I was super busy last week due to my participation to an EdTechTeam Summit in Singapore so here is the late blog post about Week 1 topics!
As connected educators and innovators, we are asked to think about 2 questions this week:
1- What do you see as the purpose of education? Why might innovation be crucial in education?
2- “Change is an opportunity to do something amazing.” How are you embracing change to spur innovation in your own context?
About Purpose and Innovation in Education
Let’s remember Daniel Pink’s model which really resonates with me when it comes to reflecting on “purpose”.
Source: Pink, D. H. (2009). Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us. New York, NY: Riverhead Books. Cited by QuoteAddicts.
The purpose of Education, wow… what a big question! I will share my point of view about this by sharing a story of innovation.
A few years ago, I was working in an international school as a French Teacher. I got interested in edtech and started to use technology in my classrooms as well as research a lot about ways to engage learners with and through technology. I soon understood that it was not about the tool but the way to integrate the pedagogy through the tool. For instance, I loved to use “Socrative” to brainstorm with students with unlimited and anonymous answers showing on the board. It was something that was not possible without technology. I noticed that Language students often are insecure in class and using a tool that was not displaying their names and allowed them to make mistake and change their response / add made them feel more engaged. After a few months I realized that I was doing a little bit too much for my students. I was spoon-feeding them with GoogleForm quizzes, GoogleDoc templates, etc. I thought to myself, how about THEY create the curriculum and some of the resources that teachers usually make for their students. We started a GoogleSheet and added all sorts of ideas about what we wanted to learn about, resources that were interesting to explore and cool games we could integrate (including Minecraft). There were a lot of road blocks but you have got to love this process of seeing your students slowly take control of their own learning (many had forgotten that… and needed to rediscover their powers). I ended up having great results in terms of relationships with students, their parents and inspiring other teachers. Some students in other classes were jealous not to be in this cool class where you use Minecraft to learn French! It was all positive. From the outside, it looked that this process was easy but in reality, it was very hard! A lot of change, mistakes, insecurities, … but it was worth it!
So my subjective answer to this thought provocative question is…
The purpose is to let students discover their learning powers and push themselves to be the creator of their own learning journey.
In order to embrace change to spur innovation, we do have a lot of ideas:
–> Modeling what we expect from students. If we want teachers to innovate, we need them to experience innovation first. We need meaningful PD which encourages teachers’ agency: More Choice and Voice from teachers. They should be active, share their stories and practices and be challenges to learn something new which is uncomfortable but needed to really embrace change!
Like Lisa Bodell from FutureThink explains, it’s easy to talk about innovation but innovating (getting your hands dirty!) is another matter!
Let’s look at various ideas that I have actually put into practice and that encourage innovative actions!
Design Thinking for PD!
An innovative plan following a design thinking workshop: teachers start with describing problems they face, empathize with one another and ideate what their “How Might We” Statement should be like. Then they decide what RADICAL solution(s) they will use to try to solve the problem. They ask at least on colleague to collaborate on their googledoc plan to motivate and provide feedback, they implement their ideas in the classroom and reflect at various times of the year.
A PD that encourages the 4Cs
An example of PD was using Breakout EDU and creating the Game “The Teachers’ Introspection”. We also provide many sessions topics at the same time so teachers can choose which session make send for them.
Creating new leaders
We have created the role of EdTech Mentors who are teachers who do not necessarily need to be expert in technology integration but expert in learning and sharing. They support their colleagues in learning about technology for learning and for productivity. We also have “Admin Tech Mentors” and “Student Tech Mentors”. This way, our entire community is connected to our purpose!
Create an environment of creativity
Ken Robinson is right! We need to create the environment.
Creativity (and innovation) is not genetic! It’s a skill we build over time by striving, failing, iterating… it’s part of the mindset we try to promote.
To create space for change and creativity, we need to have welcoming spaces (for instance a nice staff room that encourages design thinking) and a digital space too: forums (we have a social one and a pedagogical one). We also need to promote the use of social media for educators.
Personalized Learning for everyone!
Let’s not create robots, clones and imagine change a a chance to standardize and expect the same from everyone. This “copy-paste” culture is neither engaging nor empowering anyone.
While I like “disruptive” ideas, I rather appreciate ideas that are spread with “stewardship” in mind. It’s sound less ugly and pedantic, more kind and real! I loved the Keynote by Michelle Cordy at ISTE 2016 where she really described her amazing way to innovate. We should promote Professional Learning Communities that encourage personalized learning and this concept/mindset? of stewardship! Just like to quote Stuart Little here: