degree.  It means they are learning a lesson and won’t make the same mistake again (hopefully).  With each failure, we have actually made some progress.  The first time I designed a website, I was thrilled, but it didn’t work perfectly.  I had to go through lines and lines of HTML code to find out what I had done wrong so that certain images were only appearing as a X on the screen and some lines of text were huge and others really small.  Took forever, but I was reinforcing my learning because I had to read over all that coding and the only way I was going to recognize an error was by knowing the code to know if it was right or wrong.  It’s the same with innovation.  We have to try something and if it doesn’t work, we need to figure out why.  Maybe only part of it didn’t work, so we can adjust it so that we use the part that did and just “reconfigure” the part that didn’t.  Of if the entire technology we are trying to use is a bust, why?  Is it that particular lesson, or that particular class?  Would it work for someone else?  Analyze the reasons something doesn’t work so you know why.

5.  Look at problems in a different way – change the problem you are trying to solve.  I like this one because I tend to be one of those people who see a problem and run straight to my computer to search for answers.  I forget that sometimes the answer might have been right in front of me all along if I had just stopped to think it over first.  We have come by so many different ways of teaching a particular lesson because we have taken the time to look at a student who might be struggling.  Why is he or she struggling with this one lesson?  What makes this lesson difficult or different that he or she isn’t understanding the material?  So we start with looking at what we are teaching.  Did everyone else understand it or were there others having problems?  Would a demonstration have been better?  A video?  A guest speaker?  A project for the students to gather information on their own?  While doing all that analyzing, you might come up with another lesson or a way for students to work together to come up with answers to bigger question for the lesson.  Who knows what you are going to find when you start working on the various problems you face when trying to add technology to your lessons, to your classroom, or maybe to your day-to-day life.  Who knew that a telephone and a computer would one day collide to become our lifeline to the world through mobile devices.  I know mine goes everywhere with me (it’s even my pedometer when I am out walking).  Someone was definitely looking at some problems in different ways that day.

Now, I got way off topic on some of these, but didn’t it make you want to jump to Walsh’s article to find out what he was talking about???  Good, then maybe you can understand a little more about my ramblings as well.