It helps if we are thinking of the same thing when we hear the word innovation. My favorite explanation is from George Couros (2015), he defines innovation as “a way of thinking that creates something new and better.” He believes that
“innovation can come from either “invention” (something totally new) or “iteration” (a change of something that already exists), but if it does not meet the idea of “new and better,” it is not innovative… It is a way of considering concepts, processes, and potential outcomes; it is not a thing, task, or even technology. Technology can be crucial in the development of innovative organizations, but innovation is less about tools like computers, tablets, social media, and the Internet, and more about how we use those things.” (p 19-20)
Technology alone is not disruptive either, How it is used determines if it’s disruptive or not. Disruptive can be thought as transforming something to where a large number of people that did not have access to it and because of this change or a new way of doing something, more people now have access to it; it removes the barriers that various circumstances may have caused. (Christensen, 2014)
Innovation is important because without change we become stagnant. We do need to keep in mind that change for the sake of changing is not always a good thing, but not changing because “we’ve always done it this way” is just as harmful. It is important that we don’t try and change things just to be innovative either, we need to take many aspects into account. Just because it is new doesn’t always mean better. Kasey Bell (2018) does a great job summing up this idea of innovation saying
“Our focus must remain on student learning and leveraging all the tools and strategies at our disposal to transform to learning in our classrooms. Ideally, we want technology to be invisible, seamlessly integrated into classroom activities.” (p. 21)
I think too many people focus on incorporating technology as a way to justify the money spent on a not very well thought out plan. Bell (2018) also states
“throwing technology at the various problems we have in our schools will never be a magical solution without purposeful planning aligned with the vision of the school and the learning goals in our classrooms - as well as ensuring there is meaningful professional development designed for the teacher.” (p. 21)
Including professional development for the teachers is especially important, if we give them new technology without showing them how to effectively incorporate it, we compounding the problems not fixing them and adding more to a teachers’ already overflowing plate.
I tried a flipped learning approach last school year when I was teaching sixth-grade math. My school is a pretty rural school with about 70% of the students on free and reduced lunch. I taught the honor student so I assumed I'd be able to flip the class guessing that most of them would have internet access; well I was wrong. About half of the students were able to watch the videos at home before they came to class but the other half was not. Instead, I tried the blended learning approach using station rotations within my room. Students would rotate through the laptops or Chromebooks and watch the lesson then rotate to me to apply the lesson and then rotate to an independent practice station. The problem with this was where did the students start their rotations?
After many different trials, the one that worked best for me was 10-20 minutes of direct, whole group instruction then they would start their station rotations. They would watch videos or complete the online practice from their textbooks at the laptops station, work with me at my station, use the DreamBox app to work on skills (extended and remedial) at the iPad station, and then a fun activity (a puzzle of some kind or vocabulary matching) for current vocabulary or past skills at the hands-on station. I was fortunate to have 90-minute class periods, so this station idea work best for me. I know this would not work for many classes in my district without a major overhaul of the schedules.
Personally I am thankful that many disruptive innovations have come about. My children would have had the worst Christmas and birthdays if I wasn’t for Amazon Prime. I have my children add what they want to the wish list, then I order the items I want to get for them. It comes in a brown box (usually within 2 days!) so they can’t see what has been ordered. It's a total win-win! Unless you order a tad too late and the presents show up the day after Christmas! (I just wrapped the receipt... LOL!)
What innovative thing have you tried lately?
Couros, G. (2015). The innovator's mindset: Empower learning, unleash talent, and lead a culture of creativity. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.
Horn, M.B., & Staker, H. (2015). Blended: Using disruptive innovation to improve schools. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Clayton Christensen Institute. (2014). Part 6 -- Technology as a Disruptive Force in Education - YouTube. Retrieved April 7, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0ENX-GTUf4&feature=youtu.be
Edmentum. (2013a). Disrupting Class - Part 3: Disruptive Innovation in Education - YouTube. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iX2hOF5YkfQ&feature=youtu.be
Edmentum. (2013b). Disrupting Class - Part 4: Blended Learning - YouTube. Retrieved April 11, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TGmqeWprqM&feature=youtu.be
Bell, K. (2018). Shake up learning: Practical ideas to move learning from static to dynamic. San Diego, CA: Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc.