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Diffusion of Innovations

Here is my guest blogger post on Jason Bedell’s Blog:

“One topic that has been on my mind lately: specifically, how do you go about trying to implement change or spread innovative ideas in your building? There is sometimes a disconnect between our discussions on Twitter and the practical application of our ideas, so I would like to see what others are thinking on this issue.”

To implement change, there has to be a sense of urgency; and to spread innovation, there has to be inspiration…

Changing a culture, especially in schools, is a daunting task for anyone. Even a school administrator who implements change from a top down approach may not be well received by staff and never fully embraced. Trying to change culture from the bottom up approach is equally difficult when colleagues and administrators may feel threatened or ambivalent by one’s ideas. We cannot deny that teachers and administrators are passionate about education, but with varying pedagogies, learning styles, and philosophies, how does a staff move forward with a school culture that everyone buys into?

Changing culture in regards to technology infusion…

There are a myriad of factors that need to occur in order for real technology infusion, but if I were to point to a unifying factor, it would have to be a sense of urgency amongst all the staff. Although there are many profound discussions on Twitter that is valuable about tech integration, there is no real sense of urgency for teachers to not only be part of a personal learning community, but to actually execute the practice of technology integration. I always refer to my blog post about The Boiling Frog Syndrome when trying to infuse technology with our wide spectrum of teachers. However, when faced with adversity such as a school in program improvement status and putting teachers on the firing block, a change in the way we operate is essential. It may not be an extreme scenario as being a program improvement school, but if a staff does not feel an urgency to infuse technology, tech integration specialists will continue to struggle getting everyone on board. The staff has to see technology as a catalyst and foundation to solve the urgency for the school. They have to see that technology can efficiently reform the way procedures and communications operate for the school (information technology), as well as differentiate, drive data assessments, and enrich the curriculum for our classrooms (educational technology).

There is hope however…the ability to inspire through innovation.

I have seen school culture change because of the brilliance of staff members who continue to innovate and inspire using technology in the classroom. It is rare to change everyone on staff (there is always a couple), but I have seen teachers who inspire many others to change the way they operate and teach their classroom. I believe patience and sales skills are two qualities I would add to any technology integration specialist position.

As we continue to preach the use of technology in schools, technology specialists will need to create a sense of urgency amongst the staff and model innovation that sparks motivation. And patience goes a long way…

  1. Patrick
    May 14, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Hi Howard!

    Once again you and I are on the same page (as we were when I sent you to TPACK!) I had a great conversation with Judi Harris about the use of Diffusion of Innovations and plan to do some cluster training and discussion sessions with our folks next year. Do you have some ideas?

  2. May 14, 2010 at 5:48 pm

    Good to hear from you Patrick! For me, the sense of urgency has to come from administration and the inspiration from a few teachers who are respected. I like the TPACK survey as a good start to see where everyone is at. Do they value technology, but do they also implement? Value versus execution is quite different.

  3. Patrick
    May 14, 2010 at 6:00 pm

    Amen! I enjoy reading your blog…keep it up!

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